Looking at the entire continent, the central area was relatively safe.
It was also the center of all trade heading to the east-west and north-south and it was within the sphere of influence of the Holy Kingdom which was the strongest nation.
In addition, the graduates of the Krono Swordsmanship Academy could be casually seen around in the surrounding nations.
Of course, if someone asked if the central part of the continent was the safest, then that wasn’t the case.
Normally, if a country was protected from its surrounding territories, and had good transportation paths, it usually meant that there were no problems with regards to safety.
But that wasn’t always the case. Especially when there was a chance of a surprise attack by groups of bandits targeting merchants when the guards were absent, which resulted in them taking risks, travelling though unused paths to avoid the bandits.
The Nora bandits were one such group known to have specialized in targeting small merchants and travelers.
And on one particular day, a middle-aged man came into their sight.
“Boss, how about that person?”
“What do you mean ’how about that person? Do we ever leave anyone alone? Just selling that sword on his back will be enough for all of us to get a meal. Everyone move.”
One of the men with a big nose frowned. Something about this situation didn’t sit right with him.
It wasn’t because the man was armed. Although they were just five men, they thought they were advantageous because they had bows on them.
No matter how strong that one man was, he couldn’t have the talent to stop arrows.
Of course, that was only a possibility if the middle-aged man’s skills were at a level where he could deal with anything.
Which meant he had to be…
‘Right, he can’t be an expert.’
This wasn’t a place where knights or powerful men would come.
The man shook his head.
Right, it’s just a silly thought.1
There was no need to question himself just because a person had some muscles and was a little tall.
They had a decent number of people and they also wanted to have a drink tonight, so this had to be done.
With that thought, he took aim at the opponent.
But the middle-aged man suddenly drew his sword and pulled out an Aura sword.
That was what he wanted to say.
The man’s body disappeared with a bang.
As if he had vanished into the air, he couldn’t be seen anywhere and the bandits just looked around, surprised.
Fortunately, they were able to find the target in a few seconds.
Of course, although they found him, they couldn’t do anything about it.
The man appeared in front of him and swung the sword vertically.
Normally, the blue aura sword made the sword look larger, giving off a more daunting atmosphere.
Of course, no one could feel that.
It was after they saw that the tree near them had been cut down did they actually feel it.
“I’ll spare you if you do two things.”
“T-tell us anything, we will do it sir.”
Nore, the leader of the bandits, nodded his head.
He was ready to listen to anything except for letting go of his life.
Even if it meant giving up the lives of his subordinates, even if he had to lose an arm he would still follow anything the Sword Master told him to do.
Fortunately, the request wasn’t difficult.
First, they should all leave their weapons.
“Uh? J-J-jet Frost… the famous 101st swordsman?”
“Yes. I am that famous one who has been an Expert for decades. But…”
The man, who identified himself as Jet Frost, smiled and continued.
“… not anymore. The 101st swordsman, call me Sword Master Jet Frost. I want this news to spread.”
“Yes! Yes! I will!”
“Sure! Sword Master! Jet Frost!”
“Good, now get lost.”
The leader responded quickly and moved, followed by his subordinates.
Jet Frost, who was watching them run, felt his mouth go dry as he regretted his actions.
Considering that they were aiming their arrows at him, he wanted to kill them all. But then he felt sorry and decided to use them.
Jet Frost mumbled and moved, when…
He heard the repeated sounds of the sharp slashing of wind and screams, followed by the sound of something falling.
There was nothing else to see. It was instant death to the men he had just spared. Jet Frost frowned and checked the man who was now approaching him with his hands up.
And this action didn’t have any affection, but it was still a familiar look.
But looking at the young man who had turned into a different person, he said,
“Long time no see Mr. Jet Frost.”
“Uh, yes. Right. It has been quite long…”
“I’m just letting you know…they were all bad guys who had bounties on them. There were wanted posters around at the five surrounding nations asking them to be dealt with, alive or dead.”
“Ah, I see.”
“I said it because I was afraid you would misunderstand.”
“No, it wasn’t like that…”
Jet Frost’s expression went stiff.
The first time he saw it, he felt skeptical.
However, looking closer he could tell for sure. Because the opponent wasn’t hiding anything.
Still, it was hard to believe.
And it was a bit disappointing.
Maybe in the past, before he became Sword Master, that is, if he had met this young man, then he might have started to drown again in the sticky swamp of frustration.
‘… but now it was different.’
It wasn’t easy.
But he was now able to pretend to be resolute. Eventually, Jet Frost smiled and congratulated the swordsman opposite him.
“You became a Master. Congratulations.”
“Thank you. And… I congratulate you too. Master Jet Frost.”
With a gentle smile Bratt Lloyd congratulated him.
“… and like that I am heading to Mr. Khun’s place.”
After joining Bratt, Jet Frost told Bratt his story.
About how after meeting Airn and the others, he felt that the wall which had stood in his way for so long was breaking and that he finally reached the status of Master.
However, the process wasn’t smooth.
Even though he decided to find the original feelings he had when he picked up the sword, he was still concerned about the achievements of others, and the sword he had created was shaking once in a while.
So, at 70 years old… he wanted to see the great swordsman, Khun, who has been walking down this path for 100 years.
“Maybe people say that Ian or Julius Hul are the best, but for me, Khun was always the best. So, I asked Mr. Ian where he lived and now I am going to find him.”
“What about you? Ah, right. Judith is Khun’s disciple, right? And… I heard from the school master that she is in a relationship with you.”
“Well, this is how things went?”
Because of their constant fights when they were with him, Jet had never even dreamed the two could become lovers.
Considering Judith’s personality, he was even more sure about it.
‘More than anyone else, she hates the thought of losing… when it comes to the sword, there is probably no one more honest and selfish than her.’
And that woman was in love.
And that too, it was with her rival.
It was with someone who was above her.
Jet’s face, which thought till there, stiffened and he asked Bratt with a serious expression.
“Are you going to see Judith?”
“Doesn’t she know you are a Sword Master?”
“She wouldn’t. Unless she has been to the city. No, even if she came and went, the rumors haven’t spread far, so it is impossible.”
“… what are you going to do?”
“I’m asking how you will show this to her.”
Jet Frost’s eyes were serious as he asked it.
He couldn’t help it.
Although what they had was just a brief relationship, he knew what Judith’s personality was like.
The wounds, the trauma, the obsession and the jealousy and anger which was born from it.
So, he was worried.
In addition to Ilya and Airn who were also from Krono, now Bratt was a Master too… and that could be another wound on her heart.
‘This guy, and the youngest master and the genius among geniuses…’
… one could never know.
It was for this reason that Jet Frost took on a serious mood.
However, after hearing all of that, Bratt was still calm.
Rather, he continued to practice his swordsmanship for several days on the way to Khun’s place.
They both walked and swung swords and spoke about stuff.
Jet was surprised again.
It wasn’t just Master level.
Seeing the blue haired young man who was on a level higher than himself, Jet had no choice but to feel deprived again.
‘No, I am not important here. Rather, Judith! She is the problem!’
From the beginning, Master was his goal.
Since he never dreamed of anything more than that, even if a genius overtook him, he could endure it.
But not Judith.
Seriously, she was someone who sincerely dreamt of being the strongest on the continent.
But the talent she had was too lacking compared to her dream.
In a way, she was the unluckiest person.
If it wasn’t for the current world where geniuses were coming out in crazy numbers, maybe she too, would have been called as the best.
‘But, this generation…’
As was the case with him, it was when Jet Frost had gloomy thoughts.
An exclamation flowed from Bratt’s mouth.
Jet Frost followed Bratt’s gaze. The reaction seemed a bit silly.
However, it was fine considering the sight before them.
There was a crater.
It was a huge pit spread out over the horizon.
‘Was such a place there in the center?’
Jet Frost, who had extensive knowledge about the location, had never heard of such a place.
No, in the first place, this had to be a naturally formed place.
But he didn’t know of it, so someone had done this…
“It’s been long. I was told you’d come twice a year, but you are late?”
“… there was a bit of an achievement, so it turned out like that.”
“Hm, I see.”
The white haired muscular old man appeared like a ghost.
Although he didn’t say the name, Jet Frost could immediately recognize who he was.
Seeing the person he admired the most, he bowed with a trembling voice and introduced himself.
Khun slapped his hand with an annoyed expression.
“Enough. I know who you are.”
“Y-you know me?”
“Most of the guys like me know. Still, you don’t seem as bad as me. Have you turned 60?”
“That is quick enough, Sword Master. How do you feel? Nice?”
Jet Frost couldn’t answer.
Honestly, it was nice.
Where in the world could there be a swordsman who didn’t like being a Master?
However, he felt that saying it outright wasn’t nice, so he stayed silent.
Seeing that, Khun felt his mouth turn dry.
“I am not asking to trouble you, I just happened to ask you because I’m curious.”
“Ah, I am sorry.”
“I don’t want to hear an apology. Honestly it must be nice. Who would be offended by being a Master?”
“… there was a time when I thought that too.”
If the goal was higher than he thought that would be the case.
So, when they reach a level where they couldn’t be satisfied with Master, they couldn’t feel nice.
So, Khun was telling his own story, and Jet and Bratt followed the man who was walking ahead.
It was an interesting story.
There were feelings of inferiority, frustration, deprivation, anger, anxiety, jealousy, emptiness and suffering…2
All of them felt very vivid, and Jet couldn’t help but feel sober.
Aspirations and greed far greater than his own were resulting in such feelings arising in him.
Who couldn’t show respect for Khun who overcame all those negative emotions that came from it and turned into such a giant of a man?
However, the opportunities to express such feelings were none.
They arrived at Khun’s residence.
The moment he saw the red-haired swordsman standing in front of them with stern eyes, Jet Frost felt the urge to step back.
“For reference, Judith didn’t become a Master yet. She was still an Expert. But…”
“… it is scarier. In the past, she tried her best to get rid of the anger in her heart, but she doesn’t even let go of that. Even if the hand she is holding is burning, and burning… she never…”
Bratt Lloyd drew his sword.
Blue aura shone from the blue sword and radiated an intense light.
Jet Frost gulped. He felt a stronger force than from the time they had sparred together.
Judith didn’t back down.
Holding the red sword, which was the opposite color of her lover, she stood there, staring at him.
And she took a deep breath and exhaled.
The red-haired swordsman, who turned into a speeding flame, caused a huge explosion.3
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