Episode 128. The Difference Between Duels and War (1)

Lafayette might have stepped in out of a sense of urgency, but he had nonetheless interfered in a one-on-one duel. As a member of the proud Knights of the Azure Sky, he would undoubtedly feel shame over his transgression.

As Seon-Hyeok expected, Lafayette’s face contorted, as though he had bitten into something bitter. However, he quickly hid his feelings and offered a suggestion.

“I have no intention of breaking my promise twice. How about putting those debts aside until after our duel?”

It was an obvious trick. Lafayette hoped to emerge victorious in the duel and be able to drive discussions to his advantage. Naturally, it was a proposal that could only hurt Seon-Hyeok.

“Fine by me.”

Nonetheless, Seon-Hyeok readily accepted Lafayette’s offer.

“Ah…”

Roland let out a sigh of relief at the response. For Roland, as the loser of the previous duel, Seon-Hyeok’s demands were obligations rather than suggestions. He had to be relieved that there was a chance to escape from this sticky situation.

Of course, Seon-Hyeok did not accept Lafayette’s proposal out of consideration for Roland. Just as Lafayette schemed for his benefit, Seon-Hyeok likewise had prepared for this.

“Hm.”

Despite his shallow offer being accepted, Lafayette’s expression remained dark. He was uncomfortable that his opponent, contrary to expectations, agreed so quickly.

Click.

Seon-Hyeok did not give Lafayette any time to think. He lowered his visor and declared the start of the duel.

“Then let’s get started right away.”

Hearing the voice from behind the helmet, Lafayette’s eyes gleamed. In an instant, a colorful light gathered at his blade.

There were no signs of the pre-duel ritual Roland showed last time. Lafayette’s attitude of immediately gathering his strength was completely different, and it was clear that the events of the previous duel lingered in their minds.

Click.

Seon-Hyeok clutched his massive lance and secured it under his arm.

“Let’s go, Redvern.”

As soon as he spoke, Redvern rushed towards Lafayette.

“Wind Piercing.”

As always, the duel began with a charge bolstered by the wind. It was a chant that repeatedly brought victory, but Seon-Hyeok did not expect much this time. Unlike with ground-based duels, where opponents could only dodge laterally, the sky was too open for evasive maneuvers.

As expected, Lafayette’s griffin avoided the powerful charge with a few flaps of its wings.

It starts now.

The attack may have missed, but it was too early to be disappointed. This was just the beginning, and he had not shown any of his newly prepared weapons yet.

Seon-Hyeok smiled coldly as he glanced at Lafayette trying to catch up to him.

***

Battles were taking place everywhere, but they were not all equally important. Naturally, there were some that were more or less meaningful than others – and just because one side focused on one, it did not necessarily mean that the other side placed equal value on that conflict.

Nonetheless, there were a number of battlefields both sides considered crucial. The Battle of the Istein Plains was among them.

Infantry regiments were mobilized to occupy this easily-maneuverable area, and at least three cavalry companies gathered on the plains. Knights and mages, the main forces of both kingdoms, likewise focused their attention here.

Swordsmen tried to calm their nerves by repeatedly clenching the hilts of their swords, and spearmen breathed hard as they angled their spears to attack at a moment’s notice. The cavalry, stationed at both flanks of the foot soldiers, similarly prepared to charge.

However, there were neither the sounds of trumpets signaling a cavalry charge nor the drums to direct infantry marches. Instead, all that could be heard were terrible gusts of wind and the roars of monsters.

Shriek!

The soldiers trembled at the ear-splitting noise.

“Focus. Don’t lose your focus.”

“I can hear you rolling your eyes.”

“Don’t move until you get your orders.”

The company leaders and captains deployed on the front lines barked at their soldiers. However, even these commanders could not help but raise their heads at the deafening sounds of monsters’ roars and flapping wings right above their heads.

“Heok.”

“Ugh.”

Groans and screams erupted everywhere. Some of the weaker-spirited soldiers dropped to the ground in surprise.

Above them, the griffin, with its yellow fur and white wings, and the purple-scaled wyvern passed by.

“Ack!”

A moment later, the wind brought by the monsters blew past the soldiers. The lighter swordsmen and spearmen were swept up and tossed about, while the war horses cried out in surprise.

“Check for casualties, and keep everyone in their ranks.”

Halo and the commanders frowned as their lines collapsed and thousands of soldiers were shaken just because of the monsters’ flight.

However, their obsessive fear was not incomprehensible. After all, how could common soldiers hold their ground when such fierce monsters were causing a disturbance right above their heads?

The more serious problem was that the knights, who should be firm and steadfast, were likewise agitated.

Halo was more despondent than angry.

Nonetheless, he remained calm. All they needed to do on this day was erase Drachen’s name from this world. He was confident this would come to pass.

“Roland of the Gale lost, but I don’t think Lafayette of the Burning Flame will easily suffer the same fate.”

The deputy, face pale from the unfolding scene, spoke as the two monsters and riders exchanged blows in the sky.

Halo’s gaze briefly chased the shadows of the two riders. As the deputy said, Lafayette was skillfully avoiding Drachen’s brutal charges, the same attacks that devastated countless soldiers and superhuman beings in the Noctein Kingdom.

“I wonder who will win.”

Hearing the deputy’s words, Halo smiled coldly and recalled what the Knights of the Azure Sky had said before they left for the battlefield.

‘In the event that I lose, Roland will fight the weakened Drachen.’

Their noble pretenses were nothing more than hypocrisy. The knight had chosen a disgraceful victory over the disgrace of defeat. Even so, Halo did not mock the griffin rider.

All that needed to happen was the elimination of Drachen. He cared little about the prestige of the Knights of the Azure Sky.

“I hope they both die while they’re at it.”

From the Noctein Kingdom’s point of view, both Drachen and the Knights of the Azure Sky were thorns in their side. Nothing could be better than these two hated foes eliminating each other.

Of course, it was extremely unlikely that such an outcome would occur.

“If that’s not possible, then it’d be better if Drachen survives after eliminating both Lafayette and Roland.”

That would be the best scenario in which to implement his plan.

“Tell the mages. Their opportunity will come soon, so they must not hesitate.”

Halo was certain. Even if his plans went awry, it was inevitable that Drachen would meet his end on the battlefield today.

However, the Nocteins were not the only ones waiting for their chance.

“There’s just one opportunity. Don’t miss it.”

The Adenburg Royal Mages were likewise staring intently into the skies.

***

The red-haired knight was more mature in every way than Roland of the Gale, and his persistent attacks on the wyvern, rather than his rider, were difficult to deal with. His griffin was also much larger than Roland’s and more vicious.

As expected, Lafayette was a formidable opponent. If Redvern had not undergone its metamorphosis, its wings would have been cut to ribbons by the knight’s sword energy.

However, both Redvern and Seon-Hyeok had grown since the previous duel. Seon-Hyeok had no reason to be disappointed when his repeated charges were blocked.

“How long will you keep trying that pathetic charge!”

Having dodged yet another charge, Lafayette chased after him and taunted him. Any average knight would have turned and fought at the attack on his pride, but Seon-Hyeok was a soldier before he was a knight.

To him, victory was much more important than pride.

“What the hell?”

Lafayette realized something was amiss after belatedly noticing a surge of magical power and panicked. However, by then, the Adenburg Royal Mages had completed casting their Star Field spell.

After seeing the magical orbs covering the skies and leaving no avenues for retreat, Lafayette lifted his visor and stared blankly at Seon-Hyeok.

“Sir Drachen. What the hell is going on here….”

“What do you mean, ‘what the hell is going on here’? You fell into our trap.”

Lafayette raged at this calm response.

“How dare you use underhanded tactics in a sacred duel!”

Seon-Hyeok’s expression remained unchanged despite the contemptuous insult.

“And who was it that interfered first in that sacred duel?”

It was Lafayette, not him, who first broke the rules of the single combat.

“No, even before that. What the hell do you think war is?”

Seon-Hyeok openly criticized Lafayette’s vanity.

“The soldiers gathered here aren’t the playthings of you stupid knights.”

“A knight’s duel is sacred! All knights of the continent will forever mock you!”

Seon-Hyeok snorted. Lafayette still had not come to his senses.

“Tell them to do so. I’m a soldier, not a knight. A knight’s honor means nothing to me.”

“We treated you, an unworthy foreigner, like a knight, and this is how you repay us? You have no shame!”

There was no dignity of a self-respecting knight visible as Lafayette swore and cursed in his rage.

So this is the true nature of the second of the Knights of the Azure Sky, Lafayette of the Burning Flame.

Well, there was nothing to be surprised at. If the knight was honorable, he would not have interfered in the first duel, and he would not have underhandedly tried to delay the repayment of his debts.

“It’s not too late! Admit your transgressions and fight me with honor!”

Seon-Hyeok felt no need to respond.

He stopped in front of the other griffin rider, still bewildered and unable to do anything at the sudden series of events.

“I’ll ask you this. Did you intend to pay the price for your defeat?”

“What are you planning to do with Sir Lafayette?”

Instead of answering, Roland swore and drew his blade.

“As I thought. You had no intention of keeping your promise from the very beginning.”

Seon-Hyeok grabbed his lance as he watched Roland throw away his last chance.

“I’ll put you down properly this time.”

As a matter of fact, he had not fought Lafayette with all of his strength. Given the presence of the mages with their unbelievable anti-aerial firepower, he did not feel the need to waste his energy.

But the situation was changing now. Sensing the rising fighting spirit of the allied forces beneath him, Seon-Hyeok felt the need to quickly suppress Roland, and he intended to use whatever force necessary.

“Let’s go.”

At his command, Redvern cried out and shot forward.

“Charge!”

In response, the Adenburg forces began to charge.

“I won’t lose so easily this time!”

Perhaps it was to shake off the doubts lingering from his past defeat, but Roland swore as he tried to hype himself up.

Shriek!

Redvern shook its neck a couple times before opening its mouth towards the knight.

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