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Chapter 5

A Knight who Eternally Regresses

03/03/2024

WE TRIED TRANSLATIONS

Translator: Ryuu

Editor: Abstract

Discord: https://dsc.gg/wetried

A KNIGHT WHO ETERNALLY REGRESSES

 

Chapter 5: Vallen Style Swordsmanship

 

= = =

 

"Eh? Huh? How did you not get it?"

"I'm not a prophet."

At Enkrid's response, Rem shook the bug out of his boots and confidently stated,

"Did the Squad Leader put it in?"

"I didn't put it in."

"Tch."

Rem's skeptical gaze lingered, but Enkrid paid it no mind; it wasn't important.

Enkrid crushed the bug Rem had dropped with his foot.

Squish.

The unpleasant sensation traveled up from the sole of his boot.

"Ptui."

Enkrid then spat on it, mixing the bug's remains with the dirt on the ground and asked,

"Can you teach me 'Heart of the Beast'?"

"Hm? You remember that?"

Getting up and putting on his boots, Rem inquired.

"It's not something that’s easily forgotten."

"When did you fill your stomach with liquor, wanting to forget stuff?"

There will come a time for that. The scenes of being decapitated by an axe in his dreams made life unbearable.

"Can you teach me or not?"

"You're especially enthusiastic today. Alright, let's do it."

Rem nodded in agreement.

"Saxen, can you take over the morning duties? I'll do it tomorrow."

Eating was necessary for strength, but there was no need to waste time on tasks like dishwashing.

"Yes, of course."

Saxen, a squad member who got along well with everyone and had a remarkably easygoing nature, agreed. When Enkrid first saw him, he thought Saxen played a mediating role in this place. Saxen brushed off his light brown hair and stepped out of the tent. Watching him leave, Rem snorted,

"That guy gives me a bad vibe."

If Saxen had performed his role as a mediator well, perhaps Enkrid wouldn't have ended up here. Saxen got along better with other squads than with his own, except for Enkrid. For some reason, Enkrid seemed to have the trust of his own squad members. Whether it was because he silently took care of various requests or because of his lackluster skills that doomed him to a lifetime as a Squad Leader, Enkrid wasn't sure. He simply thought it must be one of those two reasons.

Following Rem out of the tent, Enkrid pondered,

"It's unsettling how well he gets along with the 1st Squad. It's best to keep your distance from such people."

And what about you?

Enkrid only thought this to himself.

Rem had once broken the jaw of a superior officer over a disagreement in his previous squad. Was it his place to say such things? While Rem was a benefactor to Enkrid, he wasn't exactly popular with other squads, especially his former 1st Squad who glared at him as if they wished he were dead. After all, he had fractured their Squad Leader's jaw.

Enkrid didn't argue. Arguing wouldn't change anything. It was a waste of time. Rather than arguing, it was better to focus on mastering the ‘Heart of the Beast.’ Besides learning from Rem, Enkrid had plenty to do.

"Especially with those 1st Squad bastards, it feels even more repulsive."

Sure, let's go with that.

Seeing Enkrid not respond, Rem stopped walking.

"Why?"

"Normally, you'd have something to say by now. Weren't you the one who always said it's not my place to break a jaw, or that if you can't get along, it's better not to look at each other at all?"

Normally, that would be the case. If Enkrid was not criticizing the jaw-breaking, then he was advising to avoid interaction if there's no chance of getting along. Better to keep them apart than to encourage conflict, as Enkrid believed while leading the eccentric ‘Four Four Four Squad.’

"I have nothing to say."

Enkrid cut him off. Rem scratched the back of his head.

"Today's really odd."

They went to eat breakfast and then found an open space outside the barracks for training. Although training on a battlefield might seem out of place, Enkrid was accustomed to this routine. For those who knew him, it wasn't anything special. Passersby didn't give them much attention either.

Thus, the teaching of the 'Heart of the Beast' began anew.

"...Have you secretly learned from someone else? But that shouldn't be possible."

"I just repeated what I learned."

"Can training alone really lead to this?"

Another death was just another experience. Enkrid found it easier to focus than before. Seeing this, Rem sent him a curious look but then shrugged it off with a "Fine, then."

"In my opinion, Squad Leader, you have talent if you can do this much."

Rem threw a similar comment as yesterday. Talent, if only that were true.

Just before, Enkrid had failed to dodge Rem's axe, which halted just in front of his throat. Just a flick of the wrist away from leaving a long scar on his neck, it was dangerously close.

"That was a close call."

Rem chuckled, seemingly proud of Enkrid's progress. There was a hint of satisfaction in his laughter. Enkrid felt it too.

"What kind of trick allows you to swing an axe like that?"

That axe swing just now. Rem's axe was even faster than the thrusts that had killed him several times. The axe blade nearly touched the skin of his neck, a mere blink away. In fact, Enkrid didn't even blink, but he still missed the movement of the axe blade.

"Hm, talent?"

Enkrid thought Rem was really annoying at that moment. He always was like that.

"If training could make everyone good with a sword, would there be anyone bad at it?"

Rem laughed heartily. Enkrid, who had just read satisfaction on Rem's face, now realized that Rem enjoyed teasing him.

A strange guy indeed.

Well, was there anyone in this squad who wasn't odd?

"What if you train more? What if you put in more effort? What if you swing your sword even when you should be sleeping?"

Enkrid asked reflexively. It was a dilemma he had long harbored. Should one give up if they lack talent? Enkrid didn't give up. Instead of surrendering, he chose to advance. 

What did he have if he decided to march forward?

Nothing but the will to keep moving, even if it meant taking only a quarter step while the so-called geniuses took ten.

"If you really think that's not odd, then you've become serious, haven't you?"

Rem put his axe back on his belt and said.

"No."

"Squad Leader."

Rem called out to Enkrid without a hint of laughter.

After a brief silence, Rem spoke,

"People die if they don't sleep."

He was shaking. Rem couldn't hold back his laughter anymore and burst out laughing right after his statement. That was his response to what would happen if Enkrid kept swinging his sword even in his sleep.

"Get lost."

Enkrid gave him the universal finger gesture, raising his middle finger. Rem, still chuckling, suggested they go have lunch. Enkrid didn't beg for more lessons. You can't get full with just one spoonful. He knew this all too well.

After lunch, Enkrid reviewed his own swordsmanship.

The basic sword techniques of stabbing, slashing, and swinging. After the basics, he learned the Vallen style mercenary swordsmanship. It wasn't shabby.

He had traveled far and spent a good amount of money on it. It wasn't something you could learn for a few silver coins. 

Vallen Style Mercenary swordsmanship.

It was named after Vallen, who was quite renowned in the mercenary world, though he was from a knight's level.

If it had to be categorized, it would belong to the illusionary sword style. Enkrid didn't know how Vallen originally used it, but he had internalized a few techniques in his own way.

Enkrid devoted himself to this style.

'Death brings a new day, but what remains in the body doesn't disappear.'

The 'Heart of the Beast' wasn't learned in the mind but absorbed by the body. That meant what remained in his body stayed there. 

He pushed his body to its limits. His palms, deeply calloused from years of training, cracked open again from swinging the sword. Normally, soldiers don't use swords. Spears are their main weapon. It was a special privilege for Enkrid because he was the Squad Leader.

Enkrid didn't want to let go of his sword.

He trained repeatedly. His grip ached, but he endured. His stomach felt raw from undigested food, but he endured. He primed every single sense, from the tips of his toes to his fingertips.

Illusionary swordsmanship is about deception. It encourages using whatever means necessary to deceive the opponent. A few techniques of Vallen style swordsmanship had already spread throughout the mercenary world.

For example, pretending to fall and then stabbing the opponent. It's not despicable. What's despicable about doing whatever it takes to survive? If someone claimed a knight wouldn't do such things, Enkrid wouldn't argue. Everyone has their own values and he has his own.

The time allowed was half a day. His legs didn't give out. If they had, it would have made a mockery of his daily physical training. Enkrid's legs were strong.

"Having a sturdy body is indeed an advantage."

Rem commented as Enkrid returned. Just then, a messenger had come and left. It was the sixth repeat of today, and just by looking at the sky, Enkrid could roughly tell the flow of time.

"Twenty years of training went into this body."

Enkrid replied nonchalantly and moved back to the squad area.

"Make sure your sturdy body doesn't end up being just a training dummy for them."

Just before the battle began, Rem chuckled again.

"I'll take over the duty tomorrow."

Saxen added from the side. One seemed to be mocking him. The other seemed determined not to be on kitchen duty two days in a row. Well, whichever way they meant it, both seemed to wish for his safe return.

"See you later."

The sixth day began and Enkrid killed the enemies more effortlessly than on the fifth day.

The first attacker tripped and hit on the back of his head with the edge of a shield. The second was tricked with a sword feint before being stabbed.

Vallen style swordsmanship.

These were not commonly known techniques in the mercenary world, but were acquired through extensive effort and money.

The flickering sword tip itself was a mirage, confusing the opponent's sight.

He applied what he had learned, and it was effective. He felt rewarded. The joy of growth, the sense of fulfillment filled his heart once more. The repeated days did not bring about just insignificant achievements.

Enkrid didn't take his repeated resurrections lightly. On the contrary, he was more intense, more focused, more immersed. He had always harbored the desire and ambition to seize any opportunity.

Enkrid lived up to that. He cut down, struck, and toppled enemies. The repeated battles offered him unique experiences.

"Heart of the Beast."

He saw things he hadn't noticed the previous days. Soon, it was time for Bell to fall again. Fighting in the same place every day meant he always saw Bell. One cannot simply retreat from the front lines or move elsewhere on a whim. Such actions are tantamount to suicide. Changing one's position on the battlefield at will is not an easy task.

'My skills aren't at that level.'

Enkrid knew himself well.

Though he had more leeway, he wasn't about to charge through enemy lines or take risks akin to gambling. Moreover, he couldn't anticipate the skilled archer's arrows in advance.

Thump!

Bell's head burst again.

"Damn."

He had tried to save him this time, but failed again. Enkrid immediately ducked. As if on cue, an arrow whizzed overhead. A whooshing sound lingered in his ears. It was a skillful dodge, as if he had anticipated it.

"Seems like you have a good sense today?"

Rem, who had approached unnoticed, commented.

"Go, then. Take the head of the bastard who shot those arrows."

"Was planning to. Since you're in good shape, take care of yourself."

Rem departed. Enkrid encountered the skilled soldier with the thrusts again. And Enkrid failed again. This time, he dodged the club from the soldier behind him, but another nearby threw a throwing axe.

It was infuriating.

The morning of the seventh day dawned.

"I put the bug in."

When he told Rem,

"Have you gone mad?"

"No, I'm not crazy. Keeping your mind calm in such situations, that's part of 'Heart of the Beast,' right?"

"Hm?"

"Teach me."

The day began again.

Rem hesitated, then agreed.

He learned, practiced, and swung his sword.

This time, he didn't even try to save Bell. To save him, he needed to anticipate the arrow, which he couldn't do. It was all up to luck.

How did Rem dodge those arrows? Enkrid wondered as he moved.

He died from the thrust again.

"Mercy."

That damn mercy.

He died. And so, the eighth, ninth, tenth, eleventh, twelfth... Even after more than a hundred deaths, Enkrid kept repeating his day of death.

 

= = =

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Chapter 5

A Knight who Eternally Regresses

03/03/2024

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