A/N: A big shoutout to Aldnoah for supporting me! Thanks a lot.
Either way, sorry for the inactivity yesterday. I was dead tired, my brain buzzed softly and I had to sleep early.
I'll try to make up to my readers, to you all, Today.
Or at least, I hope to.
No doubt, the day felt too long when Nik was only scheduled to train. His hand casually gripped the sharp sword and crouched, opening his mouth, a shrill of wind echoed within the thick mist as Nik started breathing according to the Breath of Water. His Elemental Hamon immediately hummed into existence as Nik bypassed the part of converting the streams of Hamon energy into an elementary form to increase its efficiency and struck his sword outwards.
A simple pierce with no targets in front of him. As Nik's hand completely extended outwards, a soft 'plop' could be heard and Nik felt his Hamon energy getting drained, the mist around the tip of his blade gathered at the tip before dispersing silently, creating a 15 metres mist-less space around Nik.
'Seventh Style: Piercing Rain Drop.'
Nik marveled at the scenery his own sword attack created. Yes, the days of training were long, uneventful and most of all, extremely tiring. He felt like giving up, even with his enhanced stats and yet, he simultaneously did not feel like giving up, too. Even if this world was still a Rank 1 world, Nik was too weak to fight for any kind of resources. And to be able to train so peacefully was definitely a stroke of fortune in his books.
"Control your Hamon energy. The Seventh Style heavily depends on the precision and the speed of the strike.
Sakonji broke Nik's complacency without an ounce of hesitation. In fact, Sakonji felt even more irritated with Nik not leaving the hut and focusing on training.
If previously, Males were angry at Nik's existence, then now, the females of the village were now shaking in rage at Nik's absence. The pathetic males had already cowed under the pressure of their female counterparts and soon told their acts of sending letters of complaints to Sakonji.
Which induced the women of various families to send another wave of letter to let Sakonji allow Nik to travel freely into the village.
And yet, Nik did not budge. He wasn't ready to lose himself again in his debauched behaviour when he could be training. When Nik finally let go of his l.u.s.t temporarily, for a few months, he finally found out how many things he needed to actually accomplish.
The first and foremost was to attain a living space treasure, but that was simply not possible for him, at least, the current him. Not to mention, there was no extraordinary reward attached to his affiliation quest. Meanwhile, there was also the need to diversify his skill tree by adding more incubus skills, which can only happen if Nik raises his rank within society.
Taking Sakonji's criticism seriously, Nik crouched once more and struck out once again. This time, instead of bursting his Elemental Hamon from the tip of his sword, Nik moulded the energy that represented something akin to a straight line.
Sakonji felt like he heard a rain drop falling on a puddle as Nik completely extended his hand. This time, there were no extraordinary sights around Nik, no overflowing waves, no astounding pressure, just a plain strike as a small smile finally touched his lips.
"I did it."
Nik muttered lightly as Sakonji walked towards him and nodded.
"Yeah, you did."
"So? Does that mean I can enter the final selection?"
Nik's words elicited a soft chuckle out of Sakonji and he shook his head.
"Tanjiro has been given a test. It's already been a whole month and I truly do not know if he can pass that hurdle..."
It was the truth. After Nik and Tanjiro were taught the basics of breathing technique and its ten forms, Sakonji had taken off with Tanjiro and returned the next day without him, explaining that Tanjiro needed to pass the exam he had set before he can enter the final selection.
"So, just like him, you will face a similar exam, my disciple.
If your blade does not strike my body in one month, I shall deem you unfit to enter the ranks of Demon Slaying Corps."
Hearing his words, Nik couldn't help but frown and his mood plummeted.
"That is not fair, Master." It's already been a few months and Nik was already comfortable around the ambitious figure that Sakonji was. After all, the duo disciples still hadn't uncovered the face hidden behind the mask.
"It is fair. Tanjiro did not have access to my personal guidance, hence, his test is equally easier. You, on the other hand, obtained my personal experience. Of course, your test wi be harsher."
"Why didn't you teach Tanjiro then?"
Nik continued pressing for an answering. After two months, it was plainly obvious that Sakonji was actually avoiding teaching the core principles of the Breath of Water to Tanjiro and only exposed them to Nik after Tanjiro had been sent to his testing location.
But, Nik wasn't given a proper answer as Sakonji simply shook his head and gave a vague response.
"He... he is a Kamado." Sakonji took a deep breath and brandished a wooden sword, "Tanjiro Kamado has his own inheritance. Breath of Water was never destined to fit his requirements, and never will.
Now, take your position."
Sakonji immediately shot towards him, just like the first few lessons where Nik would get a beating, but this time, Sakonji used the full extent of his Hamon and Nik couldn't even last a second.
Even after his training and accomplishment, Nik's raised sword was deflected and the wooden sword struck Nik's shoulder blade before Sakonji's body twisted mid-air and a pair of foot landed on his face, sending him off.
Just like the first lesson, Nik slammed into a tree before slumping down.
Seeing Nik's beaten form, Sakonji sighed and shook his head. Before he could finish, he found Nik standing slowly and steadily.
"This sure brings back some good memories. If I didn't know you better, I would have thought that you did not want me to become a demon slayer."
Nik swiped his hair back and raised his sword. A small smile leaked through his lips while he whispered.
"Get ready, master."
It was already dark, and yet, Nik's body failed to fall. His face, hands, legs and even his chest was trembling in pain, blood seeped through his mouth as Nik took another laborious step towards Sakonji. Nik's head was bashed to cruelly as blood seeped through his temple, and yet, here he stood, without going into a shock.
His vision was filled with red. His energy exhausted and even his great physical vitality failing him at this moment.
"Why are you so desperate?"
Sakonji's, trembling, raspy voice entered his ears as Nik refused to reply.
'Why am I desperate... huh?'
Even Nik questioned himself. While he kept wheezing, Nik felt his thoughts flash before him.
Why was he desperate?... No, the real question was...
When did he learn that he was still a desperate person?
Was it after he was forced to acknowledge that he didn't have enough power to survive this world after his smooth sailing in the world of elementals?
Maybe, but Nik felt that the answer was somewhat closer to him.
At this moment, three distinct figures, plump and desirable, flashed in front of his eyes.
Was it due to him giving up on the three village housewives?
Nik once again refused the thought. He may be a weak-willed teen, but he sure as hell wouldn't miss someone who he made no commitment to.
But Nik also felt closer to his answer.
A part of him felt that if he found the answer, his life may change for the better.
If he found the reason for the despair of his own subconsciousness, then, he would have the chance to surpass whatever it was that still affected his mentality so severely.
Alas, the answer eluded him, just like Sakonji's defeat as in his mull-headed state, Nik even failed to feel Sakonji walking towards him and pressing his thumb against his temple.
"If desperation and courage to fight were all it took to emerge victorious, then the demons would have already gone extinct."
Sakonji whispered as he let his Hamon energy flow within Nik, "Rest well, son. You have a long day tomorrow."
With that, Nik's body finally grew limp and Sakonji lifted Nik before taking him to the hut.
Just like Nik, Tanjiro wasn't in any better state. His whole body beaten black and blue while he looked at the large boulder that was supposed to be his exam.
'Cut through the large boulder without breaking the sword...'
Tanjiro muttered his goal as his gaze never left the small figure sitting atop the 2-meter high boulder.
"Can I leave the rest to you?"
The masked figure tilted his head sideways and spoke into the darkness while a soft and sweet voice emerged.
"Yes, don't worry."
The masked figure nodded and disappeared. Meanwhile, a little girl with short dark hair emerged from within the darkness and tiptoed towards Tanjiro before crouching beside him.
Even till now, Tanjiro did not know who these figures were, but they actually taught him many things that Sakonji failed to explain him, allowing his strength to soar.
"Tanjiro-san, you got beat once again."
A bitter smile escaped his lips, but soon, he stood up and bowed to the little girl before entering the stance, waiting for the girl's descriptive guidance, unlike the previous figure's brutal sparring sessions.