A man in his prime hugs Jenny who jumps at him. He carries her in his arm and kisses his wife. Mary walks in front of me to the front door.
“Welcome back, Harold. I want to introduce my friend who will help us tomorrow.” (Mary)
“Oh sure. I never expect he will come here so soon. Is it him?” (Harold)
The man, Harold looks over Mary’s shoulder to me. I step beside Mary to greet him. Mary points at me.
“Yes. This is Erwin, my friend. He is strong.” (Mary)
Mary turns to me.
“This is Harold. The man you saw two days ago at nearby village.” (Mary)
“Hello. I am Erwin. Please treat me well.” (Erwin)
“I am Harold. Thank you for your help at that time. I never thought there would be bandits around there.” (Harold)
Harold extends his hand and I grab it. We share a handshake. Nina steps in that time.
“We should talk inside. I will close the store.” (Nina)
“Sure. Come in everyone.” (Harold)
We walk to the back with Harold at the lead. He opens the back door and leads us to a small yard behind the store. I can see a saw, grinder, and other equipment for craft.
Wooden swords are piled up near the corner of the yard. A few chairs, tables and cupboards’ parts are piled up neatly. At another corner there is a pile of wood chips.
We sit around a table near the piled up materials. Jenny sits on top of Harold’s lap with Alishia beside him. I sit opposite him. Nina and Mary comes over with tea pot and cups.
After settling down the drinks, Mary sits on the other side of me. Nina sits beside Harold. I take out the paper detailing the job.
“Ah. You can just follow me to that village. May I ask where are you two heading to?” (Harold)
Mary and I look at each other and nod.
“We are going to Yamato Kingdom.” (Erwin)
“Mary is with me. For her safety, only Yamato is a plausible place to go.” (Erwin)
“What are you going to do? Where do you come from? I can see that those uniform of yours aren’t from around here.” (Harold)
“That’s a secret. We have no authority to explain. All I can say is that our country is far and come in peace.” (Erwin)
“That’s right. We have no intention whatsoever to interfere in anything. We come to negotiate.” (Mary)
“Hmm... I will believe you for now. Young man, let’s have a spar. I want to know your capability. Right now you’re a new guard so I will be sure to check your ability.” (Harold)
“Alright. Where do we do it?” (Erwin)
“Here is fine. Take one of the wooden swords there. Come on.” (Harold)
Harold stands up and I follow. Each of us takes a wooden sword. It’s decently made and the weight is similar to ordinary iron sword. The wood is durable and polished.
We move to the center of the yard. Various piled up things are pushed aside. I drop my sword and rifle to the side. We stand five meters apart.
“Do your armor not too bulky?” (Harold)
I look at my vest. It is certainly bulky and have many magazines tied around. I am too used to it after having a training like this at the base. I smile wryly and take off the vest. I set them aside.
It feels light. Even though the exoskeleton reduces the weight, it is still considerable. I stretch my back and shoulders. I hold the wooden sword in mid stance with both hands. It is a balance stance for offense and defense.
Similarly Harold also hold his in mid stance. Mary stands at the side. After Harold and I nod, Mary shouts.
I charge straight at Harold. I strike from the left and he receives it easily. I push his sword to the right while I use the force to move forward left diagonally.
He move to his left following my strike. This reduces the amount of force he receives. While at it, he push his sword downward. He forces my sword down with it.
I pull it back up as Harold initiates a thrust. I block it with the flat part of my sword. He strikes pretty hard as I step back one step with my left hand press on flat part for more stability.
He pulls back and then thrusts a few time in quick succession. I parry each of them to the side. However, right after Harold senses it is deflected, he quickly pulls it back, leaving me no chance to counterattack.
After five thrusts deflected, he pulls back his sword and charge forward. He holds his sword horizontally with its flat part points to me. His left hand holds near the tip of the sword. He looks like a ram.
I jump back while swinging my sword from below. He dodges the strike by pulling his sword a bit. My sword completely missed the target and fly upwards.
‘Shit!’ I scream in my mind.
Harold will not miss the big opening. He changes from trying to ram to slash. He pushes off the ground and swings his sword to my right flank.
I dodge the strike by hair breath by dropping my body on the ground. Harold quickly changes the slash to stab downward. I roll to the right to dodge it.
The stab misses but he quickly changes the strike again in a fluid movement. I block the incoming slash with my sword while kneeling with one knee on the ground. The heavy strike breaks my balance.
I quickly use the force to jump back and open distance. Harold stands up and gets in his mid stance again. I breathe heavily from the previous exchanges. There are so many close calls.
“Not bad. After I break your momentum, you still manage to pull yourself together.” (Harold)
“Thank you.” (Erwin)
I can feel he was still holding back just now. If he didn’t, I would be on the ground right now.
I change my stance. I bend my knees until I have a horse stance. Left leg in front, I hold my sword horizontally beside my eyes.
I charge low towards Harold. I swing my sword from low right to upper left. While I swing it, I twist my waist and arms, gathering more force and momentum to the swing. My right leg steps forward as the swing happens.
Harold swings his sword to meet my strike. When the swords nearly meet, I pull back the sword a bit by twisting my hand’s joint. I meet the strike with a softer strike than the look.
Harold raises his eyebrow a bit, possibly because he feels the strike is much softer. I move my sword forward by sliding the flat part on his sword.
Since he used more force than necessary, his balance breaks. Adding on as I slide my sword on his, I apply pressure to force it sideways. I strike at his exposed chest with a slash as my sword breaks free from his sword’s resistance.
Harold bends his waist to his left quickly. He also pulls back his left hand, releasing it from his sword. He dodges the slash. A long horizontal tear appears on his shirt.
I step my right foot hard and redirect my momentum by rotating my body. My sword makes a large circle in the air. When it is nearly complete, I charge at Harold.
Riding the momentum, I thrust forward at his chest again. Harold keeps a calm face while he pulls back into his stance. He quickly sidesteps to dodge it.
I try to use his method of cornering me just now. I quickly change my stab into a slash to the side.
However, the forward momentum is too big. My stance end up being broken.
Harold calmly charges and strikes down his sword to my back. I lost due to my own mistake. I bury my face to the dirt, refusing to get up. Harold laughs.
“Get up already, big boy. Your basic swordsmanship is decent. What was that stance you used half way?” (Harold)
“Ko Gasumi. It’s one of the Japanese sword-fighting stances.” (Erwin)
I answer while slightly lifting my head to face him. Harold nods a few times and then he gives advice.
“You shouldn’t use my technique in that stance. It is used in different way. Your stance use momentum and sword technique to cut and quickly kill a person.”
“If you had just continue with your momentum, I might have little chance to strike you. Your momentum caused your movement and attack speed to increase along with the force. However, you lose the ease of movement. You need to follow it through.”
“My technique solely uses force to break the enemy’s stance. It requires a fluid movement. I can freely change the direction of my attack with small movement. This allows me to quickly respond to any offense.”
“Your technique increase power but decrease flexibility with momentum of the maneuver. Mine has flexibility with no increase in power whatsoever.”
“Your fault is that you tried to change direction while your own momentum didn’t allow it. If you continued with it and increase your momentum even further, I will have a hard time to deal with it.” 
I listen closely. A month of sword training will only train and strengthen the basic. I trained in both western and eastern sword fighting to cope with possible sword differences in this world. Experiences are important to improve oneself further.
“Come on. Get up.” (Harold)
I get up and brush off the dirt on my uniform. The exoskeleton issues small movements and ejects the dirt. In a few brushes the uniform is as good as new.
Harold watches with interest. I wonder what he is thinking of. He then throws his wooden sword beside me. It stabs to the ground.
He turns around and once again sits at his spot. I pick up my vest, sword and rifle. Then I store away the two wooden swords to their place again.
I sit down beside Mary once again. Harold sighs at his torn shirt. I glance at it and smirk.
“I won’t pay for it.” (Erwin)
“What? You think I will make you pay when I was the one who asked for a spar? Hahaha.” (Harold)
“For what reason did you sigh then?” (Erwin)
Harold grins at my question. He answers in an easy going way.
“I have gotten weaker until even a beginner can tear my cloth.” (Harold)
I slump my face on the table. Mary pats my back with a wry smile. Harold smirks back. Alishia and Jenny look at us with confused face.
I raise my face again and see his still smirking face. I decide to ignore it.
“I want to know what happened fifteen years ago.” (Erwin)
Harold stiffens himself up. Nina at his side smiles then she takes Jenny and Alishia away.
“Jenny, Alice. Come inside the house. Let’s make cookies.” (Nina)
“ “ Yey~ ” ”
The two of them quickly run into the house. Nina follows shortly after. Mary and I stare at Harold’s stiff smile. He sighs.
“I never thought you didn’t even know that. I thought the whole world would have already know that.” (Harold)
“Well. Our country is closed in. We have no interaction whatsoever with the outside world for long.” (Erwin)
“Are your country one of the ancient community in legend?” (Harold)
“I can’t say anything.” (Erwin)
“Well then. I will start off the event fifteen years ago. The event that caused magicians to be hunted even though they have live alongside us for a long time.” (Harold)
He tells us the story of the Devil War. It was started by evil magicians and ended in a extreme prejudices of countries for magicians.
Mary and I listen carefully to the story. When it ended, we heave a sigh. We are amazed by the events which happened in the past. A lot of strange things are there.
One of them is how did the evil magicians suddenly got powered up just by going there. The monster summoning didn’t have any effect on the magician’s physical and mind abilities.The monsters will only help in fighting.
However, in the story it is said that those magicians can handle themselves more powerful than before. It is also in a short period of time.
“That’s the story. I participated in both of them. However, I have retired as I can’t handle it anymore.” (Harold)
“I see. Well. They were in the past. I can see why the witch hunt has come to be.” (Erwin)
“With this, we must reach Yamato Kingdom before we are too late. It will be much harder for us if Yamato is to fall.
“I agree. We will set them aside for now. Yamato won’t fall so easily.” (Harold)
“That’s right. When will leave this city?” (Erwin)
“We can move tomorrow. Meet me at the gate at noon.” (Harold)
“Alright. Mary, will you stay here?” (Erwin)
“Yes. I will meet you tomorrow.” (Mary)
“Hmm. Okay. See you tomorrow.” (Erwin)
“See you.” (Mary)
I am a bit disappointed. It can’t be helped. I haven’t had any casual talk in a while. I also can’t force her to go back to the inn. The stalkers are still around.
I walk to the front door accompanied by Harold and Mary. Alishia brings a bundle of cookies for me. I smile and pat her head.
I give farewell once again and leave the store. Tomorrow we will leave the city. I am a bit excited at that.
 I have no training in basic of sword-fighting. I tried out the moves myself and sensed the momentum. As expected, it’s a bit hard without any basic and partner to do it together. I tried to explain why Erwin’s stance broke and he lost. If you think this explanation is nonsense, tell me and explain. After more than 3 comments from different people, I will cut this part off. Or I will just change the part according to someone’s explanation.
 Contrary to its big difference in shape, longsword and katana weight is nearly equal. Thus, their speed isn’t much different. Only their specialty is different. Longsword is more effective in thrusting while Katana is more effective in cutting.
Therefore, having and using more momentum means more offense power and speed with lower power needed to initiate a strike while at the same time increases the power needed to change their attack direction. His balance broke as his power is not enough to change the direction.
Just imagine if you’re running with your full speed and then you want to turn. You either have to decrease your speed or use more power to redirect and balance yourself. If you failed to apply more power, you would just crash to the side because of your momentum. I imagine most of us will crash.
However as I have explained, I have no training in the sword fighting itself thus this explanation might be false.
 Read the next chapter. I put the story in the intermission chap.