TL: This… chapter is amazing.
Chapter 36 – Surpass me
Brendel’s mind was greatly shaken. It was his biggest secret in this world. Even though the old and new Brendel had merged together, it was hard for him to explain how the two memories merged together. Even he willed himself to accept everything, there was still a subconscious barrier remaining in him.
[This secret that I wanted to keep locked inside my heart was actually ripped out at the very first moment by the Golden Demonic Tree… No—]
He immediately shook his head. It was impossible for The Golden Demonic Tree to break it open so quickly. That creature must be using the way how he thinks—– Why would Brendel’s grandfather say something like that?
He suddenly understood that he himself would have thought this old man would say something like this.
[I am my own enemy here. The things that I fear and hidden away in my subconscious are reflected on Brendel’s grandfather.]
He shut his eyes and took a deep breath. After realizing that his deepest thoughts in his mind were not revealed yet, the feeling that his defenses were completely exposed to the enemy disappeared, and he calmed down quickly. He had deflected this first attack made by the Golden Demonic Tree by chance, and his current mentality actually stabilized. He gulped and cried inwardly that he was lucky.
He pulled out the ‘Thorn of Light’, answering the old man: “We would know whether I have the qualifications once we crossed swords.”
The old man nodded: “Very good. You sound like a Damon man. But there are many people in this world who brag too much, and I don’t want to see my descendent to be a useless fool.”
Brendel’s mind responded. This was not a test. His grandfather’s reaction was a reflection of his own confidence. This meant this his will was gradually recovering to its peak condition.
[This is a good sign.]
He indicated for his grandfather to make the first move. Even if it was within a dream, the opponent was someone that was his senior. Being polite showed off his confidence, and so he did it.
Within this dream world, the person who made the first move did not represent that he would gain the upper hand. It was possible that it was a trap arranged by the malicious creature. Only by guarding the weaknesses tightly would deny him the chance to invade the mind.
The old man nodded again and he shifted his left foot forward, and the sword on his left shoulder. This was the highest form within the Military Swordsmanship. When Brendel saw that, his forehead went numb.
[Even back in the game I did not train my swordsmanship to this level, who the bloody heck was your grandfather!]
This thought pass through his mind for just a flash, and he felt the sword in his arm become a little heavier. He yelled expletives in his mind, this slight gap actually got caught by the Golden Demonic Tree.
[Are you fucking serious!]
He went into a defensive stance. Because he did not have any other sword techniques with levels in it, he could only choose to use something that was more familiar from the Military Swordsmanship. Under such a veteran opponent, there was no meaning to use flashy techniques from the higher ranks. Without putting levels in it or meeting the required stats, it was full of flaws in front of his grandfather.
Brendel was also a veteran warrior and he understood his position clearly.
There was no indication from the old man, but he made his move with the sword flashing at Brendel. His sword was not very fast, but the skill behind it was impeccable. There was no weakness in the attack and it appeared like an ordinary swing, but one would feel that the sword could strike from anywhere with the next attack.
The air escaped from Brendel’s lungs.
[This is the swordsmanship from Brendel’s grandfather? Then it’s no wonder he could get the Candlelight Emblem. This monstrous skill… No wonder Brendel’s innate skill with the sword was so impressive. If this old man had a better lineage, he would definitely receive the title of a knight.]
Brendel had no way to counter the attack, so he had no choice but to try and seal the next attack. There was a loud clash from the swords, and Brendel staggered from the strength of the opponent. His mind panicked and before he could stop his thoughts, he felt the opponent’s sword growing heavier.
[Holy fuck, you god damned Golden Demonic Tree!]
Brendel certainly knew what was going on. It could not be compared to the game’s version at all. This was a true puppet master, not that rubbish AI in the game. But Brendel did not feel scared at this moment, and he was overflowing with the will to fight back.
He stared at his grandfather’s eyes. His expression was perfectly calm like still water, as if he could read someone’s heart.
He suddenly felt puzzled. Why did such an outstanding grandfather have such a faint impression in the old Brendel’s memories. Even when he saw him for the first time, he had to look at the young Brendel’s memory to confirm it was his grandfather.
[Something is wrong.]
He searched his memories again. The old Brendel’s memory of his grandfather was a rigid person who was not fond of speaking of laughing. The next impression was the Candlelight emblem and the aura as a veteran from the November War. But these memories were not as strong as the ones like the painting and old home.
The grandfather and grandson had lived together for several years, why did he appear to be so estranged to Brendel when they met again under this situation? The old Brendel did not appear to be someone who would forget his own grandfather’s appearance.
He fended off the old man’s sword once again and the sound between metal sang out. He felt the opponent’s sword grow heavier again, almost to the point where the sword nearly left his hand. His felt a shock in his mind, and he looked at the old man again.
His expression had become strict, as if he was displeased.
<Ten years later, I’m still not my Grandfather’s match.>
He read the message in his mind.
[What the fuck! This is self-doubt!]
He received another blow to his mind, and the defence in his mind grew from a tiny crack and spread outwards. His attacks became more and more flimsy, and the old man rushed attacks knocked him over to the ground. His blood grew cold as he quickly rolled over from the impact and got up.
But when he turned back, there was no grassy plains anymore. It was a gray house. Indeed, it was the old house in Bucce, where he woke up that fateful night in this world.
Brendel’s perspiration gathered on his forehead. This meant the Golden Demonic Tree had invaded further into his heart. He could not help but reach to the bag on his belt. But he hesitated and questioned himself if he wanted to use a trick instead.
There was a sudden reluctance in his heart. He looked at the old man’s face. His grandfather still had the same strictness, but there was signs of disappointment on his wrinkled face.
The disappointment pierced through his mind.
It was as if the twenty years of Brendel’s memory had suddenly become clear and escaped from his body, wanting to fight his grandfather.
<I can do it, let me do it—->
He suddenly felt this thought growing in his mind, and knew that it was the old Brendel’s feelings affecting himself. He was merging into this world and with the memories of his loved ones.
But he shook his head.
[No, It’s possible that the Golden Demonic Tree was utilizing the weakness of a human. I have to use that technique to leave this dream world.]
But when he placed his hand over to that position, he received a shock. The old man’s disappointment had become more apparent.
[…No, I cannot abandon Brendel.]
[But you must understand, the Golden Demonic Tree is using his weakness.]
[Even so, that is part of me now.]
[You will fail.]
[But throwing away my weakness doesn’t mean I defeated myself.]
Brendel suddenly became quiet. He realized why he had not spoken even once after he pulled his sword. The old man had many chances to completely destroy his mind defense, and yet there was only complete disappointment on his face.
He said nothing, but simply quietly waited and looked at him.
Brendel felt as if lightning had streaked across his mind and lit up every dark corner in his heart. This was not the Golden Demonic Tree’s handiwork of pity.
[No, this is the absolute sanctuary that the youth guarded in his memories!]
He took another look at the old man’s face. In the dark corners of his face, was it only disappointment?
Of course it was.
He felt his whole body tremble. Why did the old man feel disappointed?
[Because it was the endless expectations that he had. This is the old Brendel’s memory of his grandfather. He was strict and full of expectations. His eyes are full of disappointment, but it is not to censure. It was in hope that Brendel could understand his feelings behind this expectation.]
[He wanted to let you, the old Brendel, know his love for you.]
Brendel raised his head and gripped his sword tightly. He bit his lips and forced himself to hold back his tears. He thought he understood this world, but realized he did not understand it enough.
“Brendel, remember what I told you? Your back must be as straight as your sword. The men of the Damon family must live proudly. You are my grandson, and the best amongst the rest of them.” The old man raised his swords again.
“Come, let me see what you learned during ten years when I was gone.”
He nodded, unable to stop the pouring tears. These were his grandfather’s words, but they were also not. This was the answer the old Brendel’s heart wanted to have and the path he wanted to cross.
Brendel took a deep breath.
The two swords crossed each other —
“Stand up Brendel. How can a Damon man be so weak.”
“What are you crying for. Would a little torn skin kill you?”
“Speak up, how do you want me to punish you this time?”
The grandfather in his memories who sat strictly on the seat of the elders, who sat silently and looked at him with disappointment.
The grandfather in his memories who was always dissatisfied with seemingly everything that he did.
But the old man in his memories, finally walked the last journey in his life. The Brendel who was a child stood before that bed, feeling his Grandfather’s hand gently placing over his head and stroking his hair, then finally losing its strength and falling across his small face.
It was a rough hand, but made him feel he could be relied on. His sigh at the very end, was it still disappointment, or expectations filled with responsibilities?
Brendel felt the dream state dissolving around him. In his hand was a fading Candlelight emblem that was turning into ashes. He did not speak for a long time.
“Thank you, elder.”
<Thank you, grandfather.>
TL: So in case it’s too subtle, the reason for the old Brendel’s weak memories of his grandfather, is because he perceived his grandfather as one who only saw disappointment in him, and at the end of his memories the lines blurred because subconsciously he realized that his grandfather might have loved him deeply, which became the basis for that sanctuary where the Golden Demonic Tree could not breach (the old man did not want to hurt Brendel).
New Brendel realized the truth at the very end and accepted the old Brendel’s memories and feelings. If I have to take a guess at what the grandfather and old Brendel wanted, the title of the chapter is probably a huge hint.
Anyways, hopefully there’s no Engrish here. Please inform me if you spot any mistakes.