Chapter 20: A Perilous Journey (5)

After last night’s attack, I managed to get a bit of sleep.

Sirien held out for quite a while on the first watch. Longer than I expected.

When she cautiously nudged me awake, she looked like she was about to cry, but she seemed to have endured well on her own.

However, she was quite scared of the night until she fell back asleep.

“Ugh, the leaves keep rustling in the wind… and there are strange noises too. I’m sorry, but could you stay with me for a bit? Just for a moment.”

“Why not just sleep? You’ve done enough.”

“Really? Then just for a little while, hold my hand again.”

So, I spent the night with one hand held captive, and Sirien, who had fallen into a deep sleep, woke up to a painful morning.

- Teach me how to use a sword starting tomorrow

- Even just the basics.

The bold words she spoke last night came to mind, but it seemed unlikely I’d be teaching her any swordsmanship today.

The young lady was groaning in pain from severe muscle aches.

This might be the first time Sirien had ever experienced such pain.



Sirien froze as she tried to get up.

The sound of her bones cracking was loud enough to be heard clearly.

It probably wasn’t painful, but the sound coming from her body seemed quite shocking.

Her slightly open mouth seemed to say, ‘I’m shocked right now.’

Her bright eyes widened, and her red pupils looked at me with desperation.

Sirien was in an awkward position, neither sitting nor standing.

She seemed afraid to fully get up and equally scared to lie back down.

I was curious to see what she would choose next.

“Razen! Is there something wrong with my body?”

“It’s probably just muscle soreness. Where does it hurt?”

“My whole body hurts. I can understand why my legs hurt, but my shoulders, back, and waist hurt too. Even the slightest movement feels like my body is being squeezed. What should I do? Is it serious?”

What else? You just need to move to relieve the soreness.

For an ordinary person, I would have said that and made them move, but unfortunately, she was a precious young lady.

I should show some sincerity on my part. Even a simple stretch could help.

It was not that I wanted to play a cruel joke on her.

Massaging sore muscles hurts more than you’d think, but that’s beyond my control.

“Come here. I’ll help you stretch.”

“Ugh! Okay, I’m coming.”

Sirien walked like a rusty, creaking robot.

Her steps were unnatural and awkward.

She must have been trying to move in the least painful way possible.

It was pointless. I was planning to force her to stretch anyway.

Besides, she could have just called for me, but that didn’t seem to occur to her.

I decided to wait. Watching her was entertaining, and there’s a saying that effort is beautiful.

Eventually, Sirien made it to me with more bone-cracking sounds. She looked like a dejected puppy as she trudged over.

As soon as she arrived, I grabbed her and started stretching her body. Without mercy.

“Eek! Ra-Razen, gently! Gently!”

“It won’t work if I’m gentle.”

“Aaah! I’ll hate you! I’ll never forgive you! Well, maybe not never, but I won’t forgive you easily! Aaah!”

So, she would forgive me after all?

They say forgiveness is easier than permission.

I massaged her legs again, which I had loosened up yesterday, and pressed hard on her back and waist where she said it hurt.

Sirien pouted a lot afterward, but after some coaxing, she calmed down quickly.

Sirien had always been surprisingly easy to deal with. Now, she was blushing a little and staring off into the distance.

That’s where the one following us was. Was she still worried? I didn’t think too deeply about it.

I asked Sirien to prepare breakfast while I processed the wolf I had killed yesterday.

It was less of a meticulous process and more of a rough hacking and tearing at the skin and meat, so I didn’t get as much out of it as I hoped.

Sirien was startled when she saw me covered in the beast’s blood.

By lunchtime, we were back on the road.

Our pace was slower than yesterday’s because Sirien had developed many blisters on her feet.

I increased our rest breaks to make the walking less painful for her.

This proved to be a good decision. Sirien seemed to struggle less than she had the previous day.

The increase in her chatter was proof of that.

“Oh! I just remembered, you were going to teach me how to use the sword today. Can we start after lunch?”


Sirien chatted away, noting how the weather was better today and how there seemed to be a fragrant smell in the forest.

Her characteristic unfounded confidence was still there.

It seemed Sirien believed she had a knack for physical activities, and she thought she’d improve quickly once she started learning the sword.

But, as expected, Sirien showed no talent for the sword.

Not only did she lack talent, but she also struggled to wield the sword properly.

The sword felt quite heavy and substantial even to me, so it must have been overwhelming for Sirien.

However, it wasn’t just a matter of the sword or strength. Surprisingly, her physical strength wasn’t the main issue.

Until now, we hadn’t realized Sirien’s physical strength because she never had to use it directly.

Her strength was just enough to pass muster. After all, the Grand Duchess of Eilencia had no reason to toil.

There were always people around to do the heavy lifting for her.

But thinking back, there was no reason for Sirien to be weak. Before we entered the cabin, Sirien always ate well and moved actively around the castle.

Her elderly maid could hardly keep up with her.

This meant she had a good diet and high activity level, resulting in Sirien having the body of a very healthy twelve-year-old girl.

So, when she first swung the sword a few times, I wondered if this might actually work.

When I told her that her initial swings were okay, Sirien’s eyes sparkled.

“See! I might have talent! They always said I was quick to learn anything!”

“Well… you certainly were good at studying.”

“Not just studying. It was the same with dancing. If I get good at using the sword, I might eventually be better at fighting than you, Razen.”

The Grand Duchess of Eilencia spoke grandly, but as mentioned earlier, the results were disappointing.

Her initial swings were fine, but even after correcting her posture, there was no noticeable improvement.

She only improved as much as she was taught, which was still not enough to be considered good.

Sirien, who always excelled in everything, was surprisingly average with the sword.

It was hard to shake off the thought that she was just mediocre at this.

Her technique for applying force was not refined.

She used too much force when swinging strongly and couldn’t stop when she needed to.

She did well with what she was told, but only exactly that.

Her movements were too stiff, and there were too many things to correct.

She especially struggled with linking more than two actions together.

It seemed she couldn’t adapt well on the fly, resulting in unnatural movements.

She had never been good at quick thinking.

If she continued, she would improve, but it seemed unlikely that either of us would be satisfied with the progress.

“Ugh! I quit!”

In the end, Sirien threw down the sword in frustration.

Even then, she didn’t throw it hard, worried about damaging it.

Somehow, the Grand Duchess’s anger had become cheaper than a single sword.

“Is there anything else?”


Anything else. There wasn’t much.

We didn’t have many weapons.

I used one sword, and Sirien had a spare, both of which were similar in size and weight.

Other than that, there was…

“A dagger and a hand axe? I have the dagger with me right now.”

I had taken them from the bodies of those who had died in the cabin. They hadn’t even put up much of a fight.

Neither seemed particularly appealing.

The dagger was easy to handle but impractical.

To use it, Sirien would have to get closer than with a sword, making it difficult to face even a wolf like the one we encountered yesterday.

Sirien fighting a wolf with a dagger didn’t seem likely to end well.

“If you’re going to fight at close range anyway, the axe is probably better than the dagger.”

“Then I’ll try the axe first.”

“Are you sure? There’s a reason it’s not our primary choice.”

The axe is easy to use and quite powerful, but its short range is a significant drawback.

Especially if the opponent is not human but a monster with superior physical abilities.

I didn’t want to give Sirien such a weapon for self-defense.

Using it as a throwing weapon might be an option, but whether it was knife throwing or axe throwing, teaching a beginner wasn’t going to be easy.

Even I wasn’t very confident with axe throwing.

I had only learned the basics, just enough to be cautious if I ever had to fight barbarians.

I think the movement went like this.

“Can you follow along? Hold the handle at the end, and move your wrist like this…”

It had been a long time since I had tried this, so I wasn’t sure if I could demonstrate it well.

Fortunately, when I tried, the axe somehow embedded itself into the tree.

And when Sirien threw it. I was on high alert, expecting it to fly in a strange direction, but that wasn’t necessary.

Sirien’s throw embedded the axe into the tree even more sharply than mine.


“This is it!”

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