Over the course of three weeks, Viola's training with Rabbit grew ever more strenuous. The days went by as a strict routine and became a blur. She would wake up early and eat breakfast, quickly change into her armor and wait for Rabbit, then spend the entire day with almost no break of training under constant scrutiny, afterwards she would be so exhausted that Kurama had to bring her dinner as part of the routine. This was where she was currently after 46 days.
"Well, at least you're still alive and breathing."
She was collapsed on her bed again as Kurama came in with the dinner plate.
"It would be too merciful to end it now."
Kurama laid the plate down again onto her nightstand.
"Still, at least you're improving. I hear you're already past the intermediate part of swordsmanship and are moving on to advance. It took me almost a year to get that far and you did it in six weeks."
Viola began to sit up.
"Well if you want to switch, I'm not complaining."
"No, no, no. I didn't mean it that way."
She reached for her plate when she noticed something and froze. She stared for several seconds then quickly rushed to the mirror.
Viola stared at her reflection. She couldn't believe how different she looked after a short time. Her skinny body had obvious muscles showing under her clothing. Her arms were especially muscular.
She reached down and felt along her arms, just making sure she wasn't imagining things. She wasn't.
"What? That you're now in really good shape? Come on, you should've known that. You've been working your butt off for a month and a half in armor."
"But... to have results this quickly?"
"Trust me, it's perfectly normal and believable. You may not really notice it yourself, but the rest of us were noticing your quick mastery of everything. Maybe Rabbit's crystal affects the people she's training with."
Viola just couldn't take her eyes off her reflection.
"Hey! Are you going to try recovering on an empty stomach or are you going to eat?"
"Oh, right! Sorry!"
The next morning, Viola went through the same routine, right down to training with Rabbit. However, it was slightly easier doing everything knowing that she was indeed becoming stronger. However, she was still taking advantage of the "breaks" she would get several times a day.
Periodically, Rabbit would have to leave her and go to the other paladins to make sure they were training correctly. Now, even though Rabbit told Viola that she had to keep training while she was gone, Viola would of course find a bench to sit at when she was out of sight. Since most of the other paladins usually groaned as Rabbit arrived and started to instruct them, Viola had plenty of warning before Rabbit came back into view.
She leaned back, resting on the stone wall behind her as the pain slowly subsided from her muscles.
"Taking a break?"
Viola quickly opened her eyes and turned to see Penny looking at her closely.
"Oh, yeah. I need it if I'm to survive."
"I know exactly what you mean."
Penny got up on the bench and sat next to her.
Viola looked down at her quizzically.
"Yeah. Rabbit was the same way to me when I was new here."
"You trained with Rabbit?"
"Well I had to since Rabbit was my partner. You're so lucky you got Kurama. At night, I can't move anything of hers without a complaint. She always says she has a 'system' to things."
"Wow. And here I thought I had it bad enough training with her during the day. I couldn't imagine having to share a room with her."
"You have no idea. And there's no way we could switch. Mordokai has stated that we absolutely have to stay with our assigned partner."
"Plus, no one would switch with you either."
Viola smiled for a while, watching a flock of birds fly across the sky in a V formation. Then she thought of something Penny had said earlier.
"Penny, what do you mean Rabbit 'was' your partner."
"Oh, well since Rabbit took over as Training Instructor, she's no longer my partner anymore. Although we still have to share a room together, we no longer have to do everything else together."
"Huh, Convenient. So who's you're new partner now?"
"I don't know."
She folded her arms.
"Mordokai hasn't given me one yet and it has gotten kind of boring without one. I can't find anyone to train or duel with anymore."
"Why is that?"
"Probably because everyone thinks I'm super annoying and such when I'm dueling."
"No, I mean, why do you think Mordokai hasn't partnered you with anyone."
"Oh, well I assume because no one else has arrived since you. Mordokai hasn't gone on his 'Paladin Search' that he does and that's the only time we actually get any new people."
"That's weird. Because down in the crystal cavern, there were hundreds of crystal there, each belonging to a person. I would think that one of them would've been ready by now-"
"WHAT ARE YOU DOING SITTING DOWN!?!"
Viola and Penny jumped. They were so wrapped up in talking that they didn't notice Rabbit approaching.
"This is no time for breaks, Viola! Training could be a matter of life and death!"
"Oh come on, Rabbit. Give her some breathing room. You've been working her half to death. Besides, I was bored and needed someone to talk to."
"Oh? Is that so? Then I guess that you want to train along side her today, is that right?"
Penny instantly jumped up.
"N-No! It's okay, I really should be going right now!"
She tried to jump up to the wall above, but Rabbit managed to catch her by the ankle in mid jump. She lost her balance in mid air and crashed towards the ground.
"I think you need a refresher course in training. I leave you for three weeks and your reflexes seem to have slowed. Come on Penny, get up and come with us."
Penny slowly got to her feet and brushed the dirt off her armor. Despite the obvious pouting face, she seem to accept Rabbit's instructions.
"Okay, okay. I'm coming."
They all made there way back to the training area and drew their swords. Viola leaned over to Penny behind Rabbits back and whispered to her.
"I'm sorry I got you roped into this."
Penny whispered back to her.
"Yeah, but I got you in just as much trouble. So I guess were even."