“I’ll try again.”
Vincent stepped back, but Shirone remained motionless and observed the dented spot on the tree.
Vincent, who briefly thought he might just be goofing off, shook his head to dismiss the thought.
‘He’s not the kind of kid who would play cheap tricks on his parents.’
He waited, holding back his impatience, but Shirone made no move to continue.
‘What in the world is he looking at? When it comes to chopping down trees, using your body instead of your head is much more important. Come on, pick up the axe, Shirone. You just have to hit the tree as hard as you can.’
Contrary to Vincent’s restlessness, Shirone felt a light tremor travel through his body.
Hit the same spot, but with a slight twist to the angle.
It was complicated to explain the principles, but it was probably one of the oldest realizations in human history.
And that realization was evolving into a more powerful form in Shirone’s understanding.
‘I think it’ll work. Hit here, like this.’
Finally, Shirone pointed to the base of the tree, where he made the dent.
“Should I break it in one hit?”
“Hahaha! You’re not even halfway through yet. Do you think it’ll break with one swing?”
“With a bit of luck, who knows? It might work.”
Of course, an experienced lumberjack could break a tree in only a few hits by targeting the vulnerable part of the tree.
“Alright! Let’s trust my son’s luck!”
Regardless, Vincent went along with whatever his son had in mind.
That was because he was proud of Shirone’s ambition, regardless of whether he did it right or wrong.
“If I break this, please grant me a wish.”
Vincent was anxious.
‘What if he says that he wants to study? What if he asks me to send him to an academy like the nobles?”
“Take me to the city with you this time.”
To be honest, his request frightened Vincent out of his wits. However, he didn’t reveal it in his expression and laughed back.
“If it’s just that, then that’s not too hard! I’ll grant this wish of yours!”
Shirone smiled while holding up his axe.
Then, after a while, the smile disappeared from his lips. Vincent felt a little appalled.
The sight of Shirone staring at the tree was eerie. It seemed as if he was looking at something only he could see.
The axe swung.
This time, although he aimed exactly where the previous dent was located, there was a slight alteration that normal humans would not be able to discern.
Vincent’s eyes widened as a sound resembling thunder rang out.
Fissures appeared in the place the axe was struck. The tree, unable to handle the weight, fell.
“Yay! I did it!”
Vincent couldn’t believe it.
What Shirone succeeded in doing was called a ‘Thunder Strike’, which was considered a legend among lumberjacks.
‘It’s a skill that even I succeed in performing only once in a blue moon or so, and by luck, that is.’
There must have been a weak or a vital spot.
A very small probability, one that existed with variables such as shape, weight, or formation deficiency.
Most lumberjacks experienced it once, but to do it consciously would be like a dream come true.
It’s not like you had to cut down a tree that way, but if you swing your axe with that thought in mind, expecting and hoping for something, you’d only get tired and give up.
It was different from the world of swordsmen, where they focused on the importance of swinging technique.
Vincent didn’t know the details, but it was a phenomenon that had already been studied amongst them. Even so, beginners among those swordmasters could not even think of attempting something like this.
“I did it! I did it!”
Shirone was more delighted to be able to enter the city than about what he’d done.
“Dad! You have to keep your promise, okay?”
Vincent’s mind, while staring blankly at his son jumping up and down, became conflicted.
‘What do I do?’
He felt lost at sea, unable to figure out whether he should be raising this child as a lumberjack or not.
The cart crossed the city gate.
As Vincent grabbed the reins, Shirone was sitting in the luggage compartment, eyes sparkling in excitement.
‘It been so long.’
Just looking at the number of people passing by on the street made his heart race.
‘We still have a lot of time.’
The luggage compartment where Shirone was seated was filled with materials and resources from the mountains.
Leathers for weapon stores, meat for the market, and intestines for herbalists or magic shops.
The road was quite long, and they would have to sell and haggle over their goods. That would take a good 4 hours.
When Vincent arrived at the market, he took a bag of meat and looked at Shirone.
“You have to come back before sunset.”
“Don’t worry. I’ve memorized all the roads.”
“Only walk on the main roads. Don’t go wandering into secluded places. If someone comes and asks why you’re alone, point to the nearest store and say you’re waiting for your dad.”
“Don’t worry. Plus, nothing happened the last time I came here.”
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Vincent was heart-stricken because it seemed like he was neglecting his son, but it was inevitable because his family’s livelihood was at stake. Their bargain would have to do, for now.
The first place Shirone found himself, once he stepped outside of the shopping district, was the largest library in Creas.
The boy’s heart, looking up at the huge and magnificent building, began to beat fast.
Did that place hold all the knowledge written down since the beginning of history?
The way to satisfy one’s curiosity was to take a look at it for yourself, but access was prohibited to everyone except for nobles.
Two girls came out with a book in their arms, and Shirone hurriedly stepped aside.
There were wicked people everywhere in the world, and among the nobles, good people existed as well.
However, when speaking about nobles, Vincent always spoke as if they were the same type of threat as goblins.
—Never oppose them or speak out of turn.
The nobles had money and power that could easily crush the lives of a commoner’s family.
‘They could. But…’
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Shirone looked back at the schoolgirls, who walked past him indifferently.
‘I just want to read a book.’
With a little bit of obstinance and eagerness, he followed the two towards the aristocratic area.
‘What kind of life are they living?’
However, that initial thought was overwhelmed by the aristocratic energy of the buildings. He couldn’t raise his head.
‘This was built for people to live in?’
Among them, the best academy was as large as several mountains combined.
Shirone stopped walking and read the antique inscription on the arch of the main gate.
Alpheas Magic Academy.
[Translator – Anwen]
[Proofreader – Harley]
That one word was the only word that Shirone could not perfectly understand.
That was because, although that term was mentioned in numerous books, none could accurately describe the principles.
Unless you were a mage, explaining the workings of magic was futile. You’d only be seen as an arrogant being who thought they knew everything.
“What the…?! You, who are you?”
It was the security guard guarding the gate that shouted.
Shirone’s shabby clothes were at fault, as they stood out more since this was an aristocratic district.
“Go back! This is no place for a kid like you.”
“Oh, I’m sorry.”
Shirone ran away in a hurry, but no matter how much he ran, the wall did not end, which led Shirone to stop.
‘How wide is this thing?’
Just then, an old man’s voice was heard over the wall.
“Well, let’s talk about what magic is today.”
“No, I don’t want to! Show us magic. Show us one more!”
“Fire! The one with fire, headmaster!”
Shirone stared at the wall.
Spotting the beautiful tree peeking from the top of the wall, Shirone realized that the headmaster seemed to be teaching under the shade.
The voices sounded young.
Of course, that wasn’t strange, since nobles were taught from the moment they were born.
“Hohoho, we’ll get in trouble if we start a fire in our academy. Instead, if you get this question right, I’ll show you a fun magic trick.”
“Yay! What’s the question? Hurry up and quiz us!”
Curious, Shirone listened.
“What talent do you need the most when learning magic?”
There was a pause.
It was quite a subjective question in Shirone’s opinion, but those children were recognized for their magical talents. They came up with answers, one after another.
“Effort. Magic is so extensive that you won’t be able to learn everything, even if you study your whole life. So effort is important.”
In addition, there were other plausible answers—such as concentration and memory, but none really reached the headmaster.
He was probably harboring a smile of recognition.
“Money. You would need to buy a lot of stuff in order to learn magic.”
The children burst into laughter, and the headmaster’s laughter was also mixed in.
‘If it’s neither effort, knowledge, nor money… Then what talent do you need the most to learn magic?’
At last the headmaster spoke.
“The most important talent for learning magic is perspicacity. This is more simply known as insight.”
A second pause.
“What is an ‘insight’?”
The headmaster made a groaning sound, but soon explained with a kind tone of voice.
“Insight is more accurate than knowledge, and faster than effort.”
“Woah! Then that’s like, the greatest magic.”
“Haha! I guess it could be seen that way. No, you’re right. All magic that exists in the world began with insight. Let me give you an example. Do you know what one plus one is?”
“Of course it’s two.”
The children answered in unison, as if they were wondering how he could ask such a question.
“I see. Can you explain why one plus one equals 2?”
“Huh? Of course…”
The children said nothing.
They couldn’t figure out where to start, what to explain, and how to explain it.
“That strange feeling you feel now is ‘insight’. Long ago, there was a time when you didn’t know that one plus one equals two. But it’s been verified with a lot of knowledge and effort combined. But don’t you guys understand perfectly that one plus one equals two, without going through that process?”
Shirone slowly immersed himself in the story.
“Magic is a phenomenon that exists from scratch. Like the way that you know the answer is two, even when you didn’t know that one plus one equals two. The way someone puts effort and knowledge to figure it out, and the way someone, like you guys, comes to understand and realize it naturally. As such, insight is the quickest way to understand certain rules.”
“So that means we don’t have to study or try?”
“Hohoho, is that so? Does it end up being like that? But to be honest… that’s the truth.”
It’s normal for common sense to be to one’s liking, but in some cases, it is common sense because it’s easy to understand.
Shirone could guess the pressure the headmaster was feeling while speaking of this cruel reality.
“Insight is not something you can acquire with a flick of a finger. The reason why one plus one is two is because scholars have verified it over many years. Of course, there are cases where someone might realize the correct answer without going through such a process. I would call those people geniuses.”
“My mom said I’m a genius.”
“I’m sure that’s not wrong. Every human being is born with talent, and if they sharpen that talent of theirs, anyone can be a genius.”
The moment he heard that, a lump formed in Shirone’s throat. He felt overwhelmed.
—Anyone can be a genius.
But, was that really true?
Would he be given the opportunity to climb over that far-off wall?
“Yes. There, the one standing behind the wall. I’d like to hear what you think.”