Dante’s Immortality – Chapter 59
“Alright, you’ve slept enough.”
He felt a slight prod and instantly shot up. As soon as he got to his feet, Dante glanced over to Victoria, who had just lightly kicked him with her foot, and praised the Goddess. She hadn’t used that abhorrent vial to wake him up, and for that, he would be eternally grateful. He had already been thoroughly traumatized by its smell.
Victoria looked him over for a moment, likely assessing his condition after three weeks of exhaustion. “We are already going to have a late start today, so let’s not waste time.”
Dante glanced up at the sun as he stretched his incredibly stiff muscles out. It was already around noon, meaning that he had slept for almost an entire day. “I’m ready.” He was quite surprised that she had allowed him to sleep for so long, especially after such a hellish journey.
Victoria nodded. “We’ll start with the first sequence of the Spectral Attunement.”
That name sounded… ominous.
“The Spectral Attunement is my guilds specialty. It is mainly used to fully stretch out the body and increase flexibility, as well as maintain the body physically. Other than strengthening the body, its secondary purpose is to teach the footwork required to work for the guild.”
Stretching out the body or just getting physical exercise was understandable, but he didn’t see why the thing she was talking about would be necessary to learn footwork, no matter how delicate. It also raised the question of what kind of guild Victoria was actually a part of. “Shouldn’t footwork depend on the total amount of Dexterity you have, why would you need to learn the Spectral Attunement first?”
Victoria shrugged. “Dexterity may give you more control over your body, but some things need to be learned, and practiced. It will be easier for you to get an idea if I show you. Watch closely, the first sequence is made up of twenty poses in total.”
Victoria took a step back, then got into a low stance. After that, she began to move, and he was completely dumbfounded as he watched her.
Every movement was unbearably slow and precise, almost as though the air around Victoria was a solid mass that she was forcing herself through. She was twisting her body in ways that sent a shiver down his spine. Contorting herself into impossible poses, then holding them for several seconds before moving to the next.
Some moments were beautiful, but only briefly. When Victoria finally got to a pose, and held it, he would wince.
It was like an incredibly graceful dance that ended in sick torture.
Victoria came to a stop after going through all twenty poses, taking her a full five minutes. Then she turned to him. “Ready to try?”
There was no way he was ‘ready to try’. Clearing his throat, he did his best to sound reasonable. “I don’t think that is going to help me with my footwork.” There was no footwork involved in what she had just done at all. It was more like a sequence of extreme stretches rather than any kind of footwork practice. The only thing he would get out of trying to replicate what she did is dislocated joints.
Victoria rolled her eyes. “The first sequence is just to prepare your body for the other four sequences. Without being able to complete it, you would sustain damage from the other, more advanced sequences.”
More advanced sequences… fuck.
Seeing the look on his face, Victoria continued. “Don’t worry, the first sequence will take you a few months to complete. Today you are only going to learn the first pose. Watch closely, and try to do as I do.”
Victoria got into her low stance, and he followed her example despite his reservations. She began to move, and even though he had nowhere near her grace, he was able to follow her example in a way that he hoped was somewhat close to what was intended.
Victoria’s leg slowly lifted above her head, somehow keeping it perfectly straight in the process. Gritting his teeth, he followed suit. He kept his leg completely straight as he slowly lifted it, making it slightly over the height of his head before he heard a loud pop.
Groaning, Dante toppled to the floor, clutching his thigh. Not even halfway to the first pose, and he was already down.
Victoria walked over and silently stretched out his leg, then pulled him up and began the process over.
Letting out a sigh, he resumed learning the first pose.
“That’s enough of the Spectral Attunement for the day.”
Hearing her words, he collapsed to the ground in relief. Not only was he completely drenched in sweat, but his leg muscles felt like they were torn apart from attempting to achieve the first pose.
Victoria, who wasn’t tired in the slightest, held out her hand toward him. At first, he wasn’t sure what she was doing, but then he saw the tiny pill in her hand. “Swallow this.”
Taking the pill, he examined it closely. He had seen medicine before, but he had never had the opportunity to consume one. Still, he didn’t eat it. He didn’t trust Victoria nearly enough.
Victoria rolled her eyes, then disappeared before his eyes, reappearing with a dagger held to his throat. “Paranoia will keep you alive, but do not allow it to needlessly hinder you. If I was going to kill you, I would have done it already.”
He recoiled from the cold steel that rested against his throat. Victoria had taken him completely off-guard, and if there hadn’t been a small window of time between when she disappeared and reappeared, he would have thought she had used a skill that was similar to Blink.
Strangely enough, his helplessness in the situation was actually somewhat reassuring. And just further proof that Victoria wasn’t someone that he could afford to piss off. If Victoria’s objective was to kill or capture him, he wouldn’t be able to resist in the slightest.
Dante placed the pill in his mouth and swallowed it. There didn’t seem to be any immediate effects.
Victoria watched him swallow it and nodded in approval. “That is an alchemic pill that will aid your muscles in recovery. In the next week, I will teach you how to properly procure the ingredients required, as well as prepare it.”
His eyebrows rose. Never had he thought that he had swallowed something as priceless as an alchemic pill. They were far more valuable than any regular medicinal pill from an apothecary. “How is that possible without the Alchemist Classification?”
Victoria shrugged. “How do people farm without a Farmer Classification, or how do people swing a sword without a combat Classification? The process may be far more difficult, but never forget that Classifications are just an aid. And while it is true that you will never be able to create alchemic pills that are anywhere near as effective as an Alchemist Classification’s, lesser pills are still useful.”
He had never really thought about it, but the way she explained it made complete sense, and a world of possibilities had just opened up to him.
“Alright, to start, I’ll need to get a solid grasp of your abilities and skill, as well as their limitations. What are the restrictions in regards to the size and shape of your skill that creates swords?”
He thought about how to best answer her. At first, he considered deception. Keeping something hidden in order to use it if he needed to catch her off-guard in the future. But he realized how stupid that would be. If Victoria was really going to train him, he couldn’t afford to restrict himself, especially if it was just on the off chance that he could miraculously stop her if she decided to attack him.
“There is no limit on either size or shape, as long as there is a blade on it. There is a total mass limit of around sixty average sized swords though, so if I don’t break down my created weapons, I won’t be able to make more.”
Victoria rubbed her chin in thought. “And yet you only use swords. Still, it’s interesting… Can you partially breakdown weapons, like turning a sword into a dagger by breaking off part of the blade?”
He opened up his mouth to reply, but didn’t say anything. He couldn’t believe that he hadn’t thought of that. Instead of answering her, he created a regular sized sword in his hand.
Then, he focused on partially destroying the blade of the weapon. It was surprisingly easy. Instead of just cutting his connection to the mana, he just had to manipulate the mana to the part of the weapon that he wanted to keep. The other side would then break apart easily.
There were a few downsides, but they were minor. The first was that he would need to actually hold the weapon to easily mold the mana, which wouldn’t be a big deal as long as he wasn’t using the skill manipulate blade.
The second downside was that the pieces that he broke off would instantly dissipate. Meaning that he could make an existing weapon smaller, but he couldn’t make two weapons from one.
He reported his findings to Victoria, and she nodded.
“Truly an amazingly versatile skill. I already have a feel for your other skill that pushes swords through the air in both speed and range, but are there any other limitations?”
Dante nodded. “Yes, I can’t lift anything that is larger than an average greatsword in mass, and I can only move weapons through the air point first.”
After that, they systematically went through each of his skills. Victoria had a particular interest in his two passives, asking the most questions about the two of them. Unfortunately, she didn’t have any further insight on them that he didn’t have himself.
After running through the mana costs and his current attributes, something he had misgivings about revealing but eventually relented, Victoria was silent for a few minutes. “Your skill set is definitely not one that an apprentice of mine would usually have, but we will just need to improvise a bit… What weapons are you proficient with.”
“Usually I use two swords, but while I was at the academy, I learned how to fight with a single sword.”
Instead of a reply, Victoria just rubbed her forehead and let out a sigh. It was something that he couldn’t understand, he was quite proud of his progress in swordsmanship during the time spent at the academy.
“Unless you have a skill that is dependent on the use of a single sword, they are only useful for pretentious nobles who use it as a status symbol, or mana fodder. Dual wielding two swords is completely moronic altogether, unless you are taught by a true master.”
The first thing she said made almost no sense based on his prior knowledge, while the second thing she said made absolutely no sense. He couldn’t understand how using two swords could be moronic when it would just mean an extra sword to attack or defend. “Could you elaborate a bit? I don’t see how using a sword could be useless, much less using two… and what is mana fodder?”
Victoria let out a sigh. “Make two swords.” He began creating the two swords, while hoping that Victoria didn’t teach through pain like Archie did. “Mana is a finite resource, especially in battles. No matter the combat Classification, all of them use mana to power their skills.”
Dante made two full swords. Using two full swords instead of two large daggers had been a habit he had gotten into after learning how to use one efficiently with Archie.
Just as he was done creating his two swords, Victoria had a dagger appear in her hand. “Attack me.”
Dante moved toward Victoria, and began to attack her with the two swords. But she easily batted his attacks away. “So, because it is a finite resource, mana can be depleted. A common tactic to use, especially during sieges, is to send out weak combatants to expend the opponent’s mana, then send in more valuable combatants when there is less potential threat.”
Victoria continued to hammer his swords away. Every time one even got within range, is was easily knocked away. Initially, he didn’t think much of it, but when he attacked with both – one sword striking toward the dagger, and the other moving directly toward her unprotected body – she would just knock one sword into the path of the other.
“Those weaker combatants are called mana fodder, and they are a key part to any modern army. It is one of the reasons magic Classifications are so heavily sought after in war, their high mana regeneration can easily counter the tactic if there are enough of them.”
After a few minutes, Victoria stopped their light sparring. Leaving him unharmed, which he was more than grateful for. “Now, explain to me why dual wielding two swords is stupid.”
Dante looked down at the two swords in his hand. While it was true that they were useful for versatility and attack variation, Victoria had pointed out a huge weakness that was now obvious. “The swords can easily be tangled with each other.”
Victoria gave an approving smile and a nod. “Exactly. While a true sword master may be able to teach you how to be proficient with two full swords, I cannot. Now, let’s discuss which weapons would actually be viable for you to learn.”
He didn’t know why, but something about Victoria’s approving smile actually gave him a sense of satisfaction. For some reason, it felt like the smile was completely genuine and earned.
Despite his initial doubts, Victoria was a far better teacher than he could have asked for.