"Gosh, the young master came to spar again!"
"Will he be alright? The amount of blood he loses is hard for me to watch anymore..."
"But, you saw his progress too, right?"
"Yeah...he can hold his sword with a strong grip and even keep up sparing with us for a while. I always feel a strange pressure from him too..."
The knights spoke to each other, seeing Nicokel walking towards the arena. They were both worried and amazed by Nicokel's perseverance so far.
Nicokel had no prior contact with the knights, before the past few weeks. Hence their image of him wasn't that bad, they didn't pay much attention to the rumors too once they came to know more about him.
Walking in, Nicokel found the usual view of knights bowing their heads toward him. Signaling them to continue, Nicokel walked to the knight captain.
"The same as usual?"
"Yes," Nicokel replied to the knight captain in a relaxed voice. Their relationship had grown to the level they could at least have normal conversations.
"Opelt, today you can spar with the young master." The knight captain happily called one of the apprentice knights. He was extremely satisfied with Nicokel's rapid growth. He had even begun coaching him when any mistake surfaced.
Moving to a corner, Nicokel looked at the knight he would be training with today.
The knight appeared to have crossed his 20s recently, with his hair tied in a ponytail. He smiled toward Nicokel like any other knight, they all held immense respect and awe towards the Verskein family.
The Verskein family was also called the guardian wall by many of the citizens in the empire.
'The Verskein family has protected the empire and our home for a long time. It's an honor to train the heir of such a family.' Opelt smiled and bowed before pulling out his sword.
On the other hand, Nicokel pulled the short sword he received from the knight captain.
Internally, Nicokel sighed: 'The knights hold back even the slightest hostility or fighting spirit while sparring with me. I can't keep up my battle spirit single-sided all the time...'
Nicokel had gained a lot of experience, the way to hold the sword better to block or parry. Even the way to move the body and footings, all of them had received a huge boost. However, he felt a sense of dissatisfaction even then.
'There is no way an enemy would go easy like this. Though I will most likely stay in the backlines, anything can happen on the battlefield.' Nickel breathed out with disappointment that he won't gain such experience here.
Truthfully, Nicokel just wanted the knight to show some killing intent similar to him even though it sounded selfish. Not experiencing the sharp feeling that brushes past him, whenever he was on the battlefield — made him a little dull.
However, that appeared different in others' eyes.
Opelt was the most shaken, without a doubt he saw disappointment passing through Nicokel's eyes as he looked at him.
"Don't hold back."
Nicokel repeated the same words he had spoken to every knight so far.
At that moment, the knight captain walked beside them: "Opelt, don't hold back. Spar like you usually do with others."
Opelt's eyes widened at hearing such an order, but he nodded his head in understanding.
Nicokel smiled slightly at the knight captain.
Shockingly, Nicokel couldn't grow stronger like in the past month and a week. He could exhibit strength a lot above his age, however, that was all. The human body has limits that cannot be easily surpassed.
'I tried meditating and stuff but still found no mana in my body. Damn life.' Nicokel felt rueful again remembering his mana potential.
Seeing that both of them were ready, the knight captain slowly raised his hand.
Nicokel moved first, showing his agility. His eyes sparkled, 'Concentrate.'
Nicokel could feel that this time his opponent was serious from his eyes. They were sharply looking at Nicokel's every movement.
Putting strength into his leg, Nicokel lunged the sword towards one of the openings he found on Opelt's left waist.
"You have good eyes young master Nicokel."
The very next moment, Nicokel felt a strong force on his palms forcing him dozens of steps back.
Unknowingly, the sword that was held in Opelt's right hand easily parried Nicokel's attack.
"Oof..." Getting back his balance, Nicokel's face hardened.
A sword was nearing his face already.
"Ugh!" Nicokel was somehow able to raise his sword to block that. However, he was literally sent flying because of the strong impact.
From the corner of his eyes, Nicokel could see that Opelt was only using a single hand while swinging the sword. Immediately, a bitter smile formed on his face seeing that. At the same time, he was enlightened about the difference between him and an apprentice knight.
Knights' train their bodies from a very young age, their strength was way above Nicokel to block or parry. He couldn't even try feint or anything before he was blown away like this.
He landed upright with all his strength, Nicokel had vividly seen Opelt dashing towards his location while in the air.
Nicokel's body tensed to the maximum, while his mind's focus grew higher and higher. Multiple ideas flew through his head before he chose to move a few steps back.
"Huh...?" Nicokel's eyes widened immediately.
Opelt moved with such agility that Nicokel could see him growing bigger rapidly in his eyes.
"It appears I am faster than you too, Young master Nicokel." Opelt's playful voice rang out.
Clenching his lightly, Nicokel swung his sword forward at Opelt, who was a step away from him.
As if his attack was a joke, Opelt stepped aside with leisure and lunged his sword beside Nicokel's neck.
Nicokel concentrated with everything he had.
Instantly, the world froze, no it slowed down drastically. A strange feeling took over Nicokel's body.
'This is...!' Nicokel couldn't help but think of the moment he had died on earth, it was the same sensation.
Information flowed into Nicokel's head through his eyes. At that moment, all of Opelt's movement was understood by him at an instant.
The way he breathed, the degree his leg spun, and even the amount of strength Opelt used on his hands.
'...Is this my talent?' Nicokel was filled with contempt, but he quickly broke this train of thought. Suddenly the slowed-down time began flowing again a little faster.
However, Nicokel was not as helpless as before. He moved his body with all his might, he too moved slowly like Opelt.
Nicokel could see Opelt's expression quickly changing to that of shock.
Nicokel's sword tried to aim for Opelt's neck, however, he froze in his position. He couldn't help but freeze, because right at this moment, blue mana particles were rising from his body.
"Stop!" The knight captain urgently stopped the duel too with an astonished face.
The knight training ground grew quiet in that instant.
The knight captain couldn't help but feel excited: 'He awakened his mana! That too at the age of almost 13 years! Mana storage comparable to a dragon...no even higher.'
Just the thought made the knight captain feel his hair stand on the end.
Though Nicokel had a blank face, staring at his hands. He was more shocked than anyone here because he knew his body better than anyone.
'My body is comparable to a normal 15 or 16-year-old...taking that into the record, just how freakishly large will my mana reserve be?' Nicokel felt goosebumps rise within him but at the same time an irresistible amount of excitement made him clench his fist.