Chapter 42: It always feels like you don’t have enough time to level both your combat skills and your crafting skills in a game.
Niera, with her hair lightly pulled back, glinting in the afternoon light, looks really alluring as she lifts the finished naginata.
No good. After last night my sense regarding women’s gotten a bit …
Well, there’s no point with me like this, so I should hurry up and return myself back to normal. If I meet a girl who makes me really regret being a girl, maybe I’ll consider things more then.
The more-attractive than usual Niera is beaming as she lightly swings the naginata here and there.
“Ooo, a glaive after all. Mnn… it’s got a little more of a blade-to-pole ratio, hm? A, well, I guess that all depends on the weapon-maker… but it sure is elegant looking. The balance is a bit different too… hahaaan, I see, like this it really is just like a sword with a longer hilt, hm? Un, it’s a bit on the lighter side, just a bit.”
… She can tell with this much? Well, maybe since she said it’s similar to a glaive …
“Jun-chan, Jun-chan! Show me how you fight with it! Hurry hurry hurry!”
“Niera-san … let’s get out of the forge area first.”
“Ahahaha… that’s true too, isn’t it?”
She giggles, embarrassed. Ever since I found out about how she feels about Lor, I’ve been noticing Niera gets embarrassed a lot, and not just around Lor. Even though she’s good at hiding it, if you know where to look it can be pretty obvious. Is it because she’s the type to act before she thinks?
Anyway, the two of us head over to the forge exit. I bring along my katana just in case … who am I kidding? Niera will definitely want to spar to test out the naginata.
Huh? Why is Ossan, Jephta, and everybody coming along?
When I ask, Ossan scratches his head sheepishly.
“No… that is… there’s something about watching a unique weapon’s use in person, you know? Even if you can kind of tell just from experience and by how it’s built, and we haven’t seen either the sword or this polearm used before.”
I guess that’s fair, but I’ve already tested out the sword before, though I have great regrets over it. You guys know we’re only going to test out the naginata -? Ah, I guess I’m not the only one who has that premonition of a spar coming soon.
There’s a small courtyard to the side of the forge, a little off the road. It’s a mostly empty space, save some firewood and a few straw dummy targets here and there. It’s too small to be a training ground for Adventurers, but it’s big enough for a few test swings between people.
I timidly take a stance with the naginata, laying the katana off to the side.
“Um, I guess I can show you the forms I remember?”
Do they not have the concept of katas? I move into an area away from the others while thinking that. Come to think of it, it might be because most of the warriors in this area are Adventurers. Adventurers kind of give the impression they learn how to fight from necessity instead of out of principle, don’t they?
If there was a dojo or knight training area or something like that in Nyl, maybe the idea of training by perfecting form instead of brute force would be more common.
Now, I actually know quite a few naginata katas, even though I was never really “properly” trained. I thought the swinging of the naginata was beautiful, so I never really minded being dragged by the girls into the school naginata club’s training. It was really mesmerizing to sit and watch the girls practicing together while waiting for whatever they dragged me in to do.
Erm… head, shin, mid, head, parry…
After several of the katas, Niera’s patience for waiting to try out the naginata has disappeared.
“What’s this, what’s this!”
Niiiiera! Don’t just jump out at me all of a sudden! This isn’t a bamboo blade, it’s real, real!
“I see, is it visual training? Steady footwork and form, hm … Hahaaan, so it’s a type of martial arts your country has really been refining, huh? Let me try, let me try!”
After I hand it off to her, Niera spends a few seconds trying to mimic my movements, but … as I thought, she’s totally not the type to learn by kata.
“Mm… Jun-chan, come at me.”
“Give up already?”
“It’s hard to really get the feel of something if I’m not doing combat, see?”
I draw my katana. It’s my first proper fight with the full sword assembled together. I wonder how serious she’s … whoa!
The blade of the naginata swishes past my face as I dodge it by a margin. Niera! Some warning?
At first her movements are rough and erratic, but they still have some polish to them. Or like, the roughness and erraticness are used to feint and throw me off her rhythm. I wonder if she’s using the naginata like she would a glaive. She’s swinging wide and throwing the rear end of the pole with more force than she probably needs. I wonder if it’s the slightly different balance she mentioned before.
Slowly, the longer we fight, I see her pulling in her arms. Her footwork as well; at first it was jumpy, like a boxer’s, but as we continued to fight she adjusted her feet to mimic my stances that I had shown her.
Little by little, with the combined experience she’s gaining from actually wielding the weapon, her previous abilities in combat with different polearms, and the short amount of time she watched me handling it, Niera polishes her movements.
Before I know it … wait, doesn’t it look like naginata-jutsu? Or like, doesn’t it look like she’s mastered naginata-jutsu in twenty minutes?!
“Fumu, Ok, stop! I more or less got it.”
Niera, breathing lightly from the last onslaught she had launched, called out and we stopped sparring.
“I see. The principle is a steady base and a focus on slicing from the negative areas. It needs to be very precise, but for a polearm it’s not the hardest one for people to handle, hm? Probably the best reason to have them learn it is those drill-like things you were showing me. For people who lack any training whatsoever, it’s the best if they have something concrete to follow, and it looks very beautiful once you get it down. I agree, I think it would suit those girls fine. Much better than the spear.”
So you say, but if the glaive was similar, then the glaive would be fine too…? Maa, I too want to see the gorgeous women from The Queen Mary’s wielding naginata-jutsu expertly, so I won’t bring that up … Solyana especially would look really good with a naginata. No, that’s not the only reason I suggested it, the girls themselves wanted something to temper their spirits, right?
But you know, if they were wearing hakama while drilling naginata katas … Un. It would really be something good to see.
What? Wouldn’t it?
Jetsom calls me back to the situation at hand.
“Hey, can I see that?”
He points at my katana. His eyes are sparkling.
“Yeah, but be careful if you’re going to swing it. It’s pretty easy to hurt yourself if you’re not used to it.”
I don’t know how many new kendo practitioners have smacked themselves in the shins with the practice swords while trying to look cool.
“So … Jun-chan!”
While Jetsom lightly swung the sword in a (kind of wrong) stance, Niera pounced on me, carefully angling the blade of the naginata so it wouldn’t stab either of us.
“We’re going to need 8 more!”
“N-Niera san, wouldn’t it be better to start them out on non-bladed weapons? Since most of them don’t have any weapon experience?”
“Oh, that’s true.”
… Is this really going to be ok?
“Then … how much?”
“This commission! How much for this commission?”
“Fufufu, are you sure you want to ask that, Niera-chan? If you didn’t mention anything, there was a good chance Jou-chan wouldn’t have even thought to charge you.”
“Eeeeeh— but that’s not proper!”
“But you might not be able to afford it … Ah, this is a good opportunity, Jou-chan. A master-worked blade, custom weapon, and lacquered pole; how much do you think you should charge?”
Hang on a sec. What are these 2 adults talking about? I was doing this as a favor, right?
As if he can read my mind, Ossan shook his finger at me and clicked his tongue.
“That’s no good, Jou-chan, you’re a registered Craftsman with the Guild now. You’ll have to start thinking about your work as a business, or else you’ll definitely get taken advantage of.”
“That’s right, Jun-chan. Really, taking on a job like this for no money is a no-no, okay? The quality of your work is really good, so only people who’d be willing to pay for them should get them, see. That’s what it means to be a Master!”
I’m not a master yet … and Niera-san asked me for this for … nn … ok, mostly for her own curiosity, but since she did it for the girls at The Queen Mary’s … Huh? Come to think of it, she’s probably not teaching them for free, right?
“Niera, was the request from the girls a commission?”
“Yup, yup! Apparently they’ve been saving up for something like this for a while. They’re even entrusting extra to me in order to pick out their weapons.”
If it’s like that, it kind of feels wrong to say that I wasn’t going to charge her since she’s doing the girls a favor. Is it something like trampling on their determination, or something like not trusting their abilities… I’m not sure, but somehow I think if I say that, it would insult the girls somehow.
Technically speaking, the agreement between Niera and the girls has nothing to do with me. If I try to meddle in it, I’m worried that I’ll end up treating them like NPCs or something. I don’t want to say that I’ve been treating the people in this world like NPCs before, but, well, no one likes a pushy guy, right? Though I’m a girl.
I had decided to respect their decisions, after all. I’m not going to go behind their backs and make deals for them like some overprotective father.
Urgh. I don’t really like thinking abut the prices of things. If it was just the price of materials plus the hours I worked on it, I wouldn’t be so confused. But putting a price on something like expertise …
Maa, well, just doubling the price the Knight Captain-sama bought the swords for would be a rough estimate…?
“Um, 400,000 ecrue?”
Uh, what’s with the huge sigh?
“You’re not that far off, Jou-chan, but don’t tell me you just doubled the price from before.”
Crap. Ossan’s senses are too sharp.
“Looks like we’ll have to train your sense of money too. We were lucky Pulman-jiji didn’t ask questions about that this time. He’d end up swatting people, saying ‘A Craftsman who doesn’t understand the value of his own work is worse than trash!’ or something like that. Well, since the price isn’t too off, let’s just go with that, Niera-chan.”
Niera folded her arms and thought for a minute.
“And here I thought since I had 300,000 ecrue saved up, I might have enough to pay it all upfront for the first time… ”
“Ahaha, Niera-chan likes buying nice weapons, after all. If you could curb that habit you might actually have extra spending money … well, we smiths can’t complain about that nice habit too much.”
“Hm… it would be insulting to try to haggle it down, wouldn’t it, Gustav-san? Even I can tell that. Well, as an Adventurer I can make up an extra 100,000 ecrue in a day or two, so can I get another IOU?”
Hang on a second. There’s something else I need a little more than money … but how do I ask without getting yelled at? These two are totally thinking that they have to beat some money sense into me. Even though I’ve already resolved myself to take more care when dealing with money.
“You’d better not be thinking about settling it for 300,000 ecrue, Jou-chan.”
“100,000 ecrue is too much to discount, Jun-chan.”
As expected. Mou, I get it. I already understand it to be about a week’s worth of earnings for one of The Queen Mary’s girls.
“That’s not it. I was just wondering how far 100,000 ecrue would get me, if I were to, say, tag along with Niera and her party and have them teach me how to explore a Labyrinth. See, I’m kind of getting lectured by the Guild to increase my Adventurer activities, not just smithing.”
Ossan let out a laugh and a “Uwaa, it’s hard to max rank both Craftsman and Adventurer,” while Niera knit her eyebrows together in deep thought.
It’s not like I’m trying to max rank both of them.
Though I did think about it.
“I see. There are people who make that kind of commission too. It usually pays between 10,000 to 20,000 ecrue a day.”
“Hm? Though escort quests into the Labyrinth are 5,000 to 10,000 ecrue?”
Ossan was kind of surprised.
“Yep. The people who ask to be escorted without any objective other than to adventure in the Labyrinth aren’t looked highly upon, so the price is higher to deter hyenas who just want to piggyback off of others. Nowadays it’s usually some rich kid who wants to play in the Labyrinth. High ranking parties like our Valor of Arms Brigade usually don’t take those commissions, because sometimes people want to scout out our secrets and tricks in how to be successful in the Labyrinth.”
Oh, so then maybe this won’t work.
“I see, then nevermi-“
“Well, it’s not impossible if it’s Jun-chan. It just turns out there’s some circumstances right now that would make bringing you around the Labyrinth more interesting, though I’ll have to ask the others. Anyway, I will pay the extra 100,000 ecrue in a few days. The commission to our Brigade is something separate. In this case, since you did something for me, but are requesting a party of 4 for something, it’s not a 1-to-1 exchange. It’s best to keep them as separate transactions.”
“Hm… Niera-chan, Niera-chan, I have a suggestion…”
Ossan, why do you have that look in your eyes?
<T/N: Thank you LYNKZ and ROBERT for your donations! >