Chapter 55: Ryu (Middle Part)


TL: Akabane




10 years old.


I was accustomed to life as an disciple, and my body was growing nicely.
But Meimei was still a little girl.


She is demi-human after all, but she was getting stronger little by little as a martial artist.
I used to fight all the time, so physical training suited my nature.


My daily life was the same as before, but the scenery of the dojo had changed.
Not that the pattern had changed, but the number of disciple had decreased.


The reason is that when the seniors came of age, they left the dojo one after another.
On other word, they leave the dojo, or rather, they leave this town.


The reason for this was mainly to seek for more strength.


Grandpa Pai would train them physically and teach them martial arts stances and kata, but he didn't teach them the techniques of the Kikagei-ryu.


So the seniors left the town and went on a journey to train to become stronger than they were now.


Otherwise, they have moved on to other dojo, or have taken paths unrelated to the martial arts.
It was sad to see a family that had become so close to each other go away, but it was the seniors' decision, so I had no choice but to let it go.


Since then, there have been no new disciples, and the Kikagei-ryu is slowly fading away.


I asked my grandfather a simple question.


“Why don't you teach us, your disciples, the techniques of the Kikagei-ryu?” I heard that Kikagei-ryu was also a great school.
If you had such great skills, why didn't you teach us? If you teach them the Kikagei-ryu technique, then my seniors won't have to leave the dojo.”


“Hoo ……
I didn't know that Ryu was now concerned about me and the Kikagei-ryu.
It's a good thing I lived long enough.”


“Shut up ……
and don't make fun of me.
I'm not going to be a part of this.”


“Haha, why don't I teach them all the techniques……? Well, I stopped teaching techniques to my disciples a long time ago.
They don't need any skills to live in this world.
It is enough if they have the ability to live on their own.
This is a nest for them to fly away.”


A nest to fly away……?


Most of the disciples of the Kikagei-ryu, including myself, were children with a reason.
Grandpa Pai picked up or took in children who couldn't even survive today.


I and Meimei were in the same situation, and so were the other disciples.


If anything, this dojo is more like an orphanage.


And Grandpa Pai is taking the role of our parent.
So we were more like family than friends.


Sometimes, martial artists who genuinely wanted to learn would visit Kikagei-ryu, but they would leave as soon as they found out that Grandpa Pai wouldn't teach them the techniques.


“If Ryu wants to grow up and become stronger, then you can leave.
But until then, you should work hard here to build up your foundation.”


“……I understand.”


I wasn't convinced, but that was okay for now.


Maybe over time, the old man will change his mind.




One day, Grandpa Pai brought four adventurers with him.


They all wore cool armor and carried shiny swords and shields.
One in particular caught my eye, an adventurer named Dale.


My father was a bad adventurer, and the adventurers who came to town were all nuisances, so I had an aversion to adventurers.


But Dale was friendly and kind to us, and had a different kind of aura than the other adventurers.
It's hard to describe, but his whole body was infused with energy.


Above all, he was genuinely strong.


Usually, Grandpa Pai doesn't do kumite with us, the disciples.
But he was doing kumite with Dale by himself.


It was an intense, eye-popping battle.
I was excited for the first time in my life to see two people of a different level in kumite.


(It's amazing! ……This is too much!)


“I'm totally defeated, man.
I never thought I'd lose to such a little old man.”


“I'm so proud of myself, I've got the blood of a martial artist boiling in my veins.”


In the end, the old man who threw Dale away won, but it seemed to be a close fight.


Rather than being surprised at how strong Grandpa Pai was, I was first and foremost impressed by Dale's strength.
That's not just me, I'm sure all the disciples felt the same way.


The old man, who liked Dale, invited him to become his disciple.


Dale refused, but he was pushed by the old man to stay at the dojo for a while.


In addition to Dale, a beautiful young lady named Aisia started coming to the dojo every day, and the boys were looking down their noses at her, but I wasn't interested and stuck with Dale.


“Hey Dale, tell me about your adventures again.”


“Again? Haa, I can't help it.
I'll tell you about the time we fought with the pirate ship.”


Dale's stories of his adventures were fresh and entertaining, and I begged him to tell me about his adventures again and again.


Dale was not too full of it, and he was surprisingly good at getting the conversation going, so I never got tired of hearing about his adventures.


“My dream is to become the world's greatest adventurer.
A man has to have big dreams.”


“Wow ……
the best adventurer in the world? Then I will be the best martial artist in the world!”


Dale was a cool guy, even his dreams were cool.


And not just with his mouth, he was actually strong.
Of course, I was no match for him, but neither were all my seniors.


And Dale was learning more and more kata as the days went by, and his skill level was quickly improving.
In an instant, he had mastered the kata that I had barely mastered after years of training.


Everyone around me was impressed, but I was the opposite.
I was overwhelmed by the difference in talent.
I wondered how much more I had to train to reach Dale's strength.


Ten days and a bit later, Dale set off on another adventure.


When it was time to say goodbye, Meimei was crying a lot.
Like me, Meimei had called Dale “Aniki” and had missed him a lot.
It was understandable that she was sad.


I was also sad to parted with Dale, but I was more impatient than that.


I wanted to become stronger and stronger.




I turned 14.


My body was getting even bigger and I was about to become an adult.


After Dale's departure, I sought strength even more.
I ate a lot of food that I didn't like in order to build my body, and I trained myself hard enough to make me vomit blood.


Among the disciples of the Kikagei-ryu, I was rarely defeated, including the seniors.
Even in the occasional match-style kumite with other dojo, I never lost.


However, for some reason, Meimei was always beat me.
She was supposed to be so small and powerless, but she was able to parry my attacks.
It is probably because she has better technique and skill in hagane than I do.


In terms of fighting style, I was hard and Meimei was soft, and we didn't have good chemistry.
Every time I lost to Meimei, I was frustrated by my own weakness.


This is no good.
I have not come close to the realm of the old man and Dale that I saw back then.


That's why I kept on seeking strength.


I have become the oldest of the disciples, but there have not been many new disciples since then.
All of my siblings left the dojo, and Kikagei-ryu gradually fell into disuse.


If things continue as they are, this will really be the end of Kikagei-ryu.


It was around this time that I finally began to feel a sense of crisis.


I had to do something.




One night.


I said I wanted to talk to the old man alone.


“Ryu, you want to talk to me alone? Are you going to introduce me to your girlfriend? Don't tell me you have a wife?”


“Grandpa Pai, please.
Please, old man, teach me the technique of Kikagei-ryu.”


Ignoring Grandpa's banter, I put my head on the tatami and earnestly ask.


I guess he could tell how serious I was, because he responded in a serious tone of voice.


“I told you before, I only want my disciple to learn how to live, not to teach them techniques.”


“You can convince me for that reason! Look at the dojo now, it's a shabby place with no disciple! If you don't do something, the Kikagei-ryu will really go under, but you don't care about that!”


“That's fine.
I have no regrets about the Kikagei-ryu after all.”


“You may be fine with it, but I'm not! I don't want this place that raised me, the Kikagei-ryu, to be destroyed!”


“Ryu ……
you were thinking like that?”


“Yes, I am.”


I thought about it, too.
I thought about it a lot.
Even if I stay in the Kikagei-ryu, I can't get any stronger.
I have no choice but to leave this town or transfer to another school.


But I just couldn't do it.


I couldn't abandon my Grandpa who picked me up and brought me up to this point, and the Kikagei-ryu.


I wanted to repay my Grandpa for rescuing me from the worst days of my life, born of a shitty father and shunned by the townspeople.


That's all.


“Please, Grandpa, make me a legitimate disciple of Kikagei-ryu.
If you teach me the techniques, I will become stronger, and I will take over the Kikagei-ryu.
I will make it bigger and more famous than any other dojo!!!!”




I begged desperately, but Grandpa Pai didn't respond.


As I continued to do so, Grandpa Pai eventually let out a deep sigh.


“That was more than ten years ago.
The name of the Kikagei-ryu was well known among the martial artists, and the number of disciples was incomparable to what it is today.”


“Why are you talking about the old days……?”


“Well, just listen to me.
Back then, I taught my disciples the technique of Kikagei-ryu.
I taught them everything that I had honed, without hiding it.
I thought that was the natural thing to do as a martial artist and ……
martial arts propagator.”


The old man then said, “But that was a mistake.” and he looked as if he were overcome with remorse.


“Among my disciples, there was one who was particularly gifted.
I believed that he would be the successor of the Kikagei-ryu.
But he had a madness in his heart.
One day, when he disappeared, he was killing martial artists one after another.”


— “Why? Why are you doing this to me?”


— “Why? It is a foolish question, Master.
Power is originally something that destroys others.
I am only following the rule of reason.
You understand my feelings, don't you, Master?”




“I am sure he can't understand.
I taught him because I wanted him to reach a higher level as a martial artist.
Martial arts is not a tool to kill people.
It is a tool to help the weak and to destroy the wicked.
That is what he misunderstood.”


“What happened to that martial artist…..?”


I asked fearfully, and the old man muttered with a tearful look on his face.


“I gave him up by my own hand.
I didn't kill him, but I reduced him to a point where he couldn't be rehabilitated.
I wanted him to change his mind.
But he soon took his own life with his own hands.”


— “Why ……
did you let this happen?”


“I was afraid.
I was afraid that the techniques I had taught him had turned into tools for killing people and even killing other disciples.
Because of that, I stopped teaching the techniques of Kikagei-ryu to my disciples.
At the very least, they should have the ability to survive in the world.”


So that's the reason why you don't teach your disciples the technique of the Kikagei-ryu.


I have to admit I was surprised.
I didn't know he had a past like that.


But the past is the past.


It has nothing to do with me.


“But I still want to carry on the Kikagei-ryu.
I want to be strong as Kikagei-ryu, using my Grandpa's techniques!”


“I'm sorry, Ryu ……
I can't do that.”


“Damn it……! You don't know what you're talking about!”


Even though I begged desperately, the old man didn't shake his head.


Then I skipped my chores and training and went into town to kill time for no good reason.


That's when it happened.


Then suddenly some idiots started fighting with me.


“Hey, bro, come play with us for a bit.”


“We're from Haten-ryu and we're dying to try out our techniques, so why don't you play with us?”


“Haten-ryu…..? Oh, the dojo that's been getting a lot of attention lately.”


I had heard of that name.


It seems that these days, martial artists claiming to be from the Haten-ryu are breaking into dojos and robbing them of their money and goods.
It's not so much dojo breaking, but dojo vandalism.


The martial artist took a dojo and used it as a base, taking in disciples one after another and expanding his power.
However, the disciples are a bunch of jerks, and it is said that they are doing bad things in town.


(So the rumors were true.)


These guys who got involved with me were not martial artists by any stretch of the imagination.
They were just thugs in a dogi.


“Okay, I was just looking for a distraction.
I'll be your partner.”


“Haha! Don't be a pussy, kid!”


“I won't forgive you if you cry and apologize!'


The martial artists of the “Haten-ryu” attacked me and screaming at me.


It was no big deal, so much so that I wondered if they were really martial artists, and the matter was settled in an instant.




“Damn ……
this guy is strong……”


“You guys are too weak.”


I let out a sigh as I look down at the broken stream crawling on the ground.


I feel somewhat refreshed, but I'm not satisfied at all with this level.


I would have liked to fight a stronger martial artist anyway.


“If you're going to pick a fight, think about who you're fighting.”


With that said, it was time to turn on my heel.


Suddenly, I was approached by someone.


“You there, can I talk to you for a minute?”


“Oh? –What?”


I turned around, and I was astonished.


The man who called out to me was a slender man with threadbare eyes.
He is probably a martial artist because he is wearing a black robe, but I am overwhelmed by the bizarre atmosphere emanating from him.


“Who are you…..?”


I was on the lookout, and the man with the stringy eyes gave me a thin smile that made my hair stand on end and said,


“My name is Tao Ron, master of the Haten-ryu.
and I look forward to getting to know you.”

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