I think about 10 years has gone by.
Magic is amazing. With it, I can easily make movements far beyond human limits.
Crushing rocks? Easy.
Running twice the speed of a horse? Totally.
Jumping higher than houses? You bet.
But I’m afraid a taepodong is still beyond me. Magic can up my physical resistance, but mighty are Earth’s weapons.
The thought that “There is no taepodong in this world, so isn’t it fine to drop this?” did cross my mind, but what worth is there in a power in the shadows who attained his position by compromising?
None, absolutely zero.
Thus, I continue to strive towards attaining a body that can win over a taepodong.
To that aim, I have poured my days into research and training. Recently, a certain possibility has surfaced in my mind, and I’m currently experimenting on it.
Oh and by the way, the family that I was born into is apparently a noble house. It’s a lineage that has continuously spat out knights that fight while using magic to strengthen themselves – so-called magic swordsmen. And I was brought up as the family’s heir with sky high expectations and respect…… or not. Nah, they just treated me like any other apprentice swordsman.
Powers in shadows reveal their true strength only to people and in places of their choosing. Up till that moment……
Though I am holding back, the training for apprentice swordsmen is not completely useless to me. I am able to learn how this world fights with magic, and it is also a chance for me to review my own fighting style.
To be blunt, the fighting techniques that I had learned in my previous life are several folds more polished and rational.
This could be easily seen just by watching any modern martial arts match. Useless techniques and unnecessary movements have all been weeded out, and different schools have taken and adopted other schools’ very best. That melting pot effect was indeed bringing all those schools towards the path of being perfected.
Of course, modern martial arts have boundaries called ‘rules,’ but that does not change the fact that their various techniques are being polished against each other and undergoing the process of selection.
But this world, in comparison. Firstly, there is absolutely no way that a technique crosses between countries. Neither would a technique cross schools. There are techniques that apparently only disciples can learn and are forbidden from leaving the school grounds. Even if a technique gets publicized, there is no media to spread it. In other words, there is no melting pot, no selection, no polishing. If I had to sum them up in a single word, it would be “crude.”
But this world’s fighting is indeed fundamentally different from that of my previous world. Exactly, because of magic.
Due to magic, basic physical stats of this world’s people are on a totally different level.
For example, physical strength. People can lift someone else up with a single hand. Just because of that, all grappling techniques become obsolete. Even if I mount someone, they can jump into the sky just by flexing their abdominal muscles. Even if I put someone into the guard position, they can send me flying with just a single leg. So yea, grappling techniques, all out the window.
People fight the way that people fight, and goblins fight the way that goblins fight. That’s all there is to that.
Furthermore, the speed and distance of step ins are different, so maai are considered differently.And actually, this is the most important one.
(T/N: ‘Maai’ refers to the space between two opponents in combat; formally, the “engagement distance”. It is a complex concept, incorporating not just the distance between opponents, but also the time it will take to cross the distance, angle and rhythm of attack. It is specifically t
Martial arts are, in essence, a fight over maai. Distance, angle, positioning, these are all what the fights are all about.
It took me quite some time to determine my own maai in this world. I mean, this world’s people’s maai are so far away. They start fights standing 5m away from each other. Sure, their step in is long, and their speed is fast, so it’s not like I don’t understand. At first, I was impressed with it and thought “ohh so this is this world’s fighting style”…… but nah, turns out that it’s only because their defense techniques are undeveloped.
We have this kind of people in our world too – people who suck at defense so they just meaninglessly distance themselves from their opponent as much as possible.
The opponent’s attack is scary, isn’t it? Being in a place where their attacks can’t reach you is safer, isn’t it? So that’s why fights become just blandless repetitions of opponents dashing in to make an attack before dashing right back out. Hit and run, is it? Sorry, useless and simple back and forth movements don’t count as hit and run.
To me, 5m and 100m is equally worthless. After all, proper attacks can’t be launched from either distance. 6m, 7m, 10m, it’s all the same. There’s no point to it, so let’s just walk closer together and close the distance, shall we?
But at a certain distance, there is enormous meaning between the difference of 1mm, which is maai. Whether my attacks will hit, whether my opponent can react in time, considering the angle and various other things, gaining or losing advantage by moving half a step sideways or tilting a certain degree. By no means is it just running 5m to make an attack before jumping backwards 6m.
All my preconceptions about another world and magic and all that confused me for quite a while, but recently I was finally able to determine my own maai, so all’s good, I suppose.
So yea, that’s pretty much how my daily training at home goes. There’s only me, my older sister, and my dad – my dad teaches my older sister and me, and my older sister and I spar. My older sister of 2 years above seems to have quite the talent, and will most likely become the heir of the house. In this world where magic can be used, even girls can become crazy strong, so girls becoming the heads of their families is not that uncommon.
And because of that, I get beaten up by my sister pretty much every day. I mean, I can’t win, right? After all, to become a power in the shadows, I have to act out my common life as an unremarkable Mob A.
Which is why I spend everyday going “fueee, onee-chan you’re so strong~” while getting beaten up.
So, such is my daily life. During the daytime, I also have studies related to being a noble, as well as various other tasks that I need to carry out as Mob A, so I don’t have much free time.
Therefore, my personal training naturally ends up having to be carried out at night, after everyone else has gone to sleep. Of course, that means decreasing my sleeping hours, but by combining the effects of meditation and magic’s recovery powers, I was able to develop a unique sleeping style that is super short but super effective.
Well then, let’s work hard at training today as well. For today, I have a bit of a special menu after the usual running in the forest.
As of late, it seems that some ruffians have taken to occupying a nearby abandoned village. Upon investigation, they turned out to be a bandit gang of quite some size. Yep, they make for perfect tameshikiri targets.
(T/N: A sort of urban legend is that there were swordsmen in the Edo period who would test out new swords by cutting up random pedestrians on the streets, and this act was called tameshikiri.)
I do kill random scattered brigands whenever I come across them, but something the level of a full-fledged bandit gang is like a once in a year event for me, so I’m quite excited. All year long I’m in lack of a proper sparring partner, so I love these kinds of criminals. Aah, can the local public order go down please?
In the rural areas of this world, criminals can generally be killed without a trial. More like, only the large cities have judges, so those in the rural areas aren’t too fussed up about this kind of thing. Which is why I will judge you all, kekeke.
Today is to commemorate a new weapon that I have recently been trying out – the slime bodysuit.
Allow me to explain what the slime bodysuit is.
This world has magic. This world’s people fight by using that magic to strengthen themselves and their weapons. However, there is always some degree of loss when they use magic. For example, a normal iron sword would only have 10% efficiency – you pour in 100 points of magic, but the effect is only a boost of 10 points. Which means that 90% of the magic is lost in the process. Even for mithril, a metal lauded for its high conductivity, a sword capable of 50% efficiency would already be considered to be a high grade item. So in short, there is always a huge amount of loss.
Then I came to consider slimes. Slimes are, well, true to their appearances, magical beings. They change form and move around using only magic. When I studied them further, I realized that their magical conductivity is a mind-shattering 99%. Furthermore, as they are in liquid form, they can freely change form. So I hunted slimes, crushed their cores, and experimented on the leftover slime jelly. The number of slime cores that I have crushed are easily in the thousands. It was to the degree where the local area began suffering from a slime deficiency, forcing me to go on expeditions further afield.
The slime jelly was quite easy to process. After strengthening and compounding it, I was eventually able to make a full-body bodysuit out of it. Unlike armor, it does not make any sound, is comfortable, and actually even provides support to any movements I make. And of course, its defensive capabilities are also guaranteed.
At the moment, I’m wearing a completely black bodysuit made from slime jelly mixed with black pigments. There is no unnecessary adornments, the suit fits my body perfectly, and my vision and breathing is unobstructed. I pretty much look exactly like the villains in a certain detective manga.
Perhaps I should also think of a more appropriate design in preparation for the day when I shall intervene as a power from the shadows.
So with that, I’ve arrived at the abandoned village. Despite the late hour, they’ve got torches lit up all over the place. Apparently, they’ve just successfully assaulted a merchant caravan, so now they’re having a feast. Yep, my luck is pretty good. Bandits generally have zero planning skills, so they have a strong tendency to immediately use up whatever they get their hands on. It’s only right after an assault that they actually have things worth anything.
What belongs to the bandits, belongs to me. This is how I’m saving up capital for becoming a power in the shadows in the future.
With max tension, I crash into the feast. I don’t play the stealth route, because then that wouldn’t count as practice.
“Hyaha~! Bring out all your money and valuables!!”
So I yelled standing smack dab in the middle of the camp.
“The fuck is with this little squirt?”
I’m 10 years old, so I guess the ‘little squirt’ comment is not entirely undue.
“Oraa, I said to bring out all your money!”
After I kick away the rude guy who called me a squirt, the other bandits finally take up their weapons.
“Oi, if you look down on us too much don’t think we’ll go easy on you just ‘cus you’re a……!”
That guy’s lines were just too cliche that I couldn’t help but to cut off his head first. Naturally, my weapon is made of slime material; it’s an exceptional weapon that I can take out only when needed. Furthermore, this slime sword still has several more handy functions.
Handy Function 1: it stretches.
“Ora ora ora ora oraaaAAA!”
I stretch the slime sword and swing it in a horizontal arc to take out all the nearby bandits.
The elasticity of mochi paired with the sharpness of an actual sword. It’s the first time I’m using it in real combat so I had been slightly apprehensive, but turns out it performs quite well.
“ORA ORA ORA ORAAA…… hmm?”
After getting caught up in the moment and cutting every which way indiscriminately, I suddenly realize that the surroundings has become really quiet. Eh, there’s only one guy left?
“Y-, you, who the hell are you……?”
“Sigh, no other choice. I’ll test Handy Function 2 on you then.”
“Wha-, what are you saying……!?”
“It seems that you’re a bit stronger than all those other guys, so you’re probably the boss or something, yea? Unfortunately, there is zero possibility for you to win against me, but if you agree to be my practice partner than you can probably live for 2 more minutes. Try your best, alright?”
“Fuck you, making light of me! I’ll have you know, I’m……!”
“Unnecessary comments are unnecessary, seriously.”
Boss A charges at me in rage. In the face of that dull slash, I…… choose not to evade.
So Boss A’s sword smashes into my chest, the shock causing me to roll onto the ground.
“Haha, this is what happens when you make light of me! I have completely mastered Royal Capital Bushin Style…… wha-, WHAT?!”
“Hmm, not even a scratch.”
I stand back up as if nothing had happened.
I am completely satisfied with the suit’s defense capabilities. Seems like it can completely negate at least something on the level of Boss A’s attacks.
“Ooo, Royal Capital Bushin Style? Isn’t it the school that has been pretty popular in the royal capital of late? Hey, show me more!”
“Shit, you asked for it!”
Boss A attacks.
Er, um, yea, easy. He’s giving his very best in trying to cut me, but I don’t even have to hold up my sword. Just with positioning and stepping alone, handling him is easy-peasy.
But this Bushin Style? I think I quite like it.
Uncommonly so for this world, I can see that this style is not one bound by idealism or trite traditions, but takes direct and rational ways to close in to the opponent. I can recognize that even from Boss A’s crappy swings. Instantaneous acceleration, pressing forward by half steps, and the variety of other methods to press towards the opponent resonates with me.
But, well, Boss A is really just too crappy at it.
The moment when Boss A’s attacks let up, I easily step out of his maai.
“My, my sword…… why didn’t you get cut!”
“I mean, you’re weaker than my dad. You’re probably stronger than my older sister at the moment, but she’ll probably overtake you in one more year or so I think?”
“YOU GODDAMN BRAT!!!!”
After parrying Boss A’s reckless swings, I lightly kick his shin. Light, but snappy, it was a kick from below the knee.
“Gu, aa, why……?”
Boss A crumples into a kneel, pressing down on his shin. Red blood gurgles through his fingers and makes a stain on the ground.
What happened was simple; there is an ice pick-like sword extending from my toes. Slime bodysuit Handy Function 2: able to to extend a sword whenever and wherever I want.
The way I thought to use this function is to kick the opponent’s leg with a sword extending from my toes. It is really hard to defend against an attack aimed at the legs. Block the opponent’s sword with my own, seal their movements, then kick their leg. Bland, but effective.
“Guess there’s no point keeping up with this any longer.”
“You didn’t even last the full 2 minutes, man.”
I kick upwards with the sword from my toes, skewering Boss A’s head from under his chin. Death by impalement.
Kicking away Boss A’s convulsing body, I search the camp for loot.
“I don’t know a fence who can handle these works of art…… eh, foodstuffs I don’t need either…… come on, where are you, cash and jewels and precious metals~”
There were several carts of loot. And also several corpses of merchants.
“I’ve already helped you guys take revenge, and your goods will be used for a good cause, so rest in peace, alright?”
I gathered the passable quality of loot and offered a moment of silence. If I convert all this to cash, I guess it’ll be about 5 million Zeny. Oh, 1 Zeny is about the same value as 1 yen. All of this will become the funding for my activities as a power in the shadows.
If only the entire world could have worse public order such that it would overflow with bandits. Maybe to the level in games, where you can encounter one just by walking several steps on the road.
“Work harder in your next life and become the bandit king, alright?”
So I say to the silent Boss A…… before noticing something further beyond.
It’s a pretty big and sturdy-looking one too.
“Slave? I can’t fence that, so pass~”
But maybe, just maybe, there’s something good in there. So just in case, I remove the tarp covering the cage.
“This…… I did not expect.”
Inside is, um, how to say…… a rotten lump of flesh? I can just barely make out the humanoid shape, but can’t discern the gender nor age nor anything else.
But well, it’s still living. Maybe it still even has consciousness. When I peered into the cage, I noticed the lump of meat twitching.
I’ve heard of this before. It’s called demon possession, and the Church executes these monsters. They were originally born as normal humans, but one day their body suddenly begins to rot away. They would eventually die if left alone, but the Church proactively buys them and executes them in the name of purification. This purification of demons is pretty much just genocide of patients, but the Church gains acclamation from the populace for “protecting” the common populace from the “demons.” What can I say, it’s medieval Europe indeed.
If I sell this lump of meat to the Church, it’ll fetch a price higher than the combined worth of everything I looted today. But again, I can’t actually go sell it, so there’s no meaning to it.
Guess I’ll at least just put it to rest.
I slide the slime sword in between the bars of the cage…… but then suddenly realize something.
There is an enormous amount of magic inside this lump of meat. Even though I’ve been training my magic ever since I was a baby, the amount I have still pales in comparison. What a monstrous amount of magic. And furthermore……
“This wave…… is it magic deviation……?”
Is it possibly the case that the reason why this lump of meat became like this is due to magic deviation? Previously, I had also suffered from magic deviation. If I hadn’t successfully brought my magic back under control that time, would I have also become like this?
Magic has an undeniable effect on the physical body. A certain day, I thought of a certain possibility. Would it be possible that through magic deviation, I can train my body to become further accustomed to magic, such that it can become easier for me to control magic? But purposely causing magic deviation is too dangerous, so in the end I had shelved the idea.
But if this lump of meat is truly the product of magic deviation, and if I can perform my experiments on this lump of meat…… then I can get even closer to the strength of a power in the shadows with zero risk to myself.
“This meat, can be of use……”
I reach out to the lump of meat, and begin to pour magic into it.