Book Zero Chapter 0.4 – Training or Bullying?

In the middle of a forest walked two pair of people, one short and one tall. The tall one was a brown skinned man with golden hair wearing a dark brown robe, and the short one was a brown haired pale young man wearing a white shirt and holding a sack on his back. “Wheeze…wheeze… Masteeer… Where exactly are we going? We have been walking for three days already… And this sack is really heavy, what’s inside?” asked the boy to the man in front of him.

The man stopped then looked left and right. “Don’t know, I am just walking aimlessly after all, you want to go somewhere? Then lead the way,” he said as he looked back to the boy.

“Eeeeh? What’s with that… I am so tired Masteeer… I haven’t been sleeping, eating or drinking for three days already…,“ said the boy as he threw his butt down to the ground.

“Why haven’t you do that then Zed?” asked his Master.

“But Master Sieghart… you just keep walking for three days after giving me this sack,” said Zedediah to Sieghart.

“And?” asked Sieghart.

“M-master haven’t been giving me food to eat,” said Zedediah as he looked at Sieghart with miserable look.

“Who said i’m going to give you food? I am just going to train you. Go eat or sleep for all I care.”

“Eeeeeeeeh? But we haven’t done any training as well?”

“You did, you have been walking while lifting stone for three days already.”

“WHAT?!” shouted Zedediah as he hurriedly opened the sack on his back. It was a stone, a big bulky stone, no wonder it was really heavy.

“See… I have been training your body to get accustomed with the Dragon’s blood in you.”

“Then Master… you should have said so earlier… I wanted to faint lots of time already wuu wuuu…,” Zedediah cried a little.

“What a weakling… If you are hungry, go find your food! If you are sleepy, then sleep as much as you want!”

“M-master aren’t going to find meat? Aren’t you hungry? I can cook it for us you know, I have [Fireball] after all…” The young Zedediah already tried to bribe his Master.

“No, I am never hungry. My food is the mana from nature after all,” said Sieghart as he twirled his index finger in the air.

“That’s cheatiiing…” said Zedediah as he looked at his Master with disbelief face.

Sieghart just grinned then said, “Well, I will still eat the meat you cook anyway, half or so.”

“T-that’s wicked!!! Won’t you at least help me Master?” Zedediah plead to his Master with a miserable face.

“Hahaha… So Zedediah, you want my help? Okay! I already provoked a Magical beast, it will come here in 3 minutes or so. Defeat it if you want to eat,” said Sieghart as he pointed to the south.

“Eh? When? How?” Zedediah was confused and scared at the same time. Nevermind a Magical beast, he never even fight a human before.

“It’s a kind of Mana Technique, I will teach you later when your body is stronger. Get yourself ready, it will come any minutes now.”

Zedediah stood up hurriedly. He threw the stone sack to the ground and lifted the sword on his waist with both hands. His leg was shaking because of fear. Sieghart just snickered as he sat behind him watching his disciple’s first battle.

“Don’t get nervous Zedediah… hahaha”

“B-b-b-but Master… I never fight before…”

“Don’t worry, it’s just a weak middle grade Magical beast…,” said Sieghart.

Zedediah was startled when he heard that, he knew how strong a middle grade Magical beast is, he had read it on a book in library. A middle grade Magical beast is as strong as a captain knight while the low one was as strong as normal soldier. “M-master… won’t I die fighting it??”

Sieghart scratched his chin for a bit then looked up at the sky as he thought of the possibilities, “Maybe, 40% chance or so.”

“Hueeeeee….M-mas-“

RUSTLE RUSTLE

Before he even finished his word, a sound was heard from the bushes in front of him.

“W-what was that?”

Then a half meter wide head was seen peeking from the bush. It was a wolf’s head. The wolf walked slowly to Zedediah, it’s fur was silver with a hint of green light around it. It’s body was 2 meter long, with one meter tail behind it.

“Oh, Wind type Silver Wolf! You are lucky Zedediah, this fellow meat is tasty!”

“B-b-but Master?! He is so big!” Compared to the wolf, Zedediah’s 10 years old body was so small like a baby compared to an adult.

The wolf suddenly pounced forward to Zedediah. It’s speed was fast as he was a wind type Magical beast, but Sieghart’s eye could see it in a really slow motion. And so did Zedediah’s eye.

“Watch out, he is coming. Dodge it!” shouted Sieghart in amusement.

But Zedediah’s body already moved before the command. “Eeeek…” shrieked Zedediah as he ducked to the right.

“Nice reaction, so you can see it too. As expected from Dragon’s eye.”

“M-master what should I do now??” Zedediah was in panic. He didn’t know what to do in fight.

“Block.”

Zedediah lifted his sword to block the fast claw of the wolf that flew to his head. But it was too heavy, so he was thrown away by the force.

“Sorry, should have said ‘duck’,” said Sieghart.

“Masteeeer…uuuuu…” Zedediah cried as he frantically stood up and ran away from the wolf that was jumping at him with opened mouth.

“Stop running and fight, don’t you want to beat the demon?” asked Sieghart.

Zedediah’s face turned serious. He flipped his body and looked at the Wolf seriously. He realized that he could see the Wolf moving at slow motion, but so did his body. His body still couldn’t keep up with his Dragon Vision. He saw the wolf’s claw slowly reaching to his left shoulder as it jumped to him. He knew he should dodge it, but his anger against the demon turned his mind blank, now he just wanted to kill this wolf. Without even thinking, he instinctively jumped forward while lifting the sword straightforward to the Wolf’s throat direction from below.

SLASH

STAB

The wolf was now motionlessly laying on top of Zedediah, a silvery sword was seen stabbing out of the back of his throat. It was Zedediah’s sword.

Sieghart walked to the wolf and lifted it from Zedediah. “Not bad for your first battle…”

On the ground lay Zedediah with ragged breath and bloodied face and body. The wolf had succeded in slashing Zedediah’s shoulder, 2 claw marks appeared on the top of the left shoulder near the neck, and blood streamed out of it.

“Just a small wound, it will be patched up in one or two days. Now go and cook the meat, I want to try it too,” said Sieghart as he looked at Zedediah’s wound.

wheeze… Master… can I even get a rest? …wheeze… And won’t I die from the blood loss?” asked Zedediah with a really pale face. He had lost a good amount of blood from the wound.

“Hmmm…could be… I am not a human doctor after all… Will you die?” asked Sieghart.

“Masteeeer…uuuu… I-I think I will, if the blood keep pouring out…”

“Then stop it! How stupid can you be?!”

“B-but Master? U-ugh… does Master at least have a piece of cloth that I can use as a bandage?” Zedediah just gave up to make any more reason to his Master. He now knew that his common sense is different to a dragon. So, he had to take care of himself, or he would die.

“Hmmm… I don’t think so. Eh? What is this…?” as he said that, a white cloth fell from the sky to his face. “Hmmmmm… you got lucky, a piece of cloth ‘flew’ here… Use it sparingly, maybe you will get wounded again after the next fight,” said Sieghart as he gave a one meter wide and long pure white cloth to Zedediah.

Zedediah was startled, “E-eh? There is next one?!”

Sieghart just tilted his head confusedly and said, “Well, of course? If you can’t beat Magical beasts, how can you beat a demon? But not today though, maybe after you are healed already.”

Zedediah just nodded, he knew that Demon are stronger than Magical beast. Well, he didn’t know how strong his Master compared to a Demon though. “O-okay Master… Then I will bandage my wound first… Wow, what a pretty piece of cloth, I wonder where it came from…,” said Zedediah as he unwillingly ripped a quarter of it with his sword to bandage his wound.

“It doesn’t matter! Now, go and coo…slurp…,” said Sieghart as he stared at the dead Wolf beast and licked his lips. He already saw this pure white color on someone countless time before, so he knew where it came from, but he just didn’t want to tell Zedediah about it.

Zedediah saw that his master was now already drooling. He thought to himself again if his decision was right to choose this man as his teacher. He frowned for a bit then just sighed and said, “Master, can we find a river? I need to clean the blood on me and the blood on the flesh later.”

“Okay, I think there is a river west from here, around 10 km. Let’s go!” said Sieghart as he walked into the forest on his right

“10 km, b-but Master? What about the wolf?” Zedediah asked him with a stupefied look.

Sieghart stopped then looked back at Zedediah and said, “Who killed it?”

“M-me…”

“Who is hungry?”

“W-well, me…”

“Who will cook it?”

“M-me?”

“Then why should I pick it up for you?”

“B-but, it’s 2 meter long!”

“And?”

“Masteeeer…uuuuuu…” The young Zedediah cried because of his Master bullying.

“Stop crying or I will leave you here! Just think of it as training or something!” said Sieghart as he started to walk again.

Zedediah stared at the 2 meter long Wolf beast beside him. “How the hell should I pull it? It should weight at least 400 kg… Augh, let’s just try pulling it first… Hnghhhhh…guuuhhh…” Zedediah pulled the heavy dead Wolf beast by it’s front leg.

Sadly, it didn’t budge even a little. “This is impossible…,” Zedediah grumbled, “I haven’t eaten anything, and I will fight a Magical beast again after I was healed. That’s in case if I don’t die of starvation first… Wait? I will fight again? That means I will get meat again… So I just need to eat a little from this one, and fight again for a new meat tomorrow or the day after. And I don’t have any salt to make dried meat after all, so this meat won’t last too long.”

Zedediah started to ponder for a bit, if he wanted to eat, maybe he need to fight like tonight everyday or every two days. The positive side was he would get stronger a lot, and can eat, but the negative side was he could die easily.

“Or…,” he started to think of another possibility, ”is Master still around?” he looked at the direction of where his Master went. He nodded then started to skin the wolf and take the meat apart, he put the bloody meat on top of the cutted skin on the ground and then collected some branches to make campfire. He waited for 10 minutes before making a campfire and cooked the meat, so his Master wouldn’t know. “Fuhihihihi… Master won’t help me, so why should I share the meat with him!” Little Zedediah’s mind started to became sly and crafty.

“It’s a bit bloody, and even my body is still bathed in his blood, but whatever…,” said Zedediah as he put the meat on his sword over the campfire. After five minutes, the roasted meat started to give out tender and delicious aroma. “slurp… I wonder how this thing taste…chew…HMMMMM… So delicious!! No wonder Master already drooled before I even cook it!said Zedediah as he chew on the roasted meat savagely.

RUSTLE RUSTLE

Zedediah was startled when he heard the voice from the grasses behind him. “M-master? Is that you?” asked Zedediah nervously as he turned his body and pointed the sword on his hand there. “I-i’m sorry that I ate alone. B-but there is a lot of meat Master. I can still cook! So, don’t be mad and come out… M-master, you are scaring me…” said Zedediah with a frightened voice.

But no answer came to him. Then a big black silhouette slowly came out from the grass. With the help of the firelight Zedediah saw that it was a 4 meter long dark red bear with a cross wound on it’s eye. “W-what a b-b-b-big bear…” Zedediah was really scared, his limbs were trembling uncontrollably. The aura he felt from this bear was far exceeding the Wolf he just fought. Zedediah even forgot that he was wounded, all his mind could think was, how to survive against this bear.

The giant Bear beast didn’t run nor jump at Zedediah, he just walked slowly to him, one step at a time. Zedediah didn’t move, he knew even if he ran, this beast could still catch him in no time. The Bear growled for a bit then lifted his half meter wide right paw up in front of Zedediah. Then it swung it’s paw down with a frightening speed, even with Dragon Vision Zedediah could only barely avoided it by moving a step back. “I-I succeded in avoiding the first hit, now wha-AAAAAAGH” The first swing was only a decoy, Zedediah was now sent flying and smashed onto the tree on the right side by the bear’s huge left paw. Zedediah’s left hand snapped like a twig when it collided with the bear’s paw.

The Bear now walked slowly to Zedediah. It stood in front of him and lifted it’s right paw once again. “Is this where I am going to die?” said Zedediah slowly as the bear’s paw swung down to his head.

“Nope… not yet…”

BOOOOOM

The bear suddenly gone from Zedediah’s range of view. Instead, now stood his Master, Sieghart in front of him, he said with a smile, “What a naughty disciple, to actually roast a meat sneakily behind his Master.”

“M-master… You saved me again…,” said Zedediah as he saw that the bear was already smashed up to the trees on his left. What Zedediah didn’t know was, that Sieghart was already there as Zedediah roasted the meat, he also knew that the bear was going to him because of the meat aroma and the dead Wolf’s leaking magical core. He just wanted Zedediah to have a life and death battle as much as possible. But when Zedediah was going to die, then he would come to save him, it was nothing hard for the strongest creature on the continent.

“How does it feel to fight a high grade magical beast? It was stronger than the wolf right?” said Sieghart as he squatted down in front of Zedediah. “Does it hurt? That’s what you got for not cooking for your master~~,” he said to Zedediah while poking Zedediah’s broken left hand.

“Ouch…ouch…uuuuuuu…Master… stop it… it hurts… don’t poke it…uuuuu,” Zedediah cried again under the tree.

A stone suddenly flew fast onto Sieghart’s head and smashed with loud sound.

THWAAACK

“Ouuuch…okay! okay! I will stop!!” shouted Sieghart.

Zedediah was slightly confused when he heard his master suddenly shouting. His eyes were covered by tear so he didn’t see the stone hit his Master. “M-master?” he asked.

“…Zedediah… straighten your broken arm with something so it will be healed by the Dragon blood. We will camp here tonight, go sleep. Where is your sword? I want to eat some roasted meat too…,” said Sieghart as he looked around the tree looking for the sword.

Zedediah just nodded then took a branch and bandaged his broken left arm roughly, it was too painful for him to do it right. Then he lay on the ground while holding in the burning pain on his left shoulder and arm. As he gazed to the campfire direction, he saw that his Master was roasting some meat, he didn’t know whether it was wolf’s or bear’s, but the aroma that flew to his nose was really delicious. Then his eyes suddenly feel tired and closed down. He had fallen asleep under the tree.

CRACKLE CRACKLE

The sound of wood burning was heard on that silent night.

Suddenly a woman voice was heard from the darkness, “Sieghart… don’t bully him please…”

“I didn’t…” said Sieghart as he sat in front of campfire and chewed the roasted meat on his hand.

A woman with white robe covering her body and face walked slowly to him then said, “Letting him fight a high grade Magical beast is not bullying?”

“It was training…”

“Poking the wound of your disciple?”

“It…was training to hold the pain!” said Sieghart as he nodded up and down, feeling satisfied with his own bullshit.

The woman waved his hand then a bucket of water fell onto Sieghart and the campfire.

“Oh no! I was still roasting the meat! Why did you do that Astraea?!”

“You said you hated water because of your clothes, right? So this is training,” said Astraea coldly.

“Meh… you just like to dote on him… I have my own way of training you know…” said Sieghart as he threw the wet meat and sword to the ground.

“He is just 10 years old… please be kinder to him…”

“No! If you want, you can stay and take care of him by yourself…”

“Sieghart…please…” Astraea’s voice was incomparably sad.

Hearing that Sieghart could only give up and said, “Fine, but only a little.”

“Thanks, here are some clothes for bandage…” Astraea waved her hand and a 100 meter long white cloth bundle fell from the sky.

Sieghart catched the extra big white bundle while saying, “What do you want to make? A mummy?”

Astraea just smiled then walked to the sleeping Zedediah. She looked slowly to the battered body of Zedediah , then waved her hand and suddenly a new sturdier set of cloth bandaged the wound on Zedediah’s right shoulder and covered the straightened left arm and branch beside it. “Work hard Zedediah…,” whispered the Goddess to the sleeping boy.

——————————————

Morning came. Zedediah woke up in a daze. He looked around then saw his Master slept there near the campfire. Then he felt a sudden burning pain from the wound. “Ouch…eh…who changed my bandage? Was it Master?” He gazed at the sleeping Master near him. A drop of tear poured down from his eyes. “So he cared about me after all…”

Zedediah didn’t know that Astraea came last night, and he didn’t know that Sieghart himself doesn’t know how to bandage people, he was never wounded for long after all.

THWAAACK

A stone flew to Sieghart’s head. It was likely from a jealous Goddess somewhere around them.

“Ouch! Zed!! Did you throw a stone to me?!!!” shouted Sieghart angrily as he rubbed his head and looked at Zedediah.

“NO!!!” Zedediah shook his head left and right in high speed.

“Who then?”

“I don’t know, it suddenly flew from the forest! Maybe a monkey?!” said Zedediah as he still shook his head.

“So, it’s her…what did I do again? I was just sleeping…,” mumbled Sieghart with a low voice.

“M-master?” Zedediah was scared that his Master will eat him in rage.

“Zed! I already provoked a low grade magical beast! Kill it and make us breakfast!” said Sieghart as he slept again.

“Eeeeeeh?!?! But my left hand?!” shouted Zedediah.

Sieghart still lay down as he said to Zedediah, “You still got your healthy right hand!”

“Master!! This is not training!! This is bullying!! Uuuuuuuu”

So…

There began Zedediah’s life of bullying training…

Some times he would walk aimlessly for days with a stone on his back, then turned back when they saw a human city…

Some times he would climb a cliff with weight on his limbs, just to go down from the other side…

Some times he would stop and Sieghart would teach him how to use his chantless magic…

Some times he would spar with Sieghart, as he taught him about Magical Beast’s Mana Techniques…

Some times he would cook, rest, and sleep…

But, most of times, he would fight life and death with Magical Beasts…

For years he trained under Sieghart….

So he would become strong enough for his revenge…

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