Chapter 193 - Confronting the Past (3)

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Creating an Aura Sword was an extremely difficult task.

It wasn’t something that normal swordsmen or experts could do.

Even Sword Masters, who were envied by everyone, had to work very hard to properly bring out an aura sword.

It was natural. It couldn’t have been easy to understand the concept of Aura operation and use it at the same time.

Even after the championship battle against Ilya, Airn had a hard time using the Aura Sword.

‘But now…’

It was easy.

Of course, the current level of Airn wasn’t one where Aura Swords were still difficult.

However, if asked whether creating and maintaining an aura sword wasn’t burdensome, Airn would have shaken his head before.

But not now.

It was much more comfortable despite paying attention to all 6 steps of Aura operation. It was natural and felt effortless.

Why?

The answer was out right away.

‘The sword wasn’t a tool…’

It was a part of his own body.

And with that thought in mind, Airn swung his sword.

Wheik!

Wheik!

It really was it.

When a person walks, or scratches their chin with their hands in thought, they never think ‘how’ they do that.

And that was because it was a natural task, something that was instinctive.

And the current sword of Airn was just like that. Instinctive. And the same applied for his swordsmanship.

Wielding his sword in a trance, he recited the name of his past life.

“Karen Winker.”

Woong!

As if answering the call, the sword rang out.

Airn smiled.

He seemed to know why it happened.

‘The bond is very strong.’

Although his past life had been with him for almost 10 years, it was only recently that Airn truly understood his past life.

Conversely, his self in the previous life was also wandering in the dark without realizing his present self.

But not anymore.

The man who had wielded his sword alone in the past, finally reached the present.

His past life, free from the Devil’s tricks, finally had his heart set free. And he had acknowledged Airn.

‘I, am I on a higher level now?’

He didn’t know the answer.

But one thing was certain.

At least right now, the being staring at him with a firm expression, did not have the complete confidence to beat him.

Thinking that, Airn took his stance.

“We can start.”

“… right.”

The Devil mumbled.

The clown’s expression was still uncomfortable.

Unlike when the man from the past came, the Devil was trying his best to maintain his composure.

In fact, after some seconds, his eyes, which were trembling, seemed to calm down.

Maybe like that?

The voice, which was filled with anxiety and nervousness earlier, found stability.

The clown, with both palms outstretched, suggested.

“Why not call it a draw?”

“… what nonsense is that?”

“Look! Look look look look look! Listen till the end! You are taking this situation in the wrong way. This is something which wouldn’t hurt either of us, so just a bit more, open your mind and listen, huh? With a generous attitude, you can listen to me for a bit, right?”

“Generous, huh….”

“6 to 4.”

The clown said, making 6 and 4 with his fingers.

“These are the odds I predict, for both of us, if we fight. I will even bet my name ‘Gacy,’ so it makes whatever I say, the unmistakable truth! Of course, the 6 is me. Uhuh! It really is!”

When Airn took a step ahead, the clown jumped back.

It was an exaggerated movement, but Airn didn’t know if this was the clown’s personality, or whether he was making fun of Airn.

He, who hadn’t relaxed his posture yet, kept staring at the opponent.

The clown, who grinned for a second, slapped himself on the cheek.

Slap!

“Sorry. I didn’t laugh at you. I have a disease which makes it hard for me to hold back from laughing.”

“…”

“Can you understand?”

“Tell me everything properly.”

“Yes, yes! Jumping straight to the main topic! I like it too, uh, where was I? Right! I said that if we fight with each other, I have a 6 out of 10 chance of winning and you a 4 out of 10. That is the truth. Even though I am like this because of that surprise attack, and even though my mask has shattered, this body is still strong. Hum! Hum hum!”

The clown, who now looked muscular, spoke again.

“By comparison, you are much weaker than that damned Karen Winker. Oh oh! Don’t get me wrong! I am not saying you are bad! All I meant was that you are weak compared to that absurdly terrifying man. Don’t get me wrong!”

Airn’s expression didn’t change at the words of the clown.

But that didn’t mean that he thought the other person was wrong.

As the clown had said, Airn was a lot weaker than his past self.

Of course, Karen Winker hadn’t disappeared. He was fully absorbed in the sword and still had a significant presence.

However, Airn himself dealt with his past, and it was a fact that he knew how lacking he was.

And what the clown said was right.

“How is that? Huh? Let’s call this a draw! I’ll promise with my true name! If you let me go like this, I will spare your friends and the others who are trapped in the barrier right away! Ah no! Don’t misunderstand! I’ll release them in their best state, without a single hair on them being touched! I just hate the risk of the 40% that you currently have.”

“…”

“Think about it! It isn’t a bad offer! You are very young, aren’t you? I don’t think you are even 30 yet, so you can grow a lot stronger than I am now. Right? Isn’t that right? Then later, when you get older, and you get stronger, then you can come and catch me with your other friends. It would be a nice thing, don’t you think? Huh? Huh? Huh?”

The rate at which the clown talked, kept gradually accelerating.

Airn sighed at the sight of the clown, who sometimes seemed sane, sometimes acted like a devil, and sometimes spouted gibberish.

He didn’t want to hear anything more.

The whispers of the devil, who had lived only to deceive humans for thousands of years, made all the five senses of a human worse with their sweet words.

But there were no lies in the devil’s words. Airn, who had the sixth sense, was discerning between the truth and lies of the clown’s words.

So, he knew.

But because it wasn’t a lie.

Airn knew better than anyone how dangerous it would be to accept a proposal from the devil.

“I know.”

“Huh?”

“That you aren’t lying. But I also know that it isn’t the full truth. I know why you are wasting time.”

“…”

“Do you think the more you waste time, the more advantage you will have?”

The clown, who was speaking non-stop till then, went silent.

That was the right answer.

It was true that he was devastated by Ignet.

It was true that Airn was a threat, and it was also true that he didn’t want to take that 40% risk.

But there was one thing he didn’t say.

The dark barrier that was created by sacrificing the mask.

The despair, anger, hatred, and fear of the exploration members who were suffering inside the dark barrier kept giving him strength.

And with that, he continued to increase his odds.

That was why he planned to gain time and finish the man then and there. He had no intention of doing anything like what he had done a thousand years ago, and leave behind a scourge that would eventually come and destroy him.

‘But how did he know?’

The clown was confused.

The young human in front of him was very tricky. That sharp gaze of his, which seemed like it was looking into the clown’s deepest self, made him extremely irritated and annoyed.

Right now, he wanted to pull out those eyes, chew them and spit them and then finally crush them with his feet.

But why was the young man with such keen senses just playing along then?

Just why?

Kiiiiii!

“…!”

The thoughts of the clown halted.

His head turned with a frightened expression, and a red wound immediately appeared on his eyes. There was a fierce flame that was burning the darkness.

And that wasn’t the end.

Kwang!

“No!”

A silver light broke through the darkness as well.

And the bright light, like the moonlit night, made his face sting.

Closing his eyes, he staggered a couple of steps back.

However, the light didn’t disappear, so he ended up opening his eyes to look at the newly emerged people.

Ignet Crescentia and Ilya Lindsay.

Looking at their confident selves standing there, the clown finally realized.

Just as he believed in his barrier, this young man believed that his comrades would break the barrier by themselves.

Evil groans came from the clown.

“Eikkk….”

“How did you get here?”

Either way, Ignet asked.

She looked at Ilya.

And while frowning, as if it was hard to believe what she had seen, she asked again.

“I will ask again. How were you able to overcome the darkness that even Georg, the deputy commander, couldn’t pierce and stand here?”

Wheik!

Sparks flashed in her eyes.

She couldn’t understand, Airn was one thing, but Ilya…? Ignet had never expected much from her.

The past was long forgotten, and the present woman didn’t seem that interesting to her.

And as Ignet looked, this woman seemed to be as much of a nuisance as Airn was.

‘But I can’t help but ask.’

Ignet glanced at Airn and then at Ilya.

In a short period, which was less than a month, what made her grow like this?

What in the world had brought this child all the way here?

And the answer came out right away.

“It’s funny.”

“What?”

“It is natural for you, but not for me? What kind of dog shit logic is that?”

“…”

Ignet was puzzled.

It was shocking hearing a noble woman spew curses out loud like this.

Even more absurd was the fact that Airn, who was watching them, burst into laughter.

“Haha, hahaha…”

“Why are you laughing?”

“Nothing, sorry. But she is right. Ignet, your question is wrong.”

“…”

“How did you get here? She got here because Ilya is a friend who has the right to stand here.”

Saying that, Airn looked at Ilya, and Ilya looked at Airn.

The two smiled at the trust that they had developed.

Ignet, who watched it, had a strange feeling.

It was a feeling that was hard to describe in words, it was like you know something, but you didn’t know it at the same time.

After giving up thinking about it, she shook her head and said.

“I will ask you questions later. The priority…”

“Yes, for now…”

“Let’s put an end to that disgusting thing.”

Ignet moved ahead.

Even though she was exhausted, the sense of intimidation that was rising from her sword was enough to remind one of the regality of a king.

Ilya Lindsay took her stance. Her sword aura, seemed as if it was the moonlight that brightly colored the night sky, removing the darkness.

“Phew.”

Before long, Airn took a light breath and then raised his sword.

Holding the sword that was forged with the convictions of his past life.

And with the flames of his present life erected upright.

Aiming at the clown with his golden aura, he said.

“Here I come.”

“… uh, uh, uhaha.”

Facing the energy of three swordsmen, the clown broke into laughter.

He had no choice but to do so.

It was insane.

These people weren’t ordinary people. They were heroes of the era who were standing tall and threatening the demons.

The clown slowly closed his eyes and thought of their brilliant future.

‘They’ll probably be stronger…much more stronger.’

A strength that couldn’t be compared to their current selves.

A radiant appearance that cannot be compared with their present selves.

The future they had was one where they would be loved and respected by many people, and one where they would live for a long time. The clown was sure of it.

… and to take that away was the greatest joy for the Devil.

Puck!

“…!”

“…!”

“What!”

The clown raised his right hand and thrust it into his face. The three looked at him with bewildered eyes.

But the clown didn’t care.

With an unpleasant sound, the other half of the mask was torn off.

The devil laughed and cried as the mask that was pulled out had come out with blood, flesh, and even some bone attached to it.

The moment Airn realized that the face the clown made was an expression of joy.

Crack!

An explosion occurred.

No sound could be heard.

No, maybe they could have heard it, but now they couldn’t hear it because it was too loud.

There was a warm sensation in both of Airn’s ears. As he touched his ears and looked at his fingers, he saw that the reason he couldn’t hear the explosion was because his eardrums had burst and that there was blood flowing from his ears.

Fortunately, apart from that, his condition was fine enough.

And Ilya, who was next to him, had a similar appearance.

However, not everyone was like that.

“Why?”

Airn asked, and his gaze fell to Ignet Crescentia, who had fallen to the ground.

The moment the demon self-destructed, she moved faster than anyone else, and her body took the shock for both of them.

“Why, what th…”

Ilya asked in a trembling voice.

Her confused eyes were deeply buried in the unfinished sentence.

Ignet, who barely got up, looked at the two people.

With a smirk, she said.

“I don’t care anymore, you bastards.”

Returning to her mercenary way of speaking, she soon fell down again and lost consciousness.

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