After that day, the back of Shirone’s head itched almost daily. But Rian did not show up.
According to the rumors, he got caught by his instructor and was taken to the mountains.
It wasn’t until a month later that Shirone relaxed.
Humans were oblivious creatures. As long as nothing big or significant occured, it would soon be forgotten.
‘No way he has a grudge simply because of that.’
With a light heart, Shirone started reading about the founding of the Kingdom of Thormia, his country.
The number of books he had read over the past four months was 82.
Though not a large number, his reading speed gradually sped up as the number of completed books increased.
‘My prediction wasn’t wrong!’
The first book took 20 days to complete.
However, after fully understanding the first book, many things got easier for Shirone.
No books he read, following the first, had any completely new information.
There was only a difference in degree of complexity, but the same information would repeatedly appear.
‘No need to be scared. It’s only hard the first time!’
If he were to lay the foundation with about 200 books first, the remaining 650 books would be much easier to take in.
Shirone’s favorite part of history was definitely the mages’ active role in it.
If a scholar studied a theory, the mages were the ones who implemented said theory.
According to this relationship, the occupations of mages were as diverse as the many fields of study.
Nevertheless, the reason why all scholars were not mages was because they could not enter the extremely sensitive state of mind: Spirit Zone.
In addition to the variety of knowledge, a mage must have sensitive senses.
Therefore, Shirone, who had already mastered the Spirit Zone, was even more frighteningly immersed in building up his knowledge.
He suppressed his curiosity towards more miscellaneous subjects, and dug through only history.
‘I have to hold myself back!’
Shirone suppressed his urges in order to gain the endless efficiency that would come with the Core of Knowledge.
When that efficiency finally arrives, just what kind of mage would Shirone become?
It was a waste of time to think about stuff like that.
After reading the last page of the founding history, Shirone closed the book with a satisfied expression.
At that moment, the door burst open.
“Hey, you jerk! I went through hell while waiting for today to come!”
It was Rian Ogent who returned from hell.
To call him an incarnation of the devil with that malicious face of his would not be an understatement.
He harbored the same amount of anger as when he was dragged by his swordsman instructor a while back.
If Shirone was to point out any difference, it was that his eyes were sunken and his body appeared thinner.
“Are you really here for that?”
“Of course. Do you know how much trouble I went through? I climbed and climbed the cliff countless times. Everytime I thought I would fall to my death due to my waning strength, I managed to hold on as I NEEDED to get my revenge!”
Shirone was anxious.
If he had been growing that hatred everyday, then Shirone must look like a sworn enemy to him.
“Aren’t you going to answer? You thinking about saying empty words? I’m asking why the heck you snitched on me that day, you coward! I feel sick when I see guys like you!”
“I didn’t rat on you, I just told the truth.”
“I asked you for a favor. Why didn’t you tell me that you weren’t going to help me? I trusted you.”
Shirone gave up persuading because he couldn’t deal with the reasoning of an aristocrat.
“Then what should I have done?”
Rian looked slightly taken aback by the unexpected attitude.
He looked like a butler who had just started working for his family, but he looked so calm.
“Alright, you’re ignoring me too, aren’t you? You must have heard something from somewhere, but I’ll show you clearly who I am. Follow me.”
Shirone followed Rian.
Judging from the degree of his anger, he seemed to be thinking of taking him somewhere to beat him to the brink of death.
‘It’s better than dying. Let’s just let him do whatever he wants to do to me. Whether it be hitting or mistreating me.’
He couldn’t throw away the opportunity that his parents risked their lives for.
Whenever he felt fear, he imagined his parents enjoying their meals.
It was a small exercise hall where they arrived.
Since the family revered martial arts, there were several large and small exercise halls in the mansion. But the place they were now was a place dedicated to Rian, and no one would hear if they screamed.
Shirone waited with a dry mouth while Rian lit the torch.
He wished they could just start quickly because each passing second made him more and more uncomfortable.
Maybe it was on purpose.
But if Shirone were a swordsman, he would’ve known this level of tension on a battlefield was normal.
“Here, take this.”
As the training ground lit up, Rian threw a wooden sword towards Shirone.
The wooden sword, which clung to Shirone’s hand with a loud slap, had a handle thicker than that of an axe’s.
“Why are you giving this to me?”
“A duel. I’m not as cowardly as you. I’m destined to become the greatest swordsman in the future. But enough about that, This is my way of paying you back for snitching on me.”
Shirone thought that was ridiculous.
“How was I cowardly?”
“As a servant of the Ogent, you have to protect the Ogent. You sold me out to my master because you were afraid of getting beaten. Someone was in trouble, and yet you sold them out. No matter how much I’m ignored by my family, I cannot be treated the same way by a guy like you, so bring it on. Considering the gap between us, I’ll allow you to come at me three times before I start.”
Rian’s look changed.
Although he seemed to have a simple, ignorant personality, those eyes of his were certainly Ogent.
Shirone, who responded to the fighting spirit, was holding the wooden sword tightly with both hands.
In other words, after his three chances were up, he knew his bones were going to be broken.
Various thoughts crossed his mind.
‘What do I do? What can I do?’
In the midst of despair, Shirone did not give up.
No matter how unlikely it was, he couldn’t just not try.
“Here I come!”
Shirone’s spirit, which was showcased through his raised sword aggressive rush, was unexpected, but Rian simply snorted.
‘His posture is awful.’
‘He’s never wielded a sword!’
As Rian blocked Shirone’s attack, he shouted.
Smack! A satisfying sound spread through the training ground.
To Shirone, it sounded like the footsteps of a lion strangling someone’s neck.
He transformed the fear in his stomach to a loud shout and tried to slash his sword horizontally.
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This time, one corner of Rian’s mouth rose as he easily blocked the slash.
Shirone choked up, he pulled himself together and entered a state of extreme concentration.
As all kinds of information were integrated into synesthesia, a light bulb went off in his head.
[Translator – Anwen]
[Proofreader – Enigami]
‘Vertical slash, horizontal slash, vertical slash?’
No matter how new a beginner was, it would have been harder not to block such a simple pattern.
Rian, who raised his wooden sword to block Shirone’s attack, took a step and shouted.
“Now it’s my tur—”
The center of Rian’s wooden sword shattered, and Shirone’s wooden sword broke as well.
Fragments of wood flew past Rian who had a face of astonishment.
Rian quickly came to his senses and took a good few steps back to look at the wooden sword.
The grain of the cross sectioned part of the sword stood up rough.
This was a characteristic that occurred when the force of impact was not released properly and remained inside.
“That… That was Sword Smash, wasn’t it?”
A skill to destroy weapons.
Just as there was an infinite amount of ways to perform a slash in swordplay, there was also more than one method to destroy weapons in every school.
The Ogent family called theirs Sword Smash, and it was a Secret Technique that was only handed down directly.
The reason why it was labeled a Secret Technique was because it was not a skill that one could master with strength alone.
In close-quarters combat, the absorption of power is as diverse as the weight of it.
In order for Sword Smash to succeed, one needed to perfectly pinpoint the area in which the shock would not be spread. It was also necessary to understand the opponent as to ensure they could not dissipate it themselves.
Rian was shocked.
Even Rian, who had been wielding a sword ever since he was born, never succeeded in executing Sword Smash.
Most of all, he was offended because he was the only member of the family who had not yet mastered the technique.
“Who the hell are you? Where did you learn that swordsmanship?”
Shirone dropped his broken sword.
He sensed with the first blow and analyzed Rian with the second blow.
And on the third blow, he did it, The Thunder Strike he had practiced for three years.
“I never learned any swordsmanship!”
“Shut up! You’re rotten to the core! How did you succeed in doing Sword Smash?! If you’re trying to make fun of me, I won’t let you off so easily!”
“That was Thunder Strike.”
“My father is a hunter. Since I used to live in the mountains, I used to cut down a lot of trees. Since I was neither big nor strong, I had to learn how to cut down trees in a more technical way. It naturally came to me. Among the lumberjacks, this skill is called Thunder Strike.”
Rian’s thoughts were all tangled up.
‘Mountaineer? You went around cutting trees? What the hell are you talking about? I’ve been holding a sword for 15 years now. Sword Smash is not a skill you can learn through cutting trees.’
‘None of my peers ever succeeded in casting Sword Smash. But if I had to name someone who could…’
Rian thought of one.
He was the second son of the Ogent family. He was two years older than Rian.
He was also a genius in swordsmanship. He’s considered to have the greatest talent in the history of the Ogent family.
Rian clenched his fist tightly because he envisioned his brother laughing at him.
Rai first succeeded in executing Sword Smash at the young age of 12.
His family gathered to celebrate and their father held a week-long party.
Rian clearly remembered his emotions on that day, as now, even the child of a mountaineer had surpassed him.
“I can’t accept it!”
He let out a thundering cry as he needed to vent his emotions.
‘How come he became something… While I’m still a nobody…’
“Young master, I’ve shown grave disrespect…”
“Shut up! Nothing’s over yet! No one’s lost!”
Rian headed to the outskirts of the training grounds.
There, equipped with various weapons, he returned with a high-class long sword used by aristocrats.
The sight of the sword gave Shirone shivers.
The sword, which made a ringing sound as it was drawn, reflected the torch.
Once he finished checking the blade, Rian put it back in the sheath and threw it to Shirone.
Raising his head in confusion, he stepped forward in order to catch the sword with both hands.
Rian spoke while stretching out his fingers.
“Since both of our weapons broke, let us consider this match a tie. If you really mastered Sword Smash, then we’ll have to account for that. One month from now on, let’s compete here with real swords.”
Shirone’s heart dropped.
He just wanted to survive, but he somehow made the situation worse.
Wooden swords and real swords were on totally different levels. In addition, Rian would not be giving him three chances like before.
‘I might actually die this time!’
The faces of his parents came to Shirone’s mind, as he felt the fear of death for the time.
“Young master, please change your mind! I never even learned swordsmanship!”
“That’s why I’m giving you a month. You learned Sword Smash while cutting down trees? Although I can’t believe it, if you’re that smart, you should be able to come up with something in a month.”
Rian didn’t think it was unreasonable. It would have been possible for Ogent Rai.
He saw his brother in Shirone.
‘Yeah, I just didn’t have enough resolve.’
“Don’t even think about running away. Regardless of my personal feelings, I will definitely surpass you.”
Rian’s last words tied Shirone down.