The final evaluation would be held in the empty Grand Hall, which was much smaller than where the mid-term was held.
The evaluation method was simple.
The prospective trainees could show their desired swordsmanship in any way they wanted in front of the school master and the 4 instructors.
However, the achievements the trainees accumulated over the past year were by no means shallow.
“The low-ranked trainees have surpassed my expectations.”
“There are a lot of children who have grown exponentially. The final evaluation will be a complete mess.”
It was something the instructors said at the beginning of the admission.
The ranking of the first physical test doesn’t matter. After all, a year later, the ranking would change.
Everyone thought that it would change to some extent, but the current situation was very unexpected.
Of course, it was a positive situation.
Many were showing results that exceeded their expectations, and none of the trainees were worse.
In a way, the instructors were happy to see the growth in the children.
As time passed, two-thirds of the prospective trainees finished their test.
And Judith, a trainee everyone was paying attention to, stood in front of the instructors.
“Can I take this test with another prospective trainee?”
“Hm? The reason?”
“I think that it would be better for me to demonstrate my achievements against another trainee. Of course, the trainee agreed.”
“There is no reason to refuse. Fine, and the prospective trainee?”
There was a commotion among the children.
Even though they seemed close, they thought that their closeness was only for training, but for them to take the evaluation together.
The trainees began to concentrate.
So did the instructors.
Judith is great, but everyone knew just how much Bratt had grown recently.
And those two wanted to take the test together?
“I’m looking forward to it. Bratt Lloyd!”
Bratt Lloyd walked out when he responded.
A slightly tired face. However, it didn’t seem like it would affect his performance.
Rather, Ian felt like he was intentionally maintaining a moderate level of excitement and tension. A smile crept up on Ian’s face.
To them, Bratt spoke in a confident voice.
“From now on, we are going to compete in a match that shows our best abilities.”
“Can we start right away?”
“Nice. Please do, and use the fullest of your potential.”
With permission given, and everyone looking. The two exchanged glances and nodded while facing each other.
The wind blowing, the sun shining, and the gentle smell of grass. Nothing couldn’t be felt.
The trainees who gathered in the Great Hall watched the two perform without even gulping.
After a while.
The evaluation started with Judith’s attack.
The movement of the red-haired girl was quite large compared to normal moves. A vertical slash that could cut from the head down.
A seasoned swordsman would be able to avoid it and then aim for the gap.
But not here.
Most of the trainees who witnessed Judith’s sword went stiff.
So did Bratt.
Trapped by his opponent’s ferocious pressure, he had no choice but to raise his sword to defend.
It wasn’t the sound of simple swords clashing.
With a deafening sound, Judith’s sword bounced upwards. But there was no time for them to catch their breath.
Tremendous pressure gushed out from the girl’s body.
A vicious force was added to her arms, shoulders and sword.
The merciless attack which was completed came for Bratt once again.
And again, and again.
The trainees who were watching the match between the two felt suffocated. Cold sweat dripped down their backs.
That was the sword Judith was showing.
Unleashing ruthless attacks. What if Bratt got struck? It didn’t matter.
One after another, terrifying attacks kept coming in.
Blocked, blocked, blocking seemed useless. The attacks would continue until the opponent was destroyed.
Of course, too many gaps began to be exposed, but that didn’t matter either.
The opponent was exposed to Judith’s pressure, and the attacks came through the gaps!
Judith’s fighting spirit reverberated throughout the hall.
Hold onto the sword and attack. No, it keeps coming again and again.
A formidable power and stamina.
The red-haired girl swung her sword with the determination to literally kill her opponent.
But she couldn’t. Right now, she couldn’t break through the defense.
Because it was Bratt Lloyd, who was being attacked.
An attack that hits hard.
One could never take it head-on. If they naively blocked the slash, it would only end up breaking their arm.
Bratt gathered his strength and looked closely.
Calmly calculating the perfect timing, he drew a large circle with his sword.
But it was quieter than the initial sound. This is because the opponent gets stronger with every passing blow.
But that wasn’t the end. Judith’s sword of black flames continued to fall.
Up then down, and left and right.
However, the circle that Bratt drew wasn’t normal.
Slowly sounds began to turn dull as if the circle turned into a sphere of water.
And it gradually increased. After a while, only dull sounds could be heard.
Now everyone knew that Judith’s sword was being destroyed little by little.
It was hard. This time, Judith definitely wanted to hit Bratt and get him on his knees, but she thought that she’d have to pass on this opportunity and strike him in the next attack.
After thinking so, she prepared for her final blow.
The sword which was lifted was rotated above her head.
It wasn’t perfectly vertical. It was an oblique cut at a 45-degree angle.
Judith’s sword fell sharply on Bratt’s right shoulder.
Centrifugal force and gravity in addition to Judith’s own strength, it was the strongest strike yet!
Shockingly, Bratt Lloyd’s sword against her’s was as perfect as an inverted mirror.
With the violent flame-like attack from Judith, pressure gushed out.
For the first time since the match started, both were ready to attack the other head-on.
Judith’s and Bratt’s swords shattered, unable to handle the attack.
The fight was over.
Watching the two gasping for air with their broken swords in their hands, the others didn’t make a sound. Even the instructors fell silent.
Only Ian clapped with a happy expression.
“Excellent! You both can head back to your seats!”
“… thank you.”
The blue-haired boy and the red-haired girl both nodded and returned to their seats.
One was satisfied, and the other was not.
The instructors understood.
‘Both were great, but Bratt was better.’
Judith, who showed her ‘Strong Sword’ was definitely amazing.
But Bratt Lloyd was even more amazing as he was able to show his best while giving his opponent ample time.
It was too early to judge.
Ahmed shook his head, shaking off his thoughts.
No need to think ahead. Wait, and when his turn comes, he should compare.
After calming down, he concentrated on the evaluation.
The next trainee came forward.
The next one’s sword didn’t seem that good.
No, actually, it was great, but the previous battle they saw made it hard to accept.
It was because of Bratt. It was because of Judith. It was because those two had raised the standard.
And he wasn’t the only one who had such thoughts.
‘Damn it. I should have gone before them.’
‘How can I get evaluated in this mood…’
The final evaluation was conducted in reverse order.
Which meant the lowest rank and then the highest rank, like the lowest-ranked trainees would go and then the highest-ranked trainees went.
But unexpectedly, Judith and Bratt showed their swords early on, which increased the tension.
The children who were coming up couldn’t hide their annoyance despite doing their best.
But that was only for a while.
The moment Ilya Lindsay, the genius who shined at the top of all the tests, was called, everyone fell silent again.
“Yes, prospective trainee Ilya Lindsay. What are you going to show us?”
All the children were intently waiting for her answer.
Everyone remembered her words. That she wouldn’t use her family’s sword.
At her arrogant remark, Bratt replied: If you don’t show your family sword, you won’t be able to stay at the top.
What choice did she make?
After a while, the answer came.
“I will show my family’s sword.”
“You mean the Sky Sword which took down the Demon Dragon King? Nice.”
Everyone’s eyes turned to Bratt.
Awe, envy, cheers. Various emotions were mixed in their eyes.
Seeing that, Bratt exhaled lightly to hide his trembling heart.
And looked at Ilya Lindsay.
Far from trying to surpass her, he thought that she was a genius who couldn’t be touched.
But that didn’t seem to be the case.
Not only was he able to make her use the Sky Sword, but there seemed to be a good chance for him to rank above her.
He had the potential to do so. Bratt truly believed so.
His gaze was stuck to Ilya.
But she didn’t care.
The eyes of Bratt, Judith and all the others were on her.
The girl picked up her sword with a calm face.
“I will start.”
After a while.
A storm unfolded.
Bratt Lloyd stood still.
His eyes had no focus, his fists were out of strength, and so were his legs.
It was hard to keep a calm mind. A weak breath escaped from his mouth.
The start wasn’t great. Ilya’s sword didn’t seem that great at first.
But then, the meek butterfly-like sword began to flap its wings and brought in the power of wind, as it kept increasing, it felt like the wind was trying to eat everything away.
That was when the wind turned into a dominating storm.
That was when Bratt could feel it too.
How thick and high the wall between him and her was.
He could feel it.
He clenched his fists and gave strength to his legs. He kept his collapsing posture and managed his expression.
Right, he lost.
But it wasn’t an utter defeat.
Surely he lost first place to Ilya in the final evaluation, but in the end, he managed to make her use her family sword.
Being one step closer was enough.
‘Let’s try again.’
He had the will to break through the wall.
He could still try. Telling himself that, the blue-haired boy prepared to face Ilya Lindsay head-on.
However, the silver-haired girl didn’t even bother looking at him.
“Final… prospective trainee Airn Pareira.”
“Ah, right, it isn’t done yet.”
“Right. I thought it was done. He was a special case, so he was out of the rankings.”
“But it already feels like the evaluations are done.”
At the call from Ian, mumbling broke out.
Well, Airn was the trainee who had been very quiet for the past 3 months.
The children expected nothing from him.
All they knew is he had some potential.
However, they didn’t think that his swordsmanship would surpass Judith, Bratt or Ilya’s.
There was no way Airn could shock them.
Thanks to that, even though he was the last one, the mood had dulled.
The moment Airn, who was holding his sword and maintaining his meditation position opened his eyes, it seemed like something changed.
No one spoke.
No one turned their heads.
When they saw Airn wake up from his position, everyone had no choice but to look at him as if they were iron getting attracted to a magnet.
Bratt Lloyd’s expression crumbled. Blood gushed out of his clenched hands.
He was the only one who looked at Ilya and Airn’s faces alternately. Neither of them were looking at each other.
Eventually, Airn stepped forward.
He looked like a man made of steel.
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