༺ Rock Sword (4) ༻
I was not good with words. It has always been like that, from my childhood until now.
If I could convey my sincerity to others with just a few words, I would not have been rolling around on the battlefield for 20 years.
In the military, there was no need to persuade the other person. It was either to obey the command or not, just one of the two.
I don’t even think that sincere conversations suit me now.
However, I intend to give it a try.
I am no longer a soldier, but an instructor.
I will convey my sincerity to Gwyn and listen to her sincerity as well.
In my own way.
“Get into position.”
I gripped the sword with both hands and aimed it at Gwyn in a middle stance, exuding an imposing aura.
A chilling energy weighed down the entire training hall like heavy air.
“If you don’t, you’ll die.”
This energy is fake. I, of course, have no intention of actually killing Gwyn.
However, Gwyn must not realize this. She must think of this as a real battle.
It’s been a while since I used a sword. My main weapon is not a sword, after all.
But now was the time to use a sword.
“Instructor, that stance is…?”
Gwyn examined my stance with a horrified expression.
Instead of explaining it to her, I took a step forward.
Gwyn, faced with my refusal to engage in conversation, inhaled sharply and gripped her practice sword. She seemed to decide it was better to respond first and think later. A swordsman-like behavior.
With a seemingly ordinary step, without particularly stomping my foot, the floor of the training hall cracked. It looked as if a heavy rock, rather than a person, was walking.
Gwyn’s expression became even more horrified at my stride.
I raised my practice sword and struck down. It was neither fast nor painted with any technique, and Gwyn naturally responded to my straight downward slash. To block my attack, Gwyn raised her practice sword above her shoulder, and my sword stabbed down over her defense.
With just one blow, Gwyn’s defense shattered, and she fell to her knees.
Gwyn looked up at me with shock in her eyes, her hands trembling as she gripped her sword, as if the impact of her defense breaking hadn’t faded.
“Instructor, that’s not…?”
I nodded my head.
“It’s the Rock sword.”
The initial middle stance I took. The peculiar footwork of carrying weight with each step.
All of these were techniques of the Rock sword.
To others, it may have seemed like I had simply struck down with brute force. But I did not use more force than necessary in that one blow. If I had simply overpowered Gwyn, it would not have taught her anything.
What’s important is the subtlety of the sword.
I applied the techniques of the Rock sword to concentrate the strength of my entire body into a single point. That’s why the power I actually exerted was greater than it seemed, striking down over Gwyn’s defense.
To put it I’m not sure if I should really call this the Rock sword. After all, I haven’t properly learned it.
But looking at Gwyn’s shocked and astonished expression, it seemed to her like the Rock sword was enough.
“H-how…? Did the master teach you? But to a foreigner, it’s absolutely-“
“You talk too much. Are you just going to keep kneeling like that?”
At my words, Gwyn clenched her practice sword, gritted her teeth, and stood up.
Gwyn still seemed unable to recover from the shock of blocking my sword, but with sheer willpower, she regained her posture and aimed her sword at me with heavy, determined eyes.
“A swordsman should ask with a sword… I understand.”
Gwyn placed the sword she held with both hands at her waist.
The basic stance of the Rock sword. It was the same stance as mine.
I unfolded the same downward slash as before. Knowing that she couldn’t block it anyway, Gwyn tilted her sword diagonally.
Clang! The swords clashed, sparking. She had deflected my sword. Originally, the deflection should have been smooth like water flowing, but it was impossible due to the significant difference in power.
Forcing the deflection like this would quickly damage the sword. But since the deflection was successful, the conditions for a counterattack were met. Gwyn’s eyes gleamed as she thrust her sword towards my empty torso.
Of course, avoiding that attack was simple for me. I twisted my shoulder slightly, and Gwyn’s thrusting sword grazed my side and stabbed the air. I wedged her sword between my armpit and stepped forward with my right foot.
Our bodies were close together, like dance partners. At that moment, I forcefully pushed Gwyn’s chest with my shoulder.
Thud! Gwyn dropped her sword and rolled away from me on the ground.
I threw the practice sword to Gwyn, who was gasping for breath on the ground.
Gwyn’s eyes widened as she staggered to her feet.
We repeated similar exchanges several times. As the intense sword fight continued, sweat poured down Gwyn’s face, and the sound of metal clashing filled the training area.
I observed all of Gwyn’s movements as I defended against her counterattacks. The way she moved her feet, gripped her sword, and breathed.
It was definitely an impressive talent. I told her that she couldn’t master the Rock sword, but actually, this level of proficiency was already considerable.
Her physical strength was also remarkable. It was hard to believe that such a fast and powerful sword trajectory could come from her delicate body.
Any ordinary man would be overpowered by her strength. It was not hard to imagine how much effort she put in to achieve that level of pure physical strength with a woman’s body.
But Gwyn was a successor of the Rock and a disciple of Sword Saint. She wouldn’t be satisfied with mediocre strength, but the limits of the Rock sword she was using were apparent.
As long as Gwyn couldn’t break her current mold, she would not be able to grow stronger beyond a certain point.
Even though she was exhausted, she got up again and again.
She had every reason to feel resentment towards me for knocking her down repeatedly, but strangely, her expression was calmer and more serious than before. Maybe she was gaining something from our duel.
She didn’t seem to harbor any ill feelings towards me. Instead, her eyes were filled with a swordsman’s determination to learn something more from me.
However, Gwyn’s body was nearing its limit. She had been swinging her sword for hours before I arrived. Continuing the duel any further could be dangerous.
I put away the practice sword and said,
“I said stop. Your body reached its limit a while ago.”
As I had said, Gwyn’s body gave in before her will did. As her body involuntarily wobbled for a moment and she collapsed powerlessly on the floor, Gwyn made a bewildered expression.
Gwyn spent quite some time catching her breath and lost in thought.
Finally, after deep contemplation, she spoke.
“I had no idea that the Rock sword could be used like that… Why didn’t my master teach me this?”
“The Sword Saint couldn’t have taught you. This isn’t a proper Rock sword.”
In a way, it was a selective adaptation of the Rock sword.
I had discarded centuries of traditional swordsmanship and its principles without care, taking only the parts that suited my needs. It was efficient for me, but it would be a perfect opportunity for the Sword Saint to grab me by the back of the neck and criticize me for discarding the teachings so casually.
“But the Sword Saint recognized this as the Rock sword.”
“Are you talking about master?”
“Yes. Although the form may be different, the roots are the same. Of course, this is my own Rock sword, so I can’t teach it to you. Even if I tried, it wouldn’t mean much.”
“Then why today…?”
I looked down at Gwyn, who was still sitting on the floor, and spoke.
“I can help you establish your own Rock sword. Of course, it’s not forced. If you don’t want to, we can end this conversation here.”
“My own Rock sword…?”
Gwyn was lost in thought for a while and then looked at me with confused eyes.
“Why? You told me to abandon the Rock sword earlier today… Why are you doing all this?”
“I was simply thinking about efficiency.”
“Even if it takes a bit of a detour, personalized education might yield better results.”
Gwyn opened her mouth with a dumbfounded expression, then chuckled without substance.
“Now I think I understand. Who Instructor Eon is… and why you said what you did back then.”
With those words, Gwyn seemed to have completely let go of any ill feelings she had towards me.
She tried to get up using the training sword as a crutch, but her body was so drained of energy that she couldn’t even stand properly. She looked like a newborn lamb.
“Can’t you get up?”
“No, I can do it on my own… Ugh!”
“You can’t get up. I’ll take you to your room.”
I lifted Gwyn by the shoulders and legs, cradling her in my arms. In an instant, Gwyn let out a stifled scream as her face turned bright red.
Gwyn’s arms and legs flailed weakly as she clung to me.
“Instructor Eon! What on earth!? Please, put me down!”
It’s difficult to maintain balance when she’s thrashing about.
To emphasize that she should stay still, I tightened my hold on her.
I could feel Gwyn’s breathing trembling in my embrace.
Our eyes met at a distance so close that even our breaths could touch. Gwyn’s black eyes stared steadily at me without wavering.
She looked at me with a longing expression as if remembering someone else.
It felt more like an aborted word than a simple exclamation.
Gwyn had become quiet as if her previous thrashing was all a lie.
But, perhaps not wanting to show her face, she hung her head low and quietly rested her head on my shoulder.
If she seemed content to stay still, then that was fine.
I slowly walked towards the dormitory with Gwyn cradled in my arms.
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