Devard who walked out from behind Marquis Yoakam was tall, displaying his heritage from the Arreck people. But what was odd were his fingers. They were at least one quarter longer than normal people. There’s a saying where people born with unusual characteristics would be someone special, and he truly fit that description: becoming one of Arreck’s three Sword Grandmasters, and was the protege of the famous Swordmaster Olaf, and then surpassing his own teacher after developing his own Striking Eagle Sword Style and becoming a master himself.
He wielded a thin longsword that specializes in stabbing. It attacks like a poisonous snake, integrating well with his own sword art.
“Just what is he doing here with Yoakam? What is he planning?” Brendel sighed, raising his own sword as well. He could feel Magadal tugging him from his back, “Sir, this person is an Elemental Awakener. I’m afraid you’re not his opponent.”
Brendel had already known of the girl’s identity since long, but upon hearing her say that, he could not help but be curious. He had heard that she was an easygoing and kind soul, and used her influence in the Holy Cathedral to take in a large number of war refugees. However, in the end, she died a harsh death. I think she was poisoned by her husband,Brendel thought.
Brendel sighed in his heart, and smiled at her, “How do you know I’m not his opponent then?”
The princess was widened her eyes. What the hell? I’m worrying for you an yet you saying stuff like that. Don’t be so arrogant!
Devard was swinging his sword, apparently impatient, “Are you done preparing?”
“Hold up,” The Nun Princess interrupted. She turned her gaze onto Yoakam who was still clutching the bleeding side of his face. “Marquis Yoakam, you’re sending out an aide to represent you in this duel, but this other gentleman here is fighting for himself. So according to the rules set by the nobles, you have to stake more against him!”
Yoakam gritted his teeth, and asked a servant to carefully take off one of the rings on his fingers. He nodded, demanding the servant to present the ring, “Alright, this is my side of the bet. Can we begin the battle now?” He spoke in a faint tone as he glared daggers at Brendel and Magadal.
There’s such a rule?... But who cares? I’m not gonna let this chance go anyway. And that ring with a coiled snake on it… Having such good stuff, there’s no doubt he’s from the Royal Family. Brendel thought.
“Only one ring? Aren’t you a little cheapskate?” Brendel just acted like he knew nothing and laughingly jeered at him.
Magadal coughed and felt her face burn. The ring was crafted by the dwarf Runemaster Penold who’s known for crafting priceless treasures. There may not be many good rumors about him, but being generous was one of them. There was not any rumors of him being stingy, and from the looks of it, it sure is true.
He was furious to be laughed by Brendel, and scoffed, “This is a Magic ring, and it can help protect you from a fatal hit. You can’t even estimate its price, bumpkin!”
“Oh…” Brendel replied with a ‘So that’s the case’ look.
Yoakam sucked in a mouthful of cold air. If I continue talking to this person. No doubt I will die of anger. He threw out a bag of gold coins and scolded, “Then this much will be enough to buy your life, can it, bumpkin?!”
There were at least a hundred thousand Taels there. Brendel only called out in his heart just how generous Yoakam is, and on the surface, he nodded in agreement.
Hmph! Country bumpkin! Yoakam scolded in his heart.
Magadal could really feel her face turning red now, but she continued to say, “Now there’s no problem on either side. With me as the oveseer, I announce the battle to commence!”
“Duels are the code of nobility, and I hope the two of you remain gentlemen, swearing that there would be no acts of cheating, not sneak attacks, poisoning. And have mercy in your heart to spare the loser.”
Her voice was soft, and was probably the kindest overseer to ever watch over a battle in all of Aouine. As Brendel and Devard raised their sword to swear, they knew that it was they were just words. There was never a fight where no lives were taken. Upon standing on the battlefield, the combatants will their composed selves.
Devard lowered his sword, hinting for Brendel to make the first move. Although he may have donned a different name, he was still a first-rate master and did not want to bully a newbie. If he attacked first, it would bring shame to his title as the Hawk. But Brendel did not concern himself with such things, and would exploit everything he could. He immediately put up a battle stance.
“Military Swordsmanship,” Devard scoffed slightly.
Brendel thrust his sword at Devard’s heart. His improved Military Swordsmanship emitted a terrifying killing aura, and was meant to take the life of his enemy. Devard parried the sword with his own, clashing right in front of his chest in a metallic clap. Brendel grabbed the sword hilt with both hands and swiped down against Devard’s sword.
There’s something off. Military Swordsmanship was never that violent and oppressing. Thanks to my experience in sword fights, I was luckily able to avoid his attack, Devard thought as he pushed aside Brendel’s sword. He stepped back, and slightly furrowed his brows. He unexpectedly forced into a defensive position, plus he underestimated his enemy’s swordsmanship.
But before he could even make sense of everything that was going on, he felt his heart squeeze. His instinct allowed him to react to the attack Brendel sent flying at him once more. He felt a chill down his spine, and by reflex, pulled out a short sword to defend his throat.
A loud metallic pang came resounding once more. His arms were trembling, and he could feel a trace of blood on his neck.
This is madness! It’s a brawl. Thankfully I was fast enough. But I never fought such a battle in my life, and faced such a lunatic even once!
After all, Devard was not a soldier and never faced anyone on the battlefield. He did not understand how a battle of life and death was like. It was too much to expect a chivalrous knight like him to understand the desperation of a soldier’s desire to survive.
Brendel’s swordsmanship was mastered to the extreme. It was like he was part of the sword, releasing a chilling aura that was choking to the others. Aside from Devard, even Yoakam by the side paled. He felt like he was seeing soldiers on both sides of a war battling to death, and not an honorable duel.
“Your swordsmanship has such a malicious air to it.” He commented as he touched his neck.
Devard could feel the hairs on his body stand. It was like facing a beast desperate to survive, and as a Swordmaster, he never experienced such a feeling. He felt powerless, like all his battle experiences surmount to nothing in front of Brendel. Like he had to brawl like a maniac to win, and that, was something he had never done in his life.
It may be a brawl, but Devard was better than the average soldier. His Striking Eagle Sword Style composed of using one longsword and one short sword, and he swiped down to shorter one to force Brendel back, and the longer one to maintain the distance. Brendel could only back off. Devard let out a breath of relief as Brendel did that, but was immediately put into another dire situation.
Devard was sweating buckets now. Brendel used his arm to parry Devard’s attack, causing his skin to spilt apart and revealing his bones. Yet, he kept on pushing forward, cleaving down his own sword onto Devard.
Devard can see that if the sword were to hit, it would swipe through his ribcage and into his lungs. And that was it, the point break.
Immediately, a silver mirror appeared before Brendel’s sword path. An array of sparks and another thunderous clash followed as Brendel’s sword hit the mirror.
The mirror rippled like mercury. But beyond that, there was not even a scratch on it.
Then, a flash of light lit up the entire room. Around Devard was a silvery globe. Upon closer inspection, it was an array of convex mirrors in the shape of a hemisphere that appeared and disappeared, protecting Devard.
Passive Elemental Power Activation.
Brendal had long known of Devard’s power, the Silver Wall. Upon activation, it will grant the owner immunity against all physical attacks.
Again, there were no overpowered items in this world. It was not impregnable. As long as the attack surpassed the owner’s strength, the shield will be broken.
This ability was really useful against enemies of the same level, and was even more useful against people of lower levels. For him to use it, it was the same as admitting that his swordsmanship was inferior to Brendel’s. If this was only a sword fight, there was no doubt Devard would have lost.
But it was a duel.
Devard finally found time to wipe away his sweat. He looked up at Brendel, in disbelief that the youth’s swordsmanship was better than his. It was clearly the Military Swordsmanship, but not at the same time. When Devard was younger, he had seen Sword Saint Darius pointing out the flaws of the Military Swordsmanship, and had seen an improved version of it before. But the youth’s Military Swordsmanship even outclassed that. Every strike Brendel threw at him was so oppressive that he felt like he was on the battlefield.
And to be able to do that, Brendel must be in the category of a Sword Saint.
Devard stared at Brendel and could not help but ask, “Who are you?”