The eldest son of the Lloyd family, Bratt Lloyd.
As a high-ranking noble of Gerbera Kingdom, he was born with brilliant potential which suited his blood.
And as expected, Bratt showed talent in various fields even at a young age, and among them was his swordsmanship, which was different from his peers in the kingdom.
Even the Krono Swordsmanship school, which the gifted people of the continent struggled to enter, was like a rite of passage for him.
The moment he arrived at the main gate, Bratt took a step, and vowed that he would be at the top by the time he exited.
“And then I met you guys.”
It was shocking.
The Lindsay family’s name was known.
However, he didn’t expect that it would be that much. Stamina, power, and skill. Ilya Lindsay wasn’t someone he could even compare with.
Even more absurd was Judith; a commoner who was never taught swordsmanship was ahead of him.
Of course, Bratt was Bratt. And after the midterm, he was reborn as a new person after he talked with Ian.
The genius of the Lloyd family, who let go of his intolerance, took another leap and established himself as the center of the trainees.
His confidence rose again.
This time, he thought he could surpass Judith and even Ilya; he believed that he could rise to the top.
“What a shitty illusion it was.”
Looking at Bratt, who kept cursing, Airn couldn’t utter a single word.
Even Airn at that time, who was less aware than he was presently, could guess that Bratt’s heart was shaken after the final evaluation.
There was a sense of inferiority and emptiness from his defeat, and endless self-depreciation.
Perhaps ten times the amount of what Airn was feeling now had plagued Bratt’s heart then.
So, he was curious.
How did Bratt overcome the pain?
Was it because of Judith’s words?
Did Judith’s punches and taunts cause him to return back to swordsmanship? Was that really the reason?
And the answer to that question came right away.
“No, not because of Judith. Well, it isn’t exactly a no. Judith did play a minor role. Even after returning back to the school, I received quite a lot of help from her. But it was my father’s advice that made me come to my senses.”
The day he returned to his family with a sense of defeat and emptiness.
Bratt Lloyd told his father everything.
Although he didn’t tell anyone about the things which happened in the final evaluation, Douglas Lloyd was the only one who could peer into Bratt’s mind.
He listened to his son with a calm face.
All the joy he felt, and the deprivation and frustration which followed.
After that, the words which came out of his father’s mouth weren’t rebuke.
But rather, it was a simple question.
‘What is the reason you are learning the sword…to become the best swordsman or to become a good Lord?’
Bratt couldn’t respond to his father’s words right away.
But his intention was clear. He didn’t have to be the best in swordsmanship.
Even if he didn’t cling to it, he would surely become a good Lord, so he didn’t have to torment himself with these useless emotions. That was what he meant.
But he couldn’t just accept it and move on.
To just pass on like that, he felt envious of his comrades who could trample on others and move.
Conversely, the image of him who fell down, being trampled on by others, made himself feel miserable.
Bratt’s father asked another question.
‘You are the proud son of Douglas Lloyd.’
‘Gerard Lloyd’s cool older brother.’
‘A close friend to several children, including the son of Fred’s family.’
‘And you are also a person who will become the great Lord of the Lloyd family in the future.’
‘I ask again. You are someone’s son, an older brother, a friend, as well as the future Lord, Bratt Lloyd. Do you value yourself as a swordsman more than all of the things that this father has said?’
‘Then think again. The things you thought were more important than swordsmanship. You are a smart kid, so you’ll understand right away.’
With those words, Douglas Lloyd left his son’s room, and Bratt, who was alone, pondered his father’s words.
No, it didn’t take long for him to think about the answer.
And the answer came out right away.
“Right. Swordsmanship is important, but… competing with others wasn’t essential.”
Although there were other good sons, there wouldn’t be another ‘best son.’
There could be another good older brother, but no other ‘best older brother.’
Because the position of an older brother wasn’t a place to compete with anyone in the first place.
The same was true regarding the status of a friend and becoming the next Lord.
Although it was possible to be better than his former self, there was no need to compare with others. It would have been meaningless.
As he thought about this, his thoughts on swordsmanship began to change.
‘Swordsmanship is really important, but there are many more important things in the world.’
‘And not all things need us to compete with others. They only need us to compete with ourselves.’
‘Then maybe it’s the same with swordsmanship. Rather than suffering from being behind others, focus on competing with yourself.’
‘Continuously challenge one’s limits.’
‘Maybe that alone is meaningful enough.’
“Of course, that doesn’t mean that competing with others is completely meaningless.”
Bratt, who was staring into the air, spoke as he turned his gaze to Airn.
“With that said, I still want to get ahead of Judith. I was unbearably envious of Ilya winning the youngest Sword Master title, and I was also thinking of practicing swords without an end in order to follow you, who keeps growing stronger without ever hitting the limit.”
“But that doesn’t mean I will lose my focus because of that.”
Competition leads to defeat, and defeat leads to inferiority. Such feelings of inferiority lead to emptiness and self-deprecation.
It was a pain that everyone experienced. Having met many monsters at a young age, Bratt understood their emotions better than anyone else.
But he was fine now. Even when he got shaken, he regained his place quickly.
Because he realized what was really important.
“Heroes don’t have ranks. There is no such thing as the best hero or second rank hero. Being honest and having a good will is what is really important.”
“So, stop making useless comparisons and walk your own path. It doesn’t matter if you do well or not. It is a path which is worthwhile if you can work hard and walk steadily.”
Bratt Lloyd smiled. His blue eyes were deep and calm like a lake.
Airn looked at his friend’s eyes with his sorcerer sense.
Bratt’s body was supported by the largest heart that he had ever seen.
‘It is true. Bratt… from that day till now, he has been living his life in the same way.’
Actually, it wasn’t anything special.
Jet Frost said something similar.
If you worry too much about competing with others and comparing yourself with others, you will lose yourself. What really matters, in the end, is you.
And Bratt’s words resonated more deeply than Jet Frost’s words.
Heroes have no rank.
A meaningful path is one that is walked steadily.
Feeling those two sentences engraved into his heart, Airn expressed his gratitude to his friend.
Well, he tried to.
However, Bratt was faster. With a strange smile, he turned his head and looked at the sky.
“Of course… there are those who don’t get to talk or act on all this stuff.”
“A person with a completely different goal from us. It would feel rewarding to just walk on the path you aimed for… unlike us, a person whose dream will surface only after trampling on others.”
“Are you talking about Judith?”
“Is there anyone else besides her? You saw it too. She said everything she had to say in front of Mr. Jet Frost.”
Bratt pulled something out of his pocket. It was wine. 1
He pulled out the cork and sipped from the bottle, and he made even that look elegant. But it was a strange sight.
Of course, Bratt didn’t care what Airn thought.
He emptied half the bottle in an instant and opened his lips.
“Judith and I are on completely different paths. That person… is aiming to be the best swordsman on the continent, so she is walking on a path where it feels like she has nothing if she doesn’t get the first place.”
Airn nodded his head.
Bratt was right. The path she walked was different from his.
Judith’s path was thorny and full of despair, with no sense of worth or reward until she reached the goal.
A difficult journey that most of the great people who left their names in history couldn’t achieve.
Airn actually knew a few people who had failed and fallen out of that race.
Charlotte and Victory failed, and Grayson went through a great crisis.
In the case of John Drew, who changed the direction of his efforts towards establishing his own swordsmanship, it was producing positive results, but there were probably far more people who felt frustrated.
‘So, I am more concerned. I wonder if the same will happen to Judith.’
A concern he hadn’t told anyone.
However, Bratt’s thoughts were different from what Airn thought.
“But Judith will be fine.”
“Although her actions feel pitiful, stupid and stubborn and she is like more of a nuisance which makes people annoyed.”
“But there is no one I know who works harder than her with such heart. And she shines so brightly.”
And Bratt was right.
Talent may sometimes become insufficient to know who the best in the continent was.
However, with her tenacity and the poison that drove her, she wouldn’t be pushed by anyone.
There could be no one who worked harder than her, except for the man in Airn’s dream.
As he was thinking, Bratt’s voice was weird and strange.
“It will be painful and bitter. It will burn so much that it would sometimes feel like she would die. But she won’t give up.”
“No matter how painful it is, she will run forwards without giving up; the way she clings stronger than anyone else is because she can’t detach herself from the competition. Always doing her best… I think that is cool. And pretty, and beautiful.”
Airn frowned slightly.
The atmosphere was eerie.
Airn didn’t feel like he was simply praising a friend and blessing the future of that friend.
There was an excessive emotion in Bratt’s voice, to the point that even Airn felt strange.
Airn looked at Bratt.
Bratt looked at Airn.
Although it was burdensome for the two men to stare at each other for a long time, they didn’t avert their gaze.
And moments later, Bratt said it out loud.
“I,…I like Judith.”
Airn was taken aback.
Looking at him like that, Bratt Lloyd smiled and said.
“So, can you give me some advice on how to reconcile after a fight?”
Don’t ask how. We have no idea. ↩️
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