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(Chapter 77)

Silver Ghost’s Sword – Part 2

 

In a word, young Francesca Barton can perhaps best be described as a magician.

 

Though only commanding a few magical powers, she has survived to the present-day learning tai-sabaki (body positioning in martial arts such as kendo and judo) and sword-fighting through careful observation and imitation. Her status as a magician is attested by her experience as an adventurer.

 

A cloudless sky. Behind Kudou’s house, some recently washed clothes and sheets, fresh white out of the laundry hang drying. Fluttering in the wind, the clothes have a faint fresh smell and carry a strong ocean aroma. Removing my overcoat, I place it in the corner together with Ermenhilde. Then, I toss my sheathed short sword to Miss Francesca who stands facing me.

 

“Draw it”

 

With those two words, she nervously pulled out the short sword I just tossed to her.

 

A sword infused with Mythril.

 

The blade is engraved with the letters of elves and fairies, the hilt decorated with silver, effective against the undead and ghosts. Just how much is this sword Miss Francesca is holding worth?

 

Kudou, who forged the sword, wears her usual indifferent expression, but reveals a faint glimpse of interest through her gaze. She is probably interested in the user of the sword she made.

 

Feeling Kudou’s gaze even without looking, I too draw a Mythril blade from my hip. With a blade that is about twice the length of the sword that Miss Francesca is holding, this is a longsword. As she turned her blade towards me, she grew nervous and stiffened up.

 

“Come hit me.”

 

She spun and turned the sword she held in her right hand by just using her wrist. In that moment, Miss Francesca acted and took aim at me. I am still turning my sword, so I cannot properly aim at her.  Therefore, she took the chance.

 

She told me to hit her, but it doesn’t look like she’s going easy on me. Not even an adult, and she has pulled up the strength of an adult man solely through magical power.

 

Magicians use magic, but there is more to it than just magical power. You can use that magical power to strengthen your physical abilities. Magicians think more about what people do unconsciously. Depending on the user, this process can have increased effects.

 

Using her magical powers, she reaches me before I could prepare my sword.

 

I aim for her stomach.

 

Miss Francesca thinks using her skill will make it hard to target her wrist or neck. That’s why I aim here. Plus, if torn in the abdomen, the internal organs will become useless. Since aiming for the heart or brain could lead to instant death, I decide to use this surprise attack.

 

It is probably the best time to use a surprise attack like this.

 

“Ngh!”

 

Miss Francesca’s voice rose in agony.

 

A blow from the side made her fall. I struck the Mythril sword she holds with the sword in my left hand. Although it was a strong blow, I keep hold of my sword and fall back. I take advantage of the time it takes Miss Francesca to check her sword.

 

With the distance now between us, she cannot attack immediately. Apparently, she seems to have been more vigilant than necessary. I wonder if she will not attack simply because hold a higher position than her? Even though we are just both adventurers.

 

Should I have improved my attack? Pain makes people more aware. For better or worse, it is when one is in pain when they are most vigilant.

 

“Come on!”

 

I swing the sword again in the empty space. A clear break. I thought if I should aim at the abdomen again, or perhaps for the neck, but I know I will not be able to get a chance like this again.

 

Even though this is another good chance for a surprise attack, Miss Francesca knows me well, since we’ve traveled together for nearly half a year already. She’ll be able remember my habits.

 

For example, when we eat meals together, or when I say something with just a smile.

 

In this troubled state, her eyes swam and the tip of her sword shook. I get close to Miss Francesca, who shows an opening, and aim for the neck with my sword. Of course, I plan to stop before striking her, but she happens to avoid me by quickly turning around. The tip of my sword tore the white ribbon which tied her hair together, causing her hair to flutter around in the air. It looks just like an elegant dance; could this be her “beauty”?

 

This time she raises her sword, but I match her movements and raise my own sword made of Mythril, and make her turn away.

 

It’s only been half a year. When I first met you, you didn’t even know how to hold a sword, but now we’re on par.

 

I’m envious and proud of her at the same time.

 

I don’t know if she has talent swinging a sword, but…. I have no more talent than her.

 

Most of the people in this world are strong but have no magical powers, and therefore receive little protection from the Goddess Astraera.

 

Those facts are like walls that cannot be broken, and cannot be overcome, no matter how much an effort one makes.

 

Just by counting, my right hand becomes numb. The strength of Miss Francesca’s magical power has already become stronger than me. Before, she did not know how to use magic efficiently, but now that she has been traveling with me and has been experiencing actual combat, her skills far exceed the other magicians of her generation.

 

I jump to avoid a blow to my legs, slightly doubting whether I would come back to the ground, as I become defenseless in midair with invisible bullets shooting at me.

 

Wind magic. Faster than before, she tries to create a strong attack but fails, insufficient to blow me away. I hold my ground and gaze towards her, making sure she doesn’t escape, and close the distance between us.

 

I swing my sword downwards as her gun comes from the side, aiming at her neck. We clash countless times, our hands eventually becoming tired from their grips. I notice my hands getting sweaty.

 

That is why—–.

 

“Huff.”

 

I appear to look tired and take in a breath, creating a space between us. Even though I’m in the midst of a fight, I use all my power while lowering my right arm, dripping with sweat as I hold my Mythril sword. Seeing my state, Miss Francesca’s attacks momentarily weakened.

 

Without pause, I slash with my sword from the bottom. She fires her gun using her arm which once held the Mythril short sword.

 

We both look up at the short sword spinning in the sunlight, then I grab the handle of the falling sword.

 

“Ah”

 

Finally, a sound escaped Miss Francesca’s mouth.

 

“It’s my win, isn’t it,” I said.

 

[Was it a match?]

 

Oh, good. I sigh in relief as Ermenhilde’s voice echoes in my head. Responding to her voice with a cheerful laugh, I throw over the short sword back to Miss Francesca. She is not surprised by my gesture, but it seems she watches my actions in remembrance not to get injured.

 

“How is your sword? Was it hard to use?” [Renji]

“It’s alright. It was very easy to grasp, and it seems my magic has grown stronger…” [Francesca]

 

“It’s thanks to the character engraved on the sword.” [Renji]

 

“Huh?” [Francesca]

 

Miss Francesca gazes at the blade, as the sun shines on her short sword.

 

“This engraving on the sword’s blade. It’s a character from the old language of the elves, isn’t it?”

 

“…Really? I’ve only seen them in books.”

 

“Yeah, centu— milleniums years old. In the era where humans and elves did not communicate with each other.”

 

This may be a character from when the humans initially had no awareness that elves existed. I’m not a historian so I don’t really have any interest in it but, when I think about it, I wonder how many years has this planet been around.

 

Thinking about it, whether I understand it or not, I decide to exchange my thoughts with Miss Francesca, since she felt me looking her way.

 

I know I have a bad habit of being unresponsive when I’m thinking about something.

 

“If you go to the Elf Realm, you can see it as much as you want.”

 

Whether she was surprised by my words, in an instant she carried a firm state of doubt, her glossy lips opening to speak in a voice an octave lower than usual.

 

Well, since even young elves do not understand this character, it is natural that Miss Francesca doesn’t know it either.

 

A friend from the Elf Realm taught me these words that not many other people know. No matter how venerable a school of magic they went to, or how intertwined their city was with sorcery, it is not a common character to be just written in a book at a library. This one character holds great meaning which can give immense power, and by connecting with it one has the ability to achieve its effects multiple times. Depending on the user, the symbol can have an effect like that of a cheat.

 

…..I think Kudou decided to engrave that character on the sword in exchange for cleaning the house.

I’m glad she helped, but. When I received my great mantle and Ermenhilde back from Aya, I felt her staring at me. It seems as if Feirona is staring at me as well.

 

“What’s wrong?”

“Nothing…”

 

“That last one was unfair.”

 

Mururu speaks for Feirona’s silent stare. It seems his stare contains embarrassment rather than praise, but I don’t mind. Initially, I felt glum that I received praise for a win from Miss Francesca, who has little experience.

 

However, she became strong when I wasn’t looking. I told her of my admiration for her out loud. Although I do not plan to lose, even if I slash from the front, it will be painful if I do not take advantage of her weak point. Noticing that opening, Aya and Feirona cast their tepid glances towards me, their pleading kindness piercing my heart.

 

“Stuupid. You think monsters will play fair and square in an actual war?”

 

“Uh”

 

Well, I don’t think monsters would gather such a crowd. On top of that, wear a mantle cloak.

 

“You have an extremely interesting way of fighting, don’t you?”

 

“Yes?”

 

“Your disciple.”

 

“Ah, them. To be called a disciple is…”

 

I shrugged as I saw Miss Francesca taking in Kudou’s words so humbly. Kudou got up from the bench, with an urge to say something.

 

“Well, she seems to be able to use my sword more than enough.” [Kudou]

 

“Did she pass?” [Renji]

 

“It’s not my decision. I made it. That assessment is up to the user.” [Kudou]

 

Liar. You usually get angry if a person doesn’t polish their skills to the finest level. If that is truly the sense of a craftsman. This is why I needed to show Miss Francesca’s actual abilities in front of Kudou.

 

I asked Kudou to create this sword for Miss Francesca, so I couldn’t tell her that, but.. Putting Kudou’s obsessions aside — she is able to create more than just plain potions– she can make effective drugs and other weapons, with the protection of the Goddess. That is the power of Kudou, a craftswoman like no other.

 

She also has knowledge of the human world, which gives her the advantage to be able to create tools that craftsmen have never thought of in this world. One of the things she made is the Mythril sword that each Aya and I carry around our waists. On the other hand, it doesn’t necessarily do better than the dwarve’s or elve’s complex technology. The effect of those implementations are tremendous, and could potentially beat the power of a Mythril sword.

 

…..However, if she does implement magical power..

 

“Well, it looks like you’ll make it. I hit you with my sword, but because of your defense”

 

“Yes, I will keep it in mind…. Thank you”

“Thank you very much~”

 

Kudou says no more, turning her back on the troublesome atmosphere as she tries to get back into her house. She seemed to enjoy making the sword, but is now tired.

 

Such a woman, that Kudou. Now Miss Francesca can bow her head without being embarrassed.

 

“It’s getting hot, isn’t it.”

 

[I don’t think it’s hot?]

 

“You are, aren’t you. It’s impossible for me. My sweat evaporates as soon as it comes.”

Although I don’t feel sweaty, I wonder if it was better not to tell her. In any case, I don’t feel bad about what I said.

 

Seeing Kudou with a bothered look makes me worry if I am starting to have the same tired expression. Although it’s been happening with me recently, I don’t want to send off the message that life is a bore.

 

“Heh. Rin-san, it’s hard being hot-headed, isn’t it.”

 

“….Neither me nor Miss Francesca carry that sort of personality, though.”

 

[Is it okay to do it?]

“No way, I’m tired.”

 

[You guys really match, you and Rin.]

 

“I want to think up to now it’s not been horrible.”

 

“Same as ever, huh, Yamada-san.”

 

Kudou looks at me with a tired expression, but I don’t mind since it is the usual. In cases like these, she often doesn’t talk much. Even though we notice, Feirona and the others probably will forget when they leave.

 

I don’t think it’s rude, but I think it is bad since I have the feeling of “I don’t care.”

Though it’s not to that extent now, I used to never really have an interest. When I was first summoned to this world, I remember actually being kept inside a designated room. ….Even though I didn’t have to drag out those memories, they were pretty tough times.

 

Just recalling them, I start to tear up.

 

I try figuring out what Kudou’s interests are, and what makes her light up. More than half of the reason is not because Kudou is an alchemist, doctor, or blacksmith, but because she has become familiar with medicinal plants and various minerals.

 

Thanks to that, even as an adventurer, she has the ability to relax. After all, knowledge is power.

 

“Aya. It’s not too late to throw out Yamada-san, this tsundere.”

“Don’t say that, Rin-san!”

 

“How frightening. However I don’t deny being a tsundere.”

 

“There you go.. I guess.”

 

[What is a tsundere?]

 

“Don’t listen to them!”

 

Are they pleased to hear a man like me is a tsundere? Of course not.

Even though I’m not happy, I don’t consider myself a tsundere.

If anything, I think it’s one of my natural traits.

 

I sigh deeply, and pull at my sleeve. As I glance towards Sollunea, I see a deeply interested expression on her face.

 

…….It gave me a bad feeling.

 

“What’s a tsundere?”

“Well. Ask Aya.”

“Renji-san!?”

 

Responding immediately, Aya looks at me in surprise. Actually, it’s strange that girls can explain tsundere so well. I don’t care how Aya explains it. She’s smart, so I think she can explain it better than I can. Where do tsunderes fit in?

 

Kudou comes back in the house, listening from a completely different perspective. I think I should say something.

 

It seems that except for Aya and me, Feirona and the others hold a little resistance towards this word.

They are probably afraid of what a tsundere could be. On the other hand, Koutarou’s chūnibyō personality could prove more troublesome.

 

(T/N: chūnibyō refers to a “sickness” in teenagers characterized by sophomoric, edgy and pretentious behavior)

 

As I ponder, I look over at the open door.

 

“Thanks for cleaning the house.”

 

“What would you do without us?”

 

“It was too troublesome to hire a maid, that’s all.”

 

Hearing that, both Aya and I sigh. Kudou doesn’t pay no mind and continues to enter the house.

 

Her outward appearance is good. There is no harm in saying she is a beautiful woman. If she walks through the streets, perhaps eight or nine out of ten people would turn their heads. Only by looks, she is beautiful.

 

I wonder if she will ever have any motivation to do things such as cleaning by herself.

 

“Did you get mad or something?”

 

“Who does she think she is? She’s not just anyone.”

 

She’s simply not interested in cleaning. Coming from a real person.

 

I don’t know what I should think about that.

 

“Anywho, I noticed your movements getting better during combat.”

 

“Really?”

 

“Mhm.”

 

Even though we once fought with our backs straight, we should have never fought with our faces staring at the ground.

 

As I thought, when I look at Miss Francesca and Mururu getting along, I see faces full of confidence. It is called a doya-face. Of course, this word does not exist in this world.

 

When I turned to Aya and Feirona to see what happened, they seemed to understand Mururu’s facial expression, as I gave off a bitter smile.

 

“I tried asking what things Renji doesn’t like.” [Mururu]

“What kind of image are you trying to give off?” [Renji]

 

When Mururu said that, Miss Francesca scratched her face like she was troubled.

 

“Well. I dislike things my partner dislikes. Don’t worry about remembering that.” [Renji]

 

“Next time I’ll win.” [Miss Francesca]

 

“I’m not going to fight anymore. I’m tired” [Renji]

 

[Again, with that….]

 

Rather than that, I don’t know what will happen the next time we fight.

It is best to not fight in situations where you know you can win, but reality isn’t that sweet. So, it is common to create situations where there is a high probability of winning — but when I won this time, I did not fight fairly. Next time I might not get those odds.

 

Miss Francesca is a hard worker. She is not a person who will give up easily. I understood that well from the past six months.

 

That is why I will not fight.

 

Even if she is a disciple, losing to her, a mere child, will hurt my pride.

 

It seems in the past I felt the same way.

 

“Well then, why don’t you work in exchange for the sword Kudou just made you?” [Renji]

 

“Uh..yes, sorry.” [Miss Francesca]

 

“Geez.”

 

As I raise my voice, Miss Francesca apologizes, Aya gets shocked, and Mururu pokes me with her fists.

 

Shrugging my shoulders at her timidness, I walk back into the house with Sollunea. Or rather, I walked in by myself but Sollunea joined my side.

 

“What’s wrong?” [Renji]

 

“Renji, what’s a tsundere?” [Sollunea]

 

“…. Ask Aya.” [Renji]

 

That said, there is no sign of movement from Sollunea. I stare at her, waiting for a response.

 

I recently got used to this, but her silent beauty makes me feel uneasy. It has been a long time since I have felt this way…. It’s like when I first met Ell.

 

(T/N: Ell is a nickname for Ermenhilde.)

 

I think about such a thing and shake my head. What on earth am I thinking? Annoying.

 

[I want to ask you something Renji.]

 

“Is that so?”

 

“Yes.”

 

Apparently, it seems I was right.

 

As I looked up at the ceiling and sighed, I felt someone near the door. It is probably Aya listening in.

 

“Why again?”

 

For me, there is no choice but to ask.

 

No matter who I hear it from, it would be the same.

 

[You can’t tell anybody.]

 

“Of course.”

 

Shrugging my shoulders, I expect something, but I look back at unreadable eyes.

 

Now then, what is the explanation for this?

 

———————————————————————————————————————————

(AUTHOR’S NOTE)

 

I posted a character design to the activity report.

 

If you do not mind, please consider it.

 

I will be happy to receive your thoughts.

 

 

Chapters are split into pages.