Ah, it’s been half a year since we’ve arrived at the southern pass. Thankfully, winter doesn’t happen this far south or I’d have to hibernate for three months. Okay, winter does happen, but it doesn’t snow. I don’t think I ever knew the meaning of true happiness until this day. Not even the day I received Durandal can compare to today’s bliss. I beat him! I finally wiped that sadistic perverted look off of his face!
But on the other hand, I don’t think I’ve seen Durandal so … upset. Why’s he upset? Shouldn’t he be happy about his pupil surpassing him?
“I refuse!” When you win, take the victory and run away!
“It was a fluke. Rematch.”
Even if you spew out ice-cold killing intent like a refrigerator powered by a frost magic array, I refuse! “No fluke! I won.”
“Wow, Durandal. You actually lost to Lucia. I didn’t think I’d see this day for another few years.” Way to go, Bouncykins. Keep rubbing salt into that wound. I’m totally not resentful over the daily beatings I’ve suffered for half a year.
“Lucia…” Wow, Durandal looks really, really mad. I thought weapon spirits’ purpose in life was to help their masters. “I…” He sighed and his face changed back to his normal, handsome one. “To congratulate you on your victory and recent success in breaking through to a mid-ranked warrior, I’ll teach you a new technique.”
New technique? “This is an excuse to beat me, isn’t it…?”
“What kind of person do you think I am?”
“A pervert.” …Did I say that out loud?
“Learn this strike with your body.” Durandal swung his spear, and something invisible smacked me in the face.
“Geh!?” What hit me? I touched my hopefully not ruined face, but there was nothing there. “What was that?”
“Qi projection. You couldn’t learn it before you reached your current rank. It allows you to expel qi from your body to be used in attacks.” Durandal put his spear away. I guess this wasn’t something that required sparring. “When you become a high-ranked warrior, it’ll be possible for you to manipulate your qi outside of your body, but for now, you can only expel it.”
“So … it’s like magic?” Long-ranged attacks with some invisible force of mine? That totally sounds like magic.
“…To a normal person, this might as well be magic in their eyes. But magic and qi are very different with qi losing to magic in strength and flexibility.”
“Does qi beat magic in anything?”
“Anything qi can do, magic can do better,” Bouncykins said. “Qi reinforces your body. So does the iron skin spell. Qi reinforces your speed. So does the fleet foot spell. Qi can perform long-ranged attacks and manipulate objects close by, but magic does it better with a simple magic missile or telekinesis.”
“…What about recovering injuries?”
“There’s magic to fully heal someone even if they’re on the brink of death.” Snow shook his head. “You’re at a huge disadvantage since you can’t use magic.”
Durandal swung his spear and blew Snow and Bouncykins away with the air pressure. “Don’t listen to them, Lucia. If you can transcend the wall, you’ll be just as strong as, if not stronger than, a magician.”
“The wall?” My head hurts. It feels like I’ve learned way too much today.
Durandal put on a solemn expression. “The barrier blocking high-ranked spirit warriors from progressing.”
“Even Roland couldn’t surpass it to become a divine warrior. Don’t get your hopes up.” Bouncykins had returned after being blown away with a bunch of bananas in his mouth. “Even then, in theory, you’ll be on par with a ninth-circle magician. Cain’s a tenth-circle magician. You’ll have to surpass the divine warrior stage as well. No one knows what’s beyond that. Saint? God? Well, if you pass it, you’ll get to name it.”
“If Roland was stuck as a spirit warrior or whatever, how do you know he could’ve became a divine warrior?”
Bouncykins nodded. “Extrapolation. You have wild beasts, ferocious beasts, spirit beasts, and divine beasts. There’s normal citizens, warriors, and spirit warriors. It only makes sense for there to be divine warriors, no?”
“And magicians are ranked by circles, right?” I know that much. There’s lots of complaining in the army about magicians and magic. I think it’s mostly jealousy though.
“Yes. Every three circles represents one stage. So—”
I covered Bouncykins mouth. “No. No more exposition. My head will hurt if I absorb too much knowledge.”
“…You’re not serious.”
“Teach me the qi projectile technique, Durandal!”
Durandal sighed. “It’s qi projection, not projectile.”
“Same thing.” A few letters difference, that doesn’t mean anything. “How do I use it?”
“Hold your arms straight out in front of you. Good. Now circulate your qi. Close your eyes and pretend your arms are longer than they actually are. Can you visualize your long arms?”
“I’m like an orangutan.”
“…Close enough. Now circulate your qi to your new hands, the ones further away from your body.”
“Whoa, this feels funny. Like my fingers are breaking and turning into jelly.” It tingles.
“She actually did it in one try…” That was Snow’s voice. Can I open my eyes now?
“Do you remember that feeling of extending your qi beyond your body?” Durandal’s voice is much better than Snow’s. Definitely. Maybe if Snow had a deeper voice and looked less girly and more like Durandal and…. Focus, Lucia!
“That’s the foundation of the qi projection technique. Now this step is equally as important. Visualize the normal length of your arms while keeping the projected one alive. Can you see it?”
“There’s hands extending from my hands. I feel like a centipede.”
“Now imagine a sword swinging down, cutting off the extra hands.”
“…Is it going to hurt?”
Phew. Okay. I can do it then. “Now?”
“Now you’ve managed to disconnect your qi from your body. You can open your eyes. Try reaching forward and see if you can touch the qi you left in the air before it disperses.”
“The air’s fuzzy?” This is qi? It almost feels like I’m washing my hands. Ah, it’s gone.
“To shoot out qi like I did, you have to extend your qi outside of your body, swing whatever part it’s attached to to build up momentum, and cut it off at the right moment. It’s like throwing a ball attached to a string.”
Like a ball on a string…. “Like this?”
“Gah! Don’t shoot your qi at me, Lucia!” Snow wiped at his face.
Hey, it worked. But it doesn’t seem very strong?
“To deal damage, you have to change the shape of your qi to that of a sword and pour in the same amount of qi as a Breaking Blade. Like so.” Durandal swung his spear, and a nearby tree split into two pieces, bisected vertically. “You have to do two hundred of these a day. There will be punishment for any you miss.”
…Back to the grind it is.