Chapter 28 - Eve of the Storm (1)

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Two days after Ian’s sword dance, the instructors in charge of each class simultaneously changed their class schedule.

“In the future, we will be increasing time for self-training.”

In the classes, instructors had taught them basic Krono Swordsmanship, and the prospective trainees would imitate it.

Although various teachings and advice were given according to the individuality of each trainee, it was a method that lacked flexibility.

And now it didn’t.

The trainees were able to focus on the areas they wanted.

Instead of enforcing a rigid curriculum, the instructors focused on taking questions and answering only when the trainees approached them.

In other words, it meant that they changed to supporters rather than class instructors.

“Instructor, if I want to put more strength in this movemen…”

“How do I keep myself centered as I unfold the…”

Trainees actively welcomed the change.

Five months is a long time for talented children, and they had already mastered all the basic forms of Krono Swordsmanship.

Some of them were paving their own way, and even those who seemed relatively slow were able to find clues for what they were lacking and began to take huge strides.

Yes.

Ian’s absurd sword dance had completely changed the situation.

‘If this is the case, there is a chance for me too!’

‘If I can refine what I felt yesterday to the extent where I can put it into practice…’

‘Even though I’m in class C now, I can do it! If only I can create something of my own!’

Burning with passion.

The trainees, who were exalted as if they were about to burn, swung their swords tirelessly until the late night, and the same feeling continued even after 10 days.

However, there was one person who was uncomfortable with such an atmosphere.

“Bastard who acts smooth like butter.”

“?”

Bratt Lloyd was shocked at Judith’s sudden cursing.

He already knew that the cheeky girl had a rough mouth, but for her to curse someone without reason was rather rare.

So he asked.

“What is it?”

“What?”

“There should be a reason for you to curse.”

“No reason.”

“Is that so?”

“Uh. I usually swear without much reason.”

“Fine. Then keep doing what you do.”

Bratt replied indifferently.

He didn’t know what it was, but it wasn’t related to him. So he didn’t want to worry.

He swung his sword again. The same was the case for his followers, including Lance Peterson.

“…”

Judith glared at them, who were shocked.

Her grumpy expression gradually began to contort as she mumbled to herself. Bratt decided to ignore it this time.

Until it became hard to ignore her voice which gradually became louder.

It was even more bizarre that they heard curses that they had never heard before.

“Woah.”

Bratt’s concentration broke, making him sigh.

With an annoyed expression, he approached Judith.

“Speak up. If there is something you want to say.”

“I have been talking, didn’t you listen?”

“Not the vulgar ones, they don’t even count as words. Those are beastly sounds.”

“Should I tell you what real beastly sounds are?”

“Spit it out quickly. I’m not doing this because I am worried about you or something. Is it because of Airn Pareira?”

“Why bring his name up suddenly?”

When Bratt asked, Judith jumped up at the name.

However, she couldn’t get rid of the thought.

The girl, who turned her gaze away, spoke in a lowered voice.

“Is he fine?”

“Airn Pareira?”

“… yes.”

Much was omitted, but Bratt could understand right away.

Judith was asking if Airn Pareira could survive the final evaluation.

The reason for her question was quite understandable.

“It doesn’t look very good.”

It was as Bratt said.

Unlike most children who gained enlightenment from the sword dance of Ian, Airn didn’t seem to have gained anything significant from it.

There was no joy, gleam, or excitement on his face.

Instead, it was the opposite.

He became less and less talkative, and while watching him spend more and more time meditating instead of raising his sword, Judith began to feel her anxiety rise.

It was because his actions, which were contrary to the others, made it seem like he had fallen into disappointment.

‘… he might fail.’

It was the first time.

Why did she care so much about other people’s affairs? Judith just couldn’t help but feel it. And she didn’t like the feeling.

But she couldn’t just force her feelings to vanish, and Bratt’s affirmation just annoyed her even more.

However, the next words which came from Bratt changed her expression.

“Of course, excluding that, Airn Pareira can pass.”

“Uh? What do you mean?”

“That one will definitely pass the final evaluation.”

A calm and low voice full of conviction.

She couldn’t help but ask.

“How can you be so confident?”

“Hm. Isn’t that obvious?”

“No, what the hell seems obvious here?”

Judith wasn’t the only one who was wondering.

Even Bratt’s followers and those who were training nearby focused on their conversation.

They had no choice but to wonder. How could Bratt make such a confident prediction regarding the final evaluation?

Bratt didn’t care.

But, he had no intentions of hiding his thoughts either.

Shaking his head, he spoke to Judith.

“What is the main criteria for the final evaluation?”

“Uh? That is… potential.”

“Yes, potential. The test measures ‘future potential’ and not the current one. Let’s ask another question regarding that. How does one show potential?”

“Uh? Uh, that…”

Judith hesitated.

Actually, she never really thought about it.

She didn’t know what to say, but the only thing she could think of was, one had to show that they are stronger than others!

Therefore, knowing that her answer is wrong, she answered in a low voice.

“Uh, well, that is, if you work harder than others and prove that you are full of talent, potential is shown, uh… so, being faster than others…”

“Fine. Hard work and talent. As a result, the growth rate is superior to others. Both together show potential.”

When Bratt agreed to her words, Judith felt relieved.

Apart from her frustration of ‘I want you to stop talking and get to the main point already!’.

Fortunately, the girl’s wish came true.

“I will ask one last thing. In your opinion, who has shown the most growth since the start of school?”

“…”

Judith didn’t answer.

Bratt didn’t answer for her either.

But that didn’t matter. Everyone who was listening knew the answer right away.

‘Airn Pareira!’

Everyone knew how Airn Pareira started.

The physical fitness test during admission. The horrible rumors which spread after that.

And his wretched body, which backed the rumors.

It was still vivid in their eyes, how messed up Airn was to be even called an ordinary child, let alone an aspiring knight.

No one thought that Airn would still be in the school after the midterm evaluations.

But they were shocked.

Airn Pareira was growing.

He raised his stamina faster than anyone else and developed his body.

He was able to catch up with Ilya Lindsay, whom they thought no one could reach, and as a reward, he was even given an audience with the school master that only a few were given.

It wasn’t just that. In tests after the midterm, he performed poorly and got put into class F.

The trainees thought that was the end.

However, after 5 months, Airn moved up to class B and proved that he was better than an average swordsman.

A fact that no one could refute.

“Perhaps even if the evaluation was taken right now, Airn would pass. Why? Because all the instructors know how he was in the beginning. Comparing his current self to his past self, it’s impossible to believe that they are the same person.”

“… true.”

Judith nodded.

Although she was rebellious and had a bad temperament, she couldn’t help but agree.

As Bratt said, no has nor will anyone ever grow as fast as Airn.

And that was something that brought joy to the red-haired girl.

But she felt other emotions too.

‘I don’t want to lose!’

It was a strong fighting spirit.

Judith didn’t want to lose.

Not just in the present. No matter how strong Airn got in the future, she didn’t want to lose.

Perhaps, it was the same for the final evaluation, which will be held in three months. She wasn’t going to be satisfied with her current limit.

‘I don’t want to lose to him even in the future!’

Even after a year.

Or 5.

Or even 10 years.

Or even further in the future. Judith didn’t want to lose to Airn. She couldn’t even imagine herself losing to him.

And this was completely different from the feelings she had for him.

‘Potential and strength. I will win unconditionally!’

She was confident.

Through Ian’s sword dance, Judith was able to realize what she had to aim for.

As long as she could follow the brightly shining milestone in front of her, she wouldn’t lose to anyone.

She had faith.

“Now, I can comfortably show off my skills and get first place.”

It wasn’t unreasonable for Judith to say such a thing, especially after her concerns were answered.

Of course, Bratt Lloyd disagreed.

“As if.”

“Are you arguing with me about everything! Why? Because of Airn Pareira? Or maybe yourself?”

“No. I’m a lot better than you, but there are other reasons too.”

“Ha, yes. Say it out loud. What else?”

“Ilya Lindsay.”

“You said that the criterion is potential? How can you be so sure…”

“Because of the Lindsay family.”

Cutting her off, Bratt answered.

“Being from a sword family which is one of the best on the continent means that her future is guaranteed. The talent which flows in their bloodline, their training method and mindset which has been refined over time, and the great swordsmen in their family. It’s strange to have no potential after coming from that. Besides…”

“Besides?”

“The swordsmanship of the Lindsay family is known to be one of the most prestigious. Just by learning it… Ilya Lindsay will end up taking first place on the final evaluation.”

“Does that make sense?”

“It does.”

Bratt nodded with a stern look.

“Because that is the power which a prestigious family holds on this continent.”

“… damn it.”

Judith couldn’t hide her anger.

She knew it. How great and famous Lindsay’s family’s Sky Sword was.

Just learning it would make her future bright.

Everything Bratt said was true. And she knew it too.

However,

‘Then why the fuck should there be a test with a set result.’

She was angry.

Despite having everything, Ilya Lindsay entered Krono. Judith was unable to bear her anger since she had to grow from nothing.

She was even more annoyed at Ilya than Bratt and his followers.

‘They aren’t complete assholes and quite talented. Why do they think of losing before the evaluation even starts?’

She wanted to hit Bratt in the groin.

And slap those bastards who always walked around with him.

She wanted to shout at everyone who curled in their tails.

Of course, she couldn’t. The instructors would dismiss her if she did that.

‘These ones won’t even recognize my words.’

Judith, who judged that, walked away.

But that didn’t solve everything.

The girl did everything to calm her boiling blood and soon found a way to tarnish Lindsay’s reputation.

She didn’t hesitate at all.

She snorted then spoke.

“Huh, what is so great about that family? They were great geniuses in the past, but when she gets beaten by an orphan she won’t be able to appear in public…”

Smile.

Judith didn’t even finish her speech.

Goosebumps rose. As if a cold sword was put to her throat.

Her eyes returned to how they looked when she was in the back alleys of the slums.

From afar, the silver-haired girl was approaching the hall with her sword.

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