Five more weeks have passed and Viola had mastered many complex sword maneuvers. Most were based on deflecting blows from other swords or fighting sword wielded opponents. Viola still went over the reason for this in her mind periodically.
It's what sets us apart from everyone else. We never harm anyone unarmed intentionally. So you need to be prepared mainly for those with a weapon.
Viola didn't need Kurama to bring in her dinner meals anymore. Her body had fully conditioned to the strenuous training regimen of Rabbit. She no longer had to think to do any kind of fighting anymore. During the past week and a half, she and Rabbit had started dueling regularly all day. At first, Rabbit had the upper hand on her, giving her several bruses in the process. But quickly, Viola managed to hold her own against Rabbit. Even though she couldn't best her yet, she could keep her back for hours before both were too exhasted to even move anymore and the duels usually ended in a draw.
Recently, other paladins have come forward to duel her. Viola had welcomed this as a break from the endless draws against Rabbit. However, she realized quickly that she couldn't best anyone else either. The main reason was that they had one thing she still didn't have, a crystal. Most of the paladins she fought had developed their own type of fighting style around the special abilities granted to them and Viola nearly always found herself on the defensive. Most notable of them was Penny and her gravity ability. Now Viola understood why most of the paladins called Penny annoying. She would constantly jump around, reaching incredible heights sometimes, giggling and taunting her constantly. Penny just jumped around more than actual swordsmanship.
Presently, Viola was now approaching her room after eating dinner in the mess hall. She was thinking over the fight with Bis that she had earlier that day. It was more of a fair fight with him, since he lacked any real 'Physical' abilities. But she couldn't beat him either from his abilities none-the-less.
Sorry that you weren't able to beat me. You still fought pretty hard.
What do you mean I still fought pretty hard! You somehow managed to know every move I was making right when I was making it!
Well, I could notice little twitches you would make before you would actually make a move. It would tip me off about what kind of swing you were going to make.
Viola sighed and leaned against the wall. A foot in front of her, one of the candles illuminating the hallway quivered, causing the surrounding lights to dance around. Why was it taking so long? She had already mastered everything she could learn at this current stage. They kept talking to her about the first test and that she would be able to get her own crystal when she passes it. But when was that going to be? She was ready now, she knew it. Her development had become stagnant since everyone else had an extra talent they relied on. She had nothing but skills with a sword. But, she decided, leaning against this wall all night wasn't going to solve anything, so she pulled her self upright and continued to her room.
She opened the door quickly so she could get inside.
"Hey Kurama. How was your..."
She stopped. The room was empty. But that was weird because Kurama was always in their room at this time. What had happened to him?
She took a quiet, tentative step inside. Listening intently, she was looking around for something, anything that would give a clue as to why Kurama hadn't arrived yet.
"There you are Viola!"
Kurama's sudden voice from behind caused Viola to jump with a start.
"Oh, sorry. Did I st-? Oww!"
Viola had slapped him across the upper arm full force.
"Don't *EVER* scare me like that again!"
"Owwww! I didn't expect you to jump. Why would you jump from me talking to you?
Because I was expecting you to talk to me from the front, not behind!"
Kurama smiled amused.
"Okay. Point taken. Anyways, Mordokai had asked me to get you. I checked in the mess hall, but you had already left."
Viola looked back at Kurama with a puzzled expression.
"Why does Mordokai want me?"
Kurama inhaled deeply, rolling his eyes.
"Duh! You're now ready! The first test? He's about to brief you how to pass it. I would've thought you'd be jumping for joy about now."
Viola hesitated for a fraction of a second before she did just that.
"Yes! Finally! I'll have my very own crystal!"
"Yeah. Now come on, Mordokai's expecting you."
They quickly hurried down the hall, Kurama struggling to keep up with Viola. She was practically sprinting down all the way to Mordokai's office and knocked enthusiastically. While she waited for a reply, Kurama finally caught up while breathing a little harder than normal.
"I think you blew out all the candles you passed on the way here."
Viola ignored him.
Mordokai's voice came from the closed door and Viola threw it open instantly and hurried in. Mordokai looked up as she made her way inside.
"Well, I see you are certainly excited for this Viola."
"Are you Kidding?! Of course I am! You have no idea how long I've been... waiting... for... Why are you here Penny?"
Penny was sitting in one of the chairs against the wall. Her legs dangled off the chair, barely too short to touch the floor. She looked weird without the usual suit of armor she wore.
"I don't know. Mordokai asked me to come to his office just now."
"That is correct. For you see, I need to make some changes here at the moment."
Viola, Kurama and Penny all looked at Mordokai. All had looks of confusion on their faces.
"Well, as you all may know, Viola has been the last paladin recruit to have arrived here. Also, with Grim's disappearance, I had to quickly find a suitable replacement for a training instructor. Fortunately, Rabbit was more than qualified for the job, but now Penny doesn't have a partner to be with."
He adjusts his position to look at them better.
"Under normal circumstance, one of the crystals would've developed enough to give me the approximate location of the next paladin to come. But none of them has done so for 3 months and that is odd. There have been long drawn out periods of no new developments, but the longest was only a month. Not even Blue can guess why it's taking this long."
Mordokai leaned back in his chair, thinking on the issue. Viola however didn't really understand what he meant.
"What do you mean developed enough?"
"Ah! Well, I'm sure Kurama may have told you about how the crystals grow as someone develops and grows in their life."
He looks over at Kurama who nods back.
"Good. Anyways, the most experienced paladins are able to tell when a crystal is about to fully mature. In this case, fully mature means the person who's destined is about to hear the call. By focusing on the crystal, we can get insight on the approximate where and when the next person who hears the call will appear. This exact same thing happened when I saw your crystal Viola."
Viola opened her mouth to say something, but quickly closed it again.
"Don't worry. You're still a long way off before you have to learn that. But that is the final test right there. Once you're able to focus on the next call, you will be fully graduated from the academy."
Viola interrupted him.
So, how many paladins can do this currently?"
"Not too many. I was teaching it to Grim before he disappeared. Also, Nil can do it as well, but I have him looking for Grim at the moment."
"Anyways, to the point on why I called you in here. You will be undertaking the first test Viola. The first test has to be taken outside the fortress walls. We always have the paladin taking the test go with their partner so they can have proper supervision. However, until further notice, Penny will join you two as you go out. You all will become the first group of three in this academy."
"Are you Serious?!"
Penny looked at Mordokai as if Christmas had come early. When Mordokai nodded back at her, she literally jumped about ten feet into the air.
"Yes, it would be unfair to keep a little girl cooped up for so long. However, your main goal is to supervise Viola. That goes for you as well Kurama. Since Viola is without a crystal yet, you two need to keep a close eye on her. Do you understand?"
"Of course, Mordokai!"
She lunges and hugs Viola around the middle, grinning enthusiastically.
Viola and I will be the best-est of friends!
Viola was grinning too, what with the prospect of finally getting her own crystal. Kurama however was shaking his head.
"Out there alone with these two hyperactive girls?"
Everyone could hear the joyful sarcasm in his voice.
"I don't think I'll make it."
"Just consider it another test of patience, Kurama."
And this one will be the hardest yet."
Mordokai leaned back smiling.
"Then I suggest you get some sleep. All three of you. You'll be leaving in the morning and you should be well rested then."
"Right! Thank you, Mordokai!"
"You are welcome. Now go on, to bed with you."
The three quickly turned and left Mordokai's office.