The new year has dawned. It has been 9 months since the trainees entered the school, and the weather entered into winter.
Sharp and cool winds blew in dozens of times.
Fortunately, none of the children were affected by it.
“Damn it, it’s not going well!”
Smoke rose from the bodies of those wielding swords in the sword hall.
Some were sweating profusely, sweating hot enough to forget the weather.
Right. It was a terrible season, but winter was better than summer for the trainees who were constantly moving.
Of course, as usual, their bodies cooled down during rest.
The break room was always available, and the space was large enough for many people to use it.
However, none of the prospective trainees went to the break room solely for ‘rest’.
As if something wasn’t going well, a boy mumbled.
“I feel clogged. Would you like to come and meditate?”
“Me too. I’m not able to concentrate.”
“I’ll come too.”
Children were rushing in to meditate.
That wasn’t all. Inside the break room, several people were already seated cross-legged.
Ahmed, who was watching them from afar, smiled.
‘To see the trainees go and meditate with such high spirits.’
What made a knight wasn’t just constant effort and training.
To put it more precisely, along with effort, there needed to be ‘effort in the right direction’.
The right direction was forward. If they moved to the left or right or took a step back, they would be bound to fail.
The problem is that people who only put in blind effort don’t realize that.
‘Meditation is a great way to solve those problems.’
Put down the sword and take up a comfortable position.
Cool the head and remove any other thoughts.
Afterward, if the excitement subsides, peace will bloom within the body, and the mind will realize things that were previously missed.
The parts where mistakes were made.
The parts which deserve attention.
Things that needed to be polished for the person to strengthen.
Just like that, the person meditating can look at their past actions and present self with clarity.
And through that, one can find the right direction to move forward.
However, despite all the facts, Ahmed never recommended meditation to his students.
It wasn’t just him. All the instructors were the same.
They knew. A lively teen would never meditate.
It was because they knew that trainees would never sit still.
It was quite difficult to recommend a non-intuitive way of training to the children who were already nervous about the evaluations.
But the situation changed.
Airn Pareira, the deadbeat noble.
It was because the two of them showed such growth.
‘The results are more convincing than an instructor’s advice. Those two really did a good job. Especially…’
He looked to the side.
Bratt Lloyd, the boy now had a sense of pride instead of arrogance which looked down on others.
Ahmed judged that his actions were more effective than Airns’, who started meditating first.
He looked at Airn’s way of training, which everyone at first laughed at, and tried it his own way.
And after generously giving that realization to the other trainees, he gained even more achievement from others.
Accept, give and receive.
Nothing was easy.
The change in Bratt was shocking.
‘He used to be narrow-minded, yet I need to keep an eye on him.’
With that thought, it was time for him to leave the hall.
Ian, who appeared without warning, spoke to him.
“Is everything fine?”
“Huk! Huh? Wha…”
Ahmed nodded his head and answered with a serious face.
“Yes. All the talented ones have gathered. Full of enthusiasm, not one is lazy…”
“They have grown even more in recent times. Airn and Bratt, because of them.”
“Yes. The children saw the effects of meditating. Dare I say…”
It’s safe to say that these were the best prospective trainees they ever had. Ahmed spoke in a low voice.
And Ian nodded.
“Right. It has been eight years, but on an overall level, I don’t think there was another group who surpassed these kids.”
Ian stroked his chin. His gaze slowly glanced over at the children gathered in the hall.
Ahmed quietly waited for his next words.
Although Ian was unpredictable, he knew that there had to be a reason why Ian had initiated the conversation. Instructions would soon fall.
Just as he thought, Ian spoke.
“Gather the children.”
“Not in the auditorium, but out here.”
Ahmed was confused.
Whenever Ian had to say something, it was always in the auditorium.
But now, asking them to gather here, he had no other choice.
However, the confusion didn’t last long.
Ian’s voice entered his ears.
“If it’s the children in here, I guess you have an idea of what I intend to do.”
Ahmed’s eyes widened.
“I will bring them here right now.”
He answered in a trembling voice.
He tried to be calm, but Ahmed couldn’t suppress his rising excitement.
Judith wasn’t in a good mood.
There were many reasons, and the biggest one was losing to Bratt, who was supposed to be below her and now the popular practitioner for meditation.
‘What the hell? Are they growing just by sitting still?’
She couldn’t understand it. It was better to swing the sword than to sit still doing nothing.
Judith still thought so. No matter what the other children said.
But the reality was different.
Looking at the results alone, the ones meditating were getting decent results.
That was putting stress on her.
‘I hope this all ends.’
The unplanned gathering made her annoyance grow.
If nothing else, she planned on spoiling the other kids’ meditation.
When Judith looked forward with that thought.
Ian glanced at the trainees who were around him and spoke.
“I am going to get straight to the point. It’s about the final evaluation.”
Moans and groans were heard from everywhere.
They could do nothing but that.
Wasn’t there another 100 days left for the final evaluation?
The children were confused.
However, Ian continued not giving them any time to think.
“It isn’t like measuring your progress in the midterm evaluation, but we will be aiming to see your ‘potential’ in the final evaluation.”
What directions the children took, what efforts have they made? How will they express themselves?
The additional explanation was added, but the children were still confused.
At that, Ian laughed.
“Huh, don’t worry too much. I don’t think it will be that difficult. Just show your best. It can be the will of a single killing blow, or you can use changing swordsmanship that dazzles the opponent’s eyes. A quick attack wouldn’t be bad either. It means you can do anything to show your potential.”
Better than before, but the evaluation still confused them.
‘My sword, what is that?’
The children were in deep thought about what they were good at and what kind of knight they wanted to become.
It was the same with the kids who had been living with the same concern for a long time.
This evaluation articulated their thoughts further.
Krono’s school master drew his sword.
Everyone paid attention to the sound of the sword being pulled out of the sheath.
Ian, who had smiled, spoke.
Because of the abundance of energy in him, his pressure seemed to have spread everywhere.
“I know that it won’t be easy. But it isn’t difficult either. With over 90 days left, I am sure that everyone will be able to unlock their true potential.”
“I prepared a small gift for you. It’s a sword dance performed by an old man, but I hope you can realize something.”
That was it.
Ian, who went silent, began to move his body with a serious expression.
Voices came from all over the place as the sword dance unfolded.
But it was only for a while, the commotion subsided, and silence ensued.
Not mere silence.
In a brief moment, less than a few seconds, the trainees were engulfed in the old man’s sword.
It wasn’t because of his reputation of being the best.
It wasn’t because he was the school master of Krono.
It would’ve been the same even if the children didn’t know about Ian’s identity.
The children were immersed in the sword dance and forgot about everything around them.
Soft yet strong.
Cheerful yet sad.
As calm as water but violent like fire.
Things which could never be understood were being understood from the sword dance.
The intense image engraved itself in their minds.
“Hmm, let’s end it here for today. Good luck.”
Ian, who finished the sword dance, left with a smile. He went back to walking like an old man.
However, no trainee greeted the man as he left.
They were all too involved in the dance. It took them a while to get their senses back.
‘Every time I see it, I can only admire it.’
He had seen it before too.
No matter how talented he was, he couldn’t enlighten children who lacked experience with a single sword dance.
Ian’s sword didn’t contain one quality. Dozens and hundreds of feelings came together and flowed.
Thanks to that, the trainees who saw the sword dance were able to accept the part which they understood the best.
‘As expected… the best swordsmanship teacher on the continent!’
If one asked about the strongest swordsman, answers would differ.
But when it came to teachers, there was only one for Ahmed.
It was the moment when he felt the feeling rise in his chest and let out the emotions through words.
“It was amazing.”
“… what are you talking about?”
“One trainee, it doesn’t look like that trainee gained anything from watching my sword dance.”
It was obvious.
Although they were gifted kids, not all of them could achieve the same results.
If even half of the 100 trainees could realize something, it would be a great success.
‘It’s my personal opinion, but I think there are more kids who have gained something!’
A feeling close to certainty, and Ian must have felt it too.
He was worried because one of the trainees didn’t get it, which Ahmed couldn’t understand.
However, Ian’s words continued.
“I didn’t intend for him to understand it in the first place.”
“I mean, he didn’t see my sword dance. His eyes were seeing it, but his heart was somewhere else. As if he was distracted by something more attractive.”
“Do you understand? Who am I talking about?”
Hard to imagine.
It wasn’t Ilya Lindsay. Her respect for Ian was never lacking.
The same went Judith, the tomboy. There was no one more desperate to stay in Krono than her.
Not even Bratt Lloyd or Lance Peterson would do that.
There was no way a child devoted to sword would ignore Ian’s sword.
If he had to choose one…
“Airn Pareira… sir?”
Ian didn’t answer; he just smiled.
That was the answer.
Ahmed frowned as it was hard to believe.
“I am curious. I am really curious. What could he be looking at? But…”
“Right now, rather than curiosity, other emotions are waging in me.”
As a teacher, his pride was slightly hurt.
The old man, who grunted inwardly, laughed out loud.
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