Chapter 12 – Makes Me Wonder

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It was the third day since Hifumi had registered in the guild and Origa and Kasha’s practice had begun. The newly made dougi from demon hide was quite comfortable, without the stiffness a new uniform usually has and was easy to move around in. It was quite expensive though, thought Hifumi.

Practice had just started, Origa aside, Kasha too was diligently making efforts.
Finally reaching the guild, the two women silently fell onto a table, completely drained. The others in the guild were used to seeing these kinds of situations now.
Contrary to the two exhausted people, Hifumi relaxedly stepped to the counter and passed over the bag containing the trophies with a practised movement.

「 Thanks for your work. We’ve received the stone boa request today. 」(Hera)

「 Ah, only the poison glands containing the petrification poison have been stripped off. About 50. 」

「 Then, I shall confirm. 」
Hera decided to ignore the absurd amount that Hifumi hunted.

Speaking of the stone boa, it was a demon usually not longer than 3m with a stone body that blades had no effect against. A bite that injected petrification poison, extraordinarily strong attacks using the tail, boasting of unearthly strength, killing it is extremely difficult. After being killed, the stone body obstructs people from taking out the poison gland within. Adventurers that bring it back profit greatly.

Though bringing in 50 of them in one day generally gives rise to suspicion, Hera had already given up on thinking of Hifumi as normal.
「 There are 52 poison glands, all cleanly removed. The reward is 5 gold coins and 20 silver coins. 」

Taking the coins from the bag, Hifumi pretended to put them in his pocket while throwing them into his Dark Hole storage. The bag was returned to Hera.
Receiving the bag, Hera saw a small smile on Hifumi’s face.

「 Did something good happen? 」
「 It’s visible on my face? I’m still inexperienced. I’m going to pick up some weapons now. 」
Hera smiled wryly, as expected, it was a dangerous topic.

Rather than resting in the guild, after waiting for Origa to be able to move a little, they went to Thorn’s shop to get the ordered weapons.

「 You came? It’s done. 」
Sitting at his usual spot, Thorn jerked his chin, calling over Hifumi and the others.
Lining the weapons and equipment on the stand, Thorn himself did not understand them well.

「 First, verify whether the equipment is as ordered or not. After that, try them out in the testing ground in the back. I too want to see how to use it. 」

「 Hmm… 」

There was a gauntlet to be used by Hifumi, a cross-shaped shuriken, and a suntetsu.
In the future, fights with demons would multiply, and he wanted to avoid touching the opponents. However, the gauntlets in this world were unrefined, clunky and excessively hardened. Hifumi, who disliked the resultant restricted wrist movement decided to have a custom one made.

Hifumi put on the gauntlet, moved his wrist about to confirm it’s flexibility.
「 Feels good. Not hampering movement, and the hardness is nothing to criticize. 」

「 Although I complied with what you said about the gauntlet, such thin leather and iron sheets will protect nothing. 」

Snorting through his nose at Thorn, Hifumi picked up the other equipment and checked the balance and weight.
「 ….. The shuriken and suntetsu are in good condition. If you’re worried about how to use the gauntlet, it’s better to watch it in action. 」

Guided by Thorn to the back of the building, they headed into a vacant lot. In the centre of the lot was a thick pillar about 0.5m in diameter which had traces of several slashes.

「 Kasha, draw your sword and slash at me. Don’t hold back. 」

Kasha smoothly drew her sword. In the heavily practised drawing movement, a chance was quickly lost. Watching it, Hifumi reflected that there was still a long way to go.

「 Don’t blame me if I cut you, Master. 」

「 Say lines like those if your attacks actually hit me. 」

Imperceptibly, the atmosphere around Hifumi grew colder.

Kasha prepared to use her sword seriously. Leaving aside whether a slave pointing a weapon at their owner was right or wrong, the first thing on the day’s practise menu was single-mindedly attacking Hifumi. No strike connected, of course.
Suddenly putting power in her feet, Kasha sprung forward, bringing down her sword in a straight line, not hesitating as a result of experience.

So easy to read, thought Hifumi.

Hifumi raised his left arm and smoothly averted the powerful sword strike aimed at his neck. The sword slash hit the ground, Hifumi lightly headbutted Kasha’s forehead.
A dull sound rang out.

「 !….It hurrrtsss~~~…. 」

「 I’ve said this many times. Over exertion destroys balance. You’re not wielding sticks, they’re edged weapons, I’ve taught you this many times. 」

Hifumi said flatly to Kasha, who was rubbing her head with teary eyes.

「 …. I see. Not taking the strike head on, using the gauntlet on the sword’s side to redirect it. Skilfully done. 」(Thorn)

「 It’s a normal technique from my hometown, not opposing the opponent’s power, but using it against them instead. 」
「 Then, show me how to use the next weapons. 」
Showing deep interest, Thorn excitedly urged him on.

「 Then, this is called a cross shuriken, of the throwing-type. 」
Like in Hifumi’s blueprint, the shurikens were cross-shaped, with a blade in each direction.

「 Throwing-type? Thrown weapon huh. A bow would be better than a hand-thrown weapon. 」

「 That’s what you think. 」

Hifumi threw the shuriken at the pillar to refute Thorn’s doubts.
The shuriken deeply embedded itself in the pillar with a *gatsun*.

「 For shorter distances, rather than nocking an arrow, aiming and firing, this is much faster. 」

「 Certainly, master can throw from the elbow in an instant. With that speed, any skilled magician’s magic would not be in time. 」(Origa)

Looking at the embedded shuriken from various angles, Thorn gave a low groan.
「 Though it seems to have been thrown lightly, it’s tightly lodged in. Though unlikely to mortally wound without excellent control, even if it sticks in an arm or leg, the opponent will be greatly weakened. 」

「 That is so. Throwing and hitting something is easy. On the other hand, shallow wounds will only cause an opponent to flinch. They are weapons to create opportunities to escape. Origa. 」

Called forward, Origa was handed a shuriken.
「 Use this. 」
「 Is that all right? 」

「 Originally I was going to use it, but you use it now. We spoke before about fighting without magic, practice with this so as to recover from situations not in your favour. First of all, aim at a place 5 steps away. I will also teach you the method of throwing it. 」

「 Yes. Thank you very much. 」
「 Not for me? 」
「 Kasha, first handle your sword more skilfully. 」

Che, muttered Kasha, still rubbing her head.

「 Then, how is this used? 」

Thorn asked, holding up the suntetsu.
It consisted of a cylindrical metal rod with a ring attached on the body for a finger to pass through. Different from the Chinese Kenpo version, both ends were sharpened to a point, as requested by Hifumi.
Apart from stabbing, it can also be used to tangle clothes and destroy the opponent’s balance, stab into stone walls while climbing.
While explaining the usage, Hifumi grasped the suntetsu and stabbed the end protruding from his fist into the pillar.

A piece of the pillar fell off, exposing a sorry figure.

「 Since all the power can be concentrated at one spot, with enough speed, even if power is lacking, bones can be crushed. Unlike fingers, there is no fear of fingernails peeling off while using it to hang from somewhere. 」

「 Easy to make, yet surprisingly convenient weapons. 」

Testing the suntetsu, Hifumi nodded contentedly and passed Thorn the money.
「 ….It’s too much. 」
「 Another suntetsu. Also make 5 more shurikens. 」
「 All right. Come again in 2 days. 」
「 That’s fast. 」
「 I’ve made them once, it is easier to make them again. 」

For the next few days, Hifumi made Origa and Kasha constantly practiced. Hunting demons as practice targets, every day was nightmarish.

「 Haa…..Haa…. 」
Today, Origa was trying hard to hit a “runner rabbit” with the shuriken. Hifumi had given her challenges like “Kill one after a strike to the neck”, “Without fail strike it while walking or running”, “From morning, strike and kill 10 of them”.
She had walked around for about 2 hours, but they escaped every time on sensing her footsteps and breathing. Barely grazed, far from fatal wounds, even ordinary wounds weren’t accomplished. The time limit was in an hour. Achieving the target did not seem possible.

Not having hit a moving target, Origa cursed her previous self-confidence and wanted to hit herself for answering Hifumi’s challenges with a proudly puffed-out chest. (TN: We’re talking about pride here guys.)

I did not think moving targets would be this hard to hit.

Hasty movements are sloppy, excessive noise makes them run away.
Origa was miserable, with a face ready to cry at any moment.

In such a case, I cannot face master….!

「 Calm down. 」
Breathing roughly while looking for prey, abruptly, her head was hit. She didn’t notice anyone nearby at all.
「 M-Master…? 」
Facing someone she did not want to meet at that moment, Origa did not know what kind of face she was making. Hifumi smiled wryly.

「 What an awful face. Prowling with a blood-curdling face like that, timid guys will immediately run away. 」

To say she had an awful face, Origa almost cried for a different reason. Abruptly, Hifumi patted her cheek almost causing her heart to stop.

「 When throwing the shuriken at the tree, loosen your expression, do it more comfortably. Don’t just throw it, aim at a spot beforehand and then throw it like I taught you. 」
「 Y-Yes…. 」
「 There is still time. Focus on the tree, and hit it. 」
Origa realised she had slightly calmed down. Breathing deeply, she gripped the shuriken slightly more comfortably, and began to walk forward.
Though her face was red, her emotions were stable.

Kasha found herself near a large tree, practising sword draws, frontal strikes and sword returns(to the sheath).
Strength no longer filled her arms as a result of endlessly repeating it. Still, she drew her sword while taking a half step forward, stepped forward 2 steps while shaving off the tree’s bark while slashing downwards, and returned the sword to the sheath while stepping back.
The sheaths housing the two swords were affixed to her waist by metal fittings, leaving enough play to manoeuvre. The previous slow draws were gone, now it was possible for her to draw in a fluid movement.

「 That’s good enough. 」

Hifumi called out, Kasha collapsed on the ground, drenched in sweat, spread-eagled.
「 Tireeed~ 」

「 Drink water properly. When moisture is insufficient, movement becomes duller. Don’t drink too much though. 」
Taking the wooden flask, Kasha drank some, splashed herself with some of it, and with a refreshed expression looked at Hifumi.

「 How’s that master? I think my form is considerably good. 」
Kasha had single-mindedly absorbed the footwork learned from Hifumi resulting in the current movements that made her hips the core.

「 You’ve done well in a short while. Thanks to your hips twisting for stability, the need to brandish your swords is gone. 」
「 Hips twisting…… saying it like that is… dirty. 」

「 The heck? Leaving that aside, next is a mock battle with me…. Don’t look at me like that, we’re using wooden swords. 」

On hearing about the mock battle, Kasha glumly took the two wooden swords passed to her. The wooden swords were the same as her original ones, about 70cm long blades. Hifumi too took 2 swords with about 30cm difference in length between them and faced her.

「 Master, the lengths are different… 」

「 Pay attention. I will demonstrate the true usage two swords. 」(TN: I’m pretty sure he’s referencing Musashi here.)

「 Both my arms are now in better condition. Even if master is the opponent…. Here I come! 」

Dodging Kasha’s swords, Hifumi’s longer sword abruptly changed direction to parry… at the same time the shorter sword drove into Kasha’s side. Of course, there was no damage to internal organs, but it was painful.

「 Gu….. No more! 」

The two swords simultaneously drilled forward, the longer one suppressing Kasha’s twin swords, while the shorter one struck the pit of her stomach.
Unable to breathe, Kasha dropped the swords and fell over.

「Think about the advantages of two swords. You lack the skill to wield two swords with a scary atmosphere. 」

「 Uu….the movements today… 」

「 It is the basics of the basics. Do it again and again for the body to remember. 」

「 That’s a dirty way of saying it. 」

「 Stop playing the fool and quickly get up. 」

They were repeatedly instructed again and again. Unbeknownst to them, Hifumi had obtained another demon hunting request.
Like this, when evening fell, the two exhausted slaves were finished.

「 That reminds me, eventually, I want to leave this capital city. 」
While seated for dinner, Hifumi unexpectedly said.

「 Is there a place master wishes to go? 」
Origa asked, stopping her spoon.

「 Before I want to go anywhere, I don’t know the geography of this world. Aren’t there maps? 」
「 We can receive simple maps in the guild, I think? 」
「 Is that so…. 」

Putting the steamed meat with slightly salty sauce and vegetables in his mouth, Hifumi thought about it for a while.

「 Well, we’ll gradually go to another town and country… 」

Hearing Hifumi’s decision, Origa and Kasha exchanged glances. The two had a common intention in going to another country.

 


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