As far as Airn knew, Ian was the best teacher.
It wasn’t just him. He would be everyone’s answer.
He wasn’t just the owner of Krono, the best swordsmanship school, but he was also the best swordsman on the continent.
‘Someone better than the schoolmaster? Who can that be?’
Not a single person could answer it.
It was then, Keira Finn, who had been silent, shouted.
“What? Are you talking about that crazy bastard? No. Not him!”
She raised her tone, and she was frowning. Anyone would be confused if they saw that.
Who was that person, and why was this woman reacting like that?
Airn and Lulu looked at her with curious eyes.
But they weren’t the only ones.
Even Ian was looking at Keira, unable to understand why she was acting like that.
“What are you talking about? Do you know who I’m talking about?”
“No way. Are you thinking of Khun?”
“Right. You could have thought that. Haha, hahaha.”
“… if it isn’t him, then fine.”
“Why are you so embarrassed? It was totally understandable. Khun also teaches, but he has his own firm philosophy. However… aren’t I a better teacher than him? Indeed, since you are a couple, your arms reach out…”
“End it there.”
Keira’s eyes turned cold.
It wasn’t just her eyes. Airn felt like he was being hit with winter winds.
Lulu, too, stood up and ran to hide behind Airn.
Even Ian looked away.
But it wasn’t like that until the end.
With a heavy cough, the chaotic air was cleared.
“… let’s talk later. The better teacher I was talking about wasn’t meant to point someone out. It was just a metaphor.”
“Yes. The world. I meant that you should go explore the wider world out there.”
‘… that was what he meant?’
Airn nodded his head.
If this was what he meant, then he understood.
A lot of people say that.
In order to grow, people need to experience the bigger world out there, meet more people.
Ian’s words meant the same.
“Finding an opponent stronger than yourself and pushing yourself to your limit… this isn’t a story about being the protagonist of a novel. It’s wanting to see, hear, and feel so much more. Until now, you have been confined to two narrows worlds, your family and Krono.”
“When the environment changes, what you see changes. The way you see and think changes, leading to a change of mind. There will be many more ups and downs in the process, but in the end, it will be nothing more than a process you have to go through to recement your shaken sword.”
“You may find something that will make your sword strong.”
“Perhaps you will pick up a new sword completely different from what you have.”
“If not, you may end up with a sword of a larger concept, including what you have in mind now.”
Ian, who finished that, looked at his pupil’s eyes.
“What do you think?”
Airn didn’t answer right away.
He didn’t think Ian was wrong. He agreed with Ian.
What Ian said was something most people would say.
One needs extensive experience.
Just as he grew little by little after leaving his family, Airn needed to move out.
‘But… my family?’
That was what troubled him.
He had spent his entire childhood in his room, and he was locked away for 5 years.
It was safe to say that he started having a happy period with his family only recently.
For Airn, the thought of leaving them and going into a wider world troubled him.
‘He has no choice but to be concerned.’
Ian thought to himself.
He wasn’t going to force Airn.
He could only give advice.
Ian, who has seen many people, knew that advice was all he could give.
‘Eventually, this child will go into the world.’
He smiled and opened his mouth.
“For reference, Bratt and Judith have followed my advice and went on a trip a few days ago.”
“Oh, I don’t know if you know, but Ilya Lindsay also left for training. I heard that child is getting close to her dreams.”
Those three names appeared out of nowhere.
It wasn’t even related.
Because the current conversation had to be focused on Airn.
Since people came from different circumstances, how they changed would differ.
But for Airn, they were important.
Maybe his relationship with them could influence his decision.
The friends who helped him out when he needed them the most.
… as he recalled them, his concern deepened.
After a while, Airn bowed his head.
“… I want to think about it a little more.”
“Yes. Let’s not make hasty decisions. Get some rest. I will guide you.”
Ian didn’t want a rushed decision.
He tapped Airn’s shoulder and directed him to the resting place, and Airn was grateful that he was given time.
Yet, his face was full of anguish.
“The people that old man mentioned were your friends, right?”
“I see. I’m curious. What kind of kids are they? Hmm, I’m sleepy…”
“Would you like a little break?”
“Yes. Airn, don’t be too hard on yourself. Take it easy. This isn’t a bad thing…”
With those words, Lulu fell asleep.
‘Right. I should relax and then think.’
There was no bad option.
They were options for a better future. Which meant he didn’t have to suffer.
Airn, who felt better than before, thought better than before too.
“How is he? A good kid?”
“Not bad? Really?”
Hearing Keira’s words, Ian frowned.
In terms of swordsmanship and personality, Airn is an impeccable kid, right?
He burst out laughing and spoke to her.
“Look here. I know you’re upset since I talked about Khun, but there is no need to get angry…”
“Stop it, really! Why do you keep talking about that guy who left home 5 years ago!”
“To say he left home when he went to practice… and… he sends you letters from time to time…”
Keira Finn yelled.
This wasn’t something everyone saw from her, but for Ian, this was a familiar sight.
He’s known her for decades.
‘I shouldn’t provoke her anymore. Actually, I didn’t even bring him up…’
As Ian grumbled, Keira spit out words in anger.
“He isn’t passionate about swords. If I randomly picked someone out of the 27th batch, even that person would be better than this kid. He’s a good kid, a straight one but… to be called a Krono’s swordsman, no.”
Ian stroked his chin.
She wasn’t wrong.
Airn clearly lacked enthusiasm for the sword.
Especially considering how other kids in Krono would even jump into a pit fire to improve their swords.
But it wasn’t a huge flaw to Ian.
“Isn’t that good enough? I’m sure that Judith would have affected him in some way if she would have met him. And Judith would also be influenced by Airn.”
“What about filling in each other’s shortcomings? And being good motivations?”
At this, Keira said nothing.
That was how Krono functioned.
People help each other in mastering the sword. That was how Ian turned into the best.
That couldn’t be objected to.
However, Ian’s next words made Keira grumble.
“Airn, if he met Ignet, I think something nice will come out.”
“… don’t even talk about her.”
Unlike him, Keira didn’t like Ignet. And it got worse a year back.
When she suddenly applied for a duel.
‘Skills are skills, but to think this…’
Most people shook their heads, thinking it was a pointless goal.
Some people thought her sense of choice was too cocky.
But Ian was fine. Was there anything more exciting for an old man than when a young kid asks for a challenge?
Keira turned her back on him.
Seeing her disappear, Ian asked.
“Where are you going?”
“You don’t need to know.”
“… by the way, Airn isn’t my disciple yet. Keep an eye on him.”
A voice filled with grumpiness.
Even if she said that he knew in the end, she would want Airn.
On the surface, she was strict, but Keira Finn was the most affectionate person in Krono.
And now, Ian could guess where she was heading.
“Thank you, I mean it.”
With that, Ian left too.
A hall located deep in the school.
It was much smaller than where the guests were entertained. There weren’t many who didn’t like it.
Therefore, at any hour, three to four people would be there.
But not now.
It was just Lance Peterson.
Considering the face he came into the hall with, the others quickly left.
He was left alone like that as he shed tears and swung his sword.
He didn’t think he would win.
Airn Pareira had reached a level that neither Bratt nor Judith could reach.
It wasn’t like Airn wasn’t without flaws, but as he continued to swing his sword, it felt natural that Lance lost.
But he never thought that the difference would be so large.
He never even dreamed that.
Lance swung his sword. And continued to do so.
To stop his heart which was getting weaker, to not let himself get drunk on emotions.
He was so fixated that he didn’t even notice who was coming.
Shocked, he stopped swinging.
“Don’t let yourself drown in that inferiority complex.”
“All of the senior swordsmen who reached higher levels than you have felt just as if not more frustrated with the sense of defeat. Those who couldn’t hold out were culled, and only those who persevered rose higher.”
A calm yet firm voice.
It was her story and the story of the person she loved the most.
It was something she could say because of the bitter experiences she had and because of the sweet fruits she had.
“Don’t let yourself drown. Grow up more. Get up and move, as you always did.”
“… yes, ma’am.”
For Lance, who still couldn’t stop crying, Keira Finn quietly stepped away.
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