He stood up with his hands behind his back.
"Don’t be too ambitious, stick to your foundation first, that’s the most important part. Consider this an advice from your elders."
"I was like you once upon a time. I have yet to master my foundations before I wanted to learn Tactics and create my own totem. My teacher gave me a rude awakening by making two gestures in a second. I was stunned silent." He looked up to the dormer, reminiscing his own past.
He only let Garen become his disciple then because he saw his younger self in Garen. Adding that to him saving his life, it made sense to do so.
Looking at Emin who was clearly in his own world, Garen doesn’t know how to interrupt him.
"Teacher, actually I…"
"You shouldn’t be too disheartened. You don’t need to be at Master-level to start learning Precision Blueprint, that was only because I wanted to give you a high threshold. You actually only need to be at Intermediate-level." Emin interjected. "Usually with enough talent, reaching Intermediate-level in half a year is not that rare, as long as you’re hardworking."
He raised his head and went into reminisce again.
"I used half a year to reach Intermediate-level, and even my teacher said I’m one of the geniuses that only come about once in a hundred years." His face was proud now. "So that’s what I am holding you up to. Get to Intermediate-level in half a year, and I can teach you the basic Tactics."
"I…" Garen was close to speechless at this point.
"No talking back!" Emin said seriously, "You only need to answer me, can you or can’t you! I don’t need other excuses! None! I only look at the result! You’ll know how strict I can be soon enough!"
Completely dumbfounded, Garen looked at Emin, unsure of how to convince him.
"Can you! Or! Can’t you!" Emin cut him off again.
"..." Garen went completely silent. From the beginning, he hadn’t had the chance to form a complete sentence. "I can…" He answered dejectedly.
"Good! This is how my students should behave like." Emin patted Garen on his shoulder. "Intermediate-level is not that easy, you’ll need to have an unbreakable will to succeed, an unrivalled tenacity, and a persistence beyond compare. Every day, tens of thousands of people faltered on this path. With your talent, you should be able to reach this stage in half a year, don’t give up just because you don’t see a progress."
"Teacher… I have progressed…"
"Don’t be so full of yourself, when you reached the final stage, you’ll meet one of the biggest hurdle in the Intermediate-level, the breakthrough of finger speed! But I have heard people with greater talent, they don’t even have a hurdle when transitioning into Intermediate-level, even going into Master-level is only a matter of time. Geniuses like that, it’s so inspiring…"
"The breakthrough of your speed will be your biggest hurdle in becoming a Master-level user. I’d spent countless days just working hard in my craft and exchanging experience with other Luminarists to achieve Master-level and learn Precision Blueprint. The difficulty in achieving this is harder than you can imagine… Even a genius like me need to work so hard…" He shook his head again, spacing out, yet again, into his memories.
Garen’s head begin to ache. Teacher was just recovering when he was at his house, so he didn’t show this level of bullheadedness, unlike now. Seeing Emin lost in his memories again, Garen clarified softly.
"Teacher… Actually, I’m already at Master-level…"
Emin snapped back into reality.
"This is your shortcoming, you keep boasting about your abilities, when will you actually be more grounded? You won’t win other people’s respects with just boasting, it’s with real skill, your results…"
Fwop! Fwop fwop!
In one second, Garen made three gestures with exceptional accuracy and stableness.
It felt as if the temperature had just dropped a whole notch. The two stared at each other, each not knowing what to say to the other…
Emin’s raised arm hung in the air, his jaw dropped, his unfinished sentence gone.
Garen gulped, he looked at his teacher’s eyes as it shifted from emotion to emotion, each one so complex that the most complicated mathematical equation cannot compete with.
Emin’s slapped his own head.
"Oh… This can’t be, must have slept too late last night, I’m definitely not awake, go back to bed, Emin." Emin turned around, his palm still holding his head. "It’s too early for a hallucination like this, weird…"
He paced upstairs, completely ignoring Garen.
Garen watched as Emin turned around and left, treating him like an illusion.
Emin froze in his tracks.
The situation turned sour with awkwardness.
It took a while before Emin turned around stiffly.
His face was a red as an apple.
"You… you’re really at… Master-level?" His voice trembled as he spoke, reluctant to believe.
Garen nodded slowly.
Emin took a deep breath.
"It’s so unfair!" He lowered his head, recalling the hardships he faced before he became a Master-level user.
He looked up at the extraordinarily young face, finally accepting the Garen he saw is real.
"I… need to go upstairs… I’ll be down in a while." He waved his arm in dismissal, looking much, much older than when he started.
Garen watched as Emin moved upstairs dejectedly.
He didn’t think it would be such a huge impact to his teacher. People who could go into Master-level in a short time were not rare, but actually relatively common. That was why he decided to show it in the first place, so that he could start learning Tactics as soon as possible.
However, he didn’t know this was such a huge impact to his teacher who thought he’s a genius.
Sitting on the couch, Garen wasn’t sure what to do. So he waited.
After a long while, the sky outside started to dim. As the sun sets, its rays started to become golden-red.
Footsteps appeared at the staircase as Emin slowly took his steps.
His face was calm again, and he sat opposite of Garen, taking his time.
"I got it now… Some people were able to have extraordinary talent in a specific domain, however, this only indicate their slightly higher affinity to their crafts. Those who can reach the highest, not only do they need the talent, but also the persistence and their unyielding will." He said seriously. "Thank you, Cia."
"Call me Garen, Teacher. I ran away…" Garen answered.
"Fine, Garen it is." Emin nodded. "Your talent, at least your affinity in Precision Blueprint, is my first experience as a Luminarist. Can you show me… the gestures you did before?"
He raised his arms and made one gesture after another without much difficulty.
Only a few second had passed when he was finished, averaging three in a second.
Emin watched silently without much expression, but marvel was written all over his eyes.
"Such talent… Garen, your talent in Precision Blueprint is too terrifying… From the beginning of your lesson, you’ve only needed about two months…"
Garen nodded again.
"Then, can I learn some Tactics under you, Teacher?"
"Of course." Emin nodded with intent. "You must be tired on your way here. Rest up for tonight, we will start our lesson tomorrow, the essence of us Luminarists, the Tactics!"
"Yes, Teacher." Garen nodded.
"Your room is the master bedroom on this floor. You can clean up at the bathroom over there, and meals will be at the dining kitchen. Got it?"
"Got it, Teacher. I’m not as spoiled as I look." Garen said smiling.
"Good. I’ll rest upstairs." Emin nodded and turned toward the staircase.
He stood hidden at the corner of the staircase and listened as Garen entered his room before continued walking up the flight of stairs.
Entering his study, he locked the door and approached a redwood shelf, pulling out a white notebook on the right edge.
He sat down in front of his desk and lit the oil lamp with a match.
He inked his quill and gently wrote on the opened notebook.
‘This may be fate finally giving me my favor. In my nineties, I didn’t expect a disciple with such immensely terrifying talent. It may be my luck, or yours, Resha. I will pass down the knowledge, every bit of it. Maybe I will finally be able to compile my clan before I pass on…’
Emin paused to think, and continued writing.
‘Do you still remember when we were young? When we practiced the gestures together under the grapevines, you said you had a dream. Now, among the five of us, only I’m left. Life is such a beautiful thing, but time will always steal that away.’ Emin’s eyes flashed a sense of sentimentality at this point.
‘Resha… What will you do if you’re still here?’
He ended the two paragraphs with a final stroke at the top.
‘To: The one who gave me happiness’
He closed his notebook and glanced at the darkening pastures, staring into the distance without movements.