Tailors and Tutors

I ran toward Elysium, knives in hand. I entered in a low stance, attempting to feint an attack aimed at her torso, before slashing diagonally upward with all my might, seeking out her neck. She casually tilted her head back, causing the wooden blade to swing past her throat harmlessly, but as the momentum carried me upward, I reversed my grip on my second knife and twisted my upper body to go into a spin, slashing laterally at her chest, but this she avoided by dropping into a crouch. As my slash sailed pointlessly through the air, she straightened herself, her shoulder positioned slightly below my abdomen. With my body off-balance as a result of the recovery from that last attack, I ended up being thrown over her shoulder, landing painfully on my back for the sixth time in an hour.

“Nice adaptation. But your movements are too big. You’re telegraphing too much. I could probably see the path of your attack even with my eyes closed.”

I groaned and stayed on the floor, unwilling to get up and subject myself to another round of failure. It had been approximately two hours since my first training session started, and in that time I had tried and failed to hit Elysium too many times to reasonably count.

“C’mon, it’s my first day. You can’t expect me to have everything down that quickly!”

“…Right, I forgot. Normal people take time to learn things, right.”

I resisted the urge to point out that she had just implied that she was abnormal, and instead focused my attention on trying to not pay attention to the pain that spread across my back. Elysium stretched out a hand to me, offering to pull me to my feet as she had the previous five times I had ended up on the floor. I hesitated for a few moments, going through three sets of thoughts. The first, that I really didn’t want to take her hand if it meant another round of sparring – I was at my limit. The second, that for the first time, I had fallen to the ground while still holding on to one of my daggers. The previous five times, the impact had caused me to lose my grip on them, and I probably only managed to hold on to them this time because I expected the impact. As such, I briefly contemplated using the opening presented by the proffered hand to attempt to land a strike. The third set of thoughts was a dismissal of the first two, on the grounds that trying to get the jump on her would be a terrible idea and would likely result in another moment of intimacy between myself and the cold stone floor.

I took her hand and pulled myself up into a standing position, then returned to a fighting stance, making sure to let some of my reluctance show on my face, hoping Elysium would take the hint. She just looked at me with an expression of surprise and laughed.

“I was about to say we were done for the day, but if you want to go another round…”

I quickly dropped my knives and shook my head furiously.

“I thought so. Come on then, help me pack up the weapons.”

We moved over to the sheet of cloth spread out near the entrance to the rooftop and deposited the wooden daggers in it. As we rolled the bundle up and tied it off at both ends with twine, Elysium provided her evaluation of my first training session.

“That was pretty good, considering you’ve never had any training in fighting with weapons. I hadn’t expected you to start using variable attacks and feints for another couple of weeks, at least, so that was a surprise. You definitely have the combat instinct – you made mostly good decisions, which is more than I can say for maybe half of the people who claim to be able to fight. With enough training, you could probably surpass most mercenaries in a one-on-one fight.”

“Only one-on-one?”

“Well, your weapon of choice is a dagger – those don’t really have the reach or the power you want in a many-against-one situation. A sword or a spear is usually a better choice for that. You’re at a disadvantage if you enter a fight with multiple enemies. Keep that in mind.”

As we descended the stairs from the rooftop, we found Rosalind outside our door, patiently waiting for us.

“How was it?”

“I have a good idea of where he stands. He shows a lot of promise.”

“Oh? That’s good, then. What about you, Glint? How was your first training session? Did Ely bully you too much?”

I was tempted to nod my head, but I ended up shaking it instead. Throughout the session, Elysium never pushed me to my limits; she left the pace of the thing up to me. I could tell she was adjusting her dodging to force me to think through my attacking pattern in different ways. Rather than teaching me a form, the morning’s session had been designed to help me develop my own form. She was an excellent instructor, and I really had no complaints about her instruction.

Rosalind invited us into her room for breakfast, whereupon she hummed a single note again and somehow magically cleaned all our clothes and removed the grime from my body, just as she had done the previous night. It felt a little strange to be feeling sweaty and dirty one moment and suddenly feeling clean and unblemished the next, but it was a nice feeling, so I had no complaints.

“So, Ely, what else are you going to be doing today?”

As we ate, Rosalind and Elysium casually conversed, while I focused on my meal – sausages with a side of eggs, served with tea. It sounds simple, but the combination of the exertion from the morning’s training and the fact that I usually skipped breakfast made the simple meal take on the aspect of a kingly feast in my mind’s eye.

“Ah, the original plan was to scope out a couple of the possible locations for the Ezov, but now that Glint’s with us, I think it’s better if we go over to the tailor and get him some new clothes. Even if you can clean them with a single note, it’s still not very good for our public image if he keeps wearing the same clothes over and over again. I’ll probably also start looking out for a magic tutor.”

“I see. And the matter of the Ezov?”

“Well, that can wait. we’re not in a rush to get it up and functional, and we haven’t decided on a venue for the concert, either, so we don’t really have a proper deadline for that issue at the moment.”

“So today is Glint day?”

“I suppose you could call it that, yeah.”

True to her word, after breakfast, Elysium brought me out to the city and listed out a couple of tailors she had located on her romp around the city the previous day – she asked me for a reccommendation of which tailor to visit, figuring that as a local, I would know more about it that she did.

Unfortunately, I had to disappoint her. I had never cared for clothing and appearances, so when it came to rating tailors, my primary criterion was whether they would be willing to fix a hole for free, and how likely they were to run off with your clothes and sell them to someone else. When it came to the things that Elysium requested information on, such as the price-quality ratio and the specialties of each tailor, I knew about as much as the next illiterate street rat – that is to say, absolutely nothing. I was, however, able to help her instantly disqualify a few tailors that were known to jack up their prices for foreigners, so I supposed my aid wasn’t entirely meaningless.

Given that I had nothing meaningful to say about the different tailors, in addition to the fact that Elysium herself was an outsider and therefore knew nothing about the tailors, we ended up picking a name at random from the list of tailors she had found, the dishonest ones already excluded from the list.

The business with the tailor went quickly, Elysium already had an idea of the type of clothing she wanted me to wear, so it was mostly a matter of taking measurements and describing this outfit to the tailor. She insisted that I wait outside as she discussed the specifics of the outfit – she probably intended for it to be a surprise. I passed the time idly, watching the people walk by on the streets, performing silent assessments of them, trying to identify which were the easy marks. Of course, when I found my thoughts drifting in that direction, I reminded myself that I now had a proper job, and had no more reason to steal; but somehow, my mind kept returning to that exercise of evaluating the people walking by.

When our discussion with the tailor had ended, the next order of business was to find me a magic tutor. Generally, people who wanted to learn magic would enroll in a magic school. Those who wanted to learn magic but did not enroll tended to be either those with a poor apititude for it who were unable to meet the entry requirements for the school, or otherwise were individuals who were illiterate. At the time, I fell into the latter category. Magic tutors were freelance individuals, often graduates of a magic school, who offered to teach magic to those who wished to learn it but were unable to due to illiteracy. Of course, because the cost of hiring a magic tutor tended to be more than the cost of attending a magic school in the first place, the majority of individuals who sought out magic tutors were those who wanted to use magic, but had a low aptitude for it, rather than the illiterate. As a result, magic tutors were often looked down upon for deigning to teach students of such limited potential, but Elysium seemed to pay no heed to this reputation.

Generally speaking, if one wishes to hire a tutor, one can do so through three methods. The first was through the magic schools themselves. The schools often have magic tutors affiliated with them – they pawn their weakest students off on these tutors, allowing the main school to focus on improving the abilities of those with natural talent. If one wished to hire a magic tutor, it was possible to submit a request through a school. The second was to use one of the many noticeboards in the city. There were occasional written notices from tutors desperate for work, though those were reasonably rare. The third method was to go to an agency, a shop that had the contact information for numerous tutors, and served as a point of contact between the tutors and their potential clientele. One would put in a request for a tutor, and the agency would send that request to all tutors registered with them, to see if any are interested in taking the job. This third method is by far the most common method used to find a tutor.

In my case, we didn’t employ any of these three methods. Our search for a tutor began, not in a school, not at an agency, and not at a noticeboard, but in a tavern.