"Ready..." my father announces.
I lift up my wooden pole, holding it like a sword. Holding the pole in my hands, pointing it slightly forward, I push my left foot back, keeping my right foot in place as I take an average sword stance. A few meters ahead of me, I see my mother taking a similar stance, but she is lower in her stance, and she is pointing the pole directly towards me as if she were holding a spear. Letting the pole lay flat in her hands.
I take a deep breath as I look at my weapon. I imagine the pole taking the form of a sword, just as my mother had instructed me to, even though she kept telling me I was doing it wrong. She kept berating me, saying that I was simply seeing the sword and that I wasn't feeling it. Whatever that now means.
"Begin!" My father yells out.
As soon as my father starts the match, I see my mother almost fly towards me, using her momentum to shoot the pole forward. Seeing this, I quickly raised my pole and struck down to disturb her attack. After that, I keep the movement going and I go for an attack on her side. However, she quickly sees my attack coming, and she simply bends backwards, completely evading it. She then raises herself up with an unusual speed and jumps up, twitching her body and spinning in midair. Using the momentum, she strikes with her weapons, hitting me straight in the chest, making me fall to the ground.
"10 – 0" my mother says.
I let out a sigh upon hearing that as I try to get back up on my feet.
"But I got to give it to you. Your progression with the sword during the past 2 months has been impressive." My mother compliments me.
"You might be able to use that sword your grandfather gave you sooner than planned at this rate." My father chimes in.
My parents had told me that before using actual weapons in fights or training, I was to use wooden weapons in order to learn and get more comfortable using techniques and martial arts.
I raise my wooden pole back up again with my left hand on my chest, where I just got hit.
"I'm ready when you are." I say to my mother as I get back into my fighting stance.
However, my mother simply puts up her hand, gesturing to me to stop.
"No, that's enough of that for today." She says.
"But I can keep going. I'm not that hurt." I tell her.
"That's not just why I'm stopping. I think it's time for you to take a break from swordsmanship today and you can go with your father for the rest of the day. But I can clearly see that you're hurt and fatigued, judging by the way you are barely holding your weapon straight." She says.
I let out a defeated laugh and I let go of the wooden pole, and followed my father. He put on his coat and picked up his axe, and we started to walk out to the thicker part of the woods. As we walked, my mothers words of praise stuck with me. Had I really improved that much in just two months?
We started the day after my birthday. I was dragged out of bed early, and my mother handed me a wooden sword.
"Straighten your back and push your right foot forward about half a meter. Keep most of your weight on your left foot and hold your sword over your head as if to strike something. Like this." My mother told me and took a stance.
"Then I want you to strike down and move forward with your left foot as you strike, and then quickly move back your foot and raise your sword again. As you strike, your weight will be put on your other foot, but you have to quickly step back to how you stood originally." My mother explained as she moved. Her strikes gave off a loud noise as she hit the air.
"Now try it." She says.
I do as she says but compared to my mother, I'm way slower, and my strikes don't have the same kind of strength as hers. Even though my mother gives me a smile and tells me.
"Now repeat that until lunch."
"Huh?" I say, surprised.
"But that's so long"
"It takes hard work to become strong, and remember, no complaining if you truly want to do this." My mother tells me.
I let out a sigh, and I reluctantly start.
At first, it was hard to do the movements, but I eventually got the hang of it. After the first half hour, I felt my body fighting against me. My arms start to ache, and I feel my legs starting to shake. As I'm about to quit due to exhaustion, my father walks up to me after taking a walk through the woods.
"Mind if I join?" He asks as he shrinks down to a much shorter size, his body twisting and rearranging itself to make him shorter. He picks up a sword and starts doing the same movements I do, but much quicker and with much more precision. Even having lost an arm, my dad seems to have even greater balance than I do.
It might have been my pride or just simply not wanting to quit in front of my father. Whatever it was, it kept me going. Even if my body pleaded with me to stop, I didn't listen. With each swing, I tried to be more like my father.
"Just one more. Just one more." I kept repeating in my head as I swung the wooden sword.
Eventually, my legs gave in, and I fell to the ground.
I could hear my father give out a small laugh.
"Already tired?!" He said, jokingly.
Laying on the ground panting, I couldn't respond.
"Don't worry about not being able to keep going, to be honest, we didn't really expect you to keep going for as long as you did." He said, laughing
Helping me up to my feet he then said, seemingly back to his normal size.
"But you did well, Arameth. Now that you're done here, let's get going with the second part of your training."
I let out a surprised grunt that we would directly continue without a break, but since I was too tired I could not really complain. Noticing that I seemed too tired to walk, he lifted me up and placed me on his shoulders. I took the time to rest up a bit. As we neared a small clearing with a giant tree standing in the middle of it, my father let me down.
Now, son, what do you know about the three principles?" My dad asks me.
"eh… I know that the first principle is the principle of arcana. Which takes a lot of study, and I know that magus usually use it. The second principle enhances weapons, and I don't know much about the third principle." I tell him.
"But what does that have to do with anything?"
"Hmm, so not much then... Well, let me first give you a basic rundown of what they are, then I can explain why you need them." He sighed.
"The first principle, the principle of arcana, is the study of arcana and how we are able to ue it. Everybody has the ability to harness it but only some are able to fully use arcana to its full extent. These people are called magus. These magus study for a long time to be able to use arcana via magic, but of course there are some exceptions where some are born able to use magic like a magus." My father explains.
"Now the second principle, the principle of burst, is pretty much how you said it. It's how arcana is used through non-living material to materialize magic. Like how arcana runs through a frost pad and, doing so, the stone ‘bursts’ with magic, creating ice. Like how using a burst core can make a regular sword burst into flames via the principle of burst." He continues.
"And the principle of pressure, the third principle, is about pressure waves. Unlike arcana, which runs through everything, pressure waves emit from everything at different frequencies. Unlike arcana, though, pressure waves are used to alter to create instead of creating to add , like arcana. For example, a magus would use arcana to create a fire ball, adding arcana to the already existing to create something. While if someone were to use pressure waves to create something, they would have to alter the physical material to create something new using pressure waves." He struggles to explain.
"Now to why you would need to know this, is for you to understand what to do when the principles are used against you or if you need to use them."
I only nodded, trying to understand all of the complexities that my father told me.
"I want you to see how I punch normally and then with added arcana to my fists." My father tells me.
He takes a stance, facing a wooden plate hanging from a tree branch. He stretches his stub forward and pulls his right arm back. Then he throws a punch that breaks the thick wooden plate in three, creating a large sound as his fist makes contact.
"Now if I harness arcana into my body and focus the little arcana into my fist." He says.
He takes the same stance but facing a similar plate as the first. Before I even see him throw the punch, the plate cleanly breaks in two. I notice how the tree that was behind the plate now has an indent in the form of my father's fist.
Without a sound, my father broke the thick plate in two, and all I could see was the twitch of his arm. Smiling proudly, my dad explained that if I wanted to also do that, I needed to meditate and learn to direct arcana towards my desired body part or weapon. Apparently, imbuing arcana into your attacks will make them quicker and stronger. So I spent my days first practicing swordsmanship with my mother, then practicing martial fighting with my father, ending each day with studying so I could try to get closer to understanding the principles. During my free time, I would read The king of the world's great journal.
Remembering back, I can see how I've improved. As we walk towards the clearing, my father asks me.
"I know you want to travel the world, son, but what is it you want to do? Do you have a dream?" He asks.
I ponder the question, as I haven't really thought of what I want to do. I had only wanted to be like the people from stories, strong and free, but I didn't know what to say to him. So I just said.
"I don't know…"
"Heh… Don't worry if you don't realize what you want, it'll get to you eventually. But it's always good to have a goal you want to reach." He says.
As we get to the clearing, I walk towards a two-handed axe that is latched into a stub. Grabbing it with both my arms and using my leg as support, I try with all my might to pull the axe out. I’m only able to lift it up by about 2 cm until I fall back, landing on the ground, with the axe slipping out of my hand still in the stub.
My father then takes the clearly two-handed axe in his one hand and lifts it up like nothing. starting to gather firewood.
"I think you should start on the principles today. Since you spent a lot of energy on the duel with your mother." My father tells me as he continues to chop firewood.
"Sit down and close your eyes. Then I want you to try and clear your mind and only focus on what you can hear."
I do as he says. Listening intently to what happens around me. I sit there and listen for what feels like forever without anything happening. More time goes by and I can feel the sun rays start to goe past the tree line. But I keep on. Hearing the sound of my father cutting wood, birds chirping, wings flapping, and something more. An un-describable sound, or a feeling?
As I sit, I begin to feel something lightly brush my skin. It's something I can hear yet can't, something I see yet can't witness, something I can feel but can't touch.
I had read that when experiencing arcana, it was described as drowning in a never-ending pool of thick water. But this was nothing like that.
"feel anything?" My father asks.
I explained what I felt, and he said.
"That's a good start."
"What you just felt was the faint frequency of pressure waves." He tells me.
"Since it got so late will have to rap it up for today. From now on we will end each day with this so you can get more attuned with the principles." He continues.
As we begin to head back the path we came from my father stops and asks me something.
"Oh, yeah I was suposed to tell you this. "
"Tell me what?" I ask.
"Me and your mother have come up with three tasks you need to complete before we can see that you've gained from our traning and have become skilled enough to protect yourself." My father tells me.
"Firstly! You will have to hunt and kill an adolescent Grizzly. This is something that any swordsman should be able to do, no matter what status." He says, putting up one finger.
"Secondly! You have to win or at least land a good enough attack in a duel against either me, your mother, or someone else of our choosing." He says, putting up another finger.
"And thirdly! Be able to swing your sword with precise and clear strikes. non-stop from sunrise to sunset." He says, putting up a third finger.
"Complete all of these tasks, and we will be able to know you can at least protect yourself decently, and if you can comprehend the three principles we can see it as a bonus." He tells me.