Chapter 5 – Our First Combat Training

  • by lemuel moo
“Alrighty class! We are going to have our first combat training of this semester!”
 
It was early in the morning and our class had a briefing at the entrance of Yildirim Woods with Kasumi. It was still misty and the sky was a brilliant dark bluish hue as the sun was beginning to rise from the east.
 
Staring at the entrance, memories of my encounter with the assassin flooded my mind. What eventually happened to the assassin?
 
“Since fifteen years ago, schools are mandated to include combat training as part of their curriculum and only a few years ago they are required to include combat instructors to emphasize specialization at this craft.”
 
“You guys have only received basic hand-to-hand and cultivation of energy, in short, ‘qi'[1] or energy training in middle school. Some of you did some extra curriculum involving various types of weapons and tools.”
 
I was considered as an elite in this field in school by my peers because my mom and sis trained me in self-defense since I was young. However, with my recent encounter with an assassin, I doubt I was any good at all.
 
My sister was already renown at my age as the ‘Gatekeeper of Sigrun’. ‘B’ level assassins were manageable to her even then. I determined in my mind to keep up with my sister in terms of strength. Otherwise, our Sigrun family could not hold our heads around as the guardians of secrets.
 
“As we missed a number of combat training sessions early in our semester, we will have to speed up our evaluation and nurturing of your combat skills. I will be measuring your individual capabilities today and come up with a semi-customized training method to boost your strengths and work on your weaknesses.
 
I want you all to come at me with everything that you have. We have the Yildirim Woods here, and there is another exit at the other side of the woods. Yildirim Woods is about two thousand square miles, but the exit I will meet you at is about ten miles from here. Each of you has a portable map and a compass with you, so make sure none of you gets lost!
 
As you all navigate through the woods, your objective is to land as many clean hits on me as you can before I reach the other exit, and the one who manages to impress me the most will get a reward. You can work individually or in groups, but I will assess you on an individual basis at the end of this exercise.”
 
Our class was excited about the prospects of a reward.
 
“What kind of rewards do you have in mind?”
 
Kasumi placed her finger on her cheek and thought for a moment.
 
“For the girls, would you like an exclusive date with Hideki if one of you wins?”
 
“Kya~!”
 
Wow, the girls were fired up in unison! It was nice but I was not too sure if it was that worthy of a reward for me though. Hideki was frowning at Kasumi’s suggestion.
 
“Sis! How can you use me as a reward?!”
 
Kasumi knuckled Hideki on the head without hesitation in response.
 
“It’s Miss Mizushima or Teacher, and not Sis. What’s the problem? It’s only an exclusive date with fully-paid expenditure from you for a day!”
 
“I-It has to come from my own pocket too?!”
 
“Stop whining. I gave you your allowance, remember?”
 
The guys of our class were riled up now since the rewards were about going out on dates.
 
“How about the guys, Miss Mizushima? Do we get a fully paid date with you as well?”
 
“I expect the guys in our class to be gentlemen and be paying for everything for a girl on a first date.”
 
That’s cunning, Kasumi! This reward is entirely in your favor!
 
“But yes, we can have that as a reward. I will even drop in a kiss if you want.”
 
“YEAH!”
 
Now the guys were on fire too! Except for Hideki and Gale. It was understandable for Hideki, but Gale didn’t even look impressed.
 
Kasumi laughed at the spectacle of youth.
 
“Now there is a punishment if you do not try hard enough. I will personally judge that according to my own interpretation, so I want you to do your best.”
 
Kasumi was looking straight at Gale when she said that. Gale sighed and nodded back.
 
As we were preparing our weapons and tools, Hideki came over to me to check how I was doing.
 
“My sister is definitely an ‘A’ grade fighter, so we need not pull back our punches at her.”
 
Instead of using my wooden extendable brush, I brought out my custom-made alloy extendable brush with the same length. The brush tip was also made of the same alloy. As I took out my weapon, Hideki suddenly thought of something.
 
”Have you mastered the [Curse Ink Technique] yet?”
 
I shook my head. If I had, we wouldn’t be in so much trouble with the assassin previously.
 
The [Curse Ink Technique] was a combination of calligraphy, martial arts, and magic, where I was supposed to produce magical ink on my brush using my energy imbued with magic and draw on the opponent.
 
Various effects could be done on those drawn by the ink, where the ink would burn, freeze or even stop the movement of those who were painted by the ink.
 
At present, I couldn’t effectively convert energy into [Curse Ink] yet as it demanded a huge amount of energy to use the magic sequences that were embedded in my body for the conversion. Thus I was only able to use my brush as a sword. On the other hand, my sister was an ‘S’ rank fighter who could fight using [Curse Ink] with ease.
 
I looked around to see what was my bodyguard doing. Gale did not seem like he was going to use a weapon or a tool. His eyes were closed and he leaned against a tree in a laid-back manner.
 
I wonder how was he going to fight against Kasumi when he was weak to girls.
 
”At the drop of the coin, you guys can start coming after me.”
 
Kasumi flipped a coin, and all of our eyes were glued to the coin. I noticed that Gale had his eyes still closed.
 
Is Gale that confident or he is not going to bother?
 
”Ding!”
 
Kasumi immediately disappeared into the woods and everyone ran in after her, except for Gale.
 
Sheesh, he’s not going to treat this seriously, isn’t it?
 
Kasumi kept her pace just slightly ahead of us. After running for some time, I noticed that some of our classmates couldn’t keep up and began to slow down.
 
She’s testing our stamina and endurance.
 
One of our male classmates eventually caught up with her. Using a spear, he thrust towards Kasumi which she jumped and dodged easily.
 
”You guys have to do better than that!”
 
A series of shurikens were thrown towards where she was about to land, but Kasumi used her unsheathed katana to strike the ground and catapult herself on to a nearby tree’s branches.
 
Arrows were shot at where she landed but she jumped away.
 
”Alright, I’m going to separate you guys now.”
 
Kasumi clutched her hands and form a hand seal. Suddenly a fog rose out of nowhere and shrouded our visibility. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.
 
”Kasumi knows ninjutsu?!”
 
”She said she picked up some tricks during her freelance work.”
 
It wasn’t just the fog, but five silhouettes of Kasumi emerged suddenly and were running in all different directions.
 
I doubt any of us could tell which was the real Kasumi, so our classmates divided among ourselves to pursue Kasumi. Hideki with Sang chose to follow me.
 
The fog eventually cleared and the silhouette vanished as well. We realized we completely lost Kasumi.
 
 ”I doubt she will leave the woods without properly accessing our strength, so let’s not hurry to the other exit that quickly and survey around.”
 
That was a good plan from Hideki. I was also not sure where we were because of the fog, so we needed to spend a few moments in order to orientate ourselves.
 
Suddenly there was a rustle in the bushes at a distance and all of us began running towards it. The rustling noise moved away from us, so we picked up the pace to hunt it down. Sang got impatient after some time and threw a punch towards the bushes.
 
”Wham!”
 
”Oww!”
 
Sang hit somebody, but it was a man’s voice!
 
There was a series of tumbling noises that indicated that the guy who was struck was falling down a slope.
 
We didn’t know who was punched, so we went towards the poor guy and found ourselves in a clearing. There was a group of tough looking people wearing leather and motorbikes were everywhere!
 
The poor guy who was punched seemed to have been knocked out cold, and those people looked at him for a moment, and then us.
 
This looked like a biker gang and it took a split second to realize that we were headed for trouble!
 
“So why are three students from Aelfsige Academy here and why did you punch one of our guys?”
 
”We are so sorry. We are having some combat training in these woods and we are having a competition with our combat instructor.”
 
Upon closer inspection, the people surrounding us looked like delinquents who were around our age. A spiky hair and well-built guy, having metal chains all around him, inspected the unconscious person and then walked towards us.
 
”How the hell did you manage to attack a guy who was just trying to take a piss and mistake him for your combat training? Is it a poor excuse to look down on us here? You guys are rich people who get to study in an expensive private school.”
 
I gulped. I was not sure if this uncouth person was going to talk reason at all and an altercation seemed unavoidable.
 
”No really, we heard some rustling in the bushes and —“
 
Sang got punched by another guy nearby and he crashed on to the ground. I hurriedly checked out Sang to see if he was alright.
 
”We got picked on by many rich people from your school before, and I believe one of them came from your school. If I recall, by the name of… Nakano Satori?”
 
”Yea! There was one time one of her guys tripped and stepped on one of us, and then had the cheek to say, ‘Oh I’m sorry, I didn’t notice there were bugs!’“
 
Hideki stepped forward in anger.
 
”It was an honest mistake! We really apologize for attacking one of you by accident! We are not affiliated with Nakano Satori in any way and surely you don’t have to take it out on us when you all have a problem with her?!”
 
That spikey hair guy then spat on the ground and walked towards Hideki.
 
“Combat training huh? Want to have a go with me?”
 
Hideki gripped his katana tightly at being provoked. I quickly helped Sang to stand and pulled Hideki back.
 
”This isn’t the time! Let’s just leave here and head towards the exit!”
 
Without a word, Hideki, Sang and I backed out and head back from where we came from. Neither any of them gave chase towards us.
 
I heaved a sigh of relief at the notion that it really could have been far worse.
 
We definitely lost the mood of enjoying our combat training, so we made our way back to meet with the rest at the exit.
 
Suddenly Kasumi ambushed us out of nowhere and threw a punch at me!
 
Startled, I reflexively used my brush to block the punch, but it was a feint and she used her other hand to try to claw at my sides!
 
I immediately jumped back and drew a [天] with my brush. Using calligraphy strokes as swordplay, I somehow managed to stop her from unleashing her next wave of attacks.
 
”Nice reactions!”
 
Kasumi then faced Sang to attack. Hideki slashed with his sheathed sword at Kasumi’s back from behind but Kasumi side-stepped the attack and knocked Hideki with her own sheathed katana with her back still facing him.
 
”That’s a good try but you need to be faster.”
 
Sang knew he was in trouble and threw a series of punches towards Kasumi. Kasumi dodged every single punch while moving forward and lightly pushed Sang’s chest with one of her hands.
 
”Your punches are okay but you need to focus on where you are hitting.”
 
Afterward, Kasumi jumped out of the area and shouted:
 
”I am done with you guys! Meet you at the exit!”
 
Hideki, Sang and I looked at each other.
 
“That was really quick!”
 
We hadn’t walked for long after our encounter with Kasumi and we found ourselves in another clearing near the exit. Gale and Kasumi were facing off each other in the middle of the clearing, and Kasumi addressed Gale before they began.
 
”So you finally decided to be serious, Gale?”
 
“I have to be the last person for you to access, otherwise you might not be able to play with the rest of the class.”
 
”Feeling cocky eh? You think you could take me out early?”
 
Gale reached into his pocket and grabbed what seemed to be like chocolate.
 
”In order for me to be serious, I need to eat this chocolate. Is that okay with you?”
 
”Sure, do whatever it takes.”
 
That chocolate was definitely a mystery. Gale ate it and his countenance became focused while he took a moment to hasten the absorption of the chocolate with his energy.
 
Kasumi ran towards Gale after he was ready and Gale immediately crossed his arms before Kasumi reached him. A dark mist gathered around him in an instant.
 
That’s the same technique that Gale used to fight with the assassin!
 
Kasumi threw many punches towards Gale, but Gale deflected and redirected all these punches away from himself.
 
Suddenly, a palm struck on Kasumi’s chest in the midst of blows and Kasumi backed up by three paces. It was a light hit and Kasumi was not injured.
 
”Wow, you are definitely good! I didn’t expect you to be so much better than me at unarmed combat!”
 
Gale disappeared and came crashing from above with his palms. His palms looked like they were brimming with a dark aura and facing them head on seemed like a bad idea.
 
Kasumi immediately unsheathed her sword and unleashed her [Waterfall Slash].
 
I didn’t know how Gale did it, but he was able to side-step the slash attack in mid-air and unleashed a dark energy blast to attack Kasumi’s side with one of his palms.
 
It was too sudden for Kasumi to dodge, so she blocked it with her blade and launched a series of counter-attack slashes towards Gale.
 
Gale did not use his palms to meet the slashes. Instead, he targeted Kasumi’s hands as he was close enough to her and deflected every attack, while Kasumi tried to push forward undeterred.
 
Suddenly Gale tripped and Kasumi had an opening to land a clean hit. She swung downwards and managed to stop before her blade reached Gale while Gale was on the floor.
 
Our classmates happened to walk into the clearing at that exact moment, and they saw Kasumi with her blade over Gale.
 
”Wow Miss Mizushima! Looks like you defeated Gale!”
 
That timing was too precise and I was sure Kasumi noticed it as well.
 
Kasumi gave a wry smile as she sheathed her blade. If I were her I would also be pretty annoyed at Gale for giving away the match.
 
That signaled the end of the combat training session and the class gathered at the exit for a final briefing.
 

 
“Well, this is the end of our training session. Some of you guys turn out to be really good with combat! Wales, Serena and Wiley! You guys are really outstanding!”
 
Our class cheered and gave a round of applause.
 
”As you know, combat skills doesn’t give you an edge in terms of academics. Even if you feel you don’t excel in it, it shouldn’t stop you from other passions or dreams. 
 
The only reason why you want to pursue combat skills is if you want to work in very specialized areas like the “Special Police Force’ or the army. They are recruiting very heavily now and that’s why schools everywhere are required to provide a combat curriculum.
 
We also have an annual competition within our school, and the top best talent will be identified to compete in the inter-school competition. I encourage you all to give it your best shot, and make memories of your achievements!
 
Serena! You are going to have an exclusive date with Hideki!”
 
The class erupted with cheers and cat-calls. Hideki sighed and joined in the cheering as well.
 
“Gale, come forward.”
 
Gale came before Kasumi. Without warning, Kasumi pressed her lips against Gale’s lips and kissed him.
 
The class gasped out loud! I couldn’t contain the shock too!
 
”That’s your reward for being the best among the guys and your punishment for letting me win. I intended to kiss you in private, but you had to pull off that stunt just now.”
 
Gale was beet red with embarrassment and every one was looking at Gale.
 
“We will meet this Saturday at ten in the morning okay? Since you have to be a bodyguard to Clere, bring her along as well.”
 
I finally realized Kasumi was actually serious about Gale. I was just the cushion to prevent the others from thinking likewise.

[1] Energy is also referred to as [气 qì] for the Chinese or [chi] for the Japanese. It is the life force that animates the human body.

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