Chapter 54: Ryu (Part 1)
My name is Ryu.
I was born on the outskirts of a small town at the foot of the mountains.
My family was poor.
My father didn't work much and spent his days drinking from morning till night.
He would lose his temper over the slightest thing and beat me and my mother.
My mother, with me in her arms, had to put up with him for a long time until he got his mind off of it.
On the opposite side of such a shitty father, my mom was doing hard labor like a man would do from morning till night.
Even as a child, I realized that this environment was strange.
I asked my mother many times, “Why do you serve that b*stard father? Why didn't you abandon him?”
My mother would always say something like this.
—“Someday, I'm sure he'll come back to the father you had then.
Until then, I will support him.”
My father was a famous adventurer.
My mother fell in love with him because he was brave, strong, dynamic, and cool.
However, after he lost one of his legs during a dungeon search and retired as an adventurer, he had no motivation to do anything and has been like this for years.
My mother still believes that my father will return to those days, but from my point of view, it didn't matter to me at all.
I had never seen my father as a cool guy, and I had only seen him as an uncool guy who didn't work and was addicted to alcohol.
All I can think of is that he should go to hell.
I would only get beat up by my father if I stayed at home, so I would go outside to kill time until my mother came home from work.
But because of that assh*le father, I was treated like a tumor in town.
People around me looked at me with white eyes, and kids of the same generation would throw stones at me and curse at me.
Of course I fought back, but I was outnumbered and beaten to a pulp every time.
My life was such a shitty life, and I found myself at the age of seven.
First, my mother died.
She died of exhaustion.
Of course she died of exhaustion.
She couldn't eat well, my father beat her too, and she was injured while doing hard labor.
To put it another way, I was impressed that she could keep her job for so many years.
Soon after that, my father died.
It was suicide.
When I came home, he had hanged himself.
If he was going to die, why didn't he just die somewhere else?
It was too much work for a kid to clean it up.
Why did my father take his own life?
I don't know if he came to his senses after my mother's death or if he was grieving for his own sins, but the reason didn't matter.
I felt refreshed from the bottom of my heart.
I was finally free of him.
I had to live on my own, and I survived by picking pockets and thieving outside of town.
There was no place to work for such a small kid with a bad reputation.
It was the only way to make ends meet.
Well, I didn't feel guilty about it at all.
The kids were still coming at me, but I fought them all off.
I was able to eat well and my body got stronger after I started eating well.
And my father had taught me how to inflict pain and fear through violence, so that helped me in the fights.
No one among the kids would stand up to me anymore.
I could live on my own with ease.
That was the time when I was so happy.
“Hey, you just stole it, didn't you? Show me what's in your hand.”
“Ah? I didn't steal anything.
Don't touch me! Just let me out!”
I was stealing like I always do, and I got caught out handling it badly.
From there, more and more adults gathered around and beat me to a pulp.
“You're a piece of sh*t! Like father like son!”
“Die, you little sh*t! You're a pain in the ass!”
Haha, I ended up the same way as that father after all……
I was beaten to a pulp and my consciousness was already fading.
As if to break up the angry voices of the adults, a muffled voice was heard.
“These grown-ups can't all get together and hurt a single child.”
“This is not right! This kid is stealing money from people and goods from the store! We're not the only ones affected! We have to teach him a lesson!”
“Oh, you all teach him a lesson.
But then, I thought I heard some strange words, like “die”.
Was I imagining things?”
“……How about this, then? I'll take care of the child at my place and I'll pay for the damage done.
So please forgive him this time.”
“Well, okay, if ……
Master Pai says so, then…….”
Hey, you little sh*t, I'll let you off the hook for today, but not next time.”
What the ……
f*ck is going on?
Suddenly an old man appeared, and all the grownups disappeared in droves.
I was bewildered by the sudden change in the situation, and the old man was carrying a collapsed me on his small back.
“What's your name, my dear?”
“Ryu, that's a cool name.
My name is Pai, by the way.
Ryu, you are my disciple from today.
Disciple? What's a disciple?
I had no idea what this old man was talking about, but his back was warm and I felt as safe as when my mother was carrying me, and I fell asleep with my body in her arms.
“This is ……”
I woke up in a strange room.
A strange smell tickled my nose, something I had never smelled before.
“You're awake, how are you feeling?”
As I look around, a haggard old man calls out to me.
I was alarmed and wondered who he was ……
but then my memory came back to the old man who had rescued me from the adults.
His name was Pai, I think.
“Where am I?”
“This is the dojo of Kikagei-ryu.”
Where is that…..?
I had never heard the word before.
As I twisted my neck, the old man explained on his own.
A dojo, he said, is a place where martial artists gather to master their martial arts, eat and sleep together, and engage in friendly competition.
And this old man is a master instructor of one of the many styles of Kikagei-ryu.
In short, he is the most important guy in the dojo.
And there are many disciples who come here to learn from him.
“Ryu is my disciple from today.”
“Don't make up your mind.
Who would become such a thing?”
“I'll give you this.
It's called a dogi, and it's what martial artists wear.
Isn't it cool?”
“Listen to me, old man.
I'm never going to be your disciple.”
The old man insisted on taking me on as his disciple, but I stubbornly refused.
I spent the rest of my days living quietly in the dojo.
There were many disciples at the dojo, ranging in age from kids like me to adults.
They all wear tacky dojos, work from morning till night, and train hard in the martial arts.
The disciples were close, smiling constantly.
They looked more like a family than that shitty family I had.
The disciples tried to talk to me, but I ignored them all and went into my own shell.
I didn't work, I didn't train, I just ate my food and sat around.
Maybe I was afraid to join that circle.
Having lived like a rat in a dark ditch, I was afraid of living like a butterfly dancing freely outside in the light.
It's no place for me to be……
Gradually, the disciples stopped bothering me, and the only one who approached me was the old man.
No, there was another one.
She didn't even read the air and stepped into people's bosom without hesitation.
“Hey, don't you get bored if you do nothing all day? I'll train with Ryu.
It's definitely more fun that way.”
She was a strange looking girl with a strange accent.
Her name was Meimei.
She was the same age as me.
She had white, round ears on top of her head and a black, round tail growing out of her buttocks.
She was what we call a “beastman” which means she was not human.
I had seen beastmen in town from time to time, but mostly they were adventurers.
They seemed to be no different from human beings, just having the characteristics of beasts.
“Ryu, I'll clean up with you.
You should move your body.”
“Don't be picky.
You have to eat this and that.”
“Ryu, why don't you train with us? It's fun.”
“Don't you dare mess with me!”
Meimei was persistent.
No matter how much I ignored her, she would always try to get me to mind her as if she didn't give a damn.
She was persistent enough that I couldn't stand it any longer and asked her a question.
“Why are you bothering me?” Then Meimei answered, “I don't know.”
“It's because Ryu is already my family.
It's natural to want to get along with your family, right?”
When I heard those words, I felt something hot filling my empty chest.
I wondered if they would really consider ……
me a family member.
From that day on, I put on my dorky street clothes.
I woke up early in the morning and joined the disciples in doing chores such as dusting, cleaning the yard, and heating the bathtub.
I also joined in the training.
Then, the disciples who had been avoiding me began to talk to me again.
This time, I didn't ignore them, and I also began to actively talk to them myself.
Before I knew it, I had blended in so quickly that I had become a member of the Kikagei-ryu family.
“What is it?”
“Um, I've got something I want to say to you.
“What is it? It's so creepy that you're all fidgety.”
“Shut up! I quit!”
“What is that?”
Thanks to her.
That one word didn't come out and I couldn't tell it.
So I tell her in my heart.
Thank you, Meimei.
Thanks to you, I'm having a great time right now.
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