Chapter 10: Tavern Duel
The first round consisted of cutting the right shoulder. People in the tavern often said that these types of match’s are dangerous. The opponent needed to bleed, however, the attacker had to avoid doing a fatal injury at any cost. The match will be a direct one-to-one duel without having any backups except the main weaponry.
This tavern duel had simple rules. As I mentioned, the purpose is to make one of us bleed, once it happens, the winner will be settled. The most important rule is not to take the opponent’s life. Yes, I need to keep reminding me of that.
I had the two rusty knives that I used to strike the hexenbiest that Caria Burdnick killed in the end. My knives will go against her silver sword. Apparently, on duels like this, there are no weaponry rules on combats, meaning that the size, weight and quantity doesn’t really matter. Just how fair can this weaponry rule be?
There is no need to explain deeply how unfair this rule is. It is obvious that there’s an overwhelming disadvantage on my weapons as opposed to hers.
She ran with her silver sword and stroke forward at my direction. The swing of the silver sword made an enthralling sound as if it was cutting through the air. The trajectory of her attack was obvious and I managed to deflect her offensive stance with the knife on my right hand. Other body cuts aren’t allowed per the tavern rules. If one hesitates, there will be a chance to win.
I jumped one-step forward. The trajectory of her silver sword came swinging without delay, and our attacks became neck-on-neck. The percentage of one of us getting cut was increasing rapidly. I cannot go backwards. I felt cornered. For a second, I attacked her with my left-handed knife. However, on that moment, her silver sword managed to cut my shoulder slightly. My knife was thrown to the ground and an injury was inflicted on my shoulder. It was far from being fatal injury because only my clothes were ripped off but if I am not careful enough this could mean my loss.
If I end up losing for real, what will happen to me? Will I have to do what she orders me to do? Ah, if that truly happens, then it means that I didn’t change anything. It will mean that I am “walking the same road” as I did on my past and on my future.
Her prejudice will go continuously without stopping. I cannot go away from this place. Everyone witnessed the event and everyone knows me. I can’t possibly escape, because it will be dishonorable, I will be mocked and deserted. She perfectly knew about all of this, that’s why she proposed the duel in the first place.
Her sword movements were not trying to strike my shoulder at first. Her real target was my rusty knives. She knew that they were old and breaking apart. The moment she went for my left shoulder, she knew that I will defend with my left-handed knife. She changed trajectories and her sword collided with my knife. In an instant, the base of my knife cracked and vibrated, and flew on the floor. Thankfully, the knife didn’t totally break apart. However, putting some perspective on her offensive, I understand why she was able to make some damage on my shoulder. I had a clear opening for her to strike after losing my knife on my left hand. I feel ashamed because this woman used a small trick on me and I couldn’t avoid it.
The old man Richard was watching the duel while he moved his hand on his beard.
「What’s wrong? Is it over for you already? 」
Meanwhile, Caria Burdnick was trying hard to breathe properly. She didn’t want me to know that she was without a breath but she was visibly exhausted. She has an advantage now. She had almost got me. But I won’t give up now. We’ll start all over again.
「Oh my, oh my. Maybe he wants forgiveness. After all, we all need to be merciless with rats, huh. 」
I heard a voice coming from the silenced audience in the tavern. They were trying to provoke me.
The tavern’s atmosphere changed from the initial festival turmoil into the nerve wreaking watch of our duel. Everyone in the tavern made bets that the match would end in the first round or in the second round. Naturally, everyone wanted my defeat.
Well, every person knew me and had a misconception idea of my well-being. Many of them thought that I was living everyday like scavenging rat, following useless orders and living poorly. I don’t think that any of them thought of me as a true adventurer.
Although she was an apprentice, I was fighting against a knight. I only had two old knives, meaning that my offensive skills had the greater chance to fail than to succeed. However, I managed to use my wrist skillfully and, even without having a sword myself, I deflected her initial attack. It was not an easy thing to accomplish with my horrible weapons. If I managed once, then it’s probably a coincidence, but if I manage it twice, then it will be a miracle. However, if I could deflect a third time, then I will prove that I have strong abilities.
I don’t know why they keep having a negative impression of me. In the past, I was mocked for not completing the task in the forest. But I managed to change this aspect of my past life. However, I feel like the change was drastic. What really happened during the changing courses of events? Old man Richard showed me his teeth now. He seemed to be amused at the appearance of his weak pupil.
Nevertheless, I need to start ignoring the insulting glares from the other people. They are so spiteful, they always have been. They keep judging a person based on their own preconceptions. I was always subjected to that kind of scornful ideals. In addition, and to further extent, used as a bait to the others own satisfaction. It was always like that in my past life. But I won’t allow it to happen again.
Caria Burdnick threw me a blow with a sword from the upper front. This is not a skill used frequently in duels. Still, on the battlefield, a knight would use this skill to break the armor of the opponent. Only metallic sounds resonated through the tavern.
My other knife cracked. It seemed impossible to escape from the continuing pressure of her attacks. The blade from the knife was broken from the base of the handle, and part of it went flying across the tavern and pierced one of the tables. With the ongoing flow, I won’t have any more knives. I can’t ignore the imminent danger. I need to be focused in order to use a perfect counterattack. If the other knife breaks entirely, then it won’t be possible to resist any of her attacks.
On that moment, old man Richard stood up. He must think that if I do poorly on this duel, then that knight might have a chance to kill me in the end even though it’s against the rules. At the same time, that vicious man might think that I’m finally useful to him. Even though, I was his student for a long while, he never really cared too much for me. But that doesn’t mean that he has to use me to his malicious deals. He sure is looking amused at this façade. I’m sure he is waiting for me to give up and profess my loss. Yes, this “duel was supposed to be short”, he must think that. But this is getting much longer than he originally thought it would last.
I won’t declare my loss just yet.
I couldn’t waste another second. My green clothes were slightly ripped apart, but without hesitating, I moved forward quickly and I jumped to the side of her flank in a rotating movement. I moved half of my body to avoid her sword attacks. I changed trajectory and went straight on her side direction.
She was startled. It all happened so quickly that she was left without words. I moved like if I was training for years. Everybody was surprised. Of course, in my past self I wouldn’t be able to move quickly like that. However, they thought that they knew everything about me, but they were entirely wrong. My counterattack. It looked as if I knew Caria Burdnick’s sword skills. Her expression momentarily changed to a bitter look.
The roles were reserved.
My stance changed dramatically. Even with just one knife, I was challenging her fully heads on.
Soon, my knife approached Caria Burdnick closely enough. It was a perfect attack. My trajectory needed to be successful. I had to take advantage of my weapons. Even if they were breaking apart, they were small enough to go unnoticed. I just needed the right moment to shorten my distance from her and strike a blow at the perfect angle.
Nevertheless, Caria Burdnick is not a mediocre person. She had a strong grip on her sword and she managed to rip the cloth on my shoulder. I should at least acknowledge her devotion to swordsmanship.
She tried her hardest to swing her sword to my vital points, aiming directly at the opponent without hesitation. Her power and agility are undoubtedly skills that were cultivated by daily training and, of course, enhanced by her natural talent. She is not ordinary, because she saw my upcoming attack and tried to avoid the trajectory of the knife. However, I was faster and resilient.
Yes, avoiding my attack would be useless. I changed my orbit slightly on that crucial moment. She saw my attack coming at her but she didn’t predict the exact direction. The light was reflected on the cracked knife as I made my way to Caria Burdnick’s shoulder. She pointed her sword towards my shoulder and I held my knife on her neck.
In a moment it all was finished. In this moment there is no longer just a cause or an effect. Neither merits nor compatibilities. Neither strength nor weakness. In this moment all that mattered was the result and nothing else. All that was left was simply to declare victory or defeat. However, in the end, the result was not that simple.
「…That settles it! 」
Old man Richard marked the end of the duel. His voice echoed throughout the walls of the tavern.
Okay boys and girls, who won, who lost? Place your bets!