Chapter 87 - Sword and Magic Confrontation (1)
However, the rude demand couldn't be accepted immediately. Pan Helliones had proposed a friendly match between the two countries. As Kurt III didn't say anything, Pan Helliones stepped back to respect the king's will.
Nevertheless, the atmosphere became heated. So, the talk couldn't progress further, and the delegation left. No, maybe that was the delegation's intention.
As the atmosphere in the room turned dreary, Kurt III muttered in a low voice, "...He is still tricky, Andras' 4th Sword."
The empire's 4th Sword, Pan Helliones... His big build made him seem dull, but he was actually quite crafty. He was a politician who knew how to take advantage of his appearance as an ignorant swordsman to strike the opponent.
Perhaps he had intentionally avoided talking about the whole story in the first meeting. If the proposal was accepted, they could review Theodore directly. If it was rejected, they could leave this place like they were victims. In other words, either answer wouldn't be a loss for the Andras Empire.
The old man in the blue robe, Blundell, nodded like he agreed. "He is a bothersome opponent. He is probably expecting us to refuse the proposal. That way, he can stall for some time during the negotiations."
"Meanwhile, the rest will go through the capital and gather information. Their intention is probably to drag out the time."
"Yes, I think so as well."
Kurt III and Blundell frowned in a similar manner.
The White Tower's intelligence network was watching the delegation, but the opponents were an elite group accompanied by two sword masters. The empire's Seven Swords could block off the intelligence network directly. It might be different if the White Tower Master was in the capital, but he had left for a remote region after the last meeting about the convoy.
'It is better to get rid of them as soon as possible.'
Of course, Meltor's security wasn't that poor, and there was little chance of anything major or confidential being leaked. However, the problem was that even the slightest possibility was offensive. The enemy they had been facing for centuries was growling at their border.
Kurt III naturally turned to one person. It was Theodore Miller, one of the people who, along with Blundell, had been ordered to remain in the hall after the delegation left.
"Tell me honestly. You do not need to accept this offer. I know it is a high demand, and there will be no penalty if you refuse."
"Yes, Your Majesty."
"But if you are able to defeat them thoroughly, we will have a considerable advantage in the negotiations." So, he asked as the king of Meltor, "That Rebecca, can you beat her?"
Theodore replied without any hesitation, "Yes, Your Majesty."
"Even if you don't use the power of the national treasure?"
"Yes, that's right."
Kurt III would like to believe Theo's confidence. However, the king's fighting ability wasn't that great, so he didn't have the knowledge to judge accurately. He would only make the decision after deliberating with the two greatest masters in Meltor. "Veronica, Blundell. What do you think?"
Veronica came forward like she had been waiting. "If they fight 10 times, he will win nine times, and there will be one tie. At the very least, I don't think there is a chance of the kid getting hurt."
"Hoh, is that so?"
"I will bet my name, Your Majesty."
Kurt III was surprised by the answer. The duel opponent was the disciple of Pan Helliones. Rebecca's young age and pretty appearance weren't reasons to devalue her strength. As the most likely candidate for the next generation of sword masters, her skills should be close to the peak. Otherwise, she wouldn't have joined this delegation.
Still, the odds were nine victories with one draw? In effect, that meant victory.
"Hmm, this old man has the same opinion. It might not be a one-sided match, but he won't be lacking in quality. As long as the conditions are good, it is impossible for him not to win."
"Then there is no reason for us to show our backs." A smile spread across Kurt III's face at the answer he obtained.
Until now, he had been hesitant to accept the delegation's suggestion because he had calculated the losses and benefits. He would gain nothing and lose a lot, so there was no reason to make the gamble.
However, if the chance of victory was 100%, then it wasn't a gamble.
"Minister of State."
"Yes, Your Majesty."
"Look at the treaty from the last truce. Report on the land that can be obtained from near the border. Moreover, look up any conditions that you think can be rewritten!"
"As the Minister of State, I will accept Your Majesty's command!"
Excitement filled the Minister of State's face at the king's powerful words.
This was a chance to take something away from the Andras Empire. It cut into his holiday time, but the Minister of State was boiling with motivation. His associates also nodded eagerly at the king's command.
Kurt III looked at Theo's face again. After receiving the assurance of the two tower masters, the king's purple eyes were filled with wonder as well as an unknown emotion.
"...It is strange. After the elder lich's defeat and the rescue of the high elf, you are now once again entrusted with a great deal of responsibility."
"There is no need to be humble. Your merits are already at a level where they can't be hidden." Kurt III got up from the throne as a light gleamed in his eyes.
For him, the Andras Empire were an enemy which had killed many soldiers. They were a symbol of bloodshed which had threatened Meltor since Meltor's first king. This was a chance to beat them peacefully, so there was no reason to hesitate.
He gazed into the air and spoke in a heavy tone, "They always come with force. They cross our borders to steal our scarce wheat, and they have plundered and burned our homes. The ink used in the armistice is the blood of our people, and the borders that have been redrawn a few times are the broken arms and legs."
The king's voice contained sincere and profound emotions. Hearing it, the atmosphere of the room naturally became solemn. Magic power rose around some bodies while fighting spirit appeared in the eyes of others. Theo was kneeling before the king, and he too felt that way.
Everyone in Meltor had lost someone in the wars against the empire.
"Yes, Your Majesty."
The solemn voice of the king grew stronger. "Take the name of Meltor, fight, and win. Teach those fiends the history of this country! Let them know what a large and mighty enemy they have created! And I will give you a reward for the victory!"
Theo replied in a powerful voice to the edict, "I, Theodore Miller, will do as Your Majesty commands!"
* * *
The news that the hero, Theodore, and a disciple of a Seven Sword would duel spread like a thunderbolt. There was already agitation from the delegation, and the duel was like an oasis in a desert. Despite the attendance being extremely limited, the audience seats were completely filled.
Theo looked around the area. '...Wow, there are almost no faces that I don't know.'
He had stayed half a year at the Magic Society, so he had met many people. Due to his relationship with Veronica and Sylvia, he was able to know almost all the famous people in the capital. However, the majority of the celebrities were gathered in this place. It wasn't an exaggeration to say that the people gathered here were within the top 2 or 3% of Meltor's national strength.
It meant there was great interest in this duel. In addition to Kurt III, there were members of the royal family who rarely showed their faces, so Theodore could definitely feel the burden. Therefore, the feeling of discomfort he felt toward the face of his opponent had diminished.
Soon after, Blundell climbed to the stage since he was acting as the referee. As it was a fight between a magician and knight, the stage was quite wide. The two people listened to Blundell's words as they receded to the edges of the stage.
"Meltor's side, Theodore Miller."
"Andras' side, Rebecca."
Blundell received an answer from both of them and knocked against the stadium floor with his staff, producing a blunt sound. The strength of the hulking magician damaged the floor, and the sound's volume was so loud that people sitting in the audience covered their ears.
Blundell silenced the surroundings and spoke, "The duel will start with this sound. Prior to that, make an oath as representatives of both countries. The winner will tolerate the loser, and the loser shouldn't forget to honor the winner. If I think the fight is over, I will stop you from attacking any further."
Theodore and Rebecca nodded. Theo didn't know his opponent's heart, but he didn't dare object in a situation where Blundell Adruncus was the notary. As Theodore's and Rebecca's eyes met, Blundell raised his staff up high.
Then it slammed down against the stone floor. Kakang!
Two streams of light emerged from Rebecca's sheath before the sound even finished. They were double swords called scimitars. She shot off like a thunderbolt, quick enough that some of the people in the audience missed it. Some would die without even realizing that Rebecca had pulled out the swords.
Fortunately, Theodore didn't belong to that group. Rather, he noticed the posture Rebecca had taken as she pulled the swords out, and his sense of discomfort increased. Theo had seen it somewhere before. He also faintly remembered the attack which immediately followed.
Shortly after that...
"Hup." Rebecca appeared in front of Theo with a slight breathing sound.
There was no room to panic or react. Her two swords turned into flashes of light with no warning. The light emitted from both her hands moved up, down, left and right, and twisted like a whirlpool around Theodore. It was a sword technique which wouldn't leave even one bit of flesh unsliced.
Six consecutive strikes from the left hand and six from the right hand. A dozen attacks poured out almost simultaneously.
The arena's floor cracked like a spider web. The materialized aura was a type of weapon which could even damage the defenses of senior magicians. Rebecca was already at her peak, and her strikes could shatter 5th Circle defense magic.
Everyone was shocked by the torrent of attacks from Rebecca.
"How did those attacks...?!"
"The rumours are true!"
Lloyd, one of the Seven Swords, lost his dull expression as he exclaimed, "...Excellent!"
The target of the exclamation wasn't toward where Rebecca, the disciple of Pan Helliones, was standing. His eyes were more intense than usual as he gazed at the young man who moved 12 times. This level of movement wasn't usually seen from a magician.
Theodore, the youth who broke Rebecca's 12 attacks, faced her with a cold expression. He was completely sure after the series of strikes.
She had showed him the swordsmanship of Randolph, the mercenary leader who had slaughtered the ghoul wyvern in his hometown. They were either relatives or had studied at the same school...
'Think about it once I defeat her.'
Theo removed all other thoughts, and his magic power boiled up as he gazed at Rebecca's back.