When the duel began, Kevin heard a familiar voice in his ears.
– Raise your sword and be block the front. Chris will attempt a surprise attack.
It was Roman’s voice.
Kevin hadn’t ever heard of someone transmitting their voice through mana, so he was unsure what to do for a moment. There was a slight hesitation. He couldn’t fully understand what had happened to him, but when he realized that Roman was the owner of the voice, he instinctively followed what he said.
His hand felt numb.
He had only raised his sword to block the front, as Roman had instructed, but he unknowingly blocked Chris’s pre-emptive attack as well.
– Move to the side. After that, aim for Chris’ chest as he tries to kick you.
Kevin wanted to follow Roman’s next command. However, his reaction speed was slower than expected, and Chris’ kick that Roman had predicted had hit his stomach before he even saw it.
He naturally screamed.
His breath stopped in his throat for a moment, and Kevin, who had fallen to the floor, grabbed his stomach. Afterward, thick saliva dripped from his mouth.
Kevin had cut off his hand just a week ago. Nevertheless, the pain was hard to get used to.
– Throw yourself to the right.
A voice penetrated his mind.
Kevin knew that in order to stand a chance, he had to obey the commands.
He forced himself to ignore the pain and threw himself to the right while seeing Chris swinging his sword at him, as Roman had expected.
– Attack Chris’ left side of the chest.
There was an opening.
Chris swung his sword broadly, which created an opening, and Kevin knew that he would be able to defeat him in a single blow if he attacked him now.
However, this time as well, the attack was unsuccessful due to Kevin’s lack of ability. His speed of swinging the sword was slow enough for Chris to yawn, and the attack couldn’t reach Chris due to his tangled steps. In short, it was a complete failure.
It was so bad that Chris didn’t even know that his opponent was aiming for his opening. It was an attack that could be easily avoided, and with Chris’ counterattack, Kevin was once again kicked in the stomach.
It was a one-sided fight.
Kevin was being struck without even being able to counterattack; he wanted to sit down immediately because his blood had come up, and he was suffering from excruciating pain. Regardless, the words of giving up did not come out of his mouth even once.
Aside from the fact that Roman hadn’t given him an order to give up, what was happening now was also funny.
‘Young Master Roman is omnipotent. Chris is acting like a puppet and doing the exact actions the young master predicts.’
Roman’s voice was akin to a prophecy. When he said Chris was going to attack from the right, the same thing happened in reality. Moreover, Roman’s instructions also gave him an opportunity to actually knock Chris down.
However, Chris’ skills were much higher than Kevin’s. Thus, Kevin was unable to fight or follow Roman’s instructions that well. If he could follow Roman’s advice, this was a duel that Chris would have lost right at the beginning, but his useless body wasn’t able to follow the simple instructions.
How funny. Chris is a 2-Star aura knight. He’s someone that ordinary people like myself look up to, but Young Master Roman is playing with him as if he were in the palm of his hand.
Kevin now understood—Why did Roman send him to have a duel with Kevin?
Roman was telling him something indirectly.
‘This is the level of Young Master Roman. Even Chris, known as Dmitry’s greatest genius, can’t even touch his feet when we compare their true abilities. Such a person is the young master I will be loyal to for the rest of my life. And, even if he instructs me to do something that is out of the boundaries of common sense, I have to blindly follow what he says.’
His way forward and his future goals; Along with them, a figure of Roman appeared in front of him.
Just as when he had followed Roman’s words and cut off his own hand, he now developed a blind trust that if he followed Roman, he would definitely be able to become stronger.
In just one match, Roman had given him the basis for why he should put his faith in him and follow him. At the same time, he also showed why he should be respected.
Kevin now ignored the physical pain and completely immersed himself in the duel, so Chris’ warning didn’t work.
“I will say this one last time. Give up. If you show the will to fight anymore, I will cripple at least one of your limbs.
Truly, it was his last warning.
Kevin chuckled, ‘*Is he telling me to give up?’*
It doesn’t matter. Chris doesn’t know the truth—that he is a puppet. Young Master Roman is someone who can toy with a knight like Chris. But then, why would he train me, a boy in his teens with no talent? No matter how much I think about it, there is only one answer. Trust and loyalty. If my body is weak, then I need to prove my mental strength isn’t.
“Let’s go all the way.”
That sentence was Kevin’s decision. Even if this battle got even more bloody, Kevin wanted to prove his worth.
Their perspective and the world they saw were completely different. Chris didn’t understand Kevin’s determination, so he exploded at the sight of Kevin, who didn’t give up until the very end.
His patience had now entirely run out. The heart that earlier felt pity for his opponent was now filled with rage.
“You don’t even know your place…!”
He kicked off the ground violently.
Chris had initially thought Kevin had nothing to do with this. However, it’s a different story if he ignores the decades Chris had devoted to the sword and shows the spirit of a fighter who does not give up until the end. Now, there was a need to win this fight overwhelmingly and make Kevin regret his mistake for the rest of his life. As a result of the disastrous choice he had made, he would need to live with the consequence of being crippled.
Chris was swift.
Like a ray of light, he dug into Kevin’s opening in an instant and swung his sword at an unbelievable speed while aiming for his opponent’s shoulder.
Losing his arm—That was the price he would have to pay for his mistake.
However, the moment the wooden sword was about to cut his arm, Kevin took a step forward.
– One step forward.
Chris’ eyes went wide.
One step forward—That was a safe spot.
Still, it was like presenting his head where the wooden sword would fall, and it was also similar to the time Roman defeated Chris.
Nevertheless, Kevin did not hesitate.
Even knowing he might die, he stepped forward. That gave him a chance to attack before his opponent.
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– Attack with all your might.
He followed his master’s orders.
Kevin clenched his teeth and swung his sword from the bottom up, and a crude blow split the wind and aimed at his opponent. It was extremely close. Their bodies were entangled. And as a result,
There was the sound of something breaking.
While dripping blood, a man’s body fell backward like a puppet with a broken thread.
With his momentary victory, the winner stood right there.
The winner was Chris.
As he looked at him with weary eyes, he saw blood flowing from Kevin. Clearly, the fight was now over. And fortunately, Kevin’s life was not in danger.
Due to Kevin’s different fighting style, Chris had to overcome the crisis by blocking the subsequent attack with the wooden sword; it only tore his skin as it rubbed against his forehead. However, the wooden sword was broken due to the powerful blow. And in the final kick that dug into his stomach, Kevin, whose pain had accumulated and become unbearable, fell backward.
He was really tenacious.
His will to see the match until the end, even though it could endanger his life, made complicated emotions arise in Chris and changed the way he looked at Kevin.
Nevertheless, the winner was Chris.
While taking care of Kevin, Roman said, “As promised, if you want, I will teach you from tomorrow. From now on, the choice is yours.”
That was the end of it.
Roman was now busy treating Kevin’s wounds as if Chris wasn’t even there anymore.
Nevertheless, it was an ironic scene. Roman was the one who had made Kevin fight recklessly in the duel, but he was now treating Kevin as if he was extremely precious to him.
“…Why the hell did I fight?”
Chris returned home while lost in thought.
He initially intended to get Roman’s attention by defeating Kevin, but the unexpected development had now complicated his thoughts. In fact, accepting the duel was already his loss.
In a lose-lose battle, Chris was overwhelmed by Kevin’s resilience—especially in the last part. At that moment, Chris remembered his past.
‘It was like Young Master Roman. The judgment of taking a step forward was both a perfect attack and a perfect defense.’
What if I hadn’t experienced the same judgment while fighting Roman? That duel is still a source of shame for me, but I am not sure if I could have completely dodged Kevin’s attack without using mana.
Memories became experiences. He reacted quickly to the situation only because he had pondered that moment countless times in his head. That was exactly why Chris tried to counterattack after dodging Kevin’s attack.
A strange thrill arose in him thinking about that. Even though the opponent was just an ordinary person, Chris burst out laughing, shockingly realizing the fact that he had improved from the past.
Roman didn’t teach him anything, but he still made progress. Only the experience of fighting Roman became the foundation for his development and helped him become a swordsman who could respond differently in the same situation.
Not only that…
‘Looking back, Kevin’s judgments were outstanding. I thought Young Master Roman hadn’t given Kevin any instructions, but now it feels like he did. Honestly, if Kevin had been a little quicker and stronger than a commoner, that last judgment might have made me the loser.’
Chris recalled the memories of his duel. He imagined failing a surprise first strike and getting a counterattack, and thought of another way to deal with it. He carefully analyzed each moment. Looking at each one, he tried to figure out how Roman judged situations.
‘I thought Young Master Roman was Dmitry’s fool, just like the rumors floating around. However, I lost the duel with him back then, and this time, I gained confidence by playing a duel with Kevin. Young Master Roman is not just a genius. I can’t understand him no matter how much I try. However, I am certain of one thing. He’s reached a level that even my mentor, Knights’ Captain Jonathan, can’t reach.’
He couldn’t even begin to fathom the realm Roman was living and thinking in. It was not just about physical strength, but the world that Roman’s mind saw was different.
What does he even see?
Just by clashing swords with Roman once and only trying to understand Roman’s judgment in the duel, his mind was mixed with countless teachings. It was a world he had never experienced when he was in the Dmitry Knights. The more he analyzed his own experience, the more Chris came out with pure admiration.
He could now see the meaning of what Roman earlier said. He didn’t mean to simply stay by his side, but he meant to look at him and find a way to become stronger by himself.
“Was I such an idiot?”
He began laughing. Now that he thought about it, Roman had given him a lot of hints.
While teaching Kevin, he said a lot of things directed at Chris, but as he was teaching the basics, Chris did not pay much attention to it.
He rejected them due to prejudice. As he was a swordsman who had reached a certain level, he bowed his head to learn, but he did not believe he was in the position to receive basic instructions.
Now I understand.
Just by watching Roman, analyzing and improving himself, he could reach a different level.
“…I, Chris, don’t know you properly yet. The Roman Dmitry I remember is a flawed human being called Dmitry’s Fool, but what you’ve shown me lately is beyond my understanding. What is certain is that I acknowledge you. From now on, by your side, I will observe and learn everything until I surpass you.”
It was a promise to himself. Talking to himself, Chris had set a new goal.
And the next day, Chris went to Roman and said, “You do not need to teach me yourself, young master. I will find a way to become stronger by myself while following you.”
That day, Chris thought that until he surpassed Roman, he would live as Roman’s sword.
However, did he know?—These remarks he spat out with blood were a lifelong vow to decide which lord he would follow for the rest of his life. And it was also the moment his future in Cairo had been decided.
Eventually, time passed.
A week later.
Today was the day of Barco’s banquet.