Chapter 29: Sword and Body
Sylvie lets out a ‘kyu’ in excitement at the idea of exploring a dungeon but I stay silent, looking at the two swords strapped to the back of my waist.
Today’s battle with Kaspian confirmed a lot of things for me. I’ve spent too much time adjusting to and learning this world’s magic system. Assimilating with Sylvia’s Beast Will, honing my Lightning and Ice Attribute techniques along with all of the other elements. I was so engrossed in the fact that this world made it capable to produce physical manifestations of elements that I neglected my foundations, the very thing I was best at, which was my body. In my past life, I used the simplest techniques to utilize the most of my small ki pool and with just my sword; I was able to rise to the top. This world offers so many more possibilities but if I am to truly excel and become the best in this world, I’m going to have to not only use my gifts in this life, but my experiences from my previous life.
In the midst of my thoughts, I feel someone bump past my shoulder. Looking up, I see the blond boy named Lucas walk past me with his entourage of guards and servants.
“You’re not bad for an Augmenter, but that’s it. Don’t get c*cky because we happen to be in the same class. Even in the same ranks there are levels, and you would be at the bottom. Cheh! Know your place.”
The blond boy just smirks while intentionally leaning his head back so he can look down on me. The fact that his height was a fair bit shorter than mine just made him look silly.
What a cliché behavior for an annoying side character.
Not even bothering to argue with him, I just face back to Jasmine, “Let’s go to the portal.”
Crossing through the teleportation gate, my senses jolt from the scenery. The City of Xyrus has the most teleportation gates among the cities since that’s the only way you can enter into it, it being a floating city and all. The one we crossed led us directly to the front entrance of the area known as the Beast Glades.
Hearing the chirps of birds and occasional cries and roars of beasts, the constant sound of water flowing filling the background created a natural symphony. The sight of tall trees and numerous hills filled with different plants reminded me of anything but a dangerous landscape crowded with monsters that can kill even the strongest of mages. Only lower rank beasts inhabited the outskirts of the Beast Glades, where the natural resources were the least plentiful. The deeper you go in, the more mysterious the landscape turns into, with caves and hidden entrances to unexplored regions of the continent.
I take a deep breath, with Jasmine soon following up through the portal after Sylvie and me.
Suddenly, Sylvie hops off of my head and scurries off, as if chasing something.
Dumbfounded at this event, I just yell out, “Wait, Sylv! Where are you going?”
Sylvie just sends me a vague response, saying she wants to train too.
My pet dragon has never left my side ever since she hatched but she suddenly leaves? I was uneasy at first, but I realized after a bit that I could feel where she was.
“I think she will be fine. Mana beasts have a natural instinct to get stronger after a certain period of time. She must’ve felt very suffocated being in a sheltered environment all of her life.” Jasmine says, walking next to me.
Putting her hand on my shoulder, she signals for us to start moving. “There is a place I wish to visit first before going to a dungeon. We have to hurry though; it gets a little more dangerous at night.”
Willing mana into her body, Jasmine bolts off into the distance, with her wind attribute mana propelling her even faster.
I follow suit, forming two gales of wind below my feet before I dash after her. I made sure to keep tabs on Sylvie but it wouldn’t be much of a problem since both she and I were mentally linked. Even as the distance grew between us, the connection remained strong and I was able to sense that Sylvie was catching small prey, her ecstatic mood affecting me as well.
The journey lasted a couple of hours and it was growing dark. The only reason I was able to keep up with Jasmine, even when she was a dark yellow stage, was thanks to the use of mana rotation throughout the way. This skill has become almost second nature to me now, and I use it unconsciously whenever I exert mana.
By late evening, we cleared through a dense forest and arrived at a small clearing. Surrounded by trees, there was a small field of grass with a stream of clear water flowing through it.
“We’ll camp out here tonight and stay here for a few days.” She announces while setting down her bag and taking out a couple of things.
“Were we not going to go into a dungeon right away?” I ask while I set down my bad as well.
She just shakes her head, picking up a few branches of wood and gathering them together.
I go into the forest, finding some decent sized branches to make a fire with. After a bit, we got a fire started. Making myself comfortable, I take my mask off now and sit by her next to the fire. We sat there, staring at the light produced by the flame and hearing the wood as it burns and cracks.
Trying to break the silence, I ask Jasmine, “What made you want to become an Adventurer?”
Her gaze never leaves the fire and I just stare back at the flame, thinking she didn’t want to answer.
After a couple of crackles of wood made by the fire, Jasmine answers softly, “I wanted to get away from my family.”
“I see… Are you on bad terms with your family?” I respond, my eyes staying on the fire.
“The Flamesworth House was a major contributor to the war against Elves. Our house has provided many powerful mages, both Conjurers and Augmenters. Our lineage in the fire attribute element is second to none. We took great pride in this, because fire is considered to be the most powerful of the elements.” She stated.
This was the most Jasmine has talked in one sitting.
“But Jasmine, aren’t you a…” I look up at, furrowing my brows.
“Since early on, when I first awakened and started training, my family tried to test my mana for fire affinity. I went through various tests so they can see how my mana was exerted and how it flowed through my mana channels.”
Jasmine continued on, “When it was made clear that I had no aptitude for fire attribute, my family shunned me.”
I didn’t know how to respond to her. For the first time, the always aloof and cold Jasmine seemed… vulnerable.
“I’m sorry for what happened…” was the only response I managed to utter.
Shaking her head, she gives me a faint smile. “The Twin Horns has treated me well and I don’t dislike what I am.”
I see her palm form a small swirl of wind, different emotions running through her face as she stares at it.
This world was a place of discrimination and classification. The hierarchical roots imbedded into this land would never truly disappear. Normal humans were considered second-rate people, while even amongst mages Augmenters were discriminated against by Conjurers. It goes further than that, where unless one is a deviant or a dual element specialist, some elements were considered “higher class” than others. Being born from a family of powerful fire attribute mages, she was discarded as inferior because of the elemental attribute she had; something that most mages would kill to acquire. She was a dark yellow Augmenter skilled in fighting and with mana manipulation at the ripe age of 24. Many would consider her a genius but from the standards she grew up with, she considered herself average at best.
We put in a bit more wood and laid out our sleeping bags a couple meters away so we could still feel the heat.
Lying down, I feel for Sylvie’s presence. She was a good distance away but I could tell she was safe. She sends me a thought, saying not to worry and that I should stay safe too.
Eyes closed, I wait to drift off when I hear Jasmine mumble something.
“…It’s weird. When I talk to you, it doesn’t feel like I’m talking to a child.”
I don’t respond, pretending to be asleep, hoping she wouldn’t push further for a reply.
“Good morning.” Jasmine was up and cooking something over the fire by the time I got up.
I look to see that there were a couple of fish skewered on a branch being grilled.
“Good morning! You should’ve woken me up Jasmine. There’s no need for you to do all of the chores on your own.”
“…I tried waking you up… You wouldn’t budge.” Her half closed eyes that give off an apathetic atmosphere looks at me as if I was some sort of wild animal.
“..aha… I’m sorry, I really need to fix that.” Maybe it was because I was still growing.
After eating the grilled fish for breakfast, we put out the fire. Jasmine asked if she wanted to take a bath in the stream with her but I just told her I’d go in after her.
Sigh… Being a virtuous King with morals seems to hinder me at times like these.
After washing up, I put on my mask and swords, thinking we’d go hunting for some mana beasts around the area when Jasmine stops me.
“Your opponent for these few days will be me.”
“Huh?” I can’t help but be surprised at the turn of events. We came all the way here to spar?
“This area is close to the dungeon we will be exploring, but for these days, I want you to focus on fighting me. I noticed that your fighting style seems… awkward at times. Like, you know it in your head, but your body doesn’t listen to you… or something along those lines.”
Unsheathing her two daggers, she points one at me, continuing, “We won’t use any kind of mana for these next few days while sparring.”
I unsheathe my shortsword too. “Good idea.”
Mana should be used as a supplement to your techniques, not a replacement to cover them.
“Use your other sword…” Jasmine eyes Dawn’s Ballad as she says this.
“How did you know this was a sword?” I wasn’t planning on hiding my weapon from her but I was still startled.
“…Knowing you, that black stick should be something more than just a cane or a practice stick.” She just shrugs, walking a few steps closer to me.
I just nod, throwing the shortsword near the campfire.
The translucent blade glows a light teal as it smoothly glides out of the scabbard matte black scabbard.
Holding it out in front me, I position myself. “Get ready.”
“Y-yeah…” I could tell Jasmine was in awe by the appearance of my sword after it was drawn. I suspect it’ll get that kind of reaction anywhere since its beauty stunned even me.
“Hahp!” Without mana reinforcing my body, I realize just how much I was neglecting myself. My arms felt heavy and my legs felt frail as they pushed off against the ground. I was a fool. I was complaining every time I fought about the limits of my juvenile body, but instead of fixing the problem, I just masked it. “Tch,” I can’t help but get pissed off at myself for this.
I give a sharp thrust at Jasmine’s core. We could cover our bodies with mana if we know we can’t block it, to prevent fatal injuries, but besides that, we weren’t allowed to reinforce our body.
Jasmine crosses her two daggers; blocking the thrust with ease she knocks my blade down in a swift movement followed right after.
My blade sinks into the ground as she prepares to use her other dagger to swipe at my head.
I squat my legs, lowering my center of gravity as I pull my blade out of the ground. Using the momentum I gained from pulling back my sword, I spin in that direction to lash at her legs.
My blade is met with empty air, Jasmine jumping up to avoid my attack. She won’t be able to change direction midair without the help of mana so I continue on with a stab.
I’m surprised at how heavy the force of the block was, as my hands get numb.
Jasmine gracefully recovers after she blocks my stab by doing a summersault to regain balance.
I give her a weak smile as I wait for my hands to get their feeling back.
“Hey Jasmine… I think I’m going to need more than a couple of days to work this out.”
Her lips curl up slightly as she nods in agreement.
I have 3 years before I’ll start attending Xyrus Academy. During my time at school, I’ll have plenty of chances to focus on studying mana.
I know what to do.
“2 years. Jasmine, don’t let me use mana unless absolutely necessary for 2 years. Whether it be on missions or inside dungeons, I’ll have to train my body first.” I sheathe my sword and can’t help but get excited.
This is just the beginning.