Yesterday's fight in the cafeteria had greatly upset Thrax even after arriving at their private quarters, he was slamming doors, stomping his feet, and kept on saying if he had mastered one of the fire spells or at least had a weapon in hand, he would've taught those arrogant sons of bitches a lesson they'd never forget. Hence, Thrax had decided to visit the institute of combat and invited the others to come with him last night, who all had accepted, except for Klea who still had a lot of invitations from other institutes that caught her attention the most.
Thrax, in fact, had been talking about wanting to check out the institute of combat since day one during their discussions on the previous nights but hadn't had the chance to attend it because he didn't want Julian to one up him by being ahead in spiritual comprehension.
The next morning came and Emery got ready with the boys. Actually, he wanted to try and deepen his comprehension in the basic earth spirit cultivation technique since he had invested three days already in it but after considering magus Darius' advice not to push himself, Emery removed that thought in his head and focused on the institute of combat, especially in his heart, he had always wanted to become one of those great knights waving the sword that would've also made his father proud.
The four boys came out of their private quarters, passed through the portal in the fountain plaza and were surprised to see how different this place looked, except perhaps for Emery who felt like this place was reminiscent of his kingdom's aesthetics.
Gray bricks painted the walls of most of the buildings, rooftops either scarlet-red or azure-blue, and tall towers higher than the castle in the Lioness Kingdom. This place was also bustling with crowds and the buildings were all bunched up together, creating a tight network of streets, alleys, stairs leading up and down to god-knows-where that could make a person feel like they'd get lost after taking one wrong turn in the corner.
Luckily, they noticed a large group of acolytes wearing a different kind of uniform that looked more like a suit of armor and started following them until arriving at a giant building with large signages of a sword, spear, hammer, bow and arrow, dagger, shield and fist placed accordingly on the spacious gray wall.
Thrax made his way first inside with the others not far behind, passing through two massive opened doors with two guards standing on both ends of the doors, and spoke to a green-haired woman with big-round spectacles.
She said in a flat tone, "If you have just arrived at the institute of combat, please make your way to the left and just keep following the path. If you have been here for more than one occasion, kindly go right. If you have other business, tell me how I can assist."
They walked true through a long passageway with many closed doors on the side. It took about five minutes before the light of day shone through the end of the passage; they exited and came to a broad open space with thousands of acolytes handling weapons of all types. The walls on the side were like at least 20 feet high(6.1 meters) with rows of seats higher the farther it went.
Julian couldn't help but comment, "Wow! It's like our Colosseum at home but this one's much bigger and magnificent!"
On the side was a man with beefy arms, large chest, bald head but overgrown pointy beard who had taken notice of them. "Ay! Fresh blood! Come 'ere! I was 'bout to start me introduction and ye soft bones just came at the right timing. Me name is Vico and I'll be yer guide in this stadium!"
After the quick introduction, Vico pointed with his thumb at the rows of weapons placed behind and proceeded to explain the institute of combat with his booming voice to the thousand new acolytes. "Since ye all are soft bones lads and gals, I'd like for all to know this institute is open to ye soft bones who want to pursue the art of fighting.
"Whether yer a close or a ranged magus, ye all still need to learn how to fight with weapons regardless of yer ranking. Tis' would ensure a magus could adapt to the situation in the battlefield or if yer spirit capacity runs out. And even though a magus dun' need a weapon to fight, at least ye would know how to defend yerself or predict the movements of yer enemies that's using a weapon."
Vico grabbed a great axe with two sharp edges and flames suddenly erupted on the edges! "Ye may also use tis' weapons as a tool to channel yer elemental energy. The magi who are experts in tis' spells are known as combat magi. Some objects 'ere as well can be used as a catalyst to increase one's spirit power temporarily such as 'tis stave.
"There are many ways and spells one could do with 'tis weapons for example, wind coming out of every slash, making the weapon so heavy that it could easily crush flat surfaces, flaming it like 'tis so it could cut or penetrate even the toughest metal, etc. 'Tis are our, the combat magi's, secret to our greatness."
The flame then disappeared and Vico placed the great axe back on the rack. "In this institute of combat, for now ye will learn how to fight using 'tis weapons or bare hands. Me sure that ye all saw the display on our front door, right? In case some of ye forgot though, our institute has eight paths. They are the path of sword, spear, blunt weapon, bow, dagger, shield and of course yer trusty bare hands.
"We all welcome ye soft bones acolytes to come here anytime and use our training equipment and places at any time. However, since ye all are soft bones are fresh blood, we only allow ye all to choose just one type of weapon. But once ye are stronger, ye all may learn all weapons we have and in fact, we encourage ye. 'Ter all, it'd be best for ye soft bones to learn yer enemies' movements."
Vico demonstrated some movements using the sword, switching to axe, then wielding a spear. His force was so powerful that the onlookers could feel that the air was heating up with each wave of a weapon.
"Again, ye all may use and train in any path ye'd like, however, that dunn' mean our institute accept ye as our acolytes. Only those who have talent, endurance and determination could enter our institute and be taught unlike the element institute, the combat institute dunn' not easily accept acolytes as a member of our institute. If ye are accepted, however, ye have the opportunity to learn from one of our famous combat magi."
Vico then took the acolytes to another side of the stadium where five well-built men, whom Vico had mentioned were combat magi, before saying, "Today, we will accept only a hundred from ye all to be our students. Make sure ye are all ready to take the test 'cause like in the battlefield, ye only have one life."