31 – Martial Arts Competition (1).
The martial arts competition went exactly as expected by me and my older brother.
Edith Douglas built a winning streak with unusual momentum, and finally reached the pinnacle of the martial arts competition.
In response to his sword attack, the other participants' weapons were dislodged, and he was able to avoid all their attacks.
The most impressive thing was that no matter how dangerous the attack was, he always maintained a stable posture.
This was impossible unless one was extremely talented.
I realized this by looking at his swordsmanship, that he must have been formally trained.
I had heard that he was the captain of a famous mercenary group, but did he receive formal training before becoming a mercenary?
His effortless movements did not match the swordsmanship of a mercenary's roughness who had been trained in real battles.
“Amazing inaction, Edith Douglas!”
As if he expected this to happen, he enjoyed the applause of the crowd with a relaxed attitude.
Beside me, my older brother, who had won a lot this time without wasting any more money, was cheering, and I was watching that absurd spectacle.
Just like me, Adilun, who was next to me, saw that and whispered to me.
“Originally, does a person have to lose once to come to his senses while gambling? Or isn’t it a big deal?”
“It is out of my hands now.
I don't know what to do.”
I said with a sigh.
“You must never do that.
If you get caught gambling later…”
“What if I get caught later?”
At my question, Adliun looked at me with a creepy smile, dark expression, and bloody eyes.
“I will send a request for a breakup.”
I will keep that in mind.”
To words that at first glance seem bloody, I answered seriously and honestly.
“Wouldn't it be better to buy gifts? It's been a while since we've been to the capital, so family members will love it…”
While Adilun and I were discussing the seriousness of the situation, my older brother was seriously considering what to do with the money he won.
It seemed that he was trying to bring some presents to the family members.
Should I say that it was fortunate that the money he won is not being spent on strange things or gambling again?
Anyway, the National Foundation Day event, which had many incidents, ended with great success, and now it was time to go back.
'Now, I must prepare for the great duel.'
'At this point, there is roughly a month left until the great duel.
I need to improve my skills.'
'As soon as I return to Ortaire, I will immediately devote myself to training.'
* * *
Edith Douglas was looking straight ahead with a tense expression.
Even though he won the martial arts competition and witnessed the emperor in person, he wasn’t nervous.
But now he was very nervous.
“Good work, Edith.”
Your Excellency the Duke.”
The one who made Edith nervous was Crocus Glosuna, Chancellor of the empire.
He looked at Edith with a rare happy face and said.
“You won the martial arts competition… …Yes-yes.
You took it for granted, but I am so happy to see you win in person.”
“It’s all thanks to Your Excellency, who took care of me, supported me to become a strong warrior, and believed in me in the past.”
“No, a martial arts competition is a place where you can’t predict what kind of strong person will show up.
In such a place, you, who won the championship by defeating many strong players, must have put in that much painstaking effort.”
“So that’s great.”
“I don’t know what to do with you complimenting me beyond measure, Your Excellency.”
“Oh, was my appreciation that long? So let’s get back to the main topic.
I have work for you to do.”
“Please tell me.”
“You should know that Aiden and Rodenov are fighting a territory war because as I told you before.”
“Yes, Your Excellency.”
“As Aiden’s great warriors, you and your colleagues should help.”
“I will do that.”
Edith immediately knelt down and answered.
He didn’t ask why.
No, there was no need to ask.
Because Edith owes Crocus such a great favor that he would die if Crocus ordered him.
Immediately, go to Aiden.
Go and tell him, who must be probably struggling with a great duel by now, that I will help him.
Do you understand?”
We will depart immediately.”
And one more thing.”
Please tell me.”
If you are in danger of dying, surrender and give up supporting Aiden.”
“…I will keep that in mind.”
* * *
Crocus looked at Edith, who had left the office, and remembered the first time he saw Edith.
‘He’s a good guy.
He grew up quite nicely.’
Crocus remembered how Aristata, who saw Edith and the children who seemed to be his poor comrades dying of starvation on the street, asked Crocus directly.
“Can we keep…”
Crocus, who was about to refuse, believed that accepting useless children from the poor would only waste the family’s resources, but then changed his mind when he saw Edith’s eyes looking at him.
Those eyes yearn to live, they themselves enhanced the dignity of him.
Those, who know how to crave, will grow steeply and eventually see the light.
Crocus thought it would be useful if he raised him as a knight, so from then on, Crocus put his heart and soul into raising the children who were with him into strong warriors.
Years later, the results returned spectacularly.
He Won the National Foundation Day martial arts competition.
Of course, since it was a contest to find hidden gemstones and appoint them as knights, the level might be lower than that of the Imperial Knight Wars, but Edith’s level was clearly one level higher.
Even if he participated in the imperial knight war in a few months, he won’t be easily pushed back.
“So don’t die.
You still have a long way to go.
Let’s glorify Glosuna for me.”
Crocus clenched his chin and muttered with a satisfied smile.
* * *
The way back was the same.
The only difference was that the atmosphere between me and Adilun in the carriage had relaxed a little, unlike when National Foundation Day began.
“National Foundation Day… It was very eventful.”
Adilun stuck her head out of the window and looked at Enassa with regretful eyes.
“Are you feeling sad?”
“I would be lying if I said I wasn’t sad.
It was fun.
I had quite a few experiences that I couldn’t have in Rodenov.
Of course, I was tired as well.
But I really enjoyed it.”
“I’m glad you enjoyed it.”
“What about you?”
“I too enjoyed it.
Perhaps the best part of all of that is that my relationship with you has gotten a little better.”
“Well, it was because of your attitude… …Don’t lose heart though.
If you show your old self again, I will show my old self too.”
I will be careful.”
Somehow, I thought I would say something embarrassingly, but, sure enough, I stopped laughing when I saw Adilun immediately blush.
Somewhat cold words came out right away, so I struggled to stop laughing.
Adilun tried to calm her reddened face, and I tried to hold back my laughter.
After a moment of silence, Adilun spoke seriously.
“It’s time for the great duel now.”
“What are we going to do? It should have been about a month.”
“I do not know.
Since Aiden doesn’t know who to send, we should do everything we can.”
“And I’ll probably stop by Rodenov before the start of the great duel.”
“Yes? oh Come to think of it, my father is conducting a test…”
I must be willing to respond.
At least I'm going out on behalf of Rodenov, so there will have to be a minimum verification process.”
“I don’t know what kind of test my father will give… …But cheer up.
Because of my father’s personality, he will never go overboard.”
“I am already prepared.”
“I’m glad then.”
After that, we kept our mouths shut as if we had promised we will not talk.
More than that, I didn’t know what to talk about.
Uncomfortable with the flowing silence in the swaying carriage, I shook my head to continue the conversation.
'What should I say?'
'Come to think of it, I still haven’t returned the handkerchief that Adilun gave me at the tournament.'
I immediately took out a finely folded handkerchief from which has a pattern of a dragon with a sword on it my bosom.
The embroidery that Adilun had placed for me was delicately revealing itself.
At that time, I was distracted for a while, so I couldn’t return it.”
“It’s okay if you don’t return that handkerchief.
Because I was thinking of giving it to you anyway.”
For some reason, those calm words shook my heart greatly.
“Ah, that, then.”
And… …In nine months, when I can fully trust you, give it back.”
She was talking about the promise she and I made that day.
So I replied with a smile.
“… I hope that day can come soon.”
“Is that so.”
She said with lowering her head a little in a soft and lower voice, but I was able to hear her.
What dwelled in her slightly lowered eyes was, without a doubt, a piece of hope.
And her face turned red again.
Adilun must have realized that too, so she turned her head and started talking to me as if making excuses.
“I’m a bit tired, so I’ll close my eyes.”
Have a good night’s sleep.”
I smiled and turned my gaze to the window so she could rest.
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