A note from karami92

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Four days… right? I muttered to myself as I stood in the middle of a clearing, taking a deep breath. It had been four days since the start of this hellish trial. Every day, I ‘died’ hundreds of times, each injury more intense than the last. Gradually, these injuries began to lose the same severity I saw them with in the past. I wouldn’t blink at my head being cut off, focusing on controlling my body to launch an immediate counter.

Over the last few hours, I had started to feel something. It was hard to tell what it meant, or how it worked. However, every now and then, whenever Tsubaki attacked, my ki would begin to react before I thought about it. Was it just instinct kicking in, or was this what we were aiming for?

Regardless of the cause, Tsubaki never gave me time to think it through. The moment I started to consider it, an arrow would come flying in and take out half of my torso, or Tsubaki would appear behind me and rip off my legs. Even now, I couldn’t focus on this strange phenomena, which might be no more than simple mental exhaustion.

As my thoughts reached that point, I felt a shadow rushing through my World Sight. Even though Tsubaki couldn’t completely mask her presence from this energy, she has begun learning how to read its fluctuations to evade my perception of her within it more accurately. My mind immediately focused, lifting the pistols in my hands.

Without assistance, my accuracy with these guns was absolutely garbage. Like I had initially expected, I needed to be able to control my ki after it left the barrel of the gun in order to guide it to hit the target. This took me a day and a half to complete under Tsubaki’s constant ambushes, during which time my mind was fully focused on wielding the two pistols. Now, as I lifted them, it felt like my ki was already stirring.

Good, he’s getting faster again. Tsubaki smiled to herself as she held her spear, rushing towards the Keeper. He had already begun lifting his guns, and she could see his ki mobilizing. However, a moment later, danger signals went off in her head.

Tsubaki’s eyes twitched wider, and she immediately activated her chakra footwork to vanish, appearing hundreds of meters away. There was a hole in her right arm, from which a small trace of golden gas seemed to be escaping. Over in the clearing, the Keeper had frozen, his pistols raised into a firing position.

Tsubaki, get out of there, now! Accalia shouted in her mind, bringing even more alarm to the kitsune. He’s starting his comprehension!

If that’s the case, then I can’t leave. I have to remain to defend against anything that would interrupt him. Tsubaki answered in a firm tone, immediately switching to her rifle and retreating over a dozen kilometers. Having been through the awakening process herself, she knew that she couldn’t let anything interrupt him.

However, as the ki began to swirl around the Keeper’s body in a storm, leaving shallow holes in the ground around him, Accalia’s voice spoke out again. That’s exactly why you have to leave! You don’t understand, it takes a conscious effort to suppress his Keeper powers! If he goes into a trance like this, all of that will be released. He’ll have over thirty times his previous maximum ki, and he is currently considering you as a threat!

As Accalia said that, Tsubaki could feel that same ki rushing towards her, causing her eyes to widen slightly. This wasn’t the Keeper’s full power attack, but just a residual wisp of his thought. Still, she had to mobilize her own sword intent to destroy the incoming blasts. Each one was no larger than a finger, but packed enough energy to pierce through a mountain.

Tsubaki bit her lip faintly, looking at the hole that had previously been pierced through her arm. That was the first true use of martial will from the Keeper. Naturally, she was proud that he had exceeded her expectations, though that also wasn’t really true at the same time. She had given him a week to learn two types of martial will, and he spent half of that time to fully understand one. It could be said that the trial was only half complete.

Is it enough to stop here? Now that he can personally feel his martial will, he should be able to more efficiently train for the other, right? She asked, largely to herself, but also for Accalia to hear.

I don’t know. He showed a small trace of it before, so maybe. But, he hasn’t used his fists to fight for a while now. I don’t think you can continue this trial, at the very least. His martial will would flare up if he felt danger, and he won’t be able to train his fists like that anymore. Tsubaki pursed her lips as she thought about that. It was already difficult to control her level with the rules placed on him so far. One wrong move, and she would use too much power and put him in serious danger. If she also had to worry about a ‘gun will’ at the same time.

I understand. However, I will continue to maintain position. If anything approaches that could threaten him in this state, it would be too late to interfere. Saying so, Tsubaki glanced over her surroundings. If it was as Accalia said, and he was going to have over thirty times his maximum capacity, then she needed to move further away.

Eventually, she settled on a mountain over one hundred kilometers away from the Keeper’s location. If he genuinely tried to hit her from that location, it would still be possible, but the odds of a stray shot landing on her was approaching the realm of impossibility.

After arriving at the peak of the mountain, she immediately turned and set up a sniper posture. Her body laid flat on the ground, tails laying behind her. She looked through the scope of her rifle, using its divine augment to accurately see the Keeper even with the obstacles in the way.

It appeared as if he was standing within a storm of bullets, swirling around him in a growing mass. The first time she looked, she felt one of the bullets flying towards her, and had to move a few meters to the right before it landed. It’s reacting to the sensation of being watched, and accurately pinpointed me at this distance? Tsubaki was genuinely surprised that the Keeper’s newly born martial will was that potent, but still observed him.

This time, she cleared her mind, closing off her thoughts and sealing her own presence. This was a technique that was commonly taught in the ninja clans, even back when she was being trained. By using this technique, it was hard for others to notice your presence, unless they were specifically looking for you.

It was actually an advanced version of this technique that she had developed which allowed her to obscure her presence even in the midst of World Sight. Although this was certainly not a perfected form, it made it harder for the user to detect her. And with this technique, she was able to hide from being discovered by the Keeper’s instinctive new power.

Each bullet possesses roughly ten points of ki. These aren’t like the one that hit me earlier. Even if this struck, it would at most knock me back or create a small wound. However, the number of them… I would almost certainly die if I appeared in front of the Keeper right now. Tsubaki was glad that the Keeper hadn’t unlocked any kind of intent for his ki yet, or it might be able to deal serious damage even at this distance.

Lady Accalia, has anyone else unlocked a new will after their introduction? How long does the initial awakening tend to last?

It took a moment for Accalia to respond, clearly having to look up the details herself. Scarlet has been to Lorek and Spica to create their martial spirits. So far, six people have completed their awakening since then. Generally, it took between ten minutes and half an hour, depending on the quantity of their ki.

I see. In that case, I should expect this to last roughly eight hours. Tsubaki nodded her head, watching as the storm of bullets became larger and larger. After a certain point, those bullets began to form a cycle. Some of them were flying around, circling through the clearing and piercing the trees. Others flew back into his body harmlessly, restoring his own ki.

Tsubaki’s gaze swept from side to side, looking for any potential threats. Due to their four day trial in the forest, there were no longer any common beasts left to disturb him. Thankfully, that meant that there wouldn’t be any issues for the foreseeable future.

However, Tsubaki refused to relax her guard. Whether it was the risk of something happening to the Keeper, or the risk that the Keeper’s own ki targeting her, she couldn’t afford to relax any more than the Keeper had been able to relax when she was targeting him. And so, she kept a silent vigil atop the mountain, her rifle slowly sweeping over the area.

It wasn’t until three hours into the awakening that she sensed an abnormality, a large presence descending from above. When she looked up, she saw the body of a massive serpent flying down from the sky, its red eyes focused on the Keeper’s location.

Tsubaki’s eyes went wide, lifting up her rifle to start attacking. However, the moment she did, she realized that a single attack from her would trigger the storm of bullets around the Keeper to fly at the mountain. His ki had instinctively locked onto her signature, and was tracking her like a hound waiting to pounce.

I should protect the Keeper… but if the Keeper realizes that he hurt me, he won’t forgive himself. She bit her lip for a moment, before thinking about something. She took a deep breath, and her body flickered off the mountaintop. Let’s see just how much the Keeper was on guard against me…

Tsubaki’s figure appeared in midair, directly between the body of the descending serpent and the Keeper. Already, she was turning, a yellow platform created against her feet. The serpent’s eyes fixated on her, and its mouth opened wide.

Lingering lie… She muttered internally, her presence soaring as she stood to face the serpent. Visibly, her arms stretched out as if to welcome it, but she had already left the scene, leaving behind a chakra projection of herself through the Way of Hidden Truths.

By the time she had returned to the mountain, less than half a second had passed since the appearance of the serpent. Yet, already the storm of ki bullets had taken action. The yellow-orange bullets rushed upwards like a swarm, shooting hundreds of thousands of holes through the projection of Tsubaki and straight into the mouth of the giant serpent.

Let’s see if you think the Keeper is still a good meal after that appetizer. Tsubaki thought to herself, glad that her gambit had paid off. Because she released her presence for only a moment, the Keeper’s will had locked onto that location, and was doing everything it could to destroy it.

As the first bullet hit the serpent’s mouth, it began closing its jaws. There was a trace of hesitation in its red eyes, before its body was drowned out by the flood of ki bullets. In only a second, it had been shot back out of the atmosphere, letting out a pained cry that split across the sky.

That should have consumed a large portion of the Keeper’s ki… it should be safe for me to take action if it returns now. She thought to herself, setting her rifle up once again. However, there was nothing to fear from that monster, as it had been launched back and wounded by the previous storm. Clearly, it wasn’t the type to seek revenge for an injury, but would run away if its meal became too difficult to eat.

As she watched over the Keeper from her distant perch, she began thinking of how she could finish the training that she had promised to give him. Now that they couldn’t finish this trial, it would likely take longer for him to acquire a proper fist will, but having his first intent was considered a minor success.


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