Sword master Baan stood atop a hill. An eerie wind was blowing. In front of him, there was a swordsman whose face could not be seen. From the robe and straw hat he seemed to be from the east.
Sword master Baan asked.
"Are you challenging me even though you know who I am?"
"Of course. The greatest swordsman of the kingdom, sword master Baan."
"You still challenge me knowing that?"
"If I don't challenge the best, who should I challenge?"
Baan let out a bitter laugh and gripped his sword. An upright position, for a downswing at any moment, he faced the opponent who would be face down on the ground just like the fall leaves.
The opponent surged. He tried to draw a lightning fast stroke, but its useless. Baan's sword was faster than light. Before his hand even moved, his blade flew downwards…
Baan woke up with his two hands in the air. It was a familiar moment. The dream 'Sword master Baan". Baan retrieved his hands from the down-stroke position, and slowly got up.
'At least it's not as shameful as before.'
Ever since starting his sword training in earnest, the sword master Baan dreams didn't come as bitterly as they were before. Before, it was a dream that he could never achieve, but now… it was something he thought possible. Hope had appeared.
Baan smirked. After training, something changed in his sword master Baan dreams. It was that sword master Baan always took a 'downswing' position whenever he could.
Maybe it was because he had acquired some affection for it through all the downswing training. Funny. Baan stood up and quickly did a down-stroke, and smiled.
It may have been an empty hand, but if he his hands held a sword, it would have been a perfect down-stroke.
Baan could honestly feel what it meant to 'improve to the point of being visible'. One swing provided him with the experience of two to five swings. It wasn't out of the question to feel it firsthand.
He was gaining experience at a multiple of the speed of others. What could be a better blessing for a swordsman.
"And this is the very low memory synchronization."
Then how would the maximum be? No, if Jensen wasn't an ordinary swordsman, if Baan could somehow hold the sword of a great and famous swordsman…
As those thoughts filled Baan, the more he couldn't bear living as an apothecary's apprentice.
'Not much left now.'
Baan made a vow. The moment he made Jensen's swordsmans.h.i.+p, his downstroke… he would quit the path of becoming an apothecary.
He knew the moment wasn't far away.
He swung down.
A down-stroke. Another, and again.
The path of the blade was enveloped by memories, and on top of the memories, the blade swung past again. Clothes have long since been soaked through by sweat. He was no longer sure if it was Jensen's memories that were swinging or if it was him.
It was hard. Even the muscles tempered through climbing mountains couldn't handle swinging the sword every day. Baan groaned every night into bed and became slower in digging his medicinal herbs. And because of that, he had less time to grip the sword.
Anyone with half a brain could notice something was up with Baan. But Jensen didn't say anything. Jensen just handed Baan a salve he made for Baan's torn hands every now and then.
What was in Jensen's mind. Would he know Baan was training with a sword. Baan stopped thinking. His mind was filled with the thought of the sword every progressing day.
The joy of a 'sword' was enough to make him forget about the fatigue pressing down on his body.
It was enough to make him think, why now? Why did he learn this now?
He couldn't suppress himself, so he swung. Jensen's memory taught him the 'ideal downswing'. He slowly closed the gap.
[Owner's Understanding of Swordsmans.h.i.+p Increased.]
[Memory Recall Slightly Improved.]
He knew his swordsmans.h.i.+p improved without having to see the message. The memories of Jensen were no longer foreign to him. How he held the sword, how he swung, why he does it so, he didn't have to hear it from anyone to understand.
Baan thought of Jensen as his master in swordsmans.h.i.+p as well. He wasn't sure if Jensen would take it well.
Jensen's memories held an old swordsmans.h.i.+p training method. It was to kick a tree and slicing the leaves that fell. The one unique point was that even if he was perfectly perpendicular, he only split one leaf.
Unlike Jensen, Baan had to cut the leaves.
Unlike Jensen, Ban had to swing an unsharpened blade.
The leaf crumpled as soon as it touched the blade. It was a different sight from what Jensen had done inside the memories of the sword.
But Baan didn't despair. From what he saw inside the memories, Jensen had more failures than successes. When Baan failed once, Jensen failed three times, and five times.
It would be embarra.s.sing to complain in front of Jensen's memories just because of that. Baan clenched his teeth and gripped the sword. As calluses formed and ripped, his 'downswing' also became much more graceful.
In time, he could cut the leaf without crumpling it.
In time, he could cut less leaves.
From ten leaves to nine. From nine to seven. Sometimes back to ten, but eventually down to five.
"… Why isn't he coming?"
Baan. The pa.s.sion childish Baan had for swordsmans.h.i.+p was known by everyone in the village. Even the guards knew it was nearing the end of training when Baan showed up.
It was all the more strange because of it. Baan who would continue coming even when Aidan told him not to was nowhere to be seen,
'Did he really give up?'
If so, Aidan was happy for him. It meant Baan had given up his absurd dream.
But why was it lingering on his mind.
Was it possible he was cheering for Baan? To achieve that absurd dream?
'If only he wasn't Jensen's apprentice.'
If it was so, even if Baan was a bit old, he would take him in and raise him as a guard, no as a swordsman. It's hard to find a boy his age pa.s.sionate as him about swordsmans.h.i.+p.
Aidan was sighing when Dolby came up to him cautiously.
"Is something wrong Captain?"
"Hmm? Nothing. Hey Dolby. Have you met Baan recently? I haven't seen him around recently…"
"B, Baan? Uh, hmm, well…"
A fl.u.s.tered Dolby stuttered out. He just couldn't tell he got a 'Potion of Man' from Baan because of his dignity as a man. He quickly added before Aidan got suspicious.
"Now that I think about it, he said he was going to become a swordsman?"
"… He said he's going to become a swords man not that he wanted to be one?"
"Yeah. I thought he talked it out with you… no?"
Aidan scowled. No, if he wanted to become a swordsman, he should show up more often on the training grounds. Whether to pester him to become a member of the guard, or to train with them.
"What is he possibly doing?"
"I have no idea…"
Dolby laughed embarra.s.singly.
A moment later.
Baan showed up to the training grounds.
He said he would like to take a test of apt.i.tude.
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