Episode 32/Chapter 6: The land of darkness (6)
It wasn’t a flashy attack and there was no light or sound effect. It also wasn’t fast or strong.
But it was a bit different. The stab Tae Ho had executed couldn’t be compared to the ones he had executed until now.
Ferdia mac Daman couldn’t parry nor dodge Tae Ho’s attack. He just looked at the huge spear that had pierced his heart with an absent-minded expression and then turned into light and disappeared.
The fortieth victory.
If he counted this, then Tae Ho had already won for the fortieth time against Ferdia mac Daman.
Tae Ho dropped the huge spear and stood still. He closed his eyes naturally and took a deep breath.
He felt like he could understand.
He could understand it with the recent battle, albeit not completely.
Cuchulainn and Scathach didn’t explain about Scathach style techniques to Tae Ho in detail. They had told him that he would be able to realize them by himself as the important things were engraved in his body and mind.
He naturally cursed out as he was the one that would be suffering, but he couldn’t refute it anymore.
The words of the two people were true.
He felt like he was learning a type of technique when he had first started to climb the tower.
Slash like this when you slash.
Control your strength and speed like this.
There were quite flashy techniques among them. It wasn’t excessive to say that the consecutive stabs he had learnt in the tenth floor was a kind of an ultimate attack.
But the essence of Scathach’s style techniques weren’t only that.
Eyes that let you grasp how you had to move just with looking, how the enemy would move and how will the surroundings change.
Tae Ho hadn’t completed it yet and had merely entered the early stages, but even with just that, the world Tae Ho saw had completely changed.
And it didn’t end there.
Tae Ho opened his eyes slowly. he looked at the huge spear and then imagined the stab he had just executed.
It wasn’t a technique of Scathach’s style.
It was Kalsted’s stab.
The sword techniques Tae Ho used until now all belonged to the ‘Immortal Warrior’.
The strongest swordsman in the Dark Age, Kalsted.
It didn’t have a specific shape. He did know some techniques recreated with his skills, but it wasn’t enough with just that.
Swordsmanship wasn’t merely a combination of skills.
With this as fact, Tae Ho didn’t possess the strongest swordsmanship. He had merely displayed somewhat good movements with the image of the strongest swordsman through his saga.
This wasn’t the case anymore.
Scathach’s style techniques were added onto Kalsted’s swordsmanship which previously only retained a faint image.
When it obtained the base of Scathach’s style techniques, Kalsted’s swordsmanship wasn’t a virtual image anymore.
Scathach’s insights had made that possible.
The sword techniques of Kalsted who’d lived in the Dark Age which weren’t materialized were different from Tae Ho’s newly made sword techniques.
The two of them shared the same image of the strongest swordsman, Kalsted. Two versions from the same source.
A saga was a recreation of reality.
Tae Ho laughed unconsciously. It was a laughter that was mixed with joy and a bit of absurdness.
It was the result of several things combining.
The saga, Scathach’s techniques, the sentence of the Milesians, and the Tower of Shadows.
‘Is it a combination of Asgard and Erin?’
If even one of those things were lacking, he wouldn’t have been able to produce the current result.
Tae Ho slowly raised his head and looked at the front.
[Synchro rate: 69%]
10% had increased in an instant. The reason that the synchro rate, which had only increased 1% the past year and three months, had surged up explosively was simple.
Tae Ho was now able to use the sword techniques of Kalsted.
He had become that much closer to him.
‘I feel like I can know.’
His thoughts about the synchro rate changed once again, and now, he felt like he realized it.
Tae Ho had two theories about the synchro rate until now.
The first one was established when he first entered Valhalla.
1% of the synchro rate meant that Tae Ho was able to execute 1% of Kalsted’s strength.
It was the most intuitive theory, but he realized that that wasn’t the case when he became an inferior-ranked warrior.
Because if that was the case, then he would have to be ten times stronger when he reached 10% from when he was at 1%.
But that wasn’t the case. There were times that the increase in strength wasn’t relative to the numbers.
Because of that, Tae Ho came up with the second theory.
Kalsted’s strength was the result of his several skills, items, and Tae Ho’s influence. Because of that, he wouldn’t be able to recreate Kalsted’s strength just with catching up in stats.
He had thought that it was a quite convincing theory, but he realized that it wasn’t the case now.
‘It’s much simpler.’
The more the synchro rate increased, the closer Tae Ho moved to becoming Kalsted.
Precisely speaking, he grew closer to the ‘strongest’ image the Dragon Knight, Kalsted, had.
The synchro rate was a kind of scale, and that scale wasn’t clear mathematically.
People normally felt a big difference between 19% and 20%. It was different depending with each person, but that difference was always bigger than that mathematic 1%.
The synchro rate was closer to a psychological resemblance.
Because of that, a big gap could obviously exist between 99% and 100%.
However close 99% seemed to be at completion, in the end, the 100% was the real completion. There was a great psychological difference in that 1% one couldn’t describe with words.
It seemed like a messed up description, but it was somewhat convincing.
Because the saga was something like that.
It was the story of a hero that was transmitted from mouth to mouth and was shared by people.
‘Whatever the case, what’s certain is that I grow stronger the higher it gets.’
Tae Ho organized his thoughts simply and turned his head. Cuchulainn was smiling.
“Did you finish with the appreciation?”
Cuchulainn was still smiling and his expression was closer to a friendly one rather than a curse.
Seeing this, Tae Ho also flashed a smile towards Cuchulainn. Cuchulainn looked at him for a moment and then looked at the huge spear.
“Scathach’s style techniques have been added onto your sloppy sword techniques. If we have to put a name, should it be ‘Scathach’s style, Tae Ho’s law’?”
The name was a bit weird but it wasn’t bad. Tae Ho nodded suitably and asked another thing.
“But Cuchulainn, you knew that my swordsmanship was a sham?”
“Of course I did. Ragnar should also know it.”
There was nothing to say about Cuchulainn, but Ragnar was also a master of the sword. They could realize that Tae Ho’s swordsmanship was a sham just by seeing a bit of it.
“Wait. Then the two of you just left me be?”
Even though they knew it was a mess?
Tae Ho was absentminded for a moment, as Cuchulainn had spoken too obviously, and then threw a question. Tae Ho was feeling betrayed even if but a little.
Cuchulainn merely shook his head instead of apologizing and then said with a sigh,
“It was beyond our capabilities to intervene. You now have a lot of actual combat experience, but it wasn’t the case before. If we intervened for nothing and you started to use a sloppy swordsmanship instead of the strength of your saga, there was a high probability for you to grow weakened. We were just waiting for the right time.”
In addition, saying that Tae Ho’s swordsmanship was sloppy was only from the perspectives of the masters like Ragnar and Cuchulainn.
Even though his swordsmanship was sloppy, it was still a strength that belonged to his saga. It was more than enough to reach the intermediate-ranked warrior.
“But I honestly got surprised. I was just planning on replacing your sword techniques with Scathach’s style techniques, but the two became one. How marvelous.”
Cuchulainn finished speaking and then swung the spear he was holding. It was an attack that was executed so naturally that one could only perish by it even if they attentive.
However, Tae Ho blocked Cuchulainn’s attack. It was to the point that it was so natural it didn’t give the feeling that they had exchanged blows.
Cuchulainn smiled. He then swung his spear a few more times and Tae Ho blocked it all very lightly.
‘It feels like we are playing catch ball.’
Cuchulainn stopped his attacks the moment Tae Ho thought that.
“It’s good. The completion rate is high. Scathach’s style techniques indeed. Master is certainly amazing.”
“I do agree, but is that the only thing you have to say?”
In the end, he was just praising Scathach. Shouldn’t he praise Tae Ho- no, Kalsted’s sword techniques in situations like this?
Cuchulainn shook his head at Tae Ho’s question as if it was nonsense.
“It is my philosophy that the strongest martial art doesn’t exist. A warrior of the Temple I met in the Great War told me this, and I agreed to it completely.”
“What did he say?”
Cuchulainn’s answer was a bit off the mark, but Tae Ho asked as he was curious as to what he would say.
Cuchulainn smirked and answered,
“A strongest army doesn’t exist, but a strongest person does. There’s no need for me to interpret it further, right?”
Tae Ho nodded slowly. In the end, it was more important who the person was rather than the techniques they displayed.
“Of course, ranks also exist in martial arts. Because of that, someone that has the same skills can become strong or weak depending on what martial arts he’s learned. But contrary to that, even though you do learn some martial arts, you will also grow weak or strong depending on who you are.”
Cuchulainn saw Scathach’s style techniques as training an ability of a person rather than a technique to handle weapons.
As the essence of Scathach’s techniques was one of gaining insight, it was a correct description if one interpreted it as such.
‘In the end, he’s saying that Scathach is the best.’
Because Scathach’s techniques could train people, and the handling of weapons was also outstanding.
“Looking at it with that meaning, your newly made…..”
“Right, you can say that it’s a martial art that is closer to the concept of the strongest.”
Cuchulainn nodded as if he agreed to his own words and said,
“Whatever the case, the conclusion is that our master is great and so you are too, but you shouldn’t get too conceited. You still haven’t been able to reach the essence of it.”
Cuchulainn finished speaking and then swung his spear once again. Tae Ho also blocked it reflexively this time, but it was different from before.
He wasn’t able to see it properly. He could see the next move Cuchulainn had planned clearly, but now it was faint.
“You can’t see it well right? It’s because there’s a clear difference between you and me.”
The both of them had learned Scathach’s style techniques, but the completion was different.
Tae Ho’s insight couldn’t be compared to the strongest warrior of Erin, the Prince of Light, Cuchulainn.
“But if you are able to reach the absolute peak and you get the transcendent eyes……. You will be able to stand victorious no matter who your opponent is.”
Scathach’s techniques had the peak as their objective.
The eyes of a transcendent that saw through the essence of everything.
“Well, this is merely a possibility, but I and master still haven’t reached that ideal peak.”
But Cuchulainn still sent him a proud smile as if he was looking forward to it.
Actually, he had been a bit surprised that Tae Ho was able to block his attack. He had swung his spear to hit him, but for him to block it….
‘Is this Kalsted’s style techniques?’
The strongest swordsman in the Dark Age whose image was added to Scathach’s techniques.
Cuchulainn could feel his blood boil. He couldn’t not look forward to it when he imagined how strong Tae Ho would eventually become.
Tae Ho evaded Cuchulainn’s burdensome but thankful eyes and changed the subject.
“But Cuchulainn, I have something I want to ask you.”
“What is it?”
“The place called the Temple….do the warriors there use cultivation techniques and have schools and sects?”
For there to not be a strongest army but a strongest warrior.
Wasn’t that a line that was used in novels.
Cuchulainn opened his eyes widely at Tae Ho’s question and answered.
“Uh, yes. They did use a peculiar strength called energy. They also had a secret art to gain eternal life.”
Cuchulainn looked at a distant place as if he was remembering the past and continued speaking.
“When I fought in the Great War, there was someone called the Sword King of the Vast Sky that battled alongside me. The temple is a place that is closer to Asgard rather than Erin…..a world where Gods and warriors exist, and he said that the warriors used energy and the Gods used supernatural arts. He also said that there was an organization comparable to our knights.”
Tae Ho felt like he was now completely certain of it. He then decided to put a wedge in it.
“I’m saying just in case, but isn’t the strongest warrior a pegasus?”
“Oh, how did you know? Did Ragnar tell you?”
So the Temple was eastern mythology.
Asgard was a myth of Scandinavia, Erin from Britain and Ireland, and Olympus from Greece and Rome. So it was kind of right.
‘There should be many people with similar names to mine in the Temple.’
He felt like he could understand why Bjorn had talked about the Temple when Tae Ho had first entered Valhalla.
Tae Ho cleared his curiousness to a certain extent and then sat on the ground. After some more time, he wanted to lie down, and Tae Ho didn’t hold back the urge.
“Why, did you get exhausted?”
Cuchulainn looked down on the lying Tae Ho and said.
It was quite understandable for him to have grown exhausted, as the battle against Ferdia mac Daman had lasted for several hours this time.
Tae Ho looked back at him as if there really was a need to ask and then placed his hand on his stomach.
The Tower of Shadows was a mental place. As such, there was no need to eat, and one didn’t get exhausted no matter how hard they exercised.
Still, Tae Ho wanted to eat food. Precisely speaking, he wanted Heda’s food.
“I want to see Heda.”
Cuchulainn smirked as Tae Ho mumbled unconsciously.
Tae Ho had been climbing the tower for a year and three months already. Compared to Cuchulainn, who could go out of the tower to meet Scathach, Tae Ho could only remain in the tower. So the time he spent in the tower was the time he hadn’t been able to see heda.
“Shall we go out now?”
As Cuchulainn sat on the ground and asked, Tae Ho shook his head immediately.
“Ey, we still have to go a bit more. We are merely at the eleventh floor.”
This time, his tone was closer to a curse compared to before.
“But it is really marvelous. It doesn’t seem a lie that you want to meet Heda, so how are you able to endure this well? Normally, you go crazy because you want to go out. It was the same for me.”
Of course, compared to the others, Tae Ho had Cuchulainn to converse with.
But even if that were the case, Tae Ho was enduring too well.
Tae Ho had died more than a thousand times the past year and three months. It was easy to say, but he had died a thousand times. This meant that Tae Ho experienced death at least twice a day on average.
It wasn’t easy to endure this even if one knew it wasn’t real death. Tae Ho would have already gone crazy if he was a normal person as even the pain was real.
Tae Ho scratched his chin as if Cuchulainn’s question was hard to answer and then said,
“Well, what can I say…..should I call it an instinct to conquer? Like I have to beat it? And even more when I’m given floors like this.”
Beat the first floor to go to the second. Beat the second and go to the third.
A famous mountain climber had said this.
That he climbed mountains because they were there.
It was the same. He would climb the tower because it was there. He would conquer it as he had something to conquer.
Tae Ho hadn’t been the best professional gamer in the world for nothing.
Cuchulainn listened to Tae Ho’s excuse and then shook his head as if it was hard to understand. He then spoke again.
“Anyways, for how long are you going to stay here? Are you saying that you will stay for a hundred, no, a thousand years more? I can’t wait for you that long. Don’t blame me if I go out first.”
“Ey, i’m not planning on conquering it until the end, only.”
“I’m also not planning on staying too long either.”
Because he really wanted to see Heda.
Time was still flowing outside, albeit slower than in the Tower of Shadows.
It took a year and three months to climb to the eleventh floor.
And he wasn’t planning on changing his conquering method now.
He was planning on clearing it repeatedly.
But wasn’t planning on staying for too long either.
Tae Ho rose up.
He looked at the ceiling and said,
“I’m planning on climbing it a bit faster from now on.”
A contradictory statement, but Tae Ho spoke like that.
And that happened for real.
< Episode 32 – The land of darkness (6) > End
TL note: Thanks for reading~