Lloyd family’s training ground.
Airn Pareira, who was training his sword, as usual, took a deep breath. And it wasn’t because of the warmer weather that he did this.
Even in midsummer when it was hotter than this, at the age of 15, when his strength was worse than it was now, he would still wield the sword till he collapsed from exhaustion.
The reason he sighed was because of the frustration within him, which still wasn’t resolved.
He didn’t think that he would suddenly realize something, but it was because of the conversation he had with Bratt.
At first, Airn didn’t even know what it was.
It felt like something was lacking in him, something that made him distracted… an abstract feeling he couldn’t pinpoint.
It was absurd to ask someone for advice when he couldn’t even understand the problem himself.
‘I have to think about it slowly.’
The good news was that his heart wasn’t as impatient as before.
Airn remembered the moment he parted ways with Ignet. At that time, he took the advice of Joshua Lindsay, but was restless as he couldn’t get what he wanted.
It wasn’t just that he was suffering alone, but he knew that his emotions were projecting outside, which caused his sister and Lulu to be worried for him.
But it wasn’t that bad now.
The water flowing through his heart continued to cool him and brought peace to his mind.
Even though the large puddle of water was still and not moving, he had already realized that he couldn’t force the water to move.
After thinking so far, Airn decided to rest for a while. It wasn’t his body that was tired since it was still 5 pm, but rather, it was his mind.
Airn tried to relax his mind while looking around the mansion and the clear sky.
He had learned inside the dark barrier that letting go also took an equal amount of effort.
There was something that was irritating to his eyes.
Unlike the large training hall for soldiers and knights, this small hall was for family guests or for Bratt to use personally, so there were fewer people here.
At best, a few guards took turns guarding the place, but today’s guard did something strange.
Firstly, there were two guards, not one, and there was a strangeness in their behaviour.
Although the man and woman were in ragged clothes, it still showed a nobleness that couldn’t be covered with their clothes.
The problem was that these two people were constantly staring at him.
They were doing that now too.
Even when he stopped training and looked at the sky, their gaze on him didn’t stop.
They were constantly looking at Airn’s movements. And their gaze felt bitter.
One could mistake them as assassins.
Airn looked at them directly.
And as soon as they saw that, as if nothing happened, the two turned their gazes away and pretended to clean the outside.
It was concerning. But he couldn’t approach them.
As said earlier, it was because the two of them seemed too cool.
“Airn, those people keep looking at you…”
“They look scary. Aren’t we supposed to run away?”
Airn couldn’t say, ‘That won’t be needed’.
He knew that such a man couldn’t roam around openly in the Lloyd mansion, so he didn’t say it. But he thought for a moment and said,
“Let’s not look at them.”
“Is that so?”
“Yes. No, let’s end this here. I’ll ask Bratt about it later…”
“What are you talking about?”
Just then, Bratt showed up.
Lulu, who tried to hide her fear, moved to Bratt’s side, and Airn quietly moved there as well, to ask the question when,
“What are you doing here? Father, mother.”
“What? Why are you looking at us with those eyes?”
Airn didn’t respond. Observing their faces a little more, he looked at the two people he mistook as guards.
The eyes were similar. It seemed that such a feeling would come out from Bratt too occasionally. So Airn said to Bratt.
“I thought they were guards, since they have been staring at me since the morning.”
“Why would guards do that?”
“I thought it was a little strange…”
“If it was strange, you should have gone and asked them.”
He didn’t want to say that their eyes were too scary for him to approach. Fortunately, Bratt didn’t push it either.
He walked towards his parents and said something, and the both of them opened their mouths.
After a while, they came along with Bratt and approached Airn.
And the eldest son said,
“Father, mother, let me formally introduce him. This is Airn Pareira, a fellow swordsman and one of my best friends.”
“…Hello. I am the eldest son of Pareira family, Airn Pareira.”
Seeing Bratt, who honestly used the expression, Airn felt gratitude. However, what was worrisome was that Philip Lloyd and Kaya Lloyd both looked at him with sharp glances.
There was silence for a moment.
It was Lulu’s hiccups that broke the silence.
The black cat, crushed by the unbearable atmosphere around, disappeared with her mouth shut and Bratt, who was watching it, nodded as he understood.
“Don’t get them wrong. My parents are very shy.”
“Yes. Please don’t misunderstand.”
“Maybe it was because they were curious about you. I talked a lot about you in the past.”
“That is true.”
The misunderstanding was cleared, but the mood didn’t settle down. Airn desperately shook his head amidst the chopped conversation.
‘What do I do?’
Airn had come here to deliver the letter from Judith and discuss matters with Bratt, but he also wanted to talk to Bratt’s parents.
About the atmosphere of happiness and joy in the people living in their territory. He thought that if he could speak to them about it, it would be of great help to him.
However, in the current atmosphere, it was unreasonable. Airn was shy, and Bratt’s parents were even worse than him.
It wouldn’t be nice to have Bratt stay in the middle and deal with both sides. As such, his troubles deepened.
A thought flashed through Airn’s mind.
“Excuse me, in a little while we will have dinner… I think it would be nice to have a light drink along with talking… would that be fine?”
The Lloyd couple didn’t answer, but it wasn’t entirely without a response. They had the same cold eyes. However, there was a small smile on their lips.
Airn who saw that sighed in relief, but Bratt thought,
‘It was so troublesome.’
A small party was held.
The participants were Lord Lloyd, his wife, and their son, the Pareira siblings, and Lance.
On the old-fashioned table, precious drinks were lined up. But the problem was that only alcohol came.
“… uh, is there something to eat?”
Kirill asked Philip Lloyd, who had a strict expression on his face.
It felt like a courageous statement. Lord Lloyd’s eyes were so fierce that any strong-willed woman would be scared.
Pointing to the glass in front, he said.
“It is a cocktail made with eggs, almonds, and rum.”
“A great snack.”
The silence spread like darkness; Lance built up the courage and asked.
“I think beer would suffice…”
“… it is a joke.”
Kaya Lloyd smiled shyly and glanced at the maid. And then, belatedly, generous dishes made their way onto the table.
Lulu, Kirill, and Lance sighed in relief. To Airn, who seemed relieved, Bratt, who was next to him, quietly said.
“It is a joke my parents often play when they want to get to know someone.”
“Bratt, it is embarrassing, so stop.”
Philip Lloyd spoke with no shame. Bratt nodded, and then the Lord, with a faint smile, raised his glass.
He opened his mouth as he lifted the glass with the strong drink.
“Lance and Airn. I heard about you two from my son. And the others… Cat guests are also welcome. I don’t have anything set up, and alcohol isn’t compulsory, so you can have what you want.”
He said that, but no one could say no to the first drink.
When Lord Lloyd was done, everyone except for Lulu drank it.
‘How aged is this…’
“Isn’t it good? Thanks to the aging of 30 years, the taste is very mild. People who drink it for the first time usually like it.”
It was a lot stronger than expected. Airn smiled at the warm feeling inside, and something shocking happened.
Before he even noticed, Lord Lloyd’s cup was filled.
Not just that.
Kaya Lloyd’s and even Bratt’s cup were filled.
The speed of it being poured was so fast that even a Sword Master couldn’t see it.
“… I always wanted to meet you.”
Philip Lloyd spoke after emptying his glass again. Was it because alcohol was involved? Or something else? The expression on his face seemed softer than before.
“Again, it doesn’t have to be liked by all. You can drink as much as you want.”
Airn, who answered politely, and looked around.
Philip Lloyd and Kaya Lloyd were constantly looking at each other as if they had something to do.
Kirill, Lance, and Lulu were talking to each other naturally. Bratt didn’t seem like he wanted to help this mood either.
Bratt drank three glasses in succession.
He had to be alert.
Airn thought to himself as the Lloyd couple were looking at him. Meanwhile, their glasses would constantly turn empty.
Two hours had passed.
The time that had passed was neither too long nor short, but Airn was the drunkest this year.
It wasn’t because he was forced to drink. What they had said weren’t empty words at all.
They didn’t care whether we drank or not. They were only focused on their own glasses.
The problem was that they and Airn were both shy.
Both sides want to say things to each other. However, they couldn’t bring up any topic, and the atmosphere was awkward.
In the meantime, he kept reaching out to the alcohol in front of him.
Thanks to that, Airn would drink it, and despite the strong body of a Sword Master, he still felt drunk.
“I need to go for a walk.”
Fortunately, he hadn’t completely lost it.
Airn mumbled, ‘If I drink more, I’ll get in trouble’ and stood up.
“I will come too. It is a hot day; I want to feel the cold air.”
“I will end it here. I still have some youth left… I want to play a little more with the young ones.”
Lord Lloyd followed him, and after a while, his wife left.
Lulu also said that she wanted to play with the neighboring cats and disappeared out of the window.
All who were left were Bratt, Lance, and Kirill.
“I have been drinking a lot; I need to go too.”
“But rather than going to sleep like this, I think it would be better to go out for a walk as a break…”
Lance, who was moderately drunk, responded.
With a bright smile, Kirill asked.
“Would you like to take a walk in the garden?”
Uh wasn’t some answer. He just couldn’t think of anything and said it out loud.
But Kirill didn’t care. Watching her deftly dragging the bulky man, Bratt mumbled.
“I feel lonely.”
A few servants looked at each other. Do they have to condole their master, who felt alone?
Is it okay for them to do that? Or should they just stay silent?
The answer came.
“Everyone go out. I want to be alone.”
“Well, have a good time…”
And Bratt Lloyd was all alone.
He quietly pulled something out of his sleeve, the letter from Judith.
It was not the least bit wrinkled, and Bratt carefully read the content. It wasn’t well-written, but it didn’t matter.
After reading it three times, he folded it neatly and placed it back in his sleeve.
Bratt, who filled the glass, emptied it in an instant. He mumbled, looking outside the window.
“I miss you, Judith…”
The moon wasn’t visible today.
At the same time,
Airn and Lord Lloyd were walking out of the mansion through the city.
They were passing through the well-maintained streets and through the square.
The people they passed all had smiles on their faces, and they arrived at a dark and uncomfortable place that Airn couldn’t have imagined.
The slums of the Lloyd estate.
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