Chapter 155: The Duel on the Battlefield
…Let me ask this again…Lugis. You’re on my side, aren’t you?
The moment those words hit my earlobes; I felt my chest shaking with neither frustration, nor fear, nor even anger.
Just. Well, just. Pure sorrow represented my shaking heart.
No, I was not sure if even the word sorrow was appropriate to express my current state of mind. But it was certainly very close to that. The tip of my nose started to hurt unexpectedly.
While pushing back Caria’s silver longsword, I took a safe distance from her. Caria drew back her sword easily, with almost no resistance. Her silver eyes caught me straight, and she waited for my answer. The battlefield, which was supposed to be shrouded in noise, seemed to have lost its sound when Caria remained silent.
The standing figure of Caria reflected in my eyes made her look incredibly small or weak so to speak. Then, this situation reminded me of the past. I felt hurt again, as if someone carved the back of my chest. I gritted my molars to the point of making a creaking sound. Regrets consumed my chest. My lips moved while being dragged by this pain. My eyes firmly captured Caria’s former overwhelming presence.
「Of course, we’re not enemies. But Caria. This is my answer. You are a hero yourself …」
I felt it difficult to profess such simple words out of my mouth. I did feel overwhelmed. This feeling must mean this situation astounded my heart. Ah, how troublesome. I didn’t want to feel this way right now. Even so.
Slowly, and slowly, I tried to roll the words with my firm tongue.
「…then, why are you wasting your time with a pebble like me? 」
I spoke in such a low voice that I was not sure whether Caria heard me or not. I felt that my words were close to my personal lamentation.
Caria, no, Caria Burdnick was an unmistakable hero. At least, I knew she were one herself.
It was true that she used to be the master of violence. She also owned the arrogance of a strong man who overran and chewed on other people’s weaknesses. It was also a fact that she didn’t even touch lowly beings, because they could bring weakness and disgrace. As if most people were a contagious disease.
Still, the woman named Caria Burdnick was the champion of the battlefield. A person who was far from being an average person. Oh, that’s right. Caria was one of the heroes who I longed to be.
That gave me determination to go on a quest for that power. Although she had a natural and extraordinary power, I still tried to grasp a similar thing for myself. I even remember the palpitations I felt in my chest, to the point of oozing blood from my lips.
Yes, Caria Burdnick was one of my unmistakable ideals. However, what about now? How about the Caria that was being reflected in my eyes right now? Her eyes, which once harbored the light of a strong will, were now weak and blurred. Her thin, white fingers made me wonder if she could perfectly swing her longsword again.
I wondered if I became too arrogant or conceited. Maybe it was my fault that she became this feeble. My behavior since I came to the past had made the human named Caria Burdnick not look like the great hero she was before.
That fact almost made my heart and chest tear apart. I knew that Caria had a sort of attachment for me. I felt it and I was satisfied with it. Perhaps, I was an idiot. That hero, who I longed to be, called me her comrade. How much did that save me? How much joy did that gave me?
As a result of being immersed in that joy, I trampled on my admiration. Oh, I was sure I hated her somewhere, and I was certain I hated her for being a disgusting woman. But, I didn’t want to see the almighty Caria Burdnick behaving like this, a pushover, a weakling.
However, those emotions trapped me for only one moment. I noticed the two ponytails of silver hair fluttering in the wind of the battlefield. This scene reminded me of what I saw once.
「… In other words, you want to say that I am not your ally, Lugis?」
Caria’s voice was terribly cold and scary.
My thoughts froze in an instant, and I unintentionally opened my narrowed eyes. I was not surprised by the coldness of her voice. However, the voice I heard now was like the one I heard in the past. That one voice that trampled on me. My legs took a step back without realizing it.
Wrong. I tried to speak, but nothing came out of my mouth. I thought that I would just say excuses instead of providing an answer she would accept. Every single thought slipped into the bottom of my throat.
「Okay, I understand. I understand it very well, Lugis. Good.」
Caria’s voice gradually became fiery. Her weak and blurry silver eyes sparkled the shadow of flames as if she had lit her will again. Her eyes were looking fixedly at me. Unmistakably.
「…Ah, it seems everything got out of my hands. What a terrible insult. I’ve never felt like this before.」
Her words were covered with thorns, but Caria’s expression showed a swaying smile. If I only looked at her expression, I would misunderstand and say that she felt joy in her heart.
However, her eyes were not smiling. Rather, she looked like a bird of prey.
Crap. I understood now. I’ve probably picked the worst route out of the many options available. Whatever the emotions I had in my chest, I had the option of taking Caria’s hand by telling her that she was my comrade. Maybe, strongly dismissing her hand was the only option I could take at the moment. Yet, that option could be my downfall. And I chose it instead of choosing something that would lead to much better results.
However, I made a choice to increase the gap with this woman.
「There’s only one thing to do since I have received an insult. Let’s do it with my style. The law of the battlefield.」
Caria murmured, holding the silver longsword in elevation after she had gently lowered it to the ground. The sunlight, which began to tilt slightly, made the silver shine brightly.
Heart palpitations. I felt uneasy because I understood the meaning of those words. Yes, what that act meant. I already knew what she would do once she received an insult.
Behind my eyelids, the nostalgic scene of the tavern rewound on my mind.
「Lugis…You have trampled on my dignity and stained my honor.」
This won’t be just a simple dispute in a frivolous tavern like it used to be. Her tone sounded like a Knight’s oath, which was also spoken by the upper class. A sacred blessing for those who fought for their pride and lives.
「Therefore, let’s offer your life or my life to heaven once more. The winner shall have both of those two lives as a prize… Lugis, I propose you a duel.」
She spoke directly to me without the usual voice I’ve heard in conversations before. Instead, Caria spoke to me with a loud and clear voice that made me think if it had resonated throughout the battlefield.
Ohhhhhh a duel between Caria and Lugis!!! The previous duel resulted in a draw. So let’s take your bets now, dear readers. Who do you think will win this duel? 😀
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