Sorry about the delay. College this semester is kicking my butt, and I need to step it up.
The Child Doesn’t Resemble the Father One Bit
Dressed in her easy to move in gym uniform, Tio swung down her solid yet light training sword, colliding it into a similar one held by Shirley.
After her sword was easily caught by her mother, Tio dove forward, using her forward momentum to increase the strength of her second strike. *Bak!* A light crack in the air sounded as the two wooden swords collided, but after the initial clash, Tio’s sword greatly shifted to the side.
Shirley had parried Tio’s vertical blow with a horizontal one. Since she had put everything she had into that attack, Tio continued to fall forward even after it was warded off. She was about to fall to the ground, unable to kill her speed, but thankfully Shirley was able to throw her arm around Tio’s thin waist and prop her back on her feet before she was injured.
From the moment their swords clashed to now, it was clear that Shirley had complete control over how they both moved. Tio blinked a couple times in surprise as her mother calmly turned towards her.
“That was some good momentum. You also didn’t hesitate to press forward either. You have all the qualities necessary to be an advance guard like me.”
“…..yet you easily blocked me.”
Muttering her dissatisfaction aloud, Tio picked up her wooden sword once again and swung. This time her target was Shirley’s knee…..it’s a good target. Easy to aim for because of the difference in height, and a successful hit will reduce the mobility of her opponent. It wouldn’t be a fatal blow in a real battle, but it is a great way to create an edge in a long, drawn-out fight――――
“However your movements are too straightforward. It won’t matter how fast you move if your opponent is able to anticipate where you are moving too. They’ll block you, always.”
Tio thought her wooden sword would collide with Shirley’s once again, but instead she found herself painlessly lying on her back, Shirley’s boot acting as a pillow underneath her head.
“What…..did you just do?”
“What do you think I did?”
“Afraid not. Thinking about such things is also part of your training.”
Tio jumped to her feet and bounced backwards to create some distance between her and her mother. Shirley had praised her before for having rabbit-like agility at the age of ten, and she put all of that energy into her next move.
In stark contrast to her mother who calmly held her sword up without moving, Tio put all her energy into her right foot and closed the distance between them. With a single step she rapidly accelerated and was instantly on top of Shirley.
“My shadow step which you showed at the sports meet……to take what little I taught you before and pulling it off with your small body…..my daughter is wonderfully talented.”
Tio listened to her mother’s praise…….and then realized a second later that the wooden sword she was supposed to be swinging down in that instant had somehow disappeared from her tight grip.
“But it’s still not enough”
She dumbly looked around for her sword as if it were possible that she had somehow carelessly dropped it, but it soon turned up in Shirley’s other hand. Realizing what had happened, Tio involuntarily began glaring at her mother.
“Did……you use magic?”
“Non. It was an empty hand sword technique.”
Shirley gave a wry smile as her daughter accused her of cheating.
It’s a technique derived from one originating from a far eastern nation and propagated by the mercantile country that involves stopping a sword strike by clapping your two hands together and catching the blade. Shirley had pinched Tio’s wooden sword between her three fingers, and with a simple twist of her hand, she stole the sword from Tio’s grip.
“It’s not magic? Then can I do it too?”
“…….I’m not going to teach it to you even if you ask? It’s a dangerous technique that should only be used as an absolute last resort to avoid any serious injuries.”
“I-……I won’t crack even if you look at me like that.”
Tio’s stern gaze drilled its way into her mother’s head, but it was a futile effort since Shirley had desperately averted her gaze.
“Hah……I thought I would’ve hit you by now.”
“Fufu……I would lose face if I were to be hit by a child who only just began wielding a sword.”
Now then……what in the world were these two doing? Why, sword practice obviously.
Shirley’s mind had slowly begun to change over this past year after becoming involved in several different incidents. She used to believe that she would be the one to protect her daughters no matter what, and truthfully, that thought was the core of her being even now.
However it never hurts to learn a bit of self-defense, and the skills they acquire now would never go to waste. With as chaotic as their world is, it would surely be of some use to them.
(But most importantly…….)
Her daughters had told her that they wanted to be like her when they grew up and become adventurers. Her heart was still anxious over the thought that they would be walking down such a dangerous path, but ultimately, she had no real say in the matter. They are the only ones allowed to decide what their path in life will be.
So seeing that Sophie and Tio’s determination would not bend, Shirley took action. She had seen scores of adventurers who registered immediately after becoming adults, and lacking any kind of special training, died without being able to do anything. In the case of women, they may meet an even more dire end.
In order to ensure they would not end up the same way, Shirley decided to teach them everything she could…….if this was something her daughters truly wanted, she would do her best as their mother to support them.
After all, the best thing a parent can do for their child is to believe and watch over them.
“Mama, do you have a minute?”
“Yes, I’ll be right over. ……Tio, I’ll be stepping out for a minute, so take a short break.”
Despite what she was saying Tio lifted her wooden sword and began taking practice swings against the training dummy they had set up. Shirley stopped and watched her for a second with a smile on her face. She was enthusiastic for sure, but keeping in mind that this was supposed to be her breaktime, Tio was using deliberately slow movements with her sword movements to avoid physical exhaustion. She was a fantastic disciple.
(Well, I can’t deny I’m going a little easy on her with my training.)
Shirley remembered back to when she trained Kyle, Cudd, and Leia. She was well aware that her training could be considered incredibly rigorous even after you take into account that they were active adventurers. Injuries are commonplace in the adventuring life, and a single gap could lead to death. The purpose of her methods was to beat that lesson into them through first-hand experience.
That is how it is when you are teaching someone to fight. Even if your student is someone close to you, you must crush your heart, become a demon, and offer no compromise. The most you can do is hope that your new disciple doesn’t die.
(But…..it’s hard when it’s my own daughter.)
To be perfectly clear, if this was any ten year old other than her daughter, Shirley was confident she could be so strict and merciless that she would have the kid running for the hills by day’s end. However this is the daughter she loves, and there was a tremendous emotional resistance as a result.
Shirley understood in her head that she had to be stricter, but as she was right now, it was impossible for her to beat her daughters like she did with Kyle and the others. So at the very least, she would have to gradually increase the level as the months and years go by.
(That’s right, in a year……no, 2 years…..3 years……5 years……in 10 years, when their minds and bodies have fully matured, I’ll switch over to the actual battle format……)
Being ruthless towards her disciples, even when they are her own children…….Shirley had some new homework to work on.
“Sorry to keep you waiting Sophie. What did you need?”
“This magic circle……”
Sophie held out a piece of paper with the magic circle of a beginner level spell drawn across the surface, but this magic circle had been altered in a way that she had not been taught how to do to make it useable in combat.
While Tio had already begun showing signs of talent as a advance guard, Sophie has displayed an innate diligence and level of understanding that would make her a talented magician.
There are complicated symbols and patterns involved with magical techniques, so unless you belong to a renowned family with a history in magic, any ordinary ten year old would give up on trying to make heads or tails out of even the simplest of spells. However Sophia has taken what little Grania had taught her and run with it. She’s almost entirely self taught, yet she regularly uses magic in her daily life.
“How is it? Did I miss anything?”
“……No, it’s fine. Possibly even perfect. A very well done magic circle.”
Sophie giggled as her mother patted her head, but her expression quickly grew cloudy after the head patting was finished. Following her line of sight to figure out why that would be, Shirley found that Sophie was staring at Tio as she wielded her wooden sword.
“Is there something wrong with Tio?”
“N-Nothing at all! Nothing to worry about Mama”
“You aren’t very convincing looking like that”
Sophie tried hurriedly covering up her feelings, but guessing that it was already too late, she decided to come clean with what was bothering her.
“……I’m just a little jealous of Tio…….and anxious”
“Envious and anxious, about what?”
“I still don’t understand that much about fighting, but when I see Tio, I understand that Tio has a talent a lot like Mama’s. I know I can get stronger too, but compared to her……it feels like my dignity as the older sister has been shaken too much recently…….”
It’s a feeling everyone has at one point or another in their life. A worry over how someone close to you is rapidly growing, and you wonder if you will ever be able to reach that same height. That feeling was only made worse for Sophie by the fact that it was her little sister who was making her feel that way.
“It’s true……since beginning her training, I have noticed that in regards to combat, Tio is remarkably similar to me. It is also true that in the future, I expect her to achieve great success. …….With that being said”
Shirley once again looked down at the magic circle Sophie had drawn and continued on with a firm confidence.
“You have a talent for magic unmatched by me or Tio…..I have noticed that as well.”
“……Mama, aren’t you just saying that to make me feel better?”
“Unfortunately, I’m incapable of giving that kind of useless flattery.”
In Shirley’s mind, what she had said couldn’t even be considered a compliment. Because――――
(Less than half of all active adventurers are able to use chantless magic, so to call a child who managed to learn how to do it through self-study not talented…….only an idiot who has no idea what they’re talking about could make that kind of claim.)
Magic use in combat is theory first, practical application second. You won’t be able to activate a spell if you don’t understand the complex mechanics behind it which means any type of combat magician would require the mental fortitude to accurately recall those surgical procedures in the middle of battle. So when the question of whether or not someone is going to be able to fire off a spell is already in question, there’s a reason why magicians are generally considered a specialized rearguard position. And then when you consider the fact that chantless magic is incredibly more difficult to pull of than magic with a chant…….it’s something incomprehensible to all but the most skilled combatants.
One of the special techniques with magic involves making alterations to different spells so that a magician can imbue their own personal spin on the spell. All in all, it was a common technique when it came to beginner-level magic, but being able to use that specialty magic chantlessly was something far beyond anything Shirley could have imagined.
“To be honest with you, I studied magic under Canary, and even though I was learning under the greatest magician in the world, it still took me two months to learn chantless magic.”
“What? Really? But I was somehow able to understand it……”
Sophie didn’t seem to comprehend just how talented she was.
“I suppose even if I tell you to be confident, I won’t be able to convince you unless you feel it for yourself. But you and Tio have only just begun training with swords and magic…..it’s too early for you to be getting anxious or confident with this. Save your worries about the future after you’ve finished your studies and compared yourself to the world around you. It won’t be too late for you to make your decisions after that.”
“Well…..if Mama says so.”
As a rule of thumb, amateurs shouldn’t be worrying about things like talent. When she heard that, Sophie gave her mother a clear smile, and Shirley smiled back with a peace of mind.