Chapter 54. Ball (5)

"Are you just arriving now?"

Before I could pretend to be friendly, Flam spoke to me first.

"Yes, hello. You're early, aren't you?”

There were still ten more minutes for the class to start. It was quiet around me. It seemed maybe I was also a little early.

Even considering that swordsmanship was a mandatory subject and was divided into classes, fewer than 20 people were in the vacant lot.

"Haha, it's not far from dormitories. Which dorm room are you in? I've been looking for you ever since we went our ways after lunch on the day of the entrance ceremony, but I haven't seen you."

It seemed he had been looking for me since we parted three days ago.

On that day, Flam left first after lunch saying he had someone to meet, so I wasn’t able to tell him that I was commuting to school. I felt a little bad.  

"Oh, you've gone through a lot of trouble. I'm not living in the dorms, but commuting."

Flam's eyes opened wide in surprise. "No, but weren’t trainees required to stay in the dormitories?"

It appeared he couldn’t even imagine that I might be commuting. But the guidebook did say that all the students had to enter the dormitory, so it was natural to think so.

I let out a small sigh. "I know. I wanted to go into the dormitory, but they said I couldn’t."

Power is this scary. 

"What do you mean?"

How should I explain my situation? It was annoying to explain the truth.

Just in time, the instructor along with slaves, I mean assistant instructors carrying heavy boxes, were approaching our vacant lot.

"It's a little complicated to explain. I think the instructor is coming over here, so let's talk slowly later when we have time."

After getting around it smoothly, I turned my gaze to the instructor.

In terms of time, there were still more than five minutes left, but they seemed to have come early to distribute the swords first.

When I looked around, somehow, almost all of the trainees were gathered in the vacant lot.

The instructor yelled at the trainees standing around chattering.

"Five lines, gather together!"

The trainees stared blankly at the instructor. Most of the men here were writers or the third sons of nobles. In other words, they were not military people. Still, these commoner trainees followed the order and moved around, apparently having been trained for conscription.

"Get together!"

But these were people who usually sat at their desks, so their movements were clumsy. It was impossible to hope that those who had received simple military training but had never joined the military would move quickly.

The instructor also seemed to know this and looked at the trainees with zero expectations. The unmilitary people from noble origins looked at the other trainees self consciously and copied their movements. The assistants moved the trainees to five lines, putting the one who made the sixth row, back.

Flam and I joined one of the lines. Apparently, the instructor was a demoted knight and the assistant an experienced soldier. It was not like it was a knight school, so it’d be wasteful to hire a proper knight to teach this crowd.

I hope the magic class isn't like this.

Please. I'm looking forward to the magic class.

The instructor couldn’t have known my earnest request but nonetheless said in an odd voice that didn’t have any desire but spirit.

"In the future, before this class starts, we gather in this formation! Do you understand!"

"Yes!"

The trainees shouted with nervous faces. It felt like seeing new recruits with spirit, albeit with a likeness to the Tang Dynasty army. I could see that they would get used to it by tomorrow. It couldn't be helped because they weren’t entering the army in the first place.

"Before you start this class, you might wonder why you, who sits behind a desk with a pen, need it!"

The majority of the trainees nodded.

Look at them nodding! Even at a glance, it was the Tang army of the Tang Dynasty. If there was a real spirit, they would have shouted, "No!" They wouldn’t have even thought about nodding.

I somehow managed to grab a hold of the sinking feeling as if I had come to the reserve army. I didn't like it because it felt like I was re-entering.

"This class is primarily aimed at building a body that can improve your physical strength and withstand the work you will do in the future."

In short, they were building up your stamina to make you work hard for a long time.

"It's also to teach self-defense skills that are suitable for your job so that you can protect yourself." The instructor continued.

It meant that we needed to learn to protect ourselves because they wouldn't help if we got beaten up during our job.

"This class is for you, who will be the first to move during a national emergency." 

If a war broke out, then we would be the first to be conscripted into the military. What need was there for a sword when we would just be working with documents?

"Well, then I'm done explaining. I'll hand out the things you'll need moving forward. Make sure to return it after class."

The box that the assistants had been busy carrying was opened and its contents handed out to the trainees. Passed from front to back, all trainees had one in their hands.

But now I had a musket, not a sword, in my hand.

"Excuse me? Isn't this class swordsmanship?" one of the trainees asked the assistant who handed out the musket.

"Ah, swordsmanship has been turned into a comprehensive weaponry since three years ago," the assistant answered the question as if he was used to it.

"Huh? But the guidebook clearly says swordsmanship—”

"Oh, that. About five years ago, a print shop staff accidentally printed out a bunch of guidebooks, so they said they would just keep handing them out, but it seems they are still being distributed.”

The trainees were speechless.

"Did the print shop staff get fired?”

This time I asked a question. 

The assistant answered with a bitter smile, "Would a civil servant get fired so easily? The printing house still belongs to the country. Well, I've heard rumors that his promotions are gone forever."

He didn’t get fired despite making such a huge mistake that guidebooks from five years ago were still being distributed.

I knew it! I'm glad I chose to become a civil servant.

"Due to that, those subjects that were supposed to be abolished are still being continued,” the assistant remarked.

"Why?"

"If the actual subjects change too much from the guidebook, then a guidebook becomes meaningless.”

Nice! A country certainly does things differently.

Still, there have been minor changes, such as the change of swordsmanship to comprehensive weaponry and the abolition of subjects that no one really takes.

"So then, will we learn swordsmanship?” It was one of the trainees again. 

The assistant replied with a shrug, "I told you, it's comprehensive. You’ll learn swordsmanship, archery, and hand-to-hand combat. Honestly, the reality is that even if I were to teach you swordsmanship in a short period of time, you’ll hardly achieve anything, right? We've changed the direction to gun usage, which is easier to learn, and teaching the rest at a smaller level."

If the assistant's words were true, it can be said that they had become quite realistic. Most of the trainees were textbook weaklings who arm-wrestled on top of a desk. It raised the question of how much swordsmanship could those weaklings actually even learn. Thus, it was more efficient to change to the easy-to-learn gun tactics as the main subject.

The problem was that the musket we received was a ceremonial battlefield gun[1] with a wheel lock[2].

Rather, should we consider it fortunate that it was not a matchlock, or should we sigh of relief that it was not a percussion cap?

In a magic world, guns that couldn’t be used in windy and rainy weather were almost useless in the battlefields involving countries, unless they were used for monster hunting. Of course, the kinetic energy of a musket is about 1,500J, which is very powerful. However, casting a magic spell on the armor results in a strong reaction upon contact with the lead in the bullet, so much so that it can offset the momentum and curtail the damage.

To cause a reaction to all substances, the magic would need to be quite complex, but if it was limited to a substance called "lead”, it could be mass-produced on the spot. Of course, if you mass-produced it, the magic would disappear after blocking six or seven shots, but after shooting five shots, a musket essentially becomes a stick because of the powder residue left in the gun.

Naturally, if you made bullets with materials other than lead, it’d be different. But if the material was more solid than lead, the musket barrel would not be able to withstand the intensity of the bullet, so it would be difficult. If it was a substance softer than lead, it probably couldn’t play the role of a bullet.

Above all, if some wind was created with magic, it would be impossible to load and become useless. So it was a useless thing.

Unless bullet cartridges were developed and could rain bullets down onto a battlefield, there would be no situation where guns could be the main weapons. Given the circumstances, guns seemed unlikely to develop to that extent.

"Now, no more chatter."

Silence fell in unison.

"Everyone will learn how to use a musket according to the assistant’s instruction. The assistants will teach one row at a time."

The assistants all took one row and dispersed.

-o-

After the swordsmanship, no, the comprehensive weaponry class ended, the trainees' were done for the day. All trainees took a minimum of seven and a maximum of nine courses. But the weaklings moved their bodies today, so they wouldn't be taking any other classes today.

The training center likely knew this and had adjusted the schedule to prevent students from taking other subjects on the day they had comprehensive weaponry. After learning how to operate a musket, we only ran 10 laps around a small open space with the musket.

By the end of the class, seeing how Flam and I were the only normal ones left, I could gauge just how much of a weakling they were.

Flam went back to the dormitory and I headed to the boarding house alone. Come to think of it, I felt like it had been a long time since I’ve been alone.

In the boarding house, Carter and Butterfly Tribe siblings were always noisy, making alone time feel rare. I didn’t know about Alice, but Yuria had a good sense of magic, so I couldn’t easily use magic in the house since she arrived. In many ways, I had a subtle feeling of dissatisfaction, or should I say that I just felt somewhat sulky.

I snuck out a half-white mask from my pocket space. Come to think of it, I vowed to punish the treasury official, but have put it off.

I shouldn’t do this. Didn't I learn in school from my previous life that it’s not good to procrastinate?

Yes, yes, children in a new country should not put off a day’s work to the next day.

I hid in a secluded place and now wore a familiar mask.

But what do I do until nightfall?

I took off my mask again and headed for the boarding house. Even if it was me, stealing in broad daylight was a little much. Besides, I hadn't even done a preliminary investigation. I'd have to put it off for a few days.

How unfortunate!


1. A gun where you pour the bullet and power down the barrel

2. A detonator with a flint attached to a springboard

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