5 Sixteen Years
The next couple of years were Hard for Ling Yun. Between studying, training, planning, and spending time with his family, he had little to no free time.
Two weeks after he started his preparations it was time for the graduation exam.
He arrived early and was the first to finish the written portion of the exam. His classmates gave him mocking looks, thinking he was just giving up. But he didn't pay them any mind.
After exiting the written exam, he was examined in the physical part of the graduation. He was to run 20 laps around the practice field and display an adequate amount of skill in at least five martial disciplines. He chose unarmed combat, swordplay, archery, spearplay, and daggerplay.
The skills he displayed for unarmed combat and daggerplay were mediocre, but the other three were of a good standard, since he had spent the last week almost exclusively practicing those three in his room.
Finally, he graduated with top marks and as the third best student of his year.
It was only his combat skills that prevented him from reaching a higher spot. But considering he was a year younger than his fellow graduates, everyone was impressed with him.
He was called the genius from Pala Planet in a few Skynet articles, but nothing that would really get him any notice.
Since his combat skills were ordinary and Pala planet was a very poor one, everyone thought his genius was comparable to the average of those smart students from middle tier planets.
He wasn't in any hurry to correct them, either.
After celebrating with his small family, he started training in his earnest.
The first time he went to the training area, he was a little freaked out. After all, no matter who you are, a first is always something to be analyzed with uncertainty. And a previously thought impossible first, was to be treated with caution and a little fear.
So, when Ling Yun appeared in a white room where he could not see the walls or ceiling, he was disconcerted. Only after summoning his trainer did his mind was put at ease.
In his opinion, the best feature of the training area was the time distortion.
While he was inside, the time in the outside world stopped flowing. This would help him a lot, by his absence not being noticed.
At first he was also extraordinarily excited because the time distortion meant that he would spend time in the training area and age, while time outside was standing still. That meant he could enter the sanctuary even before than he planned and make better preparations for the first stages of his plan.
Unfortunately, the system slashed that hope almost immediately. While his muscles could grow and adapt as his skills could grow, his biological age would stay the same even if he were to stay 500 years inside the training area. Which was a bummer but hey, it also granted a type of immortality, so he was not complaining.
The instructors were tough in every single training. As he assumed, they were supposed to train him to attain mastery in his selected weapon, but they were under the impression that the trainee had at least a decent amount of skill.
Ling Yun was almost a beginner.
But since their purpose was to train him all the way up to mastery, that was what they did. Still, every session lasted about 12 hours.
Fortunately, once he exited the training area his fatigue would be erased, so he could continue training. For the next year, his training regime was almost the same.
12 hours in the training area practicing a weapon. Exiting and practicing with said weapon with his body for 6 hours. 12 more hours in the training area practicing a scripture, and 6 hours outside of the training area. It wasn't until a year had passed that he received tangible results, when he heard a voice in his head.
[First preparatory stage of "Spirit Sense Scripture", "Accelerated Cognition" mastered. 1,000,000 points rewarded.]
After reading it a couple of times and checking that he did have a million more points in the system, his training accelerated once more.
After achieving a 50% mastery in his three selected weapons and completing the first preparatory stage of all his scriptures, he chose a skill for each weapon.
For archery, he obtained the "Untraceable Shot", which allowed his arrow to be undetected by almost every opponent. It was worth 1.2 million.
For spearplay, he chose "Drill-point". This technique doubled the damage of a single spear shot, but it couldn't be used in succession. This was one of the cheapest skills, at half a million.
Finally, for swordplay he simply chose a form technique called "soft sword". This technique made his swordplay very agile and used mainly deflections and counterattacks, instead of the aggressive stance of the ordinary sword. This was the most expensive technique and cost him 2,000,000 points.
In total, he spent 3.7 million, which was 700,000 more than what he had earned. Still, it was a good investment in his mind.
After achieving accelerated cognition, Ling Yun's training got even faster.
It took him two weeks to attain self-sensing, and after that two more weeks to complete the organ refining stage.
Three months later, when his mastery was at 75%, he completed the three newly bought techniques in the span of a week, but they didn't give him money as a reward.
On the other hand, a month later when he achieved the Heavenly Eye, the system got him 2,000,000 million points, which was a huge boon in his eyes.
The next month, on the year and a half mark, he reached the second stages of the other two scriptures. Foundation Stage and Elemental Energy. And he was rewarded with another 4,000,000 points. With this new windfall, he bought four techniques, each one for around a million. They were techniques for archery, spearplay, swordplay, and unarmed combat.
The archery one was "Sonic Shot", which allows a user to fire a single arrow with a 50% boost to speed, in turn augmenting the force.
For spearmanship he bought a form technique called "Venomous Rattlesnake", which emphasizes agility and speed, as well as targeting vital areas.
For the sword, he bought a basic technique called "Phantom Strike", which feints a stab in a vital area when in reality you are slashing something else. It is not a very flashy technique, but it was very effective.
As for his first unarmed combat skill, he bought the "Triple Threat Palm Strike", which consists in three successive palm strikes in a fraction of a second, which would result in a force quadrupling the original. Of course, it only worked for palm strikes and it was very taxing for one's muscles.
The only type of technique he was missing was a movement or footwork technique, but right now he had his hands full.
A year and a half had passed since he arrived in this world, which meant that there were only six months left for Han Sen to enter the First God's Sanctuary, eight months left until he could enter, and nine months until the story started in it's earnest.
Ling Yun didn't have a lot of time left, but his plan was coming along remarkably well.
Four months later, he completed the four new skills he bought, and in the course of the next month he reached the third preparatory stage of two scriptures. The Effortless Body and the energy radar.
He also bought a very good movement technique called "Minute Subtlety", which focused always on moving exactly the necessary amount and not an inch more. To his surprise, he only took a month to master it.
His hopes were high, he only needed to obtain "Foresight" and finish his weapon mastery techniques, which were all at around 90%.
But no matter what, for the next two months, he apparently couldn't make any progress in foresight, which was a bummer. His archery and spearmanship were very close to completion, but his sword mastery was too stuck at 90%.
"Han Sen must've entered First God's Sanctuary by now. If I remember correctly, before he killed the sacred-blood black beetle his geno points were only at 79 ordinary ones, no primitive and beyond. He also has very few skills, mostly the mandatory ones for the compulsory education, good archery, and good assassination techniques. I think I can beat him if I get around the same amount of points as him. No matter the training he got from his mother, he still is a rookie."
Ling Yun muttered and once again started his training.
The closer the day of his sixteenth birthday got, the more anxious he became trying to reach his goal.
He trained like he was possessed for the next two months and achieved mastery in archery and spearmanship.
But, unfortunately, his foresight and swordplay were still stagnant. On the morning before his birthday, just as he was ready to enter the training area, the door to his room was opened.
"Mom? What's up?" He asked.
During the last two years, he had spent a lot of time with his family. Not nearly enough to cut his training time, but he still made sure to allocate at least a few hours every day. Family was important, and he was still getting used to the idea of having other people to care for him.
"Yun'er, do you think you can rest today?" She asked in a gentle voice with a hopeful smile. "Tomorrow is your birthday, and I know the first thing you are going to do is entering the sanctuary. I mean, you have trained enough for that, but you won't have time to spend with us. So, I was thinking of taking you and Rou'er out today, maybe getting a nice dinner. What do you say?" She smiled even more.
To a normal family, this would be the bare minimum one would do for a birthday. Especially one as important as the sixteenth, but his was not a normal family. Her mother barely made enough money for them to get by, so eating outside for dinner was something akin to a luxury. It made him feel incredibly happy.
He smiled and nodded.
"Great, get ready. We leave in 20 minutes." And after that, she left the room.
Getting out of his training outfit and into his best attire didn't take long. As they exited the building, they took a bus and went to a nice restaurant.
And for nice, of course it was a completely average one where people usually ate during their lunch break. But it was still a huge luxury for them.
They ate merrily, with his mom just smiling and his sister chatting animatedly about school and other things. When they finished their meal and were about to order deserts, his mother and sister looked at each other and nodded.
"Big brother, close your eyes!" Rou'er said in a chirpy voice.
"Huh? Why? So you can prank me? No way, little miss. I am staying alert." He replied in mock seriousness and opened his eyes as much as he could. After that, he stared at her for a few seconds before she started giggling.
"No! It's a surprise! So you need to close your eyes or it wouldn't be a surprise!" She answered in a tone that meant he was an idiot for not knowing. He smiled fondly and nodded.
"Okay, but you better not prank me, or else!" He said and closed his eyes.
After a couple of seconds, the sound of rustling leather and paper sounded, after which he felt his sister's hands on his. He opened them and immediately felt a weight fall on them.
"Okay, you can open them now!" She said and he was happy to oblige.
There, in his hands, was a wooden sculpture of a bird. It was rough around the edges and wasn't perfect, but the craftsmanship was amazing non the less. There was also a small metal ring on the head of the bird, and a metal chain.
"Thank you, Rou'er, it's beautiful." He smiled and had to blink a couple of times to fight back tears,
This was his first birthday gift, in both lives, and was a beautiful handcrafted sculpture. He quickly hanged it around his neck and admired it for a while longer.
"It's an amulet! Mommy said her parents gave her one when she entered the sanctuary and it brought her good luck. Dad didn't have one, so he was not lucky. So I wanted to give you one so you can be lucky! Like mommy!" She answered in a serious but happy voice. He smiled, ruffled her hair and kissed her forehead.
"With this, everyone better be careful when seeing me! I will be so lucky that if they want to fight me they will trip and a flying creature will poop in their heads! That's how lucky I will be!" He answered in mock seriousness. He was extremely happy.
"Son, I don't have an amulet for you because someone stole that idea from me" she said and looked at Rou'er in mock anger. She answered by sticking out her tongue. ", but I want you to have this." She took an old looking knife from her hip and gave it to him.
Ling Feng examined it and realized it was a Z-steel knife! Even if it was of the lower concentration, it was worth at least 50,000 levo dollars!
"Mom, I can't take this. It's Z-steel. You should sell it and use the money." He answered solemnly. Even though he was happy with his gift, he knew it was very expensive. Even though it looked worn, indicating it was a second-hand weapon, it was still worth a pretty penny.
"It doesn't matter. This was a gift your father gave me. It has kept me safe in a lot of occasions. I want you to have it. Entering the sanctuaries unarmed is akin to suicide." She said solemnly, and Ling Yun had no other option than to nod.
"Thanks, mom. I will take good care of it and will be careful." He answered, to which she smiled.
"Just be careful once you are inside the sanctuary. Remember, always analyze your prey. You should think about joining a group. Even though the rewards are less, your safety rises a lot. Never overestimate yourself. A rare creature can be found again, but you only have one life. Understood?" She asked in complete seriousness, to which he nodded.
The rest of the day was spent as a big family. There was laughter and good times, but eventually everyone returned to the apartment and went to sleep.
Everyone but Ling Yun, that is.
He was waiting for midnight, for he needed to confirm something.
It was the cornerstone of his plans, so if it didn't work he didn't know what he would do, but his life would be more difficult. Still, he was 90% certain he was right.
And when the clock finally struck the start of a new day, a voice sounded in his head.
[Age requirement met. Unlocking the Sanctuary tab. User has received a birthday gift. New functions are being unlocked.]
Ling Yun pumped his fist and smiled. He was right, after all.