Episode 63. A Knight Doesn’t Speak with His Mouth (4)

Viscount Drachen’s freakishly long lance put an immense amount of pressure simply with its reach. However, Raiden Laylark was able to quickly regain his composure.

These awl-shaped heavy lances had terrifying penetrative power and were ideal on horseback, but they were unsuitable for cutting. Naturally, the attacks he would face would all be direct stabs.

It wouldn’t be too difficult for him to beat back, push, and turn away the sharp point of the weapon as he closed the gap.

What a stupid lord…

He couldn’t understand why anyone would bring such a cumbersome weapon for a duel on foot, unless that person was supremely confident in winning in a single blow. However, he had no intention of giving his opponent a second chance.

Raiden measured the distance as Viscount Drachen crept closer. Three more steps… he would enter the range of the unreasonably long lance in three steps. He could widen the gap if he wanted, but instead, he covered himself with his shield and waited for his opponent to come.

“Hap!”

The lord quickly inhaled and stepped forward with his right foot, extending his lance in the process. Instead of backing away, Raiden planted his foot and jumped inwards.

Screech.

The unpleasant screech of iron was heard as Viscount Drachen’s lance was pushed aside, following the trajectory provided by the slightly tilted shield. Raiden pushed off against the ground and charged in.

He had no reason to use his sword energy. The duel would be over if he could charge in like this and stab his opponent. He grew assured of his victory when he saw Viscount Drachen clutching his weapon and staring blankly at him.

Raiden had no intention of prolonging the duel. His opponent was ordained for exterminating the Sasteins, and while they may have been notorious, they were ultimately only a cavalry unit. It was insulting that he would have to cross weapons against this false knight. If it weren’t for his father’s summons, he wouldn’t have gone out of his way to take his leave and fight in the duel.

What pathetic skill.

Viscount Drachen would enter his striking range with one more step. With that, the duel would be over.

So why would he use a lance only suitable for horseback…

Raiden Laylark couldn’t finish his thought. He suddenly found his center of gravity shift, and his body was lifted helplessly.

“Huh?”

It had happened in an instant. He had a bewildered expression as he noticed what had pushed him away. The lance he pushed aside with his shield was now knocking him aside with its tremendous weight.

Thud.

His body rolled on the ground before he could even get over his incredulity. Raiden Laylark forced himself to withstand the unexpected shock and rose up.

Click. Click.

As if nothing had happened, Viscount Drachen tucked the lance under his arm and mockingly gestured at him.

***

Watching the duel nervously, Jackson clenched his fist without realizing it. He thought the duel would be over when the opponent easily pushed aside Viscount Drachen’s attack and jumped in, but it was Raiden Laylark who ended up thrown to the ground.

Click. Click.

Viscount Drachen gestured at Raiden as the knight got up.

“He has no respect for his duel opponent! How insulting!”

Baron Laylark didn’t like Seon-Hyeok’s actions, but Jackson felt they were understandable. His attitude seemed so cool, as though he was saying he would take on all of his opponent’s attacks. Jackson inadvertently cheered.

“Raiden! Calm down! Was your training so useless that you’re falling for such cheap provocation?”

“Baron Laylark! Interference is forbidden once the trial by combat has begun! I will stop the duel using my authority as impartial observer if you step forward one more time!”

Einst Jeneger belatedly gave a warning, but Raiden Laylark, after looking like he would mindlessly rush in, had already regained his composure.

“Why would he gesture like that? How bizarre!”

The noisy baron’s voice was filled with bewilderment. He didn’t like how Viscount Drachen had taunted and gestured at his son to come in, only to attack him first.

The others felt the same way. They likewise couldn’t understand why anyone would provoke an opponent if he intended on striking first.

However, even though it may not have looked great, Viscount Drachen’s attack was anything but funny.

Whoosh. Whoosh.

Nobody could predict where the tip of the lance would strike as it shot out like a snake. Its speed was incredible.

“Ah…”

Jackson was struck with admiration by the exquisite spearmanship.

The lance, produced by a renowned craftsman on the royal princess’ orders, was longer than the average heavy lance but 20 percent lighter. The lighter weight naturally meant it was also thinner. As a result of this, the tip of the lance would bend if it was even slightly off target, and it was incredibly difficult to handle. Jackson himself would have been unaware of this if he hadn’t carried the strange lance here in his own hands.

Right now, Viscount Drachen was freely wielding that capricious weapon.

However, the Sword of Lightning was talented enough for the royal princess to bestow a nickname to. The knight, renowned even within the capital, warded off the attacks using his shield and sword.

“Am I seeing this right? Viscount Drachen seems to have the advantage.”

Jackson was watching, hands covered in sweat, when Einst Jeneger spoke to him. The observer seemed unable to resist his curiosity despite being wary of the baron.

“That crude attack would never work on Raiden. See. Can’t you see that Raiden is waiting for his opportunity like a lion on the hunt?”

The baron immediately responded to Einst’s comment.

Jackson was angry, but he had no choice but to admit the baron was correct. Viscount Drachen’s attack was different, but it was lacking in its ability to deal a fatal blow to the heavily armored Raiden Laylark.

“Hup!”

However, for Raiden Laylark, stopping the incoming attacks was torture.

Why was it so heavy?

The attacks seemed to be shaky and light, but his arm went numb whenever they made contact with his shield. It felt like he was being bludgeoned with a blunt weapon. Responding to the attacks was made even more difficult by the fact that they came from unexpected angles.

Nevertheless, even until this point, Raiden Laylark felt somewhat at ease. The difference between a real knight and a false one was in the ability to imbue a sword with sword energy. If he used his swordsmanship, he was confident he could cut down a weapon wielded by someone who wasn’t even a knight.

He simply refrained from using his full strength because he didn’t want to damage the weapon personally gifted by the royal princess. This was the reason he had to drag on this disgraceful duel. But even that had to stop at some point. If he couldn’t break his opponent’s spirit now, then Raiden would be humiliated more than when he initially lost face.

“Hup.”

In the end, he brought forth the power he had kept sealed. In one breath, he summoned enough sword energy to completely cover his longsword, and he cut off the grotesque lance that had been bothering him. No, rather, he tried to cut it off.

Clang.

But shockingly, the thin spear withstood the full force of his sword energy-imbued swordsmanship.

Clang.

He first thought it was because he subconsciously held back out of consideration for the royal princess’ gift.

Clang.

And then, he thought that his opponent’s weapon was made of special materials. But after the third and fourth hits, he had to come to terms with reality. No metal in this world could withstand repeated attacks by a knight using his sword energy. The only thing that could was another weapon imbued with sword energy. However, there didn’t seem to be anything special about his enemy’s spear. It drove him crazy.

“Hut!”

He once again swung his sword with all his might, but his opponent’s spear held firm. At this point, he could no longer worry about being humiliated by a false knight, but rather about actually losing. His opponent’s lance pulled back at that moment.

Now!

Raiden Laylark instinctively knew this was his opportunity to close the distance and win the duel, and he stepped forward as the lance pulled back. However, he was not the only one attempting to land the winning blow. Seon-Hyeok had the same thought.

“Hap!”

With a shout incomparable to the ones preceding it, Seon-Hyeok, after frantically guarding against this opponent’s sword, pushed forward.

“Wind Piercing.”

***

After stabbing with his lance like a man possessed, Viscount Drachen retreated nearly ten steps in an instant. Raiden Laylark, after being on the defensive all along, likewise stepped forward at that moment.

“Oh! Raiden! Go!”

The baron clenched his fists and shouted as he saw Raiden prepare for the final blow, sword energy pouring out of his blade. He had no doubt that his second son would beat that shameless Drake Knight this time.

“Viscount!”

“Take victory into your own hands!”

Seeing the threatening sword energy, a man shouted. The sound of Einst’s voice, the mage secretly cheering on the other side, followed a moment later.

The baron grew more excited the more desperate their screams became. Unable to contain his excitement, he pointed to Raiden and shouted.

“Hahahaha! This is the power of House Laylark…”

But before he could even finish his sentence, the atmosphere of the battlefield changed.

Whoosh.

A sudden gust of wind blew. The wind, coming from places unknown, grew into a sharp gale and gathered in one place. That place was where Viscount Drachen was, body lowered and lance held at his waist.

The gale disappeared into the tip of the spear as though it had been sucked in.

“R, Raiden?”

At that moment, the sound of the wind stopped, and silence fell on the battleground. With that, Viscount Drachen shot forward.

“Wind Piercing.”

A typhoon emerged from his spear.

***

It took a long time for the storm to subside.

“Ah…”

Raiden Laylark was kneeling at the spot where the fierce wind had passed, leaning against his damaged longsword. He stared at his crushed and broken armor before taking off his helmet with a creaking gesture.

“What the hell is this…”

Shocked and disbelieving, he looked at the tip of the lance that dug into his shoulder. He then looked back at the man wielding the weapon. Seon-Hyeok stood tall and looked down at him.

“Do you admit defeat?”

Raiden Laylark did not respond. However, his silence was answer enough. He looked as though he hadn’t fully accepted the reality yet, but there was no fighting spirit left in Raiden’s blank eyes and face.

“Sir Jeneger.”

Einst Jeneger had been staring, mouth agape, in their direction. Hearing Seon-Hyeok’s voice, he belatedly recalled his duties and shouted.

“The victor of this trial by combat...”

Baron Laylark shut his eyes. It must have been difficult for him to watch his second son’s defeat, as well as those associated with Rheinperle cheering the enemy on.

“...is Viscount Drachen!”

The impartial observer declared that, in accordance with customs, the winner of the duel was the rightful owner of the iron mine. With a sad face, the baron admitted defeat and vowed not to claim ownership of the mine going forward. With that, he took his second son and retreated, as though he was running away.

“Amazing. Who could have known you were hiding such tremendous power, Viscount Drachen?”

Once the baron had disappeared, Einst threw away the veneer of impartiality and sincerely congratulated him on his victory.

“My lord, I had no doubt that you would win.”

Jackson also offered his sincere congratulations. Seon-Hyeok, after wordlessly accepting their congratulations while watching the baron and his party disappear off into the distance, suddenly dropped down onto the ground.

“Ugh. He’s stupidly strong.”

Jackson, belatedly realizing that Seon-Hyeok’s arms and legs were trembling, was startled and went to support him.

“Wait. Let me stay like this for a bit. Leave me be.”

Seon-Hyeok rejected the helping hand and lay down on the ground.

Indeed, Raiden Laylark had been strong. Seon-Hyeok could keenly feel how strong a high-level knight was. It was torture using the earth attribute to prevent his spear from being snapped into pieces, and it was terrifying to feel his opponent’s fighting spirit.

If he hadn’t humiliated him in the beginning, Raiden Laylark might have more brazenly closed the gap between them to harass him further. If that had happened, Seon-Hyeok would likely have lost the duel.

If this hadn’t been a trial by combat, but rather a life-or-death struggle, he would certainly have lost.

Seon-Hyeok remembered clearly. Unable to take on the power of a charging horse, his Wind Piercing ability was incomplete and incapable of striking a fatal blow on his opponent. He resorted to summoning Atiya at the very end, and even this was only enough to momentarily force his opponent to his knees. Seon-Hyeok was out of energy and lacked the means to further push back his opponent.

Nonetheless, Seon-Hyeok had been the victor. Raiden Laylark felt a sense of defeat even before he used the last reserves of his strength, and he lowered his sword. On the other hand, despite barely having the strength to lift a finger, Seon-Hyeok did not give up on winning until the very end.

“This was a mental victory.”

Seon-Hyeok muttered unintelligibly as he belatedly enjoyed his victory.

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