Knowing that I needed to force quite a bit of blood loss, I knew that I was going to have to get creative with my approach. Afterall, it would look very suspicious if people saw me continually causing myself to bleed. Nothing about the warriors path required injuries to get stronger, so I needed to be able to either do it in secret or cover it up with normal training.

I thought of various scenarios to achieve my goal, but perhaps the best method for now was to get access to some sort of sharp weapon.

Soon, it was time for dinner in the cafeteria once more. Just like usual, I lined up and got my food after basically everybody had gone before me. The only difference this time was that I couldn help but smile as I got a cutting knife among my utensils. I found it strange that I was looking forward to what essentially counted as self-harm.

After getting all my food, I made my way to my usual corner except there was another difference this time as well. Both Alex and Greg were waiting for me. As I walked over, Alex noticed me and called out.

”Hey Ron its been a while, figured we could catch up and I also wanted to introduce Greg here. ”

I looked at his companion and noticed that he didn seem very interested in talking with me, but I gave him a nod nonetheless.

”Nice to meet you. ”

He nodded back while I sat down next to them.

”So how have you been adapting to this all? I haven seen you train yet, so it must be pretty boring right? Although I guess you might not be able to train with your bodys condition. ”

Alex seemed to pity my situation once again.

”No, Ive had a lot to think about so I haven been too bored. But hey, have you guys been able to feel this mana stuff yet? Since one of you guys should be this supposed hero, you should have already progressed with that right? ”

Both of them had a hint of resignation at my words.

”Naw man. Im starting to think this mana stuff doesn even exist, but then again, I can really think that way after seeing everything that is possible around here. Instead, we have been working on swordsmanship and occasionally using artifacts that don need mana. Well, I guess they also work us to the bone with exercises. ”

”What about the other two girls, are they faring any better? ”

”I haven been able to talk with them that much, but it sounds like they are making progress a bit slower than we are. ”

Interesting, it seems like I was the one making the quickest progress out of everybody that got summoned. Maybe they were just slow starters and would start to pick up the pace exponentially.

”Well, Im sure you guys will get it eventually. But is there anything new going on recently? Why did you guys decide to meet me today? ”

”Oh, thats right. I came to tell you that it seems like we are going to have practical training soon. I guess every month they take all the trainees and help them go fight monsters, whatever that might mean. Im not sure if they will take you since you haven really trained all that much, but if they do you should be prepared at least. ”

It was finally time to venture out into this world huh? I wasn sure if I should be excited or not as I was still currently just a fragile old man. Hopefully my mana training would help me make progress soon.

”Sounds rough, thanks for telling me. I doubt I would be much of a help on this training, but at least now I can mentally prepare myself. ”

”You bet man. Us summoned people have to look out for each other, right? It doesn seem like we have any real friends in this world at least. ”

For the first time I saw the usually optimistic Alex seem incredibly sad. I was reminded that these other kids probably left a lot more behind them in the old world than I did.

”Cheer up Alex. At least you have a group of your friends still with you. ”

”Thanks. You probably left a family behind too though, right? I can help but think of mine more and more. ”

At the side of Alex, Greg sneered at his words. It seemed like he finally wanted to join the conversation and it looked like it would be at my expense.

”I think it is pretty obvious this old man didn want to live anymore back home. We all saw how excited he was in that summoning room. There is no way he is feeling homesick like we do. ”

Kids these days, lashing out because they don want to confront their own emotions. I couldn help but shake my head.

”Well, you aren wrong that I didn have much going for me back in our old world. But even someone like me will have things he misses sometimes. ”

A somber mood overtook our group until Alex seemed to get too uncomfortable with it.

”Well, I just wanted to keep you up to date on what was happening soon. It doesn seem like anybody else would want to tell you any of it. I suppose we should head to the barracks soon though. Im exhausted after all this training today. ”

”Once again thanks for the information. I really do appreciate it. ”

”No problem, man. ”

With that, they got up to leave the cafeteria and I was once again left with my thoughts. I looked down at the cutting knife in my hand while feeling the warm sensation of mana spread out from my stomach. I suppose now that everybody is making their way to go to sleep, I should start my own plan.

I hid the knife in my pocket before going back to drop off my tray and other utensils. Afterwards, I left the cafeteria and started walking towards the barracks myself. As I stepped outside, I could see a few people heading in the same direction. I kept my distance from them the best I could and then after confirming that nobody was looking at me, I made my way around the barracks to a somewhat secluded corner.

Even if somebody saw me coming here, they would probably just think thats where I wanted to sleep tonight. Afterall, probably everybody knew that I wasn welcome to sleep on an actual bed in the barracks.

I sat down in the corner and began to dig a small hole with my hands. I knew that I needed to cover up my actions the best that I could, so I could only hope that burying the blood would be good enough. After digging a sufficiently big hole I took the knife out once again and stared at it. Despite the situation, I couldn help but laugh thinking about my actions. I was almost like some emo kid that snuck off to take pleasure in self-harm.

I soon shook off my thoughts and then angled my forearm above the hole that I dug. My heart started to race a little thinking about what was going to happen and questions began to bombard my head.

How much was enough blood loss? What if I pass out and somebody finds me? What if my plan of strengthening my blood with mana doesn even work in the first place? So many questions and unknowns, but there was only one real way to find out.

With a new found determination in my eyes, I grit my teeth and slid the blade over my forearm. Blood immediately started to trickle down my arm and sprinkle onto the ground below. Looking at the wound, I immediately became queasy. I had rarely ever seen injuries before, so at least by my own memory this one looked bad. I started to get a bad feeling while drowning in doubts, but I forced myself to continue. I needed to try to do this at least once or I might forever regret my actions in this world.

As more and more blood left my body, my doubts became more pronounced. Perhaps it was my subconscious screaming at me to stop this madness. It was telling me that if I continue, I might actually die here and now. Yet, I continued on until I started to shiver with clammy feeling skin. At this point I knew that I had bled enough.

I closed my eyes and focused on the feeling of weakness and cold spreading throughout my body. Latching on to this hopeless feeling I willed the mana still in my body towards it. It wasn that I willed the mana to go anywhere specifically, but rather that I willed it to go into that feeling of weakness that came with the blood loss.

Moments passed and nothing seemed to change. I only felt the previous cold intensify as I lost more blood. Yet, I continued on all the way up until I felt like I was going to lose consciousness. My doubts came back stronger than ever, telling me that I was going to die if I didn stop right now, but my stubborn side also came out in full force. I decided right then and there that I would rather die than not see this work.

I gritted my teeth and commanded with everything I had for the mana in my body to go into my blood. Then, after a few moments of uncertainty where I was on the verge of unconsciousness, I started to feel a burning sensation spreading out through my veins. With each pump of my heart, the burning sensation spread further throughout my body.

A wicked smile spread on my face as madness filled my eyes. In that moment, I knew that I would succeed.

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