48 HOURS A DAY - S01 E557

1 week ago

Read Story: SEASON 1 EPISODE 557

I’m Here To See Someone

Zhang Heng never thought that the first item he would get would be a wakizashi.

He hadn’t even started on the main mission yet but had already completed one side mission and even obtained a piece of novice equipment.

In all fairness, the knife was of relatively good quality. Even though it was no acclaimed sword, it was finely-made, much better than the one he had, which looked like a fake blade. Of course, when compared to a renowned sword like the Mikazuki-Munechika, the wakizashi was, to some extent, a little inferior.

Moreover, short swords like this one were more suitable for hand-to-hand combat. When the enemy was plenty, short blades weren’t as ideal as an uchigatana or a tachi. Zhang Heng wasn’t too concerned about one-on-one combat. He was looking to obtain a proper sword in case he found himself in a one-to-many situation.

But since a sword had been presented to him, he decided to accept it anyway.

This quest was similar to Master Builder, the previous special quest. It focused specifically on honing his swordsmanship, which was why other items were not allowed to be brought in. He could still access his skills, but many of them weren’t very useful in the Edo period, which meant that he had to hone his swordsmanship.

But perhaps during the process of creating the quest, the developer did think it possible for the players’ sword skills to be at Lv.3—Zhang Heng was walking around Kyoto like a video game boss character rather than fighting monsters and leveling-up like a rookie. Low-level monsters were insignificant to him.

In the end, Zhang Heng stuck to his decision to join Koyama dojo so that he could deal with the Choshu warriors should they come again and challenge Akane. On top of that, being attached to a school would make it easier for him to go around and challenge other warriors to duels. Otherwise, his only other option was to explain that he learned his way on the sword by killing people in Nassau and that the founder of the school was a red-haired female pirate named Annie.

Akane filled Zhang Heng in on the rules that had to be followed when practicing Koyama Myoshin-ryu. Basically, they were not too different from other schools, where they all advocated courage, benevolence, upholding samurai morality, and the likes of it. Zhang Heng remembered the general idea of it. Although he was not too interested in these sorts of things, he figured that since he had joined the dojo, the least he could do was show respect. He listened to Akane’s teaching and explanations as patiently as he could.

Akane dutifully chose a fine day to bring Zhang Heng to pay respects to the dojo’s ancestors. To his surprise, the dojo’s founder wasn’t Akane’s father but someone named Koyama Iwa. Akane had no idea who this person was either, and all she knew was that he was the founder of Koyama Myoshin-ryu, and assumed that he must have been an ancestor of the Koyama lineage.

Zhang Heng had no interest in finding out more about the man. Koyama-ryu was a small school. Even during Akane’s father’s era, it was not particularly famous, at least not to the level of Oishi Shinkage-ryu, much less the likes of Hokushin Itto-ryū, and Tenshin Shōden Katori Shinto-ryū.

To Zhang Heng, Akira Kokoro was a little too metaphysical. In his opinion, there was no difference between Koyama’s swordsmanship and that of other schools—the combination of basic physical fitness, training, and experience. No matter how strong and invincible your mind had been trained, there were still others who would be indefinitely faster and more robust, and you would find yourself unable to defend against their attacks—this was perfectly demonstrated during the duel between Akane and Yamada.

Of course, it was only Zhang Heng’s first day as a Koyama dojo member-he wasn’t exactly in the position to be disparaging the school’s core principles. On the other hand, Akane Koyama was surprised that a skilled fighter like Zhang Heng had no knowledge of basic training methods. And from what she observed during his battle with Yamada, his moves were also bizarre, very much inclined to Western schools of swordsmanship, something she attributed to his travels overseas.

However, during a conversation with Zhang Heng, she discovered that Zhang Heng’s swordsmanship did not have a formal system, and to put it nicely, was just bits and pieces put together. As a matter of fact, this guy would stab and strike wherever he felt was right. When fighting an enemy, he would think on his feet. Could he really be telling the truth? Was he really self-taught?

But did such geniuses actually exist in the world, that one became a skilled swordsman simply by training their own?

Akane could tell that Zhang Heng was a very experienced fighter, or perhaps more accurately, his sword skills were crafted purely for combat. Regarding this, Zhang Heng merely explained that it was the result of his years fighting pirates in the West. However, this answer did little to satisfy Akane’s doubts. Instead, it only served to deepen the mystery. This man was clearly relatively young, probably only in his twenties, and wasn’t exactly old enough to have experienced so many battles. But she also noticed that Zhang Heng would occasionally stand under the cherry tree in the yard, looking up longingly to the sky with an undeniable trace of sadness in his eyes.

Even so, Akane understood that everyone had their own secrets. No doubt, Zhang Heng had to have his own story too. And since she was reluctant to talk about it, she probed no further. She wrote the name Yuta Abe which Zhang Heng made-up on a piece of wood, then hung it alongside the names of the other students of the dojo.

And just like that, from that day onward, Zhang Heng was an official member of Koyama Dojo. He could work as an interpreter as he waited for the arrival of the Choshu domain.

But much to his surprise, before Takeuchi even sought revenge, someone from another domain came knocking on Koyama dojo’s door first.

He was a cheery-looking teenager with a permanent smile on his face, as if he hadn’t a single worry in the world. When Akane first laid eyes on him, she believed him to be a son of some noble family that must have gotten lost and ended up at the dojo.

The boy covered his mouth and coughed twice. It sounded like the fluttering of a butterfly’s wings, strangely endearing. He smiled amiably at Akane and said, “Hi, I’m here to see someone.”

ce

It was then that Akane noticed the black haori* and the Tachi with a black scabbard he wore. Many warriors in Kyoto wore black, but among them was a notable group. The drawings of hills on the sleeves of the boy confirmed Akane’s suspicion.

Before she could ask him, the boy confessed, “Yes, I am a member of the Shinsengumi.” He paused for a minute, then smiled, “You must be Miss Akane Koyama.”

“Why has a Shinsengumi come to see me?” Akane frowned, her senses perked up, instantly wary of him.

The Shinsengumi may have the support of the bafuku and was entrusted with the crucial task of maintaining the public order in Kyoto. But the fact was, this group of ronin were the ones causing more trouble than anyone else. They are lawless troublemakers who assassinated anyone that opposed the shogunate. Yet, despite the group’s harsh and ruthless grip, they possessed incredible combat effectiveness and had many skilled fighters among their ranks. They were not a welcome sight.

Translator’s note:

Haori: a traditional Japanese jacket that stops at the waist of the hip which is worn over a kimono

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