The Divine Hunter - Chapter 133
Chapter 133: Witcher Signs
It was night in the wilds.
The two witchers faced each other in an open space near the bonfire.
Roy lowered his sword to his waist, his knees bent, and stayed in that position. The tip of the training sword pointed towards his opponent’s neck, and his feet moved slowly to the front, his cheeks shining because of the flickering flames.
The sturdy, bald man put his sword across his face and stayed in the ox position. The tip of the sword was locked onto Roy’s face, and his stern amber eyes flashed.
No one made a move for five seconds.
Then in the wild night came a breeze, Wilt neighing next to the bonfire.
As if it were a signal, the battle began—
Letho took a quick step forward, and the tip of his sword was aimed at Roy’s neck.
The boy used the basic techniques to avoid getting cut at the center of his neck by slightly stepping diagonally.
As long as he could deflect the incoming blade, he could make his move to aim at his opponent’s throat.
But the moment the two swords collided, Letho’s sword seemed to have skilfully negated the force in his blade, and the tip of his blade unexpectedly arced down and sliced through Roy’s abdomen. If it had been a steel sword, his organs would have already been spilled to the ground.
Roy didn’t stop. He took a step back as the wooden sword in his hand turned from vertical to horizontal. He swung forward, aiming at his target’s thick neck.
Letho blocked his attack.
The two swords clashed together. The blades were pulled back before being swung back into place, clashing each other again like glue as they were pushed against each other.
Through the gaps between the blades, a pair of amber eyes and dark golden eyes stared at each other intensely.
Letho suddenly released his left hand that was holding the hilt and immediately grabbed where the two blades met. His thumb and remaining four fingers held the two sides of the blade… and pulled.
The two swords were like a pair of closing scissors, and they were sliding towards his body. At the same moment, his right hand that was holding the hilt was seemingly pushed forward, as if there were a wheel turning right in front of him.
As he was pulled forward, the hilt of the sword hit his elbow and he instinctively released his sword. He let Letho drag his weapon away, and then Letho made a gesture of cutting his throat with the weapon.
“Twentieth death. Congratulations, boy!” Letho put away the two training swords and sat near the bonfire. He took a sip from the wine bag, and enjoyed its taste.
That was a dwarven spirit given by Dennis Cranmer as a parting gift.
“But don’t be discouraged. Compared to the last few days, you’ve made obvious progress, and you have begun to adapt to your post-mutation body.”
“Whatever. You won again…” Roy sighed and curiously asked, “How did you disarm me just now?”
“That’s called Destroyer! It’s difficult to use, even against a rookie like you wearing heavy iron gloves. Unless the enemy’s reaction is slower than a sloth.”
“Um…” Roy was embarrassed after hearing that and didn’t want to talk about this with Letho anymore.
To feel better, he went to pat Wilt. He gently stroked its soft and warm mane, and the horse bowed.
“What’s the situation with this horse? It has been with you for just a few days. I think it’s a disguised female shapeshifter!”
Letho glanced at Wilt. “Should we dissect it and take a look?”
“Don’t scare Wilt! As I said, I have mastered a special training method. It’s you who doesn’t believe me! And this method doesn’t just work on horses…” Roy had a deep gaze when he said this to Letho.
“Don’t talk rubbish.” Letho felt a chill, but didn’t show it on his face, and he shook his head. “Sit down, I’ll teach you something new tonight.”
“Okay, that sounds interesting.”
* * *
The duo was around the bonfire. Roy was excited to learn something new, his eyes reflecting his curiosity, and Letho spoke in a low voice, which drifted over the blazing flames and into the deep night.
“Before starting the lesson, I will give you a brief introduction to the witcher signs.
“Just like a mule, which is something between a horse and a donkey, having the characteristics of both, we witchers are between sorcerers and commoners. Our ability to cast spells is also in the middle. And so, sign is a type of trick that is much simpler than spells. The power of a sign is not as powerful as that of a proper spell, but it also has its advantages. It does not require long chanting, complicated incantation, material components, or wands to be performed… All you need to do is concentrate on channeling what little magic power you have within your body together with making a simple gesture of your hand, and you can then quickly cast it. If you are very proficient with it, you can use the sign almost instantaneously.”
“No need to recite anything?”
“I always thought it necessary to recite some incantations in Elder Speech to use the signs,” the boy said curiously. “Since every time you stretched out your hand, your lips moved too.”
Letho was shocked after hearing this. He hadn’t expected Roy to be observing him so carefully. It was his little secret.
“That is nothing important. Don’t sweat it.”
“But I’m still curious… What were you reciting at the time?”
“You’re asking so many questions, boy…” Letho’s face flushed and he was a little embarrassed. “Well, it’s okay to tell you. It’s a small habit of mine from when I learned the signs… To say the name of the sign silently when casting it, so as to not make any mistakes and avoid confusion. It slowly became a habit and I can’t change anymore. If I cast it without naming it, the strength of the sign becomes slightly affected.”
Roy imagined a scene in his head where he was yelling while releasing a sign. He found it to be a bit funny. Wasn’t he warning the enemy in advance if he did that?
He was going to pay extra attention and stop this from becoming a habit as well.
“Ahem… back to the topic at hand.” The witcher started pacing around the bonfire. “The signs are divided into five types. Igni, a sign that controls flames; Aard, a sign that causes mental shock; Axii, a sign that is used for hypnotizing; Quen, a sign that creates mana shields, and Yrden, a sign that sets magic traps or increases objects’ toughness. All have different release gestures…”
Roy remembered that a few years ago, Geralt used Yrden to reinforce the coffin to prevent the striga from breaking in from the outside.
Roy suddenly interrupted and asked, “Is the mana shield that Quen summons mainly used to resist physical damage?”
“Yes, you can think of it as a transparent tortoise shell, which can prevent arrows, swords, but can’t insulate flames, frost, or electric shocks… It’s also effective against spells, but not as good as it is for physical attacks.”
“Is there a magic sign that specializes in defending against magic?”
Letho stopped in his movements, and his amber eyes suddenly turned to Roy. “Where did you hear about it, boy?”
Roy confirmed his thoughts when he saw Letho’s reaction, and did not answer the question. “That kind of sign is called Heliotrop, right? But I have never seen you use it.”
“It’s beyond my ability.” Letho sighed. “The reason why I only told you five types is because many of the signs have disappeared with time. Including the Heliotrop that you mentioned.”
“It is far more difficult than the other five, and the average witcher can’t master it, and eventually it was lost to time… But there are a few witchers from other schools who can use this sign. Another kind of Kelanpufa sign which can produce illusions is known by even fewer people…”
Sure enough, there were seven types of witcher signs, but the vast majority of them only controlled five types.
“Don’t worry, Letho.” Roy thumped his chest and said seriously, “I will bring the remaining two signs back to our school in the future.”
Letho shook his head disdainfully. “Wait until you learn the basic five first and can use them proficiently in battle before you realize your ambitions!”
“Since we’re done with the theory, stretch out your hand. We will put this in practice…”
“Left hand or right hand?”
“If you are right-handed, you generally use the signs with your left hand, because your right hand has to hold a sword or other weapon…” Letho explained, “The most effective way of fighting is to use both hands, so you should define the roles of each.”
Roy suddenly thought of something troubling. If he used a sword with his right hand and a crossbow with his left hand, which would he use for signs?
No, it should be based on the individual’s reaction, and it would be taken care of by adapting to different variables.
“Can you use both hands at the same time, casting different signs?”
“Don’t think too far ahead. Keep yourself grounded for now.” Letho stretched out his left hand in front of Roy and made an awkward gesture. “Pay attention to my fingers, where each and every one of them is.”
The index finger bent from the second knuckle, and the other four, fingers and thumb, stretched around, like an octopus spreading its tentacles.
Roy shook his fist, relaxing the muscles and bones, and then imitated Letho’s movements, making the same gesture. Nothing happened immediately. He didn’t even feel any magic.
Then he closed his fist and opened it, repeating the same gesture multiple times.
“I’m starting to feel it! My elbow seems to be getting hot!”
He was very excited as his heart raced. Could it be that I have a talent for the signs?
“What are you doing, boy? Just what are you doing with your hands? That’s wrong!”
Letho brought him back to reality. He grabbed Roy’s left hand and bent his fingers in the correct place by force.
After spending two full minutes on that, each of Roy’s left hand fingers were in the correct position.
“This is the basic gesture of Igni? Ugh… My hand seems to be cramped… What should I do now?”
“Stretch out your hand and make a gesture as if you were outlining the symbol of the sign in the air… Just like this!” Letho’s five fingers were folded into a fist, and then they suddenly stretched out toward the fire. Within a tenth of a second, his index finger bent from the second knuckle. The rest of the fingers followed, bending at different angles.
While stretching out his hand, he drew a complete sign in the air — an upright triangle.
“Boom — “
A raging fire snake spewed out of the bonfire, and the flames flourished!
The flames rose sharply, as high as a person.
After the time limit of Igni was over, the bonfire returned to normal.
* * *
“Doing it is always better than simply explaining it. Now, your turn!”
Roy stood upright in front of the bonfire, keeping his left hand beside his waist. Taking a deep breath, he turned and nodded to Letho, who had a strange expression. Roy suddenly stretched out his left hand toward the bonfire, gesturing the sign —
Heat flowed from his limbs and rushed across his arms, elbows, forearms, and finally, his palms. Seeing that, Roy got excited!
A miracle is coming forth!
“Puff — “
A spark the size of a fingernail came out of his left palm, and then it extinguished in a thousandth of a second.
The bonfire was not affected at all.
* * *
Cold wind blew, and the brown horse, Wilt, snorted, ending the suffocating silence.
“Uh, this… Why did I fail to do it right?” Roy retracted his left hand and watched his palm with disappointment.
Letho suddenly turned his head to the other side, the blue veins on his neck pulsing, and he turned back after calming down, with a gentle expression on his face.
“Don’t be discouraged, kid. This is normal. When you use it the first time, you are far from proficient with the gestures, and your control of the mana in your body is too crude… You have to guide it. You should have felt it just now, Igni’s scorching magic power flowing through the body.”
“Guide? How should I guide it?”
Letho used a strange metaphor. “Just as you know how to pee. The magic is gushing out of your arms, just like how the body excretes urine… The magic sign you used just now was obviously short on mana. You have to give it more. In simpler terms, you have to pee some more.”
“But what if I can’t?”
“Then, hold on to it, uh, I mean that feeling. Do you understand?”
Roy looked at the campfire and sighed. Tonight was going to be another sleepless night…