“When will you let me control mini-DalDal’s weight?” It’s annoying to pester Durandal every time I feel it’s too light. I’m not even sure how heavy mini-DalDal is anymore. Three tons? Four? Whenever I consume a beast core, my strength goes up and mini-DalDal feels off.
Durandal stared at me. Was that not a reasonable question? It’s not like I’d slack off on my training just because I could reduce mini-DalDal’s weight to nothing. …Maybe. I promise I won’t! “Alright. I’ll unlock the function for you.”
“Wait. Really?” What’s the catch? There’s always a catch when things go my way. The last time things went my way, I obtained a sadistic spirit who enjoyed torturing poor innocent squirrelkin girls. Does that count as going my way?
“Yes. I think you’re—and I somehow don’t want to admit it—responsible… enough to control my weapon body freely.” Durandal sighed. “You should learn how to control my weight during battles. Increasing it when you need to generate more force, decreasing it when you need to move faster. Why don’t we start now?”
There’s the catch. Why’s the catch always sparring!? “I-I’m not—”
“Send your qi into my weapon body and will the weight you want it to be.” Durandal picked up his spear and waited for me. Bouncykins was watching from the sideline, but Snow was dismantling a five-tusked boar I had caught earlier.
“Heavier.” Gack! Too heavy! I almost crushed my foot. “L-lighter?” Oh. That’s perfect. “I’m ready.”
And thus, a brutal sparring session began which once again led to my loss. As usual. But at least I’m more accustomed to the weight changing now. What if I reduce the weight as far as possible, leap into the air, then increase it as much as I can? Wouldn’t that be amazing? I—geh! “Why’d you hit me?”
Durandal retrieved the spear he smacked me with. “You’re thinking weird things. Stick to the fundamentals: Breaking Blade, weight training, Steady Mountain Footwork.”
“…When are you going to teach me something else?” If I had a larger variety of moves, I wouldn’t lose so badly!
“When you can beat me in a spar with your current assets. If you haven’t noticed, I’ve only been using the Steady Mountain Footwork and Breaking Blade to fight against you. What’s important isn’t the number of techniques you learn, it’s the proficiency you reach in them.”
“It looks like Lucia’s going to be stuck with those two techniques forever then.”
Say that to my face, Snow! I dare you! Don’t look at that boar like it’s prettier than me. Oh, is that a beast core? I’ll take that. I stuck my tongue out at Snow after stealing away his hard work. Now I see why Durandal’s such a bully sometimes. Bullying people soothes my heart. …I’m a good person, okay?
“Lucia’s actually progressing very rapidly in the Steady Mountain Footwork. The thousand or so flaws she had when we first started have been reduced to a little over a hundred.” Durandal smiled at me. “I’ll target them nonstop so you can learn them better. No need to thank me.”
Demon. Well, if I’m being honest, Durandal is a really nice teacher. The first time he wants to correct a flaw, he’ll lightly tap it. The second time I expose the same flaw, he’ll hit it with the side of his spear. And if I reveal it for a third time…, Snow will increase his proficiency in bandaging lacerations. There has never been a fourth time, but I’ll probably lose a limb if there were. But anyways, what was I doing? Absorbing a beast … core? Shit.
“I didn’t know you were so eager to spar again, Lucia. We can’t let those impurities build up.” A spear flew towards my face, and I barely managed to block it by reducing mini-DalDal’s weight to catch up to the strike and increasing its weight to deflect the spear. This is abuse! Animal cruelty!
After another bout of sparring, new bruises had formed along my arms and legs. Maybe the number of flaws were reduced by a dozen? I hope so. I wonder when absorbing beast cores will lose its effect. I can’t keep improving at this rate forever, can I? I swear my vision is almost as sharp as a crow’s. Not that I would know how well a crow could see. My sense of smell is probably on par with the moonlight wolves’ too. And my constitution is similar to a panther’s. “Durandal. When do cores start losing their effect?”
“When you reach the limits of the beast they came from.” Durandal poked through the pile of animal corpses and picked up a scavenger crow. “If someone’s speed is lower than this crow’s and they consumed the beast core, then that person’s speed would increase. The same goes for eyesight, hearing, smell. If their abilities are already above the crow’s, then nothing will happen. Impurities might build up, in fact.”
“Then someone can be as strong as a dragon?” How many dragon beast cores did the Godking consume to kill a dragon in a single strike?
“How many scavenger crows have you killed?”
A lot. “Over a hundred? Maybe two hundred?”
“And how many cores did you get from them.”
“Like … three?”
“How do you think you compare to the crows’ abilities?”
“I’m definitely caught up to them!”
Snow snorted. “You’re not even close in the intelligence department.”
Shut up, Snow! I’ll beat you up.
Durandal patted my head, causing my body to relax. “Snow’s right.”
Gah! Whose weapon spirit are you anyways!? “Don’t agree with him! I’m not stupid!”
“You’ll need to consume 30 cores to catch up to the abilities of the crow. How many would you have to kill to get that many cores?”
“Two thousand.” See. I can do math. Extrapolating’s easy when you put your mind to it. Oh! The wolf I caught earlier is almost ready to eat. Why do they taste so delicious? And why do panthers taste so sour? I don’t get it. Could it be their diets?
“So you’ll have to kill two thousand dragons to obtain enough cores to be as strong as a dragon. There were maybe 50 dragons living in the wild during Roland’s time.”
Right. Dragons. “So you’re telling me there’s a chance? If there’s 50 dragons, it’s possible for 30 of them to have cores.”
Durandal sighed and glanced at Snow while the rabbitkin put the cooked wolf on a plate.
Snow shrugged. “If you ever want to switch masters, I’m always free.”
“Durandal’s mine!” And that wolf is mine too. Haste!