‘It’s like a déjà vu.’
The same as ten years ago, Trevor stood ramrod straight in front of Lia, he held his katana with both hands in front of himself, with the tip pointing diagonally upwards.
He was serious, and Lia answered in kind.
She took a similar stance, which was adapted to suit her stature and type of combat strategy she preferred, her left hand near the guard and the right one at the end of the hilt.
As her face became taut with seriousness and her eye focused on her oppenent’s every move, Lia took a step forward while lowering her body. She sprinted, the katana was heavy, but years of training allowed her to keep it up while moving it over her shoulder.
The practice swords used in this dojo were all custom-made, following the Shihozume-style katana, the kawagane was made of steel, the shigane with iron while the hagane was in black ironwood. It would hurt and possibly cause injuries if it hit someone, but the hagane wasn’t made to cut through things.
Lia strengthened her grip as her determination to pass the exam increased, even though she knew she couldn’t win against her 8th Dan master, she didn’t feel discouraged at all. Well, she couldn’t feel such shallow emotions at all.
A bit less than a meter separated Lia and Trevor, who had been immobile until now. At a distance of about 30 cm, Lia began to swing the katana, aiming for Trevor’s waist with a downward slash.
Trevor immediately intercepted it, trying to make Lia lose her katana with the rebound force, but Lia didn’t resist and allowed her weapon to simply go back to the position it was in before the slash.
While that happened, Lia’s left hand left the hilt only to return in a reverse-grip and when the katana got back to the initial overhead position, she slashed downword again, this time aiming at his lowered left shoulder.
Trevor saw her beginning to slash again, so he used the guard of his katana to keep Lia pinned even for just a second more, allowing him to position the blade of his katana from a direct confrontation with the edge of Lia’s katana to his edge touching the side, and then the back, of her katana as he forced her to change the trajectory of her attack.
Once the tip of her katana touched the floor, Trevor had already placed the edge of his katana on her neck.
“Not bad, Lia. Rest for 1 minutes and then we’ll do another round. We’ll do five rounds total, then you will face some easier people, ahahah. After that it’s just a matter of passing a written exam and you’ll be a 3rd Dan black belt, the youngest 3rd Dan disciple I’ve had, ahahah!”
Trevor removed his katana from her neck and retreated two meters back once again, seemingly in a good mood, he finally explained to Lia the format of her examination. At first she thought it had been a bit simple when she first heard she would fight Trevor, but it appeared that that was just the beginning.
‘Seems like I won’t be able to play the game today.’
Trevor stopped and put his katana somewhere on the left wall. Lia raised herself from the ground and looked to him before walking to where the others sat. The young Abigail jumped up and went to congratulate her while also handing her a water bottle.
“Here, it’s mine, I hope you won’t mind.”
Lia took a big sip of water and gave Abigail the bottle back while wiping her lips and chin with the wrist of her free hand. After that, Trevor began training them, having them warm up their muscles a bit first before they were allowed to start replicating various stances, all bare-handed at first, and later with weapons too for the seniors.
At some point Abigail started to tell Lia about the dojo. Apparently, the ones who were on the left row before were instructors, not all of them, just the ones who had brought the most outstanding pupil of their class, which were the ones who sat on the right before.
They were all Trevor’s disciples and grand-disciples. It seemed like Lia had come here during their monthly “special” practice.
Then Abigail went on about how she’s been training here since she was 6, and this was already her third year under Trevor, how she started because she thought her older sister looked really cool when practicing and in tournaments, and also how she won or almost won this or that tournament.
After two and a half hours her body, that wasn’t used to such a strenous activity, had gone painfully numb, so she started slowing down. After three hours, Abigail was forcefully removed by an instructor who lifted her up by her clothes’ collar.
After four and a half hours, her vision became hazy. After five hours, Trevor came to stop her and she collapsed on the floor, her arms powerlessly hanging at her sides. Breathing heavily, she closed her eye before feeling someone had gently put a water bottle near her mouth.
She drank a bit as she opened her eye, Abigail was there once again, but this time there was her mother too. Trevor had already gone back to teaching the others.
“Go change dear, then we’ll go home, you’ll take a shower and then you’ll sleep. No arguments.”
Lia weakly nodded at her mother’s plans and caught Elisabeth’s outstretched hand to get up. After waving Abigail good bye, Lia went to change and in the end got in the car with her mother, greeting Amanda in the process.
At home, before taking a shower and sleeping she ate some pasta with only oil and parmesan. The day after, Lia woke up at 6 a.m., prepared a bag for the dojo, and went there with her mother after school.
Every four days the time she spent training without collapsing increased, while every six days she had to spar with Trevor and her other seniors. Once she was back home, the fatigue left her barely able to eat, take a shower and then go to sleep.
This was how she started training at Trevor Lee’s dojo.
The first thing Lia did in Hyria, the day after she passed her martial arts exam, was to go to the eastern gates, exit Thyw and hunt in the thicket near the forest of Ghillo.
Usually she’d spend 12 hours inside the game, with a break of one to two hours at the ‘Loose Goose’ after the first half of the time passed, hunting lv. 3 rabbits, lv. 5 foxes, lv. 4~6 stray dogs, lv. 8~10 wolves, which almost always moved as a pack, causing the inexperienced Lia to die many times.
She would also hunt the lv. 8~16 goblins, in the daytime, and bandints, during nighttime, though the latter moved in more numerous groups.
The poorly made katana Lia wielded was something she bought at the Swordsmen’s Atelier once she had accumulated one silver from selling both her hand-made food and the loot she rarely bothered picking up while she hunted mobs. Strangely, no matter how trashy, there were always some male players and/or NPCs who would buy her wares…
Moreover, she had noticed that hunting not only allowed her to grind her skills with greater proficiency, Lia also gained new skill and additional stats points a lot easier compared to when she trained by herself in the Atelier.
When she wasn’t playing or at school, her time was spent sleeping, jogging/exercising and studying. Lia felt that her daily life was really busy in the last few months.
57 days later (IGT, ~2 weeks IRL)
Lia stood in front of Ghillo Forest, in the thicket she always trained in, just half an hour’s walk from the town’s gates.
“Display Status Window, Skill List and Inventory.”
|Health Regen/Sec||1||Mana Regen/Sec||0.4|
|Primordial Fear (Active)||Beginner lv.5||Sprint (Active)||Beginner lv.5|
|Clean Cut (Active)||Beginner lv.6||Calm Analysis (Passive)||Beginner lv.3|
|Quick Analysis (Passive)||Beginner lv.3||Cooking (Passive)||Beginner lv.5|
|Sword Mastery (Passive)||Beginner lv.8||Predator Instincts (Passive)||Beginner lv.2|
|Stealth (Passive)||Beginner lv.3||Night Vision (Passive)||Beginner lv.3|
‘My inventory is almost full… I should go sell my loot later.’
The provided inventory had 20 different slots, and each slot contained up to 10 of one type of loot. The weight of the inventory is not added while class-less and under level 20, and is reduced if you have a merchant-related class.
Though most players would end up buying either the spatial or timeless bags, where the former provided many more slots to store things, the latter provided a small quantity of slots where time was frozen or slowed, allowing perishable items to last longer.
Of course there also were dimensional bags that had the advantage of both the spatial and timeless bags, but those were restricted to merchants, certain types of mages and other special classes.