The two didn’t say anything. Only their wooden swords clashed with each other and that signaled the start of the duel.
It seemed they were very focused. They didn’t notice that Ryan had come to stand next to Nainiae. They both lightly pulled their wooden swords from the clashed standoff position as they dragged their feet.
‘As I thought.’
Inaril and Riley were dragging their feet in opposite directions from each other. Riley spun his body around once and swung his sword in a diagonal angle.
He didn’t use mana.
He had decided to fight Inaril with pure swordsmanship alone. Inaril’s clothes were making flapping sounds in the air. Her sword was making a sweeping sound through air as well. Riley started to chase these noises with his ears.
‘I think I understand.’
By making decisions based on the visual, sound and intuition, Riley was going to avoid Inaril’s sword and deal a blow. However, Riley’s sword was not able to strike the target. Instead, it collided with something solid.
It was Inaril’s wooden sword.
It seemed she was also surprised by Riley’s move. She opened her mouth lightly and then turned her body.
For the third strike, her footing changed.
Inaril muttered inside. She raised her senses to the edge in order to read Riley’s next move. Inaril swung her arm.
Against an ordinary opponent, she would have dealt a strike well before the third attempt. However...only another blunt collision sound could be heard, much like earlier.
‘…Someone who was blessed by the sword.’
‘…Someone who was blessed by the sword.’
They both muttered those words inside. It looked like they were declaring that the warm up was over. They both tightened their grips and accelerated their speed.
‘I’ll end it in next five moves.’
‘I’ll end it in next four moves.’
‘No, three moves!’
‘I’ll just end it now!’
‘I’ll finish it now!’
The two had a conversation through their swords. They either glared or gritted their teeth and started to swing their swords.
Their swings were so fast that they were invisible. The only thing that others could confirm from their movements was that they could hear the sounds of something being swung through the air. It was to the point of being impossible for them to check what was being swung to where and at what speed.
“Are they really… not using mana?”
Ryan was watching their duel. He asked Nainiae who was also vacantly watching the duel. Detection magic sparkled in her eyes; she checked the duel and nodded.
“Not even a little?”
“That’s right. From what I’ve observed, I think so.”
As if she was mesmerized, Nainiae watched the two swing the swords and twist their bodies. She then realized that there were others who had been inside the house, who were watching this by peeking from the window.
‘Is everyone awake?’
Nainiae had soundproof magic placed surround the area so the sounds of the swords won’t leak out. She opened her eyes big and checked who it was.
Of the people who were watching through the window, he had the most serious face. Nainiae bit her lips and focused on their duel again.
‘That woman… She can’t even see. How is she able to endure Young Master’s sword like that?’
‘That man… He said he is not even a dragon. How is he able to endure my grandmother’s sword like that?’
Nara and Iril were watching the duel from the window. They muttered like that inside and gulped.
Near the chin and the tip of a foot, their swords grazed past them very closely. Again, like snakes, their wooden swords started to get tangled up in strange ways.
From the next exchange of blows, the wooden swords made a loud cracking sound and spat a piece of wood. The two both tilted their heads to the side to dodge it and started to swing the swords again.
‘As I thought, she is incredible. I think I can understand a little why other people complained so much about my swordsmanship.’
Riley had never had a duel last this long in his entire life. He thought about how people had said he was ridiculous after facing his swordsmanship. Riley looked at Inaril.
‘You are incredible, but…’
Her way of swinging or the type of footing she used was very different, perhaps because she had lived in a different world from his. However… she was evenly matched in skill.
‘I think it would be good to end it here.’
Before Inaril’s body could be harmed as Nainiae was concerned about, Riley decided to end this duel now. He started to breath a little differently so he could move the mana inside his body.
“Will you be all right? After that…it could be dangerous for you too?”
Because she was blind, her energy sensory was a little ahead of Riley. Having realized the mana movement, Inaril asked Riley. Riley responded,
“Who is worrying about who?”
Riley wrapped his sword in a blue light as he asked back. Inaril also layered her sword with blue light.
“I already died once. However, Young Master, you…”
“Well, I already died once too.”
Riley jokingly said that. He then pulled the wooden sword to his back and charged in.
“… It’s coming.”
With a serious look on her face, Nainiae mumbled. Ryan asked while looking at her, wondering what that was about. However, he didn’t get to hear an answer.
Unlike blunt noises so far, it was a more solid collision sound that echoed throughout the area.
Ryan and Nainiae’s bodies faltered.
‘Just now, that was?’
Their swords were wrapped in ample amount of mana and they were swung and collided. The collision caused a whirlwind which swept through the area.
Ryan gasped for air and narrowly opened his eyes that he had tightly shut earlier.
The whirlwind still continued.
It was so powerful that Ryan was ashamed of the fact that he was titled ‘Strong Sword.’ He felt like he had finally seen a glimpse of real strong swords. It was at that moment.
Again, two swords of blue light seemed to be drawing two lines across the air, and… Once again, they caused a loud sound of explosion and whirlwind.
‘What is this…’
Ryan was pushed far back. He blocked his face with his arm and narrowed his eyes so he could see what was happening in front of him.
The exchanges of blows were no different from earlier in speed and intensity. In fact, they were significantly faster. Ryan held his breath and strained his eyes.
‘Is this really the height of swordsmanship achieved by human beings?’
If it was Ryan who was performing such moves, then he would have exhausted all of his mana with a single blow of such kind. However… as if Riley and Inaril were snorting at Ryan’s inside question, they were pouring out mana into their weapons and swinging away.
‘She can’t even see, yet…’
From the clash of the swords, Inaril’s old house shook.
‘He is so young, yet…’
From the clash of the swords, the tree branches shook.
‘Is this… a dream?’
Ryan watched the wooden swords crossing the air without finding their targets and occasionally clashing against the opponent’s sword. He vacantly watched such moments continuing. He realized this was not a dream. He was impressed.
‘… This should be about the limit for her.’
Riley still hadn’t realize that there were people watching. He was only fixated on Inaril. He clashed his sword with hers once again and muttered inside,
‘Although it is from a past, as expected of someone who was blessed, I think I would have had to exchange blows for days if there was no handicap.’
Riley was glaring at Inaril who was parrying his sword blows. The handicap that he was thinking about was the time.
He was not thinking about a minute or a second. He was thinking about her lifespan.
‘My body is…’
It seemed that Inaril had also realized this. She cringed her face a little.
Her body was at its limit. The very first symptom that appeared as a response to this was her ivory white skin.
Her skin was as white as it was before the duel. Now, her face was as pale as a corpse. Even Riley furrowed his brows because he felt bad about this.
‘I’m not saying this because she managed to do all this despite being blind. I’m more surprised that she demonstrated such abilities despite having a dead body.’
Riley thought about what Iril had told him. She said that Inaril was always next to the fireplace and keeping watch over the Salvation. Also, she had spent a lot of time covering her cold skin which was due to her dead body. While thinking about these…Riley pushed off Inaril.
Inaril was pushed to the back. At the same time, Riley had a moment to spare. At that moment, he detected the gazes from various people who were watching them. He moved his eyes toward outside the isolation barrier.
He found the faces of people who were sticking close to the house’s window. Riley’s eyes ran into Ian’s. Riley hesitated for a moment.
‘He let his guard down!’
It was a split second. However, among skilled swordsmen, a gap in defense like this was huge. Having found this, Inaril thrusted her sword toward Riley, aiming at his neck.
‘… I won!’
Inaril thought she precisely pierced Riley’s gap in defense. She was certain of the victory. At that moment,
“As I thought, you are sharp.”
The tone of his voice sounded like he was thinking that was a close call. He avoided Inaril’s sword with a paper thin margin. He put strength in his arms and bounced away Inaril’s wooden sword from her hands.
Inaril lost the sword from her hands. Wondering how it had come to this, her face moved towards Riley.
“How did you do it?”
Inaril was sure that she had won. However, at an instant, Riley shifted his position to the side. She was asking about that.
“At an instant, your movement…”
When she aimed for the gap in his defense, she was not able to read his movement. She muttered in puzzled tone. Riley responded,
“If I was my former self, the game would have been decided by that gap just now, but…”
Riley pierced the ground with the wooden sword he had. He shrugged and added,
“I’m different from who I was from my past life.”
To resolve the curiosity that Inaril had, Riley explained that he had used time magic.
Although it was only for a moment, Riley was able to move so fast that even Inaril’s senses could not follow. It was because Riley had used Acceleration.
“I see. Magic…”
“If you think that was cheating, then you could think that too.”
Inaril shook her head.
“I knew that you were holding out a move for the sake of me who is an old woman. Also… it is not right to let good abilities or weapons rot away without using them.”
Inaril thought about why she was able to aim for the gap in Riley’s defense. She then realized that he was being considerate.
“That was magnificent.”
Inaril bowed and expressed her gratitude. She looked at her hands. They were shaking. It was due to the reaction from the duel but also because she was overcome with emotions.
“I should be the one to say.”
It seemed Riley also learned a few things from the duel against Inaril. Although it was hard to tell, his hands were shaking as well. To calm them down, he tried making fists and releasing them. Riley also lowered his head.
“I have resolved all of my longings. I have nothing left now.”
“Is that so?”
Riley lifted his head and asked Inaril who was vacantly standing there.
“You really don’t have anything left?”
Having heard the question, Inaril aimed her face toward Riley. She then lightly smiled and said,
“I have a dead body now but I used to be a human before. It is not like I don’t have any regrets left. However…Should I call this a lifelong wish…Something I had wished for a very long time that has been resolved?”
Riley felt like he knew what her wish was. Riley asked as if he was trying to get her to spill the beans.
“You mean losing?”
“…In swordsmanship, to someone.”
Riley was quite sympathetic to this.
Since his past life, he also had been wishing he could lose to someone.
“Didn’t you say you had lost once to Ian?”
With a lightened heart, Riley shrugged. To switch the mood, he brought up Ian. Inaril hid her lips with her fist and started to snicker.
“Huhuhu… Yes. That’s right. That’s true.”
Inaril started to explain the other wishes she had that she was afraid that she might leave unfulfilled.
“Perhaps these are not regrets or dying wishes…I do have a few things that I could call my worries.”
Inaril said she was aware that she was not in position to ask for favors, but she asked if she could leave them to Riley. Inaril started to explain what they were.
“First, it is about Iril, my granddaughter. So that she could protect herself, I taught her swordsmanship, but that’s all I taught her, so she probably doesn’t know much about how the world works. I’m worried about that.”
“Since you said ‘first,’ then it sounds like you have another one?”
“Second, it is about Ryan, the last pupil that I took in. I took him in because Iril asked me to, but I have not yet taught him much… You said you two were siblings, right?”
“I heard that monsters will swarm Romella Village soon. I don’t know if my body will last until then. I was indebted to many people, so I would like to step in, however…”
Although Riley was waiting, the answer he wanted to hear was not coming. He slowly moved his eyes and looked at Ian. He was stuck in the window like a cicada.