Having gotten up in an unfamiliar bed it was only natural that Sophie was slightly disoriented, so she glanced around to observe all the details about her new bedroom.
The room was large and spacious with a single king-sized bed in the center. Elegant white curtains covered the windows and gentle light streamed down onto her face from the artificial sun outside.
There were no decorations or furniture present aside from a single desk and wardrobe with a full body mirror opposite it. Sophie wanted to get up to put on some new clothes when she heard a noise coming from outside the room.
"I see you've woken up milady," a polite knocking was heard from the door before Katarina strolled in with a small smile.
"We need you dressed immediately as the duke has requested your presence at the training grounds."
The training grounds were located on a field at the back on the mansion and was currently empty with only the sole figure of her father waving cheerfully towards her. Katarina had left to get some healing solutions but promised that she would be back soon.
Strangely enough Sophie did not encounter a single servant despite walking through the entire building to get to the training field. She asked Katarina who just shrugged and glanced away with an evasive look.
Sophie broke out into a half jog and soon approached her father who was standing in the center of the field while holding two wooden swords. He sighed with resignation while passing her ten vials of nutrient solution.
"I sincerely hope you reach the Void stage before you run your old man out of money," he said in a half joking manner.
All he got was an eye roll from his daughter who downed five vials before passing the rest to him.
"I was just kidding you can have as much as you want," he hurriedly spoke.
What if his baby girl decided to starve herself because of his thoughtless remark!
"Strangely enough...I started to feel full after the third vial so I don't think I can drink anymore," Sophie exclaimed in apparent disbelief.
Rokan gave her a curious look and made a mental note to run a full body scan on his daughter to try to figure out the properties of her new body. He also had to commission a reassessment of her talent as the speed of her cultivation did not match the results of the last scan.
The last body scan was only a few years ago and had shown that her cultivation talent was rank F while no mana could be detected which disqualified her from learning magic.
"Now I want to know what the academy has taught you about fighting," the duke shook himself out of his thoughts and began the first lesson.
Sophie racked her brain while trying to remember the teachings of the lecturers from the memory of the original host. Truthfully, most of the actual teaching was given to elite and regular students so her memory was a bit fuzzy on the details of the classes.
"From what I remember. the most important quality of a noble is to seek justice and always show honour in a duel," she finally recalled some of the information the fighting trainer would constantly preach about.
"If you fight with that mindsetyou can forget about participating in the university trial," the duke said in a serious tone with a dark frown.
"The most important way to fight is to use whatever method you can to win. Your enemies will use all the advantageous they can to kill you. The universe is too dangerous to survive preaching hypocritical lies."
"It is fine to pursue justice but only if one has the strength to back it up. Otherwise it is simply foolishness. Always remember that your life will always be worth more than that of a stranger's"
"Tell me why is slicing a man in half with a sword considered praiseworthy but poisoning him to death makes you a monster?" he asked.
Sophie stared contemplatively at the ground as she reflected upon the message her father was trying to teach.
Rokan looked at his daughter trying to figure out the meaning of his words and sighed quietly in his heart. He too had once been a hot-blooded youth who believed in facing enemies openly with no pretenses or hidden cards.
But years and years of battle experience showed him how foolish he had been.
Soldiers who survived decades of service in the imperial army were not always the strongest but often were the cleverest.
There was a saying that beasts who could hide their claws were the most dangerous.
"Alright!" he shouted loudly to get his daughter's attention.
He threw a wooden sword at which Sophie quickly caught with her right hand almost instantly thanks to the increased reflexes of her new form.
"I have designed a tight schedule for the next two months and you will have to follow it rigorously. Fail any of the training and I will not let you enter the class evaluation," he continued in a harsh tone.
It pained the duke greatly to be so tough on his little girl but if she entered the trial unprepared he dared not imagine the consequences if the safety amulet malfunctioned.
"We will start every day with weapons training. This will include swords, knives, wh.i.p.s, plasma blasters and hidden needles."
"Then in the afternoon will be cultivation techniques that Jack will personally guide you which the achievement of at least initial mastery is the minimum expected."
"And finally, in the evening I will have Katarina teach you the Art of Poison and some basic stealth techniques."
"Now let us begin the training!"
The duke stood still in one spot and Sophie noticed that he restricted his cultivation base until it was the level of a qi spirit cultivator. He held a similarly shaped wooden sword and closed his eyes.
Sophie nodded in acknowledgement and held her sword in the stance according to the memories of the original host.
The original host may have been deemed a cultivation waste, but Sophie knew she trained relentlessly in weapon techniques to try to close the gap between her and the rest of the class.
(Take a deep breath and relax)
(Remember your training)
Strangely the anticipation of the fight made her blood begin to boil in excitement, so she confidently took a few steps towards her father while holding the sword tightly in her grasp.
Sophie did not realise it at the time but her golden eyes began to flash slightly with a reddish hue and her fangs glistened menacingly in the sunlight.
Running forward with a sudden burst of speed, Sophie quickly darted to the right and sliced her sword towards her father's chest with blinding speed.
"Too slow," came a mocking taunt.
Her father did not even glance in her direction before blocking her strike with a casual wave of his hand.
"Try this then!" Sophie roared.
(I will show the old man I can fight without honour)
She launched a kick towards his crotch and simultaneously swung her sword towards his face with an even faster speed than before.
It was useless.
The duke simply took one step backwards and dodged the outstretched kick, before promptly parrying the strike towards his face.
"My turn to attack sweetie. please forgive me," her father called out.
Sophie immediately jumped away from him, but his figure mysteriously vanished into thin air. A ringing noise appeared close to her ear and she ducked down reflexively which caused a sword strike to narrowly miss her temple.
"Don't use your eyes use your instincts," Rokan called out.
All she could see was a blurry figure appearing and disappearing at will in the space around her, which was followed by consecutively sword strikes which left her shaky and disoriented.
(Strike from the left side)
Sophie turned her sword and blocked a strike which caused a small gasp of admiration to be heard from the duke.
(He is above me)
(Sword strike from behind)
She could not explain but it was like there was a sixth sense of danger warning her of potential threats. Unfortunately, while it was accurate, her body was unable to keep up with the movements and blow after blow rained upon an exhausted Sophie.
"Okay that's enough for now."
The duke placed his wooden sword on the rack and approached his daughter who was now lying on the floor with an expression of pain on her face.
"Katarina bring in the healing salve!" he ordered into his wristband.
Sophie's loyal bodyguard rushed in from the corner of the training field with some medicine and the duke took it from her hands started to carefully apply it to the wounds on his injured daughter's body.
Every injury was a stab to his heart, but he gritted his teeth in determination.
"Do you know where you can improve? "he asked after the treatment was done.
"UmI would say my cultivation base is too low to face someone at the qi spirit realm," Sophie hesitantly replied.
A small burst of laughter erupted from the duke before he stopped when his daughter started to pout at him. He decided to hurry up and explain,
"Well yes that's one of the reasons but that gap can be closed judging by the speed of your cultivation using that qi gathering technique. But the greatest flaw in your fighting style is the lack of experience."
"Straightforward attacks may work against lesser opponents but the geniuses you will be competing against will not fall for those small tricks."
The duke patted his daughter reassuringly on the shoulder and Sophie felt a tinge of warmness flow across her chest. She knew that her dad was only doing this brutal training to fully prepare her for the university trial.
"Alright now there is no time to waste!"
"We need to have at least ten sparring sessions so Katarina you might need to bring some more healing salve."
The duke gave a confident grin but to poor Sophie, it seemed more akin to the smile of a demon.
After a full morning of at least eleven sparring sessions what little warmth Sophie felt towards her father had long since disappeared.