༺ Training (1) ༻
The next day, Vera strode to the vacant lot in front of his cottage and drew his sword.
It was for training.
Training so that Renee wouldn’t overexert herself while using her power and to never feel that sense of despair back when they barely escaped from Terdan’s grasp with Vargo’s help.
Vera thought as such while drawing out the blade.
‘What am I lacking?’
Is there something missing when it comes to my sword art?
When that matter came up, his conclusion was firm as ever before.
As Vera judged, there was nothing amiss in regard to his sword art.
Vera’s proficiency in the sword had already reached the level of a master.
Naturally, it’s because Vera possessed talent.
His talent to wield the sword. The will to take one’s life. The insight to recognize the ones exuding killing intent. His mastery of handling his own body. He possessed the necessary talent and skills for any battle.
From the moment he held the sword, Vera was already aware of how to swing the sword, and what he could accomplish with just a sword. He knew it intuitively, through the realm of instinct.
That’s why Vera’s sword had no distinct form.
A sword wielded by instinct.
A blade consisting solely of his numerous experiences.
Not a strand of formal discipline was instilled in it.
Because it was such a sword, Vargo declared his sword was akin to a ‘dog in heat’, which Vera couldn’t refute.
However, his sword art had no shortcomings.
The elements of Vera’s sword had already been honed through many years of practice.
That’s why his sword hadn’t changed in the last four years in the Holy Kingdom.
The moment he tries to instill form in his sword, his sword art falters — his swordplay becomes constrained in such a restricted manner that a choking sensation presses his whole body down each time he wields his blade.
That’s why Vera failed to correct his sword art.
Again, Vera pondered over the dilemma.
‘Nothing is lacking. If that’s true, does it mean it is impossible to develop my sword art any further?’
Have I already reached the limit of my own growth?
Is it no longer possible to develop solely with a sword?
Questions began to stir his mind up.
This time, Vera contemplated it for a while and came up with an answer while grasping the sword’s hilt tightly.
It was possible.
He can reach a higher level.
There was no reason he couldn’t. He had already confirmed with his own eyes that the realm beyond his current self existed.
In Vera’s head, the scene when Vargo dealt that blow to the colossus the other day resurfaced.
‘Highly condensed divinity.’
That mastery enables Vargo to only strike once.
Vargo created that vicious crimson mace that shatters even the surrounding space by compressing his divinity all into one place.
‘Compressing to a singular point.’
While the launched divinity had obliterated all in its wake, it was only possible because the condensed divinity did not disperse and instead was channeled in one direction.
And in the end, an explosion resounded.
An explosion that even Terdan, the giant who was able to push aside mountains, could not overcome.
It was a feat only possible because of ‘Intent.’ A technique requiring a significant form and righteousness to confront Terdan with his condensed divinity that has the ability to explode at the target point.
Vera’s sword slashes resounded.
He understood now. At that time, Vargo’s intent clearly contained form and righteousness.
There was no reason why he couldn’t grow when the possibility existed in reality rather than in some false myth.
‘But it shouldn’t be the same as the Holy Emperor.’
Because it won’t be my way.
It was a path that only Vargo could take.
His form could be best described as an overwhelming dominance.
He himself had to come up with a different form and intent from that of Vargo.
‘What will I instill in that form?’
He once again began ruminating.
The sword that only he can wield and move forward with.
His sole purpose at the moment the clock of his life turned back.
‘My sword must be dedicated to the saint.’
A sword to protect Renee.
The sword he had to forge himself.
‘The sword must be flawless.’
It had to be a flawless sword that wouldn’t falter under any circumstances.
Regardless of any situation or opponent, it had to be a sword that showed no weakness.
Vera knew how arrogant the word ‘flawless’ was.
So, Vera thought of a sword that was infinitely close to being flawless, something that was only possible for him.
He witnessed tens of thousands of battles, and each of those battles had tens of thousands of different swordplay. To make his sword flawless, he can imitate those.
He had to do it.
‘I’ve already laid an initial foundation for that.’
A sacred art created by weaving the power of his stigmata. It was feasible to manipulate the combat situation itself.
His sword art had to be a technique that could take tens of thousands of forms depending on the penalties given each time so that it could be free from restrictions while fighting within the bounds of the ‘Sanctuary.’
A center that doesn’t change amidst ever-changing laws.
In other words, it was necessary to make a form that was ever-changing.
Vera erased the sword he had forged through his experience from his mind.
It had to be returned to a blank canvas and rebuilt from scratch.
Vera closed his eyes and recalled the many strong opponents he had met all throughout his two lives.
He remembered their swords, their martial arts, their techniques.
It wasn’t meant to be engraved onto the body. That was already a failed attempt.
‘Engrave them in their most basic state.’
Slash, thrust, and block.
He erased everything so that only those three essential elements remained.
Then he remembered.
How did the strongest people I have met so far fought?
The strong ones I fought with my own sword. Who were they?
It wasn’t a question that took too long to answer.
If I have to choose the best of the many strong opponents I have met in my past life, I will choose those who went against the enemy of the entire world.
The Heroes who defeated the Demon King. I had to make a sword on the premise of dealing with them.
The ones who could win against him, even if they fought right now. But that didn’t mean that their sword art was more tactful than his own.
Vera knows it’s possible to defeat them using a stigma. However, if you take a look at the sword itself, it is correct to say that his sword is inferior to their martial arts.
Therefore, the sword that Vera has to rebuild is against their swords, a sword that could completely overcome their swords and the legacy they have built up on their own.
Vera then recalled the swords of the Heroes.
The Second Prince of the Empire, Albrecht De Freich, the Knight of Honor.
I recalled his sword art being hailed as the ‘Indestructible Sword.’
‘Essence of flow.’
With the overwhelming gentleness of his attacks surging out, he recalled how annoying it was to deal with his sword.
The heir to the Northern Duchy of Thresia. The Sword of Hegrion Thresia.
What does his sword stand for?
A strong sword that stood firm even amidst the harshest of blizzards. He remembered how he knelt down on the ground from a single swing of that sword.
Aisha Dragnov, the master of the magic sword.
The magic sword she wielded was rather swift. He remembered the sword that was a nuisance to deal with because of its extreme speed.
The next thing that he thought of was how to handle such opponents. The number of times Vera would be trampled upon in the face of them all.
A sword that changes all around. He had to build a sword based on that goal.
Vera finally opened his eyes.
Before he knew it, an ashen divinity engulfed his surroundings.
Although the direction to proceed has been decided, it is still a sword that has not yet been properly shaped.
Thus, a lengthy ordeal would come.
However, Vera’s mood brightened up even as these thoughts crossed his mind.
I’ve finally found a path. I’m not done yet. I can be even stronger than I am now.
Vera’s fighting spirit knew how to relish in such development.
‘The best thing is to get some real-life practice.’
The most effective training for Vera was real-life combat. Direct confrontation with your opponent and fixing your mistakes one by one would be the fastest way to complete sword art.
‘The question is, how do I do that in the Holy Kingdom?’
Unless Renee ventures out, he can’t go out either.
‘Then I have to find a sparring partner here then…’
As he was in the middle of such a thought.
He heard a sudden cry.
Vera tilted his head to see where the cry came from.
From afar, the people whom Vera had called were approaching.
The twins, Rohan and Trevor.
Looking at them, Vera felt a spark of ‘Eureka!’ course through his brain.
In the first place, they were humans who were called for the purpose of ‘teaching’ Renee, but they didn’t have to be called just for that.
A smile crept up on Vera’s face.
In the nick of time, it looks like some tough sandbags have arrived. Shouldn’t I use them?
Two days later, Renee walked down the hallway with Vera for her originally planned divine arts training.
A constant beat of a cane and their footsteps resonated. His warmth was felt through her fingertips.
Renee felt his presence while walking for a while. However, when the awkward atmosphere finally became too frustrating for her, she opened her mouth.
“Today I’m meeting with the Apostle of Wisdom, right?”
“That’s right. His name is Trevor.”
Hearing his prompt answer, Renee resented Vera as silence once again descended upon them.
She didn’t mean it. It was just a bitter resentment that rose within her as to why Vera would keep his mouth shut and won’t utter a single word.
But Renee herself doesn’t understand this emotion.
An unpleasant look appeared on her face, and her grip on the cane tightened, and the sound of ‘Tap’ now turned into a sound of ‘Thud!’.
Vera called out. Renee flinched and her body quivered. She then lowered her head slightly and uttered an answer.
“Are you sick?”
“No, I’m not.”
Again, the sound of ‘Thud!’ reverberated through the floor.
Immediately after she said those words, Renee tried to observe Vera’s signs after belatedly lamenting at the thought, ‘Was I too harsh?’
The feeling conveyed through his hands and the sound of his steps. There wasn’t any change in his breathing, but Renee, surprised by the dejection, thinking that Vera might be mad, closed her eyes tightly and said.
“I apologize. I’m being too harsh.”
“Please, don’t worry. It didn’t feel like that at all.”
“Well, I didn’t sleep well.”
“Oh, it’s probably because of the change in seasons. I’ll tell Hela to pay closer attention to the room’s temperature.”
Flinch. Renee’s head drooped once more.
Renee inwardly muttered a small apology to Hela, who suffered slightly because of her.
‘What’s wrong with me?’
Perhaps I haven’t gotten used to staying at the accommodation yet? Renee, who had thought her own behavior was utterly unfathomable, quickly persuaded herself by saying, ‘I’ll be fine once I get used to it a little more.’ She then calmed her breathing.
In the meantime, silence descended upon them once again.
Renee says, ‘Calm. Stay calm.’ After trying to imitate a cheerful tone, she posed a question to Vera.
“The Apostle of Wisdom… What kind of person is Trevor? Is there anything you don’t like?”
The question that popped up was about Trevor. It’s a courtesy to get to know someone before you meet them. Renee was a woman with such ideals.
Vera continued to ponder over Renee’s question for a moment and soon uttered an answer in a low voice.
“He’s a lunatic.”
“He’s also a little bit of a pervert. Nothing good will come from being close to him, so I’d recommend keeping a distance.”
A bit of lengthy advice. Renee thanked Vera for finally stirring up a conversation, but she tilted her head upon hearing the harsh evaluation of Trevor.
She let out a moan because she didn’t know what to say. Thus, Vera continued to berate Trevor.
“I can say that he seemed to be extremely interested in the bare skin of other men. However, there is no guarantee that his perversion is only directed towards the same sex, so I want the Saint to be extra careful. Oh, if Trevor ever asks you to reveal your stigma, you must never, ever show it.”
Vera wasn’t like this.
There was a faint irritation in his voice. It was a rare display of emotion, and Renee remembered the last time she had felt this before coming here.
It was just that it was the same tone when Vera mentioned about the people of the Holy Kingdom in Remeo.
‘That’s the monster the Knight mentioned.’
She nodded her head slightly. She finally understood.
Although Renee previously thought that Vera might have been acting mischievous, now it didn’t seem to be the case at all.
“I don’t think it’s good to talk badly about others behind their backs…”
She said so.
Vera’s expression hardened upon hearing Renee’s words. His eyes turned to her.
She said those words while looking a bit troubled.
Obviously, that’s true.
“No, I’m just saying…”
But Vera still felt sad.
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