Chapter 10 – Willpower
Erith was displeased with Haru. He’d thought there was something possibly worth noting but every single swing he’d taken thus far contained absolutely no changes. Even so, instinctively he felt there was something he was missing. The pensive thought in Haru’s 10-year-old eyes were something that left Erith with a sliver of expectation.
None the less, Erith’s lips quivered, and his eyes even began to twitch with the passage of time. Every swing Haru made was grating to his eyes and ears. As a swordsman he found those with poor skill hard to look at, but Haru’s seeming lack of talent made it all seem much worse. ‘I was a fool to raise my expectations over nothing.’
After a given period of time he decided to do as he’d planned and began giving Haru some pointers but much to his aggrieved heart… Haru seemingly ignored his words.
‘He’s not even paying attention to me? Is he here to play a game?’ It was at that point that Erith no longer paid any attention to Haru. His mind had been made up. After witnessing Haru’s poor talent and disregard for his advice there was no need to may him any heed. ‘I will tell Dillan he is not suited for the sword.’ He said the words to himself and no longer felt any guilt as he closed his eyes and began to meditate.
Haru was not deliberately ignoring Erith but had fallen into a trance. His mind was solely focused on the image Erith had engraved into his mind of his previous sword swing. It’s beauty and power were such that Haru couldn’t help but keep swinging. Not because he was adjusting, but rather because he wanted to understand. He had subconsciously come to the conclusion that trying to adjust without any understanding would not yield him any results and had instead wholeheartedly focused on swinging and learning from the image and comparison. The image alone would not be enough, and so he swung to get a feel for the sword, for the moment when the momentum shifted and his body moved as he traced the differences between Erith and himself.
Even meditating, his sensitivity to the sword prevented him from truly being at peace. He could sense every swing, and every single one was abhorant to Erith that caused his forehead to inadvertently frown ‘How long is he going to keep this up?’
The swings were beginning to make his skin crawl to the point that he considered telling Haru to stop preemptively, but as he was about to say something his inner voice told him to stop. The very reminder that this was Dillan’s son was sufficient to force him to keep his mouth shut. He stayed still, and allowed Haru’s swings to ‘assault his senses’. He stayed quiet suffering in silence ‘I’ll wait for the boy to tire himself out, once he does. That’ll be that.’ He told himself more for his own comfort than anything else.
Erith was used to being alone, so he made his peace. Inwardly he wondered how long Haru would go on for ‘Half an hour? An hour?’ he pondered.
*Swoosh* *Swoosh* *Swoosh* the sword of a sword cutting through the air would sporadically ring out in the courtyard.
Haru continued to swing the sword, his body gradually becoming more and more exhausted.
After two hours Erith was both beginning to grow a little surprised at Haru’s perseverance and also complete lack of talent. ‘He’s swung that sword for two hours. That’s already extremely impressive, but just as impressive is how he hasn’t improved one single bit!’
But… Although he thought this, he’d already been slightly moved by Haru’s diligence.
‘The boy lacks even a shred of talent in the sword, but his diligence isn’t bad. Maybe I can refer him to another area of skill.’
After nearly another hour even Erith had finally stopped hating the sounds of those sword swings. In the course of three hours they began to bother him less and less. Although his aesthetic as a swordsman and pride made him abhor those with poor talent at the thing he loved most, he couldn’t help but admire the diligence of a child who could swing a sword made for a man for nearly three hours without a single rest or stop.
Erith’s previous contempt was slowly melting away with every swing. He didn’t need to look at Haru to imagine how exhausted his body must have been feeling at this point. He himself had gone through harsher training, but the quality of the swings had not increased even the slightest ‘Does he not realize how poor his talent is? What is driving him to push forward? A son of Dillan could not want for strength…’
Nearly at the four-hour mark, all of Erith’s contempt had turned into pity. Pity for a child he’d grown to admire over the course of four hours. Four hours of hard work was something that few children can put in, even more so for those who lacked talent in a given field. Therefore, Erith was filled with pity for Haru who in his eyes was destined to fail regardless of the amount of effort he put into the sword. At exactly the four-hour mark, he resolved himself to help Haru find his true talent.
Then suddenly the abhorrent sword swings stopped altogether.
The crease on Erith’s forehead finally eased as he calmed himself. He did nothing, thinking that he would give Haru some time to put himself together. ‘Perhaps he’s realized how poor his talent is himself and I won’t have to state the obvious.’
It was silent for a few minutes. Completely silent, to point where all that could be heard was the ragged sounds of Haru breathing which surprised Erith.
He finally opened his eyes to look at Haru who had an utterly serene look of contemplation.
Erith noticed Haru’s lack of movement. His body was as steady as a rock, only the rhythmic sounds of his breathing and heaving of his chest gave his body any movement.
As a master of the sword, he’d long entered a state where patience could be considered one of his virtues. Seeing Haru in such a state, Erith stilled his entire being and continued to observe Haru.
After about 10 minutes without even the slightest of movements, Haru opened his half-lidded eyes with a calculated look. His entire body exuded the concentration clear on his face as he suddenly shifted his stance to mirror Erith’s previous stance almost exactly. It was more than just mimicking a simple stance, as Haru began lifting the sword over his head Erith suddenly saw and felt his own aura overlap with Haru as he brought the sword down in one swing halting it at his waist, a burst of wind burst forth from the swing blowing throughout the entire courtyard. If Erith’s previous swing generated a gale turned whirlwind, then this one swing managed to merely create a breeze. A gentle breeze that made every single hair on Erith’s body stand erect as his previously stilled body froze in that instant.
Pure shock had frozen Erith in place as that previous swing contained a sliver of his own aura. It was as if he was seeing a piece of himself in Haru’s swing.
“One…” Erith said under his breath without realizing it as Haru stayed frozen in position with the sword pointed forward at his waist. He hand’t moved an inch after finishing that swing and Erith suddenly realized why as he moved forward without the slightest hesitation.
In almost the same instant Haru’s body crumbled to the ground without a trace of energy left in his completely exhausted body. At this point his covered every inch of his body and his clothes were as wet as rags. He had pushed himself past his own limits and past the point of exhaustion as he’d let himself be enveloped in his previous trance.
Erith caught his body before he fell to the floor and possibly hurt himself. Even though Haru’s body was drenched in sweat as Erith looked at him, his gaze looked absolutely absurd. He looked terrified as he held Haru’s body as if he was holding the most precious thing in the world.
It was at that moment, that unknowingly to everyone including himself. Haru’s value suddenly became higher than even Dillan, his best friend in the entire world to Erith.