Reincarnation of the Swordmaster Chapter 7

Training (2)

As Asher headed to the training grounds, Reika was waiting for him. She called out as soon as she saw him.

“You’re late!”

“I had a dream.”

He spoke briefly, causing her to hesitate before she stuttered out:

“Informal speech?”

“You are my disciple, and I am your master. Did you expect formalities?”

“…You’ve even changed your way of speaking?”

“There’s a need to decide on that sooner or later.”

Whatever happens, he had been reborn as a being named Asher. He was no longer an old man whose death was imminent. Then, he must live in the present.

That was why he had changed his manner of speaking. Reika tilted her head, puzzled.

“Not bad. Honestly, the mask you wore was annoying. Then, should I use formal speech too? One must, towards a master.”

“There’s no need for that. You’re still my employer, after all.”

“It feels a bit odd… but if you’re fine with it. So, what are we going to do today? Swordsmanship? Training?”

She asked with a gleam in her eyes, clearly excited. It must be natural for someone who was learning from another for the first time. Asher shook his head.

“No. We’ll spar.”

“…Straight to sparring?”

“I don’t know your skill level.”

Sword skills and real combat prowess are different. Even if one can perform the sword techniques flawlessly, integrating them into real combat is a whole different realm. Since it wasn’t a beginner’s lesson from the outset, sparring was necessary.

“You don’t know my skill level either.”

“Do I need to? You’re stronger than me already, aren’t you?”

“For your own sword.”

“What does that mean?”

Though she looked perplexed, Asher didn’t respond. She would understand eventually.

“People’s styles vary. There are those who use swordplay merely as a tool, while others apply them directly in combat. Mindsets, skills, and directions of growth all vary widely. The easiest way to comprehend it is through actual combat. Get ready.”

“All right.”

Although she appeared somewhat confused, she obediently picked up a wooden sword. Asher nodded in satisfaction and picked up a stick.

“I’ve been curious about that for a while. What is that?”

“Heh.”

Asher glanced at the stick in his hand. A wooden stick he had used since his childhood in his past life. Even when he became an adult and had no more use for it, he carried it everywhere as a token of his mindset.

But that was a story from a past life. There was no reason for him to have it now. According to Reika, he didn’t carry anything like this before. It was a mystery.

“We’ll deal with that later.”

He motioned with his hand.

“Come on.”

“Are you sure?”

She looked at him apprehensively. He interpreted her gaze briefly before chuckling.

“Why look with such worried eyes?”

“But you only know Imperial swordplay. That might be tough.”

“Ah.”

That’s what she meant. Asher clicked his tongue.

She was skilled in Lepenian swordplay, a technique clearly superior to the Imperial style. She must think she would win. He was going to explain, but decided it was a hassle.

“You’ll learn faster through experience. Come on.”

“Alright. Phew…”

Reika steadied her breath. Her eyes, which had looked somewhat vacant, sharpened with alertness, her muscles tensing as if ready to erupt at any moment.

“How seriously?”

“With all my might, of course.”

“Good.”

With those short words, she charged. In an instant, the distance closed, and her wooden sword came crashing down from above.

Fast. And sharp. He admired internally. He had guessed as much, but to see her like this was something else. If she continued to grow, she might eventually reach the originator of swordsmanship.

But that wasn’t now.

He drew his sword. Lowering his stance as if scraping the ground, he advanced towards her, surprising her.

Thwack!

The sword and stick collided. She staggered gracelessly, swinging her legs. A dull sound followed as Reika clutched her stomach and stepped back.

“Cough!”

“Your movements are too big.”

“Eek!”

Reika suppressed her gag reflex and gritted her teeth before charging again. He adjusted his stance, arms flickering. The clash echoed in his ears. A contest of strength, not bad.

Lepenia had said he lacked talent. That was true. Despite a lifetime of training, he could only refine Imperial sword techniques.

But that was the story of a swordsman, a path-walker with a sword. As a warrior, it was different.

“Let me give you a piece of advice.”

Asher reached with his left hand, catching her wrist and twisting it. She tried to kick, but he slipped his leg between hers, blocking her movement. He pulled at the twisted wrist and threw her.

“Kyaa!”

Reika tumbled on the ground, grunting in pain as she struggled to rise.

“…This doesn’t make sense.”

She looked down at her hand in shock. Rightly so. She hadn’t had the chance to fully apply Lepenian swordsmanship. Just two moves, two attacks, and it was over before she had the chance.

“Swordplay and actual combat are different entities.”

He muttered relaxedly.

Reika was strong. To reach such a level in swordsmanship through self-teaching was monstrous, an ability seen only a few times throughout a long life.

But she was also weak. While her swordsmanship had reached incredible heights, it was rigid, textbook-perfect in its simplicity.

That’s why, with just a single step forward, a twist of the wrist, she panicked and crumbled easily.

“This is….”

Reika bit her lip, her breathing rough. She muttered quietly, frustration evident on her face.

“This isn’t swordsmanship.”

“But you’re dead.”

Asher smiled as he spoke, her face contorting with difficulty in accepting it. She had trained believing swordsmanship was everything, yet when she couldn’t use it, that fact was hard to endure.

But there was no other way. If she didn’t want to die, she had to accept it.

Asher stomped his foot. Reika quickly grasped her sword as their blades clashed again.

“You’re strong. But that’s purely in the context of swordsmanship. Your ability to apply and adapt it is dismal.”

He twisted her wrist. The stick slid down her sword.

“Urgh!”

She groaned, clutching her fingers as she stepped back. She didn’t drop the sword. Her stance was ready, her mindset in place. All that was left was growth.

“What you need is adaptability and flexibility. And to learn to suppress your emotions.”

What were the chances of a talented individual surviving their first real battle? Countless had overestimated themselves and ended up as skewers.

In those life-and-death moments, humans lose their swordsmanship. They swing wildly, guided by instinct, and they die. Those who overcome this pressure are merely a handful among the screened.

For now, since she was his disciple, he had no intention of seeing her die like that.

He swung his sword. The clashing sounds persisted briefly until Reika’s hand shook erratically. Seizing the moment, he struck her shoulder.

“Kyaa!”

“You should give up myopic faith in swordsmanship. It alone won’t keep you alive. Wouldn’t enjoy dying, would you?”

Reika looked disheveled by now. Her once fiery hair was dirty, her face scratched, her clothes torn—hardly the appearance of a noble’s offspring. He was pleased with the sight.

“You…”

She looked up at Asher. The look in her eyes was no longer the same affection and trust as before. Doubt, questioning, and hostility.

“Who are you?”

“Well.”

Was he a captain of the guard? He remembered so, but the body was another matter. An employee of the estate? The body fit, but memories did not. What should he call himself?

He pondered briefly, then spoke.

“For now, your master.”

For now, that would suffice.

At Asher’s words, Reika flinched. After a moment of complex emotions, she nodded decisively and muttered as she rubbed her arms.

“That’s still too much. After all, swordsmanship has its place.”

“It’s not that swordsmanship is nothing, right?”

“No, not at all.”

Swordsmanship is for transcending humanity. That’s why nothing but talent is needed.

“It’s just that you’re still inexperienced. You can become stronger than me.”

“Too bad I was beaten so badly then?”

“Did you expect to win your first real fight? You have no conscience.”

His era was the era of heroes. It was a time that could not even be falsely called peaceful.

He had experienced dozens, if not hundreds of real battles. All those sensations were still deeply embedded in his soul. It wasn’t something so trivial that untrained talent could conquer.

“Phew.”

What’s the use? What’s the meaning of becoming a strong warrior? What he wished for wasn’t a warrior forged in real combat. He wanted to walk the path of the sword, to become a swords’s master.

But he lacked talent. Even at the end of his life when he became a Swordmaster, that fact remained unchanged. Emotions stormed his chest.

“Enough. Complaining now? Pathetic.”

‘I’ll walk my own path.’

That will never change.

Leika murmured as she massaged her entire body.

“Ugh. The muscle pain is going to trouble me for a few days.”

“You’ll get better with some rest. Then come back.”

“What!”

Leika hastily lifted her head. Seeing her honest reaction, Asher laughed.

“I said it’s a test. Did you think it was over already? We’re done with reactions and applications. Now, it’s time to see your physical training.”

“Um…”

She stammered, sweating coldly.

“I’m hurt. My shoulder feels weird after getting hit. I think it might be the bone…”

“I didn’t hit the bone, just the muscles. It’ll be fine in a couple of days…”

He had no intention of doing so. He grinned slyly.

“You’re going to have a hard time walking on your own.”

“Damn.”

Leika lifted her sword with a grim face.

***

Ailak territory is peaceful. This had remained unchanged for the past hundred years. Although the territory had little to boast about, it did not stir up major issues either.

The youth found the area boring, but the elderly did not complain. They knew that peace was the most precious thing.

The quiet of the territory was not only because of its geographical advantage close to the capital but also because of the temperament of the Lord. The Halbark family, ruling for the third generation, was fundamentally moderate.

They disliked conflicts and were satisfied with what they had, managing their domain contently. This trait had persisted across generations, ensuring high loyalty from the people, with the Lord satisfied with himself. Although Luke, the current heir, showed some radical tendencies, there was optimism that time would mitigate this.

“Phew.”

The lady of the house, Venesia, sighed as she put down her spoon. She looked worriedly at Leika who was hurriedly slurping her soup.

“Leika.”

“Yes, Mother.”

Leika flinched and lifted her head as Venesia sighed again.

When Leika was born, how joyful she had been. Even though she shed tears of sorrow upon knowing it was a girl, watching Leika grow up beautifully had been her pride.

Eventually, she couldn’t hold back and said,

“You insisted fiercely, and you don’t complain now, so I can’t say much.”

A month ago. When Leika argued for the freedom of labor with Asher, Venesia was quite taken aback. As far as she knew, Leika and Asher had been indifferent to each other. Not like Luke and Asher, who disliked each other, but simply indifferent. There was no sudden reason for this change.

When she prodded for a reason, Leika replied in a half-hearted tone. He will teach me swordsmanship, she had asserted. At that, Venesia thought she was referring to someone other than Asher.

She had heard the news. There had been a conflict with Luke, and the outcome was unusual compared to their usual interactions. However, she hadn’t paid much attention to it. It was a frequent occurrence. But since then, judging by the demeanors of the townsfolk or Leika’s words, things seemed to have actually changed.

Thinking they might actually get along, she agreed. But it seemed now, perhaps, a wrong decision.

Venesia regretted as she slowly opened her mouth.

“Are you really alright?”

“Ha ha…”

Leika laughed awkwardly. Her face was marred with scars, hands rough and bruised, hardly the look of a noble lady. Venesia sighed again.

“It’s been a month like this. I can’t help but worry.”

Every time after training with Asher, Leika had returned covered in wounds. At first shocked and inquiring what this was all about, Leika had said,

“It’s training, so it’s natural to have injuries.”

Though it might be a valid reason, Venesia could only soak her pillow with tears, unable to say anything else, but it had been a month already. She could no longer contain herself and was determined to speak firmly as she glared at Leika. Sensing that gaze, Leika hurriedly finished her meal.

“I’ve eaten well. Now I’ll go back.”

“Leika!”

She shouted but Leika had already long left. Stupefied, she watched the door as Luke gingerly got up.

“I’ll get up too then. Mother. Father.”

“Okay…”

As Luke also left, silence lingered in the dining room. Governor Leverock spoke bluntly while eating.

“Leika is a remarkable child. She will handle it.”

“But dear…”

Venesia bit her lip. Though she understood intellectually, emotionally settling down was hard. Watching his restless wife, Leverock grinned bitterly. She was a decorous wife but always like this when it came to the children.

“Then how about you go see Asher yourself?”

“Me, personally…”

At that, Venesia muttered blankly before shaking her head vehemently.

“No, it shouldn’t be. Then the townsfolk might become dissatisfied. They are already quite tolerant. If I mess up, it might disturb the discipline of the territory.”

“Asher has changed, they say.”

Leverock smiled as he spoke. Venesia spoke thus, but her body seemed ready to rush to the door this instant.

“True. I’ll go have a look myself then.”

“Take care.”

Venesia smiled brightly as she rose. Leverock watched her back as he sipped his wine.

“Caron.”

“Yes.”

The knight standing behind responded. Leverock nodded.

“Follow Venesia to meet Asher. And explain to me in detail what happened there.”

“As my lord wishes.”

The knight bowed and departed the dining room. The silence lingered as Leverock drank his wine.

‘I should visit too when I have time.’

Asher, if the boy really changed, how much would it be? Venesia accepted it optimistically, but he couldn’t. As a lord, he had met countless people; trusted them, been betrayed, and used. He realized that people don’t change that easily.

And the local troublemaker suddenly training in sword and becoming reserved?

‘Ridiculous.’

Leverock looked up coldly into space.

Righteousness had disappeared long ago. The reason he tolerated Asher was one; because Venesia considered the child as her own. And because he loved her.

But even that had its limits. If this supposed change was a deception, and meant to exploit Venesia…

‘He’d better not think he’ll leave here intact.’

He clenched his wine glass tightly.



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