Chapter 32 – Sight Seeing Training (Part 5)
The same lone figure stood in front of him, still faceless. A majestic sharp aura spread out around him making him seem like a sharp blade. Giving Haru the impression that getting remotely near him would only end with him being cut into a million pieces.
The figure lifted his sword and pointed it at Haru.
Feeling as though he’d been dropped into a bucket of cold water, all of Haru’s thoughts felt slow and sluggish. A sword materialized out of thin air in front of him and once again his right hand reached out to grasp it without any instruction from his mind.
Managing to break his gaze away from the figure before him he stared at the sword in his hand and wondered to himself when he’d reached for it.
It took him a moment for the internal struggle to die down altogether… A part of him was terrified. The memory of being killed vividly reminding him of how fragile and powerless he was, but that very fear equally driving his desire for strength…
Instead of hesitating any longer Haru moved forward one step at a time, keeping a watchful eye on the figure in front of him. ‘I died but I didn’t die… If my mind can bare it then my body can too!’
The eyes of the faceless Erith shined as the desire in Haru’s eyes shone as plain as day. He’d been worried that after his first death he would have a seed of fear instilled in him. It had happened to many other disciples of others while undergoing this training. The first death being the first hurdle. ‘If he can get past this first hurdle his training can truly begin. Afterwards I’ll have to gauge how much his mind can handle.’
The first hurdle was the student’s, the second would be the teacher’s. Haru had to get past the fear of death holding him back, if he could a second or third death would weigh on him far less. Some determined youths could handle even as much as a dozen deaths, but it would be the burden of the teacher to truly decide when enough was enough. It was their responsibility to make sure the training didn’t go past what their student’s mind could truly handle. Otherwise even if their body would be okay, their minds could be irreparably damaged in numerous ways.
Haru slowly walked near and began circling his opponent. Gauging the distance, he wondered whether that was part of the reason he’d been struck without a chance the first time around. ‘His arms and legs are longer, his height and length would give him an advantage in range if we had the same speed and strength but he’s far above me in both.’
The closer he moved forward the more intimidated and excited he became…
The hairs on his arms and the back of his neck standing up on end as a jolt of electricity made his reflexes react in an instant… He pushed off the ground throwing himself backwards on his back while holding his sword in front of him tightly to defend.
The sword in his hands vibrating from the impact as his back hit the ground!
‘I didn’t even see him move!’ he’d reacted on instinct but his eyes hadn’t even been able to follow his opponent’s movements.
Rolling to the side and pushing himself off the ground to stand up he tried to find his opponent ‘Where did he go!?’
As soon as he’d so much as asked the question in his mind he felt the same jolt of electricity, Haru reacted instantly throwing himself face first into the ground but it was too late.
His vision blurred and he felt a cold enveloping him for just a moment before his eyes snapped awake standing where he’d been before the ‘fight’ began.
Sword still in hand he wondered whether he’d imagined the entire struggle or whether he had died again.
Gritting his teeth he suddenly took in a huge breath and then let it out. A smile appearing on his face. The cold feeling still lingering but a weight lifted off his shoulders.
A realization enveloping him. At this moment he realized that if he could bare the pain, the mental stress of these ‘deaths’ he had nothing to fear. Moreover, he realized that he was absolutely no match for this Erith. Whether it was because they were in a world created by Erith or because his skill was simply that superior, there was absolutely no chance for him to survive if Erith wanted him dead.
Instead of fear, this gave him peace. His body felt lighter as soon as he gave himself in to this realization. ‘What is there to truly be afraid of? Why even run or defend? The result is death, then… I’ll attack!’
His eyes turned sharp as he gripped the sword in his hand and approached Erith again at a sprint!
Before he got within striking distance he once again barely felt his throat being pierced before he fell to the floor, a single trail of blood leaking from his throat as he died before hitting the ground.
His mind startled awake back in the same starting position as a smile formed at the edges of his lips. Gripping his sword, just a little harder he moved in the exact same manner completely unafraid of the consequences!
Haru charged forward and slashed out! This strike was simple but unlike the ones before it, it contained just a sliver of the power and principles of the Calm Heart, Calm Strike!
However, even with this surprise coming at the faceless figure, his sword moved in a simple but graceful horizontal sweep as the swords *clanged* against one another. Resistance being met for only a fraction of a moment before the sword in Haru’s hands was slapped aside spinning through the air and out of his hands as another slash came right at him slitting his throat!
A huge gush of blood spluttered out of Haru’s neck dying the faceless man’s chest red as Haru’s eyes blurred and fell shut.
Opening his eyes, a cold feeling still covered him and his mind felt a little heavier but Haru realized he’d forced a collision. ‘Improvement…’ was the only think he could attribute it too.
He lasted two sword swings this time around!
The carriage traveled through the night, silence within the cabin.
Outside of the cabin the Dragon moved at a pace similar to a horse, looking a little slow and unimpressive for a creature it’s size and breed. But once you took a second look at the massive carriage it was pulling behind, the grandeur of the dragon pulling such a massive carriage as long as a train-car with ease the sense of wonderment and pressure would return.
The path was relatively clear but whenever a three or creature would get in the way the earth dragon would merely growl and plow right through it! Not allowing anything to stand in its way, moving through ‘obstructions’ with ease and might!
Inside of the carriage the two passengers sat in silence. Both sitting facing each other across from one another in the cabin, their eyes locked but their expressions dull and their faces frozen.
Haru’s gaze one of wonderment and Erith’s gaze one of solitude.
The only thing that could be heard within the sound proofed cabin was their breathing and heartbeats. Haru’s breathing continually growing more ragged and his heartbeat slowing down, as the mental strain was slowly beginning to manifest in reality.
The air around Erith’s body began to distort slightly before returning to normal. It began to do so as if synchronized to his heartbeat and the air in the cabin began to grow stale. His breath also growing slightly unsteady for far different reasons.
Death! Defeat and death!
Haru died repeatedly! Every effort in vein as the only certainty in this sword domain being that the moment the faceless figure took action, Haru’s death would soon approach!
The faceless figure’s form distorted slightly after cutting off Haru’s head altogether and Haru snapped awake feeling displaced.
The true reason why Erith’s figure appeared faceless within his sword domain was purely for the purpose of this training. It was something he had only learned after under going the same type of training with his own master.
It was to prevent the student from growing a deep rooted fear and hate of his own master just as much as it was to prevent the teacher from exposing his own pain.
Having to kill his student, a child no less, repeatedly took a toll on any man with a conscious. Erith was a man who cared very little for the outside world but would devote himself to friends and family. After taking Haru for his one and only disciple he had already pledged to himself to keep him safe from dangers Haru could not yet deal with on his own, he had planned to undergo this training with Haru far off into the future but their recent events made him realize that if Haru could bare it then he owed it to him to teach him at the speed that worked best for him.
Every time his sword cut into Haru’s flesh he would wince and the pain he felt at harming Haru would show on his face.
Every time Haru’s blood would splatter on his face or body he would be thankful that the space would reset almost immediately at his behest. Every effort was meant to kill Haru in the most painless and quickest way possible. Every death pulling at his heart, but he continued.
‘If Haru can preserve through this pain then I must as well.’ He told himself. Growing more and more surprised. Amazed even at Haru’s mental fortitude.
Days ago his parents had left him, his sister kidnapped, and tonight his entire life left behind and still Haru’s mind refused to relent!
Haru had died repeatedly over 30 times and still he persevered!
Surprise turned to shock.
‘When I underwent this training my master praised me for my perseverance… I lived and died 46 times before the mental strain overtook me…’
Shock turned to awe.
‘He’s survived 47 deaths. One more than I did at a far younger age…’
Awe turned to stupefaction.
Haru pulled a sword out of the ground as his own had been slapped out of his hand by one of Erith’s strikes and stabbed forward at an after image before having his brain pierced through from the back of his skull.
The strain finally wearing Haru down as he no longer reappeared in the Sword Domain as their true bodies gazes broke apart and Haru’s body slumped into the seat passing out from mental fatigue.
Erith himself grew numb as he stared at Haru like a monster. His mind moving from the Sword Domain to stare at Haru’s real body with a look of fright.
Haru had died exactly 109 deaths and still persevered! He hadn’t quit, he hadn’t stopped, he hadn’t backed down, he hadn’t been prodded into continuing…. He had willed himself forward and pushed himself until his mind could no longer bare the strain and broke their connection… It was inhuman!
Sweat rolled down Erith’s brow from the strain of bearing the mental stress of having to kill Haru repeatedly. He was ready to stop hours ago but Haru’s reluctance to stop made him refuse to stop before him. It wasn’t competitive spirit but respect for his disciple that had kept him going.
Erith’s right hand was slightly trembling, a response of guilt as he envisioned all the blood his sword had been stained with by Haru’s blood.
Gazing at Haru and anticipating a sense of relief, he was instead struck with a vague jolt of fear in the back of his mind as his body stilled.
Haru’s mentally stressed body had passed out with a genuinely wide smile across his face.
Instead of innocence, the smile betrayed his personality and gave him a shallow look of maliciousness that made Erith involuntarily shiver as he looked away through the one sole window in the cabin to see the lightening sky.
They had trained through the night and into the early morning, and at this moment Erith could not look at Haru.
Unable to internally decide if it was due to guilt or strange and misplaced sliver of fear.