“I didn’t think you would come looking for me…” Currently, Zich and Glen barely knew each other; and after their interaction in the ruin, their relationship was even leaning toward the negative side. “Especially on a morning like this.”
“Please accept my apologies for that, but there’s something that I urgently need to talk to you about. I actually wanted to talk to you yesterday, but the situation wasn’t suitable for a conversation.” Glen was talking about the time when Zich and his companions were invited to the city as heroes.
“That’s true. So, what’s your reason for wanting to speak with me to the point of using your Karuwiman’s Honorary Holy Knight title to meet me?”
It wasn’t easy to meet Zich and his companions who were considered heroes and saviors of the city. There were many people who wanted to see Zich in real life. Thus, Glen used his title as Honorary Holy Knight to successfully meet Zich.
“I wanted to ask you about the secret area where we went inside the ruin yesterday. Did you perhaps tell the city about it?”
“No, I haven’t yet.”
“I’m glad to hear that. I wanted to ask you to keep the existence of that place a secret.”
“That’s not a difficult task to do, but why would you want to do that? Isn't it a dangerous place?”
Glen snorted inside his mind, thinking, ‘You don’t even mean what you are saying.’ Glen thought Zich could’ve immediately told the city about the ruin’s secret places after he took Estellade, but Zich hadn’t. Glen was even more sure of this after he found that Zich was Violuwin’s hero since Zich had interacted with the city on a close level.
‘It’s probably because of Estellade.’ That’s what Glen assumed. Although they found Estellade, the sword had been inside the ruin—and the ruin belonged to Violuwin. Thus, if Violuwin claimed ownership of the sword, there could be some trouble. Yet, Glen had to pretend like he wasn’t aware of this fact.
“It’s for the city,” he replied, “If rumors spread that a dangerous ruin existed under the city, wouldn’t this city which relies on tourism receive great damage? It hasn’t been that long since the monster invasion.”
“Is that all?”
“Yes, that’s all.”
Glen was taken aback. Even he knew that his reasons were weak, but since he knew that Zich had no intention to spread information about the ruins in the first place, it didn’t matter how weak his excuse was. Zich stared at Glen for a moment like he was trying to decipher Glen’s true intentions.
To Zich, it didn’t matter whether or not he talked about the secret place inside the ruin. The cemetery of ancient emperors was impossible to enter without Windur anyways, and he couldn’t be bothered by the other places.
‘Estellade and Tornium are both gone now too.’ However, Zich was a bit suspicious of Glen’s explanation for keeping the site a secret.
‘He’s telling me to keep the place a secret for the people in the city.’ It wasn’t strange that the future hero was concerned about the well-being of the residents in a city, but did he really want to hide the secret site for the people? And did Glen really think that was the best for the citizens of this city? In the end, however, all of that didn’t matter to Zich.
“I understand. I will do as you say.”
“Thank you, Mr. Zich. As expected, you really do love this city.” Glen smiled widely.
“Is that all?” Zich asked.
That was supposed to be the end of Glen’s business. Since he had come to convince Browning of his intentions, he had successfully accomplished his goal. However, Glen didn’t rise up from his seat. Yesterday, when they came out of the ruin—specifically the moment when Glen saw a crowd of people cheering for Zich and his companions—he came up with a new request to ask Zich. In a way, it became Glen’s main reason for visiting.
“I saw people cheering for you and your companions as the city’s heroes.”
“Without me meaning to, it somehow became like that,” Zich said indifferently. Since he wasn’t in front of his companions, he couldn’t outrightly show his displeasure; at the same time, he couldn’t pretend to look happy about a title that he inherently loathed either.
“People said I had something like a hero’s charisma or something,” Zich remembered how the citizens of this city had read Zich’s sour expression using their own interpretations. It hurt his head.
“It’s very impressive.” Glen smiled and asked, “Are you the Strength Hero?”
“That’s what they attached to my name.”
“The woman who was next to you is the Magic Hero and the person who carries around a mole is the Earth Hero. And…” Glen’s eyes suddenly became sharp. “And the one with a white sword is the Sun Hero.”
“His name is Hans. He’s my servant.”
Zich and Glen’s eyes met.
“I’ve heard a lot about what you all have done. Your accomplishments truly call for a hero title. I like to think of myself as having done many deeds, but I have never saved a city before.”
Violuwin had given Zich and his companions these hero titles partly out of their self-interests; nevertheless, these titles were slowly spreading outside the region.
“I know that one shouldn’t expect anything for their deeds, but I can’t help but be jealous. Yes, I have to admit it—I am jealous.”
“I’m sure people will recognize you soon too.”
“I am thankful for your words. Still, I know I can’t act for such reasons. It seems I’m still lacking in many ways. At the same time, I am curious about one thing.” Glen asked carefreely, “Could I perhaps meet the man named Hans?”
Glen made a very soft and amiable smile.
* * *
Browning sat on the first floor of her lodging. To respect Glen’s wishes to meet Zich alone, she waited on the first floor. The service was splendid. She was served tea with an excellent taste and scent that matched her aristocratic taste buds, and the snacks that came with it delighted her mouth. As she drank her tea, she looked like a lady in a painting. However, her face wasn’t bright.
“Haa,” she sighed and placed her teacup down. Her eyes were on the stairs—it was the place where Glen had gone up under an employee’s guidance.
‘…Am I really not trustworthy enough?’
From time to time, Glen moved without her like this. This was nothing to worry about; it was better if Glen could manage to finish his business by himself. However, the combination of Glen’s subtle indifference and a persistent concern heavily burdened her.
‘Maybe it’s because I’m being stubborn about letting go of my sword.’
Glen’s words to change her sword for a shield clearly rang in her ears. She became worried that Glen might even give up on her.
‘If I’m holding a sword, I won’t be able to catch up to him, so maybe that’s why he’s trying to distance himself from me.’
Even though she thought to herself that this would never happen; once she began to think like that, this worry didn’t leave her mind. She stared at her tea getting cold and let out another sigh. ‘Should I go on a walk?’
She wanted to cool down her head, so she got up from the lobby. As the best hotel in a renowned tourist city, there was a very nice backyard in the front. When Browning put one foot forwards towards a small fountain, she heard a loud sound.
She heard someone taking in a strong breath and letting it out. Her gaze naturally turned towards the sound. She saw a person standing in front of one side of the fountain.
‘That person is…’
She had seen him before. He was definitely one of the people being praised as a hero.
It was Hans. He wore comfortable clothes and held up Estellade. He slowly lifted up the sword and let it down with great strength.
Another sound came out from him. Hans was doing a simple slashing down move. It was one of the most basic movements, and since Browning first learned swordsmanship, she had practiced that stance thousands of times. No, anyone who seriously walked the way of the sword probably practiced that stance a countless number of times. Moreover, that basic stance was fundamental in all types of swordsmanship. Just by looking at a person slash down their sword, one could see how trained the sword fighter was. Browning thought that Hans had a perfect stance with absolutely no flaws.
Hans slashed his sword again and continued this movement. Sweat poured down his whole body, but he wasn’t sweating just because he slashed down his sword again and again. With Zich’s intense training, Hans strengthened his physical body and mana, so he was at the level where he didn’t even break a sweat after slashing his sword thousands of times.
Hans was sweating because of the special training method that Zich taught him. It was a method that made him use his own mana to put strong pressure on his body. While he was under this pressure, he moved his mana and body around to train himself. It was an extremely tough training method, but the result was definite.
Hans relaxed his whole body. He let out a big breath and put Estellade back to his side.
His senses, which had become dull from focusing on his training, became sharp again, and he sensed someone nearby. Hans’ gaze quickly landed on Browning.
Dazed by Hans’ training, Browning exclaimed in surprise, “Ah!”
Browning quickly bowed. She had no excuse for peeking at other people’s training sessions.
“It’s alright. I wasn’t doing anything special.” Hans waved his hand. “I don’t mean to be rude, but may I ask who you might be? From what I know, this whole place has been reserved for my companions and me, and you don’t seem like an employee.”
“Ah, my companion had business to settle with someone here, so I just followed them.”
“Oh, I see.”
Hans nodded, and then he tilted his head to the side.
“Now that I think about it, we met each other yesterday.”
Browning was a bit embarrassed. He probably remembered her for fighting with one of his companions. Regardless of what the situation was, she should have been calmer, and she regretted her past actions. However, what came out of his mouth was completely different from what she expected.
“Miss, you were the one with outstanding swordsmanship.”
“What?” Browning replied without thinking.
“Weren’t you the one who fought with us in the ruin yesterday? The person who simultaneously used a sword and shield and was next to the man who held up a black sword.”
“Ah, yes. That was me.”
“I remember you distinctly, because your sword skills left a deep impression on me. It was my first time seeing such sword movements.”
To Hans and Zich who used their swords to both attack and defend, Browning’s fighting method left a distinct impression on Hans.
“No, a person…”
“Please call me Hans.” Hans introduced himself to Browning who was struggling to figure out what to call him.
“I’m Lara Browning. Mr. Hans, your skills were also impressive. Your skills seem far greater than mine.”
The most memorable person in that battle for Browning was definitely Zich. Even though she didn’t know his name, she could never forget the shocking image of him ripping apart the ‘shadows’ with the most curious sword she had ever seen. The next person that left an impression on her was Hans. As he swung his white sword around and defeated the shadows one by one, Browning let out her admiration. Since she used a sword, her attention naturally fell upon Zich and Hans.
However, Hans made a bitter smile and shook his head. “My skills are probably inferior to yours, Ms. Browning. It only looks like that because I have a good sword.”
‘Well, the sword really does look special.’
Browning glanced at Estellade while she thought this, but she also thought that Hans’ current skills alone were extremely high.Previous Chapter Next Chapter