“Five…even this doesn’t work…”
He moved around lightly to test the effects, but his body couldn’t keep up with the increased strength. He seemed to have hurt his muscles so he lied on the ground and spread his arms and legs. He groaned.
“I have more magic power, but my body can’t handle it. Even if it’s little by little, I have to get my body accustomed to handling more power.”
Loss of muscle was a major blow, as he was unable to swing the sword as he pictured in his head.
Muscle, technique, and magic. Everything was out of balance.
But with more magic power, there was more room for improvement.
If he trained hard enough, he would be much stronger than he ever was (which was three days ago).
“Stronger than that time, eh…”
The year following the great invasion was a year of desperation for Kyle.
He had to fight. To stay alive, he had to win. He did anything he could possibly do to stay alive and win the battles. And before he knew it, he had become the strongest magic swordsman.
All of this did come with a price. He had to resort to forbidden strength enhancing spells, secret medicine, and as a result of the repeated use of such methods, his body was tattered. Regardless of how much he rests, he most likely would have died within ten years.
“I’m going to get strong while staying healthy…and have an awesome life after retirement!”
Kyle decided his last goal in life.
“I don’t know if that’s a modest goal or an unreasonable one,” said someone from nearby. Kyle was startled and jumped up.
A healthy, tan, and large woman who was about 30 years old had suddenly approached Kyle. She was suited up in a battered armor and was armed with a two-handed sword.
Her face was well refined, but beautiful at the same time.
She’s in the same generation as Kyle’s mother Seraiya, but in a different sense, she was very young.
“Shi…Shishō!? Since when were you…”
Shishō (師匠) is a Japanese title used to refer to or address teachers or masters of traditional Japanese arts including, but not limited to, martial arts. The word is combination of the kanji shi (師), meaning "teacher", and shō (匠), meaning "craftsman".
Her name was Leila. She was Kyle’s sword mentor and former gladiator herself. She was also Seran’s foster mother.
Gladiators are those who fight against other humans or demons or anything that can cause harm to humans. They are the ones who fight in arenas for glory.
It’s a dangerous profession, but comes with tons of fame and glory.
While other gladiators either quit because of an injury or were killed, Leila has been undefeated for five years in the continent’s largest Arena located in Ruos, the capital of the Garugan Empire.
After retiring 10 years ago, she had complicated relationships and decided to come to Rimaze and depended on Seraiya, and old friend.
Kyle was told that she adopted her benefactor’s orphan, who turned out to be Seran.
She has a habit of wandering around, and anyone you knew it, she’d be gone. Her clothes were dirty, so you could tell she just came back from a ‘wandering journey.’
“S…since when were you watching?”
“You were killed at least six times. I counted. What kind of crazy demon have you been battling? If this was a real battle, you’d be dead in 5 seconds.”
“….I tried to last at least 10 seconds.”
Seraiya had been watching Kyle fight in the dim light.
“It’s good practice to challenge a foe that is stronger than you, but when the difference in ability is too great…its no use….but anyways, where did you meet this opponent? You seem to have put together quite a realistic illusion.”
“…It’s just my imagination. I just tried to think of the strongest enemy I could come up with. By the way, I wanted to ask, if you were to fight this enemy, how would you defeat it?”
“You mean me? Well…I’ll take a risk and step forward, maybe lose an arm or a leg, and get up in between the spaces. Then I’ll give one big blow. If that doesn’t kill him, then I’d lose.”
“I see…That’s what I thought you’d do.”
In fact, it was the exact method in which Kyle defeated the demon king. After realizing that his methods mimicked that of his mentor, he let out a small laugh.
“Anyways, I’m proud of you. You’re practicing even when I’m not around. I had a feeling you’re the only one that had something special and was worth teaching.”
Leila was one of the top swordsmen in the world, and in her eyes, Kyle was one of the few “chosen” ones who had an extraordinary ability.
In fact, since being mentored by Leila, Kyle’s skills grew even further.
But Kyle at that time was not that motivated, so he was sometimes criticized for it.
“You still teach Seran though.”
“That’s because he’s technically my son. I have no choice, so I teach him even if I know it’s of no use. If it weren’t for that, I wouldn’t teach that stupid kid anything.”
Leila often said: Kyle’s a failing student, and Seran was the worst student.
“Either way, I’m impressed at how much you’ve grown, Kyle.”
The physical attributes haven’t changed much since Leila left for her “trip,” but his techniques were as if he had been building up on one experience after another.
The most noticeable change was his mental preparation.
He used to be like some dog who just sunbathed in the fields, but now, he’s a lion ready to fight.
“Even your magic has become better, and most of all…you’re more organized…what happened to you?”
Kyle decided that it was not a wise idea to try and fool an intelligent warrior like her.
So he decided to hide some of the truth: “I just had a slight change of feeling. I decided that I’m going to seriously train my sword and magic skills.”
No matter what happens, the stronger he gets, the more things he can do.
“…You….You changed so much, you’re making me sick.”
She really did look sick.
“With all due respect, it’d be great if you can honestly accept and appreciate your student’s growth.”
“People often say to shed a layer of skin. But you seem like you’ve shed four or five layers…Anyways, are you sure it’s just a change of heart? I sense there’s something more to it than just a little change in feeling.”
“There’s nothing….I just really want to be strong,” said a determined Kyle, gripping his sword tight.
“…Did you eat any spoiled food? Are you sure you’re okay?”
“It kinda hurts that you’re actually worried about that…”
“I wonder what that guy is up to.”
“I know. It’s so unusual of him.”
A little into the distance, Seran and Lize were in the bushes watching the two.
Lize was curious about Kyle when he left the house and followed him, and picked up Seran who was also just wandering around. She decided not to talk to Kyle, who was swinging his sword around and decided to just peek.
“Even my mom knows that something’s up with Kyle. I still don’t know how he got so much more skillful all of a sudden.”
It’s been a while since Seran actually watched Kyle practice his sword techniques, but he couldn’t believe that Kyle had gotten that much more skilled.
“Is it possible to become like that in such a short period of time?....But if there’s one thing I’m sure of, it’s that Kyle isn’t possessed or anything. This is the real Kyle.”
He’s sure of this because he’s known Kyle for such a long time, but at the same time, he sensed that something was off.
“Yeah, in principle, nothing much has changed. It’s as if I haven’t met him in several years.”
She initially thought it was because she hit him hard, but after observing him for a few days, she realized that that wasn’t the case.
“I can’t believe it’s the same guy who I took a piss with on an ant hill three days ago and said it was ‘flooding’.”
Leila walked over after finishing with Kyle: “You two are always doing stupid things.”
“Oh hey mom, I knew you’d see us here.”
“Welcome back Leila-san.”
“I’m back, Lize-chan. You’re probably the only one who greets me anymore.”
“I see you’ve returned from being almost dead. Again.”
“And I see you still haven’t gotten yourself killed, stupid son. You better not have caused trouble to Lize-chan.”
“He came over every day.”
Lize honestly reported to her.
“We’ll talk about this later….but whatever the hell happened to Kyle? He’s acting strange.”
Leila asked if the two were watching because they knew something was up as well, and the two simply nodded in agreement.
“Y…You’re right. Kyle always had the look of a dead fish, but suddenly, he has goals in mind! As if he was motivated to do something! It makes me sick!”
“I can’t believe it’s the same guy who said his dream was to screw around and live off whatever he inherits!”
“I know how you’ve been perceiving Kyle….but that means…neither of you know why he’s suddenly changed..”
Leila was hoping that the two would know the reason behind his sudden change.
“Since the morning on the day before yesterday, he suddenly started acting strange. I don’t know what happened, but whenever I ask about it, he changes the subject. I can’t believe he won’t even tell his best friend.”
“Well~ if there’s one reason a loser like that would suddenly change…”
Leila crossed her arms and thought about it, and suddenly clapped her hands.
“He got a girlfriend!”
Seran screamed and Lize froze over.
“Put more accurately, he now understands women. He must have matured, that bastard.”
To Leila, Kyle was like another son. She smirks.
But that wasn’t the case for the two youngsters next to her.
“Damn it! He’s leaving me out of all the fun! I’m never going to forgive him!”
Seran’s fists were clenched. He was burning with rage.
“Did he not say best friend just a while ago?”
“There are exceptions for everything! Nothing more evil that I know of.”
Though Leila thought that jealousy among boys was stupid, she asked a question that everyone had in mind.
“But if that’s the case, who is his partner?”
“You’re right. Who could it be? The most plausible candidate is frozen right in front of me, so it can’t be her. And I’m not trying to show off, but there are no girls in this town who have feelings towards either of us.”
Seran was looking at Lize the entire time.
“Surely you can’t be serious about showing off.”
“Either way, you’re right. That’s probably the only thing that can cause him to change this much. But damn, who could it be?”
Lize, who was too shocked to do anything, slowly began to move.
Leila stopped Seran, who was about to say something to her.
“If you value your life, it’s probably best to shut up.”
“I can feel the animosity in the air.”
Seran wiped the sweat from his forehead, and watched as Lize approached Kyle.
“Okay. Confess. Who is it?”
“Ooooohhhhhh…w..what are you talking about? What are you suddenly asking me?”
Kyle had his hands on his waist and was greeted by a punch in the stomach by a childhood friend.
“Stop messing with me! Who is it?!”
“Ca..calm down…I kind of understand what you’re getting at, but it’s a misunderstanding! How did you even reach that conclusion!?”
“Leila-san and Seran both confirmed my suspicions!”
“Those two never say anything meaningful. You know that girls our age aren’t interested in neither Seran nor myself.”
Though that was the truth, it pained Kyle to say it aloud.
Before Kyle started slacking off, he was actually quite popular. Not anymore.
“It’s probably true that you can’t win over any girl’s heart in this entire town…but if that’s the case then what is it? A threat? Did you use brainwashing? Put her under a spell? Or drugs?!”
“Are you crazy? I wouldn’t commit such a crime!”
“If it’s nothing crime related then….did you force Aria-chan!?”
That was a girl that was close to Kyle, and Lize treated her like a little sister as well.
“She’s only three! What kind of monster do you think I am?”
“Then...is….is it Leizel-sama?!”
This time it was the opposite. Someone who treated Kyle and his buddies like grandchildren. She was basically the elder member of the town.
“Are you kidding me?! She’s almost 100! Why is your impression of me so crazy!?”
“B…because, there’s no other females in town that like you!”
“You don’t have to be that mean! That’s why at that time I’ll properly….”
It was too late to stop his gaping mouth.
“At that time? Properly?”
“It was a misunderstanding…. Quit it! Stop strangling me! It hurts!”
Of course, Kyle couldn’t tell her that she was the one.