Three days since they arrived at the country of Seirei no tami, in the outskirts of the village, Rio was receiving lessons on spirit arts from Arthura.
「 Rio-dono, I have something to ask before I start teaching you spirit arts. Based on the color of your hair, are you by any chance someone from the eastern country? 」
「Both my parents were. I think their country was called Yagumo. As for my birthplace, it was the country called Bertram in the west」
Hearing those words, Arthura had a convinced look on her face.
「Most likely, Rio-dono’s parents excelled in spirit arts.」
「……What do you mean？ 」
Rio inquired about that statement, that was if to say that the aptitude for spirit arts was decided by the birthplace.
「Then I will have to explain first about MANA and ODO. Rio-dono, do you have any idea what MANA and ODO are? 」
「No, I’m not」
Rio slightly shook his head.
「Fumu. ODO is the life force present inside the body of living creatures, whereas MANA is the force of nature in the world」
Rio looked at Arthura and waited for the continuation of the explanation. He wasn’t able to grasp it with only that vague description.
「But, that term, unless you hear something more about it then you can’t understand it, right? The thing that humans call magical power is ODO. You can actually see ODO with your eyes can’t you, Rio-dono,? 」
She seemed to have noticed it somehow, so Rio nodded. He felt a little surprised at Arthura, who guessed correctly that he could see ODO.
「As for MANA, it’s hard to explain in words, you have to use your own eyes to see it. I’m sure that Rio-dono who practices spirit arts, can also perceive MANA. So, do you feel something with your keen senses? 」
「………. By releasing ODO from your body, it can sharpen your senses. After doing that, you will sense some kind of existence that can’t be seen with your eyes, filling the atmosphere.」
As he listened, Rio released ODO from his body.
And then, in the world he perceived using the light of ODO, Rio sensed it; things that floated in the air like small particles.
Those were the things that he could sense since long ago, since the time ODO light radiated from his body the first time he awoke in this world.
「As I thought, you can perceive it too. That calm and steady flow of ODO… Not to mention, the amount of ODO that Rio-dono hold is also large, for a human」
Looking at the light of ODO that was emitting from Rio, Arthura let out a small smile.
「MANA overflows throughout the world, as long as nature exist. Those very things themselves are what we call the force of nature. Magic manipulates the way the world works with MANA, it’s the same for spirit arts.」
’Then, what is the difference between the two?’ To that question which naturally came up in Rio’s mind, Arthura then supplied the answer.
「The difference is in how the person manipulates the MANA. With regards to magic, it is the act of manipulating MANA by invoking a system contract that was carved inside the body. On the other hand, for spirit art, the caster manipulates MANA by imprinting his image of the world-altering phenomenon on the MANA directly using his ODO. 」
After hearing that explanation, in contrast to magic which was a program that was prepared in advance to meddle with MANA by using a system contract, spirit arts don’t meddle with MANA; it manually controlled it-that was Rio’s interpretation.
「In the first place, spirit arts can be used by anyone who can sense MANA. However, most of people in human race have weak perception of MANA. Thus, magic was created for humans, who couldn’t perceive MANA, so that they could use an imitation of spirit art. More than 1000 years ago, the people who called themselves the seven gods gave those techniques to the human race, who made their residence in the western part of the continent.」
「Seven gods ………….? Weren’t there only six gods? 」
If it was the so called six gods, Rio also knew about them.
After all, they were the gods in the creed that the humans who lived in the west believe in.
「The seventh was banished by the other six. It occurred long before god-demon war which happened more than 1000 years ago …………… Its existence was erased from human history」
Arthura said that while looking towards the horizon, as if thinking about something.
Rio was intrigued as to why the people of Seirei no tami knew about that seventh person.
But, there wouldn’t be an end if he asked that. For now, he decided to listen to the explanation about spirit art and stowed away that question for later.
「We also recognize the usefulness of system contracts. It’s just that, we don’t use it because it can also give rise to undesirable phenomenon, unlike normal spirit arts. The skills that meddled with MANA are what was originally called magic. In the beginning, system contracts were spirit tools that the humans developed, tools that can invoke magic or create barriers.」
Arthura spoke about the original way to use system contracts.
「But, taking system contracts into the body meant remodeling the body itself. The more system contracts were carved into the body, the more unnatural it becomes. The result was, the body then becomes completely impossible to learn spirit arts」
Rio had a so called satisfied look on his face, he finally understood the reason most users of spirit arts weren’t human.
「Especially the humans living in the West. As a result, spirit art users are quite rare over there. Then as for those living in Eastern continent, they become masters of spirit arts instead of magic」
What Arthura said first, about the high possibility that both his parents were spirit art users, Rio had already understood.
「………….. On Latifa’s body, there’s already one system contract. Does that mean she can’t practice spirit arts anymore? 」
That system contract was『Body Strengthening Magic(Hyper Physical Ability)』.
It was the only magic carved in Latifa body, so that she could work as an assassin.
「Umu, that is only the case for someone with several system contracts carved on his body. If it’s only one, to remove it is not that difficult. The method itself looks like curse dispel. We already have plans to remove the system contract from that girl’s body in the near future. After that, I will request for Oufia, the most prominent spirit art user in this village, to be her coach.」
Currently, Latifa was receiving lessons about country of Seirei no tami from Oufia, Alma, and Sara.
Regarding that matter, Rio had arranged it without Latifa’s consent, so that she could adapt quickly to the village of Seirei no tami.
Since Rio had to leave the village sooner or later.
That was the only request by Rio, so that Latifa would grow attached to living in the village before that time came.
friends, reason to stay. Thinking about it, since Sara, Oufia and Alma were around the same age as Latifa, they can become her best friends and be a reason for her to stay in the village.
「But, that, wouldn’t it be better if Arthura-dono is the one to personally teach her? Since Latifa might be your great-granddaughter? 」
⎯ About the possibility that she was Arthura’s great grandchild, Latifa has yet to know about that.
Arthura had said that she would tell Latifa herself when the time comes. Right now the priority was for Latifa to become accustomed to living in the village, so Rio delegated the previous matter to Arthura’s judgement. ⎯
「Fufu, most likely, I can’t be strict on that child. I know that she would also disagree, even now, I can feel that without hearing her say it. This was decided in a discussion with that child’s grandparents」
Recalling the face of Latifa, Arthura let out a broad smile on her face.
「………………. It seems that I caused you needless worries. My apologies」
Rio apologised to Arthura.
「There’s no need for you to apologize. Despite being from different races, that child certainly feels that you’re her brother.」
「Is that so…………..」
Though he had always cared for Latifa⎯her nightmares, setting her free, making sure she’s having a comfortable day⎯he had also kept some things secret from her.
About the fact that he was, like Latifa, a reincarnated person.
Regarding that part, you could say that Rio was deceiving Latifa.
He, who couldn’t tell her about that important matter, felt that he didn’t have the qualification to be her brother.
But, he couldn’t say that to Arthura.
「By the way, I have one more question. Is it possible for a human who can use spirit art to form a system contract ceremony? 」
[TL : Previously, they talked about a magic user not being able to use spirit arts. On the other hand, can a spirit user use magic via performing a system contract ceremony.]
So that Rio could stop the current flow of the conversation, he asked another question to Arthura.
Though Arthura noticed the guilty emotion Rio held toward Latifa, she pretended to directly answer Rio’s question with a bright smile on her face.
「About that, I think that as long as that person understood the usefulness of spirit arts, it should be possible」
Rio’s body went stiff to the answer that was contrary to his theory.
If that was the case, there was no explanation about why his body never succeeded in system contract ceremony.
「On the other hand, it’s different for someone who is bound in a contract with a spirit」
Arthura said that as an addition.
In other words, for someone who was already in contract with a spirit, when he tried to perform the system contract ceremony, in place of understanding the content of the contract a.k.a the magic phenomenon ‒how the magic works‒ the magic carving to the body was rejected.
「…….. since I have never succeded in a system contract ceremony, could it be that I have a contract with a spirit？」
Though his body couldn’t learn it, he couldn’t think of it as anything but an exception to that rules.
「Hmmm, as I thought, did you have a contract with spirit？ But, it seems that you are not aware of it…」
「Yeah, I didn’t realized it at all」
Rio shrugged his shoulders,remembering all his past troubles. .
「The contract spirit lives inside the body of the contractor, as if they are one ……………… 」
「That, I’ve never seen nor felt it.」
As expected, Rio’s body really can’t remember it.
「You’ve never seen nor felt it, huh. Most likely, it’s still lying dormant inside Rio-dono’s body ………… 」
「So it’s still dormant ……… 」
Even though there was an unknown being sleeping in his body, Rio was never conscious of it at all.
「Come to think of it, what are these so called spirits？」
Anyway, whether or not there was a spirit sleeping in his body, the fact was Rio didn’t know what kind of existence a spirit is. So he asked a question regarding those so called spirits.
「Spirits are said to be MANA that had developed a self-conscious. In other words, a personality.」
「MANA that has their own personality…………. Do they also have a shape? 」
He still couldn’t imagine it with only that explanation.
「Many of them materialise by mimicking any shape of a being living in this world. Most of them are animals」
「Animals…………. When I was attacked, that wolf that I saw , was it a spirit? 」
Rio recalled something like a wolf when his field of vision was snatched by a suddenly emitted light.
「Wolf spirit? Ah, maybe that was Sara’s contracted spirit. That child has a contract with middle-leveled spirit. The others, like Oufia and Alma, are also contracted with middle-leveled spirits」
「A spirit, belonging to that girl. That was a spirit … 」
Though that thing had a strong inorganic feeling compared to the average beast, it couldn’t be seen as anything other than one by someone not trained for it.
taking shape, thinking, releasing aura. Spirits generally took the shape of animals, just like that wolf, and gave out the same feeling as one. That was the conclusion that came to Rio.
「But, I can hardly see those girl’s contracted spirits at normal times, why is that?」
「Ah, they usually stay inside the body of their contractor, changing their body into spirit. As for why the spirit stays inside the body of the contractor, it’s because it’s comfortable, since they are directly connected to the source of ODO」
「I see …………. then, there must be a way to make a contract with the spirits？」
「It would be according to the will of the spirits. If that side doesn’t hold clear rejection toward the contract, that means the contract is complete」
「Then in that case, to bind a contract with several spirits?…………….」
Rio imagined the figure of several spirits swarmed in one person.
「Hoho, though I couldn’t say that there are no previous cases, they are actually quite rare. In the first place, the number of spirits that are willing to make a contract is small. To make a contract with a spirit, one must be loved very much by that spirit. And when someone has bind a contract with one spirit, the other spirits will refrain from doing one with him out of discretion.」
It looked like the case that he thought about was extremely rare.
「I see. Then, is there any benefit to binding a contract with a spirit? 」
「Fumu, the most prominent example of that is extremely smooth control when manipulating MANA, since the contracted spirit is deeply connected with the contractor. To be more accurate, the contracted spirit assists the controlling process of the spirit arts by reading the image in the contactors mind. The effect is tremendous even if you’re contracted with a lesser spirit」
When he use spirit art for the first time in front of Arthura and the others, Rio recalled what Arthura said about him having a contract spirit.
That was because she saw him as extremely skillful with manipulation of MANA.
Although, whether the fact that he could use spirit arts was thanks to the blessing of the spirits, or because of his parents, or maybe both; there was still so many things that he didn’t understand.
However, after this long time, he finally could get the answers to many of the question that were stuck in his head.
「Well, that was it for the basic knowledge, since you won’t be able to handle more advanced knowledge if I didn’t explain it beforehand. What’s left now is practice. Rio-dono, when you treated your injury the other day, I believe that you were copying the magic used by humans using spirit art, is that right? 」
Arthura could see through it with only one look, the nature of Rio’s spirit arts.
「Even so, to be able to cause such a phenomenon, I can only say that, by any standard, you can use the spirit arts to it’s utmost perfection. The reason is that spirit arts requires more control compared to magic.」
Although magic had a narrow degree of freedom due to the system contract, it can be used without being able to perceive MANA; one only needed to master the perception of ODO.
Opposing that, spirit arts could only be used by mastering the control and perception of MANA, along with control and perception of ODO. It was tricky to use, but it allowed higher degree of freedom in controlling the effect of the arts.
That was what Arthura meant.
「Though there’s a certain limit called the aptitude of the art user and quantity of ODO, depending on the user, spirit arts can be used more freely compared to magic. The most important point is being able to manipulate phenomenon by conveying the image to MANA」
「Conveying the image to MANA？」
「That’s right. MANA reads the image conveyed by the art user from the user’s ODO that merged with it. There’s a faint ego in the MANA itself」
「Faint ego in the MANA ……… 」
Spirits were aggregations of MANA who gained clear ego, if that was true then MANA was the first step for a spirit to come into being.
「This is what I mean by being able to convey the image to MANA at will. Look at this.」
Arthura pointed one of her fingers upright⎯ a little fireball was generated above her finger.
Humans, animals, and other objects, the fireball was transforming into various shape at a dazzling speed.
「Though it doesn’t mean that I can’t use other attributes of spirit art, my[washi] magic is especially strong with flame arts. Usually, each person has a certain strong aptitude in spirit arts. It’s impossible to make a general rule, since what I say is not absolute. There’s also certain tendencies for each race, so it’s recommended for you to explore yourself the spirit art that you excelled in.」
「My own spirit arts …………that I excelled in」
「Uhm. Because invoking spirit arts with our weak attributes will bring less effect. In simple terms, be it Elves, dwarves, or beastman, each of the race have their own features and unique spirit arts. For example ……….」
Incidentally when Arthura tried to continue her explanation, Latifa came running towards Rio.
「Kora, Latifa! 」
Chasing after her from behind, long silver hair fluttering with the wind, was Sara, who came out wearing a red pleated skirt with tight black shirt.
「Hey, both of you. You’re too fast!」
Following further from behind was Oufia, who was wearing a white one piece dress, and she arrived by flying. Her body was cladded by the wind, and her long golden hair danced gently within it.
At that suddenly bustling atmosphere, Rio’s eyes opened wide in amazement.
「You will be able to do that once you master the spirit art」
Looking at Oufia, Arthura said those words with a prideful smile on her face.
The flying speed of Oufia was quite fast.
And then, the physical ability of Sara and Latifa were also high, to run at a speed that left the others behind.
Latifa was raising her physical ability with『Body Strengthening Magic(Hyper Physical Ability)』, while Sara strengthened her body and physical ability by using spirit arts, like Rio.
「Onii-chan！ The onee-chan’s are kind and gentle but, they said that I couldn’t meet onii-chan! 」
Latifa said that to Rio as soon as she arrived.
「That’s not what I mean. It was because Latifa couldn’t remember the language of seirei no tami before! 」
Sara explaining what Latifa just said.
「DON’T WANNA！ Humph, Sara onee-chan meanie! 」
「Na~, Latifa . Seiza right here! Now, please take your seat properly! 」
Though the image of Sara in Rio’s mind was that of a diligent, serious adult, right now she was drawing closer to Latifa with a fierce-looking face.
Latifa stuck her tongue out toward Sara while one of her finger pulled her eyelid down.
「Kuh, this kid ……..」
Sara’s body made a small tremble.
「Y-you can’t do that. Sara-chan. Latifa is still not accustomed yet to living in this village」
Immediately, Oufia soothed the angry Sara, that already had her tail and ears standing upright.
She seemed to have a gentle personality, from that calming feel.
「You’re too soft, Oufia！ We have to be strict to this kid! Or else…」
[I understand that we need to discipline her, but Nee-sans are too loud. That makes you no different from Latifa.]
As if competing with Sara and Oufia, a noticeably little dwarf girl arrived to that place.
It was Alma.
With the bob cut of her blazing red hair covering a little portion her brown skin, she had an impressive look as a girl.
「Tha-that was, since Latifa snuck out …………..」
「If it was Sara nee-san, you only needed to follow Latifa’s smell, right？」
Alma rejected Sara with her logical thinking, though Sara tried giving a feeble objection it was brutally destroyed by Alma’s preaching.
Alma was wearing short red trousers and a white tunic with red patterns. Though she had boyish appearance, she had a very calm and intellectual personality.
Sara, that was left with no room for objection, was lost for words.
She looked for help from Oufia. Unaware of them, Latifa was already seeking refuge in the place with Arthura and Rio.
「Is that really alright? To begin with, even if it’s just a by a little Sara nee-san is the oldest one amongst us, therefore ………… 」
Sara, that was receiving a sermon from Alma, who was younger than her, for little more than 10 minutes, turned her sight towards Oufia, who was shrewdly running away.