Frieren’s Prequel Novel Chapter 2 part 3

Eisen stroked his long beard in silence. Already sparse in expression, the beard made it even harder to tell what he was thinking.
“Shouldn’t you start with something softer for this kind of training?”
“Back in my village, we’d practice on bundles of straw first.”
“I see, straw, huh.”
“Yeah. Wait, why am I the one giving you advice? It should be the other way around.”
Eisen’s skills as a warrior were undeniable. But as a teacher, his qualifications were questionable at times.
“I don’t have any straw on hand.”
Eisen sighed in resignation and started walking towards the house.
“Guess I’ll just cut some vegetables then.”
And so, back at the house, Stark ended up cutting vegetables. With a knife, not an axe. Chopping onions and carrots on the cutting board. While he did say to start with something softer, vegetables hardly counted as proper training. His cooking skills might improve, but…
“Hey, master. Is this part of the training too?”
“Of course not. It’s just that lunchtime is coming up, and I thought this would be convenient. Plus, what you need right now is muscle. Eat a lot and train your body. That’s the priority.”
“I see…”
At least he had a proper reason for it. Stark felt a little reassured.
They simmered the chopped vegetables in a pot, making a vegetable soup. Sitting at the table, they had an early lunch.
Eisen skillfully brought the soup to his mouth through the gaps in his beard, neither praising nor criticizing the taste, simply eating in silence. The long stretches of quiet made Stark uneasy. Just as he was about to try striking up a conversation, Eisen called his name.

“What is it?”
“Do you know what the most important thing is in training?”
Stark thought about it for a moment, tilting his head.
“No. The answer is spirit and patience.”
“Isn’t that pretty much the same as willpower?”
Eisen said the ‘most important’ thing, but then listed two.
But Stark decided not to point that out.
“Willpower is fine then.”
“Well… As magic is of the realm of the imagination, an unyielding spirit can forge a body of steel. That’s why spirit and willpower are so crucial. With a strong heart, you can endure even the most grueling training. But you shouldn’t just blindly push yourself either.”
It was a surprisingly insightful lesson. Even when it came to philosophy, there was a peculiar persuasiveness to Eisen’s words. And that resonated with Stark, causing him to avert his eyes and chuckle self-deprecatingly.
“But I’m a coward who abandoned my family and ran away. A strong heart…I don’t have…”
“I’m a coward too.”
Eisen looked at Stark directly as he said this. Without sympathy or self-deprecation, just stating a fact. Somehow, that made Stark feel a sense of relief.
“I see.”
The conversation ended there, and they resumed their meal.
When they finished the soup, Eisen stood up, declaring,
“Alright, this afternoon’s training will be squats while carrying rocks, a thousand reps.”
“That’s way beyond the realm of just willpower…”

“Well, he’s not a bad master after all,”
Stark said reflectively. The young boy who had been listening then asked, sounding a bit anxious,
“Don’t you ever want to go back?”
“To the master’s place? Hmm… to be honest, it feels kind of awkward to meet him. I think he’s probably not angry anymore, though.”
“I see…”
The boy’s expression didn’t lighten much. Perhaps he had thought Stark would return to the master’s place.
“I’m not leaving this village until I’ve defeated the dragon,”
Hearing that, the boy visibly relaxed, letting out a sigh of relief.


It was about time for lunch. Stark paused his training and headed back to the village.
After parting ways with the boy, he headed to the usual tavern. As he was about to enter, he heard a pained groan – “Ugh” – coming from the back of the tavern. Curious, Stark went around to investigate. There, he found an old man retching against the wall.
It was Vance. Probably from drinking too much, as Stark had seen him passed out drunk at the tavern before. Stark felt awkward just ignoring it, so he approached Vance.
“Are you alright?”
Stark patted Vance’s thin, bony back. Vance, realizing it was Stark, quickly pushed his hand away.
“Ah, sorry… Wait, it’s you.”
Vance wiped his mouth hastily with his sleeve and glared at Stark.
“I don’t owe you anything, you hypocrite.”
“Hey now, I’m not a hypocrite.”
“Then why don’t you just go defeat the dragon already? It’s impossible anyway. You’re just a brat basking in everyone’s praise…”
Vance retched again, his drunkenness clearly excessive. Stark started to feel a bit concerned.
“Maybe you should cut back on the drinking a little? You’re not getting any younger, you know.”
“Mind your own business.”
“What’s going on here?”
The tavern owner came out from the back entrance. Vance clicked his tongue, as if annoyed by the intrusion, and turned his back on Stark.
“Forget it. I’m going home to work.”
Unsteadily, Vance left the tavern.
“Did Vance say something to you again?” the worried tavern owner asked.
“Just a little,” Stark replied.
“I’m sorry about that. Don’t take it to heart.”
“It’s not your fault, owner.”
“Well, that may be true, but…”
The owner’s expression was unsettled. Stark had noticed before that the owner seemed to be overly accommodating of Vance, never complaining even when Vance spent all day at the tavern, patiently listening to his rambling complaints.
The owner sighed and rubbed his forehead.
“You see, Vance lost his wife to illness about ten years ago. He’s been kind of self-destructive ever since. He used to be a kind man, but…”
“I had no idea…”
“Ah, well, it’s not your concern. And it was so long ago. He really ought to start moving forward, you know?”
With that, the owner went back inside.
It was a sad story. Vance could be quite harsh on Stark, but now Stark felt a pang of sympathy for him. The pain of losing a family member was something Stark could understand.
As Stark was pondering how he might help reconcile them, a strong gust of wind blew through.
Stark looked up at the sky.
“Looks like a storm is coming…”

That night.
As Stark had predicted, the weather had turned foul. The wind had picked up sharply in the afternoon, and the rain started in the evening. The sky was blanketed in thick clouds, with occasional flashes of lightning. Stark had wrapped up his training early and was holed up in his room at the inn.
As the night wore on, the rain only grew heavier. It didn’t seem like it would let up anytime soon.
Listening to the patter of raindrops against the window, Stark suddenly heard a voice calling out from outside: “Hey!”
He got up from the bed and looked out. He could see small flickering lights – people with lanterns hurrying through the village.
“What’s going on…?”
Had a horse escaped, perhaps? The atmosphere seemed quite serious.
Concerned, Stark left his room. Pushing against the heavy, wind-blown door, he stepped outside, instantly drenched by the rain.
“What’s happened?”
he asked, catching one of the young men.
“Ah, Stark. It’s that Vance hasn’t come back yet,” the young man said, distressed.
“That old man?”
“Yes. It seems he went hunting and hasn’t returned. We’re searching for him, but haven’t found him yet.”
“That’s serious. I’ll help look for him.”
“Thank you. But…”
The young man’s face clouded over.
“Probably, Vance is somewhere in the forest. We’d like to expand the search there, but the area outside the village is very dangerous – lots of landslides. If we get caught up in one, it could be disastrous.”
When it rains, the ground becomes unstable, making landslides more likely. Especially in the forested areas with steep slopes, a major disaster could occur at any moment.
Vance seemed to be in trouble. Perhaps he was stuck due to a landslide, or he might have been injured and unable to move. Regardless, someone had to hurry and help him.
“I’ll go,”

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