Masked Knight - Chapter 154
Chapter 154: The True Meaning of Swordsmanship
Translator: Evie/Zenobys Editor:
A few of the Bishops and Elders laughed as they praised, ’’We did not expect that the warrior of the Imperial Family was truly so powerful. It seems that our Radiant Empire finally has a new Sacred Swordsman! There is now another fighter who defends the dignity of the True God in his sanctuary. These heathens in the north better be careful! Our strength will be greatly increased in the next holy war.’’
The Pope remained calm as he listened to the praises of the others. There was not a trace of admiration, and he laughed bitterly. ’’Fighter of God... He might be powerful, but is he really a pious believer? Moreover, is he really just a simple Sacred Swordsman?’’
The Pope then looked at the Dracula Spear on the ground and raised his eyebrows. Whatever the case, we have killed a vampire prince and obtained a legendary artifact. This is a happy outcome.
Half the streets outside Prince Barond's mansion were torn apart. In addition to that, the mansion was almost razed to the ground. The outer walls were already destroyed. Even half of the sturdy castle was destroyed and the remaining half was crumbling. Bayan and hundreds of his private warriors were either dead or scattered everywhere. The other Imperial nobles' luxurious mansions that were near the Prince's palace were also affected. Many buildings collapsed and even the walls were destroyed. Some of the rock-slabs in the half of the street nearest to the fighting site had been lifted off the ground.
Rody and Master Autumn walked out and saw that several teams of security soldiers in the Imperial Capital had already arrived. They had arrived a little bit late, and at that moment, the place was in a mess.
The leader of the public security soldiers was deathly pale. The last time, there was an assassination attempt on the Duke of the Tulip Family, which had almost forced him to commit suicide. Finally, he almost had to turn over the entire Imperial Capital before managed to solve that crisis. The current situation was worse. The whole Prince Barond's mansion had already turned into scorched earth, and that actually happen inside the Imperial Capital. From the looks of it, there were not many still left alive.
A group of low ranked magicians of God's religion were on guard outside. They told him that the Pope and several Bishops were in that area subduing demons. The leader of the security soldiers then started to silently pray. He prayed for the Prince to be safe. Otherwise, as the one in charge of public security, he would have no choice but to slit his own throat.
As the man was sweating, he saw Master Autumn walking towards him from the end of the street. The leader of the security soldiers rushed forward as if he saw his savior and clung to Master Autumn.
Master Autumn looked at him and whispered, ’’The Pope is in there. A vampire was wreaking havoc in there and had been killed. You do not have to worry about this matter. It is not your responsibility.’’
The man looked relieved but then Master Autumn's following words once again made him turn pale.
Master Autumn had added, ’’However, the Prince's son, Young Master Bayan had died for the nation.’’
These words made the man almost drop on the ground immediately. His Majesty the Emperor's nephew is dead? When His Majesty becomes angry, would I, the person in charge of the Empire's safety, still be able to live?
Master Autumn saw that the man had turned pale and sighed. He then laughed and said, ’’You don't need to be afraid. In this matter, His Majesty will not be angry. In fact, he would be quite happy.’’
After that, Master Autumn left behind the baffled leader of the security soldiers and continued on with Rody. That man was still confused as he thought to himself. Isn't Young Master Bayan His Majesty's blood nephew? Why would His Majesty be happy about his death?’’
This kind of higher rank stuff was not something a mere low rank leader of the security soldiers could understand.
Master Autumn's words were later confirmed when His Majesty did not pursue the leader of the security soldiers. Instead, a written commendation was given and praised the man for handling the matter properly and for his meritorious service. The confused leader of the security soldiers then thought to himself, When I was studying in the Imperial Academy, my teacher had told me that to be close to the Emperor is to be close to a tiger. These words are true. The Emperor's actions are hard to understand.
Naturally, that is another story.
Rody followed Master Autumn as the sky turned brighter. Outside of the residence of the Imperial Nobles, the other people on the streets were continuing their days normally. They heard that there was an earthquake and lightning strike the night before. When they heard the news that the noble mansions were destroyed, they felt happy. Hmph. Let's see if they can still be arrogant! This is a joyous occasion.
The people in the streets and the alleys continued to gossip. The only difference was that there were more security soldiers than usual.
Now that the sky was bright, they could no longer just fly around. Rody simply followed Master Autumn all the way out of the city to the outskirts of the Imperial Capital.
They then stopped in front of a small house outside of the city.
’’This is my home.’’ Master Autumn spoke calmly. ’’It is my former home.’’
They walked into the courtyard and found it depressing and rundown. The ground was filled with fallen leaves and looked as if nobody had been there for a long time. Master Autumn lightly said, ’’Now, I mostly live inside the palace. I don't come here as often as before. However, this place is quiet. It is safe here...’’ Master Autumn suddenly looked sharp and said slowly, ’’... Duke of the Tulip Family.’’
Rody was startled. His expression immediately changed as he stepped back. He then looked at Master Autumn in surprise.
’’Is it strange?’’ Master Autumn gave a wry smile. ’’At first, I thought it was strange. Why did the talentless Seth suddenly became an invincible warrior in the Northwest and the new Duke of the Tulip Family? When I saw you tonight and your swordsmanship, I remembered that Nicole had asked me to teach you. I would be an idiot if I still could not figure it out by then.’’
’’Are you so sure of this with just that information?’’ Rody asked vigilantly.
Master Autumn gave a bitter laugh and said, ’’At first, I could not confirm it. However, I noticed something.’’
’’What is it?’’
’’Do you remember the assessment to inherit the title? I was there as His Majesty's guard, but I was hidden in the dark. At that time, I was wondering why the fighting energy from your body was so familiar. At that time, I could not figure it out, but now I could understand it. This is because your body's fighting energy was cultivated from the seed of power that I gave you.’’ Master Autumn laughed calmly as he reassured Rody. ’’Do not worry. I will not harm you.’’
Rody looked at Master Autumn's calm expression and gained a sense of trust. He then relaxed and stopped clenching his fist.
Master Autumn then smiled and asked. ’’What is with the dragon on your body?’’
Rody shook his head and replied, ’’That is a long story... I... ’’
Master Autumn waved his hand and lightly said, ’’I am not questioning you. You do not have to give me an answer. In fact, I liked you since the first time I saw you. You are different from the other young warriors I have met. You are very different. You were like me when I was younger.’’
Master Autumn paused for a while and then spoke in a pleasant manner, ’’You are very strong right now. This makes me happy. ’’ He gradually became serious and said, ’’However, you should not have created such a ruckus in the Imperial Capital. This is the core of the Empire. Creating such a ruckus here would give you a lot of trouble.’’
Rody's became more stubborn. He raised his eyebrow and shouted, ’’Why not? I want to make a lot of trouble and destroy those scoundrels!’’ Rody paused for a moment and then he explained what happened that night to Master Autumn.
Master Autumn calmly listened to Rody. Even when he heard the news of Jojo's death, he only raised his eyebrows without interrupting Rody.
’’Is that why you recklessly created havoc?’’ Master Autumn shook his head when Rody had finished his story. ’’You are still too young. There are a lot of things that cannot be solved with just the drive to do so. I was like you when I was younger. I had thought that I could solve anything with my sword. However, this is not the case in reality.’’
He then showed a bleak expression and laughed hesitantly. ’’I cannot explain to you much about this... I... do not have much time left here.’’ There was a moment of silence before he smiled at Rody. He was like a father watching over his stubborn son as he asked softly, ’’Let me ask you. You had returned from the South for Miss Nicole. However, what do you think would be the consequences of your rash actions?’’
Rody froze for a moment and did not speak.
Master Autumn continued, ’’Miss Nicole placed a lot of importance into the family. Otherwise, she would not have made you pretend to be Seth and to revive her family's prestige. In fact, this was a mistake. For your sake, Miss Nicole refused the Emperor's proposal. This is already a difficult matter. If she really only wanted to revive her family's prestige, she would have already accepted his proposal. However, why did she not send word to you? This is because she was afraid that you would go back to the Imperial Capital and make the Emperor anxious. What do you think the consequences of your actions would be? What are the charges for generals that returned to the Imperial Capital without the Emperor's orders? This was an iron-cast law that has been in place since Abbas the Great's rule!’’
’’Once you have created such a ruckus, you are no longer the Duke of the Tulip Family. You threw away that identity to be with Miss Nicole. That is a good thing. But what do you think would happen after that? Will you elope with Miss Nicole? Will you allow the Tulip Family's name to fall?’’
When he saw that Rody did not speak, Master Autumn raised his eyebrows and suddenly shouted, ’’You think of getting rid of your identity as the Duke so that you could be with Miss Nicole? Have you thought about how you are going to be with Miss Nicole? Exile to a distant place? You are wrong.’’
Master Autumn then looked straight at Rody and lowered his voice. ’’You are not willing to be the Duke of the Tulip Family, but does that mean you cannot be Duke Rody? You do not want to be the Commander of the Tulip Family but does that mean you cannot be Commander Rody? You are still you, but that does not mean you cannot raise a different banner for the Empire besides the banner of the Tulip Family.’’
Rody was shocked and his eyes turned bright
Raise a new banner? That's it!
If Rody were to take Nicole and leave, would Nicole be willing to give up on the Tulip Family cause? She may not be willing to watch her family with centuries of reputation collapse.
Even for Rody himself. Would he leave Sieg? Leave Gordon? Leave the people that have fought with him on the battlefield or died for him?
’’You do not have to see Nicole right now,’’ Master Autumn whispered. ’’Stay here for the next two days. I will teach you some things.’’
’’You will teach me?’’ Rody eyes glinted with excitement. ’’Are you saying... you would accept me as your apprentice?’’
In the end, Rody was still Rody. No matter how powerful he became, he was still a simple person at heart.
To become the apprentice of the strongest warrior in the Empire! To become Master Autumn's apprentice!
There were many young warriors in the Empire that dreamt of this. Even Rody himself dreamt of becoming Master Autumn's apprentice when he was still a student in the Imperial Academy.
Master Autumn saw the vigor in Rody's eyes and shook his head. He then said softly, ’’No. You will not be my apprentice. Your current strength is almost at the rank of a Sacred Swordsman. What qualifications do I have to be your teacher?’’ Master Autumn laughed as if he was very pleased. ’’When I was younger, the Duke of the Tulip Family had helped me. I have said it before that if I were to have an apprentice, I would only accept his son. Unfortunately, Seth has no interest in swordsmanship.’’
Master Autumn saw Rody's disappointed look and gave a wry smile. ’’I can give you some pointers. I cannot help you improve your power but rather, your swordplay.’’
’’Swordplay?’’ Rody was at a loss.
In fact, Rody was proud of his own swordsmanship. He had the most solid swordsmanship when compared with the other students in the Imperial Academy. Even after his strength increased, Instructor Carter from the Tulip Family had also praised his swordsmanship. His fighting energy and all of his powers were acquired by good fortune. It was not gained from his own efforts. On the other hand, his swordsmanship was entirely his own effort.’’
Master Autumn saw that Rody was at a loss and continued, ’’The sword is not as simple as you imagine it to be. During those years, if it was not because of swordsmanship, I would... Sigh...’’
Master Autumn suddenly sighed softly. He gazed at the run-down courtyard with apathetic eyes and said, ’’Just now I told you not to create a fuss for Miss Nicole and not to be too impulsive. In fact, I really admire your courage. Unfortunately, I did not have your courage during those years.’’
His eyes glinted as if he was lost in the past.
’’I said you cannot elope with her... Haha... Elope is such a heavy word. If only I could elope with her. If only we could just drop everything.’’
Finally, Master Autumn returned and gave a Rody a profound look. ’’Make great efforts. Do not repeat my mistake.’’
Master Autumn's sad gaze also made Rody tremble. It seemed that although Master Autumn was famous, he had a sad past.
Who was the person that made Master Autumn so heartbroken?
’’Curious?’’ Master Autumn smiled. ’’These are all things that happened when I was younger...’’ Master Autumn lightly said, ’’I was like you when I was younger. While my swordsmanship was not that good, I fell in love with a noble girl. Later... Well, it was never possible for her to marry a civilian warrior like me... In the end, she married...’’ At this point, Master Autumn shook his head and cleared the thoughts from his mind.
Master Autumn then walked slowly to a tree. He then looked back and asked, ’’In your heart, what is the sword?’’
Rody thought for a moment and answered, ’’It is power! It is the weapon to destroy my enemies!’’
Master Autumn shook his head and laughed. ’’I asked you what is the sword, not what weapons are for. Any weapon could turn into power to destroy the enemy. But, in your heart, what is the sword?’’
Master Autumn spoke seriously when he saw Rody was at a loss. ’’Your biggest flaw is that the Empire has corrupted your swordsmanship training! In my opinion, the swordsmanship used by the majority of the warriors in the Empire is wrong! They use the sword to slash and chop... Hmph. It is just relying on brute force. I would not be able to see the difference even if you exchanged their swords with sticks.’’
Rody could not help but laugh. ’’What else could you do with a sword if you do not use it to slash?’’
Master Autumn replied, ’’It is not that slashing is wrong... but swords are not used like that.’’
He then closed his eyes and seriously said, ’’The sword is a noble weapon. It is more handy than spears, more flashy than daggers, more spirited than axes. It has more techniques compared to scimitars! However, the Empire's swordsmanship training had turned sword into a weapon without depth. In their hands, a sword is used to sweep like a spear, stab like a dagger, chop like an axe, or slash like a scimitar. Hmph. Do you call these swords?’’
Master Autumn then opened his eyes and looked at Rody. He then said in a serious tone,’’ The sword is not trained but 'cultivated'’’.
Master Autumn then pointed and lightly said, ’’I will teach you 'Sword Cultivation'1.’’
His voice was cold as he continued, ’’I stopped using the sword when I reached forty years old. Do you want to know why?’’ Master Autumn then laughed lightly. ’’That is because the sword is me, and I am a sword.’’ (Author's Note : Sorry. I borrowed this line from Gu Long's words. This is because Ximen Chui Xue is my favorite Wuxia character.2)
’’Do you see these falling leaves? They are fluttering effortlessly. If you were to punch it, chop it or sweep at them, they would just shake and flutter further away.’’
Master Autumn then closed his eyes. His finger then made a gentle sliding motion. A sharp sword qi appeared in mid-air. This qi did not feel violent or earth-shattering. but seemed to slice a slowly falling leaf into two.
After the qi disappeared, an atmosphere of desolation set in. It seemed that in its wake, the wind stopped and flowers disappear;time and tide stood still, and sword and passion were dead.
’’Transmitting my anger and vigor through my fingers, I wield the sword and thrust it at the warmth of spring, the uprightness of summer, the charm of autumn, and the quiet elegance of winter.’’
These were the words of the Empire's greatest warrior.
以身修剑 Yi Shen Xiu Jian. 'By means of' 'structure.' 'build/repair' 'sword' I just named it 'Create Sword' because that is what it does literally.
Gu Long is a martial arts author and Ximen Chui Xue is a character from one of his story, 'Legend of Lu Xiao Feng'.