The Sword Saint
Editor(s): Joker, Speedphoenix
My long afternoon nap left me too awake to fall asleep, so I spent the night helping out with the village’s restoration efforts . In other words, it was a rather uneventful evening . The same, however, could not be said for the morning after .
“How long has it been since you first began using a sword?” The hero-turned-butler-turned-instructor sheathed his sword as he asked the question . We were currently situated within a training ground, one that all three militaries were simultaneously putting to use .
“Not… too… long…” I said, between laboured breaths . “I think it’s… been less than… two years . ”
How is he not tired? I’m pretty sure he was moving around just as much as I was . Does being efficient and shit really make that fucking big of a difference? God damn .
“Your swordplay is rather impressive for someone that’s had so little exposure to it . ”
“It’s all on Enne . She’s the only reason my dumb ass has been even remotely whipped into shape . ”
As we had just been sparring, I wound up using one of the wooden greatswords I had lying around instead of my signature weapon . And I’d probably rely on her way too much if I used her anyway .
All the sword-based techniques that I did know came from the manner in which Enne would correct my mistakes whenever I fought . Remembering the way she altered my movements allowed me to reproduce them even though I didn’t know why I was doing what I was . It went without saying that the sword saint totally destroyed me in our spars . I needed Enne if I wanted to put up a decent fight . And even then, his technique was still miles ahead of mine .
“I agree . You certainly do seem fairly dependent on your weapon,” he said with a nod, “but that does not come as a surprise, as I believe you’re more of a caster than a melee fighter . ”
“Yeah, more or less,” I agreed . “I started out mainly using a sword, but nowadays, I more or less throw a bunch of spells and only get up close to wrap things up . ”
“From what I’ve seen, your skills as a mage are first rate . Are you sure you wish to improve your mastery of the blade? There isn’t any real reason for you to seek further martial prowess, is there?”
“Honestly, I just want to make better use of Enne . ”
“Reasonable,” he said with a chuckle . “Now, why don’t we discuss some strengths and weaknesses? I’ll start with your strengths . ” He smiled . “Our bouts have led me to believe that your combat experience is mainly sourced from fighting monsters . I can also see that you have a good understanding of feints and their importance . You weren’t doing a great job of executing them with a blade, however, but I believe that’s because you normally use magic for your feints instead . ”
His evaluation was spot on . Most of the fighting I did involved the Wicked Forest’s monsters . I’d normally lure them into a trap, pelt them with spells, and have my pets jump in and finish them off once they were sufficiently harmed or distracted . The vast majority of my battles ended up following that exact flow, so I rarely ever had the chance to practice feinting with a sword . Of course, not all our foes were formidable enough to merit strategy, but those that weren’t were often dealt with through the application of brute force . I’d never really had any chances to polish my ability to duel . Yeah, probably not a good thing . Leaving the dungeon means I’ll have to fight without my pets, sooooo… yeah .
“Your most glaring fault is that your attacks are easy to read and counter . That, unfortunately, hampers your defense . ”
“Yeah, I can tell . You kinda kicked my shit in,” I said with a shrug .
The two of us weren’t actually alone . Soldiers from all three nations were hanging around and watching us . I couldn’t blame them . The sword saint’s demonstration wasn’t exactly one that happened on the daily . In other words, they were watching me get my ass kicked . There goes what little pride I had left .
“Not being skilled in defense is not strictly a bad thing,” he said with a smile . “Or at least not only a bad thing . Simply put, you’ve chosen to specialize in offense instead . Rather than working against your foundation, I suggest that we embrace it and focus all of your training on bolstering your offenses even further . ”
“Wait, what? You sure? Because I was kind of expecting you to tell me that I should focus on getting better at defending . ”
“If all you do is focus on your weaknesses, then you’ll become a generalist with no particular expertise . While it is not always better to focus on your strengths, I find that doing so is generally better than not . All of the stronger individuals I know have strict areas of expertise . ”
Makes sense to me .
“And in my eyes, your greatest asset is your body . Your raw strength is far higher than what any member of the races can possibly output . The best way to put it to use would be to enhance your strikes to the point where they cover for your weaknesses . I believe the ideal you should aim for is the ability to kill something that is otherwise beyond you in a single blow . If you manage to achieve it, then you will no longer have the need to defend . Your offense power will become your greatest defense,” he said .
So basically he wants me to build like a nuke . He’s got a pretty good point too, now that I think about it . I’m pretty sure massive swords and brute force have pretty much always gone hand in hand . What kind of idiot tries to do silly fancy tricks with his giant unwieldy weapon anyway?
“Thanks for the feedback,” I said . “I’ve pretty much been self-taught so far, so I really appreciate it . ”
I was really starting to see why Remiero was known as the sword saint . His explanations were great too, no doubt in part a result of the wisdom that came with his years . I was also starting to understand why Nell was so good with her blade . His frequent instruction was no doubt a major contributing factor .
“I’m glad to be of assistance,” he said . “It seems you’ve caught your breath again, so I believe we’ve taken a long enough break . We don’t have much time, so let’s get right back to it . ”
Our training came to a temporary halt once the sun was more or less directly overhead .
“I see that your training has yet to cease . ” Lefi laughed at me as she entered stage right . She had come with Enne and Nell, the former of which was holding both the other two’s hands .
“You guys here to watch or something?” I asked .
I was on the ground with my face in the dirt and my arms and legs spread wide, completely exhausted .
“Indeed . We learned that you were being humiliated and came to mock you in your time of despair,” she said with a smirk .
“U-Uhmmm, I don’t think that’s what we actually came for . It’s lunch time, and we were hoping you’d join us,” said Nell . “I’m sure all that training has you hungry . ”
“Let’s eat . Together,” said Enne .
Lunch? Is it really that late already? It felt like I had only just put Enne to bed in order to make sure that she got a brief morning nap, but apparently, my sense of time had been thrown off .
Lefi smacked me a few times on the shoulder before calling out to the old butler .
“It appears that you have shown him the extent of his incompetence,” she said . “He is clumsy for one of such a level . It will take great patience to temper him . ”
“Don’t worry, I plan to have him whipped into shape in no time,” said the old butler . “Am I correct in assuming that you’re Leficios, the wife I’ve been hearing so much about?”
“Indeed I am . And you are?”
“He’s Remiero, my sword instructor,” said Nell . “I owe him a lot for all the things he’s done for me . ”
“So you are amongst those who have offered Nell your aid? For that, I am grateful . Thank you,” said Lefi .
“I would say that she is the one that’s been helping us, if anything,” said the blademaster . His amicable smile remained for a few moments before it transformed into a much more serious expression . “Mrs . Leficios, I understand that this may seem rude given that we’ve only been briefly acquainted, but would you mind if I asked you for a favour?”
“A favour?” Lefi cocked a brow . “What manner of favour?”
“Could you please entertain me in a contest of might?”
He bowed his head as he made the request .
“Dude, you okay? Did you hit your head or something?” I blurted . I knew that the old butler was more than smart enough to be aware of the risk, but I couldn’t stop myself from commenting . Cause like, shit, fighting Lefi is what we call a death wish . Not even I’ve got the balls for that . Though admittedly, that’s mostly because it’s not the kinda thing I’d enjoy doing with Lefi .
“I am aware that even a casual spar with someone as powerful as you is likely to prove fatal, and that is why I would like to ask for a safer alternative . Could you please demonstrate the force of your will?”
“I shall not refuse, for you have already done me a great favour in training my husband,” she said . “But I must advise that the others stand not too close . The aura I am to unleash is one that is likely to slay them should they remain in my immediate vicinity . ”
“Thank you, Mrs . Leficios . ” Remiero looked towards the crowd and raised his voice . “We are about to do something extremely dangerous . If you wish to observe, then please do so from a distance!”
Every soldier heeded his warning without question, regardless of race . After confirming that they were a good ways away, the old man took a neutral stance with his hands at his sides and his legs shoulder width apart .
“I am ready whenever you are,” he said .
“Then I shall begin,” said Lefi .
A tremendous amount of pressure was unleashed alongside her words . Though they had backed off, the soldiers began collapsing without exception . Even those that managed to remain conscious were forced to their knees .
The intent to kill was something that could be both easily perceived and defined . Like magic, it was a phenomenon that could be brought from the caster’s mind into the physical world through nothing but the application of one’s will . And it went without saying that Lefi was capable of butchering everyone present without even lifting a finger .
The person that the brunt of the pressure was directed at was dripping with cold sweat . His breaths were heavy, laboured, but he didn’t collapse . He didn’t give in . He remained standing exactly where he was, even when exposed to something that would send the Wicked Forest’s monsters running with their tails tucked between their legs .
“I suppose that is enough . ”
And after exactly a minute, the pressure vanished without a trace .
“I am impressed,” she said . “You have earned the right to be proud, for it is no common feat for a human to withstand my bloodlust for so long . ”
“It seems… to me that… I still have quite the ways to go,” he said, slowly recovering . “Yuki, for example, did not even react . ”
My nonchalant behaviour had led him to smile in a dry, self-depreciative manner .
“It’s kinda just because we’re family,” I said .
Personally, I don’t really think seeing a family member lose their shit is the kinda thing that freaks you out . You pretty much just end up going “oh boy, she’s mad again,” and brush it off . Didn’t help that she was just pretending to be mad either . I was fairly convinced that my reaction was normal given the circumstances, as neither Nell nor Enne had been affected by it either .
“Seriously though, you sure you’re not fucked in the head? ‘Cause that was the kinda stunt that gets people killed,” I said half-amazed, half-surprised .
“I’ve had very few chances to fight any notable foes as of late,” said Remiero, as he dabbed away at his sweat with a handkerchief . “It feels like I’ve been out of practice . A brush with death is the sort of event that draws out one’s potential, and this seemed as good an opportunity as any for such an experience . ”
I mean, I kinda get it? Staring death in the face does kinda help hone your survival instincts, I guess… The more I thought about it, the more sense it started to make . There were only a few individuals in this world on Lefi’s level, which meant that training done with her was pretty much as good as it got . Still gotta be fucking insane to try it though, just saying .
“That is enough about training . It has come time for a meal, Yuki . Let us hurry along and begin,” she said, before turning to the old butler . “Remiero, was it? I shall offer you the opportunity to join us . ”
“I appreciate it, Mrs . Leficios, but I’ll have to see to cleaning up after the soldiers . Please don’t mind me, and enjoy your meal,” he said . “I’ll see to continuing your training afterwards, Yuki . ”
“Alright . Thanks . ”
Though he was busy, the old butler had taken an entire day out of his schedule to train me . I should probably get right back to it once I’m done eating so I don’t waste his time .