“So… why did you want to join my group?” I asked the girl in front of me.
A short sword and a katana collided in front of me and the Japanese shrine maiden.
“I may be young, but I am well studied and since modern day has few people visiting the shrines besides during festivals, I had time to enjoy modern entertainment and know craft classes are weak at the start but provide the best long term benefits,” she said bluntly.
I side stepped to the left after pushing the short sword to deflect the katana.
“That is true, I will need to learn to build my own dungeons or parts of the layouts, but there is more to this right?” I asked and stepped forward swinging horizontally.
She ducked, and with her left hand she swung the katana sheath at my leg, but I jumped trying to catch it under my feet. I missed and had to jump again as the katana followed.
“You spoke of runic language, whenever there was something similar, it meant magic writing. As a shrine maiden I have heard of mystic writing which allows the talismans to gather spirit energy in the air and cause mystical phenomenon around them. I personally want the talismans as a weapon and for the purpose of furthering my training as a shrine maiden,” she said.
I took several steps back after the swing and distanced myself from her by taking extra steps back.
“You have quite good reflexes,” she said.
“Thank you and as for the talismans, I had thought the same, I did discover a bit about the class but haven’t experimented with magic so much,” I told her.
“It's the pen right?” she asked and I nodded.
“Alright you two, stop talking and get serious!” the instructor knight said. He was an elder man in his fifties and wore light plate armor over riveted leather armor.
“Sir, my skill with this weapon already surpasses most of your soldiers, I am simply aiding my companion so I do not want to injure him without letting him grow accustomed to danger,” the girl said.
Her name Shinigumi Misaki—a shrine maiden, and a true blue spirit medium. She could see Earth's spirits and aided them in passing on, but she also had extensive knowledge of anime and manga. She was a prodigy with the katana as shown by her holding back. A normal person would take 20 years to learn the proper forms of the katana, but she took 10 years starting her training when she was 6.
I was quite fond of her blunt personality which was similar to my own. She was quite honest in her responses, and if she didn’t want to answer something she would bluntly reject answering it instead of making up a lie, because, in her own words, ‘Lying taints the soul allow the Akuma (demons) to invade your soul and corrupt you.’
It seems the translation spell still allowed slip ups and revealed the true language of one's origins.
“Yeah yeah, just keep fighting and less chatting,” the instructor said rather bored.
We both rolled our eyes at this display of caring for our group.
My eye moved to the pretty boy’s group across the field. He was surrounded by knights cheering as he fought a weakling knight and danced around him. The fake cheers made me nauseous. The king clearly favored him, but at that moment an interesting pair walked out of the castle. It was Marian and the crowned prince.
Looking at him, the knights turned and bowed.
He didn’t react as Marian looked around and a smile crossed her face as she ran over to us followed by the crowned prince… or should I say princess.
My eyes flew to the most distinguishing locations of the body that indicate a woman. The height, breasts, waist, hips, feet, and hands.
Breasts, wearing less clothes so I could see the breasts tightly held by something hiding them beneath the clothes, but much easier to see than at the table. Waist is slimmer than a male of 15 to 18 should be, hips a bit wider, forming a slight hourglass shape which wasn’t perfectly concealed by the clothes, the hands are hidden in white gloves like those of butlers but they were small with thin fingers, and from the looks through the glove, long nails. Feet are small and height is around 160cm.
“Hey Ace, why are you looking at him?” Marian asked me as she got near and noticed me looking at the crowned prince.
“Just trying to figure out if its crowned prince or princess. I am tilting toward princess,” I said while holding my chin and moving my eyes up and down.
“I must agree with Cross-san, crowned princesses features are far too feminine, and the improperly concealed breasts give it away. If you wish to hide them better then you should wrap bandages like this,” Misaki said and moved lift her arm showing the bandages through the gap in her clothes.
The crowned princess’s eyes quickly widened before instantly her face turned bright red.
Marian was giggling the whole time.
“Big sis, seems Ace can see right through Dad’s stupid facade he forced you to do,” Marian said.
“So, it was his scheme. Tell me, is this a kingdom or queendom?” I asked.
“Queendom, how did you guess?” the crowned princess asked.
“Simply by the way Princess Marian acted toward your mother, and the chill I felt from her last night,” I said.
“I see, the hero has been buttering up father, and my younger sister has been trying to take advantage of him to get a higher position by trying to get married to the fabled hero but then again all he has is the class hero and hasn’t saved anyone yet,” she said.
“Although this seems rather blunt crowned princess, may we get your name since we did not received it last night,” Misaki said.
“Oh how rude, I am Charlotte Venus Heavenlight, crowned princess and 17 years of age. As you know, this is Marian Venus Heavenlight.” Charlotte said.
“I am Ace Cross,” I said.
“I am Shinigumi Misaki, Shinigumi is my family name,” Misaki said.
“Princess Charlotte, isn’t your father's name Wharton, why is yours Venus?” I asked.
“Heavenlight is the name all royal family get due to the empire's name being so. Venus is our mother's name, and since this is a queendom the daughters inherit the queen's name which has been Venus from the founding of the empire. Wharton was my father’s surname before he married into my royal family,” she said.
“I see…” I muttered.
“Crowned Princess, are you sure about saying all this to them at this point?” the instructor asked.
“No need, they already deduced my identity as female so why bother hiding it, also… Misaki…”
“In my culture, those we don’t know refer to us by the family name with honorifics so please refer to me as Shinigumi-san,” Misaki explained as soon as it came up.
“Alright Shinigumi-san, I am quite interested in that bandage tying around my breasts, I would prefer to be kept hidden from more… undesirable people until I am officially crowned once my royal mother and father step down,” she said.
“Your Highness!” the instructor said aghast, but one look from the princess and he became quiet.
“You are dismissed, I have come to guide these two to magic training. These are my royal mother's orders as well,” Charlotte said.
The instructor looked shocked before clutching his fists and bowing to leave.
Only after he was out of earshot did Marian show her real emotions.
“Stupid old man, father really is biased, he had such a crappy knight come train big bro, hmpf, hmpf!” she said pouting.
“I figured as much. If he was actually serious, he would have been drilling us seriously,” I said.
“Please follow me, I wasn’t lying about taking you to study magic, I had one of the maids pick up the runic language book in your room Sir Ace, it's in the magic library. Also, Mother is waiting as our teacher is yours as well. She has a keen interest in your class. Come,” Charlotte said, guiding us into the castle.
The eyes of the other hero groups followed us as we walked into the castle.
Pretty boy was frowning, but then called for a better challenger.
Inside the castle, we walked through corridors with maids sweeping or doing some other task.
The chain on my side kept making a bit of noise in the quiet corridor. The Book of the Dungeon Maker was held by it.
The chain was a magic artifact made for wizards who require books for large scale incantations or magic, so they hold their tomes by these chains. The chain—when magic was used to control it—could lift and hold the book open for me as a third arm.
I wore a white button up shirt similar to a butler’s, paired with black pants and shoes. They wanted to put me in some clown clothes that nobles used, but I instantly rejected them and would only compromise to this or armor that is easy to move in.
As we reached the library in the southeast tower of the castle, we were greeted with a huge room that was around three meters high with many shelves reaching the roof. They covered our view, but I spotted a stairway in the back showing that there were many more floors to this library.
At the side there was a space with tables that was empty aside from Havorine and the queen.
“Mother, I have brought the Dungeon Maker and the eastern swordswoman,” Charlotte said.
Like in our world, the Japanese culture of Altgar was from the eastern area.
The queen looked up from the book she held and smiled. Her vibrant violet eyes looked as though they were piercing through us and seeing everything.
“Greetings Sir Ace and Miss Shinigumi, I am glad you have come,” she said.
“How could we not come to the true ruler of this nation, if it was the king I wouldn’t think twice to ignore him,” I said bluntly and Misaki nodded.
“I am sorry for my husband's conduct. He used to be such a wise general when I married him, but it seems power has gone to his head.” The queen sighed before opening a fan and covering half her face and fanning herself.
“Now about what I have called you…” she said and held out the book she was holding. The runic language book.
It was rather thin compared to other books in the library.
“This book of the dungeon’s runic language, my spies saw you used it to for a magic spell,” the queen said.
I lifted my book and opened to the rune page.
“It takes a combination of runes to make a word to make a spell. I have only used Light and Ball to make a glowing ball,” I said.
“And yet, that light is stronger than our current light source which are torches and candles or the rare mana crystal,” she said.
“From your words, you wish for me to research runes and try to form a kind of research around them,” I asked.
“Quite smart I must say, yes that is correct. Dungeon runes can be considered magic writing, we have too few people that are interested, and even fewer that can actually make this function,” she said.
I nodded and looked at the book she held.
Making a gesture to take it, she handed it over and I looked at the first pages. There were some runes that had several meanings all undetermined.
You have discovered 4 new runes.
Forward, Accelerate, Spin, and Harden.
You have leveled up Runic Writing/Language to 2.
“Wow, four runes in one go, I'm up to 15 now,” I said.
Misaki looked over from the side.
“The symbols look like a mix of Japanese, Korean and Chinese,” Misaki said.
“So you can understand?” I asked.
“Nope, I said it's a mix, as in one rune is a mix of strokes from each language. Also, the three languages normally have more than one character to make up one word while here it’s a single rune for each,” she said.
“So, it’s a language on its own. Well, as we experiment it will slowly be deciphered,” I said, and she nodded.
“That is good. That said, we don’t have much time on our hands, Havorine will be your magic teacher, we have already determined Miss Shinigumi to be extremely talented in her combat, and you, Ace, need to train crafting and magic more so we are changing your schedule to have more of those two studies while Miss Shinigumi will train you in swordsmanship herself is that fine?” the queen asked.
“It seems better. I am confident I can train him beyond what the instructors here could,” Misaki said.
“Good,” the queen said and turned to the mage who nodded.
“I shall take my leave and will leave you to it then. Havorine, try to aid them in any ideas they may need for magic, and teach them basic control of mana,” she said.
“Of course, Your Highness,” he said, and the queen left.
“We shall be joining you as this is also our time for training,” Charlotte said and sat down.
“Alright now, Crowned Princess Charlotte and Princess Marian already know how to manipulate mana, but you two don’t. Do you know the feeling of mana?” he asked.
“I have used the pen, and it seems to forcibly remove mana from my body but I have no control of its flow,” I said.
“You two, please extend your hands for a moment,” he said.
We did that and he placed his staff down and touched both our hands.
The next moment we felt a new energy, it was similar to gas and passed through everything. It felt vague. A condensed feeling similar to this energy appeared in our chests near our hearts, and began to spread through our bodies until it reached our skin and then we both felt this energy in the air itself.
“Wow…” Misaki muttered.
She pulled her hand back and felt the energy, I did as well and began to feel it and control it. The movement of the energy was natural like a third arm.
On my waist the chain had gone from dull to shimmering, and with a thought it lifted the book and opened it to the runic index where the four new runes were placed.
I moved the mana to my finger, and looking at the book I wrote the light ball runes with my finger.
With my control of mana, I still wasn’t quick and used 40 mana per rune and 20 to activate it, but it made the ball.
“As expected, I can write it with my finger but its cost is more.” I said and took the pen. Controlling the flow, I found I used 10 mana for each rune, and 10 to activate the same spell.
“So, runes can be used for spells,” Havorine said.
“What is the mana cost for light ball?” I asked.
“Around 15 mana with 1 mana every 5 minutes to keep it going,” Marian said.
“It takes 10 mana per rune and 10 to activate. If I put this on a stone maybe I can do constant casting,” I muttered and the next moment a sheet of parchment was in front of me.
“Try it out,” Havorine said.
I took a piece and wrote the runes on the page. Then I activated it and the runes glowed but didn’t vanish.
Stopping the spell, I tried to activate it again and it glowed, but this time it vanished.
“It has a limited number of uses it seems. Interesting,” I said.
“This is as it can be used more than once,” Misaki said.
I nodded and remembered something. I took my sword out. I looked at the runes and started to cause my mana to enter it.
The runes began to glow and a series of runes appeared on the blade.
I was startled to see the runes, but suddenly I felt dizzy and the glow vanished.
“Careful, hold him up.” Havorine’s voice reached me as my vision cleared up.
As the dizziness passed, I saw the others looking at me.
“What happened?” I asked.
“It’s called mana exhaustion. You activated too many runes of conflicting natures on your sword. It caused a huge amount of mana to drain from you,” Havorine said.
“Sword?” I muttered then lifted my hand and noticed the short sword. “I see…” I muttered and as I was looking, I noticed all 11 runes vanish.
I looked around it but found no runes. Suddenly, a test tube shaped glass vial appeared in front of me.
“Here, this is a mana regeneration potion, it will aid your body in gathering more mana,” Havorine said.
I looked at the tube absent minded for a moment then drank. It was then that I felt like I was parched and the mana potion was like water in a desert.
My head cleared up a moment later and then I looked around at the others.
“Good, take that as a warning to not use all your mana at once,” Havorine said.
“I didn’t have control to choose which runes I wanted to activate,” I said.
“Weapons with enchantments or attack skills activate them all when mana is inserted. Naturally, your sword held your runes which acted as enchantments,” he said.
Looking at the sword, I grabbed the pen and on one side I wrote fire enchant. I wrote on the blade but once it was written it vanished and appeared on the bar on the hilt.
“I see, my sword is a medium for attack magic,” I said and put mana in it.
The next moment the sword burst into flames stretching the blade to a meter long but it was loose flames.
When I stopped putting mana in, the flames died leaving the sword unscratched or even heated up.
The runes were gone, but it was already good to know how the sword worked.
“From now on, I will call this the Rune Sword!” I said smiling.
“Come let's go down to the magic training room so that you can study more runes,” Havorine said. He stood and walked to a door with a winding stairway heading down.
We followed to get ready to learn magic.