A sword with a golden handle and a golden flame flowing through it.
Seeing the energy of Airn Pareira, whose color was too wild and ecstatic to be considered an aura, the great warrior Karakum remembered the first time he met Airn.
‘He is such an unpredictable guy.’
He really was.
Despite the fact that Airn wasn’t using the Aura Sword right, he recognized that Airn was a Master.
It was such an unusual sword. How much time had he devoted to the sword to train and get used to it?
However, the metal energy of Airn seemed weak, like it was not on par with his skills.
Despite only attacking a few bandits, his complexion had turned pale, and when he looked at Karakum, he was gasping for breath because of the shock from killing someone, the sight he saw then, and Airn now was so different that it was absurd, and Karakum couldn’t even laugh.
But what really shocked him was what happened next.
‘It isn’t whether I can or can’t handle it.’
‘It is a matter of whether I will or will not.’
‘Of course I have to. For the sake of my friend and teacher, Kuvar.’
In front of Airn was the strongest orc, and someone who was also one of the top ten strongest of the continent.
And still, Airn drew his sword.
It wasn’t that he was confident in his skills.
Literally, Airn was just ready to take a step forward for the sake of his friend.
‘A will of steel which cannot be shaken by any pressure…’
When it came to harming someone, he was as fragile as a sheltered child.
But when he was protecting someone, he showed his strong figure like a hero in legends.
It was natural for anyone to pay attention to such a man.
And now, once again, Airn Pareira had changed.
He wasn’t a full hero.
But seeing the human swordsman in the form of a ‘young hero’ itself, made Karakum smile.
This was fun.
A lot more fun than the time Karakum had spent improving his skills.
Despite having a peaceful time, the continent was still in chaos.
Instead of an all-out war between nations, small-scale conflicts erupted, and instead of the devils appearing, more sinister villains began to pop up.
And that was the case with the group of bandits he encountered last month.
Those half evil filthy beings were overflowing everywhere, but most of them were busy satisfying their own self-interest. That was the current world.
A man appeared, declaring that he would raise his sword for the sake of others.
A human appeared who said that he would work hard for the happiness of more people.
He wore his emotions proudly on his face while speaking of his aspirations which seemed stupid, and other times silly and shy.
His eyes seemed brighter than the sun which warmed the meadows in the morning.
“… I want to ask you something.”
However, it wasn’t just a sloppy wish.
Karakum, who had been silent until then, opened his mouth.
“I will admit the guts you have for daring to walk the path of a hero.”
“But I am curious. Are you a vessel that is big enough to uphold the term ‘hero’? You should know how burdensome the role of a hero is. I wonder if you thought of all those things properly before coming up with that word.”
"There is an old saying. First, prepare your body and mind properly and then take care of your family. After that, rule the country and then finally bring peace to the world.”
Airn nodded his head.
Although he wasn’t really knowledgeable, he was familiar with the words Karakum was saying.
Because this was a famous saying which came out of a lot of people’s mouths. He stayed silent and waited for the other person to continue.
“Of course, I do not intend to put you through a test or anything, but I think the answer I am waiting for is, if you know how difficult the path of a hero is. It isn’t just a job which ends after just understanding oneself, but a job where you have to bear the burden of countless people on your own shoulders.”
Karakum’s words continued.
About how much weight is placed on the words, actions, and choices of a hero.
About how hard it would be to keep his own conviction in a situation where what was right and wrong was unclear.
About how bitter the unavoidable mistakes they make along the way will be and the criticism that they would attract.
And about the strength of the heart, a hero needs to have.
Airn didn’t think any point made by Karakum was wrong.
Like Karakum said, Airn had never been responsible for anyone other than himself in his entire life.
On the other hand, Karakum had been the chief of his tribe, and had carried an immense burden.
‘A hero was a title which cannot be used simply because of a person’s strength or his good character…’
When Karakum pointed out the parts which Airn hadn’t thought deeply, his anguish returned.
Karakum looked at him and nodded.
He didn’t mean to offend Airn. Rather, he hoped that he could contain the current fire in his heart.
However, to become a real hero, he would have to think more deeply and work even harder than now.
Watching the clouds move, he looked at Airn and said.
“Think about it as much as you can, and grasp your condition. Maybe you are being swept away by the great stimulus you received when you saw your past life… I wonder if your heart is true enough to pursue a will that even I, a great warrior, and a chief of the tribe, never even dared to even embrace… think about it a lot.”
Phew, after giving the long advice, Karakum exhaled.
And it was the moment when he was about to put away his double-edged axe.
Airn, who had listened to his words quietly till then, took a fighting stance.
A more intense golden Aura Sword bloomed.
Karakum frowned at it, and asked.
“What are you doing?”
“The swordsmen I have met so far are all like this.”
Airn, who thought about them, smiled.
Lance Peterson and Ian at the school.
Bratt and Judith, with whom he reunited after a long time.
They were indeed like that; More like swordsmen than anything else, they conveyed their intentions and emotions through swords rather than words.
And at this moment, Airn Pareira also had a heart worthy of being called a swordsman.
“Swordsmen should speak with swords.”
“It isn’t just being swept away by the memories of the past life. I would consider the past life I saw as a decoration or the last piece of the puzzle I was building over time, and I think I would have taken this path in the future even if this hadn’t happened as well.”
“I will show you the proof. Please stay with me a little more.”
An unbelievably strong sword.
A fire that engulfed it warmly.
Karakum laughed as he looked at the approaching human, boasting a strong yet blazing will.
It was different from usual. This wasn’t just a provocation from a young man who was drunk in his own power.
“Come on, I’ll beat you for real this time!”
Karakum felt a little bit of anger.
But the joy and pleasure he felt were much greater than that.
With those feelings in his heart, Karakum raised his axe again.
And he went for Airn even fiercer than before.
A retired chief and a young swordsman who wanted to be a hero.
Watching them duel, Gorha smiled happily.
The next day.
Waking up early, Airn headed to the training hall after taking a shower.
He grimaced. It was because of the battle with Karakum, which had turned intense.
Despite being treated afterwards, his whole body was still throbbing.
Still, he couldn’t help it.
He agreed with what Karkaum was saying, but he couldn’t stay still at the thought that Karakum thought that he was being swept away by the memories of the past.
The heart he had for his family and the heart for his friends.
If not for these two things, his present will and belief, which united the sparks in his heart and turned it into a flame, all his sparks would've been extinguished.
And Airn never doubted it.
‘But I need to take Mr. Karakum’s advice seriously.’
There was no need to worry about the demons like in the past. Once the opponent was defeated, it would be clear if the path he had taken was wrong or right.
But with situations where right and wrong was unclear … for example, with situations where a human-to-human conflict arises.
If he had to make a choice, would he be able to make the best decision?
If the damage was going to happen no matter which side he chose, was he ready to carry the weight and resentment and guilt that would ultimately rise with the choice he took?
And for someone who had never been hurt by such situations… Was he even prepared to walk up that thorny path?
‘Not yet… I guess.’
Suddenly, he remembered what had happened at the Alhad mountains.
The uncomfortable balance that was created by an entanglement of multiple interests.
Airn couldn’t find a clear answer to it in the end.
Perhaps, there was no objective answer. The only answer was what he thought of.
In order to find an answer to such uncomfortable situations without wavering, it required a much stronger subjectivity and vision than before.
And that required experience, knowledge, and effort.
‘Perhaps, Ignet had been doing this for a long time.’
Was it because of her thoughts about beliefs?
The name of the Black Knights commander Ignet Crescentia, who made a stronger impression on his mind than anyone else, came to his mind.
Unlike Airn, she was pursuing the path of the King, but it was the same. Even she found it too hard to find the correct answer in numerous situations.
Even the fact that each of these choices were incredibly heavy.
It wasn’t just Ignet.
School Master Ian.
In addition, he thought of people who had a higher position, who looked after huge bodies of people, about how heavy it must have been to carry that burden.
Realizing this, he was able to realize how comfortable and easy his life had been until now.
“… can I do well?”
It was good to know what his sword was being lifted for.
But the pressure it gave was greater than he had imagined.
Was it because it was the first time that something like a dream was born within him?
The fear of not being able to achieve it and the pressure from comparison with others grew even greater.
Airn looked down at the ground with a depressed look.
“Can I do well? What do you mean?”
Bratt Lloyd asked while approaching him.
Airn, who looked at him, said.
“Can you help me with my concerns?”
“Nothing. I was just coming to ask you for some advice.”
Airn asked in surprise.
Bratt Lloyd, who he thought he knew, was a strong person and a true noble.
In the past, there was a feeling that he was difficult to approach because of the arrogance he had, but now he was humorous and comfortable for one to speak to.
But, it wasn’t like he had no concerns…
'Not someone else, but he came to me for advice?’
It was weird.
But Bratt’s story was delayed.
“Since you brought it up first, you talk.”
Airn nodded his head and confided his thoughts in Bratt, Karakum’s words, and the troubles it caused in his mind.
Surprisingly, Bratt didn’t laugh at his dream.
Rather, he thought that it suited Airn more than anyone else.
Even if Airn didn’t see the memories of the previous life, he knew that Airn would have gone after this at some point.
The eldest son of the Lloyd family sincerely supported his friend.
And that made him angry.
Ignet, Tarakan, and Ian.
The others who had a great responsibility on their shoulders.
Seeing Airn turn depressed by comparing himself to them, Bratt shook his head.
“You really are a no-nonsense kind of guy.”
“I am talking about you.”
"Look at those you speak of. What am I supposed to do when everyone you mentioned were Sword Masters or someone even greater than that? It feels as if you are saying I am behind them? Do you mean to say that since I am no Sword Master, I won’t ever be a hero?”
"No, I didn't mean it like that…"
“Shut up. Stay quiet.”
Bratt silenced Airn with harsh words, and shook his head.
He was annoyed.
He was himself, but Judith,…how much had she suffered because of Airn?
It was absurd to see Airn with such a gloomy expression on the subject that there was someone better than him.
But at the same time, he understood.
Unless an individual was a God, no matter how good a human was, they would have no choice but to compare themselves to others.
It is inevitable. Looking into one's shortcomings and feeling impatient was part of being human.
‘Rather, it is strange that he had hardly shown such signs until now.‘
Thanking that, he felt glad.
Airn looked better now than at the school.
At that time, he was a doll with no emotions, but now he felt like a true friend.
‘Besides, I am an expert in this field.’
Bratt nodded his head.
He was sure.
As a swordsman, he was upset because of Airn and Ilya, so he had a lot of things he could say to his friend.
“Remember when you were in school? When I went back to my family with a shitty expression on my face?”
“Ah… the time you got hit by Judith?”
“Anyway… I’ll tell you about that time.”
Bratt Lloyd stared into the air, as if reminiscing about the past.
Seeing that, Airn took a listening posture.
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