I Became the Youngest Disciple of the Martial God
[Translator – Jreaming]
[Proofreader – Gorm]
I would lose if I fought. I would get caught if I ran. The only way out of this was to convince him.
Even as I tirelessly prattled away, I constructed a plan in my mind and repeatedly improved upon it.
The snippets of information I had heard about Kayan, the rumors about his actions, my impression of him after seeing him directly, and the values I could theorize from all of this information, I combined and examined them dozens of times in my head.
At some point, I arrived at one fundamental piece of information: Collector Kayan is foremost a man of principle.
He was not someone who would be swayed by emotions. This old man could stab anyone as long as it was an order from his superiors.
So that was what I needed to pierce and use.
Since he had sworn loyalty to House Bednicker, I needed to make use of his curiosity while observing the orders of his superiors. Of course...
“...An original sword art,” said Kayan.
The most important thing was how I could handle him from this point onward.
The collector observed me with a cold gaze.
“You speak of something ridiculous.”
Kayan’s skills, which had seemed like they were covered in a layer of fog, were starting to be revealed to me.
My conclusion was that he was a monstrous old man. There was no other way to put it.
Honestly, it was obvious. One could neither be a collector nor maintain the position if they weren’t strong.
Half-useless people like myself aren’t the only targets he’s given.
Collectors needed to be able to collect from the elites of House Bednicker, the elites of other Houses aiming for those elites, and even mercenaries who would do anything if paid enough... Every single one of them would have to be collected if the need arose.
And Kayan was among the top three of such an elite group.
A monster among monsters.
“Ridiculous?” I scoffed. “As one of the Bednicker bloodline, don’t I need to be able to make one or two personal martial arts?”
House Bednicker was quite the special family in The Empire in many ways, but most importantly, they had one weird tradition: everyone who held the name Bednicker, whoever they might be, needed to create their own personal martial art before becoming an adult.
There were no exceptions to this rule. If one couldn’t create their own martial art, then they would be stripped of all the privileges they had as a member of House Bednicker.
“Of course, I still have some time left until I become an adult, but my second elder brother created his martial arts at around this age, so it’s not out of the picture.”
As I mentioned the second son of the Lord of Blood and Iron, Kayan’s eyes became even colder.
“How old are you right now?”
“Fifteen,” I answered, feeling a little confused.
“At your age, Young Master Hector had already created seven sword arts.”
...So he’d asked just to embarrass me further.
“From a young age, he showed talent that was second to none. He memorized every action in just one try and could move the same way the next day as well. At the mere age of 11, he pointed out areas of improvement he could see in the family’s secret martial art, and a few of them were actually implemented.”
Only a few of the Lord of Blood and Iron’s offspring showed overwhelming intelligence. Obviously, Hector was one of them.
Compared to me right now, he was doing unfairly well.
“I have worked for House Bednicker for many years now, and I have met a lot of people. That time was not a waste, as I became able to read people quite accurately.”
“What are you trying to say?”
“Young Master Luan, are you equating yourself to Young Master Hector?”
How absurd. I couldn’t hold back my laughter as I said, “How could that be?”
“He is below me,” I told Kayan.
I recognized that Hector was incredible.
And it wasn’t just Hector; all the children of the Lord of Blood and Iron were extraordinary.
But even compared to the other children, the eldest son, Hero, the second son, Hector, and the second daughter, Nero, were special cases.
In the past, I’d looked up to them as people worthy of respect. Even when I became a good-for-nothing, my ears constantly chased news of them, and when I felt inferior to them, I purposefully distanced myself from the news.
I’ve seen true geniuses.
How many times had I been dejected after seeing my senior brothers on Spirit Mountain?
They weren’t confined by the worldly concept of “genius,” and they couldn’t even be described as monsters. That was the first time I’d realized beings like them existed.
After silently looking at me for a second, Kayan let out a blatant sigh.
“You will need to take responsibility for those words.”
“Please stand up.”
His expression was serious.
I felt like if I said “But I can’t get up?” then he would just say “Is that so?” and slice my tendons right then and there, so I silently stood up without complaint.
“...Ugh.” A groan escaped my mouth as I stood on two feet.
If I was feeling like this, then my body was in much worse condition than I’d expected.
It wasn’t just because I’d been beaten up by the butler. My useless daily life beforehand was the bigger factor.
“Do you have a blade?” Collector Kayan asked me.
“A blade? Like a sword?”
“Please raise your sword.”
Obviously, the sword wasn’t in this room, so I called for a servant to get it for me.
“Do you mean a wooden sword or a real sword?”
“A real sword.”
The servant’s shoulders tensed a little at Kayan’s flat response. He quickly ran out of the room before returning with a sword soon after.
As I received the sword, I thought, He’s not even asking what the sword is for.
Well, as members of the house, no one here had the authority to stop a collector from doing their job.
“Unsheathe the sword and swing it,” said Kayan.
“Three downward strokes will be fine.”
I was starting to become a little irritated, but I somehow felt like this would be the last request.
I left the sword in the sheath as I cut the air three times.
One, two, three.
Just three times.
Kayan watched the process with a serious expression.
“Young master, do you know what the most important aspect of any martial art is?”
It was quite an interesting question.
It was also a question without a particular answer, but one could use it to discern the level of martial skill the target had.
I can just say what I think. But I guessed that answering that way wouldn’t get me 100 points.
Kayan, Collector of Blood and Iron. A man who had proven his own worth and loyalty after decades of work for the house. Someone who had been active for all that time. What answer would he like to hear the most?
“Effectiveness in real combat.”
“No matter how excellent the technique is, there’s no point if you can’t use it in a real battle.”
“Who did you learn that from?”
“It was just a thought I had while reading and training by myself,” I stated.
I was honestly surprised at the words that came out of my mouth. I had intended to lie to try to earn some extra points with him, but the answer I gave was a partial mix between the answer I’d prepared and my true thoughts.
Kayan stared directly at me with his hollow eyes. He seemed to be trying to discern if I truly believed my words or not.
I dare you to try. See if you can ever figure out what I’m thinking.
If I truly played ignorant, not even Master could be 100 percent sure of my intentions.
Although I would get beaten up like a ragdoll later after Master had obtained evidence.
“If you truly think that, then the story becomes simpler.”
* * * * *
[Translator - Jreaming]
[Proofreader - Gorm]
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* * * * *
The dagger that had hidden itself appeared again.
Kayan took his gloved fingers and wiped the blade.
“As you say, the most important aspect of any martial art is practicality. A sword technique one cannot use in a real battle is worse than a sword made from straw.”
“So you’re going to personally test me? To see how practical my sword skills are?”
“My apologies, but that is the case.”
The whole point of talking was because I was certain I would lose in a direct fight.
Just when I was starting to feel like all my effort had been a waste...
“Of course, it won’t be an ordinary duel,” Kayan said. “I will keep your level and condition in mind.”
“That movement you showed when you swung your sword a moment ago, I will not move faster than that.”
I had wondered what that was about. So he’d wanted to see how fast I moved.
If he truly adhered to those words, that was as fair as it could get.
I looked at Kayan once more. I, of course, hadn’t shown him everything, but I had the sense that that was true for him as well.
This old man was still a bundle of mysteries.
I would get collected if I didn’t accept this offer. I knew that for a fact, so I nodded. I’d never really had a choice.
Of course, I understood the reason: this was the simple truth of the world. Kayan was strong, and I was weak.
Unfortunately, it was hard for the weak to make choices in this world.
And so... I wanted to congratulate myself. No matter how it had happened, I had dragged someone strong to the result I wanted.
The talk of creating martial techniques had probably disturbed Kayan’s mood.
This old man had likely invested countless hours into his training.
The reason Kayan didn’t show a single sign was because he kept a perfect divide between his personal and professional thoughts.
I pulled my sword from its sheath, and I looked over the entirety of the blade to check its quality.
Although the edge was a little dull, it was a real sword. A sword that could easily kill a person if one was skilled enough.
In truth, I had been able to tell by its weight the moment I picked it up, but confirming with my eyes gave me certainty.
“Please tell me when you are ready,” said Kayan. His actions and words were still those of a gentle old man.
I threw the sheath on the bed and held the sword with just my right hand.
In my previous life, even after the tendon in my right arm was cut, I hadn’t been able to forget the Bednicker martial art.
I hadn’t even tried to forget. After getting kicked out of the house, the hereditary martial art that I had learned was the final connection I’d had to House Bednicker.
While I’d been going around the continent, this martial art had experienced its own changes at my hand. I guess you could say it had been altered to fit a left-handed swordsman.
Of course, it hadn’t been altered methodically and scientifically but instead out of a need to survive, so it was all over the place.
You couldn’t even call it a new creation.
I could be cut into a paraplegic if it was deemed an insult to the original martial art.
—What’s with that awkward movement?
—Oh ho. So you changed the original martial art to fit your body more.
—I can see what you’re trying to do, but get rid of it. I fixed your right arm. See? It moves normally.
The martial art I was going to show wasn’t created by me alone.
—You have too many useless movements. You’re wasting your breath. There are too many openings.
—How many times do I need to drill the importance of distance to your target into your head? You can try and take a stance after that.
—The most important thing in a fight is controlling the distance. If you can always keep in mind how many steps, how many breaths you are from them, you will never be hit a single time.
This was a martial art created with Master’s advice.
I was becoming a little curious. How would Collector Kayan judge the martial art I was about to show him?
“Let’s start,” I mumbled.
A second later, I suddenly felt like the light had become a little darker.
It might not be an illusion. The air felt heavier, and as the lights flickered ominously...
Kayan started to move.
He moved slowly—but strangely, the distance was being shortened quite quickly.
Is it because of those weird steps he’s taking?
The speed of his actions was slow, but the movement was fast. Wasn’t this the perfect skill to kill someone while they were zoned out?
It’s pretty useful.
Of course, it wasn’t something I could just stare at in awe, so I focused intently on Kayan’s movement.
When the distance between us had been reduced to about two steps...
I struck first.
Kayan dodged my simple stab with just a movement of his head.
Dodging an attack by moving the minimum amount possible was something that could only be done when one could precisely predict the opponent’s attack.
Although the ambitious first strike was a miss, I didn’t falter and continued to attack.
I stabbed multiple times in a row, tried to slice him, and even swung the sword like a club.
Kayan didn’t let a single attack hit him as he continued to close the distance.
Soon, an odd scene was laid out.
Although I was the one attacking and Kayan was just dodging, it had come to the point where I was slowly backing away.
Before long, I had my back to the wall, but I hadn’t managed to cut even a thread of Kayan’s clothes.
The distance was too short for me to swing the sword properly.
Kayan was standing a head taller and stood in front of me as an oppressive aura emanated from him.
This damned body. I was sweating all over after swinging the sword a few times.
Half exhausted, I looked up at the old man.
“I was looking forward to it a little,” said Kayan.
There was emotion in those words, but I could tell Kayan had said this purposefully.
This old man’s calm voice and unwavering eyes showed no intention of hiding his disappointment in me.
“But that was all for naught.”
I gritted my teeth and swung the sword again. I could get hurt trying to swing a sword at such a close distance, but I ignored it.
My wrist was grabbed. The old man’s hand was as big as his physique might suggest, and his hand could wrap around my entire wrist with some left to spare.
As he grasped and squeezed my wrist, I ended up letting go of my sword from the numbing pain. The dull sword clattered to the ground.
A fist came flying toward me.
It was just his left fist; the dagger was nowhere to be seen. I twisted my shoulder a little to dodge the punch.
At that, Kayan opened the palm of his outstretched hand and grabbed my shoulder.
My shoulder blade screamed.
This old man was pretty strong. Was he trying to dislocate my shoulder?
“I saw well the sword art you created. If you haven’t named it yet, may I make a suggestion?”
“How about ‘Straw Swordsmanship’?”
Maybe because he had pride in his martial arts, I could sense a bit of ridicule in his voice.
After pulling out his pocket watch again, Kayan let out a sigh. “It seems I have wasted my time. It is late, but I will now perform the collection. Please remain still.”
The moment Kayan turned back into a collector, I laughed aloud.
“‘Straw Swordsmanship.’ It’s a funny name. But sir, when did I say I created a sword art?”
“Are you trying to stall for time with more useless talk?”
“I just want to fix your misunderstanding. What I created is a fist art.”
Kayan’s chin shot upward.
The difference in size, the closeness, and most importantly, the blind spot in his vision...
With just these at my disposal, I’d created my strategy.
The one factor required for a weakling to defeat a strong being: wait for the target to lower their guard in arrogance.
Kayan didn’t seem to get flustered even as his chin was raised into the air because he instinctively swiped with his hand.
It was clear that he would compose himself in less than a second, so I didn’t let this opportunity go. I continued my assault.
In order, I struck the middle of his chest, his solar plexus, and then his stomach.
Bam, bam, bam.
At these strikes that flowed naturally like water, Kayan’s body was finally pushed back a step.
Even so, he still had strength left in the hand that was grabbing my shoulder.
It wasn’t bad.
I used my fingers to stab Kayan in the crook of his arm, a soft, internal part of the body that couldn’t be covered with trained muscle.
My finger stabbed about one segment deep.
Kayan let out a short groan as the strength in his hand disappeared.
What happened next was lightning fast.
After pushing over Kayan, who hadn’t recovered his footing, I picked up the sword that had fallen to the ground...
And then I pointed its tip at Kayan’s neck.
The Collector of Blood and Iron was looking at me with wide eyes.
“Your naming sense is terrible.”
“This martial art already has a name.”
The name of the martial art created by myself and my master, the Strongest Under the Heavens, Baek Nogwang. I calmly spoke it aloud.
“White Sun Form.”
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