What should Lucia’s next step of training be? She’s become proficient enough to draw out a battle with me when I’m limited to Breaking Blade and the Steady Mountain Footwork. Her physical attributes have also grown by leaps and bounds—I’m a bit jealous that I can’t grow like her, but an increase in her strength is also an increase in mine. Along with those improvements, she’s able to freely manipulate my weapon body to the most suitable weight for any situation. I suspect it has to do with her squirrely instincts and balance. Even Roland’s growth wasn’t as quick as Lucia’s, but to be fair, Roland didn’t have anyone to guide him.
“Hey, Durandal. I’ve been thinking. Shouldn’t you fight me with other types of footworks?” Lucia tilted her head, causing beads of sweat to drop to the ground. “Won’t I become too accustomed to your motions? What if someone who practices a more graceful footwork fought me, like Snow?”
There’s a simple way to show Lucia my splendor. Though the basis of the footwork I taught Lucia was the Steady Mountain, I’ve modified it to include the strongest points of various techniques. “Snow. Spar Lucia.”
“…I’ll die if she hits me with a full-powered Breaking Blade.” Snow shook his head. “When I first saw Lucia, I could beat her with my eyes closed. But now…, after these three months of following you two freaks around, I’m pretty sure I’ll die.”
“Your growth wasn’t slow either, Snow.” Bouncykins hopped off of Snow’s head. “Lucia’s at the peak of low-ranked martial artist. You’re a mid-ranked one.”
Lucia’s tail twitched. That only happened when she was excited or angry. “Wait, how is that decided? I’m stronger than Snow. I can lift more than him.”
“It’s not outer strength that matters for ranks. It’s inner strength,” Bouncykins said. “Snow has more qi than you. He’ll recover faster, strike harder, move quicker, and be stronger than 99% of low-ranked warriors. But there are some freaks whose constitutions allow them to fight a higher ranked opponent.”
“I don’t really like being called a freak. Can’t you use the term genius instead?”
“Someone as scatterbrained as you doesn’t deserve the term genius.” Bouncykins sighed. “Also, there’s a certain nuance. Geniuses have God-given talents that allow them to excel. Freaks have God-given bodies that provide advantages over other people. If I had to take a guess, you have a unique body that increases your strength.”
“I’m amazing?” Lucia asked, her ears perking up. The way they twitch make me want to rub them. Lucia won’t mind.
“Perverts…” Bouncykins turned away. “You got a body filled with strength and vitality, but at the same time, you’re unable to use mana. Not like that matters due to the existence of magic tools though.”
“I-is Snow special too?” Lucia’s eyes were closed. I admire her persistence. Normally she would’ve collapsed by now. Why is teasing her so much fun?
“Snow actually has a special body as well…” Bouncykins glanced at Snow. What was Snow hiding? I didn’t sense anything special about him. “He’s—”
“Do you have to, Lucifer?” Snow asked and sighed.
“Tell!” Oh, Lucia was reduced to one-syllable words now. Maybe I should stop. No. This is good for her endurance—yes, this is training. “T-tell now!”
“I have a succubus body. I ooze out charm. Usually it only affects people of the opposite sex, but if I change my appearance to a woman’s…”
That explains a lot. It also explains why his body didn’t affect me—weapon spirits don’t feel lust. Was Lucia under his influence? She shouldn’t be because he looks like a girl right now, right? …Maybe Cottontail had a succubus body as well which would explain Roland’s sudden infatuation. So he wasn’t just a pervert who liked bunnykin girls. Well, I can’t exclude that possibility.
“And you call me the pervert.” Lucia snorted. “So. Are we still sparring?” It seems like she slipped out of my grasp without me knowing. Impressive.
“Didn’t I say I’d die? I’m not going to spar you, Lucia.”
“You don’t get a choice!” Lucia brandished my weapon body and swung it at Snow. The bunnykin’s eyes widened as he dodged.
“I can’t hear you over the sound of my swings!”
“Then stop swinging!”
“What did you say!? I couldn’t hear you.”
Bouncykins came over to my side. “You chose a very energetic master. She’s nothing like Roland. Will you two even be compatible?”
“She’s already mastered my most useful function—weight control. I think we’re compatible.” She mastered me a lot faster than Roland did as well. But Roland didn’t know how to fight when he first started using me. It’s really not fair to compare the two. “You and Snow seem to get along well.”
“Is that what it seems like?” Bouncykins tilted his head. “You haven’t seen it yet, but Snow … can be a handful at times. In fact, I’ve never seen him so docile before. He’s usually the one in charge of everything. He’s bloodthirsty, cutthroat, conniving, and overall not a good person. Maybe he’s scared of you.”
“Bloodthirsty, conniving, and cutthroat…” Those are not words I would associate with Snow. He seems more like a startled rabbit walking on eggshells.
“Lucia, I’m begging you!”
At least they’re sparring seriously now. Like I thought, Lucia’s winning. I don’t think many people her age can defeat her in close combat. Her constitution isn’t fair to fight against. Abnormal levels of strength and the ability to recover herself completely by going to sleep is a bit ridiculous. It’s like she’s blessed by the earth, but hated by the sky. Qi comes from the earth, mana comes from the sky.
I wonder if any of my rivals have survived the years as well. If Bouncykins made it, maybe others have also. Some of them would’ve made great teachers, but Bouncykins did say that martial arts as a whole has stagnated.
“Hey, Durandal. Why could I beat Snow so easily?” Lucia tilted her head and nudged Snow’s body with her toe.
You didn’t kill him, right? Let me check for a pulse. …Yeah, he’s fine. “The Steady Mountain Footwork I taught you would be more aptly named as Universal Footwork. It heavily emphasizes the Steady Mountain, but it incorporates everything into it. If you can beat me, you can beat every footwork in the world.”
“Unless the person is stronger than Durandal.” Bouncykins, once again, rains cold water on me in front of Lucia. I should cut off and take one of his legs for luck.
“Durandal’s the strongest. Stop being such a downer, stupid hare.” Lucia seemed to have similar thoughts. She did mention she wanted to stir fry him once.