The Pagemasters Vol 1 Chapter 14

 


Author: Literataku


Chapter 14:
I See Last Year’s Calendar

I stared at them a moment not quite comprehending what had just been said. Was this all just an attempt to get me to use my powers in combat? I let go of my staff, unsummoning it, and walked out of the stream toward them.

“So Harmon-san wasn’t trying to really attack me?”

“Call me Red, Blue-kun. As much as I want to kick the shit out of you, I was told to hold back while letting you think I wasn’t going to. I was moving a lot slower and purposefully making sure I didn’t actually hurt you. If this had been a real fight you’d been dead after the first couple of swings. Especially once you hit the dirt.”

A part of me was feeling a little indignant at this insinuation of my poor skills, but even I had to admit, very grudgingly, that he was right. A guy whose only fighting experience was copying anime fights without any real awareness was probably going to die fast in a world like this.

“Yer real fighting capabilities weren’t the point of the exercise. All that mattered was getting yer brain into gear and solving the problem ye faced. Using yer abilities as a Pagemaster in combat like experience. And you did quite well to get the hang of water, though ye still can get faster with more practice..”

I was still trying to calm myself down from the attack even as he spoke, my hands were still stinging from the strength of the blows I had received with my staff.

“So that was what you were talking about learning faster while fighting, Master. I’m not sure how much of a grasp I have on it though.”
Master chuckled and turned to me. A quick hop and a flap of his wings to land on my shoulder. “Ye are learning quite fast enough. Things yer doing right now took me months of work. And in less than a day you got the hang of manipulating water and a good grasp on how to wield it faster.

“The next step is learning to wield water without making contact, and increasing power to make it more effective as a tool you can wield to fight with. You must learn how anything at your disposal can be wielded to aid you.”

Riajuu, I mean Red, nodded his head sagely. “Everything in this field could be used in a fight, even if it’s not something you can directly control with magic. You could have thrown dirt in my face, a rock, actively tried to run into the trees to limit my sword swings. If I can’t put power in the strike it’s easier to defend against if I don’t know how to attack with precision.”

I listen to his commentary, feeling a blush on my cheeks as I realized how much of an idiot I was during our fight. Ponting out my mistakes, I could see I was completely under his control, played like and puppet dancing to the tune of his sword.

“The moment you do nothing but react to your opponent, you’ve lost the fight. Always think about how to turn the tide, to escape if you have no chance of winning, to be sure that if you have the advantage you keep it. Being aware of your surroundings and your opponent is the key to survival.”

“Now take what he has given ye to heart. We’ll give ye a better chance to learn some real fighting after magic lessons and lunch. Now ye are going to teach Red how to use regular spells.”

I wasn’t sure how much Red would need to be trained by me. He seemed to have a good grasp on summoning, and from the state of the demon corpses at the village he could wield fire. I asked him about that first.

“I watched a tutorial movie from my HUD. It gave me the basics on summoning, but the fire is something I created to happen with the sword itself. Watch.”

He reached forth and called his sword again, but this time I noticed something different. Using both hands he called forth, the katana but it was sheathed to my surprise. Gripping the hilt in one hand and the sheath in the other he took a stance for Iaijutsu. Unsheathing almost faster than I could see, the blade caught fire as it was drawn out. Looking at the sword I could see some sort of glimmering as if there was oil coating the blade.

But, It’s so unfair that his HUD seems to be better than mine! Videos? I didn’t even get that option when Mr. Paperclip, damn him, had offered me a tutorial. Though on the other hand with Master I had someone who could teach personally and get feedback on what I was doing right or wrong.

“Inside the sheath is lamp oil and the outer edge is like flint, with a fast enough draw I can do this.”

“That would have never occurred to me,” I admitted with a bit of admiration in my voice. It was certainly an impressive technique to come up with. I don’t think I would have ever guessed that my summoning ability could make something like oil for fire, though I suppose since Master had made a comment about a gun before the bullets needed gunpowder unless you were firing magic.

Red smiled going through a few stances in kenjutsu before unsummoning the blade and sheath. “It was designed off a villain’s weapon from an old manga I enjoyed. It does the job, but it’d probably be easier if I could actively wield flames instead. I only have until the oil burns off with this technique.”

I see, so I was the only one here who could actively use magic and manipulation then. Well, Master might be able to but he seems to only do it when he absolutely has to.

“So what is your command spell?”

Red smiled and pulled out the card. “|{Sharpen}|”

Master made a noise of approval from my shoulder. “Not bad, a good utility word that compliments your fighting style and weapon. It’s a good choice for a warrior. But you still need to learn the other magic.”

Teaching Red turned to be something of an unusually difficult task, while he could understand the concept fairly well it appeared that his own way to use mana and power was slightly different from how I used mine.

“I can feel it, but it’s not a flow it’s more like it’s centered in one place.”

I frowned and looked over to Master. “Master, is each element a different kind of mana?”

Master to my surprise shrugged at the question. “I was the only one of my generation. My teacher was of the same element so I didn’t have anyone to teach me of any differences. You might have been able to learn from me for magic because earth and plants have similar traits to water on how energy travels through them.”

Well, this was an interesting problem.

“So… Perhaps you have to move the mana inside you the same way fire spreads?”

Red was making a complicated expression. Holding out his hand and summoning his blade. His face filled with determination, he focused and began working on his own way to work with the mana inside him. I could really only watch since I had no way to provide any help in this situation.

He stood like that for around thirty minutes longer before unsummoning his blade in frustration and sitting on the ground with a grunt of dissatisfaction. It appeared he was going to need time to learn regular magic. For now, I had a feeling our group composition was going to be me trying to support him with magic when we fight any enemies or monsters that we’ll encounter.

We had a simple lunch of the dried meats that seems to ever replenish in our carry packs, I was starting to get tired of just this but it was at least filling and seemed to help with recovery of mana and pain relief.

I crafted a small short sword I could wield one handed so I could summon my staff for magic as needed. Red started off with teaching the basics of sword swings and parries, copying my sword design so we would be evenly matched as far as reach went.

For sparring I got to attack for a change while he merely defended with the sword, no dirty tricks were allowed on his part until I got closer to his level. Which even while just defending it was easy to see the difference in our skills, he was moving to block before I even swung at times. Attempted feints and thrusts were parried or saw through almost instantly.

“You are giving too much away with your body and eyes. I can see what you are planning faster than you are thinking about it. You’re shifting too much of your weight when you are committing to a strike. Your eyes go to where you are swinging before you even start.”

I listened and tried to adjust things, adding in my staff occasionally to mix things up. I was forbidden from magic during this, though for the moment most of my spells weren’t that useful for fighting.

“Use your surroundings. This isn’t like a video game. Anything can be used as a weapon or distraction by either of us. Don’t go blind to anything here or you might be caught off guard.”

We kept at this until Master finally called us to a halt. He seemed to look pleased with the results though I never managed to breakthrough Red’s guard or land a single hit. I half wondered if he was a competitor back in our world, ti would be interesting to see how a swordsman from this world would do against him.

“It’s starting to get late, we should get back to the village before dark. The demons will get bolder this close to their land if we stay for too long at night. Ye both are doing good. With luck, we’ll be ready before the story magic coalesces into its full form.”

That’s a flag raising comment, Master. Please let’s not have any more of those for a little while. I don’t want to have another incident like yesterday jump us again.

Fortunately, our return to the village was uneventful, which was good since my body was sore from all the swordplay. There wasn’t really a place for us to stay, I hastily declined the offer to stay in the daughter’s bed again, especially once it was said she would be sleeping in it too. Sorry, but I am not really interested in being subject to matchmaking attempts with yobai.

The summer weather was nice enough camping outside seemed to be a nice idea. After getting a thick fur to cover hay to sleep on. Getting the straw to not be stabby took a little effort but after it was straightened out it was good enough.

One of the families shared some porridge for dinner with us, which I wasn’t going to complain about having something more than dried foods at all. It was filling enough and we thanked them before getting settled down in our little camping spot near the center of the village, my exhaustion carried me off into sleep as soon as I settled down on the makeshift bed.


 


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