[If You Wish It] Part 2

Well, I managed to achieve my goal for the week by finishing part 2 in exactly a week. Yippie. Now, part 2 is relatively short and basically focuses on the boys trying to convince Scheta to give them some time off so they could work on their cake. Though, there's a ton of YujiKiri material in here for the fujoshi and fudanshi out there to go around... and for those who just like the interactions between Eugeo and Kirito.

With this release, we're done with 24/87 pages. The next part is going to be around 28 pages long (this one was only 10 or so), so it might take a bit of time to do, especially since I'm working on multiple projects concurrently. My next focus will be on Ordinal Scale, since the cleaner/typesetter is out of work on it. We hope to release OS chapter 9 in a week or so once Mtt is done with his final review.

Oh, and I now have a proofreader for this project, so (hopefully) there shouldn't be any blatant errors left lying around. Welcome aboard the team, JengKay :eugeowave: Thanks go to Celest for the raws.

Translation (choice/nuance) comments:
  • I went with Tap's translation of Scheta/Sheyta's name, because I feel that it represents the pronunciation more accurately.
  • Since I'm a kendoka, I left all stance names as is and used notes to explain what they're like. Note that my explanations are based from personal kendo experience and shinai are two-handed swords, while Kirito usually uses one-handed swords.

Markup explanation:
  • Itallics mark text that was written in katakana English (I only highlighted the cases where the author uses both English and actual Japanese equivalents for the same thing, or when I needed to emphasise that an English word is used there).

-Gsimenas

Credits

Raws: Celest
Translation: Gsimenas
Editing: Gsimenas
Proofreading: JengKay





2


"Well then, if either of you are able to cut three cen…… no, make that two cen, into the steel pillar, you can take the afternoon off."

The next day, on the 16th Day of the 4th Month.

Scheta-sensei responded as such when I appealed, "Please give us half the day off", at the training grounds on the fifty-first floor of the Cathedral.

"Two cen……"

Muttering this, I glanced at the steel pillar erected on the ground a slight distance away. The seven-centimetres-thick and about a hundred-and-twenty-centimetres-tall pillar had countless cuts on its surface, but since the majority of them were no more than scratches, it's questionable whether even the deepest of the cuts amounts to more than three millimetres. Since these cuts were already there when we began our training twelve days ago, that would mean that the apprentice knights before us only managed to cut into the pillar to that extent…… wouldn't it?

"Um……"

Having timidly raised his hand, Eugeo voiced the same concern that had been on my mind.

"But it appears that none of the knights that practiced on the steel pillar before us managed to land a cut that deep……"

At that point, although her facial expression itself didn't even twitch, Scheta-sensei shrugged her shoulders, as if saying, "What are you babbling on about."

"I didn't witness it personally since I was asleep for a long time, but the cuts you see on the pillar right now must have been made by low-ranking knights, who have neither dragons nor Divine Objects of their own. You can't become a high-ranking knight if you don't possess at least enough power to cut down the pillar, so the pillar has been replaced numerous times by now."

"……I-is that so."

Muttered Eugeo in an astonished voice.

I was just as shocked as him. Scheta-sensei had effortlessly sliced off the top of the pillar on the first day of our training, but I had believed that this was due to her extreme skill as the long-standing number twelve knight and so us low-numbered knights wouldn't be skilled enough to pull that off. However, if what she just said were true, that would mean that the number thirty knight Alice, and probably the number thirty-one knight named Eldrie, too, have managed to accomplish the feat of slicing the steel pillar. And yet it took me and Eugeo all we had to even deal a millimetre-deep cut on it throughout the twelve days, wait, make that eleven days if we exclude the rest day, that we worked on it till yesterday.

"……U-um…… how many months did it take for the high-ranking knights to manage to cut through the pillar?"

When I subconsciously posed that question, Scheta-sensei slightly raised up her right eyebrow.

"For the slow ones, it takes about three months."

"……And for the fast ones?"

"Three days."

"…………"

I subconsciously ended up exchanging a glance with Eugeo.

My goal is to manipulate the system console that should be located on the topmost floor. Meanwhile Eugeo's is to undo the 《Synthesis Ritual》 that has sealed Integrity Knight Alice's memories and to restore her to her Alice Zuberg self. In order to achieve these goals, we need to have the Supreme Priest Administrator reconcile with Sage Cardinal and earn both of their trust. I do believe that Cardinal wouldn't care whether we are apprentices or knights proper, but it would probably be too much to expect that we can raise our trust gauge with the Supreme Priest to the max solely through baking cakes on a weekly basis, on the other hand. Unless we're knights proper, or high-ranking knights if possible, I don't feel like she'd hear us out properly.

It's already too late to cut down the steel pillar in just three days, but we could do it in one month…… no, make that three weeks.

Having resolved myself for that goal, I once again gazed at the long-standing knight in gray armour.

"Scheta-sensei, may I use my secret moves?"

"Do as you please."

Since I got an OK that easily, I tried pushing my luck a bit more.

"Also…… may I use my own sword?"

Hanging at my left hip right now wasn't the black one that I had fought alongside with throughout the Four Empire Unification Tournament, but rather a steel sword that I was supplied with at the training grounds. While it was by no means of low Priority, it wasn't on the same level as my black one with its Divine Object class stats.

However.

"That won't do."

As Scheta-sensei easily rejected my idea, I blinked several times.

"Wha…… w-why is that so?"

"Striking the pillar by relying solely on the brute strength of your Divine Object doesn't amount to actual training. Your training will not end until you become capable of cutting that pillar with your skills, rather than your strength."

"…………"

Skills over strength. That's a line that I'm well-familiar with from movies and manga, but I can't help feeling that it's unreasonable when someone actually uses it on me. The power of a slash consists of 《the sword's weight + hardness + sharpness + speed》; there's no distinction between power and skills in the damage value that is calculated through that formula… or at least there shouldn't be one.

From when I secretly checked on it during our training, the object class of the steel pillar assigned to me is 38, while its Life value is 24420/25000. Seeing as its Life hasn't decreased all that much despite its surface being riddled with cuts and despite Scheta-sensei slicing off its tip, it probably means that neither of them is great enough of a loss to lead to the destruction of its main body.

According to Underworld's logic, in order to deal damage to a class 38 object, you need to use a tool with a higher Priority. Since Eugeo's Blue Rose Sword is class 45, while my black sword is class 46, it shouldn't be impossible to sever the pillar entirely, let alone dealing a two centimetre cut on it, if we were to use them, but the steel swords we use for practices are class 30. By the time we finish our daily practice, our blades become utterly dull——though some mysterious rite is applied to them, so we find them as if they were brand new the following day——yet if we were to unleash Sword Skills with them, they could end up breaking in the worst case scenario. Even when Scheta-sensei herself demonstrated slicing through the steel pillar, didn't she use her own Divine Object, rather than one of these practice steel swords?

Having seemingly sensed this displeasure of mine, Eugeo opened his mouth first.

"Sensei, may we use Incarnation?"

At that moment, the high-ranking gave an unusual expression of amusement as she nodded.

"If you can actually make use of it."

I quickly put my right arm around Eugeo's neck and made him suddenly turn around, before drawing my head closer to his to whisper the following.

"Oi, Eugeo, you do know that we can't even properly use the 《Incarnation Arm》, let alone the 《Incarnation Sword》!? How exactly do you plan to cut the pillar with it!?"

"But Kirito, if we want to make a cut two cen deep on the pillar with our current abilities, our only choice is to make use of the power of Incarnation. We certainly can't even move a single pebble with it yet…… but perhaps we might be able to strengthen the power of our slashes a bit with it."

"Strengthen…… but still……"

"Look, remember when you had a match against Volo-sempai when we were Primary Trainees?"

With that event brought up out of nowhere, I blinked repeatedly.

It's been over a year already since we were Primary Trainees at the North Centoria Swordcraft Academy, but I still vividly recall the match against the top seat, Elite Disciple Volo Levantein, that I had at the time. When a great number of figures, who were probably his ancestors, appeared faintly behind Volo as he unleashed his secret move, 《Heavenly Mountain Splitting Wave》, aka the Sword SkillAvalanche》, I was nearly overwhelmed by him.

However, I narrowly managed to hold my ground and, what's more, push back the Avalanche; that was all because of my black sword's special ability to absorb spatial resources, as well as the support of Sortiliena Serlut-sempai, who had been my mentor. Enrolled at the Order of the Norlangarth Imperial Guard at the moment, Liena-sempai had also come to encourage us when I participated at the Four Empire Unification Tournament with Eugeo, but as we were sent to the Cathedral right after the tournament, I wasn't able to properly express my gratitude to her. If I have some time left during tomorrow's rest day, I sure wish I could go visit her…… but first I sure need to finish up that cheesecake…… for starters, I sure wonder if I can get permission to go out…… and so on and so forth continued my derailed thoughts.

"When Volo-sempai's secret move abruptly became stronger during that match, now that I think about it, I wonder if that itself was the power of Incarnation……"

Eugeo's whisper brought my consciousness back to the topic at hand.

"……Oh I see now, that may indeed be the case……"

I gave a nod with my arm still wrapped around my partner's neck. The army of Volo's ancestors that I had seen back then surely couldn't have been actual apparitions. If that had been his swordsmanship strengthening through Incarnation, that is, through imagination, there's no reason why we couldn't pull off something that Volo had been able to…… or at least we should be able to pull it off. Probably.

However, if all these conjectures are correct, that brings up new problems.

Specifically, the fact that we need a 《image core》 in order to strengthen our slash with Incarnation. Just like Volo had visualised the history of the Levantein family, or just like Liena-sempai had visualised the pride of the Serlut family when she crushed Volo during their graduation match, we, too, must find our very own core.

And yet that's not simple to do. After all, neither I, nor Eugeo have a backbone as swordsmen. Eugeo had been a 《Gigas Cedar Chopper》, that is, a woodcutter after all, while even I am a 《Lost Child of Vector》 of unknown origins; we have utterly zero relation to any famous house with a proud history, like the Levanteins and the Serluts, after a——.

"That's so not like you, Kirito."

Eugeo whispered all of a sudden.

"Pedigrees have nothing to do with actual strength, ain't that right? If Liena-sempai or Golgorosso-sempai ever heard you attributing their strength to being born as nobles, you'd definitely earn a scolding from them."

"……How can you tell what's on my mind?"

When I posed that question with a strained smile, my partner exaggerated with a composed look.

"'Course I can, you let everything show on your face after all, Kirito. Anyway……you should have one of your own; a foundation for your Incarnation. Go ahead and show it off to Scheta-sensei."

"Wha……you want me to do it!? You weren't going to do it yourself?"

"'Course I do; after all, weren't you the one who taught me the Aincrad Style, Kirito?"

Smirking, Eugeo slipped out of the clutches of my arm and took a few steps back.

I've never voiced this thought before——nor do I intend to voice it in the future either, but I believe that Eugeo is superior to me when it comes to talent for the sword. For the time being, I do believe that I could win six out of ten serious fights against him through the difference in our experience, but if Eugeo were to shape his hidden potential properly, he'd overtake me in another three years, actually, make that two years.

To even my own surprise, I feel utterly no fear for when that moment comes. On the contrary, I'm waiting for it with bated breath. It's precisely because I'm waiting for it that I'd like to pass on absolutely everything that I can to him.

"……Aincrad Style, huh……"

Muttering at a volume that only I myself could hear, I looked down at my body. What I was wearing wasn't an Integrity Knight armour like Scheta-sensei's, but rather a gray practice uniform that matched Eugeo's. Yet on top of that uniform, for just a brief moment, I witnessed a phantom image of a fluttering jet black long coat. Though I did not have the slightest backbone in Underworld, it wasn't like the two years of experience I had in the Floating Castle Aincrad had disappeared. Using that image as the core of my Incarnation strengthening…… may be possible, but that leads to one big issue.

In my mind, I've always been shirking from my Aincrad persona back when I was called the 《Black Swordsman》. To such an extent that I don't even want to find out the reason why. I feel that it's a combination of my self-degrading belief that I have no right to be treated as a hero, as well as my guilt towards the many people that have died in front of me, being associated with my past self.

Yet, I believe that sensation has become quite toned down over the three years I spent with Eugeo here. While the fact that he has absolutely no knowledge of my past self is one of the factors for this, that's not all there is to it. In front of Eugeo, I have always been able to be my true self. I've even been able to expose my bad and awful sides to him, wearing my heart on my sleeve.

At this point in time, I might be able to accept my past self. Even as the persona of the Black Swordsman, the foundation of my Incarnation.

"……If I mess this up, it'll be your turn next, ya hear."

Calling to Eugeo as such, I looked at Scheta-sensei. I couldn't find anything that even resembled an expression on her extremely cold, orderly face. Resolving to surprise her for sure today, I turned back to the steel pillar.

I drew my steel sword from my left hip side. The practice sword was far heavier and sharper than the wooden sword I had used at the Swordcraft Academy. The foundation of swordsmanship is to first establish a connection between your heart and your sword…… Come to think of it, ever since I started these practices, I never once performed maintenance on this sword. I got so used to the sword's Life regenerating all on its own that I've been treating it slovenly on a daily basis.

——When we're done with our training today, I'll give you some proper polishing, okay.

Sending such thoughts to my steel sword, I took up a chuudan stance(1). From the bottom of my heart, I called out the image of the Black Swordsman Kirito and placed it over my current self.

——You sure are self-serving, huh. You've been trying to forget all about me all this time, yet only when the situation calls for it do you turn to me for some strength, huh?

My past self called out to me in a cynical tone.

——Yeah, I've always been self-serving ever since I was little. But now, I'm wielding my sword not for my own sake, but for the sake of Eugeo, Alice, Liena-sempai, Ronye, and Tiese.

Answering as such in my mind, I slowly pulled my sword into a waki-gamae stance(2). Breathe in, breathe out, in, and stop.

"…………Haah!!"

Expelling air sharply, I raised my steel sword vertically. A shrill sound and a bluish-white, cold light came out from the blade, freezing the surrounding air. The One-Handed Sword single strike technique, Jerryd Blade.

Swung down with a bit of a thrust, the sword struck the steel pillar's side. Rather than simply cutting through steel with steel, I imagined cracks appearing on the metal after it was chilled by the extremely low temperature to become fragile.

'Kiiiiin!!', a high-pitched, clear metallic sound rang out throughout the wide training grounds.




Notes

1. ^ In kendo, a chuudan stance (中段の構え, lit. middle/central stance) is when the sword's hilt is kept around belly button level and the is sword kept centered in front of the body.
2. ^ In kendo, a waki-gamae (脇構え, lit. side/flank stance) is a stance when the sword is moved to the right hip, with the tip of the sword being hidden behind one's back.

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