Episode 134. Dragon Fear (3)

The knight’s blood boiled the moment she saw her lord return from the war. Seon-Hyeok did not outwardly show it, but she could tell at first glance how much he had achieved during his time away.

Asha Trail could not pass by this opportunity to compete against her lord, and as a result, she boldly requested a sparring session. Seon-Hyeok’s presence was too strong now – she did not want to postpone this duel until after the journey to the capital.

“Well, that won’t be difficult.”

Thankfully, her lord gladly accepted her request. He did not seem to care about the fatigue accumulated during the war, which must have been as thick as the dust covering his armor.

“You should be careful. It’ll be different from before.”

She would have known this even if he had stayed quiet. Seon-Hyeok looked nothing like he did before, from his stance holding his weapon to the look in his eyes. He had grown remarkably.

“I haven’t been playing around either.”

Ever since she was relieved from her duties protecting the royal princess, Asha Trail had focused on her training and had achieved significant gains herself. She once again worked up her fighting spirit as a brilliant light gathered around her blade.

“Whew. Then should we get started?”

The lord, after gathering his unique energy on the tip of his lance, suddenly gripped his weapon.

At that moment, his demeanor changed.

What the hell…

Asha Trail had never before felt this kind of fighting energy before. No, she had never even heard of it.

A knight’s fighting spirit was sharp but subtle, much like a sword honed over a long time.

However, the lord’s fighting aura clearly transcended these standards.

His spirit was clearly visible and dynamic like a living being.

She felt goosebumps all over her body, as her limbs and neck grew stiff. Her heart pounded, as though ready to explode, and a metallic taste spread across her mouth.

Before she knew it, she grabbed the hilt of her sword with all her strength.

Stare.

Her opponent’s fighting spirit gazed directly at her.

No, that’s impossible. A fighting spirit isn’t a living being.

At that moment, however, she clearly felt as though she had made eye contact with something unidentifiable.

Indescribable emotions dominated her entire body, and she soon realized she had never experienced these feelings throughout her entire life.

Fear. Terror. Defeat.

This was a fear she had not felt even when faced with Marquis Reinhardt, the head of the Royal Guard and the most revered swordsman in the kingdom. At that moment, Asha Trail grew angry.

“Hap!”

With a shout, she regained control over her fear-stricken body and shook off the impending sense of defeat.

Having barely come to her senses, she looked straight towards her lord.

The powerful spirit pressing down on her remained, but it did not feel as omnipotent as before. It was just unusually violent and intense.

“Ah…”

She felt as if she was suffering through a terrible nightmare. However, the lord in front of her was real, as was the giant lance bearing down on her body.

Whoosh!

Her whole body felt numb from the biting wind wrapped around the lance. She swung down with a blade covered in sword energy, trying to maintain her balance against the wind.

“Keuk.”

Is this really the power of a human?

She felt a shock as though she had been hit with a siege weapon. Her sword threatened to fly away, but she desperately hung on despite the terrible pain and shock.

I’ll lose at this rate.

Asha Trail straightened up and poured energy into her sword, trying to overcome her lord’s presence.

Whoosh.

The sword’s cry seemed to symbolize the strength of a knight at the peak of her art, and with it, she regained her composure.

I won’t lose.

Asha Trail envisioned the trajectory of Seon-Hyeok’s lance and swung her blade like a bolt of lightning.

As a former member of the Royal Guard, she always had someone to protect behind her back, and retreat was never an option. The sword she honed her entire life collided with her lord’s giant lance.

Boom!

She bit her lip upon feeling the tremendous impact.

The lord was momentarily frozen, made immobile due to the aftereffects of such a reckless and powerful charge. Asha Trail did not miss her opportunity and quickly stepped forward.

She had no intention of giving him the time to readjust his lance or to push her aside.

However, contrary to what she thought, her lord was not defenseless.

The area within the lance’s reach was his dominion, and a terrifying wind raged wherever she stepped.

“Ugh.”

In an instant, dozens, no hundreds, of cuts were made into her solid iron armor. Any bare skin became a bloodied mess.

It was a vicious gale that caused her to lose her balance, but she continued forward, one step at a time.

“Whew.”

As she gathered her breath, the subdued light covering her sword once again shone brilliantly.

The lord took a step back, but he had not put enough distance between them to dodge her sword energy. Without hesitating, Asha Trail cut at her lord’s waist.

***

When the surprised soldiers found the source of the sudden noise, the battle between the lord and his knight was already at a fever pitch.

“Oh, are they sparring?”

They were enthusiastic to witness the confrontation between two superhuman beings. However, their cheering expressions quickly hardened.

“S, shouldn’t we stop them?”

“Do knights normally fight like this?”

The two people constantly exchanging blows in the ruined training grounds were covered in blood.

“Isn’t that too much… ugh!”

A soldier screamed out as he spoke. At that moment, Asha Trail’s sword had cut into the lord’s shoulder. The shoulder armor instantly broke away and fell to the ground, and in its place was something scarlet.

“It can’t be that Sir Trail is trying to assassinate…”

“Don’t be ridiculous!”

“Then how do you explain that! Does that look like sparring to you?”

The soldier could not answer his comrade. He felt it would not be strange if either of them died during this bloody battle.

Bang!

The lord put some distance between them before charging, and the knight quickly closed the gap to block his chance to attack. Countless blows were exchanged as the two alternated between chasing and being chased.

The attacks were varied – at times, they would attack with their weapons, and at others their fists and elbows – but regardless, all of their blows were brutal enough to crush armor and break bones.

“Shouldn’t we stop them?”

“Stop them? How?”

Despite being far away, the soldiers’ legs shook from the shockwaves created by their blows. 

How could we possibly stop them? No, how could we even think about stopping them?

“I wonder what they have against each other that they’d…”

“Maybe they didn’t get along normally…”

There was no way they would attack each other like that without preexisting grudges.

“Notify Squire Julian!”

The soldiers even thought about the lord’s squire as the situation seemingly deteriorated out of control. They panicked as they searched for the young girl.

Contrary to their concerns, however, the duel ended without any deaths.

Asha Trail’s treasured sword failed to overcome the violent blows with Seon-Hyeok’s lance and gradually began to break.

Crack.

After swinging her sword in a flawless sword dance, Asha Trail gritted her teeth at the metallic noise. She desperately hoped her sword would endure a little longer.

Sadly, her weapon did not answer her prayers. The sword energy covering the blade ultimately shattered the very object it was designed to protect.

Crumble.

She was despondent as she watched the blade turn into powder.

“Whew.”

Her lord pulled back his lance.

He looked to be a complete mess, but the knight could not find any comfort in his appearance.

“It seems that my sword wasn’t of high enough quality.”

Her lord’s breathing was not quite as ragged as hers. He even had a somewhat relaxed expression, at odds with her desperate swings with her sword.

“Then the duel today is a draw.”

The lord was a drake rider and wyvern rider, not a soldier limited to fighting on the ground. His true abilities could only be exhibited while using a mount.

Despite this, she had failed to defeat him.

“Let’s call this a draw, and follow up next time…”

“The Viscount of Blood and Iron, Sir Romero, enjoyed a victory before losing to you on your drake. However, I wasn’t even able to beat you on the ground.”

It was not that she was weaker than the Viscount of Blood and Iron. It was just that the lord had grown beyond imagination since then.

Having returned from the war, the lord had truly become a monster.

“It’s my loss.”

Asha Trail frankly admitted her defeat.

“From now on, the rank of Gradus 46 belongs to you.”

Seon-Hyeok looked at Asha Trail with a bewildered look.

She neither denigrated her opponent’s strength, using his abilities as a foreigner as an excuse, nor did she draw attention to the powerful weapon specially commissioned by the royal family, as she coolly accepted the results of their duel.

“I’ll try again next time.”

But despite admitting her defeat, Asha Trail never looked humbled. Though her previously flashy armor had become rags and her neat appearance became a mess, the knight remained upright and stared at him with brilliantly shining eyes.

“At that time, I’ll make sure you have to get on your drake.”

With that determined statement, Asha Trail turned around.

She staggered while taking her first step, but was unwavering for her second. By the time she took her third, Asha Trail was her usual confident self.

“Ah. So cool.”

Seon-Hyeok breathed a sigh of relief as the knight disappeared.

The female knight and former Royal Guard had been formidable. She preferred to face attacks head on rather than dodge, and she had the toughness to endure minor attacks using her body.

He was not sure whether that was characteristic of a Royal Knight prohibited from backing down, or whether it was her personal tendencies, but it was undeniable that she was incredibly tough.

Considering the duel had been between a former rider only adept at charging and a guardian unaware of when to step down, it was inevitable that the duel became more violent than necessary.

“Ugh. I feel like I’m going to die.”

He wanted to head for the capital right away, but those plans were put on hold after he took a look at his bloodied body.

Despite the throbbing pain over his entire body, Seon-Hyeok smiled faintly. It seemed as though he finally realized who he had just beaten in a battle.

“Ugh. It’s totally ruined now.”

He belatedly noticed the battered lance.

It was covered with countless grooves and cracks. The faithful weapon that endured countless battles in war had dulled and broke in a single duel.

“My lord!”

The soldiers ran over and made a fuss as he looked at his weapon. Seon-Hyeok had been aware there were spectators, but…

“Are you okay?”

“Do I look okay?”

The soldiers looked embarrassed as they looked at their lord’s bruised and bloodied body.

“My lord!”

At that moment, Julian appeared.

“What the hell happened here?”

Her face was as stiff as a rock as she saw her lord.

“Hey, you jerks… who called Julian…”

“The situation seemed serious, and we thought we should call Squire Julian…”

Seon-Hyeok grimaced as he heard the soldiers’ excuses. He felt a headache coming on, knowing that Julian would badger him all day if he ever got injured.

Seon-Hyeok’s injuries were fully healed within two days. It was all thanks to the restorative benefits of the water attribute. Although he was rarely able to use Bluegon, the attribute that accompanied the sea dragon often showed its usefulness.

“Ah!”

While he was deep in thought, he suddenly realized he had left something behind on the battlefield.

“Bluegon!”

Seon-Hyeok swore, realizing that he forgot about his sea dragon because it was underwater and inconspicuous.

“I’m so stupid!”

He opened his status window and tried to look at Bluegon’s current state. Unfortunately, Bluegon’s status was unavailable given the huge distance between them.

“Damn…”

He was certain Bluegon would be upset by now, having realized it was abandoned once again.

Seon-Hyeok cursed his own absentmindedness.

Bluegon was so reckless that it could cause a river to disappear in anger. Seon-Hyeok wondered if he’d have to journey all the way back to the Noctein lands.

But fortunately, there was now a way to resolve the situation without the additional travel.

“Call Dragon.”

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