Chapter 13:

Playin' With Swords

Mages and Dragons in a New Land? They Obviously Haven't Seen a Modern War Man

Nobaru, Eri and Kaeda were walking to where the gym was as Hugo said he needed to check the armoury out. He looked impatient but said he will be back before it starts, hopefully. As they walked, Kaeda said something that surprised Nobaru.Bookmark here

"Never thought you wanted that."Bookmark here

"What do you mean?" he asked, confused.Bookmark here

"Stopping the war." said Kaeda "Never thought you wanted that."Bookmark here

Nobaru recalled the vision as he said this "I know about a lot of wars. Never end up good. I don't want to lose everything. And since I'm strong for my age, I can aim for this. I can, no I will do it."Bookmark here

"How can you 'know' anything about wars?" asked Eri "You've never fought in any. You are a kid."Bookmark here

Nobaru realised what he said. He hesitated and said "I've read about them, silly. You know that mom and dad have many books and records on wars."Bookmark here

"I see..." said Eri. She felt like he was hiding something. She was normally good at pointing out these things. Then Kaeda said yet another surprising thing.Bookmark here

"Let me help you then."Bookmark here

Eri joined in. "Yeah! Count me in too. You might end up being reckless because of being strong. Overestimating your strength is what I mean. Let us help-"Bookmark here

"No." said Nobaru "I won't let you both join me. I don't want to endanger your lives in the process. I'm doing this for both of your sakes. I don't want to lose you both."Bookmark here

"I know the risks..." started Kaeda.Bookmark here

"...But I don't want to lose you as well." completed Eri "You think you are the only one worried about us?"Bookmark here

"Nobaru, we are worried too." said Kaeda "Which is why we want to help. We don't want to see you die either. You have to understand. You are not alone and you have friends who can help. Besides, we are in one of the best schools ever. We will definitely be strong enough to survive this."Bookmark here

Nobaru sighed "Guess there is no reasoning with you now huh?"Bookmark here

The two nodded "Nope." they said with a cheerful smile.Bookmark here

Nobaru smiled back "Glad I know I'm not alone. Thanks for waking me up."Bookmark here

They then stood in front of the gym room. Together, they entered.Bookmark here

The room was a huge one, the size of a Greek amphitheatre. It wasn't that crowded. Only Nobaru's class was in the place. The instructor was nowhere to be seen. He hadn't reached there yet. As Nobaru, Eri and Kaeda entered, the rest of the class swarmed around them like bees to introduce themselves. The trio was surprised.Bookmark here

"So you are the Silent Mage." asked a dwarf.Bookmark here

"It appears so." said Nobaru "I knew about this title today so I don't know how to take it. Honoured? Surprised? I really don't know."Bookmark here

"You should be honoured. Only the very great or famous ones receive a title from other powerful mages. I am Balor Strongstone. Nice to make your acquaintance." He smiled.Bookmark here

He then looked at Eri "You also have a title, Mergan. You know Ancient Magic as well right?"Bookmark here

"Yes." she said "I'm Eri. Nice to meet you."Bookmark here

"Likewise," said Balor.Bookmark here

He then turned towards Kaeda and his face registered shock.Bookmark here

"Y-you," he said, his face showing fear.Bookmark here

"Huh?" she said, confused "Have we met before?"Bookmark here

The others stood back.Bookmark here

"What is going on?" asked Nobaru "Why to fear her?"Bookmark here

"She comes from the Shiro family," said an elf from the corner. She stepped forward "My family." The elf was petite, her hair was doing a bad job hiding her face. She had a small, cute face to match her petite look, with concrete black hair and eyes."Bookmark here

"Your name?" asked Nobaru, smiling.Bookmark here

"Shiro Shizuko. N-nice to meet you."Bookmark here

"I am Miya Nobaru, nice to meet you. You must be one of Kaeda's cousins then."Bookmark here

She nodded.Bookmark here

"Nice to meet you," he said.Bookmark here

Then he looked at Harumi who had a sad face. He saw the other elf, her sister looking at him with interest. He then looked at Kaeda herself. She was utterly confused. She must've been thinking 'Why is everyone afraid?'Bookmark here

"Why is everyone afraid of her?" Nobaru asked Shizuko.Bookmark here

"The Shiro family is o-one of the three great families. They were a cold, terrifying family in the past. But things have changed but people don't believe it. People here don't either."Bookmark here

"Who would believe your lies?" said Balor "Your family has killed many, made many people suffer. Who would believe you when you say that you changed."Bookmark here

Kaeda looked down, sad and almost wanted to cry.Bookmark here

'Why are we being judged now?' she thought 'I am not involved. I just wanted to-Bookmark here

Nobaru was annoyed. He felt sorry for the four from the same family that are present here. He looked at the rest.Bookmark here

"Why do you all not forget the past? Why hold on to it. You cannot judge a person entirely by what their family has done. And I have known one of the family ever since my childhood." He looked at KaedaBookmark here

"She is not scary. She is not what you envision her to be. Even the others in the class. I am positive you are wrong about them. Kaeda here was my first friend. She is kind, caring, strong and supportive. The complete opposite of your views on the Shiro family. You should be ashamed. You have no right to judge others if you don't know them well. I don't know or care about what they did in the past. All I know is that now, they are different. Use your heads! Think straight. Apologise while you are at it."Bookmark here

Everyone looked down with shame. Shizuko smiled with tears in her eyes. Nobaru smiled back. Kaeda smiled and slowly gripped his hand. Nobaru took it. Harumi looked at him with awe and noticed them holding hands. Her sister smiled at him approvingly.Bookmark here

Nobaru noticed the instructor. He was surprised. But he just smiled at himBookmark here

"Alright." he said "Now that that's over. Line up guys! Single file."Bookmark here

On command, everyone lined up. They looked straight in attention.Bookmark here

'Nostalgic...' thought Nobaru. He remembered a bit from his time in the army. The morning drills and things.Bookmark here

"Alright guys." said the instructor "As you might know. I am Ige Tsuneo, your coach. I also ran into him from the armoury." Hugo came from behind the coach. Empty-handed, but he had an excited look in his eyes. "Alright, guys! Form groups of three. You will be training with each other in any way you please. I will announce the teams now. Nobaru, Kaeda and Eri. Shizuko, Harumi and Rin. And lastly Balor and Girad. I need to talk to Hugo for a moment so...good luck."Bookmark here

"Yessir!" said the rest. He went with Hugo, who followed with an excited look on his face.Bookmark here

'What was that about?' thought Nobaru.Bookmark here

Everyone started huddling up together to form their teams. Kaeda and Eri were already beside Nobaru while he was lost in thought.Bookmark here

"Hey." said Kaeda "Thanks for standing up for my family back there."Bookmark here

"Sure," said NobaruBookmark here

"I was really very confused. Was close to crying. I am being judged even before others know me. That just made me sad."Bookmark here

"I noticed." said Nobaru "Are you alright now?"Bookmark here

"Yeah, thanks."Bookmark here

"Alright." said Eri, smiling "Ready to train? Lovebirds?"Bookmark here

The two turned red "We are not!" they said in unison.Bookmark here

"A-anyways," said Nobaru, unsheathing his sword. He focused mana into the pendant as it changed into the two words Kiyome. "I'm ready."Bookmark here

"Have you been swinging it?" asked KaedaBookmark here

"Yeah," said Nobaru, "I started using my dominant, left hand first. I am confident with it now. Currently working on my right hand"Bookmark here

"Great!" said Kaeda "Eri, show me your sword. If you have one"Bookmark here

Eri unsheathed her sword from her waist. Its flexibility surprised Kaeda. She recognised it immediately.Bookmark here

"The Executioner's Blade." she said "How did you get it?"Bookmark here

"A gift from Master Akio," replied Eri.Bookmark here

"I see." said Kaeda "There are only a few blades modelled after this one. This is the original blade used by a renowned assassin Ueno Yasu. She was an amazing swordswoman as well."Bookmark here

"Interesting." said Eri "Is this person still alive at the moment?"Bookmark here

"Nope." replied Kaeda "She died almost 15 years ago because of some illness."Bookmark here

"Ah," said Eri.Bookmark here

"Why don't we spar now?" urged Kaeda.Bookmark here

"Sure!" replied Eri, excited.Bookmark here

Nobaru smiled. He had never seen his sister fight before. He was hyped to watch.Bookmark here

Eri unsheathed her sword. The flexible metal was covered with its usual bitch black colour. It gleamed under the light of the gym room.Bookmark here

Her sword looked like a cross between a whip and a katana. She looked at Kaeda with a bit of bloodlust. Kaeda stepped back. Even she who wasn't powerful enough to sense auras was aware of the bloodlust.Bookmark here

"W-wha..." started Kaeda.Bookmark here

"Fight someone with killing intent." said Eri "That's what I learned from my time training in the woods every day."Bookmark here

Kaeda smiled.Bookmark here

"If you are doing this, looks like I have to join in."Bookmark here

Kaeda unleashes her bloodlust on Eri, but she was unfazed. For moments, the two stood still, glaring at each other.Bookmark here

'Whoever falters first has lost.' thought Kaeda.Bookmark here

But Eri jumped first.Bookmark here

"Wha-"Bookmark here

She spun with her sword. the rotation increasing speed with each passing moment. Then it made impact.Bookmark here

On Kaeda's sword.Bookmark here

It was long and slim. It was extremely sharp, perfect for cutting flesh. It was clear that the sword was supposed to be used for combat. It was crimson red from the hilt to the blade.Bookmark here

Eri jumped back as Kaeda charged her like a beast. Her speed was overwhelming. Eri tried to keep her distance. But she saw no choice but to attack. Swinging her sword, she figured to make her lose balance. But Kaeda anticipated that. She dodged her swing and struck with her sword. It hit Eri's hand but she didn't drop the sword. It was bleeding. But the pain was ignored.Bookmark here

Eri slowly walked towards her, hiding her bloodlust.Bookmark here

Kaeda was confused. But it was too late for her to react when Eri struck. It made a gash across her right cheek. A long, moderately deep gash.Bookmark here

Kaeda fell.Bookmark here

"Kaeda!" the other two.Bookmark here

Nobaru cast God's Hand on Kaeda. The bleeding slowly stopped and the scar slowly disappeared.Bookmark here

"I am SO SORRY!" exclaimed Eri with guilt "Are you alright now?"Bookmark here

Kaeda sat up. She looked blankly at Eri who thought she was in trouble at that moment.Bookmark here

She then put both hands on Eri's shoulders.Bookmark here

"That...." she started.Bookmark here

"What?" repeated Eri, concerned and confused.Bookmark here

"THAT WAS AMAZING!" shouted Kaeda.Bookmark here

"I am not in trouble?"Bookmark here

"Why should you be in trouble?" asked Kaeda.Bookmark here

"I mean-I hurt you-"Bookmark here

"That's exactly what should happen in a battle," said Kaeda. She got up "The way you used the sword was exceptional. Reminds me of the assassin herself. I need to learn to deal with it.."Bookmark here

Then she started mumbling.Bookmark here

"maybe I won't work...wait-maybe.."Bookmark here

"Kaeda?" said Nobaru but she didn't hear him. Nobaru tapped her.Bookmark here

Startled, she returned to the present.Bookmark here

"S-sorry." said Kaeda "I'm just excited. Is that your technique, Eri?"Bookmark here

"Yeah, I made it up as I trained."Bookmark here

"Cool!" said Kaeda. Then she looked at Nobaru "Now shall we get learning?"Bookmark here

Nobaru removed his necklace. He focused mana into the crimson red pendant as it transformed into a pair of curved blades.Bookmark here

"Yeah!" he said "I'm ready."Bookmark here

"So here are some things you want to know." started Kaeda. Eri also listened while swinging her sword at hearing range "So you know that magic is a powerful weapon which is useful and effective in combat. But there are some scenarios where you can't keep up with the fight or worst-case scenario, run out of mana. That's when weapons, no, melee combat in general comes in handy. Swords here are very effective in close combat. It does more damage. There are other choices such as spears but they are easy to break compared to swords.Bookmark here

Weapons like knives are also an option because it helps to hit the weak points and chinks in armour but that would put you at a higher level of risk."Bookmark here

"It's basically suicide to use a knife unless you can handle it well," said Nobaru.Bookmark here

"Yeah. You got it!" said KaedaBookmark here

"For assassinations, a light weapon is best, so that's where the knife comes in," explained Kaeda.Bookmark here

"I see," said Nobaru, processing the words.Bookmark here

"Now there are three kinds of sword styles." continued Kaeda "Bellator, Basilius and Deus. I mastered the Bellator style which is the first style, the basic one. I'll teach you. But for that, you need to first do basic exercises which are generalised for every swordsman or woman. The same thing that Eri is doing now, swinging the sword. Your hands need to have a good grip and control over the sword if you want to use it. So let's do that today."Bookmark here

"Alright!" said Nobaru, excited. He grabbed his sword.Bookmark here

"Swing with your dominant hand first. Once you master that, then switch to your other one. Do it till you feel like you are going to break."Bookmark here

"Okay." said Nobaru "Brutal, but ok."Bookmark here

Nobaru held a sword with his left hand, his dominant hand and started swinging.Bookmark here

It would seem brutal at first." said Eri, still swinging "But you will get used to it and will not think that once you do get used to it."Bookmark here

And thus two hours passed. Hugo and Mr Ige came out. Hugo had a big grin on his face.Bookmark here

"It looks like someone is happy," said Eri, smiling.Bookmark here

"Yeah. I just had a big idea and I just found out that it will work."Bookmark here

The four of them started walking out of the gym room Hugo explained his idea. It was break time and they were going to get some food.Bookmark here

"I have devised a plan." Hugo started "To use magic as a close-ranged weapon."Bookmark here

"Really?!" asked Eri with excitement.Bookmark here

"Yes." replied Hugo "Magic is not a weapon to be used in close range, normally. Well, you could coat your hand or feet with magic to strengthen it but that isn't effective enough. So the only way to make it more effective is..."Bookmark here

"Is?" said Nobaru.Bookmark here

"I materialize magic into normal weapons. Such as a sword out of Dark magic or a spear of Light Magic."Bookmark here

"I've been thinking of this ever since I was a child. But I didn't know how to do it. I went to the armoury to look at the weapons there for reference. After that, I looked to Mr Ige for advice. He was eager to help me. And then he proposed an idea. To visualize and shape mana to a weapon of your choice."Bookmark here

"Interesting.." said Eri "And then what happened?"Bookmark here

"I tried making a small knife. The size of a hunting knife. It took some time but it worked in the end. I couldn't maintain it for long because I couldn't control my mana well."Bookmark here

"Hmm..." said Nobaru "Wish I could help. But after fainting once during the exam I realised I need to learn to control my mana as well."Bookmark here

"I can." said Eri "I can help if you want. Ancient Magic requires mana control to the extreme. And not to brag, I have better control over mana than Nobaru here."Bookmark here

Nobaru nodded in agreement.Bookmark here

"You would help me?" asked Hugo, baffled.Bookmark here

"Of course I would." replied Eri "Why wouldn't I help a friend in need."Bookmark here

Hugo's face turned red. "T-thank you.." he stammered.Bookmark here

"Sure!" Eri smiled.Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.