Though the academy didn’t have many students, it did have rather extensive grounds. There was a training area for magic, and next to it there was a much smaller courtyard that had different training dummies. There wasn’t enough space to use most magic safely, but that was not the point. The three dozen training dummies were in close rows, much like how knights had theirs. These were for training with weapons, which was why William found himself alone in the courtyard.
The training dummies were better than the improvised ones William had been working with most of the time this life. Not that the form was particularly better, since anything vaguely human shaped- or gevai shaped- was enough. However, these were made out of better materials, and tougher, which meant William could hit harder and not have to pull his swings. This helped him grow physically stronger a bit faster, but it wasn’t as much as he would like. He couldn’t really complain, but he thought he could do better… he just didn’t know how. He had some knowledge of how knights trained, but he didn’t wear heavy armor nor use the types of weapons they generally used, so it wasn’t as efficient. He supposed he could wear heavy armor, if he could afford it, but unless it was magical it would usually be worse for him than nothing. Especially without training, which kept him from wanting to get it… It was a vicious cycle.
“You’re still here?” William looked over to see Matfey. It was always easy to pick him out, because of his dark orange skin. Not that anybody else would bother to come look in this section of the school. “Why do you even bother training like that? What good does it do for a wizard?”
“Being better at things is always good. Practically, though, aerobic activity strengthens the lungs. That’s good for chanting for longer periods. It’s also good to be able to defend yourself with a weapon, or attack with one if you don’t have the time to cast a spell.”
“Or you can avoid picking fights at close range.”
William raised an eyebrow. “Can you? In that case, what is close range?”
“Well, you know… melee.”
“I dunno, like… a few meters?”
“Let’s test it out in the arena.”
At three meters, William tapped Matfey’s throat with his staff before he could finish the second syllable of his chant. “Ah… perhaps a dozen meters?”
William didn’t say anything, but moved to a position a dozen meters away. Matfey started chanting, and William dashed toward him. He got almost a sentence in, which merely meant he had to deal with the backlash for cancelling a spell. He wasn’t bad at control, and since he was expecting the situation somewhat he managed to disperse the mana properly instead of having an explosion. William grinned, and moved back to the full length of the arena, three dozen meters. When they started, William exploded forward at full speed, and with more distance to run he was at maximum speed for more of it. Thus, it didn’t take three times as long to cross the distance… especially not with a bit of ki, which was really all William had, added into the mix. The few seconds it took him to cross the distance weren’t enough for Matfey to finish his chant… but William dodged to the side anyway. The lightning bolt surged past him, and at the same time he brought his staff up into Matfey’s stomach. Not too hard, but not exactly gently.
“*cough* Wow… you’re fast.”
“As long as they’re not in armor, any gevai warrior could do the same. Maybe even in armor, if they’re good. On the other hand, most people won’t understand what’s going on enough to dodge at the end.” William was glad that he could see the flow of mana now, it made predicting spells much easier. Sometimes, it only gave him a fraction of a second more to prepare himself, but that was significant. Matfey knew that chants could be shortened, and though it didn’t seem that well known, William knew there were more people who knew as well. “Still, you see why?”
“Yeah… Umm, I’m not really that interested in fighting with a weapon… but I see your point.”
“You can just run then. That will give you more mobility, and help your lungs. Then maybe you can use magic while moving around… which gives you more time. It will take some practice, but that will also train your concentration during unexpected moments.”
“Oh… yeah. That makes sense.” William could see that Matfey was picturing a number of new scenarios. Maybe some of them would actually lead somewhere useful… but at least he would probably take the advice and get in shape, even if it was just running.
William was slightly concerned. It wasn’t that big of a step from shortening chants to realizing that chants themselves weren’t important. For a spell that was already known, it generally didn’t matter unless the wizard was trying to disguise the spell. Being able to shorten the chant served basically the same purpose. The big step came when developing new spells- or at least types of magic the wizard hadn’t seen. If they believed there had to be a specific chant, they couldn’t really come up with anything new, though they might research other spells and come up with a new chant that ‘happened’ to be correct. Still, that slowed the development of practical magic. William thought that was probably fine, if it also meant evil people didn’t advance quickly either. William found it both very disappointing and quite lucky that people were rather secretive with information. It stagnated growth so much… but at least the ‘bad guys’ weren’t sharing secrets either. William couldn’t exactly define who the ‘bad guys’ were, but it definitely wasn’t limited to the demon lords. Humans had their own share of unpleasant people. On the other hand, if knowledge was more widespread, it would be a bit harder for a few dangerous people to control everything. That required the general populace to believe they could improve themselves, which wasn’t always the case. William sighed. Back on Earth he hadn’t been able to do anything about the big problems in the world… or he felt he couldn’t. Here, he wasn’t completely sure. The problems seemed worse, but maybe he was just more aware. On the other hand, even if they were worse, William had magic. He didn’t think it was going to solve all of his problems, but even after more than a dozen years, William still grinned whenever he thought about it. He had magic. It was pretty great.