The new year had started.
Raon’s life—at 14 years old—could be summarized in one word.
He continued the life of a training demon that arrived at the training ground before anyone else and left it later than anyone.
Runaan’s eyes were still blank, but the sharpness of her sword and the coldness of her water attribute aura became incomparably better.
Burren, who grew up a lot mentally, had now captivated the trainees' hearts.
He kept swinging his sword day and night in preparation for the day that he would reclaim the title of top trainee.
As for Martha, she kept swinging her sword and cultivating her aura without rest in order to wipe away the stain of her first defeat.
One problem was that her personality, which was already bad enough, became even more violent.
Nobody even wanted to approach her anymore.
However, she acted differently towards one person: Raon Zieghart.
Despite not even listening to the instructors properly, Martha obeyed whatever Raon told her without complaint.
She even looked like a faithful servant to bystanders.
The trainees knew that it was the result of the bet, so they thought her attitude wasn’t going to last for more than several days.
They were wrong.
Even in the new year, Martha kept honestly obeying Raon’s words.
Everyone was surprised.
They’d never imagined the foul-mouthed and ill-tempered Martha was going to keep her promise to Raon.
As such, Raon made the last disruptor submit and was acknowledged by every trainee in the fifth training ground.
At Raon’s call, all the trainees that were warming up everywhere in the training ground looked at him at once.
Burren clicked his tongue lightly and came to stand in front of Raon.
Runaan trotted towards him like a puppy that saw its owner.
Martha’s eyes were full of bloodlust, but she stood next to them without saying anything.
Since Runaan, Burren, and Martha—who were the most influential people on the training ground—listened to Raon’s instruction, the other trainees naturally followed them.
“Why did you ask us to gather?”
Burren raised his head and looked at the empty platform.
“We are supposed to do personal training this morning.”
“No, it's regular training today.”
“I hadn’t heard that.”
“The head instructor said he forgot to tell us.”
Rimmer had visited him the evening before to ask him to gather the trainees in the morning.
“That man is just so…”
Burren grinded his teeth.
He still seemed to dislike Rimmer.
“Anyway, wait here for now since it’s regular training today.
Just warm up for now.”
“Why is he so forgetful? Is he getting senile?”
“He was probably messing around and ended up drunk.
I heard he went to a bar yesterday.”
“It happens all the time, let’s just get ourselves ready.”
The trainees complained a bit, but they started warming up at the center of the training ground, following Raon’s instructions.
About five minutes later, the door to the training ground creaked open and the instructors entered.
Rimmer, who was at the very back, yawned so hard that he couldn’t even hide his mouth with his hand and walked up on the platform.
“You are late, instructor.”
Burren raised his hand and shouted.
“Eh, it’s supposed to be personal training today, but since the instructors arrived late because we were preparing for you all, we aren’t exactly late.”
“That has nothing to do with th…”
“Well, since we are late, let’s start training right away!”
Rimmer ignored Burren and waved his hand.
Raon could hear Burren grinding his teeth from behind.
Their relationship didn’t seem to change.
“The reason we took away your personal training time today is in order to hand you the most important thing for a swordsman.”
“Th-the most important thing for a swordsman?”
“What is that?”
“A new swordsmanship?”
“A secret technique?”
“A cultivation technique?”
The trainees’ eyes glittered, full of expectations.
After enjoying their gazes for a while, Rimmer opened his mouth once their excited voices subsided.
“Why is that the most important thing for a swordsman…?”
“Haah, I knew it.”
Hearing that it was about footwork, the trainees stamped their feet in disappointment.
‘I knew it, it was footwork.’
Raon nodded calmly.
Footwork was the way of walking.
It was a systematic method developed in order to make the swordsmanship or fist technique more offensive, defensive or simply faster.
‘I was thinking it was about time.’
Since he got used to both swordsmanship and fist techniques, and the aura had already developed to a certain extent, he thought it was the right moment to start learning footwork.
“Many people learn intermediate level swordsmanship before coming here, but it’s very rare for them to have learned proper footwork.”
The trainees slowly nodded, unable to refute it.
Burren, Runaan, and Martha remained silent.
“Since your goal is to become swordsmen, swordsmanship is indeed important.
Rimmer grinned and jumped down from the platform.
His body disappeared like a blown-out candlelight.
“What makes the swordsmanship sharper and faster, and what will save your life in the future? It’s footwork, also known as, the movement of your feet.”
His voice was heard from behind.
When Raon turned around, Rimmer, who had disappeared in front of him, was standing behind him with his hands folded behind his back.
“What was that?”
The trainees’ jaws dropped.
The way Rimmer had appeared behind them without making any sound filled them with amazement.
“You must’ve realized during the spar that training on your own and having an opponent to fight against are quite different.”
I couldn’t move my body the way I wanted.”
“The sword wasn’t following the correct trajectory either.”
The trainees nodded, since they’d all realized during the spar that a real fight was different from training.
“If you want to do your best in a real battle, you have to train your footwork more than your swordsmanship.
In my opinion, the most important thing during a one-on-one spar isn’t swordsmanship or aura, but footwork.
Even the head of house agreed with me on that.”
“Th-the head of house?”
“If my lord said that…”
The trainees opened their mouths wide.
Since Glenn—who was the most respected person to them—said that the footwork was important, they were immediately convinced, unlike when Rimmer said it.
Burren straightened his spine.
‘Yes, if I could use footwork back then…’
His strengths were sharpness, precision, and speed.
When he fought against Raon back then, if he could use proper footwork then he wouldn’t have lost so easily.
Burren turned his head, hearing a growling voice.
Martha’s eyes were shining while clenching her fist.
She seemed to be thinking the same thing.
‘We are the same.’
He’d thought Martha had become silent, but that wasn’t the case.
Instead of showing it on the outside, Martha has been burning with passion to defeat Raon on the inside.
“We will start with the River Footwork, which incorporates the flow of a river.”
When Rimmer bounced his legs lightly, as if he were walking on a gravelly field next to a river, his body suddenly leaped to the platform.
After getting into the posture to demonstrate the footwork, he murmured that it was bothersome and laid down.
“Skilled assistant, come forth.”
When Rimmer clapped his hands, the instructor who was standing behind him came up and started to demonstrate the River Footwork’s postures.
Burren clenched his fist.
He resolved himself that, by mastering the footwork, he would one day teach that lazy instructor a lesson.
He would thoroughly remember the River Footwork’s postures.
* * *
[Translator – Kyangi]
[Proofreader – Harley]
Join our discord for updates on releases! https://dsc.gg/reapercomics
* * *
The River Footwork only had twelve forms, and the postures were simple enough that the demonstration didn’t take too long.
‘This is literally the basics.’
Since Raon was rotating the ‘Ring of Fire’, he could grasp the form, posture, and flow of River Footwork at a glance.
Although it was his first time seeing it, it was faithful to the basics, and the flexible flow could be applied in any other technique.
“The instructors will move around and correct your postures, so try repeating the footwork the way you’ve seen and felt it.”
The trainees spread out throughout the training ground and started to perform the River Footwork.
However, Raon didn’t move.
Rotating his ‘Ring of Fire’ with his eyes closed, he replayed the River Footwork the instructor had shown in his head.
‘Six in defense and four in attack.’
As expected of basic footwork, the River Footwork was evenly distributed between attack and defense.
It was slightly more defensive, but there wasn’t a big difference.
‘The sequence is its strong point.’
The River Footwork’s characteristic was its flow, which was as smooth as a river.
Rather than repeating it exactly the way it was demonstrated, it was more important to continue the flow, even if he’d end up losing the posture a little.
Raon breathed out excitedly and opened his eyes, and everything about the River Footwork came into his view.
He first moved his right foot forward.
Enjoying the sensation of pressing down on the well-prepared floor of the training ground, he moved his left foot.
The moment the two feet naturally crossed each other, Fluidity, the first form of River Footwork was performed.
Grazing the ground, he rotated his body to his right.
It was a movement to evade an enemy’s attack, and to thrust one’s sword.
The second form ‘Discharge’ reverberated the sand on the ground.
The performance was closer to perfection than the instructor’s demonstration.
Raon smiled, a feeling of pleasure running up his shoulders.
His feet renewed their flexible flow, as if his feet had known the River Footwork from the moment he was born.
Rimmer yawned so hard that his mouth looked like it would tear apart.
“I’m so sleepy.”
He didn’t manage to sleep for a few days because he’d been looking for an appropriate footwork for the trainees, then supplemented it.
As a result, his entire body felt exhausted.
‘I guess I’m getting old now.’
He smirked and looked down at the platform.
Raon, who was standing at the center, had his eyes closed without doing anything.
It looked like he was imagining the instructor’s demonstration in his head.
‘That’s a good way to go…’
Imagining a martial art in the head was indeed an efficient way of training.
However, that could only be done once he was more qualified.
Since he’d just learned about footwork, he should’ve moved his body rather than trying to imagine it.
‘I should tell him to stop goofing around later.’
Rimmer murmured that he had something to make fun of and looked towards Burren.
‘He is pretty good.’
Burren almost completely reenacted the River Footwork’s flow, and it looked like he must’ve experienced learning footwork before.
He didn’t grasp the true meaning, but he should’ve been able to master the posture pretty soon.
‘And she is the same.’
Martha was also rotating her body with light steps, like someone who’d been learning footwork for a long time.
Her posture was actually a lot better than Burren’s.
Rimmer smirked, watching Burren and Martha’s footwork.
‘They must be thinking about Raon.’
They were thinking about their spars with Raon as they learned their footwork.
It looked like he’d managed to convince them by telling them that the most important thing in a duel was footwork.
He looked at Runaan, who was practicing River Footwork on the right side.
Her movement was different from the other two.
A movement that seemed to assist, rather than facing an opponent.
It was pretty obvious who she wanted to help.
After that, Rimmer looked through everyone, remembering the strength and weaknesses that he was going to tell them.
Since they were still young and pure, he could tell what they were thinking about just from watching them practice.
Rimmer stretched like a bear that had just woken up from its hibernation and stood up.
When he was about to give his comments to the trainees, Raon, who’d been standing still like a stone statue, opened his eyes and moved his foot to the back.
He got goosebumps from the look in his clear red eyes, and his foot extended straight like a crane’s.
Raon’s feet slowly advanced.
The first form ‘Fluidity’ flowed across the training ground’s floor, incorporating the flow of a River.
He took the second posture.
Advancing like a fire, his movement seemed to reflect the appearance of a sharp blade.
Rimmer was at a loss for words.
Raon’s ‘Fluidity’ was more complete than the instructor that had taught him the footwork.
After that, Raon performed the twelve forms of the River Footwork without interruption.
The posture was close to perfection, without a single mistake.
“Wh-what is that?''
The trainees and instructors alike stood still and watched Raon’s footwork.
“Did he just learn the footwork from his mental image?”
Rimmer’s hands trembled, and goosebumps appeared throughout his body.
‘When is that monster going to stop surprising me…?’
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