Once the iron door closed, Senia had her hands in prayer as she looked at Carr. However, Tess continued to observe her profile. The air around him had turned thick and stuffy – fogging his head and for the first time Tess didn’t have any laughter or smile on his face.
“….I didn’t expect a saint to participate.”
They could hear the voice of the blonde knight muttering. Usually, monsters would rush once the horn had been blown but this time both men were calm.
The knight turned to look at the stand, noticed that Belmont had agreed with the situation – after all the signals had been sounded. Surely, this situation was not a disadvantage for them.
A human against human. Belmont trusted his escort and the knight was more than comfortable in dealing with the unknown mercenary than harming a saint. Although it was different from what they had planned the goal didn’t change – they just needed to defeat the opponent. So, the knight calmly looked ahead.
A man wearing leather armour while holding a big sword. His unusual brown eyes had sharpness like a hawk that was observing its prey. It was a mistake to think of him as a paladin just because he was escorting Senia. Carr was a powerful swordsman that could make his opponent nervous just by facing him.
Although the fight had already begun, the two did not rush and continued to calculate each other. The older knight looked at Carr’s appearance and opened his mouth, putting up a relaxing mask.
“Based on your sword…. Are you a monster expert?”
“Have you handled people?”
“A little bit.”
“Then you are the opposite of me,” the knight pulled out his long sword and tilted his head slightly, “Can’t you give up? I don’t want to cut people if I can. I hate taking the life of a promising young man by mistake.”
“I refuse because I don’t want to disappoint the client.”
“….then it can’t be helped. Don’t regret it later,” the knight spoke lowly and in a moment his gaze had turned sharper.
Soon after, Carr had to move his body to the side – avoiding the knight that lunged forward like a tiger leaping to attack. It was a close call, and he could tell that it was a quick, sharp, and calculated move. That one attack was enough to measure the skill of the knight.
‘Oh, it’s starting. This won’t end easily.’
Carr’s blood cooled down knowing that the experienced escort in front of him would be a hard opponent. He quickly lifted his bastard sword – preparing for the second attack by the escort. As expected, the sound of the two swords clashing reverberated inside the dome.
The knight, who felt the weight of the sword from that one clash, swallowed his surprise. Carr’s weapon was harder and heavier than any sword he had ever seen.
The two swords struck again and unlike yesterday, today’s match made everyone sweat nervously. The thin long sword cut through the wind while the large sword seemed to cut through its opponent relentlessly. Sometimes each of the swords singes the skin causing red droplets of blood to fell to the floor like withered petals in fall.
Belmont, who always anticipates this kind of match, couldn’t enjoy the fight purely because his escort was in it. If there was karma, it would be like this.
Strike and counterstrike continued to happen. The experience of the knight was good, but Carr’s senses and reflexes were not behind the other man. The knight might be trained to become stronger, but Carr swung his sword to survive in the wild. The difference in their level was almost indistinguishable.
They continued to give blow after blow but there was no sign of them giving up. The continued swing of their swords with no intention to kill only accumulates injury after injury. Sometimes, there would be a critical hit, but it was not decisive enough to end a life. In the end, the long-lasting fight is finally determined by the difference in their experience.
First, the knight had struck his knife while Carr used his large sword to block the attack and forced the knight into a power struggle. The knight, who immediately noticed that his power was running out, did not respond and twist his wrist to pull back. In that one single moment, Carr rushed forward without missing a beat.
The knight knew what was coming and confident that he could avoid the trajectory of the blade, but Carr threw himself forward because he knew the skill of the knight. His iron armour crush to the knight’s chest – interrupted his breathing.
Carr’s attack gave direct pain to the knight’s shoulder and so he forcibly wielded his large sword and struck the knight’s side. The loud sound of his sword hitting the knight’s side was followed by a cloud of dust as the knight was thrown back. Carr tried to get as much air as possible while his muscles and lungs seemed to scream because he couldn’t rest even for a second.
Once the cloud of dust subsided, Carr held his breath once he noticed there was no one at the other side. Carr’s tensed and turned around right away, but it was too late.
A long sword stabbed right to Carr’s waist from behind. The light silver blade quickly turned red, and Carr swallowed his scream as he looked at the blade that penetrated his body.
“Whoa… it’s surprised how you are not tired after wielding that sword but let’s stop here,” the knight pushed the sword deeper, and Carr swallowed his pain – grinding his teeth.
“If your life is precious, let’s give up now.”
The knight’s body was still intact. He managed to withstand Carr’s attack thanks to his solid iron armour – he was already injured but it was not something odd. The invitation to surrender was not only to save Carr’s life but was also his bluffing because he had no power to finish.
“Come on, you don’t want to die in a meaningless place like this, do you?”
“….O-Of course not,” Carr murmured and grabbed the knight’s sword with his glove.
The knight was surprised, trying to pull back but the sword did not budge. His face turned blue as he watched the blood flow out of Carr’s hand.
“You’re a pretty trusted knight, aren’t you?”
A voice that was clearly in pain didn’t sound defeated or scared at all and it brought a chill to the knight’s spine, but he didn’t want to admit it as he answered the question.
“Of course, serving the Lord of Serendipirel is my family’s mission and pride. My family has been trusted by the lord for generations and has lived up to that expectation for generations.”
“That’s great. This is the first time that I’ve ever been relied on. So, I decided even if I have to give up my arms and legs – though not the cost of my life.”
Carr smiled as he recalled Senia’s face who was worried about him until the end. It did not fit the situation, but the smile was something that can only be described as cool.
“My only pride is being strong and if I don’t do this right, there’s no way I can help her.”
Carr released his large sword from his hand while the knight never had thought about letting go of his sword in a battle. Carr’s elbow flew back, accurately hitting the knight’s face. The other man tried to jump back, but he couldn’t let go of his sword that was still being held down by Carr’s bloodied hand.
The knight, who got elbowed on his face, fell completely back.
It was only after confirming that the knight no longer moved for few seconds that Carr finally sat down and clenched his teeth. He pulled the long sword out of his waist, causing a gush of blood to pour out. He would have yelled if he were alone, but his pride won’t allow it while she was here.
A familiar face ran out of the iron door, but Carr closed his eyes slightly trying to gather the little bit of strength he can muster.
“Ah, seriously… I’ve asked you to abstain rather than overdo it….”
Senia looked as if she was going to cry when she saw the crimson sea of blood on the floor. Her hand quickly scrambled to her waist pocket while sitting next to Carr. It was fortunate that they had received medicine from Faber in preparation for any injuries.
The red potion, which maximized resilience with magic poured into Carr’s waist and his wounds healed noticeably. She couldn’t expect a full recovery, but as first aid, it was enough to stop the bleeding. In other words, the expensive drugs were good for first aid.
‘If I could use a miracle, this could be cured at once.’
Senia lamented her helplessness. In order not to bring Carr’s efforts to nothing, she stood up and looked at Belmont. Her gentle blue eyes had become as cold as ice and a stern voice rang along within the stadium.
“The exam is over, my lord. The system, which is used as entertainment by watching humans get wounded, in pain while covered in blood was the one that eventually shackled the Lord. This fight was won by Sir Carr.”
“It’s ridiculous…. It’s not…. It’s ridiculous…. I’m not…. This… this is ridiculous….!”
Belmont had already collapsed on the floor, muttering the same words again and again. His pupils were shaking, revealing his true feelings.
The best knight of Serendipirel was defeated by a no-name mercenary which was ridiculous in any sense. In any case, he couldn’t even protest to the royal family about the abuse of power that the saint did.
‘Ah, that is completely crazy.’
Tess’s prediction that this time there was a big deal at the end was right. There was desperateness as Belmont talked – there was no more pride or smugness.
“Saint….A-Are you thinking of taking away all of my authority?”
“It’s up to the residents of Serendipirel’s decision.”
“I—I’m just exercising my authority! Don’t say it as if I have been dishonest!”
“….I was born as a saint to solve people’s hardships and I do not doubt that this is also God’s ordeal to test my choice.”
Senia didn’t back down at all. Her solemn figure did not fit with her gentle face and sweet voice. She always pushed for what she thought was right as a saint. She knew that the difference between right and wrong was thin and dependent on other’s points of view. Sometimes it made her nervous, nevertheless, she continued to persevere.
She wrapped her hand around her locket to hide her fear. She knew that she was able to demand this from the Lord not because of her own, so she raised her voice for Carr who had fought for her.
“I’ll take over all Serendipirel’s permanent residency. No more tests, no more monsters belong to you.”
“Don’t be ridiculous… don’t be ridiculous!”
The ground shook loudly, surprising everyone but they managed to balance themselves before they could fall. The earth continued to shake – almost as if there is an earthquake. Stone dust fell from the ceiling and the ground began to split. All the servants were shocked but quickly started to run away.
“I-It’s falling! Run!”
Senia opened her eyes wide and quickly she found who was the culprit.
“Everything, everything is mine! I won’t give it to anyone!”
Shortly after Belmont’s roar, a loud howl struck the basement. It was the roar of a monster and it sounded like a strong storm coming making everyone nervous and their eyes filled with fears.
One side of the stadium, which was destroyed by the earthquake, collapsed completely and black wings rose above.
Senia, who moved to protect the fainting Carr, unintentionally faced the monster head-on. Its whole body is covered with hard scales and its pupils showing a vertical slit. Its nails and teeth sharpened, ready to tear its prey to pieces. It was undoubtedly a Drake that Senia had seen many times during the three-year war.
Senia sighed. It seemed that this was truly the end of Belmont’s power. The previous monster was within what she expected of him, but this was something out of the blue. Still, the enemy wasn’t easy but Senia already preparing her short prayer for the attack.
Drake’s pupils became thinner and at the end of that gaze was Tess who was standing at the other side of the stadium.
‘Eh, I think he remembered the brainwashing.’
A drop of cold sweat dripped down Tess’s forehead. He was ready to run away but the Drake already came rushing with its huge wings. Neither Senia nor Belmont knew why the Drake ignored those right in front of him and rushed to Tess who was standing far away.
It was quick and within seconds everything was black, and Tess’s consciousness fell into the abyss as the stands collapsed.
He wasn’t sure how long he is out before he gathered his consciousness, his whole body was throbbing that which made him dizzy from pain. He squinted his eyes, forcing his heavy eyelids to open, but nothing came into his sight right away. Only darkness and silence.
“….is it hell after all?”
“No, it’s the world.”
Tess jumped up when he heard a familiar voice.
Senia, sitting on the floor a little distance away, was smiling gently and only then did Tess came to his senses and grasp the situation.
The first thing that caught his eyes was how low the ceiling had become that he could reach it. The magnificent and luxurious manor had fallen into desolate ruins. About 66 m2 of space were covered with dirt and stone and the only source of light was the one that Senia created. There was no window, no door, no wind, or light from the outside.
They were trapped.
It was an easy conclusion and whether Senia knew what going on in Tess’s head, Senia still asked calmly.
“There was no visible trauma or bleeding, but please let me know if you not feeling well. I will treat you.”
“No, it’s okay. It’s just a little bit of throbbing. How long have I lost consciousness?”
“Around ten minutes. Drakes’ attack didn’t work, but you were stunned.”
“Now that I know….”
A hard thing touched the top of Tess’s finger on the floor. As he turned around, he found the Drake dead still with its head intact. It almost looked like it was stuffed.
Tess, whose heart was pounding faster, quickly recover his senses and took a deep breath as he looked around a little bit more. He noticed Carr and the knight lying right next to Senia.
“Well, don’t you think we should get out of here quickly? How can he relax like that?”
“I’ve just treated them, so they’re both out of critical condition but I want to get out of here as soon as possible to let him rest in bed.”
One of them was healed by miracle and the other was healed using the magic potion. However, Senia’s heart still aches whenever she saw Carr groaned in pain. She sighed as she carefully caressed his wet hair, clearing the dust and his sweat.
“But there’s no way out right now, even if you wanted to.”
“I don’t have enough power. I got rid of the Drake and when the building collapsed, I will be able to open a barrier in creating this space. A saint isn’t omnipotent after all. In truth, it’s hard to use divinity against artificial objects because divinity is related to life and nature.”
“Well, teleportation and psychokinesis are magical areas, right?”
“Yes. I think it’s better to wait for outside help now.”
“It can’t be helped. Oh, what happened to the lord?”
“He wasn’t there when the building collapsed. He seemed to have escaped safely.”
“Hahaha. Did he try to kill all servants because he thinks that will shut their mouth somehow?”
Senia just laughed bitterly at the cruel conclusion while looking at Carr’s face. In the end, Tess stopped and let himself relax. He wondered how many minutes since they had been here.
Senia was sitting in one place just like the first time he had opened his eyes. She looked like a doll and statue to protect Carr’s side with a rather modest attitude. A mass of miraculous light cast a slight shade on her face.
From his position, her eyes were so sad and troubled that Tess only stared blankly at her. He had met dozens of women so far but had never seen such expression.
Senia suddenly raised her head and smiled at Tess after noticing his piercing gaze.
“Why are you doing that?”
“Huh? Oh no. What should I say…? I’m worried about him.”
“That isn’t what I asked for.”
“….no, I do not want to hear this,” Tess lightly shrugged his shoulder and thought he had imagined himself some nonsense.
“By the way, Senia, didn’t you get yourself into this? Why did you do that?”
“That’s…. Just like I said earlier. Because I believed it was a way for the people.”
“Even though you made the lord unhappy?” He asked her teasingly but Senia didn’t panic.
There was only a bit of regret on her smile.
“If that resentment is directed at me, that’s fine. I always put human life first to live as a saint, but I know I can’t satisfy everyone.”
“Huh. Quite different from the rumour.”