Chapter 18 – Fruits of Labor (Part 2)
After another year and half, Haru had finally grown accustomed to the sword Erith had given him, unknowingly it was a sword specifically designed by Erith to be used by him.
Today, however normal a day it may have seemed was the day Erith had decided to expend some additional wisdom to Haru.
Erith sitting down in a cross legged position in his garden waved Haru over. “I have a new task for you.”
It was the first time in a year in a half that Erith had more than minute corrections to his forms or stance, Haru almost couldn’t believe his ears hearing the words coming out of Erith’s mouth. He even stood mouth slightly agape as he stared at his teacher disbelievingly.
A little displeased Erith rolled his eyes “Don’t give me that look. You might never come to realize this, but my master taught me in much the same manner as I am teaching you, I may have had things even worse as he never truly wanted to teach me due to his own prejudices.”
Not understanding his meaning, Erith just waved his hand in the air indicating that Haru shouldn’t think too hard about it. How could he possibly tell him that the difference between his own master and himself was that his master never wanted a pupil that might surpass him, whereas he valued Haru specifically for that reason, for his talent and just as importantly because of what that potential possibly meant.
“Your strength and form have grown adequate. In a fight against anybody, I’m sure you would be beaten silly, that is why… When you can successfully perform the swing I showed you 3 years ago, to the same degree you performed it then… That is when I will begin teaching you swordsmanship. That is when I will allow you to practice something different, and that is when I will show you what that swing can one day grow into.”
After speaking so much Erith just waved him away, he’d given his student a task and that was enough for the day. Swordsmanship wasn’t taught overnight, and the type of character a man needed to become a true swordsman wasn’t something his student currently possessed.
Gazing at Haru walking back to his regular spot, he ignored the other kids that had grown to follow along and copied him. Some of them had come and left, frustrated at the lack of teaching, only 2 still remained, and even so it was not due to training but rather they saw this place a safe haven. He’d seen children like them before, and they only sought safety. He’d provide it in the form of a shield, but he would never teach them. They simply weren’t worthy to learn from him. Those were Erith’s true thoughts and he couldn’t change never nor did he want too.
Haru had been left in a daze, mostly because from the very first day of training all he’d ever sought to do was replicate his teacher’s swing. Everyday he’d swung hundreds of times all in that same effort, and now he was suddenly being told that was his goal…
‘Is this some sort of joke? What does he think I’ve been trying to do this entire time?’ Haru couldn’t help but wonder as he half-heartedly begun his regular practice.
Even though he felt slightly bothered at first, he soon put these thoughts behind him and began focusing and practicing in earnest. It made no difference from before except that now, he knew he would have more than one benefit once he succeeded. Haru didn’t focus on these distracting thoughts for long, because today something felt different. The sword in his hand, that he’d picked up from the same spot, that he left in the same place, felt different. He himself didn’t realize it, but his swings were more natural, his mind more at ease with each determined swing.
Four hours passed, each strike becoming more and more tiring but as his body grew more tired his mind grew more clear, a strange contrast between the two. His body at a state of near collapse he steadied himself as he prepared for one more swing. His position and body in a state of natural disposition, the sword in his hand felt like an extra limb and not an item in his hand as he swung downwards with little thought to his actions and for the first time in three years he felt the same rustle, the same wind, the same force he’d created all those years ago.
Instead of surprise, instead of excitement; things you would expect from a thirteen year old.
He was calm, although he didn’t know why, he was utterly calm and that strike felt as if it had been building up for hours, days, weeks, months perhaps even years even if he himself had not known until this very moment.
Erith stood up with his hands behind in back as he walked towards Haru ignoring the two “students” who had inexplicably passed out. Standing before him he gave a small smile, “Calm Heart, Calm Strike.”
The words felt just as natural as he did upon first hearing them. It took a few moments but that feeling of naturalness faded away, the soreness and exhaustion catching up, but not enough to make him pass out but enough to force him to his knees.
Haru could only manage the energy to gaze upwards at his teacher with a questioning look.
Staring down at his pupil, a small gentle smile formed on his face without him even realizing it. Erith had once gone through the very same experience as Haru and looking down at him now reminded him of himself all those years ago.
The key difference being that it had taken him 10 years of training much like Haru to reach this point and he had already been trained as a warrior since he was 6. Haru was far weaker than he had been when he had reached this stage, but that is only natural. No one in his “school” had likely ever had the same amount of talent as this boy before him.
‘That he had reached this point in three years, at his age, with no training. Astounding.’
Erith had been prepared. He felt this coming for weeks now, and yesterday he’d already steeled himself as he’d felt the amount of spirit power Haru had accumulated had become enough.
If anything the only thing that confounded him was that normally potential in affinity translated to gathering spirit power as well. He’d reached the starting point in swordsmanship a year ago, but he simply didn’t have enough spirit power to reach this stage.
“That is the name of the technique. Which you’ve just reached the boundary. The starting line to infusing mana, through will and creating aura.”
The words went in one ear and came out he other as Haru’s look of confusion only grew.
“Mana is Spirit Power. Anyone who has reached the the Spirit Realm call it as such. It is an ancient word referenced in all of the texts.”
Realizing Erith planned on actually teaching him for once, Haru could only only feel a slight hint of joy at the prospect of learning. His entire body felt sore, exhaustion was washing over his every fiber.
“What is aura, and will? I don’t understand” Haru said in a rough and raspy voice, only made possible due to his body’s exhaustion.
“Aura is a form of power created by willpower, and harnessing mana. It’s a strange thing that is not easily understood Haru. Some people may not have any spirit power but may still manage to learn aura, and not all who have spirit power can learn aura. There are many things in this world that aren’t fully understood. At least not by us, I want you to understand some very important though. It’s from this point forward, that I will indeed teach you, I will give you as much of my legacy as you are able to grasp.”
Not even taking the time for the words to sink in, “It’s also from this point forward, that whatever I teach you stays between you and I. This is a legacy. They are teachings given from one master to one pupil and passed down just like that. Never to be shared with others. Do you understand?”
Haru’s face scrunched up not quite understanding how important this was to Erith, but he grasped the basic concept. Information is power, and maintaining a tight grasp of certain information is what keeps power in the hands of some and not others.
“This is important. No one else Haru.”
Haru may not have been able to completely the reason for why this was so important but his tone had been enough to make him understand the importance to Erith. “Okay, I understand”
Erith smiled and sat down next to Haru no longer looking at him but gazing at the sky.
Haru was just glad to no longer have to expend the energy having to look up.
Gazing up at the three beautiful moons hanging in the sky, thinking about something odd his teacher had once said. ‘I can’t even imagine a world with one moon. Myths of the past.’
Erith had a new found appreciation for his existence, staring at the three moons above gave him a feeling he’d never had before. He hadn’t realized something had been missing in his life until these last few days.
After coming to such an odd realization he found his lifestyle quite amusing for only a moment, as he began teaching Haru some of the most basic but crucial pieces of information he would need to know to both grow and survive.