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16 Master at Arms

    "Sir.. is it possible to rent a room?"

    The echo of the words pronounced by the young man in leather armor reverberated through the enormous hall, leaving everybody faces, Daniel's included, contorted in a mix of astonishment and surprise.

    Quietness reigned in the hall for a few moments until, one voice after the other, started to resound.

    "I would like to rent a room as well.."

    "Sir, please take us in.."

    "Me too please!.."

    Daniel had hundreds of unanswered questions in his mind.

    Apparently, the old man had retired from being the Master at Arms of Karalis two years ago. Being a powerful cultivator and an expert in many sorts of weapons, he had instructed various of the highest ranking officers within the kingdom, and even members of the royal family. After retiring he decided to purchase the hotel.

    His actions didn't go unnoticed, as many powerful forces had located him within the city of Phyrri. The Master at Arms was an excellent teacher, and his ability to nurture the weapon mastery and character of his disciples had been so widely known, that many powerful forces tried to rope him into their groups.

    The Master at Arms was one of the instructors of the royal palace, so none of these powers were capable of forcing him to join them. The only viable alternative was to send their prodigies to him and let them be shaped by the teachings of this powerful figure. They would then return to their forces and learn their families', sects' and schools's signature arts.

    Two long years had passed since the old man had purchased the hotel, and yet many talented members of the younger generation had been rejected. The reason had always been that the Master at Arms refused to take in any disciple.

    When all these powerful forces were starting to consider this as the end of this old monster's career, a young man and two young women had been allowed in the hotel by the Master at Arms himself.

    The news spread like wildfire. All the cultivators placed to monitor the old man's actions, reported to their factions immediately. Their response was to send their most talented disciples and hope for them to be accepted as well.

    The thirty young men and women within the group, were members of some of Phyrri's factions, and If Daniel hadn't left the lobby, he would have seen them arrive one after the other.

    Suddenly, a similar but calmer voice than the previous, was heard from behind the group "The rent is one gold coin each month."

    As the group turned around and noticed the old man standing behind them, they collectively bowed to him deeply.

    "Get up! I'm not your teacher, i'm your Landlord!" Said the old man in a slightly annoyed tone, before walking towards the stairs and starting to explain. "Go pick a room, then leave the payme.." The explanation of the building's utilities was the same as the one Daniel, Reila and Mea had received.

    It was at that moment that Daniel realized. He hadn't simply rented three rooms inside a dismissed hotel, owned by a solitary old man.. he had paid the membership for a martial arts school started by a retired monster.

    That was only partially true.

    Provided that the school wasn't an official one, and that the old man never promised any teaching, the reason why he had purchased the hotel and had had training grounds built in it, was to start a sort of school, in which anyone could join.

    He was tired of teaching to proud children of powerful factions. He hoped to find disciples with no backing and good morale to which he could impart his teachings, and that they would then pass these teaching to others in the future.

    For two years he had waited, until one day, a couple of young girls arrived at his door.

    One of them was forthright and of a good nature. He liked this type of people the most, and every time he tried to shape the character of one of his disciples, he would try to turn them into this kind of people.

    The second girl, to his stupor, was the young mistress of the Rulin house, and daughter of one of his first and most successful disciples, the master of the Rulin house, Der'hor Rulin.

    The old man had always felt guilty about not being able to prevent the extermination of the Rulin house. He had been their master's teacher, and had imparted morale and strength of character to him. To believe that he would defect to another kingdom, that was bull**.. pure and simple.

    The two young girls looked for a place to stay. That was when he decided that the two would be the starting point of his school.

    -----

    Two days later.

    The past two days had been chaotic. Every day, a few young cultivators would arrive at the hotel and ask to be taken as disciples. But after receiving a clean rejection, they would almost always try to rent a room.

    It was clear that most of them had been warned that the only option to stay, was to rent a room and becoming one of the building's tenants.

    Daniel wasn't too happy about it, but he had to admit that, having this building all for themselves, was simply unrealistic. Somebody else was bound to come. He just didn't expect so many people to come so soon.

    In the past couple of days, Daniel had managed to reach the peak of the vasodilation sub-stage, but before he could break through, he had finished his beast cores.

    What was left of the 20 gold coins that he had received from the auction, after paying for their debt and for the rooms, was less than a half.

    Daniel knew what he needed to do. He needed to hunt for more powerful beasts and sell their cores. He needed more resources to breakthrough, and in order to obtain more resources, he required money. But before doing that.. he needed to learn how to use weapons.

    He had the strength, but he couldn't go around hunting for rank 3 beast with a rock in his hand.

    Daniel knew nothing about weapons, so all he could do was go by his needs, and what he needed was a weapon for distance and a weapon for close range combat.

    Without thinking about it too much, he headed towards the training grounds.

    The training grounds were none other than an enormous backyard separated into four sections. The first section had various square rings whose sides were attached, making it possible for it to be used as a single large stage. The second section had numerous practice dummies, and weapon racks furnished with all kinds of wooden and regular weapons, were placed all around. The third, was filled with different instruments to enhance the body strength and endurance. Ultimately, the last section contained various obstacle courses and structures to practice one's agility and equilibrium.

    After reaching the training grounds, what surprised Daniel was that the place was completely filled with people. Most of the young men and women that had arrived in the last two days were here, and of the first thirty people, none were missing.

    Some of them were practicing the basics, others were sparring, and some were even trying their techniques against wooden dummies.

    These practice dummies, like the chandeliers, had been magically enchanted. No matter the damage they received, they would rapidly repair themselves in just a few seconds.

    Daniel found a free corner and sat on the ground. He then took a book out of his backpack, and started reading.

    Those who noticed his actions were slightly annoyed, but when they noticed what book he was reading, their faced changed, contorted into a mixture of outrage and disdain.

    The book that Daniel was reading was called -The Very Basics of Swordplay- and was the most basic manual of practicing the sword. Amongst these young cultivators, every single sword wielder had studied this book right after learning how to read.

    Daniel immersed himself in reading the manual, and after an hour and a half, he closed it and got up on his feet. He then started walking towards the weapon rack.

    After reaching the weapon rack, he took a practice sword and went back to his corner. He then started to slowly practice the basics of swordsmanship.

    When the various cultivators noticed Daniel awkwardness when practicing the basics of the sword, they lost interest in him and focused back on their training.

    Nobody was paying attention to Daniel anymore.

    Time slowly passed as Daniel stayed in his corner. What nobody had noticed, were the changes in his mastery. In fact, if one were to look closely, they would notice that, after just 10 sets, Daniel had become used to the feel of the sword. After 25 sets, his motions hardly contained any mistake, and after 25 more, he had mastered the basics of the swordsmanship described by the book.

    After less than three hours, Daniel had mastered how to hold the sword, the various stances and a few types of simple attacks.

    When Daniel was about to stop, the eyes of some of the present ended on him, and when they noticed his level of swordsmanship, the disdain on their faces became deeper than ever. Everyone who had looked at him had thought that he had simply pretended to be just starting to learn swordsmanship, and that he wanted to appear as a prodigy in front of the old man.

    In their minds, that was the only explanation that made sense.

    Before they could manage to send a few insults, or even start a fight with him, their eyes opened to an unnatural degree and their backs straightened like a set of brooms.

    Behind Daniel, the old man had appeared out of thin air, and was standing quietly.

    Daniel had finished his practice, as he didn't find any purpose in training further with the basics of the sword. When he was about to turn around to head back to the weapon rack, he noticed the unsettled looks on the faces of the others. But he rapidly noticed that these looks weren't directed at him.

    He slowly turned around and found the old man standing behind him.

    "Old man, need something?.." Said Daniel

    A proverbial ton of bricks fell on the heads of everyone present.

    The face of the old man was unchanged, his right arm still behind his back while the other raised in front of his chest, accompanying his hand into a slow brushing of his beard. He looked like he was pondering something.

    After a few moments of silence, Daniel added "Okay.. well.. I have to go now, if you need something you-" before stopping.

    The old man's right arm started moving from behind his back, and when he moved it in front of him, Daniel saw that it was holding a book and halberd.

    The old man's action's surprised Daniel greatly. Not only because the old man had taken a weapon and a book from behind his back, but because the halberd was at least two and a half meters tall, standing much higher than the old man. How the old man managed to hide it behind his body, was a mystery to him.

    Looking at the young man in front of him, the old man stopped brushing his beard and finally said "I'll give you 5 hours.. learn how to use this halberd.. and you won't need to pay your rent for two months.." His low, yet powerful voice reached every corner of the training grounds.

    Daniel's face changed immediately.. two gold coins in exchange of 5 hours of training, that wasn't an opportunity he was willing to let go.

    "Deal." He responded calmly.

    He took the halberd from the old man's hand and put it on the ground, he then grabbed the book and started reading through its pages. The title of the book was -Basic Guide on Polearms Training-

    Before starting to study the book's content, he thought "Sewah, mind activating the system for me once again.."
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