A thousand years ago.

On a bright sunny day, a young man was placing down a wooden box containing food in front of his group. "Everyone, it's time to eat."

The young man had short black hair and a stern face. His body was full of wounds, but he didn't let out an aura that of an expert.

While opening the box, the young man gave his best smile and said, "Come on, everyone!"

"Oh!" The group started approaching him, getting their own share.

"Thank you, Sam!"

"Why do you keep calling me Sam? My name is Alexander Simeon! Simeon! Not Samuel!"

"It's fine, isn't it? Sam is easier to call."

Yes. This person was none other than the ancestor who built the Ardagan Family, Alexander Simeon.

"Tsk." Alexander clicked his tongue, unable to refute it. "Anyway, just eat! Replenish your energy, and we'll fight again!"

"Fine, fine!"

As they were about to eat, they heard a rustling sound coming from the side. In that instant, all the people placed their hands on their weapons, preparing to defend themselves.

Alexander furrowed his eyebrows and started revolving his Spiritual Energy.

But before they could check what was going on, a pair of brother and sister came out of the bushes.

The woman had long brown hair that was tied into twin tails. She wore a plain white shirt with a skirt, but because they were moving around in the woods carelessly, part of her clothes were torn.

On the other hand, the boy had short black hair, covering even his eyes. He looked timid and lacked confidence. His clothes were in the same state, but he seemed more apologetic for reaching that point.

"Who are you?" Alexander asked while frowning.

"Hehehe! Be honored to know my name!" The woman confidently placed her hand over her chest while proudly introducing herself. "I am Margaretha Greenwood. You should be grateful that this proud me came here. Hurry up and serve some food!"

"…" Alexander looked at this woman dumbfoundedly, wondering if he had heard everything wrong or if this woman was just a bit dumb. He ignored the woman and glanced at the other one.

"Ray Greenwood. I'm sorry…" Ray, who later be known as the Sword Saint, apologetically bowed his head.

"The Greenwood Family should be on the other side. The fact that you are here and without food… I see." Alexander sighed. "So, it's just two runaway brats!"

"Two runaway brats, you say? We look like the same age!" Margaretha harrumphed. "You—!"

Before she finished her words, Alexander suddenly jumped toward her as if he were trying to hit her. But all of a sudden, a rune appeared on her side as a light beam hit it, causing a small explosion.

The shock wave completely startled the group as they hurriedly raised their weapons, thinking there was another raid by the demons.

"I…" Margaretha opened her mouth as if she was shocked, but she ended up clicking her teeth. "Tsk. I don't need you to protect me."

As she said that, a demon emerged from the bush and charged at them. It pounced on the rune, trying to shatter it with its fangs.

But Alexander skillfully slashed through the rune before reaching the demon's body.

"That's…" Margaretha was shocked. She never thought that Alexander would cut through his own shield to create an unexpected attack. As a result, the demon was split in half without a fight.

Ray, on the other hand, was staring at Alexander in admiration as if something had just clicked in him. He thought it would be cool if he could do what Alexander did earlier.

Instead of saying anything, Alexander just grabbed two canned foods from the box earlier and gave them one each. "There you go."

"This… this is not enough!" Margaretha complained as if she had been starving for more than one day.

"I don't care. This is your ration. I won't give more to a damned runaway brat! If you want more, then work. Whatever your identity is, I won't treat you differently from anyone here!"

Margaretha gritted her teeth while Ray politely bowed to him. "Thank you very much."

"Oh!" Alexander seemed impressed by Ray's action and nodded in approval. "Ray, was it? I like you. I will be butchering this demon, so come to me later. I'll grill you some more meat!"

"Didn't you just say that you won't treat us differently?" Margaretha became even more frustrated, especially since Alexander only stuck out his tongue to respond.

Surprisingly, Margaretha didn't actually do anything other than that. Even though she was still hungry, she didn't complain anymore as if her pride didn't allow her to go as low as Alexander.

A few hours later.

While warming themselves in front of a fire, Alexander was grilling some meat next to it, causing the pair to become hungrier.

He took a stick and handed it to Ray. "Oi! Here is the promised meat. Get your fill today!"

"That's…" Ray looked at Margaretha, unsure whether to take it or not. It would be unfair if he was the only one to eat. That was why Ray changed the topic by requesting a different thing. "Alexander… Can you… teach me how to wield a sword?"

"You?" Alexander looked skeptical, considering how timid Ray was. But Ray's eyes were glimmering with determination and resolve. There seemed to be a reason why he wanted to be stronger.

"Alright then. But you have to eat this one since you won't have any energy to move tomorrow if you don't. As for her, she can just be hungry since the famous young lady doesn't want to work." Alexander snorted.

"What did you say?!" Margaretha clenched her fists before leaving the place. "Hmph. I'm tired, so I'm going to sleep!"

Ray could only apologize to Alexander for her behavior.

The next day.

Ray was helping the group move the equipment around while they were traveling to the north. They were holding the rear after all, so they didn't need to move too much and just waited for the main party to gather their strength and leave.

Once the sun was set, Ray and Alexander moved to a secluded area.

"Alright. I'll be training you. I have to warn you first though… it won't be easy. Once you give up, I'm not going to train you anymore!"

Ray nodded with a serious expression. "I understand."

"Alright. First…" Alexander began to teach him about swordsmanship. Ray didn't understand at that time why Alex taught him a bit louder than he normally spoke. He thought it was just Alex trying to be a bit stricter during the training.

Ray was training every morning and night to avoid hindering the group. Before long, Ray's thin body began to grow some muscle and his movement became sharper and sharper.

Alexander even praised Ray for his talent in swordsmanship. It was to the point that his progress surpassed Alex's in his early days.

Still, Ray wasn't satisfied and continued training tirelessly.

Six months after their training began, Ray finally had a bit more energy after their daily training during the night. So, he took this opportunity to find another place to train.

"Mhmm… Mhmm… Which form should I train for today?" Ray was humming happily as he walked down the path.

"Hyaa! Hyaa!"

There was a faint voice coming from deep within the woods, causing Ray to raise his guard.

'Hmm? This sounds… it doesn't seem to be a demon.' Ray sneakily approached the origin of the voice, only to find his sister training with her sword. The form was exactly the same as the one he trained. In other words, his sister had actually learned Ardagan Swordsmanship.

"Sister?!" Ray couldn't help but call her while coming out of the tree.

"Huh?! Ray, huh?" Margaretha was startled but soon felt relieved when the person coming turned out to be her own brother.

"Sister… Are you…"

"What? I can't practice? I need to know how to protect myself in this kind of world."

Now that he thought about it, Margaretha seemed to be tired every day. She tried her best to hide it, but since he was her brother, she showed a bit of that sign only to him.

"So, you're practicing all this time…" Ray scratched the back of his head. "Well, I have to apologize to Brother Alex since you ended up learning about it. After all, it's a special swordsmanship that no one in the group learns…"

"Can you… not tell him about this?" Margaretha grabbed his hand, looking troubled.

Ray couldn't help but recall what she had been doing in the past few months. Margaretha had been challenging Alex to a lot of things, only to get obliterated by him.

Every time they fought for real, Alexander never held back. She ultimately returned with a lot of bruises and a eye.

They never looked like a comrade or a friend. But they couldn't be said to be a rival or an enemy either. While their relationship looked complex, it was clear that they trusted each other and focused on what they could do for the group.

That was why it must be hard for her to acknowledge it and apologize to Alex.

"Alright. I will apologize to him a bit later, but when that happens, you're going with me together."

"I know." She agreed with a sad smile. "And thank you, Ray… For always supporting me."

"Eh? What are you talking about? I mean, I don't do anything special…"

"Eh? You were not the one giving me more food so that I have the energy to…" Margaretha couldn't complete her words as she came to a realization.

For the past few months, she had been receiving another batch of food in the morning, allowing her to save most of her food for the night training.

At the same time, Ray finally understood why Alex actually taught him a bit louder than usual. He must have known that his sister had been eavesdropping on them the whole time, so he taught both of them together. But since she never revealed herself, she just watched Alexander fixing his form and followed it.

In other words, the one who had been taking care of them was actually Alexander. Both of them just never realized how much Alexander had done for them.

Upon that realization, there was an awkward silence that shrouded them.

On the one hand, Margaretha looked apologetic as if she felt horrible after everything she had done. On the other hand, Alexander also did it sneakily in a way that she thought it was Ray the whole time. It looked like he never wanted to reveal himself.

Despite being so cold outside, he was actually very gentle on the inside.

Ray sighed. "It seems that I have to apologize a lot to Brother Alex."

Margaretha grabbed him one more time and said with a hesitant tone. "Ray… can you let me handle this by myself? Please."

It was extremely rare for the word 'please' to come out of her mouth. After getting taken aback by that surprise, Ray could only agree to her request. "I understand."