Part 37: Star Door 5: Swordsmanship-Primal Grounds-
This space is the place for Anelace.
-Welcome to Le Locle-
Wow, that's a surprise...
Either Anelace has a letter, or she's started responding to the voices in her head.
Old Man's Voice: Anelace!
It's not like you to walk right up to the second floor without even looking at the board and sit quietly like this.
You're not feeling sick from eating too much ice cream or something, are you?
D-Don't be silly... I'm not a kid anymore, you know.
Could've fooled me!
I swear that you were the one who ate three full scoops first thing one morning and later had to go get some stomach medicine from Spence... Maybe my memory's playing tricks on me?
Haha! Aha...ha... L-Let's all pretend that never happened, okay?
Besides, that was back when I was a junior bracer! That was forever ago!
I learned my lesson after that, I swear! Now I never have more than one scoop each morning!
You're not supposed to have ice cream in the morning at all, you know...
Would it really be that much worse than coffee & doughnuts?
...Well, no matter. So, what've you been doing up here all this time, anyway?
Well, you see, I got a letter from my pappy who lives a long way away this morning.
Really, now? He's a swordsman if I recall, isn't he?
Yup. He's an instructor.
He's real famous among sword practitioners, actually! Yun Ka-fai of the Eight Leaves One Blade school.
Ah, yeah. That's the one. I was familiar with the name even before meeting you, but I was quite surprised to find out you were his granddaughter.
Didn't he use to live here in Liberl?
I'm surprised you know about that!
I can't say I have any memories of when he was here, though. It was around when I was born, so how could I?
That long ago? I see...
So, how's he doing? Well?
Judging by the letter, yeah. He's doing fine. I haven't had the chance to meet him in person for about a year now...
Last time we had the chance to spar, I felt like he was totally babying me. Even though he's, like, seventy!
Haha. He really must be skilled to be treating an active bracer that way.
Huh? What's with the sudden serious face?
Oh, it's nothing all that major, but I've been wondering something for a while.
Why do you stay here when you could join him?
Err... Sorry. I'm lost.
Well, it's just that you're aiming to improve your swordsmanship, aren't you? It feels like if you have a grandfather like that, the fastest way to do that would be to go with him and polish your skills at his side.
I suppose it's not my place to be telling you what may or may not be best for you.
Sorry, Anelace. You needn't pay attention to an old man like me.
No, that's not true at all!
I really appreciate your advice, so please don't think it's not your place to give it.
I can definitely see where you're coming from on this. I do have my reasons for being here and all. They're just a little difficult to explain...
I DO want to learn more about swordsmanship and swords in general... so in that sense, you're right that continuing to train under Pappy would be both the best and fastest course of action.
But that's not all I want to do with my life. I want at least as much, if not more, to know more about what it means to be a bracer.
I guess it's a case of wanting to learn more about swordsmanship as a bracer rather than as a swordsman, if that makes sense.
Am I even doing a good job of explaining this...?
No, no. I think I see where you're coming from now, actually.
...Pappy once told me that he'd taught me all of the technical side of swordsmanship--forms, crafts, and that kinda stuff--already. Whether I can master them or not is all down to me now.
So in that sense, I feel like there's no specific need for me to train under him nowadays.
Heehee... Of course, whether I'm really advancing in my swordsmanship now is another issue entirely. I wish I could say for sure I was, but...
Hmm... I see...
U-Umm... What's with the silent treatment all of a sudden?
O-Oh, it's nothing.
You're just not really one for these kinds of serious discussions, so I was impressed to see you were even capable of them.
H-Hey! I am SO capable!
Besides, you were the one who kind of pushed me into talking about all this stuff first!
Hahaha! I'm glad I did, too.
Anyway, getting back to the point. What did the letter even say, anyway?
W-Well, as surprising as it is..
...it says that I should go and see Cassius Bright.
Cassius...? The one and only?
Yep! That's right.
Supposedly, Pappy was invited by the Royal Army to be a guest instructor at some point a long time ago. That's when he trained Cassius, too.
So ever since, they've had this kinda student-master relationship with one another...
Cassius even went out of his way to go and see him ten years ago when he decided to stop using a sword, too.
Ten years ago?
That would put that around when he left the army and became a bracer, then.
What exactly prompted him to tell you to go visit Cassius now, though?
Well, I guess he only just recently found out that Cassius has returned to the army. So now he's wondering whether he might take this opportunity to take up the sword again.
Ahh, I got'cha. He wants you to go and ask for him?
And let him know what he says, yeah.
People really do end up connected in the strangest places and the funniest ways.
Ahaha... Tell me about it.
Anyway, that being said... I...kind of have a favor to ask...
You want time off, I assume? Well, who am I to say no? You've got good cause to have it. I can even get in touch with the army and set up a meeting with Cassius if you want.
Really. Go along and get that truth your grandfather wants for him.
But in return...
I want you to take care of every single one of the monster extermination requests on the board first.
E-EVERY single one?! Aren't there, like, five of them right now?!
Sure, but the monsters in this area will be no trouble at all for you as you are now.
They'd be less of a problem if Grant were around, but I had to lend him to the guild over in Ruan, and he's still not back. You're gonna have to pick up the slack here in his place, especially if you want time off.
Three days later...
-Pride of Liberl-
Right on time, too. Okay! Let's go bug Cassius!
I've come to meet with Brigadier General Bright.
Private Samuel: Ah, I see. I believe we've been expecting you. I'll pass on that you've arrived, then. You might have to wait a little while before you can meet with the general, though, I'm afraid.
Huh? But I'm right on time... Did something throw his schedule off?
Private Samuel: Something must have. I can't pretend to know much more than you do... but the general is a very busy man, so it's not at all unusual for things like this to happen. Anyway, like I said, I'll pass on that you've arrived, but I'm going to have to ask you to wait out here for a while.
Sure. No problem...
This is taking ages... I hope the meeting isn't going to end up getting canceled or something.
*sigh* I really don't want to have come all this way for nothing...
I suppose if I can't meet with Cassius, I could at least go shopping in Grancel. They should probably be getting the new lineup of stuffed toys around now...
I wonder which one I should get? Maybe the bear? Or a crocodile once in a while would be nice... ❤
Private Samuel: The general can meet with you now.
Royal Army Officer: Thank you. And you must be Anelace, I assume?
Y-Yes, I am...
Royal Army Officer: Welcome to Leiston Fortress. The general is waiting. Please follow me.
Oh, thank goodness!
I seriously thought I was going to have to go home without getting to see him!
Royal Army Officer: I'm terribly sorry for the wait. Well, please follow me.
You got it, sir!
You may return to your duties.
Royal Army Officer: Thank you, sir.
Oh, don't be.
I'm more thankful you took the time out of your busy schedule to speak with me at all.
Haha. This is the least I could do for someone from my old line of work!
It's been a while since we last met, though, hasn't it? You've become a seasoned veteran before I knew it.
Heehee. I'd certainly like to think I have.
I can't have Estelle soar ahead of me while she's abroad, can I? This is just what rivals do!
Haha. So they do.
I'll be looking forward to seeing just how much stronger the two of you can become.
You won't be disappointed!
Getting to the point...I was pleased to hear that old Master Ka-fai is still in good health. I believe it was because of him that you came here today?
Y-Yes. That's right...
I didn't realize you were an acquaintance of his before this.
I certainly am. In short, he's the man who taught me the way of the sword.
That was over twenty years ago by this point... The first time we met was when I was back at the military academy, so I studied it under him.
Haha. I still remember the harsh training sessions he gave here at Leiston like they were yesterday.
Is there any special reason you didn't say you knew him before? You knew I was his granddaughter, didn't you?
By the time I first met you, I had long given up the path of the sword. It didn't feel appropriate in my eyes to act as if I was his student in light of that.
I haven't seen him in...about ten years, I think?
He does write to me on occasion, but how is he these days? Does he still have that same old vim and vigor?
Haha... Yup. He really doesn't act his age at all.
Still...if you'll let me get right to the point... the reason I came here is to continue the discussion he had with you ten years ago.
To tell you the truth, Pappy still laments the fact that you left the path of the sword. That was why he wrote to me when he heard you'd returned to the army.
He wondered whether you returning to the military may mean you were also ready to pick up a sword again...
So, this is it. He'd like to know, directly from you, how you feel.
Hmm... I see...
Well, it's a great honor that after so many years, he still cares so much about an inexperienced and utterly lacking swordsman like me.
And yet I'm afraid my answer is that I still have no intention of taking up a blade again.
C-Can I ask you why?
Hmm... You certainly can, but I'm not sure how to put my answer.
This has always been on my mind, too... I've always wondered what would prompt someone so skilled with a sword that they even gained the title Divine Blade to leave it all behind...
And I don't mean to make light of your skill with your staff or say it's inferior. Nothing like that.
It's just hard to wrap my head around why you did what you did, and there's a little part of me that can't accept it, either! Especially now that you've returned to the army! Why CAN'T you return to being a swordsman?
Respec Orbs are still cash shop only, and you can't get a second free one until the level 180 quest. It's ridiculous.
Unless you believe that the staff is stronger than the sword after all?
No. Not at all. I just believe a staff to be a more fitting weapon for me as I am now.
Staves are a symbol of protection which are used more for keeping enemies at bay than cleaving through them.
Y-You say that as if all swords are good for is cutting and killing! That's not true!
I fight because I want to protect things just like you do! As a swordsman, as a bracer, and as myself...
Are you telling me the swordsmanship Pappy taught me isn't going to let me do that?!
I-I'm sorry... I didn't ask for you to take time out of your day so I could come and shout at you.
But I...I can't accept what you're saying. Up until all of what happened here in Liberl, I'd never felt any doubts that swordsmanship was the right path for me. In the end, all of what happened just served to remind me of how powerless I really am.
And now, I...I feel like no matter how hard I try. I'll always be a rookie. I'll never be strong enough to do what I want to do.
...Now I see. Hmm... Perhaps this is fate.
I see Master Ka-fai hasn't changed one bit. He's the same firecracker he always was.
What do you mean?
I'm afraid as I am now, I'm not able to answer the questions you're asking me.
But I know someone else who can.
(I really want to know who he called, too...)
Ah, there you are. Are you all ready to begin?
Man's Voice: Indeed, I am. I never expected to have to wear this uniform again, though. Especially not so soon. I'd almost think you enjoyed messing with people.
Haha. I'm not doing it to bully you.
You know as well as I do that your usual work clothes aren't well suited for this kind of thing.
...but I'm no longer a colonel, young lady.
Sooo...Mr. Richard, then? Or Alan?
You can call me whatever you wish, though no need for the 'Mr.' Meanwhile, I believe you are Anelace, a senior bracer with the guild?
You know me?
I'm not the former commander of the Intelligence Division for nothing.
I know about all the bracers in this country.
But how did you end up being here?
Actually, Richard was who I was meeting just before I spoke with you.
In short, I've decided to start up a new research company as a civilian. So while I may not be part of the army anymore, I can definitely see myself continuing to need to work with it in the future.
So I decided to come here in order to discuss the matter with Cassius in the hopes of maintaining a good relationship between us in the future.
Oh, I get it now...
W-Wait. Is the person you mentioned earlier...?
I want the two of you to fight one another.
W-Wait a second! This is all a bit...sudden, isn't it?
Especially if I'm going to be fighting the famous Colonel Richard...
Is that so? ...You don't want to know the answer to the questions you asked me earlier, then?
I believe any doubts you have toward swordsmanship can only be dispelled through using it.
Focus not on whether you win or lose, but on pouring all you have into the battle, and you should find the answers you seek.
All right, then.
I'm not sure I'll make much of an opponent, but I'll do what I can!
It's not every day one has the chance to test their skills against a relative of the Eight Leaves school's founder...
I'm eager to see what you can do!
-Silver Will (StudioK2)-
You have to win this duel to complete the Memory Door and earn the reward. Luckily, Anelace and Colonel C. Colonelheimer are more evenly matched than Captain Schwarz and Major Vander were.
Heh. Think you're clever...?
...Die with honor.
Friendly training, Colonel. Friendly training.
You'll need Petal Dance to inflict any significant damage on Richard, but you definitely shouldn't apply it until he's gotten that S-Craft out of his system.
I'm just warmin' up! *spritely yelling*
Here I GO!
You've still got Teara and Tearal, and you'll need to use them.
Richard can be delayed with Fallen Leaves, but only once per turn, and it doesn't always work.
You'll be able to see whether or not the delay will take before you commit to the attack. If those delay arrows appear on Richard's turn-bar portrait, you're good to go.
I had some bad luck here, and couldn't get an uninterruptible heal.
YOU'RE! ...GOIN' DOWN!
This is how much damage you do without Petal Dance, by the way. The DEF penalty only increases Richard's damage by 500 or 600 points per hit, so don't be shy.
I AM INVINCIBLE!!
Or am I?!
Holy crap... I-I did it!
Well...it looks like my skills still have a lot of room for improvement.
All right. The victor is decided.
Sheathe your blades.
-A Cat Relaxing in the Sun-
How did his swordsmanship appear to you?
...he fights using the Eight Leaves School's fifth form, Morning Moon.
He's made a few changes to the standard form, but it's largely a style based around sword-drawing techniques.
...Well, okay, I noticed a bit more than just technical details like that...
Hmm? What did you notice?
One thing I realized while fighting him... Richard swings his sword as if perfectly synchronized to my breathing. The second I go on the offensive, he reacts without fail.
In that sense, it feels like his swordsmanship is much more defensive than offensive, I suppose.
That defensive stance matches perfectly with the form he uses in combat, and the result is very natural, very powerful swordsmanship.
What I can't work out is why you're so focused on fighting defensively to begin with. I mean, I assume it's because you want to protect something, but what?
I wield a sword for but one, single reason.
That reason is to protect this country.
Everyone has at least something that they wish to protect in this world. Perhaps that is a person, such as their family or loved ones. Perhaps it is a belief or ideology that they hold dear.
And just as the things we seek to protect are different, so, too, are the ways we choose to do it. In my case, the way I choose to protect what I care about just happens to perfectly suit the defensive swordsmanship you noticed.
Heh... Although, I can only imagine how comical it must sound to hear a criminal who threatened this nation talk about wanting to protect it.
E-Erm, well, not really...
Please don't say anything, General. Her Majesty may have chosen to pardon me for what I did, but that doesn't make those crimes simply disappear.
Still, just as your desire to protect Liberl remained even after leaving the army, I can't completely turn my back on mine. It was so I could do so that I resolved to leave the army, even.
You see, Anelace... to me, one's position in life is just a means to an end--a way in which to achieve whatever you wish to do.
I think that's true for one's choice of weapon as well. Wouldn't you agree?
What's important isn't what weapon you choose but what you use it to do--what inspires you to take it up and use it to fight. The reason I chose to put my sword aside and take up a staff is those feelings had changed. That is all.
So, Anelace? Any more thoughts?
I should just use my sword in the way that best fits me to do what I want.
That's what you're trying to say, right?
Sure is. You beat me to it.
You're Master Ka-fai's granddaughter, all right. Very quick to catch on to things.
Heehee. I'm just as quick at forgetting things, too, though.
But I finally get where you're coming from.
Haha. I'm happy to hear that. Could I ask you to pass my answer on to Master Ka-fai, then?
Consider it done! I'm sure he'll understand.
Hmm... Then again...
Would you be opposed, Richard?
Haha... Not at all.
I've already inherited the way of the sword itself from you. It's only right that someone else should inherit that.
What are you talking about?
...Well, that's settled.
Would you accept this, Anelace?
Cassius handed Anelace the Jinu.
It's a blade I once used myself.
But I think it would be much happier in the hands of an active practitioner of swordsmanship than in my own at this point.
W-Wait a second! I couldn't possibly accept this!
This... Surely if anyone should be taking this off you, it should be Richard...
Perhaps on the surface, but how things are on the surface is not what is always most important.
I thought you had just learned that fact?
I'm not sure the lessons I learned earlier have anything to do with this...
There's no need to think so seriously about this, Anelace.
All you need to do is take up this blade and use it to do what you want to do, in the way you choose to do it. That's all anyone expects of you.
To do what I want to do, in the way I choose to do it...
Well, if you insist.
I'd be happy to accept it.
That's the spirit! Now get on out there and kill whatever you want to kill! You can do it!
I feel I've learned a lot today from having the opportunity to face off against you.
I do hope I'll have the chance again one day.
So do I!
Haha. You'll both have to make sure you don't neglect your training, then.
I wouldn't dream of giving it any less than 100%!
-Welcome to Le Locle-
It sure was.
I'm guessing this was Pappy's plan all along. He knew exactly what would happen if I went to ask Cassius what I did, and that's why he asked. I must've sounded a little unsure of myself in the last letter I wrote him...
I see... Like master, like pupil.
Incidentally, while I hate to spring this on you before you've even had a chance to settle back in, a lot of work built up while you were away. There's even a request from the mayor, too, so I really need you to get right on it all.
Haha... If anything, you should be grateful! All this work'll give you a chance to refine your skills with that new mindset of yours, won't it?
Ahaha... That's one way of looking at it, sure.
While I bet you knew all along, it looks like Cassius has no intentions of taking up the way of the sword ever again.
But thanks to seeing him, I ended up being given a chance to reexamine my own swordsmanship.
Up until now, I thought it was all about getting stronger. Or faster. Things like that.
But now, I've finally realized that what's far more important than either of those things is why you take up your sword in the first place. Your feelings.
I feel like now I finally understand why I was never able to defeat you, no matter how many times we fought.
I might not be the best student in the world, but I'll keep giving my training all I've got.
Side Story [Swordsmanship] finished!
Received 5,000 mira.
If you lose against Richard, the ending doesn't change much--but Cassius won't hand over the Jinu until you win. And you want the Jinu.
Instead of hidden Chain bonuses or anything similarly fancy, Anelace just gets a horrendously overpowered sword. Her STR is now 300 points higher than Zin's...and that doesn't include Petal Dance.
We'll see what she can do with all that pepper next time.