Sorry about the translation slow-down again. I suddenly got called into a casual job with only 2 days notice, which I’ll be working until Christmas. I don’t spend that long each day on it but it forces me to wake up before 4AM meaning that I’m tired for the rest of the day which in turn makes it rather difficult for the right words to come to me when translating. I have trouble falling asleep early, you see.
That’s more or less what’s causing the slow-down – actually slow translating.
The next day, Fii went looking for York.
She wanted to discuss her upcoming match against Luca with him.
Spotting him in the distance, she rushed over. He turned to face her.
“Captain! Good morning!”
“Heath? You’re lively as usual.”
Although she called out to him, he seemed to have been heading somewhere, so she asked if he was busy.
“It’s fine,” he replied.
And so, Fii promptly explained the situation to him.
York took a moment to think.
“Your build does disadvantage you in a straight fight. I’ve heard about Luca as well. It’s said that he’s quite a talented youth.”
It was difficult enough for Fii to draw with the people in her dorm. Dealing with the boy that even her dorm members were afraid of would be even harder.
Having said that, it wasn’t impossible.
Far from it, Fii was aiming to win.
With that in mind, it was natural to talk to her much respected Captain.
“Is there any way I can beat him?”
She was hoping that he knew of some way she could compensate for her inferior power and skill.
“Hmm, ability is everything in a match. Not only are you unsuited for swordsmanship competitions, you lack the experience and technique necessary to match him. This will be difficult.”
So even the Captain thought it was tough.
Not that Fii was surprised. Perhaps hoping for a victory when she was inferior in all departments was asking for a bit much.
“You still have a chance though.”
“Just one will do. Observe your opponent carefully, and find a weakness. Just one will do. Then build a strategy focused entirely on attacking it with everything you have.
“It would be asking for too much to expect an assured victory in your position. Still, aiming for a victory with even a 10% chance of success will be invaluable to your team mates.”
Thinking about it, both Gorms and Doug had been banking on just one out of their three bagging a victory.
Just one victory between her, Remié, and Slad.
In that case, Fii felt what she needed to do was simply increase her chance of victory as much as possible.
It wasn’t important to secure a victory. Simply increasing the odds would do.
Fii settled on a plan.
“Remember your match in the entry examinations. That was an example of somebody weaker grasping at victory against somebody stronger. Keep in mind though that even that will require ability.”
She thought back to her first match with Gorms.
Even though it had been the perfect chance to turn the tables, her body had failed her.
Fii suddenly noticed that York was smiling.
“I know how hard you have been working to gain that ability. I will also be watching the matches. I’m looking forward to it.”
“Y-…Yes!” she nodded happily.
Captain York acknowledged her efforts. Every day, Fii had been training hard to improve her endurance. She was even starting to be able to follow the normal training routine a little.
Each month the Captain would ask about it, and apparently he had been receiving reports from Crow-san as well.
Fii felt a little fidgety for some reason.
“Then I’ll go scout them out now!”
“Yeah, you do that.”
With that, Fii happily bounded off towards the Eastern Dormitory. It was time to scout the enemy.
And that was how Fii found herself observing the Eastern Dormitory training grounds.
“Oi, what the heck is…”
“One of the guys from the Northern Dorm? Why is he here…?”
On a thick branch, high up in the trees, stood Fii. She was incredibly conspicuous.
As for why she was in a tree, it was because she couldn’t see very well from the ground.
She was short, after all…
“Pay it no mind. He’s probably here to scout us out,” said Rizil to Kerio.
The two of them were currently in a match.
“Scouting…!?” Kerio exclaimed. “Shouldn’t we stop him…?”
Taking advantage of Kerio’s distraction, Rizil sent his sword flying.
“It’s fine. Just the floundering of the weak,” he smiled.
Although Kerio had been left out of the top 5 while Doug was here, he was still an incredibly skilled fighter in his own right. He was absolutely confident he could take down any average apprentice.
Still, even Kerio merited nothing more than a smile of confidence from Rizil.
The difference in their ability was obvious.
At any rate, none of the other five paid Fii any mind either.
Thus, Fii continued to watch on without censure.
Just as the Northern Dormitory often did, the boys of the Eastern Dormitory were sparring.
Unlike the Northern Dormitory however, there were a number of judges carefully enforcing match rules. There was even a clock there to keep track of how long the matches lasted.
Clearly a lot of effort was put into this.
Fii had been staring at Luca.
she thought frankly.
Boys who weren’t chosen for the team were fighting him one after another.
His current opponent had tried to strike from above, but Luca parried it easily before bringing his sword across for his own attack.
The match was ended with a clean blow to the abdomen.
A perfect grasp of orthodox swordplay.
Speed, power, technique – he had it all in spades. A balanced fighter with no real weak points.
A talented, orthodox fencer.
Having said that, his orthodoxy showed no real disadvantage against more eclectic fighters, and he capitalised on his opponents idiosyncrasies to cleanly overwhelm them.
Doug’s attacks were explosive and powerful, while Gorms fought with brute strength. While Luca lacked any advantages like this, it also meant he lacked any real weaknesses.
Fii just couldn’t think of anything that she could take advantage of. It just didn’t look like he had anything like that.
And even though Fii had been watching him the whole time, Luca showed no signs of bother, simply continuing his matches with an even expression.
He was awfully confident, but Fii was painfully aware that he had all the reason to be. Well, Doug was still stronger though.
Still, Fii continued to watch him intently.
A new opponent had stepped up, and they were now exchanging blows. Luca’s overhead strike had just been barely parried, so he smiled confidently and leant forward to whisper.
“My, that was a nice block. But… you still have a ways to go.”
Swinging his sword out from behind, his opponent had his sword flung into the air without a chance to react.