The Master of the Brave - Chapter 82
Chapter 82 – What Lurks in the Darkness of the Imperial City (VIII)
“Hey, they’re here!”
The inside of the warehouse suddenly became noisy with the voice of the guard that came from outside.
“I’ve waited too long!”
The men who had been playing a game of cards to pass the time threw their cards away on the spot and stood up with weapons in hand. They had smiles on their faces.
“Hey, how many guards does she have?”
“They are few, could it be because he will have come secretly? I don’t think there are many more.”
“The noble girl must live, right? Just kill all the men.”
“A noble woman…we’d like to have some fun too.”
The men sat for a long time, so they made their stiff bodies creak to let go and felt the weight of their weapons in their hands. Even though they were about to attack a noble and her guards, there was not a hint of tension between them.
“Hey, shut up. You’ll get us discovered.”
The bald man who was the leader of this group was also warning them in a low voice, but inside he was already calculating how much money he would make from this job. Kelvin, who brought him the story, told him that the number of people the noble was leading was small. The numbers gave the group members a sense of security. This was because even the weak could be problematic if they joined forces against someone stronger. Moreover, the bald man was confident that he had enough skilled people to compete with the nobles and their guards. It was inevitable that the bald man, like his men, would have already thrown the job into the bag. On the other hand, some of the men, who seemed to be very familiar with the place, quietly exited through the back door of the warehouse as planned.
Those who had the power to strike out on their own, even if they did not belong to a group, would not let their guard down, unlike simple thugs. Before they hit the slums, they must have been soldiers or mercenaries in some army. That was Kelvin’s thought, stepping softly out of the warehouse as he followed them.
There were many who had been devoured by the end of the war against the demons, and those who couldn’t get used to peace sought a new battlefield.
Kelvin crouched behind them and moved quickly through the shadows of the grass.
‘There seems to be quite a few of them who only have a little bit of skill, so I’ll have to ask Leticia-sama to reduce their strength to a certain extent, but even if she annihilates them a little, the problem is when to act.’
While covering his face with a black cloth leaving only his eyes uncovered, he used his hands to take a tally of all the enemy forces. And then, further away from them, he concealed his presence and lay down on the ground. He still did not see Wynn and the others walking toward them. The bald man from the warehouse and his men had not yet appeared either. As he hid, Kelvin recalled in his mind’s eye the image of Leticia he had once seen in Doria’s village. Leticia rushed with Royce to cover Kelvin, Wynn and Locke, who were being chased by the Petersian knights, fled. In his eyes, she appeared to be far superior prey than the other two hundred knights.
He licked his lips hidden under the cloth.
At that moment, he launched himself toward Leticia in a dash full of murderous intent, but she kept running as if nothing. Still, Kelvin felt he had glimpsed Leticia’s unfathomable power. It was just a test to see if she could handle his murderous intent, but he couldn’t help the desire to slash her. In fact, if Royce hadn’t noticed Kelvin’s strange behavior and called out to him, he would have.
Just crossing swords with Leticia was something he could only hope to do through practice bouts. But Kelvin didn’t enjoy it, it wasn’t the same. For him, who sought the uplifting feeling that only came at the moment of a battle to the death, a mock battle was not the same. This was because the situation he was looking for was one that filled you with the tension of exchanging swords coated with murderous intent. Leticia did not know that Kelvin was among those who would attack this time. So, to get rid of the spark of fire that was about to fall on her, she would swing her sword. Kelvin’s body trembled with the joy of anticipation of being able to see the strong enemy that would emerge while he was lying down.
If Kelvin made the slightest mistake at the time, he could be struck down and killed by Leticia. However, the opportunity to cross swords with her was the sweetest temptation. Still, he desperately held back his desire to fight to the death and decided to prioritize the accomplishment of the mission for the time being.
‘But at least I’ll be able to have a taste.’
As Kelvin tried desperately to hold back the urge to laugh out loud, the bald man and his goons finally came pouring out of the warehouse.
There were eight of them.
There were five skilled people in Kelvin’s eyes, and this, together with the bald man and himself, made fifteen people.
‘Now then, Wynn, will you let her highness get hurt?’
“What’s wrong with you people?”
Wynn put his hand on the sword at his waist, adopting a fighting stance. The men who came out of the warehouse had a face that did not indicate that they had good intentions, as well as a smile on their lips. In their hands were weapons without clear care. There were crude sticks they used as clubs, cheap handmade spears with blades tied to the tip, swords in poor condition and daggers with a bit of rust on them. They also wore leather armor in poor condition.
“It’s like I said… Hey, I don’t care if the guards die or live. Capture the woman alive.”
The bald man who seemed to be the leader of the group said this, and the other men tried to move to surround them.
With a sharp metallic sound and a flash, Leticia shattered the dagger that flew out into Wynn’s blind spot.
“Watch out, Onii-chan, there are some people hiding!”
“What’s the meaning of this!”
“I, who understand the truth of fire and shine brightly… Become burning light! Do my will!”
Leticia cast a spell. A dozen glowing spheres appeared around her.
“Letty! Hold back a little!”
Almost at the same time that Wynn, who had noticed the intonation of the spell, called out to Leticia, the latter rushed forward with sword raised.
At the same time that Leticia ran with sword raised, the spheres of light that flew in a smooth arc pierced the shoulders of the five men who had their weapons at the ready. The men fell to the grass, screaming and writhing. Next, Leticia swung her sword in a horizontal line. The rest of the spheres of light that had lingered around her, instead of flying toward the men she had defeated earlier, flew toward the three who had been lurking in the grass and had tried to surprise her from behind, and then toward the man who had thrown the dagger, striking them all in the shoulder of his dominant arm. Meanwhile, that happened only in the time of a breath.
“Wh-what, ah, a-ah…!?”
The bald man’s eyes widened as if he couldn’t believe it.
‘As expected of you, Leticia-sama. It is an overwhelming power. Now there are only three of us left, and one who is slightly better. The rest can be taken care of by the two of you, Wynn and Her Highness.’
Kelvin, who was watching from a distance while concealing his presence, moistened his dry lips with his tongue again.
“Give me strength!”
“I, who understand the truth of the wind, the truth of the sword and the truth of the blade, will soften a thousand blades and rend the sky!”
As he began to run across the grass, Kelvin intoned a series of incantations.
“I, who know the truth of the wind and summon a gale! Become a wild torrent, raise the dust!”
Kelvin used powerful wind magic, rising and leaping from the grass, firing it from Leticia’s blind spot – a violent vortex of vacuum that cut the target to pieces when it hit – who got rid of it with a casual swing of her sword.
Seeing that Wynn was no longer in immediate danger, Leticia turned to Kelvin, who was a much more skilled foe and cast magic at her.
‘Now, let’s see you teach me a move!’
Kelvin’s face had a fearless smile on it as he looked at Leticia, who was approaching at a ridiculously high speed.
◇ ◆ ◇ ◆ ◇
A sphere of light appeared around Leticia. As she attacked with her sword, the bullets of light that flew in a bright burst neutralized all nine men in short order. She then lunged towards another enemy, a thin man with a black cloth on his face who fired a strong wind magic at her from the side.
“Cornelia-san, get to safety, I’ll take care of defeating them!”
After a quick glance around, Wynn called Cornelia to stand behind him. His voice, which was that of someone who had found himself between life and death a few times already, sounded strong in tone, but calm at the same time. His enemies had an air of being used to this kind of act, but they did not use magic like the knights. Although the number of enemies was still large, it was possible to control them if he could exercise his usual abilities cultivated through training. Wynn was attentive to his surroundings and managed to restrain any of the men who tried to attack them. Cornelia tried to pull the sword out of her left hip with her right hand, feeling her heartbeat pounding like a bell from the strain as she stood back-to-back with Wynn.
Then Cornelia noticed that her own body was shaking like jelly. Her hands were shaking as well, and she couldn’t get a good grip on the hilt of her sword.
“Calm down, Cornelia-san. Remember your lessons.”
Perhaps noticing Cornelia’s agitation, Wynn looked at her for a moment to encourage her as he threatened the men around them by besieging them. Cornelia took a deep breath to calm herself. She gripped the hilt firmly and managed to unsheathe the sword. But the trembling in her hands did not stop but spread to the tip of her sword and made it tremble.
“Protecting yourself is the first priority.”
Wynn called out to Cornelia once more. Seeing her unease, the men who had been startled by Leticia’s blow seemed to come to their senses. The man in front of the bald man drew his spear. Wynn pretended that it stab him, and when he let his guard down just before, Wynn slashed with his sword at the extended spearhead, flying off vigorously. The man who lost the tip quickly withdrew the spear, but Wynn thrust his sword into his thigh as he narrowed the gap. The man screamed and rolled backward. A newcomer came at him from the side and Wynn drove him back with his sword. Another man slashed at Cornelia with his sword. He aimed for her feet. He wanted to wound her legs, render her immobile and take her alive. Although she managed to repel the attack with her sword, Cornelia staggered, losing her stance and falling to the ground.
She quickly used her hands to keep from falling all the way down, which caused her to lose her sword, which she was clutching.
‘Sword… the sword…’
Seeing that her attention was diverted to pick up the sword she had lost, the man reached out his swordless left hand, towards Cornelia’s body in an attempt to pin her to the ground.
With a short grunt, the man rolled over onto his back on the ground. He was left in a low position, and his head was struck by a kick from Wynn’s relentless right leg.
“Are you all right!”
Unable to respond to Wynn’s words, Cornelia’s breathing was ragged.
Her body atrophied against her will, and she was unable to even stand up. The fear of her first real battle had her trapped.
It was different from training, here there were attacks from an opponent with malicious intent.
“You wretch, you just should stand still!”
The most effective way to gain the upper hand over a frightened adversary is to shout wildly. The man, who knew this well from his life in the slums, shouted at Cornelia. Just as the man had planned, he pointed his spear at Cornelia, who, intimidated by the shouting, went completely rigid and stopped moving.
Wynn said to Cornelia, hugging her, crouched over her and rolled to the ground. A blow later, the tip of the spear dug into the spot where they had been. The two rolled on the ground as if entangled in a clatter, and Wynn quickly rolled away from Cornelia, knelt down, drew his dagger and readied himself. He had dropped his knight’s sword as he held Cornelia in his arms.
Wynn’s left shoulder gradually reddened, and a smell like iron rust tickled Cornelia’s nose. The tip of the spear had pierced Wynn’s shoulder as he had rolled with her in his arms. Cornelia’s eyes widened as she looked at Wynn’s shoulder, and Wynn drew her behind him with his left hand. She looked at the man holding the spear and a the bald one. Leticia’s magic had taken out most of them, and Wynn had already finished off three. The only ones left were the man with the spear who screamed wildly at Cornelia earlier and the bald one. Wynn lunged at the spear man; his face contorted with burning pain in his left shoulder. It was noticeable that Cornelia was not accustomed to the airs of war, for she was intimidated by the rough and violent atmosphere.
Surprised by Wynn’s sudden rush, the man with the spear thrust forward with his weapon, but Wynn was only enough for him to step slightly to the side. In the event that someone was not very proficient with the spear, an attack could easily be avoided if you acted calmly.
He quickly slid into the man’s chest, and with the momentum of his lunge, he drove his dagger through his shoulder.
This left only the bald man and one more.
The sound of clashing swords was heard. Kelvin managed to block Leticia’s sword. The impact was much greater than expected. As he was thrown aside by the force of the attack, he didn’t let this stop him and got up immediately.
‘I had heard that in the fight against His Excellency Zaunas it was as if Leticia was fighting a child at the time, but… I can really feel it when I cross swords with her.’
There was no other way to describe her but as a monster. The first wind magic Kelvin unleashed was the most powerful offensive magic he could use, and it was a magic that had killed even great demons. It was easily destroyed by the breeze of her sword, and even the void blade that was wrapped around his sword magically shattered when it was struck by Leticia as a counterattack. In addition, Kelvin, whose body had been strengthened, could not withstand Leticia’s blow and staggered. In other words, ranged attacks with magic didn’t work, and even in a physical battle, Kelvin was outmatched by Leticia in terms of swordplay, speed and strength.
‘It has to be like this.’
Nevertheless, Kelvin smiled, muttering under his mask. Fortunately, his beloved sword, which had been reinforced with wind magic as well as magical power, prevented Leticia’s first strike from breaking it. However, with each strike, he was too busy regaining his stance to even ask for a chance to counterattack. A ball of light appeared a little above Leticia’s left shoulder. As soon as he saw it, Kelvin immediately put up a barrier. The sphere collided with the barrier and deflected. The heat from the light bullets hit Kelvin’s face, which was peering slightly through his mask. One of the light bullets landed behind him. With a roar, clods of dirt and grass scattered around. It was a spur-of-the-moment decision, but if he had caught it with the barrier instead of deflecting it, he might have gone flying.
A tingle ran down his spine. A feeling of joy welled up in him. It wasn’t serious, but Leticia showed a glimpse of her true potential. It wasn’t even the sword of the Holy Spirit that only The Brave could wield, but a mere knight’s sword. Moreover, Leticia was attacking without even trying to go for Kelvin’s vital points. She was even holding back. It was not a matter of edge or ego, but a severe difference in strength that made it possible to engage Kelvin at that level.
Kelvin knew he had no chance of winning if he kept fighting, but he could be sure that even if he lost his life, he would be satisfied because it would have been the best fight of his life with no regrets.
He wanted to kill her. He wanted to kill. He wanted to kill her again. He wanted her to kill him. He wondered to what extent he, who had given his all, would be able to reach the “World’s Strongest” in front of him.
However, he restrained himself from doing so at the last moment. Looking at Wynn and the others, most of the thugs had already been taken down and all that was left was a man with a spear and the bald one. It was only a matter of time before they were all overwhelmed.
‘I’m sorry, but I guess it can’t be any other way.’
The distance between him, Wynn and Cornelia were quite large. So, it’s not like they could hear him if he was in the middle of a fight against Leticia, who was pushing to hit Kelvin.
Kelvin whispered in her ear.
Surprised that her name was suddenly called out, Kelvin spoke to Leticia, who stopped for a moment.
“I apologize for my rudeness. For the sake of my mission, may I have your attention for a moment?”
Leticia took a large step away from Kelvin and gave him a questioning look. He showed her his face as he pulled his mask slightly aside.
“What do you mean?”
Leticia, who remembered the familiar face of Kelvin, who was Wynn’s superior, they crossed swords again as she closed the gap again. Kelvin briefly explained the situation as they fought as if they were in a sword dance.
Contact the organization, addressing the bald man who was the intermediary. Contact the organization behind the bald man. Make a play to get that man out of trouble, and that for that he needed their help.
“But you were serious about taking me down, weren’t you?”
“Yes, I wouldn’t have dared to fight you if it wasn’t for an opportunity like this… though I didn’t get you to take me seriously…”
Leticia nodded. She supposed it was a propensity to pick battles that didn’t come up often on the battlefield. This she knew from Raul, the Sword Saint who was also her companion in the past. Eyes closed and silent, Leticia sighed.
“In short, I should let you go, right?”
“And the bald guy too, if you don’t mind.”
With that said, Leticia swung her sword at Kelvin again. To which the latter deflected it and jumped in the direction of the bald man as he moved. He turned his back to Leticia and began to run at full speed.
“I, who know the land and its walls, block the way and protect me!”
He casted a spell as he ran.
The ground rose up in front of Wynn, who had defeated the spear man and was about to go for the bald man. Panicked, Wynn and the bald man jumped back, separated. A three-meters- high wall made of earth rose up to divide them. Kelvin rounded the wall and shouted at the bald man.
“This is our chance!”
The bald man, who understood from the voice that it was Kelvin who had used that magic, saw it as a golden opportunity to get out of that dangerous situation and started running. He would leave the fallen men behind, as his priority was his own safety. After all, they were nothing more than hired help from the slums. He did not hesitate to abandon them.
Wynn was pondering whether he should go around the earth wall and chase after them, when it suddenly burst before him, scattering dust everywhere, and he shielded his face from the sand and the large and small pieces of gravel flying towards him with the hand that wasn’t holding the dagger.
‘Thank you very much.’
The explosion that had just occurred was not Kelvin’s doing, but magic released by Leticia. She apparently destroyed the dirt wall so that Kelvin and the other could escape completely, and also stirred up the air to stir up dust and buy time for them to escape.
“Sorry… I didn’t think they would be so monstrous.”
As he ran, Kelvin uttered an apology to the bald man running beside him.
“We’re going to flee to the slums for now. As expected, I don’t think they’ll follow us that far.”
The bald man was out of breath, but when he looked at Kelvin, he nodded honestly at the suggestion. He didn’t seem to have the slightest doubt that this was a trap set by Kelvin.
‘Well, this man has lost his prey. And I’m sure he feels indebted to me for the help I’ve given him here. And he was also able to confirm my skills. Now, if he can successfully sell me to the target, everything will go as planned…’
Regretting not having more time to enjoy the battle, Kelvin continued running towards the slums.
◇ ◆ ◇ ◆ ◇
By the time the wind dispersed all the dust obstructing Wynn’s view, the fleeing men were the size of ants in the distance.
“Onii-chan, are you okay?”
Leticia hurried toward Wynn, whose shoulder was dyed red, and turned pale as she gasped. Wynn said he was fine and walked over to Cornelia who was still on the ground.
Wynn nodded towards Cornelia, who was just looking at him; tears began to fall down her face.
The skills she had learned at the Knight School were completely useless, leaving her with no way to protect herself. She found herself forgetting to even use body strengthening magic, which was a basic combat tactic for a knight.
She didn’t even had time to think about casting a spell. She was not prepared enough to fight.
Her heart was filled with regret that she couldn’t do anything.
“Are you okay?”
She managed to nod in response to Wynn’s question, but her legs were not strong enough. Seeing that, Wynn reflexively reached out his hand, but hesitated, and was about to withdraw it, remembering that Cornelia was an unmarried princess, forbidden to touch anyone of the opposite sex. In exceptional circumstances, such as when her life was at stake, it was permissible to violate the prohibition against touching the princess’s body, but now that the danger had passed, the rules had to be maintained. Nevertheless, Cornelia reached out her hand toward the hand that was about to be withdrawn. She too paused for a moment, as if hesitating, but then reached out for Wynn’s hand with trembling fingertips. Then she rose, clinging to his body. Leticia, who had been watching the situation, looked like she wanted to say something for a moment, but instead just took a step forward and said nothing.
“…Thank you so much.”
Getting up, Cornelia thanked Wynn quietly and with her head down.
“…Oh, yes… I’m sorry.”
What came out of Wynn’s mouth, however, were words of apology that Cornelia had not expected.
“I am Cornelia-san’s servant, but I have put you in a dangerous and frightening situation. I apologize.”
“Y-You don’t have to!”
Cornelia unintentionally shouted at Wynn, who dropped his shoulders as he apologized.
“That’s not true… look at me, take a good look at me. I’m as unharmed as I could not be otherwise, you know? Wynn, you fulfilled your responsibility properly!”
She looked Wynn in the eyes and, involuntarily, wrapped both hands around his right hand and said in a strong tone. After that, Cornelia blushed as she realized they were closer than she thought.
As they spoke, their eyes drifted from each other’s. Leticia approached them quietly.
“Hey, what are we going to do with them?”
“Ah, yes. We’ll have to call the city guards to come and get them.”
As he said this, Wynn looked at the men lying on the ground and moaning. They didn’t have enough rope to tie them up, and there were too many of them. Too many to call the guards, no matter how wounded they were. It was also possible that they might escape, and even if someone stayed to guard them, it would be dangerous for them to resist, even if the one who stayed was Leticia. Wynn was thinking about what to do.
“Umm, how about we take care of it from here~?”
Lino, who appeared before he knew it, was standing with an uncomfortable expression, scratching her head.
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