(TL:Cougar has an osaka dialect)
3, Deep-fried Horse Mackerel of Understanding – (2nd Half)
The sword is good. If you swing the sword, the heart disappears, it’s just right for gathering concentration.
Even when I encounter enemies, I cut to my heart’s content. Even against thieves.
My world has enemies, comrades, and the sword.
Such simplicity is good.
I am Cougar. The commander of the infantry for the mercenary corp.
My infantry is gathered from guys who could do nothing but fight then fight some more.
Using swords, spears, and tools. Gathering those who are skillful to those who boast of their strength, we look for ways to annihilate the enemy.
Charging the furthest in the front lines and knocking down the enemy. Opening up the path for the guys behind us. That’s our job. It’s our pride.
I don’t use tools. Nor spears. I only use a two-hand sword.
I have no relations with spears, bows, magic or magic tools. I only use my one sword to defeat the enemies.
However recently it hasn’t been like that.
Riru-chan. That kid’s talent has bloomed
Her three inventions have even been arranged to my troops who adapted to them immediately. Doing this we’ve been able to defeat more enemies. Speaking of which, my subordinates have been happy about this.
But then, that’s no different from the magic engineers right?
Our pride came from defeating the enemy with our weapons. But not doing so is fine in it’s own way, was what I started to think.
That’s no good.
We fight on the front lines. But that’s not all.
The Shingari (those who hold back the enemy at the very back of the retreat zone) at the retreat zone also can’t be set up. At that time, can we leave behind the tools?
We can’t. With that kind of firmness there should be no need to retreat in the first place.
But, I can’t persuade them anymore.
Of course those who understand the importance of the sword exist too. However most of them rely on Riru-chan’s tools.
If it’s convenient even I would use it.
But I’m a shield. It’s no good if a shield relies on accessories.
Originally I lived in the slums.
In such a dirty environment together with Ganglabe and the others, we survived by supporting each other.
At that time, I always held wooden and iron sticks charging the furthest into enemy lines. Even when we were running away I would be furthest back holding off the enemy.
It’s probably because of that. I have quite a lot of faith in my sword hand.
But, I still can’t win over Ganglabe.
That genius, the sword technique I spent the majority of my life to learn, learnt it in just a short while.
But Ganglabe is already a commander. There’s no reason for him to go into the front lines.
I charge forth the furthest, decorating that guy’s path to the stage.
However, my skill with the sword also became harder to improve.
The quickness and weight of the sword as well.
This might be the limits of my talent.
But, I found out one night.
I have to forge forth my sword on my own.
From the techniques that the soldiers went and pillaged until now, into my own technique.
One night I rushed out after getting into an argument with a subordinate.
I didn’t want to hear how those idiots who always rely on ignition gems suggest how they practise and just rushed out.
Going into the forest, I subconsciously drew out my sword when I reached an open area.
It’s being like this for years, in front of my eyes, my body continued practising.
Having no kinds of magic, I kept practising fighting enemies realising the limits of my concentration.
I call it shadow practise.
I crossed with many swords like that.
As I thought, my ideal sword will definitely be flawed with a goal that I can’t reach.
At that time I felt someone’s presence from the forest.
“Who is it, person over there”
I tried calling out and a man came out under the shadow of the tree.
And with an awkward looking face.
“Ah, Shuri. Don’t surprise me”
Shuri the cook.
The weirdo that Ganglabe recently recommended and recruited into the corp.
It’s true that recently the food tastes good, and it’s good for my body condition.
But why is this guy here.
“What’s wrong? It’s so late”
“Well, ya’know. It’s a slump”
For some reason I told this guy.
I haven’t told anyone truthfully about my problems. Saying something like feeling the limits of my talents, I can’t complain even if I get thrown out the corp.
But being able to talk about it now made me happy.
Sheathing my sword I sat down depressingly.
“A slump, is it?”
“Yah. Recently Riru-chan’s been try’n hard yea? Making cool things, contributing to battles. But I’m not skilled at anything but swinging my sword.
With my talent, this is probably the limit ya’kno”
Saying it myself I became depressed.
It’s not like I’m jealous of Riru-chan. But, I’m envious.
And my troops are also starting to tire of someone like me.
“Don’t talk about something as depressing as talent please”
“I, also have no talent.
Despite that, I put in effort, gaining a lot of knowledge and experiences and somehow adding them to my available techniques.
Cougar-san handles the sword extremely beautifully. It’s not a slump, you just encountered a hurdle”
I felt like tears would come out.
He said it was beautiful, this murderous sword.
Even though it’s not beautiful, even though it’s stained with blood.
No, it’s a sword which was swung to save my comrades.
Maybe it was me who didn’t notice that.
Praising the sword which was used for the sake of my comrades.
I might not have believed that.
I thought as I cast my eyes down so that he can’t see my tears.
A hurdle huh. I have to get over the hurdle huh.
“A hurdle… huh”
The hurdle belonging to the limits of talent, I have to come around and practise to become greater.
“Y-you’re probably hungry right. I’ll go make some supper”
“Is is alright?”
“Even if I give food out to people who’re working hard, Ganglabe-san wouldn’t be mad”
When he mentioned Ganglabe’s name I jumped.
I just noticed, but where’s Ganglabe?
That’s why this guy is encouraging me, motivating me with those words.
… That guy, acting considerate at a time like this.
Not caring about my mental state, Shuri came over carrying Horse Mackerel, oil and some kind of Japanese pepper.
What is that yellow, sticky thing?
Now I think about it, before when Shuri put in nothing but egg and oil and spices and mixed it together this was also there.
I wonder what he needed it for then? Ah, thinking about it I ignored him then, this me.
Shuri deep fried the Japanese pepper(Sanshou) and immediately crumbled the bread crumbs into tiny pieces and threw it on.
Preparing the fish beautifully, inserting the pepper, dipping it in the breadcrumbs and eggs then placing it into the oil.
It had a great smell.
The savory smell of fresh fish being fried in oil was irresistible.
I originally loved fish to death but, I think having a thicker taste is good too.
“It’s spicy (Pirikara)”
He probably means that it’s a little spicy.
And then Shuri took out the horse mackerel, giving it to me with the thing dyed in yellow.
Was there anything yellow?
I felt that it was fine like that and this guy’s cooking is delicious, I knew that, so without a care I stuffed it into my mouth.
First, it was crunchy.
Then, it became fluffy.
It was a strange eating experience. Taking a bite it would be crunchy but the inside would be soft and the savory taste and smell spread intensely inside my mouth.
I didn’t even know that the taste of fish could be subjected to this inside my mouth.
Light and heavy. The combination which shouldn’t match was in a perfect harmony.
Then the yellow thing. This was irresistible.
It was sour but it wasn’t a bad sour.
Sour and delicious, the taste was noticeable without interfering with the taste of the mackerel.
“Ohh! Crunchy and fluffy. It even has a sweet and sour flavour!”
That’s right, the taste was good too.
The fragrance of the peppers entered my nose as an aftertaste, so refreshing.
It was a little spicy like he said but, nothing unbearable.
Spicy but not.
This is probably the meaning of Pirikara.
“The preparation of the fish was done quite well huh”
I asked casually as I brought the horse mackerel and stuff to my mouth.
It had no bones and was beautiful to the eye.
“I sliced it slowly with a knife where it was soft”
At a soft spot. Slicing it slowly.
With those words I felt a divine revelation.
That’s right, there’s no way I can just copy whatever Ganglabe, that massive guy does.
There’s no way I have the amount of strength he has. Always fighting skillfully.
Fighting, defeating them through the crevice of their armour.
But, just that is no good.
The crevice in the armour, the “soft spot” in the crevice of the defence.
And then, the crevice of their consciousness. If we add this then it’s good.
If attacked there, you can cut through even with a slice. There’s no need for the cut to have power.
I tried asking Shuri what talent was.
Then that guy answered after some worried thinking.
“Hmm well, isn’t it something you realise?
Something like noting the points which the other excels in, does poorly in, then making the points which they excel in and making that your own.
It seems to be called Shuhari (The fundamentals). They form the entirety of martial arts. Keeping the original form with Shu, then breaking and innovating with Ha, finally with Ri you detach yourself from Shu and Ha and make something which is truly your own.”
Shuhari. This was the first time I’ve heard of this.
So that’s how it is. I have to break open my shell and start fresh.
Then I have to look for clues.
After separating from Shuri I did nothing but continue my shadow practise.
I was well versed in shadow practise to a frightening degree.
I was being such a pathetic loser just then, but quickly it seemed like I could win again.
Of course, there’s no way I’m planning on throwing away the power sword.
It’s just that I got a new sword.
If the power sword is called “Gouken” then let’s call the technique sword “Juuken”.
Once again with this one step I felt like I’ve gotten several ten steps more powerful.
The battle later on, I displayed my Juuken and Gouken in front of those guys who were relying on the tools as usual.
When I came to be, there were no enemies in my vicinity. It seems everyone could only surround me at a distance due to my strength.
Also winning the battle, also getting the money~
After that, my subordinates apologized to me and asked me to teach them the sword.
Naturally I understood that they returned to my control.
However, they were also my precious subordinates after all.
If my sword is able to “save” anyone.
Then that’s also fine as I came to calmly understand.
After the unity of the empire various martial arts were in disarray. These originally cultivated arts of war for the battlefield were made, then rerased.
The reason why was, when you speak of martial arts in the united empire there could only exist two.
The first of which is, Kuugaryu.
The martial art created by the sword saint Cougar Yanagi.
It was during the height of battle for the right of the salts that founder Cougar awakened his strongest sword technique.
It was spread from the first battle where Cougar displayed its prowess defeating a few hundred enemies by himself in a single breath.
Kuugaryu has several derivations.
Using power to cut through the enemy’s defences, “Kuugaryu Gouken Style”
Using technique to slice through the enemies like a weave, “Kuugaryu Juuken Style”
Using the heart to grasp the flow of the battlefield and the opponent, “Kuugaryu Shingan Style” (TL:Mind’s eye)
Given the precondition of fighting an armed opponent when you are unarmed, “Kuugaryu Gouki Style”
Apart from the bow, there exist variations of Kuugaryu for the various weapons and spread as more practical than the schools of the masses.
Generations of emperors even had to learn Kuugaryu as a compulsory subject, and learning until you arrive at its mysteries became a major premise.
Furthermore, Cougar Yanagi as the commander-in-chief of the united empire had a method of encouragement he liked to do as he was defeating enemies.
He recites it like this.
“I believe there are nothing but corpses behind me. But let them realise this. It’s not just corpses. There are also the thousands and tens of thousands of lives we saved.
That’s why I’ll will fight at the front lines.
So that I can protect my closest friends, I will rush out the furthest, becoming their shield and sword”
Believing that the lives that were saved were more than the ones killed, he grasped his sword.
Entrusting Kuugaryu to the later generations, even after resigning from command-in-chief position due to old age, he was still praised as the strongest.
After retiring, it is said he became a nice old man who enjoys fishing leisurely while drinking and chatting with the emperor who was his childhood friend and other comrades.
During those times he would always eat deep fried horse mackerel.
Even with a face full of wrinkles, he would never fail to eat that dish with a face full of smiles.
(TL: Ajifry Recipe)