Chapter 127

“Hmm?”

Count Louvre’s expression changed several times while listening to Morgan’s story. Of course, he had no intentions of reproaching or admonishing his eldest son and heir. They were in Edgel, the capital city of the Great Territory of Alice. Even nobles from the imperial had to show sufficient respect towards the Louvre family and the High Lord.

“…and that’s what happened. So.”

“Okay, I will take care of it.”

Count Louvre nodded slightly and spoke towards Argos, who was still staring with a hungering expression.

“I recognize you as the winner of the dueling competition. However, the final match between the victors of the two competitions will be postponed until the afternoon due to the unpleasantness that just transpired. So until then, go take a break.”

The audience began to mutter quietly at Count Louvre’s words.

“What? They just have to get on with it, why the delay?”

“How would I know?”

“What else would it be? The High Lord is being generous to the black tiger.”

“Well, that’s true. Once you’re past a certain age, it would be a bit too much to fight consecutively.”

“Right, we can’t let His Grace Morgan be labeled as someone who won in a cowardly manner by fighting an exhausted old man. He needs to win honorably as the heir of the High Lord.”

A smile appeared on Morgan’s mouth as he overheard the whisperings of the audience. Now that he had enough justification, he would have an hour to enact his plan. He would coax or threaten the old man to deny the request for him to stand as a proxy. 

Naturally, it wasn’t because Morgan wasn’t confident of winning. But the situation had already become strangely twisted. It was better to cut off any possible mishaps earlier on. Money and power were meant to be used in situations like this. 

However, Morgan’s plans shot awry once more.

“Huh?”

He lifted one eye. Morgan thought that the cheeky little bastard was coming towards the distinguished seats, but in fact, he passed right by them. 

“What is he…?”

Morgan couldn’t figure out what the hell was going on. But then, something unexpected happened once more, simultaneous with the young man’s actions.

“What did you just say?”

“Let me fight the final battle right now.”

The old fighter’s face was prideful and confident as he spoke in front of the High Lord. His voice and expression were unshakeable. 

“Huh!”

Count Louvre let out a forced laugh. He was angry. He had shown consideration as befitting his status as High Lord, but the old man was going overboard, not knowing his place. 

The general raised his voice and roared, “How rude! What nonsense are you sprouting in front of the lord of Alice!”

But Count Louvre raised his hand to stop the general and spoke in a voice laced with mild anger.

“You, old mercenary. The winner of the jousting competition is none other than my heir. I cannot have people say he won because he was battling against an exhausted opponent. Rest, and come back.”

“I would like to fight right now.”

“Hm!”

In the end, Count Louvre’s eyes distorted furiously. But he couldn’t easily make a decision, not after hearing his son’s story.

Suddenly, the stands began to buzz, and Count Louvre’s and Morgan’s eyes naturally headed towards them. 

“T, that bastard…”

Morgan unknowingly furrowed his brows.

A man had walked across the arena towards the distinguished seats while Morgan and Count Louvre weren’t paying attention. He passed the stands and took his place beside the old fighter.

“What do you think you are doing!?”

The soldiers rushed to point their spears at Leon. However, Leon showed no regard for the soldiers and bowed towards the High Lord, who was looking down at him dumbfoundedly.

“Your Excellency Louvre, my name is Leon. Leon Johnbolt of Count Johnbolt’s family.”

The nobles started to murmur amongst them. They couldn’t figure out what was going on.

“Huh! Hahaha!”

Count Louvre laughed in vain. Johnbolt was a name he was very familiar with. He had been present when the previous emperor had conferred the title of count on the measly clown. 

‘P, perhaps…?’

“This is no place for a measly clown! Where do you think you are…!”

Morgan hurriedly spoke up after noticing something. But Leon pretended not to hear Morgan, and continued speaking proudly.

“I do not know if you have already heard from His Grace Morgan, but I am standing here to plead a case before your excellency, despite the risk of appearing disrespectful.”

Count Louvre looked down at the clown’s son with cold eyes, before finally parting his lips.

“…Is it about a duel?”

“Yes! His Grace Morgan insulted me and my companions, so I spoke out. Then, he challenged me to a duel!”

“Hooh?”

“Huh…!”

The nobles buzzed at Leon’s words. The nobles who had been present at the restaurant were quick to spread the story to those around them.

“Hm.”

Count Louvre turned to Morgan with a furrowed brow. His son was the one who applied for a duel? Wasn’t this different from what Morgan had told him?

“Keuk…”

He noticed the distorted expression of his son. It seemed that the clown was telling the truth in this case.

‘You little brat!’

Count Louvre suppressed his irritation towards his son and turned his head.

“Okay. So what do you want?”

Leon spoke in a loud voice as if he had been waiting.

“As I have already told His Grace, I have decided to nominate the winner of the dueling competition as my proxy. Now that the winner has been decided, I will nominate fighter Argos as a proxy of I, Leon Johnbolt, in the match against His Grace Morgan Louvre!”

In addition to his strong and stubborn look, Leon’s attitude and voice were confident without hesitation or tremor. Perhaps due to the nature of his voice and looks, the audience, even a few among the nobles, started to nod their heads.

“A duel is a right given to the people of the empire, yes.”

“Hmm, whatever the case, if such an incident occurred, the right thing would be to determine right and wrong with a duel.”

Even if it was a family of jesters, they were a family of imperial nobles officially recognized by the emperor. A duel between nobles was sacred. Even the emperor could not interfere. Even if the origin of the duel was indeed childish and even ridiculous, the actual duel and the outcome needed to be respected.

“Hm…”

Count Louvre observed the atmosphere with a stiff expression. Not only the nobles, but the eyes and ears of the general audience were headed in his direction. One slip of the tongue right now could kill the mood of the entire festival, and the Louvre family could become a cowardly family with no honor.

‘There’s no other choice.’

After clicking his tongue inwardly, Count Louvre stood up with a solemn expression.

“I will allow the duel. However, if the winner of the dueling competition rejects your nomination, the duel will not be held. In that case…”

“I accept.”

“W, what?”

Argos cut off Count Louvre’s words, and Count Louvre took on an expression of shock. Argos looked at Leon, then looked back up before continuing.

“I, Argos, accept Leon's nomination to act as his proxy.”

“Ohhhhhh..!”

Burst of exclamations could be heard and the overall atmosphere of the audience became heated. The situation was becoming more and more exciting, beyond a simple battle between two victors. 

‘Dammit!’

However, Morgan was simply dismayed at the situation. All the nobles and the commoners were swept away by the atmosphere, and everyone was excitedly waiting for the final round to start right away.

‘Ah! Perhaps…?’

Something passed through Morgan’s mind, and he hurriedly turned his head. His expression became horribly distorted at what he saw.

The young brat whom Morgan had thought headed to the restroom was looking towards him from a far distance. He wore a very cold, mocking smile.

“This…”

Morgan finally realized.

He had gotten caught up in the little brat’s tricks. When the brat had initiated the applause before walking this way, Morgan thought the brat would bring up the topic of the duel. The brat was ignorant of the world and wanted fame and attention, drunk on the atmosphere, so he would step out of bounds and bring up the topic. Then, his father would personally step up and punish the brat, as he wasn’t directly involved in the duel -- for daring to show disrespect towards the family of the High Lord. 

It didn’t matter thereafter if the embarrassed brat stepped down and called the clown. Even if the directly involved party stepped up to announce the matter of the duel, it wouldn’t matter. Thousands of eyes and ears were concentrated in this place. Once the atmosphere slanted a certain direction, everyone would jump on the bandwagon without a thought.

Morgan would then take the initiative and the justification.

However…

The brat passed by Morgan without saying anything, and the old fighter suddenly asked for the finals to begin right away. So when people were paying attention to the fighter’s words, the clown had climbed down to the arena without anyone noticing. Then he announced the duel in a loud voice for all to hear. 

For the first time in history, an old fighter had won the dueling competition. After consecutively beating other competitors, he wanted to face the territory’s heir in a final showdown. But now, it had become more than a simple battle. Now, it was a battle with the honors of two families on the line. It was an exciting development that people would go crazy for, whether they were nobles or commoners. And the person who created this situation was…

“Son of a…”

Morgan grinded his teeth with bloodshot eyes. The brat must have deliberately created this situation with a carefully laid plan. Apparently, the old man seemed to have been bought in advance as well. Thus, the heir to the Great Territory of Alice had been made fool of by a random nobody.

“I’ll kill you…”

A killing spirit erupted uncontrollably from Morgan as he muttered in a quiet voice. He wanted to run out and decapitate the cocky brat’s head right now. But he had other immediate business to take care of first.

“I will allow it.”

“Ohhhhhh!”

A roar erupted from the crowd.

The general bowed his head helplessly at the Count’s words and shouted in a loud voice for the whole stadium to hear.

“His excellency has granted the duel! Soon! There will be a final showdown between the winner of the dueling competition, Argos, and the winner of the jousting competition, Sir Morgan Louvre!”

“Waaaaaah!”

Thousands of spectators rose from their seats and cheered at the exciting outcome. Amidst the roar, Count Louvre spoke to Morgan Louvre in an unceasingly cold voice.

“Get ready.”

“…Yes.”

Morgan bowed his head after feeling his father’s hidden anger.

“Hold your head up. You are the heir to the Great Territory of Alice, a future pillar of the empire. What are you doing, being swayed by such a trifle matter?”

“Father…”

“Prove yourself by fighting. Show those lowly commoners. Prove yourself to those cheeky, shameless brats who dared to play the High Lord of Alice with their slimy tongues. Show them what kind of family Louvre is.”

“Yes.”

Morgan’s eyes glowed fiercely. Everything could be solved with the blade. He would cut off the neck from the old man who was acting all high and mighty. Then, he would devour the two bitches in front of the arrogant bastards. 

‘Kuhaha! I will make sure you shed tears of blood.’

Morgan walked down from his seat with everyone’s eyes on him.

The soldiers stepped back.

Morgan glared at Leon and Argos, then pulled out his sword.

Saaa…

The gruesome blade reflected the light, and spirit erupted from Morgan. Leon trembled and tried to back off unknowingly. But then someone grabbed his arm.

“He who represents the justice of Tiramis will not back down. Tiramis is a fair and equal god. His fists always strike forward.”

Leon flinched as Argos looked down and spoke in a cracked voice. His shoulders started trembling once more as he observed the old man, who was like an ancient tree that had endured storms for hundreds of years.

Argos slowly raised his head.

“This is the first teaching I give you.”

“…….!”

That was right. Argos was the man who would become his teacher.

“Stop blabbering and get ready to die, old man. Clown, I’ll make sure you follow right behind.”

Whoooosh!

Leon trembled with fear and worry as he faced the powerful, murderous spirit of Morgan. He opened his mouth.

“I….”

Argos patted Leon on the back, the wrinkles around his mouth deepening.

“Stay back. I have a lot to teach you. We start tomorrow.”

“…..!”

Leon was shocked. His soon-to-be teacher was fully confident of his victory. Leon nodded silently with shaky eyes, then moved away.

Paarrak!

In an instant, Argos’ clothes fluttered with a beastly spirit.

“Sua…!”

His chapped, cracked lips opened slightly, and the exhaled air became visible as condensation.

When Argos’ frenzied spirit and Morgan’s cold spirit collided, static flashed like small bolts of lightning, creating a spectacular sight.

“Ohhhh…!”

The spectators’ eyes grew larger at the bizarre scene created by two men who had reached an unfathomable level. The general looked at the two men with nervous eyes, then shouted.

“I will begin the final battle, which will also serve as an honorable duel between Sir Morgan Louvre and Sir Leon of the Johnbolt family! The proxy of the Johnbolt family is Argos! Then warriors! Prove the weight of your honor with your fists and swords…”

The rest of the general’s speech was muted by a deafening roar, and the two rushed towards each other in a flash of light.

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