Airn looked at Karen Winker with a firm expression.
This wasn't a familiar feeling.
Unlike when Airn saw him in his dreams and wielded the sword every day, Karen Winker was younger now. It was difficult to find the bleak expression, the rough skin, and the wary eyes Airn had become used to.
Since the villagers and the hunter hadn't betrayed him yet. Because he wasn't wounded yet. He was staring at Airn with relaxed eyes and joy in his eyes.
"Lord, be carefu…"
"It is fine."
"It is fine, really. Don't worry too much."
Behind Karen Winker, the voice of the guard could be heard.
It was obvious. He couldn't help but feel worried. It would be strange if the Lord he respected was approaching an unknown swordsman, that too, one with such an unusual expression on his face. Airn could understand it.
But just because he could understand it, it didn't mean he wasn't angry.
He knew. What kind of behavior the knight would show later.
…however, he closed his eyes to hide his emotions. He knew that in the near future, the guard would have a much different look.
This guard would know to spew out cold words to the face of someone who was kind to him; he would have his mask of pretense broken as he exiled his own Lord.
But that hadn't happened yet.
'Breathe in and calm the mind.'
Airn Pareira opened his eyes and said to Karen Winker.
"…yes. The village people have spoken about you, Baron Karen Winker."
"Right. But from what I was told, there wasn't much interaction…"
"It wasn't something they talked to me about… they were drunk and praised the good deeds of the Baron."
"Haha. No… suddenly painting my face in gold… hmm, I guess I am not a bad lord. I think I was working hard for the sake of the people. Hehe, why does it feel so good to hear it from a foreigner?"
"Ah, this. I've digressed. I came here because I wanted to hear your story, not mine."
"Yes. Umm… do you have time? Ah, by the way, I don't know your name. As you already know, I am Karen Winker. I rule the Gasco estate. And this village too."
Hearing Karen Winker's introduction, Airn stayed silent.
He remembered what Lulu said… that it wouldn't be just devils and demons, but that there would be someone to help him too.
'It seems that my previous life will help me.'
He didn't like it.
It wasn't unusual. This man was smiling and caring for people without knowing the terrible future which awaited him. Airn's heart was pounding as he thought about it.
A warm, stinging energy rushed in, but…
"Airn. I am Airn Pareira."
After much thought, Airn introduced himself. The unbearable emotions that he was feeling seemed like they would rush out any moment, but he endured them. He was going to hold them back and continue to talk to his past life’s self.
He had no intention of getting help, however. Rather it would be the opposite. Airn would be the one giving Karen Winker help.
To prepare him for the destruction and misfortune that would soon plague him.
If that wasn't possible, he would try to help him with just this moment. He would try to have a good conversation with his past self.
After thinking about it, Airn smiled.
"Um, Pareira… huh. I am sorry. I am not too well aware, so I don't know where you are from."
"You don't have to worry. As a small fallen noble, I don't expect you to know about it."
"Rather, I heard you came to know my story."
"Ahh, right. It's as you said."
"Thank you beforehand. I didn't know how to feel since you came here for me, who was an outsider. I will do my best to answer any question that you ask."
"No, you don't have to say it like that…"
Karen Winker seemed a bit embarrassed, and the guards seemed to relax a little.
They must have been worried about what the villagers said, but he seemed like a well-mannered young man. Of course, they didn't mean to push his boundaries.
However, it was true that the atmosphere had softened.
Karen Winker smiled.
"Hehe, man. I have no intention of carrying any weight around. What I was trying to say wasn't that…"
Hearing that, Airn smiled.
It wasn't his natural smile. But it was better than the stiff expression he had. As promised earlier, he intended to give full attention to this conversation.
And thus, the exchange of stories between the present and past lives began.
It was nothing special, as Karen Winker said.
"I will be honest with you. I know it could be a nuisance that I came here for you, but the reason is different. A few villagers had expressed their concerns. They think that something serious might happen with you around."
Perhaps someone spoke to the Baron.
Even the most powerful hunter in the village was afraid of Airn, so they must have thought something was wrong with him and might have spoken to the Baron.
That could have happened.
And that must have been enough too.
"Haha, you understand. Rather than corner you, I came here to appease the distrust of the people on the continent. You must know too, right? The world these days is scary."
"… I do. I fully understand."
"I'm glad you know. I am really glad you can understand."
However, regardless of what it was like, Airn didn't like this situation. If only he was on his way to save Ignet.
If only he didn't know this was the Gasco Estate; if only he didn't know that the innocent-looking people in this village would someday betray Karen Winker.
Only then, it wouldn't have been this irritating.
But now, Airn knew everything.
Their true feelings behind those masks they wore. He recalled all of the past he saw with the help of Gurgar.
When he thought about that, the anger within him surged again.
"Ah, of course, don't get me wrong. I am not pressuring you. Rather, it's the opposite; I didn't come here to throw you out, but to make a fresh start, to help you to get along with the villagers a little better… you are here seeking a home, right? I am not sure if you are getting what I am trying to say, so… what is it?"
However, there was an emotion more unbearable than the anger.
It was sadness. The frustration… and it felt exhausting.
Rather than the immovable appearance of a young man, the sadness he felt for his previous life’s self, who would face such tragic things without knowing the future, broke Airn's heart.
There was no way he could suppress it, so it was all shown in his expression. Karen Winker was a bit shocked.
"Give me a moment with you."
"You, what are you…"
"…I have something to tell you; ask the guard to move."
The guard, who had a stiff expression, stood still. Sweat formed on his face. He couldn't move his body.
'He pretended to live for the Lord more than anyone here. He pretended to be loyal to the Lord, but he couldn't stand up against even this much force?'
Airn's emotions intensified. As a result, his energy grew stronger, and the guard retreated, angering the young hero even more.
At that moment, Karen Winker stepped in between the two.
Since the Lord had intervened, the cycle broke instantly.
"It is okay. It is fine. Step back for a moment."
The guard moved back. The sound of his footsteps moving away in fear, made Airn angrier.
He wanted to follow and ask him, 'Is this your loyalty? Have you just pretended all this time?' But he didn't have the time for it.
Airn turned from the door and looked at Karen Winker. He took a breath and mentally prepared himself.
And after a while…
Airn wanted to speak of the future to Karen Winker.
"It may be hard to believe, but…"
It was because of his compassion for his past self.
At the same time, it was revenge on the world which persecuted his poor past self so much.
Even if it was completely different from the path he had walked before, it didn't matter. It didn't matter if Airn could make Karen believe.
Airn felt his stomach cool down, and without hesitation, he said all of it.
But in the end, it felt weird.
'…why is he so calm?'
Airn looked at his past self.
It was strange. He looked calmer than the first time he saw him. He was neither flustered nor angry.
He wasn't listening with a stiff face but was just looking at Airn with deep eyes. He was truly listening.
Enlightenment came suddenly, and Airn said.
"You already knew. That the devil will come, what happens to your family… you know about the residents and how they treat you after…"
"How can that be?"
"How… how can you get along with such people?"
A strong energy rose from Airn's body. Karen Winker's clothes and hair fluttered. It wouldn't be easy for an ordinary man to breathe in such a situation.
But he was calm. He didn't lose that benevolent smile on his face. It seemed like what he said didn't even matter to him.
Airn couldn't understand.
Even though this man knew the cruelty of the world better than anyone, he hadn't lost the goodwill of his previous life.
"I have a lot to tell you."
And then, Karen Winker, who was silent till then, spoke up.
Airn was a bit surprised. The warm feeling was still there, but something had changed. The more he thought, the more he felt like he was missing something.
For example, the level of the person in front of him wasn't lower than his own strength.
Considering that the devil hadn't come to the estate yet, it was impossible, and the young hero was about to question that.
But Karen Winker was a step ahead.
"But, how about we change our location first?"
"An uninvited guest has come, and I want to keep them as far from the estate as possible."
"An uninvited guest?"
"Yes, an uninvited guest."
Karen Winker nodded and drew the sword from his waist.
It was a normal long sword that could be seen in any blacksmith's shop, something very modest was in the hands of a Lord.
But it felt different.
The moment a silver-grey ray of light flowed through his sword, weird energy flowed through him, making Airn shudder.
The darkness lurking behind him was terrifying. What Karen Winker had done was the only way to stop it.
The clown devil, hit by the aura, broke the stone wall and bounced back.
It didn't end there. His previous life's self, moved. His aura, which moved quick enough to leave shadows behind, stuck the opponent again.
With a louder scream, the clown flew back again.
Karen Winker, who turned back, smiled and spoke.
"Do you want to know how to fix a broken heart?"
"Follow me if you want to know."
Shortly thereafter, his body moved forward with small strides.
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