Herbert could now affix his mana on a certain space for a longer amount of time. For a few minutes, to be a bit more exact.
After his concentration was broken and the sphere of mana he made burst again, he decided to take a break.
And when he raised his head, he noticed Rodeo, the one he summoned earlier.
Rodeo had been watching Herbert with curiosity on his face.
“Rodeo, chief military officer of House Unruh, reporting. Please forgive my late arrival.”
Rodeo gave off the impression of a serious and honest knight commander. He had blond hair, and a physique that Herbert greatly admired.
He wore a silver armor which hid his bulging muscles well, and had a mithril sword hanging on his waist.
He was originally an adventurer but was scouted for his talent by the current Duke Unruh, Maxim. He has since been serving Maxim, rising through the ranks until he got his current position.
“Thanks for coming. But can you wait a while?”
“Of course, no problem…why are you doing that though?”
“Hmm, well…first, what does it look like I’m doing?”
“It looks like you’re prepping to use magic, I guess. It’s weird to see only mana, but then again, some amateur mages in our order sometimes do that.”
From Rodeo’s perspective, what Herbert was doing was the process of releasing mana and converting it to magic.
Upon hearing Rodeo’s reply, Herbert began thinking deeply without so much a twitch on his face.
Seeing that surprised Rodeo.
Rodeo’s reply could be interpreted as him saying Herbert was as unskilled in magic as an amateur.
It almost felt like he had stepped onto a trap, but strangely, Herbert wasn’t offended by his words.
If it was the usual Herbert, he would have surely been enraged. Herbert talking to the duke about Rodeo’s dismissal was a real possibility.
But without paying the surprised Rodeo any mind, Herbert was lost in thought.
There was nothing strange for Herbert, or someone of his level in wielding magic, to be able to sense the sphere of mana he made.
However, Rodeo couldn’t use magic at all. Which begs the question, how was Rodeo able to sense it?
In the event Marlon could also notice it, Herbert wouldn’t be able to use it as a surprise tactic.
And so, Herbert asked Rodeo plainly the question in his mind.
“How? Instincts, I guess. I could feel the same killing intent mages have whenever they use magic.”
“I’m going to have a duel tomorrow against someone in the same year as me in the academy. He has trained as an apprentice knight, so do you think he’ll also be able to sense that?”
“Don’t think so. It’s an instinct borne from countless painful and near-death fights against mages, after all.”
If it took that much, it seemed like Herbert didn’t have to worry.
Having concluded that, Herbert asked Rodeo to wait a little while and began creating another sphere of mana.
“Hey, Kevin, what the heck happened to the young master?”
“I’ve told you, didn’t I? Herbert-sama has gone back to how he was before.”
“I’ve got no clue what happened…but how many years has it been since he has been so serious about something?”
Rodeo had been in charge of training Herbert in the use of the sword.
That was back when Herbert was a child and didn’t have a body that could rival an orc.
During that period, he was skilled enough to go toe to toe with a knight.
That was thanks partly to Rodeo’s guidance but also to Herbert’s own fortitude to rise back up no matter how many times he got knocked down.
The point where things changed was when Herbert participated in the junior division of a fighting tournament.
He won that tournament without anyone even getting near him thanks to magic.
“Hey Rodeo, I’m great at magic, so I don’t need to train with you anymore.”
Saying those words over his shoulders, Herbert stopped putting in the effort and even stopped training.
Before long, Rodeo gave up on the hope that Herbert would return to his old ways, and instead focused in his regular duties as the duke’s chief military officer.
After remembering that, Rodeo’s mind then drifted toward his daughter, Tina.
Back then, he thought Tina would grow up to be Herbert’s knight.
Tina and Herbert knew each other since they were children and had been close friends. Recently though, Tina had been adamant about ‘not wanting to serve that pig’.
Tina was a year older, but they attended the magic academy in the same year. Despite that, Rodeo haven’t heard any news that concerned the two.
“Is it fine to hope again?”
His expectations were betrayed multiple times before, but even so, Rodeo couldn’t help but that think that this time might be different.
At any rate, Rodeo watched Herbert create a sphere of mana from a fair distance away. Sensing the sphere expand to be as wide as a person’s torso, Rodeo was perplexed even more.
Herbert then beckoned Rodeo to come closer.
“Is something the matter, young master?”
“Look at this. Delay…Fire Arrow.”
Herbert said so and then launched a Fire Arrow—a basic fire spell—into the center of the mana sphere.
As a result, Rodeo saw a baffling sight for the first time in his life.
The Fire Arrow had stopped in midair.
…no, that’s not it.
Looking closer, he noticed the magic attack move.
It moved, yes, but it did so at a pace of a few centimeters each second. It was painfully slow.
Rodeo had seen mages suspend their unreleased spells in the air, but he had never seen anyone make a released spell slow down.
After all, the speed of magic spells couldn’t be changed.
And yet, here was Herbert’s Fire arrow, challenging that common knowledge head-on.
“Y-young master, what’s…?”
“It’s Delay, a basic spacetime magic spell which slows down the movement of a target. Well, right now though, all I could slow for now are magic spells I released into a point I had prepared beforehand.”
Hearing about something so absurd, at least from his perspective, it was only understandable that Rodeo would be flustered.
Spacetime magic held a special meaning for the people in this kingdom as well as this continent. Details about what kind of magic it really was have been lost, yet everyone still knew of its name. The reason for that was because the only known practitioner of it was the sage Merlin, the sage of legend.
Merlin had accomplished much, and tales of his deeds were passed down by mothers all over the world to their children for generations.
One of those tales was where he used spacetime magic to seal a Demon Lord.
“By the way, I can also do this. Accelerate”
The slowly advancing Flame arrow then suddenly sped up immensely.
In just a moment, it exited the sphere of mana and crashed into the ground.
“Accelerate is also a basic spacetime magic. It’s the opposite of the one earlier; instead of slowing down a target, it speeds up the things within an area. Strictly speaking, both magic supposedly interferes with the passage of time on the targets…but as I am right now, I don’t yet fully understand what that means.”
The speed of a magic projectile couldn’t be changed no matter how strong a person was.
For that reason, mages memorized not just powerful magic but also fast ones.
That supposedly common knowledge was disproved in front of Rodeo twice, so he had little choice but to accept certain things.
That Herbert had a special power.
That he and Duke Unruh could very well have been blind.
“Rodeo, I think I should formally apologize to you…I’m really sorry.”
“Young master, please raise your head! If anyone should apologize, it should be me!”
Rodeo said so and desperately tried to stop Herbert from kneeling down and bowing his head.
“The young master really has changed.”
Rodeo felt like he now truly understood what Kevin was saying earlier.
“No, let’s be honest: I’ve lived a gravely indulgent life. I have been difficult; stopped making effort; and relied entirely on my talent. It might be to late to fix things, but…even so, I’m going to try my hardest one more time. So, Rodeo, like in the past…will you train me?”
Herbert snapped his fingers and the sphere of mana then burst.
His flesh wobbled at that moment.
And yet, not one part of Rodeo wanted to make fun of Herbert.
Herbert was able to use that legendary magic, so Rodeo was certain Herbert would go down in history as a great man.
Moreover, from Rodeo’s point of view, Herbert was a changed man.
Or maybe a more accurate way to put it was that Herbert was back to being the diligent student he once trained.
“The one I’ll be fighting is a man named Marlon. He is a prodigy who is regarded highly by the princess. It is all but certain that he will be a prominent figure in the future. Still, I want to win against him…no, I must win against him. I promise to change from now on, so please Rodeo, help me.”
“R-Rodeo!? Why, why are you crying!?”
“Come now, you know adults mustn’t show their pitiable sides.”
While blowing his nose on the handkerchief Kevin handed, Rodeo made his resolve firm.
He chose to believe in Herbert one last time.
Soon after, Rodeo began training Herbert as strictly as he once did.
And before they knew it, morning came and the duel was right around the corner.