I Became the Youngest Disciple of the Martial God
[Translator – Jreaming]
[Proofreader – Gorm]
If one were to ask anyone close to Collector Kayan which word defined him the least, most would answer with “conceited,” “arrogant,” or “careless.”
He had worked as a Bednicker collector for 34 years and had completed 1,031 missions.
Although he wasn’t the strongest collector, no one could contest that he was the most perfect collector.
He hadn’t expected that today would be the day that put a stain on his career.
Of course, with his dry personality, Kayan didn’t put too much meaning in his personal record, but this was still very unexpected for him.
Kayan nearly let out a sigh as he remembered the voices of those who suggested that he retire.
It seems I’ve finally become old.
He looked forward again.
The dull blade was pointing directly at his neck without a single tremor, and the one holding that sword had a crooked smile on his face accompanied by a cold gaze looking straight at him.
Since when had Luan Bednicker possessed such eyes?
What was with everything he’d seen at the main house? Had Luan become enlightened in such a short time? And if not... Was everything just an act?
Kayan dismissed the thought. He checked the pain embedded in his body from the attack Luan had just launched.
“...The sword art passed down through House Bednicker: Iron Heart.”
“The attack that hit me on my chin was the seventh technique, sky piercer. The repeated attacks on my chest, solar plexus, and stomach had traces of the fourth technique, three-fold strike.” Kayan looked at Luan as he asked, “Did you perhaps create a fist art based on the house’s sword art?”
At that, Luan smiled brightly as he retracted his sword. “That’s what I told you.”
Kayan thought to himself.
Although it might be obvious, the difference between a sword art and a fist art was quite large. The more one looked into it, the more obvious the differences became. After all, the role a blade played in combat was completely different from that of a fist.
What did this all mean?
If he really did create a fist art based on the Bednicker family’s swordsmanship...
Just as Luan had insisted before, this couldn’t be explained away as just the creation of a new martial art. This was much more complicated than that.
This was like painting over an already completed painting with a new piece of art, but still maintaining the mood of the original piece because there would be no point if the strength of the original was altered too much.
Kayan knew just how unbelievably absurd such a feat was.
This is only possible if you have a level of understanding multiple times deeper than even the original creator of the sword art.
House Bednicker had to be informed.
There was another genius who could stand next to the eldest son, Hero.
* * * * *
[Translator – Jreaming]
[Proofreader – Gorm]
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* * * * *
After retracting the sword and stepping away, I didn’t say anything for a moment, just waiting.
I wanted to give the collector, who seemed to be deep in his thoughts, time to organize them.
Without saying a word, Kayan stood up.
He checked over his disheveled clothes and even combed his hair to be perfect before looking at me with a complicated expression.
“White Sun Form,” he said. He let out a sigh. “Is that the name of the martial art that you have created?”
Honestly, because it wasn’t something I’d made alone, I felt a little guilty. I changed the subject to free myself from the discomfort.
“Your movements were excellent as well. Your footwork was quite unique. What skill was that?”
For some reason, the light returned to Kayan’s eyes. He looked toward me with an expression that was hard to describe.
“It can’t be helped if you can’t tell me.”
“That isn’t the case, but...” Kayan dragged out his sentence before shaking his head and looking directly at me. “Could you perhaps show me the full White Sun Form?”
“Is this the final test?”
“That isn’t the case. You have already proven your worth, young master.”
“Oh.” Seeing how his attitude toward me had completely flipped, I mischievously asked, “Are you saying I’m better than my second elder brother?”
“If what I saw is correct,” Kayan said as he again checked the condition of his clothes, “you are far beyond Young Master Hector.”
Everyone who knew Kayan knew that he didn’t give out compliments easily. He was practically going out of his way to flatter me.
Since I didn’t give an immediate reply, Kayan answered first. He spoke calmly, but there was a trace of uneasiness in his tone and expression.
“What I just asked was purely a personal request. Please forget about it.”
He seemed to want to maintain his attitude as a collector, but he still wished to see the entirety of the White Sun Form.
So this is the reaction I’ll get if I show someone the White Sun Form.
As stated before, a collector’s job had many aspects.
Two of them were “inspecting” and “assessing.”
They were to personally observe the martial arts of the Bednicker bloodline and assess them.
The old man in front of me was the oldest working collector and had assessed many different martial arts. Seeing a person of such caliber get this “excited” after seeing part of the White Sun Form made me feel pretty good.
But I can’t just show him everything.
He was a target I could obtain a lot from.
I quietly looked at the man.
“The White Sun Form isn’t a finished martial art,” I said slowly, “so I can’t really show you everything.”
There were bound to be many weak points in a martial art that wasn’t yet completed.
If one were to mindlessly show it off to another person, they might be able to see its weaknesses and find ways to break through it before it was truly completed.
Kayan seemed to understand this point even without me stating it outright because he started to look a little down in the silence.
Should I throw out some bait here?
“Of course,” I began, “I know that Sir Kayan is a trustworthy man. So I have a suggestion...”
With a nervous expression, I looked at Kayan.
“I’ll show you a few techniques from the White Sun Form. In exchange, could you teach me the footwork that you showed a moment ago?”
“The thing you showed off before. The skill to make your opponent misjudge your speed by changing your steps.”
The moment I said that, Kayan’s expression changed greatly.
Had I said something wrong?
His expression was difficult to read, and it was hard to describe it in a few words.
I looked at Kayan, who had a complicated expression on his face.
“Did I perhaps ask for too much?”
“That’s not it. It’s just...”
Kayan closed his eyes.
He seemed to go deep into his thoughts, but he spoke again before long.
“It was 34 years ago.”
“When I was just another free knight, I met Lord Dellark—the current family head.”
“It was after the end of the Krunbell War. The Empire had truly lost, and I spent three days and nights running away without being able to sleep. Those damned followers of Dark Genesis were tracking me relentlessly. I raised my sword, ready to face my death, and fought them. I fought for who knows how long. When my consciousness was starting to fade and my body refusing to move, the family head appeared.”
I never knew Kayan was someone who could talk so much.
But, unreflective of that thought, I was listening quite quietly, and the scene from his tale seemed to start playing out in my head.
“He slaughtered the followers of Dark Genesis and saved me. After that, the first words he said to me...”
A faint smile appeared on Kayan’s lips.
“Your footwork is quite peculiar. What skill is that?”
I furrowed my brow.
Was it a coincidence, or an inevitability? The Lord of Blood and Iron had said the same thing in the past as I had said here.
Though I guess it would be more accurate to say that I said the same thing as the family head.
“He continued to talk and asked me if I could teach it to him.”
“After meeting you here today, young master, those dusty memories of the past have been relighted. So...” Kayan paused to find his words before shaking his head. “I seem to have gone off on a tangent. I don’t know why, but I wished to tell you this.”
Even Kayan didn’t seem to know why he had told me this.
I closed my mouth for a moment as well.
The smile I had just seen on Kayan’s face was the smile of an old man reminiscing about the past.
Considering his age, it wasn’t unexpected, but this was the first time I’d ever seen Kayan smile like that.
The one fact making me feel particularly strange was that I would’ve never known about this if I hadn’t returned to the past.
If not for this opportunity, I would’ve remembered Kayan as “a cold-hearted collector who shed neither blood nor tears” until the day I died.
“The footwork I showed you doesn’t have any special name. I personally just call it hidden steps.”
“It’s not difficult for me to teach you... but I don’t know if it will be useful to you.”
“What do you mean?”
“It’s quite a difficult skill to master properly.”
I’d expected that.
Kayan continued, “As you saw, it is a practical skill, so a few collectors and even other young masters have asked me to share the technique with them. It wasn’t something I needed to hide, so I did teach all of them...”
“But none of them were able to learn it properly,” I guessed.
“From what I know, the only one to have learned it properly is the family head.”
It did look like a difficult skill, but was it that difficult? I couldn’t tell from just watching.
Maybe sensing my doubt, Kayan took a few steps back, then moved forward a few steps to give me a practical example.
“What’s more important than the footwork is the movement of your shoulders. People generally use their shoulders as a guiding point for their upper body.”
The difference was that he was moving much slower this time, and since he was walking sideways, it was a more objective viewpoint for learning.
I stared intently at the way he was moving for a time.
“I understand the basics. The main point is to confuse the target’s senses by desyncing the movement of the upper and lower body.”
“That’s right. Gentle upper-body movements combined with slow but large steps. These are the basics, but...”
“But you need to synergize them perfectly. All right.” I glanced to the side to look at Kayan and copied his movements. “Is it... like this?”
One step, two steps, three steps...
“Oh, oh, oh ho—!?”
I couldn’t make the fourth step. I lost my balance and faceplanted on the carpet.
It was such an embarrassing scene that I couldn’t help but laugh.
“Looks like it’ll be difficult for me to use it right now. I can’t even copy it properly since my hips don’t support me at the moment. How were my hidden steps?”
Kayan was silent, like he had lost the ability to speak.
“How long has it been?”
“How long have you been deceiving the house, young master?”
Deceiving the house? What?
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