Chapter 90 - Sword and Magic Confrontation (4)
Theodore's expression became grave at her words. He came here because he had business with her, but it felt like he was being misunderstood. The same was true for the guards who left the two people alone in the room.
Therefore, Theo decided to ask what the winner's rights were. "What are the winner's rights?"
"...I'm sorry. Of course, Sir Theodore wouldn't know the concepts of the Andras Empire." Rebecca stared at him and explained, "The empire doesn't guarantee the loser's life. Only the winner can spare the loser's life, and the loser must hand something over in return. This is done regardless of the clauses in the conditions of the duel, and there will be severe punishment from your family if you reject."
"......" Theodore was speechless at the harsh explanation.
It wasn't an exaggeration to say that the barbarian empire spoke with swords and strength instead of words. The winner was strong, and the loser was weak. It was a food chain of violence which wasn't related to ethics or morality. A society with a system where the strong could do anything simply because they were strong wasn't a society but a group of animals.
Theo was astonished at how a nation with such a primitive system had become an empire.
'No, this might be what made it possible.'
The people had to survive intense training during their childhood. Then once they joined the society, they had to survive in the competition called the duels. The harsh process would inevitably create seasoned killers. From the most powerful army in the northeastern continent to the empire's Seven Swords... The custom of blood and tribute might just be the driving force behind the Andras Empire maintaining its huge size. In many ways, it was a country beyond common sense.
Theo became dizzy from the culture shock. However, he soon regained his sanity and continued the cut off conversation. "This place isn't Andras. Will you still listen to my request?"
"Yes, I am Andras' knight."
"...It is hard to understand. I don't know what is the upper limit of the demands."
Rebecca was silent for a moment before opening her mouth to say, "It is possible to demand wealth, statue, and even skills. Slavery doesn't exist, so it is impossible to become a slave, but you can hire the other party for free one time. If the two parties have different genders, there might be a special request."
"...A one night stand." The subject naturally embarrassed Rebecca and her voice was subdued. Her face flushed as she gazed down.
Theodore was at a loss on how to respond. He examined her figure lying down unconsciously before clearing his throat a few times. However, Rebecca couldn't help noticing his eyes.
Rebecca gazed at Theodore with cold eyes and said, "I'm sorry but I have no experience. My body is also in this state, so if you want me, you'll have to take care of everything. My clothes are thick, so you'll have to take them off yourself.
Theo became embarrassed by the blunt words and hurriedly waved his hands. "No, I have no intention of doing that!"
"Is that so? I guess Sir Theodore can't be satisfied with someone like me. I'm sorry."
"...Dame Rebecca, please don't tease me." Theodore belatedly realized she was joking and dropped his head with a sigh.
"Ah, I'm sorry. You are more innocent than I thought."
From their first contact till now, Theo had thought Rebecca was an old-fashioned knight, but she could actually joke this way. The smile on Rebecca's face was very mischievous, and her light smile really caused her to resemble Randolph.
Then Theo recalled what he wanted to ask, "Rather, I wanted to ask Dame Rebecca something."
"Do you know a man called Randolph?"
As the name flowed from his mouth, the smile on her face faltered.
Rebecca looked at Theodore's face like she was seeing a demon, and the colour of her skin was so pale that it was like she was a statue. The reaction which she couldn't hide was proof that she knew Randolph.
She stammered as she asked Theo, "T-That name, where did you hear it?"
"First of all, I want to know his relationship with you. I can't disclose it prior to knowing that."
"...I see." She was excited for a moment, but she quickly restored her breathing, and her complexion returned to normal.
Her composure was similar to Theodore's. This was the talented mind and body of someone accepted as a disciple of a sword master. Rebecca gazed at Theo silently before making up her mind. "Sir Theodore, can you make it so that sound doesn't leak out of this room?"
He quietly created a wall of silence.
* * *
The Andras Empire was a country where everything was determined through violence. The empire's Seven Swords reigned at the apex and could be called the leaders of the people. In fact, they had the right to rule over everyone except the emperor.
Assets like estates or property were meaningless. What value would that have to a sword master who was like a walking storm? They had omnipotent power within the empire.
The clans which the Seven Swords came from could be called the heart of the Andras Empire.
"Our family, Clovis, was once prestigious within the empire as we had produced one of the Seven Swords."
According to Rebecca, around 130 years ago, the Clovis family had risen due to the presence of a sword master. For the first time, their house had been filled with chandeliers and luxurious furnishings. They had believed it would lead to hundreds of years of trust.
However, that belief had been shattered.
"One day, His Majesty gave a decree. Track down the warlock disturbing the empire and cut off his head."
The Seven Swords were absolutely obedient to the emperor. The sword master ancestor of the Clovis family received the order and crossed the border. However, he never returned.
The clan's downfall had begun from that time. The sword master hadn't been able to fulfill his emperor's order, causing the jackals to descend upon them, and the Clovis name had been dropped in an instant.
Randolph and Rebecca had been born into that dying family.
"My father had his own skills. He didn't have enough strength, but he searched for talented women and sowed his seed."
"Randolph and I are half siblings." Her cold eyes stared into the distance, like she was gazing at someone who wasn't here. "Most of the children he created were failures. Apart from Randolph and I, the others were sold to other families. In order to raise a sword master, the family needed to put all their strength into one person."
Magicians were born, but the empire had their own way of fostering aura users. Genius children were selected and elixirs poured into them. Then they would be fostered by one of the Seven Swords, and there was a high probability they would become the next generation of sword masters.
Randolph and Rebecca had both met the criteria of a genius. However, Clovis hadn't had the power to strengthen both of them. It was a situation where the clan had to abandon one of the two people. At that time, there had been tests to inspect the quality, so Randolph and Rebecca had been forced to be on opposite sides.
Then Randolph Clovis had gone on to leave the house in the middle of the night. It had been for the sake of his sister.
"He left a letter saying he would see me again, but... since then, I haven't heard any news about him," Rebecca spoke up to there and looked at Theo quietly. Her green eyes were a little bit wet. Her story didn't seem to be false. Additionally, she had no reason to lie. Why would she need to create a detailed soap opera for Theodore, who didn't even know the climate of the Andras Empire?
That was why Theo decided to talk. "I met Randolph half a year ago."
His voice flowed in the room surrounded by Silence magic, and Rebecca became much brighter as she listened to the story.
She was surprised to hear that Randolph had been searching for their ancestor's double swords and then delighted once she heard he'd found them in the elder lich's dungeon. At that moment, she looked like a girl her age.
"I see. He is still my brother."
Rebecca listened to her favourite parts again before burying her body back into the bed with a satisfied expression. She seemed to have forgotten about the pain of the broken ribs. The conversation between the two people as well as the Silence magic was almost over.
Ding! At 9 p.m., the bells rang through the royal palace, signaling the start of the night.
It wasn't an appropriate time for an adult male and female to stay in a room together. Theo hadn't realized how much time passed and quickly got up from his seat. This had been a pleasant time in many ways.
"Then I will be going. It is funny for me to say this to a person I wounded, but please be careful."
"Ah, Sir Theodore-" Rebecca tried to call out to him, but her ribs hurt, so no voice emerged from her parted lips.
In the end, the door closed, leaving her alone. The room grew quiet as Rebecca carefully stretched out a hand toward the door. She hadn't paid the price of defeat yet.
"...Let's promise to meet in the future, Sir Theodore."
She vowed that she would repay this debt someday as she closed her eyes.
* * *
The thing which happened after that was really ridiculous.
Theo left the room and stared at the guard with lukewarm eyes, before returning to his room with a feeling of uncertainty. As always, he fed two books to Gluttony and made a training schedule before falling asleep.
Then he was pounced on the next day. Theo had been planning to ask Veronica for some training when he was suddenly turned several times in the air, with the source being Sylvia and Blundell.
It was then that Theodore realized a rumour had spread, and he recalled Rebecca's playful smile.
'That pair of hateful brother and sister are both the same!'
He had never expected a blow from Randolph to return this way. Theo struggled to escape from Blundell's clutches but eventually gave up.