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Joonbum shook away his thoughts and tightened his grip on the sword as he heard Doral shouting at him.
A sword was swung at him at the shout of the word, which Joonbum blocked by lightly swinging his sword back. Pree-an, using the energy from the blocked attack, swung his sword again at Joonbum. It was a quick and precise attack, which Joonbum also blocked.
However, this made Joonbum lose his balance and he had to retreat, stumbling backward.
“Joonbum! Stance and balance!”
He couldn’t get back into his stance after the first attack, which resulted in losing his balance after Pree-an’s second attack.
‘Crap. It’s not easy,’ Joonbum thought as he wiped the sweat off his red face.
“Maybe it was too quick for you. Should I slow it down?” Pree-an said as he closed in. Joonbum became irritated.
“No. Let’s keep it as it is.”
Joonbum answered stubbornly and Pree-an grinned.
“Really? Okay then, get ready!”
Joonbum gasped as Pree-an did not hesitate to initiate the attack. The swords they were using were not sharp enough to inflict severe damage, but they still worked as blunt weapons. Yet they did not try to weaken their swings. Joonbum’s skills had gotten past the stage where they had to be careful.
Joonbum got back into his stance as he blocked the incoming second attack. Pree-an seemed to expect this as he thrust his sword toward Joonbum’s waist where it seemed to be vulnerable. Joonbum twisted his sword to block the attack as the attacking sword swung upward at his face.
Joonbum quickly pulled his head back as the sword sliced past his face. Pree-an, bursting into a smile, thrust his sword at the belly.
Joonbum pulled his belly as best as he could and swung away the sword that was coming at him.
“Oh! That was nice!” Pree-an yelled in a satisfied voice. He seemed to be pleased by Joonbum’s quick reaction. They continued their fight. Of course, it was only possible because Pree-an was going easy on him.
“What! Joonbum, thrust it!”
“What are you doing! Move! Move!”
“Protect your waist!”
“Thrust at the chest!”
“Kick the leg! Leg!”
“Throw the dirt at him!”
“HEY! Stop teaching him those dirty tricks from the beginning!”
“What! Those are not dirty tricks! You need to know this in your heart from the very beginning to use it! You can’t just try to throw it on a whim and get it right.”
“You just need to throw the damn dirt. What else do you need to know?”
Doral shouted advice that Joonbum did not expect from the Ainos. He would’ve said something too only if he wasn’t out of breath.
The two Gladius swords swung at each other endlessly. Joonbum focused his senses as he concentrated on the sword in front of him. He could no longer hear the advice and he just focused on the sword before him.
His sight of Pree-an blurred, then disappeared. There was only a sword being swung at him left as if it were a snake’s tongue. It was as if the sword itself was dancing in front of him. It was unbelievable sight, yet he could not do anything else but follow its path.
The sounds of the two swords clashing against each other grew lighter, and the sword in his hand felt lighter too. His breath seemed to become clearer and he now was able to see where the sword was moving much better. Joonbum tightened his grip and swung his sword as it created a heavy sloshing sound through the air.
“He’s on to the next stage!”
“And quickly too.”
“I think he got there.”
“He has talent.”
“It hasn’t been too long since he grabbed the sword, right?”
The spectators started commenting on Joonbum.
“It should take some time.”
Pree-an backed away quickly, hiding his sword behind his back. Joonbum did not stop even though the sword in front of him had disappeared. It looked like he was fighting something invisible in front of him.
He moved without rest and the people who were watching them left, leaving behind only Joonbum and Doral who kept watching him.
- “Jinchul! I’m sorry about yesterday.”
Joonbum apologized as he entered Jinchul Cha’s gun shop since he could not come to his store as promised without a word. The aftereffect of mindlessly swinging a sword for over thirty minutes was severe — he was in bed when he found consciousness again.
It was an eye-opening experience. After he moved to the other world, he was always full of energy, so much that it almost seemed to be unlimited. He slept little, giving him more than enough time and his energy would replenish as soon as he took a break. His energy appeared to be infinite, but it wasn’t. When he opened his eyes on the bed, he did not even have the strength to lift his hand up.
-You’ll need a full day of rest to get back on your feet. Congratulations Joonbum. You have gotten closer to us now.-
Doral explained to him that he kept swinging his sword as if he had lost his mind.
‘Am I some sort of character from a sword-fighting Chinese movie or something? It’s not like I earned some special power…’
It didn’t seem like there were any significant changes other than the fact that Pree-an’s sword was much lighter than before and dueling became easier.
Joonbum thought about it as he saw Jinchul give him a worried look.
“It’s alright. Was there any trouble?”
Joonbum looked at him for a moment, then shook his head. “No, it was nothing.”
“Good to hear. But look at you. My, you’ve changed.”
Jinchul seemed to be concerned when he asked the first time. Joonbum was relieved as the appointment they made yesterday was not only between them. There was a third person involved, which Joonbum felt very sorry about. Yet Jinchul didn’t seem to mind and he changed the subject.
“Yes, you did. Look at all the muscles you have now. I think you’ve grown too! It’s as if you’re shining now.”
“Shine? Naw, not that much.”
“I should have gotten a picture before… Check your old videos! I think the only thing that has not changed is your thick lips. You’ve put in some work!”
Joonbum scratched as his head in embarrassment as Jinchul complimented him.
“Hey, we don’t have time for this. Let’s move. You need to apologize to them, not me. The entire staff has been waiting for you.”
“Yes, of course.”
They both got into Jinchul’s car and started driving. Joonbum enjoyed the views as the car quickly moved on the road.
‘Earth has some good aspects too.’
There were enjoyable things here on Earth too.
‘I did change,’ he thought as he remembered the reason why he decided to move away from Earth was because of his disappointment. Now he believed that it was his own fault for his unsatisfying life here. There was no one to blame.
When Joonbum returned from his thoughts, they arrived at the destination: a lone, old factory building beside a quiet road.
After he got off the car, he could hear the sound of clashing iron.
A comic book-like banner stood in front of them as they walked in.
‘So this is the place.’
Joonbum had seen this place multiple times on the Internet already. This place was famous among fantasy world fanatics.
‘I wonder what they are making now?’ he wondered as he heard something getting hammered against the iron. This place was known for creating swords or armor for movie productions or animations when requested. The video that captured its process garnered over 1.5 million views.
‘They even stream it live.’
They streamed their process also, receiving and processing orders while recording live. This was also very popular.
“Oh, Mr. Jinchul Cha? Come on in.”
A man bowed after he turned his head as he heard the sounds of the two approaching men. A stout man in his forties with gray hair also walked up to them and smiled. He was in his work clothes, drenched in sweat as he had been busy working.
He greeted Jinchul and then turned to Joonbum.
“Hello, I’m Joonbum Jang. I am sorry about yesterday.”
Joonbum bowed deeply as he apologized to the man.
“Oh, Mr. Joonbum Jang? I am Taechul Jung, the owner of Iron Sword. Don’t worry about yesterday. Just make sure you put us in a good spot! Haha.”
Taechul Jung, the owner, smiled as he shook his hands with Joonbum. Joonbum nodded unknowingly at the sudden request.
Joonbum blushed as he answered. “Huh? Oh, erm, yes.”
‘It feels like I’ve been tricked. No, nevermind. Jinchul told me I messed up their schedule yesterday so I should do that at least.”
“Come here, we prepared it again after we got the call.”
A few men eyed Joonbum as they walked in. There was a variety of swords and equipment along with littered materials around the shop. When they walked past everything, they entered a cleaner area.
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