21 – Something Imperfect
“So, without further ado, starting from today, your swordsmanship instructor will be Mr. Yukito.”
“I appreciate the introduction. It’s nice to meet all of you.”
Amidst the vast field behind the academy, I bowed my head.
“I’ll leave the rest to you now.”
The person who introduced me was the old instructor, Mr. Daniel.
He would stay and observe how I did today. Hmm. It was a lot of pressure.
I looked around at the students.
There were about thirty of them, lined up in an orderly way. And they were all about the same age as me.
Perhaps that was why they seemed just a little confused.
Well, I would be too if the new teacher suddenly arrived and was the same age as me. Who the hell are you? I’d wonder.
“So, to begin…”
It was then that I spotted Ms. Iria in the crowd.
She was as pretty as ever, I mused, and then she smiled. I know, I know. I will do my best.
“…Your swings. Yes, let’s go with two thousand for now.”
The students groaned.
This was the point where if I was the typical ‘passionate teacher,’ a rebellious student would step forward and challenge me to a fight. Of course, that did not happen.
This was a military academy, and so such rebels were unlikely to be present. I was grateful for that. However…
“51, 52…no, that’s no good. Start again from the beginning.”
After the 6th time I made them start again, the students started to raise their hands. As for Mr. Daniel, he was chuckling in the back.
“What do you mean…no good? Who did…what did they do wrong?”
“Everything. As for who, well, everyone except for Ms. Iria over there.”
Learn from her. She knows how to swing.
Of course, she had not been very good at all in the beginning.
The student–boy with green hair—did not like my answer, and demanded that I ‘Give more precise advice. This is not training!’
Indeed, it was probably important to explain with words as well…
The old man had not really cared to do that, and I seem to have taken after him.
“To put it simply, your way of swinging is no different than shaking a stick.”
“…What does that mean?”
“Right now. For what reason did you swing your sword?”
He looked at me incredulously.
“It is training so that when you are in a real fight, you can execute those forms perfectly, without hesitation. Do you really think your swings will be able to cut someone? And if it can, what kind of opponent?”
“Every swing is a swing to cut someone. If you do not perform each one seriously, you will never become stronger.”
Ahh. I was not able to convey it well at all.
And so I borrowed his wooden sword and stood in front of them.
Then I quietly raised the wooden blade. Just as I always did.
Shallow breath. What I imagined…was always the same thing. The old man. My swing was a swing to cut him. A swing to surpass him.
Quietly, it’s raised, and then swung down.
Drawing an arc, a spiral, as if turning, and falling.
It didn’t need strength. It didn’t need speed.
Just fall, and then just break.
How much time has passed since I was born?
The sword was the one thing that was always by my side.
It was the one thing that connected me to the old man.
I repeated it again today. The question, answer, the road without end.
After ten swings, I ended it before I became too absorbed.
When I looked back at the students, they were staring at me with stunned expressions.
“Well, it’s like that. Imagine there is an opponent. How you can cut them. You must question yourself while swinging. You can choose the forms freely. Now begin.”
I said, and they gripped their wooden swords frantically again.
When I returned the sword to the male student, he also quickly bowed his head and continued with his swinging.
…Ultimately, the first day ended with just that. It could not be helped. They had not been able to swing properly, after all.
After the two hour lesson had ended, I watched the tired students return to the main building. And then Mr. Daniel approached me.
Ah, I was going to be scolded. Because we did nothing but swing…
“It was brilliant.”
“Ah, I just thought that your swinging was quite wonderful.”
“Hahe, I’m sorry. But it was quite a sight. Of course, I’m sure that doing it perfectly is only natural for you…”
“No, it is not perfect at all.”
Perfect means completed.
The old man had said it. With the sword, there was no end.
So it could not be perfect either.
“Regardless of the type of training, it is all done in order to advance, one step at a time. And even if you can’t move forward, there is always a path. That was how I was taught.”
Not with words, but his back.
The sword that I was aspiring to. It was greedy, and kept reaching for new heights. I’m sure it still was, even right now.
And so I could not stop, not even for a moment.
Mr. Daniel laughed, both with satisfaction and exasperation.
“Now I want you to teach the other students. Not just with the sword.”
“I’m sorry. But I’m not as skilled with other weapons.”
The old man had only taught me the sword and martial arts. But I did want to try my hand at other weapons. Surely that would help me grow.
But what I was most interested in was magic.
It was still quite vague for me, but if I mastered it, then my sword would improve more and more. I was certain of this.
It may not be in the same direction as the old man… But if asked about it, he would probably just tell me to train instead of worrying about such things.