In The Window Of My Own Self-Consciousness
Waking in the morning I struggled to figure out where I was, half panicking as I started trying to take stock of last night. I was in a bed not my own, in a half-darkened cottage, it was a single room venture from what I could see, the window still covered with panes that filtered out the sunlight. There was a celebration last night, and I drank a lot of beer.
But I don’t recall being drunk at all, my body was sore but that could all be explained by the amount of exertion I had been put through yesterday, not to mention the bruising and tumbles getting thrown around with sonic booms created by a speed freak Gingerbread Man.
I was alone, though the bed was certainly large enough for another occupant. And I was naked. A flash of blonde hair and breasts went through my mind but I was fairly certain that any attraction to me from her had gone to Riajuu instead. Had some woman who desired him chosen a drunk half-conscious me as her consolation prize?
Though I didn’t even have a hangover, either being a Pagemaster had something to do with it or I didn’t actually get drunk. I would have to ask Master about that later.
The front door opened up, with a plump and lively woman stepping inside as she hummed a cute little tune to herself. “Ahh Guten Morgen Herr Blue. I have your clothes all fresh and clean for you.”
She wasn’t too bad or old looking that I would feel too upset if she had taken advantage of me though I was certainly hoping more that she hadn’t.
“G-guten Tag, Frau. Thank you for such service.”
“You helped us out yesterday, this was the least I could offer in thanks. Not many travelers or strangers would help a village clean up after demon attacks. You had passed out from exhaustion last night right at the table so I had the menfolk bring you here to sleep comfortably. You don’t have to kill monsters to be a hero to me.”
I see. Well, I felt a little more relieved about things, I’ll ignore the small tinge of disappointment and call it a win overall.
“I hope I didn’t deprive someone of a bed last night.”
“Ahh, doubtful. She snuck off with one of the village boys last night, must say it was about time she did. Already fifteen. Though I wouldn’t have been mad if she had come home to join you instead.”
I tried to smile pleasantly, as she spoke. I was feeling the difference in culture and times right now, this conversation getting slightly uncomfortable when I realized she was talking about her daughter. I have to try and be diplomatic about this.
“I was so exhausted I think she would have found me rather disappointing last night.”
She laughed dropping my clothes on the bed before walking out the door, calling out as she left. “Mayhaps. But I’ve never met a man who would be too tired for a girl climbing into his bed no matter how exhausted he felt.”
What author dreamed this vision of a village up? Though I suppose this was leaning more toward the society that had been created by whatever world this author had made. While it might be pretty realistic I wasn’t prepared to deal with that kind of situation right now. Maybe if I was really frustrated… No, let’s not think of that either.
Climbing out of bed I quickly started to dress. I was starting to feel that my chastity could be in danger if I stayed in bed or undressed any longer. I know I’m probably a hypocrite.
Fully dressed and stepping out the cottage I looked around trying to catch sight of Master or the riajuu. The sun was not quite directly overhead so I at least had not slept the entire morning away. The villagers were moving around with finishing up the morning chores and I could smell some villagers already starting to cook lunch, while others continued to finish the clean up from yesterday’s excitement.
Walking past people and exchanging greetings, moving toward the center of town, I saw Master sitting atop Riajuu’s shoulder. Somewhat disappointed in the fact that his face seems to still be unharmed. Master flapped a wing to get his attention as I approached them.
“Ohayo Momotarou-kun. You certainly slept in late, this morning. Couldn’t pull away from your lover?”
I struggled to keep my face straight, blatantly disrespectful to me, he was deliberately egging me on, even with the half smile on his face I could see the anger behind his eyes, glinting like dark points of onyx. I was guessing Master had told him my name last night.
“Ohayogozaimasu Harmon-san. No, I was simply past the point of exhaustion from yesterday. Running all over the countryside trying to chase down demons is quite tiring.”
“And yet for all your running you still have nothing to show for- Ow!”
“If ye want to have a cockfight, ye can do that after the world’s back in order.”
Master rebuked him while knocking riajuu on the side of his head with his beak.
“Let’s find a quiet meadow to start yer lessons. That way I can keep you both in check without the villagers getting in the way.”
“Master, what about the-”
“I have a sneaky suspicion that we need to stay in this kingdom for the time being. Story magic is on the shift again, and I’m waiting to see what it is bringing to a head afore we go off traveling.”
I nodded my head slowly, looking off toward the forest where everything had started yesterday afternoon. I don’t know if anyone had even been down there to clean up the mess, it wasn’t too far away but still…
“The children reported things this morning, looks like they died from the shockwaves. No actual doctors around to be certain but I don’t think they suffered at all. Ye don’t have to trouble yer heart over them”
I nodded my head slowly, hoping he was right about that. The one good thing was that outside of a couple of bruises and buildings damaged, the elderly couple was the only casualties of yesterday’s debacle.
Master took off into the air, flying up above us. “Let’s move, daylight is precious and ye two have a lot to learn if ye want to be the heroes.”
I could almost feel the riajuu’s derisive glance at me while I tried to ignore him, straightening my robe and following the colorful bird flapping away down the southern road.
I could hear him following behind me, muttering to himself about something, I wasn’t going to pay attention to him until I absolutely had to. Master’s flight was putting us into a firm jogging pace to keep up without losing sight of him. Thankfully he kept to the roadway until we got closer to the thicker part of the forest, I saw him making his way to perch down behind a set of tall evergreens.
The meadow Master had landed in was of a decent size for sparring and magic practice. The field was a bit rough and looked like some big animal had come through and used his teeth or claws on most of the ground. Master later told me it was likely wild boars and their tusks. A small stream was lazily flowing its way to the south on the far end, possibly an offshoot of the river from the north that happened to work around the village hill.
“So we come to a bit of an interesting problem on how to train. Red knows how to fight, and Blue knows how to wield magic. Therefore, ye both will be taking turns working with each other to build up your abilities before we start trying to combine them both into actual sparring matches.
And since we got the blood pumping from that little jog, Blue, defend yerself from his attacks until I tell ye to stop. Red, don’t kill him.”
Don’t kill me. That’s all you are going to tell him? Oh crap.
I look to Riajuu who is smiling a little sadistically at me, summoning his red-bladed katana and setting himself into a Kendo stance. “Of course, Clarion-sama. He’ll still be alive at the least.”
I summon my staff, concentrating on making its durability as high as I could do it. Not that breaking it would cause trouble since I could simply resummon, but that would take time to bring it back where I would be defenseless.
The moment I had my hand grasped around the staff he jumped, swinging his blade low down toward my feet. I planted my staff down and jumped back to dodge, feeling the jarring in my hand as he clanged the blade against my staff, I could see the nick he had made out of my staff. We were both already moving before the recoil was even done, his sword flashing around the other way in a circle around his body. I took a chance and simply dropped to the ground feeling it woosh over me.
He had used too much strength into the blow and couldn’t compensate enough to hit me as the blade dipped down and clipped a rock right in front of my face bouncing up off the ground as I scrambled to get onto my feet, staff still firmly in hand for the moment while I tried to guess his next move.
I barely had time to react as I moved my staff up only to deflect his blade from swinging near my face the blow staggering me, and sending me dancing away, trying to keep my footing as my boots skidded slightly across the loose soil.
“Hey! Master said not to kill me!”
“You aren’t dead are you?” He said under his breath to me, I could hear every bit of his voice dripping with anger. I can get being upset with me but isn’t this a little too far?
He charged at me, swinging with even more power as I started to panic and hurriedly tried to move to block his swing with my staff, a loud shrieking noise hitting my ears as I barely managed to turn his blade away from me, the blade sliding down the length of my staff making the horrible noise of metal on metal.
I needed something more to deal with him, at this rate I was going to lose fingers if not any of my other limbs. Looking toward the stream I was trying to think of something I could do. His sword quickly stopped my thoughts as I fell backward, his blade passing just over my face, trying to turn my fall into a roll. I clumsily started to get back up only to see his blade coming at me yet again.
He was pushing me toward the stream with each swing, I barely manage to block or dodge each time, to my own amazement. My staff was getting banged up and nicked on every inch of its surface. Moving back toward the water I recalled Master’s words about learning how to use magic in battle. Is this what he was hoping for me to do?
I grip onto the staff tighter, my hand was already sore from the continuous impact from his sword against the staff, it was almost a wonder I hadn’t dropped it yet.
He continued to press his attack on me, my feet were now in the water. He had stopped trying to go for my head and was just now pounding away at either side of me, my heart and mind in too panicked a state to wonder about anything aside from how do I stop his next blow from killing me?
Trying to devote some focus away from the fight I opened myself to the mana in the river, using my feet as the gateway to try and grasp it, throwing every bit I could get my hands on toward him. He was only covered in water droplets that sprung up from the water’s surface. It wasn’t even that noticeable. My arms were starting to burn with exhaustion as we continued our dance of his bade bouncing off my staff and barely managing to avoid injury or death.
I was missing something here. I recalled how I was using the mana to manipulate other pieces of mana from a distance, what if there was something about that technique I could make work faster?
Parry, block block parry, we had fallen into a pattern now, if I had been paying more attention I probably would’ve recognized it but I was too deep in trying to save myself to even know what was going on outside of my own fear and thoughts.
How was I controlling the mana before with the other pieces, what if I could make my own mana the pieces that could be used like that? Comprehension started to dawn on me as I shifted my feet and jumped back, kicking upward using the mana inside me as the control point and linked with the river mana, joining it together and sending a large splash at riajuu’s face.
He spluttered and stood there with a strange expression on his face, panting hard and looking at me with curious eyes the anger seemingly subdued for the time being.
“Enough! You can stop now Red. Good job, boy” Master called out and flapped over to land on Riajuu’s shoulder. “I told ye he could learn when he’s under pressure.”