Snow is really sensible, unlike someone. Durandal’s completely useless when it comes to things not involving fighting and training: he can’t cook, he can’t tell one direction from another, he can’t tell what’s poisonous and what isn’t. I still have stomachaches from that strange mushroom he found and insisted was completely edible. I think Snow didn’t stop me from eating it on purpose, that bastard. He definitely knew I was eating poison—he’s too smart not to.
So far, we’ve only been traveling with each other for two days, but it seems like Durandal and I have become completely reliant on him. Even though he looks like a girl, he’s manlier than most of the knights I’ve fought. Maybe it’s because of his socks and Bouncykins: he can scavenge for food, he can fight a bear barehanded, and he never gets lost! Why can’t Durandal be as practical? All he does is make mini-DalDal weigh five hundred pounds.
“You’re thinking bad things about me, Lucia.”
No, I’m not. Stop reading my mind.
“I can see it in your eyes.”
What am I? A book? “I wasn’t. Really.”
“She was.” Dammit, Bouncykins. Don’t side with him! “Make yourself heavier.”
Just you wait, Bouncykins. I’m going to eat you one day.
“I’m sure Lucifer is suggesting that for your own good,” Snow said. “Maybe he believes you can increase your training?”
Is that it? “Hey, Durandal. When are you going to teach me how to actually use the sword?” All I’ve done is weight training and a bit of qi manipulation. I’ve gotten really good at circulating my qi—carrying mini-DalDal for a whole day doesn’t even make me tired anymore. Of course, I pretend that I’m exhausted; otherwise, Durandal would definitely increase his weight. That sadist.
“You’re not ready yet,” Durandal said. He always says that. “When your body has been molded to wield the sword, we can start on techniques. You need a firm foundation to become a legend. A weak body will stray from proper form.”
“Uh…. When will I be strong enough to start the basics?” Five hundred pounds isn’t enough? Seriously? Is he trying to turn me into a bodybuilder? My already pitiful chest is becoming even flatter. Won’t my body become like a man if I continue with Durandal’s training session? Well, I guess that would make Snow and me a cross-dressing duo…. No! I refuse to be a weirdo like Snow!
“A ton,” Durandal said. “When you can wield me when I weigh a ton, then you’ll be strong enough to start practicing.”
“No! Don’t you have more graceful techniques? Like, um, flowing water style or spring breeze style or even sword of love and grace and girliness, you know, something more feminine?”
“Your qi clearly dictates your path as a brute,” Durandal said. “Training in anything else will require ten times the effort to achieve the same effect.”
I looked at Snow. Couldn’t I become like him? His agility and feminine charm makes me jealous. I don’t know why he’s unable to dodge my attacks though. Well, that’s not important. “Hey, Snow. What are you training in?”
“Don’t flutter your eyelashes like that,” Bouncykins said and snorted. “You don’t have the charm to pull it off.”
That settles it. We’re having spirit rabbit for dinner tonight.
“Don’t listen to him, Lucia. You’re beautiful,” Snow said and laughed. Why did his laugh sound so hollow? Why are his eyes so empty? Sometimes this duo really makes me mad. It’s no wonder why I beat them up daily. Snow flinched and took a step back. “Err, Lucia. Let’s put down the sword and discuss this like civilized beastkin, alri—!?”
Mm. The sound mini-DalDal makes when it hits someone is so satisfying. Ah, I almost forgot. “What were you training in? I didn’t hear you.”
Snow blinked away tears. “I’m an assassin,” he said while clutching his head with his hands. “But Durandal is right. You’re really suited to be a brute!” His body moved strangely like he was made of smoke, and he vanished before I could smack him again. Darn. How dare he call me a brute? I’m a cute little squirrelkin girl.
“I told you so,” Durandal said. Is it just me or did mini-DalDal get a little bit heavier? “Follow my training and you’ll become a legend.”
The last time I followed you, I almost died of food poisoning. When are we going to arrive at the southern pass anyways? “Snow, stop hiding and come out. I’m not going to hit you. How much longer do we have to walk?”
A pair of eyes and bunny ears appeared in a nearby bush. “Didn’t you hear the captain of the guard? He said it was twenty days away at a relaxed pace. We’ve been going slower than relaxed because of you. Maybe we’ll arrive in a month?”
Well, excuse me. It’s not like you’re carrying five hundred pounds of fatness on your back, Mr. My Socks Make Me Run Faster. You think I like traveling this slowly?
“You said you weren’t going to hit me!” Snow said. The eyes and bunny ears disappeared again. I guess I wielded mini-DalDal out of habit. Oops.
“You’re awfully lively, Lucia,” Durandal said. “I think it’s time to increase my weight to seven hundred pounds.”
Seven hundred!? Isn’t it supposed to be a linear increase!? Last time it went from four hundred to five hundred. Now we’re jumping straight to seven hundred? Is the next time going to be eleven hundred!? Ah. Mini-DalDal, you’re so small, yet you’re so fat. I’m going to die even with my qi.
“How is it? Too light?” Durandal asked. Don’t give me that gentle smile, you sadist! And don’t you dare touch my ears! …Actually, I wouldn’t mind if you did. “By the time we reach the southern pass, I expect your foundation to be passable.”
…I’m going to die. Or I’m going to become a manly woman. I don’t know which is worse. But if I did manage to fight with a two-thousand-pound sword, wouldn’t that make me stronger than most generals in the Ravenwood army? Is that really possible? I remember the first time I joined the army. We were being trained by a lieutenant—well, everyone else was, I was being used as a target dummy because, you know, beastkin—and a general came by. He wanted to check the new batch of recruits and had them all charge him at the same time. He won without even breathing heavily. I wonder what kind of hellish training he went through to become like that.
“Why didn’t you give her any magic tools, Durandal?” Bouncykins asked. He was sitting on Snow’s head, and Snow was sitting in a tree. Aren’t our roles a bit reversed? I’m the squirrel. Wait. Magic tools? Durandal had those? My finger traced the rusted bird in my pocket.
Durandal avoided my gaze and cleared his throat. He took his usual lying pose—head held high, chest out, arms folded in his sleeves, back straight—and said, “Shortcuts ruin foundations. If I let her use magic tools now, she’ll become reliant on them.”
What a liar. “He didn’t know what magic tools were until he saw my fire array!”
“Huh? Huh!?” Bouncykins’ mouth fell open. “Really, Durandal? Really?” The rabbit laughed and thumped his feet on Snow’s head. “How can you not know what a magic tool is? Your owner practically invented them!”
Hah. How does it feel to be embarrassed, Durandal? Ah. He’s going to kill me for this, isn’t he? I think mini-DalDal just became a hundred pounds heavier.
“L-Lucifer,” Snow said. “I don’t think you should make fun of Durandal.” He bit his lower lip. “He looks really scary.”
“No. Forget it,” Durandal said. He wasn’t mad? “It’s true that I don’t know anything about the world that happened in the last eighty years.”
“You didn’t know anything about the world before that too, you sword maniac!” Bouncykins laughed even harder. He used his ear to wipe away the tears in his eyes and stifled a giggle. “I can’t wait to see your reaction when you get your ass kicked by magic. The era of spirits is over. Magic is all the rage nowadays.”
“Then what about you?” Durandal asked.
“Snow can use magic,” Bouncykins said and smirked. I didn’t realize rabbits could even smirk with their mouths the way they are. “And he has an abundance of magic tools. Well, had. We still have to recover them. Even I am a semi-magical tool now. I was inscribed with a fleet foot spell.”
“Hey!” Only I can make Durandal feel bad, you stupid bunny. “Durandal is more amazing then you. Look at this!” I swung mini-DalDal against the earth. The ground exploded from the sheer weight of the sword. “See that? That’s what seven hundred pounds can do.”
“Eight hundred,” Durandal said.
What? So it really did increase again? “Then eight hundred pounds. Now imagine if it were a ton!” Wow. I think I realized why Durandal wants me to become a manly squirrelkin girl.
“Yeah, sure. That’s impressive,” Bouncykins said and rolled his eyes. “Now what do you do if an archer shoots a lightning bolt at you from a mile away with a magical bow?”
“Kick his ass! Durandal’s the greatest. I won’t ever let him lose. There’s no way I can disappoint the Godking’s legacy.”