Sean Drangnauk, the combat instructor of the 1st year Katana Class, was excited. How could he not be? He was going to teach the best among the golden generation, after all.
The present 3rd year had the most talented cadets Earth has ever seen. They were strong enough to compete with the 4th year.
And the 1st years were now being called their second coming. The cadets of the 1st years were almost as strong as the 3rd years when they had entered the Ward.
'The 1st year batch can reach greater heights than the 3rd year's batch.'
Even Sean didn't think like this before. The 3rd years were the most talented batch in history. It would be absurd to think that a batch could surpass them.
Everyone believed that the 1st year's batch was inferior to the 3rd year.
But it all changed during the combat test.
'Susan Warner. Rank 1 of the 1st year batch. And the daughter of the War Maiden.'
Susan's talent had been known far and wide for a very long even before. It was rumored that she was even more talented than her mother, the youngest Gamma-rank awakener.
But this was only treated as a rumor. Everyone thought that this was a lie spread by the Dawn Guild to protect their rank.
After that years passed and many new young talented awakeners' names started being spread. But not once was Susan's name brought up. There was no news of her achieving anything noteworthy.
This further cemented the assumption that the Dawn Guild was only bluffing about her.
But all of that changed during the combat test.
'I still can't believe that she defeated the examiner.'
The examiners in the combat test were of the same rank as the cadets but they were still a lot stronger. They were veterans who survived and fought for years on the frontline.
The fact that a cadet could defeat the examiner was something nobody could believe.
Everyone who entered Ward was talented. All of them had a big pride as they had been treated like a prince or princess' before entering Ward.
This was why examiners were of the same rank. To show them the difference between a veteran and a cadet.
But Susan Warner defeate-no obliterated the examiner. This was something that was out of everybody's expectations.
Susan was the reason Sean believed that given time 1st year could surpass even the 3rd year batch.
"Attention cadets, you can pick up spare weapons for this training from there. Quickly start moving and form pairs for a duel. I don't want to see anyone not having a pair because this class has even numbers."
He would be lying if he said that he wasn't looking forward to the duels, but he still had to maintain his dignity as an instructor.
"Why aren't you guys moving? Should I come down and kick your asses? Move quickly!"
The weapons were displayed on a large rack in the corner of the training ground. 𝘧𝘳𝘦𝘦𝑤𝘦𝑏𝓃ℴ𝘷𝘦𝘭.𝘤ℴ𝑚
Sean patiently watched as they chose their weapons and pairs were formed.
'He is challenging Susan.'
Sean got even more excited at what he saw. Cadmus had asked Susan for a spar.
Cadmus was the Rank 2 of 1st year. In normal circumstances, Cadmus would have been the Rank 1. He was perfect in every way, be it combat senses, skills, or knowledge.
The only reason he wasn't Rank 1 was because of Susan.
She couldn't be called just talented.
She was an anomaly in every way.
Sean was left speechless at what he was seeing.
Cadmus held his spear in both hands and thrust it like an experienced warrior. His every move seemed like it was direct and straight, but every time the trajectory would change at the last second.
The spear resembled a snake in the way it zig-zagged as it moved forward.
He was controlling the spear like his own limb. His every thrust and swing were carefully calculated and timed to attack his opponent.
But this wasn't why Sean was impressed.
It was because Susan was dodging Cadmus' every attack effortlessly!
She dodged the attacks with minimal movement.
She continued to dodge every attack without retaliating. As if she wanted to see the extent of Cadmus' capability.
"If it's her, maybe we can...."
The next second, something even more astonishing happened.
Susan suddenly closed the distance and did a low kick. The move wasn't anything special, but it was perfectly timed to use the opening which was created for a split second.
When her kick had almost hit him, she suddenly stopped and looked around.
Sean looked around to find the source of bloodlust he felt for a moment. He was sure that just now he felt a thick bloodlust inside the training grounds.
But he couldn't find its source. It disappeared as suddenly as it came.
'Looks like I wasn't the only one who noticed.'
Sean smiled as he saw the cadets. A handful of them were looking around, trying to find something.
As Sean was looking around to find the source, he saw them.
In an inconspicuous corner, two cadets were fighting.
What drew Sean's attention to them was their performance.
One of them had an excellent form. He expertly handled his katana and each swing showed his years of training.
The other was holding a longsword in an awkward position and kept retreating. His way of holding the weapon, his footwork, his breathing, and the way he attacked everything told of his inexperience.
Sean found their battle amusing. He didn't remember their faces or names, this meant that both of them were low-ranked cadets.
Nonetheless, one had skills almost on the level of top rankers among 1st year while the other was unskillful to the point Sean doubted how he even entered Ward.
Still, Sean could tell that something was up with them.
To him, it was clear that the katana wielder was holding back while the other was trying to do something.
The few cadets had also noticed their fights when they were trying to find the source of bloodlust.
Now many of them were watching while snickering at the awkward cadet.
While few were watching the other cadet as they could tell that he had many years of battle experience.
This was why many saw what happened next.
A longsword suddenly materialized in the air and flew straight to its opponent.
As the sword was about to impale the katana-wielding cadet, the other cadet suddenly jumped back when...
A subtle clicking sound resounded.
As the sound reached everyone's ears, the longsword shattered mid-air. Everyone was astonished at the sight in front of their eyes.
Nobody saw when Leon attacked. Yet this wasn't the reason for their bewilderment.
"Was that line always there?"
Separating Leon and Nathan was a line on the surface of the ring.
Every ring was enforced to handle attacks of peak Iota ranks.
Yet a line that went from one end to another had suddenly appeared on the very same ring.
The speed could have been explained as a skill, but the force behind the attack couldn't be.
Sean was similarly shocked as others, but it was for a different reason.
"Seventh Form. Is it the last form or…"
Sean couldn't believe what he was thinking. There was no way a cadet could have a sword art of such a high level.
Yet for some reason, he couldn't totally convince himself of this fact either.
As the cadets were thinking different things about this incident, everyone forgot about the other cadet who was sitting on the ground and staring at Leon with a dumbfounded expression.
'Did you hit your head before coming here?'
Seeing Leon's apologetic expression, I wanted to question him while strangling him. Not in the kinky way, of course. Wasn't into dudes.
'Wasn't he not supposed to use his sword art until he felt threatened for his life?'
If I knew this was going to happen, I wouldn't have used my art.
Leon's art was taught to him by his master. She had created the Grade 1 sword art for herself.
But Leon didn't use the same sword art but a variant one which was specially developed for him by his master.
The sword arts were graded into five grades, from Grade 5 to Grade 1 in the increasing order of strength. Even a Grade 3 sword art was uncommon.
His sword was the reason Leon could fight enemies stronger than him, even though he was currently weak because of his clashing powers.
"Are you fine?"
Leon walked toward me and lent his hand with an apologetic expression. It seemed like he was feeling sorry because he used a dangerous move.
Though I couldn't blame him completely. Anybody would act that way if they were about to be suddenly impaled.
I was naively thinking that he would only use his sword art if he fought the instructor.
"Yes, it was nothing much. Though I didn't know that you were so strong."
I grabbed his hand and stood up while pointing at the line on the ground.
'Why is he so wary of me?'
Leon didn't answer me and just scratched his head while smiling. But I could tell that he was still wary of me.
I was weaker than even the lowest rank cadet at the Ward, right now.
But I was confident in my deduction skills.
Leon's eyes never left me. He was watching my every move.
His whole body was strained, even his hand was stiff when I grabbed it.
It was clear as day that was ready to attack me at a moment's notice.
I couldn't help but smile wryly. Should I just tell him that I won't attack again?
"Everyone who is watching other cadets fight. Start running around the stadium with weights. Now!"
The combat instructor's voice boomed in the training center.
Everyone immediately focused back on their duels for fear of being noticed. Not that it worked on the combat instructor.
He pointed to the students, who were trying to act like nothing happened, and made them run. Looking at their pitiful expressions, anybody could tell that the weights weren't as simple as the instructor made them sound.
"You really are interesting."
As Leon and I were about to spar again, a clear voice resounded in my head.
Both of us stopped as we looked around. But it seemed we were the only ones who heard it.
I couldn't tell if the voice directly entered my mind or flowed into my ears.
"Did you hear it too?"
I nodded as I looked around. That voice felt a little familiar.
"I think I've heard that voice somewhere before."
Yup, I should mind my own business. If this guy heard it, then nothing good will come out of it.