To exaggerate a little, it was a down-stroke good enough to fall in love with.
Speed, power, posture, arc, every element was of a perfect downswing.
It wasn't too quick to follow with the human eye. It wasn't as strong as a giant's heavy strike. Just, there was nothing to criticize.
So, Baan's sword breaking Dolby's sword wasn't something to be surprised by.
Dolby looked down at his sword with a stupefied expression. Breaking a wooden sword wasn't a common occurrence. If the strike was strong enough to break a wooden sword, it would be easier to strike it out of the opponent's hands.
It wasn't just Dolby that found it strange. Aidan too was surprised enough to jump out of his seat.
The remarkable swordsmans.h.i.+p that Baan displayed astonished everyone, but the down strike was special. Not because it broke the wooden sword. The Arc… Aidan knew the perfectly perpendicular arc.
'Jensen's downstroke? How did…'
It was something for another time. Aidan raised his voice.
"Stop! That's enough. Baan."
Baan relaxed and lowered his sword. Looking over at Dolby who was too stunned to speak, Baan smirked.
"I won right?"
Dolby couldn't answer. He just looked down at his broken sword as though it was too much to take in considering he lost to someone who hasn't held a sword all his life.
"Woah! Baan! This guy!"
"When did you train this much by yourself?"
"I knew this guy would be able to do this. I knew!"
The guards ran to Baan cheering wildly. n.o.body amongst them antic.i.p.ated Baan would beat Dolby. There was too much of a gap between a person whose job is to fight and someone who doesn't.
"The last down strike was fantastic! d.a.m.n, I couldn't do it if someone made me."
"How much did you train by yourself?"
"Uh, hmm. Long enough?"
"Don't be full of yourself. Fine. I'll let it go this time. Guhahaha, Dolby, why did you make such a bluff? If you were going to be humiliated like that."
Fl.u.s.tered, Dolby turned his back upon hearing the guards. Baan smiled a little watching Dolby walk away.
He wasn't sure he would be able to beat Dolby. The experience he had was Jensen's. He wasn't quite sure it would work in a real duel.
The question was answered.
No, all the future swords he would hold… their experiences were now his.
He can become stronger
It was in the captain's room. Aidan calmly said to Baan who was looking around the clean, organized room.
"It was much better than I expected. You probably… trained for quite a long time."
"Yes. I did."
It wasn't a lie. While his training wasn't that long, Jensen's memories weren't short.
"Would've been quite the hards.h.i.+p."
Aidan wasn't cleared of his skepticism, but he didn't ask any more questions. If it was something he had to know, Baan would've told him already. He just needed to know two things. Is Baan a decent swordsman.
And. Is he a decent person.
The former, he confirmed today, and the latter he confirmed through knowing Baan all his life. Aidan opens his mouth.
"We, the 'Yuri Guards' have made sure none of our villagers have died an unresolved death for the last 10 years. We let no blood get on their hands through all the thieves, wild animals, ghosts that have swarmed the village. Do you know what that means?
"Umm… that it's a great guard. And honorable."
"Yes. And now you're part of the great and honorable guards."
Aidan put his hand on Baan's shoulder.
"The guards always welcome a good swordsman. You start tomorrow. Any objections?"
"Good. You can go. You probably have a lot more to talk about with Jensen than you do with me."
But unlike his prediction, no—unlike everyone's expectations, Jensen opened his mouth as he saw Baan enter the house.
"Did you qualify?"
"Good job. Go rest."
Jensen had an air about him as though he knew everything. Upon seeing Jensen, Baan abruptly had a feeling well inside.
"…Thank you. Master."
"No need for thanks. Stop saying such embarra.s.sing things and go to sleep. You'll be busy starting tomorrow."
"And sorry. I… I should've told you before."
Jensen didn't answer. Instead, he looked at Baan's hands. The hands that haven't had a chance to heal recently. Just like his hands once did. Jensen murmured.
"Parents and children are alike."
"Master and apprentice resemble each other too apparently. Since you and me both are foolish."
At those words, Baan let out a moan. Upon thinking Jensen was a swordsman too.
How to answer such a question.
'No, not today.'
As Jensen didn't question him that much. Baan instead made a promise instead of questioning.
"I'll become the best swordsman, and let you live a life of luxury."
"Luxury my a.s.s. Say that after you become the village best."
"Watch me. I'll become it! For sure!"
"Hey, Baan. I heard you joined the guards."
"Jensen didn't beat you till death?"
"Anyway, congrats. You're going to protect us from now? Haha, the things that happen…"
People congratulated him in their own way. The village was big enough to have a guard but small enough for people to know everyone else.
Baan straightened his back and shoulders and walked proudly. Yep. He was part of the guards. Now the only thing left was to succeed. Hone his swordsmans.h.i.+p and win the Tournament of the Kingdom… and wipe out the Rebels in war.
And once he is noticed by the King and marries the Princess…
"Why are you smiling so grossly?"
It was Dolby. He was glaring at Baan with a sour look. Baan calmed his jittered heart and said.
"What. Loser. You're gonna escort me or something?"
"… Don't be full of yourself after one win. Next time I'll beat you."
It was an expression full of fervor. It was to be expected. To be defeated by Baan who he considered a nerd. Dolby grumbled and continued.
"The Captain sent me. He wanted me to guide you through the basics."
"Oh, yeah. What area am I responsible for?"
"Newcomers always have the gateways. Once you gain seniority, you can have it easy and slap low lives on the back of the head, but that'll take more than a few years. For now, you'll be at the entrance holding a torch."
"Woah, I get to inspect traders and the like?"
"Did you not hear what I said. You'll be walking the top of the walls with a torch."
"What do I do if a renegade comes? Do I fight him?"
"…Let it go, there's no point in talking to a daydreamer like you."
Seeing Baan fantasizing already, Dolby shook his head. He was obviously fantasizing about becoming a hero and marrying a Princess.
"Let's go and get your supplies. We're guards so we should at least get you some armor and a sword."
"…Oh, yeah. I'll get a sword yeah?"
Baan's eyes flashed happily.
Sword. He would finally get his own sword. Seeing Baan excited, Dolby smirked.
"Don't get too excited. It's just going to be a senior's old sword. To get a new one, you'll have to become a vice-captain level. Or do something amazing."
"It's better if it's used!"
Dolby c.o.c.ked his head quizzically. Baan kept smiling without answering. In the past, he would've preferred a new sword, but it was different now.
Baan couldn't make a larger smile upon entering the weapon storage and started looking around. It was filled with various types of weapons.
[You're holding the worn hwando of 'A Newbie Swordsman Who Only Practiced the Techniques of the Empire'.]
[The grimly sotaedo of 'A Swordsman Who Trained a Quick Sword']
[The polished longsword of 'A Swordsman Without Any Pros and Cons']
To anyone, it would've been an ordinary weapons storage, but to Baan it was heaven.
After grabbing multiple swords, Baan was ecstatic.
'Joining the guards was a great decision…!'
He was enjoying his time.
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