Chapter 19: What Even is the Eye of the Mind? (2)
What even is the eye of the mind?
Whenever his training with Luna ended, Jin never failed to ask himself this question. He continued pondering about this for days and weeks since the start of the training, due to which his head hurt and frustration grew inside.
This time, his concern lasted until the very next day.
Luna’s training most definitely had some sort of effect and aim. There was no way the famous ‘genius among geniuses’ would make him practice so much for no reason.
‘Hm, my body feels heavy. Must be because I spent the entire night asking myself that question. Let’s cool my head down during morning training and stop worrying for a while.’
Did Eldest Sister Luna also do the same training as what she was ordering Jin to do when she was 14 years old? As he proceeded to Garon’s training ground, Jin thought about his 1st sister’s past.
As they were 19 years apart, he hadn’t seen her growth and development. But he had heard that during her puberty, she was quite the problem child.
‘Either way, Eldest Sister must be making me do this training because she believes I can figure out the meaning and goal behind it.’
The guardian cadets were gathering at the training ground. They would be sparring today, so there was a bizarre mood between everyone.
The results of the spars were quite important to their overall scores and assessments.
And having higher scores would grant them greater salaries and the possibility of becoming a guardian knight with special treatment. It was to no surprise the cadets were all on edge.
‘What a heavy and competitive atmosphere. Their gazes show that they wouldn’t hesitate to beat any opponent half dead. As for Bellop… Sigh.’
Jin turned his attention to the corner, where Bellop was crouching down.
As one would expect, the cowardly boy was looking at his surroundings with nervous eyes. He reminded Jin of a small prey having barely escaped its predator and hiding in a small hole.
‘What on earth is wrong with him? Actually, how on earth did he pass the exam to become a guardian cadet?’
After passing the exam, Bellop must’ve probably been called a ‘genius’ by many outside the Garden of Swords. So Jin couldn’t understand the reason behind his shyness.
‘Hm… It might be that he once believed he was a genius, but found out that there were far better and stronger geniuses than him here, which made him lose confidence. Or was he just born this way…?’
As his thoughts reached that point, Jin shook his head.
‘I’m already busy enough thinking about the meaning behind Eldest Sister’s training. I don’t have the time and energy to figure out what his deal is. I just need to make it so that he doesn’t get kicked out, which should be more than enough!’
Garon arrived at the training ground, and the cadets immediately stood in line. After a simple warm-up and physical exercise, Garon announced the order of the spars and the schedule.
“There will be three rounds of spars! You will be changing opponents each time. And the ten most notable winners will be able to challenge Young Master Jin one at a time.”
There was not a single cadet in Garon’s class who could defeat Jin. Therefore, whenever there was a sparring session, Jin would be fighting several duels more than the others.
“Garon, when will I be able to move up to the intermediate training class?”
Starting from the intermediate training class, the instructor was a veteran knight of the clan instead of a guest instructor like Garon. Moreover, during the lessons, the students were allowed to use aura and real swords, which was still prohibited in the beginner class.
Jin now wanted to move up to the next stage.
“Madame Rosa stated that if Young Master Jin wins against ten opponents today, you will be allowed to join the intermediate class at the start of next year.”
“Is that true?”
While the story so far had belittled them, they were still guardian cadets of the Runcandel Clan.
They were the top ten cadets who won their other spars to boot. Facing all ten of them consecutively wouldn’t be so easy for Jin.
Runcandel cadets were on a whole other level compared to the cadets of other nations’ swordsmanship academies and mercenary trainees.
“Edington, Mark! You’re up first. Get ready!”
Two boys with resolute expressions faced each other in the center of the training ground. Once Garon’s signal arrived, the spar began. Jin observed their movements without much concern.
‘Everyone’s doing pretty well.’
Their movements were flexible and agile, yet powerful. Despite looking nervous, they were calmly calculating their actions and scanning their opponents. They weren’t Runcandel cadets for nothing.
Although they were wielding wooden swords, each swing was slicing the wind. Even with the lack of sharp edges, a clean blow would completely smash an ordinary human’s head.
The boy called Edington’s wooden sword landed on his opponent’s flank. As the sound of a rib breaking resounded, Mark crouched on the spot and trembled in pain.
The Runcandel’s medical team—which was waiting on one side of the training ground—laid the injured boy on a stretcher.
“Winner, Edington. Take a break over there and stay on standby. Next up are Phils and Sierra…”
And so, nine matches followed. The tenth was between Bellop and a girl called Mesa Milkano.
Jin paid close attention to Bellop’s spar.
‘Bellop seems to be focused on defense as usual.’
On the other side, Mesa was ruthlessly attacking him. As one of the top cadets of the beginner training class, her strength was evident.
But Jin was used to this sight. It wasn’t his first time watching one of Bellop’s spars.
“Fight me, Bellop Schmitz! Stop running and fight me like a man!”
Mesa was hurling provocations while wildly swinging her wooden sword.
Suddenly, Jin noticed that Bellop’s movements were ‘better than expected’… He then realized that it was the result of the development of his ‘eyes’.
‘Bellop, that prick. He’s not just getting pushed back. He’s going easy on her!’
Jin instinctively got up.
It looked like Bellop was barely blocking Mesa’s attacks at the last moment, but Jin could see that Bellop’s movements were somewhat easygoing.
‘During this exchange—where their swords clashed twenty times—Bellop had the chance to counterattack three times. They weren’t by chance either. Bellop guided her movements to create those opportunities himself. So why?’
Why won’t he fight back?
While Jin was racking his brain, the other cadets were just waiting for Mesa to deal the finishing blow.
They didn’t think there was anything to learn from such a one-sided battle, especially since it was Bellop on the receiving side.
‘…Could it be…?’
Jin carefully observed Bellop again. He scanned how Bellop avoided and parried the attacks, along with his expression.
Overall, he wasn’t looking good. His nervous eyes were showing pain and his clenched jaw showed how he wanted to get out of this situation as soon as possible.
However, his movements were far better than Mesa’s. While it appeared as if he was getting pushed back, his actions were carefree at times. As long as he wished for it, he could turn the tables on her at any time.
Nevertheless, he didn’t counterattack, a discrepancy which confused Jin.
Other than the Runcandel boy, the others were completely oblivious to Bellop’s actions.
Soon, Jin figured out the origin of this discrepancy.
‘He’s not scared of getting hit or feeling pain.’
There was no reason for a human to feel fear due to another being that was obviously ‘weaker’ than them. And from Jin’s perspective, Bellop was stronger than Mesa.
‘He’s worried about hurting his opponent. That’s why he’s being so passive in this fight.’
Other than that, there was no other way of explaining this odd spar.
‘Knowing his personality, he’s not being overconfident in his skills and going easy on her on purpose. He just doesn’t know what to do, and can only defend without attacking, which ended up looking like he’s going easy on her.’
As Jin’s thoughts came to a conclusion, Bellop’s wooden sword was stabbed in the ground. Mesa immediately flew forward and slammed him in the chin with her knee.
“Stop. Winner, Mesa. Wait over there.”
These spars continued for another two hours, and it was finally Jin’s turn. Amongst the 24 winners, Garon selected the top 10.
“Please get ready, Young Master.”
As Jin stood at the center of the training ground, the eyes of the cadets shone. He was the youngest child of the Runcandels they would have to serve, and an extremely skilled monster.
According to the cadets, being able to witness Jin’s skills was the highlight of the sparring sessions.
“Edington, Sierra, David, Mesa… You will be facing Young Master Jin in that order.”
Jin grabbed his wooden sword and faced his first opponent.
‘Hm, so I need to defeat ten cadets.’
His highest score so far was eight.
By increasing that number by two, he would be allowed to attend the intermediate classes his siblings were taking by next year.
If this were a real battle to the death instead of a spar, he could easily take down twenty of them without question… But during a spar, he couldn’t use spiritual power and magic.
He could only use pure swordsmanship in order to win. Moreover, he couldn’t kill his opponents.
‘Even the Tona morons entered the intermediate class last year.’
It goes without saying that the twins entered the intermediate class faster than Jin not because they were more skilled than him.
While they could overpower Jin when he first arrived at the Garden of Swords, their younger brother could easily turn them into rags during spars one year later. However, they went out with their other siblings on ‘commissions’ and made achievements, which allowed them to advance to the intermediate class.
Furthermore, Jin believed that there were still a few more things he could learn from the beginner class until recently. And having seen through Bellop’s movements today, Jin realized that he had made the correct decision to stay behind a little longer.
“If you shall allow me, Young Master Jin.”
“Yes, Edington. I’ll be in your care.”
Edington darted towards Jin and wielded his wooden sword. A surprise attack. He had calculated that if he didn’t seize control of the duel from the start, he would never win against Jin.
However, that was a bad move.
As he watched the wooden sword fly towards his chest, Jin pushed himself forward instead of dodging. But at the last moment, he sidestepped, trampled on Edington’s foot, and swung his sword towards his opponent’s neck.
Be that as it may, Edington hadn’t become a Runcandel guardian cadet through pure luck. He twisted his body out of reflex and avoided Jin’s attack.
But it wasn’t a perfect evasion. Jin’s sword hit Edington’s ear instead of his neck before slashing the air behind.
‘I missed, but it wasn’t bad.’
After having put some distance between them, Edington gripped his sword tightly. But because of the injury, his eardrums were ringing and his sense of balance took a turn for the worse for a short while.
If Jin were facing only a single opponent, he could’ve waited to let Edington recover.
But he had another nine spars to fight. Jin suddenly appeared before Edington and ended the first duel.
Since he had lost his sense of balance, Jin could easily defeat Edington without hurting him too badly.
“…It’s my loss, Young Master.”
“Good game, Edington Wez. Go have the medical team check your ear.”
“Yes, thank you very much.”
“Next up, Sierra! Begin the spar immediately.”
With Garon’s shout, the second duel was initiated.
“I’ll be in your care, Young Master Jin.”
“Likewise, Sierra Camaro.”
The second fight didn’t end as quickly as it did with Edington. The ten winners Garon had chosen were ordered from the weakest to the strongest.