An Identity Beyond Self
Dangers breed stories of adventure...
Of course, it is only the survivors who can speak of such things. A dead Adventurer's tale could only serve as an account to empathise the dangers of going into the wider world. This was the exact reason why many choose to stay at home.
It's better to live life quietly and trying not to stand out than being the centre of dangerous events.
It's too bad that human society isn't any better than risking your life in these 'Adventures'. Those who are lucky enough for fortune are always followed by calamities, which caused fear in men.
Even if people didn't believe in an omnipotent entity controlling fate, praying was also necessary.
Demons and Humans existed, so why won't 'God'?
A loving father told his naughty son: "Don't you want to be like the Calamity Crusher? Be patient."
The young child was left breathless after swinging a wooden sword so many times... The kid wanted to vomit. He was at the Age of Nurturing, which was ripe for a parent to pass down his techniques.
In a world where danger lurked at every corner, a weak child would only end up dying tragically.
After hearing his father's words, the disciplined child obediently loosened his grip on the wooden sword in his hand. This was fitting the kind of personality someone of the Earth Affinity had...
"Dad... T-the Calamity Crusher is only a myth!" The little boy cried. He felt the legends were a joke.
"You don't believe it?!" The man was surprised.
He walked up to the kid who had tired himself out.
His widened eyes were met with a high voice trying to sound dismissive: "It's all just a lie told to kids."
"Wrong! Your grandfather has once seen the Calamity Crusher in action." A loud exclamation that seemed uncompromising was thrown at the young kid, making him feel it was even less viable.
"That story... About a man with a wine cup and many weapons behind him protecting the Drakeyol Kingdom from a great Daemon? That sounds so dumb! Grandpa... was senile, wasn't he?" Such a disrespectful tone made the man fume with rage.
"...Don't make me spank you!"
"I'm just telling the truth. Daemons are stronger than Demons, they're legendary! And what? You want me to believe Grandpa saw someone beat a monster you need an entire army to fight?
Regardless: Do great hero not age? Even those Celestials, holders in the heavens, aren't safe from monsters like them, but you're saying one man beat it without help? I won't believe this even if you say he's a God!" The little boy was on a roll.
He glared at his father with a face that was twisted horridly. There wasn't a hint of trust in his eyes.
"No, YOU calm down! I mean, err... sorry." Realizing what he said, the normally stoic ten-year-old became embarrassed by his own words. It was the first time he'd let his doubts and criticisms out.
Although he wanted to believe in the existence of a 'Martial God', who could slay fearful Daemons... A part of him was rational enough to be realistic about his future... so he wouldn't die like others.
After seeing the boy calm his nerves, his father sat next to him. The man told him of a different legend.
"Have you heard of the Sin Daemons?" As soon as he spoke these words, an unnoticeable change appeared in the air while looking around. Speaking of these terrifying creatures was a taboo, but he felt it was fine since he was alone with his son.
The black-haired child held his tongue. He nodded his head, but still 'shushed' at his father cheekily.
They were partners in crime...
If the neighbours found them talking about the monsters among monsters that lead to the downfall of many kingdoms, who knows what would happen. It was better to keep this hushed.
Old survivors who had lived to talk about those living calamities found remembering what happened heavy on their psyche. Hearing others casually talk about them could lead to such distress that they could go insane on the spot.
His father decided to continue anyway. This was required to educate his dearest son: "They say the Calamity Crusher is an ancient being. That he had lived far loner that others. A lost, 'fallen' Celestial...
One who had lived through many eras while protecting us, the weak little humanity of mortals.
The Divine Weapons he took to battle were all earned what we would consider multiple lifetimes of hardships and struggles. They were forged by legendary craftsman from all over the world.
They say he represents the fullness of life and the violence of death, but your grandfather would disagree. When he saw that man, he looked nothing like how they spoke of him in legends."
The kid found it unbearable to suppress his curiosity, so he just asked: "How did he look?"
"Promise me you won't tell your mother what your grandfather said. This isn't something you say..."
"I can keep secrets." The mood became even more intense. The boy wondered why he was hesitant.
"...The hypocrisy of light and the indifference of darkness." These words made the boy tilt his head at first... until he realized why even saying this phrase caused his father to become pale. The two of them glanced around, then sighed in relief.
"How could Grandpa say that?" This was the greatest Hero they were currently talking about. A man who stood with the heavens. It was blasphemy to speak of such things about such a great figure.
Believing in the legend or not was entirely different from speaking things that might muddy his name.
"Your Grandpa was senile." The father tried lightening the mood with a joke, only to cough when it fell flat. Seeing his child's eyes, he could only continue with: "He said he saw the Calamity Crusher's eyes and spoke this based on that."
"Your grandfather said he saw almost no emotions in the man who was constantly drinking. It was as if the Grand Hero was carrying out 'saving people' as a chore. It reminded your grandpa of old memories.
Father really hated the people from 'heaven', so he couldn't help channel some of that into his words."
"So he isn't a Hero?" The boy seemed extremely disappointed and depressed as the greatest asset of his legends was embodying 'Heroism'. There has been countless stories and fanfics about the Calamity Crusher and his many adventures.
They said he defeated the Sin Daemons, married the current Sun Goddess along with a few other heart-stopping and beautiful Celestial fairies, had a monkey companion, and had even stolen the powers of a Daemon himself. That kind of hero.
They say he'd even befriended some of them on his eternally lasting journey after being prophesied to save the Martial World. That he'd be the protector of all 'mortals' until the end of time.
"He's definitely a Hero. Regardless of his actual thoughts, the Calamity Crusher DID save your grandfather. That is the truth. And do you wanna know how to become as strong as him?" The father couldn't help but curve the corner of his lips up.
"By training more smartly, not harder! I've told you so many times that you shouldn't be waving a sword around like a bat! You want me to give you a bat?! You wanna train 'batsmanship'?!" This was all everything was building up to: 'Telling his son off!'.
That, and he wanted to talk about the topic...
"THAT'S what this is about?!!" The child exclaimed incredulously and wanted to beat his father up.
"You're always swinging that sword without any finesse! Do you think Earth Qi is easy to use?"
"You keep teaching me in a weird way...!"
"And how is that?"
"What the frickin' hell is 'and then go *boom* and *bang*' supposed to mean? I am honestly asking."
"You don't even know how awesome seriously your Dad is! I'm called the 'Flaming Red Bastard Sword' at the Martial Association, ya know?!" He felt the present generation wasn't praising him enough.
"The 'Flaming Red'- what...?"
"Don't get cocky with me! You won't even get even a nickname if you go around with your trash skills!
You'll bring shame to me!
This is all because your mother insists that Qi Control is more important." It was only at this point that he noticed a shadow, and his son showing a cheeky smile. As if he had been caught in a trap.
He sighed and held his forehead, asking:
"She's standing behind me, isn't she?"
"Dear, are you saying I'm wrong?" A pained voice came from behind him, making him panic a little.
"N-no no-no! Who said you're wrong?" He put up an innocent front, but his wife still continued:
"I might only know Healing Arts. I know that you don't believe in me- Still..." She turned her head.
"This has nothing to do with that!" He held her in his arms as she was acting all melodramatic.
"Mom, Dad looks like he's going to cry."
"Okay~ I'll stop teasing then." She spoke from within his arms, flashing a smile just like her son.
"You two...!" Realising he had been tricked, the father was about to let go of his wife... yet-
"Dear, don't be so cold~" She wrapped her arms around his waist, stopping him from escaping her.
"Ew! Don't do that here." The son covered his eyes.
"He's right. Let's do this at home~"
"...That wasn't what I-"
"Can both of you just settle down!" The victim of their teasing once again blew up, though it was very telling of their relationship dynamic with how he was still enjoying being hugged by his wife.
"Am I in the wrong?" He looked down to see his lover's upturned eyes. His wife asked him cutely.
The fact that she was VERY aware of how beautiful she looked was unfair... This was just cheating!
"...Do you want him to become a Healer or a Swordsman? Attaining both isn't possible." It's not because his son was untalented, but due to it being more efficient to focus on one rather than two.
"Tsk, so you're blaming me..." Even though she tried to give him a bear hug after clicking her tongue, he didn't react at all. The hugging became tighter. She released white flame-like energy from her body before it melded back into her soul.
Seeing what she was doing, he snorted and released his own energy to reinforce his body.
The red and blue flame-like energies clashed!
"Ummm... Are you two gonna fight?" Hearing their son made them cough and split from each other.
Both of them seemed embarrassed and put up a front even though it was now too late to scramble for the pride they had left. Their son wasn't registering Mr 'Flaming Red Bastard Sword' and the former Healer as 'cool' people by any means.
"...Qi Control is more important. How is he supposed to use Burst Augmentation properly without it?" The wife hid her embarrassment and instead said something her husband agreed on.
Burst Augmentation was what they had been using previously. It was an extension of the most basic technique that has shaped society... called 'Burst Manifestation'. This allowed them to tap into the power of the Qi Centres they trained within them.
Although their son had only recently formed his Qi Centre using the magical energies in the world, it wasn't strange for him to learn the extent and limitations of enhancements at a young age.
"...He still shouldn't neglect swordsmanship."
"You're not a Swordsman anymore, so you should try teaching him 'Building Arts' instead." These words widened the young boy's eyes. He suddenly jumped between them frantically in a panic.
"I'm fine with swordsmanship!" Not to mock his father, but being a Builder wasn't exactly 'cool'.
What was amazing about building houses...?
"I feed you, and you repay me by looking down on my new job? Who cares if I'm a Builder now?!"
"Or you can become a Healer instead~" Seeing his sudden panic, his mother teased him a little more.
"I want to be a Master Swordsman." Their son spoke this with such conviction that it moved them.
"That's my son for ya! So make sure you pay more attention. If not, change your goals in life." He didn't want his son to end up like his previous party leader, who amputated his arm in a Demon attack.
Those frightening creatures living in forests and non-populated areas may not be as strong or terrifying as Daemons, but they were scary enough to warrant killing his dreams if he didn't have the capabilities to survive without their protection.
His son nodded seriously and was about to go back to training, only to be stopped by a hand.
"And what's wrong now?" He was feeling annoyed by how his father could beat around the bush...
"We're taking a break for the time being."
"Why?!" Was it something he did wrong?
His father turned to his mother and spoke with a really serious expression on his face: "I'm horny."
"This isn't the right time..." At least SOMEONE knew shame. Though her husband didn't mind his son was around. After all, they didn't exactly have a soundproof bedroom when they occasionally did it.
"I have new 'Massage Techniques'."
"Let's go." A bud of curiosity sprouted within his wife. Her 'studious nature' wanted to experience it.
"What's that?" Although his son was aware of their passionate relationship, he wasn't exactly mature.
He only recently started to go through puberty...
"You're too young to know." His father scooped his mom up and took her away after he was finished.
...The boy decided to go back to training. If he wanted to be like the Calamity Crusher, he needed to be strong. Mastering swordsmanship was only the first step in the endless path of martial arts.
That was how things worked in the 'Otherworld' resting in another realm. One not on Earth.
He wondered what the legend was doing now...