A few lonesome lanterns drove the darkness into a corner, and the atmosphere of the room was generally quiet. But the glare of the old man staring at the young man was like a volcano on the verge of eruption. It was a complex gaze composed of shock, doubt, and unutterable worries.
“You want me to believe in the words of a man who cannot reveal their name and identity?”
The face of Argos, the Black Tiger of the demonic army, was fierce. His fist was clenched tightly and shaking as if waiting to decimate the young man’s head.
“I could smash your head right now. How do you know about those kids? Did you… Were you also involved in that… filthy act? You would not know otherwise.”
Argos did not hide his killing intent, but Raven stayed calm facing the ferocious momentum. It was because Raven knew too well where the anger of the old, but strong man was stemming from.
“Firstly, this is the first time in my life that I have come to Alice. Second, even if it’s you, you won’t be able to smash my head that easily.”
Argos observed the young man who was remaining nonchalant bearing the full brunt of the killing intent.
“Your latter words may be true, but I cannot believe your first statement.”
“It doesn’t matter if you believe it or not. But in two days, my words will prove themselves. Moreover… I will make sure that the truth of the matter of your son and daughter-in-law will become known to the world.”
The old man’s face distorted rapidly. However, a hopeless laugh escaped through his thick lips soon after.
“Keu! Khuhuh…! Kahaha! I’m so thankful that I could cry. But, will that bring them back to life?”
Raven’s eyes grew bitter.
“My children… they headed to the afterlife before their father… My son and my daughter-in-law, who were slaughtered by a dog-like bastard. Will they come back to life?”
The old tiger growled with the sorrows of losing its child. And a hidden anger threatened to devour everything.
“I don’t need it. Those inhumane bastards will die by my hands in two days. That’s enough.”
He opened his mouth while gazing at Raven with bloodshot eyes. It seemed as if tears of blood could flow out any moment.
“They deserve death, so obvious they need to die. But that’s all. You will become a murderer who killed a local knight. You can’t even kill Morgan Louvre.”
Argos’ bloodshot eyes trembled for the first time at Raven’s words.
“And the world will never know what happened to your son and daughter-in-law, and what kind of human beings Morgan Louvre and Louis Slynne really are. Can you really be satisfied with that?”
Argos gnawed his teeth with a groan.
Morgan Louvre and Louis Slynne, both of them needed to die. There was no point if one of them remained alive. To strike and kill both of them, was the only revenge that could be achieved to ease the souls of his son and daughter-in-law who were slaughtered by the two swine.
Raven continued while observing Argos, whose eyes were gradually regaining calm.
“And I assure you, you will not be executed. You will be forced into the demonic army, the spearhead of the imperial army. You will have to fight alongside dirty scoundrels like Morgan. You will fight on all sorts of dirty battlefields until you die. But if you listen to me, I will make sure you avoid the death penalty and being sentenced to the demonic army.”
“How is that possible?”
Argos asked in an icy voice after regaining his cool.
Revenge was a dish best served cold. The old, wise tiger knew too well that it was harder to achieve vengeance with a hot head.
“Win the dueling competition, but don’t kill Louis Slynne.”
“No. He deserves to die. I will pull out all of his limbs and kill him.”
Argos spoke while gritting his teeth, and Raven responded apathetically.
“Then Morgan Louvre will live, and you will be sent off to the demonic army after getting your tongue cut off.”
Even though he was fuming with anger and resentment, Argos knew that the young man’s words had merit.
“Then… you really have a way?”
“Yes. You won’t lose out, so would you like to hear it?”
Argos nodded silently.
“This is the plan…”
In a serene, calm voice, Raven began to explain his plan that would result in the deaths of the two beasts while saving the righteous man who would be of great help to Raven.
“Welcome back, my lord.”
Leon bowed deeply, and Raven gave a simple nod.
“Yes, did anything happen? What about Irene and Linsday?”
“There was nothing unusual. The lady and the baroness retired to their bedrooms after chatting until a little while ago. They asked me to wake them up once the lord returned…”
“Leave them. They must have been tired, so we’ll let them get some rest.”
Raven took his cape off and flopped down in front of the fireplace. Leon was starting to become accustomed to Raven’s unusual behaviors that were unbefitting of his status. He took out a small pot hanging from the fireplace.
“Would you like a cup of tea?”
“Sure. You can use that cup.”
Leon poured tea and held out Raven’s favorite crude tin cup before sitting down beside him.
“Did you manage to take care of your business?”
Leon hesitated for a moment at Raven’s answer and asked cautiously.
“Um, is the matter…. Related to the fighter named Argos?”
“You pick up quite quickly for a stubborn man. Did you hear about it downstairs at the pub?”
Leon bowed his head with embarrassment.
The pub’s guests were all talking fervently about the dueling and jousting competitions, and there were a few participants that had garnered their attention. Along with other young, strong knights and mercenaries, Argos was also discussed as a hot topic. And when Leon heard of Argos’ unique identity as a fighter, he remembered what Raven had told him after accepting him, that Leon would become a fighter. He noticed the connection.
“Argos. An invincible fighter who mastered the techniques of the Tiramis Temple. He is the man who will guide you in the art of fighting.”
It was as Leon expected, so he started to glisten with joy.
“But he has experienced something unimaginable, and he is in a complicated predicament. Well, if everything goes as planned, there should not be any problems…”
“Is there a circumstance?”
“There is a very special situation. But… it will be resolved in two days. Those who deserve death will die, and those who deserve life will live.”
Raven’s eyes shone coldly through the rising steam, and Leon felt an unknown chill run down his back.
A day passed by very quickly during festivities. More people came to Edgel to enjoy the festival as it neared the end, and everyone’s attention turned to the dueling and jousting competitions. As expected, the winner of the jousting competition was Morgan Louvre. Although he defeated two knights in a row without having to switch out his wooden lance more than three times, no one was surprised because it was the result that the majority expected in the first place.
But a completely unexpected result came out of the dueling competition. Contrary to everyone’s expectations, the oldest contestant had advanced to the final. He advanced after completely decimating Sir Jonjo and Sir Edenfort, two of the strongest knights of the Alice territory, as well as Dulcein, one of the leaders of the famous mercenary group, the Waves Brothers. The next opponent of the old fighter, who had climbed rapidly after achieving consecutive victories, was none other than Louis Slynne, the one regarded as one of the strongest knights of Alice along with Morgan Louvre.
So the next day, as the sun shone directly overhead, the last match of the competition between Argos, an unknown, old fighter, and Louis Slynne, the Guardian Sword of Alice, finally began.
The shouts supporting the crowd’s favorite local knight resonated throughout the stadium.
Louis Slynne entered the stadium wearing a light, sturdy leather armor coated with thin metal and a family-heirloom longsword on his waist. The roar increased and reached its peak at his appearance. Wreaths and handkerchiefs were thrown by his lady fans, and Louis walked to the middle of the stadium with a confident smile.
A moment later, a man appeared from the other side of the stadium. He began to walk forward slowly. His black hair was tied up, and he wore a loose black shirt that revealed his hard, muscular chest. His pants were also jet black, matching the colors of his hair tie and shirt.
Each one of his steps was heavy and prudent. Above all, the black gloves that had been used to crush his previous opponents were so menacing that one felt pressure at the mere sight of the deadly armament.
“Ohh! It’s the tiger! The old tiger came out!”
“What do you mean old tiger? It’s the black tiger!”
The cries of support for Argos also rang out, although it wasn’t as loud as the support for Slynne. In any match, there were people who supported the underdog, and Argos fit the description as a commoner and a relatively weaker warrior.
‘Hmph! Those bunch of idiots, cheering for an old man who’s going to die soon.’
Louis’s eyes glared disapprovingly.
But he noticed something strange as he looked at Argos, who was walking towards him.
‘What’s wrong with that old man? This is a little weird…’
Although he was sometimes overshadowed by Morgan, Louis was a strong knight that also knew how to use the spirit. And as he looked at the old man, he could see a black energy rising up from the old man’s eyes like an active volcano.
‘Showing your spirit before the fight starts? No, that expression…’
Louis tilted his head.
The identity of the energy contained in the old man’s eyes was murderous intent that was brimming with anger.
“Ha! This crazy old man is courting death.”
Louis became aggravated and also roused up his own spirit. He had been thinking it was a little impressive for a commoner old man to have climbed up to the finals, but now he realized that the opponent was a senile old man.
The two men’s spirits clashed in the middle of the stadium, causing a strong gust of wind. Spirit wasn’t visible to ordinary people. But when the two men’s spirits clashed violently, the audience felt goosebumps on their bodies. They felt repressed and closed their mouths.
Then, the general of the Alice territory stood up and announced while looking at the silent stadium.
“The one who rules the land on behalf of the fair and just Emperor of our glorious empire! The High Lord, the ruler of the land of abundance! His Excellency Leonardo Van Louvre!”
At the general’s announcement, about a dozen trumpets played a long, majestic sound. An elderly man wearing a brilliant silver robe and a gold crown descended to the dignitary seat. With his appearance, the nobles, as well as the commoners, all stood up and showed respect by taking off their hats or bowing; but not everyone.
No one noticed because they were bowing, but there was someone in the upper rows of the stands that stood straight. It was Raven. Irene and Lindsay had slightly lowered their heads, but Raven did not need to initiate a bow in front of anyone except the emperor. He looked towards the High Lord of Alice with misty eyes.
‘Today will be the day that your son pays for his evil deeds.’
He felt rather mixed up because he had no relations with the High Lord, but there was nothing that could be done.
“Now! Let me introduce you to the loyal knight of the Great Territory of Alice, the son of Lord Synne, the Guardian Sword of Alice. Louis Slynne!”
The shouts that died momentarily with the High Lord’s appearance were reignited and shook the arena.
A moment later, the general spoke once more, coughing rather disapprovingly.
“Birth unknown! Sect unknown! Let me introduce you to Argos, the fighter!”
Cheers and disapprovals broke out at the same time. But Argos remained unshakeable.
“Two warriors who have reached here after a long, arduous road! I look forward to a fair fight!”
Thousands of pairs of eyes gathered in one place with the general’s last words.
The cold wind swept through the stilled arena, and Louis Slynne slowly drew his sword. He had long withdrawn his spirit back in. Louis took on a hostile expression and pointed his sword, which had taken countless lives, at the fighter.
“You must be feeling pretty good about beating Eder, old man. Sorry, but you’re going to have to die today.”
Argos remained silent. He kept his gaze towards the cold, clear sky with a vain expression.
“This crazy old man dares to…!”
Louis regarded the gesture as disrespect towards him and fluttered his tongue with a colder glow of the eyes. It was a gesture that accompanied an extreme intent to kill.
Just as Louis took his first step, Argos’ gaze slowly left the sky.
Louis flinched. The blank, old man was no longer there.
A wild beast took his place. A wild beast with flaming red eyes. A wild beast that had lost its children. The wild beast charged towards his nemesis.Previous Chapter Next Chapter