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A note from Quaralknight

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SMACK!

“Again!”

“Yes Grandfather! Kyaa!”

SMACK!

“Err!” I grunted, not letting my need to vocalize my pain anymore than required. It was just the tip of the boken that glanced at my shoulder. Not a hard or heavy strike but a stinging one that irritated my skin. Those hurt the worst because the splinters dug in making it much harder to heal. Apparently if I tried to heal an injury with an obtrusion in it then the skin heals over it.

Not a fun or pleasant time.

Beyond learning more of the intricacies of my powers, these ‘training sessions’ I was still forced to attend ran three times a week. I wasn’t lying to Yasue about Grampy’s current demeanor to my apparent capability with Light Magic. Sure it was what the old buzzard had all but instructed me to do. It was just that he probably didn’t expect me to learn how to use it so adeptly literally overnight. I’m sure he was salty thinking that the journal he gave me was responsible for that. Which was exactly what I wanted.

This was the fifteenth session we’d had so far. There wasn’t a repeat of the first incident since I largely kept my mouth shut and let Toki attack me without countering or fighting back. If I wasn’t raising my Offensive Power up through my own personal training I would have really been screwed. Thankfully no one cared that I spent my free time punching the hell out of a log, letting me inhabit my tiny back corner of the courtyard in peace.

The only one really getting hurt in the long run was Toki. Sure she was getting to practice her Densetsu-fubuki-ryū swordsmanship on me, which was interesting to watch. She couldn’t use Magic as freely as I could since the amount she had was limited. So far she had mustered two or three strikes where I could feel my skin beginning to nip from the cold. Definitely a far cry from her wide ranging AOE abilities most used her for when against large groups of enemies.

The issue with this training though came from just how unbalanced it was. Sure she could raise her Offensive Ability all she wanted by wailing on me for hours on end but not every enemy would give her the opportunity to attack. Without practicing blocking or learning how to defend herself against more unorthodox attacks, Grampy was essentially setting her up to become the same glass cannon character she became in the game.

Setting her up to fail.

Her sword came down again. I could see it a mile away but purposefully leaned in to absorb the blow over my shoulder. It didn’t hurt but… “Ahk.”

I had been towing the line with my blocking. Moving around to force her to adapt her foot work. If she couldn’t block then she could adapt the style to be more fluent with its stances. This had been incredibly difficult as I had to keep an eye on Grampy to make sure he wasn’t wise to my intention.

On top of that I was making sure I was selling the idea that Toki was improving faster than I was. That’s why I had to let myself get hit at times where blocking or dodging were reasonably harder to do. Something easier said than done when that usually required maneuvering Toki into a favorable position. It really said a lot about which one of us understood the Yukihana’s style better in spite of this inane form of training.

But since Grampy had yet to call me on these moments, I could only assume they were working…

I leaned in again using an elbow block against the flat of the blade, pushing it away from my rib cage. “Ow. That hurts.”

…Which was absolutely astounding since I was such a shit actor.

“That’s enough!” Grampy called out after that last block. “We are finished for this afternoon.”

“Yes Grandfather!” Toki turned, kneeling to the old Bastard and bowed her head low until her forehead touched the floor. “Thankyou for providing me with your wisdom during my training.”

I shot Grampy a respectful thumbs up. “Ya, me too.”

I had to give the man credit for gaining some measure of patience for my antics. I wouldn’t say I wore the man down by the slightest inch. The world could be on the brink of total annihilation and I knew that Komuro Yukihana still wouldn’t muster a single thing to say that was remotely positive about me. No, his restraint from beating me until even my Light Magic couldn’t fix my mangled body was from him lowering his expectations.

He wanted me to be obedient, respectful, and keep my opinions on training to myself. So I gave him two out of three and drew the line in the sand. A pseudo compromise where he felt like he won more than I did and I still showed I wasn’t completely under his thumb. There wasn’t a chance in hell I would allow that in spite of my previous moments of weakness.

On the contrary, while I couldn’t really show it yet, I was growing more confident and stronger as the days went by. While I was still working on my means of artificially altering my Star Attributes on my Magic Plate, I’d say my progress would only make Komuro realize how little he had actually managed to rein me in. I couldn’t even fathom how much of his shit he would lose if he realized that.

“Hn. You still seem lacking it seems. You’re taking more injuries lately. Perhaps we were wrong about your potential.”

“Maybe.” I shrugged, not rising to challenge him on that. “It’s that or Toki’s just improving faster than I can keep up. She’s been improving a lot.”

The little ten year old looked at me with a perplexed stare. Likely she herself didn’t take my praise of her abilities with any sort of pleasure. No, I couldn’t be sure but I had a feeling Toki was more intuitive of what I was doing since I told her my intentions for helping her train after our first session.

“Indeed she has,” Komuro concurred with my words. The man had too much pride in his own methods to see the truth. He only saw Toki as just an extension of himself. Why Uncle Takei was never brought up as a potential successor was never brought up but somehow made sense to me in a way I couldn’t understand. “As expected of the heir to the Yukihana family, she will someday take my position as head of the family and it will be your duty to support and follow her will.”

“Um… right.”

“Thank you Grandfather. When will our next session be?”

“Unfortunately, I must depart again. I leave your training in the hands of Juro-sensei until I return again in three weeks.”

“Three weeks?” Toki echoed with a strong amount of disappointment in her tone. “What about father? He had yet to return.”

“You are old enough to know why that is,” Komuro responded sternly. “By the time I return your Father will take a reprieve from his duties to look over your training for himself.”

Toki’s pained expression flipped like a switch and she appeared absolutely giddy now as that prospect. Underneath it all she was still a kid that likes having her daddy around to spoil her. Seeing this side of Toki I could say taking care of her on the sly was worth it. The rest of the time… well, she was tolerable at least.

I too preferred when Takei was around since the quality of food served to me was a great deal better. Actually, there was a long list of things that I needed to address about my living abode. Oh sure it was a piece of shit but it was now reaching the point of being intolerable to live in as the temperature began to drop. Winter in Hokkaido was similar to those in my country of origin. I knew the importance of proper insulation, wearing layers of warm clothes, and some form of heat source.

At the moment I was shit out of luck on all three.

Perhaps with Grampy leaving for a bit and my own recent confidence boosts I could use this to create some distance in how I lived. I was a city boy through and through but my past military experience gave me some nominal exposure to ruffing it out in the bushes. To live completely off grid and simply live off what I caught myself…

It was worth considering.

Magic training came first but shelter, food, and clothing were fundamental. It’s not like I could rely on anyone here to offer me those things. Even if they griped about me living in the forest surrounding their little secluded mountain I doubt many would do anything to make me return. Perhaps with a little reconnaissance I could even find a spot with optimal cover from the elements. I had a feeling this winter was going to be extremely cold. An element that the Yukihana undoubtedly thrived in.

“Boy. I expect you to follow the direction Nobuo gives you. You are to use your abilities at his discretion as if it were my own. Any deviation will be dealt with severely.”

Shorthand for; Heal anyone that my creepy servant tells you to. Otherwise you’ll somehow be punished worse than you already are.

Truly a low bar to live up to.

I wiggled my eyebrows, playfully grinning at the threat. “Ha! I’ll be the very picture of helpfulness!”

 

[LH]

 

Toki sat on the steps of her house watching the first snows of winter fall. It was strange that she couldn’t remember a time when either her Father or Grandfather were here to watch it with her. During these times when they weren’t around she found herself feeling lonely. Even with all the branch members and servants at her disposal none of them seemed to hold any sort of enjoyment like her true family did.

Sure she had a few friends at school but they lived a ways away and could only come to visit her on special occasions. The same rule applied when visiting friends. She was simply to return immediately after school and if any incident occurs that halts her training an escort would take her to and from her home to make sure that happened.

In a way she felt trapped at home with nothing to do now that winter was here and the cold made it harder to clean outside. Many of the routine chores were done before lunch leaving her less to oversee. On top of that she had already completed her training and was now stuck with nothing to do.

A hard thing for her to handle on a relatively nice Saturday afternoon.

“Your Majesty,” Hisato mockingly greeted her while carrying a large bundle of wood planks over his shoulder.

Blinking, she sat up taking in the figure of the one person she really didn’t want to deal with at the moment. She would rather be bored than interact with that infuriating boy. Unfortunately… The reality of boredom proved greater to the girl who’s life was heavily planned out. Whatever trouble Hisato was up to now appeared like it could alleviate her time until dinner was ready.

She jumped to her feet, planting them firmly into the frost covered ground as she stared at the boy’s back. “Hey rude boy!”

“Hm? Yes?”

“What are you doing with that wood?”

The boy pursed his lips, scratching his head for a moment before smiling again. “Why I’m making a fort of course!”

“A fort?” She was familiar with the term but didn’t understand what he meant by that. Once more though her need for entertainment won out and she didn’t question the intention or the why behind it. “Where?”

“In the backwoods,” the boy replied before continuing on his way.

“What! The backwoods! We’re not allowed to go there!”

“You’re not. No one said anything about me not being allowed.”

“Of course that means you as well you fool! Don’t you know that there are monsters in those woods? The Yukihana estate is a barrier that keeps them out.”

At this information the boy stopped again and turned to her. It's not like she particularly cared if the rude boy went out and got eaten. If no one told him before now it was likely that no one actually cared if that did happen. Since her Father and Grandfather were gone though it meant it was up to her that the traditions and laws of the Yukihana were followed. Even if it meant keeping the person she despised from getting himself killed.

Unfortunately for her this revelation of potential dangers lurking out in the woods only seemed to make the fool even more enthusiastic. He was beaming with a smile that only showed how undisciplined and reckless he was in spite of everything her Grandfather had done to train him.

“Actual monsters? Ha! Just think of the training I'm going to get!” Laughing merrily, Hisato was now skipping gleefully towards the boundary of the estate. “I wish someone had told me sooner. I wouldn’t have wasted so much time beating up that log.”

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

‘Granddaughter your stances have been shifting doing your spars. It’s not uncommon that these individual traits come out as one progresses.’

At hearing this she could only pause to dwell on the likelihood of that. While she had no doubts of her own improvement with her training she had noticed that how she had been fighting recently was slightly different from how her Grandfather had been taught. He didn’t seem to mind that when he critiqued her techniques afterwards and she felt no need to comment on whether that was intentional or not.

She had to change her stances otherwise she would never hit this fool at all! He moved so strangely in their training sessions now that she was having to adjust the way she had been fighting since the time she was three so that she could keep up. All the while that conniving boy was complimenting her on the improvements he was forcing her to make! Making not only a fool of her but of Grandfather as well!

‘Just be mindful not to lose the way of the Densetsu-fubuki-ryū. Beyond that I commend you on your improvement so far.’

Yet she couldn’t tell him the truth.

Their training sessions were helping her improve far faster than when she used her previous methods. From around her neck she checked her Magical Plate for a third time today. Ensuring that rapid growth was indeed true.

 

Of course she had received no end of praise from her instructors when she showed them the amount yesterday. They said it was likely that she would surpass her cousin Yasue in talent and go on to become one of the most powerful masters that the Yukihana had ever seen. Definitely praise that would have given her a lot more satisfaction in the past.

She had since learned the lesson of not raising her hopes up.

They were conveniently forgetting her current score was still lower than Hisato’s had been when he first arrived. Since then she had glanced at the boy training on his own several times on top of the sessions with her. In the span her Offensive Power increased she had yet to do any significant harm to her infuriating sparring partner. His talent with Light Magic made it even harder to know if she was dealing any damage at all!

So she didn’t take her improvement with the same amount of excitement she used to when she felt like she was falling further behind the fool who was going to risk battling monsters in order to become even stronger! If it was anyone else making that claim she would have scoffed and never expected them to come back alive.

Hisato Osawa on the other hand… He might be able to do it in spite of everything she was taught about what it took to slay the demons lurking in the world.

This was a serious problem; If there was a method to increase one's abilities faster it was slaying monsters. They offered the greatest experience and means to increase one's Star abilities. It was the reason why students that made it to the Magical academy in Tokyo were able to increase their number of stars within the span of a few years. Yasue told her that the academy dungeon located underneath it offered a controlled way for students to form parties and battle them with less risk of serious injury or dying.

It was why she was still forbidden from leaving the estate boundaries. She was told by Grandfather that she too would eventually go out and face the monsters that lurked on the mountain after she reached her first star. The intent was to help her get exposure to the creatures she had only read about but had yet to see in real life.

“Y-You! I’ll tell Nobuo! I’ll make sure Grandfather knows!” She shouted out, trying desperately to keep the boy from attempting to get even further ahead of her. While she could attempt to follow him a swell of fear bubbled up in her chest as she looked at the darkness emanating in the outlying trees.

Unfortunately for her, Hisato was already past the threshold.

 

[LH]

 

So I kind of jumped the gun again when I decided to just go with it and find a place to create my little base out in the woods. I knew from the game fighting monsters was the main way to grind levels. Plus Hisato’s own tragic experience already showed me the more extreme end on what to expect outside the safety of the Yukihana compound.

That being said, my own knowledge of the area didn’t give me any sort of advantage in this situation. Technically the story of the Love Hero Chronicles did branch off into this area. More specifically in the later stages of the first game if one followed Toki’s story. The monsters at that point were close to level thirty, making them three stars in difficulty for comparison. I was scratching the surface of one and didn’t have three other people with me.

The only reason I chose to gamble was that I was certain that the overworld map of the game showed the location of those monsters being further away from the compound. Oh sure I still planned to haul ass at the first sign of trouble but saw no reason not to dip my toe in and see what tries to bite it.

It wasn’t like it was all that hard to know when I was reaching a more dangerous area. Most places inhabited by monsters looked the part. With how much darker and twisted the trees and foliage was turning it was a fair bet I was on the right track. I was maybe five minutes in when I saw something pass by my peripheral for just a moment. It happened too quickly for me to see clearly but felt a wave of nostalgia hit me as I heard a very familiar sound.

“Ki ki ki ki!”

I cringed at the sight of it. The realism was a little too gross up close for me to not take a moment to encapsulate my feelings of seeing the inhuman creature outside the realm of a pixelated image.

“Ugh… that’s right. This is an eroge game after all.”

It was a Toungling.

Yes, as the name described, it was everything that you’d expect from one of the weakest enemies of a game where all the monsters intended to violate young attractive women.

This type being no taller than three feet, was obsidian black from head to toe with little horns sticking out of its head. There were no eyes or ears on it making it clear which sense it relied on. Hanging out of its tiny body was a long cherry red tongue that hung down to its neck. In the game it was able to extend it out like a whip which was used to bind and restrict the player and the heroines.

In terms of level it was a range of one to five. What that meant for stars could be that it was also lower than one.

“Kiiii!”

CRASH!

But I’d been wrong before!

Like a spear the critters tongue shot out narrowly missing my head and instead pierced through the tree behind me. I was thankfully able to dodge and move out of the way before it could snap it in my blind spot from behind. The damn thing was so much faster in real life that it was hard to tell it was the same low level monster that players basically one shotted early into the game.

“Really starting to miss turn based combat now!” Taking the initiative in spite of being caught off guard I was determined to at least see just how strong it was defensively. While Hisato was terrible with Offensive Power even Tounglings were typically able to go down with a few simple hits.

“Kikikiki!”

So I waited once more for its tongue to stretch out to strike me. I ducked low with one hand clutching my Magic Plate and held the other out at the little bastard. Light Magic couldn’t deal damage to creatures until I possessed several more stars. So instead I branched out, taking this moment to test out one of my experiments in this moment of desperation.

[Fire Bolt]

Magic power flowed from within me in an amount that was several times greater than when I called upon Light. My chest, arm, and finally my hand began to heat up as flames reputed from my palm. I was really pulling from my abnormally large Magic Quantity to pull this off. Even if I wasn’t proficient with it I was out of options besides making a run for it.

“KIII! KI! KIAAH!”

Thankfully, my training had paid off.

With its primary weapon stuck in a tree the fire ball stuck the Toungling in the chest, knocking on it back. Despite not having anything that would help propagate a natural fire the dark creature continued to writhe on the ground. I held no real sympathy for the creature but still opted to finish it off as quickly as possible. The last thing I didn’t need was its screams calling any nearby monsters to my location.

Rising my heel over its head I stamped it down. With the final blow the creature’s physical body began to turn to ash and fade away within seconds. It was a tad different than the games where they just vanished instantly but this seemed more sense contextually.

All that remained was the feeling of something hard on the heel of my shoe as it touched the ground. Lifting it up I saw what remained of the Toungling and the proof that I had successfully killed my first monster in this god awful Eroge world.

Between my fingers I held up the black marble sized orb. Its color was the same as the creature it originated from. These were the gems that acted as valuable currency in the game for special items. I remembered you needed a lot in order to get even common items so even as monumental as this moment was… it was still a far cry from where I needed to get to.

“Still… not a bad first attempt.” I pocketed the marble into my pocket and began to head back to the compound. With this new area for me to explore I had a feeling my chances of breaking free of the Yukihana was much closer than I assumed it’d be. Screw living in this place though! Yes, all this little excursion showed me was that living out in the forest was a bad idea after all. It was better to fortify my little shack and tough it out until spring.

I was a city boy through and through and that’s where I belonged.

Which led to my next priority now that I was bailing on living off grid.

“Ugh… I need a way to make some decent money.”

That was easier said than done when you were ten years old though.

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About the author

Quaralknight

  • Standing right behind you
  • Not actually a knight

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