After letting my anger settle about the king fixing the bracket, I began to consider what Juire had been telling me. Perhaps there is more to Incha than there appears to be. Since nobody got to see how he fights there is no telling what kind of threat he could be, no matter how weak he appears.
I only have until tomorrow, but I might as well spend the time I have polishing the one advantage I have going into the next round.
“Shishou! I want you to teach me how to use a sword!” I say with a determined bow
“Not gonna happen.” He responds nonchalantly as he picks his ear with his pinky
His figured perched on top of a large boulder in the park could not be any less dignified if he tried.
I say nothing as my face flushes red. Whether it is out of anger, or embarrassment of my one-sided determination I cannot tell.
“In the first place, you only have until tomorrow. Anything I could teach you in that time would only serve to make you weaker as you ignored your own battle instinct to try and use what I taught you.” He continued as he flicked earwax from his finger in my direction
Anger. Definitely anger.
“Alright then, I suppose I’ll just do a bit of image training then. After all, I have to get myself used to the weight of my touched up sword before tommorow~” I say as I draw my sword
“Alright but don’t tire yo- WOAH!” Shishou says as he jumps off of the boulder I sliced in two
“Oh, were you up there? Sorry about that. I suppose I got too focused on my image training.” I say as I take up a stance and face him
“Hmph, I see. Then perhaps I should do a little training myself. I don’t want to get rusty before I have the chance to beat some sense into this disciple now, do I?” Shishou says as he picks up a nearby stick
The stance he takes is different from any he has taken before however, and an air of intimidation radiates from him. He looks serious. Perhaps I went too far in provoking him?
As these thoughts pass through my head Shishou lunges forward at an incredible speed. Despite still being quite some ways away, in a single step he has managed to close the gap enough to strike. I instinctively move to avoid the incoming attack, but I’m powerless against it. He jabbed my stomach hard enough to knock the wind out of me… and yet his measly stick doesn’t even seem damaged.
I begin to ready a skill… but decided against it. I need to prepare myself for the next round. I need to try not to rely on skills or magic, even against an opponent like Shihou. After all, I have an advantage in this fight with or without them.
I charge at Shishou with a strike, and as soon as I am within range I lunge my sword at his chest.
“Naive!” He yells as he smacks my sword to the side
Moments later the stick he was holding explodes into fragments. Even the part he is holding shatters into chunks of wood and falls through his grip.
“You know, I’ve been wondering about that for a while. Despite both of us being able to land blows that can easily break stone and wood, somehow your makeshift weapons seem to be able to withstand the backlash of those blows. At first, I simply thought that it was due to your level of mastery, but after a while, I started to have my doubts. You infuse them with magic, don’t you? The same way I do with my sword.” I say as I revel in the look of surprise on Shishou’s face
“Indeed. When your stats begin to rise you start running into the issue of your gear not holding up anymore. So long as you give a steady flow of magic to an object, however, it will share your strength and durability. However different materials have different capacities for mana. Typically if you exceed that capacity the objects will fall apart, like my stick just now.” Shishou explains
As he explains, however, a faint glow begins to form around his hand and begins to take shape.
“If however, you have enough mana and a strong enough image in your head, you can bypass the object entirely and manifest a weapon.” He continues as a crystal blue rapier forms in his hand
The phantasmically transparent material combined with the near crystalline structure of the blade is quite something to look at. It almost looks like an exhibit in an art gallery.
Something odd happens in my attempts to admire it, however. As if I had blinked, Shishou disappears with nothing but a light breeze from his surroundings to acknowledge that he was even there in the first place. Before I have time to react to this astounding sight, however, I feel a sharp cold prick on my neck followed by an equally cold voice.
“What I’m curious about however is how it is that you managed to introduce extra mana to my weapon with a strike? While we are at it, why don’t you tell me all about that strange weapon you showed up with?” Shishou says from behind me
In the corner of my vision, I can the see the edge of the crystal blade he formed moments ago. The cold feeling on my neck is clearly his blade.
“I literally have no idea what you are talking about! I just thought if I pumped my weapon full of more magic than yours I could break your stick!” I say in a slight panic
Shishou is probably the only person aside from the Yuusha that I could trust without a doubt could kill me.
“And the sword? I’ve never seen that material before. How can it hold such a large amount of Mana?” Shishou ask as he presses the blade slightly into my neck
“It’s just magical iron! Tea said it became like this while he was crafting it, he doesn’t know why!” I explain
I do my best to lie without saying anything false. If Shishou checks my story and finds out I lied things could turn out badly, but he would get suspicious if I tell him it became like this from being infused with my mana.
Shishou falls silent for a moment or two before releasing me from his grip, but his face still looks serious as he holds out his hand.
“Let me see it.” He says simply
I do as he says as hand my weapon over, trying to hide my nervousness.
“Is this… cursed?” He asks as he looks closely at the blade
A faint shimmering begins to appear around his hand as he hovers it a few inches over the blade.
Is that a skill? Maybe I should check his status?… No, not right now. I don’t think I’m out of the water yet. Since normal people can only see names and levels from status it would be suspicious for me to use it in this circumstance.
“That’s… great! Cursed weapons inherently have abilities infused in them! This one must be able to flood others weapons with your mana! With this, the next round should be a breeze. Mana infusion is fair game in the second round, so all you need to do is shatter your opponent’s weapon using this technique!” Shishou gushes as gleams with joy at the blade
“If it’s using an ability to shatter the weapons, wouldn’t it still be against the rules?” I ask as I try to subtly ask for it back
I know he’s not going to break it, but it makes me nervous to be separated from it for some reason? Was I always this attached to my sword?
“Cursed and enchanted weapons are allowed due to their rarity, but I doubt anybody has ever used a cursed weapon in the tournament before.” He answers as he returns the blade to me
“Why’s that?” I ask
“Simple, this is a pretty heavy distraction for most.” Shishou says as he presents the hand he was holding my sword in
The parts that were gripping the sword have turned a stark red, and blisters seem to be forming
“The backlash from a cursed weapon hurts whoever is in contact with it. Seems this one gives a pretty nasty burn to its victim. Though your dainty hands seem to be just fine.” He says with a raised eyebrow
“Really? If it supposed to be burning than I think I know why. For some reason, I don’t burn easily. Once when I was a kid I got stuck in a fire, and I hardly had any burns at all when they got me out.” I explain as casually as I can muster
It’s true that I was born with a fire resistance, but I suspect that has to do with being the Maou. I don’t know if it’s something that normal people can get, so I need to play it off like I don’t know why I have it.
“A skill from birth? Or perhaps one that developed from the stress of being trapped in a burning building as a kid?… Regardless, these two strokes of luck will work perfectly in our favor!” Shishou ponders to himself happily
“Not that I don’t appreciate the enthusiasm, but why are you so invested in me winning? You didn’t seem to care if I even joined just a few days ago.” I ask slightly confused
Shishou freezes in place, and his eyes dart away so they don’t meet mine.
“Ah.. well… y-you see! I’m a bit low on funds you know! So I might have… bet on you to win?” He says sheepishly
“That’s… not a bad idea. I should get Kera to bet our money on that as well.” I say as I consider the option
There is already a payout for winning, but I see no reason not to profit a bit more on the side.
“Why do you seem nervous about that though? I’m flattered that you think I’m going to win, but you might want to put in a little more effort training me! Sure the next round seems in the bag, but I have to face Afeuro in the third!” I try to scold Shishou
“Weeeeell, that’s kind of the thing about it. I bet more on Afuero. Sorry kid, but chances of you being able to beat the legendary monster slayer after a month of proper training is slim, even for you. You couldn’t even hold a sword properly when I met you…” Shishou says while giving a sharp glare at my hand
“Scratch that, you still can’t hold a sword properly.” he says with a slight sneer
“If you win the next round I’ll get two payouts though, so fight for us both!” He says with a hearty chuckle as he begins walking towards the remnants of his rock
As a thank you for his heartfelt pep talk I decide to give him a gift and throw one of the rocks he seems to love so much at the back of his head.