“To think that you were this strong,” Rebecca says, wonder clear in her tone and gaze.
“You haven’t even seen Alicia’s true skills yet,” Gilles tells her, grinning proudly.
He beat me to it.
I was just thinking of saying something like that!
I’ll take you on,” Nate says quietly.
He doesn’t take his eyes off me as he pulls out a second sword from his waist and levels it at me.
Oh, he was carrying two swords this whole time
…..Wait, the first time I thought he used his right hand to draw his sword and pass it over to me… But this time he used his left…..
could he be a dual wielder
But they’re so rare! I’ve never met anyone who could dual wield….
The reason being that wielding two swords simultaneously requires not only better concentration and hand-eye coordination, but also considerably more strength.
Even with lighter swords, such a thing would be extremely difficult, but I know from experience that his swords aren’t light.
The one I’m currently holding is, by itself, quite heavy already.
“…..Rebecca, give me your sword,” I say as I look over at her.
“Eh… The quality won’t be any better though…” Rebecca tells me in wide-eyed bewilderment.
“It’s fine, so just hand it over.
Here, I’ll give this one back to you,” I say and then extend the sword out to Nate.
“Hah Mine’s not good enough for you now” he asks me, grimacing.
“No, it’s not that.
I want you to face me with your full strength.
You can’t do that with just one sword, right” I say, smiling.
Nate’s eyes widen.
Surely this level of observation isn’t something to be so surprised over, is it…. As a villainess, it’s only natural that I would pay close attention to others’ conduct.
“Ha! You really are watching closely,” Nate says with a light laugh before taking the sword from my hand.
Rebecca walks over to me then, too, and gives me her own sword.
It’s about the same weight and in the same state of disrepair as that rogue, Nate’s sword….
I’m sure this weapon too has seen many tireless days of hard use.
The state of the blade and the hilt shows just how hard Rebecca has been training.
I turn my eye back to Nate.
He’s already taken up his stance, both swords up and ready to parry or strike.
His expression is set with the bloodthirsty desire to run me through oozing out of every pore.
I smile at him, the corners of my lips rising ever so slightly as my eye bores into him.
For a moment, a mere split second, I have the satisfaction of seeing him falter.
My intention to fight full force was properly conveyed it seems.
“Their bloodlust is giving me chills.”
“Especially from that little lady….
I hear a few voices from amongst the crowd commenting.
….What wonderful praise.
I’m so happy that they were able to sense my battle spirit so completely.
“Whenever you’re ready, I’ll let you have the first move,” I tell him condescendingly, confidently, as if there’s no doubt in my mind who the victor will be.
“If you underestimate me, you’ll regret it,” Nate says quietly, his eyes focusing in on me like a lion stalking its prey.
There’s a moment of silence, of stillness, and then there’s a whirlwind flying forward as he throws himself towards me.
…..That speed! He closed the distance between us in an instant.
The moment I’m within reach, he sends a flurry of slashes and stabs whizzing towards me.
My head, my shoulder, abdomen, leg, nothing is safe.
I block and parry and dodge each of the blows as they come.
…..His strength too is remarkable.
Even though the continuous strikes show no signs of stopping, with each swing, each slice, every move he makes carries a heaviness, an overwhelming power that couldn’t be managed without an astounding amount of muscle.
He’s likely the most skilled swordsman that I’ve ever faced.
“That girl’s incredible….”
“She’s actually keeping up with Commander Nate.
They’re equally matched!”
“They’re swords are moving too fast.
I can’t see them!”
“Look! The Commander’s serious…..
I can’t believe she can block those blows with those tiny arms.”
The surroundings are growing more excited by the second, their voices climbing higher and higher as the constant clanging of our swords ring out through the courtyard.
“Alicia!” I hear Gilles cry out over the din.
Right before my eye I see the point of a blade descending.
It should be flying towards me at an unparalleled speed, but to me it looks as if it’s moving in slow motion.
I dodge to the left.
Not a moment after stepping out of the blade’s path, it’s slicing past my ear with strands of my hair fluttering down to the ground.
…..There’s no doubt.
If I’m even slightly careless, I’ll lose my life here.
Nate is not holding back.
Every attack has the intent to kill.
“How could she avoid that….”
“…..She has to be using magic!”
“Agh! So she’s been using magic That b*tch! She’s fighting dirty!”
“What’d you expect! She’s a noble! All they know how to do is cheat us!”
Suddenly the gasps of wonder and awe have turned to heckling, howling jeers aimed directly at me.
“Shut up,” Nate orders the hissing crowd, sending a sharp gaze roving over the circle of them.
Immediately, the hollering stops.
They all shut their mouths with a snap.
“She’s not using any underhanded tricks,” he says simply, and then looks over at me.
The corners of his lips rise in a smile.
Oh He’s an unexpectedly good guy.
I wonder if he’s the type to like people who fight fair, letting their honest skills do all the talking
“….I was going to say that,” Gilles complains.
“Princess, I’ll admit it.
You’ve got skill.”
“You’re not so bad yourself.”
Even as I’m saying this, he’s already falling back into his battle stance.
To think that adding one more sword into the mix would make him this formidable….
I really want to learn this technique.
“I can’t even see their movements anymore.”
“The little lady’s only defending, so doesn’t that mean it’s the commander’s win”
“What the hell’re you saying Of course it’s the commander’s win.
He’s the strongest person here!”
“…..I can’t believe she’s a noblewoman.
What sort of lady can fight like that”
“Once the commander gets going, no one can keep up with his speed!”
Although somewhere in the back of my head I realize that the crowd has started talking again, I’m too focused on the endless clashing of our swords to listen to what they’re saying.
I’ll have to ask Gilles about it later.
….I want to hurry up and counterattack, but he’s not giving me any openings.
“This is the end,” Nate declares, his eyes shining, the corners of his lips arching up as he ramps up the speed of his attack even further.
Involuntarily, I feel goosebumps spreading across my arms as I look at that expression.
He looks so dastardly….! It’s absolutely wonderful.
However! I definitely won’t lose! There’s bound to be an opportunity, a weak spot that I can exploit, I just need to find it.
I can’t be impatient now.
I just need to stay calm and observe.
I’m sure there’s an opening.
Nate steps forward with all his strength, kicking off the ground and leaping into the air over my head.
As gravity takes him, he drops down like a meteor, both of his blades cleaving through the air, ready to slice through me upon impact.
Like a kijin in the flesh, he looks like a demonic asura or some battle god descending to take my head.
These thoughts just spring to my mind as I see his blazing eyes and glinting swords diving towards me.
….But then I see it.
I drop my sword to the ground and step to the side, narrowly avoiding his blades.
At the same time, I throw a punch straight into his abdomen as hard as I can.
With the force of my punch, I divert his trajectory and he’s sent flying a short distance away…..
Since he’s a man though, he doesn’t sail through the air like Jane did.
He lands much closer.
No matter how strong you are, how agilely you can move, if you can’t make calm, quick judgments on the battlefield, you will die.
Making wise decisions during a fight is everything.
Just like how throwing away my sword at the very end was vital to my victory.
As he lays there stunned for a moment, no one moves.
No one speaks.
It’s as silent as the grave as I make my way over to Nate.
By the time I get there, he’s already picking himself up off the ground, and rolling out his shoulders and neck.
And… is he crying No….
there’s no way.
“I can’t believe… barehanded…!” Nate mutters under his breath, his voice quavering slightly.
No, he’s definitely not crying… Is he….
Nate looks over at me.
“It’s my loss.
I’m sorry for looking down on you,” he says, an easy smile breaking out on his face.
It seems he’s acknowledged me now.
As I thought, rather than being recognized for mouthing off some pretty words, I’m much happier gaining approval through proving my abilities.
…..Oof, I wasn’t actually trying to insult Liz-san just now.
These are just my honest thoughts! It’s merely coincidental that I ended up rejecting her whole methodology for getting things done.
It’s a shame though, since she really is, without a doubt, stronger than I am.
She’ll be recognized through her mere existence no matter where she goes.
That’s what it means to be the heroine and the saintess.
But she insists on wasting all these advantages.
“Just like Will said, you have astonishing dynamic visual acuity,” Nate says as my thoughts are slipping down the rabbit hole that is Liz-san’s presence in this world.
His words shock me back into the present.
….How would Uncle Will have known about my visual abilities