70. The Spirit and Ernea
The strength of my body is incomparable to what it was before. It lets me get to the northern most area of the royal capital where Gild-san lives in moments, and I’m not even out of breath when I get there.
Gild-san is seated out behind his house carving a stone. Apparently, carving stones for buildings and garden ornaments is his everyday job.
Today too, when I arrive, he is working on a carving as usual. However, my arrival being so early in the morning seems to surprise him.
“Shouldn’t there have been school in the morning?”
“Yes, there really is school today, but I have a better use for that time.”
“You don’t say?” Gild-san, picking up on my enthusiasm, brings out the pair of swords from his house. He then hands me the straight sword and draws the beautiful saber.
“There is something different about Ernea today. You are filled with power.”
As expected of Gild-san. He immediately noticed something about me had changed.
“Yes, various things happened earlier this morning. Starting from today, I am different from the me from up until now.”
I hold the straight sword with my right hand and raise up the wooden spirit tree sword with my left.
[You can do it. You can do it.]
The spirit-san cheers me on from within.
An extraordinary amount of dragon ki wells up. I can feel the spirit tree pulsating power from my left hand.
The current me can do it.
I’m not sure about that. Before Gild-san who is neither lowering his guard nor leaving any openings my self-confidence is fading.
Still, I’ll absolutely take him down.
As I tell myself that, I kick off the ground.
Gild-san groans out at my unprecedented acceleration.
Then, with the smallest movement of his saber, he tries to restrain me. Strangely, my eyes can currently perceive Gild-san’s movements in slow motion. I dive underneath the saber’s fluid cut and close the distance between us in one go. However, Gild-san isn’t flustered. He merely takes a step back and raises his saber. That simple movement causes the sword I should have avoided to rain down on me again. I swing the wooden spirit tree sword in my left hand. With that subtle movement, I lightly deflect Gild-san’s heavy strike.
Gild-san is surprised.
Up until yesterday, that one blow would destroy my posture. That would then influence the battle into culminating in my defeat. However, the present me is different. I have united with the spirit-san and now an immeasurable amount of dragon ki is strengthening my body. No matter how heavy Gild-san’s blows are, I have the power to withstand them.
Following the flow, I flick aside Gild-san’s saber and commence my dragon swords dance. My movements flow into one another and I raise the straight sword in my right hand.
Gild-san avoids it. Yet, even if it’s avoided, I move in a circular pattern and get closer to him. Now, I ease my left hand forward and thrust.
My wooden spirit tree sword is repelled. This time, however, I continue with the momentum and give a powerful leap forward with a knee strike towards Gild-san’s abdomen.
Gild-san might have sensed a discomfort for he leaps back a vast distance and avoids it.
“I’m surprised. Ernea is completely different from yesterday.”
Gild-san speaks with wonder, but I won’t reveal my secret.
I vigorously close the distance between Gild-san and myself. From there develops a violent exchange of blows where Gild-san parries my strong swings and I receive his heavy strikes with my wooden spirit tree sword.
The tip of Gild-san’s sword wavers. He’s trying to mislead my eyes, but the present me remains calm. I won’t fall for Gild-san’s trap. I ignore the invitation.
In return, I merely dance my dragon swords dance with fluid movements. My attack leaves no openings and Gild-san is forced to defend many times. Still, Gild-san isn’t being overwhelmed either. Regardless of what I do, he receives it and wards it off.
“Ernea is too honest.”
It’s a comment Gild-san once made about how I fight. For the sake of victory, I need to be dirty and use deception. In regards to fighting dirty, it could be argued that by combining with the spirit-san, the present me is two people. Therefore, what I’m lacking is the ability to deceive my opponents. Or technique, I suppose.
Ten blows, twenty blows, my exchange with Gild-san continues. On his face is a seriousness I have never seen before.
As I continue to switch between my straight sword and wooden spirit tree sword, Gild-san’s responses collapse.
Now, I step forward with that thought and invigorate my assault.
However, that was Gild-san’s invitation. He meets my enthusiastic step forward with his own step forward. With the distance I was aiming to have between us destroyed, I become flustered. I try to reorganize myself, but the instant I step back my posture is destroyed.
As I’m making sense of the situation, Gild-san has already taken another step forward and is swinging his saber.
“The match, it’s mine!”
That is what Gild-san’s eyes seem to say when mine cross with his.
Except, not really.
My posture breaking and me lowering was only what I showed him. I fill my legs with power and take a massive leap back. Then, while sending dragon ki into the wooden spirit tree sword in my left hand, I invoke the technique taught to me by the spirit-san.
As I am leaping back, I swing the wooden spirit tree sword in my left hand. Naturally, with the space between us, it doesn’t hit Gild-san, but his eyes fill with doubt. It’s then that countless green leaves explode forward to envelop his sight.
Gild-san’s field of view is stolen by hundreds to thousands of green leaves. He is bewildered by the unexpected. With a swing of his saber, he shakes away the leaves before his eyes. The leaves cut turn into grains of light which then burst and vanish. However, when he swung his saber, many leaves ended up sliding across his arm. From those areas, fresh blood blooms.
Gild-san’s eyes widen from shock.
I, with a glance at the dancing leaves, go into Gild-san’s blind spot. Gild-san’s reactions are delayed and that is enough for me. I swing my wooden spirit tree sword with all my strength and strike Gild-san’s back.
Gild-san tumbles over in pain.
I continue after him with my attack. I send dragon ki into my wooden spirit tree sword and the thin ivy coiled around as the hilt grows. It fills the space between us in the blink of an eye and wraps around Gild-san.
“What is this!?”
Gild-san, forgetting his pain, stares at me and my wooden spirit tree sword in astonishment.
During my run here, the spirit-san taught me how to fight with the spirit tree. The spirit tree’s true form is that of a tree sapling, one Old Sleigstar transformed it into a wooden sword with a secret art. Still, it was originally a miraculous tree. As such, it seems that many miracles can be created by filling it with dragon ki. The countless dancing sharp leaves and the growing ivy for bundling my opponents are two examples.
There still seem to be various other techniques I can use, but these are the only ones the present me can utilize at an instant.
“I can’t believe it. You had techniques like these hidden away.”
Gild-san is impressed as he looks at me.
As these are techniques I hadn’t used before, they may have been too unexpected for Gild-san. But, well, they are techniques I learned on my way here. That I hadn’t used them before really can’t be helped.
I’m positive they won’t work a second time. Although, them working this one time is enough. I only needed to beat Gild-san once. Therefore, I tricked him.
Combining with the spirit-san and fighting as a pair can be called using a cowardly hand. With my physical abilities elevated to a whole other level, I matched tens of Gild-san’s swings and tricked him believing that was everything I had.
That was all for this.
For this one victory, I used all the plays I could.
Gild-san, wrapped up in ivy, looks at me.
“Fumu, I have good eyes, but you seem to have been deceiving me up until yesterday.”
Gild-san skillfully manipulates his bound body into getting up and sits down before me.
“I’ve been defeated, Ernea.”
For some reason, when Gild-san declares his defeat, his entire face is happy.
Against the Gild-san I absolutely thought was invincible, I miraculously won.
I’m so moved, tears roll from my eyes one by one.
“Your ability was higher than I anticipated. You’ve worked hard.”
Gild-san is praising me, but my tears won’t stop.
“I really beat Gild-san.”
“Yeah, you beat me. Just look, I am literally without hands and feet.”
As Gild-san squirms around like a bagworm, I cry and laugh at the same time.
“Well, Ernea’s victory is settled. That’s why, hurry up and take away this ivy.”
At those words, I return the ivy to its original shape in a fluster. The ivy swiftly separates from Gild-san and returns by cutely wraps itself back around the wooden spirit tree sword’s hilt.
“Fumu, what a mysterious wooden sword.”
Gild-san studies the wooden sword with his gaze. As he does so, he seems to be a bit concerned about his back.
Ah, right. I struck him in the back with all my strength. I also injured his arm with the leaves.
“Awa awa, is your body alright?”
I get flustered and grow worried about Gild-san.
“What? Something like this isn’t that big of a deal.”
Still, even if he says that, it bothers me. As such, I take out a jar filled with Old Sleigstar’s boasted almighty nasal fluid and apply it to his wounds.
Gild-san makes a wry smile as he watches his wounds disappear.
“Sleigstar-sama’s nasal fluid?”
“Eeeh, you know of it?”
I was aware that Gild-san was familiar with Old Sleigstar back when I first met him, but I never would have guessed that he knew of the all-purpose nasal fluid.
“I, too, used it often when I was young. While it was only for a period of time, I also visited Sleigstar-sama’s place.”
“So that’s how it was.”
Looks like Gild-san has some sort of history with Old Sleigstar, too. Considering his level of swordsmanship, there’s no way he’s an ordinary person.
Speaking of which, the spirit-san has been saying some strange things…
“Well then, our match is over. How about dealing with my valuable treasure after a break?”
With those words, Gild-san heads into his house with me tagging along.
The Gild-san walking before me no longer has the passion from when he was wielding his sword. Instead, all I can see is an ojii-san living a simple life.
T/N: So, I messed up with translating his name earlier. I called him a stone engraver back then. The reason is because engraver and carver use the same kanji. I have since gone back and fixed this.