Chapter 156: The Longing that Burns
The silver blade became like a single line while approaching my flank. The dust dispersed in the air when she twisted her body to pierce me with her blade. The sunlight shined in response to the silver flash.
An unpleasant sound of iron clashing with iron rang in the back of my ears.
On this moment, the pressure that fell on my wrist was so strong that I thought it would break my bones. I felt an unmistakable feeling that my tendons were tearing apart.
I forcibly twisted my body and pushed the opponent away. I took a step back to increase the distance. My throat dried out in an instant, and frustration engulfed my heart. I inadvertently grabbed my treasure sword and reconfirmed that my wrist was still intact. However, I still felt numbness in my fingertips.
The sword did not feel heavy.
I remembered the clash against Helot Stanley’s white blade. At that time, I strangely broke my bone. I felt something close to cold sweat slipping down my throat. I had one intuition.
Now, if I had taken her sword for real and compared my power with hers, I would have seen the fearsome strength of her attack. Such thoughts made me sweat. The undeniable truth even reached the tip of my hair. The feelings through my fingertips, my wrists, elbows, and shoulders made me understand. Caria, she…
「Good, I will not add any useless tactics during this duel. Lugis, you said you were a pebble. Then, try it against me.」
She was serious. Unmistakable. Her words showed a true intention. Her mouth moved without any stagnation.
The silver sword lightly swung at the tip of Caria’s hand tore the sound apart and proved her astuteness as a swordsman. The sharpness of her sword seemed to indicate her blazing morale. On the contrary, the turmoil in my heart began to increase.
I understood that I made the wrong choice. I wanted to scream and say that I had done something stupid. My ineptness began to sprout on my heart. Despite all this, I never thought that Caria would try to slash me.
Ah, no, wrong. Lie. It was definitely a lie.
Somewhere in my heart, I was wondering if such day would ever come. I thought that one day Caria would abandon me. The day where she would try to strike me with her blade.
However, even so, I still had a faint feeling that it would be good if such day did not arrive. That was why I pretended to be so confused right now. I tried to avoid comprehending this reality by shaking my brain. I did not want to accept this outcome. I pitied myself.
On the other hand, my body seemed to be prepared for the clear threat that stood in front of me. The fingers in my hands naturally grabbed the treasure sword without hesitation. The brilliance of my purple blade radiated like the illumination of the sunlight. The magnificent inscription of Hero Killer seemed to emerge with shimmering light. I moved my lips while looking attentively at Caria.
「What “try”? Unfortunately, I can’t afford to do that.」
I wondered if I could change her feelings even a little. I knew painfully that my words did not mean much to Caria at this precise moment.
Caria bounced my words away as if they were nothing. It was that simple.
「Try to defeat me, Lugis. Deflect my sword. If that happens, you will no longer be an ordinary man or a pebble. Your body and flesh will become gold.」
Those words were strangely unpleasant to the ears, but they stuck to the earlobes without leaving. Caria’s silver hair swayed in the wind.
「And rest assured. Even if you are just a pebble. Yeah, even if you are…I will protect the things that you hold dear. There’s nothing to worry about.」
A voice that was sure of my victory.
She sounded as if victory was a possibility for me. As if I wasn’t even aware of it. Her voice had such tone. What did I really feel? Did I feel that I would lose regardless of what I did? Did I really affirm that victory was impossible to achieve?
Oh, I see, true. I still haven’t seen a way to win. My guts were screaming in vain, saying this moment could turn into a real fight. Saying there was no reason for fear or surrender.
I felt a buzz on my right shoulder. I stared at Caria while grabbing my sword in her direction as if everything was already in place.
My body attached the treasure sword to the front of my shoulder in an offensive position to respond to Caria’s threatening message.
「You’re quite passionate, Miss Knight. Stop this. You’re gonna fall in love with me.」
「Huh? I don’t care. If that time comes, I’ll love you as much as I’ll hate you.」
Those words were the signal. The sound of the blade swallowing the space reached my ears.
The first move was to stab my shoulder. An arrogant thrust that just said to me, “I wanna see if you can prevent this”. However, what was put in that thrust was sharp enough to make up for that arrogance. Caria reached a state that ordinary people would not be able to reach. As if her path was natural, unlike what other people went through.
The whole picture was visible to my eyes.
I tried to convince myself that her character allowed me to counterattack. To believe as if she just tried to provoke me.
Her thrust was certainly sharp and unquestionably quick. A martial art that I could never reproduce. Still, if I could only see it. I could counterattack if she were within my reach.
My eyes blinked. The sight of her sword made me use my blade against Caria’s neck from the top, while fluttering my eyelids.
I wanted to finish this duel here and now. I noticed that her eyes brought out a strange fever. I tried to reach Caria’s neck with the power of my own fingers.
But what was a hero? A hero always went beyond the thoughts of ordinary people.
*strong metallic sound*
The silver light and the purple electricity overlapped as if they intertwined with each other.
At that moment, the flesh of my shoulder scraped off and pain ran. The blood droplets mixed with the flying dust and transformed into a bloody smoke that swayed in the sky.
Caria’s silver sword easily bounced off my sword, which I swung down to intercept her attack, and devoured my right shoulder as she originally intended to devour. I should have swung down my sword with all my strength. However, instead of repelling Caria’s sword, I could only shift its trajectory slightly. A crawling pain spread from my shoulder. The sensation of pulsating blood was strangely vivid.
Ah, the difference in competence was obviously clear. Of course, it was hard to compete with natural talented opponents. I knew that it was difficult to fill the gap with the skill of my lowly hands.
Even so. I thought this duel was quite different from the duel of the tavern.
I realized something odd. Back then, I thought about why I had to fight Caria, but now I was only thinking about how to reach Caria and defeat the hero in front of me. My brain shook with such thoughts. My internal organs were getting hot. My burning heart was now eager to put my soul on this duel.
Unintentionally, a satisfaction crossed my mind. I almost smirked. Ah, what did that mean? How strange. I felt a certain degree of misalignment. Why? Because the first thing I had to do was convince Caria and escape from Belfein as soon as possible. I knew that I had to speak such words. Nonetheless.
The people around us were surprisingly quiet while watching the duel between Caria and me. The Lord’s private soldiers thought of Caria as an ally, and the folk of mercenaries probably thought of me as someone who came to protect their master Vestaline.
Yet, it felt different this time. Neither Caria nor I were wielding our swords just for ourselves.
The duel at the tavern ended with a draw. I certainly hoped for the same fate here. However, I felt that this duel was about to reach a different conclusion.
Lugis keeps thinking of himself as just a peddle, someone lowly. His trauma is too deep for him to move forward. Let’s hope this duel will help him realize his worth…
Thank you to the Patrons for the continued support!
Thx for the chappy~
Thanks for the chapter.
Thanks for the chapter
He certainly doesn’t show much progress on the self-esteem side… But what the hell are they talking about: ‘if she falls for him’? We all know she’s gone full yandere for him already! ^^
Thanks for the chapter.
He only recently began taking his first steps toward becoming someone different from his past self. It started when he (unwillingly) accepted the title of ‘hero’ from the former elf king, and it took a notable step forward when he came to Belfein to try to prove worthy of that title – even if only a little. If he manages to pull a draw (let alone a win) against Caria (however slight or pyrrhic) I think he will finally start thinking of himself as more than he once was. Or, more accurately, I think he will finally recognize that he has already become such (without realizing it until this point).
Meanwhile, I wonder how Vestaline will feel when she realizes she only survived due to Lugis stepping in. I think it is unlikely that she will join the other girls, but perhaps this could be the first step eventually leading to that?
And, of course, there is his increasingly mysterious childhood friend Arienne, whom I am beginning to think is developing a split personality. Maybe her training to become a ‘saint’ of the church involves indoctrination, which her obsession with Lugis is countering?
Anyway, thanks for the chapter.