Chapter 154 - Clash (1)

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“…”

“…”

Silence all around.

The merchants who were watching the fight, as well as the mercenaries who were training, all stopped and looked at one place alone.

It was towards Airn and Ilya. They couldn’t easily turn their eyes away after what they had just seen.

It was only for a short time that the two were clashing their swords, but that brief moment was enough for the onlookers to see their true selves.

The mercenaries realized that the two were at least Experts.

‘Aren’t they stronger than any of the Experts that I have seen till now?!’

‘And aren’t they too young! They don’t even look like they are past their mid-20s…’

‘What was that?’

The mercenaries who couldn’t keep their mouth closed from the shock, couldn’t even understand the ‘real skills’ of Airn and Ilya.

Airn, who was staring at Ilya, said.

“Did you intentionally come in for the first fake slash?”

“Right. Because the second attack was going to be a real one.”

“Hmm…”

Those who were heard that were wondering what they were talking about.

The silver-haired woman’s attack was so fast that no one could even see.

However, the blonde young man called an attack a ‘fake’ one, and the girl agreed.

It was incomprehensible for them to understand the attacks, considering the speed that was condensed into each of them.

And furthermore, what the mercenaries didn’t know was that the battle between the two swordsmen was actually one between Masters.

‘She used the fact that she knew I could see the aura being moved in her body during the first charge, and then deliberately faked it to distract me.’

No beginner could read their opponent. Because they would be too busy doing their own things.

However, as one gains more skills, they become relaxed, and it becomes essential to understand the opponent’s intentions to react to their movements.

Airn learned that from John Drew and reached a level where he could infer the next movement of his opponent from the motion of their muscles, eyes, and feet.

However, right now, Ilya was using the Aura operation as psychological warfare.

And she said,

“I may not be able to see it like you do, but my father said he could understand the aura of his opponent with sensory awakening.”

“Sensory awakening?”

“Something like that. In fact, I heard that all high-level Sword Masters have very keen senses, and they enjoy such kind of battles.”

“I will have to be more careful in the future.”

‘What are they saying?’

‘What was that?’

The mercenaries who heard the two swordsmen’s conversation looked frustrated as they couldn’t understand anything that was being said.

Looking at them, it was clear that they were of a higher level than them. Each and every word coming from their mouth could possibly be a thing to learn.

However, they couldn’t even understand half of it; it wasn’t unreasonable to feel this upset.

Of course, it didn’t bother Ilya and Airn.

The two, who looked at each other for a moment, resumed fighting.

Kang!

Kang!

“Phew.”

Airn held his breath and focused while blocking Ilya’s attacks which had become faster than before.

He thought that fighting her would be easier since he knew the other person’s technique, but he was wrong.

The speed at which his opponent was using Aura was faster than his eyes could see and judge.

Two things were needed for him to overcome this.

First, battle experience to familiarize himself with such fights, and the second was a keen sense of understanding of Aura to grasp the movement of his opponent’s Aura without relying on his eyes.

Both were impossible for the current Airn, but he smiled.

It was because it gave him immense pleasure to know that there was a lot more to learn even after being a Master.

Kwang!

“Ack!”

Airn almost lost the spar as he was a little too close to being stabbed.

Still, seeing the happy expression on his face, Ilya felt complicated emotions rise in her.

‘He is different from the old days.’

Airn wasn’t like this in school.

She always thought that Airn, walking ahead without being bothered by others’ gaze was great then, but not once had she thought that he was passionate regarding the sword.

Therefore, his current appearance, with his eyes showing how happy he was to know that there was something new for him to learn, came as a shock to her.

‘What about me then?’

After being defeated in Land of Proof, it was a question she asked herself countless times now.

However, she hadn’t found the answer yet.

The person who liked the sword had disappeared, leaving her body to wander aimlessly without purpose. The anxiety within her rose again.

Despite these thoughts in her head, Ilya’s attacks poured out fiercely; however, Airn wasn’t one who would miss the gap.

Clang!

“Uh…”

A groan escaped from Ilya.

It was definitely her who attacked, and it wasn’t like the timing was off. She had used the sword at the expected and correct angle.

However, the moment she came in contact with the opponent’s sword, a blunt sound came from it.

Just like hitting an iron statue.

Feeling the tingling pain on her palms, made Ilya take a step back, and Airn prepared for a counterattack as he moved ahead boldly.

And then it started.

Kang!

Kang!

Kakang!

Fortunately, their exchanges were unlike before, and she didn’t feel the dullness from each hit, but her hands still felt numb, so Ilya had no choice but to stay in a defensive position for some time.

During the championship match, she mostly held the upper hand, so this was quite embarrassing for her.

Of course, that didn’t last for long.

Feeling that the senses in hand had recovered, Ilya pushed Airn back with an appropriate counterattack, then pointed her sword and said.

“Let’s end this now.”

“Really?”

“In the middle, how did you do that?”

“Ah, I hardened my entire body with aura.”

“Your entire body?”

“Huh. It’s thought of the image of me being a giant made of steel. It is not possible to do it while moving, but I just tried it once.”

Airn hadn’t thought exactly of a steel giant, but rather the image of the man in his dreams who disappeared.

A man who was tougher and stronger than anyone Airn had ever seen.

Just because the man had a flaming heart, that didn’t mean he had to reject the steel will of the man.

So, he thought of applying it if possible since he was able to control the flames.

“Intriguing. Should we talk more about it?”

“Fine.”

The two sat down and talked about it as if the bloody battle they just had was nothing.

Aura operation, hardening, dream?

Most mercenaries couldn’t even understand what was being talked about right in front of them, and they felt bad about it.

They wanted to see more of that fight, rather than listening to something they would never understand!

Seeing something was better!

While everyone was thinking that, Judith, who watched the battle between Airn and Ilya, pulled out her sword.

And said,

“Bratt stand up.”

“Me?”

“Yes, you.”

After being called by Judith, Bratt stood up a bit surprised.

After leaving Land of Proof, Judith had spent most of her time practicing alone.

Even when training, she would mostly choose Ilya over the others.

Compared to Airn and Bratt, who were always with her, Judith wanted to be the ‘best in the continent’, and it felt natural for her to have eyes on the Sword Master.

Bratt also had to sort out his personal thoughts, so he didn’t bother asking her to spar either.

But when she suddenly called for him, he couldn’t help but wonder why?

It was even more puzzling when he looked at her eyes.

‘It doesn’t feel like she called me because I was the only one here.’

It was as if she was waiting for something.

After a moment, Bratt shook his thoughts.

“Fine, let’s go and hang out, it’s been a while.”

Hearing those words, people on the ground looked at them.

Until the fight with Airn and Ilya, the people were like, ‘Who the hell are they?’, but now everyone knew.

The fact that they were the famous trainees of the golden batch of Krono Swordsmanship school.

It was because of Fredric’s diligent chatter.

‘Is this going to be as great as the previous one again?’

‘I heard they are a bit lagging compared to those two, but they must be experts.’

‘They are known to be top at the…’

The level of the two was known to be the top of Experts.

It was shocking when considering their age; however, they were strong, and anyone would accept that.

Once again, people were filled with excitement; they gulped and looked at the two. Bratt glanced at the background.

However, Judith was looking at Bratt.

Feeling her act strange, he cleared his throat and said.

“Let’s start right away.”

“Good.”

Tang!

With that, Judith took the lead, and the first attack fell, similar to the battle between Airn and Ilya.

The mercenaries who saw the clash were shocked.

Unlike the previous one, where they just stood and looked blankly, this time, they were trying their best to focus on the fight and learn something.

However, such thoughts disappeared without a trace when the fight started.

Even the battle between Judith and Bratt was too high for them to grasp.

“Ah…”

“Woah…”

Judith’s burst of intense yet colorful flame-like strikes, which were explosive, and Bratt’s gentle defense skills that flowed like.

Grasping or analyzing was impossible; they couldn’t even see their movement properly.

All they could do was open their mouths and look ahead blankly.

However, something unexpected happened.

While continuing to fight, Judith suddenly withdrew her sword.

“What?”

“… enough.”

Judith turned around with an even stranger look than before and looked uneasy for some reason.

Seeing her like that, Bratt, Airn, and Ilya exchanged glances.

Judith always had an unpredictable behavior, but right now, they couldn’t even fathom why she was doing this.

“E-excuse me! I’m sorry, Miss Ilya Lindsay… right? I know this is rude, I am sorry. However, if I don’t say this, I will regret it later…”

“Mr. Airn Pareira! Please…”

“Mr. Bratt Lloyd!”

However, no one approached Judith for a while because of the heavy atmosphere around her.

As soon as the match was done, the mercenaries approached the three people.

Judith felt a bit burdened by it, but the three of them were fine.

In the past, maybe it would have been a different situation, but now they weren’t just nobles who wouldn’t talk with normal people.

In the end, they accepted the questions that the mercenaries asked, and then night came.

“Bratt, wake up.”

And when most of them were asleep.

Judith, who was completely silent after the match, woke up Bratt.

“…”

Bratt meekly followed her to a place away from the group.

A mercenary who saw that, threw a subtle glance at them.

But Bratt knew.

That Judith didn’t call him because of some special relationship between a man and woman.

After a while, she looked at him and said,

“Why did you hide your skills?”

“… what?”

“Don’t think about saying rubbish. You are hiding it, your real skill!”

“…”

Bratt Lloyd was stunned at the words Judith said.

But the words didn’t go on.

It was the moment when he realized it and was about to give an excuse.

Judith ended up being a step faster than him.

“It is a different thing if it was Airn or Ilya, but I know you. I am the one who has seen you the longest and closest. A few days ago… no, you achieved some things even in Eisenmarkt, right?”

“…”

“I have been curious about it. Why is this bastard even hiding his skills? To surprise me at a later time? To surprise Ilya or Airn during the training matches? No, you weren’t that kind of person. I know you and you would never do such things. After thinking for a while and by eliminating the wrong answers, I figured it out. You…”

“Judith…”

“Think of me as an idiot.”

Phew, Judith who said that let out a hot breath.

But it didn’t end there.

Taking a breath, Judith quickly poured out her thoughts without giving Bratt time to speak.

“Am I a joke?”

“…”

“Are you feeling sympathy for me? Uh? You are so worried for me that you stay low-key? You think I wouldn’t bother chasing after you, and now you make me look like a foolish bastard? Uh?”

“It isn’t that…”

Brat was about to speak, but then paused.

Judith’s eyes were different from usual.

It was hard to look into her eyes. It was even harder because those eyes were looking right at him.

So, the words didn’t come out. He shook his head to clear his mind and think of the right words to say to her.

But there was no room to make excuses.

Suddenly, there was a loud noise from far.

Clack! Clack!

The hoofs of dozens of horses.

Though it wasn’t clear, there were voices and a language which seemed different from their own.

Perhaps it was the language of Orcs and not the language of humans.

“What?”

“Wake up! Everyone wake up!”

A nightmare-like feeling washed over the entire group, and soon everyone was up.

The mercenaries stood up, rubbing their eyes, and took out their weapons, and the magicians used light magic to see around them clearly.

Kuvar summoned fire spirits to see around.

And then the appearance of the Orcs was revealed.

A band of thieves.

One on a pretty large scale.

“What is…”

“…”

Anxiety appeared on the faces of the merchants.

Although their group had swordsmen, the atmosphere the thieves were giving out was rather terrifying.

The mercenary commander and the merchants immediately began to talk to negotiate with them.

Meanwhile, an Orc appeared from the bandits who had now completely surrounded the people.

He had a tremendously huge appearance and was as if two people had been put together, and spoke in a low eerie voice in the common language of the continent.

“Kill them all.”

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