Legend of Heroes Fanfiction: Hound - 4. End of the Tutorial
General Goods Store
“Not that I want to turn away free business. But what do you need all these things for, Miss?” The man behind the counter asked as I dumped armfuls if items in front of him.
“It’s for my combat classes,” What’s with the weird look? What’s wrong with a customer buying items?
“But still… that’s a lot of stuff you’re bringing up here. What kind of class has you get this beat up?”
“Look,” I slammed a bag full of coins on the counter. “I’ve got the mira so stop asking so many damn questions, old man.”
I snatch the pile of items from the man and stuffed it in my bag and ran back towards Thors before the store manager could say another word.
Finally. All the stores were closed when I ran back yesterday after exploring the old schoolhouse. So here I am, early in the morning to buy out the store’s entire supply of first aid items. Or trying to at least.
Sorry everyone who probably need them more than I do, but I will be getting way more out of these than you will.
If you want it that badly, you’ll have to outbid me. I’ll warn you thou, I have years worth of dirty money saved up from my part-time job as a henchman.
Speaking of my years of experience, isn’t it weird that I’ve never discovered this strange healing effect before?
Not that unlikely, since I’ve actually never touched a tear balm before now.
Not implying that I’ve never gotten wounded before. I’ve been hurt plenty of times. However, back in Celdic I never fought anything that I couldn’t beat up or ambush easily. All I ever got from those were light scratches and small cuts. Which were treated almost excessively by Otto and his wife. The only thing they had were the homemade herbal salves made by the local priest.
As for my days in Ouroboros… well as a henchman, my job description includes getting beat up. But the higher-ups always supply us was some fancy pants new experimental medicine. So healing some wounds instantly is to be expected.
Afterall, tear balms are basically just over the counter ointments named after the healing art, no soldier’s going to be carrying that around. It’d be like going to battle with a box of band-aids. You can argue that they’d be used sooner or later. But wouldn’t it be easier just to carry bandages instead? If some rando priest can whip up some effective medicine then Ouroboros won’t lag behind in this department either.
Setting that aside, I made my way back to Thors. The first chance I get, I want to sneak into the grounds near the old schoolhouse and test the effects of the items I bought. I can’t actually go into the old schoolhouse since only Rean has the key. Plus who’s to say that there are any monsters left in the building anyways, we did clear it out pretty thoroughly yesterday. And the creatures inside shouldn’t respawn until next month for the next schoolhouse clearing.
And there I’ll try to recreate the scene from yesterday. It’s unlikely that something fantastical like that was nothing but a coincidence. But I know too little about it to assume anything with certain confidence. My current hypothesis is that all items, like my bracelets, affect me in the same way they do in the game. While for others they are nothing but ordinary items.
That’s why Rean and the others felt no change after putting the bracelets on. And the tear balms were only first aid items to them. While for me… well, 1500 hp is no small number. And if I’m right then this discovery would definitely help against some of the absolute monsters that will show up later.
Looking that small packages of food that made up the other half of my haul. I smiled foolishly. Just thinking of the possibilities made me speed up in excitement.
I sprint through the gates of the Thors and ran through the school. Because it was still twenty minutes before class the school grounds were devoid of people. Military academy or not these were still teenagers. There’s no way most of them would be up and about on their way to their classes. Sure enough, I made my way to the Class VII dorm unhindered. I wouldn’t have time to properly experiment before class starts, so I’ll have to offload my purchases in my room.
As I approach the door, I saw it open over the pile of items I had in my arms.
The opening door slammed into me. I managed to catch myself in time but the cheap paper bag holding my purchases broke from the sudden shift in weight.
“Ah.” The offender said as they watched the items fall to the ground helplessly. “My apologies.”
“No, it’s fine.” I quickly recovered from the sudden surprise. “Though I’m not surprised that you’re up this early. Are you going to do some early morning training, Laura?”
“Yes, while it’s not exactly training per se. I was planning on doing a quick lap around the outskirts of the academy.” Laura, the cause of the accident, reached down and helped me with my fallen items.
“Are these first aid items? Some food. And a… strange doll.” Laura asked as she held up a tear balm. “I understand that Instructor Sara is holding a combat exam in the next few days. But isn’t this a bit much?”
Laura stopped and pondered, “No, perhaps you purchased this for the entire class?”
Ugh, what’s with everyone questioning my decisions? Isn’t it normal to stock up on restoratives in an RPG? Real life is not that different you know? You never know what’s gonna happen.
“I’m just being prepared. And I didn’t buy it for the whole class!” I said, “But you can take some if you want. As thanks for helping me pick them up.”
“No need to thank me, it was my fault in the first place. As a practitioner of the Arseid school, I should have been more aware of my surroundings.” Laura explained.
“Unless the Arseid School teaches you to see through doors I think you’re fine.”
Laura just stared at me with a slight smile.
“Haha.” Laura chuckled and stood up with items piled high on her arms. “Should I take these to your dorm?”
Hey answer the damn question.
“Just leave on the floor or something, I’ll take care of it later.”
“That seems a bit disorganized. But I suppose I wouldn’t know where to put a huge pile like this either.” Laura unceremoniously dumped her half of the items on to the floor.
I dropped my half too and bent down to sift through the pile to separate them into smaller groups.
Until the clearing of a throat reminded me that Laura was still standing behind me.
“Hm? I thought you wanted to go for your jog?”
“Actually I wanted to speak to you about something about something that I’ve noticed,” Laura spoke slowly, seemingly trying to gauge my reaction.
What? What did I do?
“Go ahead…” Yeah, please let me know how exactly I’ve offended you so I can fix it immediately. I’m not Fie, I can’t take the strongest person in Class VII (not counting the main character baptized by the plot itself of course) passively-aggressively glaring at me for a month. I’ll break in a week tops.
I gestured for Laura to continue and she did, not noticing my inner panic and clearly glad that I hadn’t taken any offense to her inquiries.
“I noticed during our journey together in the old schoolhouse that you seem to not be a practitioner of any martial arts, judging from your skill level. Is that correct?”
“Umm… well, I was taught some of the basics of a staff. But I guess, you can technically say I’m not.” I tried to explain. Having someone like Laura evaluate your skill in combat is really… how do I put this… disheartening.
“You were taught?” Laura questioned me with her eyes open in surprise. “I apologize, I had thought that you were assigned a new weapon by the school just like Emma and Elliot.”
See? It’s stuff like this! It’s one thing if she was trying to mock me or something. But this straightforward girl is genuinely surprised that I apparently didn’t grab a staff off the street an hour before the exam to use as a weapon. Sorry, but that display was me actually trying my best!
Laura seemed to have read my expression and put on a reassuring smile.
“There’s no need to feel so distraught. Everyone has the opportunity to improve as long as they have the will to continue practicing.”
Eh, that’s not what I’m worried about.
“Right…” I sighed. “You’re not wrong.”
About the first part anyway, there’s no reason for me to feel bad. I have no use for martial skills with the power of my leveling system. Ha! These grapes aren’t sour at all!
“Back to the main topic. I’ve seen that despite your lack of expertise in martial arts you had no trouble killing the various monsters in the old schoolhouse. I apologize for sounding arrogant, but I wasn’t expecting any of the students in my group to be able to keep up with me.” Laura said thoughtfully.
“Not to mention, your arcus unit wasn’t active the entire time. So you fought all that time without any empowerment from orbments. With all things considered it is very impressive.” Laura matched her gaze directly to mine. “If I’m not being too intrusive, may I know of your background?”
“Huh?” I wasn’t expecting a question like that. I didn’t actually think any member of Class VII would be interested in each other’s background just yet. They all seemed to have ideas of what kind of life the others might have had but they’d never bring anything up out of respect or just plain disinterest.
At least, this is how it was at the beginning of the game.
“Well, it’s not really a secret.” I started. Establishing my ‘official’ background as early as possible will leave the best possible impact. Even better if Laura happens to share this with our fellow classmates. Things are easier to believe coming from someone who actually believes it.
“I grew up in Celdic. It’s a town of merchants in the boonies, so there weren’t a lot of people who could fight. The townspeople had to wait for the small provincial army stationed there to take care of all the monsters.” I explained. The best way to lie is to simply tell the truth and hide reasonable lies in between the cracks. Guess who I learned that from?
“That would be the case in most parts of the Empire. It is the nobles’ duty to assign soldiers to protect the people by culling threats like monsters.” Laura gave me a thoughtful look. “Though from your tone I take it that’s not what happened.”
“Right, like I said, Celdic is out in the boonies. A pretty tame part of the empire too, so naturally there were no epic beasts to slay out there. And when the provincial army gets a request to exterminate some crop munchers fifteenth times a week, they gradually got pretty fed up with it. So a few years back they finally had enough and decided that unless it was a monster that could cause actual harm and damage to the townspeople, they would ignore any monster extermination requests. And of course, they got to decide whether the monster was an actual threat or not.”
“I see, my father has told me this sort of thing happens often.” Laura frowned. “To refuse protection simply because it is inconvenient is disgraceful.”
“Really? I thought it was pretty reasonable.” I said. “Typically it’s wise to cut loose trivial matters to free up time for more important tasks. Though all those guys did with their free time was drink and party in the barracks. Well, either way. When I first heard about this I had a great idea.”
“Pests were still common, even more so after the provincial army stopped taking care of them. The townspeople were mostly merchants, artisans, and farmers, people with plenty of mira from trading in the market but no one to spend it on.” I explained. “So if someone were to learn how to fight common monsters…”
“They would have all the work and mira they so desired,” Laura said, finishing my thought. “I have to say that’s an interesting positive to draw from such a tough situation.”
“Is something the matter?” Laura asked after seeing the look on my face.
“No, it’s just that, as a noble and a practitioner of one of the most righteous sword techniques in the empire. I thought you would look down on that kind of motivation.” I answer her honestly.
“Why would I?” Laura asked quizzically.
“Mhmm… nevermind. It’s just that you’re different from what I thought you’d be like.” I said.
To be honest, I never had a huge impression of Laura when played the game. I always pegged as just the noble and upright warrior lady and the game never proved me wrong. And here I am, having a conversation with her in the flesh and suddenly realizing that she is a real person. She can joke, converse freely, and has more to her personality than just her sense of honor.
This… maybe I was the one misunderstanding all along. Same with how Rean chose Jusis over Machias back in the old schoolhouse. I realized that while I know their faces, I don’t know anything about them as people at all.
“I see,” Laura replied. “So I’m guessing with the lack of capable fighters in Trista, you’re the one who stepped up.”
“Haha, yep. I decided to train myself so I could at least take care of some minor pests.” I said. “And over time I got a hang of how to fight monsters.”
“How to fight monsters? Just monsters specifically?” Laura asked.
“Yep, monsters fight completely differently from humans. Normally when a monster decides to fight, it has abandoned all thoughts of escaping. It intends to battle until someone falls, whether that’d be you or it.” I explained.
“I’ve never thought about it like that.” Laura pondered, “Back in Legram, I’ve fought the occasional monster myself. I do remember having to chase them down and the ones that didn’t run would charge at me without hesitation.”
“Yep, that’s why the main thing to keep in mind when fighting them is to understand that no matter what the circumstance, the average monster’s next move will always be to attack desperately.” I continued. “And if you can exploit that innate recklessness, your enemy will simply dance in the palm of your hand.”
“So that’s why I could keep up with you.” I shrugged. “There, the mystery’s solved. It wasn’t any special training, just some application of some useful knowledge. Sorry to disappoint.”
Ah, something that has always haunted me. For some reason no matter how I tried I’ve never been able to caste a single art. That might not be such a big problem, there’s are loads of strong people who don’t use arts at all even if they can. What’s bad is that I’ve never been able to learn a single craft.
Crafts on the culmination of a person’s efforts, that manifest as a way to manipulate orbal energy in a way that is unique to the path they’ve taken.
Typically you aren’t considered a true expert until you develop your own unique version that displays properties of one of the seven elements.
Examples include Sara’s purple lighting, Rean’s flaming sword, Gaius’ emerald winds, Laura’s blade of light, and Fie’s shadow clones.
It’s way harder than it sounds. After all, the Arseid school’s whole purpose is to produce that signature radiance. In the game, we’ve only seen two people who can do it. Sorry to say it but those no names training their asses off in Legram would probably only be as useful as a flashlight.
Not that I can say anything since I don’t have even the most elementary of crafts. That’s why I was deemed a talentless failure. And kicked out with nothing more than some basics by my spearsmanship teacher.
It’s no big deal if someone has a weak craft since crafts evolve and change as we do. But someone was not able to develop any crafts at all they were considered to have no aptitude and would be better off being a farmer or something. Rather than die meaninglessly fighting more powerful enemies.
It sounds sad, but it’s extremely rare to not be able to learn any crafts whatsoever. Even a novice swordsman swinging his sword every day or a jaeger dropout with a pistol would have a few crafts under their belt. Crafts are heavily dependent on the mental state of the individual and most people consider them to be a measure of a person’s potential and talent.
With that in mind, it’s clear that Class VII is a gathering of the brightest talents of the current generation.
“I’ve actually pretty weak compared to you guys.” Of course compared to nameless nobodies I can probably take ten of them at once. Crafts or not.
“I wouldn’t say that. I’ve always known that monsters were mindless, but I’ve never applied that knowledge quite like that.” Laura said.
“…that’s probably because you were strong enough to just kill them without a thought, right?” I deadpanned.
“Well… I can’t deny that. But there are always stronger foes out there. Like the gargoyle we faced our first day here. We were only able to overcome that challenge by combining our might together.” Laura said. “When I first applied to Thors I was expecting that I would meet people with many different approaches to combat and world views.”
“And so far I’m have not been disappointed.” Laura smiled.
Ah, so bright. It’s blinding me.
“Thanks, I don’t know if I am quite as interesting as Rean or Jusis. But being complimented by the daughter of Radiant Blademaster is doing wonders for my ego.” I grinned.
“Haha, I hope it doesn’t go to your head too much. We all have much to improve on as students of Thors Military Academy.” Laura laughed. “Still, I doubt you only had mira in mind when you put in all that effort to train yourself. That’s a lot of work for just some quick mira. Am I wrong?”
“Well, you’re right. I wasn’t entirely doing it for the mira, but…” The mira wasn’t even on my mind when I first started. I was only interested in leveling up and getting stronger. The mira was a nice bonus though. Reeeally nice.
“Haha, I knew it.” Laura smiled again. “It seems that there’s more to you, after all, Krist.”
“Eh?” I feel like she’s misunderstanding something.
“Oh, it’s almost time for class,” I said walking over my window, looking the students walking down the road to their respective classes. “We spent a long time talking.”
Well, let her think whatever she wants to think. It’s easier for both of us.
“So it seems,” Laura said. “We should get going.”
Thors Military Academy
“So since you got to ask two questions. Do I at least get one?” I asked as walked down the road to the school together.
“I don’t see why not?” Laura replied. “It only seems fair after the interrogation I gave you.”
“I know you’re joking, but it really did feel like an interrogation.” I sighed. “But never mind that, my first question is. Why did you come to talk to me in the first place? If you were curious there are far more interesting mysteries in Class VII.”
“You’re certainly not wrong, I suppose,” Laura said. “And the answer to your question is quite simple. I simply wanted to know you better.”
“That’s it?” That’s all that was?
“Indeed, I must admit that I have never had a female friend who was interested in combat and the like,” Laura confessed. “So I thought once we got to know each other, we could converse about such matters.”
“Hah…” I sighed again. Looks like I was worried for no reason at all.
Well, it ended up okay I guess.
Thors Military Academy Training Grounds
“Like I said last week, today’s our special combat exercise. Cue the applause!” Sara, with way too much energy, clapped her hands.
No one else joined in.
“Pfft.” I tried to hold in my laughter after seeing the collective deadpan looks on the faces of my classmates. I guess this is the one thing that they can all agree on, even in this tension-filled prologue.
“Hey what’s with the dull reactions? Do you know how much work I put into this teaching business?” Sara said with a fake sigh. “Ah but I know just what will liven you guys right up!”
She snapped her fingers. And with a flash of light, a floating machine coated in dull red metal plating appeared beside her.
“What the hell?”
“Ahhh that’s more like it, you kids are young! You should react with more energy to fun activities!” Sara smiled coyly.
“What fun activities!? No firstly, just what is that thing?” Machias pointed at the strange machine.
“Am I to believe that machine is to be our opponent for this combat exercise?” Laura, as per usual, skipped the surprise and went straight to the point.
“Yep, right on the mark. This machine is some thing that I got from some where and it was some how modified to serve as a training partner for all you guys.” Sara explained cheerfully.
“How very specific,” Rean said dryly. “I’m guessing you won’t tell us even if we try to pry.”
“Thought so.” Rean sighed. “And you’re sure this machine is safe for a field test?”
“Don’t worry I have it perfectly under control” As if to prove her point, Sara made a waving motion with her hand and the machine floated upwards and did a spin. “Well that said, I won’t actually be controlling it during the test. This thing will be acting based on its programming. Once it has registered enough damage it’ll shut down automatically and this little exercise to be over.”
“Do keep in mind…” Sara said with a sudden serious edge to her voice. “This machine might not look like much, but it packs quite a punch. During the test, if you get cornered you’ll have to rely on your teammates to bail you out. So make good use out of those combat links!”
“Alright, I think we’ve messed around long enough. Since there are ten people here, let’s divide you kids up into teams of 3, 3, and 4.” Sara said.
“The team with four people will obviously have an advantage. What a messy improv.” I mumbled. I guess since I’m here there isn’t a perfect divide anymore. Sorry game developers.
“Oh is that what you think?” Sara smiled in a way that made me instantly reevaluate what I just said. “Don’t you worry, I made sure that evvvvvery group has the same chance at passing.”
“Ugh, I can’t believe this is happening. Just what sense went into these groupings.”
“I think the intent is quite clear. With you here, your sheer incompetence will render our numbers advantage null.”
“Why you! If anyone is dragging down the group it’s you!”
“Oh really, then humor me as to how. I fail to see any conceivable scenario where your ‘weapon’ trumps my years of sword training.”
“Hmph, as if ten minutes of prancing around and 3 hours of pleasantries and tea-drinking count as ‘training’.”
“You dare insult the sword skills that my brother imparted to me?!”
“I dare, and I’ll do it as many times as it takes to put stuck up nobles like you in your place!”
Tired of watching the comedy skit happening right before me, I turned to the other victim of this unfortunate turn of events.
“So what did you do to piss off Sara?” I asked Emma who was fine-tuning her orbal staff beside me.
“Haha… I’m sure our instructor isn’t that immature Krist.” Emma said with a small smile.
“Ah… um. Well, do you think those two will be able to get along?” Emma said, awkwardly changing the subject.
“Hmm well… get along? No. Barely tolerate each other long enough for the field test?” I looked over to Jusis and Machias, who’ve graduated from arguing verbally to making vague aggressive hand motions at each other. “Also no.”
“Well, I guess we’ll just have to try our best. I’ll focus on supporting you guys from the rear.” Emma sighed.
“Oh, that’s great. Have you tried out combat links with anyone yet?” I asked.
I’m starting to get an idea. With this, we can probably beat the mini-boss no problem. And the crux of it will be getting Emma used to combat links.
“Well, I have looked into the concept so I know how it’s supposed to work,” Emma said. “It connects users based on the orbal energy frequencies emitted by our master quartz. And with it, we can convey our intentions to each other almost telepathically!”
“Oh, is that how it works? Wait, this is not the time. Here, link with me.” I said, activating my Arcus.
Emma did the same and activated hers. Like with Rean back at the old schoolhouse, I felt a connection open up between us. Things I wouldn’t have noticed before like little mannerisms and expressions became clear as day. This is some trippy stuff.
Emma suddenly walked up to me and made a face like she was concentrating as hard as she could.
“Em, what are you doing?”
“Oh, I was just trying to talk to you through the link. But I guess it’s not strong enough yet, haha.” Emma said, embarrassed by her failure.
“Well, don’t mind it too much. We’re all beginners here.” I said. ” What’s important is this.”
I readied my staff.
“Try to tell what direction I’m planning to swing,” I asked, prepping my weapon.
“Huh? Alright…” Emma concentrated again. “Right, left, left, right…”
Emma repeated as I kept swinging. According to the game, combat links are built on understanding and familiarity between people. The more you know about someone the easier and the faster the connection will be. Inversely to the less you understand about someone the more unstable the link will be, assuming it forms at all.
Emma and I have literally never interacted with just the two of us before, so this exercise is extremely necessary. Since I doubt we can count on Jusis and Machias, forming the deepest combat link we can is our only hope for passing the test!
…going from a mercenary to a schoolgirl is like going from Yugioh to Yugioh GX.
“Let’s go get our game on,” I muttered under my breath.
“Huh?” Emma said.
“Nothing. Have you gotten the hang of it yet, Emma?” I put down my staff.
“Yeah, I’m much more used to the feeling. I think I can support you guys much better now.” Emma smiled.
“Hmm alright, just stay in the back and fire your best art. Don’t worry if it takes too long, just don’t stop casting no matter what.” I said.
“Alright, our first group will be our four-man team! Try not to press your advantage too hard guys, save some glory for your classmates!” Sara’s cheerful voice called us up to the field.
“Damn that Sara, I’ll show you an advantage.” I murmured.
Besides me was the toxic duo, due to their mutual distaste I ended up sandwiched between them. Emma held her staff tightly and positioned herself behind us.
“If you want to succeed at something for once in your life, just stay out of my way.”
“W-what! That’s my line! What makes you think you’re so great you arrogant-“
Real charmers these two. Even though they deliberately positioned themselves away from each other, they still ended up fighting. Not that I was much of a barrier anyway.
‘How unfortunate.’ I sighed to myself.
Before I could even react the boys at my side rushed forward, each brandishing their weapons and attacking with reckless abandon.
‘Well, it’s not like I didn’t expect this.’ I thought to myself.
“How’s it going?” I asked Emma. She’s my true partner for this exam, from the start I never considered this a four-man team at all. Worrying about Jusis and Machias before Rean makes them play nice is pointless.
“I’m having no problems with my casting but…” Emma looked over to the two troublemakers. “I can’t fire anything with the target moving all over like that. Not to mention I’m afraid those two will get caught up in the attack.”
“I see.” I followed Emma’s hesitant gaze. But instead of looking at our two brave warriors I focused on the thing they are fighting.
In the game, it was just some stupid-looking sprite. But watching it smack around Jusis and Machias made me realize just how much of a threat this thing is.
Its attacks are simple but it packs a punch. Seeing that Jusis got sent flying while attempting to block an attack with his sword.
Machias didn’t even have time to chuckle before the machine started to close in on him. The septium charged blasts from his shotgun barely fazed it and soon he was sent flying too. He hit Jusis who about to get up and the both of them crumpled in a pile together, unconscious.
“Oh no!” Emma exclaimed. “We’ve got to help them!”
“We got bigger things to worry about,” I said pointing to the machine floating threateningly to us.
“Emma link up,” I said a plan forming in my mind. “And don’t worry just charge up your most effective art and fire it where ever you want.”
“What?” Emma looked bewildered but opened her connection with me.
“Just trust me,” I said running forward and intercepted our enemy.
The machine whipped its body towards me. Before it could reach me I planted my staff into the ground and vaulted over it. Spinning around once I landed and scoring a solid hit to it’s back.
It turned around, it’s artificial intelligence judging me to be the biggest threat. It moved its cyclical body back and swung forward mercilessly.
I hopped a short distance backward, far enough to dodge the attack but not far enough to drain unnecessary stamina. Obviously, the dumb machine didn’t let its failure dishearten it and kept following after me, launching its body in all manner of ways.
None of them hit me. After all, I already saw through all its moves while it was fighting Jusis and Machias. While it swings and thrusts randomly in a completely alien manner to anything I’ve ever fought before. At the end of the day, it’s just a floating metal stick. All its attacks are powered by the thrusters placed on its head. So while it’s style may vary it’s easy to see where it comes from.
It’s like fighting a guy with only one arm, there’s really only one direction where his fist could come at you… assuming he didn’t know how to kick.
Plus my constant hopping, a technique I developed in fighting scenarios in the past, takes advantage of my enhanced stamina and speed. It’s simple but because of that, I can still take advantage of it even in my weakened form, though not to the same degree of effectiveness.
But it’s more than enough for this thing. I hopped all over the field with my enemy trying its hardest to hit me. It seemed to be trying everything it can to land an attack but the limitations of its stupidly designed body doomed it from the start.
It even stopped and tried to channel an art, but a quick but heavy blow to its ‘head’ from my staff kept it from trying that again.
So I continued dodging, out of the corner of my eye I saw Jusis and Machias groaning as they tried to pick themselves up. And my other classmates looking at me with confusion. Except for Sara and Fie, the former who was smiling wryly while the latter seemed to see through my plan and yawned lazily, not caring too much after that.
I must seem pretty crazy. I got the machine on the ropes but I’m not attacking at all. What they don’t know is that it’s taking everything I have just to keep its attention on me. I’m doing much more than just dodging. This rhythm I’ve built up tirelessly will be instantly destroyed if I start trying to deal damage while I’m moving.
Fortunately, I’m not the one who has to worry about ending this fight.
Through our combat link, I learned that Emma’s art had finished channeling. And by how long it took her to charge it must be a big one.
Sure enough, the massive influx of compressed orbal energy drew the attention of our spectating classmates.
Laura watched her classmate gracefully weave in and out between her opponent’s attacks. As the machine followed her around helplessly.
‘I suppose a machine is even easier to predict than a monster’ Laura thought. ‘Dancing in the palm of her hand indeed.’
“Woah, I’ve never seen a Flare Bomb that big before,” Elliot exclaimed.
“From the looks of it, it’s an art overload,” Alisa commented.
“What’s that?” Rean asked.
“Um… what’s an art overload?” Elliot awkwardly asked in Rean’s place.
“It’s a unique feature of her orbal staff. Previous versions had the ability to manipulate the size or shape of an art to some extent. The newest ones, however, have the feature to adjust the intensity of the orbal energy to empower arts. And by the looks of it, Emma’s poured a huge amount of energy into her casting. The fact that she is keeping control of it so expertly just shows how much work she’s put into preparing for this exam” Alisa explained.
“Emma sure has studied up on her weapon, huh…” Elliot said looking at the similar orbal staff in his hands. “I’ll have to work hard to keep on too.”
“Yeah, it’s a shame she’s stuck on a team with two prideful idiots and an incomprehensible delinquent.” Alisa sighed.
“Well, not saying anything about Jusis and Machias. But I don’t think Krist is doing that badly, she’s not letting the enemy so much as scratch her.” Gaius commented his eyes analyzing the surprising twists and turns Krist made as the mysterious machine Instructor Sara summoned smashed into the ground where she had been just a half-second earlier. “To be honest I’m not sure if I was in her position I could do the same.”
“I’m not saying she isn’t fighting well. What I mean is-” Alisa was cut off by a voice to her side.
“She’s not working as a team.” Rean interrupted, only to visibly wince when he caught a sharp glare from Alisa but continued anyway.
“Not that I can blame her, must be hard to work together when half your teammates don’t want anything to do with the other.” He looked over to the two bodies on the ground, still trying to untangle themselves from each other. “I wonder what the instructor was thinking, putting those two on the same team.”
“Probably nothing at all,” Alisa huffed, putting her problems with Rean aside for their mutual displeasure for their carefree instructor. Before realizing what she just did and gave Rean one final glare before turning away.
“Anyway… I see the problem now. Krist is jumping around too fast, there’s no way Emma can hit her art with her leading the target all over the arena like that.” Elliot commented, no doubt trying to draw attention away to prevent another awkward standoff.
“I see, Emma seems troubled over whether to release the art or not. It can’t be easy to hold on to art like that for long, especially if she’s putting more energy into it when usual.” Gaius observed.
“So I guess they’ll fail, they put up a good try though.” Fie yawned. “They shouldn’t feel too bad though, it’s clear Sara had it out for them just looking at their team.”
“Oh? How can you be so sure?” Laura chimed in.
“I think putting the three most troublesome students in the class on the same team tells us that Sara was definitely up to something here. That or she was drunk when she was selecting the teams last night.” Fie paused, and seemed to think for a bit. “Ok you might have a point.”
“That… wasn’t what I was talking about.” Laura said coughing awkwardly to bring back the topic. “I meant that I’m not so sure that they’ll fail.”
“Really?” Fie said with a bit of interest. “Mind telling us why? It looks like they’re just floundering around out there.”
“If Laura noticed something then they might actually have a chance,” Elliot said. “Though I can’t tell what exactly.”
“Me either, and my senses are usually sharp. All I can see is that Emma and Krist are fighting a losing battle.” Rean agreed. “Krist is going to tire out eventually and there’s nothing Emma can do to help her. I can’t see anything that might turn the tides.”
“Truth to be told, I don’t know what might happen either,” Laura replied.
“Then why do you think they’ll pass?” Alisa asked curiously.
“I don’t know for sure if they’ll pass. I only hold some doubts because of a conversation I had with Krist this morning.” Laura continued. “It was a relativity short talk, but I think we both got to know each other a little better.”
“Really, I’m surprised. She never seemed to be too interested in us. Or in classes for that matter.” Rean said folding his arms.
“I don’t know about that, I like I said it was a short conversation. What I did find out is that she puts a surprising amount of thought into her actions.” Laura explained. Her assessment over the problems in Trista and how she figured out a way to solve them while also benfiting from it was impressive. As well as her applying knowledge not to better herself but to bring her enemies to, if not below, her level was something that Laura has never seen before.
Of course, her ideas were not particularly hard to come up with and nor was Krist herself a genius for doing so. But her way of fighting had been something that Laura would have never heard about if she had remained in Legram.
Various different people with their own worldviews and their own fighting styles, that’s what Laura hoped to find when she applied to Thors Military Academy. That’s what she hoped to find when she agreed to join Class VII.
“Her? Thought? Really?” Alisa didn’t seem to believe her. And Laura couldn’t blame her, she herself was stunned this morning when the girl in question crashed into her with an overflowing bag of disinfectants and various food items.
Laura has heard that normal teenagers her age regularly enjoy snacks… but surely the amount Krist was carrying was simply too much.
Shaking her head clear of errant thoughts. Laura kept her eyes concentrated on the fight.
“I simply think that if Krist truly thought that she had no way of winning, she would have just given up instead of fighting.” Was all she added.
“Well, I can see that. She doesn’t really strike me as someone who takes things seriously. I was honestly surprised that she decided to try at all, especially after Jusis and Machias charged off on their own.” Elliot said.
Back on the designated fighting grounds, Emma’s eyes darted back and forward in what Laura assumed was an attempt to follow Krist’s movements. Her face tense as if she was facing a hard decision.
Across the field, Krist was still keeping the machine busy. But she dodged another charge narrowly, she glanced at her hesitant teammate and gave a swift nod.
Emma seemed to snap out of her confusion, startled. And Laura saw Krist give her teammate a brief smile before returning to fight.
Laura smiled too as she saw Emma’s eyes gain a bit a determination as she pointed her staff forward and took a step.
“She’s going to do it!” Elliot’s shout caused the rest of Class VII to focus their eyes on Emma.
“Can she hit her target?” Rean asked.
“Why are you asking us? How should we know?” Alisa’s dismissive words were betrayed by the concern in her eyes.
Emma’s Flare Bomb shook back and forth, fighting against Emma and her orbal staff’s control. And with a strained grimace, she started to released her art.
In her haste, however, she neglected to prepare for the backlash of the enhanced art as it was released from the control of her staff. Emma was launched backward. With a pained gasp, she fell on her back, her staff still held in front of her directly up in the air.
“Emma!” Multiple cries of concern came from the places besides Laura, her own mixed within them.
Emma seemed to have cared less about her own situation, however, as her face fell in despair.
The force of her fall caused the control of her art to disconnect. And the Flare Bomb was launched towards the last location her staff pointed to… up in the sky, a few feet over where Krist was fighting.
Emma hastily scrambled to her feet.
“Krist! I’m sor-
Laura watched in wonder as Krist charged straight towards the floating machine, the complete opposite to her previous tactic. Her enemy took this chance to ignite its thrusters and barreled straight towards the grey-haired girl.
The girl didn’t dodge or stop her advance. She simply shifted her body slightly, allowing the machine to soar past her missing her entirely. Or it would have, had her classmate not expanded her staff jamming it in the folds of the machine’s heavily armored body as it passed by. Leaving it helpless as Krist, with strength seemingly impossible from her slender build, guided it’s still accelerating body around in a circle and up before letting go of her staff.
Sending the machine, with the weapon still attached, straight towards the massive flare bomb passing up ahead.
The resulting explosion caused even Laura to stumble, shielding her eyes from the light. Her classmates didn’t fare much better, most of them had been knocked back on their behinds by the time she could open her eyes again.
And once she made sure everyone was all okay, she brought her eyes back to the makeshift arena. The robot had deactivated, having received sufficient damage to automatically shut it off and more importantly, give a passing grade to her classmates.
She watched as the cause of it all walked slowly to the machine, clearly disoriented from her close proximity to the explosion. Reaching out to try and dislodge her weapon from the test robot, before flinching back with a loud yelp at the heat that no doubt covered the whole staff from top to bottom.
Laura smiled, she had left Legram in hopes of meeting amazing people her father assured her would influence her craft to greater heights, and perhaps even friends that she would form lifelong bonds with.
So far, Laura thought, she had a promising start.
“I’m sorry again for missing, Krist.” Emma sat quietly beside me.
“Hmm, it’s alright. I didn’t really explain what I had in mind either.” I hummed, “It was really a work in progress. I had to improvise.”
The rest of the tests went on without any trouble. Just like in the game Rean, Elliot, and Gaius demonstrated the teamwork they honed in the old schoolhouse. And as for Laura, Fie, and Alisa… well, Laura’s on that team so you can guess how it went. If you think Emma’s art did big damage to the thing you should’ve seen how Laura cleaved it in half.
Jusis and Machias woke up during our test and saw what happened. They both simultaneously tried to apologize and then both simultaneously turned on each other.
I looked behind us.
“What I saying is that as a swordsman my place in on the frontlines. Clearly, as a ranged fighter, it was your fault for being out of position. What, were you hoping to bludgeon the thing to submission with your shotgun?”
“And what I’m saying is that machine knocked you around like a crumpled paper ball! If it hadn’t had to deal with me you would still be lying over there in dreamland!”
“Hmph, as if you were enough of a threat to even serve as a distraction.”
“What did you say!?”
“Alright, kids group back up.” Sara clapped as Laura wrenched her sword free from the carcass of the wrecked machinery. “Jeez, you only had to damage it pass a certain threshold. I’ll get chewed out big time for this you know.”
“I apologize, Instructor, seeing my classmates give it their all caused me to push myself too.” Laura strapped her sword to her back and walked over to where the rest of us were gathered.
“Hah, well it’s good that you kids decided to take this seriously.” Sara sighed, “Though it’s natural to want to try hard after even the class slacker gave it her all.”
Hey! Who’s a slacker! I’ll have you know I’ve already read ahead in the textbooks. Don’t underestimate a college graduate!
“Still, good job on the exam you all passed with flying colors. Of course, you all have things to improve on and correct but I’ll let you figure what those are yourself.” Sara looked knowingly at Jusis and Machias, “And for some of us… try to actually participate in the test next time, ok?”
Put on the spotlight, the two stopped their argument and looked away from each other in a huff.
“Good good, since we are done here I’ll announce Class VII’s special class activity! Tada!” Sara handed us each a sheet of paper.
“A field study?” Rean ever the main character pointed out the obvious.
“That’s right. The class will be split into two groups and be sent to two different locations for a field study. The locations and groupings are of course made by yours truly and are of course-“
Yeah, five guesses to who said that.
“Sorry boys, the decision’s final,” Sara said not looking sorry at all. “After your performance today I don’t think either of you has the right to complain.”
As Jusis and Machias resigned themselves to their fate, the rest of us closely examined the contents of our assignments.
Field Location: Celdic
Group: Rean, Alisa, Laura, Elliot, Gaius
Field Location: Parm
Group: Emma, Fie, Jusis, Machias, Krist
“Oh Parm, that’s new-” I blinked as something incomprehensible flashed before my eyes.
Tutorial Completed. Calculating Rewards.
My classmates started discussing amongst themselves as each of them processed the information in the handouts. And Sara motioned for their attention and started to wrap up the combat exam.
But I couldn’t focus on any of that, my attention was solely captured by the floating words that seemingly no one else could see.
Is that a pop-up window?
As if answering my question another message appeared before me… followed by a flood of information.
My stats showed up on the corner of my vision, after a brief moment the numbers disappeared only to be immediately replaced by another slew of messages.
Crafts have been unlocked.
Due to the nature of the user’s existence, the user is able to perceive or manipulate the native energies of this world. Thus crafts will be created by the system and rewarded after completing quests.
Quests and Bonus Quests have been unlocked.
Hidden Tutorial Quest: Joining Thors Military Academy has been completed. Due to the surprising amount of achievements the user has made since coming to this world rewards have been increased.
Rewards: New craft, bonus stats, user interface.
Craft: Shadowcreep unlocked
Bonus stats have already been added
New quest issued based on surrounding circumstances
Major Quest Unlocked: Field Trip to the Spinning Town!
Longest chapter yet. Since this story has to mix our main character’s game mechanics into the world of Trails of Cold Steel, I took upon myself to put forward my own version of how the crafts system works to the residences of Erebonia. Not only that I’ve added some actual function to the orbal staff to them obviously superior to normal orbments. I mean they’ve got to add something right?
So what do you guys think? Does the crafts explanation work for you? Does it make sense? I mean there has to be a reason Rean’s sword catches on fire right?