Early morning. It was five o’clock in the morning. Normally I would be training with Amelia, but it’s not at this time today. The designated time was 5:45. That’s where I’m supposed to meet Amelia at the usual place.
I woke up quickly as usual and did a little stretching to loosen up. Then I took a quick shower to wake up and changed into my training clothes as usual.
I went straight to the washroom and then brushed my teeth and finished by adjusting my sleeping habits appropriately.
“All right, …… now after this…..”
I prepare waist pouches for the two of us. Normally, I wouldn’t do something like this. But the training we’ll be doing today is for the completion of the Ranger Training. Even though it’s not official, Amelia has done a lot of Ainsworth-style boot camp in a short period of time.
She has escaped, tried to skip, hated, etc., etc., etc. ……, but she has stuck with it this far.
In all honesty, I had considered the possibility that she would fail along the way. In that case, I was going to lighten the training menu and go to the magic sword competition.
But I think it’s safe to say that Amelia has completely completed my training. She had successfully completed her physical training and was almost done with her magic training.
All that was left was the final exam I had to take. The Magic Swordsmanship Competition was only a week away. I’m sure that each of the contestants will be in a period of adjustment right now.
But of course, I would not cut corners here. Amelia is going to give it her all, and I’m going to give it mine.
I knew that. I knew that Amelia was troubled. And as I was leaving the Master’s house, she said to me.
“Ray. You wrote a letter to …… asking what you should do about Amelia Rose.”
“That is something that only you can decide.”
She told me plainly the truth.
I’ve learned a lot from my mentor so far. So I was hoping to get some advice from her this time as well, but what she told me was different from what I’ve heard before.
“It’s not for me to tell you what to do. …… You can decide everything on your own.”
“Ray. I wanted you to genuinely enjoy yourself by entering the academy. This world is not only that battlefield. The world is not only ugly, cruel, and horrible conflicts. I wanted them to know that there are things in this world that can be beautiful.”
“And you’ve made an invaluable friend. I also thought about it when I talked to all of them today. Oh, Ray is enjoying his time at the Academy. That you’re living a good student life. I really am happy for you. You’re like a child to me. I can’t help but be pleased with your growth. But you can think for yourself now ……. You don’t have to just do what you’ve been ordered to do. You can live by your own will.”
“So do what you think is right. Amelia Rose is the you of the past. It’s not the same, but it’s probably the same at its core. I’m sure you’ll be able to do the same for her as I have done for you. If you wish to do so, of your own free will.”
“…… I understand.”
I thanked her on the spot.
This is not something that you would ever do to a superior officer.
However, as a purely human being, I am showing my respect to my respected mentor.
I wonder what I can do for her.
Amelia has definitely gotten stronger in this short period of time. Both physically and in terms of magic.
However, it is impossible to say that she has grown into a different person in this period of time. Amelia is still Amelia. And I have not been able to change the conflict that resides in her heart.
I was lost. I wondered if I should touch her heart.
It was so delicate, like spilling glass, it could shatter at the touch.
If Amelia is the me of the past, then I’m sure the me of that time would refuse to …… force my way into her heart.
And I’m sure she’ll retreat back into her shell.
No one else can be trusted. This world is full of ugliness. There is no such thing as a beautiful place. The only person you can trust is yourself. But even I can’t understand myself. That’s why I thought that I didn’t need to be in contact with people …….
The reason why I opened my heart to the masters was because of myself. And everyone was waiting for me to do so.
If that’s the case, then …… I’ll wait too. Until she reaches out her hand to me.
After all, Amelia also needs to go forward on her own will, not someone else’s will, on her own feet.
And if Amelia does ask for help, I will do my best to help her. That is my answer as a friend….
“Umu. We’re all here again today. Now, today’s training is …… the end of this Ranger training. We’ve gone through the entire Ainsworth-style boot camp routine as I planned it. Trainee Amelia, you have my utmost admiration.”
“Ranger! Thank you very much, sir!”
“But… Your training continues. If you complete this, you will receive a special Ranger insignia from me.”
“Umu. Now for the final training. It will be called the completion exam from now on, but first you must take it.”
I then handed her a waist pouch. Amelia takes it, stares at it, and checks what’s in it.
“Is this ……?”
“For your final exam, you’ll have to fight me in the Kafka Forest.”
“The response is Ranger!”
She looked completely bewildered. Amelia then wrapped the waist pouch around her waist and looked me in the eye again.
“Trainee Amelia will wear this rose on her upper body, which is an artificial flower almost identical to the one used in the competition.”
“Their numbers are 10. The time limit is twelve hours, from exactly six in the morning to eighteen in the evening. If you can protect even one rose, the Amelia trainee wins. If I scatter them all, I win. In the magic sword competition, there are ways to win, such as dropping the opponent out of the field or rendering them incapacitated, but the most efficient way is to scatter the roses on the chest. The other side will try to do the same. In short, that rose is like your life. In a real match, the key will be how to protect it and how to scatter the opponent’s rose.”
“Don’t worry, I won’t be releasing my abilities this time. I’ ll be using only my internal code to deal with everything, but be on your guard, okay? I’m also a gold ranked hunter. I am an expert in fighting in the forest. That’s why I set the number of roses to ten.”
“You are making a face that it’s too many. But that is my current assessment of Trainee Amelia. If you want to change that, you’ll have to show me what you’re made of.”
“Well, you can head for the forest first. At exactly six o’clock, I will enter the Kafka Forest and go to scatter all of Trainee Amelia’s roses. Are you ready?”
Amelia then tightly wrapped the waist pouch she had received from me around her waist and walked straight into the forest.
Twelve hours is a very long time to test her mind.
I’m going to chip away at Amelia’s heart, and then I’m going to break it.
But if …… she can overcome this, I believe that …… Amelia will be able to grow bigger….. I believe it.
Amelia’s back is full of confidence as she leaves, or is it something else?
She just walks straight and straight and disappears into that forest.
Amelia. I’m sure you can do it. If you show the results of your hard work up to this point, you will surely be able to defeat me.
Of course, this is a battle against me, but …… at the same time, this is also a battle against yourself.
Amelia. Your potential is not like that. I believe that you can reach …… that goal.
That’s why I will also challenge you with all my might.
Because I know what I wanted that day, one day….
Ray gave me an overview.
He said that this would be the last training session.
I’ve had a really hard time so far. My muscles ache all the time, and I was also subjected to grueling training in magic every day. Ray was right, the magic training was harder. I hadn’t been thorough in constructing the delicate code theory until now. No, I had done it, but it was hard enough that I wondered …… if I was going to make it that far.
At the same time, I was surprised. I am sure that Ray, as the Ice Blade Magician, can do that very easily, as if he were breathing.
I wanted to get close to him, so I kept on trying. After all Ray had done for me, I couldn’t just give up now.
I want to be like him, like Ray White. And I didn’t want him to abandon me. That’s why I came here to …… with such twisted thoughts.
But the butterflies that flock to the light may be burned away by it.
Still, I have been moving forward, forward. Believing that there is something for sure.
What exactly lies ahead?
What’s in store for me after I overcome this training and reach the Magic Swordsmanship Competition?
There is no answer to that question.
Right now, I have nothing that can give me that answer. I’m just a girl with nothing in her hands. But I can’t help but think that maybe ……. To the extent that I thought so, I recognized this final exam as something special.
The 10 roses I received from Ray.
I fixed them to my upper body and proceeded through Kafka’s forest.
“…… three minutes to go?”
I took a glance at the watch that Ray gave me, and the time was 5:57. In three minutes, Ray will come into this forest and take action to scatter my roses.
The time limit is twelve hours. If I could protect the rose in that time, my training would be complete. Even if I failed here, it would not have any effect on me. I know that there is no punishment.
But …… I wanted to finish with success.
I know that I am a helpless imposter, or maybe I can’t even be a fake, just a nobody. I’m just a fool who puts on a mask, paints a selfish picture of what others want me to be, and then roleplays it.
I was thinking that ……, but I was beginning to grasp my own identity by meeting everyone. It’s not an act, it’s a glimpse of who I really am at times.
—–To me, who cannot be anything else. Am I there?
That’s what I’ve been asking myself. And now I am standing at a crossroads. I had a feeling that this juncture would determine whether or not I could become me. ……
That’s why I’m going to successfully pass this final exam and go to the …… Magic Swordsmanship Competition.
It’s not for anyone else, but for myself.
“…… it has begun.”
At that moment, a beep beep sound came from my watch. Ray had probably set it to go off at 6:00 and 18:00.
I had just arrived in the middle of the Kafka Forest.
But I don’t know the exact terrain, so it’s probably ……. But before I got here, I had cast a number of Delay Spells.
Of course, if I planted them so that they would come to this place, my whereabouts would be revealed, so I placed them randomly.
Then I hid and waited. Worst case scenario, I could end up not seeing Ray at all.
But I’m not that optimistic. He’s out of our league. That’s why I keep thinking, assuming that we’ll have many close encounter.
I also didn’t think that these ten roses were a lot.
We had been training together for a while now, and there was no doubt in my mind that the sorcerer Ray White was out of standard. Needless to say, I didn’t see his true ability as the Ice Blade Magician during the training.
All I saw was his basic physical performance and his handling of internal codes. According to him, that is the only skill he can use now that his abilities are sealed. ……
I am sure that Ray was still stronger than I am now.
it may be a different story if you take it to a complete long-distance magic battle, but he is not afraid of magic.
His mind is different from mine.
There is no fear, no trembling, no hesitation.
Those eyes are focused on something far beyond.
So I never let my guard down when it comes to him.
About five minutes later. I heard a rustling sound. I looked in the direction of the sound, but there was nothing there. But it was a monster that came out. It was a giant snake. However, the monsters here basically don’t attack you if you don’t do anything.
So I thought it was because I was being overly cautious. And just when I was feeling relieved and at ease, I heard a voice from above and felt my heart leap.
“…… You can never be too careful.”
I thought I heard a voice from above me, and the three roses on my chest scattered at once. There was Ray on the top of the tree, and by throwing a stone pebble, he shot out my rose with precision.
As soon as I recognized this, I immediately activated my magic.
《Prima Materia = Encoding = Material Code》
《Material code = decoding》
《Material code = Processing》
《Embodiment = Phenomenon》
I invoked Wind Cutter, an intermediate level sorcery. Even though I activated it with high speed magic, Ray was already gone from the scene. He had already begun to move, and as if he had fully grasped the distance between my magic, he went on moving while showing his back.
I thought Ray was going to come in for a close fight and scatter the roses all at once, but …….
He moved on by leaping from tree to tree and was out of sight in no time at all.
“He escaped …… no ……?”
It’s unlikely that Ray just ran away without a second thought. Rather, it is likely that this is a ploy of his.
“Calm down …… calm down, me.”
I calm myself down by daring to say it out loud.
As I analyzed, all my delayed magic must have gone through. Because it was all set up on the ground.
Ray read it and avoided it by leaping from tree to tree, moving to the tree right above me the moment I made a noise at the place where the giant snake was. Then, with the stone in his hand, he must have taken three roses at once.
To be frank, I hadn’t expected that.
With the magic he could use and his physical strength, I assumed that he would close the distance and scatter all the roses with the sword he was holding.
But that assumption was taken against me, and subconsciously I had abandoned the option of attacking from a distance.
He left me with only one fact.
Even a stone that had fallen on the ground could be shot through if it was aimed precisely at the rose.
This must be his advice to me.
This rose, if aimed and shot, would be scattered by the throwing of a stone, even without any magical element. Ray would be teaching me a lot of things during this training, assuming it was a real fight.
I sensed his thoughtfulness.
Once again, I tried to remain calm.
I’m fine. Calm down. I am able to think calmly. It’s okay. …… It’s okay, and I calmed my wandering mind.
I’m sure he’s already told me everything I need to do.
It’s the same with this case. I remembered that he had told me to always be prepared for any situation and that a sorcerer should try to remain calm. I don’t have enough experience yet. So I had not been able to envision Ray’s surprise attack.
I hadn’t really thought about it at the time because the training had been so grueling, but this was just the culmination.
I should probably take advantage of all the teachings and face Ray White.
I smacked myself on the cheek as hard as I could and refocused.
(TN: You guys don’t know how much I was tempted to write clapped my cheeks)
And once again, I ran through the forest.