“You really surprised us there, Youma”
“Sorry for the suddenness”
“Better tell that to Lylian. I am just sitting here as usual”
“I must have given a discouraging job to her”
“Actually, I think you should worry about that little kid. Lylian holds no prejudice towards the beast race, but that makes her more dangerous when nursing”
“Haha, well, no choice. She’s been a great help, so having her indulge won’t be bad”
“You can only say that because you are not the one under her scalpel”
As usual, I was sitting in the living room of the Freyhart residence with Ethan.
After running back from the slums, we both received the healing of Lylian. I was healed pretty fast, but Kiur’s injuries date back to the time at the Slave Market. The ones he received there were bigger than expected.
When Lylian saw Kiur, she made a face I have never seen before. It was not one of disgust from seeing a beast race; it was one of surprise and worry. What was reflected in her eyes was an injured person.
It was the first time I thought of her as a real nurse.
I could leave him in her care without any worries.
“By the way, where’s Elinalise? Even though we made so much noise, she hasn’t come. Is she not in her room?”
“Lady Elinalise has gone to the Adventurer Guild. It seems she wanted to finish her training as soon as possible”
“Heh~, how diligent of her”
“If only that diligence were aimed for a different reason…”
Looks like Elinalise recovered faster than expected. She stood on her own two feet and has quickly decided to go to the Adventurer Guild. All on her own nonetheless.
I felt proud at her fast growth and it seems Ethan feels the same.
With a satisfied face, he repeats his gratitude for who knows how many times already.
I gave a wry smile and take out something from my pocket. The badge and the dagger I received from Ethan.
“Speaking of gratitude, thanks Ethan. This badge, dagger, and your directions helped me a lot. I don’t know what would be of me without them”
“So you really were targeted, right?”
Crossing his arms, Ethan said this with a completely confident voice and a smug face. He already knew the answer but still wanted me to say it.
I sigh and yield.
“I was targeted in many ways. That slave merchant was incredibly stubborn”
“You were even attacked as you left. Really, coming with injuries was outside my expectations. I am truly surprised that you managed to escape safely”
Well, not escape, I actually killed them both, but there’s no need to tell him that much.
A scenario of me being attacked was already taken into account and the slums is a place where human life just doesn’t hold the same value.
Even if a person or two die, not a single person would bat an eye.
“They both used something called ‘Battle Armor’ and were able to tell my rank at a glance”
I easily tell this to Ethan.
When he heard this, he paralyzes.
“… Youma, leaving aside measuring ranks, you… don’t know how to use Battle Armor? Aren’t you a physical fighter?”
So it really is common sense in this world.
“Yeah. My teacher has only taught me how to fight and never taught me anything related to mana. He always said: ‘Learn with your body!’. Maybe that’s why”
“What a rough teacher you had there. Well, that makes that teacher of yours even more impressive”
After accepting my statement that was not that far from the truth, Ethan proceeds to explain.
Seems like Battle Armor is a technique used by all close combat fighters. Cladding themselves with a strong aura, they protect themselves from attacks which are more likely to occur at the front. Some jobs specialize solely on fortifying this aura and their fighting style revolves around this.
Battle Armor differs from magic. They both work with mana but it seems Battle Armor is more of an instinctive type and not a systematic type like magic.
That’s why, even without knowing magic, one can still use Battle Armor.
Consequently, if you don’t clad yourself in Battle Armor beforehand, the body of a human is normally weak. Of course, it can still be trained to a certain extent. That’s why surprise attacks are highly effective against humans.
Regarding the measuring of ranks, Ethan and Lylian were easily able to tell my rank, but I thought that was something that came out from experience. Even in my world, there are people who are able to tell the strength of someone else with a glance and I was able to do so as well. But when those thugs were able to do it too, I felt that it might be something completely different.
“Youma, you are unable to tell ranks yet, that’s because you still can’t see mana fluctuations. What you are trying to achieve in your magic training is exactly that. As you get more experienced in it, you can gauge the ranks of people by the purity of their mana”
I see. I can still tell the levels of people that are lower and slightly stronger than me, but being able to tell the strength of someone several times stronger is impossible for my current self. More reason to quickly learn this skill.
“Hey Youma, since you don’t know much about Battle Armor, how about trying it out with me? It will be good experience”
Ethan gets up, a dreadful aura gushing out from his body. I could feel the temperature in the living room lowering. My body stiffened in an instant.
This is exactly how I felt when I first met Shishou. I remember, I instantly passed out. I was a brat at that time. Now that I think back, I’m surprised I didn’t pee myself.
Shishou called this a greeting. Mom and Dad severely reprimanded Shishou the next day though.
Not only did Shishou not stop, he did it every day I went to train. He did feel sorry saying that he overdid it the first time, so he weakened the pressure and slowly increased the output as I got stronger.
Right now it felt exactly like that. An opponent so overwhelming that I can’t stand a chance no matter how I try.
This pressure is definitely not only from Battle Armor. But this also makes my confidence firmer that maybe this Battle Armor is really similar to the one I know in my world.
I can somehow tell that there’s something surrounding the body of Ethan. Comparing this aura to the two thugs I fought before would be an insult.
A terrifying aura that freezes your body with its mere presence.
“Oh? You are still conscious”
Ethan narrows his eyes and makes a slight voice of surprise.
“Were you aiming to knock me out? Please spare me from that. I still have many things to do for the day”
With an apologize that had no seriousness in it, Ethan lowers the output and I was finally able to breathe properly.
“Can I ask your rank?”
3 ranks higher than those thugs. There’s this much difference.
“Now, go ahead Youma. Come at me with everything you have”
Placing the dagger on the table, Ethan lifts both arms and urges me to take a stab.
I accept that offer. Experience is definitely something that can serve me a lot. This will let me gauge the power levels in this world. A valuable chance.
“Well then, I will take this opportunity”
Grabbing the dagger, I whisper: “[Limit Break]” and then, preparing my stance, I lunge at Ethan and shout:
I feel my muscles heating up and my arm bursting in strength. The grip in my dagger tightened and with no hesitation, I aim at Ethan’s abdomen.
The moment it made contact, I felt as if the dagger had collided with a wall of steel. It immediately bends unable to resist the impact and breaks in pieces.
… This is definitely not a scenario that would normally play in my world.
A dagger couldn’t go through the flesh of a human. Even Shishou would have to avoid a dagger or deflect the attack. In my world, strength is measured by the skill of the person. But what happened in front of me was something that clearly deviated from that notion.
The moment I attacked, no, even before that, I knew that it would be useless. The concept of levels in real life doesn’t exist, but in this world it does. Just that simple truth is enough to turn around the knowledge of fighting I know of.
Rank 7. Without caring about skills or personal ability, this numerical wall was enough to actually break any hopes to fight. No matter if I use all the techniques I have honed in my previous world on him, I am sure that he would be able to just stand in place and take it all. In an upfront fight, defeating Ethan would be impossible.
I have read stories about knights taking mountain-leveling attacks from massive monsters, but I didn’t believe much in it since it sounded highly exaggerated. Now that I have learned of this Battle Armor, that possibility sounds plausible.
I used both [Limit Break] and [Heavy Blow], and yet, I couldn’t get through. Not even the skin, heck, I couldn’t even get through the clothes.
“Impressive, I trembled for a moment there Youma”
Did you really?
I couldn’t tell because of the rebound impact on my body.
“… Sorry, it seems I have broken another weapon of yours”
“Don’t mind it. It was bound to break”
So you already knew this would happen.
I felt the air grow back to normal.
“How was it? Did you learn something?”
“… Yeah. That you have a pretty messed up personality”
“Haha, consider this as a small payment in regards to Lady Elinalise”
For some reason, I felt what he said had more than one meaning behind it.
But well, I got to experience the Battle Armor of a rank 7. And I feel like I might have a clue in how to use it.
Now I just need to wait for Kiur to get back up.
“And… they are gone again”
“Yup. Little Eli has the worst of lucks”
“It is sad that I can’t say no”
After Kiur recovered, both Youma and him left the Freyhart residence.
Standing in the entrance looking at the direction both have headed to, were the bodyguards of Elinalise: Lylian and Ethan.
They were grieving at the luck of their own master.
Elinalise misses Youma almost every time he comes.
The moment Elinalise told the both of them that she was heading to the Adventurer Guild, they couldn’t hide their astonishment, happiness, and worry.
Astonished by the fact that she has recovered so fast and has decided to go to the Adventurer Guild alone; happy that she has found the courage to face her fear; and worry because they felt that she might be hurrying it.
Every bit of this decision was brought by the influence of Youma. They knew this clearly.
Youma will be leaving the capital soon and Elinalise will have to finish before he does so.
Youma won’t be able to stay with her all the time, and he can’t accompany her at every instance to the Adventurer Guild.
This step is a necessary one if she wants to leave the capital together with Youma.
They both knew this well. Her current reason and resolve are all made possible because of him.
But that’s exactly why they worry for the future.
They could only pray to Goddess Izara that Elinalise can head through a good path.
Of course, they will do their best, but their position makes it hard to help her in the most crucial moments.
“You know, that Kiur kid was really interesting”
“So you really researched his body”
“Obviously! Do you know how many times I have had a chance to heal a beast race? Only 3! And they were all adults. This is my first time with a kid. It would be an insult to not thoroughly examine him”
Lylian spins as she goes inside the house again.
Ethan just smiles wryly and follows behind her. Of course, walking normally.
“And? Did you get anything from him?”
“He was healthy! Like reaaally healthy!”
“Oh, that’s surprising”
This doesn’t happen in the central Slave Market but, normally, after being forced to those conditions, the slaves at the slums have one or more diseases. The buyer is required to purify the slave after purchase. But for the boy to be healthy was a honest surprise.
“Not only that. You wouldn’t believe what I found out” Lylian skips in excitement.
“Come on, just tell me already”
“You see, if Elinalise is bad luck, Youma is the very definition of lucky”
Lylian excitedly tells Ethan her findings, and the more he heard, the more his expression dyes in surprise.
In the end of all, Ethan had lost the strength in his legs and falls onto the couch.
“… He certainly has the devil’s luck”
Getting that kid at a reduced price, obtaining a deal in thought link, safely escaping the attack of two thugs in the slums, and now this. It is true that Youma made those things possible, but Ethan couldn’t help think this way.
“Actually, that’s not the only interesting thing”
“What, that beast boy has even more than what you told me?”
“Nope nope, this time I am talking about Youma” Moving her index finger left and right, Lylian makes an impish smile and continues speaking.
“When I was healing Youma, I found traces of poison”
“!! Poison?! He didn’t look poisoned at all though”
“I found traces. When I was treating him, it was slowly fading away already. At that density, it doesn’t show any symptoms on the exterior. His body was passively expelling the harmful substance. Aah… if only he had deeper wounds, I would have had an excuse to inspect his body more”
Lylian was pouting in disappointment, but Ethan didn’t respond. He just made a look as if pondering and after a while, he said: “From my knowledge, there are indeed skills similar to what you said, but they are all skills that can only be obtained at rank 5 and they have to be casted in order to take effect. Moreover, the effectivity is low is early ranks. Not only that, they exist, but none are passive. Lylian do you know of any?”
“Pumph, Ethan, if I did, I wouldn’t be this interested!”
The reason that enchanted accessories are so sought for is exactly because of this. Humans have no way to obtain passive resistances to abnormal effects aside from accessories. There exist ways to cure them, but they are very specific skills and are limited to certain jobs like the one Lylian has and they all have to be casted before use.
Inside Ethan, the first diagnosis of Youma he received from Lylian resounded heavily in his mind at this moment.
“And? What was the noise down here? You even used your aura. Did you have a fight with Youma?”
“There’s no way I would. Youma didn’t know about Battle Armor, so I taught him a little bit”
“Taught him you say. Ethan~ did your bad habit come out?”
Lylian gets close to Ethan and pokes fun at him. She was sure that he wasn’t actually serious though, since Youma was still able to walk away normally.
“… It did”
“I accidentally went serious on him”
Ethan hangs his head down in shame.
This time Lylian was the one who froze.
“Come on Ethan, a rank 2 wouldn’t be able to take the pressure of a rank 7. Don’t joke around”
Ethan stays silent and just throws a broken dagger down the floor.
“Youma managed to break this dagger with his attack”
“I was in doubt when Youma broke the sword we gave him… but after witnessing this today, at the very least, I can understand how he managed to do it”
A wry smile was etched in the face of Ethan as he lets his body sink into couch, seemingly losing all strength.
“Also, Lylian, don’t feign ignorance. You should have noticed as well. Youma is no longer rank 2. He is rank 3. By the time he went to the slums he was 2 and now he is 3. I think it is impossible, but I just can’t brush off the possibility”
In the slums, there’s no one lower than rank 3. Everyone lower than that wouldn’t be able to survive in the main streets of the slums after all.
Cold sweat ran down the cheek of Ethan. In his mind, thoughts of a scenario completely outside the boundaries of common sense were welling up.
Regarding these matters, the eyes of Lylian are sharper. There’s no way she didn’t notice.
Lylian sat beside Ethan, but instead of sinking into the couch, she leans her body on him. Her face didn’t have a wry smile like Ethan, she had a genuine smile like that of a child looking forward to the future.
“Maybe Lady Eli isn’t that unlucky after all”
“… Please, just don’t continue this topic”
“Jealous Ethan is cute”
“And you are annoying”
The two bodyguards look at the broken dagger, both of them holding different expectations and fears.
I actually killed two people.
Not only that. I even looted their bodies. 3 gold, weapons, armor, and some magic stones.
The reality began to sink as I walk through the boisterous streets of Arnesti.
I didn’t have a choice. My current self is weak beyond words. Today I learned this thoroughly. My legs were still shaking from the backlash of [Speed Burst] as if reminding me of this truth.
I know too little of this world. Battle Armor and the ability to see ranks by their mana purity; those things were said to be basic. The battles in this world lean heavily on ranks and the usage of skills. That [Cleave] and [Backstab], as well as the abnormal increases in speed when the goblin-faced man got my back; they are all foreign in my comprehension. Who knows what would have happened if I didn’t finish them properly. Maybe Kiur would have been killed. I might not even be standing here right now.
Is what I continuously repeat in my mind as I state the events that led to such a conclusion.
‘Choosing is a luxury of the strong’ – these were the words of Shishou. It is true in my previous world and even more so in this world.
Just like how a person can survive when stranded in an island if they know how to fish, the amount of choices one has depends on one’s abilities.
But my current self is not strong at all.
As it slowly seeps into me, I calm down and stop my feet.
A small open store is in front of me. Several weapons and armors lined up; people that looked the part were browsing inside.
“Hmm… old man Gaund is still not here”
This is the store of the smith Gaund, but for the last days, I haven’t been able to meet him. He has been cooped inside his workshop. Most definitely concentrating fully in the creation of my weapon.
I underestimated the difficulty of making weapons.
He has been full-time making my weapon without a sign of coming out to tend his store. In his stead, there’s the assistant boy that I met the day I requested my weapon.
“Hey there assistant. Is old man Gaund still inside?”
“Oh, Sir Youma. Yes, master Gaund has been doing his best. This is the first time I have seen him concentrating in one job so much. Sir Youma must have asked for quite the weapon”
“It seems I did. But I didn’t come here just to check the status”
“Of course. Sir Youma has been a great customer. What can I get you today?”
“… I would like you to drop all that formality, but I already know it is futile. Today I am here for this kid”
I take off the hood of the kid that has been silent until now. Two round furry ears peek out from it and sharp yellow eyes glare at the assistant.
“Hiih! A beast race!”
Frightened, the assistant screams this by reflex.
All the people browsing the store turn their eyes and even the people outside turn to look.
I take a deep breath and exhale.
“Yes, he is a slave I just bought. I wanted to know if you have something that might be of use for him”
I pat on his collar and make it ring, letting the people know it is owned ‘goods’.
They quickly lose interest and continue their business. It isn’t rare for a beast race to be in the city as a slave. The problem was the scream this scaredy assistant made.
“I apologize for that. I am not used to attending beast race in this store”
Noticing his blunder, he makes a small bow and wipes his cold sweat.
(What’s this, stupid human? Why have you brought me to such a useless store?)
(We are here to get you a weapon and some equipment)
Hearing this, Kiur creased his brows in doubt and makes an expression as if hearing the most ridiculous thing in his life.
(Weapon? Equipment? Stupid! The Striped Lion’s very body is a weapon and their prided armor!)
(Yeah, I get that. But I want you to get used to the human way. You will see that it has its uses)
(Are you telling me to throw away my principle?! My whole Pride’s principle?!)
(I’m telling you to be more flexible. I won’t force you, but at least choose something for now. It might help in the future)
(Tch, if I am not going to use it, don’t even bother getting it)
This boy is pretty stubborn.
He turns his back at me and crosses his arms.
“Um, Sir Youma?”
The assistant calls me. From an outsider’s point of view, I most likely just fell silent. And with the assistant in the impression that he offended me, he must have taken my silence in the wrong way.
“It’s nothing. How about it, can you get anything that might suit him?”
“Hmm, looking at his body, maybe leather armor and a chainmail would suit him better. And judging by his race, he must be a lion. I would say steel gauntlets that don’t hinder the usage of his claws and increase the weight of his pounces would serve nicely. In regards to the leather armor, I can recommend you a good tailor a few streets away”
This time I was genuinely speechless.
He may look unreliable, but it seems he isn’t standing in this store for nothing.
“Umm, sir Youma…”
“Yeah, if you can please gather your suggested items. And also, tell me about that store. It would be a great help”
He makes a stiff salutation and begins gathering everything in quick pace.
I sometimes feel like he has the wrong impression of me.
The wait was not long.
Equipment was lined up on the desk and the assistant was explaining me the reasons of his decision.
The picks were pretty accurate. The only thing I dislike is the attitude Kiur is taking, but I suppose it can’t be helped. I am imposing on him after all. I just hope he can understand in a near future.
Buying the equipment that costed 27 silvers in total, I thank the assistant and once again ask him to give my regards to old man Gaund.
Since equipment the size of Kiur is not available, the assistant took his measurements and promised to have it ready in 4 days. The day I will be getting my weapon.
(You have made a useless purchase, stupid human)
(I hope not)
It was already getting late, so I decide to return to the inn. It has been a tiring day. Returning early would be nice.
“Sorry Youma, but this inn doesn’t allow beasts”
The moment I return to the inn, an obstacle appears before me.
Noticing that the boy beside me is a beast, the inn keeper stops me in my steps.
He is showing me a serious face that I have never seen from him.
Thinking about it, I should have known something like this might happen.
“Is there any place for this boy to rest?”
I don’t push him into letting Kiur stay.
The face of the inn keeper softens. Shaking his head, he says:
“… There are places at the center of the capital that have separate stables for slaves. But they are quite far away from the gates. They are closer to the market street though”
Hmm, it is true that it is pretty inconvenient. It may be a central position,but this place is closer to everywhere I want to go.
“Come on dear. He can stay in Youma’s-”
The inn keeper’s wife tries to convince him, but it was shot down instantly.
“It is okay. Thanks for your concern”
“Youma, are you leaving?”
Auntie asks me with a worried expression. I have been staying here for a while and I have really warmed up to the people here.
I can tell that they are actually struggling.
(Kiur, how about living in the forest for a while?)
(I prefer that over staying in a place filled with stinky humans)
(Glad to hear that)
“I will be back”
“Don’t mind it”
I take Kiur and temporarily leave the inn.
This time it was the gates. I ask the guards about having Kiur leaving temporarily while I stayed in the city. It seems it was okay. As long as I registered his and my information, I can let him leave. People with slaves also utilize the slaves to run errands for them, so it wasn’t strange for them to separate from their masters.
By the way, having Thought Link is obligatory. I’m glad I got it.
(Well then Kiur, if anything happens, tell me)
(Don’t bother me)
Without even saying goodbye, Kiur walks away towards the Forest of Beginnings.
Looking at him departing, I surprisingly didn’t feel any worry.
That kid is strong. In that fight at the slums, he made it clear. Even against enemies several times stronger, he didn’t flinch and counter attacked every time he was given the chance.
I can rest assured that no mana beast in that forest can go against him. Also, avoid all human contact. Even if he runs into hostile humans, I have ordered him to report to me and don’t fight unless completely necessary.
His meals can all be provided by the mana beasts there and it can double as recovering the wild instincts that should have dulled.
Two birds in one stone.
The only sad thing is that I won’t be able to bond with him, but no need to push it.
I return to the inn and train a bit at their backyard.
This time, I concentrate on the sensation of Battle Armor I picked up today.
The fresher the sensation is, the better.
In the end, I don’t know if I managed to, but I felt like I did succeed in using it. I felt as if my body was wrapped in something immaterial for a second there. It may be a small step, but it certainly did show a reaction.
This Battle Armor consumes something different from mana. It was a source similar to my world. Some call it Ki, Chakra, but since it uses the Stamina bar, I’m not sure if to call it stamina. It doesn’t sound right. But I certainly feel that even if different, it is still connected to mana.
I feel better and decide to call it a day early.
But once I arrive to my room, I couldn’t bring myself to sleep.
“Let’s train a bit more”
Muttering this, I continue refining the sensation of Battle Armor and put into practice the concept of seeing mana purity by peeking out the window of my room and looking at the people passing by.
When I was sufficiently exhausted and it was already late in the night, I take a shower with the bucket of water provided by the inn and jump onto my hard bed.
Making one big yawn, I make a late night call.
(Good night Kiur~)