Tianna laid flat on the ground, covered in sweat.
“I can’t… I’m too tired.”
“You’re going to get dirty lying there. Here’s a towel. And some water.”
“Leave me. Let me stay here for five minutes.”
“Well I don’t mind, but…”
They were in the area behind Sea Anemone.
Much like when Nick was practicing Stepping, they explained their situation and borrowed this area to train. Tianna changed into more comfortable clothing to train with Nick, and they were being observed by Ada, who had become the bar’s guard.
Ada: “Eh… You move pretty well for a noble girl.”
“I’m an adventurer you know?”
“That’s not all. You’re getting pretty good with that wooden sword too.”
Next to Tianna was a wooden sword.
It was a little longer than Nick’s short sword, and made to be easy to handle.
“I learned the basics when I was in school, but I was never too into swordfighting.”
“So you noble girls play with swords too…”
“Lots of girls need to know how to defend themselves.”
“Then why didn’t you ever use that? I’ve only seen you carrying a staff.”
“I figured if I can’t use a sword well I probably shouldn’t use it at all.”
“That makes sense.”
Said Ada as she laughed.
“But I can’t use that logic this time…”
“Are you going after Thousand Sword Peak? It’s not easy. I heard that’s the hardest labyrinth for sorcerers.”
“I guess everyone sees it that way…”
Tianna sat up as she sighed, and gulped down the glass of water she was handed.
“It’s not gonna be easy, but you don’t have to learn how to move like a warrior all of a sudden or anything. Just focus on not getting hurt.”
Said Ada, and Nick nodded.
“If our objective was just to rank up, you could’ve sat this one out, and we could’ve hired someone more suitable just for this labyrinth…”
But Tianna shook her head.
“That sounds very tempting, but it won’t work this time.”
“It would if it wasn’t for the duel.”
Nick crossed his arms and groaned with a serious look on his face.
Ada looked at him, and asked a question.
“Where are the other three?”
“Training in the Goblin Forest.”
Karan, Sem, and Bond went to the Goblin Forest. Karan to get used to not using her race specific techniques, and for Sem to work in the vanguard. Like Tianna, they were training with Thousand Sword Peak in mind.
“Hands-on training is nice. And you…”
“You can say it directly.”
Ada seemed to be hesitant to speak, and Tianna urged her to speak her mind.
“You’re not going to be very helpful, but if you train, you won’t get in the way. I guess that’s natural when you change someone’s place in a party all of a sudden right?”
“I don’t know about that.”
Tianna had something on her mind.
“It would be one thing if we were just conquering the labyrinth, but we don’t know what they might do.”
“He’s your former master right? Is he that strong?”
“If it was just about magic, I wouldn’t stand a chance.”
“But you can’t use magic there.”
Tianna stopped briefly, before adding “but”.
“I don’t think he’s not going to do anything. He’s definitely not the kind of idiot that charges into a labyrinth without preparing.”
“You sound pretty sure of that.”
“Of course, he’s my master.”
Tianna smiled proudly.
“I guess that’s the way it is, even though he’s your opponent.”
“Mom, come help me peel!”
“I’m coming! Sorry, I have work to do.”
Ada’s daughter called her, and Ada quickly went back inside.
The two that were left rested with an awkward silence.
Being so close to the summer meant the warm wind brought about a languid feeling, rather than a refreshing one.
Nick could hear Tianna’s irregular breathing very well.
“Ahh… Alright. We’ve done practice swings and mock battles. What now?”
“Don’t force yourself too much, Ada had a point. The objective here should be to be able to walk around Thousand Sword Peak and defend against the monsters’ attacks.”
“Yes, but exercising is doing a good job clearing my head.”
“Clearing? What, don’t you usually do exercise?”
“That’s not it, it’s just I’ve been feeling like I’ve stagnated.”
Nick asked with a look of surprise, and Tianna answered with a slight smile.
“I feel like I haven’t been doing anything new lately. Doing the work that’s in front of us is important, but so is doing different things once in a while.”
“You say some meaningful things once in a while. Is that your master’s influence?”
Mumbled Tianna as she looked up to the sky.
The weather was nice, and laundry fluttered in the wind all over the place.
Putting aside the wind and temperature, it was a refreshing sight.
“In a way, I am what I am thanks to him.”
When I was in school, poetry was always my favorite class.
My ex-fiancee Alex… Well, thinking about it now, all I see is a coward, but he had talent for writing poetry, and a nice voice. He would’ve probably done well as a male idol.
But as the eldest son of a baron family known for their sorcery, that path was never open for him. Even I, his fiancee, tried my hardest to study sorcery so as not to bring embarrassment to that family.
That was why I started learning some magic, but it turned into more than that.
I read the textbooks the school provided, took practical lessons, and by the end of the year got a perfect score on my exam. But I didn’t think about studying beyond that.
It was interesting seeing ice and wind appear from the tip of my staff, but although it was different from a bow or a sword, I started thinking about how it was a weapon.
I took up magic not to become a sorcerer, but to become the wife of a sorcerer.
I studied to go along with the family I would be marrying into, but I never once thought about using magic in actual combat. If I did find myself in a situation where I would have to wave my staff and cast a spell, it would probably be a very dire situation, considering I would be married and starting a family.
A retainer rebelling, a terrorist attack, a war… I imagined that if the situation was bad enough for me to have to cast a spell, it would be bad enough for me to be unable to do anything about it.
Because of this, I assumed it would be pointless to continue, and that there should be other things I should be studying, and more fun things I should be doing.
The school I went to had a five year curriculum, but when we began the fourth year, we were supposed to choose a master, and under this master’s guidance, complete graduation exams. If we completed them, we graduated.
People that studied law wrote law related essays, people that studied poetry created their own original poetry, and so on.
I didn’t really care. For me, school was just a transitory part of my life, and I didn’t need anything in particular. When it came time to choosing my master, I cared so little I could’ve made my decision based on the result of a dice roll.
But then, by my own volition, I chose the person who would be my master.