Monday, the start of the week, is a very significant day in Eisenmarkt.
It was because it was the day when the gladiator related magazines such as Weekly Arena poured out.
In a way, the people refer to it so they can gamble their money on players or matches.
Despite being busy with their jobs, and those who couldn’t watch the game in person, reading the articles would give them enough information.
“Ah, the trainees of Krono Swordsmanship are here?”
This week’s gladiator magazine was full of content.
To be precise, there were a lot of people interested in the newly emerging swordsmen.
And it had been nearly six years since the swordsmen of Krono had officially appeared in the outside world.
“Bratt Lloyd, Judith… there are the names we have heard of. Aren’t they the ones who seemed to be promising in the Golden batch?”
“Right. I heard that school master Ian had praised them… considering his character, they must be pretty good.”
“So the future Sword Masters are visiting?”
“Aye. Saying that already… if they all became Masters because they looked promising, then wouldn’t the continent have a thousand Masters?”
“Well, that is right. But they must be good ones, right?”
Residents who were cleaning their stores naturally began to predict the future of the trainees of Krono.
They were predicting the current swordsmen.
The first to speak was a man with a large nose.
“Still, they are the best in the central region, can’t they make it to the Queen level?”
It was a level which was given to real talent only and they were the only ones who could set foot in ‘Land of Glory’ the third arena in Land of Proof.
Maybe it’s because they heard about the stories regarding the 27th batch.
The big-nosed man thought they could make it.
But the other two people with him didn’t.
A man with a mustache frowned and shook his head.
“Eh, but the Queen level is hard.”
“Right, I don’t know in the past, but now one has to be an Expert to reach Queen level.”
“But, they are the 27th batch trainees?”
“Hey, they are kids who just entered the continent…”
The big-nosed man groaned at their words.
It was because his companions were skeptical of his opinion regarding the trainees of Krono.
However, the words of the mustache man were logical.
“Do you know what the average age at which the Sword masters of the continent reached Expert level in their lives?”
“Huh? I don’t know…”
“Early 20s. Of course some people do that faster and some slower but that is the average. And Bratt and Judith are 20.”
“Now do you get it? Why I said it will be hard?”
The big-nosed man nodded.
It was right, and he knew it too when he thought about Sword Masters in their prime.
Hearing that most of the Experts on the continent reached that point in their 20s, he thought it was difficult for the trainees of Krono to compete here.
“Even so, it isn’t impossible.”
The short man, who had been silent till then, spoke and both the other men nodded.
Because they witnessed it twice.
Swordsmen who didn’t seem like they could do anything reached the status of Sword Master.
“With talent like Ignet Crescentia, who turned into a master at 20 and Ilya Lindsay, the current champion… not just Queen, King level is possible too.”
“Didn’t Julius Hull become an expert at the age of 14? And Ian at 15? Of course, it is possible for great geniuses.”
Of course, they weren’t emotionally involved in the discussion.
But still, the trainees of Krono were promising.
And these people were the ones who saw promising swordsmen come in, and even saw the best talented swordsmen in the continent fight right before them.
And for that reason, the third member of Krono, Airn Pareira, didn’t win the trust of people.
It was because his ambition was too vain compared to his fame.
‘Maybe Bishop level is possible but the Rook level isn’t bad either. I think he spoke strongly wanting to build an image… harsh.’
“Still, I prefer confident ones compared to the meek ones. Shall we visit the game? The Weekly Arena gave a pretty high rating, around 100%.”
‘I’ll get a rough estimate after a month or so… if it’s mentioned then, I will take a look. Before that, I should watch Judith’s battle. She is someone supported by the commoners.’
After a brief pause, the merchants continued to speak their thoughts.
However, it didn’t last long.
Because they had a lot to talk about.
“Let’s talk about prospects, how are the King level ones?”
“This time a new person called Master Croche, ranked 4, Grayson King.”
“Oh oh, I want to see the match of Croche… damn it, I won’t be able to see it unless I use my emergency funds!”
“Why? Isn’t Croche from the east?”
“It doesn’t matter where he is from, I just need to see him for myself…”
For each generation, there were young talents, prodigies, geniuses who only came out once in a while, and the promising ones received all kinds of praise.
However, not all of them bloom.
Only those who overcome the hard journey can turn into proper swordsmen.
The residents of Eisenmarkt knew that very well, so they gave the young ones and veterans the same attention.
It had been 3 days since Airn Pareira and his party arrived.
Yet, the world was ready to accept the third genius.
Ilya Lindsay, standing in front of the priest with her tidy self, was unravelling the thoughts in her mind.
She poured out all the things she had to say and a lot more as well.
A precious friend that came to see her after a long time.
Because of Airn Pareira.
‘Did you get caught up in other people’s eyes?’
‘Are you following other people?’
‘It is meaningless? Stop it?’
‘Are you saying that all the efforts and achievements were in vain?’
For the past 6 years or so, Ilya Lindsay had walked the set path without a doubt.
It wasn’t a smooth path.
There were numerous eyes and mouths which ridiculed her struggles.
But she overcame it all and thanks to that, she received slander about her family and brother.
‘I can’t fall for the words of those who wait for me to fail.’
‘Even if it hurts, I need to do it. Even if it is painful, I need to overcome it.’
‘A little harder, just a little more.’
‘Use anger as fuel to climb higher!’
However, this time she wasn’t able to do it.
It was because the one who caused a ripple in her heart was none other than Airn Pareira, her precious friend.
‘It is embarrassing to say out loud, but you are my most precious friend. See you again.’
Before leaving, those were the words Airn said.
She remembered it, the expression on his face, everything without exception.
So she knew that the other person really cherished her.
…If such a person said the path she walked was wrong.
‘Didn’t that mean that there really is a problem with me?’
Ilya Lindsay said this out loud, without a slight rough breath.
Her usual cold expression had broken for a long time.
Her eyes were brimming with tears and were fixed on the priest’s robe.
It was difficult to look the priest in the eyes.
With her head bowed, Ilya waited patiently for the priest to solve her problems.
After a while.
A calm voice came out from the listener.
“My friend, there is a story similar to a question and answer session, so I too need to think well.”
“Question and answer?”
“Yes. It is a short one… would you like to hear?”
Ilya nodded with a puzzled expression.
The priest was someone who put her mind at ease numerous times.
It was strange of him to say that, but she thought that there would be some meaning and nodded.
And the story began.
“One day, as an old man was watching a flag fluttering wildly, an old priest approached him and asked, ‘Why do you think the flag is waving?’ The man answered. ‘It does it when the wind blows.’”
“The priest said, ‘No, it isn’t the flag which is fluttering, but your heart.’”
“How do you think the man acted upon hearing those words?”
“… I don’t know.”
Actually, she knew. As it was something she heard before.
What was really important isn’t the environment around, but the heart… there was plenty of room for interpretation. Don’t worry about what others say and walk your own path.
In the end, the priest was saying that Airn was right?
As she was thinking about it, the priest spoke.
“The man with a temper punched the priest in the face.”
“And said, I don’t know if it is the flag or heart which is fluttering, but now your teeth are shaking.”
“Are you playing a prank on me?”
“Not at all. This means that you should listen to words which don’t give you a headache, and not to those which aren’t helpful. Sister, raise your head.”
At the priest’s words, Ilya raised her head.
As they both looked at each other, calmness came over her mind.
“The priest thought the blowing of wind was unavoidable, so the flag had no choice but to move. So, let’s not allow our hearts to be affected. However, that is an excuse for incompetence.”
“Isn’t that right? Sister has silenced every wind which blows so far. As an official knight of the Moonlight Knights, the surrounding nobles rolled their eyes. Then you went ahead and became the Champion and shut the ignorant mouths of people. Now you are finally the youngest Sword Master, right?”
“I… the people below Ignet began to shut their mouths.”
“Right. That is what matters.”
The priest got up and patted Ilya on her back.
Ilya accepted it. And the priest’s voice continued to flow.
“Keep going. Keep trying. Until all the wind in the world disappears. Until all idiots on the continent shut their mouths.”
“… thank you. It has been a huge help.”
After a while Ilya got up with a determined expression.
It was completely different from the anxious face she had when she came in.
The priest who looked at it, smiled and bowed his head, Ilya too did the same and expressed her gratitude.
Her heart had gone back to the beginning.
Feeling the same rage when she first lost her brother.
Hot anger burned her.
The silver haired swordsman, who was burning, left the room.
The priest who watched it nodded without saying a single word.
And then, as if nothing had happened, he opened the window and looked out.
The cold wind of winter blew past his skin, but he stood there for a long time.
The next day.
As usual, Airn Pareira woke up early in the morning and thought.
It has been a really long time, and it seemed like his dream had changed.
‘… today isn’t the first time.’
Right. He was sure as he thought about it, but today wasn’t the first day of the change.
The day he met Ilya.
The day he vowed to stop her.
From that day on, the man in his dream was ageing little by little.
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