𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐄𝐧𝐝 𝐨𝐟 𝐂𝐡𝐢𝐥𝐝𝐡𝐨𝐨𝐝 (𝟓)
It required a strength beyond the ordinary to stop in the middle of a full-force swing. Originally, it was a technique that borrowed the power of the opponent’s weapon.
And Johan did the same. Kaegal was able to realize the reason immediately.
‘𝘐𝘵’𝘴 𝘣𝘳𝘶𝘵𝘦 𝘴𝘵𝘳𝘦𝘯𝘨𝘵𝘩!’
Kaegal focused on Johan’s hand and the hilt of the longsword he was holding. Despite seemingly holding it lightly, the hilt creaked as if he was squeezing out even the strength used to suckle milk.
It wasn’t because the sword was broken or worn out. It was Johan’s strength.
“Open your hand.”
“Did you grip it with all your strength just now?”
“No, I held it lightly.”
“You held the sword lightly when you gripped it? Why did you grip it like that?”
Even beginners didn’t hold the hilt lightly, they gripped it tightly.
“I’ve broken it a few times by gripping it too hard.”
In this place, a weapon like a longsword was a precious item. Even though the Aitz family was a knight family, they weren’t so well-off that they could recklessly break a well-forged longsword.
When Johan was young, he had smashed three training swords, and after that, he had received a stern warning that if he broke one more, they wouldn’t give him a weapon.
Although it was an old and shabby longsword, it was better than nothing in this countryside. Johan had been taking care of this longsword in his own way.
Kaegal took out a steel plate and handed it over. Johan grabbed it.
“Pull it with all your strength.”
With a dull sound, the steel plate was torn apart as it was. Kaegal’s eyes widened even more.
“Truly monstrous strength. . .”
“I’m not a monster.”
Johan spoke in a dissatisfied tone. Although he had a good physique and innate strength, that didn’t make him a monster.
“It seems like you haven’t had a chance to use your full strength because you don’t have a need for it. If you were born a thousand years ago, you would have been a hero in mythology.”
In the ancient empire’s mythology, there were unbelievable heroes. Heroes who immersed their bodies in the river of the underworld, making them impervious to spears and swords, or heroes who possessed innate strength and brought down massive temples with their power.
Of course, no one seriously believed in such things. It was just a bygone epic. But Kaegal knew. The fact that such an epic was created meant that there were people with abilities to match it.
Even if not impervious to spears and swords, at least the muscles and skin would have been tough and hard like a beast’s, and even if they couldn’t bring down a temple, they would have been strong enough to break a bull’s neck.
And in Kaegal’s view, Johan’s brute strength was enough to fit into that category. It wasn’t just a good physique and good innate muscular strength.
A brute strength that surpasses common sense!
Kaegal had lived a long life and had wandered not only in the Empire but also in other places. He had seen a few people who showed strength beyond ordinary humans.
And among them, Johan was the best. Even Ferfeng, a knight from the Erlans Kingdom who was rumored to have the strength of a giant, and Kaiwood, renowned for his formidable power among the knights of the Asman Empire, didn’t seem to be at that level.
As Kaegal fell silent, Johan became anxious. Was there a problem?
“Is there a problem?”
“A problem? No. There’s no problem. Unless you can’t control your body because of your overflowing strength, but that’s not the case.”
Unimaginable brute strength. A natural physique. An eye that grasps the essence of technique at a glance. And a beast-like sharp instinct that ties all this together. Johan was already a complete warrior before he was taught. Kaegal got up and stretched out his fingers. There were seven.
“It will take seven to teach you.”
“Seven years. Hmm. I’m not sure if I can hold out that long in this feudatory.”
Can Gessen Aitz survive for seven years?
He might have been able to if he lived a little more restrained life.
“Not seven years.”
“Seven days. One week is enough.”
“Excuse me. . .?”
“Even to teach the assassins’ codes that are easier to understand if you experience them directly, if you just learn the techniques, seven minutes is enough.”
“Isn’t that too fast?”
Johan’s eyes were now filled with disbelief. He seemed to be uncomfortable because he was taught too quickly. Kaegal shook his head.
“Treating a grown lion like a cub only dulls the claws. Don’t pretend to be weak. You’re a lion.”
With that, Kaegal drew his sword. It was slightly thinner than a regular longsword and had a sharp end. As soon as he drew his sword, Kaegal transformed from a shriveled old man into an assassin who had been killing people all his life.
“You’re a lion, so now it’s time to learn. The stiff-necked knight dastards talk about forms and structures, but I don’t like that. You’re the type who realizes it at a glance, so you’ll fully embody it once you experience it.”
“Wait. . .!”
Johan realized what Kaegal was trying to do. The sword blade, bathed in moonlight, emitted a creepy glow. Kaegal, who had been seven steps away, was now swinging his sword in front of him. Johan gritted his teeth and bent his body. The sword barely grazed his body and passed by.
Kaegal smiled satisfactorily. He had really tried to stab him, but he had avoided it.
He was indeed like a lion.
“This is the <𝐍𝐞𝐬𝐬𝐮𝐬’𝐬 𝐒𝐭𝐫𝐢𝐝𝐞> of the guild’s secret technique.”
It was a technique specialized for surprise attacks, and even an excellent knight could be pierced in one blow if he didn’t know it. This technique, which loosens the movement of the feet and then quickly bounces out, required cunning and strength.
“I see you’re an assassin.”
Johan grumbled as if he was dissatisfied. Kaegal deepened his smile and said.
“Are you saying you just realized I’m an assassin? You’re slower than I thought. Move! Those who don’t move don’t deserve to live.”
A swordsman had to keep moving and fighting. And Johan was already accepting that teaching.
Johan, who didn’t back down in fear of the sword but rather rushed forward to prevent Kaegal from swinging his sword, was a born warrior. His instinct as a warrior told him so.
Johan was already a warrior before Kaegal taught him. He just didn’t know it because he was among sheep and pigs.
In the dark forest, the young warrior and the old assassin bared their teeth and faced each other.
Kaegal did not lie. It took Johan only a day to master all of Kaegal’s techniques. And after two days, Johan began to push Kaegal.
After three days, Kaegal had no choice but to hold out against Johan and hope for a stroke of luck.
When something flew from the side with a ‘thud’ sound, Johan caught it with his fist without even turning his body. A sharp awl was flying towards his cheek.
“When did this happen. . .?”
“Have you ever seen an assassin fight fair?”
“There was nothing just now?”
Surely Johan and Kaegal had come here for the first time today when the day was bright, and even the training place was chosen by Johan. Kaegal couldn’t have come here in advance and set it up.
But how on earth is there a trap?
“I taught you how to set traps. You’re not thinking like an assassin, Johan. I’ve taught you all my techniques, but that doesn’t make you an assassin. Do you understand what I’m saying?”
“I think I understand.”
Johan felt it while living with Kaegal.
The mindset of an assassin is different from the bone.
Kaegal taught him all his swordsmanship, not only the guild’s swordsmanship, but also various other techniques, but he did not teach Johan the mindset of an assassin.
Because it wasn’t something that could be done by teaching.
The mindset of an assassin was something that was realized by entering the unofficial guild and eating the blood of many people.
If you don’t realize it, you’ll die, and if you live, you’ll realize it.
“You’re a lion. A lion doesn’t need to graze. I’m saying you don’t need to live as an assassin. Just learn how to deal with it. If you don’t want to die somewhere.”
Before he finished speaking, Johan kicked a tree. The thick tree split in half with a groaning sound. Kaegal backed away with a stunned expression.
“Who told you to deal with it like that?”
“Is it not allowed?”
“It’s a very good way.”
Even a delicate trap would be destroyed if you went around smashing things like this. When the plan went awry, Kaegal moved to the next trap. Johan followed, on guard.
Another day of training has ended.
Originally, Johan, who would have ended up drenched in sweat, ended with a few drops of sweat, and Kaegal realized that Johan had finished adapting.
There is no need to teach anymore.
Kaegal, who originally did not stay in one place, felt regret now.
“There’s nothing more I can teach you.”
“. . . . . .”
Johan just stared at Kaegal in response. It was a look asking him to stay a little longer, but Kaegal refused.
“I’ve never stayed in one place for long.”
“Because you’re an assassin?”
“No, you fool. I’ve been like that since before I became an assassin. Why is it always because of the assassin?”
Johan averted his gaze as if embarrassed.
“I’ve taught you everything I can teach you. There are a few things you haven’t learned, but there’s nothing you can do about it. Try the <𝐅𝐚𝐧𝐠 𝐄𝐱𝐭𝐫𝐚𝐜𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧>.”
Kaegal said, throwing a twig.
Originally, <𝐅𝐚𝐧𝐠 𝐄𝐱𝐭𝐫𝐚𝐜𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧> was a technique to hold a hidden dagger or secret weapon in your hand at once. If you were proficient in this technique, you could kill your opponent in one shot even in a crowded market and slip away without anyone knowing.
But Johan was not good at this technique.
Because. . .
The twig broke as it was. Kaegal shook his head.
“Relax the power!”
“I did relax!”
“Well. . . Well, if God gives you one, you have to take one.”
It wasn’t because the twig was weak. Johan broke even a sturdy dagger or steel awl equally.
He was not good at handling such delicate techniques because he was born with strength.
‘𝘈𝘯𝘺𝘸𝘢𝘺, 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘳𝘦’𝘴 𝘯𝘰 𝘦𝘯𝘦𝘮𝘺 𝘸𝘪𝘵𝘩 𝘢 𝘴𝘸𝘰𝘳𝘥 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘣𝘢𝘳𝘦 𝘩𝘢𝘯𝘥𝘴.’
Kaegal didn’t bother to say it. Complacency was the enemy of a warrior. A sheep that was scared and running around was better than a wolf that was complacent.
“I’m satisfied as long as my technique doesn’t disappear and continues. I don’t have any specific expectations from you, and I don’t have any grudges to pay back. Live well on your own.”
“Thank you, Master.”
“But there are a few words to leave. If you have a chance to teach my technique, tell them the name of Kaegal of <𝐕𝐞𝐧𝐨𝐦 𝐨𝐟 𝐍𝐞𝐬𝐬𝐮𝐬>.”
“And don’t use the secret techniques I taught you unless you have to. Remember when you use it.”
“Kill the opponent?”
“Yes. Kill it for sure. It’s annoying if they find out. Of course. . . there won’t be many who find out.”