The Birth of a Skill
(This person… I wonder just what sort of person Aria is.)
I faced the girl letting out tears as she held her spear aloft.
All I knew was that she was the female successor to the Lockwarde house. She lived along with her father in Dalien, and when she thought her red family heirloom gem was stolen, she tried to rely on one formerly related to her household, Zelphy-san.
I knew much too little about her.
I never assertively talked with her.
Since I had Novem with me, I had naturally created some space between us within the house.
Perhaps I was simply trying to avoid facing her.
“Looking down on me… Even I… Even I…!”
She probably has something she wants to say.
There must be various thoughts and feelings going through her head.
And yet, I…
I hold up my sabre, and take a deep breath.
Looking at the girl in front of me, I readied my blade.
Due to her fatigue, she’s full of openings. She’s shed a considerable amount of sweat. With the consecutive use of Skills, both her stamina and mana are reaching their limits.
(Why was it… that I did exactly what was done to me to Aria?)
Wanting someone to see them.
Wanting someone to hear them.
Even so, just thinking of her as a burden pushed onto me, I avoided her. I mean, she probably had things she wanted to say as well.
(Is that what the ancestors were trying to get me to notice?)
I could never understand why I had to take Aria under my wing.
But right now, I get the feeling I’ve become able to understand it just a little.
I… I was turning myself into Aria’s Celes.
“… The next one’s going to be a serious blow.”
As I said that, Aria made a surprised expression. But with her tears streaming, she made a serious face, and nodded.
The ones watching us, Novem and Zelphy-san seemed a little relieved.
(Even if you know you can’t win, there are things you have to challenge. Wanting to be recognized… unable to forgive it. Unable to bear the pain.)
After waiting for Aria to collect her breathing, I broke into her stance.
As I closed the distance, she swung her lance horizontally at me so as not to let me get a hold onto it.
I kicked the ground, and she looked up at me as I approached her from the air. As I swung down with me sabre, Aria used her lance to take the blow.
But just through the difference in power, her knees were forced to the ground.
I started to hear a creaking sound, but to lock her onto the ground, I continued to increase the force I exerted.
“Even with this gap in power, why won’t you use the Skill that supplements your own?”
On my question, a pained expression distorted her face.
So that’s her answer.
“You can’t use it? If that’s the case, the bandit brigade’s large man was a more skilled wielder.”
I retract my sword, and kick the lance away. Aria rolled across the ground with it. She immediately stood, but she was covered in mud.
Having been released from my hold, she corrected her stance, and stabbed at me. More than before… compared to when the fight had started, her movements were duller.
I continued to dodge her lance, and stepped into her stance, bufore hitting the hilt of my sabre into her stomach.
If I gave a serious blow, Aria would really be in danger.
Having been hit, the air was forcibly expelled from her lungs, but with tottering steps, she took some distance.
“… You won’t use magic? Not that I’ll be using any.”
I tried some provocations, but it looks like she wasn’t in a state for something like that. Her face was pale, and she was sweating heavily.
Only the eyes that continued to glare at me hadn’t lost their light.
(So she’s resolved herself.)
The difference in skill was clear as day. But Aria never dropped her weapon.
Seeing that situation, the ancestors inside the Jewel, who had been quiet for a while, offered me some advice.
No, perhaps it wasn’t something like advice.
The First spoke.
『Watch closely, Lyle. Witness the moment where a Skill is born. Strong will, and individual ability. Born from emotions, the weapon granted unto mankind.』
This may sound natural, but Skills had a bit of a history to them.
For the humans who were born weak, and didn’t hold the power to fight against monsters, it was one of the graces afforded to them by god.
The Skills that emerge differ based on the person.
To fight monsters, god granted a single possibility.
That’s what Skills are, I’ve been told…
The red gem hanging over her chest started to radiate light.
“… The moment a skill is born, is it?”
The red gem she possessed made it easier for Skills with direct relation to direct combat to manifest.
Just as the blue gem that was passed through the Walt Family’s heads of history encouraged Skills from the Support Class to surface, Aria’s clan had one that encouraged Vanguard Class Skills..
Aria took a strong step, and came at me with speed greater than before.
I dodged the spear that suddenly came before my eyes, but she immediately swept it at me horizontally.
I heard the Fourth’s voice.
『I guess it resembles my Skill. But in battle, it temporarily allows for extreme acceleration, it seems.』
They looked similar, but he assured me it was different. But she really did accelerate temporarily to get in a greater amount of moves than before.
Without time to evade, I pulled out my spare sabre, and used ot to take the blow.
Sparks flew from the clashing of metal.
But Aria’s attack hadn’t ended.
Thrust, sweep, and cut.
I dodge various attacks of the sort, and began to be forced into a defensive battle.
If I lost focus, I would lose. My situation changed in an instant.
The Second spoke.
『Vanguard Class Skills generally give these temporary explosive strengthenings. They’re quite troublesome.』
(TL: Lyle’s are all perpetual passives (if he had the mana))
If I dodged a lance from the right, another would soon come from the left. Against consecutive blows like that, my two swords were put to the defense.
Sparks scatter, and the sabre blades I had just bought were starting to chip.
But at the same time, I was certain that the battle was already settled.
“It’s the end.”
I relax my posture, and looked down at the girl out of breath.
She was kneeling on the ground, her lance stabbed into it. Using it in place of a cane, she was somehow able to prevent herself from collapsing.
The burden of all the consecutive attacks she executed came down on her.
Temporarily raising speed to explosive levels to initiate a series of attacks. It’s probably something like that; Aria’s Skill.
Perhaps because she couldn’t concentrate any power to her legs, her body was shaking. Because her own Skill had suddenly manifested, she had continued to use it recklessly.
When I tried looking at my sabres, the blades was quite worn out.
(I’ll have to repair or replace it.)
Thinking that, I stabbed them into the ground, and started off towards her side. The surrounding earth had been level, but now it had been beaten uneven.
While thinking she overdid it, I considered coming later with the appropriate tools to correct it.
But right now…
“That was an amazing Skill. I was surprised.”
As I call out to her, she looked up at me.
“… It’s not like it would let me win or anything. I already know. I’m inferior to you! But it was mortifying. Just when I had become free, I found I couldn’t be of any use at all… I didn’t ever want to return to that life again. I just wanted to become able to sustain myself!”
Seeing her burst into tears, I didn’t know if it was right for me to have called out to her here.
That’s just proof that I don’t know her at all.
Novem ran over, and started applying healing magic to her. As the light enveloped her, she gradually stopped crying, and like that, as if she had lost consciousness, she collapsed on the ground.
Zelphy-san went up to her, and propped up her body.
“… That wasn’t really a method I should be praising you for.”
As she directed accusatory eyes at me, I put a finger to my face, and thought of what so say… in the end, I couldn’t return a response.
“Lyle-sama, can you help me carry Aria-san? Her stamina and mana expenditure are more severe than they look, so I want to let her rest quickly.”
Novem spoke in her usual tone, and I nodded as I approached Aria.
Should I shoulder her, or lift her up normally…
And as always, starting from the First up…
『I think you should go with the princess cradle.』
『Just Carry her on your back normally.』
『How about putting her over your shoulder! You know, like a fireman!』
『Gently hold her in your arms, and bring her to the bed.』
『If she’s unconscious, then they’re all the same.』
『How about you get Zelphy to help as well? Get her to lend a shoulder or something.』
『Well, you are going to be putting her on her bed, so how about embracing her?』
Their opinions weren’t aligned at all.
Just how free these guys are, I thought, as I lifted her in my arms.
Seeing that, Zelphy-san started to whistle teasingly.
Novem smiled, and…
“I’m a little envious.”
Saying that, she walked ahead of me, headed to the house, and began preparing the instruments to nurse Aria.
As I was moving my body around in the yard, I heard the Third’s voice.
『Doing the same things, or perhaps coming to resemble the person you hate, you loath, isn’t an uncommon story.』
We put Aria to bed, so today we didn’t go out, and treated today as a break.
While swinging practice wooden swords in the yard, I conversed with him.
“You want to say I’m just the same as her, right? I noticed it for the first time when I was fighting Aria.”
Saying that, I swung the two weighted swords with all my might.
『So you noticed? But what I really wanted you to notice was feelings.』
I get what he’s trying to say. Right now, I lack desperation.
I can’t say being impatient, and going around in circles like Aria is the way to be. But there must be a problem with having no emotion behind my actions as well.
“But it’s not like earning my meals as an adventurer is all there is to life. Right!”
I swing the two swords, and get in an attack on my imaginary enemy. No matter how sharp my swings are, they dodge them all, and defend against them.
I suddenly started breathing faster.
No matter how much I polish my technique, I remember the fear of turning my blade on an opponent it would never reach.
I drop the swords, and touch my chest to get my hastened breathing in order.
『Just who were you imagining when you swung your sword? Want me to take a guess?』
“… No thank you. More importantly, about that topic from before.”
Suddenly remembering, the Third continued the topic.
『Right, right! Feelings, it is. Yep!… Lyle, you’ve also manifested a Skill. You were near the blue gem we’re sealed in when it happened, so it’s likely a Support Class. It’s just that the reason it’s still unclear to you is a matter of feelings.』
“My Skill, is it?”
There’s no doubt I have one. The ancestors also told me there was no doubt about a reaction from the Jewel.
But I have no idea what sort of Skill is it.
『The things called Skills are largely effected by your personal emotions. Right now, it may be natural that you can’t activate it.』
Hearing it from the usually carefree third, I also felt the same.
Looking at Aria today, I was able to comprehend.
Strong feelings are what mold the shape of Skills.
But perhaps the current me doesn’t have nearly enough of such feelings. After continuing to pursue, from the moment I learned I could never hold anything in my hand, it felt like a hole had been opened in my chest.
I’ve tried to forcibly fill it in, but as of yet, I cannot.
『I can understand you not having motivation and all, but right now, you have Novem-chan’s… and even if you may be reluctant, Aria-chan’s futures in your hands.』
The reluctant wasn’t a mistake.
I never said I would take charge of her, but talks proceeded arbitrarily without my input, and she suddenly was put at my side.
It was arbitrary. Ridiculously arbitrary.
Even so, Novem ended up approving.
“Am I in the wrong? Was my objective of living a leisurely life with Novem wrong?”
On my inquiry, the Third gave a response in his normal light tone.
『You’re the one to decide that, Lyle. None of us have the right to choose. I mean, you’re reluctantly accepting the current state of affairs, so if we were to settle everything with our orders… would you be satisfied, Lyle?』
Satisfied… perhaps I would be.
As if he had seen through me, the Third spoke.
『Being swept along with the flow may be nice and easy. That’s how I was. Before I knew it, I was being called a righteous general, and a loyal subject, and all… it was actually quite troublesome. You know, I never had that sort of intention.』
The person I heard he was from the stories passed down were too far separated from the individual himself.
My breathing was back in order, so I collected the swords, and sat down on a nearby rock.
『… Have you still not decided on a goal, yet? Or could it be you really want to live quietly with Novem somewhere far away?』
I’m starting to not know myself.
Is it really alright to kick out Aria after she was trying so desperately?
She was placed on me as a reward, but if I were to thrown her out here, I wonder if she would be able to make a living for herself.
My amount of worries has started to grow.
As I was mulling over them, the Sixth came out.
『It seems you’ve got a lot on your mind. Worry all you want. When you look back on it, you’ll always feel like a fool asking yourself why you worried over something like that.』
As I looked at the sky, the stars were glimmering quite beautifully.
The next day.
Aria had opened her eyes, but she was left in a state where she couldn’t move.
She had pushed herself to use Skills, and as a result, she placed too much of a burden on her body. Because of that, Novem ended up looking after her.
That being the case, naturally, the only one who could go out and work was me.
I went to the guild’s reception counter, and together with Zelphyy-san, I chose a request to accept.
They were all physical labor intensive jobs, so I wondered if Zelphy-san’s payback was included somewhere in there as I looked at the request forms lined up on the table.
“Choose whatever job you want. I’ll bet you’ll be working alone for a while, Lyle.”
The one who acted of their own volition, and left Aria in a state where she couldn’t participate in the party for a few days, was me.
To Zelphy-san, who grinned as she pointed at all the tedious requests lined up, I had no words to return.
Looking at our exchange, Hawkins-san came to my rescue.
“Zelphy-san, you’re an advisor, are you not? I do think there’s a problem with your request selection being influenced by your personal sentiment.”
Zelphy-san shot back.
“Don’t be so cruel, boss. With that, you’re making it sound as if I chose nothing but intense requests to get some petty revenge. Even when I selected these ones keeping Lyle’s sake in mind.”
On her obvious theatrical tone, Hawkins-san seemed amazed.
But from the sheets lined up, I chose the one that looked the hardest.
Seeing that, Zelphy’s eyebrows twitched a little.
“… So you’re not going to complain today.”
In the past, I always offered some complaints when I took on odd job requests. Zelphy-san surely remembers.
I uninterestedly signed the documents, and handed them over to Hawkins-san.
“Even like this, I’ve got the livelihoods of two others on my back. I can’t really go around not working.”
“So you say. Even when you still have the sum the feudal lord afforded you.”
As Zelphy-san said that, I waved my hands, and departed from the receptions desk.
The receptions desk after Lyle had left…
“Well he’s gotten quite reliable. When he first got here, he didn’t look like he knew his left from his right.”
Hawkins relected on the first time Lyle stopped by the guild.
The advisor, Zelphy, stuck her elbow on the desk, and rested her head on her hand.
“I thought he was just some pampered noble kid, so my job was getting’ closer to observation than guidin’. But he turned out to have quite an amazin’ side to him. Well, becoming reliable’s a good thing. I mean, he ain’t a noble anymore.”
Hawkins began to process the documents he accepted, and he smiled as he remembered Zelphy’s past.
“It’s as if he’s a certain someone. Zelphy-san, remember you used to complain whenever you accepted a request as well?”
As Hawkins brought up the past, Zelphy got sulky.
“The me of that time was still oblivious to the world! Back at home it was always housework and etiquette. The world was completely different.”
A fallen noble turned adventurer is set to go through quite a bit of trouble.
IT’s because their sense of values and common sense didn’t get through on a fundamental level.
“I understand it was quite a bit of trouble for you. They hire adventurers as well, so I often hear about the troubles those adventurers went through regarding etiquette when working under them.”
The worlds they lived in was truly different.
“… It would be nice if Lady Aria was able to make it.”
On Zelphy’s true feelings, Hawkins organized the paperwork as he gave a response.
“Even normal people go through trouble upon becoming adventurers, and they lose their lives as well. I can’t say it’ll all be alright, but perhaps Lyle-kun will do something about that.”
Zelphy directed a doubtful gaze at Hawkins’ high evaluation of the boy.
“Lyle? His reputation’s the worst in Dalien, you know.”
When he had subjugated the bandit brigade, Lyle had repeated quite a few hopeless actions. Because of that, Lyle’s popularity was quite low within the city.
For an adventurer using Dalien as their area of operations, that was a fatal mistake.
“Well, it’s true that he received taxpayer money from the lord, and gathered more than a hundred people to do the job. Of course, it’s not mine to say what’s going through his head.”
Hawkins’ confusion on the matter was understandable.
Without any motivation, the one who continued to rely on his party member Novem was Lyle.
But when the bandits did show themselves, he personally took action, and resolved the problem.
As the two of them were talking, one of Zelphy’s acquaintances lined up in the neighboring desk, manned by an older woman.
After her documents were swiftly processed, she called out to them.
“Yo, if it isn’t Zelphy!”
To the middle aged face ridden with scars, Zelphy made an unpleasant expression.
“So you were still alive. How ‘bout retiring sometime soon?”
The man smiled at her sarcasm, and the young adventurers behind him made troubled faces.
“So you’re also an advisor?”
As Zelphy said that, the man nodded.
“Of course. These young’uns are the hope of Dalien, so I thought I’d go out on a bit of a long trek and impart ‘em with some competence.”
As an adventurer, he had more experience than Zelphy.
Having done work with him numerous times, Zelphy felt a little jealous at his words.
“Well, I’m happy it seems to be all fine and dandy on your side.”
The man looked at Zelphy, and burst into a grin.
“More importantly, I heard it. .You’re off protecting some idiotic noble son, ain’t ‘cha? You sure don’t have any luck in ‘ya, Zelphy-chan.”
Having a –chan added to her name, a blue vein began to emerge on Zelphy’s forehead before Hawkins cleared his throat.
The other man raised his hands to around shoulder level, and Zelphy clicked her tongue.
“Domestic strife is prohibited in the guild. Also, as an adventurer, you have to make sure not to cause trouble to others. More importantly, you’re both advisors, so I would appreciate it if you set a better example.”
As Hawkins sighed, the man gave off a bitter smile.
“Don’t be so stiff, boss. I was also at fault, but this sort of thing is like a standard among adventurers.”
Zelphy glared at him before leaving the counter. She was probably off to check how Lyle was doing.
“Good grief. Still, a long trek, is it? Are you sure it isn’t too soon?”
Hawkins looked at the youths who had employed a veteran adventurer to advise them.
It was a party of five, and from a glance, it looked like quite a balanced party.
There were three on the vanguard, and a hunter with a bow for the rear.
The last one was likely a magician by the staff in his hand.
“Going small scale doesn’t suit my style. I want to get them to be able to rake it in on their own soon.”
He was a different sort of adventurer than Zelphy, but he was thinking of his employers in his own way. From the start, the adventurers chosen as advisors were those that were good at looking after people.
In a similar way, Zelphy-san said quite a few things, but she never threw out a job, and had quite a diligent side to her.
“Is that so? Well, please exercise the utmost caution. The important thing is to return alive.”
As Hawkins offered a suggestion, the veteran adventurer took his troupe, and left the desk.
At the empty reception desk, Hawkins turned his eyes to the adjacent counters.
In the back, a young beauty had formed quite a long que.
A majority of them were young male adventurers.
Next to her, a middle aged lady was finishing up work swiftly.
The main body of adventurers knew their work would be finished swiftly, so they had made a line there. Both had formed a line, but the flow was completely different.
In the beauty’s line, the flow was slow, and many complaints were thrown around.
The other one disinterestedly completed her work quietly, so the line moved quickly.
“And today as well, no one’s going to come to me…”
… Hawkins let out a sigh.