Chapter 41 — Sword Saint
The two siblings soon returned to the inn. Soran bought a porcelain pot along with a pound of pork and peas.
Soran had promised to make Vivian something tasty, but he could not do so in the wilderness since it was inconvenient. Now that they were in a town, Soran decided to make up for his promise and make a meal for Vivian. A crowd had formed in front of the inn. Some were residents of the town who were looking for cheap goods, while others were hunters who were trying to sell fur to the merchants so they did not have to travel to the city themselves. Another portion of the crowd was simply there to admire and look at the ankheg corpses.
"Those really are ankhegs!"
"They killed at least three of them! How strong!"
There were children and militia among the crowd, and despite being unfamiliar with the legends of the region, they all knew that ankhegs were some of the most dangerous creatures.
"Let's get in." Soran glanced at the crowd and was about to enter the inn when someone caught his attention.
The man was slightly slim and had a muscular body. When Soran glanced at the man, he noticed that the militia captain was doing the same. The man seemed to be in his twenties, his face rather handsome despite being slightly pointy. He had sharp and piercing eyes which seemed as though they could see through everything, and his brows were thin and sharp like swords. Just his appearance alone gave off an atmosphere of strength.
Soran observed the man's weapon and began grinning uncontrollably.
"Hoh, who would have thought that there was someone so strong here? A sword saint living in such a small town."
Sword Saint—this was not a title granted to those who were strong at swordplay, but instead referred to the advanced Warrior profession. The word 'Saint' meant the pursuit of goals and beliefs in many other places, and it had a similar meaning for the profession Sword Saint as well. It was an advanced profession which had rather harsh requirements, forcing those who pursued this path to give up the use of armor and protective equipment. If one did not have exceptional talents at birth, they could only advance to such a profession after reaching Grade 3 in terms of combat strength. Contrary to common misconceptions, sword saints could use a wide variety of weapons, but most chose to use katanas. Many of them received training from weaponmasters, and some might even have learned from monks and know how to strengthen themselves through meditation. They were experts at discovering and exploiting the weaknesses of their opponents while utilising their strengths. The skill Kai was passed on to warriors by sword saints who tried to spread their influence and skills to the world.
The sword saint observed the merchant squad for a while, then left with a disappointed look. Sword saints were people who loved looking for opponents to spar with in order to train their skill in actual combat. In places where beastmen appeared, sword saints would always wait for foreigners to arrive as the monsters residing in the wilderness were no match for them.
"Vivian, go back to our room first. I'll be back soon."
Soran was curious about the sword saint and decided to tail him sneakily without sticking too close to him. It was getting dark, but the sword saint did not return to his home, instead arriving at a large tree. He stabbed the katana into the ground and sat down facing the blunt side of the blade. Holding the hilt in his hands, he closed his eyes and slowed down his breath, his muscular arms slightly swelling.
The sword saint sat there for the rest of the day. Soran's silhouette was hazy in the shadows, and he stayed silent and had a serious look as he observed the sword saint.
In fact, the sword saint was not sitting on the ground, but instead one centimeter above the ground the whole time; he was supporting his body solely with his arms. His breathing was steady and did not undergo much change, his chest thumping up and down slowly as if he was meditating.
Soran did not dare to approach the meditating sword saint—he would surely notice Soran's presence the moment Soran was within twenty meters of him.
Most sword saints were Grade 3 or above, which meant that the man's profession might be Level 10 or above. If Soran fought with the sword saint, the chances of Soran winning were below thirty percent. This was why Soran silently left without disturbing the sword saint's meditation.
Sword Saint was known as the strongest profession which one could advance into as a Warrior. The second strongest was Weaponmaster, while the third was Fury Warrior, which boasted high Strength.
However, sword saints had a weakness—they did not wear armor. This weakness was especially apparent in the Time of Troubles, where sword saints would often be targeted in large-scale fights. This was why there were only a few sword saints who made it to the Realm of Legends, but those who made it obtained astounding skills. The skill Expose Weakness was said to be so powerful that it could even spot the weakest point in the energy field created by Deflect, a wizard spell.
Adventurers did not adventure out in the wild all the time. When they felt tired or had reached the critical point of moving onto the next stage in terms of combat strength, they would try to advance their profession or grade in a silent and quiet location.
"It's about time for me to start training as well, I guess."
Soran felt pressured after meeting so many strong people in a simple town. He had never felt this way before, but now that he had interacted with the people of this world, he felt that the NPCs in the game were not as ordinary as he had once thought. Despite being transported into this world with his past knowledge, he still had to work hard to grow stronger, or else he would not even be on par with the NPCs when the gods descended into the Mortal Realm.
"Fuh…" Soran placed his hand onto his curved sword and murmured, "So this is why the number of deities the players killed was barely ten percent of the number NPCs killed, huh…"
When the gods were forced to descend into the mortal realm, almost a hundred NPCs each managed to slay a deity and obtain their shard of divinity; only ten or so players managed to do the same. Soran now realised that it was not only because of their differences in levels, but also how hard they were training.
Anyway, Soran returned to the inn and began preparing dinner. Vivian was memorising vocabulary of the Common Language the whole time and had already learned most of the words Soran had written down beforehand. She did not ask where Soran went, nor did the merchant squad. Everyone was busy with their own business, including the mysterious mistress, who had not appeared much in the past two days. It was not too much of a surprise though, as wizards and witches often isolated themselves.
Vivian moved a stool and sat beside Soran while he was cutting the pork into small chunks. He then dumped the chunks of pork and peas into the pot, covered it with a lid, and headed toward the inn’s kitchen. After starting a fire with some wood and coal, he placed the pot into the fire and said, "Let's go eat something else first."
It was dish which could be made easily and had decent taste, and Soran had cooked this dish whenever he had free time back in the game. The only drawback was that the dish required patience; it was a slow-cooked stew which had to be cooked for roughly three hours.
It was now nighttime. The merchant guards were drinking and chatting at the bar, some even heading out for light sparring. Meanwhile, the merchants gathered and began counting their goods. They bought some fur from the hunters, and they would resell it for profit in the city. Soran was sitting in the back of the bar, fiddling with his curved sword with his left hand rather than his dominant hand.
Dual-wielding—it was an ability which was difficult to acquire. One could either spend a massive amount of skill points to get it or spend a lot of time training their weak hand. Since Soran had the ability Nimble Left Hand, things were easier for him.
The crowd suddenly made a fuss and urged Soran to spar with someone. Soran did not mind as he planned to do so anyway, and he accepted their invitation while holding the curved sword in his left hand. At first, the head guard wanted to be his opponent, but he then passed the opportunity after noticing Soran was using his left hand. In the end, Soran's opponent was a young man from the North.
There were few who could dual-wield because it required an extremely high level of skill. Currently, elves were known as the best dual-wielding fighters in the world. Only they, who had such long lifespans, could spend so much time in training one single technique.
Since Vivian was too short, she climbed onto a table and stood there in order to watch the sparring match.
In the small makeshift arena in the bar, Soran had a serious look as he moved around agilely. Using his weak hand affected his performance, but it was within his expectations as the point was to train his left hand in the first place. Even though he gave his opponent a handicap, Soran still stood his ground and fought on par with the young man; he even had the leeway to test out new techniques from time to time.
Vivian looked just as serious as Soran, holding a small knife in her hand and swinging it in an attempt to mimic her brother. The sight of a young girl swinging a knife around was rather awkward, but after a while, her movements began to look similar to Soran's.
Everyone was so focused on the match, no one noticed Vivian slashing her knife in the corner. Soran's evasion techniques left the audience awestruck, especially so when he used the Body-shifting skill to dodge incoming attacks. Unless one underwent flexibility training, it was impossible to achieve such a feat.
The mysterious mistress observed the match from the second floor and was rather uninterested when she saw Soran was one of the participants, probably knowing that he would win anyway. However, she had a refreshing look when she noticed Vivian swinging the small knife back and forth in the corner.
Vivian soon dropped the knife and began muttering, "It's not that hard! Big brother is not fighting seriously. If big brother used that 'swish swoosh' technique, he would win immediately!
"This guy just uses the same moves all the time! The man earlier today was stronger!"
Feeling bored, Vivian sneakily poured a cup of ale and took a sip.
"Hm, tastes weird. Why do people like to drink this so much?"
Vivian felt curious, thus she took a few more sips, her cheeks glowing red shortly after.
"Hm, why do I feel dizzy?"
Vivian began swaying side to side as she took more and more sips. When Soran returned after sparring, her face was already as red as a tomato. She tried to hide the cup, but Soran obviously saw what she did.
Soran had a dark expression after realising what Vivian did. He smacked her butt as punishment immediately before hauling her back into their room.
After settling Vivian down in their room, Soran went to the kitchen. He covered the porcelain pot with ash, then lit an oil lamp and returned to their room. He took out a book from his multi-dimensional bag and started reading while glancing at Vivian from time to time. Soran was trying hard to contain his laughter even though he was mad after seeing the cute Vivian get drunk.
"You have quite some guts!" Soran lightly pinched Vivian's nose, who retaliated in her dreams by swinging her arms all over the place.
Even though she only drank a small cup of ale, she was completely drunk. Soran read for a while, then decided to put out the oil lamp and go to bed. Vivian snuggled next to him and hugged his arm, murmuring something in her sleep.
Just like that, the night was over, and morning soon came.
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