Chapter 22 – Recommendation
The principle was overjoyed to hear another one of the student’s from his academy had successfully reached the Spirit Realm before graduation. Regardless of their background or bloodline, a student reaching the spirit realm before their graduation date would reflect well for him and the academy and would be a thing to boast about.
If Haru became widely successful as a warrior in the future, it would be an even bigger accomplishment, so every child with talent was treated notably well. Not because of their value now, but their possible accomplishments in the future.
The principle verified with Linlin that Haru had indeed reached the spirit realm and wrote him a personal recommendation on the spot. The recommendation guaranteed him a spot into any spiritual or bloodline academy aside from the ones in Central City. Those required connections, wealth and family status… The requirements to even enter and leave in the central portion of the continent were enough so that 90% of the population would never so much as see it’s borders. Even so, the recommendation the dean had just given Haru would even go so far as to at least allow him to take an entry exam, which might not sound like much but would be everything to some.
He considered talking to Haru personally, something he had never done before but after hearing Linlin speak so highly of the him despite his useless bloodline, he was certain Linlin had already invested enough. So long as he kept Linlin close the academy would benefit from any success Haru had in the future.
After waiting only an hour or so which Haru used to meditate and notice the changes in his Spiritual Realm, Linlin came out to speak to him.
Handing the letter over with a smile “Congratulations. You’ve graduated early. I hope you succeed in the future, don’t stop working as hard as you have just because of this. It’s but a small step on a long journey.”
Haru eyes were a little moist as he took the envelope and bowed at ninety degrees.
“Thank you for everything! I will remember the kindness you’ve shown me in the future.”
“I don’t doubt it at all. Now run along and go show your parents. Take very good care of that letter nad yourself.”
Haru nodded and started running. Multiple people gave him looks as he ran past them but he didn’t dcare, not at this moment. He was too excited. Moreover, the orb had at least proven that he had in fact reached the Spirit Realm meaning it had nothing to do with his bloodline, ‘I just have a strange spirit realm…’
Instead of running back to the house… Haru ran towards the dojo. He had made up his mind as he meditated waiting for the letter, that he would finally share with Erith. He’d known his teacher for 3 years, and after yesterday he finally felt like Erith was a true mentor. ‘I also can’t move further if I don’t get answers. I need advice and information, and since I don’t have any other way… It’s time.’
Haru jogged to the dojo. In too much of a good mood to hold back any longer. The recommendation letter in his hand serving as tangible proof of his hard work the past three years.
Even as he ran into the dojo he couldn’t help himself from smiling and waving the letter in the air.
Erith had already sensed him and had opened his eyes as he sat in his usual spot surveying him with slight amusement. “What are we waving around?”
Taking a moment to catch his breath, Haru envisioned the surprise on his teacher’s face when he found out that he had reached the spirit realm and already gotten his envelope. Grinning at the thought “I reached the Spirit Realm last night!” he shouted proudly.
Erith’s eyebrows scrunched “That’s obvious, and not much to brag about.”
Haru couldn’t help but pout for a moment as he realized that he wasn’t going to get any praise from Erith. Then after thinking about it for a moment ‘Unlike dad and teacher Linlin… He didn’t seem surprised…’
Not quite understanding why that made him feel slightly pleased, he let it go as he sat down cross legged in front of Erith and began thinking of how he would phrase things.
“I have a slight problem that I need to consult with you about teacher…”
“Oh? What is it?”
Taking a big breath Haru began explaining something he’d never shared with anybody before. He explained to Erith how ever since his he first entered a meditative state, the area he found himself inside was very different than anything he’d been explained before. Not only was it a blood red ocean (he omitted that he was certain it was blood).
Erith’s expression was moved by his story. It was something even he had never come across.
“There’s something else… Well… I know that once someone reaches the spirit realm they are supposed to be able to sense a force in the surroundings which is spirit power right? This is the force we’re supposed to be able to manipulate right?”
Erith was still focused on the revelation of Haru’s strange spirit realm and answered in more detail than he would normally “Yes. How much one can sense in their surroundings is an indicator of talent. Some people barely feel a change and some experience something that changes their entire perception of their surroundings. This is spirit power, and in ages past. It was called mana.”
“Mana… “ Haru said it absentmindedly as if the word held some special meaning.
“Yes. Moreover, no one in the spirit realm can manipulate mana. It’s simply that once one reaches this realm and can sense the mana in their surroundings, with that perception comes the false perception that they can indeed manipulate it. In one sense it’s true. One becomes able to pool more of the mana into one space and collect into one’s spirit realm.”
This was an enlightenment, and was along the lines of what Haru had more or less expected to hear… Which is why it fueled him to ask what was really on his mind “I thought so… But… When I entered the spirit realm… Afterwards it felt like I could only manipulate this force, mana I mean inside of me and not outside…?”
Erith snapped out of his own thoughts as he gave his pupil a strange look.
“Eh? What do you mean?” Haru asked unsure how to show something he himself didn’t quite understand.
Erith said no more as he stood up and motioned for Haru to do the same as he began to walk towards him. Pulling his entire sword still in its sheath from his waistband he began swinging at Haru!
Haru reacted almost instantly! Dodging and using mana as if it was something his body had done since birth surprising even himself!
After a few minutes Haru stared at his teaching in confusion and surprise. Breath heavy, he was sucking in huge chunks of air as he steadied himself and kept his eyes on his teacher for any signs of movement. Large beads of sweat pouring down his entire body, already soaked in sweat.
Every swing had seemed slow and simple to Haru but had forced him to dodge by hair’s breadth even with his new found abilities. After dodging every swing at his body’s full capacity, the strain was already making his legs feel like lead. He looked at Erith with surprise and a slightly new found respect.
‘He must have started out at what he believed was my maximum ability and slowly controlled his own movement to increase the tempo and speed bit by bit until he realized my body had reached its maximum… That kind of control is… Ridiculous…!’
Even as he thought it ridiculous he actually meant it as a sign of respect. It was actually the first time that Erith had done something, anything even remotely similar to a spar with him and he felt a little glad that Erith hadn’t trained him like a dog these past few years and that he thought of him as important enough to finally do so… He realized it was a sign of acceptance.
Erith on the other hand wasn’t just surprised, he was shocked!
The entire time he’d gone easy on him and made no effort to hide any of his intent. He telegraphed every strike and swung at what he considered a snail’s pace, but even then he could feel that was Haru was doing would have been impossible only a day ago.
Midway his surprise had turned to shock as he realized Haru was instinctively reading his body language and then utilizing his body to dodge in the most efficient manner.
Throat dry, not from effort but pure shock Erith’s thoughts were a mess. ‘This is impossible! It would normally take years of training to reach this point…! The only explanation knowing that Haru has never trained for this, is that he awakened a blood ability? An instinctual ability perhaps?’
Erith wracked his brain for an explanation but even then the only thing that made sense, made no sense at all.
‘But… That’s impossible. He was a weak bloodline and he clearly trained his spirit power not his bloodline. Unless…!’
Suddenly it felt like something clicked!
A theory formed and Erith’s eyes opened wide as a possibility… A farfetched one…. But one that would make his little pupil a monster if true…
Not a single drop of sweat on his body, Erith languidly sat down. They had ended their “spar” with him standing at his favorite sitting spot, which Haru only wondered for a second as to whether it was coincidence before deciding against it.
“I have a theory.”
Thankful he was done being tested, Haru sat down in front of him as he realized the phrasing…
‘Theory? Does that mean even teacher doesn’t know?’
Ignoring Haru’s scowl he continued “I believe… That it is possible that perhaps your spirit power meditation, that meditative state you enter that would normally be solely for training your spirit power is actually also connected to your bloodline.”
“What do you mean teacher?”
“I think… That your spirit power is connected to your bloodline. It could be a blessing or a detriment…”
Haru’s left eyebrow twitched as he felt a weight on his chest. Anytime anyone had ever referenced his bloodline it had always been a bad thing, and even now he guessed that this, something that would be great for somebody else would be bad for him.
Erith considered his next words very carefully. Dillan had already told him what a sore spot Haru’s bloodline was to him. He himself had long since realized that his lack of natural talent in that regard had been one of the motivating reasons he had been able to train so rigorously in front of him despite a lack of direction, true instruction, motivation from a teacher or much of anything really.
Coming up with the right way to phrase things was not normally a strong suit and so he took his time thinking about how to phrase the benefits and detriments that could be associated with such a strange situation.
Just as he was about to speak his neck spun to the right in an instant! Eyes alert he seemed completely focused surprising Haru.
“Complete your regular training. You are not allowed to leave until then. Small achievements are no reason for slacking, as a student of mine anything less than 100 percent effort is a slap to my name and face. Understood?”
Haru nodded quickly unsure of what had made his teacher react so strongly.
“Good. I’ll be back in a bit. If you finish your training before I return, you may go home. Do not leave until you are finished. There is something I need to take care of.”
Saying no more Erith stood up and walked over to the ever present sword rack and much to Haru’s surprise, a second rack appeared behind it. Once he saw it his mind registered that he had always known it was there, and yet had never seen it before leaving him a little disoriented.
The rack was just as large as the other, but held only 4 swords. Putting the one he normally carried at his waist back on the common rack. Erith grabbed two of the swords. Two matching red scabbards with gold handles and an intricate design for a sword guard that looked almost like a flower.
Haru stared at the beauty of the two swords. Ignoring the slight pain and confusion from a moment earlier as he gazed in awe and a little bit of envy. The two straight katana’s beauty making Haru wonder how long it would take before he could afford swords like that.
‘No… Not afford. How long will it be before I’m worthy of using a sword like that?’ Haru wondered as Erith left unhurriedly.