24.32% Sword and Lily / Chapter 9: An Unpolished Jade

Chapter 9: An Unpolished Jade

The expression Astraea had on her face was totally different. It was as if she had become a bloodthirsty killer who wouldn't be satisfied until she destroyed her opponent. It quite frankly terrified Hokuto to know this [Rose Sword Saint] indeed had such deadly thorns. Quietly, yet swiftly moving over to a weapons rack holding several wooden swords, Astraea took one before returning to where she once stood.

"Watch very closely." Astraea said sternly as she looked around. Soon, she saw a line of training dummies made of a sturdy alloy (Hokuto did not know the exact composition of this alloy beyond the fact it was mostly composed of rare mythril, a strange magical ore with incredibly durable properties). Smiling, Astraea drew out the wooden sword, quickly slicing forth in a horizontal arc at breakneck speed.

The only thing Hokuto could see was the way Astraea's arms moved, and the powerful sword light that emerged from her slicing into the air. In the distance, the training dummies were horizontally bisected cleanly. Gulping, Hokuto was beginning to see that perhaps there were advantages to using mundane weaponry too. The idea that being able to attack at a distance with the sword was pretty cool, too.

"Did you see that?" Astraea asked Hokuto, who shook her head in response. "That's right. Such sword arts can be accomplished easily by you if you take the opportunity to train."

"But you used internal martial arts, didn't you?" Hokuto was skeptical.

"That's not true; the resultant force was due to me slicing into the wind with such intensity that the consequent air blades from my attack was able to penetrate through the metal." Astraea explained.

"That's even possible by humans?" Hokuto frowned.

Astraea forcibly implanted the wooden sword into the floor. What was impressive about this feat was that the material of the floor of the dojo was incredibly tough. Though they were walking on wood, beneath the wood was several inches of reinforced concrete. The technology to create reinforced concrete came from an ally, the Clockwork Kingdom. Therefore, Astraea's physical strength was enough for her to forcibly shatter wood and then several inches of stone beneath it.

After a few moments of Hokuto gawking, Astraea pulled up the wooden sword, leaving a hole in the floor the width and size of the wooden sword. There were no remnant cracks around the hole, meaning that Astraea had completely controlled her strength such that it was the bare minimum needed. Hokuto's heart started to beat faster.

She realized something, although she wasn't entirely convinced. Hokuto's impression towards sword play, however, had significantly improved. Hokuto clenched her fists. "I'm not entirely convinced that this is the way to go, but..." she spoke solemnly. "I'll try and put in more of an effort."

Hokuto this time took the initiative to grab a wooden sword and stood in front of Astraea once again. The [Rose Sword Saint] had a faint smile of approval plastered on her face. She had reverted back to her gentle gaze, and the aura of intense killing intent no longer permeated her being. Hokuto felt much less pressured this time.

Astraea now stood perfectly still and put the wooden sword in her hand on the ground.

"First... I need to assess your talent with the blade. Your father has told me that you have received basic foundation training, even though you did not take it that seriously. Please show me what you know." Astraea seemed relaxed despite her stance.

Hokuto silently nodded and got into her battle stance - it was the first step into practicing the <North Star Lily Sword Art>. Her right leg stepping forward, right hand bearing the blade as it rests on her left hip, edge pointing downwards. Suddenly, she lunged forward, drawing the blade out towards Astraea's chest, who effortlessly slapped the wooden blade aside at a rapid speed.

"Keep going. Unleash everything you know!" the [Rose Sword Saint] challenged Hokuto to try and hit her chest.

The ten year old girl struggled to land a hit on the [Rose Sword Saint] as she rapidly swung her blade with all the moves and kata she barely knew - cross cut, linear strikes of both the horizontal and vertical varieties, thrusts - it was clear that Hokuto had the skill of an amateur.

However, at ten years old, the plethora of different techniques Hokuto had clumsily tried to display had shocked Astraea, who had been at this time using her hands and wrists to deflect her blows. An unpolished jade! She simply needed to refine her understanding of the fundamentals. She would instruct Hokuto and help her to perfect the <North Star Lily Sword Art>! But how...

As Astraea continued to effortlessly parry Hokuto's attacks, she was racking up a training plan. Hokuto on the other hand was clearly getting discouraged, and after a few more prolonged moments of futility, gave up and stopped.

"Teacher is too skilled!"

"Don't be so hard on yourself. You may have failed to hit me, but it's enough. I know you have the potential to follow in my footsteps. You just need polishing and guidance," Astraea gave Hokuto some praise. "So I will let you have the rest of the day off. You've experienced a lot this time, and I need to formulate a training plan for you."

Hokuto bowed. "Thank you very much. I hope you continue to show me just how amazing swordplay can be. I am still not entirely convinced! It's not like I'm doing this for anyone's sake but my own after all!"

Astraea chuckled. "As you say."

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