Until that moment, Lith's martial training had been really sloppy. Despite all his efforts, in a whole year of practice, he had barely managed to regain the skill level of a 4th kyu of ju-jitsu (the equivalent of an orange belt for karate).
The only aspects he had managed to step up to the 3rd kyu (the equivalent of a green belt for karate) were the footwork and the fall techniques. Even that had been possible only because the initial progression depended completely on him.
Without a sparring partner, someone that could watch his moves and help him correct his mistakes, there was only so much that he could do.
He could either make a mud dummy move or train himself, he was not at the point that he could do both at the same time. Making a rough mud doll perform human-like movements required a lot of concentration.
That meant that he could only put the dummies in position and then practice while they were once again still. Lith's body was even clumsier than his original one back on Earth. To make real progress, he needed to be hit, to be thrown around, and to practice all his moves on a moving target.
Yet Lith couldn't ask for help from anyone. How could he possibly explain that he wanted to practice alien martial arts? What help could anyone give him, not even knowing the basics of the basics? That's why he usually practiced in the middle of the night.
Solus was the perfect solution for his problem. After further merging their minds, they had discovered new uses for the tower core. Lith had just had to plant her into a mud doll to turn it into a quasi-golem, finally getting his sparring partner.
Solus had all the human senses and more. As long as she had Lith's permission, she could consume his mana to perform spells he knew in his stead. Her nature was that of a magic tower, she was supposed to overseer countless floors and devices.
Even in her weakened state, moving a poor excuse of a mud golem was as easy as pie. Solus further improved Lith's idea, managing to make the golem's body soften at the right times, before hitting him or being hit.
This way, she was able to put enough strain on Lith's body to train it, and avoid any possible injury by accident.
She also had access to all his memories, including all of his masters' teachings. Solus was able to use those memories to correct Lith's mistakes and help him improve by leaps and bounds.
Thanks to Invigoration, Lith was now able to stay awake for a whole month before his performance started to decline and forced him to rest. Thanks to Solus, whenever he would meet a bottleneck, he would train martial arts.
He only needed to take a short break when the fatigue became too much. Light magic would mend his muscles, making them recover and grow stronger in a matter of minutes, dissipating the accumulated lactic acid at the same time.
During those moments, Lith and Solus would chat heart to heart.
'So, what do you plan to do in the future? Why do you put so much effort into all this training? Magic, martial arts, hunting. Why don't you stop from time to time, just to smell the roses?' Solus asked.
'Whenever I take a break, I start thinking about the future. That scares me to death. I already know that death is a trap that forces me to switch one hell with another.
'I don't want to live all my life in a small village, just the idea is equivalent to the death penalty. Doing the same routine every day, in a prison without bars where I am forced to lie every single day, waiting to die and start all over again.
'I can't bear this thought. My plan is to test this body's limits, get as strong as I can, so that once I reach adulthood, I will be able to explore this world, and see if it's worth living in.
'If either this body or this world meet my expectation, I will strive all my life to find a way to prevent me from passing into another world after my death.'
��How?' Solus asked.
'I don't know, I'm still as ignorant as a baby about magic. All I know is its practical use. I have no idea if it's possible to create magical artifacts.
'If my hypothesis is right, I could become a lich. Even better, I could find a way to bind my soul to this world, so that in case of death I would remain here, possessing the nearest available corpse. I hope that when push comes to the shove, I will also have found a way to retain both my mana core and muscle memory.' Lith thought.
'And what if both the world and your body fail you?'
'In that case, I would not mind starting my journey once again. If I have to live a sh*tty life in a sh*tty world, I might as well depart early.
'I'll keep moving around until I roll my 100, and get born as a perfectly healthy young master of a filthy rich family, a chosen one, or whatever. It's just a matter of luck.'
'What about your family? Are you going to abandon them like that?' Solus's question made Lith ponder seriously about that matter.
'Of course not. Making them lose their son, their brother for no reason, without even giving them a body to bury is too cruel, even for me. I'll stick around until my family needs me before checking out.'
'Don't you see? Things are not actually all black and white like you make them out to be. When you awoke in this world, you couldn't wait to die. To 'reroll' as you say.
'Then you chose to stay for the magic. Now you are willing to continue this life for someone else's sake. Give yourself some time.
'The bad people you met have reinforced your bias on life, but the good people are also slowly changing you. In the beginning, you couldn't care less about Tista's life, whereas now it's all you think about.
'You hated both Elina and Raaz even before knowing them, because of your issues with parental figures. They are not the parents who ruined your life on Earth and this planet is not Earth. Give it a chance before doing something so extreme.'
'How do I know you are not telling me all this stuff only to keep your host?' Lith asked.
'Easy peasy, just read my mind.' After checking it thrice, Lith could not find any hidden agenda or egotistical reason.
'Dammit, all this mind-link stuff is so irritating. I cannot get out of this argument with mistrust or doubts. It's my loss. For now, at least. You are barely a month old, life will change you. It always does.'
Solus giggled again.
'Or maybe it will change you, and you will start warming up to me. Then you will have to take care of me for your whole life, hubby.'
Lith felt a cold chill run down his spine.
'Please, don't call me like that. I'm ready to go again. Don't go easy on me!'
'I never do.' Solus replied, getting on Lith's already shaken nerves.
Thanks to all that exercise, Lith would quickly overcome any bottlenecks, and soon he could feel the bottled-up impurities trying to find their way out again.
Lith had pondered if it was the case of getting rid of the impurities in the same way he did for the rest of his family, but after discussing it with Solus, he decided against it.
The purification treatment he had devised for Tista was an artificial method. Even though it gave the same benefits in terms of physical appearance and resistance to illness, their magic power, and physical prowess never got enhanced.
Lith had no idea why the impurities had to travel to the mana core before getting expelled, inflicting such an excruciating pain. But it was worth the cost.
It happened during one of their sparring sessions. As soon as Lith realized what was happening, he quickly undressed himself to not taint his clothes.
This time he offered no resistance, discovering that it wasn't so painful after all.
Lith expelled far more impurities than the last time, letting them come out of all his pores and orifices.
The stench was so bad that he was about to faint before managing to destroy them with dark magic.
He was completely exhausted, this time not even Invigoration could replenish his energies, he needed to sleep.
'After a bath. I stink so bad I could raise the dead.'
Solus ignored the obvious remark.
'It's exactly as you remembered. Whatever happens to you, is like a sword getting tempered and purified at the same time. Both your body and mana core have undergone qualitative changes again.
'I think your potential skyrocketed. Now you are stronger than my bare minimum requirements. You still need to work hard to develop your skills, though.'
And so, Lith continued his routine until the day of the spring festival came.