It should be of no surprise that Ashton failed his first attempts as sensing Mana. In fact, based from his experience and what he knows, he"s not even close but that's fine, he has time anyway.
In his first Meditation attempt, he was more focused on staying at the Meditative State since that's the requirement to do sense Mana more accurately. Unless he gets better at Meditation, he shouldn't even think about Mana Sensing for now.
Though he had to admit...if only his System acknowledge the Meditation as a thing that can be used for the Grinding Slots, this process would've been way faster. Alas, he can't have them all. He should be thankful that he has a system to begin with.
Speaking of the System, Ashton admitted hadn't found a very good use of it as of now. Well, the sign-in function is the thing he uses the most and he actually accumulated a lot of nifty things from it but as for things that would actually make him stronger, well there isn't a lot of that.
But he did get something though...
[Military Combat Tactics (13th Army Edition)]
? A list of Close Quarters Combat Techniques practiced by the Military Forces of the Morning Sun Federation.
? This Technique is released for public use and is free.
? Learning it will prove to be useful on certain occasions.
The Military Combat Tactics is a set of kickboxing techniques created for Soldiers who will brave the dangers of the outside world.
It has 13 forms each having various stances that were refined by the Military throughout the years. The one he received is the latest edition which is refined by the '13th Army' which Ashton doesn't recognize for now at least.
What's interesting is that, each form on the technique is named after animals; Bear, Tiger, Swan, Pangolin, Snake, Ape, Mantis and so on...it really reminds Ashton of those Kung-Fu movies he watched on his previous life.
Ashton already learned this technique. All the forms and executions were imprinted on his mind but it doesn't mean that he has mastered it. Sadly, the System doesn't work that way...would be nice if it was but it wasn't, oh well.
He has to practice each stances and forms individually and master them all by himself...for now at least. He could hire someone to teach him but it's unnecessary as the System imprinted every little detail on his brain perfectly. With time and constant practice, he'd fix those mistakes on his own.
Ashton initially thought that this technique isn't that bad. The forms and stances are complicated enough and it's actually painful to do them properly but then he realized that, that's actually the charm behind it.
As this technique is made for Military use, it is created with the thought of instilling discipline to soldiers, which is a very important aspect of theirs. Pain is also a good motivator in some ways and if one does the forms and stances correctly, this technique can sculpt their physique and make it stronger and healthier.
To that extent, Ashton didn't mind learning and practicing it.
He's mostly free during the day anyway. Staying idle all-day long will deteriorate his physical strength which is bad. Just because he's a mage, it doesn't necessarily mean that he has to be physically fragile.
Ashton already added this to his daily routine and he's been at if for a week now. He always practices the technique every morning at the Training Room, going through all forms and stances, making sure that he's doing them properly.
After sweating, he'd sit down and practice Meditation. He found out that it was easier for him to stay in the Meditative State when he's a bit exhausted. It works so he's not going to question it. Once that's done, he takes a shower while Jerry prepares his breakfast. He studies after all this.
Just like this, Ashton is falling yet again to another routine, which doesn't really sound bad. The routine he had is a healthy one and will just improve his longevity in the long run so why not?
Third week of March...
Ashton could be seen sitting in front of his massive tv, watching the shows that he liked and right now, one of those channels he was following is showing something that made his jaw agape.
It's an official spar between a Mage and a Knight.
And unlike the one that he had seen on the bus, this one isn't a sham nor a commercial. This is the real deal.
Ashton couldn't give a single f about what they're fighting for nor he's in any state to care. All he knows is that what's happening on his tv, is so freaking cool.
The fighters were fast, so fast they're a blur. Thankfully this is a replay and it was slowed-down for the audience to see what's going-on.
The fighters in question are Roland Cassidy and Nelson Higgs.
Roland is the mage. A Lv. 8 Archmage and Nelson is a Lv. 9 Veteran Knight.
Ashton watched the two as they wrecked absolute havoc on their surroundings. Roland threw all sorts of spells from fireballs, icicle shards, boulders and sharp crescents of winds towards Nelson - who moved like an agile hawk dodging and defending against all the projectiles being thrown at him while also managing to counter-attack.
From what he head from the newscaster, Nelson's Physique is called a Sky Ram which strengthened his poise and endurance greatly. Nelson was a big and beefy dude, wearing a full set of armor that looked incredibly heavy yet he's still able to move and carry them with ease.
Meanwhile, Roland's Magical Artifact is an Elder Wand. A pretty common one for mages but it gave him a very rare skill called: Multi-Casting which is self-explanatory.
At the start of the battle, Nelson was harassed greatly by the endless projectile bombardment from Roland. All he could do is to mind his footing, dodge and defend against the attacks.
Nelson was skilled, but so is Roland. Again, Ashton doesn't really know why they're fighting and frankly he doesn't care but it looked like they were adamant about ending each other's lives.
The Veteran Knight carried a sword and shield with him, a typical Knight stereotype if you ask Ashton but hey! He isn't complaining. And following this theme, Roland is wearing a hood over a cloth tunic which glowed with what looked like a bunch of runes.
The fight was intense, the two threw plethora of skills and spells against each other. And as this channel was rated PG-13 (which is kind of the legal age in this world) the fight isn't censored so Ashton saw blood flow.
There were a lot of times where the camera crew nearly paid the price for their audacity and foolish bravery, hats off to them really. If Ashton was there, he would 'nope' the hell away from that place as soon and as far away as he can.
The fight ended with Nelson's victory. Although Roland put up a great fight and abused the hell out of Nelson by properly spacing himself during the fight. In the end, Nelson's endurance was much higher than Roland.
Nelson was, after all, a level stronger than Roland. More importantly, his Physique is perfectly suited for drawn out fights which gave Nelson an edge for this battle.
Still, magicians never runs out of their tricks and trinkets. Just as Nelson was preparing to capture Roland, the mage used some kind of tool which teleported him away from there. Nobody knows where he is now but he survived. Nelson looked visibly upset but he didn't give chase. Instead he just looked at the camera crew and walked away like a badass.
That was a thrilling fight. So refreshing and real too. Ashton didn't doubt the legitimacy of that broadcast since this world has that for real. He injuries they sustained in that battle was real too.
Ashton needed some time to recover after watching that fight.
That in itself proved that his thoughts were indeed right. This world is indeed dangerous. Just imagining all sorts of people who had the power to blow-up anything on their sight should they want to, frightens him greatly.
While he knows that there are certain laws that regulates all sorts of these events, in the end of the day, they are humans. And humans are fundamentally flawed creatures.
If Ashton wanted to have an chances of standing-up against these people, he gonna have to do some serious work because this is just ridiculous!
Those people are more terrifying than nuclear weaponry! They're literally a world-ending threat on legs! Just imagine the damage they can cause if they went ballistic...
Of course, this is Ashton preparing himself for the worst and maybe being a bit judgmental of people. He knows that the original purpose of cultivation is protect Humanity from extinction but internal conflicts are a thing. Who knows what happens within the shadows?
"But that mage was really cool..." Ashton murmured to himself.
Then, his smile turned into a self-deprecating expression as he said:
"Unfortunately, It's impossible for me to do all of that. I'm cursed after all..."
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