Chapter 12 – Spark of Brilliance II Part 2
Erith was monitoring his condition closely. After what Haru had done the day before he already considered him too valuable to let anything happen to him.
When Erith watched noticed Haru’s breathing even out suddenly. A flash of concern was evident on his face as he placed his hand on him to check if something had gone wrong.
After seeing what Haru accomplished the day before his expression and mind had turned apathetic due to the extreme shock of what he’d witnessed. He had already thought he would never be surprised again, at least not for a while but that was suddenly erased as he recognized the feeling of what was happening to Haru’s body.
‘He’s meditating! He’s this young and already learnt how to meditate?’
It was the combined surprise from finding out that Haru could enter meditation, do it at will, and more so, do it under less than ideal circumstances!
Normally most people who had just learnt meditation would not be able to meditate unless the environment and their mind were at peak conditions and completely at ease. It took years of practice and understanding as well as talent to enter a meditative state in different positions or under injury.
Haru’s talent and his estimation of him had suddenly risen to an unprecedented level as he stared at him unbelievingly. Although he recognized the signs and understood it well himself, he couldn’t help but double-check.
Erith’s shock slowly faded away as he watched Haru meticulously for hours. Although Haru had woken up for a brief period of time in the early morning, he continued to meditate until the late evening when he woke back up.
Haru opened his eyes and unconsciously rubbed them as he felt both groggy and refreshed all at once. It was in that instant that he realized that however sore he was; he could move his arms again. He moved his body bit by bit realizing he felt fine aside from a notable soreness.
‘I thought Erith said I wouldn’t be able to move for days?’
His eyes opened wide “Have I been meditating for days?” he couldn’t help but yell.
“No. You were meditating for most of the day.”
Haru nodded his head in relief. Too much had been happening but he suddenly got a grasp of the situation now that pain wasn’t clouding his thoughts. ‘I remember I was entirely focused on that one strike. I kept swinging and swinging, and although I didn’t feel it I must have been exhausting myself. I think I had a feel for the sword at some point and then. I don’t really remember after that…’
After organizing his thoughts Haru came to a conclusion that he had likely failed at his task. A look of disappointment covered his face. ‘There’s no way I succeeded. Now that I think about it, I may have even heard Erith try to give me advice or something as I was practicing but I totally disregarded it, I don’t even remember what he said.’
“Teacher, Did I accomplish my task? Did I manage a thousand strikes?” Haru asked in a slightly optimistic voice. ‘If I maybe finished… Maybe he’ll forget about my previous attitude…’ he hoped.
Haru had already sat up and faced Erith who had not left his side the entire time.
“No. You swung for four hours, but even then. You only performed 246 beginner strikes.”
Erith may have been trying his best to disregard Haru after a while, but as a swordsman and personal attribute, he hadn’t been able to stop his mind from counting each swing out of habit.
“So… So I failed.” Haru said with a downcast expression. After hearing that response that small sliver of expectation had finally been dashed away.
“No. You passed.”
Those words caused his mind to shake as Haru’s head slowly tilted upward to meet Erith’s gaze. Erith’s lips were slightly parted in a half smile, and there even seemed to be a sliver of approval in his gaze which Haru was utterly surprised by.
“But… How did I pass?”
“The task I set was impossible from the start. A child, unless he has some sort of divine strength would not be able to swing one of the swords arranged from that rack a 1000 times. Their arms would turn sore and heavy before long. In fact more than 200 swings would normally be impressive if you hadn’t seemingly lacked even a slight touch of talent from beginning to end.”
Haru’s eyes which originally began to sparkle were suddenly crest fallen. His heart heavy, he had to ask “So I don’t possess any talent for swordsmanship?”
“Obviously you do. Otherwise I wouldn’t have said you passed.”
“But… But you just said I lacked any talent from beginning to end!” Haru couldn’t help but shout.
Erith rolled his eyes at Haru, finally finding him to act like a normal child.
“Do you know what the purpose of that task was? If you answer correctly, I’ll tell you why you passed.”
Looking at Erith’s amused grin, Haru thought back to every word Erith had said from the moment he’d arrived. He slowly went over the task itself began wondering. ‘Perhaps it is to test how much ability or strength someone has then? Perseverance?’
Thinking he’d come up with the answer he was about to respond when he noticed the look in Erith’s eyes and stopped himself. Instead of answering he thought about Erith himself. ‘He has this huge space in such a costly part of town but instead of having hundreds of students there hasn’t been one in the two days I’ve been here… This whole place is just a large courtyard time type space. There’s no art, no frills. Aside from when I saw him with dad he’s been fairly calm and quiet. I know nothing else about him except that he’s a swordsman and dad said he’s really good…’
After thinking for a few minutes Haru finally hesitantly opened his mouth “You showed me a strike before. Then you told me to perform a thousand of them. Was the whole point to see how closely I could learn it?”
Erith’s lips quirked into a smile “That’s more or less it.”
Seeing Haru’s smile he continued “The test would be different for those with experience but your father told you me you’d never held a sword before. For someone with no experience, a blank slate like you, the test was simple. I showed you a strike, and I wanted to see how long you would persist and how close you could get to matching it. If you’d learned only a few parts of it I would have disregarded you as someone with some talent but nothing more. My standard is high! Only someone who could mimic that move perfectly could pass! Mastering the technique behind that move would have shown a genius amount of talent for technique!”
Haru’s smile turned wider and wider.
“But… You didn’t do that.”
Haru’s heart fell again. Suddenly he found Erith as a cruel man.
“Then how did I pass?”
“You only answered more or less correctly, so you only get a more or less answer.” Erith said with a grin.
After getting to know Erith a little better during their conversation Haru only took a deep breath. The thing he wanted to do most was argue back with Erith for a straight answer but he had the feeling if he did that he’d only wind up with nothing to show for it, so instead he calmed himself down and stopped himself from giving Erith the satisfaction of getting the reaction he wanted from him.
Erith took note of his calm behavior and while it made him think slightly more of Haru it also annoyed him a little. ‘Hmph. He should act his age more.”
“Starting today. You are officially my first disciple.” Erith’s voice reverberated throughout the courtyard.
Haru’s heart shook for a moment before he shifted his position to his knees and he bent forward “Starting today I am your disciple and you are my teacher.”
A standard custom. An acknowledgment from a disciple to teacher. Something that was only done when learning a trade. No one did this at the academy because it was general information being taught to a large group, but being taken on a disciple indicated that Erith would be teaching him everything he knew about the sword, passing him on a legacy worth of his experiences and personal knowledge.
Haru understood that from this moment forward, he had a true teacher and he would finally begin walking down his own path.
A lot of nobility or those with money would take their children to try multiple trades to find their child’s talent, wherever it may lie as long as it was highly respected. So almost everyone began at the age of 6-8. Only commoners had to wait until they were much older due to the lack of funds and the necessity of having to save up. This was one of the many reasons commoners were forever at a disadvantage compared to those who had money.
Erith didn’t ask Haru about his meditation. It was unnecessary for him to know and he didn’t want to pry, he merely told Haru to get himself ready and that he would take him back. Haru hadn’t brought anything and as now was a good time as ever he stood up with an honest expression “I’m ready now.”
Erith nodded and got up and walked him out. He briskly made his way back to Dillan’s house, careful not to go to fast as he considered Haru’s condition. He found it astounding at how quickly Haru had healed enough to walk. Haru was moving as if his body was experiencing nothing but soreness. Erith himself knew that his previous injuries would have taken nearly an entire year to heal without medicine. With the medicines he’d provided it would have still taken a week. A high quality medicine with a price tag to match can work miracles, but seeing Haru moving around without so much as a slight discomfort made Erith frown. ‘He either has a body that can absorb medicines highly efficiently or his bloodline had a healing property…’ he concluded as they arrived at Haru’s home.
Haru had only just knocked on the door when his mother’s worried face opened it with his haste nearly knocking Haru back had Erith not immediately grabbed the back of his shirt and pulled him backwards in an instant.