The young man was well aware that the old butler possessed formidable muscular strength. Watching the butler being pushed back, the young man had impressed look on his face.
‘It may look like the girl is swinging recklessly, but each and every move… They are all flawless without any gaps. They are magnificent.’
It seemed that the girl was not too concerned about the difference in physical size and strength. She was swinging her sword and pushing back the butler. Watching this, Ryan struggled and got up.
Earlier, during his duel against the butler, Ryan was being beaten with quite a substantial difference. Remembering this, Ryan turned his gaze toward Ian.
‘… How come Ian is using the same swordsmanship as the master?’
He was curious about this.
A few days ago…
After being kicked out of his own family and being abandoned by the family of the fiancée he was with, what Ryan had decided to search was the sword.
Wondering around aimlessly, he had been helping people or slaying monsters. He was living like a vagrant. The reason why he settled in Romella Village was because he met a girl named Iril and a woman named Inaril.
‘So, did you say your name is Ryan? I heard from Iril that you are from a family that is famous for swordsmanship. In that case, you must have swung swords for a long time.’
Ryan challenged the woman who couldn’t even see because she had a blind on her eyes. Although he challenged her numerous times, the results were all same.
One sided defeat.
It was a shock for him to face defeat from someone who was blinded. Also, what was even shocking was that the sword that the woman swung never once carried mana.
‘How did you do it?’
With just pure swordsmanship techniques, the blind woman maintained perfect victory records. Ryan asked the woman because he thought the woman seemed to know very well the ‘answer to the sword’ that he had been seeking through his aimless journey.
‘That swordsmanship, please teach me too!’
The woman asked Ryan like this.
‘You have spent countless days with swords, right? I could tell from clashing swords with you.’
‘While you were swinging your sword like that, through those days, how often have you wielded your sword with the heart of wanting to protect someone?’
He asked a question about his heart. The question was like the one that Count Stein, his father, asked before.
‘If you had been swinging your sword with just the intent to win, then I cannot teach you the swordsmanship.’
Having heard her words, Ryan bit his lips.
‘I can teach you the heart you seek.’
She said she could teach him the mindset. Having heard her words, Ryan decided to serve the blind woman of the Romella Village, the one who was called the Sword Witch, as his master. He had been staying here ever since.
“… Gramps, I’ll give you three seconds. Tell me in three seconds where you learned your sword. If you don’t, I really might kill you.”
Listening to the voice from the little girl, who was his senior in swordsmanship, Ryan got a grip from the sidetracking thoughts. He looked at Ian’s side again.
It seemed he was gasping for air. He calmed his breathing. With intrigued eyes, Ian looked at Iril, the girl who had her sword aimed at him, and finally said,
“Actually, I would like to ask you that question, young lady.”
Ian wiped off the sweat that was flowing below his chin. He asked what he was curious about.
“How come you are using the same swordsmanship as me?”
With his eyes narrowed, Ian was asking the same question. Wondering what was happening, he looked at Iril.
The look on her face was exuding more violent atmosphere than ever.
As if she could not go easy on him anymore, Iril was about to charge in at Ian with deadly intensity. At that moment, Ian said,
“The owner of the sword that Young Master Ryan is holding in his chest right now…”
Iril was about to charge toward Ian, but before she could even take any steps to kick the ground toward him, her legs petrified.
“The owner of the sword… must be dead…”
“That’s a sword of a dead person. How come you? How?”
Listening to Ian, Ryan held his breath.
“… Shut up.”
Just like the fireplace at the master’s home that never ceased to burn, Iril looked like she was burning up in intensity. However, after Ian’s mumbling, her intensity froze like a frozen lake during middle of the winter.
Ryan was trying to take a step toward Iril. Iril was holding her sword on her right hand. She swung it widely through the air. She raised her head that she had pulled down a moment ago and shouted.
“My grandmother is!”
Ian opened his eyes wide and strained them to stare at Iril. He confirmed the purple eyes on Iril’s face and tightened his grip on this sword.
“… not dead!”
It seemed what Ian muttered inside was right. Iril stumped on the ground to charge toward Ian. She was coming at speed that was several levels faster than before.
* * *
Riley muttered as he wondered if the woman simply forgot to include the ‘na’ sound in her own name. Inaril shook her head and grabbed her staff for the blind.
“I am sorry. I think I’ll have to save the detailed explanation for later.”
Feeling the ground with the staff, she was trying to get out of the house. Riley extended his hand out to grab her.
“Hey, wait a min…”
Not just his hand, but his words stopped in the middle. Nara and Nainiae were standing to left and right of Riley. Wondering what that was for, they had question marks on their faces.
“Mr. Riley, please follow me too.”
Just now, from Inaril, Riley was able to detect something. He was staring at Inaril’s back. Inaril opened the door and breathed in the air outside. She added in a calm voice,
“The sword I am supposed to give you is missing.”
The sword disappeared…
“By any chance, are you….”
Having heard her words, Nainiae furrowed her eyebrows like Riley. She remembered what the goddess told her in Riley’s dream.
‘When you wake up, please find Mr. Riley’s holy sword. Of the purple people who live in your world, one of them should have it.’
Inaril said she died 30 years ago and the sword that she was supposed to give to Riley was missing.
Riley and Nainiae put together the puzzles in their heads and found answers. They tumbled and headed out to catch up to Inaril who left the house earlier.
“What the… Just what’s happening?”
Nara was the only one who still didn’t understand the situation. Breaking cold sweat, he also left the house and followed after Riley and Nainiae.
Inaril was using the staff to feel the ground as she walked. Nainiae caught up to her and said she will help Inaril. Nainiae then promptly asked,
“The Holy Sword, that is the one that went missing, right?”
“How could you know that?”
Riley was the only one who supposed to know about this, yet Nainiae was also aware of this, so Inaril panicked. She turned to where Nainiae was standing and asked.
“This kid became my accomplice.”
Riley said Nainiae was his accomplice. Nainiae put on dissatisfied look on her face. Meanwhile, Inaril put on a puzzled look on her face.
“An accomplice… You mean more like a help.”
“Anyway, hurry up and tell me. Tell me what happened.”
Riley added that it was all right for Inaril to tell Nainiae. Thinking it could not be helped, Inaril sighed and explained why she quickly left the house.
“I have a granddaughter.”
“I can’t say that she is related to me by blood, but she is as precious as a real granddaughter to me. She is a child who I took in. To be precise, that child found me, but… The important thing is that I think that child, Iril, took the Holy Sword.”
Riley looked at Nainiae and asked,
Riley crumpled his face and clicked his tongue. He looked around and asked Inaril this time.
“About this girl who is your granddaughter, what’s her age?”
“About fifteen to sixteen…”
“What does she look like?”
“She has her hair tied to the back. She has parted bangs to the front. She is probably wearing a round and flat hat. The hat probably looks pretty strange because I made it myself.”
Based on her description, Riley started to look around the village. Inaril shook her head once again and suggested,
“That child… She is quite famous in Romella Village. I think it would be faster to ask the villagers.”
Having heard her words, Nara decided to do so right away. He found a villager who was walking by. He quickly went to the villager and asked,
“Hello, excuse me! By any chance… have you seen a child named Iril?”
“Iril? Why is an outsider asking about Iril?”
The villager was a farmer. He looked at Nara with suspicious gaze. However, he found Inaril behind Nara and asked,
“Do you know Ms. Inaril?”
“Ah, yes! She said she was looking for Ms. Iril.”
Nara nodded, and the farmer muttered that he should have just said so earlier. He pointed at the opposite side of the path he just came from.
“If you are asking about Iril, she was headed to the entrance of the village with some young man. Now that I think about it, I heard he is a new pupil that Ms. Inaril took in recently? He looked strong and appeared to have the good-looking face of someone from a nobility family! Um, um. Now that I think about it, Iril is at the age where she should start thinking about her future!”
Having heard the farmer’s explanation, Riley turned his head toward the direction that the farmer pointed at. He then looked at Nainiae,
With her response, Nainiae was trying to swing her arm wide. Nara quickly turned to go back to where everyone was.
“Huk! W… Wait! I’ll go with you!”
Nara was aware that Nainiae’s movement was a preparation for the teleportation magic. He tumbled and extended his arm out. However…
Not just Nainiae, but Riley and Inaril were… Along with a burst of light, they were gone.
Nara was extending his hand toward an empty space. He was petrified like that. The farmer, who told Nara the whereabouts of Iril, was also petrified like Nara.
* * *
On her hat and shoulders, she was drenched in blood. Iril looked at the ground where the corpse was lying down. Her breathing was rough.
Because it was winter, every time she panted, her breath came out visibly like smoke. Ryan vacantly stared at Iril. Ryan looked like about half of his soul was out of his body. He directed his gaze down to the dead body that was stepped on by Iril’s feet.
The dead body was silent.
“… I am well aware.”
It was not certain if Iril had calmed down. She started to mutter in low voice.
“I know at least that grandmother already had died. I…”
“I know that grandmother is a dead person. I…”
Looking down at the dead body, she tightly held on to the sword. She bit her lips and tried to suppress her fury.
“I wish you could just die, but…”
Iril was huffing and puffing. She slowly moved her eyes and looked at the old butler who was looking down at the dead body.
The dead body could not speak human language. To be precise, Ian was looking at the dead body of a monster. With sorrowful eyes, Ian looked at Iril. She opened her mouth.
“If you died, then grandmother would be sad.”
The opponent that Iril swung her sword like a lightning earlier was not Ian.
Ian had a long journey here. He then had to duel against Ryan and then Iril right afterwards in a row. Ian was exhausted, and there was a monster behind Ian that was about to ambush him. This was the reason why Iril suddenly gritted her teeth and swung her sword.
“… You are the Hero, aren’t you?”
Iril lowered her sword. With bitter look her face, she asked Ian.
“Before I saw your sword, I didn’t notice it at all, but… The one who was said to have become a Hero after cutting my grandmother, the Sword Witch… You are that magnificent Hero, aren’t you?”
Ian didn’t answer.
“… Please follow me. I’ll introduce you to my grandmother.”
Iril lowered her head all the way down and muttered that she would introduce Ian to her grandmother. Ryan extended his hand toward her.
“I am sorry, Ryan. I think we will have to stop the test for a moment.”
Thump… Thump… Iril was walking. Her steps were lacking in strength. Watching her walk like this from the back, Ryan saw black mist forming behind Iril. Ryan furrowed his brows.
“… That is?”
While Ryan was vacantly staring at the mist forming behind Iril, Ian, who was looking at Iril with bitter look on his face, suddenly crumpled his face and charged forward.
Because of Ian’s sudden movement, Iril put on a question mark on her face, and red liquid was spread on her face once again.
An unidentified purple hand made of vapor didn’t pierce through Iril’s heart, its intended target. Instead, it pierced Ian’s heart.
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