“So, brother. It’s about time to tell me your decision.”
The silence during breakfast was broken by Haru’s words.
It had been a few days since we had talked about whether or not we would dive into the dungeon again. It’s a shame that I still haven’t come to a conclusion.
No, I know. The first thing I thought was that diving into the dungeon was the best course of action. At least, I can’t think of a better course of action.
I understand Haru’s feelings. I know the meaning behind her words.
It would be easy to say it out loud. Still, my petty pride and insecurity. Various excuses came to my mind one after another, and I couldn’t put them into words.
So I kept quiet. For several days.
Haru knew that and waited for me to tell her. Today was probably the deadline.
“Haru, why don’t we have a small mock battle?” (Kei)
I ask, after swallowing the rest of my breakfast.
Haru looks a little surprised and lowers her gaze.
“Are you still planning on dragging it out?” (Haru)
I can’t see her expression. But I guess I don’t need to worry about that now.
“We’re going to fight and then I’ll make up my mind. Okay?” (Kei)
A few seconds of silence. Then.
“Okay. 30 minutes later. That should be good.” (Haru)
“No problem.” (Kei)
I took my gear out of the safe and slowly put it on. It took me a while to put it on because I didn’t have one hand. I tied the scabbard and the sword’s hilt together with a piece of cord to secure it. I put it on my waist.
I tied the sleeve that hung down where my left hand used to be and secured it so that it would not interfere with the battle.
I walked out and took out the sheathed sword.
It had been a while since I had held it up. Without my left hand, my body’s center of gravity was different. The different weight of the scabbard makes me feel a sense of discomfort.
No problem. If I feel discomfort, I’m not completely weak. All I have to do is regain my senses and eliminate the discomfort.
I wonder how far I can go in half an hour.
Aware of the lines of my body, I ran and swung my sword in all directions. I imagined an enemy in front of me and swung my sword. The virtual enemy is myself. Me at my strongest, when I had my left hand.
I don’t have enough power with one hand, so I can’t fight in a tsubazeriai. [T/N: 鍔迫り合い or “tsubazeriai”, fighting close and locking sword against sword.]
I make my movements slow and steady, stepping into the enemy’s space at a moment’s notice and striking a blow to bring him down. By using my shifting center of gravity to move my body, I make my movements unreadable.
Half an hour must have passed while I was doing this. Out of the corner of my eye, I see Haru coming, and I stop moving.
Haru has a tonfa in both hands. She’s wearing the exact same gear as she had when she was in the dungeon.
“Are you ready? If you’re tired from practicing, why don’t we wait a little longer?” (Haru)
“Haru, if you’re not yet warmed up, I’ll wait.” (Kei)
We both smiled wryly and then slowly positioned ourselves.
I put my right hand behind my back and point the tip of the blade at Haru. Haru, in a comfortable position, puts one hand slightly forward and grasps the tonfa in her left hand with the opposite hand.
“So, brother what do you want to do?” (Haru)
“Win against Haru.” (Kei)
When Haru hears my answer, she squares her body.
“Don’t let me hear that you couldn’t do it. I’m coming!” (Haru)
With that voice, she stretches her from crouching and charges rapidly.
“Here I go.” (Kei)
I muttered to myself and thrust at Haru as she approached.
The target is her stomach. When I fight against Haru, the game will be decided as soon as I get in her range.
So this is a move to keep some distance. Seeing that Haru dodged to the side while deflecting the tip of the blade with her tonfa, I stepped out in the opposite direction of Haru. The distance between me and Haru opens up again, and I take the same stance again.
Haru comes at me again and again with feints. I duck and dodge, keeping my distance. When I duck, I don’t duck just barely, but take a big step back.
Fortunately, thanks to my raised status and the exploration I’ve done so far today, my base stamina has been raised significantly. I won’t run out of energy that easily.
I just keep running, dodging, and looking for an opening. We struck at each other dozens of times, and crossed weapons dozens of times.
“Is it time?” (Haru)
I mutter in a voice so quiet that Haru doesn’t even notice, and I hold up my sword again, just like before. Haru, too, is trying to break down my defenses, feinting as she approaches.
I thrust out my sword in the same manner as before, only to be flicked by her tonfa in the same way.
I shift the tip of the blade just in time to avoid the tonfa. However, this means that the tip of the blade is also deflected away from Haru. This means I can’t hit her. But.
I use the momentum of having my sword removed from the tonfa to rotate it and hold it in my opposite hand. I walked straight into Haru’s line of sight and smashed the hilt of the sword into her hand.
If you face a sword, you should be wary of the blade. You never pay attention to the hilt. It’s even better when it’s right in front of you.
The handle of the sword hits Haru’s hand and flicks the tonfa. Without looking where Tonfa fell, let go of the sword and put it back in front of her face.
There is a slamming sound. Harus hand was holding a tonfa sticking towards my face.
“You’re not aiming at my face.” (Kei)
“I was planning to stop just before.” (Haru)
We have almost the same amount of experience with weapons, and there’s not much difference in our weapon-wielding skills.
The only difference between Haru and me is our physical skills and martial arts
While enduring the pain from my right hand caused by stopping her tonfa, I twist it to drop the tonfa from Haru’s other hand.
“My win.” (Kei)
I took the tonfa and thrust it in front of Haru’s eyes.
I take a deep breath and look at Haru. I make up my mind and open my mouth.
“I’m stronger than Haru. I don’t know what will happen when we get into the dungeon, but I won’t drag you down. I’m still capable of protecting Haru. That’s why I want to go into the dungeon.” (Kei)
That’s what I lacked, and that’s what I told Haru.