After Sol managed to enter his own dimension, he thought that what would follow would be a simple training. Something to adapt himself or so.
What’s more, he didn’t really have that much time before his birthday and his official party.
How wrong had he been, he had totally forgotten that Edea could accelerate the time difference between her world and the outside one.
What he lived through was hell, his training was divided into mana use with Lilith and magic with Freya and Edea, they had decided to focus first on his mana use, since he had a ceremony to go through–fighting in the colosseum.
He didn’t need to hide his capacity to use magic, but he did not want to display it either. Not for any weird reason like hiding his true power, but simply because his mirror dimensions was simply too much of a powerful trump card to be exposed so easily.
Just how much information could he steal with this power? It would completely change the war that would happen in a few months.
As such, they decided to focus on his martial art and mana use first before focusing on magic.
On the day he took Camelia’s virginity, he had already about two weeks before his display in the colosseum where he would fight against the gladiator and the queen of gladiators. Since he had already awakened, the two parts will be fused, this was what happened with Mars since he also awakened early.
Now that about four days passed since his night with Camelia and now he only had ten days to go. It definitely wasn’t sufficient for any meaningful training, but that was only when one didn’t have someone like Edea on your side.
Edea could manipulate time quite freely in her own world. She could reach a 1 to 4 times difference. Meaning that those ten days could be changed to forty.
Forty. Absolute. Days. Of. Hell.
At first, he expected a period of “basic training,” where Lilith would grind him across the washboard for a while to break down any bad habits he had and prepare him to receive her wisdom and knowledge, and in this, Lilith did not disappoint.
He expected something hard, he just didn’t expect to literally crawl back in through the door that night feeling as if someone had shot needles of salt into every inch of muscle tissue he possessed. Lilith had run him for the equivalent of a hundred or so kilometers, then made him move boulders that weighed more than nine hundreds kilograms around a clearing, then push logs up the hillside, then carry a boulder on his back as he ran another twenty kilometers.
It was more of the same the next day, and the next, as Lilith systematically broke down his ability to regenerate and then physically exhausted him.
She broke him down so severely that his regeneration couldn’t completely recover to face the next day, a day that was even more strenuous than the last. She pushed him beyond his physical limits, pushed him so hard that he would collapse daily, physically incapable of carrying out her tasks, and that was what she had been waiting for.
After a ride of this torture, he finally demanded to know why he had to kill himself daily when she intended to teach him how to use mana, which had nothing to do with the body.
“Pfft,” she had snorted in her typical manner. “I thought you’d know better than to ask such a stupid question, the limits of mana are physical limits, how much power your body can handle. You can increase it by being fit, if I wasn’t in such good shape, I wouldn’t be able to do half of what I do.”
“That’s why dragons are so strong in magic,” Sol said in a moment of clarity. “Because they’re so big and powerful.”
“Size has nothing to do with it,” Lilith said in a scathing tone, bursting his bubble. “Dragons are strong in all magic because of what they are. If you want to find the most powerful mage or mana user, pound for pound in the mortal world, then don’t look any further than angels.”
“Angels?” Sol asked in surprise.
She nodded abruptly. “Indeed. Do you know why?”
Sol did manage to figure that one out rather quickly. “Because they fly.”
“Exactly. Flying is very demanding work. You’ll never in your life see a fat angel.” She glanced at him. “Dragons are the same way. It’s not their size, it’s because they’re so fit. If you think it’s hard for an angel to fly, imagine how much work it is for those behemoths to drag all that body mass into the air. The stronger they are, the more mana they can use in one go with their horns and core.”
With that answered, Lilith must have felt that if he was able to talk, he obviously wasn’t working hard enough.
For nearly a month (Edea world time), Lilith wore Sol down to the bone every single day, with progressively more and more difficult tasks that involved moving more weight further, carrying it longer, and repeating it more times. Sol would drag home so tired that he could barely open the front door, so dirty that his footprints left footprints if another stepped upon them, and he was too weary to even care about cleaning up. Eating was more of a chore than a chance to restore some energy to his depleted frame, and he slept absolutely any time he was not eating, training, or traveling to his next destination.
The worst part, he felt, was the running. Running in itself wasn’t a strenuous pursuit, but when one carried nearly a ton of additional weight and was expected to keep up with an unburdened, harshly critical mentor, it became an extreme exercise in willpower not to dump his heavy burden and attack Lilith with the sincere intent to kill.
At one point, he had dreamt up one hundred and seventeen distinct and separate ways to murder his aunt without getting killed in response, and every day he would go through them one by one in his mind and decide which one was the one that would bring him the most pleasure without getting destroyed in return.
The purely physical phase of his training ended the next after that first month, and it ended quite abruptly to Sol. Lilith had been making him run with his favorite boulder up and down a small but steep hill, but abruptly told him to stop, set the boulder down, and then curtly informed him that it was time for him to learn.
At that moment he had made the mistake of thinking that his hell was over. After all, there were only a few days left. What could he do more?
Lilith showed him that everything he did until now was only the basics of the base. The mana training was way worse, incredibly worse.
“As you must know, bloodline magic uses instinct and emotions, witchcraft uses knowledge and Holy magic uses faith. But what is the fuel for mana users? Simple. It’s their will. More precisely their intent.”
Lilith said as she stood in front of him. As a way to illustrate her words, suddenly, Sol felt as if he was thrown into a deep pit full of ice.
Jumping away in reflex, he looked with surprise at Lilith.
“This was killing intent. A rather simple trick as things goes. Though, some mana users have reached such a high level in this trick that they can actually kill or stun weak-willed people. But this isn’t all.”
Waving her hand, all the grass around her was immediately cut.
“By fusing the intent to cut with my mana I obtained a blade that cut anything. The stronger my intent, the stronger my blade. Do not confuse emotions and intent. Intent is the will behind an action. A goal you set for yourself.”
Sol nodded at those explanations. He already had some experience with raw mana manipulation. Like how he used it to bind Camelia or create a collar for her.
“Mana manipulation isn’t inferior in any way to magic. That’s why Sol, never let your talent go to your head. You must work hard. Harder than anyone. A genius is terrifying, but a genius who works hard is a monster.”
At the end of those words, a new hell began for him.
In the morning, he would put different intents in his mana, reaching different results. If the result didn’t please Lilith, he would have to begin everything again.
In the afternoon, he would have sparring sessions with her where she would proceed to absolutely trash him within an inch of his life. What’s more, since he had such a high regeneration power, she didn’t hesitate to give him wounds that would have been potentially fatal to anyone else in his position.
During the night, she would instruct him on different strategies for one VS one or one VS many situations. She would also instruct him on some elements he needed to pay attention in situations of war both as a general or as a soldier.
As he laid down while breathing heavily after taking out a sword from his gut, he remembered now why his cousin had fled from the house and joined the academy. He knew that she had completed her training, but after that, her relationship with her mother had never been the same.
Lilith was simply too harsh. So harsh that sometimes he wondered if it was really the woman who had always spoiled him rotten.
Still, he held on.
He cursed, vomited, cried, entertained thoughts about killing her, about giving up, was ready to use his mirror realm to flee in another kingdom, entertained suicidal thoughts.
But every time, every damn time he was about to give up, he would simply grit his teeth and continue.
Only one thought holding him up.
‘One day, I will spank her so hard her ass will redden.’
It was a rather lascivious thought, but since he couldn’t win in a fight, one day, he would win in bed.
For the time being, giving up wasn’t an option.
But truthfully, what made him hold on, was the knowledge that Lilith wasn’t acting by some sense of sadism. Every time she hurt him, every time he suffered, he could see it in her eyes.
The way she was wincing, the way her eyes would redden, the way she would look ashamed.
He knew she did not wish to make him suffer. But it was necessary.
It was better for him to bleed here than to die on the battlefield.
Still, during all his training, one problem nagged at him.
It was something briefly mentioned by the goddess. It was something Camelia leaked by mistake but refused to explain.
Lilith had a big secret. Something related to the previous king, his grandfather.
Sol decided, on the last day of his training, he would ask her.
He didn’t want to force her, but he hated ambiguous situations.
Generally, it was the kind of secret that always get out in the worst possible moment and fucked up everything.