It had been two years since Ace was reborn, and he could now say with absolute certainty that he was no longer in the same world.
It took him about six months of focus and hard work to finally understand the language. He also noticed that his perception seemed to have improved, but he had no idea how or why, so he didn't give it much thought.
After learning this new language, he realised this was a world completely different from the one he was used to. There were no pirates sailing the seas, no world government enforcing their ideals.
No, this was a world filled with mages, warriors, and all sorts of mythical creatures. He'd even heard rumours of there being deities.
It took a while to get used to, especially knowing that he had no way to find out what happened to those he cared about from his past life, but what gave him hope was that since he made it here, making it back surely wasn't impossible. He silently vowed to get strong enough to not only keep his mother safe in this life but also strong enough to find a way back to those he left behind.
Not wanting to draw too much attention to himself, he took his "first" step at six months, said his first word at ten months, and began forming sentences at a year. Although it was still extremely fast, it wasn't ground-breaking. Not that it stopped Milianna from calling him her little genius.
By the time he reached his first birthday, Milianna, who had been living in Surielle's spare room on the condition that she did all the housework, now felt confident he didn't need so much of her attention. As a result, she decided to take a job as a carer in the town's daycare/orphanage.
It gave her the money she needed to get a room at the town's inn and provide for both her and Ace whilst also allowing her to take care of him during the days.
Whilst at the orphanage during the day, Ace would spend his time in their small library trying to learn more about this new world he was born into.
At first, he would be accompanied by one of the members of staff, all of whom found him way too adorable to say no to, but after a few months, he began to shock them with his intelligence as he understood how to read the text almost perfectly. After that, they allowed him to read by himself.
It only served to ostracise him from the other children, but he hardly noticed.
When in the library, he'd forget that he was in the body of a child. Only when he was around his mother would he allow himself to play the part of a child perfectly.
She often encouraged him to play with the other children, but he made it clear that he was more interested in reading than playing.
He would often lament about what his life had come to. He, the second division commander of the Whitebeard Pirates, Portgas D. Ace, would rather read than have fun. If any of his former friends or family found out, they would never believe it, but it was true.
At first, he found reading to be a chore, especially as most were fictional stories about heroes slaying monsters and rescuing damsels in distress. But he became more engrossed as he started reading factual books about the world.
For example, he found out that the Noble family in charge of the town, The Baruch Clan was once one of the four most powerful and prestigious clans in the entire Yulan Plane.
They were referred to as Dragon Blood Warriors, apparently because they could transform into humanoid dragon-like creatures. He wasn't sure how true it was, but there was no denying they were more than likely once a truly impressive clan.
He asked the Orphanage's Maitre d' about it, but she said she didn't know all the facts. All she knew was that the Baruch Clan of the past was no more. All that remains of them is the current head of the family, Hogg Baruch. His pregnant wife, Lina, and their oldest son Linley Baruch.
As fascinating as all that was, his interest really peaked when he found information about the power system of his new world.
Due to it being a library of an orphanage, there was a limit to the amount of information it held. Still, it gave him a general understanding of the progression of strength, and his mind instantly went into overdrive as he started pondering his options moving forward.
There were two paths to follow, that of a warrior and that of a mage. Both paths had a total of nine recorded realms of power, rank one being the weakest and nine being the strongest.
Above the ninth rank was the fabled saint stage. Unfortunately, not much was mentioned about it, other than that they were apparently immortal, could fly through the skies and crush mountains with a simple wave of their hands, but that was where the similarities of the two paths stopped.
According to the books he'd read, just about anyone could walk the path of a warrior as long as they were willing to endure the aches and pain it came with. Simply put, you just needed to exercise the body, and you'd eventually break into higher realms.
Unfortunately, he couldn't find much information about the path of a mage. The only thing he'd gleamed was that to become a mage, you needed to have a high enough affinity for one of the elements and a spiritual force of over five times the average person your age.
Ace was interested in both paths. In his former life, he'd always been strong physically, and after having the fire devil fruit for so long, he'd grown accustomed to controlling the element of fire.
He was desperate to begin training immediately, but his mother stopped him and told him that he shouldn't do it alone, just in case he injured himself. The town offered training to the children, but they had to wait until they were six so their bodies could cope with the stress without doing any long-term damage.
Ace decided that even if he had to wait another four years to start training officially, nothing was stopping him from doing light training in the meantime.
He'd spend most mornings doing basic exercises he'd been taught by his adoptive grandfather from his childhood in his last life – Monkey D. Garp.
If he was going to do this, he might as well do it right. He remembered Garp saying that the more flexible your body, the more strain it would be able to take safely. As a result, he spent the first year training nothing but his flexibility whenever he was alone. As dull as it was, he was determined to build a solid foundation for his future.