There are countless talented people on the continent. Children who excelled at young ages.
People look at them as gifted and geniuses.
Of course, not all geniuses are the same.
Those who are praised as geniuses in rural villages end up being ordinary people in cities.
Even talented people in the city lose their confidence as they learn and meet children who rise to the kingdom and continent level.
But 20 years ago.
A real genius different from the common understanding was born into the Lindsay family.
“Carl Lindsay. He is my Oppa (brother).”
Ilya, who introduced her brother, stopped speaking.
It didn’t take a long time. And Airn vaguely understood that there was a conflict running through the girl’s mind.
Her words continued.
“I don’t know him very well. My brother and I have an age difference of 9 years… However, by the time I could start running around, people said that there was no need for anything strange.”
As Ilya Lindsay said.
Her older brother, Carl Lindsay, was recognized by numerous high-ranking people and was quickly known as the continent’s greatest genius.
It was natural. The cliché words of… you learn one thing when they learn ten things.
It was as if God paved a path for him. The fact that a 10-year-old child won a battle against a knight didn’t seem like something to be proud of.
All because her brother had done far greater things than that.
In that way, Carl Lindsay grew up with the countless expectations of the people around him.
He turned 16.
A knight visited the Lindsay family.
“Ignet… She introduced herself like that.”
She was a famous person.
Despite being a commoner, she enlisted in the Krono Swordsmanship School and overtook children from noble families.
She, who refused to become a formal trainee, led out her followers and organized a mercenary group at the young age of 14.
She achieved countless more achievements.
She challenged Carl Lindsay. With cheeky words that he was an opponent that she wanted to fight once.
“My brother readily accepted it. Firstly, our family has never been reluctant to accept a fight, but… maybe he was confident in himself.”
Right. Carl Lindsay was confident.
No matter how skilled the other person seemed, she was the same age as him.
He never lagged behind official knights, so he never thought of losing to someone his age.
The duel was decided in an instant. Carl hated such things being dragged out for days, and his opponent was the same.
Ignet arrived at the location with her long black hair fluttering in the wind.
She had her own followers. And a smile which could make goosebumps rise, she gently pulled out her sword…
The match was won in an instant.
After three matches, Carl Lindsay had officially lost.
“After winning, Ignet left without saying a single word.”
Ilya closed her eyes.
The image of Ignet turning around after she trampled on Ilya’s idol was a wound that never healed.
The girl, who was just 7 years old, cried even more than her brother. Carl Lindsay had to comfort her.
Ilya Lindsay thought as she fell asleep. My brother is a genius, so he will eventually overcome it.
So she wanted to watch another battle between them, with Carl winning.
… those were her only thoughts.
“My brother never recovered from it.”
…. Even until now. Ilya’s voice entered Airn’s ears.
It was a shocking event.
A genius who was supposed to be on a winning streak couldn’t overcome a single loss and failed to stand up again.
Those with no hardships fail to stand after a single loss, it was a story that most people had heard about. Even the strongest people face a situation where they lose, and standing up again becomes tough.
Compared to talent, he had weak mental strength.
Those people who praised Carl Lindsay quickly turned away. The continent met its second genius, and the first was thrown away.
And Ilya Lindsay, at her young age, watched it all unfold.
She kept watching it.
“It was the peoples’ gazes which made him lock himself in his room.”
Carl Lindsay didn’t hold the sword anymore.
He just sits in his room and passes the time.
It was difficult to bear all the expectations that others had on him since childhood and the disappointment and ridicule they gave him ever since he lost.
Carl Lindsay felt an indescribable pressure whenever people judged him.
That was why his younger sibling didn’t welcome people’s attention. Which was why she was reluctant to talk to others.
That was why, even when people called her the ‘3rd genius of the continent’, she never felt happy.
They were all sweet as honey, but they would turn as sharp as a knife in a split second.
She ignored it and didn’t care about what other people said.
She went her own way without being swayed by the others.
That was what she thought.
“I was already swept away. Unbeknownst to me.”
She really was.
Ilya Lindsay had entered Krono at the age of 12 because Ignet had entered the school at the age of 13, and she wanted to achieve a higher rank than her.
Ilya was trying to be recognized as an official knight by the age of 14 because Ignet was appointed as an honorary knight at the age of 15.
For the same reason, Ilya wanted to conquer land at the age of 18, and the same reason why Ilya wanted to become a Sword Master before she turned 20.
Ignet over her brother, Ignet over herself… she wanted to show people who said that Ignet was better than the Lindsay family.
By breaking down every record that Ignet had created.
Unbeknownst to herself, Ilya was following other people’s words and lost her true self day by day.
“But not now. I don’t think I’ll do that anymore.”
“Uh-huh. Thanks to you.”
Airn was flustered, and Ilya laughed. It was the first time the boy had seen her smile brightly. It was truly more flustering.
But he knew that it was the most sincere smile. And she continued.
“You don’t get carried away by the people around you, don’t care what the others say, and you walk down your own path… it completely changed the way others thought.”
“Of course, you don’t even care. Not about a single one’s words.”
Ilya stood up and stretched her body.
A clear expression as if she managed to clear her mind.
“Now, I’ll stop. Running after Ignet, being swayed by other people’s words. I don’t need to do that now. I want to go my own way.”
“If I go on the path that I want to explore, I will be able to reach the end I want to witness. Prove myself on the way, and act accordingly. Then one way, I will be able to reach the level of a Master… maybe Ignet, would end up becoming nervous too?”
Ilya, who said that, burst out in laughter.
She said she would walk down her own path, but it seemed like she was still conscious of Ignet.
Of course, there was nothing strange about it. The girl wasn’t trying to be swayed by other people’s words, but she was trying to stand up to Ignet.
Yet, she seemed very bright.
Ilya suddenly asked.
“What do you think?”
“What do you think? About the current me.”
Too many confusing things. That was what Airn thought.
Why the hell was she asking such a question when she just promised that she wouldn’t care about what other people say?
He had that thought, but for now, he decided to not say it out loud.
The boy spoke his honest feelings.
“That is great.”
“Hm. It’s great that you overcame hardships. It’s great that you’re thinking of a world bigger than just swordsmanship, and the thought of dealing with a Sword Master too…”
Airn spent most of his life in bed.
But even he knew how great the title of Sword Master is.
Across the continent, there were fewer than 100, and the ones who were respected were the Sword Masters.
‘Achieving such a great state at the age of 20… Ilya wants to do that before she turns 20.’
It was an absurd thing to say.
But Ilya seemed like someone who could make that absurd thing happen.
As if she was from an entirely different world. Both her and Ignet.
Which was why Airn couldn’t get immersed in her words.
It was like reading a fairy tale rather than a real story.
The character of the supposed fairy tale crossed her arms.
Subtle expression. Ambiguous atmosphere.
Did he make a mistake? Airn was unaware of what he did.
At that, Ilya opened her arms.
She then tapped the boy’s chest and said.
“Don’t answer too stiffly.”
“It means you can relax.”
“What is that…”
Airn, who understood it too late, stopped talking. He looked at Ilya with a surprised expression.
But she already walked away.
She turned back and spoke.
“Work harder. Otherwise… the gap will widen in an instant.”
With a brighter smile than before, she left.
Airn stood there for a long time without saying a word.
It was someone else’s story.
A story unrelatable to him.
So the idea that Ilya’s story didn’t happen in real life but only happened in fairy tales and folktales occupied his head the whole time.
But Ilya’s last words. Like Ignet, you will need to be nervous otherwise the gap between us will widen.
The moment he heard those words, the boy realized that he had become a part of the children’s book.
His heart began to beat fast.
Tiny, but a fire began to burn.
Of course, it wasn’t a great flame. But the fire showed no signs of stopping.
In fact, Airn couldn’t even understand what he was feeling.
But it was clear that something in his heart changed.
In that unfamiliar feeling, Airn stood in the dark for a long time.
A few days later, the final interview began.
It didn’t take long. Encouragement, advice, and success. Most of the children had already known the results.
Some said thank you with tears, some said goodbye with regret.
Of course, nothing out of the ordinary happened.
“Thank you for all you did until now.”
“In the end, it turned out how I wanted. Are you feeling better now?”
“Yes. But not because I reached the top.”
Ilya Lindsay said to Ian, who smiled.
“Yes, it does seem that way. You look a lot better than in the midterm.”
“It’s all thanks to the school master.”
“Thanks to me? It’s because of what you did. Enough of that, go on ahead.”
Neither Ilya nor Ian or Ahmed talked about the outcome.
To the silver-haired girl, it meant nothing. A smile appeared on Ian’s face.
However, after a while.
At the words of the trainee who entered next, Ian sighed.
“Your grades are impeccable. I’m not talking about just the rest of the results. Your appearance in the final evaluation was so wonderful, wonderful enough to be a role model to the other children. You gave up your ego, fixed your shortcomings, and polished your strengths. Personally, I have high expectations for you.”
“… sorry, I’m no longer confident.”
Bratt Lloyd’s voice had no life in it.
Like a burnt-out candle. No life in his eyes or face.
Ian sighed again.
“… do what you want.”
At Ian’s words, Bratt stood up.
Watching the boy nod and leave the room, Ian sighed three times.
‘Sometimes this happens.’
Even if you’re gifted with great talent, the heart breaks once someone with a brighter light appears.
He has seen that several times in and out of the school. Carl Lindsay was the best example of it.
You could lead an ox to water, but you can’t make it drink.
‘Please, I hope that child will find an opportunity to change his mind.’
Ian felt bad and called for the next trainee.
The boy looked a little more mature than the others.
“Your final evaluation was impressive. To be honest, I was too shocked at what you displayed.”
“You remember the interview after the midterm evaluation?”
“Huh? Ye, Yes.”
The boy nodded.
The topic suddenly changed, but he remembered it. During the interview, he asked for advice on how to reconcile with Ilya.
Apart from that, Ian gave Airn the right to ask for instruction whenever he wanted.
And the opposite was possible too.
Ian was the first to speak out.
“I have one piece of advice for you.”
“I will listen.”
“Before that, let me ask you a question.”
“I will listen to that too.”
One piece of advice and one question.
It was completely different from a normal interview. Ahmed tried to control his expression and calm his excited heart.
Airn tried to keep his composure.
A question came out of Ian’s mouth.
“Trainee Airn Pareira. You… Why are you holding the sword?”
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