And then, evening came.
I was looking forward to the practice in the evening, so when I went to search for the nests, I was able to find twice as many as I did yesterday.
When I came back home as promised, the people of the troupe were already cleaning up.
“Sorry I’m late. Did I make you wait long?” [Ryouma]
“We finished just now. We’ll prepare immediately. Maiya!” [Soldio]
“I’m coming! I’m coming!” [Maiya]
Maiya appeared from the shadows of the luggage, carrying in her arms something wrapped.
“This is your portion, Ryouma-kun.” [Maiya]
“This is… Firewood?” [Ryouma]
It looked like a small log. A firewood cut just big enough for me to be able to hold it with one hand.
“We’ll start as soon as we finish cleaning up. Just wait a bit!” [Maiya]
“Ah, wait. Let…” [Ryouma]
“Just leave the cleanup to them.” [Soldio]
…Right. Looking at the way the people from the troupe are moving, they’re probably used to this already. If I try to help, I’ll just end up slowing them down.
“Look at this before we begin. This is the sword Maiya and I use.” [Soldio]
It was a sword with many decorations just like the ones I saw before, but looking at it up close like this, I see there’s also a strange pattern mixed in with all the decorations. There also seems to be something coated on the surface.
“This is paint made from the fluids of the rainbow slug. When hit by light, it has a property that allows it to store light for some time.” [Soldio]
Although the way they glow is different, it reminds me of fluorescent paint. Soldio-san lit the sword up with light magic. When light fell upon the sword, it followed the line of paint on the sword and glowed. When used well with swords and shields, it can give the impression of sparks erupting to the spectators.
But in order to do that, you have to be able to quickly control your magic while fighting with your sword. That’s not an easy task even if everything is scripted.
“To that end, you first need to become skilled at either the magic or the sword. That’s why, today, I first want to see how good you are at either. I’ll think about how to teach you based on the results.” [Soldio]
“I’ll be in your care.” [Ryouma]
“Hey! It’s ready!” [Maiya]
It seems they’re done cleaning up, so we switched places so we could begin training.
The people of the troupe were standing in a circle. Soldio-san and I walked into the center of that circle.
“Everyone is…” [Ryouma]
“I asked them to help out.” [Solido]
“Half of is curiosity on our part, though.” [Prenence]
“I see. Thank you for your cooperation. Please take care of me.” [Ryouma]
“Turn your weapon to Maiya’s direction.” [Soldio]
I held my Iron Slime katana.
“She’ll be throwing you sticks of firewood, and you’ll have to cut them down as they come your way.” [Soldio]
One of the objectives of being a sword dancer is to be able to cut things thrown their way. It is also one of the steps to being able to fight multiple opponents. In my case, it’s going to serve as my test.
“You can cut the firewood however you want, but as much as possible, try to cut it at the center.” [Soldio]
“Got it. I’m ready!” [Ryouma]
“Then let’s start!” [Maiya]
Maiya-san threw a stick of firewood. We’re just starting, so it’s not that fast. The firewood drew a gentle parabola in the air as it fell toward me, and then I swung my katana.
“Ah, you cut it? That’s amazing! Alright. I’ll throw you some more!” [Maiya]
Seeing the firewood cut in two, she threw the next one. I cut the next one just like I did the other one. As Maiya-san threw one firewood after another, she gradually threw faster and increased the pace. But I was still able to handle it.
Eventually, I was able to cut all her firewood.
“This is the last one!” [Maiya]
After cutting the last firewood, the test concluded. I was curious how I did, so I glanced at Soldio-san. But for some reason, he was making a difficult face.
“Let’s go to the next one then.” [Soldio]
Everyone helped to gather all the firewood that had been cut, and then Soldio-san distributed them to everyone except me. Everyone had a pile of firewood, but Maiya-san and Soldio-san’s pile were painted red on the top and bottom part.
Apparently, my test was to dodge the firewood thrown by everyone while cutting down only the ones from Soldio-san and Maiya-san.
Soldio-san threw me a stick, and as soon as I cut it down, everyone started throwing from their pile.
But usually it was only really one or two of sticks at the same time. 3 was the most they threw simultaneously. I continued dodging those firewood while cutting down only the sticks from Maiya-san and Soldio-san.
At first the two of them just threw the firewood at fixed locations, but after nodding at each other, they took their piles and started moving around. They ran around the circle formed by everyone and threw their firewood through the gaps between the members. Soldio-san specifically timed his throws with other members’, making it quite annoying to cut down.
I had to ‘focus’ to pay attention to the two of them while dodging all the firewood flying my way. At the same time, I had to ‘decide’ which firewood to cut. On top of that I also needed the ‘ability’ to execute the cutting and dodging.
After a test like that concluded…
“How did I do?” [Ryouma]
“I’ve got nothing to complain about regarding your sword.” [Soldio]
“Yep, yep. You did amazing! …But is there any point in using magic if you’re this good?” [Maiya]
Piles of cut firewood were in front of me. I thought I did great myself, but it seems, Maiya-san just thought I did well.
Actually, I don’t think I had any difficulties so far, but there’s probably more to it later.
“You’re so diligent.” [Maiya]
“You should learn from him. At this rate, he’ll surpass you before you know it.” [Soldio]
“I feel like he’s already better than me at swordplay, though.” [Maiya]
After chatting like that with each other, they next tested me for my magic.
In this test, I just had to use my magic normally and show it to them. There was nothing special to the test.
But then I heard something really interesting.
“Chantless Casting?” [Ryouma]
“Yeah, just as the name implies, it’s using a spell without chanting. We sword dancers have to maintain our expression while fighting. With chantless casting, we can cast spells without having to move our mouths.” [Soldio]
“Well, this is actually a difference in style or school of thought. There are others who would rather choose to hide their mouths, and there are others who would theatrically chant their spells atop the stage. You could also just use a magic tool for your sword. Actually, that one is probably the most common way to go about things.” [Maiya]
When Maiya-san said that, Soldio-san snorted.
“Those people are heretics. The old sword dancers used their mastery over sword and magic to charm others. To think that such a profession would be degraded so low as to turn to magic tools… Such people only use the sword for appearance and rely on simple magic tools to cast spells. It’s because of people like them that people think sword dancers are just for show and are worthless in actual combat.” [Soldio]
“Okay, okay. We get it already. Sheesh. I was just explaining.” [Maiya]
I don’t know long ago these ‘old sword dancers’ were from, but it seems Soldio-san really emphasizes protecting tradition.
“Anyway, do your best, alright?”
“Okay! Please take care of me.” [Ryouma]
It’s a rare opportunity, so I’ll do my best to learn everything.