He was ten years old when he first held a sword in his hands. It was a wooden stick that was gifted to him by his younger sister that could barely even qualify to be called a 'sword'.
But, that was all he needed to start swinging the sword.
It's not that he devoted too much of his time to practicing with the sword, that it would interfere with his everyday life. He was still able to get some reasonable hours of sleep and made sure to eat all of his daily meals. His parents didn't comment on his excessive devotion of time towards the sword, nor did they outright take it away from him.
However every second he spent when he was all by himself, was with the sword. He didn't take breaks to rest his body in between, nor did he play with the other kids his age that were playing the neighborhood games.
Even when his parents grew mad at his sister for giving him, a ten year old, a sword as a gift, he didn't stop. He trained and trained till the blisters on the palms of his hands burst into bloody lumps.
But after a year or two, his parents saw that despite their initial thoughts and displeasure with him learning swordsmanship, he was serious and incredibly tenacious about it.
When he asked them eventually if he could leave to see the world beyond his town with his own sword in hand, they gave in and let him travel.
He left and finally entered a prestigious academy that had produced the Great Swordmaster Heinz. Even in this place he did not stop or hesitate in his resolve to swing the sword.
He spent 4 years there.
At the academy, he had become famous among the other students. All he did was swing his sword all moments of the day, and the other students called him names and shunned him for being weird.
Among all these nicknames was one that truly stuck out.
He was slow paced. Though he practiced harder than anybody at the academy, he was still weak. Even after graduating, his record in duels was a losing one.
His classmates mocked him, his juniors despised him and looked at him as if he were a degenerate, his seniors thought that he was gutter trash.
Despite all of the hardship he faced, he still swung his sword.
After the 4 years he spent at the academy and graduated, he came back home to his parents.
When they saw him return home, they were utterly delighted at the fact their son might have found a new passion for something else rather than swinging a silly sword. But, nothing had changed and they grew desperate to ensure their son would have a decent future.
Regardless of any expectations or worries that others placed on him, he continued to just swing his sword.
5 years had passed. His appearance was no longer that of a young boy, but rather a young man.
Some said if you devoted yourself to one thing and one thing only for ten years, you could make it your craft. But, it didn't seem like that saying applied to him. He was weak, slow and untalented. It wasn't as if it was like his skills didn't improve at all… it's just his pace was slower than a snail's.
His parents grew sick of his obsession with the sword and felt he was going absolutely nowhere with his life. They wanted him to take over the family business and live happily.
But, even then he refused. He continued to swing his sword until finally, he found some results.
He passed the admissions for becoming a basic Guardsman. It was basically just a post that guarded towns and local areas.
Him securing this job was the result of his accumulated 11 years of swinging his sword relentlessly. The test that was given to the aspiring-to-be high ranking imperial guards, was nothing short of brutal. Even if you passed, you would be stuck there in that position for 2-3 years due to the contracts needing people that would not leave the position and work sincerely. An ordinary person would have committed suicide they said due to the incredibly harsh life they lived and their conditions stated. But, he just swung his sword.
He didn't mind the job at all and actually enjoyed that he could swing his sword freely. His colleagues weren't too bad and the food was edible. One day, an order from the top rewarded him with a plaque for his exemplary service. He was someone to be a role model in the workplace due to his diligence and compliant attitude. But he just gave it a shrug and continued to swing his sword.
He remained there and ten years had passed since then.
In the time that it took nature to go through several cycles of life; eroding the ground and the earth below it, and countless cycles of plant life, the young man turned into an official imperial guard. But, not once did he forget to swing his sword.
One day there was a countrywide summons within the Empire. A Demonic Dragon was rampaging the fields in the West of the Empire and ruining a massive portion of the Empire's food and livestock. Due to this, several swordmasters and wizards were mobilized.
After two whole years of trying to hunt the dragon down, the Empire and its forces had won. The one who slayed the Dragon, was rewarded with the title of Count and received the lands they had reclaimed from the East.
But, he just swung his sword.
Another 10 years had passed.
He had become Captain of the Guards. They told him that it was enough time, and that he should take a break. But, he just smiled and told them he wasn't too old to be able to take care of himself. So he just swung his sword.
The rumors circulated that the Demon King had reappeared from his slumber of 300 years. All those who were proficient in any field of their own were conscripted. Even some of the guards under his command were forced to prepare.
After 10 years of fighting, The Demon King fell. The warrior who had taken the Demon King's life, lifted the severed head of the fallen king and cried out that peace had finally come. That warrior had gotten close to the Princess throughout all this time, and was able to marry her and live happily.
The day when the marriage happened, which was known as the marriage of blessings, felt like it was right out of a storybook. However, he just swung his sword quietly by himself like always.
And yet, another 10 years later.
Following the Dragon Slayer and the Warrior who bested the Demon King, several and numerous heroes appeared. The legendary sorcerer of the Tower, The King of the East, the Queen of the North Seas. and the Druid of the deep Forest. Among all were the absolute Grandmaster of the Sword who could truly cut the sky.
Countless heroes shook the world, sparking the flames of excitement within young men to chase their dreams. The era of adventurers and heroes had officially begun.
Nobody clicked their tongues at him anymore. Nobody gave him looks of disdain. Only respect and reverence remained for the man who swung his sword countlessly for years and years almost religiously.
He had retired from the position he held as the Captain of the Guards. This was because his body was now too old and unable to perform the duties he used to be able to fulfill with his once youthful body.
The Empire had compensated him well. He had received a good pension and even a house to himself. Most would think he would finally give his old body a rest and hire a housekeeper to keep the house clean for him, while he would sit on a rocking chair watching the neighborhood children play in peace.
But, no. Against all expectations, he continued to swing his sword.
His body was getting old and could not move properly like it used to. He was at the age where one normally used a cane to just walk straight rather than be wielding a sword. His body would become exhausted in just the span of 100 breaths. Even so his resolve did not waver.
Then again, another 10 years had passed…
Those who had lived and grown up in the same era as him, had met the end of their time and were sleeping 6 feet under the ground. The world was surely and slowly forgetting about him.
But, he just swung his sword without hesitation.
The sword fell out of his wrinkled hands and hit the ground. He couldn't overcome the body's limits when it came to old age. He picked up his sword again and used it as his cane. He brought it to his waist and assumed a neutral stance, ready to swing once more and he did. And one more time, he fell again. But, as always he continued to pick himself back up.
As he picked himself up, he had a thought. It was a thought he had never really had brought up.
'Why am I doing all of this?'
He had no talent. He swung the sword all his life, but he couldn't even reach the mid-stages of mastery, let alone the pinnacle. He had numerous amounts of small enlightenments, but they were negligible. He received disdain and mockery most of his life. But never. Never did let go of his sword.
He just liked the sword.
All his life, he looked at the rusted and dented stainless-steel sword in his hand. It was worn down and looked like it could break or snap at any moment.
His sword was his everything.
His old wrinkled face cracked into a subtle smile. It was something he picked up with time and old age. He had seen it all, all the flows and mannerisms of the sword. At least he thought so.
As always he once again wielded his sword indifferently. Hundreds and thousands of movements and trajectories of movement unfolded in his mind as his body followed naturally.
But something was fundamentally different this time despite the exact same movements as before.
A pure, white flame shone brilliantly as it enveloped the sword in it's warm embrace. For the first time in his life, embarrassment filled his eyes.
It was the tell-tale sign of something incredible. The passionate fiery energy that was unique to individuals who attained that level that could burn through everything.
Throughout the entirety of the Empire, there were only 10 people that had attained the level he had finally reached. Only 10 people from vast millions.
The blazing white fire that seemed it could purify the entirety of the night fizzled out. He dropped his sword unnaturally. He gurgled and spat out dark red liquid into his hands as he laughed bitterly with a satisfied smile.
He could feel it instinctively, he was dying right now. It had been less than an hour of finally attaining aura, and yet his time was up.
He slowly fell to the floor.
His body started to lose its strength and his vision started to blur. Even now, he didn't stop thinking of the sword. The only thing in his mind was the image of the sword. He wanted to engrave it for all its entirety and beauty into his mind when he passed.
He then closed his eyes, taking his final breath.
He suddenly opened his eyes again.
He saw a wooden stick. It was more appropriate to call it a tree branch since it wasn't even properly maintained.
He woke up in embarrassment and was amazed. His body… it felt light. As he brought his hands over his arm, he could instinctively differentiate the differences and that he was in a child's body.
Even the voice just now was strange to him. A child's unique, energetic and light-hearted voice. He looked around his surroundings and his gaze fell on the 'stick'
The memory was so old and faint, but he knew the moment he saw it. It was his sword. It was the very first sword he picked and held in his hands. As he reached his hands out he picked it up in his hands and felt the familiar roughness and dextrous edge to the wood.
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