Vol. 4, Chapter 2, part 1
[T.N.: This time it’s going to be 3 parts, it’s basically split that way, so I’m not going to cut it mid-piece. Also, some new juicy info on the MC’s trauma that, sadly, didn’t make its way into the manga.]
IRL I had this little dream from the moment I became self-aware. It’s the kind of dream kindergarten kids cherish. And you give up on it little by little while growing up. But I held onto it without wavering. And it came back to me a little when we faced each other in a barehanded duel.
I carried on working towards that dream through elementary and junior high school. As I spent my time at school prioritizing studying and doing sports inbetween, I wasn’t good at making friends…… I can’t say that it was completely positive.
I was bullied because of that, but could somehow fight back. When the bullying got too harsh I made an example of the ringleader, hitting him on purpose in front of my classmates. Of course, the teacher got angry and lowered my marks. And still, I got to the end of the year on top of my academy, making it my revenge to the bullies.
–A hard punch flies my way. Not as if I’m going to be hit by this measly attack. I evade it by slightly shifting my body and land a kick as a counter. The shopkeep hit by it takes a step back I trip him up and he falls, so I follow with an additional hit.
The shopkeep was a little hesitant at first, but now is all on fire, so he avoids my follow-up, springs up, and regroups. He’s got a different expression on now. There is a smile on the shopkeep’s face, albeit a faint one.
Eventually, I graduated from my rough junior high years. I passed an exam at the leading high-level senior high school in the prefecture.
As I was working just as hard towards my dream during high school, I didn’t have time to play either. Although unlike junior-high I wasn’t at the top of my year, parents were still satisfied with my superior grades, so there was nothing to complain about. So I was certain which university I’ll enroll after senior high — I had it mostly planned out in my head.
— The duel is nearing its end, I guess. Since the shopkeep is ryu clan, I don’t think I’ll be able to hold even a single attack. But for me, hardened in battles against monsters, they were all see-through. All my attacks hit, all of his missed. So I trip the shopkeep up, he falls on the ground…… and doesn’t stand up. He’s panting, grasping air, but his general state seems to be just fine.
Someone told me during my high school, that “the world is a cruel place”. I couldn’t even think at the time that this cruelness would concern me.
It was a night during my summer vacation in high school. I was returning from the cram school where I was studying for an exam. The pedestrian light was green, I even looked left and right…… but the car ignored the light and went straight towards me. Naturally, it hit me. The driver, unsurprisingly, was dead drunk and couldn’t see the road. My parents told me afterwards that the driver was arrested for drunk driving and caught.
It wasn’t the thing that worried me then. I suffered a number of heavy traumas, including multiple fractures. Fortunately, I had a successful surgery and survived.
When I came to, a week had passed since the accident. Then I notice where I was and panicked.
After having been explained the situation by my parents and the doctors and accepting it, I focused on recovery. After the recovery, what was waiting for me is the nauseatingly harsh rehabilitation, and after powering through it with my youth and spirit, what I had to face was……
The fact that the road to my long-standing dream was shattered by that accident–
Doctor’s orders. Neither before nor after I was devastated enough to cry in front of everyone. People were telling me “you’re lucky to even be alive”, but it didn’t provide any comfort.
And, although I became an empty husk of myself, I didn’t become a shut-in, nothing of the kind. I somehow got discharged, and just in time to graduate. And because I didn’t get to study for the entrance exams, I had to rely on winging it, and luckily got into a university.
At the university, I turned my life around and was spending 40% time studying and 60% playing around. I studied only to get the lowest passing grade as I wasn’t really willing to do any better. I couldn’t hold my liquor, so I didn’t drink much, and wasn’t any good at gambling, so I stopped right away (and glad that I did though), and I wasn’t into romancing stuff. So I wholeheartedly delved into PC MMORPGs.
Somewhere in the second year of college, while going on like this, I caught a glimpse of my face in the mirror. My eyes because of losing my dream and all this playing became extremely dull.
“I give up. I could’ve never imagined being defeated so one-sidedly. I can’t even make an excuse of being rusty at this point.”
The soba stall owner says as he’s getting up slowly.
“Did you understand something during our bout? I think I saw you smiling.”
The shopkeep replied to that while smiling bitterly.
“I can’t give you a reply. Not yet. I need to think hard if the excitement I feel is real or not.”
–I think this would be it. The request to rekindle the fire in the soba stall owner’s soul has been completed…… the rest is up to him.
“I hear you. Then, if you’ll excuse me. And, my sincere apologies for proposing a duel out of the blue.”
After confirming it with the shopkeep who now had a much better look on his face than before the duel, I up and leave. By the way, the people at my current workplace got my spirits up and made me regain my footing much the same way (excluding the fistfight). The shopkeep was much better off from the get-go than I was at that time, so he should be just fine.
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