That day the mess hall was still open during the one free hour the cadets had between the end of their daily duty and the lights out.
It was an opportunity for them to fraternize and get some extra food while celebrating the first evaluation.
While the rest of the unit was waiting in line to get their snack, Lith was alone in the barracks, grumbling like usual.
\'I really can\'t stand this place.
The academy is a wet dream compared to the army.
I get scolded every day, no matter how well I perform.
The mess hall is so small that every unit is forced to eat in a rush or others will not get their turn before resuming their duty.
\'I don\'t give a damn about the Sergeant insulting all of us for no reason, but what really drives me insane is when they make us stand at attention until someone moves so they get to punish us.
Everything is designed to be a frigging torture!\' He thought.
\'I think it\'s on purpose, to train the cadets both physically and mentally.
You said it yourself: it\'s only under critical circumstances that people reveal their true selves and revaluate themselves.\' Solus tried to cheer him up with some of his favorite food.
After checking with mana sense no one was in the proximity, she took out a steaming steak from her pocket dimension.
Lith was so used to fast eating that he finished half of it without even feeling its taste before slowing down.
\'What about the Ms in my report card Even grades sound like an insult here.\'
\'Maybe they didn\'t expect someone to break past the S rank.\' Solus sighed.
Usually, she liked to rebuke at Lith\'s complaints, but this time she had a hard time not joining him.
The army was putting even her patience to test.
\'More importantly, why didn\'t you join your comrades The Sergeant always speaks about camaraderie.
If you keep being a loner, it may affect your evaluation.\'
\'And waste my only free hour of the day together with people that can\'t stand me and vice versa For what To get some insipid food I\'d have to swallow like an ostrich\'
Lith didn\'t have time to waste, not even for nagging.
He cleaned his boots and squared his uniforms for the following day before being finally able to rest.
Even if he didn\'t sweat as much as his comrades, he was forced to change uniform after every meal.
He was also forced to use his free time to keep them clean and ready for use.
It didn\'t take him much since magic could take care of most of his daily chores in a matter of minutes.
It was all the little things that piled up together, grinding his nerves one day at the time.
Lith had underestimated the army and its regulations.
In the past years, he had got too used to being admired, respected, and most importantly, left alone when he wanted.
The total lack of privacy made him want to kill someone on a daily basis.
While the physical exercises were far too easy for him, the mental strain was enormous.
Gods know if I\'d love to kick his a*s back to the dragon who birthed him. Sergeant Tepper shivered despite the officers\' mess hall being warm and cozy.
Are you speaking about the Monster The other Sergeants didn\'t share his pessimism.
Lith was a mystery to everyone, but a really promising one.
I can take cocky recruits.
Heck, I eat spoiled rich kids for breakfast.
What really creeps me out is that he not only seems to already know everything, but also how he stares at you when you scold or question him about his duties.
No matter how much mana or aggression I use, he doesn\'t flinch.
He just stands there, with those cold, lifeless eyes.
I swear that once I had the impression he was about to rip my head off and shove it up my a*s. Tepper had it right.
Lith took the army\'s though love as a personal affront.
He wasn\'t cut out to be a soldier.
Loyalty, discipline, and obedience were mere words to him.
Why don\'t you fail him, then Rule number one, always follow your gut. As seasoned veterans, they wouldn\'t underestimate a fellow officer\'s evaluation.
Giving training to sociopaths was like handing matches and oil to a pyromaniac.
I can\'t. He sighed.
He never falls for any provocation and his performance is outstanding.
His psychic evaluation is a bit lacking but well within parameters.
Lith\'s unit hated his guts, but most of all, they were scared of him.
His barracks mates had learned the hard way that catching him unprepared was impossible.
Lith slept only once a week thanks to Invigoration and even when he did, Solus stood guard.
The one time they attempted to pull a practical joke on him, he emitted killing intent non stop for three consecutive nights, making it impossible for them to rest.
One of them even collapsed due to exhaustion and had to be hospitalized.
The worst part was they still had no idea who he actually was.
Lith\'s mastery of chore magic was that typical of a magician, yet he fought like the heir of a military family and performed his daily chores with more skill than most commoners.
Good morning, maggots.
I hope you rested well because today you\'ll start learning about swordsmanship.
Wands are not suited for close combat and knives are either the last resort or something to perform a sneak attack.
Pick from the rack a weapon you want to learn how to use. Sergeant Tepper was charming as usual.
After the cadets made their choice, Tepper continued his explanation.
The difference between an amateur and an idiot lies in their mushy brain.
Only an idiot would pick a weapon too big or too heavy to use.
This isn\'t a damn bard tale! He yelled at those who chose their weapon based on how cool it looked.
Bigger doesn\'t mean better, just like using two swords isn\'t necessarily better than using one! Cadet Lith, how did you choose your weapon
I simply looked for a single handed weapon light enough for me to use it without effort. Lith was holding a rapier.
You see that That\'s the difference between an idiot and a damn amateur.
At least the amateur has a brain! The Sergeant ripped the improper weapons off the cadets\' hands and replaced them with rapiers and estocs.
Now, the difference between an amateur and a good swordsman lies in the wrist.
Whereas an amateur will limit themselves to stabs and slashes, making their attacks predictable, a good swordsman is capable of executing multiple strikes from the same starting position.
Tepper crossed his sword with Lith and while keeping his arm still the sword struck at Lith\'s head, right shoulder, and leg in quick succession.
Lith\'s rapier followed suit, timely blocking each strike while keeping his blade against the point of the Sergeant\'s to multiply the block\'s effectiveness.
Each parry would have been enough to disarm a less skilled opponent.
Let me guess.
Your father taught you. Tepper said with a snarl.
He had hoped the humble the Monster for once.
No, my girlfriend did. Lith replied, keeping his eyes on the Sergeant\'s shoulder rather than the blade.
Phloria had kicked his a*s until the basics had become second nature to Lith.