On a day in October when I was 8 years old:
“”””Ashera, happy birthday!””””
Blessings and cheerful voices echoed from everyone.
“Thank you very much. Thank you so much for all you have done for me.”
With the well-wishes from everyone, Ashera had a beaming smile.
“Ashera, congratulations. You’re now 10 years old, and we’ll begin your training in Mana transformations. Work harder than ever.”
“Yes, Master. I’ll work even harder.”
“Happy birthday, Ashera.”
“Thank you, Clara.”
Clara was offering her blessings to Ashera… she’s adorable.
“Ashera, congratulations. I hope you’ll continue to be a good friend to Aldo and Elphus, and if you want, I wouldn’t mind if you became a companion as well.”
“Thank you, Joshua-sama. For now… a good… friend… mumble mumble.”
Ashera blushed and mumbled something.
Lastly, it was our turn.
“Ashera, happy birthday.”
“Ashera-nee, happy birthday.”
“Thank you both. Starting today, I’ll be learning Mana transformations. I’m going ahead!”
She had a bit of a mischievous look on her face, knowing she’d be the only one learning Mana transformations.
(Damn it, I want to learn Mana transformations too. Even if I read magic books, they don’t contain that information.)
It seems that Mana manipulation and Mana transformations are intentionally hidden to prevent accidents and misuse.
(They probably have a mentorship system in place for that.)
I understood, but I still wanted to learn Mana transformations.
“Mom, is it really impossible for me to learn Mana transformations?”
“…Hmm, only the very basics?”
“Really? Is it okay?”
“Only the very, very basics, alright? But then, you won’t be able to use magic. Is that alright with you?”
“That’s okay, that’s okay! Yes!”
“I won’t teach you anything to the extent that you’d be thrilled about it…”
While I understood that it wasn’t a major shift in my abilities, my mom seemed to be willing to teach me the very basics of Mana transformations.
Naptime was long gone for us. Now, it was only Clara who took afternoon naps.
“Well, today I’ll teach you Mana transformations. Pay close attention.”
Mom was going to teach us the basics of Mana transformations, explaining that the essence of magic is to understand the phenomena deeply enough to change them easily.
“Let me explain the steps. First, meditate. Then, try not to move magic but change its nature, making it hard like stone or soft like clay.”
We started practicing immediately. However, it was made clear that magic resonance was prohibited for this beginner’s lesson.
I started meditating as instructed and tried to make my magic feel solid, just as Mom had explained.
Just like when I was practicing magic manipulation, there was no response at all.
Could it be that I’m not good at new things? I was starting to feel that way.
I stopped meditating and slowly opened my eyes to find my mother’s face right in front of mine.
“What’s with the ‘Uwaa’? That’s rude.”
It seemed like Mom had been peering into my face as I opened my eyes.
“Aldo, you opened your eyes that quickly. I won’t teach you if you don’t take this seriously.”
“I am taking it seriously. I just couldn’t feel anything…”
While looking at me, my mother let out a noticeable sigh.
“Haa… Al, magic resonance is a form of cheating. Everyone else had to learn like you are right now.”
What Mom said made sense. Indeed, everyone else learned by struggling through it. Perhaps I was being a bit spoiled.
“Al, for learning Mana transformations, magic resonance is forbidden. I’ve decided it’s not good for you.”
“Okay, I understand…”
I was prohibited from using magic resonance until I learned the basics of Mana transformations.
I slapped my own cheek. Alright! I was motivated. I resumed my training.
I meditated to solidify my magic… but how?
I tried various methods, but nothing seemed to work.
I tried compressing my magic… it got denser, but not harder.
Maybe I needed a change of perspective. I thought about Mana transformations…
What if I made the magic itself as hard as…
The blade of the short sword I’ve been training with recently. The blade is made of iron…
Imagine a blade of iron…
I don’t know how long it took, but when I came to, my magic was shaped like the blade of a short sword.
(I did it. This is amazing. I can cover the short sword’s blade with a blade of magic and change its length at will.)
I slowly opened my eyes.
My mother, El, and Ashera were looking at me.
“Al, it looks like you did it.”
“Alright, with this, all three of you have learned the basics of Mana transformations. From here on, Ashera is the only one who will continue her training. I’ll prepare a small room for her starting tomorrow, and she will be taught there.”
We had been practicing together all this time, but from tomorrow, Ashera would be in a separate room for her training. I couldn’t help but feel a little lonely, like when a senior graduate from school.
In any case, I had learned the basics of Mana transformations. While I still couldn’t use magic, I could create a Mana blade, practice wall running, or space kicking.
I aimed to achieve what I considered a “cool battle” and would continue to progress slowly but steadily.
The morning after breakfast——–
Lately, I had been learning the use of a short sword from Berett in the training ground. Berett’s training primarily consisted of repetitive practice of forms and sparring.
When I say forms, it’s not the kind of choreographed performance you might associate with martial arts like Karate or Aikido. For instance, the action of “thrusting with a short sword” involved multiple predetermined movements.
Depending on your posture, there might be differences, but the fundamental action of “thrusting” wasn’t all that different whether the blade was aimed upward, sideways, or downward. Berett’s forms involved repeating the basic movements such as thrusting and slashing. After that, the focus was mainly on sparring.
Following sparring, we would discuss topics like “what could have been done better” and “why did this movement occur?” To be clear, it was very straightforward.
Of course, it was only natural that when faced with opponents with different body types, strength, and levels of physical enhancement, it was impossible to handle them in the same way. I learned the basic movements through repetition, and the rest was about trial and error during sparring.
This was indeed a true combat sword, designed for real battlefield conditions. I could feel my skills rapidly improving.
I had a question that had been bothering me, and I decided to ask Berett about it after training.
“Berett, what do you think about dual-wielding?”
“Dual-wielding… Well, if you can master it, it’s one of the best means of offense.”
“Yeah, I thought so.”
“However, human eyes are limited to two, and judgment also has its limits. Mastering dual-wielding is difficult for most people.”
“Is that so…”
“Berett… I want to give it a try. If it doesn’t work out, I’ll give up. I want to attempt dual-wielding.”
“If you’re considering it, Aldo-sama, you might have a chance. Trial and error before actual combat is part of your training. You should try out your thoughts fully.”
“Thank you, Berett.”
“No need to thank me.”
And so, from that day on, I began training with two blades, feeling my way through the process.
The time after lunch——–
This time slot was originally reserved for mana manipulation training, but I had been skipping that in favor of training in mana transformation.
(I feel a bit bad, but I get mana manipulation training from El and use mana resonance to gain the benefits. Since El would learn what I’ve learned about mana transformation, it’s a win-win situation.)
I knew the importance of mana manipulation, but for now, I wanted to focus on training in mana transformation to improve practical combat skills.
I still had a long way to go, but with this training, I was able to use dual short swords and adjust the length of their blades.
The next things I wanted to learn were wall running and spatial kicking.
I believed mana transformation would help me achieve that as well. If I mastered wall running and spatial kicking, it would enable me to move with three-dimensional mobility during my short sword training.
This was getting exciting. Once I mastered it all, I’d move on to short-distance teleportation.
I could take out the small fry with my dual short swords and vertical mobility. Then I’d use teleportation and vertical mobility to outmaneuver the boss. Finally, I’d convert my mana-clad short swords into greatswords to finish them off. The romance in that was amazing.
I’d be so impressed with myself at that point.
And for opponents I still couldn’t defeat…
I’d go all out and hit them with my ultimate magic.
My catchphrase would be, “You’ve forced me to use magic…”
I’m going full on Chuunibyou-ji! But that’s fine!
With these fantasies in my mind, the night went on.