"Alright ya louts, fire!"
—Goblin Commander Gimmel's Last Words
"Whyyy should I do something like that?"
"Oh come now, don't say that."
It was a good chance, so wanted to try it with everyone. Gathering everyone together, I handed everyone a piece of wood. The first person to complain was Tia.
"It's got nothing to do with my research topic, wouldn't you and Lufelle have been enough?"
"Umm… Tia, wouldn't writing down lots of letters and using them for magic be helpful for fighting?"
Seeing Tia look so obviously unwilling to be there, Lufelle tried calming her down.
"You wouldn't need stuff like that, you could just blast everyone away with your titanomakhia!"
Tia shut Lufelle down, causing her to go quiet.
Although the two of them were friends and talked to each other like that, it felt like their relationship had changed a bit recently. I wonder if it's because Lufelle found her confidence and stopped crying as often? Tia's gotten more likely to shun Lufelle, they've stopped working together as often too.
"Just ignore it."
Just as I was thinking about putting a word in, Nina spoke to me.
"Even if you say something, you'll just make it worse."
She kept looking over the situation as she spoke. Still, even if I wasn't too good in these kinds of situations and it'd probably go how she said…
"More importantly, you have something else you should pay attention to."
Whispering to me, Nina glanced over to Yutaka and Aqua.
Yutaka was an honest and serious honors student, and although I couldn't ever figure out what Aqua was thinking about, she was serious about her research. Neither of them ever quarrelled with the other students. The heck would I have to worry about them for?
If forced to say something, I guess it'd be that Aqua still hasn't come up with a more concrete research topic?
Still though, I knew that elves generally did things at their own pace. I mean, I do get the feeling that even then, she's more on the slow-paced side…
"How are you doing, Aqua?"
Still though, I decided to take Nina's advice since she usually wasn't so direct and went to go talk to Aqua, who was sculpting figures into the wood with a small knife.
She gave me as vague a response as ever.
"Mentor, magic normally occurs after you're done with the incantation, riiight? So what'll happen with these then? Maybe right when I'm done?"
Still though, she'd quickly formed a good hypothesis. To be honest, I was a bit worried about that thought as well.
"… It probably won't. It should happen as soon as you try using it, though. Magic is something that requires intent to be used, after all. It should be the same as when you use your mouth to recite an incantation."
That is, even with incantations, it isn't that magic occurs the instant you're done voicing it. It only triggers at the end of the incantation due to the reciter desiring it to occur right at that moment.
"I did it!"
Just as I was thinking about that, Yutaka raised a narrow strip of wood into the air, scattering about the various wood scraps around him.
"That was quick."
Although only a few minutes had passed since everyone started carving their pieces of wood, when I saw what was in his hand, he'd definitely managed to do it. What he'd carved into the piece of wood was a very simple word—Move.
"Alright… try and test it by moving this."
I handed Yutaka the embroidered dragon I'd received from Nina beforehand. It was both light and soft, so it should be easy enough to move no matter how it happened.
Yutaka held out the long, thin piece of wood like a wand, pointing at the embroidery. Upon doing so, the embroidery moved as if it had come to life by standing up and taking several steps on the floor.
"… Isn't there no point if you say anything?"
Aqua spoke up in a somewhat icy voice.
He'd probably only wound up speaking out loud since that's just how he'd normally been using magic.
"But if I don't say anything, how would I do it…?"
"What if you let out a sound like when you swing your sword?"
"I see! Good thinking, big brother!"
Yutaka held up his piece of wood and let out a roar. In that instant, his atmosphere changed entirely.
Even Lufelle and Tia who'd been concentrating on the letters they were engraving into their pieces of wood looked over. Aqua stared at Yutaka with wide eyes.
This was the presence a Swordsaint with their sword in hand put off. He put off a feeling similar to something like staring at a carnivore condensed many times over. It was enough to cause even my dulled senses to tingle.
He let out a small breath, one containing none of his fighting spirit and sounding no different from a normal sigh.
Immediately after, quicker than the blink of an eye, he rose the wooden strip overhead and swung it down. That instant, the wooden strip flew from his hand and knocked Aqua—who'd been staring intently—square in the forehead.
"Uwah! Sorry! Are you okay!?"
The presence he was putting off vanishing all at once, Yutaka ran over to Aqua in a panic.
"You let your guard down, you need to protect yourself."
Snatching the piece of wood out of the air from bouncing off of Aqua's forehead, Nina spoke in a stony voice.
It was her usual indifferent tone, but unlike the half fed up coloring it usually had, it felt like there was a bit of thorns to it instead this time. Was she being tough because it was someone from where she came from?
"I'm alright. Don't touch me."
Aqua swatted Yutaka's hands away. Her usually lazy tone was changed for a sharper one.
"O-Okay… I didn't think it would fly away from me like that."
After getting it back from Nina, Yutaka looked it over again.
"It might've had something to do with it. Maybe you pictured the wood itself moving when you wrote Move?"
"I see… I'll change it!"
Yutaka shaved off the letters with his knife and engraved new letters into it.
Meanwhile, Aqua finished her engraving and turned it to the embroidered dragon.
Without any warning at all, the wood disappeared from her hand.
Just as I thought it had truly disappeared, I saw Yutaka—whose attention was on his own piece of wood—deflect the spear-shaped strip of wood with his knife in the next moment.
"Looks like yours went flying too, Aqua."
He probably would have been hurt if he'd gotten struck by it, but he just laughed it off and returned the piece of wood to Aqua.
That just now… was that deliberate?
"I did it!!!"
As I was worrying about if I should give Aqua a warning, Lufelle and Tia spoke up with their pieces of wood.
When Lufelle waved her piece of wood at the embroidered dragon, it popped out of her hand and started spinning around on the ground.
"What did you write?"
I see. So what wound up dancing wasn't the embroidery, but the piece of wood, huh?
"Alright, me next."
Saying that, Tia floated up into the air embracing the piece of wood nearly as big as her body before letting go of it.
The falling wood took an unusual trajectory and struck Lufelle right in the forehead like it was some throwing knife.
"Aww, Tia. You surprised me."
"Aren't you the one who told me to make some magic that'd be useful in a fight? Besides, it's not like that'd hurt you."
Tia's whole body was constantly defended by her boulder-crushing titanomakhia. Let alone some wood, she'd be fine even if someone thrust an iron spear at her. They were talking peacefully with each other too, after all.
Though giving it more thought, seeing as how there was no way a Swordsaint like Yutaka would have been hurt by that either, I guess Aqua's stunt could be considered a joke, too?
"What's wrong, Rin?"
Come to think of it, Rin was being quiet. Looking over to her, she was by herself in a corner of the classroom looking at her piece of wood pensively.
What she drew into her piece of wood was Dragon is large letters.
"It didn't turn into a dragon."
"That'd be a bit much to expect."
I'd be pretty surprised if such a tiny piece of wood turned into a dragon of all things.
"Not that, I mean, well, it's not even moving."
She tried staring at it, shaking it, and moving it along the top of her desk, but it definitely didn't show any signs of moving on its own.
"You know… be a dragon."
When Rin ordered it, the piece of wood popped out of her hand and started moving about awkwardly. I couldn't tell what part of that fit be a dragon, but it definitely did start moving around.
"If I use an incantation, it moves."
Rin had a great head on her shoulders for sure. She just happened to focus on different things. This was quite the intriguing result.
Just as how it looked like letters couldn't entirely replace incantations, the reverse should prove true as well.
"Alright, next time for sure, I'll—-oh."
During the time I'd taken my eye of him, Yutaka's piece of wood flew from his hand once again.
And where it landed was on Aqua once again, this time on the back of her head—
"… I've had enough of this monkey! You did that on purpose, didn't you!?"
Aqua's temper snapped.