It was now September when the cool breeze flows.
Finally, the 128 swordsmen who would participate in the festival were confirmed. Of course, not all the people were invited to the Holy Kingdom.
Since Avilius only offered participation letters to the people who were known to everyone, unknown swordsmen were separated and had to prove their skills through a screening before the actual tournament.
Surprisingly, even those who didn’t have an invitation came and many of them were Masters.
It was a chaotic continent due to the devil’s rise, but currently, the situation regarding the power of humanity seemed to be the best. And as expected, a banquet was held for the people.
It was meant to reflect on the purpose of the festival and to promote friendship between the swordsmen, but everyone guessed something would happen.
The Warrior’s Festival was a contest.
In other words, there was a possibility for the participants to be eliminated at lightning speed. Therefore, most of the participants who entered the banquet were quite stiff.
Even those who normally had smiles on their eyes and lips were stiff. Of course, there were few who weren’t.
“Huh, little boys.”
It was a loud voice, and the tone seemed to be a bit condescending too. Some participants frowned while the others turned their heads away.
A bulky physique as if the person was made entirely of muscles, large and small scars on the skin like worms, and a bloody face that would make anyone whisper.
It was as if a giant who seemed to be advertising ‘I am a mercenary!’ was going around the banquet hall.
A few who knew his name mumbled.
“Southern Mercenary King Zakuang.”
“Frankly, that force…”
“Look at him, his eyes are like a hawk’s.”
The man was arrogant and bold.
And due to his personality, there were times when he was ignored by people. This was because his appearance was intimidating to normal people, but people with certain skills thought he was exaggerated and funny.
Actually, when he was young, Zakuang was engulfed in quarrels every day and suffered many defeats too. However, after becoming a master at the age of 42, all of that disappeared.
Now, no one could ridicule him as an idiot, or curse at him either.
The appearance of Zakuang walking around the hall gave off an atmosphere that he didn’t have to be evaluated to enter.
“So, you are here. You’re easy to find because of your height.”
“Y-You are here! My brother, Jarrot!”
Another giant appeared.
Like Zakuang he was born and raised in the southern part of the Macan Kingdom and was known to have great strength.
As a monster who slaughtered vicious bandits that even kings and lords couldn’t handle, he was close to the Southern Mercenary King. And definitely a contender for first place in this contest.
When the two of them were speaking normally, the atmosphere began to calm down.
It was burdensome.
No matter how high the level of the participants were, there were more sword experts here than Masters.
Most of them wanted to stay away from the two monsters. And even some Masters didn’t want to stay here. The voices of the giants filled the banquet area.
However, it was only for a while.
As soon as the new main characters appeared, their mouths stopped.
White hair fluttering and pale smooth skin.
An existence whose age couldn’t be determined moved towards Zakuang and Jarrot as if it had been planned before.
The two looked at the white-haired man. The man didn’t avert his gaze and then stopped walking.
There was a silence which lasted for a while.
In that air, someone mumbled that the three strongest swordsmen of the south were gathered in one place.
“Seniors, I hope you won't continue to speak so loudly.”
Wasn’t this a place for everyone to enjoy?
The southern deity, Inashio Karahan spoke in a polite tone.
But neither his gaze nor his form was polite.
Rather than acting like a junior speaking to a senior, it was a gaze of a predator looking down on prey.
Jarrot didn’t like it.
It was the same with Zakuang. But unlike Jarrot, Zakuang had the impression that he was ready to fight.
Grey aura bloomed over his fists which were clenched. It wasn’t the aura of an expert, but the power which had gone through the stages of concentrating, strengthening and hardening properly like the aura sword.
The crowd gulped at the sight of it.
Unleashing a refined aura with bare hands was more advanced than an Aura sword and it was something which most masters wouldn’t dare try.
Even the magnitude of that action revealed a force which couldn’t be tampered with.
Just like not all experts were the same, it was a sight which showed the differences between masters.
But that was all.
Zakuang, Jarrot and Inashio, who were facing each other, looked around with a firm expression.
There were sharp energies pouring out from here and there.
They couldn’t ignore that, and it seemed to be a warning to them…as if to not cross the line.
They were mere ‘candidates’ for the contest. That meant that few others had the same skills as them.
In fact, all of the people who radiated the same amount of force are regarded highly by the public and are considered to be the ones who led the continent.
In such an atmosphere, even the three strong masters of the south couldn’t act recklessly.
“The second-in-command of the Ray Family…”
“The top swordsman of the next generation!”
Camrin Ray, a member of the 5 great noble families appeared at an amazing time. When the one closest to the winner was revealed, the people’s attention was drawn to it.
All three of them felt it. The fact that what they did seemed like it was just a tease, made them laugh.
“Then, I need to go now.”
“Get lost. don’t pick fights anymore.”
And the fight ended before it started.
The servants watched it nervously and went back to serve, and some participants enjoyed the food in a relaxed manner.
The same was true for the reporters who were attending the banquet to promote it.
One of the veteran reporters exhaled as the situation passed.
“It really was. Even though I spent 20 years travelling around with swordsmen and writing articles, the atmosphere here is hard to handle.”
“Well, this is expected. How many Masters have gathered here? Even if you don’t count those who haven’t arrived, it's over 20, right?”
“But everyone seems to be on the edge.”
“Well, it’s an understandable sight. They are so close to attaining the prestige of being the future of swordsmen and the continent now.”
“Right. In fact, there must be more interest in that than the purpose of the contest.”
The other reporters mumbled at it.
As they said, the people gathered were all relatively strong and skilled enough to not be ignored.
Still the world’s attention was focused on the existing talented people like Ian, Julius Hul and the 5 swordsmen families for more than 15 years, so it was inevitable for swordsmen to be driven by an unquenchable thirst to be noted in the minds of people in the same breath as the existences that led the continent.
Such a thing was particularly strong for the southern and eastern people.
From generation to generation, the best swordsmen on the continent usually came from the west and central part of the continent. The northern part was for the Orcs.
Therefore, the other two areas have been sharpening their swords for a long time.
‘Actually, they are skilled. It is known that the skills of the three swordsmen of the south, especially Inashio Karahan, are unparalleled.’
‘The East cannot be ignored either. Devan Kennedy is famous but maybe Ralph Penn could be the dark horse…’
“Phew! Maybe not Carmin Ray but another one will win?”
“That's an odd thing. But I will vote on Inashio Karahan.”
“I’ll go for Devan Kennedy.”
“Look at you all.”
At that moment a voice broke through the bustle of reporters and none of them could ignore it.
It was because the person who spoke was the reporter Hinz, the chief reporter for Weekly Arena.
However, the silence was short-lived. The moment the elf muttered the following words, the reporters all laughed at the same time.
“You call it an unexpected situation, but you go after people who are extremely talented. Well, if you ask who will win it will be hard to pinpoint… I would anticipate the young people winning though.”
“Younger people? In this contest…”
“Not the ones in their 40s or 50s. Real young people. Like… Ilya Lindsay or Airn Pareira.”
“Was that a joke?”
“Exceeding the expectations?”
Everyone shook their heads at it. Recently they would admit that young people meant real young ones in their 20s and 30s, but they didn’t seem to be in that great of a shape.
They were people who reached the Master level earlier than Ian, so no one called their reputation an exaggeration, so technically, calling them the future of the continent wasn’t wrong.
But that would be a story for the future. Not right now.
No matter how much they are called geniuses, they couldn’t surpass the experience of those 20 to 30 years above them.
Even Ignet Crescentia wasn't expected to be the winner.
“Really? Then, you keep thinking that.”
Hinz took a step back. Yet, he smiled. Taking a sip of cocktail, he thought of a few things.
A miracle like Ignet Crescentia.
And Ilya Lindsay.
And the splendid moment presented by Airn Pareira whom he had he met in person.
‘And they aren’t the end.’
Thanks to his contact with Airn in the Land of Proof, Hinz was able to know about Airn and the people in his life.
He didn’t know the full details but somehow, he couldn’t shake the thought that another miracle might happen.
And then came a commotion in the banquet hall.
It was Zakuang. He was crying out in an angry face.
“This brat. What did you say!”
“Are you deaf or something? You must have clearly heard it by now.”
“Well, I can tell you one more time if you want to hear.”
The woman with red hair and a sly smile.
In the harsh air, many people spread back. Only the blue-haired young man next to Judith, Bratt was supporting his lover.
A truly mind-boggling sight. Hinz, who watched it, laughed and mumbled.
“I don’t know the skills, but I think she’ll pass for confidence?”
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