Reaching A Higher Level
“Swords are different from other weapons. They are double-edged. They can be used to thrust, slash and cleave. Every swordsman would have their own preference. For example, some warriors are experts at using the broadsword designed for war. Those weapons put emphasis on strength so the requirement for technique is not as high. However, there are also warriors that use longswords. Although they are not as powerful, they have more complex techniques.”
“You should know these things. You must have studied them before. Your foundation is quite good… but I must tell you that these are just the basic theories and there is a big difference from advanced swordsmanship.”
“I am not saying that using a broadsword would require less skill than a longsword or using a longsword would be inferior in strength to a broadsword. For martial arts, regardless of what weapon you use, be it is a sword, a knife, or any other weapon; after a certain level, the strength and technique difference between weapons no longer apply that way.”
“What I meant was… from outside to inside!”
“For example, yesterday, I slashed twice and managed to break your sword into seven or eight pieces… why do you think that happened?”
Master Autumn looked at Rody with a smile.
Rody thought for an answer until his face turned red. However, Master Autumn could not see it as he was wearing a mask. He tried answering, “I heard that all the masters have very fast sword strokes. Could it be that in that instant, there were like seven slashes but I did not notice because it was too fast?”
“Haha…” Master Autumn softly laughed and replied, “No. That is just a legend. A warrior, no matter how fast, even for the warriors well-known for speed in the Empire, is unable to strike so quickly that people cannot see the different strikes. We are all humans, not Gods!”
“At most, the fastest swordsman can only strike so fast that the opponent has no time to react. However, they cannot strike 7 times in an instant to the extent that the opponent cannot see the different strikes. That is merely a fairytale, not a fact.”
“Like I said, it is from outside to inside.”
“Inside?” Rody frowned.
“That’s right. The inside I am talking about is inner strength. In other words, soft power, Yin power, dark power!”
“For example, look at the water in the river flowing, surging forward. Let the power of our sword be compared to the river. Both you and other swordsmen are like that. However, the river also has whirlpools. The direction of a whirlpool is not forward but circular, in a spiral. At that time, the inner strength is different.”
Rody seemed to have understood and nodded his head.
Master Autumn squatted before reaching out. His fingers grabbed a handful of mud and formed a ball with his hands.
“Catch this!” As soon as he said that, Master Autumn threw the ball at Rody.
Rody caught the mud ball by reflex but almost lost hold of it as it bounced twice in his hand.
He pondered for a moment and could not help but say, “I think I understand a little. Metaphorically, a common swordsman would be like the mud you just threw. Its direction is obvious! There is a signal for their attacks. Such as a thrust being a thrust, a slash being a slash and a cleave being a cleave. However, the situation is different after reaching a higher level. For example…”
Rody’s raised his hand and threw the mud ball he was holding. However, this time his finger flexed a little differently. As the mud ball flew out, it did not simply fly out in a straight line but seemed to spin.
The corners of Master Autumn’s mouth curled into a smile as he replied, “Not bad, not bad. You comprehend quickly.”
Rody was in a good mood and loudly said, “In that case, I have already understood the principles. My sword was cut into seven or eight pieces not because your strikes were too fast. Although there were only two strikes, the use of strength was more ingenious. That is why, using inner strength, my sword was cut into pieces.”
Rody pondered for a while then said, “Perhaps, this is no longer a swordsmanship technique but a technique on how to use strength. This technique does not apply to just swords, right?”
By the end of his sentence, Rody’s tone had become more excited and cheerful.
Master Autumn nodded and sternly said, “Even these techniques of force application are not anything particularly advanced. Generally speaking, when your swordsmanship becomes more skilled, you will naturally learn these as well. Even if you actually comprehend this one day, you would still be an ordinary swordsman. Perhaps smarter than other swordsmen but not anywhere close to a real master…”
Rody immediately asked, “In that case… What is a real master?”
Master Autumn did not give a direct answer but asked, “Who do you think is stronger? A magician or a warrior?”
Rody thought for a moment before sighing, “Of course it is the magician.”
Rody pursed his lips. This was not visible to Master Autumn. However, it was evident in his voice that he was puzzled. “Isn’t it obvious? A high-level swordsman is able to kill several people with each swing. However, a senior magician, with one spell, can cause large-scale destruction such as creating earthquakes, lightning storms or flash fires.”
“Haha!” Master Autumn smiled. “Since you think that swordsmen would lose to magicians, why would there be any swordsman left in this world? All of us should forget everything and become magicians!”
Rody paused for a moment. He never thought of that question.
“Watch carefully!” Master Autumn stopped smiling.
He pointed his longsword to the sky as his face turned solemn. In a split second, in Rody’s eyes, the world seemed to have changed.
Master Autumn was still the same man but, right then, that was not the case any longer in Rody’s eyes.
If Master Autumn’s body, that had previously looked weak, was like a sheathed blade, then at that moment the blade had just been unsheathed.
Master Autumn’s entire body exuded a bone-chilling, menacing aura.
A strange scene appeared in front of Rody. With Master Autumn as the center, everything around him seemed to rotate. Although the yard and the tree remained firmly in place, in Rody’s eyes, the space around it seemed to turn distorted. All of creation seemed to be attracted towards Master Autumn! It was as if a larger force was pulling everything towards Master Autumn!
Although the scene seemed to be unreal, Rody did not dare to blink. He held his breath and stared intently at Master Autumn for fear of missing something!
“Kill!” Master Autumn cried out. The sword cleaved in a flash.
With the sound of a large explosion, the blade seemed to become a massive blade of light shooting skywards!
Rody stared with his eyes wide open at the dazzling lightblade. Even though it was daytime, the light was nevertheless clearly visible.
Rody was certain that if he had been hit by that lightblade, not just his sword but even his whole body as well as everything in the yard and even the stuff behind him would have been turned into dust.
Rody opened his mouth and muttered. “What… what is this? Is this even swordsmanship?”
Master Autumn smiled. The longsword in his hands had lost its light and was sheathed.
Rody was still gasping, “Which part of this is swordsmanship? This is definitely magic… no… maybe it is sorcery. But it is definitely not swordsmanship.”
“You are wrong!” Master Autumn gently patted Rody’s shoulder and said, “This is definitely swordsmanship! It is a very advanced swordsmanship skill! It doesn’t matter which weapon you use, whether it be a knife or a sword. This is the highest degree of inner strength!”
“The highest degree of inner strength?” Rody did not understand.
Master Autumn replied, “You said earlier that a sorcerer or a magician can create earthquakes, lightning storms and flash fires. However, that is not normal strength! For a normal person with a mortal body, no matter how big it is, it would be impossible to achieve that kind of power! Therefore, whether it is sorcery or magic, they both use supernatural powers.”
“That’s right! Our world is a world composed of energy. The stars, the rising and setting of the sun, the high tides and low tides, the changing of seasons… all of these natural events also possess energy and strength! Regardless of whether it is magic or sorcery, all skills are about utilizing this energy.”
“What about the martial way?”
“That is where the difference between the martial way and the magical way lies,” Master Autumn showed some pride. “The martial way is not about using other forces but to cultivate themselves so that they have a more powerful force! For us warriors, cultivation is our real power!”
“Our own strength?”
“Correct!” Master Autumn said again. “A magician can do the same thing I just did. However, it is not with his own energy. He uses the technique and some kind of energy from the natural world but I am different. That sword earlier was made from the power in my body!”
Rody stared at Master Autumn with wide eyes.
His own power. God! Just now that heaven-shaking sword had so much power! All that super destructive power! All of it was from his inner strength?
Master Autumn smiled. “You don’t have to be so surprised. I am telling you this to let you know that warriors are not necessarily weaker than magicians. If they trained extremely hard, they can be stronger than magicians.”
“But… this is truly amazing!” Rody sighed.
Master Autumn shook his head. “This is nothing. Do you know, the ancient user of the Holy Sword can cleave mountains and pierce through city walls! That is truly the highest level of the warrior! Compared to them, our powers now are nothing!”
“Splitting mountains, piercing through city walls…” Rody’s eyes flashed. His eyes were full of excitement and his mouth was muttering.
Master Autumn looked at the obsessed person in front of him and smiled. “Now let me ask you. Where does the warrior’s power come from?”
“Mmmm?” Rody was stunned for a moment and blurted out, “From a strong and robust body!” However, the moment he said that, Rody corrected himself, “However, that is also wrong… in the academy, there are a lot of teachers that are much stronger than you but not as powerful as you! They definitely cannot cleave with their swords like you do!”
“Correct. The inner strength does not just come from muscles!”
“In that case, where does the inner strength come from?” Rody asked.
Although Master Autumn had not taught Rody any new moves of swordsmanship, these words without a doubt, would one day guide Rody on the path leading to more advanced levels of the martial way. It was like a new door was opened for Rody and this made him endlessly fascinated!
Master Autumn pondered for a moment. “This problem is not something that can be explained clearly with just a few words. Mmm… how about this? You and I have an affinity. As a result of an oath I have made in my early years, I cannot accept you as a disciple. However, I can give you a small present.”
Having said that, Master Autumn stretched out a finger. With a certain technique, he pressed a point on Rody’s forehead between the eyebrows.
The finger seemed to give out some kind of mystical power, which passed through the silver mask and into Rody’s face! Rody felt a slight pain in between his eyebrows and groaned softly.
Master Autumn looked at Rody and sighed softly, “This is a seed of inner strength! If you can really comprehend advanced martial arts, then this seed that I gave you will help you to achieve boundless progress!”