While Layla was in the middle of summoning her soul weapon, she started to recall her lessons with Leo and Erin. Before they had gone on the offensive against the Dalki, she had enjoyed the opportunity to train with the two great swordsmen.
Leo had stated that there was a way for both of them to increase their power drastically and fast. However, to do that, she would have to unlock her soul weapon…
Both Erin and Layla were in the training room together. Their swords were constantly clashing against each other. The Hannya was currently in her second form, as she continued to block attack after attack from the aggressive Dhampir.
Layla was using everything in her power to block Erin’s attack, including her Qi. In the end, though, the difference in experience resulted in the former slipping up. One of the latter’s strikes had hit her too hard and too many times causing a slip in concentration which caused her feet to tumble and for her to fall to the ground slightly. The next second, Layla found Erin’s blade pointed towards her neck.
Pulling it back, Erin offered her hand, the two of them were covered in sweat.
“You did good, Layla. For someone who started out with a different weapon and is trying to switch, you are improving fast.” Erin praised the other young woman, as the two of them took a break.
Layla didn’t reply straight away, still trying to catch her breath, whereas Erin had already regained hers. Leo looked to be waiting for Layla to get back in fighting condition before they could move onto the next part.
“You… were going easy on me, weren’t you?” Layla eventually asked. “Just be honest. How am I meant to improve if you’re holding back?”
“If you’re talking about the strength in my strikes, then I can ȧssure you that I wasn’t holding back. You have to remember your sword is special, and your Qi powers are strong.” Erin reassured her, hitting her friend on the shoulder.
“If you’re talking about skill, then yes, I didn’t aim to cripple or incapacitate you. Learning swordsmanship is like learning a musical instrument. There are many techniques and styles, but each one of them has a foundation. If you haven’t learned the basics, then me doing all the other stuff will mean nothing to you. Besides, that wasn’t the point of today’s training.”
“Alright you two.” Leo clapped his hands to get their attention, as he turned around. “I believe you have had enough rest. It’s time to move onto the next part.”
The two girls got up, and stood a few metres apart from each other. Soon they closed their eyes and started to focus. They had been doing this for the last few days now, which was why Leo had said nothing. They were both training to summon their soul weapon.
The same could not be said about Erin, though. When Layla looked over, she could see a warm glow starting to appear, but it soon vanished on the spot, going away just like that.
“It looks like you are coming quite a way. Let’s take a break for now.” Leo suggested.
The girls were taking a break, or at least Layla was. Erin continued practising her swordsmanship, and without a partner that was considerably weaker than her to slow her down, she fully displayed her skills.
“Your aura is all over the place. Tell me what’s wrong?” Leo asked as he had walked to her side.
Layla sighed since the answer was pretty obvious.
“I don’t feel like I’m even a single step closer than when we started. Last time we tried that soul weapon machine, and it didn’t work for me either. I thought that might be because I am a vampire subclass but still…
“That can’t be the case, since Erin seems to have one, and the vampires, while they don’t seem to have one, they’re at least able to summon an inner blood weapon. Quinn is even able to do some sort of mix of both, whereas I… Is there something wrong with me? Am I just not meant to have either?” She asked, clearly frustrated.
Before answering, Leo looked towards Erin’s way and the two of them watched her swordsmanship for a while, until the Blind Swordsman eventually answered.
“Did you know, I didn’t discover my soul weapon until very late in my life, Layla. My teacher used to praise me for being a rare genius and true talent for Qi, yet I couldn’t summon a soul weapon like everyone else.
“There was a point in time when I felt exactly the same way as you are now.”
Layla was finding this hard to believe, and it seemed more like a story he had come up with to make her feel better. Leo seemed so wise and perfect in everything, yet she also knew he was a true master of hard work and discipline. If anyone could defeat a being above them with skill, it was this person.
“According to my master, soul weapons can be categorised into two types, the item type and the enhancement type. However, I believe that is actually a third group.” Leo started to explain. “The item type is simple enough. Once you get the hang of forming your soul into a ball in your hand, an item can be produced. It’s quite clear when you have achieved it, but learning the ins and outs of the item itself can be hard.
“The enhancement type, though, has always been different from user to user. Sometimes it can be very clear when a soul weapon has been summoned, while at other times it isn’t quite as straight forward.
“The latter is similar to my soul weapon. It enhanced my abilities but to what degree. That was difficult in itself to find out or discover. The reason I believe you are struggling right now is because rather than figuring out how to summon your soul weapon, you need to figure out what it would do.
“The process might sound backwards for people like me and you, and in some ways we might never figure out what our soul weapons are.”
At first, Layla thought that maybe Leo was giving her hope, but the last sentence truly frightened her, and she soon stood up from the ground in a panic.
“But didn’t you just say, you did?” Layla questioned him. “How did you figure out your soul weapon without summoning it, then?”
“The same way that you and Erin have been doing so far. We have been attempting to put you in life or death situations. In a way, this is similar to the training Hilston Blade had forced his family to undergo, but you probably know the answer to that yourself.
“Think, is there something that you have been able to do that others can’t? That was when it first hit me. When I told my master, I was able to manipulate the aura I could see and feel. That was something that he couldn’t do.”
Back on the field, Layla opened her eyes wide, as the soul weapon spread through her body and she could feel energy burning through her fingertips.
“I thank Quinn for giving me this special body, without it, I don’t think I would have ever been able to utilise my soul weapon properly!” Layla shouted towards Helen.
“Quinn…” Dalki Helen uttered the name with a strange expression on her face.
When using her powers of telekinesis, Layla had already been able to transfer her Qi to others. She could power her arrows with Qi, and transfer what was of hers into another body. This was something that she could do that others couldn’t.
A soul weapon adapted and formed based on the user, and for Layla it was clearly something she could use.
“I… I feel weaker.” Dennis suddenly said, but it wasn’t only him. All the others, including the large army of fifty thousand or so, all started to feel as if part of their strength had disappeared. At the same time, the humanoid Dalki itself could feel her energy being drained away.
While Layla could give others Qi, her soul weapon allowed her to steal Qi from others and add it to her own. Right now, she was draining everyone nearby.
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