The Star of Annihilation
Chapter 36 – Flaws (2)
Written by : eleven
* * *
Two weeks later….
The sword cut through the air like a thin sheet of paper and the hilt nailed Roy in the back of the head.
Groaning, Roy put his hands on the ground and tried to stand up.
“Still don’t understand it, do you?”
“Of course not, you haven’t given me a single clue as to what this is all supposed to mean!”
Roy yelled out in frustration to Lucius.
For some reason, as they traveled south of the Empire’s borders towards the Demon territory, Lucius had still given Roy zero instruction on how to advance in his swordsmanship.
His only task was to attack Lucius without any mana enhancement and pure swordsmanship.
Biting his lip, Roy’s eyes flashed in anger.
“You tell me that I’m supposed to be your disciple… one of a Swordmaster at that! And yet, all you do is tell me to attack you over and over again without instruction!”
“….You don’t listen very well.”
Lucius spoke with a stoic expression.
He didn’t like this method of training for Roy either, but it was something that was needed to make sure Roy would not end up as a ‘false’ Swordmaster in the future.
‘I guess I can concede a little bit.’
Lucius thought after much deliberation.
“Alright, get up and we’ll take a break. Let’s go to the carriage and get some food first.”
Lucius had bought a carriage for them without any kind of coachman to drive the horses because it was supposed to be covert whenever the Empire’s national powers, like their Swordmasters, went into foreign territory.
Roy spat out a mix of phlegm and blood as he glared at Lucius while he walked back to the carriage.
A bit later, as Roy and Lucius were chewing on some pieces of jerky, after the frustrating training, Lucius decided to speak up.
“…What do you think makes a Swordmaster known as a Swordmaster?”
Roy fell silent and stopped chewing his snack as he thought about the sudden question.
“They master swordsmanship and can use aura…right?”
“You’re not wrong, but you’re not right either.”
Lucius responded as he looked up at the cloudless sky overhead in the canyon they were training in.
“What do you mean by that?”
Roy asked with a curious expression.
To him, Swordsmanship wasn’t exactly enjoyable. It was something he only pursued because he figured he would need it down the line. However, the topic of what made a Swordmaster a Swordmaster, was quite interesting to someone like him.
“They do master a style of swordsmanship, but that does not make them masters of the sword in that sense.”
“A style of swordsmanship? What is that?”
Roy had never been one to care about knights or swordsmen in his previous life, so he naturally didn’t even know what styles of swordsmanship there were.
“Think of it like this : A Swordmaster can use aura, but they also aren’t masters of the sword. If that’s the case, they had to pursue a single route to specialize in, in order to be able to manifest aura.”
Roy nodded silently with a confused look.
Lucius saw this, and knew that Roy, despite being confused, was still following his logic.
“Styles of swordsmanship are things that in the end, lead to aura. As a Swordmaster myself, I can use aura, and aura has different traits for everybody depending on what kind of style they pursue. My aura’s trait is ‘piercing’. It allows me to pierce through anything I deem needing to be pierced. This is just one of the kinds of traits that are accessible through the Imperial Style of Swordsmanship.”
“…You said that certain styles of swordsmanship give different traits of aura, right? Then why am I not learning a style yet?”
“Because I don’t think what you are looking for is in the Imperial Swordsmanship Style.”
“Imperial Swordsmanship, if mastered, has several different types of aura that one can manifest. I chose ‘piercing’ as mine, and others chose different ones like ‘shield’, or ‘thrust’. However, these are only basic types of aura. The First Swordmaster of the Empire is on a completely different level compared to the other Swordmasters for a single reason.”
“What would that be? Are you saying not all Swordmasters are of similar strength?”
“Yes, that’s correct. In fact, this frustrating training is to help you not become a weaker type of Swordmaster. The sole reason that the First Swordmaster of the Empire is so strong compared to other Swordmasters…. Is because he created his own style of swordsmanship.”
“Yes, he created his own style, pursuing a singular type of aura that would be much stronger than the predetermined ones that one can choose if they master the Imperial Swordsmanship.”
“What kind of…aura is it?”
Roy genuinely was curious, but did not expect Lucius to answer this. He was still incredibly confused as to all this new information, but he also didn’t expect Lucius to answer because knowing someone’s aura that was that strong, was akin to letting someone know of their weakness as well.
But Lucius did not care, nor pay any mind to such worries. His disciple was his disciple for a reason. They would eventually learn to trust each other along the way.
“I’m not entirely sure as he never has said anything about it to anyone other than the Emperor. But…. if I had to guess, it would be something along the lines of ‘absolute’ or ‘immoveable’.”
“If that’s true, I have another question.”
Roy took this as his chance to obtain more information since Lucius rarely spoke this informationally about swordsmanship.
“Why was the Dragon you faced, able to use aura without mastering a type of swordsmanship?”
“…That- that is a good question.”
Lucius’ expression crumpled slightly as he recalled that terrible fight he had survived.
“Quite honestly, I’m not sure entirely, but if you master a martial art, you are also able to use aura. It’s one of the many mysteries that surround aura, mana, and ki. They all are different kinds of energy, and aura is probably one of the least researched for obvious reasons.”
“Then during that fight, why were you saying something weird to that guy?”
Roy recalled the odd words that Ifrit and even Lucius had said.
Something about how he wasn’t a ‘true’ master.
“That’s something that is related to your training…. I guess it won’t hurt to tell you now since I think you’re finally ready.”
“Finally ready for what?”
Roy felt a bit odd at the mysterious words his master spoke.
“Finally ready to start learning in earnest.”
Roy’s eyes shook.
Did this mean he would be able to gain instruction finally? If so, what did all of the information his master just gave out, mean towards all of this?
“Don’t be so eager at my words. This is only where the true hell of training will begin.”
Roy didn’t know what Lucius was talking about that day, but later on, he was sure to remember these words vividly as he would curse.
“We’ll start by working on what we call ‘flaws’.”
* * *
Roy cursed himself as they made their way through the Demon’s Territory.
They were heading away from the border and were approaching a nearby town.
Roy had never journeyed to the Demon’s Territory in the past, but had heard multiple stories about their kind and just how powerful they were.
Unlike the Empire, the Demon Territory still allowed slavery.
–Based on your memories, I think something is a bit different about these people.
Ifrit rarely spoke to Roy about worldly affairs since he was mostly confined to the Spirit Realm for so long.
However, sifting through Roy’s memories when they established the contract, was quite pleasurable for Ifrit who was naturally curious about a future that had been unseen before.
-These people you call Demons, aren’t real Demons. T
You’ve never seen a real Demon have you? … I guess that makes sense since the Demons aren’t present in this universe.
‘Then what are they?’
–I’m not entirely sure, and I’d have to meet one to know for sure whether my hypothesis is correct. But…. I think they’re humans or other humanoid species that have been corrupted with demonic energy. Think of what would happen if you didn’t try to maintain a balance when collecting and cultivating demonic energy like I have been teaching you.
Roy repulsed at the thought of him looking like a demon.
Clack- Clack- Clack-
The sound of the horse hooves hitting the ground on the barren trail could be heard.
Roy peeked out of the carriage’s flaps and looked out towards the village.
In short, the village looked incredibly barren.
‘Was the Demon Territory this bad, even back then?’
Roy tried to recall any news he had heard of in regards to the Demons in his previous life.
“Don’t worry, this is just a town in the outskirts of the territory, the Demons aren’t as bad as rumors pan them out to be.”
Lucius spoke while snapping the whip to get the horses to move faster.
“How can you be so sure?”
“Believe it or not, I’ve come here quite a bit in the past.”
Lucius replied without looking at Roy. His eyes were set on the village in the distance.
It seemed there was still a lot that Roy needed to learn about in regards to his master.
“Well… maybe I spoke too soon.”
Lucius grumbled as he focused his ki towards his eyes.
Roy looked in the same direction as Lucius and enhanced his vision with mana as well.
In the distance, smoke could be seen as it rose up into the sky near the village.
Chapter 36 – Fin
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