“Yes, just like that…
Raise your arm slightly higher and hold your wrist a bit looser.”
After the sparring session, Irene spent a long time correcting my overall technique and posture.
Indeed, experiencing real combat reveals even the smallest details that were previously unnoticed.
In martial arts novels, the protagonist would gain enlightenment after fighting a strong opponent—was I experiencing the same?
“Is this how it should be done?”
“Yes, that's the correct posture.
When facing an opponent with a larger build than you, just spread your feet a bit wider.”
Irene was not only skilled but also exceptionally talented at teaching.
She explained things at my level of understanding, without using unnecessarily difficult terms.
With this level of improvement, I could apply it directly in real combat.
Conveniently, there's a one-on-one sparring session tomorrow.
I should put this newfound knowledge to use immediately.
“Thank you, Irene.
You're truly an amazing teacher.”
I expressed my gratitude wholeheartedly.
Irene's face turned slightly red as she spoke.
“No, Theo, you're the one who's outstanding.
You learned so quickly last time too.
What happened to you? Did you suddenly awaken some power?”
“It's not an awakening, but I did develop a new trait.”
“Oh, what kind of trait?”
“It's a trait that improves my observation skills.
Ever since I got it, it's been easier to read my opponents' movements.”
I didn't explicitly mention that the trait I gained was Observer's Eye.
I'll keep gaining new traits in the future, so I can't always disclose them.
The additional traits I've obtained are Magic Nullification and Observer's Eye, two in total.
Up to this point, people could understand, but with three or more, anyone would become suspicious of me.
They might even say I made a deal with a demon.
Also, before receiving a trait appraisal, even the person themselves can't specifically know what it is.
Stats and traits appraisal services aren't all-powerful.
There are many that deliver inaccurate results.
However, Elinia Academy's appraisal service is the most accurate on the continent.
It's almost on par with a status screen.
Of course, it can only be used once per semester.
Well, I can check my status screen anytime.
While having these thoughts, Irene nodded and said,
“It seems like a very useful trait.
If your observation skills are good, there are countless ways to apply them, not just in swordsmanship.
Anyway, let's wrap up for today.
It's better to master what I taught you today and move on to the next lesson.”
“Yes, that seems right.
“Ah, and it's not good to keep sparring with the same opponent right now.
Your sword will adapt to that person.
For now, try sparring with a variety of people.”
“I'll do that, thank you.”
It's better to skip strength training for now.
As Irene said, I should stop here.
Starting tomorrow, there's a practical evaluation, so managing my condition would be a better choice.
It's already 8 PM.
I arrived at the training field around 4 PM, so I've been here for about four hours.
Time flew by.
If I eat, wash up, and do other things, it'll be 10 PM.
First, I need to eat dinner.
I glanced at Irene.
As our eyes met, her face flushed slightly, and she smiled bashfully.
It was a smile I'd never seen before.
Irene, with her smile, looked different somehow.
Maybe a smiling face really is the best makeup for girls.
I continued speaking.
“Would you like to have dinner together?”
are there any places open now?”
“Maybe the shabby restaurant near the training field is still open.”
next time, okay? It's not that I don't want to eat with you…! Please don't misunderstand.
But for our first meal together after entering the academy, I'd prefer a nicer place…”
“Alright, I understand.”
After parting ways with Irene, I had dinner alone at the shabby restaurant nearby.
The menu consisted of a soup with meat and vegetables, and a long sandwich filled with vegetables and sausages.
I took a spoonful of soup, swallowed it, and then bit into the sandwich.
As expected, it couldn't compare to the taste of Amy's cooking.
Though they looked similar, there was a significant difference in taste.
After finishing my meal, I took the carriage back to the dormitory.
Perhaps my repeated pleas for her not to wait for me had worked, as Amy was nowhere to be found.
'She might be waiting in her room, though.'
I immediately took a shower and lay down on my bed.
In the morning, I had to visit Professor Mari's office.
I'd probably have to wake up more than an hour earlier than usual.
“Not much of this left.”
I mixed the remaining traditional orc potion into the water, drank it all, and fell asleep.
'I wonder if Theo made it back safely.'
After washing up, Irene lay down in bed and tightly clutched her blanket.
'Of course, I should be happy that he's learning quickly…'
Yet, there was a lingering feeling of regret.
With Theo's ability to learn, he could master all her techniques within this semester.
If that happened, one of their connections would disappear.
[Club activities are for reputation management]
Suddenly, Theo's words came to mind.
Of course, he wouldn't have lied.
However, even if he didn't want it, women would naturally flock to him.
A noble with handsome looks and a distinguished lineage.
On top of that, his skills were improving day by day, and his personality had become kinder.
Naturally, women around him would subtly send him their affections.
Of course, he was her fiancé, but the girls in the Hero Department had a somewhat aggressive side.
Regardless of having a fiancée, they might still approach him.
Irene had received confessions multiple times herself.
She believed that he wouldn't give in, but her anxiety continued to grow.
Suddenly, the saying “The tree that is struck ten times will eventually fall” came to her mind.
'Ah, I shouldn't…'
Having finally sorted out her impure thoughts, Irene regretted it.
'Should I have just eaten dinner with him?'
Ah, but that was…
She had been afraid that he would take it as a sign of rejection, but she didn't want their first meal together after entering Elinia Academy to be at a shabby restaurant.
It wasn't because Irene had expensive taste.
She usually had simple meals at the student cafeteria.
However, she wanted to have their first meal together in a restaurant with an assigned waiter.
In a way, it could be considered their first date.
'Of course, anything would be great if it's with him…'
Anyway, he said he'd visit the Knight Department sometime next week.
Irene convinced herself that this was enough and fell asleep.
Dormitory of the 1st Hero Department, where only the top 10 students in the grade are allowed to reside.
Inside the room of Piel, who was ranked second in her grade.
Time had passed, and it was now past 11 o'clock.
Usually, Piel would be asleep by now, but she couldn't fall asleep.
It was because of the one-on-one duel scheduled for the next day.
Piel was planning to challenge Theo to a duel.
During one-on-one dueling time, students freely paired up and dueled each other.
Memories of the first semester came to mind.
After the sixth week of the first semester, Piel could not find a dueling opponent other than Neike.
This was because, after dueling her once, all the opponents felt overwhelmed and lost their fighting spirit.
In the first one-on-one duel of the semester, Piel defeated more than ten classmates.
Of course, there were some classmates who challenged her out of competitive spirit, but after the sixth week, there were no more of those students.
They simply felt a sense of awe and paired up with classmates of similar skill.
So, Piel had no choice but to duel only with Neike.
Unlike back then, Piel didn't blame those who had backed down.
It was for knowing their limits and protecting their mental state.
She could only hope that, as Theo said, they would accept their defeat.
Piel muttered to herself.
“Will he accept it?”
She felt like it would be sad if he refused.
Piel wanted to clearly define her feelings.
Ever since she was scolded last Friday, she had been constantly bothered.
Initially, she intended to ask him naturally at the training grounds, but he never showed up.
He didn't seem to be in pain.
So she tried to start a conversation asking why he didn't show up, but he went to club activities.
Surprisingly, he joined the foodie exploration club instead of a fighting-related club.
“I want to compete with that idiot, no, with Theo.”
She thought that if they had a proper duel, she could feel something special about his convictions.
That thought had turned from speculation to certainty.
She had never felt anything special from those she had defeated so far.
She had only felt the emotion of “I can't surpass him” from Neike, whom she couldn't defeat.
It was suffocating to be thinking about him in the middle of the night without sleeping.
Of course, she wouldn't be angry if Theo refused the duel.
This was, after all, good-natured competitive spirit.
Unlike Theo, who also had a noble lineage, Piel didn't have the Twisted Noble's Dignity trait.
“Let's sleep for now.
Whether he accepts or not is up to him.”
Piel counted her five hundred and seventh sheep before finally falling asleep.
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