TL: Edited 2 Jan 2018. If there are any further mistakes you spotted, please leave a comment.
Chapter 36 – Surpass me
Brendel’s mind was greatly shaken. It was his biggest secret in this world. Even though the old and new Brendel had merged together, it was hard for him to explain how the two memories merged together. Even he willed himself to accept everything, there was still a subconscious barrier remaining in him.
[This secret that I wanted to keep locked inside my heart is ripped out instantly by the Golden Demonic Tree… No, that’s not it—]
He immediately shook his head. It was impossible for The Golden Demonic Tree to break it open so quickly. That creature was just using the past Brendel’s memory— Why would Brendel’s grandfather say something like that to him?
[I’m my own enemy here. Brendel’s grandfather must be talking to the old Brendel, and it’s nothing more than a coincidence.]
He shut his eyes and took a deep breath. The feeling that his defenses were completely exposed to the enemy disappeared after realizing that his deepest thoughts in his mind were not revealed yet.
He calmed down quickly.
He had deflected this first attack made by the Golden Demonic Tree by chance, and his current mentality actually stabilized. He gulped and cried inwardly that he was lucky.
He pulled out the ‘Thorn of Light’, answering the old man: “We would know whether I have the qualifications once we crossed swords.”
The old man nodded: “Very good. Now you’re acting more like a Cadirosso. There are many people in this world who brag too much, and I don’t want to see my descendant acting like a useless fool.”
Brendel’s mind responded. This was not an attempt to undermine him. His grandfather’s reaction was surely a reflection of his own surging confidence.
[This is a good sign. It means that my Willpower is recovering to its peak condition.]
He indicated for his grandfather to make the first move. Even if it was a dream, the opponent was someone his senior. Being polite showed off his confidence, and so he did it.
Within this dream world, the person who made the first move did not represent that he would gain the upper hand. It was possible that it was a trap arranged by the malicious creature. Only by guarding the weaknesses tightly would deny it the chance to invade the mind.
The old man nodded again and he shifted his left foot forward, and the sword on his left shoulder. This was the strongest form within the Military Swordsmanship. When Brendel saw that, his forehead went numb because he could not see an opening at all.
[Even back in the game I did not train Aouine’s Military Swordsmanship to this level, who the bloody hell was your grandfather!]
This thought passed through his mind for a single instant, and he felt the sword in his arm become a little heavier. He yelled expletives in his mind; this slight gap was actually caught by the Golden Demonic Tree.
[Are you fucking serious!]
He went into a defensive stance.
He could only choose to use something that was more familiar from the Military Swordsmanship because he did not have any other swordsmanship with levels in it.
Against a veteran opponent, there was no meaning to use flashy techniques from the higher levels. Without adding more levels to the skill or reaching the required stats, it was full of flaws in front of his grandfather.
Brendel was also an experienced warrior and understood his position clearly.
There was no indication from the old man, but he made his move with the sword flashing at Brendel. His sword was not very fast, but the skill behind it was impeccable. There were no flaws in the attack and appeared like an ordinary swing, but one would feel that the sword could strike from anywhere with the next attack.
The air escaped from Brendel’s lungs.
[This is the swordsmanship from Brendel’s grandfather? Then it’s no wonder he could get the Candlelight Emblem. This level of skill makes it possible to keep a flow of attacks if it’s not dealt with properly… No wonder Brendel’s innate skill with the sword was so impressive, for an NPC anyway. If this old man had a better lineage, he would definitely receive the title of a knight.]
Brendel had no way to counter, so he tried sealing the next attack instead. There was a loud clash from the swords, and Brendel staggered from the strength of the opponent. His mind panicked and before he could stop his thoughts, he felt the opponent’s sword growing heavier.
[Holy fuck, you god damned Golden Demonic Tree!]
Brendel certainly knew what was going on. It could not be compared to the game’s version at all. This was a true puppet master, not that rubbish AI in the game. But Brendel did not feel scared at this moment and was overflowing with the will to fight back.
He stared at his grandfather’s eyes. The latter’s expression was perfectly calm like still water, as though he could read someone’s heart.
He suddenly felt puzzled. Why did such an outstanding grandfather leave such a faint impression in the old Brendel’s memories? Even when he saw him for the first time, he had to look at the young Brendel’s memory to confirm it was his grandfather.
He searched his memories again.
The old Brendel’s memory of his grandfather was a rigid person who was not fond of speaking or laughing. The next impression was the Candlelight emblem and the aura as a veteran from the November War. But these memories were not as vivid as the ones like the painting and his old home.
[Both grandfather and grandson lived together for several years, so why does he appear to be so estranged to Brendel when they meet again under this situation? The past Brendel isn’t supposed to be someone who would forget his own grandfather’s appearance.]
He fended off the old man’s sword once again and the sound between metal sang out. He felt the opponent’s sword grow heavier again, almost to the point where the sword nearly left his hand. His felt a shock in his mind, and he looked at the old man again.
His expression had become strict as if he was displeased.
He read the warning message from the system in his mind as a penalty was applied.
[What the fuck! This is self-doubt!]
He received another blow to his mind, and the defense in his mind grew from a tiny crack and spread outwards. The youth’s defense became more and more flimsy, and the old man’s strikes knocked him over to the ground. His blood grew cold as he quickly rolled over from the impact and got up.
But when he turned back, there were no grassy plains anymore. It was a gray house. Indeed, it was the old house in Bucce, where he woke up that fateful night in this world.
Brendel’s perspiration gathered on his forehead. This meant the Golden Demonic Tree had invaded further into his mind. He could not help but reach into the bag on his belt.
But he hesitated and questioned himself if he wanted to use a solution that was not part of his strength.
There was a sudden reluctance in his heart. He looked at the old man’s face. His grandfather still had the same strictness on his wrinkled face, but there were signs of disappointment.
The disappointment pierced his mind.
It was as if the twenty years of the real Brendel’s memory had suddenly become clear and emerged from his body; his former self wanting to fight his grandfather.
“Let me fight!” A voice said.
He suddenly felt this thought growing in his mind and knew that it was the old Brendel’s feelings affecting himself. He was merging into this world and with the memories of his loved ones.
But he shook his head.
[No, It’s possible that the Golden Demonic Tree is utilizing my weakness. I have to use that technique to leave this dream world.]
But when he placed his hand over to that position, he received a shock. The old man’s disappointment had become more apparent.
“… But it’s not right to deny the past Brendel’s wishes.” He muttered to himself.
[But you must understand, the Golden Demonic Tree is using his weakness.]
“Even so, he’s part of me now.”
[You will fail.]
“But succeeding here doesn’t mean that my weakness is gone.”
Brendel suddenly became quiet. He realized why Brendel’s grandfather had not spoken even once after he pulled his sword.
The old man had many chances to defeat him, yet he only looked at him with disappointment. He said nothing and simply waited quietly.
Brendel felt as if lightning had streaked across his mind and lit up every dark corner in his heart. This was not the Golden Demonic Tree’s handiwork of pity.
[No, this place is the absolute sanctuary that the past Brendel had in his memories! The Golden Demonic Tree isn’t capable of utilizing this place!]
He took another look at the old man’s face. In the dark corners of his face, was it still only disappointment?
Of course, it was.
He felt his whole body tremble. Why did the old man feel disappointed?
“Because it’s the endless expectations that the grandfather had. This is the old Brendel’s memory of his grandfather. The latter was strict and full of expectations. His eyes are full of disappointment, but it is not to censure the boy. It was in hope that the boy could understand his feelings behind this expectation.”
“The old man wanted to let the boy know his love for him, and the boy knew deep down in his heart that it was so.”
Brendel raised his head and gripped his sword tightly. He bit his lips and forced himself to hold back his tears.
The youth thought he understood the former Brendel’s world but realized he did not understand it enough.
“Brendel, remember what I told you? Your back must be as straight as your sword. The men of the Cadirosso family must live proudly. You are my grandson, and the best amongst the rest of them.”
The old man raised his swords again.
“Come, let me see what you learned during ten years when I was gone.”
He nodded, unable to stop the pouring tears. These were his grandfather’s words, but they were also not. This was the answer the old Brendel’s heart wanted to have and the path he wanted to cross.
Brendel took a deep breath.
The two swords crossed each other —
“Stand up Brendel. How can a Cadirosso be so weak?”
“What are you crying for. Would a little-torn skin kill you?”
“Speak up, how do you want me to punish you this time?”
The grandfather in his memories who sat strictly on the seat of the elders, who sat silently and looked at him with disappointment.
The grandfather in his memories who was always dissatisfied with seemingly everything that he did.
But the old man in his memories finally walked the last journey in his life. The Brendel who was a child stood before that bed, feeling his Grandfather’s hand gently placing over his head and stroking his hair, before it finally lost its strength and fell across his small face.
It was a rough hand, but it made the boy feel that his grandfather could be relied on. His last sigh at the very end, was it still disappointment, or hopeful expectation?
Brendel felt the dream state dissolving around him. In his hand was a fading Candlelight emblem that was turning into ashes. He did not speak for a long time.
“Thank you, elder.”
TL: So in case it’s too subtle, the reason for the old Brendel’s weak memories of his grandfather, is because he perceived his grandfather as one who only saw disappointment in him, and at the end of his memories the lines blurred because subconsciously he realized that his grandfather might have loved him deeply, which became the basis for that sanctuary where the Golden Demonic Tree could not breach (the old man did not want to hurt Brendel).
New Brendel realized the truth at the very end and accepted the old Brendel’s memories and feelings. If I have to take a guess at what the grandfather and old Brendel wanted, the title of the chapter is probably a huge hint.