There was an awkward air after that. Was it because people they didn’t expect were mentioned?
No. Rather, it was the way the person spoke that seemed different from his nature.
Everyone, including Ethan, stayed silent for a moment, and looked at the blonde young man’s face.
There was a prolonged silence before Airn looked at them, smiled, and said,
“It was a joke.”
“Honestly, I don’t know. People known as the 10 swordsmen and stuff… I don’t know much more than that.”
“What? Was it all just words?”
“It isn’t that, but it is a contest where heroes who will lead the future will come. And since they are my age, I support the younger ones.”
“Ah, the age group of 40-50s have enough Masters. People in the 20s and 30s are like kids.”
“Kenan’s words are right… but did you just call Masters kids?”
“No, I didn’t mean it that way.”
And the group began talking again.
The blonde young man smiled, seeing them melt into the conversation. Although he was traveling for some time, the knowledge of the veterans was a wide topic.
Actually, the three major swordsmen in the south and the pride of the East were the ones he didn’t know of in detail.
‘Apart from the Lindsay family, I didn’t know of the others. Camrin Ray…’
After that discussion, a few names settled into Airn’s head. The others were interesting, but these stood out.
The second son of the Ray family.
And on the southern side, Inashio Karahan.
A curiosity sparked in him. It was something which hadn’t happened in a long time.
“It wasn’t a joke, right?”
“You just told the names of your friends. It wasn’t a joke but the truth, right? You really think that you could all go all the way till the end…”
“… Um, it’s not like that.”
Airn hadn’t met those who were contesting yet, so he couldn’t predict a perfect outcome for it. Airn just mentioned his friends’ names as a way of cheering for them.
But if someone asked if he didn’t believe it.
‘That isn’t true either.’
Airn closed his eyes.
He thought of Ilya, making the wind, and Bratt calling the waves.
He also saw Judith’s face. Despite not seeing her for two years, the intense flames around her were still etched in his mind.
And the scorching heat.
‘… I have no idea how strong I am now.’
“Still, I am looking forward to it.”
Looking at Vulcanus, Airn said it.
People he hadn’t met like Camrin and Inashio seemed good, but he was looking forward to meeting his friends.
And he wanted to show off to the world a little bit too.
How talented they all were and how much effort they had put in… no one could know about it but them.
“Brat, what are you saying?”
“Ah, sorry. I was thinking of the past.”
“A kid who hasn’t touched 30 yet is acting like an old man… enough. I am going to sleep.”
Vulcanus groaned as he headed in, and Airn smiled seeing that, and he laid on the floor.
It was rough and uncomfortable compared to the dorms, but there was no problem because he had been through it in the past.
So, he knew someone was eavesdropping on their words.
‘I thought she wasn’t interested in me.’
Well, it didn’t matter. He used the artifact Kirill gave him to cut off the sound, so his identity couldn’t have been revealed.
He thought for a while if he had to conceal himself, but decided that it was better if they didn’t believe who he was.
Rather than moving around cautiously, he liked this.
But he would have to be more careful in the future.
While he was thinking that, the elf magician Jarin, frowned.
A few more days passed.
In the meantime, monsters and demonic monsters constantly tormented the party.
The elf’s ears helped them know when they were coming, and the battle went smoothly.
In the process, Airn melted into the party.
It wasn’t because of his swordsmanship or cooking skills.
Of course, they were of advantage to the party, but rather, it was the atmosphere around him that made everyone comfortable.
“He is a better friend than I thought.”
“Right. It doesn’t seem like it, but he has a mild personality, right?”
“It is better since he doesn’t look timid. It isn’t easy to say what you want to without hurting others, and that is an amazing trait of his.”
At Ethan’s words, Giovanni and Kenan nodded.
Initially, he was a young man they allowed because they could have fun, but it wasn’t like that anymore. The image of Aron now was someone who didn’t stop being considerate to others and made people open up their hearts.
It wasn’t just that. Now, he was a reliable person and a colleague.
Of course, not everyone is like that. Jarin, unlike others, didn’t like Aron.
‘Why is the guy pretending to be someone else even acting like this after being caught right away?’
She couldn’t process it.
For that reason, Aron’s normal talks and actions were considered to be cocky by her, and she didn’t like it.
But she had no intention of asking him openly. It was just that she didn’t want to let the others put down her walls and laugh with him.
She was grateful for the delicious food he cooked.
However, thinking of going and watching the Warrior’s festival together…
As she was thinking that, Ethan came to her.
“By the way, we will reach the Tamoe Forest after a while.”
“Right. Ah! Isn’t it dangerous these days?”
“I don’t like the idea of going there.”
Tamoe Forest, which was thick in the middle, was a place anyone could pass by. This was because the five nations made a living through the trade deals that occurred due the path they had created through it.
The toll wasn’t small, but considering how well maintained it was, it wasn’t a waste of money.
But it wasn’t like that now. After the demons doubled in number within the Tamoe Forest, the five nations withdrew their men.
The Holy Kingdom was asked for help to subjugate them, but no one wanted to risk going through it.
Therefore, in order to safely pass, many talented people would have to work together.
‘The Alhad Mountains were the same.’
It was something similar to the trip he had 4 years ago. The merchants joined forces to protect themselves from the bandits.
It was probably the same here. Of course, the opponents here were terrible demons, but…
“Do you think there will be enough people?”
“Yes. There should be a party like ours.”
Ethan nodded his head.
Many people must be moving to Avilius now so that they could watch that contest. There were many people like Ethan who wanted to learn more, and it wouldn’t be weird if they decided to go through the Tamoe Forest.
The party organizer was someone that even Airn knew.
“Gael Wise? The son of merchant Wise?”
Gael was the elder son of Toby Wise, who was said to have held all the wealth equal to the continent.
He was a half-elf born to an elven mother.
That alone left a mark on everyone’s mind, but it wasn’t that which made him stand out.
It was his good influence.
He provided grain for the poor, established scholarships for the uneducated to study, and recently, provided weapons and armor for heroes when fighting the demons at a low price.
Before that, they heard a lot of good things about him settling the disputes between humans and other races.
‘I heard he is talented. Despite there being other merchant unions, it was said that his union would grow much more than before.’
Truly, he was a son that every parent would envy, and a son whose parents would be proud of.
It was relieved that such a person was gathering people, and Vulcanus also nodded at it in approval.
But the atmosphere was strange. Airn looked at his party members’ faces.
Ethan, Giovanni, Kenan, and Jarin.
Some of them were upset, and the last one looked even worse.
With a stiff face, he asked.
“Is there any problem…”
“… no, it is nothing.”
Jarin replied with a smile.
“It will be just a week; what can happen?”
“Are you really not coming?”
“This jerk. How many times do I have to tell you? It is beneficial for me to train when I am here.”
“No, your disciple, huh? You said you wanted to play an active part in this Warrior’s Festival when everyone is watching, but you can’t afford to watch it?”
“No, no, if I had such things to do, would I have come this far? That Ian, seriously.”
“Aha, forget it! Now say something and support me.”
“Good luck, Judith. Let it be Ignet or Airn or Bratt…kill everyone.”
“Uh… I am leaving.”
Judith bowed, facing Khun, and left. There was no looking back. It was just a brief outing, and he was a face she would come back to, so there was no need to be emotional.
‘… still, it would be nice if we could go together.’
That’s what she thought, and it made her sad, but she endured it. She knew the stubbornness of that man better than anyone.
Phew, she sighed and ran to the northeast. Khun stood there and looked at her leaving.
And coughed blood.
His body wasn’t feeling well.
It had been this way for a while, but this time it seemed worse.
It didn’t matter if it was a disease or the end of his time. It was important to not die before it came for him.
‘I want to live.’
Khun raised his sword and swung it constantly. He cut and stabbed repeatedly. He did it with a heart more desperate than all the other aspirations he had until then.
He recalled the legend which had been passed down since time immemorial.
The legend about the level beyond the level Expert and Master. It was said that when one reached that ultimate level with a sword, a new body could be obtained.
It was said that one could break free from the old and sick body a mortal had into a new one.
‘I didn’t believe it before…’
Now he believed it.
No, he wanted to believe it; there was a reason for it.
Of course, he didn’t know it.
Even though Ian reached the Master level at 25, he did it at the age of 70.
‘Did I know that and challenge him?’
Hahaha, Khun burst into laughter and swung his sword.
He didn’t know. And he was going to do it until he realized it.
That was the driving force he had until now.
Khun, who was wielding his sword in a trance, stopped and turned his head.
Someone was approaching him.
He was wearing a dress that gave off a dark feeling like he was being buried in the shadows. His face hardened. The hair of the person approaching him was waving, and it was hard to tell if it was silver or grey.
Khun blamed his poor memory and asked the opponent who came.
“Have we met?”
“You can’t talk?”
“I don’t think so. Looks like a bastard with a cheeky attitude.”
Khun kept saying it.
Normally the opponent would be red-faced at it, but the man didn’t seem to care that he was being called that by one of the top three swordsmen on the continent.
Slowly, the man drew his sword. He took a calm posture with an expressionless face and stared at his opponent.
“Junior Carl Lindsay… I wanted to learn from senior Khun.”
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