After I explained to the princess that I was approached by a sponsor to enter the tournament she all but gave up on asking me to train the Yuusha. She still asked if I could simply give him a few pointers, but I managed to divert the conversation each time she did. The rest of the night was spent on a rather enjoyable talk. There had been so little opportunity to rest, that simply talking to somebody for the sake of it had seemed like a distant dream.
When I finally lay my head down to rest, I fall asleep instantly. With how soundly I slept, it’s hard to believe that I was paranoid about a trap. As expected though, I woke up earlier than anybody and full of energy.
Sleep is almost less satisfying when it’s so easy to wake up. I can’t seem to find any way to measure how well I slept. Falling asleep is the same instantaneous process, and waking up feels like the sleep behind me never happened in the first place.
I decide to use the time until the rest of my party wakes up wisely. I take my sword and head to the park where we had our cookout previously.
“This can’t be that hard to get used to,” I say to myself as I try to get into a good stance
Earlier, when I was fighting monsters I could feel that I wasn’t really using my sword correctly. I tried copying what I had seen in anime and movies, but the strikes just never felt like they connected quite right. Rapiers are mainly used for thrusting, right?
I try to thrust forward with my sword in many different ways to experiment and find a way that works well. I can’t seem to find a stance that works well though…
“You’re kidding, right? How did you get your hands on such a high-quality sword if you are this inept with it?” I hear from surprisingly close by
I turn my head and nearly jump out of my skin when I notice a weathered-looking old man standing only several feet away. His head is devoid of hair save a lone braid tracing halfway down his back. The shade of white in his hair is dulled and dirty. It almost seems to reflect the withered and scarred body it is attached to. He also has a similarly colored goatee hanging down far enough to swing slightly as he moves his head.
“Don’t scare somebody like that!… I’ve just not gotten used to it yet.” I say a little self-conscious
I won’t argue that I’m doing quite badly. I don’t know what it is about this guy, but I can’t help but feel like he knows what he is talking about. Even the way that he stands is odd. He looks like he is in a normal standing position, and yet it’s somehow more imposing. He gives off the same kind of feeling one normally does when they have a sword drawn at you.
“You must know the right kind of people if you can say such a thing and still have such a good sword. It could use improvements here and there, but it is far beyond what you should have at your level.” He says looking the sword over thoroughly
“I had to learn pretty quickly. Thankfully a good friend of mine is a great blacksmith.” I say looking fondly at the sword Tea gave me
I already had a pretty good idea, but I really was given quite the gem, wasn’t I? I wonder if the armor he supplied me with is just as good?
“Haste is never an excuse for doing poorly! You would do well to remember that.” The old man scolds as he runs his hand down his goatee
What about that old idiom “haste makes waste”? I’m sure this world must have something similar.
“What you lack isn’t time, but a good instructor! I can feel power in your movements even if you don’t know how to focus it. The first thing you need to do is to get your balance in line.” The old man preaches
Is he going to give me some pointers? I suppose I was just doing this as a kind of time waster anyway.
The older man picks up a nearby stick and strikes a stance that I recognize next to me. Compared to the pose I was using where I was facing my opponent and holding my sword in front of me, his body is turned sideways. He is holding both of his arms outward in opposite directions. It is a stance that I remember seeing fencers take during matches.
“Like this?” I ask as I attempt to copy the stance
“No, no , no. If you place your weight on your feet like that then you won’t move around nearly as fast, and if you keep your spine bent like that then all your doing is striking an especially stupid looking pose!” The old man gripes as he strikes the points he is criticizing with his stick
I adjust my stance until he seems mostly satisfied and try a few more strikes.
“Huh?” I let out after a few attempts
All of these strikes seem to have even less power than before. Holding the sword in front leaves little room to put power into it, and this odd stance makes moving around difficult.
“Not what you were expecting?” The old man asks with a slightly irritated look
“I can’t draw it back far enough like this.” I let out absentmindedly as I attempt a few more times
“How about an example then?” The old man says as he walks in front of me and strikes the same pose
“Strike at me however you think will work best, and I will show you the power of this stance.” He continues confidently
“Shall I get a stick as well?” I ask as I look around for one that would work well
“Don’t bother with that kind of dribble. Just strike at me with the sword your familiar with, it will get the point across faster.” He answers with an impatient tone
With my real sword? Even if he does know what he’s doing, isn’t that a bit irresponsible? What if I seriously injure him? I don’t know where any of the hospitals are. Does this world even have conventional hospitals? Perhaps I can just use “Restore” on him if things go badly.
“This is your idea of learning in a hurry? I’m going to grow even older if you don’t hurry up and come at me!” The old man gripes annoyed
I suppose I’ll hold back and give it a shot.
Still unfamiliar with the new stance, I revert to a mixture of old and new. I hold a hand out in front of me to keep my balance and to aim my strike as I draw back my sword arm. Once I am sure of my aim and power I leap forward and lunge my sword at his chest.
“Pathetic!” He yells a moment before the world spins
In a moment my vision went from a rapidly approaching old man to a set of trees and bushes. Disoriented by the sudden change I lose my balance and fall forward. When I manage to gather myself I notice that at some point my lunge had been diverted to the left of the old man. The weird thing about it though, was that I didn’t feel a thing. It was as if my body had just suddenly turned all at once.
“You’re a hundred years too young to be worrying about fighting on fair grounds with me girly. Heheheh.” The old man laughs confidently as he brags