The retired old man’s rhapsody
Several days after meeting Fia, I came to the Adroad continent again.
I came back since I didn’t get to do my exploration last time because of the troubles I had with Fia. Well, despite that, I guess I did learn some useful stuff from her. If we do meet again, I’ll just think of her as a lover I left and neglected or something like that. It’s ridiculous to worry now about an uncertain future
Because I went east last time, this time I’ll try going west. It would be nice if there is just a simple village in that direction. I already got my share of elf troubles with Fia.
While the east side is only flat forests, this side has a mountainous terrain. There seems to be a lot of demons, so there probably won’t be any human villages. Still, I fly around while searching, yet I don’t see anything. Is this also a miss?
In order for my actions not to go to waste, I have to remember to do some mapping during breaks. While I’m writing on the map as I wonder where I should go next, my ears unexpectedly catch on some sound. I raise my face from the map and confirm that I’m really hearing something. However, looking around, I can’t see the origin of the sound. It has a certain rhythm, and sounds like it’s coming from the other side of the mountain. This can’t be ignored.
Hurrying, I close the map and fly towards the source of the noise.
As I make a detour around the mountain, I find a solitary house built in a carved out tree.
It’s pretty far but, I can see smoke coming from something that looks like a chimney, there has to be someone living there. Even so, for someone to reside in a private house in the midst of this forest… it must be fun to live this eccentrically.
I could just go through the sky and land there but it smells like trouble, so I get off at a nearby place and switch to going on foot for the rest of the way. I travel through the dense forest then, at last, I arrive at the house down the road by following something that looks like an animal’s trail.
A man twice my height is chopping a tree there. The origins of the noise that led me here seems to be the sound of wood-chopping.
He swings his axe down in a steady way. Though it’s just mere wood-splitting, I think that his refined movements are beautiful. He would look better swinging a sword on a battlefield’s front rather than merely cutting wood.
【 “……Who’s there? Stop hiding and come out.”】(???)
(EDN:He speaks in a dialect, a “ho-gen”, like an old man)
He noticed me even though I’m hiding my presence? Those muscles aren’t just there for show.
As I come out obediently since I don’t really have a reason to hide, his threatening look settles down a little.
【 “Hmm, did you get lost or something?”】(???)
【 “…… What the hell are you saying? Are you from the demon race? I won’t hold back if you’re hostile.”】(???)
He turns his axe towards me like he’s ready to hit me at any moment, I can feel bloodthirst coming from him. Wait a minute, no matter how suspicious I am, isn’t he losing his temper a little too fast? I haven’t done anything but talk.
【 “No no no, I’m normal… well, not really, but I’m a child of the human tribe. I’m not hostile at all.”】
I raise both of my hands and I put them in evidence to show that I’m not hostile and he cautiously lowers his axe. Then, without saying a thing, he resumes his wood chopping, disregarding me. It’s rather refreshing to meet someone that blunt.
However, my coming here would all be pointless if I’m going to get ignored. Should I start the conversation from here?
【 “I’m sorry, but why do you live in such a place?”】(Sirius)
【 “I don’t want to converse with an aristocrat. I don’t know how you found me, but we have nothing to talk about. Leave quickly and take your bodyguard with you.”】(???)
I got strongly rejected and spat on. Isn’t this old man misunderstanding something? I get that he hates nobles, but I don’t know who he is. First of all, I should make something clear.
【 “It seems like you’re misunderstanding something, I just came here by chance, I wasn’t looking for you. And I’m not an aristocrat, so I don’t have any bodyguard. You probably already noticed that there is no one else around besides me since you’ve got sharp senses.”】(Sirius)
【 “Because I have some special magic. I’ll say it again, I found you by accident.”】(Sirius)
【 “I don’t know you, but I do think that you have a lot of skill.”】(Sirius)
This old man’s atmosphere is different from Dee’s. Yesterday’s bandits are like trash when compared to this. Was my answer good? The old man finally stops being cautious of me.
【 “Hmm, you do seem different from those foolish nobles, boy.”】(???)
【 “Hoho, you said it. Well, you’re a guest so, I’ll serve you some tea. Come with me.”】(???)
Speaking of aristocrats, the only one I know is my father. That’s why it’s just like I said to the old-man, I don’t want to be considered as one of them. Is he satisfied with this? The old man puts down his axe and invites me to his house.
It’s a handmade log-house.
It’s made of neatly processed wood, something similar to the stuff done in my previous world. There is a desk and a chair in the middle of the room, a carpet and futons made of demon fur and a stone oven (EDN: The ones used for pizza etc…). It’s quite surprising since it seems that the old man made all of these by himself.
【 “Although I am an amateur, I try to use my strength and my extra time in various ways.”】(???)
【 “I don’t like putting it as a talent. Oh well, I’m glad to be complimented anyway.”】(???)
I wasn’t flattering him. To think that he made all of this by himself despite being isolated… This place is definitely more remote than my house. I wonder what reason he has for living here.
As I sit down on a chair while pondering on my questions, the old man prepares some tea and sits in a chair facing mine.
【 “Unfortunately, there are no other drinks for children. It’s fine to stop drinking it if this doesn’t suit your taste.”】(???)
【 “Oh, I don’t mind.”】(Sirius)
He pours a green liquid into a wooden cup for me. I don’t sense anything suspicious in it even after smelling it but… the smell seems familiar. The old man drinks it while gurgling so I take a breath and do the same even though it’s still steamy.
【 “I understand it. The bitterness that stays in the throat and the heat that numbs the tongue. Isn’t it most suitable after a meal?”】(Sirius)
It’s a little heavy, but there is no doubt. This is japanese tea, isn’t it? Because I drink it quickly, I nearly burn myself, but it has a nostalgic taste. The old man becomes more and more cheerful from seeing my reactions.
【 “Umu, you understand, don’t you boy? For a child to understand the deliciousness, you’re quite the smart fellow.”】(???)
【 “All right, I’ll give you some later.”】(???)
Such a generous old man. It was worth coming here if only for this.
【 “No one else in this country gets it. Not understanding something like this… they’re just unworthy of it.”】(???)
【 “Exactly. By the way, may I ask for your name?”】(Sirius)
He lives alone in this kind of place. He could also be a criminal but, at least I know that he’s not a person who’d try to poison me. I’m just someone who wants to learn various things, I never change my attitude no matter who I talk to.
【 “Lior. Are you familiar with the name?”】(Lior)
【 “Lior? It heard it somewhere… hmm?”】(Sirius)
If I remember correctly, it appeared in a book. The source: Alberto’s travel diary.
The great swordsman who cuts everything down and turns it to ashes with his large sword of fire, said to come from the strongest family.
All the people call him by the same name, that is,【Goutsurugi Lior】. (TLN:Literally, “Lior, the strong sword”, but it sounds lame so I’ll keep it as Goutsurugi)
【 “Could it be that, you’re Goutsurugi Lior?”】(Sirius)
【 “That’s an old story. I’m just a retired old man now.”】(Lior)
Oh, I thought he seemed strong but, but I didn’t think he was that high tier. I want to fight him by all means.
However, as powerful as he may be, I can’t feel any will to fight from him. He released some killing intent when he thought I was a suspicious person but he went back to being a simple retired old man as soon as he figured that I was harmless. There might be a reason for that which involves his hate for aristocrats.
【 “You don’t look like someone in his retirement days to me. If it’s alright, can you tell me the reason behind your situation?”】(Sirius)
【 “Hmph, you impudent boy. Well, I don’t have anything else to do so I’ll tell you but, it’s a long story.”】(Lior)
He pours a second helping of tea into our respective cups and gradually starts talking.
【 “I always liked training. I trained and trained, I defeated various opponents and, before I knew it, I got labeled as the strongest. I also got labeled as master swordsman and strong flame but I didn’t really care for these trivial titles. However, after becoming the strongest, I couldn’t find an opponent to match me. Then an idea came to me like a flash, seeing how things were, I could just train someone and turn him into an opponent capable to face me, therefore I took some pupils. I easily managed to gather a lot of disciples at the center of the country after declaring openly that I was looking for one.”】(Lior)
He’s the strongest after all. He’d likely be able to gather as many disciples as he wants even after advertising for just a moment.
【 “However, I’d say that most of the proposals I received were from aristocrats who wanted to show off as my pupils. Though the guys I taught were hungry for strength, they were just gutless idiots. Whenever a situation got tough, they’d run away, and if I didn’t go easy enough on them, they’d find it unacceptable and start whining. I have even been reported several times to the king, there was no end to those idiots’ proposals that I turned down. Since it couldn’t be helped, I decided to look by myself for suitable apprentices that I could eventually fight eye to eye with. I found a few fitting pupils but, they were all natives of the slums and commoners which made those dumb aristocrats make a commotion. From their point of view, I neglected them even though their position was better as nobles so they started whining again, yet it felt pretty good this time.
However, several of the nobles got jealous and envious and aimed for the right time when I was absent to surround and attack my disciples, preventing them of even swinging their swords. Though the pupils had some good skills, one of them ended up dying. In a fit of rage I looked for those nobles and chopped off the arms of the fools and humiliated them in front of the king and the other aristocrats. After that, things just got ridiculous so, I retired here, I didn’t want to get involved with the aristocrats anymore.”】(Lior)
After finishing the long explanation, the old man quenches his thirst with some tea.
However…. For now, I’ll just give him my thoughts on that.
【 “So halfhearted!”】(Sirius)
【 “You revenge against the nobles was too halfhearted! What you did to those aristocrats only hindered the country, you should have destroyed their family name and honor instead!”】(Sirius)
【 “You were reported to the king several times before, right? This whole thing is just a consequence of that. You didn’t try to justify yourself properly and you carelessly took risks instead, didn’t you just get too excited?”】(Sirius)
【 “A student shouldn’t die before his teacher, that’s why It’s very important to improve the pupils’ environment and make it suitable.”】(Sirius)
Though it’s just my opinion, I think that creating an appropriate training environment is also the teacher’s duty. The aristocrats are certainly bad, but the old-man who ignored them and looked down on them is bad as well. He didn’t just have to guide his students, he also had to watch their back while they were still inexperienced. That applies even more when there are only a few of them.
As a former teacher, it should be alright for me to make a sermon or two, right?
【 “Hmph, that’s difficult to hear. You’re just a boy, how would you understand?”】(Lior)
【 “You want to try to become a teacher at your age? Though you have some wonderful ambition, you’re not likely to become one with your half-baked ideas.”】(Lior)
【 “Then, maybe you should give it a try yourself?”】(Sirius) (TLN:if you didn’t get it, he’s insinuating that what he did in the past wasn’t worth being called teaching)
I provoke him while letting out a small overpowering feeling. Even I think that I’m being too blunt but, the old-man squints his eyes and his mouth gets just slightly distorted.
【 “Good, I knew that you weren’t an ordinary fellow, you’re finally showing your true colors.”】(Lior)
Somehow, there is a fight-like atmosphere and the old-man is fired up now, excellent.
Let’s have him show me the abilities of the one called the strongest.
After leaving the house, we’re now facing each other with wooden swords in our hands.
Though he’s an old man, he’s happily doing practice swings to warm up. The opponent I’m facing this time is like a demon, I’m glad to be able to fight against such a person. I actually craved for meeting someone like that, so there is no way I’m letting this old man retire.
【 “If you hit me even once, it’s your win boy. But don’t worry, I’ll hold back.”】(Lior)
【 “Cut it out, boy. Show me with actions, not words.”】(Lior)
Well, now that my plan is a success, I don’t need to badmouth him to provoke him anymore. However, I didn’t plan the rest of this, what should I do?
I slowly walk toward him, then when I get two steps away from the old man, I focus all the power of my upper body to my feet and I dash at him. From a slow motion to a fast one, although he’s surprised, the old man responds to the unexpected attack and moves over instantly. As expected of the one titled as the strongest, he easily managed to read and dodge my move and trajectory. While he dodges, I slash the wooden sword down from his shoulder with my right hand, and I go aside. I then take some distance and as we pass each other by the side, I notice that the left hand I hit him on is shaking.
【 “Say, what if this was actually a knife?”】(Sirius)
【 “It would have been a fatal injury on a battlefield. My retirement made me grow dull, how shameful of me.”】(Lior)
He finally notices his negligence and smiles wryly while shaking his head. This should make things get serious. Looking at the old-man, a ferocious smile appears on his face and his muscles start inflating.
【 “I’m sorry. Yet, I’m thankful as well, boy. My heart almost got rotten! Wouaaaaah!”】(Lior)
The shock wave made by his roar shakes all the trees around.
This tension reminds me of the training with my teacher. I want to cry every time I recall the kumite in that hell, but I’ll put that aside for now. The preparations are complete. The old man finally got serious, from here on we’ll have a real fight.(EDN: Kumite is one of the three main sections of Karate, similar to sparring.)
【 “I’ve never seen this stance before. What school is it from?”】(Lior)
The old-man is holding his sword vertically pointing upright, it’s quite similar to the style called Jigen-ryū from my previous life.
The Jigen-ryū style is said to allow one to cut anything with a single blow. I think that it really fits this old-man.
【 “It’s not from any school in particular, it’s self-taught.”】(Sirius)
As for me, I’m hiding one hand behind my back and I’m holding my sword with the other, a peculiar stance that protects the body.
Though I was trained by teacher, she didn’t follow any school. However, she shined by nothing but her experience and changed her moves to suit each case. A style that changes depending on the situation. It’s a style that is quite convenient for me.
【 “Is that so? In that case, from here on, let’s go at it boy!”】(Lior) (TLN: For those who get it, he said “Ikuzo!”)
The old-man dashes at me by stepping only his tendons on the ground, and I activate my【(Boost)】in order to fast Guotsurugi.
Thus… a switch got turned on.
――― Lior ―――
I always liked training and fighting, I kept getting stronger just because I liked it, and eventually, I became the strongest.
Though there was no end to the people challenging me to get my title, they all sunk with a blow or two.
How long was it since my thirst for fighting had faded?
Fire won’t burn without any firewood.
And like the fire wood, I kept waiting for a meeting with a worthy opponent.
And then one day, I realised that instead of waiting for it I could just make it happen.
I decided that I shouldn’t wait for apprentices either and that I should look for some myself. I searched all over the world and kept looking for pupils in thirst for strenght. I was delighted when I finally gathered enough students. They got stronger and stronger every day. It was the first time I felt that happy besides when I fought.
However… the aristocrats destroyed all that.
I cut the right arm of the main culprits for revenge, but my mind didn’t clear at all. Even simple seeing aristocrats felt unpleasant.
I left the country in despair and I retired in a secluded sea of trees. I built a house, I fought with some demons, and spent my everyday life in a calm and peaceful way. However, I couldn’t fill the empty hole in my heart.
And my empty days continued.
And then, I met a boy.
It was a confusing and nonsensical child. (TLN: From this point on, I just rushed the translation)
The boy was quite mature for his age and he had good taste in tea, too. It was my first time meeting someone after so long as well so, I became quite talkative.
However, I actually ended up getting preached. I noticed that he was provoking me and I answered to his provocation in order to educate that impertinent boy. I thought I could just wait for an attack, dodge it and hit the the kid lightly on his head, however, he was just leisurely walking for some reason. It was my first time seeing that kind of action.
I absentmindedly watched the boy leisurely approaching me then he suddenly appeared in front of me and got into my range. I almost fell down on the ground from the surprise and my heart was pounding strongly. If it was the old me, I would never have let him get this close. I was surprised by my weakness, but I managed to barely move away. I dodged that attack but the boy hit me at my side right after and then took some distance.
【 “Say, what if this was actually a knife?”】(Sirius)
Those words made me angry. Not towards the boy but towards myself.
This sensation…… I missed it.
I apologized to him, thanked him and we then took a fresh start. This boy…. no, this guy, it’s someone I can get serious with. He doesn’t belong to any school either, he’s holding a stance that I’ve never seen before. He should join my school【(Tsuyoshi Yabu Itto-Ryu)】.
“Tsuyoshi Yabu Itto style” “First technique: Heaven’s strenght”
It’s nothing but a simple downward string, but it can easily slice and cut iron once studied thoroughly. Though its trajectory is easy to read, it’s difficult to avoid it because of its speed and the overpowering feeling given off by the full-out blow.
In fact, most of my opponents were beaten by this. But, what about this fellow? I step cautiously because of the fissures on the ground and I use heaven’s strength…it’s dodged. Moreover, he avoids it at the very last moment by merely shifting half of his body to the side. I leak out a smile over his ability to surely dodge that kind of strikes reflexively.
Immediately after, I aim for the opponent and slice at him with a downward swing, I’m using the “Ninoken Tsuyoshi-Shō”. He twists his body and avoids this on as well. Though he tries to use the momentum of the evasion to attack me, I raise back my sword and use it to defend myself
Not only he avoided both of my attacks but now, my chances of losing are bigger since I also have to watch out for counterattacks.
My blood is boiling more than I thought. The opponent surely made me give him my best. The fellow is using the【(Boost)】magic to compensate for the difference in physical strength. Though I had an opponent who used that in the past, It’s my first time seeing a complete use of【(Boost)】. No, this doesn’t matter for now. (TLN: The boost is generally used partially, like, on one hand or one arm)
(TLN: From here on, I rushed the translation, I’ll correct that tomorrow)
“Eight Slashes Breath” “Rannoken-Chiyabu.”
He blocks half of the slashes with his sword and he dodges the remaining ones.
I plunge mana in the sword and create an extensive shock wave, “Yabuno-kenshōha”.
I use this chance to pass him by the side, I try to attack him but he moves back outside the reach of the impact. I swing down forward and he dodges by jumping backwards.
Oh…… It doesn’t connect, none of my techniques connect.
A competition using both power and skill, a fight to the extreme with both parties clashing at full strenght. Power is returning to my weakened body, and being able to sharpen my senses and use my techniques is so pleasant. The strong man I longed for for so long has appeared at last.
What Goutsurugi? What strongest? Isn’t there someone clearly superior to me right here?
I want to fight with my beloved sword, not with some wooden one.
I want to put on my armor, I want to fight desperately with life and death at sake.
I want to keep fighting forever.
My revived heart spits out desires one after another, but this old body hits it’s limit. My breath is ragged, and I am clearly on the defensive side. This body is far past its prime, but because I did not neglect my daily training, I should be able to fight a little longer. It seems to by the price to pay for the time I spent rotting away.
He attempts a strong attack aimed at my neck but he stops, jumps backward and puts a lot of distance between us. Strange, he could have struck me with his sword using that momentum. As I establish a steady breath while questioning his actions, he also just stands there, exhaling deep breath and he raises a single finger.
【 “We’re both at our limit. Let’s put an end to this.”】(Sirius)
【 “…… All right”】(Lior)
Is that so? Is this fellow at his limit?
The thing is that, if we keep fighting like this, I’ll get exhausted and he’ll win just from his tenacity. Nevertheless, he took some distance and declared that we’re ending this. I’m really thankful. Then, I’ll honor that graceful gesture.
I fix my disordered breath, I take a Heaven’s Strength stance again and grasp the sword. All right, here I come. I will show him the strongest blow I can pull off in my current state.
The fellow accelerates at a dash in a frontal way without trying to pull any petty tricks. Though I surpas him in power, I don’t know what will happen against this opponent whose movements I can’t read. He uses his momentum from running and swings his sword as if he’s scooping something up, while I just naively swing mine from the top to the bottom.
A crushing sound echoes throughout the area, and our wooden swords crumble to pieces. Could they not withstand our attacks any longer? Whether that’s it or not, I just leak out a sigh and enjoy this time of supreme bliss.
But I was foolish. This fight… isn’t over yet.
The moment I look at the pieces of wood flying about, the guy’s foot catches my jaw.
There was no reason for the fight to end when the weapons broke.
I see his foot move slightly and at that moment, my consciousness fades away.