"Okay, Naxio. Just hold for a little bit longer..."
Naxio's eyebrows were pressed tight with a deep and strained frown on his face. He was seated on the ground in a meditation position, legs crossed and arms resting on his legs. However, his hands were clenching at the cloth of his pants, and a small twitch frequently came to his face. There was also a faint and ghostlike glow around him. The glow was a pale blue that they seemed to dye into purple.
Sitting across from him a few feet away was Kaldov. His pose, however, was a direct contrast to Naxio's. His body was relaxed, his face was neutral yet focused. There was also a glow around him however it was completely different from Naxio's. The glow was strong and a fiery golden brown. It seemed to waver off him in waves and small tendrils inched and poke towards Naxio. Moushira was looking between the two with a slight look of concern. After a few minutes of silence, she then speaks up with a clap of her hands.
"...Okay, you both can relax."
At that statement, both boys relax and their respective auras fade. Naxio lets out a sigh of relief, his face failing to hide his clear exhaustion. Kaldov, however, didn't even appear winded, his cool expression had no changes.
"That was a very good Naxio! Your barrier was much stronger than before!"
Moushira has a wide smile on her face as she praises Naxio. Naxio, however, couldn't help but feel discouraged.
"Your stamina still sucks."
Kaldov's statement doesn't even miss a beat. He had already continued eating as the trio was in the middle of lunch before starting to train. Naxio's and Moushira's heads snap in the direction of Kaldov after his rather rude admission. Moushira's expression is similar to that of a mother scolding her child who is picking on their young sibling while Naxio's face looks close to a cat that had been left out in the rain.
Kaldov lets out a small grunt and continues eating without care. Moushira then turns back to Naxio, her face filled with a fire of determination.
"Don't listen to him Naxio! You are doing much better! Your stamina may not be overly strong but it is better!"
Naxio nods and gives her a weak smile. He already knows full well how weak his overall stamina and power is. Having basically bare minimal training as a Daemon Hunter and having an overall weak constitution was Naxio's downfall. While he is able to control and manipulate his Yang, his skill level is well below his peers, something he knows full well. Li-Ren warned him when she was training him before they arrived at the compound, he would have to work twice as hard as most to catch up. A small moody cloud seems to hang over Naxio's head as he lets out a big sigh. Moushira frowns and suddenly stands.
"Alright, finish up eating you two! I have something I want to show you."
Both Naxio and Kaldov look at her with mixed expressions of confusion. However they do follow after her. The compound was unusually busy, there were more Hunters around than ever before.
"Did something happen?"
Moushira whispers this, looking around and then back at Kaldov and Naxio who were trailing behind her. Naxio merely shook his head, just as equally confused while Kaldov had a stern expression on his face. His eyebrows were knitted tight and a deep frown on his face.
"Hmm.. I'm not sure.."
The trio continued down the hall until they finally stopped at the location of Moushira's choice. One of the training rooms from what it seems?
"A training room? Why are we here?"
Naxio asks as he peaks into the room and then turns to Moushira. She smiles and then nods her head to the people training. There were a surprisingly large amount of people training today. Some were doing more advanced techniques while others were drilling down the basic skills, much like Naxio's training. Some appeared frustrated while others were hyper-focused, somewhat lost in their training.
"See, you're not the only one who struggles with the basics. Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses."
Naxio even sees some apprentices doing the exact training that he was doing himself not too long ago. An almost invisible pressure suddenly lights and his heart feels a bit less heavy.
"...Hmm but aren't there a lot of people here all of a sudden?"
Both Naxio and Moushira look to Kaldav in question at his statement. However, looking back into the room, Moushira couldn't help but notice that his statement was true. Not to say that the training rooms weren't used on a daily basis but the rooms were completely filled and have been that way for the most of today.
"Maybe there's a mock fight coming up?"
Moushira said however even to herself the theory seemed weak. If there was such a thing, the compound would have informed the apprentices by now at least. Naxio couldn't help but feel that deep-seated feeling of nerves.
"Maybe it's an exam? You know, like the 'Trail of the Hunter'?"
Even the idea of remembering their collective time during that trial was enough to flatten Moushira and Naxio's mood. Kaldav, on the other hand, appeared lost in thought almost. His golden eyes studied the training recruits who appear hard at work.
"Hmph, clearly you guys are way too lax!"
The trio turns to the sudden voice that came from behind them. Standing with a stern look ever on his face was Ven from the Lorecia Clan along with his friends. He didn't really look at Kaldov, his sharp eyes were zeroed on Moshira and Naxio. His friends behind him were nervously eyeing Kaldov and shuffling around.
"Ah, young master!" Moushira says with a slight smile and bows.
However this time it was obvious to everyone present that there was a more mocking tone to her greeting this time. Ven's glare only darkened more as he stared her down but didn't say anything outright.
"What do you mean? Is there something happening after all?" Naxio asks meekly.
Ven let out a huff before answering, his voice dips a bit lower and takes on an ominous tone.
"Obviously... it's the Three Paths of the Hunter."
His statement gets a mix of recognition and also a bit of confusion from the trio.
"Wait, the Three Paths? I thought that was just a metaphor or a play on words even!" Moushira says with clenched eyebrows.
Ven grunts and shakes his head. Naxio tilts his head a bit in confusion. He's heard of the Path of the Hunter as almost every recruit has. But in all the Daemon Hunter texts or scrolls, it was always described vaguely or with a lot of metaphors.
"So it-it's a test? Like the Trials of the Hunter?" Naxio said in a nervous whisper.
Ven let out a small scoff and sneered at him.
"If you thought that was a test then you are clearly not going to make the cut."
Naxio frowns and his head dips a bit. Moushira however gives Ven a calculation look.
"So what is the Path of the Hunter then?" She asks, crossing her arms.
"It's the true test to become a Daemon Hunter. The three paths refer to the founding points to defending against Ying energy. The mind, body, and soul. The first path is the mind which is a test of the mental barriers against Ying corruption." Ven's words came out in a hushed tone. His eyes seemed to dart around a bit as if in fear of being overheard.
However, his words were heard clear enough by the trio who each had a different reaction. It was common knowledge that Ying energy has the ability to corrupt the weak-willed. The stronger the Daemon, the stronger their aura and their Ying is. There have been countless horror stories told about the destruction and chaos caused by Ying corruption.
"I haven't heard much but my seniors say that this test is something of their greatest nightmares even after becoming Daemon Hunters."
A small chill goes up Naxio's spine as he nervously looks at Moushira and Kaldov however was shocked at the rather calm and almost eager expressions they had. Moushira had a rather wide smile as a strange twinkle in her eyes. While Kaldov looks as he usually does, a still statue with no visible expression.
"Sounds interesting!" Moushira says.
Ven looks at the two as if for the first time before scoffing and walking off. His friends scrambled behind him as quick and quiet as mice. Naxio let out a small sigh of relief before turning to his comrades.
"A-aren't you guys nervous at all? You heard what he said right?"
Moushira waves her hand in a nonchalant manner.
"Meh, if becoming a hunter was easy Naxio, everyone would be doing it. To truly prove oneself worthy is a great journey in itself!" Moushira says wisely with a small smile to him.
Naxio let out a weak laugh however he could help but feel both admirations and also a small ting of jealousy for the confidence that his friends display. Even faced with impossible odds, they will still give their all no matter what.
"Do worry so much Naxio, you will do fine! You are stronger than you think!" Moushira said with a clenched fist and a wide smile.
Kaldov just grunts and nods in agreement. What felt like a small bubble swelled up in Naxio as an unconscious smile came to his face. He then remembered the promise he made to himself before. He was going to make the clan proud, he swore on it after all.