Nova slashed at Helena’s left side. The guard easily knocked the sword to the side, but she didn’t stop there. Helena stepped forward and jammed the wooden sword into Nova’s stomach. Pain hit Nova and she fell back.
“You’re dead,” Helena said. “I don’t know what you’re doing but that isn’t sword fighting. Try again.”
Nova rubbed her stomach but straightened up. She moved into a fighting stance and took the time to study Helena for openings. She thrust her sword forward in a test strike. Helena parried, knocking the strike to the side. She followed up with a forward thrust of her own, Nova twisted to the side and raised her sword up to block. The swords clanked together.
Helena stepped back and smiled. “Better.”
Then she lunged forward. Her strikes were fast and without flourish and Nova found herself on the defensive, blocking the strikes as Helena hit with growing strength. Her arm vibrated with each strike and she kept stepping backward, trying to create some distance. Helena just kept coming forward, her strikes more and more aggressive. Nova panicked and quickly found herself trying to widen the gap between them.
Suddenly, Helena stepped in and brought her sword down in a downward arc. Nova blocked and Helena quickly moved in. She shoved an elbow into Nova’s chest. Nova stumbled back and as she did Helena grabbed the hilt of Nova’s sword, bringing it down. Before Nova comprehended what happened, she was disarmed.
Nova rubbed her chest. “I really suck at this.”
“You are a beginner, ” Helena said. “There are two things you need to keep in mind when fighting. Your sword is only one part of the fight. When you fight, you should be fighting with your entire body.”
Nova nodded. She hadn’t even considered doing things like elbowing someone. She had only been focused on where to swing the sword. “What’s the second thing?”
“It’s okay to be afraid,” Helena said. “But when you fight, you must actually commit to fighting. Besides your initial swing, you didn’t try to fight back, only defend.”
Nova flushed in embarrassment. “You’re better than me.”
Helena nodded. “Of course, I am. I’ve been trained and you’re just beginning. If I was truly fighting you, it would be better for you to run than fight me. But there are times that you cannot run. At those times, you have to decide whether to fight or to die. Do you want to die?”
Nova squared her shoulders. “No.”
Helena grinned a wide, almost manic grin. “Then fight!”
She lunged forward. Nova started to step back but she gritted her teeth and met her strike. Their wooden swords clacked together. Nova’s strikes were clumsy but determined. She felt like she was fighting instincts that were telling her to run and get away from the pain. But she tried and tried.
“Good!” Helena shouted and did a quick slash at Nova’s torso.
Nova jumped back but immediately twisted to the side, jabbing her sword toward Helena’s ribs. Helena tilted her hand down, blocking the strike, and then she twisted the sword up, making a circular rotation, and before Nova knew what was happening her sword went flying.
Nova watched her sword hit the ground with a soft thud.
“Don’t look so glum,” Helena said cheerily. “You’re doing excellent. Now let’s go again.”
Nova nodded and picked up her sword again. She turned to Helena and sighed. The woman was grinning at her and Nova got the feeling the training was about to go up a notch.
By the end of their training session, Nova was exhausted and completely envious of Helena since she didn’t seem tired in the least. “What is up with your monstrous energy?”
Helena shrugged. “It’s fun.”
She groaned. She was almost completely sure that Helena was some sort of combat nut. She looked thoughtfully at the woman. “You know, I’ve been meaning to ask. What type of mana do you have?”
Helena shook her head. “I don’t have any.”
Nova blinked. “Wait, you can’t do natural magic?”
Helena shook her head. “Not even a little. Most people can’t”
Nova flushed. And here she had been, whining about it earlier. “I’m sorry.”
Helena chuckled. “There’s nothing to be sorry about. Being able to use mana can be beneficial but it’s not the end of everything if you can’t use it. I can swing my mace and it’s just as satisfying.”
“Mace? I thought you used a sword,” Nova said as they walked back to the caverns.
“I can use a sword and I’m good at it but the mace is my preference.”
“Oh,” Nova said. She hadn’t even thought of using anything other than a sword. Her mind had simply gone, ‘fantasy world, need sword.’ Maybe she needed to think about weaponry a bit more and what type might fit her the best.
They stopped to check on Briney before returning back. Nova felt bad that the kraken had to spend the night in the lake but with his size being so large he couldn’t stay at Helena’s. Luckily, Briney didn’t seem to mind and seemed to even prefer being in the lake. Still, she would have preferred to have him back to his miniature size and safely with her.
Since Helena was with her, she didn’t call Jace. She figured that would be just screaming she was a Soul Traveler and though she considered Helena a friend she wasn’t sure how that would hold up against her duties as a guard. Though maybe it wouldn’t be so bad. She got the feeling Helena had suspicions that Mathius was practicing summoning but besides trying to dissuade him from it she had spent most of her time trying to shield him from the guard. It gave Nova something to think about.
Once they returned to Helena’s place a wave of exhaustion hit her and she decided to turn in for the night. She changed into her night clothes and laid down. Despite how tired she was, Nova didn’t immediately go to sleep. There was something she wanted to do first. She called up her system. She looked over the new stats she had and then focused on strength.
The user’s strength potential.
Nova frowned. The information was a little too simple. She had hoped for a bit more on how the strength stat would work. She focused on alignment but no additional information showed up. She frowned and then closed the window out and focused on the next stat.
The user’s intelligence potential.
Yeah, still just as vague.
She looked at the alignment again and then closed out the window. It looked like the alignment was the same as her stat score.
What does it mean by alignment exactly?
She went through her Agility and Stamina stats and everything was the same. Things changed when she went to will.
The user’s strength to choose.
Nova blinked at the screen. There was no alignment this time and the message was even stranger than the other stat messages. Unlike the others, there was no mention of potential. That got her thinking. If the other skills were about potential and had alignments then that meant the alignment was tied to the potential of a stat. It gave her an idea but before she went that far she wanted to look at the other stats.
She focused on Mana Agility.
The user’s ability to use mana efficiently.
Again, the alignment aspect was gone. She closed out the screen and focused on her main screen. Str, Int, Agi, and Sta were clustered together while Will, Mana Agility, and Mana Pool were in a different grouping. It meant it would probably be best to think of them as different categories.
Maybe Physical Stats and Magical Stats?
That didn’t seem quite right but she left it at that for now and instead focused on her mana pool.
The inner mana the user can draw from.
Penalty: Demon Bond – 10% reduction
Mana Pool: 450
Nova nodded her head as she looked at the screen. It explained the -50 she saw on the main screen. Surprisingly, it didn’t bother her too much. It was a small price to pay for being alive. She was actually surprised she hadn’t heard from Trixie the whole day. It made her wonder if Korn had done more damage than she had given him credit for.
There was no answer. She felt a little guilty about not worrying about the demon until now. Maybe she was being too soft. The woman was a demon who tricked her when she was in a desperate situation. But she also saved Nova’s life.
Yeah, I’m being too soft.
Her mother always said she needed to be careful about that but it had always been hard for her to listen to that. It wasn’t that she considered herself particularly kind but more a feeling of she was afraid not to be kind. She shook her head. Her mind was wandering.
She looked back at her screen. Her attention turned to DXP and SP.
DXP can be applied toward leveling XP or you can transfer 5 DXP into 1 SP.
That’s interesting and completely confusing.
It didn’t explain how she gained DXP and what the benefits were to use it to help level or to make it into SP. It sounded like something she would have to figure out on her own.
Trial and error it is.
SP can be added to Str, Int, Agi, and Sta.
She closed out the windows and looked at her screen. Right away she decided to leave the DXP alone. With her leveling repairing, she was afraid to waste her XP by using them and she didn’t want to transfer it to SP until she knew whether she would need the XP or not. Instead, she focused on the SP.
She had four points and she was tempted to throw them all in strength. She was just so weak. Still, she hesitated. She didn’t have anyone to compare her stats to and she could be pathetically weak in her other stats as well.
So, what stat do I want to focus on?
Honestly, she was leaning towards Mana Agility but it wasn’t an option. She hoped that meant it increased in a different way. She really hoped she wasn’t stuck with a four forever. No matter how she looked at it. She didn’t think that was a good number.
She sighed and instead focused on the stats she could change. Right now, putting anything anywhere was risky but hoarding it was stupid as well. At least if they were applied, they would be useful. Perhaps she could compromise. The best thing would be to see how each stat worked. She had four points, enough to test out each stat and figure out its function at least until she could get some reliable information.
Let’s try just one for now.
She looked down the list but she already made up her mind. She put one stat point in strength. A screen popped up asking her to confirm and she did. She waited for something to happen. She didn’t feel stronger. Honestly, it didn’t feel like anything had changed.
She focused on the strength stat.
The user’s strength potential.
Her eyebrows rose when she saw the alignment. So that’s what’s happening.
She wasn’t instantly stronger but she had the potential to become stronger. She wondered what she needed to do to push it up to 4/4 alignment. Luckily, she had her training with Helena to help her. It made her curious if the stats only expanded potential or if more stat points made it easier to get stronger as well. She wasn’t sure but she was willing to test it.
She considered throwing the rest of her points in the other stats but now that she knew that it expanded potential, she wanted to make sure she optimized it. She changed her plans, deciding she would see if she could find any information on stats first.
A yawn hit Nova and she stifled it. She was tired and she knew she had a lot she wanted to do tomorrow. She felt she could spend hours going over her screen but she was too tired. She wasn’t used to sword fighting and her arms were shaking slightly on top of her body being bruised and sore.
She leaned back in her bed and as she did, she couldn’t help her mind drifting back to Oren’s offer. It itched at her mind, keeping her from completely succumbing to sleep.
I don’t want to be forced to join the Sanitation Guild.
It still gave her mafia undertones despite what Oren has said to her. More than that, she didn’t like being forced to choose. It felt like since she came into this world, she had been pushed into decisions she didn’t feel ready to make. This time, she wanted to really think about her options.
So what are my options?
She received the class of Artifactor. It meant she had some way of developing it. At least she hoped so. Having help would definitely speed up the process but was Oren the only option?
No, he isn’t.
Nova brightened as an obvious solution came to mind.
She would have to be careful and not let out about being a Soul Traveler but it was probably the best source to gain information about her class. On top of that, Tinle had some connection with the Academy or used to. He could at least advise her on who to speak with.
Nova smiled. With a plan in mind, sleep came much easier.
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