A few days later, Helen started helping Adam to study at SIH. When they would arrive at SIH, Adam would first spend around an hour studying the formation within A Spiritualist’s Path. Actually, he was just listening to the song of the Spirit Formation contained within it. While he was doing that, Helen explored the library to her heart’s content. When it was finally time for classes to start, Helen grabbed Adam and took him to class. For a lot of the subject matter, Adam had a hard time wrapping his head around, so Helen was constantly whispering explanations to him. It got to the point where she would even tutor him back at Madame’s!
Adam moaned and complained all about it , but it actually wasn’t quite as bad as when he first went to school back at Fort Erich. There was something different about SIH and learning with Helen. One of the largest differences was that there were a few interesting classes he could attend. One day, he learned about dragons! How there were many differences between dragons and how they were the closest creatures in the world to Spirits!
Adam gave a heavy sigh. He had just gotten off another tutor session with Helen. ‘As much as I am learning with Helen, I don’t feel that I’m getting any closer to that one step that will make me a Spiritualist!’
Disturbing his thoughts, Alfred came running over: “Hey Adam!”
Adam gave a slightly depressed: “Hello.”
“What’s got you down?”
“Ah, well… me and the others were thinking recently; Hansen knows how to wield a sword, right?”
Adam nodded his head: “He used to be part of the city guard where I lived.”
“Well, we were thinking about asking him to teach us how to use swords! What do you think?”
Adam was a little taken aback: “Well, you’d have to ask him. Why are you asking me about it? It’s not like I can really continue learning it since I can’t see.”
“You’re going to fix that, aren’t you? After you become a Spiritualist, you’ll be able to see again! Oh, but I guess flinging fireballs might be cooler than swinging a sword.”
Adam laughed: “You’re right, I am planning on fixing my eyes! My dad was training me before he died… It might be good to continue. Hansen told me once: ‘it’s better to train and not need it’ than need it and not be trained for it. I don’t know what I will do until I can see, but let’s ask Hansen to teach us how to wield swords!”
Alfred pumped his fist in victory: “Yeah! Let’s round up the others and then find Hansen!”
It didn’t take long to collect Franklin, Clyde, Bruno, and Derek. Altogether, they went out in search of Hansen. It wasn’t that hard to find him as it seemed he was either on duty or exercising. He never seemed to do anything else besides the two. When they found Hansen, he was doing some exercises in their normal spot. In fact, he appeared to be in the middle of practicing a few sword sets.
“Hansen!” They cried out.
Stopping his motions, Hansen cast a quizzical glance their way: “Why are you gathered?”
Adam started off: “We came to ask you if you could teach us how to wield the sword. It has been so long, I feel I have even forgotten everything dad taught me!”
Alfred and the others nodded: “Yeah, won’t you teach us!?”
Hansen sheathed his sword, fully stopping his practice. He nodded to them: “I must do something first. I will tell you when the decision has been made whether I can or not.”
Saying only that, Hansen turned and left leaving the boys confused. Franklin piped up: “So, was that a yes or a no?”
“It was more like a maybe. Does he need to figure something out first?”
“I don’t know.”
With disappointment in their hearts, the boys broke up and continued about their day. Later in the afternoon, Vivienne collected Adam from his flute lesson with Julianne: “Adam, Hansen apparently wants some kind of meeting that we need to go to.”
Vivienne nodded: “Yeah, it kinda surprised me too. He said it was important and wants us to meet in Janette’s office. I’m not entirely sure what this is about, as he wouldn’t say anything more. After all this time, I still don’t get that man!”
Adam couldn’t help feeling some excitement: ‘Maybe this is something to do with the sword training!’
Together, the two of them took off for Janette’s office. Upon entering, Janette and Hansen were already waiting. Janette jumped up with excitement: “Finally! This guy won’t crack a smile at any of my jokes!”
Vivienne couldn’t help smiling at her friends antics: “Well, not everyone can appreciate your humor.”
Janette pouted at her as she helped Adam into a seat before sitting down herself. She then turned to Hansen: “Well, what is this all about.”
“Adam and his friends have asked me to teach them how to wield a sword.”
“What? Adam, is this true?”
Adam nodded: “Yes. Everyone was extremely interested in learning the sword. I don’t know that there is any way I can learn too, but I will eventually see again… If that incident with Helen at the booths taught me anything, it was that it is better to be prepared for anything that might happen…”
Janette turned to Hansen: “So, are you seeking permission to teach them how to wield a sword?”
Hansen spoke straight: “There’s more. Before teaching them to fight, you should know I was once a bandit.”
The room turned silent. Vivienne was the first to speak as she suddenly stood from her chair: “You what!?”
Janette also stood up to restrain her friend from doing anything rash: “Calm down Vivi! What is this about, Hansen?”
“Before teaching these boys to fight, you should know my past.”
Janette gave a sigh: “Madame’s doesn’t overly care for your past. As long as you are not an active criminal it doesn’t matter too much.”
Hansen shook his head: “It must be done.”
Vivienne suddenly shouted: “And why didn’t it matter until now!?”
Hansen looked at her: “Physically training them is one thing. Teaching them to fight… to kill, is another.”
Vivienne wanted to yell and shout but had no idea where to even start. Janette spoke: “Vivi, let’s just listen to him.”
Vivienne looked into her friend’s eyes, imploring her to just sit and listen. Crossing her arms, Vivienne sat down with a ‘hmph.’ Adam had been silent the whole time: ‘Hansen’s a bandit? But… he’s not a bad person, is he?’
Hansen told his story; having been orphaned at a young age, he was left to fend for himself. Stealing became the only thing he could do to keep himself alive. As he grew older, so did the range of his crimes. Eventually, he found himself in a bandit gang. He plundered… he murdered, he did it all. For a long time, he lived that life and then… he finally decided that wasn’t the kind of life he wanted anymore. The deaths he had seen and caused started to weigh on him. Picking the right time, Hansen was able to leave without alerting anyone from the gang.
Having finally left, Hansen found himself lost. The bandit life had turned his demeanor callous. He couldn’t socialize normally with anyone and he didn’t have any skills beyond fighting. There was no way he could assume a ‘normal’ life again. His guilt made him want to somehow make up for his crimes. Turning himself in wasn’t enough, he had to do something about it. Thankfully, the answer came to him. A mercenary group came through the village he was in. The group had many former bandits as its members. People who had come to feel much the same as Hansen. They took him in and he helped them with many jobs. Primarily, they targeted bandit groups that were attacking defenseless villages. Something Hansen could do to directly make up for his past crimes! Finally, after spending a few years with the mercenary group, Hansen tired of killing in general. Still, he was left with a problem; he only knew how to fight. He didn’t have experience with any other kind of job, so he found himself as a guard at Fort Erich. It was a job that required his experience as a fighter but did not require constant killing.
Silence met the room as Hansen finished the rendition of his life. Janette finally spoke: “Now, what was the point of this again?”
Adam, Vivienne, and even Hansen stiffened. Her words seemed a little… harsh for someone who had just spilled their past out before them. She then continued: “It really doesn’t change much at all. You’ve done your best to atone in your own way and you are not an active criminal. What were you expecting from this?”
Janette wasn’t being callous or uncaring, she just didn’t see how it changed anything. Hansen answered: “Teaching the sword is more than just sets, it is how to kill. If I am the one to teach them how to kill, you should know how I learned to do so.”
Adam was a little taken aback; “How to kill!? That’s not what we…”
Suddenly, the meaning behind wielding a sword became heavy to Adam. It wasn’t just fun and games. A sword was a sharp instrument intended for one particular purpose; to kill. It was more apparent now that somebody said it aloud.
Hansen nodded: “The sword is more than what you thought. There is much to teach you, boys, before you would be allowed to touch a real sword. And, when it is finally time to start training with one, I will require each of you to give me a personal conviction as to why you wish to wield a sword. If I find it lacking, you will not be trained! Killing, is not for everyone…”
Janette spoke next: “I personally don’t have much against it. It’s up to the boys what they wish to do in their spare time, but it will have to be just that! This cannot take over their jobs here at Madame’s. I don’t want them getting any smart ideas about living off the sword before they even become adults! They also cannot be harmed during the training.”
“Bruises and the occasional broken bone should always be expected in training,” Hansen responded.
Janette almost growled as she said: “My boys are not to be harmed!”
A debate started to rage between the two as Hansen explained how the training would go and how potential injuries were likely to occur. Honestly, the training sounded quite grueling! Adam wasn’t sure he and the others could withstand it long enough for them to actually get to the part where they would learn the sword. Eventually, Janette gave a heavy sigh: “Let me think on this some more. I’ll let you know whether I’ll allow your crazy training plan tomorrow.”
Hansen nodded: “Very well.”
He then got up and left the room without another word. Vivienne shook her head: “I will never understand that man.”
Janette heaved a dramatic sigh: “Tell me about it, what a grouch!”
“That’s not exactly what I mean-”
“-Oh I know that, you killjoy! You just want to talk about all the serious stuff. At least you now know why he’s so awkward and gruff; he just doesn’t know how to properly socialize!”
Vivienne shook her head at her friend before getting up: “Well, we’ll leave you to your decision making.”
“Sure, leave me all the hard bits to figure out on my own!”
“That’s why you’re the Madame.”
Janette stuck her tongue out at her friend’s retreating back. The next day, Janette finally gave her answer: a begrudging ‘yes.’
Synopsis: Somewhere in the universe, there was an altar. On it, laid a bloody eye as big as the sun itself. It burst with light and bathed the entire star system in red.
"The aura of an ancestral artifact!" Someone's voice rose in surprise.
The Great Galactic Era had begun.