Before sharing his story, Airn told Ilya that it would be a long one.
Because he wanted to start the story from when he first dreamt about the man and not just what happened during the five years he was missing.
A friend whom he wanted to meet as much as Bratt and Judith.
And he also really wanted her to listen to everything he said.
Beyond simple excuses for not keeping the promise, he wanted to show her who the real Airn Pareira was.
“It was how I, who was called the deadbeat noble, decided to pick up the sword…”
The story of Airn began like that.
It wasn’t that he just kept talking. Airn wasn’t the kind that was good at talking, but he carefully thought of what he wanted to say and said it out loud.
Nevertheless, the story got longer as Ilya Lindsay became so engrossed in it.
“Something like that…”
When she heard about the dream, her eyes widened.
“What bad people they were! How could they do such a thing?”
And when she heard about the Gairn family, she got angry.
“I am glad. You suffered so much that I don’t know if I should even use the word ‘glad’… but I really am glad.”
She sighed in relief once in a while.
And truly sympathized with everything that Airn said.
Looking at Ilya Lindsay like that, Airn had no choice but to unravel everything in detail.
And then he realized it again.
In the first place, he wasn’t in the position to help Ilya but was always in the position of receiving help from her.
‘I didn’t have to worry.’
Airn’s face brightened.
It was fortunate that his worries weren’t real.
The Ilya Lindsay in front of him was the same one he remembered.
That radiant smile in her eyes after the final evaluation was still there.
Airn was more excited and spoke more, and she listened to it seriously till the end.
It was after he had finished telling the story that he started to feel a little uncomfortable.
“Airn? The others who are with Gairn…”
“You mean Baron Lester and Baron Russell?”
“Yes. Wouldn’t it be better to step on them already?”
“People who have spoken dirty words before can’t change their habit at all. To the extent that they will do the same thing again… they need to be taught to shut their mouths.”
“Ah, well. If it is with your current skills, it is probable that they wouldn’t even be able to make eye contact with you, let alone open their mouths. I can tell just by looking, Airn, you have gotten strong, right?”
“… well, compared to you, I am a long way off. I heard that you became a Sword Master. In fact, I saw the match today.”
Airn, who had said that, smiled.
He was shocked by Ilya’s words just now, which were more radical than he expected, but it wasn’t like he didn’t understand why she was so interested.
“Really? Did you see? Shame! I wanted to tell you first!”
“It would be weird to not know after coming here! I hear about you here and there…”
“Ah, come to think about it, how much does Airn know about me?”
“You were locked in the world of sorcery for 5 years, and then came out. Things about me, did you hear it? That story? There are so many things I want to tell you as much as you wanted to tell me.”
This time, Ilya Lindsay wanted to tell her story, and Airn had no choice but to put away the uncomfortable feelings he felt a moment ago and listen.
A friend who listened to his story.
And now, wanting to tell him her own story, she looked at him with a bright smile.
At her demeanor, which revealed her honest feelings, Airn had no choice but to smile and nod his head.
“Huh. I am curious. I did hear some things, but I wanted to hear it directly from you.”
“Of course. Even if you know something, pretend you don’t and listen. Okay?”
He nodded again, seeing that Ilya smiled and unleashed everything that happened after she left the school.
14 years old Ilya Lindsay.
15 years old Ilya Lindsay.
16 and 17 and even the 18 years old Ilya Lindsay.
The story lasted a bit longer than Airn’s and ended with her turning into a Sword Master, and Airn stored it all in his head.
… then, an uncomfortable silence fell.
Ilya Lindsay called him in a bewildered voice.
She had no choice but to do so. His expression, which became subtle halfway, turned stiff.
It wasn’t a usual expressionless face.
His eyes were filled with complex emotions, then Airn opened his mouth.
“When did you become the champion of Land of Proof?”
“… October 17th. Two months ago. Why?”
“Then you will stay here until April, right?”
“What are you talking about?”
Ilya’s voice turned sharper.
It was because of Airn. It wasn’t because he was forcing a subject on her, but because what he said was accurate enough that she understood what he was trying to say.
At that moment, Airn’s two hands caught Ilya’s hands which were on the table.
She was startled but didn’t pull away.
Instead, she was focused on what the following words of the person who was looking at her would be.
After a while, he said it.
“Stop it now.”
“Even if you follow Ignet, nothing will change.”
There was an uncomfortable, very uncomfortable silence.
And Ilya, who heard Airn’s words, looked even more uncomfortable.
Why was he talking about Ignet?
She, who was immersed in what he had to say, pulled her hands away and sighed.
Regaining her cold expression.
“What are you saying?”
“No use hiding.”
Intense energy emanated from Airn’s body.
It backed up the weight of his words.
Unknowingly, Ilya went stiff as she was shocked and then leaned on the table.
And looked at Airn.
As if in a fight, the two looked at each other without breaking eye contact.
In that position, Airn said.
“I never forgot that one year at Krono.”
“Rather than what I felt in those moments, I feel even more deeply when I recall the memories. How valuable the time was. How precious the people I met back then were. Among them, Judith and Bratt… Ilya, you were even more special.”
Enough to remember every single story till the final evaluation.
Airn, who said that, smiled bitterly.
It was. It really was. He remembered everything which happened with Ilya.
He remembered the troubles and anguish she had been harboring and also the plans she had after school.
He clearly remembered the obsession she had with Ignet.
Of course, he wasn’t worried.
The last smile of hers he saw.
She decided to break away from the eyes of others and carve out her own path… Ilya Lindsay’s smile had remained in Airn’s mind when he met Ignet in Derinku.
He realized it after listening to Ilya’s story.
Her activities over the past 5 years were thoroughly based on ’ the eyes of others’ and Ignet.
Airn Pareira thought.
She aimed to get the title faster than Ignet.
To conquer the Land of Proof faster than Ignet.
Ilya’s life wasn’t glamorous because she reached the Sword Master stage faster than Ignet by 1 year and 5 months.
Just because Ignet was the champion for five months, Ilya planned to hold the title for a month longer than her.
That was what 13 years old Ilya Lindsay said.
However, the 18 years old Ilya was in denial of such a past.
“… it isn’t useless.”
The youngest Sword Master said.
Haze-like energy was blooming over her body. A silver aura that represented the Lindsay family.
Something that no one could imitate.
“It is as you say. I couldn’t get away from the eyes of people, I couldn’t free myself.”
“But thanks to being conscious of those people, I no longer wanted my brother… I tried and tried to not cause slander to the Lindsay family.”
“And the result is this.”
Ilya Lindsay drew the dagger from her waist.
It had a silver hue around the blade.
It was comparable to the swordsmanship of Ian and Ignet; this was the aura sword.
“I wasn’t wrong. It was the past me who was wrong. This Aura Sword… I am telling you, I know that the path I have taken so far is the right one.”
“Have anything to say?”
Ilya asked with a different emotion.
Airn didn’t answer right away.
He looked into his friend’s eyes, and looked into her heart.
Anger, obsession, fear, anguish, sadness.
All other negative emotions.
It was the fire that was burning in her.
Although it was weak compared to the bandit head in Alhad, or Charlotte and Victor, the current Ilya Lindsay was taking the wrong path.
‘She needs to be stopped!’
Airn was worried.
The man’s will, which responds to magi, was about to bloom. But unlike usual, this time, it didn’t rage.
Airn’s heart turned warm, overwhelming the energy of the man.
Without realizing it, he swallowed a lot of words.
Nothing came to his mind. He wasn’t sure what to say to stop Ilya.
It was then.
Suddenly, something flashed through his mind.
The time in Krono.
Judith’s method was able to change Bratt’s mind, which seemed impossible to change. One action was more effective than a hundred words.
With that in mind, he finally answered Ilya.
“In the end, you are going to keep the title of champion? Unit April?”
“No matter what happens?”
“Then, I have something to do.”
“I’m going to take you down from your place as champion.”
Ilya looked at Airn with a blank expression.
A look which said she couldn’t understand.
She had no choice but to do so.
Who was dethroning her from the title?
For her, he added more details.
“I’m going to register as a gladiator in the Land of Proof right away. I will fight and improve my skills and rank up…”
“That is why I will aim for the place of champion in April… so, in about 120 days from today, I will rise to where you are. And I’ll stop you. And then your mind will finally be clear…”
“You can take my words seriously.”
Airn Pareira spoke confidently.
Seeing him like that, Ilya Lindsay couldn’t help but feel embarrassed.
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