TL: There’s a certain amount of guilt to see $50 donations chunks to see 1 chapter…… 2 have donated, so there will be one more chapter coming soon (12 hours or so). Also, it has been a while since I did the sponsoring thing, so I’m TLing one more TAS chapter near the end of the month.
If anyone else would still like to sponsor my series’ queue, you can do so at my PayPal firstname.lastname@example.org , both TAS and TSTBGAM are currently open.
Chapter 37 – Freya’s swordsmanship
============== Freya’s POV ============
Freya knew that she did not have superior talent in the sword. After the events in Bucce, she had tried closing the gap between her and the other squires in the academy with her obstinate personality, by putting in more effort than the others to inch her way closer.
But it was not as simple as she hoped for.
As the days passed by, she gradually realized that effort alone was not able to bridge the gap between the talented and untalented. There were many people who were more capable than she was, and she was part of the crowd who were insignificant. Her little pride as the best swordsman in Bucce disappeared completely when she realized she was dwarfed by the brilliance by the top knights in the academy.
In front of her was a senior apprentice knight; a Silver-ranked swordsman like Bennett. The rules of the competition limited the usage of strength, and the combatants were to duel each other with the knowledge of their swordsmanship; if this were not the case, she would have been defeated long ago—
However, this was precisely why she felt her sword which was held with both hands tremble a little, at the thought that she was fighting against someone superior.
Her frowning opponent was carefully circling her. The stubborn defense from her had caused him to suffer a little disadvantage.
Ever since the creation of this yearly tournament in the Royal Knights Academy, there was a rule which stated matches were conducted again as soon as they were over, which practically gave participants no time to rest. Everyone had to pay the price for spending too much stamina in a single battle.
The person who made this rule did it so these knights would understand that the enemies in a battlefield would give a ‘fair’ rule. They needed to conserve their stamina so they could survive longer.
The reason for building the Royal Knights Academy was to sire the best military personnel. In this current era of peace, the knights who graduated were then sent off to be groomed by high ranking officers. Those who showed excellent skills might even be accepted to become the royal family’s knights.
This was how a commoner could become a noble overnight.
The tournament’s format utilized a points system and a single elimination system. The aspiring squires would duel each other and gain corresponding points to their years in the academy by being victorious; the victors would continue to proceed to duel with each other until the final victor emerged, and would then attain the highest honor in the academy, the ‘Champion Knight’.
And after the Champion Knight was crowned, the squires of respective years in this academy would be picked out based on the points to be named as the best knight amongst their own.
These winners would literally be perceived as nobles.
Even though the rules were unfair, it accurately captured the reality on a battlefield. The first person who created this academy once claimed that luck was part of one’s strength and the most reliable attribute to save them from dire situations.
Perhaps this was the most appropriate description for Freya. She managed to arrive at where she was despite surrounded by thousands of undead and even reached the pinnacle of an Iron-ranked fighter at her age.
She felt she was outmatched by her opponent both in skill and stamina. She could barely keep up with the opponent’s attempt to find a weakness by circling her.
It would be a miracle if she somehow won.
Her opponent also realized her current status. After making sure she was at the end of her rope, he decisively attacked with a lunge where her right guard was the weakest.
[…… Won’t make it in time!]
She could hardly think to react, partly because of her fatigue, but her body reacted even before she was able to piece her thoughts together, mirroring a familiar figure’s stance and defense against the undead Knight Ebdon.
The next moment she felt the enemy’s blade running through her left forearm, causing it to burn painfully, but her opponent looked back in confusion as he was pushed slightly off-balance; she stepped to the side and struck down at his thrust by the narrowest of margin near the base of her sword.
This had allowed her to knock his blade to the ground, where she followed up by stepping on it and drove her sword’s pommel to his face. It dazed and made him lose his hold over the sword, and he staggered back several steps. Freya then kicked him in the chest without missing a beat and knocked him down onto his back. When he got up shakily, Freya’s sword was on his neck.
“What is the name of this swordsmanship?” He asked as he glanced at the dripping blood from the girl’s hand; it was a little glaring.
“…….” Freya did not answer.
In truth, she was still a little confused as to what happened. Her opponent’s thrust somehow resembled a single moment between Brendel and Ebdon’s duel, and she copied Brendel’s diverse techniques to deal with it.
Ebdon’s terrifying swordsmanship seemed to corner Brendel’s simple defensive stance and parries every given moment when she watched the fight, but now that she had used it for herself, she realized how practical his defensive techniques were.
[…… If Brendel were the one defending, he would never get himself injured. Now that I recall the duel between that undead knight and him, I finally understand just how incredible it was.]
“I lost.” The senior apprentice knight sitting on the floor raised his hands after a dazed moment.
Freya watched a female knight with black hair on her shoulders walk over to the tournament area. She was the acting judge and looked at both of them with her usual cold expressions.
“I’ve heard that you fought in battles?” Maynild asked, and her tone was cold as well.
Freya noticed a sliver of deep suspicion in her black eyes; Maynild seemed to wear a mask on her face, but at this moment it was lifted just a little. She was a bit puzzled at Maynild’s reaction but nodded at her question. No one opposed her in this school, yet.
“You fought against Madara’s undead?” Maynild asked.
“Yes,” Freya said.
“Are you still able to use that technique again?”
Freya hesitated as fatigue was quickly catching up to her, and the bleeding on her arm hurt. Maynild also noticed her situation, so she spoke again:
“That technique you used earlier has Aouine’s Miliary Swordsmanship’s shadow in it, but it’s different from what the instructors teach here. You were trained in Bucce as a militia?”
Freya nodded again.
“I can’t think of any region in Aouine which would teach differently to their militia or even their formal guards. These straightforward techniques for the sake of killing feels like someone had modified Aouine’s Military Swordsmanship to be even more practical in wars.” Maynild frowned and stared at Freya deeply: “You came from Bucce? Do you know someone in the White Mane Army?”
Freya was confused as to why Maynild who somewhat looked out for her, was demanding answers to strange questions in this place right now.
She naturally shook her head.
But she was no longer that girl who came from the rural area Bucce. The few months of training had increased her insight, and when she recalled Brendel’s usage of his varied techniques, she realized that was a common point amongst them. They were all concise.
Every single action he made did not seem to contain any wasteful movements at all, and it was as if his techniques were all used for the sake of victory. Freya thought on the effects that it would bring onto the battlefield, and was able to understand why Maynild said they were made for killing.
Brendel’s movements were clean and swift every time he charged into battles. It was indeed a mystery why he was so good with the sword. The training he had as a militia would not explain his skills.
[…… Does talent really explain Brendel’s abilities?]
She suddenly realized Maynild was still staring at her. She jolted and wanted to shrink away, but the latter finally spoke:
“But the core seems to have deviated from Aouine’s Miltary Swordsmanship.”
Freya was even more confused.
“Are you hiding anything?” Maynild asked.
Freya shook her head, her ponytail swinging hard.
“I have seen these techniques before……” Maynild’s expression was a little strange as she muttered to herself.
Freya watched Maynild leave for the other tournament area after throwing that sentence, but she gradually paled as she thought of a possibility—
[She knows Brendel?]
=============== Princess Gryphine’s POV ==============
“Who is that?” Magadal asked.
“What?” The half-elven princess turned back.
“That squire who won earlier,” Magadal watched the crowd from above as she spoke, “I saw Maynild speaking to her down there.”
Gryphine followed her gaze and recognized her quickly.
“That’s Everton’s daughter,” she sighed, “but it seems like she has not inherited his father’s talent. Even though she’s quite good, she’s not the best amongst this year’s batch, and if you compare her to her father, the difference would be even more apparent.”
“That’s because the quality of this year’s batch is outstanding.” Even though Magadal did not know much about swordsmanship, she was observant and had seen enough to judge: “Bennett and two other talented youths. I have heard you speak about them more than once.”
“Yes, it seems that Mother Marsha still blesses Aouine,” Gryphine answered with a small smile, “I intend to pick the squires with the highest points from the respective years. Oberbeck and I agree that we need to groom this year’s intake, and it’s my idea to allow them to leave here and train.”
“Then that youth Bennett has caught your eye?” Magadal looked up and turned to her: “He does seem to be very reliable; youths like him in the nobles’ circle are rare—”
“Indeed,” Gryphine’s eyes glinted, ” but I know of one more. He is the one who showed me the noble lineage from our ancestors has not dried out yet, and that this ancient kingdom still has hope.”
“I rarely hear such high praise of another person from you.”
Gryphine did not answer. The person she was thinking of was the very same person Oberbeck spoke of. She had confirmed that he had not accompanied Freya to attend the academy.
[This person is mysterious. I’m not sure where he is right now and what he’s doing, but I have a feeling that he would appear before us very soon. As to how he would reappear…..]
Gryphine smiled inwardly and dispelled her strange thoughts.