The grand hall of First Magic Academy was far larger than anyone could've imagined. Apart from the central raised platform, the other parts of the hall was more than enough to accommodate people for meals, dances, songs, plays and all sorts of other leisure activities. The hall itself was probably even larger than Second Magic Academy's outdoor field.
Apart from the hall, the field that surrounded it caused normal folk to pale. Quite a few of students and entertainers from Melindor set up their own spots to perform.
While they weren't allowed to enter the hall itself, they could still benefit from performing on the field. They were allowed to keep whatever they earned there. The nobles from the high society of Melindor were very generous with their coins. As if silver coins were unbefitting of their status, they often emptied them into the coffers of the performers.
However, the students from Second Magic Academy didn't seem the least bit envious. After all, their grades were far ahead of their rich contemporaries. They were in magic academies, after all, and wealth wasn't a point of contention for them.
When the music sounded in the hall, the banquet officially started. A number of young, single nobles began searching for their mate for a dance. The married ones either danced with their wives or mistresses.
Harrison eyed Eirinn from afar before looking at Leguna, chatting and laughing, and humphed coldly. He took a couple steps forward, only to be stopped by Kanjiras.
"What are you doing?" he asked, noticing Harrison's expression.
"I'm going to ask Eirinn for a dance. What else?"
Kanjiras wasn't too surprised. Harrison was infamous for being arrogant and lustful. When Annelotte's reputation had first began to soar, he had itched to make a move to bed the woman. He had believed that, given his family background, toying with her wouldn't result in any major issues.
His father had beat him half unconscious when he heard about it, and not because the man was afraid of Leguna, at least, not at the time. He'd been afraid of Prince Geoffrey, who had, at the time, still been courting Annelotte. The tension between him and Leguna was already high enough, so Harrison's father didn't allow him to jump into the fray. No matter how arrogant their household was, offending the imperials was the last thing they could do.
In the end, he swallowed his urges and watched as a fool like Leguna with a horrible reputation stuck to Annelotte's side every day.
If he could just barely endure that, seeing Leguna monopolize Eirinn as well pushed his patience to its limits.
His family were one of the few descendants from Duke Mellin, the empire's founder. Leguna was a mere street riff-raff, a literal sewer rat. He served Hock, sure, but that didn't count for anything against a family's multi-generational history of loyal and prestigious service.
Harrison was certain he had superior looks as well. He was certainly better built. And taller as well!
Then there was talent. Leguna was but a 17th-stratum assassin. He was a 17th-stratum warrior. He naturally didn't think about the fact that he was seven years older than the assassin. And warriors were assassins' natural predators. The little brat may be considered the continent's best assassin, but Harrison was certain he'd win in a fair fight.
"This Leguna has been fooling about in Melindor very arrogantly lately. I want to put him in his place," he said.
"Don't say I didn't warn you." Kanjiras loosened his grip. "If there's someone who doesn't know his place, it would be you. Don't forget that he's one of the top-eight fighters in the tournament last time."
"Who cares about the rankings of a circus show of a tournament like that? As long as Lady Annelotte doesn't interfere, I'm confident I can take care of a backstabbing assassin who only knows how to hide in the shadows." He shrugged and continued his way towards Leguna and Eirinn.
Coincidentally, Annelotte had left to deal with other matters of the academy, which only made Harrison even more daring.
"This is my bad… I haven't bought a nice dress for you in several years… It really doesn't feel appropriate now that I think about it," Leguna said apologetically.
"Don't say that, Big Brother," Eirinn said with a warm smile as she held his hand. "If not for you, I'd still be an ugly maidservant washing dishes in a tavern! You've given me everything I have now. I… I've counted my blessings carefully…"
Gosh! Leguna felt too moved. Just as he was relishing it, however, an annoying voice cut in.
"My most beautiful lady, may I have the dance?" it said in a dreamy voice.
The man sported neck-length gray hair and a slightly messy moustache and haircut. Harrison thought it added to his brash, masculine air. Quite a few peasant women were drawn to the look. As for those that weren't… he didn't mind playing rougher games.
He clutched his chin with his right hand and stroked his beard.
"Wonderful night, is it not? If only I can have a dance with someone as beautiful as you, I'd find it difficult forget this memory."
Leguna frowned, but kept quiet. He knew someone would eventually come around and ask Eirinn for a dance. She wasn't an ugly duckling anymore, it would be stranger if no one came to ask. He couldn't just flip out every time someone didn't know what was good for them. Eirinn had to learn how to deal with such men on her own. Naturally, the only appropriate way for her to deal with them was to chase them away.
Eirinn's face flushed. She looked down without meeting his gaze and stammered.
"S-s-sir… I'm truly s-sorry, I d-don't know how to dance…"
"Surely you jest, Miss."
Harrison wasn't shaken the least bit from the rejection he anticipated. Instead, Leguna's silence only boosted his confidence. When he was certain he wasn't going to interfere, he half-jokingly continued.
"A dance is nothing more than a common method for nobility to interact. I'm sure someone with your looks has been invited to dance before. How could you not know?"
Eirinn was even more awkward now, but she understood that if she let Leguna deal with this, things would surely get out of hand, so she forced herself to speak.
"I'm sorry, but I really don't know how. And… I used to have really bad burns on my face. I was nothing but an ugly freak."
"it's fine if you don't know, I would love to teach you."
Horrison refused to let this girl go. He would make her his that very night if it was the last thing he did.
Eirinn fell silent. It was her only excuse. She couldn't come up with another. She almost never thought about turning a request down, so she didn't have a repertoire of prepared refusals. She had no intention of accepting his invitation, however
She shook her head stiffly.
"I'm really sorry. I… I can't dance with you… nor can I learn how."
"I didn't think that I, Harrison Dolan, would get rejected."
His voice chilled as he glanced at Leguna.
"May I ask why?"
She bowed without offering an explanation.
"I don't need an apology--" He shot her a venomous glare. "--What if I insist?"
He held out his right hand in an attempt to grab the shameless half-elf but another hand with a stronger grip stopped him.
So you're finally done playing the coward, huh? I thought you weren't even going to fart!
He gave Leguna a teasing look.
Leguna stove to suppress his anger. He had long wanted to give the bastard a couple dozen slaps, but he knew this wasn't the occasion to cause trouble, so he kept quiet the whole time.
That didn't mean he didn't let his anger fester. If he didn't stand out even after seeing her bullied so much, he would want to slap himself in the face.
"I'm giving you one last chance to buzz off!" he said, trying hard to not let his rage burst.
Harrison didn't respond with anger. He silently applied force as well. As a 17th-stratum warrior, his power was slightly stronger than Leguna's. He easily got his hand loose and began to stretch his shoulders. Smiling, he said, "Apologies. I didn't notice you there just now. I wonder who you could be?"
"Leguna," he plainly said. Based on his attitude, he knew that a commotion was almost inevitable at that point.
"Ah, the famous assassin, Dark Requiem," he said, feigning surprise, "Yours truly is--"
"Harrison Dolan, I know who you are," he coldly interrupted. Locking gazes with the man taller than him, he warned, "Buzz off. I won't say this a third time."
"I won't leave without inviting this lady to a dance," he said with a dissatisfied shrug, before he tried to stretch his hand out to grab her cheeks.
However, Leguna's hand shot out at lightning speed. He grabbed the hand with his left and swung a fist to Harrison's face with his right.Previous Chapter Next Chapter