Kevin was born outside the Dmitry Castle.
He lived in a shack so run down that it could not even be called a home, and he followed his parents from a young age to help earn money.
He started with simple errands, and there was nothing he didn’t end up doing.
He lived the life of the poor and didn’t even dare to dream big or set goals because he was born in poverty.
He wanted to live like everyone else.
Rather than the life of a hero from a fairy tale, he just hoped for a life where he wouldn’t have to worry about tomorrow’s meal.
And that’s why…
His hands trembled.
A cold sweat ran down his forehead, and his gaze on his hand was blurred due to vertigo.
His own hand.
Was it okay to cut it?
Roman did not force him to make a specific choice.
Following Hans would obviously give him the life he had hoped for for a long time, but in Kevin’s mind, he could still vividly remember the day he first met Roman.
Roman was strong.
He was a man who could take responsibility for his words, and he casually subjugated the Blood Fang, whom Kevin could not even dare to touch.
The fact that Roman had power seemed so great.
He had always lived a life in which he was used by others and was robbed of the things he wanted, so he couldn’t ignore this moment when Roman presented him with a choice.
‘Young Master Roman promised me a new life. So, I have to become someone who’s useful to him.’
He clenched his teeth.
He slashed at his hand.
Due to the sensation of the sword cutting through his flesh, his mind, which had been accustomed to the pain of being beaten by others, was destroyed at once.
Moreover, the problem was that he hadn’t completely cut off his hand yet.
The blade Roman had given him was blunt, and as he was a young boy with low physical strength, it took him dozens of slashes to cut through his hard bones.
A dull sound was heard.
It was the sound of forcibly cutting through the bones, a sound that made one experience goosebumps just by hearing it.
Kevin’s face went red as if it would explode at any moment, and he didn’t even know what he was doing anymore.
He just hoped.
Roman had told him he could become strong.
For the first time in his life, a ‘dream’ was created in his mind. And due to that dream, Kevin suppressed the pain and continued slashing.
He had completely cut off his hand.
His body was now completely drained of strength, and unable to control his body anymore, he fell into a pool of his own blood.
And then, everything disappeared as if it had been a mirage.
The blood that was splattered on the floor, the hand that rolled over it, and even the pain that seemed as if it would tear his mind apart at any moment. All of that was suddenly gone. He didn’t know how that happened, but what was certain was that he had passed the trial.
“From now onwards, you will live as my irreplaceable sword.”
Kevin’s world suddenly changed.
He got up despite his still-not-recovered spirit and fell on his face in front of Roman.
“I will follow my lord’s orders.”
His life was going to be intertwined with Roman’s for its remaining duration.
Afterward, Roman parted ways with Kevin.
When Roman returned to the room, Hans ran towards him while trembling.
“No, young master! Where are you hurt? There is blood on the sword!”
Hans, who was checking Roman’s body with a worried face, slowly moved his hand away after hearing the resolute voice.
Young Master Roman is strong.
Roman did not blink an eye even after subjugating the Blood Fang, so he knew that he was making a fuss over nothing.
Also, there were no visible wounds. That meant the blood on Roman’s sword belonged to someone else.
In the incident with Kevin, Roman didn’t want him to actually cut off his hand.
He merely meant to test his will with a temporary illusion, but Kevin slashed down towards his hand before he could fall into the illusion completely.
That was what resulted in the blood on the sword.
Fortunately, the sword did not penetrate the flesh entirely due to Roman’s quick reaction, but if the hallucination had been activated even a little later, Kevin’s hand would have been completely cut off.
He was tenacious.
He wasn’t the type of genius that is often praised, but his willpower was so great that no one could rival him in terms of that.
And seeing Kevin swear his allegiance to him, Roman said in a blunt tone.
“The mana cultivation method I will teach you in the future is extremely dangerous. When your strength is low, the pain isn’t that bad, but the stronger you get, the more the pain worsens. It gets much worse than the pain you experienced earlier. Still, there is only one reason why I will be teaching you that method. This is a way for a boy in his mid-teens, who doesn’t even know the fundamentals of using mana, to quickly become strong, and if you master this technique to the fullest, you will definitely have the strength to protect those around you.”
Demonic Spirit Art.
As it cannot be properly explained by the terms of this world, I will just call it a mana cultivation method.
Hearing Roman’s words, Kevin was in awe.
In this world, the mana cultivation method was not something insignificant commoners could learn.
Although the risk was significant, when Roman said he would teach him a mana cultivation method, Kevin had no choice but to doubt reality.
Roman was, of course, a good person.
He saved him from being beaten, subjugated the Blood Fang, and presented a previously unimaginable future to him, a mere commoner.
Why does he believe in him?
Kevin might learn the mana cultivation method and run away, so he couldn’t understand why Roman had trusted him blindly.
So, he simply asked him.
“Why do you trust me, young master?”
They once again reminded him of the Crazy Demon.
Once upon a time, the Crazy Demon was also an ordinary boy, and normally, there was no way he would be able to learn the martial arts of the Demonic Cult.
He was only able to learn Demonic Spirit Art through Roman.
At first, he did not take Roman’s consideration seriously, but after years of subjugating Murim, the Crazy Demon asked why Roman trusted him blindly.
The answer was simple.
‘In order to receive blind trust, I must first trust the other person, even if that results in me being betrayed.’
That was Roman’s belief.
It was simply blind trust.
He didn’t need a reason; he just believed in others.
However, Roman didn’t explain it to Kevin.
Blind trust loses its value as soon as reasoning is added.
Moreover, Roman never worried about betrayal throughout his life.
The stronger the people who follow you, the bigger their heads get.
But they all eventually realize how dangerous it is to betray the person known as Baek Joong-hyuk.
That’s why he ended the conversation with just that.
And now, Roman stared intently at his sword.
He remembered a madman with a sword stained with blood, and from now on, he will have to do his best with Kevin, who resembled the madman.
“Things are going to get busy for me.”
There were now two weeks until the party and about six months until the war.
From now on, I have a lot to teach Kevin.
Time is relative.
While Kevin began to lead a fierce life, Chris had such a boring day that he wondered if it was okay to follow Roman.
He yawned dozens of times.
Chris saw Roman and Kevin training from a distance.
“Everything is about the foundation.”
“Even if you do one thing, do it right.”
“Don’t lose your concentration.”
He knew what Roman was doing, but he couldn’t understand it.
‘Why on Earth did you pick up a strange kid from somewhere and are trying to teach him swordsmanship?’
If the kid were a great genius, it would be understandable.
However, Kevin was neither a great genius nor had a status that would make others teach him.
He was just a commoner.
Moreover, he didn’t know anything about swordsmanship.
A sigh eventually came out of Chris’ mouth.
When I decided to follow Roman, I could never have imagined something like this.
‘*I thought that if I followed Roman, I would learn the secret to becoming strong in a short time, just like he did. But what is this? He hasn’t taught me anything yet. And unlike Kevin, he treats me as if I don’t even exist. If I knew this would happen, I would have stuck with Master Jonathan and would’ve swung my sword at least one more time. That would’ve benefited me, at the very least.’*
His stomach was boiling.
He wanted to run to Roman and scream at him.
Still, he endured it because he had decided to follow him.
He thought if he waited patiently, Roman would eventually teach him.
“Oh, fuck this.”
He threw his gloves on the ground.
It’s been a week already.
Not being able to contain his anger after seeing Roman abandoning him and teaching only Kevin, Chris approached Roman and said, “Young Master Roman.”
“It has been over two weeks since I started following the young master. The first week went by as you decided to go into closed-door seclusion, and you only practiced with Keving for the second week. I sincerely apologize if you’re doing this because you’re not happy with me. Still, please teach me something like you are teaching Kevin. I am confident that I will be able to absorb your teachings well.”
His will was strong.
Seeing him express his will, Roman turned his gaze away from Kevin and stared at Chris.
“Did I not tell you already? Watch and learn.”
“…Was it really meant to be ‘watch and learn’? Aren’t you supposed to teach me something special?”
Chris was astonished.
What does he mean?
He thought that learning from those around him meant teaching, but he could not understand what Roman meant at all.
“Young master! Even though I suffered a disastrous defeat in our duel, I am a person who reached 2-Star aura knight status in my mid-twenties. I can’t waste my talent like this.”
Chris’ backlash was fierce.
As he raised his voice as if he would not back down, Roman swallowed his feeling of laughing.
It is as expected.
He never thought Chris would tolerate being neglected forever.
Roman said, “Everyone has their own way. Since Kevin is ignorant, he needs someone to set the right way for him and guide him from start to finish until he reaches a certain level. However, you are different. No matter what instruction I would give you, you wouldn’t really understand it and try to swallow the teachings by force. Do you know why? That’s because I’m the one who defeated you. All of that would inevitably result in your talents backfiring at you.”
“…So, are you telling me to keep watching?”
Roman waited for Chris to respond.
Now was the time for him to show the reality to those who chose to follow him.
“In order to accept reality, we need definite results. How about it? Do you want to have a duel with Kevin once? If you think you are right even after the duel, then I will teach you directly.”
Roman’s suggestion didn’t make sense to Chris.
A duel with Kevin?
It’s just bizarre.
Chris’ doubts were quickly resolved with Roman’s explanation.
“The reason for the duel is simple. Kevin will fight against you by himself, but I’ll be instructing him throughout the match on how to defeat you. So, prove your will to me by defeating Kevin, the ‘avatar’ that will be my sword in the future.”
Roman’s words were that of a madman.
And Chris was undoubtedly angry.
’…Does this bastard think I’m retarded?’
He admitted that he was defeated by Roman.
Every morning, when I looked in the mirror, I looked at my missing teeth and thought about that moment countless times.
This is just not it.
The opponent is a beginner who clearly doesn’t even know all the basics of swordsmanship.
Whether it is a duel or not, how can he defeat me?
‘Yeah, I see how it is. Breaking my teeth wasn’t enough for you, huh? You want to tame me. What you want from me is blind loyalty. However, I’m not that easy. Even if it hurts someone loyal to you, the eldest son of Lord Dmitry, I can’t stand still after being treated like this.’
His eyebrows were twitching.
He truly wanted to do well.
After speaking bitterly to my master and leaving the Dmitry Knights, I had a strong desire to accomplish many great things and return back to him.
Moreover, I had to go for two weeks with no income.
The dissatisfaction that had barely been suppressed until now exploded at Roman’s provocations.
“Fine. Let’s do this. I’m going to show you I’m not such a weakling.”
Chris thought that this time the result would be different.
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