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“If you experience an unavoidable situation similar to the one just now, what would you do?”
“… I’m not sure.”
Yoo-Jung answered with a scrunched up face. I’m sure that she was frustrated with herself. Even if she experienced the same situation again, she doesn’t know anything and there was nothing she could do about it. The only choice she had was to endure. I thought about saying words of encouragement as they all seemed down.
“All of you are familiar with <Mana Discharge>, right?”
Since I’ve gotten the weight off my chest, it was time to start encouraging them. The guys slightly raised their heads and looked at me as my voice softened. I wanted to laugh because they looked like kids that got in trouble by their mom. but I had to keep it in.
“The skill that the woman used at the table is part of Mana Discharge. It’s a control ability that anyone can use as long as they can control their mana. It doesn’t require any special or hidden talents.”
Technically, it was a skill that’s somewhat a control ability. That’s why Yoo-Jung’s expression changed after hearing that it was a control ability.
“Control… ability? Soo-Hyun, are you saying that we can use it as well?”
“That’s right. If you practice it then you can use it. In addition, if you’re ever in the same situation as earlier, you’ll be able to resist and defend against the attack. Depending on how you dealt with it, you may even be able to counterattack.
Seeing them with an excited expression made me smile. If they continued to feel discouraged, I would have been really disappointed with them. After hearing a solution, Yoo-Jung’s expression was filled with fierce determination.
First, I needed to teach them the theory behind Mana Discharge, then show perform example for them before truly training them. Faced with Yoo-Jung’s excited expression, I raised my head higher and talked with a wide smile.
“Do you any of you know what each level of Mana Discharge is called?”
“The levels are Sense, Occupy, Coerce.”
“Wow, that’s correct.”
Surprisingly, the one that answered was An Sol. She was looking at me with a yearning expression. As I tilted my head towards her, Sol’s expression brightened up. Maybe… the reason Sol was pouting earlier was that she was jealous of Hyun getting patted and she didn’t?
Anyways, Sol’s answer was almost correct. Above Coerce were the overpowering levels called Disassemble and There were definitely overpowering levels called Break and Destruct. Compared to the first the levels, however, they were so high leveled that it was impossible for them to learn now. I didn’t bother mentioning them.
“Starting now, I’m planning on teaching you guys a really powerful skill.”
The introduction was over. Now, it was time to get to the point.
Seeing is believing. Rather than hearing the same thing 100 times over, it was better to experience it to completely understand it. Slowly, I began to gather my mana as I turned half my body so that my back was to them.
While controlling my mana, I slowly dispersed all of it onto the floor. With my body as the focus, I drew a circle with my mana. Since I was so familiar with it, the mana was like an extension of my body. When my body finally stood still, I felt them looking at me with an odd expression. I closed my eyes and started talking.
“Hyun, Sol, Yoo-Jung. Starting now, don’t say anything. Move anywhere within the room while trying to walk as quietly as possible.”
They hesitated for a bit, but I felt them standing up one by one and quietly move about the room. They may be thinking that they were moving quietly, but if I wanted to I would be able to sense their every movement. When I heard a slight creaking, I knew all of them stopped moving. While my back still turned away, I talked.
“An Hyun, you’re 38 degrees north from my left foot, standing in front of the closet. An Sol, You’re 26 degrees southwest from my right foot, crouching behind the central table. Lee Yoo-Jung, you’re 90 degrees from my body, lying on top of the bed.
They gasped when I finished talking. Were they surprised from just this? I continued talking with a smile.
“This is the very first stage of Mana Discharge: Sensing. Many say that it just allows you to see even if you’re blind, but not many know that you can link mana to items in your sight. When you increase the radius at which you can use mana, you will also increase your sensing level. Guys, you were surprised when that woman was suddenly by herself, right?
“Now that I think about…”
“Ye-yeah, you’re right. Soo-Hyun. Are you saying that once we’re familiar with Sensing, we’ll be able to detect whenever that woman approaches us?”
An Hyun had begun to understand. I nodded with my back still turned to them.
“Typically, yes. But it’s not omnipotent. There is a way to block your presence from being sensed.”
This time, I gathered a larger amount of mana so that they could really feel it. After my mana started to overflow, I released it in the air. My mana filled the room as a heat haze filled the room. They started to look around the room in awe as I made another request.
“This time, hold up a number with your fingers.”
They got used to the atmosphere. After they fulfilled my request, I calmly started talking.
“An Hyun. Two. You raised your index and middle finger. An Sol. One. You raised your index finger. Lee Yoo-Jung. Four. You raised your index, middle, ring and pinky…two-four-one-five-four-five. Oh jeez…”
Maybe it was because she didn’t believe me, but in the midst of my speech, Yoo-Jung quickly changed her fingers. However, I was able to point it out without any issues so Yoo-Jung lowered her hand weakly as if she was amazed.
After hearing their remarks, I finally turned around and looked at them. Their mouths were opened wide as if they had just seen a ghost. I continued to talk while maintaining the mana in the room.
“There are many ways to block Sensing. A person that notices the Sense could move fast enough that the Sense user can’t react, or he could enter from above. There’s also an advanced method of secretly mixing your mana within theirs. So in order to counterattack, you have to advance to the next level: Occupy.
“Soo-Hyun, was the skill that the woman used Occupy?”
I shook my head in response to Yoo-Jung’s question. Occupy was a level that can be divided into two sublevels. In addition… the skill that the woman used was the third level, Coerce.
“No. The skill that woman used was Coerce, the third level of Mana Discharge. One step beyond Occupy, it’s a high-level skill that instills one’s will into their mana. Of course, the power level varies depending on the person. Once you’re familiar with Occupy, you can defend against that kind of Coercion. At the least, you’ll be able to resist part of it.”
“Th-then, I want to learn it. I want to learn Coerce.”
Seeing Yoo-Jung talk hastily, I approached her with a small smile. Then I lightly flicked her forehead with my finger. Yoo-Jung pouted while rubbing her forehead as I continued to talk in a light tone.
“You can barely walk, let alone run. Unless you’re a genius, Coerce isn’t something you can learn overnight. You would have to train for at least three months. Take it one step at a time after learning Sense. Be patient.”
An Hyun called out my name while looking at me. Curious, I turned my attention towards him.
“Jeez, guys. I told you, not yet.”
Hyun shook his head at my reaction and continued to talk.
“No. That’s not it. I want to learn more about Coerce.”
“Soo-Hyun, me too. What happened before was something that I experienced for the first time, so I didn’t know how to react, but…I want to see what Coerce really is. Please?”
I kept my mouth shut after Yoo-Jung added on to what An Hyun said. Mana Discharge is based on how focused the controller was and how effectively one controls it. You might be able to learn Sense fairly quickly, but going one step further and learning to push mana outside of your body and then instilling your will into it is much harder to learn.
However, I was able to sense a certain passion that I’d never felt before from Hyun and Yoo-Jung. For a moment, I remembered the first time I arrived at Hall Plain. That was the time I tried to do everything to try to learn something. I remembered the time when I had to teach myself instead of being taught by someone else.
Recalling those sad times, I started to talk as if I was possessed.
“The third level of Mana Discharge is different from the first two. Managing your mana effectively and with focus is a given, but beyond that, there can’t be any mistakes when releasing based on the circuit. But the most important and the most difficult part is that one has to put their will into the mana.”
“When you say will…”
“The key point is how effectively one is able to convey their feelings. There’s no point in further explaining this process. As I’ve mentioned, mana with will show you everything. Think about earlier. What did you feel, Yoo-Jung?”
Yoo-Jung scrunched up her face and thought for a moment before answering.
“My body was tired…and I felt like I was in danger. It was a feeling that I could possibly die…”
“That’s what you call a bloodthirsty spirit. That woman was telling you that she wanted to kill you, Yoo-Jung. She conveyed her feelings wordlessly by expressing her intention through her mana.”
Yoo-Jung didn’t say much in response. But seeing as her face was so thin, she probably had goosebumps. An Hyun, on the other hand, had a confused look since he probably didn’t understand. I let out a small sigh. As my mana was still spread around the room, it might be a good idea to let them experience it again to satisfy their curiosity.
I called on An Hyun decisively.
“Starting now, I will try to kill you.”
“Huh? What are you…”
An Hyun shut his mouth after scrambling for a second to respond to my comment. He probably realized that I was going to show them Coerce, like what I did with Sense and Occupy. He was probably preparing for it in advance, as he kept his mouth closed and hardened his expression. In my eyes, his actions were pointless.
I focused my mind after I closed my eyes. I set An Hyun as my enemy. I calmed myself, opened my eyes, and released my mana. Then…
His reaction was immediate.
My energy that filled the room was previously like clouds; now, it instantly changed into deadly energy. That energy filled the room, and anyone within would feel like they were being ripped to pieces. A bloodthirsty spirit was starting to break free deep within me. Then, I focused all of that energy to one person: An Hyun.
I continued for five seconds. If I continued any longer, I probably would’ve fallen prey to the bloodthirsty spirit. I felt that it was a good point to stop, so I forcefully suppressed it. As soon as I gathered the energy back and stuffed it within me, An Hyun collapsed to the floor and started to shake. Yoo Jung’s and Sol’s lips were slightly trembling; they probably felt the spirit indirectly.
I slowly walked up to Hyun. Instinctively, An Hyun moved his body away as I approached. As if he realized something, he looked at me with a blank expression. I extended my hand to Hyun to help him up.
“No matter how prepared you are, once you’re overpowered by mana there’s nothing you can do about it. The will within the mana forces that person’s unfiltered instinctive emotions onto you. Anyway, you did well.”
An Hyun shook his head sporadically. Suddenly, as if he had come to his senses, he grabbed my hand and struggled to get up; he was probably still in shock.
We looked at each other when he finally was completely on his feet, and I discovered something interesting: it was only for a brief moment, but there was a competitive spirit in his eyes. Maybe it’s because he’s a guy, but there was a warlike behavior not found in the girls.
After helping Hyun up, I looked at them, whose eyes were still glued to me, and continued talking.
“Anyways, even though you guys still have a long way to go until you can learn Coerce you now know what it feels like. As Sense is the first thing you should learn, you’ll be useless out there if you don’t know it. In other words, if you can’t maintain Sense for at least an hour don’t even think about going outside.”
Yoo-Jung quickly asked a question in response.
“Um, Soo-Hyun when did you have the time to learn these skills? We all took similar classes.”
I was surprised by Yoo-Jung’s question but was able to maintain a calm expression. Since I couldn’t tell them that I learned it before “returning”, I decided to leave a vague answer. I raised my index finger.
“I used my free time to train in addition to the allocated sessions. I also received a lot of help from instructors. Just so you now, it only took me a day to familiarize myself with Sense. Occupy took about two weeks. I was able to familiarize Coercion towards the end of training.”
“Oh. Then you were sleeping in that weird position to train the Sense skill?”
Thanks to An Hyun’s question, I was able to improve my credibility. While I was laughing, An Hyun continued while sporting a confused look. “I thought you were just meditating.” Since I wasn’t interested in their reaction, I continued talking.
“Anyways, it took me that long. If you can do better, do so. I’m excited to see who’ll succeed first.”
I intended to slightly provoke them, and it worked. I just wanted them to try to surpass me, but as soon as I finished talking, Hyun, Sol, and Yoo-Jung looked at each other with a determined expression.”
“Well, I think I’ll be the first one. Just you watch Soo-Hyun.”
“Ha ha ha. Are you saying you’re more skillful with mana than me?”
Seeing the two of them stare at each made me sweat a bit. It was like seeing siblings competing against each other through their grades in front of their mom. As time passed, I was feeling more and more like the mom of my group.
I had explained the theory. I had also shown them examples. The only thing left was the actual training.
Regardless of their inner feelings, I couldn’t disagree that their mindset changed. Filled with determination, they started training right away. Mere moments later, their bodies were still and they started balancing their mana, eyes closed. I started to explain the finer details.
“Basic management of mana starts with a mental image. The basic principle of Sense is ‘ripple’ and ‘wave’. Imagine the calm sea; imagine… a single drop of water hitting the surface, then imagine… the resultant ripple. You can also imagine a drop of water landing on a piece of paper. Just create an image that you’re comfortable with and use that ‘feeling’ to move your mana within the ‘circuit’— your body.”
Truthfully, managing Sense is pretty simple as it was a Control ability with simple principles. Coerce, Break and Destruct, however, required advanced skills.
The important thing about Sense was how much attention one paid to detail and how long one is able to maintain it. One had to efficiently divide the mana they had and maintain a consistent flow.
Hyun and Yoo-Jung were trying hard to disperse it, but they were having a hard time. They were able to gather their mana and successfully draw a circle beneath their feet. But their faces already showed that they wouldn’t be able to maintain it for an hour. As time passed, the circles were becoming distorted. The circle’s shape became uneven; their mana flow became inconsistent.
The confident smile that they had when they first started disappeared and sweat started to roll down their faces— an ability they’ll use for the foreseeable future.
The advantages of Sense were endless. One can train whenever— and where— they want. Not only does it increase one’s mana, it also puts one’s body at its limit while doing so while simultaneously helping to increase other skills.
It’s just an assumption, but I think that my Third Eye was greatly affected by Sense. After observing myself and the surrounding, I was able to fight while maintaining my composure. I was able to predict my opponent’s attack and can respond with the best counterattack as a result. It helped to manifest my skill’s potential. Mana Discharge training was a way to kill three birds with one stone.
It’s been 10 minutes since they’ve started. An Hyun and Yoo-Jung were definitely a sight. Their determination had long disappeared and were both sweating a lot and breathing heavily. They looked as if they could faint at any minute.
I activated my Third Eye while observing them as I wanted to see how much they had improved.
Name: An Hyun
[Power 59] [Endurance 57] [Agility 74] [Stamina 61] [Mana 49] [Luck 61]
Name: An Sol
[Power 16] [Endurance 21] [Agility 24] [Stamina 29] [Mana 84] [Luck 100]
Name: Lee Yoo-Jung
[Power 48] [Endurance 52] [Agility 64] [Stamina 50] [Mana 68] [Luck 56]
An Hyun Hyun had an advantage when it came to physical stats. Excluding mana and luck, his other stats were steadily increasing. He has the potential to become really strong as his agility, a stat very beneficial to Lancemen, was increasing rapidly.
Yes, his mana was low, but he still had points remaining that he can apply later.
Yoo-Jung’s physical stats were about average. Her power and endurance were a bit low, but her agility and mana were pretty high. As she was a close-range attacker, having 68 mana is a big advantage and a blessing.
If I compared An Hyun and Yoo-Jung, I would say that An Hyun was in the lead. As a Lanceman he would be useful for uncountable scenarios in the future; my expectations in his potential rose. Had he chosen an Assassin then I would’ve been disappointed.
Sol had the lowest growth rate in stats when compared to the other two. However, I disregarded her other stats and focused only on her mana. Unless she chose to be a monk, there was no need to focus on power, endurance, stamina, or agility. Sol had high mana and high luck.
She had started out with 75 points in mana, and I was satisfied to see that it had increased to 84. Even though her improvement rate wasn’t impressive compared to Han-Byul, the fact that the rate at which attributes increase decreases noticeably once in the 80s has to be factored in. For someone that had just left the Academy to have 84 points in mana, I was curious as to what her limit was.
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