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A note from Quaralknight

 




 

 

I didn’t go to school the day after my first training session with Komuro and Toki. I was still woken up by Oharu a few hours later to do chores as per usual. What should have been an hour of wiping floors and dusting turned into several hours of struggle trying to move properly. No one bat an eye at the state I was in and no one gave a damn that this kept me from attending school.

Of course I missed supper last night and breakfast this morning because of the state I was in. Honestly, hunger pains honestly felt non-existent compared to before. With my left arm in a make-shift splint and sling, on top of the numerous sores and aches I honestly didn’t feel all that hungry. At times like these the body tried to prioritize healing over breaking down food.

Unfortunately that still required eating in order to recover quickly.

At lunch time I timed my way into the kitchen when Oharu wasn’t around. I was certain I made off with enough to get me through the day without being caught. Of course I wasn’t that lucky. If things could get any worse it had to be the sight of the damn smiling face of Komuro’s bootlicker, Nobuo. He was standing just outside the main door, likely expecting me to go that way.

“Taking food from the kitchen without permission? Why am I not surprised?” He said in a jovial tone. “I’d punish you for this but it appears that Master Komuro will see to that from now on.”

“Theft? I was merely trying to stay out of Oharu-san’s way. Besides…Those who work get to eat.” I didn’t rise to the threat of Komuro’s discipline, nor humored the idea that I was a thief for simply taking rice and fish from the kitchen. The man wanted the satisfaction of knowing I had been put in my place. Our previous words still hung off each other like a noose. “It would be shameful of the Yukihana to not allow the minimum decency of honoring our agreement. If you're offended about that then I’m afraid your opinion of this family seems no better than my own.”

Nobuo’s eyes narrowed, smiling widening just past the point where it appeared unnatural. If he was going to do me harm then he was a tad late at this point. Anything further would only show him to be the lesser man in our joust of words.

Besides… I didn’t intend to stay in this state for long if I had any say in it.

“I am impressed.” Thankfully though it seemed like he was merely trying to hide his true emotions. Doing a really shit job in the process. “I’d thought after yesterday you’d finally restrained that tongue of yours but you still seem determined if nothing else.”

Neither did the Yukihana it seemed.

Tucked in his vest pocket, Nobuo pulled out what looked to be a leather journal that was falling apart at the seams. The pages were crinkled and yellowed with bits of string hanging out between some of the pages. With a strange amusement the man placed it in the nook between my arm and the sling.

“A to do list,” I ventured to ask. I certainly wouldn’t put it past them to just give me a whole book worth of tasks to complete.

“In a manner of speaking. Due to the… difficulties of your magical attribute, it has been hard to find a means to harness your abilities. Consider yourself fortunate that Lord Komuro has made many friends over his life and found materials for you to use. I expect you to show gratitude to him for this priceless gift he’s given you.”

Priceless gift huh?

I set my food down and took a better look at the second book on magic I’ve been given in the last twelve hours. While this time it was less mysterious than the first I couldn’t help feeling a little disappointed that my mystery gifter didn’t reveal themselves. I only read a bit on magic before passing out again but what I found out so far has been invaluable. My earlier failed attempts to use it were now understandable given the limitations and requirements when learning it from the beginning.

Since magic was just a given in the game from the first level it didn’t give context to how one developed the power to harness it first. Since someone like myself didn’t know what to feel for when reaching for this abnormal power it required a medium to help channel it while starting out.

I first thought it meant a weapon or accessory like the game as they were beneficial for buffing magic stats. Only realizing a few minutes later that the Magic Plate was intended for that purpose. While not as flashy as a blade or wand, the Plate’s value for channeling the magical power within me was needed until I could feel and use it on my own. The book made no mention as to when this happened but for now I wouldn’t be so careless with them. Right now they meant the difference between being able to use magic at all.

On that note I brushed my thumb through the pages trying to get a sense of this relic I was just given; Faded words, pages ripped out, and some looking like they would fall apart from a slight breeze. What wasn’t in poor condition was little more than chicken scratch of Kanji that I could barely make heads or tails of. My knowledge of the Japanese language was ingrained from Hisato’s memories after all. Not much that a ten year old would know of more ancient and complex writings. I’ve managed to expand on that knowledge with my own studying but it was slow going at best.

Well this certainly explained why Hisato only knew two spells at the start of the game.

A priceless gift, it was not.

However… A very interesting thought just popped into my head on how to use it. One so deliciously tantalizing that I was having a hard time containing the bubbling excitement in my chest. The endorphins this idea was pushing out really helped dull the pain.

Very carefully I tucked the book into my sling and carried on my way. “Ha ha! I’ll be sure to let Master Komuro know that his generosity knows no bounds.”

“Hn. What was I expecting from the son of such a selfish and vile man?” Nobuo muttered in a hushed yet exasperated tone. “Just be sure to take this reprieve from your regular studies to learn magic properly. Your usefulness will be measured by how you support the Yukihana family. What meager work you’ve done up until now won’t be satisfactory for much longer.”

“Ya, I figured.” I playfully swatted my broken arm at him with a cheeky grin. “It’s not everyday I get to play a real doctor after all. Plus I’m looking forward to not having to pay for healthcare. I hear some places charge patients an arm and a leg! Ha ha ha!”

While my humor was lost on the man I couldn’t help but laugh at how I was just handed my out. Oh sure I would still try to go through what I could with the ratty old journal for whatever information I could get out of it. Perhaps I could find out more than Hisato had managed with his weaker education level.

One I made it back to my shed I placed the journal on my little desk and began underlining and circling faded passages. I even tried what I could to touch it up and bind the papers in more neatly. Sure it took a bit of time but this was an invaluable tool afterall. Who knows what sort of secrets it could possibly contain?

For that reason I would be placing it in a spot where everyone could see it. To show it was cared for with great affection. Because from where I was standing this journal with all its unreadable chicken scratch could hold the answers to the Freaking Universe! Although that was very doubtful it’s not like anyone could vehemently prove that it didn’t.

“Ha ha ha! Won’t everyone find it astounding with how much knowledge I pulled from the gift given to me by the Grampy.” Truly Kumuro was one of a kind by giving me a powerful shield to use against him. Ha! I could already see the look on his face!

My touch ups done I likely wouldn’t bother with it again for a while. Instead I pulled out the real priceless treasure I was given. [The Ten Aspects of Magic] was my hidden blade that would be protected by this journal until I read, memorized, and mastered all of its contents. How convenient now to have a scapegoat for the source of new magical knowledge just handed to me by Nobuo of all people.

Licking my lips I opened the book to the page where I last left off. Clutching my Magical Plate in my right hand I read the passage allowed and felt a twisting pull form within my body. A glowing yellow light began to emanate from my hand sending a strange warmth through my chest. Like it was one large circuit of energy running through me from some unknowable source.

“So this is Magic? Hm, not bad. Now then let’s try… [Healing Light]”

 

[LH]

 

‘Remember Granddaughter that the ultimate strength that the Yukihana holds is its unflinching loyalty. As individual snowflakes we melt under the slightest heat… but united we become an insurmountable storm!’

Toki swiftly grabbed her things as she headed towards the main kitchen to collect her lunch for the day. She normally got up much sooner than this but was still feeling a little… strange. The events of training two days ago were still rattling her in mind no matter how she tried to push away such unnecessary thoughts. However, that had been difficult with all that had happened.

That's what bugged her and kept her thoughts drifting back! It shouldn't have been difficult! Why this had to happen to her wasn’t fair! All she had wanted to do was show her Grandfather how much she had improved in her training since he left on his trip. Even the other family instructors had lauded her vast improvement and potential to reach her first star well before her coming of age!

But no! Any hope of that was dashed before she could even realize what was happening! All because of that horrible boy that showed up out of nowhere!

Hisato Osawa.

He threatened to upend her whole goal in life simply by being here!

She initially thought he was just some kid her family took in because he possessed an aptitude for Ice Magic. It wasn’t the first time it happened but the last one they took in had a great deal more respect towards Grandfather and the Yukihana for taking him in. She assumed Hisato to be the same and took his rude actions as an insult to her family’s generosity! Someone like had no place being here if that was the case!

It just never occurred to her that such a foreign looking boy was actually part of the Yukihana family.

Shock, confusion, and many questions as to why she had never heard of having a cousin until now were her first thoughts. Some random child from the street was one thing but Hisato possessed the same blood as she did. If that wasn’t hard enough to process, he too was the grandchild of the family head like she was! With that his standing jumped by leaps and bounds from what she initially assumed. But that didn’t change how wary she was of him. Even more so following the great affection her own father showed him. How emotional her father looked when he hugged Hisato made her feel pangs in her chest. She knew that pained look on her father’s face all too well by now.

So was Hisato suddenly supposed to become a brother to her like Yasue? Was he going to suddenly become a member of the Yukihana’s main family and live with her in the main house with Father and Grandfather?

‘He is a blight upon the Yukihana name!’

The answer to those confusing thoughts came quickly with a hard and resounding; No!

Her Grandfather had pulled her aside and told her the truth of his origins. The betrayal of her own Aunt and the sins that the boy’s father committed against the Yukihana. How depraved they were and the terrible things they had done were told very clearly to her. Some of these horrible acts were so horrible that it was hard to think that such people had the nerve to do such things; And while some of what she was told was hard to understand she knew without any doubt that her dear Grandfather had also been deeply hurt by them as well.

That was all the justification she needed to resent them as well.

Now they were stuck with taking in the son of those horrible people!

‘You must not lower yourself when dealing with him! Do not even associate with him in public unless absolutely necessary!’

She was content to do just that. Simply follow her Grandfather’s words and let the adults deal with the obnoxious boy. From how undisciplined and arrogant he was it was clear to see where he got those traits. Only painting a picture of how disreputable a man Hisato’s father was as her Grandfather described him. She expected that such a boy would never be more than a nuisance to the family and shouldn’t be their responsibility to deal with.

‘Your station and potential is far above that boy! Skill befitting the heir to the Yukihana family!’

Why then? Why was he strong!

The pride in her improvement that she tried to show her Grandfather had been eclipsed by the skills the boy possessed! At the same age his Star Attribute score was higher than hers! How was that even possible! She had trained longer than she could remember! Since the time she could barely walk! Yet somehow he not only had a higher score but possessed a rare form of magic! With that alone she had seen some in the family speak as though they should forget the things his parents did to them!

‘My sweet Toki… Promise me you’ll look out for Hisato-kun. Now more than ever he needs us to depend on.’

Yet even her own father was trying to take him in like he was his own son! Did Grandfather not truly explain it to him? Did he not understand what kind of rotten child Hisato was? The potential danger he was to the Yukihana?

The danger he posed to her?

‘He is a threat to you, Granddaughter. I have misjudged his potential and the power he might wield. Some in the family are now seeing that potential as a powerful asset to their selfish desires. You must prove yourself even more if you want to keep your position and stop them from taking over.’

Those were the words that left her mind spinning in circles for days. All of a sudden her position was in jeopardy? All her life she had trained to become the heir to the family and now this stranger could show up and take that from her? It wasn’t fair! The very idea that her place as the future head of the family being ripped from her hands filled her with no end of fear.

She wanted to scream and yell at anyone in her family who thought that they could do such a thing!

‘From now on I will oversee his training. You will be placed in a position where you will remain one step ahead. Do not waste this opportunity I have given you.’

Thankfully her Grandfather already had a plan to keep that from happening. She hadn’t been privy to the details prior to their first training session but was certain that she wouldn’t have anything to fear so long as she listened to her Grandfather. He had always told her the best way to handle situations and not once had his advice steered her wrong.

Going into the spar she was confident she had the advantage over the boy who looked soft and undisciplined in fighting. While his Star attribute was greater that didn’t mean he was better than her when it came to combat. From the time she was little she had faced and defeated opponents older and larger than herself. The small difference between their numbers wouldn’t have made any difference.

But once more her assumptions led her wrong. Those fears that Hisato might actually pose a threat to her place in her own family came as suddenly as she had been flipped over – leaving her landing hard on her rear with a stunned expression as to what had happened. Never being so completely outclassed by someone the same age as her.

Reality set in and she could see that Hisato was no less disciplined in the ways of martial arts as she was. Even without a weapon in his hand he blocked, dodged, and used her own momentum against her like she had seen her father do in practice spars. That boastful confidence at the start that he didn’t want to hurt her simply because he was aware that he was underplaying his fighting talents like some common street fighter.

The Yukihana always sought fair and honest duels. That had been their way for centuries and not once had her family fallen for such dishonorable tactics. Their power was well above the rabble that needed such methods to subsist on society. The very ones she was taught to avoid by her Grandfather countless times. Methods he hated seeing more than anything else within the dojo. Methods he dealt with personally in extreme ways.

Extremes she had only seen very – very rarely.

She recoiled at the sight of what Grandfather had done in retaliation to Hisato’s actions. Whether justified or not she had never witnessed Grandfather use such extreme discipline on someone so young. He never brought himself down to that level as he had stated before that he was above just pettiness. Only going for such crippling strikes against opponents much older and experienced.

Hearing those screams of pain as Hisato fell to the floor clutching his broken arm. The sheer look of terror at seeing what had happened to him made her realize what how Grandfather intended to keep him from taking her place in the family. The lengths he would go to prevent that from happening and to keep Hisato from doing so.

Seeing him writhing in that pitiful and disturbing state she figured that this would have made the boy frightened of Grandfather. That even with his arm snapped in two he would still be forced to train – this time solely as a target for her attacks. She hesitated even as Grandfather ordered her to attack. Too conflicted by what she was taught about honor and who taught it to her now ordering her to disregard it in that circumstance.

Her own subconscious fear for her Grandfather won out. She took her stance and prepared to attack again. As many times as her Grandfather ordered. Even if she knew that it was wrong.

Then the most disturbing thing happened yet.

Something that made her completely rethink just what sort of monster Hisato Osawa was.

‘Come… Come on then! You heard him! Hit… me!’

He stood up. Tears and snot still streamed down his face as he clutched his mangled arm. Staring her down with an expecting look that showed he wouldn’t give her or anyone the satisfaction of bowing his head. That he could take whatever they threw at him, whether it was fair or not. That in spite of his own circumstances, he was better than them.

Better than her.

And she hated him for that.

Two hours later he still remained standing until Grandfather called the session to an end. Hisato didn’t respond or react. His body was covered with red marks and bruises that it was obvious that he had likely lost feeling in parts of them. His face swelling up she couldn’t even see his eyes clearly. Like some sort of shambling undead creature he shuffled out of the dojo towards his room in the back of the courtyard.

‘You have done well, Granddaughter. Never forget that you must never falter lest what you hold dear will be taken from you. Especially by those who see your potential as a threat.’

She remembered nodding mutely. The whole experience left her too drained and tired to ask why Grandfather was using such a method. As much as she could say that was the only reason, once more that subconscious fear rose again and somehow knew that the answer wouldn’t be one that would make her feel good about what she had taken part in.

Hisato didn’t come to school the following day. As instructed by Nobuo, she told Hisato’s teacher he had been sick and might not be coming to class for a while. Training wouldn’t resume with Grandfather again for another two days making it likely that absence would be much longer than she told the school. It was likely she herself wouldn’t see him again until training started again. She doubted he could do much in the injured state he was in.

“Ah! Lady Toki, I have your lunch here.” Oharu said, bowing her head as she entered the kitchen. The old woman greeted her with a bright smile as usual. “I’ve prepared your favorites today as you’ve seemed distraught these past few days.”

“Y-Yes.” She nodded, feeling slightly flustered that her worries were so obvious. “I’m just feeling a little under the weather.”

“It’s okay Milady. There is no need to hide your feelings for my sake. I know exactly why you’re feeling down.”

“You do?”

Oharu frowned, scowling as she brought up the one person she was trying not to think about. “It’s that disrespectful boy. Things have become worse around here since he showed up.”

“I guess. It’s not my decision though whether he stays or not.”

“Well you don’t have to worry about–”

“–Oh? What’s this? Two ladies are speaking so passionately about me? Don’t I feel lucky! Ha ha ha!” Cutting into their conversation the loud and exuberant voice of the injured boy called out. Her heart leapt into her mouth as she spun around disbelieving who was poking his head into the kitchen. Lo and behold the sight of wild brown hair and sharp green eyes fluttered at them. Face clear of a single bruise or scratch. “Good morning, your Majesty~!”

“W-what? How are you…”

“Hm? How am I? I’m doing fine, thanks for asking.” Hisato strutted in playing with an elastic band in between his fingers. Both his hands playfully forming patterns between them. “As vibrant as ever Oharu-san. Did you pack my favorites too?”

“Y-Y-You!”

“Ha! Trick question! You always pack my favorites!” Without any prompting Hisato walked around the kitchen counter, took what he wanted from the food that was prepared and placed it into his lunch bag while scarfing down a rice ball for his breakfast. “Mmm, so~good! Alrighty, we’re off to school now. Let’s get going!”

Seeing and still not believing what was happening before her eyes, that pang of fear in her chest that she had been trying hard to quell began to bubble and rise even more than before. The smiling face of the boy who was left with critical injuries not even two days ago was now shooting back at her like some unspoken taunt. Like what had happened hadn’t even fazed him and the proof of it was now standing before them.

Hisato stopped just at the threshold of the front door to hammer in one last comment. “Oh and Toki…”

“Y-Yes?”

“...I look forward to our training sessions going forward. Hopefully I can teach you a thing or two. Ha ha ha!”

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Quaralknight

  • Standing right behind you
  • Not actually a knight

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