“Right. It is Judith.”
Judith answered in a confident voice.
The tone was higher than usual, and the reaction was bigger too.
Airn immediately realized the reason. Recently, she was more sensitive, and she smelled different.
“Did you drink?”
“Yes. I did. Not a lot, but this much?”
Judith narrowed her eyes and then showed a gap between her thumb and forefinger.
It was meant to show Airn that she barely drank anything, but Airn thought differently.
With a grin, he approached and forced her fingers apart.
“I think you had this much.”
“No, I didn’t drink that much. My mind and body are fine…look at this. I can move straight ahead.”
Judith frowned as she walked ahead in a straight line.
As Airn still had a suspicious look, she started to tumble back lightly.
“See, I am fine!”
Airn just nodded his head.
He knew that she wouldn’t normally behave as such, but it wasn’t something he had to worry about.
He watched Judith move along constantly, and seeing how she didn’t stop, he sat on the floor.
And Judith also stopped moving.
And approached Airn with a nonchalant face and sat next to him.
Airn stopped trying to understand her.
Normally she had an unpredictable personality, and drunk Judith was even more troublesome to understand.
‘If this is the case, should I take a break?’
Airn thought as he sat.
After the match against Ricardo Pinto, except for sleeping and eating, he devoted all the time to creating an Aura Sword.
But the sorcery sword kept eating up Airn’s aura.
So, he thought that it would work if he used another sword, and he tried that, but that failed too.
Maybe because it was a new sword, the result was much worse than the one with the sorcery sword
And as the process kept happening, anxiety began to grow in Airn’s mind.
‘I need to get a sword which can withstand Aura Sword I already have an eye which can look at the opponent’s strength.’
‘Swordsmanship has improved greatly, and the total amount of aura I can use has increased. I feel like winning is possible.’
‘But is this level fine?’
‘Ilya hasn’t shown her skills. And right now, I haven’t even seen her use the Sky Sword.’
‘Can I win?’
All kinds of thoughts tormented Airn.
It was strange.
When the gap was huge, he concentrated on training without a thought, but from the two weeks, it was becoming tough to focus.
Maybe it was because he was feeling burdened.
As the time drew closer, he realized how important the match was, and the fear inside him grew.
A desperate desire often brings in will, but it also instills fear.
A desire for victory.
And the fear of defeat.
And Airn was struggling as he was leaning onto the latter; that was when Judith looked up and said.
“Don’t be anxious.”
“… how did you know?”
“Beats me. Did you think I wouldn’t know? It’s all over your face.”
“On my face?”
Airn was confused.
He was less expressive than others his age.
He had a habit of holding back his expressions and emotions since he was a child, so no one but Lulu could know what was going on.
‘How did she know?’
‘Was I really showing it?’
‘Am I that anxious? Me when I’m at this level?’
The stone thrown by Judith caused a ripple in his heart.
Airn worked hard to choose a word to respond to her, but nothing came up.
Judith, who was fed up, opened her mouth again.
“You are like a dog.”
“Really, you are really like a dog. Didn’t it take you one year to be the second-ranking one in the school, and then didn’t you learn my swordsmanship in an instant?… no shit, it was really ridiculous. You fucker, do you think that made sense? Uh? Tell me. Say something.”
Judith spoke with her round eyes open and hitting Airn’s upper arm with a smile.
There was not much power she was using to hit Airn that it was hard to take it as a joke, as Airn was being pushed back with her force.
Airn didn’t say anything. He wasn’t sure if he had to apologize or not, so he just accepted it.
Thanks to that, Judith was able to express her anger as much as she could, and then she seemed to have calmed down a little.
A surprisingly quick change in mood and Airn was startled at her next words.
“Even then… I can’t hate you.”
“Perhaps, it is the same for Ilya.”
Airn Pareira, whom Judith saw, was someone no one could hate.
And it was the same with her.
When she lived in the slums, she treated everyone around her like trash and saw everything negatively.
But Airn rescued her.
That too in the mid-term when it was a peak time for getting their positions.
It wasn’t just for her.
She heard from Lulu and Kuvar.
Airn cared for Lulu, who was rejected because of the superstition and took the lead to save the merchants who were helpless and was now making a real effort to return Ilya back to herself.
In short, Airn Pareira was a being who could think and act sincerely for the sake of others.
“Well… I don’t know what Ilya’s current state is. And we weren’t exactly friendly either… still, she will be the same as the old me. Negative thoughts all over the place, and without time to spare, her vision is probably narrowed, and she doesn’t listen to what others say. And she suffers in the process. So, even if you have to break her with the sword, try to make her listen to you through it.”
“But it’s fine, you know, if you don’t win it.”
“Because it is you, it will be fine. Because you don’t just say words, you act sincerely to others.”
“Ilya will have no choice but to understand you. What was the reason why you climbed this high? Was it because you wanted to bully her or because you really cared about her!?”
Judith, who got up, slapped Airn on his back.
Seeing the man look at her with a puzzled expression, she smiled.
“Do your best. You have nothing to worry about.”
“Ah, but try to win. Because she is worse off than you.”
Judith, who said that, left the room while dusting her back.
She could feel Airn’s gaze on her, but she didn’t turn back. And it felt nice.
After closing the door, she took a deep breath.
Was it because the night was cool?
She felt refreshed.
But she knew that wasn’t the reason.
Judith mumbled quietly, remembering her old promise.
“I kept my word to repay you.”
The day she had a narrow thought regarding Airn, she remembered what happened in the past.
The day they passed as trainees, she promised to help Airn as much as she could. She said that.
‘But instead of helping him, I was thinking of hiding the aura operation…’
She felt ashamed.
She couldn’t shake off what she almost did, and she knew that this feeling would stay by her for the rest of her life.
But not anymore.
She taught Airn about aura and gave the best advice she could.
She wasn’t sure if it would be helpful, but at least she felt proud of doing something.
After she managed to clear her heart’s debt, she continued to think.
That she could look at Airn in his eyes this time, and she could move ahead with her fighting spirit.
“Have you finally lost it? What are you doing in the middle of the night?”
Judith smiled as the weight on her heart was lifted, but Bratt, who was walking on the other side, frowned at her act.
But she didn’t care. She felt good, and she wanted to feel this more.
She quickly ran to him and wrapped her arms over his shoulder.
“Let’s go. Come on, let’s have another drink!”
“Don’t you want to watch the match tomorrow?”
“Judith might have a dark history, but never a hangover! I can drink more.”
“… do whatever you want.”
Bratt sighed for a moment and then put his arm around her shoulder.
The trainees of Krono headed to their rooms.
At 1am, Airn, who finished his training earlier than usual, lay down in bed to sleep.
Although he failed to create the Aura sword until the very end, his expression was bright.
All thanks to Judith’s advice. Her words made him realize what really mattered.
‘Winning or losing doesn’t matter. What matters is to change Ilya’s heart.’
Four months back, he reunited with Ilya.
Trying to break Ilya was only a means to awaken her from the wrong thoughts.
‘But at some point, my thoughts changed.’
It was good to show the will to win, and it was good to strive for it.
But right now, there was something more important than that.
Airn, who realized that, closed his eyes with a faint smile.
‘Thank you, Judith.’
Of course, he wasn’t going to lose intentionally. Judith did say winning was the best.
And that it was fine to lose too. And he will continue to fight until his sincerity reaches her.
Fight with her until her narrow field of view widens and her mind is free to look back on herself.
And as he thought, the scene changed.
He fell asleep without realizing it.
Looking at the man holding the sword, Airn thought.
‘He is completely old.’
After realizing that the dream had changed, the man in the dream continued to grow old day by day.
The wrinkles deepened, and hair turned white.
That wasn’t all.
Like the flame hidden in ice, Airn felt the intense cold anger gradually dissolve, but he felt something else bloom in that.
But Airn wasn’t sure what it was.
‘It feels different from before.’
Did the dream change because of the flame?
Or did it change because the flame in his heart grew stronger?
Airn didn’t know.
The dream was as incomprehensible as ever.
It was then.
The old man who was swinging the sword looked back at him.
Airn opened his mouth in shock.
Again, he was shocked. Not just his consciousness, but his entire body formed.
He looked at his own body and then at the old man.
Eyes which were still unfamiliar.
And unknown expression as ever.
The man in the dream approached him slowly and slowly by heavy steps.
The moment he slowly opened his mouth, trying to say something.
Airn woke up from his dreams and opened his eyes.
This lasted longer than usual.
He had no choice but to be shocked. Today’s man was different from usual.
Not only was the man getting older and older, but he was trying to communicate with Airn like the time he did in the world of sorcery.
What was he trying to say?
Airn didn’t know.
Airn pondered for a long time, unable to get out of bed. And then mumbled.
“I’ll think about it later.”
Yes. The old man in the dream didn’t matter right now.
Airn got up and opened the window.
He felt the cool breeze of the morning and the warm sunlight at the same time.
He was in a good state, both physically and mentally.
Smiling, he nodded to himself and prepared to head to the arena.
Ilya Lindsay vs. Airn Pareira.
The match everyone was looking forward to was about to start.
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