「Fufufu, at long last a chance to talk to you alone Slava.」
Having seized my hand, Alma brought me to the auditorium for a martial arts class. A previously unseen satisfied smile on her face, Alma seemed to be in high spirits.
…Maa, if I were to recruit a good disciple, I too would be elated but-
「Aren’t you being a little too pushy?」
Yeah, she was being a little too pushy.
Personally, upon discovering Alma’s talent, the thought of imparting the Shijima techniques was greatly satisfying to me.
However, if said person had no intention to learn, then regardless of his or her innate talent, it would be useless. If he still refuses after taking time to consider, then I would give up teaching him my techniques, was what I thought.
In the end, Alma inherited the Shijima techniques. Yet, depending on Alma’s answer, her name could very well have not spread throughout history.
More than anything, the disciple’s intention and interests are very important factors. I think that’s the best method in picking a disciple.
「Certainly I might have been a little too pushy. But the amount of talent you possess is worth that much I think.」
I have my own beliefs1, and Alma seems to differ from me in that aspect. I don’t plan on interrupting her at this point but – if it’s become this way, it might perhaps be better to change her thoughts on this issue.
「That being said, I am reflecting on my actions.
…This will anger sensei.
Was I too much in a hurry?」
Nevertheless, it seems like Alma is reflecting on this issue this time.
She doesn’t know that the teacher that she’s speaking of would be right before her eyes but… well that teacher, I’m sure he would probably agree that it’s fine as long as you have the intention to change.
But – now that I have the chance to reflect, in my previous life, I did nothing other than learning martial arts. Thinking back, it would have been better if I had learned other things. ….. I wonder how that would have resulted in how I am now.
「….There’s no need to rush. Maybe not so for a human, but as an elf, there is still much time left.」
To the anxious Alma, I conveyed such a message. Yes, Alma is an elf. Yet having only reached a hundred years old – she was still a very young elf.
As a human, you would already have one leg in the coffin, but as an elf, a hundred years was equivalent to a 20 year-old human.
It’s quite enviable. When I was the same age as Alma, I was already a dying old man.
「Haha, that’s true. To be cheered up, it seems I’m still quite immature…. I’ll be careful next time. But just once, I would like you to experience the Shijima style.
Next time, I’ll try not to be so pushy. I promise.」
It might just be my imagination, but Alma seemed to smile at me with slightly moist eyes.
….She’s in a hurry, huh? I may have placed a heavier burden on this child than I thought.
Generally speaking, most elves are rather laid-back. Even I, who was originally human, am about the same, and Alma is an elf too.
But Alma seems to be – impatient. Such a thing is rare among the elves who usually proceed at a leisurely pace.
And I think this is due to the words I left behind.
– No, that is the cause. To carry out the will of the person who’s her teacher and father, it is no surprise that she would be so hurried.
If that is the case, wouldn’t I have placed a curse on Alma?
If so, I’ve done something really terrible.
「Well then, shall we get moving and have a bite?
I have forced you to come, and I’ll end my persistent solicitations here. So please, just let me teach you just this once….」
To her imploring gaze, I quietly nodded.
Looks like the number of things I have to consider has increased slightly.
Alma does not seem to be able to shoulder the weight of the burden I left for her.
Being the only family she had, I cannot fathom the weight my words had on her.
In order to avoid increasing the number of ties in this life, I intended to hide my real identity from Alma but….
– That’s a conversation for another time, but I must reveal my identity sooner or later, or so I thought.
「Firstly, just once, could you demonstrate the 「Tree Leaf Throw」 for me?
Just the form is enough. Since I first saw it, I’ve been quite interested in it.」
Breathe in slowly, close my eyes.
Focus on the foundation, applying it fully as a point, this is a technique that combines the entirety of the Shijima style.
Follow the flow, break the balance, throw. Without understanding this technique, it would be pointless to study any other technique.
Concentrating all my consciousness, I take the 「Running Water」 stance.
Thinking about it, how many times have I repeated this process?
In my day-to-day training, there has never been a time where I did not follow this routine.
From apprenticeship to mastery, throughout all of my training – it would be taught and practiced without fail, the most basic of techniques.
….Thinking back, this technique probably marked my entry into Martial Arts.
Not just a principle, but an endless road. It really symbolizes the road of the warrior.
When one delves deep into this technique, I wonder if one can find the answer to becoming the strongest.
Projecting an imaginary enemy, I imagine a sudden fist thrown at me.
Immediately, I move to match the illusion of the thrust arm.
Manipulating the direction of the imaginary enemy’s fist, I scatter the center of gravity in four directions.2
With the unstable center of gravity, the root of its balance wilted, resulting in an uncertain connection with the ground –
The figure with both legs no longer in firm contact with the ground, was like a boat that hadn’t dropped its anchor. If I sharply swept his feet, strength would not be required to send my opponent flying.
I did not go easy on Shido, for I didn’t go easy on him in real life and there was also the fact that this wasn’t real.
With the waist as the center, grabbing the head and rotating laterally – I slammed it on the floor.
The opponent’s body was like that of tree leaves, being thrown to the floor as if having forgotten its own weight
– Tree Leaf Throw, such was the technique.3
Performing the whole motion without cutting corners, this was the best performance I could put out as of now.
– If she were to realize my identity due to that, then so be it.
….This is not in desperation.
Although I don’t intend on revealing my identity now, if Alma uncovered the person lurking in this young body then–
Of course there is a part of me that is considering my daughter. But for me, strength is everything.
Or so I thought in the past – but as I grew older, the scales started to balance out.
So even if she were to realize, I wouldn’t mind it, was what I thought.
「(I wonder if she’ll notice)」
After completing the technique, I broke my vigilant stance, and heaved a deep breath.
The speechless, motionless Alma was fixated on me.
「How was it, sensei?」
Like a sculpture frozen in time, her delicate limbs seemed to tremble in shock.
Consciousness returned to her facial expression.
She must have been observing me so seriously that she even forgot to breathe. Catching her breath, Alma denied,
「 – Such, it can’t be….」
Her expression was dyed in shock.
Though my technique was still incomplete and somewhat immature, but for the practitioners of Shijima, other than Iwao Shijima, there was no one who could rival me.
Of course, to demonstrate this depth and familiarity with the 「Tree Leaf Throw」, there exists no one other than my teacher and me.
As such, I wonder what Alma is thinking.
She may not yet believe it, but I must surely have crossed her mind.
The auditorium returned to silence.
Only the sounds of two small breaths muddied the silence.
Staring in anticipation, I await her words.
Before long, instead of speaking, she walked up to me.
How much thought had been put in those words – Me as a Shijima, I felt it.
Looking at the figure of my daughter on the verge of collapsing, trying to cling to me, I considered if it would be fine to continue playing dumb.
Trembling without strength, such was the state of the God of Martial Arts of this generation. That small – slightly larger than mine, her shoulder.
I played dumb and acted in doubt.
Trembling her shoulder slightly, Alma clasped my clothing.
The small strength – It feels very nostalgic, making me recall when she would fly into me.
「 – !….I’m sorry. I…it wouldn’t be strange if you hate me now….」
Such a possibility doesn’t exist.
But, I can’t say it in such a way.
「….No. I don’t hate sensei.」
Rather I am a child, there is no way I could hate her.
Even though I do have sentiments of wanting to confide my identity but – more than anything I want to have time to look around the world.
View the changed world, ascertain the road of the warrior – at that time..
While holding the shoulder of Alma, I face the sky.
「Please give me 20 years. After I graduate from this academy, I want to go around and look at the world. Before I aim to be the strongest, I want to make sure to see the variety of choices.」
Alma did not respond.
Waiting to see if there was a continuation to my words, she seemed to implicitly encourage me to say more.
What I speak of – is a young boy’s dream, a story of my dream.
I want to see the world. I want to meet strong martial artists. And then – exchange fists.
To put it in words, a man exceeding hundred years of age possess a young immature dream.
But even then, me as of now, I have the youthful energy to achieve this.
Thus, I want it to come true. This dream.
「But, I will definitely return to the country of the elves. During that time, I will answer sensei’s questions. How about that?」
Raising Alma’s face, I declared with sincere eyes.
Full of tears, Alma gaped.
….20 years later. Somehow it is a short yet long time.
As a human, it would be long, but as an elf, it is short. Then, for me would it be long or short – for Alma, how would it be?
The daughter left behind 30 years ago, must once more wait 20 years for an answer, how painful.
But I want to advance into this world, and with my very eyes – I want to see martial arts.
Thus, my answer will surely come. Even if it will come later.
Our eyes did not separate even for a moment. Not without words, but with our eyes, we conveyed our feelings.
「Slava….is that so, thank you.」
Wiping her tears, Alma laughed.
Wait for me, my daughter. Someday, I must tell you something.
「Well then – I will happily wait 20 years.」4
Wiping her tears, Alma walks away from me.
For me 20 years is a somewhat long time.
But, when that time comes, I will definitely reveal my identity, such were my thoughts.
Before that – just a little, please forgive this old man’s indulgence.
「Yoshi, in order to make you want to study under the Shijima style in twenty years, I need to be devoted too!」
Directing a big smile, Alma was filled with motivation.
Being tempted, I too broke into a soft smile.
「It’s a secret that I was crying, okay?」
「Okay, I will hide it deep in my heart.」
I leak out a laughter.
This child in the past used to hide her weaknesses.
Now that I think about it, since when could I talk to her slowly?
Now, we meet on a daily basis but, then why do I feel like I already badly miss her.
「Well then, sorry for taking up your time Slava. There’s very little of your lunch break left. Let’s return to the classroom.」
「Is that so. Then – see you later.」
「Un – see you later.」
Turning my back on Alma, I walk out.
Yes, I mustn’t stop now.
I should walk a little further before I sit down. (TLN: I think this is a figurative manner of speech. Up to you to interpret.)
– Thus, Alma’s solicitation was kept a secret.
The long period of time of ten years, whether it was training or sparring with Chester, it somehow felt short – once again, I realized that I had truly become an elf.
And then –
「Today, all of you will graduate from Mirafia National Alfalia General Academy. From now on, each of you will walk your own roads. Firmly ascertain with your own eyes, take strong steps forward, that is what I hope for all of you.」
The time has come, for young boys and girls, to each walk their own path.
I too, have begun to walk the road that I’ve put my trust in.
– To devote myself to martial arts for a hundred years.5
Receiving the life of an elf, and to redo my training as a warrior.
Here, I take my first step.
This isn’t the end, let’s continue for a little more (Master Roshi)