The southern pass. It’s said to be the most feared area in the continent, teeming with wild beasts, poisonous plants, treacherous terrain, and, of course, bloodthirsty outlaws. When Durandal asked me if there were any dangerous areas nearby, it was the first place that came to mind. We left the miniature dimension two weeks ago and headed straight for the pass, uncovering numerous treasures and legendary artifacts. I trained under Durandal’s guidance and became an expert with the sword. Durandal also recovered his peak strength, and we became tyrants of the land. At least, that’s what I’d like to say.
“Where are we?”
In reality, none of that happened. We’re lost, utterly and hopelessly lost.
“Um. A forest?” Please don’t stare at me like that. It makes me feel uncomfortable.
“Are you lost?”
“No.” I’m competent! I swear! It’s just that I get so distracted by…, well, everything. But it only happens sometimes! …Okay, most of the time. Especially when Durandal looks at me. I still can’t believe he’s my weapon spirit. It’s like a dream.
Durandal sighed. He does that a lot. Maybe he’s depressed? Well, it makes sense—he’s been all alone for thousands of years. Anyone would feel the blues. Heck, I feel sad if I don’t talk to someone every three hours.
“Where are we, and where is the southern pass?” Durandal asked.
“Well,” I said and cleared my throat. “We’re in a forest. And the southern pass is to the south.”
“What did I say to you about lying to me?” Durandal crossed his arms over his chest.
I stared at the ground. “You said I shouldn’t lie to you.” My eyes watered, but I blinked back the tears. Maybe he won’t notice.
“If you didn’t know the way to the southern pass, why didn’t you say so earlier?”
“I wanted to show you that I was competent.” Ah, the tears were falling. Stupid eyes. Stop leaking. My nose started to run, so I sniffled. Durandal sighed again and placed his hand in my hair. He scratched behind my ears, and I closed my eyes.
When I finished crying, Durandal asked, “Do you have a map?”
I nodded. Bryant had packed more than one in the bag. It’s amazing how he ended up dying despite how prepared he was. I guess that was my fault. I still feel a little guilty, but the happiness of being with Durandal washes all my guilt away. I think it’s because of his head rubs. His finger skills are too perverse.
I took out the map and handed it to Durandal. He stared at it while I stared at his face. I love seeing his serious expression, but only when it’s not directed at me. After looking it over for a few minutes, he folded it and put it away into the interior of his robe. Does he have a pocket in there? I wonder what else he stores.
Stupid, leaky nose. I sniffled again before asking, “Do you know which way to go?”
Ah. As expected of Durandal. Sometimes, I wish he wasn’t better than me in all aspects. It really does make a girl feel inferior, you know? If he sees someone better than me, would he break the contract and leave? “Which way do we go?”
I waited for more. Nothing else came. “And … which way is that?”
Durandal stared up at the sky and spoke towards the clouds, “I said I’d teach you swordsmanship, right?”
Oh. Was he finally going to start? I kept bugging him before, but he said I’d have to wait until we arrived at an appropriate area. “Yes!”
“This is how it begins. A swordsman must rely on their intuition,” Durandal said and lowered his head until his eyes met mine. “Sometimes, you won’t be given a chance to think about your actions, and you’ll be forced to make a move. This is an exercise to train your intuition!” My body stiffened as his gaze grew cold. This is why I dislike his serious expression staring at me. It makes me feel so small. “You will trust your instincts to find the way south.”
Huh? Why does this training sound like bullshit? Did he think I was a child? Just because I’m easily distracted doesn’t mean I’m not intelligent. “You’re lost too, aren’t you?”
If I were a lake, his gaze would’ve turned me to ice. “This. Is. Training.”
That’s not fair! “I, I understand.” There’s some fights you can’t win, Lucia. This is one of them. Just accept the fact that your weapon spirit is a bully. Ah, it’s really not fair. I think he’d kill me if I asked him where we were. Anyways, time to use my intuition. I closed my eyes and twirled around and around until I collapsed. The sky spun along with the trees bordering my vision. When the dizziness cleared, I sat up and pointed straight ahead. “That way’s south.”
Why was Durandal looking at me like that? Was that pity? I’ve learned to recognize pity. I don’t think my actions were pitiful. I crossed my arms over my chest. “If I’m wrong, tell me. I’m sure you know the way.”
Durandal cleared his throat and put on a stern expression. “This is a test of your intuition. If I tell you you’re wrong, you won’t trust your future judgments. And it isn’t pretty when an honest and simple person second-guesses herself.”
“Stop calling me stupid!”
“I said simple. There really is a difference.”
Whatever. I walked in the direction I pointed towards with Durandal at my side. “Can’t you teach me anything else other than intuition?”
“I really did want to save it for when we found a suitable training ground,” Durandal said and sighed again. Maybe he really was depressed. I have to do my best to be cheerful for him! There are so many things to live for, Durandal. Like the three C’s! Candy, cuddles, and ice cream. Okay, maybe ice cream doesn’t start with a C, but still.
Ah. He was saying something. “Yes?”
“How much experience have you had with the sword?”
“Well.” How do I say this? Maybe if I word it correctly, it won’t sound so bad. “If you count that one time I used you in the miniature dimension, then … I’ve used a sword one time.” I’ve always used a mace. There’s just something so satisfying about cracking things open. It must be because of my squirreliness and nuts. It’s in my blood. Why wasn’t Durandal saying anything? I’m a bit afraid to look at his face, but I’m still going to peek. Eh? He was smiling? It was the nice kind too.
His hand tousled my hair. “Everyone has to start from somewhere. It’s great that I get to train you from the very beginning.” He held my ear between his fingers and rubbed it. “I look forward to teaching you.”
Was it just me, or did those words sound a bit ominous? Ah, I’ll worry about it when the time comes. For now, I’ll focus on the ear rub.