|Author: Cherish the World||Original Source: SFACG|
|Translator: raltzero||English Source: Re:Library|
I brought Aleya out of the city.
When the moist, cold air entered my lungs, my lethargic mind became much more clearer in an instant.
Sitting on a rock by the small river stream outside the city, I preached to Aleya:
“Regardless of what Martial Path is taken, higher realm beating lower realm people without much effort is a commonly seen phenomenon. ‘Realm’ is a unified standard to measure one’s strength. Let’s take the Sword Path for example, everyone learns different sword forms, practice different skills, and have different understandings of swordsmanship. That Grand Sword Hero in the royal capital cultivates the Zen Sword, Heji cultivates the Nobleman’s Sword, you cultivate the Sword of Murder. Which one of these sword arts is the best? Before fighting, nobody will agree on a final conclusion. But cultivating to a certain realm quantifies true strength. No matter what sword you cultivate, one realm higher means your strength is higher. Your Level 5 in the Sword Path won’t be able to defeat Heji, who’s a Level 6 in the Sword Path. It can be said that the thing called ‘realm’ is the general rating for all your skills combined.”
I paused for a moment, then continued:
“However, whoever’s stronger or weaker in the same realm depends on their own ability. When Heji suppressed his realm to Level 5 in the Sword Path, he was nearly killed by a move of yours. This shows that when you and Heji’s realms are the same, your strength is much greater than his. Have you ever thought about why you’re much stronger? It’s because your sword art has been sharpened well, because you’re swift of foot, because your foundation is strong, because you’re able to do more, because the one who taught you the Sword Path is me, because the Sword Path you were taught is much stronger than the one he was taught. It’s that simple.”
Aleya nodded with deep veneration.
Even though Bai Huang or Heji would mock me for “really being able to shamelessly praise myself” if they were present, Aleya wouldn’t react in such a manner.
She’s always been unconditionally believing in me.
“In that case, I think we can calm our minds down. That assassin’s very powerful, much stronger than we imagined. If you fight her alone, it’s extremely difficult for you to defeat her. So what you need to do next time is to join hands with Heji and make as much contribution as you can. The longer you stall her, the more opportunities you’ll be able to give Heji. There’s no need to think that such a thing is useless; people need to face their own insufficiencies in order to become stronger.”
Aleya earnestly responded:
“I understand, young master. It’s just……”
She hesitated before saying:
“If young master and miss Bai Huang landed into danger at the same time, Heji should first save miss Bai Huang.”
While her words were tactful, I understood the meaning behind them.
After all, Bai Huang is a person from Yun Hai, not someone from West-Resisting City.
And Heji is Bai Huang’s guard, not my guard.
I rubbed Aleya’s head and smiled:
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“It doesn’t matter, there’s only one assassin. As long as Bai Huang and I don’t stay too far apart, you two only need to join forces when the assassin attacks and repel her. There’s no need to consider the question of protecting me or protecting Bai Huang. As long as the two of you fend off the assassin, then both Bai Huang and I will be safe.”
Aleya lowered her gaze and listened conscientiously without refuting.
“I remember you told me that the assassin’s concealed weapon put out the greater majority of the torches, then stealthily moved in the darkness and defeated you all one by one. This is what happened?”
Aleya’s face turned pale upon recalling the scene from last night, as if she weren’t able to leave the psychological shadows. She squeezed her hands together, exhaled a warm breath, and replied:
“Yes, young master. In that split second, all of the light in the surroundings vanished. The assassin’s figure disappeared and even her aura was gone. Miss Bai Huang was the very first to collapse. Heji struggled for a while, but was still defeated under the assassin’s hands. During the time I was standing alone in the darkness, it was as if……I was being swallowed up by the darkness.”
“Have you ever thought about how Fang Thirteen has coped throughout her years of living?”
Aleya instantly froze up.
I pointed at my ears:
“Sound. Fang Thirteen is even able to tell who the person coming is by their footsteps. Because she can’t see, she became even more sensitive to sound. You and Heji have sunken into a vicious cycle: train the sword to pursue the Sword Path, to pursue the Sword Path you must train the sword. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But just like last time, if the opponent doesn’t openly cross weapons with you, you won’t be able to use your swordsmanship to its fullest. Why did I teach you the Sword of Murder at the time? It’s because this is the most practical sword art, it doesn’t have anything gaudy. For the same reason, I will teach you the method of hearing sounds from the Assassin Path in hopes that you will be able to use another Path’s strength to make up for your own weakness. This isn’t to make you give up your Sword Path to learn assassination, but to incorporate other things for your own use.”
Aleya answered with a serious expression:
“I understand, young master.”
I took out a handkerchief from my pocket and blindfolded Aleya with it. After confirming that she couldn’t see, I picked up a rock from the ground and told Aleya:
“Before the rock falls to the ground, slice it in half.”
I threw out the rock at random and Aleya’s sword sliced through the air like the wind. The direction Aleya was brandishing her sword was basically accurate, but it was obvious that she could only detect it once the stone was near her. By then, it was already too late to swing her sword. I would throw the stone sometimes close, sometimes far. The resulting scene was like when there was a huge strength disparity between two table tennis players; the one with relatively higher strength would deliberately send the ball to the opposite player’s left field or right field and watch as he scrambled around.
Aleya ran out while blindfolded and fell down multiple times from rocks on the ground, cutting a sorry figure every time she fell. Her originally not-healed-yet wounds also burst open and started bleeding again. Aleya stood up while resisting the pain with great difficulty, then was hit on the head with a stone, opening a gash in her forehead. There was even a time where I threw the rock relatively close to the river and Aleya tumbled into the water because she stepped on nothing. She nearly fainted due to the blood from her right arm mixing in with the river water. She choked and coughed, tears mixing in with river water, her head of blond hair sticking to her face, making her cut out an even sorrier figure.
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On the sidelines, I watched as she crawled ashore. Aleya was drenched from head to toe and her entire body began trembling when a cold breeze blew over. She breathed in a big mouthful of air, then used her hands to wring out the water in her clothes.
Seeing her about to finish doing that, I picked up another stone and threw it. The stone landed by her foot.
Aleya trembled, then gripped her sword immediately after.
Her fitness is that of a Level 5 in the Sword Path, so it’s passable and she won’t pant for breath just because of this small exercise. But along with the increasing number of times the rock falling onto the ground without being successfully cut, Aleya started to clench her teeth and ship out a clear unwillingness in her expression.
I naturally wouldn’t tell her that her low hit rate wasn’t entirely her problem, but more due to how unique my technique at throwing is. During the time we were still in Lingyun City, I was regarded as a frequent visitor to the casino. Whatever numbers I wanted the dice to be rolled, they were rolled. So naturally, I have quite the skill when it comes to using my hands. Otherwise, if it were an ordinary person throwing rocks, Aleya would be able to cut 8 out of 10 of the throws.
As for now, she’s only been able to cut 7 or 8 stones throughout the entire day.
It was to the point that I had no choice but to pick up all the stones on the ground because I ran out of them and threw those again.
When night fell, Aleya’s clothes still weren’t completely dry since they were steaming with her sweat. I undid the blindfold using my handkerchief and held onto her sword to keep up upright as she kneeled down with pain written across her face.
Rather than experiencing blindness for a day, it was the countless repeated failures that mainly made her feel despair.
As I looked at Aleya, I didn’t comfort her. Instead, I tidied up my things and said:
Aleya followed behind me with a face full of shame; this scene sparked déjà vu in me.
It’s how we’ve been throughout all these years.
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