The first half of the year 1499 in the Empire's calendar had passed.
Next year is year 1500. The once-in-hundred years era festival. Apparently the preparations are already under way in the Imperial City. Half a year was still remaining, but everyone was already a in restless mood.
But, in a remote village there wasn't much talk related to that.
The only things known from the imperial capital were rumours from the coming pedlars, adults didn't talk about these positively. The children wanted to go to the imperial capital to see the festival and made a commotion, so adults were troubled——after all, this place was near the border with territory of the elves. It takes a month of travelling in a horse-drawn carriage to reach the imperial capital, one couldn't just go there so casually.
Of course, even in the village they celebrated the era festival. But, it was mostly just splurging and arranging feasts, playing musical instruments around the bonfire and modest dancing over the night, there was absolutely no need to prepare a large-scaled event six months before it begins.
The villagers lived their lives like they always did.
That's why, he——Imina Haimatie too, like usual, did his best with his everyday sword practice.
One boy was short, reminiscent of an agile beast.
The other boy was tall, like a beautiful statue.
The wooden sword the short boy held was short and wide, it mimicked a falchion for duelling.
What the tall boy held was a thin and flexible wooden sabre that mimicked one with a long handle.
The wooden sword was wildly driven forward, swung backwards and then slashed upwards. The wooden sabre that had stood against it had parried the attacks with splendid swing, thrust in counter-attack and cleaved sharply.
This contest——or rather, this match, had continued for about ten minutes.
A few tens of metres away sheep and cows were peacefully feasting on grass on the a small hill's pasture.
Sitting down on the side was a girl, acting as the referee. While she seemed to be diligently watching the outcome of the battle, the fingertips of her left hand out of boredom stroked the stems of milk-vetch that grew there. I don't know what's so interesting in that, boys are strange... she must have been thinking.
Not taking notice of the girl's feelings, blood rushed to the two enthusiastic boys' heads. Squeezing their lips tightly from nervousness, they seemed to be happily smiling.
However, the match was nearing its end.
The petite boy's attack with his wooden sword from above, using all the strength he had, was critical. It was brilliantly parried, because of the missed attack using the entire body weight, the petite boy lost his sense of balance. However, he held out and rebuilt his posture, when he raised his head the opponent was not in front of him. Feeling a presence behind him he hurriedly mowed with the wooden sword behind him, but the sloppy attack had no way of hitting. The blade cut the air, his upper body twisted too much and had turned stiff. His opponent was calm. The wooden sabre had casually, with minimum amount of movement pointed the point of the sword at the short boy's throat.
The passage of arms had ended with this.
"All right, that's enough!"
Loudly, the girl instructed the end of it.
"Match concluded, that's enough right?"
Her gaze was slightly mean and teasing, that's why the petite boy——Imina, only just glanced at her.
Breathing roughly, he declared.
"...it's my loss."
Not towards the girl, towards the enemy that has defeated him.
The point of the wooden sabre had quietly retracted.
Taking step back gracefully——in a charming follow-through——lowering his waist, the opponent who fought with Imina had smiled lightly.
"It wasn't too bad."
"What was! I felt like I was at your mercy."
With a contrasting rudeness, Imina squat down and pierced the meadow with his wooden sword. Giving in to frustration, he crumpled and disturbed his dark red hair to look like a bird's nest.
"There was sharpness to your sword. If you hit faster, even I would have it hard to dispose of it."
The words returned were humble and at the same time cold. They hit the enemy's appearance.
He was a handsome and beautiful boy.
Long and narrow eyes, orderly eyelashes, slim nasal bridge, thin lips, narrow chin and wide shoulders. Silver hair like moonlight reflected on the lake, with exception of his above average height, he was beautiful enough to be mistaken for a woman.
From the features itself he seemed the same age as thirteen year old Imina.
But, that's only when compared to a human.
Unlike the human Imina, he was from a fairy tribe. In other words, an elf.
The ears peeking out from his loose hair were longer than those of human beings, their tips were sharp like needles. His hair colour was silver, a common hair colour among elves. Also, the appearance of elves was younger than their actual age.
He——Shirjis Endveil was three years older than Imina, sixteen year's old.
"Ah damn it, I lost again!"
Stretching his both legs, Imina shouted towards the clear blue sky.
And he looked up at the elf boy who stood quietly.
"I just continue losing, to you."
"My body too, is still immature, I can't let myself be overtaken. ...but honestly, as compared to the past your swordsmanship is much more splendid. I can't let my guard down."
Shirjis advanced a step forward with a smile and sat down next to Imina.
The girl who acted as the referee, as if to follow him, had joined them.
"Really? Shirjis, you don't have to be considerate with him."
Imina made a deep scowl.
"Oh shut up, sister."
The girl's name was Uruha Haimatie, Imina's older sister.
This year she'll be sixteen years old, same age as Shirjis. She had a neat atmosphere around her, bright red hair and shapely lips, narrow eyes and sleek limbs. Despite the mature and beautiful enough appearance for everyone in the village to lavish her with praise, her mean personality ruined it all——at the very least Imina had evaluated her so.
"I'm not being considerate. In today's match too there were many times I was in danger."
"As for me, I don't want you to lose."
Flirting with him, Uruha sat down beside Shirjis.
And, across him, towards the younger brother——she had sent a teasing glance towards Imina.
"In the first place, no matter how much a human struggles they can't win against an elf. You have organic necromancy. If Shirjis was to use evocation, you'd become muuch more stronger than now right? Even if Imina had a magic sword that could be used as an object of necromancy, there's no way he could keep up with your basic movements."
"That's not the problem."
Imina without a thought let out a rough voice.
"This is a match between two men, evocation doesn't matter! As if a woman would understand."
He didn't like water being poured on the match between him and Shirjis.
With that said though, Uruha's words were correct.
The organic necromancy only elves can handle, use the power of the earth and all creation that flows in the spirit veins——incorporate the spirit into their bodies and strengthen their own flesh with it. Humans who have much lower spirit resistance than elves are unable of performing this technique. Their muscle strength, eyesight and reflexes seem to be improved by several times.
If his basic physical abilities are strengthened even more, the difference between them will grow more and more. Imina and Shirjis can compete like this during practice because Shirjis doesn't use the elves' organic necromancy.
Of course, it wasn't his compassion.
There was no meaning in using evocation. When competing, one has to put in effort. The training of the body and skill themselves. It's pure strength as compared to cheating.
It's been many years since he started practising with Shirjis. Ever since they were small enough that their hold on the wooden swords were unsteady, they practised against each other.
The winning percentage was about forty to sixty percent. Recently, Imina was in a losing streak and that had resonated within him.
"Certainly, evocation doesn't matter, that's correct."
As Imina started sulking, Shirjis smiled and nodded.
"Organic necromancy in the end, only increases the bodily abilities. No matter how much the body movement speed and reflexes increase, it's meaningless if the basic skills are uncertain. And when it comes to swordsmanship itself, between fairy tribe and human tribe... there's no inborn difference between me and Imina."
Uruha still seemed dissatisfied.
With that said, there was no way she would oppose Shirjis.
"In that case, the reason Imina always loses is purely because his skill with the sword is below yours."
...instead, she has started glaring his way, in a teasing, mean manner.
What she pointed out was the truth. And, that was why it was frustrating.
"Really, Sister's so noisy."
Imina ostentatiously sighed and looked away. Feeling as if the pointed wooden sabre earlier had stung his throat, he stroked it in secret.
He looked at the sky. Cloudless, fading blue. The pasture's scent and the sunshine were pleasant, the slight moisture was reminiscent of the early summer.
He wanted to polish his skills until the Autumn and at the very least returned the winning percentage to how it used to be.
When he squinted at the sun's glare, a voice sounded from the bottom of the hill.
"Imina! Uruha, Nii-samaa!"
Ahead of where he turned to, happily rushing over and calling the three's names there was a figure.
An elf girl.
Her pointed ears,were very small and cute, reminiscent of water droplets rather than needles. Her hair was slightly bluish silver, when reflecting the sunlight it displayed complex shades like a cyan gem.
Round eyes, crystal clear lips and lovely features. But, at the same time she felt naive, holding the power to unconsciously put others at ease.
She appeared twelve by human standards. Her actual age was roughly the same as Imina's, fourteen.