Turning back time a little, when the party first stepped into Derinku.
Airn Pareira thought for a very long time because of Kuvar’s advice.
Kuvar said that it was useless, but Airn didn’t think so.
Thanks to Kuvar, he decided to travel, and he deepened his sense of his improvements.
He nodded and closed his eyes.
‘What is fighting spirit?’
He didn’t know.
He didn’t feel it.
That was Airn’s honest thoughts.
It was unavoidable.
Because he had never once in his life thought of defeating someone.
If one looked at it, one would say that during the conflict with Viscount Gairn, Airn had fighting spirit, but it was far from saying that he desired to win.
Rather, the emotions he felt were close to the spirit of improvement.
It meant that he spent each day with his heart full of the desire to break free from his ugly roots and become a strong son and brother.
‘What should I do?’
He began to worry.
He wasn’t the kind to let things go.
The single year of hard work he put in at Krono Swordsmanship School gave him the best experience regarding fighting spirit.
Everyone did their best to survive and get ahead of others.
Even Judith and Bratt Lloyd were swinging their swords with hearts more passionate than anyone else.
It goes without saying that their actions stimulated many kids.
The problem was…
‘I’m not one of those many kids.’
It was unavoidable. At that time, to be honest, he was nothing more than a puppet to the man in his dreams.
He spent every day empty, thoughtless, without even knowing why he held the sword.
It was a time that the current Airn thought was unfortunate, where everyone did their best.
A scene from the midterm evaluation flashed in his mind.
A strangely good physical condition, a wider field of view, a clearer head, a position far ahead of others’ expectations, and the back of the silver-haired girl running ahead of him.
And looking at her, something bloomed in his heart.
As soon as he recalled that, Airn realized that he was wrong.
‘… I felt it. I did!’
He was clearly lacking when he was in Krono.
The great void which was brought in by lack of experience.
In a way, it was natural to be swept away by the man in his dreams.
But even in the midst of swaying, there was something that warmed the boy’s heart.
It meant that there was a time when Airn Pareira existed, and not just as someone’s puppet.
It was from then on.
Airn focused on the tender embers he found in the past.
The feeling he felt when he followed Ilya.
The sparks he felt when looking at Bratt Lloyd and Judith.
Then there was a heat which he had never felt before.
Thus, the embers in his heart gradually grew over the course of three days.
Of course, it wasn’t an amazing flame or anything.
It was still trivial and insignificant in size.
But it was good.
As Kuvar said, ‘nothing’ and ‘small’ are completely different things.
Airn cherished that feeling and went to the contest and then the stage.
To face Charlotte.
To learn the sword from Victor.
To defeat Georg and become the winner!
“It has been decided! The owner of the 10th Numbering Sword is this young man!”
Before he could even wield his sword properly, he was the owner of the Numbering Sword.
Airn couldn’t hold back his emotions.
‘No, I don’t need that sword.’
It was the truth.
Of course, he would welcome it if it was given to him.
Isn’t that a sword that can make one a Sword Master?
Even if he doesn’t use it, just having it would make one feel great.
However, he was standing on the stage to develop more of a fighting spirit and compete with strong swordsmen than acquiring some metal.
As a result, Vulcanus’s declaration was a bit disappointing.
Of course, there were others even more frustrated than him.
Victor had overpowered everyone till now.
And Charlotte was equal to him in skills.
“No, wait… wait a minute. What do you mean!”
“Blacksmith! What is this all of a sudden!”
Victor approached Vulcanus and asked.
The same went for Charlotte. He, too, jumped onto the stage in one step and asked for an explanation.
It wasn’t just them.
The onlookers looking forward to the fight between Charlotte and Victor, too, voiced their anger.
“What kind of bullshit!”
“We didn’t even see his sword. What is he up to! Is this your doing! Aren’t you messing with us?”
“Who even is that bastard? He looks like some rich kid. Does he even know how to raise a sword!”
“No, don’t go off of his looks. Even though he looks gentle as if Krono….”
“Ah, so? He’s stronger than Charlotte and Victor? No, does it make sense to announce it without him even swinging his sword! So stupid…”
Silence… silence… silence…
All of the people covered their ears at the loud sound.
It was because of the magic tool which amplified the sound and the bad temper of Vulcanus.
However, the effect was clear. Vulcanus, who saw the crowd go silent, said this.
“I said it in the beginning.”
“This isn’t a competition of who is the strongest. This is a contest to see the swordsman who will inspire me.”
“Vulcanus. You can’t do that.”
“Right. We agree.”
“… silence. This is a contest to find a swordsman who can inspire me, Pablo and Dwanson.”
After that, Vulcanus explained.
With a bit of gibberish out of anger and excitement too.
But the summary was simple.
It meant that no swordsman could inspire him as much as the young blonde, Airn Pareira, who was on stage.
Hearing that, the audience was dumbfounded.
‘No, who the hell is the young man…’
‘He was said to be from Krono Swordsmanship School, but isn’t it too much to give him the Numbering Sword without even seeing him in action?’
‘Inspire? He must be going senile.’
‘Are the other ones thinking the same?’
Everyone was confused.
Pablo and Dwanson came up to the stage and looked at Airn Pareira.
They were the same as Vulcanus. They were looking at him everywhere.
After that, they exchanged glances and then nodded.
“We go with the young man too.”
“I was trying to avoid overlapping if possible, but I can’t. I’m so greedy.”
“… so, the contest ends here. You follow me.”
“Sorry? Ah? ah…”
As soon as Vulcanus was done, he descended to the bottom.
Airn couldn’t do anything.
Charlotte and Victor’s expressions didn’t look good.
Pablo and Dwanson noticed that.
Pablo coughed and said.
“I’m sorry. Vulcanus only thinks about himself. I don’t know if he ever takes other people’s feelings into account. I guess you feel bad?”
“… rather than feeling bad, it’s absurd.”
“Right. I get that.”
Dwanson worked with Pablo to calm Charlotte and Victor.
They added things like ‘the next time you come, we will provide swords at a low price’ and ‘I will provide small items such as daggers and belts for free.’
It was fortunate that the duo didn’t make a fuss.
Rather, they apologized to Pablo and Dwanson.
“Ah, I’m sorry. I think we were too self-concerned and made you uncomfortable.”
“I know. We knew that it was a contest…”
“Hehe, thank you.”
Pablo and Dwanson sighed.
They did the same with Airn.
Ha! As if they had shaken off the twisted emotions, Victor asked for a handshake with a cool smile.
“Congratulations. At first glance, I knew you were an unusual friend, but I didn’t think that you would be the owner of the Numbering Sword.”
“Don’t be so stiff. To be honest, I don’t feel good, but that doesn’t mean I wish bad upon you. Charlotte, you too?”
“Of course. But, I’m envious.”
“I am too. I think we both lack discipline.”
Watching the two surrender to the results, the two blacksmiths and one swordsman smiled.
When they were being so warm, the onlookers couldn’t even say anything.
“Phew, this is how it ends.”
“Still, I acknowledge Charlotte and Victor’s skills. If it was me, I would beat them up.”
“If it was you, you wouldn’t even go out there.”
“No, why are you bringing me to…”
“But, I’m curious. Why on earth did the blacksmiths look so excited?”
“Yes. No matter how I look at him, I don’t see anything special…”
“Was it Airn Pareira?”
The crowd dispersed while praising Charlotte and Victor, swearing at Vulcanus and curious about Airn Pareira.
Randel Clancy, who was standing between them, watched Airn Pareira.
After the messy contest was done.
Airn and his party went to the three blacksmiths’ forge.
To be precise, they stopped in the middle of the road leading to the forge.
It was because the blacksmiths who were smiling suddenly broke out into an argument.
“No! I was the one who created the contest, so I get to work first!”
“What nonsense! Aren’t the three of us together?”
“Then, in seniority…”
“Can’t you be silent?”
“… what is this?”
“It looks like they didn’t decide an order among themselves. Amazing.”
“I never heard of a sword being made like this. I knew that there were swordsmen who had their own custom-made swords, but they weren’t made like this.”
Airn nodded his head.
It was definitely weird.
Following them, he heard about what had to be done.
To use his power, show his energy, show off his swordsmanship, and fully convey the feeling of him using a sword…
‘It’s like cooking, where all the ingredients need to be understood in detail.’
Airn thought with a frown.
Now he knew.
They were coveting the steel-like image of the man in the dreams and not Airn’s real self.
“Hm, that could be right.”
Hearing that, Kuvar nodded.
What Airn had wasn’t unusual.
But if they were blacksmiths, then they worked with fire and metal all their lives, so they could recognize the man in his dreams’ steel will.
“What… I get it. You came here to work on the iron and make it your own. However, in the meantime, being treated like this can make one feel bad.”
“Right. Don’t worry too much. This is just a workaround. The day will surely come when your embers will melt that iron stake. At that time, no one will be able to treat you like a piece of iron. Hmm, I think this is a bit messy, right? Wait up.”
“If you think about it, you don’t actually need a sword. The situation is about what your heart is.”
“No, we don’t need to bring…”
“It’s fine. Fine. Seeing them, they seemed excited. Even if you ask for a few more swords, they won’t refuse.”
“Really? Then ask them to make a sword for me.”
“I want one too.”
After that, Kuvar intervened with the blacksmiths.
Lulu looked at him with dazzling eyes.
After a while, Kuvar returned with a confident expression and spoke with four fingers up.
“The negotiation was successful. Four extra items have been added.”
“Did you ask them to make my sword?”
“Of course. Yours was the first thing I mentioned.”
“Oh oh oh, that’s amazing.”
Airn Pareira shook his head at what his party members just did.
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