Chapter 62: Both Men Standing Side by Side
A silver powder scraped off from the knives as they bounced in the darkness of the night.
The white blade almost fell on my shoulder. Still, my knives blades pierced through the air in order to prevent the impending attack.
I managed to counterattack and tried to strike him back. The blade of my knives made a sound through the wind as if I cut the air. Probably, for Helot Stanley, this counterattack wasn’t much of a threat.
However, if I wanted to knock him down, I had to force my knives to intercept the attacks of his white blade. Although there were clearly differences in weapons, there was definitely a great difference between him and me as well.
My knives’ handles began to shake as if they were about to crack.
The sound of clash between iron with iron resonated quietly. There were no other sounds around us. No, maybe I just didn’t listen properly to my surroundings. At least, I didn’t seem to think nor listen to anything else besides the sounds of this duel.
I exhaled briefly while I narrowed my eyes.
I mustn’t follow the same mistakes as before. Helot’s swordsmanship had the advantage in this duel. This meant that my tactics with knives didn’t matter much in this duel. After all, it was my rusty knives against the robust white sword of my opponent.
Normally, fighting with small weapons such as knives would be unreasonable or unrealistic. Counterattacking with knives was always difficult, and proved to be disadvantageous for some of my offensive strikes. To be more precise, my retaliation did not have precision nor sharpness as opposed to Helot’s sword handling.
Engaging in a fight with knives would be extremely difficult even for the genius people like Caria.
Yet, there was one advantage. My knowledge of the past. A silvery line ran through the dark night, which had become thin as a star falling from the sky. I had to be focused and precise if I really wanted to win.
I swung my arms wide while looking fixedly at Helot’s flank.
I moved one-step further. At that moment, the sound of cutting the wind resounded on my earlobes. It seemed as if our breaths were synchronized. Before I noticed it, Helot’s white blade roared through the air when he tried to charge against me.
The speed of his reaction couldn’t be underestimated. As soon as my knees began to move, and as soon as I knew what I would do in my initial movement, Helot managed to use his white blade immediately. All I saw was the sparkling light of his sword as he slashed one of my arms.
I felt as if ice touched my brain. It was just a single moment, but it was clear to my eyes. A twist. I didn’t care if it was impossible to get out of this duel unharmed. It was obvious that my body wouldn’t get out of here unhurt. That was my previous resolution. However. Now, everything felt different on the actual battle. This duel could be a true challenge for me.
The twister attack created a sudden slowdown in the battle. After the cut was inflicted on my arm, I forcibly used it afterwards as I felt excruciating pain. It felt as if my arm was screaming since the muscles were cut open. The acute pain I sensed resembled the feeling of thousand needles piercing through my skin.
It was impossible to completely avoid Helot’s white blade. At the base of my thumb overflowed fresh blood. It fell to the ground, and my blood mixed with sand, while being swallowed by the blowing wind. My hand was also injured from this attack. Indeed, this situation just got worse.
Yet, the fear and pain were just mere feelings that tried to trick me and nothing else. My brain had no time to be preoccupied by such things.
「Lugis, can you please drop your blades… 」
「…I don’t think that you have the right to say that. 」
I interrupted Helot’s words. There was a slight grin on my cheek. Looking at the place where Helot’s words stopped, I realized that this duel had no turning back.
Ah, nothing at all. He was a man who made people feel imaginary. The bottom of my gust was heated. My skin was tingling and my senses were strangely clear.
A torrent of emotions tried to burn my brain. I kept feeling a large intensity of rage through my spine. These emotions didn’t stop, and I felt them so vigorously today. I accepted them gradually and quietly.
「That’s an unreasonable request. I told you. You’re on that side, and I’m on this side. Besides, I’m incompatible with you. It’s not that you’re bad or anything. But, some things cannot be changed.」
After saying that, I moved my silvery knives during the darkness of the night.
That’s correct. He wasn’t that bad if I put it into a different perspective. Neither my heart-wrenching hatred nor the crazy envy I felt towards Helot meant that he done something bad. But, some things couldn’t be changed. And those things were me. I was the problem. That’s why I couldn’t tolerate this man. I felt hatred for trying to reach things that were out of my hands, while others had it simple and easy. How selfish of me. Just how far down could I go?
But, still. Yes, that’s right. Everything that happened before severely haunted me in the past and in the present.
I was no different from what I used to be because I succumbed to those feelings.
I gritted my teeth strongly. I felt the exhaled hot breath from the esophagus up to my mouth.
I extended my hand to reach my nemesis’ neck. However, the silvery blades were drawn in a semicircle, and the sound reverberated through the air. This was a crucial moment. A moment where my eyes met with the enemy’s eyes. Our gaze was fixed into each other, yet none of us reached each other yet. I just kept moving my knives to his neck in a strategic trajectory, so that I could inflict a surprise attack…
…Nonetheless, on this moment, I heard the sound of “the Grim Reaper’s fingers touching my skull”. A premonition, or should I say, a gut feeling.
The sound of death. In a short moment, I foreseen that Helot’s white blade would crack through my skull and my brain fluids would flow out of my skull. That meant a clear death for me. This attack would be the undoubtedly attack that will make me die.
The impeding attack with my knives, which were approaching his neck, had a different outcome. I chose to retreat before Helot could inflict me that fatal injury. Once I retreated, I didn’t let my feet stop. I recharged my body quickly and tried one more time. Helot didn’t want to lose the momentum of this occasion as well.
This instinct could twist my will, and the underlying fear of death could devour my rationality.
My lungs were so active that my breath was rough and painful. Sweat overflowed from my skin and fell from my forehead.
Helot’s golden eyes shined in the darkness of the night. Like our previous confrontation, his kind-hearted face didn’t suit the ferocity of his eyes and movements. I stared fixedly at both of his eyes.
「It’s a pity, Lugis. Honestly, you don’t understand me at all. In fact, I’m more interested in you than just pure hate. I thought that we could be very good comrades if we met under different circumstances.」
Helot no longer looked at me with ferocious eyes. Helot put his doubled-edged sword on his waist. My brain told me that no matter what ploy I schemed, I wouldn’t be able to succeed. No matter what action I took now. This reality made me shudder. Even my lips quivered.
However, comrades he said… More like a comrade of Helot Stanley to be precise. He told me that if we met at a different time, we could’ve been comrades. The look on his eyes was sincere. I understood clearly that his words weren’t a joke. That’s why those words stick to my brain.
I felt that I had a smile on my face. A spontaneous smile. Not of joy nor contentment. But, of irony. Whether I felt a comrade for Helot, or Helot as my comrade, the irony of this thought quickly spread on my brain.
「Actually, I disagree. Helot Stanley. That’s absolutely impossible. I do understand it.」
I dared to speak words in a light tone amidst the strong sound of the wind.
This useless and absurd talk wasn’t that meaningless. It brought me some time to recharge my energy.
「If I were going to side with you, I would have to give up on many things such as my goals and motivations. I had no choice but to become your enemy. Otherwise, I’d just look at your back without having my own resolve. In other words, it would be one hell of a wretched path for me and not for you.」
The journey of the past was clearly depicted in my eyes.
I could only look up to him. I was so overwhelmed by the skill of his swordsmanship that I didn’t even have a chance to improve. I remembered those events vividly. How could I forget my ridiculous self during that time? Not only skill and wisdom. Even the women were attracted to him. I was always lurking in the shadows. No one payed attention to me whenever I was with him. It couldn’t be helped though. He was a genius after all.
Ah, but now I knew what to do. Finally. I wasn’t ridiculous nor an idiot.
I was so angry with myself that I couldn’t even grit my teeth properly. I always wanted to feel like a genius myself. I wanted to be on par with Helot Stanley. I wanted recognition and affection. I didn’t want to become a vessel of the hero. I wanted to become the hero.
Helot slightly moved his cheeks without lowering his stance.
「Sometimes, it feels as if we met before. Yes, as if you were my old acquaintance…Regardless of that, you have to stop this now.」
「Yeah. So, it’s me who has to let go of “this reins”. My road lasts until you’ve crossed it.」
Each other’s smiles overlapped fearlessly.
I clearly saw it now. It was unlikely that we wouldn’t collide one day. It just happened to be today of all days. I didn’t know if this clash was the action of god or the devil or something else.
Yet, it felt that I stood here by my own volition.
「Okay, I understand. You gave me no other choice but to follow one path. I will defeat you here and now, in accordance to the law of justice and truth that I believe in…」
「…Absolutely wonderful. That’s the only way to get your mind focused on the battlefield. Well then, Helot Stanley. I will defeat you here and now, in accordance to my great ambition and salvation of my soul’s dignity.」
Everything seemed like a signal of some sort.
Amidst the dark shade of this long night, the silvery knives and the white blade’s lights glowed brightly as if fire burnt each other’s lives.
who will will, if any? maybe this will be one of those situations were one wins the battle but loses the war
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