A few hours ago,
Within the Thorne training complex, there were various facilities beyond the sparring arena, including specially designed cultivation rooms. These tranquil chambers were meticulously constructed to enhance focus, meditation, and the precise manipulation of energy.
In one such room, a dozen men had gathered. The Thorne Knights, with their imposing physiques and determined gazes, varied in age but shared a certain rugged handsomeness. Clad in their distinctive black and silver attire, they exuded an aura of disciplined warriors, their faces reflecting years of rigorous training and experience.
The men engaged in conversation, discussing various topics, but many were focused on the selection of the new Lieutenant General. The recent passing of the previous one, along with Marcus, had left this position vacant. While there was no debate regarding the identity of the new General, as it could only be Thorne's heir, the matter of the second in command, the Lieutenant General, remained uncertain.
And the competition for that coveted title raged on. The position held immense power, as the Thorne General, except in times of war or beast tides, delegated most army management matters to the Lieutenant General. In fact, the Lieutenant General's words were often considered law, except when they contradicted the General's orders, which was a rare occurrence.
Compared to previous Thorne generations, this current one boasted the finest talents. Consequently, numerous candidates emerged, showcasing their strength and merits for the role.
In Thorne's history, the selection of the Lieutenant General typically involved a martial competition among those with sufficient merits. It was more a tradition than a rule, designed to demonstrate the chosen one's worthiness. However, the final decision rested solely with the commanding General, who could appoint a candidate without the need for consent.
The selection process, which should have already concluded, had been delayed due to Marcus's untimely death. Now, discussions surrounding this impending selection had become a hot topic within the Thorne army, as they eagerly awaited their new leader.
"Attention!" A shout interrupted their talks, and they swiftly complied, forming a disciplined row with feet together, arms at their sides, eyes fixed forward, and maintaining silence.
"Now our weekly cultivation session is over, we're moving on to sparring. Keep in mind that the loser will have to clean the military uniforms," announced Gareth, a seasoned Captain among the Thorne knights, his imposing presence commanding attention.
He led his comrades toward the sparring arena, anticipation building after their rigorous cultivation. As the sun cast long shadows over the vast training complex, they discussed their upcoming rest days, eager for a break from their demanding training regimen.
However, their leisurely conversation came to an abrupt halt as they stepped into the arena. Gareth's eyes widened in surprise as he witnessed a spectacle unfolding before him.
There, in the center of the arena, were Elian and Lys, locked in a fierce hand-to-hand battle. It was a surprising sight, as Elian was known for his impressive control over mana and formidable combat skills with a blade, but this was different. Lys, a talented knight in her own right, Lys, Elian's personal servant, had engaged Elian in a frantic contest of physical prowess.
"What's going on here?" Gareth mumbled to himself, his curiosity piqued.
His fellow knights shared his astonishment, their eyes glued to the intense skirmish below. Elian moved with a fluid grace, easily countering every strike Lys launched at him. It was a display of skill and precision that left the onlookers awestruck.
"Is that... Elian?" one of the knights whispered, unable to believe what they were witnessing.
lightsΝοvεl ƈοm"It is," Gareth confirmed, his voice filled with astonishment. "And you should call him Young Master, you dolt," he added, his attention never wavering from the intense battle before him.
While Lys's combat skills were by no means lacking, they did appear less impressive when measured against those of formally trained fighters. Numerous thirteen-year-olds exhibited combat prowess that far exceeded her own, but these comparisons held true mainly when referring to rigorously trained youngsters. In contrast, when assessed in the context of the average thirteen-year-old, Lys's skills were indeed quite commendable. Gareth couldn't help but speculate whether Lys had clandestinely received specialized training, given that, with only a few exceptions, Thorne maids were not typically trained in combat.
He was fairly certain she wasn't one of those exceptions. Gareth suspected that her close familial relationship with the Young Master played a role. Perhaps he had provided her with training sessions and kept the news hidden.
In stark contrast, Elian seemed like nothing short of a prodigy. The term "monster" was the most fitting description for him. While he wasn't going all out, given the lack of formidable opposition, his fighting style spoke volumes. Both fighters relied solely on their martial prowess, without the aid of mana. Yet, Elian's combat skills were executed with flawless precision. His every movement, footwork, and counter resembled a masterpiece of art. It was as though he was dancing through the fight, turning each motion into a graceful display.
His only limitation was his still-developing physique. Despite his relatively tall stature and well-defined muscles, he remained an eleven-year-old boy.
Without mana reinforcement, his strength and speed were constrained. Nevertheless, Gareth confidently asserted that no one under the age of fifteen could best him in a mana-less battle.
Gareth couldn't resist drawing parallels between Elian and their revered late leader, Marcus Thorne. General Marcus Thorne had been a prodigious fighter, unparalleled in his own right. He was rumored to be one of the Kingdom's mightiest warriors in the past century. However, witnessing Elian's performance, Gareth was convinced that the boy might well be the most formidable talent of the last millennium.
The realization that this exceptional individual could become their future General brought a smile to Gareth's face.
"The future of the Thorne army is exceptionally promising," he mused. ...
As the intense battle unfolded, Gareth observed something rather unusual. Amidst their fierce combat, Lys managed to land a clean punch squarely on Elian's face. It was a strike that should have easily been deflected, yet Elian made no effort to block it-or at least, his block seemed badly executed.
"Why didn't he block that punch?" Gareth pondered aloud, a furrow forming on his brow. He couldn't readily accept that Elian had simply failed to execute the block.
"Perhaps he intended to let her score a hit," Gareth considered, his thoughts racing.
"Yes, it's possible he didn't want to dishearten her," he concluded.
His fellow knights exchanged perplexed glances, equally baffled by Elian's atypical behavior. Speculation buzzed through the arena as they collectively tried to decipher the unfolding enigma.