The Youth Rook
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That day, at the age of 20, I was selecting a Togi piece in the school of Knight’s lounge. The other side was my best friend, Galla.
‘Well, I’m a bit outnumbered, but it is also possible to turn the table here. This is what so interesting about Togi. It is a rather profound game. Alright, it’s here.’
A click sound appeared when I put a piece. Galla looked bored especially when he made the next move without stopping.
‘What is this guy thinking about? He looks bored even when I am thinking. Hey, don’t make that face.’
‘But, I’m having a hard time too. Yeah. If I do this, it will become like this… so… Alright, it’s here.’
I proceeded with the next move.
Galla was waiting, but then, he made his next move without delay.
‘Aah. That’s unexpected.’
‘Uwaah. What’s this? ’
‘If he did that, wouldn’t my ‘Bird’ and ‘Arrow’ pieces be blocked? So, if I do that… ah, my ‘Eagle’ also would be taken by the second move. Aah, dang it. I’m beaten.’
“Wait a sec.” (Rook)
I asked him to hold up for a bit.
‘This is not good.’
“…Well, it’s fine. Are you really thinking about next move?” (Galla)
Galla said it with an astounded face.
“I’m thinking…” (Rook)
“But, I usually notice this, you know. Aren’t you just playing by the book?” (Galla)
“You didn’t notice it accidentally.” (Rook)
‘I can’t really helped because I didn’t notice it. I’ve asked to wait for five times already, but…’
After 15 minutes later, I lost.
“Dang it!” (Rook)
I hit the board with so much regret.
“Wow, you regret is amazing, you know.” (Galla)
He was surprised.
Galla didn’t make a fool of me. He was surprised not because he was angry.
‘Haa, I want to be good at Togi. Even though I like it and I want to be good at it, why can’t I get better?’
“Let’s go to the Dojo and have a sparring.” (Galla)
“…I don’t want it.” (Rook)
“I went along with your Togi, so you need to keep me company, you know. This time, it’s your turn to teach me.” (Galla)
When I was told so, I had no choice but to accompany him.
While taking a short breath, Galla’s fist was approaching. I slipped through that fist, and I swept Galla’s feet with both arms so that I could hurl myself with my body.
Galla went to the front as if collapsing and let out a goofy voice. While pulling his legs immediately, I tried to bring him down with Double Leg Takedown technique. He tried to kick hard but he was too late. One of Galla’s legs had already been taken, so I had decided on the foot tendon. The tendon stretched for a moment, and then, I let go my hand.
“Damn it…” (Galla)
Galla hit the floorboards with his fists. He was probably disappointed because he was brought down by me, who was smaller than him.
‘It is the other way around compared to the earlier.’
‘However, I don’t feel happy about it. In fact, I feel somewhat sorry. I don’t know why I won since I am not training as much as Galla who has been training every day. ’
‘It is said that those who are favored by the Eagle King are strong since they have eyes like a hawk, but is it because of that? ’
‘If it’s about being good at things, I would like to give Galla this fighting ability of mine, in exchange of the talent in Togi. Although everyone would be happy with that, I wonder why I can’t be good in this world.’
“Don’t concern too much.” (Rook)
I tried to say it as easy going as possible.
“There is no way I’m not concern about it, you know.” (Galla)
It seemed Galla was seriously regretting it.
“It would be nice if you work hard with the spear. Jujitsu also can be useful on battlefield.” (Rook)
‘I really think so. In a battlefield where there are enemies all around, do you have time to lie down and master the techniques in order to kill the enemies?’
While he turned over the ground and stretched out his tendon since one of his legs got caught, the end was concluded by another soldier who hit the ground with a spear.
‘If it is an infantryman, it may be fine, but this is not the way Knight dying.’
‘Galla can handle a spear that exceeds his height, thanks to the physical. So, he can stab the enemies as much as he wants. There is no need to stick to such cheap techniques.’
“I’m jealous that you can win against anyone. Opps.” (Galla)
Galla stood up in a breath.
“Let’s have one more sparring.” (Galla)
‘Are you for real? Give me a break…’
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At the end of the training, female students, who were from the school of Liberal Arts, were lining on the viewing windows.
‘They are probably talking something trivial. It’s always like that, so I don’t need to bother.’
After leaving the Dojo, I stood at the end of the well with my underwear remain, and sprinkled the water from the head. Galla was also doing it together. A number of female students were peeping out from the shade of a tree. They would severely criticized men if we did the opposite, so they were a convenient bunch.
There was a rumor where Galla and I acted strangely in the night, and that was really annoying. I wonder if someone held grudge against me, but I would like them to stop.
It seemed that an erotic novel in which Galla and I were having intercourse like homosexuals spread in the school of Liberal Arts.
‘I get goose bumps by imagining it. It feels terrible. Who would do that thing?’
A female student came to me who was half naked and showered in cold water.
“Please read this!!” (Girl)
A letter was given.
I received it unintentionally.
‘Aah, I have to write a refusal letter since I have received it. Galla will be most likely to tease me. Damn it, this is really annoying.’
The scene changed.
According to what I heard, in the southern part of the Kuran country, there was a large stadium that could accommodate thousands of people, and it was a facility created just to show slaves killing each other. There was no such a culture among Shanti because we didn’t like slaves. So, we had no such a facility. Therefore, what I was fighting at the moment was an open-air half-dome for outdoor theater.
The school of Knight martial art demonstration, which held once a year, was an event where the two strongest members of the school of Knight having a mock battle. It wasn’t enough with just one mock battle. Since it would be boring if it was done in that way, the two would perform dances of swords and spears at the opening ceremony. Anyhow, it was supposed to be a minor performance.
It was me and Galla fighting this year.
I was standing on a stage where there was no one except me and Galla. The participants bowed to show gratitude toward the audience in the beginning.
Even if it was said gratitude, it wasn’t a bow of gratitude. I knelt down and got on one knee. Then, I placed the hand on the chest to imply gratitude. It was a respectful salute for the nobles in the outdoors. The display of the gratitude was due to the Queen, who was in the attendance. She was given a special seat in a part of the audience seat.
I respectfully gave my gratitude and stood up. Next, I bowed to Galla.
This was a mutual gratitude, so it was only necessary to lean the upper body a little. Since we were going to fight from now on, it was prudent to lower the head to the point of lowering the eyesight. That would be rather losing the gratitude toward the opponent.
What that had ended, we set up spears against each other.
Galla had a hard look. He was making a stone-like face. Right now, that was the face of a warrior who was going to knock me down.
What I held in my hands was a spear which was a bit larger than what I used to have. The blade part was crushed, but with the spear swung by the strength of Galla, I would die if I got hit on the skull. As for the slender spear I had, the eyes could be destroyed if I hit on the eyes, and the chest would break if I hit the chest.
Of course, it was a general rule to stop, but the fact of being died didn’t change.
‘Somehow, my heart is floating. I am aware of that feeling.’
It isn’t that I am floating around in fear of being beaten up by Galla. I am thinking why ‘I don’t want to come out and stand in such a place of honor. That is what comes into mind.’
‘I am not as passionate as Galla. But, why?’
Galla shouted and approached with a fierce momentum.
A tremendous thrust was unleashed at the same time of that momentum.
It was completely like a crazy bear.
However, my body moved without thinking. I parried Galla’s spear with my spear.
Galla’s spear was heavy like a log. Even if I hit it hard, it wouldn’t budge. But, even his spear wasn’t budge, if I put the strength, it helped me to move my body.
With the help of the spear, I instantly lowered my body and dodged a single blow. I hit Galla’s shank by the handle of the spear that I let free, and made him flipped on the ground.
The position was reversed and I faced Galla again. I saw his eyes only for a moment, but the balance soon broke down.
It became a brawl in a short distance. In a short time, it became a fierce exchange of thrust attack. The wind generated by Galla’s spear grazed my cheek. If I got hit, a blow that could break a skull, would rob the hair.
Exchanging blow for five times… then ten times… and at the 11th clashing, the spears collided with each other, and an unpleasant sound echoed. I heard a blaring sound with a snap, and there was a crack in the handle of my spear.
I could see the joy in Galla’s face. Breaking a spear was one of the tactic, and it wasn’t a cowardly act to completely break a cracked spear. I noticed that it was a perfect opportunity for Galla before I got to think in my head.
Galla tried to break my spear, and gave a blow. I reflexively let go of the spear. It might be due to the instinct imprinted in the battle that made me do so.
I gave up the spear which was half broken. I was rather good at bare hands rather than such a spear.
I let go the spear just before it got hit. The handle was broken and when it hit the floor, it bounced back. By that time, I had already leaped into Galla’s chest. I grasped the collar of the clothes, and entwined the legs vigorously.
Galla, who was attacked by an unexpected attack, had his waist floated. If he was standing firmly, he should had never been thrown by me who was lighter than him.
When I caught his legs with a spontaneous speed, I put a force on the collar, and turned him over. Galla fell on his backside. Then, I grasped his collar and sleeves. Before he rearranged his posture, I jumped on him, and moved for the cross armlock. I put a lot of pressure, and there was a feeling that the tendon was stretched.
After that, when he shook me off with a tremendous strength by using the whole body weight, and I fell on the floor…
When I tried to get up, Galla’s big fist was approaching my eyes. The impact was strong on my face, and I fainted.
When I recovered, the demonstration had ended.
I was lying on a simple bed outside of the stage. The nose was covered with a cloth dampened with cold water. When I removed it, the cloth was thoroughly wet with blood, and I was pulling a thread.
I felt my face with my hands, and it turned out that it wasn’t a trauma. It was a mere nosebleed. When I thought about it, the back of the nose was aching with a pinch.
‘Did he break my nose?’
Nevertheless, I felt somewhat relieved. It was a depressing event, but it ended without a serious accident.
I decided to go to bed again, so I closed my eyes and lie down again.
Then, when I was sleeping on the bench, there was a shadow. The sun shining from the top of the eyelids disappeared, and it became a complete dark.
I opened my eyes, and I saw Galla. Galla silently grabbed my neck and pulled me up.
“Why are you holding back!?” (Galla)
Galla shouted like a man crying.
“Were you going easy on me!?” (Galla)
It was the first time to see Galla like this, and it was also the first time be scold with such a voice.
Yeah. I couldn’t break Galla’s arm at the last minute. Then, I recalled the details of the mock battle again. I immediately understood why Galla was so angry.
The technique called armlock would make it impossible for an arm to return back to normal once it was stretched out. If the arm was twisted, I could load some pressure, but I couldn’t put power on the arm that had been stretched out. On the other hand, if I decided to use the whole body, I could mobilized not only the flesh of the arm, but also the flesh of the spine. Thus, it was possible to make the most of it.
It would be different if there was a physical difference like an adult and a child, but if it was a physical different like me and Galla, the power of the person who applied the technique would always win. In the world of warfare, it was an absolute law, which was similar to natural law.
There was no reason for a warrior like Galla wouldn’t notice it. I hurt his pride. No matter how well-honored the title was, Galla wouldn’t be proud of it.
I did the wrong thing.
But, I didn’t think that it was a mistake not to break Galla’s arm. If that was the case, it was a mistake to participate in the demonstration in the first place.
“That’s your victory. I wasn’t prepared and I was still inexperienced.” (Rook)
I said so with the nasal voice so I could comfort him.
It was from this time that I began to question my life. A way of life to become a Knight who would walk on a determined path. I wasn’t sure whether it was the right path for me.
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However, while I was wondering, I couldn’t get off the path that I had walked this far. Though I lived a live to become a Knight, why I should change the way of the life now?
Then, one day, when the graduation of the school of Knight was approaching, a woman from the school of Liberal Arts died.
She was the eldest daughter of the Seven Witches branch family.
The Seven Witches, who governed politics, were considered to be superior than the Fifth Braves households. Even though it was a branch family, it was a woman who seemed to be slightly higher in status compared to me who seemed to have no intention to succeed the house as the second son.
She approached me persistently, but she had a thick and gloomy air. In short, she wasn’t to my liking, so I was shocked even though she confessed. Well, I was confessed by women on a daily basis and had a shaking life every time. Hence, it could be said that she was one of the women.
It would be a good life if I wasn’t having troubles with the women, but since I had no problem with money, I could just go to a brothel to satisfy the urge. To be honest, I hadn’t considered women from the Liberal Arts at all. The Liberal Arts women were troublesome anyway.
Whether I should be a refined and popular man, her personality was too gloomy. Even if I took off her clothes, I had to go through several steps compared to the women on street. Moreover, if they became jealous, I would be held responsible, and the rumor would spread like a wildfire. Since it was ridiculous to have a way with them, the newbies of the school of the Knight were spending lavishly on the Liberal Arts women. So, they were taken to bars by the neck, and were thought the goodness of the women on the street.
However, the woman who committed suicide was different from the Liberal Arts women. After I turned her down, she clinging to me all day long without giving up. Normally, the Liberal Arts students could go to the school of Knight’s facilities without problem, but she was secretly watching me from behind the pillars.
To be honest, it was very annoying. Strange rumors spread, and when I saw her, she went away quickly. I was so annoyed.
Then, on one day, I shouted loudly, telling her to stop. From that day, I couldn’t see her at all, and I only knew her name from the obituary.
I was sad when I heard it, but I felt some joy. Who could blame me for having that kind of feeling when I wouldn’t be bothered anymore.
But, that alone wasn’t enough.
The woman left a suicide note, and it seemed that the content written that she was sad to be hated by me. Thus, she committed suicide. As soon as I heard that story, I covered the door and window of my door room with black cloth, put a black cloth to the entrance of Hou Household’s mansion, and shut myself up in the dormitory.
This was a worldly pose of mourning. I shut myself for about two days. When I attended her funeral, I attached a flower to her body.
With this, there should be no problem from the outside. It was expected to give the utmost gratitude.
However, I was asked to duel with the woman’s brother at the funeral.
At first, I didn’t think that envelop handed over was a dueling challenge. I thought it was something like the feelings of the parents, or the articles left by the deceased. But, when I read it after going home, it was a dueling challenge.
Of course, it would be fine if I didn’t accept the challenge. However, since the household of the deceased had political power, it became an atmosphere where I couldn’t refuse easily.
My brother told me that I didn’t have to accept, but my father told me to fight and strengthened the spirit. I couldn’t go against my father, so I accepted the challenge.
The duel took place in a secret place on the promised day. In general, this secret place was strictly prohibited. It was a part of Witches Glow in the edge of the imperial city.
From my side, my father and Galla joined as observers. On the other side, there were two women who I didn’t know their name, and a man who seemed to be the imperial Knight.
Most likely, the letter was written to enforce the relatives to come as observers. When I looked at the opponent of the duel, he was trembling, sweating, sad and nervous.
He looked like his sister. It was clear that his body was a bit thick, and clearly, he wasn’t trained. I was having hard time to see him. But, I couldn’t see anything as if I had a feeling that he was going to avenge his sister.
I didn’t like the Witch household to drag this man to a duel.
The duel was decided with my opponent having a sword. Traditionally, the main weapon for a warrior would be a spear, but there were warriors who preferred half-length sword.
It was an unfamiliar weapon, but if compared to the opponent of duel, I had been training all the time. Since I was an expert so to speak, such a handicap should be accepted. I wasn’t sure, but that was what had been decided.
But, when I accepted it, it wasn’t a sword that the warriors used. It was a single-edge like a thin saber that could be held in one hand.
This kind of sword was used by old Knights who couldn’t swing spear anymore. Nevertheless, it was something that supposed to be on the waist when people had to give command. Compared to the spear that I always swung, I felt like I was given an unreliable blade.
Both of us held a sword, and waited for the signal of the duel.
I was remarkably terrified when I thought whether I had to kill this man. Although I didn’t get cold feet when I fought with Galla, I was having cold feet at present.
I thought that it was good if I killed him until I literally stood in this place. It was a duel, so it couldn’t be helped. However, when i stood in that place, my thought completely changed.
The duelists were supposed to have a grudge against each other, but it wasn’t possible to have a discussion now. However, that would have been possible if I made an effort to make an agreement in advance.
At that time, I regretted and asked myself why I didn’t do that.
Basically, the duel would continue until either one of the duelists died. If there was a discussion beforehand such as stabbing the sword on the arm, the duel would end when a person got bloody and surrendered. That might have been possible. But now, it was too late.
The sign was given, and the duel began. The opponent was trembling. He let out a voice like ‘Oaah’ or ‘Uwaaahh’ to raise the courage.
‘Alright, let’s drop the arm. If the arm falls, it is clear that he can’t fight, so the duel is usually over at that point. It’s a pity to lose an arm, but I need to go through this duel. Since he was the one who dragged the death of either of us, he should have given up.’
‘The opponent hold the sword with his right hand. Since he is right-handed, I’ll drop his left arm.’
When I approached with a soft and swift movement like a cat, I stopped for a moment in front of the opponent and caused a single blow. Then, I slid around to the side, and strongly sliced him down from the elbow.
Blood spouted like a fountain from the cut, and the arm fell to the ground. He threw away his sword, and covered the wound with his hand while screaming ‘Aarghh’.
I felt a heaviness fell on my heart.
‘Is that something I did? It is so bloody and so painful, and he has been disabled. ’
‘But, it ends with this. Now, this man can’t fight.’
When I thought so, the witness of the other side started to tie up the wound with a thing string in order to tie up the flesh.
When the homeostasis had ended, he forced to stand up with the sword, gave a strange encouragement, and got up. The observers of the other side shouted something that was somewhat unseemly. It was like seeing a nightmare.
The opponent lose the blood from the face, and looked bad. Although the balance of the body was bad from the beginning, it was getting worse because the left arm was wounded. He was like a child who didn’t know how to fight.
No, to begin with, this person didn’t know how to fight.
But, I had no choice like giving up the duel. Abandoning the duel that had been accepted meant that I admitted the crime alleged by the other party. In this case, a crime of murder would be automatically established.
In other words, it was the same as killing the woman who committed suicide. In that situation, I would have to die.
As long as there was no choice to lose or to give up the duel, I had to let the other party recognized the loss. But that person might have some circumstances which didn’t allow him to lose. When I dropped the arm, he should know that he didn’t have a chance of winning even in a normal match. Then, even if I cut his legs, and the remaining arm, the duel might be continued until he died.
‘Do I have to kill him?’
‘If I have to kill him, cutting his arm or legs would only mean giving unnecessary pain. If that’s the case, it’s better to cut his life down without he realizes it.’
‘If this is a nightmare, please end very soon.’
With that thought it mind, I held the saber with both of my hands. Then, I flicked off his sword. The flicked sword left his hand, and flew high in the sky.
I kicked his knee and made him fell on his face. Then, I swung the saber on back of his neck. I beheaded his head at once.
The neck fell to the ground, and the body lost its strength. Blood spouted from the neck. The soil way dyed red and black, and then it stopped.
I thought the meaning of what I did while I was bathed in blood. I ended the life of this person.
I returned a blood-stained saber to the other party, and I went back home with a stupefied body. I was called by Galla many times, but I couldn’t hear it. I killed a person.
But, that wasn’t unusual. After all, Knight was a profession to kill people, and this would be a daily routine for a Knight.
I had always learned the techniques for killing people, and I had to use it in order to kill them. It was a duty as a Knight to do things like I did now on a daily basis. When I thought about it, I felt drowsy.
I couldn’t sleep that night. I was thinking all night.
‘I am no good. I can’t do this very well.’
When the sun rose, I had such thought from the bottom of my heart.
‘I am a fool. I wouldn’t notice this if I didn’t do such a thing. I can’t be a Knight. I shouldn’t aim for it since the beginning.’
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While drinking alcohol, I thought about my life as a knight who dropped out on the way. I remembered my deceased Aniki.
At that time, I was scold by Father, but Aniki didn’t say anything strange. On the contrary, when I said that I wanted to have a ranch of the Eagle king, he lent me some money from his pocket.
The ranch management went well, as I originally loved birds.
I had the confidence that the Eagle King I raised was a first-class product, and the best reason why the management went well was because of my parent’s house. They went on an expedition on a regular basis, and every timem they lost a lof of soldiers. There was always a shortage of the Galloping Birds in the Hou Household after they returned home, so I replenished the stock.
If it was a ranch that merely began its operation recently, they would haggle the price of the birds, but in my case, that didn’t happen. Instead, they brought extra. I offered to train and resupply them, and every time I got money, the ranch became bigger and bigger.
Before long, I was married to Suzuya, Yuri was born, and that Yuri was counted on by Aniki. That was the content of the will and it was left to Satsuki-san.
[In the case of the fate of the country, Yuri is arranged to be the chief. Persuade my younger brother to be the temporary chief of the household.]
With these much instructions, Satsuki-san did everything in a short time including the dealing with the castle, and the persuasion of the relatives. She was clever.
I didn’t understand what was Aniki’s thinking about. Yuri was excellent enough that anyone could understand it. Those who spoke with him said that he was a fine son.
However, one couldn’t be excellent if they wanted to become a Knight. It was also something I said to myself, but there were no better promising Knight candidate than me.
“I’m back.” (Yuri)
The door was opened and Yuri came back.
“…You’re back. What did you do?” (Rook)
“I asked Satsuki-san to show me a map.” (Yuri)
“I see.” (Rook)
He seemed to be doing well.
I remembered the movement Yuri made in the daytime. It was a good idea to use the tablecloth to disturb the footing. Since it was possible to do so in that situation, he had the courage.
Moreover, he had the talent to control the Eagle King. So, the talent as a Knight was enough in all aspects. There would be low possible not being able to graduate from the school of Knight.
“Yuri, do you like the Eagle King?” (Rook)
When I asked that…
“I like them. I’ve said it over and over again, right?” (Yuri)
“Then, do you like the works at the ranch?” (Rook)
“I like that too. I think it’s a very peaceful and wonderful job.” (Yuri)
“I see. I also think the same.” (Rook)
It had become like this, but I was going to make Yuri as a rancher. Even now, I still halfly thought so.
“I’ve said this before, but Yuri will have to enter the school of Knight once.” (Rook)
“Yes, I guess so. To be honest, I don’t like it.” (Yuri)
“I’m telling you this not because of what has happened today. I have decided this from the beginning.” (Rook)
‘I was no good, but Yuri isn’t restricted to that. He has so much talent, so it is a shame to narrow his path from the beginning. One he gets in, he can try it. If it doesn’t suit him, he may leave.’
‘If he has the compatibility, he may become a Knight. If he can’t, he can become a rancher. Although it is true that what’s I have been thinking from the beginning, it doesn’t go simply easy.’
“Is that so? Well, I will go there, but that will be much later, right?” (Yuri)
“Yes. However, I would like you to go to the school of Knight as a son of a rancher. The situation will change if you enter as the son of the Hou Household chief. You got that?” (Rook)
“…I guess a bit.” (Yuri)
‘It is easy to guess, but that place is kind of scary. I’m not bluffing. I know it that well.’
“You will enter the school of Knight from ten years old. The graduation varies from person to person. If you do your best, you can graduate quickly. If you want to graduate early, you can study here in advance…” (Rook)
Even though I said, there was no need to do so.
“You may not need to study, but you might want to learn martial arts a little.” (Rook)
“Is that so? Well then, you can teach me in between the ranch work.” (Yuri)
‘Eh, am I the one who will do the teaching? No, that’s not acceptable.’
“A parent shouldn’t teach martial arts to their children. Since there will be an affection.” (Rook)
When I said that, Yuri seemed displeased and looked pitiful. Yuri was excellent, but he had the fear of strangers.
“…Well, you can teach me things about the school of Knight. More importantly, it may be better to think how to explain this to Okaa-san. Even though Satsuki-san said something like that, once you become the chief of the household, you may need to bring Okaa-san to go to certain events.” (Yuri)
‘It is embarrassing to be told that by the son, but I just remember Suzuya. When I think about it, he is right.’
‘If a person becomes the wife of a household chief, she has to study the etiquette and culture knowledge for years in the school of Liberal Arts, but Suzuya knew nothing of that, and she would be humiliated. It may be Suzuya who will bear the burden the most.’
Well, I can refuse everything. Aah, I feel depressed. This is annoying.’
…Anyhow, let’s go to sleep now. You will be appointed during the meeting tomorrow, so they won’t stay quit if you fall asleep.” (Yuri)
“Aah, yeah. Let’s go to sleep.” (Rook)
I thought that I couldn’t sleep because I was having too many thoughts, but I felt asleep immediately probably because of the alcohol.
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