As they were in a public setting, Leguna didn't put much force into his punch. Even so, the thump that sounded when it collided with Harrison's face caught the attention of a few others.
He took a few steps back and touched his mouth with his left hand. There was a slight burning sensation and the salty taste in his mouth was beginning to spread.
"Ptooey!" He spat out some blood and saliva before feigning an innocent look. "I wonder why you would hit me, Mister Leguna?"
"Cause you deserved it." He decided a simple explanation like that was best to prevent Eirinn from getting too agitated.
"Can I take this as a personal challenge?" His gaze turned cold. He knew that he had successfully angered Leguna, and it would soon be time for the beatdown session.
"I won't be shameless enough to challenge worthless trash like you." He didn't want to escalate the matter, so he merely dropped that line coldly before attempting to leave with Eirinn.
Harrison watched them leave before removing his leather glove. He looked at the witnesses.
"I believe all of you saw that."
The moment he spoke, he tossed the glove at the back of Eirinn's head as a formal challenge. He intentionally aimed for her as he knew it would be an even larger affront to him. That way, there was even less of a chance for his challenge to be refused.
She scratched the back of her head. It didn't hurt to be struck by a leather glove, but it was quite disorienting. She turned back in confusion.
"Oh, my apologies. I got the wrong person. Please do forgive me." Harrison removed his other glove and threw it at her face this time.
Leguna's eyes flashed the moment he saw it and immediately swerved to block it. He moved quickly at a speed that was hard for the eye to detect. The gloves were torn into countless small pieces by some unknown means.
He stretched his shadow impetus out from his hands and carefully manipulated them to draw the torn leather pieces into his hand.
With the fragments in his grasp, he looked at Harrison coldly. "Well, you want a duel, huh? I'll gladly oblige."
"Oh, looks like we have more exciting shows lined up tonight," Geoffrey's bright voice rang out. The nobles moved out of the way to make a path for him.
"Good evening, Your Highness." Harrison hurriedly bowed. His father was one of the lapdogs of Alfreid, the prime minister who had close ties with Geoffrey, so he was no doubt on his side.
"Good evening, Harrison--" Geoffrey smiled and turned to Leguna, asking the obvious. "--What in the world is going on?"
"Nothing--" Harrison put on the most innocent look he could. "--I only wanted to invite the young lady to a dance, but Sir Leguna seemed to... Hehe..."
"It's only a dance. Why do you have to be so uptight, Leguna?" Geoffrey said in the mediatory tone of an old gentleman, but even a fool could tell he was trying to speak in Harrison's favor.
"Eirinn doesn't want to dance, and I won't let her dance with him."
"I wonder if I may ask what relationship do you have with Miss Eirinn," Geoffrey said with a glint in his eye.
Leguna was silenced by the sudden question. He knew how dangerous it was. If he didn't admit his relationship with her, he would hurt her. But if he did...
His tryst with Annelotte was common knowledge in the empire. If he admitted to being in a relationship with another woman, things might get more complicated. He spent a quiet moment weighing his options, then resolved himself.
"She's Eirinn, my fiancee."
Sudden chatter amongst everyone in the room nearly shattered the windows. They whispered all sorts of things into each other's ears. But no matter what they said, Leguna could be sure it was nothing good about him.
Geoffrey had expected Leguna to say that.
"She's only your fiancee. Don't you think you're a little too controlling? How about this? Since my imperial father isn't here yet, why don't you let me settle this matter? Let us have a simple duel with the usual rules. The winner can--"
"I accept Harrison's duel, but I won't bet her on anything," he interrupted, "If I lose, I'll let him slap me. Isn't this what you want?"
Geoffrey glanced at Harrison.
"...Fine. But I have one condition."
"Let's hear it."
"I don't want anyone to get unnecessarily hurt, so neither of you is allowed to use impetus," he suggested snidely.
As someone who had more than a couple run-ins with Leguna, he knew how strong he was. While Harrison was a high-order warrior, he didn't stand a chance against him. But things were completely different without impetus. Harrison was a warrior. He focused on physical strength. Without his impetus to close and reverse the gap, Leguna was much weaker than him. It was doubly so in Leguna's case, since his strength was based almost entirely on his gifts, as was his fighting style. Without them, he was nothing more but a pesky boy slapping a tree with a branch and pretending to actually achieve something.
"Fine. But if I win, I get to slap both of you."
Geoffrey hesitated. He had created as advantageous a position for Harrison as he thought possible under the circumstances, but he was far from certain of his victory. If he lost, they would both be humiliated.
"Do you not dare?"
"Since they don't dare, why not let your subordinate fight on your behalf?" a man with a deep voice said as he approached Leguna from behind.
Leguna turned around with a shocked expression. He froze when he saw the man's face as if struck by lightning.
He knew the names of every one of his agents, but he'd never seen this face or heard this voice.
The man was in his forties, and had Leguna's short black hair. His beard was messy, but Leguna could tell he had a very thin face.
He was most definitely not someone from the bureau.
Who the hell is this? he thought.
The man, having apparently sensed his doubts, winked at him. His face was completely foreign, but Leguna felt intimately familiar with his expression.
He was especially captivated by the man's gaze.
"How about it, Sir?" the man asked, respectfully.
It was quite the dilemma. He gazed at the man. His black eyes gazed back. The gaze tugged at the deepest parts of his soul.
He turned to Geoffrey and Harrison.
"It's fine if you're afraid of me, but I doubt you'd be afraid of a mere grunt from the bureau."
"Alright then. Clean your face for me while you wait."
Harrison eyed the man and nodded. While the incident was quite different with the man and Geoffrey's interference, he didn't mind letting this continue so long as he got a chance to slap Leguna.
As for Eirinn...
He eyed the timid girl hiding behind Leguna and wondered how he would violate the dirty little, pure-feigning slut.
"Come with me. We'll go to a wider space," Geoffrey said, leaving his agreement unspoken but assumed, and led everyone to the dueling grounds.
"Why are you here?" Leguna asked as they walked.
"Would you believe me if I said I missed you?"
"The hell?! There are northerners everywhere! Aren't you afraid I'll capture you?" he asked in desperation.
"You won't. I trust you," the man smiled.
"What in the world do you want, One?" he asked helplessly.Previous Chapter Next Chapter