The Boy’s Growth
「No. Don’t run like that. You’re making a lot of noise like a goose waddling about.」
「An expert makes less sound than a hair dropping on the floor.」
「You use your knees and ankles as a spring to absorb sound.」
「Make it so you can use it right away even while walking.」
Mille’s short sword classes were starting to get serious. Hikaru didn’t study how to attack, but rather how to maneuver in fights.
「The short sword’s weakest and strongest point is the length of its blade. As I’ve explained before, it’s very portable. You can preserve stamina during long travels, climb cliffs and swim rivers easily.」Mille said.
「So you’re saying the weapon is suited for scouting.」
「The best scouts don’t even bring weapons. They just use their eyes and ears, and then focus on running with all they’ve got.」
「I see… Do assault teams use short swords, then?」
「Yup. Climbing walls under the cover of night, kill enemies, and steal their weapons. It makes sense to use short swords in such missions. They can just use the stolen weapons afterwards.」
「I don’t plan to enter the army, but thanks for the info.」
「Oh? You want to be an adventurer?」
Building C was now neat and tidy, with a small blackboard and three desks and chairs.
「Yeah, something like that.」
「If you want to be an adventurer, I suggest you use long swords or long spears. Or so I’d like to say, but short swords can actually be handy.」
「Like how you can swing them around in a narrow passage inside dungeons?」
「If you already know all this, do you even need to come to my lectures?」
「Having a third party verify my theories is helpful. Besides, I’m an overly-theoretical guy. I want to learn directly how to move about.」
Hikaru was practicing how to fight at the back of the building. Footwork, how to draw your weapon, shifting one’s center of gravity, among others. Mille had the ability to effectively organize her knowledge and experience. All Hikaru had to do was absorb whatever was explained to him.
「We’ll end here today.」
「O-Okay. Thank you.」
After moving about for two full hours, Hikaru couldn’t move anymore. He lay outstretched on the ground. Sweat soaked his whole body, stinging his eyes. He wiped the sweat off with his sleeves. While Scholarzard was a country situated in the north, it was summer. The sunlight was too strong.
「Why do you insist on using short swords?」Mille asked.
She was seated on a folding chair under the shade. Legs crossed, Hikaru could see under her skirt, but as usual he didn’t feel anything at all.
I guess it’s true what they say. It’s arousing when you can just almost see it.
Yellow was the color of her underwear today.
「Because… my fighting style is suited for covert stuff.」
「You’re kidding, right? You’re a complete amateur the way you carry yourself.」
Hikaru was well aware that even though he had points on Strength and Power Burst, he still moved like a complete amateur. And that was exactly why this class would help greatly. Even a novice like Hikaru could go about unnoticed by a master with the help of his Stealth. He was certain that if he mastered actual stealth movement, he could further improve his Stealth skill.
「Did you study under someone?」Hikaru asked.
「Yeah. Where I’m from, Jarazack, there’s a clear division of duties. Men fight while women support.」
「Wait, you’re from Jarazack?」
「Yes. Is there something wrong about that?」
「Well, you’re not hairy…」
「Only the men are hairy.」
Is that so…
「Magic, scouting, long-range fighting; those are the roles of the women. Men from Jarazack all have brawn for brains. Charging straight into enemy lines while swinging their weapons is all they know.」
「Oh… Today I learned.」
Hikaru recalled the woman escorting the historian and heir to the ancient Poelnxinia dynasty Gafrasti, Aglaia van Houtens. She had an incredible six points on Instinct.
「Do you know Aglaia van Houtens?」
「The prime minister’s cousin? I heard she’s a strange one. If I recall correctly, she apparently uses magic sourced from an evil god.」
「Is she skilled?」
「No idea. I studied healing magic. I despised accursed magic.」
Healing magic users were evil god haters.
「Did you get to know the prime minister through Aglaia van Houtens?」she asked.
「Don’t just lay there smiling!」
「Are covert types rare these days?」Hikaru asked.
「There’s very few people who use short swords as their main weapon. But there are plenty of people who learn it since it’s useful for night raids.」
「So it’s basically used as a back-up weapon.」
Right now I just want to learn how short sword wielders carried themselves. I don’t have plans to put more points on Short Sword at the moment. I already maxed my Throwing as well.
Mille cleared her throat before speaking again.
「Anyway, we’re done for the day, right?」
Slowly, Hikaru got up to his feet. They had an agreement. First Mille would not binge drink. So far so good. That was partly because of Hikaru’s meddling. But if she didn’t drink, her stress would pile up so he allowed her to drink as long as she was within his sight.
「All right. I’m gonna change. Meet me at the usual place.」he said.
「Okay!」she cheerfully exclaimed, raising her hand.
Hikaru returned home, took a bath to get rid off the sweat, changed, and headed out to the business district. He arrived at a somewhat hidden tavern that Mille came across. It had a rather straightforward name – Three Cheers for Booze. There was only one menu during the day, and the place wasn’t too crowded or empty.
「Oh, Hikaru!」the manager greeted him.
「Hurry up, Hikaru!」Mille said, already seated on the counter.
The other customers stirred.
「Hey, is that the one?」
「Yeah. The kid who tamed Princess Drunkard.」
「I’ve never seen such a happy Mille before.」
Hikaru almost sighed in exasperation.
She’s happy because of the booze, not me.
He made his way to the other side of the counter, right beside the manager. Mille watched him with a smile.
「Master, what’s on the menu today?」Hikaru asked the manager.
「It’s seafood pasta. I feel awkward you calling me Master.」
「Come on. It sounds cool.」Mille said.
「This is a shabby pub. Just Manager is fine.」
「Despite its small size, it’s full at night. The food is delicious and you have different kinds of drinks. You seldom find taverns like this. Then again I haven’t really travelled the whole world. Hmm, this one’s good.」
Hikaru took an opened bottle of white wine from the fridge run by magic. He removed the cap and took a whiff of its refreshing aroma. Drinking it as it is would surely leave one craving for more. It had low alcohol content as well.
「Master, does this taste dry?」
「Yeah. I like it, but a lot of our customers don’t.」
「Do you have crème de cassis?」
「Crème de cassis?」
「It’s made from soaking blackcurrants in alcohol, then adding sugar afterwards.」
「We have something like that, though it’s made by soaking black plantberries in sugar and alcohol, not blackcurrants.」
The manager took some out on a plate, and Hikaru tasted them. He could feel the heat from the alcohol on his tongue.
「It has a little too much sugar and alcohol. But the flavor is just fine.」
As always Mille watched him with a smile as he was getting ready behind the counter. By the side, the manager prepared Hikaru and Mille’s pasta. Once again the place was buzzing.
「Hey, what’s that kid doing behind the counter with the manager?」
「You don’t know? He works as a bartender during the day.」
「But the man doesn’t feel satisfied unless he does everything.」
「Apparently the “highballs” that’ve been popular at night lately was the kid’s idea.」
In the meantime, Hikaru finished making the cocktail. The master was done as well, serving the pasta on wooden platters.
「Today we’re serving Kir, a cocktail made from crème de cassis topped up with white wine. Since we didn’t have blackcurrants for the cassis, we had to make do with black plantberries instead.」
「Here’s your seafood pasta.」
Mille went straight for the silver cup, overjoyed like a grade school student. She didn’t even bother taking the pasta. Frowning, the master placed the platter on the counter.
「Wine glasses would’ve been great.」
「Whoa, now. Glass-made things are expensive! People here will only break them once they’re drunk.」
「That’s a good point.」
Hikaru returned to the customer side of the counter.
「Hmm~! It’s cold and delicious! I can taste the aroma and sweetness of the fruit in my mouth!」
「Master, today’s pasta is perfect as well.」
「Why, thank you.」
Hikaru had nothing but respect to the man who served him such delicious meals. It was very delectable. The pasta that Pasta Magic served back in Pond was great as well, but it took advantage of the quality of the ingredients and as such, it was expensive.
This tavern was different. Hikaru could feel the ingenuity of the master. It was a tad bit salty perhaps because there were plenty of manual laborers around. While the garlic came strong, it didn’t overpower the flavor of the seafood. Just the perfect balance. And it only cost 50 gilans. Too cheap, but not enough to put the place in the red.
「More! 」Mille said.
「You remember our agreement, right? Only three glasses.」
「I know! More!」
「Yeah, I hear you.」
Hikaru stopped eating his pasta and was about to get down his seat.
「Wait, Hikaru. I can do this. Please let me.」the master said.
「Okay, it’s all yours.」
The master mixed wine and crème de cassis skillfully. Hikaru made a deal with the manager. In exchange for free drinks during lunch, he would teach him how to make cocktails. Ale and strong drinks sold well at night, but the other liquors and wine were left untouched. The manager was more than happy to agree with the terms.
As always only the stronger cocktails sold well, but other cocktails that women could enjoy gradually started selling as well. More women came and Three Cheers for Booze was starting to become livelier.
While they made cocktails in this world, they only used one kind of alcohol and diluted it with fruit juice. The idea of mixing alcohol and alcohol was a new concept to them.
「Please eat your pasta too, Professor. I made Kir since it goes well with the dish.」
「So this is called Kir?」
「Yes. It’s named after its creator. If you use sparkling wine instead of white wine, it’s called a Kir Royale.」
「Hmm~! This pasta is great too! Perfect after a day of working hard!」
「…Working hard, eh? Yeah, right.」
You were just sitting around while giving out instructions, Hikaru thought.
「Hey, Master! Give us some of that Kir as well!」
「One each for us too!」
「Coming right up. How much should I charge per glass?」The manager thought about it for a bit.「Thirty gilans will do, I guess.」
「Damn, that’s cheap!」Hikaru blurted out.
「Hahaha. You won’t last long in this industry if you charge too much. You should keep that in mind too, Hikaru.」the manager said.
Hikaru liked the guy more and more. He wasn’t really much of a businessman. Then again if he was, he wouldn’t let Mille, someone who doesn’t pay, drink in his tavern.
They were enjoying their meal when suddenly the door burst open, revealing Mikhail Jarazack stepping inside.
「Oh, you’re really here!」the hairy man said.