How can Lucia talk about such sad things with a happy smile on her face? It’s unconvincing with the tears running down her cheeks. It’d probably be inappropriate to tell her she looked like a ghoul right now. So instead, I simply stepped forward and hugged her. Isn’t that what she did for me?
“D-Durandal?” Lucia sniffled and gazed at me like a frightened animal. “You’re not thinking of throwing me in the river still, are you?”
…I was. Water training is crucial to mastering one’s body! At least that’s what the books say. But she didn’t have to do it right now. There were other activities she could do to train her body as I slowly got her to adapt to the water. I didn’t think this would be that much of an issue—it’s not like she’s a cat-type beastkin. “Not right now.”
“…Can you amend that to not ever?”
“I’ll find a smaller pond than the one before.”
“Pond? You call that a pond? That was a fierce river!”
“No…, that was actually a pond. The water was still.” I might not be able to read maps, but at least I know the differences in bodies of water.
“But the monsters inside waiting to eat me!”
“Goldfish don’t eat people, Lucia.”
“I’m sure that’s because they haven’t met anyone as tasty and helpless in the water as me! I’ll be the first person to be eaten by goldfish. Is that the legend you wanted me to leave behind? The girl who was eaten by goldfish?”
“Would you be willing to start with a puddle?”
“A small puddle. A small, small puddle that’ll disappear into my socks if I step on it.” Lucia’s hair bobbed up and down as she nodded at me with puffed out cheeks. Well, at least she wasn’t crying anymore. That was a good sign, right? “We can start with that, okay?”
“…I’ll sharpen some bamboo spears.”
“Eh? What do bamboo spears have to do with water training? Y-you’re going to stab me with them, aren’t you?”
“No. I’m going to plant them into the ground, and you’ll perform some footwork on top of them. Swordsmanship isn’t just about swinging your sword. It’s also about controlling your whole body to use your sword in the most effective manner. From your toes to the top of your head, every muscle in your body should be in tune with the sword.”
“You’re going to plant the bamboo spears in the ground spiky end first, right…?”
“Who was the one that said she wouldn’t slack off? I think it was you. If you don’t want to do the water training, we can start with the footwork training instead.”
“Then the spears…. You’re going to make me stab myself on the spears! That’s even worse than you stabbing me.”
“Aren’t you a squirrel? This shouldn’t be difficult.” It’s just balancing on bamboo poles. I can do it with my eyes closed. Of course, Lucia will be able to do that by the end of the exercise. I can’t wait to get some archery practice in. Hmm? What does archery practice have to do with Lucia’s training? Nothing. Nothing at all.
“I’m a ground squirrel! Tree squirrels don’t hibernate! And what is that expression on your face? You’re definitely thinking of some new way to torture me. Stop it.”
“A squirrel is a squirrel is a squirrel. Even a human could do the footwork exercise if they put their mind to it.” Roland was the one who insisted on trying it after reading it on a technique manuscript, and it worked out pretty well for him. Not like he used his footwork for anything other than sneaking around though. “But since I don’t have anything ready for today, just do 200 Breaking Blades.”
“Are we counting the ones I used on Snow and Bouncykins?”
“No. 200 more.”
“Work hard, Lucia.” You won’t die. If anything, 50 pounds will be added to mini-DalDal tomorrow. Now that I think about it, Lucia can carry a ridiculous amount of weight. She might be on par with the lionkin who always insisted on dueling Roland…. That’s just in pure strength though. Why did her family think she was the weakest of the litter when she’d be classified as a high-classed warrior based on her strength alone? It couldn’t be that she’s weak compared to most beastkin, right? Snow’s a wimp, so that’s most likely not the case.
“Motivate me.” Hmm? How would I do that? “In a positive way! You definitely thought about stabbing me with spears if I failed.”
“What exactly do you want for motivation?” It’s true Lucia said she’d work hard and not slack off, but she was bound to lose that motivation after a while. It can’t hurt to indulge her every now and then.
“Every five Breaking Blades—no, every three Breaking Blades, I want head pats and praise. Every five Breaking Blades, I want ear scratches and praise. Every 10 Breaking Blades, I want a delicious snack made by Snow. When I reach 200 Breaking Blades…” Lucia’s face turned red. “I want you to hug me and tell me you’ll never leave me.”
Before I could speak, a voice came from a nearby tree. Was Snow a tree rabbit instead of a ground rabbit because apparently that was a thing for rodents? “Lucia…. It’s not good to fall in love with a weapon spirit, you know that?”
“Shut up, Snow! No one asked you for your opinion!” Lucia threw mini-DalDal at him, destroying the tree he was standing on. I should really teach her a retrieval skill since she insists on throwing my weapon body so much. It’ll be possible for her to learn if she can reach 500 Breaking Blades in a day. “Get ready to make me 20 treats!”
I glanced at the rabbit who landed on my shoulder.
“You’re going to indulge her in this?” Bouncykins asked, looking at me with a strange expression on his face.
“Why not? It can’t hurt.”
“You’ll get attached,” Bouncykins said, watching Lucia chase after Snow. “You both will.”
“Isn’t that fine? Most weapon spirits die with their owners.”
“But you’re Durandal.”
Bouncykins sighed. “Never mind.”