Biyeon looked at San and smiled. She gazed at the young Yekin before returning her attention to San.
“He doesn’t want to talk. He’s thinking that he’ll just cut you down and take the sword. He seems fair-skinned and pretty, but he’s rather thick-headed.”
San licked his lips. He looked Yekin up and down.
“It looks like I made a mistake. I apologize. My question was innocent. It seems that it’s rude to ask someone’s age here, right? However, I don’t think it should be to the point where we clash with swords.”
Yekin couldn’t retort and was lost for a moment.
San’s words followed, “Anyway, let me simply answer your question. First, I have no intention of selling this sword to a child like you. Second, I don't even intend to die from the likes of you. Third, using the words you said earlier, ‘Your sword is a waste for the likes of you’, I felt a little bad when I heard this. Can I interpret what you said as an insult to me?”
“Be respectful and polite. You lowly thing!”
Yekin bent his knees and sprung forward towards San. His movements were surprisingly sharp and light.
At the same time, from the joints of his shoulders to his wrists, his arm stretched out with the tip of his sword thrust in a straight line. He was aiming at San’s left chest. The speed of his strike was very fast.
There seemed to be no time to avoid it. Yekin’s lips slightly rose.
“Hmm… you’re in such a hurry…”
Yekin heard San muttering. He opened his eyes wide as the tip of his sword slightly passed San’s shoulder, floating harmlessly in mid-air. San had moved to his right. His movement was so natural and effortless that it seemed he had always been in that position.
Yekin quickly rotated his foot and tried to face his left side. He stumbled, losing his balance momentarily. After a few steps, he found his footing.
Yekin turned his head towards San. San stood naturally while stroking his chin and looking at Yekin. San smiled wide with eyes full of curiosity.
“You… you!” Yekin stuttered aloud as he looked around. He saw the nobles that he invited, the various clan people who were present in the square, and other residents with amused and smirking expressions on their faces.
Even the women were looking at the newcomer with surprised eyes…
A large crowd had already gathered behind them.
Suddenly, Yekin felt anxiety. He might be disgraced beyond repair if he made another misstep.
When he went in for a fatal strike, he felt his heel being tapped. Thanks to that, he almost lost his balance and fell.
If the heel tap had been any stronger, Yekin would have collapsed into the mud. Goosebumps started rising up his back. As a special warrior who had already crossed the threshold of the Master Warrior state (1st Stage Acceleration), Yekin was terrified about his opponent’s martial level.
Yekin raised his sword. His face was no longer red but white with tension. This wartime world was ruled by the strong. The person standing in front of him was relaxed. He wondered if the opponent was that much stronger than himself.
Regardless, the situation was self-made. He needed to conclude it in some way. That meant he had to give this fight his all.
Yekin calmed his breathing. He strengthened his grip on his sword. A jolt of energy ran through his body as he accelerated.
How happy was he when he reached this level? How much effort did he put into reaching this level? He had given so much to reach this level…
He couldn’t make any mistakes now. He had to do his best. His eyes calmed and sank in.
“You’re a hidden power. I formally withdraw what I said earlier that you weren’t qualified to hold that sword. However, since we’ve already insulted each other to this extent… let me formally apply for a duel. My name is Yekin from the House of Count Essen. Who are you?”
“Well, if you came out that way from the start, we would’ve just resolved this through conversation… I’m not used to your unscrupulous way of speaking. Anyway, my name is San and my friend standing there is Yeon. Do we have to fight?”
He asked with a smile.
“Where are you from?” Yekin asked, tilting his head.
“You won’t know even if I told you. Just know that it’s somewhere over the great mountain ranges in the north.”
“Okay, it doesn’t matter where you come from. Lift up your weapon. I hope you don't spoil my honor!”
“This is… a little awkward.”
San turned his face toward Biyeon. She nodded.
“If this is the only way… Are we going to duel here?”
San pulled out a short sword from his waist. Yekin’s face distorted again.
“Are you going to insult me to the end? Are you trying to fight me with that dagger?”
“You sure talk a lot, friend. I have no intention of defeating my younger friend with the advantage of a weapon. Hope you understand.”
Yekin squeezed his sword. He shouldn’t concern himself with the enemy’s choice. Each would soon showcase their own specialty and martial arts prowess…
A warm spring breeze blew. The plaza was now filled with people, causing the heat to rise. However, in the middle of the square, frigid, tight energy began to rise.
“What's going on outside?” inquired an elderly person. He was looking outside with his hands behind his back. He was in the Count’s Office on the third floor of the castle.
He was the owner of this place, Count Essen. He became curious after seeing the crowds gathering in the square below.
He had a strong-looking, angular face, a mustache, and a gorgeous white satin uniform with a cape. The clasp that connected the cloak had Count Essen’s coat of arms engraved on it. It flashed blue in the spring sun.
“I will find out and report back, my lord.”
The attendant hurriedly went outside and, after a while, came back with a rough breath. He reported to the Count with an exasperated face.
“The second prince is in a duel with an outsider.”
“Second Prince? A duel?”
“Yes! He is against a stranger from the north. The opponent seems to have come to participate in this year’s hunting festival.”
“Ah, this frivolous son of mine… he’s just risen to become a Master Warrior, but his mentality is still untrained and wild. So, why are they fighting? What’s the reason?”
“Well, it is said that the sword possessed by the visiting hunter is made of Archon’s bone. So, the second prince asked if he could purchase the sword, but the owner dared to say no.”
“What? It’s a sword made of Archon’s bones?”
“Yes, my lord. It is said to be genuine.”
Count Essen’s eyes sparkled. If this were true, it was a little understandable why the prince acted so haphazardly. The Count himself was also a pursuer of martial power.
Although he hadn’t reached the Awakened Warrior (similar to 3rd Stage of Acceleration) state, he was a Dark Warrior (similar to the 2nd Stage of Acceleration for San and Biyeon). He had surpassed the level of Master Warrior a while ago.
Even within the Dark Warrior level, the Count had reached a state where he eliminated any pain from accelerating through the Master Warrior stage.
The speed and power of a Dark Warrior were beyond the imagination of commoners in this world. The main issue for Dark Warriors were their weapons, as most weapons couldn’t handle the stress and movement that Dark Warriors were able to put out.
That was why a good sword, especially one made from the bones of an Archon, was a treasure that even Master Warriors would covet. No martial artist would be free from temptation.
This was especially so for a young blooded son like his…
“Let’s go out.”
The count strode out with his mouth firmly closed.
Yekin couldn’t believe the situation he was in. Tears started forming in his eyes. He truly tried his best. He had used all of his skills. He had entered the duel with a decision to either win or die trying.
However, he couldn’t even touch a strand of the opponent’s hair. The opponent seemed to move slowly. However, no matter how daring his attack was, each attack fell nowhere near the opponent once it was made.
It seemed as if his opponent knew exactly where the tip of his sword was headed. All the while, his opponent’s steps moved slowly, like a lazy spring day.
Yekin stabbed, cut, and contorted his body to try and catch up with the rapidly moving San. San twisted in unexpected directions whenever an attack was launched. Yekin barely followed San as he swayed from side to side. San was never in the ‘place’ where Yekin attacked.
Yekin stared at the man in front of him while taking deep breaths. Even though he was out of breath, his opponent didn’t seem bothered in the slightest.
Sweat flowed down Yekin’s face and body. His parched neck was drenched outwardly in sweat.
“Are you going to continue?” San asked.
He asked with complete seriousness. It was not an expression hiding any ulterior motive. There was no sense of ridicule on his face. Rather, San had on a satisfied face. He seemed quite impressed with the young man’s manly spirit.
“Sure!” Yekin yelled as he started his attacks again.
He had to try everything he had learned. He needed to pour out everything. He had to stand up for his pride as a noble.
Even if he lost or broke down, he must do his all to not feel regret. Tears covered his face, but he didn’t feel ashamed.
The opponent was strong. Absurdly strong. Didn’t this mean he had to challenge him?
“Okay… very good.”
San moved. His short sword received Yekin’s sword strikes. San swiped a strike away and moved a step towards Yekin. Yekin changed his sword’s direction and quickly attacked his opponent’s mid-section.
San struck the tip of Yekin’s sword again and twisted its intended orbit. Yekin’s body spun. Once he regained control over his body, he raised his sword high in the air once more. Yekin raised his fighting spirit once again.
The tip of Yekin’s sword came alive whenever San parried an attack. Brilliant and economical attacks unfolded without ceasing. San was also silently taking Yekin’s attacks seriously.
The square was very quiet. People stared at the confrontation with their mouths open. It was a fantastic performance of martial arts. They were seeing the clear difference of a warrior’s skill-level and appreciated the dignity of San’s power, which easily overwhelmed a Master Warrior.
Yekin’s sword stopped. It got caught on something. Yekin’s eyes trembled while following the sword’s intended trajectory with his eyes.
The tip of his sword was held in San’s gloved hand. No matter how much strength he put into the sword, it refused to budge. Instead, San’s sword was already in front of his nose.
Yekin swallowed down hard. If it wasn’t the tip of his sword that was being held, he would have felt less frustrated. However, the reality of the situation made it clear that he was no match for his opponent.
He did his best and showed all his skills and abilities. He looked at San once more. San looked back at Yekin with a blank expression.
Yekin slowly shook his head. He took in a large, rough breath. Afterward, he withdrew and sheathed his sword.
“I lost,” he said briefly, swallowing his breath. San smiled. Yekin raised his head and looked around. He could see the crowd standing with blank faces.
Yekin felt strangely relaxed.
In spite of the overwhelming difference in skill-level, his opponent had taken his ‘face’ into account. San had limited his ability to the point where Yekin wouldn’t be ashamed.
“It was a good match. It feels great to be dueling with such a lively friend. Anyway, I apologize for the mistake I made earlier. I hope you will accept it.”
“I should apologize for being rude. I didn’t know you were this strong. I’m sorry for my behavior before.”
“Thank you. Now go and see your business. We also have our own business to conduct. We need to start moving around because we lack money…”
San turned around with a smile. Biyeon was smiling back. As he walked towards her, he heard her quietly state, “Great. The situation seems to have been resolved better than we expected, no?”
“Yeah. In this type of class society, our status is for us to decide. It’s very unpleasant to be pre-determined into a class by others. As you said, advanced information only comes from higher classes. There are so many things we need to find out and know.”
Suddenly, the sound of applause rang in the quiet square. People bent their heads and waists towards the place where the applause was coming from. There, Count Essen stood tall, looking straight at San and Biyeon while clapping his hands.Previous Chapter Next Chapter