“Ah, such nice weather! The sky is clear, and the wind is refreshing…”
Inside the carriage leaving Durkali, Judith mumbled, looking out the window.
However, it wasn’t really because the weather was really nice.
The autumn sky that did not have even a single cloud was painted blue, and strictly speaking, the wind wasn't that refreshing.
But rather, the wind was a bit cold because they were still in the northern part of the continent.
‘If I don’t say something like this, I feel like I could die from the awkwardness.’
Judith, who was looking at the scenery outside, glanced away.
Bratt Lloyd’s face, looking outside, just like herself, caught her eye.
Right. They split away from Airn’s party, a party in which they had moved for one year together, and now they were back to the two of them, just like in the beginning.
And thanks to Tarakan’s consideration, the coachman of their carriage would accompany them until they reached the end of the orc's land, but that orc didn’t exactly feel like a member of the party as he barely spoke to them.
In other words, it also meant that he would have to spend three months with this guy alone.
'… in the past, it wasn't like this.'
Phew, she sighed softly so Bratt wouldn’t hear it.
It was all because of Bratt.
If only that stupid guy hadn’t said that to her…. Then, then she wouldn’t have to look outside all the time so awkwardly!
As usual, they could have discussed swordsmanship or talked about what happened and joked about other things and pass the time that way.
But now, she couldn't.
No, it wasn’t impossible or anything… but it was just hard to look into his eyes.
In Durkali, she practiced alone, and whenever she met Bratt, the others would be there.
As a result, even if Bratt conveyed his feelings boldly, she was able to take it comfortably.
And she even used Ilya to pour out her curses at Bratt.
‘Maybe going separately is better?’
She thought that for a moment, but then Judith shook her head.
She didn’t want that. She wanted to return to the school with Bratt by her side.
And it wasn’t like she hated him or something.
… if she had to choose one, this felt good.
Still, she couldn’t make a proper decision and was hesitating like this because she had never once thought about ‘love’ in her 19 years of life.
‘Ah, my head hurts.’
Judith looked away from the window and closed her eyes.
It was difficult.
Envy, hatred, and annoyance were feelings that she was never confused about.
However, the feeling of liking someone.
Going one step further, the feeling of being liked by someone was burdensome to her.
No, to be more precise….
It was when she was thinking about the concept of ‘love’, a word appeared in her mind, which turned her hot inside right away.
A high-pitched scream from Judith.
It was because she felt a warmth from her side. And the culprit was Bratt Lloyd!
The man who was sitting opposite her, was now sitting beside her all of a sudden.
Judith opened her eyes and screamed.
“W-what! Why are you sitting next to me without asking me?”
“I can’t do this?”
“No! no, that is not it. It isn’t that you can’t, why sit next to me when the carriage is this huge?”
“I wonder why?”
Bratt asked the same question with a calm expression.
But unlike her, his voice was calm.
Judith couldn’t think of anything else to say, so she looked away, and Bratt, who had a grin on his face, answered.
“It is cold.”
“I said it is cold. Maybe because we are in the north, it’s only October, but it is still cold. So, I sat next to you… was the answer different from what you were expecting?”
“… what? I honestly didn’t even think anything.”
“Then close the windows and move to the other side.”
“Sorry. I came because I wanted to be next to you.”
“I gave you an honest answer, can I stay now?”
Judith, who was looking at Bratt’s face, quickly turned her head away.
In the past, she would have pushed him away right away, but these days, she felt like he was just being annoying.
Of course, she knew that Bratt’s actions and words weren’t to make fun of her.
He was trying to express his feelings without holding back and also trying to not pressure her.
In short, he was creating a way where she would have a hard time refusing him.
“You piss people off.”
Thank you. 1
For genuinely liking her, who had an unrelenting personality, who didn’t even deserve to have such nice friends… and this…it felt nice.
And these feelings soon overcame the feelings of annoyance and gradually became bigger than them.
The more they traveled from the Durkali lands, the closer they got to Krono.
And it was then.
On that snowy winter day, Judith spoke about her sincere heart.
“I don’t not like you.”
“To be honest, I like you too. However… your heart, I am not sure; I am a little scared.”
To accept your heart.
A small and barely audible voice, but Bratt heard it clearly.
Gulping, he looked at Judith.
Her words continued.
“I don’t know if I, who has been doing dirty things from the start of my life, can have a relationship with someone.”
"I only know about swords; I don't even know if I can have a relationship.”
“Maybe, just maybe… because of that, if I do end up being with you… if we go ahead and our relationship turns sour… I don’t know if we can even see each other. Therefore…. I think I need more time.”
“I am sorry. That is a very selfish answer.”
Speaking, Judith exhaled softly.
It was frustrating and annoying too. She felt like she was going crazy and felt pathetic because she couldn't even give a proper answer to someone who had been honest to her.
She closed her eyes, and bowed her head.
She was afraid to hear what Bratt would say.
It wasn’t that she didn’t want their relationship to grow.
When she saw Ilya and felt depressed, a completely different sense of frustration came up through her chest, and she felt inferior to Ilya.
However, it didn’t happen for long.
Judith opened her eyes in shock.
Bratt’s hand was grabbing hers.
It wasn’t very warm. But it felt firm.
She looked at the blue-haired man who smiled.
“I am glad. This wasn’t a refusal.”
“Let’s see. So… this could be a grace period.”
“Is that not what you meant? I took it that way. Did you plan to reject me then?”
Judith shook her head.
She shook it so strong that the wind created from that motion could be heard.
Watching that, Bratt’s smile deepened.
“More than friends, less than lovers. Should we settle for that now?”
“Tell me if you don’t want to. No, even if you hate this, I don’t think I can concede more than this.”
“You don’t have to answer. If you let go, it falls through.”
Bratt Lloyd walked forward and confidently declared that.
His hand holding Judith's.
And Judith didn’t let go of the hand.
No, as if trying to give warmth to the hand holding hers, she held onto his hands more strongly.
For such a long time, the two swordsmen silently walked in the winter snow.
And after a while.
An uninvited guest intervened.
“Ugh, just spit it out.”
“Such young people you are! Starting right from the morning? If you stick this close, the others will feel shy.”
“I know, right. It breaks my heart too… so maybe you guys can do this, put down your luggage and leave quietly.”
Bandits were standing in front of the two with knives.
Seeing that, Judith thought it was absurd. And it was the moment when she was about to raise her fist to scold them.
“Should we go?”
The existence of the individual who was more than a friend, and less than a lover, stunned the bandits with a calm face.
Judith looked at Bratt with an annoyed face as he said.
“Take my hand again. Because it’s cold.”
The sun changed.
At the end of January, the two swordsmen had arrived at Alcantra, about a fortnight later than expected, and looked at the gate of Krono.
They had come back after a year and a half.
It wasn’t just that they had come back. But it was the fact that both of them came back with a great sense of accomplishment to be proud of.
In particular, Judith’s heart was pounding away as if it was going to explode.
‘When seeing me, what will school master Ian say?’
Asking her to go on this journey wasn’t actually advice regarding swordsmanship.
Ian had wanted Judith to experience the continent and relax.
And the endless flame burning inside her because of her inferiority didn’t torment her now.
However, instead of following the instructions of the school master, Judith pushed herself even harder.
Even Gorha said that her flame was so hot that it would burn her one day.
But she didn’t think that it was the wrong way.
‘It is fine. I can endure it. And I will do that.’
No matter how shitty it became.
No matter how sad or annoyed she was. If she tried to hold onto it with a naïve heart, it would just torment her more.
And she accepted that now.
And because of that, she knew that she would survive.
And using that as a driving force, she decided that she would rise to a level where no one in the continent could follow her.
“Should we head in?”
Judith looked at Bratt and nodded.
She was a little nervous, but her expectations were taking over her.
As Judith entered, a familiar sound was heard.
She wasn’t the only one feeling it.
Bratt did as well. He frowned slightly at the sound his ears were picking up.
The sound of swords clashing.
However, it wasn't the feel of metal colliding; it was much more violent and intense than that… it was full-on clashing.
‘…Aura Sword! A fight between two Masters!’
Judith said urgently.
Bratt nodded. If it was a battle between Masters, then it didn’t matter who it was between; it was worth watching.
The two moved quickly.
Not surprisingly, everyone, including the trainees and other teachers, gathered in the hall to watch the two swordsmen fight.
And Bratt with Judith had no choice but to watch the battle between the two swordsmen in admiration.
How many great fights have they seen so far?
Hundreds of seniors had battled in the school, and there was also that battle between Airn and Ilya in the Land of Proof.
Even in Durkali, they experienced the greatness of Karakum.
Tarakan and Khalifa weren't lacking either.
But the battle that was unfolding in front of their eyes was different.
It was so huge and majestic that it overpowered the emotions of the spectators.
It was the same even for Bratt Lloyd.
Like lightning passing by.
Sometimes their actions caused a big shock.
No, sometimes it was so shocking that nothing could be expressed.
Everyone in there, including Judith and Bratt, watched the fight.
When they came to their senses, they saw the swords of the fighters.
“Should we stop now? If we did more, I don’t think there would be a result today.”
“No. I am bound to win.”
“haha, then should we continue a little more?”
“Shut up. Next time I come, it will be a perfect execution, so wait for me.”
“Well, I need to practice a little harder too.”
“Shit. And what have you been up to till now?"
“I can’t beat you with words.”
“Soon, there will come a day when no sword can defeat me. Enough. It has been long, and I need to go on a date with Keira.”
“I feel bad for being single…”
The attitude of the swordsmen was gentle.
However, the opponent was weird. He was a little like Judith when he spoke with profanities here and there.
Of course, the only thing that was similar was the way they spoke. Because the appearance of the old man with iron-like muscles was nothing like her.
But that didn’t matter.
He realized through the conversation with Ian and the skills he showed.
Bratt, knowing the person’s identity, shouted without realizing it.
One of the three strongest people on the continent, a monster, who had ceased the break he was taking, and visited Krono.
The gaze of the old man, which was passing through the crowd, suddenly fixed on Bratt.
It was natural; when someone's name is called, there will only be a few who wouldn’t turn in that direction.
Khun narrowed his eyes and moved to the person who arrogantly called out his name.
However, the direction he moved to wasn’t towards Bratt.
He released a sharp energy like a beast.
And his penetrating gaze, which was even sharper than the energy that he released.
And both of these fell on Judith and not Bratt Lloyd. The expression of the surrounding swordsmen and even Bratt hardened in an instant.
But Judith didn’t give in.
She added the energy of the fire from the Five Spirits Divine Technique to her extremely hot heart.
And what was lacking in her could be filled with flame.
Even though her legs were shaking, she opened her eyes wide, and Khun watched her for a long time.
After a while.
The words which came out of his mouth astonished everyone.
“You, become my disciple.”
- Judith is the one saying thank you in her mind. Not Bratt.↩
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