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Chapter 28: Knight VS Knight
It had been two weeks since the conversation between Aina and the Headmaster. Vernell and his group were now fighting against the Headmaster’s faction.
These people were Knights who had protected the previous Saint, had their achievements recognized, and were teachers; they had unexpectedly betrayed humanity. They didn’t hesitate to participate in the operation to clean up all these traitors.
He did wonder about their reasons for doing this despite being such decorated individuals.
However, protecting Elrise and becoming her strength was more important to Vernell than such things.
“Saint-sama, don’t be fooled. That man, Supple, is a follower of the Witch! You must not be deceived! Please believe me! All my actions and words, everything is for Saint-sama!”
“Yes, I believe you. Everything you did is for your Saint’s sake. That’s exactly why I’m sure you are a follower of Witch.”
Elrise calmly responded to the Headmaster’s words.
But Vernell’s group was unable to understand what they were talking about.
She believed every action of the Headmaster was for Saint’s sake, yet that’s why he was the Witch’s follower? That was an odd thing to say.
But it seemed the headmaster understood what she meant, and his expression changed.
“The secret of the Saint and the Witch’s identity, I know all about it.”
“I see… so you know… since that is the case, there’s no need to keep the charade…”
As the Headmaster heard Elrise’s words, he drew his sword.
Vernell still didn’t understand what they were talking about.
Yet, he instinctively knew it was a topic that touched at the very core of something.
“The secret of the Saint…? The identity of the Witch…? Elrise-sama, what are you talking about…”
“Leila, we will talk about it later. For now, concentrate on what is in front of you.”
It seemed that it was something that even Leila, who was a Prime Knight, knew nothing about.
Without giving them any time to think about what that meant, the headmaster slashed at Elrise.
It was fast — he honestly thought so.
Even though he was already old, he still possessed a speed that could cut through the wind.
The fact he was once a Prime Knight who protected the previous Saint was not an empty title.
But beside Elrise right now was Leila, the current Prime Knight.
She quickly drew her sword and parried the Headmaster’s strike.
“Diaz-dono! I won’t forgive you for pointing your blade at Elrise-sama!”
“Leila Scott, huh…”
Leila and the Headmaster, past and present Prime Knights respectively, began their battle with each other.
They swung their swords so fast they became silvery-white afterimages. The echoing sound of clashing metal surrounded them.
Their swords clashed against each other in a crisscross pattern, with each clash producing sparks. Just as their swords seemed to separate, they clashed several times once more.,
The clashes were too fast, it gave the impression that they struck against each other several times in the same moment.
Because it was a battle between experts, their swords clashed as if they were in a mock battle for a class.
When Vernell was learning about swordplay during lessons, they had pointed their swords slowly using wooden swords, and they were supposed to move equally slowly to receive it, all while searching for the best possible movement. Afterward, the roles of attacking and defending were switched.
The goal of this kind of training was to confirm one’s technique and movement, as well as to learn how to reduce any wasteful movements.
The slow movements of the attacker were blocked by the defender just as slowly.
If any wasted movements occurred during this moment, you could quickly see the moment that “you wouldn’t be to defend” since the movements were so slow. As such, you became sensitive towards such movements.
Repeating all this would slowly reduce wasted movements until it reached a paradoxical point called a “moving deadlock.” In that situation, regardless of how much both sides moved, both would be unable to hit each other. This would then be the end of the lesson.
Leila and Headmaster’s fight was exactly that. Because both had no wasted movement, it became a battle between equals.
However — it was frighteningly fast.
Did those two see a world where time stopped moving?
If you attack at that speed, those who defend would only have an instant to react.
Yet terrifyingly, both of them were capable of effectively reacting to the enemy’s movement despite the minuscule amount of time between attacks.
They switched between the role of attacker and defender over and over.
It was as if they were experiencing accelerated time, their battle level was that extraordinary.
While everyone else was gaping at the battle between Leila and the Headmaster, Elrise was the only one who noticed another scene.
Vernell only noticed it after he heard Aina’s voice.
Vernell didn’t even think to check on her.
This wasn’t because Vernell was cruel or anything.
It’s just that in this ever-moving battlefield, no one had the leisure to care about a lone girl.
Everyone was desperately trying to keep themselves alive.
It’s not like Vernell was a cold person.
It’s just that this was not the right time for that. So with that kind of thinking, he didn’t think to look towards Aina.
However, it was always during those moments where no one was watching because “it was not the right time for that” that tragedy occurs.
Even so, Elrise alone… Regardless of when it was, she was able to notice the tiniest cry for help every time.
Even if it was not the right time for it, she still chose to answer these cries.
“Saint-sama… please let go of me… I… after doing all that… I can no longer face my otou-sama and everyone…”
Aina raised her tear-streaked face towards Elrise, and Elrise embraced her and lightly patted her back to calm her down.
Even if she was the greatest Saint of all time, it was impossible to save everyone.
Regardless of how capable she was, she was no god but only a mere human.
Even so, she would at least save those who she could reach.
If those who needed help are within her reach, she would never abandon them.
Seeing this unchanging and precious soul in action, Vernell was reminded of his own first encounter with Elrise.
“It’s okay… I do understand. You’re just trying to protect me. You just failed a little bit at it.”
“But… I… did an unforgivable thing… to side along with the Witch…”
“I forgive you.”
She will surely forgive every sin that was directed towards her.
Elrise’s voice towards Aina didn’t even carry the slightest bit of blame in it. Instead, it was filled with a kindness that embraced her.
As if a dam had burst within her, Aina started weeping profusely. Yet Elrise didn’t even care that her dress was soiled with Aina’s tears and simply continued to embrace her.
“It’s alright. Everyone will understand. Everyone will forgive you. Isn’t it? Vernell-kun?”
Elrise called to Vernell for his assent.
Then Vernell hurriedly nodded, and his actions were closely followed by his group.
Right then, Supple-sensei who had been fighting against the Headmaster’s faction just a moment ago was crawling on the floor and looking toward Elrise while spouting “How precious…” Go back to fighting already, you Perverted Glasses Bastard.
“Of course it is.”
“Yes. You didn’t do anything bad in the first place.”
“It’s alright, Aina-san. You can still make up for your mistake.”
Vernell, John, and Eterna said these words with smiles.
“Yes… from now on, let’s work hard together…?”
“Yes. It is reassuring to have you as a comrade.”
Mary and Fiora also agreed wholeheartedly.
This was an especially meaningful statement from Mary, whose hand had been slapped away by Aina, and who she had thought of as a cheater. There was no anger at all in Mary’s voice.
Vernell and Mary reached out to Aina with their hands.
Then Aina, who had once slapped away that hand… even though she was still a bit discomposed by the situation, this time she firmly grasped their hands.
With the addition of Aina to Vernell’s group, the others who were also fooled into it like her roused their anger towards the Headmaster’s faction and joined the fight.
The Allied side has better momentum and, on top of that, even though the other side was comprised of former Knights, they were already old.
Their capabilities were already less than half of what they once had during their heyday.
But what truly decided their victory was the fact that the Headmaster’s faction was somehow… fighting reluctantly.
Perhaps they had come to the realization of their own mistakes already.
They were people who had once fought to protect the world. Perhaps somewhere in their heart, they wished to be stopped.
Therefore, Vernell’s group, which was mostly made up of students, could win against them.
But the last man standing was different.
The Headmaster… Diaz alone still battled with Leila without any signs that his power had declined.
“Why did you do all this?! Why you, who fought alongside Alexia-sama against the Witch! Why did you sell your soul to the Witch?!”
“I sold nothing, I am still me. The person I protect is still the same from back then. I’ve always protected my Saint.”
“Stop your traitorous nonsense!”
With Vernell’s current capabilities, he could only barely follow their blades’ afterimages.
The silver of their swords flashed and the clang of metal echoed with each hit. The two fighters kept switching positions and circling each other.
Within a second, there were 3… no, 4 colliding sounds heard, each clang reverberating as the rhythm changed.
Without any rest, without faltering, each blow continued to echo.
How many times had they slashed at each other already? How many times had their swords struck against each other?
At the very least, it was already beyond a hundred.
Even so, their speed didn’t decline but actually increased instead.
“Leila-dono! We shall give support!”
Besides Vernell’s group, the people who got fooled also tried to help Leila and ran towards her.
But was there leeway to interrupt such a fight?
If there would be anyone who could do so, it could only be Elrise.
“Hum, small fries… back off! Nothing would change, regardless of how many of you will come over!”
As Diaz swung his sword, thunder boomed and spread around the training room.
By the time they noticed it, each one of them got blown away and lost consciousness. Vernell’s group was quite a distance away from this blow but were also brought to their feet by the shockwave.
Only Elrise was left standing within the radius of the blow, as she continued to watch the battle of her knight.
Leila avoided Diaz’s swing by leaping over it and then swung down with a powerful two-handed strike.
The fierce strike pierced the training room’s floor, and Diaz, who was able to avoid it, once again swung his sword.
But Leila swung her sword through and along the floor, up towards Diaz. This allowed her to block his oncoming strike.
A loud metal clash shook the eardrums of the fighters and caused Leila and Diaz to stagger slightly.
But they were able to keep their footing steady, and once again they switched stances and resumed their fight head-on.
“Traitor, you say? Don’t make me laugh. We didn’t betray the world. It was the world that betrayed us. You will one day understand. And you will despair against such a world.”
“What kind of incomprehensible things are you trying to say?!”
“It is fine if you do not understand. All I have done is protect Alexia-sama.”
They contemplated each other as they continued to cross swords.
Diaz looked at Leila’s eyes that were filled with fiery anger.
Leila looked back at Diaz’s eyes that were somehow tranquil as an ancient tree.
They broke the deadlock between their swords and then aimed their hands towards their respective weapons at the same time.
Diaz’s sword contained thunder, while Leila’s sword contained a scorching flame.
The thunder sword and flame sword struck against each other, dispersing their lightning and heat towards the other side.
Leila aimed a sweeping blow with her sword which Diaz avoided by crouching. As such, the Training room wall had a scorched hole carved on it.
Diaz slashed his sword upward, which Leila avoided by dodging sideways.
The thunder struck the ceiling, and the once-white ceiling now bore a black spot.
As they kept sending thunder and flame towards each other, the temperature within the training room gradually rose.
Yet both of them didn’t retreat. They learned each other’s movements to improve their own and continued to make their own attacks sharper and more accurate.
“What foolish thing are you saying? After defeating the Witch, Alexia-sama was already…”
Leila found it puzzling to continue fighting for a person who had already died.
There was nothing to protect anymore. The previous Saint, Alexia, was already gone.
There might be some honor left to protect, but Diaz’s actions were the opposite of honorable.
She couldn’t understand why he did such things.
“You want to say she died? Nay, that’s not the case. Alexia-sama is still alive. She was only proclaimed as dead!”
“Wha–! What did you say!?”
“Then those same foolish people who were once protected by Alexia-sama, they forgot the grace she gave them and tried to kill her instead! That’s why–! As her Guard Knight, I need to protect her! Even if I must go against the whole world!”
The inconceivable truth that came out from Diaz’s mouth caused Leila to freeze for just an instant.
It was so short that it could hardly even be called an instant.
It’s a gap of about 0.1 seconds, something that normally wouldn’t be noticeable.
But in this level of fight, such an instant was plenty.
Even as she reacted to Diaz’s swing, she got flung back towards a wall.
Then Diaz approached and forcefully swung his sword once more.
Even as her sword managed to receive his blows, Leila slowly got pinned back by Diaz.
“Wha, what are you talking about…”
“Hum… your Saint already seems to be aware of it though? Elrise, why don’t you tell them? Why don’t you tell your knight the truth!?”
He continued to push forward and his sword got closer to Leila’s face.
Even as her shivering hand managed to block it, Leila was in a disadvantageous position.
But Leila then kicked Diaz in the stomach and forcefully opened the distance between. Because of this, she barely succeeded in escaping from being pinned against the wall.
Diaz didn’t make a follow-up attack against her, instead, he just raised his eyebrow and smirked.
He smirked at her, who was unaware of the truth, but… it also looked like there was a bit of pity mixed in his expression.
“If it is impossible, I will tell them in your stead! Listen, the identity of the Witch — is the Saint of the previous generation! The identity of the Witch you are trying to defeat this time is Saint Alexia!”
Leila really froze at Diaz’s words this time.
No, not just her.
Vernell, Eterna, even Supple.
Everyone but Elrise was held frozen by the unbelievable words they just heard.
??? “0.1 seconds… there is an opening of 0.1 seconds! Revolcane!!” 1
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