The music played softly in the ballroom.
The gaze of the people were now becoming burdensome, and a strange atmosphere formed because of it.
They were there to celebrate Joshua Lindsay’s birthday.
No, it felt as if everyone who had gathered here were looking at Airn Pareira and him.
No, among the two, most of the interest was being taken away by Airn.
Even Ilya was being watched.
As she looked at her friend, who approached her with a completely different look than what she expected, the expressionless face she worked hard to hold was breaking.
‘What happened in the last two days?’
When they met in school.
After that, even when they met in Eisenmarkt and traveled together, she never once saw Airn dress up.
It didn’t matter to her.
Because Ilya didn’t fall in love with Airn for his external factors.
It was because of his kind and sincere heart which struggled to lift up Ilya’s confidence each time she collapsed.
She couldn’t help but admit.
Airn’s appearance, fully dressed, was far more destructive than anything she had seen.
‘Strange. There is no huge difference…’
Still, it felt like he had changed a lot.
But of course, Ilya didn’t know.
She didn’t know Airn’s effort over the past two days for today’s ball, and that Bill Stanton, a ‘stylist’, was by his side, helping him the whole time.
The present appearance was the result of that.
A very faint blue and black dress complimented his fair skin.
The fit matched his body type, the points of the shoes, the neatly trimmed hair, and the special walk, all created a youthful, sophisticated and noble air around him.
Airn Pareira called her again.
Seeing the serious expression on his face, Ilya raised her voice involuntarily.
She realized that she had been staring at him. And nodding, she took his hand.
With a creaking awkward walk despite her Master ability, the two young people moved to the centre of the room.
Ilya was about to ask something, when she closed her lips.
It was obvious what she was going to ask.
What new wind blew for you to dress up like this?
Did you try to set a mood because this is a ballroom?
‘Was it to look good in my eyes?’
And then her mind went a little further…
‘Airn, you feel that way towards me too?’
Questions started filling her mind. But Ilya couldn’t get even one question out of her mouth.
Looking at her awkwardly smiling, Airn asked.
“What is it?”
“You were trying to say something, right?”
“Ah. Huh. Right, I forgot about it.”
“R-rather than that, you dance pretty well. I am from the Adan Kingdom, so I am used to this, but not Airn, right?”
Ilya cut off Airn’s words and changed the topic.
It was scary.
She liked this feeling she was having now.
It felt nice that Airn showed up in a much more thoughtful outfit than usual and came up to her with courage, and asked her to dance.
‘It can’t be that reason; it was because he set a mood for…’
Ilya was a little disappointed.
Ilya was one thing.
She had broken out of her shell and was growing rapidly, yet she lacked confidence. Despite having an outstanding background, an outstanding talent, a beautiful appearance, and a kind heart, she lacked confidence.
… however, it was the same with Airn.
‘I am still trembling.’
His heart was pounding hard. Even though it wasn’t like this was when they first met, it felt awkward. The touch of her hand on him and his on hers, was making his heart flutter.
In fact, he realized that it had always been this way when he thought back.
Just like Ilya was taken aback by Airn’s change of appearance, he too couldn’t take his eyes off his old friend, who was in a dress for the first time.
“… the music is fine.”
They didn’t care about the interest around them. The pouring gazes and the whispers aimed for them.
Their own questions and worries in their heads vanished, being replaced by pure feelings for each other.
They were just enjoying the moment.
With a natural smile on their lips, the two young people danced for a long time.
“Who is that person?”
A blonde young man had suddenly appeared in the ballroom and took away the lady of the Lindsay family.
The young nobles, who stared at it blankly, showed signs of dissatisfaction.
If only they had time to settle their heart, they would have gone confidently to ask for her hand.
They were under the impression that a guy with no name and background had cut them off.
Of course, they didn’t know the full thing.
Pareria, who was younger than the other nobles in the room, was more powerful and courageous than them.
Apart from him, not a single man could have broken past the scary energy Joshua Lindsay was releasing.
Moreover, even if they did go ahead and ask Ilya Lindsay, she wouldn’t have taken their hand. In a way, it could be said that they had escaped from embarrassing themselves thanks to Airn.
However, the young men didn’t think of it that way. Armed with shame and jealousy, they slandered Airn.
And then came the surprising information.
“How is it? Young lord Airn Pareira’s appearance? Isn’t it amazing?”
“… that is because my brother can carry it well.”
“Right. That is the basics of everything. But let’s not forget that this Bill Stanton worked hard to make that great man more brilliant…”
“I won’t forget it! Even if Kirill doesn’t approve of it, I’ll admit it! Even to me, the cat, Airn, is looking so much nicer!”
‘The genius swordsman of the Hale Kingdom who reached the Master level in his 20s?’
‘The one who took down Ilya Lindsay in the Land of Proof?’
It was hard to believe.
But they couldn’t help but believe it. They knew it too.
The biggest characteristic of Airn Pareira was, in fact, a large sorcery sword and a cat that followed him.
Seeing Lulu eating meat behind them, they all looked at Airn.
… now they couldn’t bring him down.
This man wasn’t some no-name guy who approached the lady. That young man dancing with Ilya Lindsay in the centre was a Sword Master with one of the highest talents and abilities on the entire continent.
And he was also someone from the most famous Krono Swordsmanship school.
And his face was so handsome that they couldn’t find any flaws in it.
“Life is so absurd.”
“Should we have a drink?”
The faces of the men turned bitter.
Some brought in drinks and some food before they went onto other young women.
And today’s star, Joshua Lindsay, looked at them with a dissatisfied face.
‘In the end, men are like that. After all, my daughter is far too precious to get close to you men.’
According to his wife, some young men who were coming to attend the ball were good.
Thanks to their outstanding character and skills, many would consider them as great sons-in-law.
But not all of them had the same standards.
Not one could walk up confidently, and not one of them tried to reach for her hand, and like dogs with their tails curled, they only sweated.
‘Rather… Airn wasn’t bad.’
Turning his gaze, he looked at the centre of the room.
His lovely daughter continued to dance with clean and elegant movements in Airn’s arms.
As he watched them, he looked at Airn and nodded.
‘I’ll admit it for today.’
He knew that Airn had great talent in swordsmanship. However, that alone didn’t give him the right to pursue his daughter.
Every time he saw Airn’s usual appearance, which showed that he had no interest in anything other than swords, and that stupid dumb expression when he couldn’t understand that his friend Ilya was deep in love with him, Joshua felt a fire burning in him.
… but not now.
He didn’t understand what new wind that had caused this change was, but looking at Airn, who came out with a completely different appearance confidently, he mumbled.
“… but this is just a dance. There is a lot more I need to admit.”
Seeing Joshua Lindsay praising Airn with a serious expression, the Countess put on a pathetic expression.
She would admit that her husband was overprotective of Carl Lindsay and Ilya Lindsay, who was his daughter.
But he was being too much today.
When a tall young man came over for his daughter, as a father, he should put on a happy expression.
‘What do you plan on doing if another woman snatches away that man!’
The Countess looked at Ilya’s face.
She tried to seem innocent, but she knew everything which was happening, she was a mother, and she knew that her daughter was in love.
Sighing, she stepped on the lord’s foot.
“Relax your face. Don’t scare the kids away.”
Joshua groaned and nodded.
The old nobles who knew them, burst into laughter.
That they were all looking at the daughter of Lindsay’s family right now, but before that…
‘But she is so in love. So much so that the blunt expression on her face isn’t stable.’
Seeing Joshua Lindsay in pain, the old nobles all smiled.
After the dance, Airn went back to his place.
He looked at his precious friend for a long time.
He looked at how the three members of Lindsay’s family greeted the guests.
And how Ilya would frown when she took a sip of strong alcohol.
He watched her picking up a cookie and eating it.2
It was different from before. A lot different.
No, it wasn’t just that.
It wasn’t that she changed. Ilya was the same when they were traveling together.
She wasn’t weak to alcohol, but she had never liked the strong ones, and when she ate sweets, she would chew on them more cutely and slowly.
What had changed was his mind.
Airn Pareira, who finally realized his feelings, looked at Ilya Lindsay with the gaze of a man and not a friend.
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