Chapter 6.2: Shattering Dream
The testing continued throughout the day. Alas, they nevertheless produced the same results. Rather, it would be more accurate to say there were no results at all.
But to his relief, Akira was able to at the very least use magic. However, his Speculo had shown no significant combat traits. While Akira had confirmed the properties of [Aided by the Elements], which he had humorously nicknamed [Elementality] for short, it couldn’t be classified as the main ability of his Speculo.
“Residual Core?” When his father told him an unfamiliar term, Akira couldn’t help but inquire about what it was.
“It’s exactly what it sounds like, basically.” He had gotten a simple reply from his father. “When the Concept Core is materialized, there are still points which allow the maintenance of the connection between it and your body.”
As he said this, Gou produced a stone stick using earth magic and softened the ground. Using it, he drew a terrible drawing of a human and a sword, with a small circle inside both. Seeing the drawings which could be described as abstract, Akira sighed in his mind.
Otou-san… I thought doctors were supposed to have steady hands… No, rather, haven’t you already performed tons of successful surgeries?
“So when the Concept Core is taken out and made into a Speculo,” — Gou drew a line attaching both circles — “there are strands of mana that keep them connected. This allows information to flow between the Cores and, in turn, enables the Speculo’s evolution.”
“Tou-san, is this also why we can store Speculo in our bodies?” Akane curiously probed after hearing their father’s explanation.
“Yes! Full marks!” Gou happily confirmed his daughter’s conjecture. “The two cores resonate, and since Speculo are made out of mana to begin with, they’re converted to mana fluid, which can be stored in the Residual Core, thus increasing the information exchange.”
“I see. But then… How does this relate to [Elementality], Otou-san?” While the topic was interesting, Akane was puzzled as to how it could be related to his ability.
“Ah yes, as I was saying, Speculo evolve due to the data they acquire from Residual Cores, right?” Receiving vigorous nods from his curious children, Gou continued, “Well this isn’t a one-sided process.”
Going back to his drawing, Gou erased the circle inside the sword and drew a bigger one that surrounded it.
“Sometimes, ideas are too weak to be synthesized, or there’s no space for them. Due to this, Concept Cores can end up returning them to Residual Cores.” He drew a line back to the person. “Here, they develop into special abilities that can be used even without your Speculo. An official name was never conferred, but many tend to call them [Overflow Skills].”
“Wait, without the Speculo? That’s possible?!”
“Indeed it is.” Gou chuckled seeing his son’s surprise.
“Well, enough of that, let’s get to testing…”
With a brighter mood, Akira proceeded with his trial.
And his hopes disappeared with the bullets.
“Onii-chan… are you okay? You were thinking about something just now, weren’t you? I can tell by the silence, you know?”
After the experimenting concluded, Akira had collapsed from a combination of stress induced by the sudden developments and fatigue subsequent to using his Speculo for the first time.
At that moment, he was taking a hot bath. Shifting his thoughts away from the past, he directed his attention to his sister.
“Yeah, I was thinking back to… well, it’s not really important. As for the other matter, to be honest… no. It’s like owning a car without an engine for years, and one day someone gives you a motor, saying it’s high class, but you turn the keys and nothing happens,” Akira explained. Sighing, he sank into the bath.
“That’s quite the analogy.”
“It’s how I feel… Also, why are you taking your bath at the same time I am?”
“Because I’m tired. First time using my Speculo, you know? The fatigue is still pretty straining no matter how well you can handle it. Also, it doesn’t really matter since there’s a wall between us.”
[A/N: What were you imagining you sleazebags.]
The Nishiyama house was not large enough to be described as a manor, but it was no less luxurious. The house possessed two bathing areas for men and women separated by a wall, allowing both sides to communicate. Each had bathing areas about as big as a small pool, connected to a hot spring located nearby. Truly, the house was as extravagant as it was expensive. Thinking about it, Akira could not help but admire his father for being able to afford such a nice house while still in his middle years.
“I’m not exactly complaining, but why did Otou-san buy a house with two baths again?”
“Beats me, Onii-chan.”
“If you continue speaking like that you’ll get a girlfriend rather than a boyfriend.”
“What’s that got to do with anything?!”
He heard splashes from the other side of the wall. Having hit a sore spot, Akira laughed at his indignant sister, before sighing and immersing himself once more. Despite her feminine charms, Akane was perceived to be a boyish and lively person by the people around her. She had been forced to wear cramped smiles on a daily basis throughout middle school while turning down several confessions from girls. As it hadn’t been too long since then, it was still a very sensitive topic for her.
“But it doesn’t make sense. Speculo should be able to affect physical matter in some way, but the bullets just went straight through Otou-san and disappeared,” Akira said, mildly puzzled. “Not to mention, the report said it should be able to disrupt mana, yet nothing happened.”
Hearing his words, Akane forgot her anger and slipped into a thoughtful state of mind. After a moment’s contemplation, she spoke to him.
“You know, there was a case a few years ago where a man used his Speculo incorrectly and thought it was completely useless.”
Hearing these words, Akira slightly straightened his back in anticipation.
“Yes.” He couldn’t see her, but he could imagine Akane nodding her head vigorously while waving her finger. “He received what he thought was a battle axe of sorts, but for some reason it didn’t seem to do anything when he attacked, besides acting as an ordinary axe.”
“Oh? And how did he resolve that?”
There was a slight pause.
“Hmm, the solution isn’t really apparent by this, but, when the man was interviewed, he told the reporter that he’d figured it out by, ‘returning to the start.’”
“Returning to the start?”
“Apparently, he’d been mistaken. Looking at it closely, it wasn’t a battle axe, but a halberd. He thought it was a battle axe because the axe portion was rather big, but in the end, it was a halberd meant for thrusting. The whole time, he had utilized his Speculo by swinging it. But when he tried thrusting, the halberd showed great effects: it canceled out his opponents’ defenses, allowing him to get clean hits in easily…” Akane informed him.
“So how does this relate to what he said?” Akira asked impatiently.
“Well, the person in question used to be a practitioner knowledgeable in several types of jutsu. He said that while learning, he had always wished to be able to take down an enemy no matter how high their defenses were with quick attacks. After using the halberd as an axe, he realized that there was no way to achieve quick attacks through that style of combat, so he tried thrusting instead.”
“The concepts, huh?” Akira muttered. It was well known that the Concept Cores would always develop into Speculo which, one way or another, reflected the Maestro’s wishes. However, what could he have possibly wished for it to hand him a gun that couldn’t harm people?
“So Onii-chan, maybe you’re using your Speculo incorrectly. If you can figure out the main concept or idea that your Speculo is based on, perhaps you can figure out how to use it. I’ll be getting out now, I don’t want wrinkly skin. Good night, Onii-chan.”
After finishing her explanation, Akane could be heard getting up from the bath and exiting the bathroom. With his sister gone and the area serene, Akira relaxed his back. Closing his eyes, he thought about the conversation he just had with Akane.
“Return to the start… what was my wish?” he muttered to himself. “When did I start trying to be a Maestro? And what other uses are there for a gun?”
As he sat there, he concentrated. Then, he splashed some water upwards which, following the law of gravity, fell down seconds later onto him.
At least, that was what it looked like. However, in Akira’s perception, the droplets floated in the air. Or rather, it was falling very slowly. In Akira’s eyes, there were hints of six unnatural colors. He was practicing his ability, [Elementality].
Why can’t Ten damage people?
Why does the report say it can disrupt mana?
Why does this always happen to me?
Why, why, why?
Doubt appeared in his mind, viciously tearing at his spirit the second time that day. Ten minutes worth of anxiety driven questions ran through his mind, unable to be answered, like the drops that were unable to fall. Then a few seconds after the activation of [Elementality], the water splashed onto him, making him realize how worn out he felt.
Sighing, Akira got out of the tub while stretching his back. Drying himself and getting dressed, he walked towards his bedroom and flopped onto the bed. After closing his eyes, he turned and tossed for what felt like an eternity as his question continued to eat at him.
Arc 1: Synthesis, END