“…Durandal? Is that you?” Where am I? The heck? Why’s everything so dark?
“Quit playing around, Durandal.” It’s so dark I can’t even see my hands. What’s going on? What was I doing a few minutes ago? Was—. Ah! That’s bright.
A light flashed, illuminating the room I was in. It was white and cubical. That was it: there was no furniture or windows or doors or anything to differentiate the floor from the ceiling. However, there was a figure standing in a horse stance, meditating in the center of the room, floating in space. Was that me? Then what was I? I lowered my head, well, I tried to lower my head, but I didn’t have one. My gaze still shifted downwards and landed on the floor. Out of body experience?
The walls of the room cracked, little bits of white stone falling away from the cube. The inside was exposed to the outside, and my vision was engulfed in darkness. When I could finally see again, I was standing in the middle of a field, sun shining down on my perspiring body. Mini-DalDal was in my arms which were held in front of me. I was standing in a horse stance?
My head turned. “Durandal?”
“Finally awake?” Why was his expression so strange? Did I do something wrong? Maybe I drooled on myself while I was sleeping. Wait, sleeping? In a horse stance?
“I did it!” And I promptly fell over due to my excitement. “I fell asleep while holding it!”
“That’s right, Lucia, you did,” Durandal said and ran his fingers through my hair. Play with my ears, please! Ah, that’s the spot. I feel great! All the soreness that accumulated over the past few nights has finally gone away. And Durandal’s nice enough to keep mini-DalDal at its base weight. “I’m proud of you.”
I could feel my face turning red. “C-can you say that again?”
“I’m proud of you, Lucia.”
“Yes!” Ah, if I died now, I’d die happy.
Shut up, Bouncykins. Don’t ruin the moment.
Don’t agree with him, Snow! You’re the pervert! At least I don’t cross-dress!
An explosion resounded as mini-DalDal whistled past Snow’s head and collided against a boulder. The rock shattered and fell apart like a broken cookie. Wait. Wasn’t mini-DalDal super light?
“Are you trying to kill me, Lucia!?”
“Uh, no. I just wanted to hurt you a little.” Just enough to wipe that annoying expression off your face, I swear. I bit my lower lip and tilted my head. “Sorry?”
“Generally, when you throw a one-ton sword at someone, they die if they get hit,” Durandal said while continuing to pat my head. Who cares if Snow’s angry as long as Durandal’s not? Wait, did he say one-ton? My expression must’ve betrayed me because Durandal said, “You heard right. While you were sleeping, I planned on increasing the weight until you couldn’t handle it anymore, but somehow, you made it to a ton.”
I’m that amazing? I should sleep more often! But my stomach really hurts for some reason.
“Also, it’s been over a week, and you haven’t eaten anything. And you’re not at the point where you can supplement meals with qi, which is why I woke you up.”
That explains it! How embarrassing would it be if Durandal’s newest owner died from starvation? But … he knows I’m part squirrel, right? “You know, you didn’t have to wake me…. Squirrels can hibernate.” Eh? Why did his expression freeze?
“Go back to sleep, right now.”
No! My food! “S-since you woke me, I have to eat now.” Believe me, please. If you don’t let me eat, I’ll be skinnier than Snow by tomorrow.
Durandal sighed. Hey. I thought he was supposed to sigh less now. Was he still feeling down? Haven’t I shown a lot of potential in the week I was sleeping? I did, didn’t I? I can wield a one-ton mini-DalDal like it’s nothing now.
“Snow! Make me food, please.” Why was he glaring at me like that? Oh, right. I threw a sword at him. I should probably pick mini-DalDal up too. Sorry about that, mini-DalDal. Wow, Snow seems grumpier than usual. Well, his food always tastes delicious regardless of his mood. I whispered to Durandal and Bouncykins, “You two didn’t bully Snow while I was asleep, did you?”
“No,” Durandal said. “Snow’s a bit impatient. We decided to change our course to recover his magic tool hoard, and he’s upset at giving the people who took it a chance to get further away.”
“Oh. Sorry, Snow.” The beautiful bunnykin didn’t even look up. Rude. “Anyways, I reached one ton, didn’t I? You can teach me sword techniques now.”
“Yes. Your foundation is passable now.”
Just passable? Fine. Maybe compared to the Godking, it really is only just passable. But I’m definitely on the level of a high-ranking general in the Ravenwood army now. Ah, that reminds me. Has no one come after me yet? Did people not realize Bryant was dead?
“Yes?” Was he mad?
“Did you hear any of what I said just now?”
“I heard everything. My foundation is passable now.” Right?
“So you heard nothing.” Durandal sighed. “I’m no longer giving you a choice. I’ll be choosing the first technique you learn.”
Wait! I like choices! But … I probably won’t get any with the way Durandal’s looking at me. “Okay…”
“Pay attention.” Durandal picked up his spear and raised it over his head. Spear? Why a spear? Then he brought it vertically downwards while shouting, “Break!”
A flood of dizziness assaulted my senses. I wanted to vomit. When I recovered my normalness, I raised my head. The land in front of Durandal was devastated like a typhoon had passed through. “Did you see?”
“I did. I think? But why a spear?”
“Because I don’t have a sword. It doesn’t matter; it’s the same concept.” Durandal nodded at his destructive handiwork. “It’s a simple technique called Breaking Blade. You simply focus all your qi into your weapon and swing it.”
“…That’s it?” Seriously? The f***? I had to wait until I could hold a ton for this? I feel cheated. An icy chill ran down my spine before I could curse Durandal more.
“Are you unsatisfied?” Durandal’s eyes were narrowed like a snake’s.
“N-no. I’m very satisfied.” Yes. Very…. At least something’s better than nothing, right?
“That’s what I thought. From today onwards, you’ll perform the Breaking Blade one hundred times a day.”
“One hundred…? I felt dizzy and almost fainted when you borrowed my qi to use it one time! I’ll die if I do that a hundred times!”
“The Godking used to have a favorite saying. Do you know what it was?”
…I’m not going to like it, am I? “No.”
“On the road to the top, there are only two outcomes: death or glory.”
“But the Godking died after achieving glory…”
Durandal held up two fingers. “Then death or glorious death. Those are your only options.”
I don’t like either! What kind of shitty choices are those!? Where’s the option to live peacefully in a meadow of flowers with all you can eat buffets served to you by hot waiters!?
“Now that you know, you should start practicing.” Durandal smiled his I’m-going-to-make-you-cry-with-my-next-words smile. “Any Breaking Blades you haven’t performed by the end of the day will be converted into an appropriate punishment.”
…Maybe I should just pick death.