NBAA Vol. 2 Chapter 1 Part 3

 

Reito was sprawled on the floor of the ring.

Bal looked at him, holding her left arm. Her Mithril broadsword was lying at her feet — visible cracks on its blade.

Bal glanced at the Ice Block shards scattered in the surroundings, then spoke.

“…The difference in our weapons was the reason why I won. Honestly, I didn’t expect you could go that far.”

“Hah…hah…hah…what about…the exam…?”

“You pass. Only a fool would fail you after all this. Anyhow, sorry for knocking you down like that, despite promising I wouldn’t attack. As a token of apology, you’re exempt from the exam fees.” 

Bal then sat on the ground, smiling as she rubbed her arm.

Reito was relieved to hear he safely passed — though the plan he and Airis had come up with involved joining the guild without standing out.

In the future, acting while standing out as little as possible was always going to be a priority. Otherwise, his connection with the kingdom might be discovered.

Reito recalled something Airis told him.

『Listen well, Reito: if you wish to lead a normal life, you have to stay in rank D or C. Adventurers of rank B, A, and S easily become subject of rumors, so you should make sure you never reach them. A normal life is possible only up to rank C, remember.』

He had gone fairly overboard, so Reito started worrying — though it was too late. Bal pulled him up on his feet, then told him something very unexpected.

“From today, you’re a rank F adventurer.”

“Eh? Rank…F?”

“Disappointed? To be honest, since you pushed me this much, you might as well go straight to rank B…but the way you use your sword is too unstable. You’ve only fought monsters until now, right?”

Hearing the same thing Mira had told him, Reito was at a loss for words.

“Eergh…”

“I knew it. If you think adventurers are always fighting against monsters, you’re dead wrong. Catching thieves, guarding merchant convoys, escorting nobles, assisting security guards, patrolling towns…we take all sorts of requests. Even if you’re strong, if you aren’t used to fighting people I can’t let you go to a high rank just like that, you understand?”

There was nothing Reito could say: Bal was right on all accounts. She smiled, then glanced at her broadsword.

“…I’ve been using this sword ever since I became an adventurer, but it’s actually a failed piece, at least according to the master of the smithy I always go to. It’s too focused on sturdiness and weight, at the expense of its sharpness. It’s also too heavy for normal people to use well…so I’m the only one who can.”

“Oh, is it really so heavy?”

“Want to try holding it?”

Reito, his interest piqued, reached for Bal’s broadsword. He took it in his hands, but it was too heavy: he had to let go almost immediately.

The broadsword fell to the ground with a clanging sound.

“S-so heavy…”

“Right? Other than me, I reckon only Giants can use it. Still, despite all of its sturdiness, it’s all cracked like this now…that last attack was something else.”

“T-thank you…”

Reito thanked Bal, but could not feel genuinely happy.

Recalling how easily she handled the broadsword, he realized once again how terrifyingly strong she was. She only defended herself in the exam, but in a normal fight, she would have bested him easily.

Bal looked back at Reito.

His final blow had been powerful enough to crack her broadsword: so strong she had to use one of her ultimate techniques, “Strike Blade”, which she had sealed when she stopped being an adventurer.

— I found a worthy successor.

Such a thought flashed in her mind. He was still immature as a swordsman, but with some polishing, he could turn into a hero.

“Your name…was Reito, wasn’t it? Who taught you the sword?”

“An assassin who worked as a maid for my family…”

“What!? An assassin…and maid? Which is it…?”

“Er, well, I kind of learned it on my own, anyway.”

Reito learned the basics of swordsmanship from Aria: he came up with his twin sword style and use of the broadsword himself however, so it was not wrong to say that he learned them by myself.

Bal nodded, convinced.

His movements with the sword were very unusual. She immediately understood that he had no experience in fighting against humans, but his attacks definitely worked against monsters.

She had no intention of handing down her “Strike Blade” to anyone, but that very moment, she decided to teach it to Reito.

Bal looked at Reito, straight in his eyes, and spoke.

“Do you remember the last attack I used on you?”

“Er…I’m sorry, I was so focused on attacking that I didn’t…”

“Well, you were spinning around like that after all…that was my ‘Strike Blade’.”

Reito had never heard that before, so he cocked his head to the side, puzzled.

“Is it a Battle Art?”

“That’s right. But I’m probably the only Human that knows it.”

“Eh? Why is that?”

“Very few Humans use broadswords in the first place. They’re really heavy and hard to use, while there are plenty of other swords that are just as good, or better, choices…for me, well, I’ve never used any other weapon on the battlefield.”

Very few Humans wielded the heavy broadsword as their weapon of choice. If they didn’t have superhuman strength like Bal, they would have difficulty wielding such swords.

The broadsword that Reito created with Iceclad Sword was much lighter than a real one, and he could change its weight at will too. A real broadsword was too heavy for him to wield.

“This “Strike Blade” skill is generally used by Giant broadsword fighters. They tend to rely on their brute strength to fight, though: you can’t call that a sword skill, if you ask me.”

“Your way is different?”

“I don’t just swing the sword with power…I give it my all.”

“Eh?”

Reito, unable to grasp the meaning of Bal’s words, stood there gawking.

The guildmaster then picked up her broadsword and took a stance. She swung it down, tearing through the air.

Reito, looking at her movements, felt that something was off.

He reflected on it, as Bal lifted the sword on her shoulders and turned around.

“So? Could you tell the difference from how I swung it during the battle?”

“…maybe, did you just use your arms this time?”

“That’s right.  Most Giants fight like this too: they tend to rely only on the strength in their arms to fight. If Humans like us did the same, our arms wouldn’t hold up, so we have to use our whole body’s muscles when wielding the sword.”

Bal then performed another large sword swing: this time she used not only her arms but her whole body as well.

The blade cleaved the air at a much higher speed, even producing a shockwave on the ground.

Reito realized that he had been wielding his swords in the same way, using his whole body. He felt as if a question he didn’t even know he had was answered. Bal then spoke again.

“When you wield a heavy weapon, your lower body is more important than your arms: your legs and hips need to be able to support the great weight of the weapon. I see you’ve been training them well though.”

“Well…I didn’t do it on purpose, it just happened.”

Reito often used skills such as Leap and Swift Legs when he lived in the Abyssal Forest, running alongside Ullr to hunt down monsters. Thanks to that, his lower body was well developed and trained.

Bal smiled at him.

“That Spin Strike of yours was pretty good, but you can’t keep moving like that in battle, right?”

“Right, well…”

“And so I thought of teaching you something right up your alley. I don’t know if you’ll be able to use it like me, but it won’t hurt to learn it.”

“Eh? Do you mean, Strike Blade?”

“That’s right. Well, at least the basics.”

Bal thus started teaching Reito how to do Strike Blade.

It was far more unique than the other skills he had learned until then, however: it looked like it would take him a long time to learn it.

In the end, he could not learn it that day.

~

Afterward, Reito returned to the adventurers’ guild. He registered as an F rank adventurer and received his guild card and a copper badge.

Adventurers wore badges that changed depending on their rank: copper for ranks F and E, silver for D and C, gold for B and A, and Mithril for S.

Bal had accompanied Reito back inside the guild building, so Reito asked her how to undertake requests.

“How do you find work in the guild?”

“See that bulletin board? Just check what requests are posted there and tell the receptionist. Well, you’re still a greenhorn, so start from the chores.”

“Eh, chores?”

“Adventurers do pretty much anything, there’s a lot more than hunting monsters. If you want to find good requests, you have to get the townspeople to trust you.”

After saying that, Bal walked away.

Reito looked at the bulletin board, examining the pieces of parchment posted on it one by one.

Most requests could only be undertaken by adventurers at least rank E or D: there was only one suitable for rank F.

“This is…a Goblin extermination request, huh. I should be able to handle it just fine.”

The party sending the request was not a Lunot citizen, but someone from a nearby village. The request was simple: to take down the Goblins raiding the village’s crops. Depending on the numbers, the reward would increase too.

Reito removed the parchment from the board and brought it to the reception.

“Excuse me, I’d like to take this.”

“Oh, yes, right away. Congratulations on passing the exam. Please show me your guild card, then.”

“Here.”

Reito gave his card to the receptionist, who then checked the request parchment and took care of the necessary procedures.

“Here you go, no problem here. Please do your best and take care.”

The receptionist returned the guild card and parchment to Reito then sent him words of encouragement. He bowed his head and left, heading toward the location marked in the request.

 

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