Practicing Magic — Part 2
Editors: Speedphoenix, Joker
“This is awesome!” I voiced a shout filled with joy as I soared through the great blue with all the speed of a jet. I was going far faster than I ever had before. The scenery almost seemed to change every time I blinked. I found it a bit hard to breathe because the amount of wind pressure my body was subjected to had increased in proportion to my speed, but I continued nonetheless. It was one of the drawbacks that I had expected coming into the experiment. I really hope my next evolution can help me adapt a bit more to the sky life. Seriously. That’s all I really want out of it.
My repeated experiments had taught me that using Enne to steer wasn’t the best way to control my newly developed engine, at least not on its own. The approach had led to a countless number of… incidents. I kept losing control and flying off in random directions. In fact, it happened so many times that I kept wanting to vomit despite my love for thrills. Only after a few good breaks did I finally realize that I had wings. Throwing them into the mix allowed me to adjust my posture and direct my flight much more accurately. It wasn’t perfect; I would still lose control the moment I stopped focusing, but it was still a much-needed improvement from the out of control roller coaster that it had been.
Working it out had been quite the difficult problem, but I had done as I said I would; I saw it through. Heh. Goes to show that anything’s possible if you’re passionate enough. I’m way faster than that stupid asshole of a dragon now. Hell, I might even be able to outrun Lefi. No way in hell I’m not bragging to her about that.
“How’s your MP looking?”
“Still fine,” said Enne.
“Alright, let’s try something else then. Hmm… what to do…” I pondered for a moment before turning my eyes down towards the ground. “Oh, perfect timing. It looks like there’s a practice dummy, er, monster coming right at us.”
Enne and I had just happened to be fortunate enough to come across a wyvern, a creature we could use as a lab rat. Er, I mean a creature we can treat with dignity and respect. Yeah, that.
It was coming from the area underneath and in front of us, and it was trying to use its wings to gain as much height as it could while screeching and squawking obnoxiously. As a territorial creature, the wyvern seemed to think of us as intruders that had invaded its domain. Biologically speaking, wyverns were more or less just defective dragons. And as we were even faster than dragons, their inferior cousins proved unable to catch us. Enne and I zoomed right past it, leaving it to follow behind us in an attempt to chase us out of its turf. But we weren’t done; our experiment had only just begun. I spun around shortly after overtaking the wyvern and boosted straight back at it.
The demidragon squawked in confusion. It had thought that we had chosen to flee, so it never expected us to suddenly come at it, especially with the speed at which we had. And that was effectively the last thing it did. The cold-blooded creature’s life ended the moment we passed it by.
I lowered the engine’s output to raise Zaien into position before boosting it back up right as I brought her down on its body, thereby attacking with a weapon that was both a sword and a jet engine simultaneously. The weight of the blow was so heavy that its recoil sent me flying several meters back into the air. And then, right as I was launched, there was an explosion, one accompanied by the fragrant scent of roasted flesh.
“What the!?” My attack had proven more powerful than expected. The lizard that had been struck by it had basically erupted. Blood and flesh scattered everywhere. The burning mess that fell to the ground no longer resembled a wyvern. Large chunks of red hot flesh rained onto the forest below, causing tremors and kicking up clouds of dust wherever they landed. Wow uhh… that was a lot stronger than I was expecting it to be. I think I may or may not have just accidentally come up with something ridiculous.
Wyverns weren’t all that strong, so killing one in one hit wasn’t really anything to write home about. That said, the attack had done far more than just that. I was certain that it would be able to put a pretty big dent even in monsters of a much higher calibre. The technique that I had just come up with was undoubtedly the type that deserved to be labelled a finishing move, an attack that could break a stalemate and instantly destroy my foes. Yeaaahh, get hit by that, and you’re probably dead. R.I.P.
“You’re on fire.”
“Huh?” I had a bit of trouble registering Enne’s words at first, but I realized what they meant the moment I looked down. “Oh shit!”
The T-shirt I’d gotten from the catalogue was on fire. I immediately started patting it down and managed to save it from degenerating into anything more than just frizzled. I’m guessing I probably got skimmed by a chunk of wyvern or something. God damn, that was one hell of an explosion.
A scent reached my nose right as I began to contemplate the random design that the article of clothing featured. Something was still burning, something other than the wyvern’s flesh. Directing my gaze a bit beyond my shirt, and seeing several billowing pillars of black smoke, told me everything I needed to know about its source.
“The fuck!?” The trees were on fire. The forest was on fire. Everything was on fire. The wyvern’s scattered bits had ended up sparking a massive bonfire below me. And it was spreading, fast.
This wasn’t the first fire I had started today. Nor the second, nor the third, nor the fourth. I had caused more than I could count whilst attempting to master my use of the jet engine. Rir had gone ahead and used his ice magic to put them out each and every single time, so the concept of worrying about starting an uncontrolled burn had effectively slipped my mind. Focusing on my shirt hadn’t exactly helped either. Thanks, Rir, I really don’t know what I’d do without you.
Unfortunately, the firefighting wolf was currently nowhere to be found. We had accelerated just a bit too much and left him behind, which meant that this time, I had to clean up my own mess.
“Well, Smokey did always say that only I could start forest fires.”
“Nah, it’s nothing. Don’t worry about it,” I said. God damn it, Yuki. This isn’t the time for that. Stop being dumb and get to work.
Still half panicked, I immediately used primordial magic to create an unreasonable amount of water and dumped it on top of the flame. I had thought that it would promptly eliminate the cause of my concern, but apparently, I was wrong. I had only caused even more problems. The combination of the forest fire and the flash flood had shocked the local monsters and caused them to turn tail and start running for their lives. My bad guys. But you know, this is just… another one of them days. The wyvern flying overhead turns into a series of fireballs, and then suddenly a river appears in midair even though there’s barely a cloud in sight. Unfortunate, but totally normal.
Oh who am I kidding? Normal, my ass.
Completely flooding the area had managed to remedy the fire problem. The Wicked Forest was no longer in any danger of turning into a giant matchstick. If you could even still call it a forest. The raging tides I had created had toppled about as many trees as they had saved. It was over. But as much as I wanted to heave a sigh of relief, I couldn’t. The day’s problems had only just begun.
One of the sounds I found my ears greeted by once the water and fire had both abated was one that sent shivers down my spine: a familiar, insect-like chirping. And there was more than just one. I could hear a countless number of bugs bustling and buzzing about.
I slowly turned my head towards the sound’s source, only to find exactly what I had been expecting: a “friendly” reunion with a literal army of ants. We were quite a fair distance from the anthill that Rir and I had retreated from back when I had first encountered the six-legged freaks, which meant that the term reunion wasn’t all that accurate. This group of ants most likely belonged to a different colony than the first. Wait. What the fuck!? Why the hell does this stupid forest have so many fucking ants in it!? Where the hell did these damned things come from anyway!? God damn it! They probably had a god damn community right where I dumped all the water, didn’t they!?
The moment the dog-sized insects saw me was the moment they spread their wings and made straight for me.
“Nononononono!” The sight of the horde was enough to make me scream like a wimp under extreme duress.
While I couldn’t exactly discern an insect’s emotions from its features, I could tell that the ants were angry. The way they flew at me oozed with rage and a thirst for my blood. That “destroyed their anthill” theory is looking pretty accurate right about now.
“Mr. Ant sure has lots of friends” said Enne as she watched one of the god-forsaken creatures lead the charge.
“Friends? All I see is a bunch of bloodthirsty maniacs!” I complained.
There were way too many of them. I had the sneaking suspicion that they would probably suck every last bit of liquid right out of me and turn me into a mummy the moment they managed to catch me. Not even my bone marrow would be spared. Actually, with jaws that big, they’d probably be more likely to grind up my bones and eat them whole.
Another shiver ran up my spine as the disgusting scene before me prompted me to imagine a future I could only label undesirable. I took it as a signal to turn around and immediately begin flying away. A part of me felt as if I could have probably taken the entire army down given my current power level, but I wasn’t about to go through the trouble. I wasn’t about to dirty Enne’s blade with their disgusting body fluids. In fact, I didn’t want to be anywhere near them at all. Both my mind and body had already been conditioned to reject their very existence.
The bees Lefi had stolen honey from had been a forced encounter. I only fought them because I hadn’t been able to run away. This scenario was different. The run button wasn’t greyed out this time, so I mashed it with all my might.
“A-Alright, Enne,” I stuttered, “let’s show these things just how much we’ve learned today!”
I wrapped Enne’s blade as she activated wind magic. A moment later, we found ourselves launched through the skies. The flames ejected by the maneuver burnt a part of the incoming group to ashes. But of course, it wasn’t anywhere near enough to so much as even stall the tenacious bastards. Those that we hadn’t killed began chasing us with even more vigour, but they soon shrank into tiny dots off in the distance nonetheless.
“Ugh… that was terrible,” I complained as Enne and I finally reached the cave. The ants were fast, so fast that not even Rir could shake them off. Fortunately, our newly labbed techniques had proven that there was no longer any need for us to engage them in a death race. Speaking of Rir, I had used Farspeak in order to dismiss him and tell him that we had already retreated. I had also told him to stop by the cave tomorrow afternoon because there was still something I wanted him to help me with. Today’s farewell had been abrupt, but we would see each other soon. You know, now that I think about it, Rir might just be our dungeon’s hardest worker. I probably need to somehow figure something out as far as overtime pay goes. Wouldn’t want him going on strike.
“You seemed to enjoy most of it though, Master.”
“Well, yeah. I can’t say you’re wrong.”
Honestly, me enjoying it was probably a big part of the problem. All the fun I had was a major contributor to me getting as carried away as I did. I highly doubted that I would have paid so little attention had I not enjoyed myself. Enne was right, one hundred percent.
“I was too.” The sword girl whispered something under her breath, but I couldn’t exactly make out what it was. She was sitting on my shoulders, so I craned my head up in order to look at her.
“Sorry, what? I didn’t catch that.”
“I was having fun being with you too, Master,” she said in an embarrassed whisper.
Wow. Enne’s such a good kid. Actually, now that I think about it, all our girls are pretty honest and well behaved. As one of their guardians, I can’t help but be happy that they’re all growing up to be good people.