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    After the three-day-long birthday celebration came to an end, my training began.

    In the beginning, I ran around the training grounds, relying solely on my body. I had a lot of fun knowing that, being in the body of a young child, I could recover quickly even after pushing myself to the limit while running, as long as I took care to wash up and have a restful sleep afterward.

    When the morning sun rose, I practiced Qi Breathing and waited for the servants to dress me before then running fifteen laps around the training grounds.

    After returning to wash up and have simple lessons in etiquette, history, writing, and various other subjects with my private tutor, I took a nap.

    After the peak of the day’s heat had subsided, I donned my armour and completed five laps around the training grounds. Then, assuming a squatting position¹, I dedicated myself to practicing the three sword techniques² for approximately one sijin³ before washing up and having supper.

    Afterward, I joined my parents for a light refreshment indoors, followed by some individual studying or a bit of writing practice before retiring for the night.

    For the first three days, my parents were both shocked and concerned. By the tenth day, their worry had prompted them to summon a doctor for an examination, but when the training persisted even after fifteen days had passed, my parents were both left speechless and allowed me to do as I pleased.

    During my time in the Namgung clan, I participated in lectures alongside many of my direct and collateral peers. However, the strain on my body was significantly reduced here, thanks to having a private tutor and focusing solely on learning what was necessary, one step at a time.

    When it came to training, it was only natural to keep your guard up since too much convenience could actually prove to be poison. However, with the support of my private tutor, who guided me through each lesson at a pace tailored to this body’s learning speed, I was able to find myself with some time to spare.

    Even I knew that excessive training at a young age could hinder one’s body from growing properly, so I made a conscious effort not to rush things.

    The news of our family’s knights increasing their training hours after witnessing my efforts was like music to my ears.

    Normally, the knights were expected to divide their daily responsibilities and training into shifts of three, covering both day and night, but they willingly chose to start training in the morning.

    The Ernhardt family seemed to be a family of civil officers rather than military officers, so their knights weren’t nearly as regimented. Still, their competitive nature as martial artists drove them to demonstrate their dedication. They couldn’t bear to lag behind the family’s young master, who, at only five years old, trained for four hours daily. It brought me a sense of satisfaction.

    “Young Master Michael, aren’t you going to do any separate shield training?”

    “I am aware that there is a different type of training that suits my body. The sword technique the knights use currently is the Imperial Sword Technique, right?”

    “Yes, that’s correct. It’s a sword technique that targets eight directions to the front and two to the right, with the shield for guarding the left and rear.”

    “I see, so it’s swordsmanship geared toward territorial warfare.”

    “Yes, a sword technique for war, you might say.”

    “As long as you can use your sword to block your opponent’s weapon, whatever you hold can be considered a shield, whether it’s an iron sword, a wooden one, or otherwise. I am content with this.”

    The captain of the Magnolia Knights, who was overseeing the knights’ training, took a moment to think before nodding with a strange expression and taking his leave.

    Just as I was about to complete my hundredth strike, I heard his voice in the distance, asking the deputy captain a question. His question pertained to whether the warriors in fairy tale books nowadays only wield swords without shields.

    Upon hearing this, I became curious as well and flipped through the fairy tales in my possession, only to find that all the warriors wielded swords alongside shields.

    The gold and silver engravings of the family emblem on each shield appeared quite impressive to me, making me briefly consider practicing with the shield as well. However, I quickly dismissed the idea, already being too familiar with the sword technique of the Namgung Clan.

    * * *

    Time whisked by in the blink of an eye. My body grew significantly through the consistent daily training.

    I found myself growing more comfortable speaking with a few boys and girls my age, and I settled into a routine of boating in the summer and reading books in front of the fireplace in the winter.

    I also gained a younger brother six years my junior and a younger sister eight years my junior.

    The small foal I received as a gift on my tenth birthday grew into a magnificent horse the following year, bringing me much joy.

    Once I turned ten years old, I was finally permitted to sharpen my iron sword, which had steadily increased in both length and weight in accordance with my growth.

    By the time I reached twelve years old, my dantian, which had once been as tiny as a grain of millet, had grown to the size of a bird egg.

    For half a gabja⁴, I had been diligently building up my internal energy without relying on a single elixir. This achievement was made possible by my previous journey along this path and by starting with a pure body, where all my meridians were open.

    Around that time, I began sparring with the knights of the family once a week, and I never once lost a match.

    Memories of my previous life often flooded back in torrents.

    The first time I wielded a sword was at the ripe age of thirteen, and that went for my past life as well. Standing a head taller than my peers, with broader shoulders as well, I received many compliments.

    It was custom and tradition within the clan to embark on a journey of good deeds once you reached the age of twenty. So, at age fifteen, I found myself confronting the bandits dragged to our clan, and it was then that I committed my first murder, forcing them to their knees.

    To preempt any potential troubles arising from the fear of experiencing murder for the first time, the elders of the clan had already brought such heinous bastards in beforehand.

    I had heard it mentioned that it had been over forty years since war broke out with the neighbouring kingdoms here, within this empire.

    The knights here primarily killed monsters rather than people. Among fifty or so knights, there were over twenty who had yet to experience murder.

    As the Ernhardt territory was a prosperous and safe land, I had yet to encounter a monster in person.

    It was said that there were monsters as small as dwarves, as well as more rampant ones, with heights far surpassing those of three-story pavilions. However, I was also told that, as long as one was anywhere between a first-class martial artist and a master, they could safely handle them, provided they didn’t separate from their groups.

    When asked if they didn’t slit the throats of bandits, it was explained to me that there weren’t many bandits around, and even for vile murderers, it was customary to keep them alive until they were brought to trial by the authorities.

    By this time, a few people had come to admire my swordsmanship, and I often told them that I had learned it in my dreams, which earned me an absurd amount of trust from them.

    Was I reborn in such a warm place due to the brutality of my previous life? I wondered aloud. The knight, who had been explaining various things to me, burst into laughter.

    “It seems the young master lived in a very fearsome place in his past life.”

    “Indeed, it was. Over fifty thousand knights piled up like mountains. Word had it that the demon commanded a great army of a hundred thousand, but in reality, it looked to be over a million. It felt as though the swarms of black were all enemy forces, while the ones breaking through in white were all allies… Corpses piled high like mountains, with rivers of blood flowing like the sea…”

    “Young master, you do realize that our territory’s population is only around eight hundred thousand, right?”

    “Well, of course.”

    “…It’s always a pleasure to serve such a wonderful young master.”

    By then, I had already grown accustomed to those who simply brushed off my words with a disbelieving smile, regardless of what I said, and doted on me. So, I would often sprinkle hints about my past, being careful not to mention specific names.

    While those from other families never dared to broach the subject, the residents of the Ernhardt mansion—servants, knights, and even my parents—undoubtedly believed that I fancied myself a sword master who had vanquished a demon and saved the world in my previous life.

    I had no desire to delve into every intricate detail—from the Demonic Cult and the Heavenly Demon to the Ten Great Sects of the central plains and the Five Great Clans—with these individuals. Nor did I feel compelled to clarify that I was simply an ordinary martial artist in my past life, not a legendary sword master or hero.

    It was enough for them to view me as an aspiring knight, diligently honing my skills while dreaming big.

    Following a spar, I would swing my sword to dust it off, its blade gleaming.

    This habit was carried over from my past life. It was essential to rid the blade of blood after each encounter to ensure it wouldn’t slip during the next strike against the enemy.

    Though eliminating any unnecessary movements would have been more appropriate, I hadn’t corrected this habit of mine, as I had heard that a monster’s blood was much thicker than a human’s.

    “To have awakened your aura at age thirteen… Our young master truly seems to be a genius. Even Sir Kyadris, who has made a name for himself as the youngest sword master, didn’t awaken his until age sixteen.”

    “He probably wasn’t out on the training grounds since he was five years old.”

    “True enough.”

    With a hearty laugh, they started gearing up for the next spar when, out of the blue, all the knights simultaneously turned their heads in one direction.

    Light but noisy footsteps hurried toward the training grounds. I didn’t even have to glance to recognize who was running toward us.

    Passing the towel I’d been using to dab away my sweat to a servant, I exited the sparring ground, situated a bit lower than the surrounding areas, to greet our new guest.

    “Mihael! Slow down a bit. You’ll end up tripping if you rush like that.”

    “Brother! Brother! There’s a letter for you!”

    It was my younger brother, Mihael Ernhardt, the staunchest believer in the story that I was a hero who had saved the world in my past life.

    He was now seven years old, having just reached the level where he could read slowly, but he had recently learned some new words and was overly excited about it.

    I embraced the young boy rushing towards me like a wild boar.

    The envelope he clutched in one hand, waving it excitedly, already bore signs of being torn open and was partly crumpled from being gripped in his small claws as he ran.

    I could easily guess the contents without needing to pry the letter from those little hands of his, so its condition didn’t bother me.

    “I see, what you’re holding must be the early admission permit for the Cieran Empire Academy.”

    “Early admission! The youngest genius in the empire! Super duper genius!”

    “Then, your brother will become the youngest sword master super duper genius in the empire.”

    As I familiarly coaxed the child, laughter erupted once more among the knights, accompanied by a few wows.

    “If young master Michael goes to the academy, he won’t be able to play with you every day anymore. Are you still happy despite that?”

    “Don’t make the child cry for no reason, Sir Ventus.”

    “That’s okay! Because I’m going to the academy too! Time flies fast.”

    “How lively. Then, I’ll head to the academy first and wait for you, Mihael.”

    His manner of speech was straightforward, resembling someone. Ruffling the young Mihael’s hair, I pressed my lips to his forehead several times.

    It was cute how the child trailed after me constantly, resembling more of a grandson than a younger brother. There was some merit to coddling him whenever time allowed.

    There was no need to mention that by the time he entered the academy, I would have already graduated several years prior, as the academy’s duration was only three years.

    ¹ 기마자세 – Kind of like a horse riding position, meant to train one’s lower body
    ² 삼재검법 – Vertical slashes, horizontal slashes, and forward jabs
    ³ 시진 – One sijin is equal to two hours
    ⁴ 갑자 – Thirty years

    michael mihael, this family sure does know how to name their kids…
    im trying to reduce the number of notes in my translations, slowly but surely lol but i try to keep mika’s grandpa-style speech and the words he uses! i occasionally post fanarts i find in the discord server, so be sure to join if you wanna see ;)

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