As soon as the Erich start the match, Leonardo immediately sprang into action as he was unsheathing his sword. He is fast! No doubt about it, the hero had great speed, which was impressive and probably gave his people faith that he would easily defeat me.
Sprinting across the arena, Leonardo slashed his sword down.
I quickly pulled out my sword and perfectly blocked Leonardo’s sword.
His eyes widened a bit in surprise, obviously because I had managed to defend so quickly. It seemed that today was his day of being continuously shocked by me!
“You sure don’t waste your time, eh” I said under my breath, parrying his attack carefully.
“Yes, I am.” He slashed at me again. FUCK it’s heavier than the first one!
Blinking in surprise, I retreated a little, but Leonardo continued to press on. He was obviously very strong as his attack pushed me backwards as I tried to defend.
I struggled to hold him off. Twisting my body, I managed to just about avoid the tip of the blade by mere millimeters. Jumping away, I quickly raised my sword up to block several consecutive slashes. I managed to force his blade away several times, but he relentlessly pursued me.
He looked like a man on a mission, a man that would not be stopped no matter what. And that mission was to defeat the man who had so shockingly disturbed his big day with Evelyn. I could not let that happen, I was determined to defeat him as well!
I parried Leonardo’s strike with my sword. I meet each and every strike of his with my blade! Finally, I succeeded in throwing him off my tracks by pushing him back with a single, forceful swing of my sword which he block it rather easy. I then seized the opportunity to hop a few steps back and put a good and far distance between him and myself.
What power! By just exchanging blow he almost broke the bones in my hands.
I remarked as I studied my trembling arms.
Can I truly defeat him?
That was the only thought in my head as I looked ahead at my opponent. The man who hailed as Hero by this kingdom, the great hero Leonardo!
I’m not looking down on him. I know exactly how strong this guy was as I got my ass kicked so easily by him. He is someone I can’t defeat with my level that time or even now. To be honest, even I drink that potion to power up, I’m still not sure if I can fight him in equal ground. I mean, I still don’t even feel anything changed. So, I can’t depend on it.
Well, I guess I just need to put a fight even I will get my ass kicked again or he died! Yes! There was no room for second guessing, or room for doubt. If he looked so confident enough, and I had to be confident too now. And it was too late to back out of this fight and tell everyone I had changed my mind…right? I could not just put a stop to this and call for a peace offering; everyone had already gathered to see an epic fight. To see which one would be strongest between the two of us and to see who would win Evelyn’s hand.
Yup, there was no way out of this. Not when Erich, had stood up for me that I would be permitted this duel and when Emilia, Fianna and Sera believed in me. Not that I wanted to back out, I was just thinking. Wasting time I didn’t have, instead of keeping my focus on Leonardo.
I quickly did an assessment of my strengths and weaknesses. Firstly, I had a great motivation. Evelyn. I needed her, I needed her so much. Maybe it was for my own selfish reasons, but I needed to win her back. So that we could be together! That thought alone was enough to make me brave enough to interrupt a wedding and challenge a man to a duel. She had told me that she had always loved me, no matter the outcome. I just had to make the outcome a positive one for her sake too.
Second, I had good skill with my gun and sword. I had great speed on both, and even though Leonardo was faster than I was; I could still fight him and find a way to succeed. And third, I did not want to lose in front of all these people. Because they wanted me to lose. I didn’t want, and would not give them the satisfaction of seeing me defeated. Maybe it was easier said than done but hey, even the impossible can happen. I had to believe in my strengths and the magic I have learned from Fianna!
Fourth, my wager with Leonardo had been that if I lost he would not imprison me. Not only would he not imprison me, but I was never to contact Evelyn again. I would have to go back to my world alone, never to see her again. I could not let that happen, no matter what! This arena was our battlefield, the ground upon which one of us would come out the champion.
I cleared my thoughts and focused ahead. I took a deep breath, chanting my strengthening magic, feeling it begin to flow through me. It made me feel lighter and faster, and my grip on my sword tightened. The boost of energy made me feel braver too, and I narrowed my eyes at my opponent in return. It was time to show him just how strong I could be with my magic! Even casting magic, the drug still hasn’t shown the effect.
Well, I can’t depend on it. Let’s just kept my eyes on the task at hand!
Leonardo lunging straight at me, he was fast, faster than before! And I blinked trying to make sure what I was seeing was really real. I knew my level was below his but this was too much! It was like he was floating on air, his swift feet barely touching the ground of the arena. I wondered how he did that! His level was far above mine after all. It was like he was almost flying! Are you telling the first attack just testing!? He was fast but was he faster than bullet? Only time would tell. Nah, forget about it, let’s prove it now!
I quickly pulled out my rifle gun and aimed it at Leonardo, giving me a perfect shot at him. I doubt one shot could injure him. But my shot should have been enough to slow him down a bit! I had to do everything I could to remain ahead in the fight.
BANG BANG BANG
I shot it at Leonardo but the man just calmly deflected my shots as he counter attacked with his sword. I raised my sword to block his attack at me again.
Our swords made a noise as they clashed, I tried to push him backwards with every ounce of strength I could muster. He was pushed back, but only just a bit. Tsk!
“You are strong. Stronger than before! Perhaps this will be an interesting duel after all.”
His acknowledgement of my speed and skill pleased me a bit, even though he was faster than me.
My lips curled into a grin as I glanced up and raised a hand to feel the rain beat down upon my glistening palm.
“Interesting duel, huh. But are you sure about this, Leonardo? Do you know that currently I’m ten times stronger than our first fight!”
Of course this is just bluff! Where the hell is my power up when I need it?!
Leonardo’s grin grew wider and I saw a burning glimmer in his eyes.
“All the better. I would very much prefer to crush you at your full strength. With that alone, Evelyn won’t complain!”
“So you’ve already decided that it will be your win?”
Leonardo chuckled. “Forgive my impudence. Of course my victory is guaranteed and even you’ll have to admit that you don’t have a very high chance of winning.”
“Even if I’m ten times stronger?” I smiled back thinly. “We’ll see about that.”
Leonardo answered with a strike that I parried with my sword.
Heavy!! So heavy that that my boots dug deeply into the earth as I struggled to withstand Leonardo’s attack before countering with a thrust of my own!
Leonardo deftly spun away from the deadly tip of my sword and responded with a riposte from his sword. I shifted my head to the side, Leonardo’s blade slicing through the air just millimeters away from my face. Despite the miss, the sharpness of the hero’s sword was somehow able to cut my cheek.
He raised his sword again, ready to attack once more and I assumed my own position. I knew the people, his people, were silently cheering him own. Everyone here wanted to see him victorious. But I had promised to give this fight my best and to come out victorious, and I wasn’t going to let down the people who wanted to see me win.
Leonardo slashed at me, forcing me back. Sparks flew as his blade clattered against mine. I spun my sword around and knocked him back.
Of course, he wasn’t felled so easily. He determinedly stood his ground and thrusted his sword at me, forcing me to deflect the blade by mere inches. I spun around and slammed the blade into his head, but he parried it with his sword, stopping the blow a few centimetres away from his temple.
Damn! This guy block every my attacks so precisely and perfectly!
What should I do? Should I have kept my distance and fire my guns at him? No, I shouldn’t. Leonardo can just deflect it like Elsha. How about magic? I mean the guy in front me literally excel in that. So, I don’t know if I should. But screw that! Accumulating my mana into my sword, I lunged forward. If I couldn’t defeat Leonardo through swordsmanship alone, I was going to combine it with magic to give me the edge.
Leonardo chortled as he blocked my attacks effortlessly. Relying on my brute strength, I stayed on my feet and continued moving unceasingly in an effort to take him by surprise.
However, the hero once again succeeded in defending himself from everything I threw at him and could still afford to counter with his sword. I deflected the tip of his blade desperately and even shot him at point blank when he had his guard down. But even that was blocked.
Hmmm, guess I should change things a little.
“Hey, take this!”
Leonardo was taken by surprise as I suddenly throwing a flash bang on his face, which instantly blind him temporary. Using this momentum, I moved in to take advantage, knowing that flash bang would only be able to buy me a few seconds. Those precious few seconds were more than enough. I could hear boo sounds from audience. Hush! I don’t care what method I have to use as I defeat him!
With a roar, I stepped forward and swung my sword…
…only to have it sent flying out of my grip, broken from a tremendous impact. I jumped back in reflex, my mind unable to catch up with my body, and it was only a few seconds later that I realized what had happened.
If I had stayed where I was, I would have found myself impaled by a sword sheath. As it was, my instincts had saved me. However, that wasn’t the most shocking thing. I could only watch, dumbstruck, as Leonardo straightened himself. He recovered too fast!
“I’m very impressed,” Leonardo remarked as he adopted a fighting stance with his sword. “Normally I would condemn you for using dirty trick like that on this sacred duel but… You’re really not bad at all. No wonder Evelyn chose you! With this, I guess I was right to have revised my opinion of you. ”
“Why thank you.” I said sarcastically.
“And as respect to you. I shall reveal you the name of my sword! This is my holy sword, Caliburn.” Leonardo grin grew wider as he raised his sword to the sky.
As if it response to its owner, the sword change it shape into something more heroic looking yet terrifying as it radiated violence and bloodlust, as if it was thirsty for blood. Not a god, but a demon dwelled within this this, howling in anticipation as it sought to pierce my heart.
Leonardo looked at me. “Don’t just stand there, Ogawa Kyousuke. Now that I’ve revealed my dear Caliburn, our duel’s only just beginning.”
With that declaration, he kicked off the ground and charged at me.
“Bring it on!”
I said as I threw everything away and kicked the ground, swinging my sword. In an instant, I closed the ten meters between us and focused all my strength into my left arm, swinging down with all my might.
My attack was, unsurprisingly enough, parried.
Then two weapons clashed again.
Our swords sounded loud as they clashed. Leonardo came at me with increased speed as he spun his sword in the direction of my chest. I blocked his attempt as I moved backwards against my will. He did not retreat, but kept on pursuing me as a hunter pursued his prey. Although I would not be the prey today, as I had promised Emilia!
Grinding my foot into the ground, I kicked off and propelled myself forward, straight at my opponent. My right hand glowed with mana as I swung it up, as if to block Leonado’s incoming attacks.
A black energy covering the sword in my hand, just in time to deflect the Leoardo’s sword. Twisting around, I spun my arm back to block another thrust from Caliburn before getting underneath Leonardo’s guard and kicking her. Leonardo twist his body at the last moment to soften the blow but I succeeded in driving him back. The hero jumped a few steps back to put some distance between us, partly to avoid having the veins in his neck cut open by my blade.
As expected of Leonardo. His swordsmanship is impeccable.
Just as with Elsha and Emilia, I was being overwhelmed in terms of swordsmanship. If I turned this into a duel of pure swordplay, I would definitely lose.
“Impressive,” He murmured as he glanced at the injuries. “You certainly not bluffing when you said you are ten times stronger”
“Well, you haven’t seen nothing of me yet.”
“Perhaps not. But something of this level isn’t enough to bring me down.” Leonardo smiled.
Then the hero suddenly appeared in front of me and swinging his sword.
Shit! I was too slow.
A powerful slash sliced through my armor and slammed into me. Blood spurted from my shoulder as I tried to defend myself.
I dropped to my knees, but managed to withstand the pain somehow. The slash was quite deep.
My wounds slowly regenerated due to my ability and I sighed a breath of relief as the pain lessened somewhat. Gingerly climbing back to my feet, I spit out blood to the ground again and glared at him.
“Now, are you in done yet?” He asked, smirking at me as he taunted me.
I narrowed my eyes at him and answered his question with a question of my own, “Are you?”
“I can fight you all day and night. I don’t know about you though.”
“Only time will tell, Leonardo,” I replied as I stand while raising my sword to show that I had had enough talking for now.
“Indeed. You know. At first I thought you should never have challenged me as I believed you can’t win against me… ”
“Really? Your brother didn’t think so.” I smirked at him.
“You sure know how to annoy people.” Leonardo sighed as he shrugged.
I thought reminding him that his own brother had taken my side would make him mad and push him to attack blindly but I guess he was a lot calmer and collective than I thought. As I expected from the hero.
Hmmm, now I return to square. His skill with the sword was too good though, and as my mine clashed with his for the hundredth time, I looked for an opening to change the game. Maybe if I angered him, he would attack me without thinking and that would give me the upper hand? Hey, I had said I would not cheat. But I never said anything about fighting with a strategic plan! I had to get into Leonardo’s mind and find a way to get to him. It was as important to me now as was my sword. The power of the mind! Also, let me teach him how exactly to taunt people.
With our collided again, we glared each other’s.
“By the way, how’s Evelyn’s pussy?” Grinningly, I asked.
Hearing that question, Leonardo blushed a bit. Wow, what a reaction!
“WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT IN MIDDLE OF DUEL?!”
Leonardo was shouted as he heard that question. I guess he definitely never saw that coming, still it’s too funny. Evelyn’s also have same reaction as Leonardo as I can heard her screaming from here. I decided to ignore her and continued speaking.
“Hmmm? Judging from your reaction, you haven’t touched her?”
“OF COURSE!! WHO DO YOU THINK AM I!? I’M NOT BARBARIAN LIKE YOU”
“Ehhh, I thought when I’m in prison, you taste her. Guess, you are too innocent for that, huh.”
I continue provoking him as I can see his body shaking as he try to hold his anger.
“Guess, the great hero is….Virgin?”
“YOU!!” The hero roar.
My plan worked perfectly! Because Leonardo’s eyes filled with anger as he looked at me. He growled in anger and came at me again, his sword raised and pointed at me. The arena was quiet except for the noise of our swords clashing, everyone was focused on us. Even the people who had secretly wished that the king would not permit this duel were probably enjoying watching the fight now.
“By the way, there is one weakness on Evelyn’s body. Especially her nipple.” I smirked as I parried his sword.
“HUH?!” Leonardo losing composure as he was pushed back.
I took advantage of his momentary distraction and threw a punch in his face, using all my strength to make it more powerful. His head snapped back with the force of my blow, but it did not hold him back for long. Leonardo was strong after all; he was not called a beloved hero for nothing. He quickly recovered before I could throw another punch in his direction, using his speed to throw three punches my way.
I block all his punches. Then countering them with slash! A sharp sound was made whenever our swords came into contact, and we attacked each other furiously. I tried to keep up with Leonardo’s speed, ducking to avoid his attacks and also to defend myself. I shifted to the side to avoid being hit and slashed my sword to push his approaching sword away. He pushed me backwards with our swords forming an X across my chest, his face full of anger.
I finally summoned strength and pushed back, our swords making another sharp sound as they slid across each other.
Leonardo tightened his grip on his sword and came at me again just as I ducked and managed to land a good kick to his stomach. The move seemed to take him by surprise and he stumbled backward again. I quickly shot at him again with my handgun but he was too fast and blocked my shot a second time with his sword. If I was not trying to defeat him, I would have been impressed!
He was on his feet again before I could take another shot and quickly extended his sword to attack. I flipped backwards as I moved away from the weapon, calling on every strength I had to land swiftly on my feet like a cat. My sword was ready and it made a noise as it came in contact with Leonardo’s sword. He swung and I deflected, using my sword to both attack and defend. He moved with great speed to defend himself, creating a distance between us in the end.
I took a step in Leonardo’s direction, my feet gaining remarkable speed as I charged at him. He did the same and we ran towards each other like raging bulls seeing red. His face was fierce and frightening, his eyes focused on me. If I wasn’t feeling stronger, I probably would have felt a bit scared. This hero of the people could easily defeat me right now, but I felt stronger than before! So I ran faster with my sword drawn, ready to attack.
His next attack came too close to my stomach and I quickly blocked it but almost missed a step. I could not afford to fall at this moment, or he would gain the upper hand and wound me. I immediately thrust my sword back at him, which he quickly spun away from. I needed to get closer to him to have a chance to injure him. But I could barely keep up with this man! He was good, I admitted.
Maybe too good?
I dodged his next attempt to put me off my feet, jumping into the air and missing his kick. He was attacking again when I landed swiftly on my feet and I defended myself, marveling at his effortless and flawless swordplay.
I felt a drop of sweat running from my head down my neck, slowly as if taking its time. It was a stark reminder of the energy I had expended. My entire body felt as if it was on fire, my temperature was that high! And I was starting to feel tired, my heart already beating rapidly in my chest. This fight had been going on for a short time, but it felt like we had been doing this since dawn. And it only made me wonder how much more of this I could take.
The great Leonardo would never surrender in a duel, and certainly not to me. The criminal. Even though I had saved his sister once upon a time.
“You should never have started this. But you were too proud to admit that you would never be able to defeat me!”
“Leonardo, I only thought I deserved a chance to prove myself. A chance you wanted to deny me because you probably doubted that you can beat me, right?”
He scoffed as I taunt him again.
The hero furiously charged and I was ready for him. I had been studying his moves as he we had been talking, and I anticipated where he would step as he charged. I kicked his leg out of the way as he approached, succeeding in stumbling him. But he had been studying me as well, because he quickly pulled me down with him.
The ground was hard, and the punch that followed even harder. I winced as the pain spread in my cheek, my sword ready to strike. I jumped to my feet, flipping from the ground and onto my feet. Leonardo smirked as he raised his sword as well, obviously feeling proud of himself that he had gotten the better of me.
I felt my magic stirring within me as I chanted it. I sent a blast of my energy in his direction, and it took him off guard as the force of it pushed him backwards. I clenched my fist and focused on the energy, ready to blast him again with my strength. Leonardo scowled, frowning at me as he too clenched his fist, the other hand holding his sword tightly.
He deflected my next attack, moving out of the way before I could do any damage to him. His own magic blasted me and almost knocked me down. He attacked me again and I could see that his aura was strong.
Very strong in fact, that it send a shiver of hesitation down my spine.
His aura was too much for me, and I suffered a slight moment of intimidation. Just as I had felt in the throne room. Him, a hero to his people with great skill. And me, they labelled me a criminal. How could I win?
It was like a big weight on my shoulders, pressing me down.
I took another deep breath and calmed myself, I would not be pressured! I remembered Emilia telling me to win, and I had promised her I would do my best. I had promised to win for Evelyn, so that we could be together. That thought fueled my focus and determination.
I took a step back, studying the movement of his feet to determine where I could strike at his weakness. He had to have one, in spite of his speed and mastery of the sword. I needed to strike the moment he exposed himself! He pursued me again and I retreated in turn, waiting for the right time to make another move. Leonardo didn’t give up, but kept on pressing forward.
“You supposed not to be here!!” he said, coming at me with his sword while I created distance between us once more. “NOT ON THIS DAY!”
I noticed he favored his right leg, leaning on it a lot just before he attacked. It meant I had to try and attack him from his left side, which he left open a lot of the times. Unprotected.
“I’m sorry for ruining your big day but I guess we have all the time in the world to determine who is better between us,” I responded smoothly. Never taking my eyes off his form.
You could learn a lot from a man by the way he held his sword, and Leonardo’s tight grip showed me that he was confident and not easily intimidated. It also showed me that it would be next to impossible to knock that sword out of his hand. And even if I did, he could still use his strong magic.
“Then why do you retreat instead of fighting me? Are you a coward after all?”
I almost laughed at that, “I am many things, I can assure you Leonardo. But a coward, I am not.”
“Then why do you run away from the fight like a coward?”
I expected a great hero like him to know what I was doing, and for him to study me as well. But it seemed as if he thought I was unwilling to attack him. Which was also an advantage to me as I could attack him unexpectedly. And catch him by surprise.
“I tire of your games, Ogawa Kyousuke. They do not amuse me!”
He leapt into the air with his sword ready for attack and I carefully avoided it. He growled in anger as his sword sunk to the ground and he remained on one knew. I circled him and his eyes remained on me, waiting for my attack.
I gripped my sword and charged, metal clashing against metal in a battle of strength. Leonardo showed his great skill by jumping to increasing the force of his attack and by defending himself whenever I came for him. I went in from the left, trying to take advantage of his weakness. He crossed his chest as he blocked my sword.
I didn’t give him another chance to get too close to me, and avoided his sword as much as he aimed it at me. I had a good defense going on, defending my space and staying clear of the sharp end of Leonardo’s sword. I met Leonardo kick for kick, sword for sword. He spun around as I swung my sword, elbowing me in the side. I tried to jump back and out of the way as he swung in my direction again. My hand vibrated with the force of our opposing swords.
Leonardo slid his sword along mine and he withdrew, pushing my weapon downwards as he did so. He tried to elbow me again but I managed to block him. A high kick came my way and my head bent backwards with the force of it. It made me see stars for a second. He drew his sword like a master and swung it at close to my shoulder now. I almost whimpered when I felt the cold steel suddenly at the side of my throat. The blade barely touched my skin, but I could feel a drop of blood trickling down my skin. It was sharp!
Leonardo sneered as he challenging me.
I smiled back, mirroring his moves but backwards.
“Only one of us can come out victorious, do not forget that.”
“I am well aware of that, but thank you for reminding me,” I said sarcastically. Its not like I was going such a thing, it was why we were out here in the first place!
I moved away from his reach again as I studied his next move. He would attack, then wait, then attack again. As if trying to see what I would do next.
He must have finally grown tired of the cat and mouse chase because before I knew it, an ice spear was coming at me with great force. It took me by surprise but I was fast. Leonardo was using his magic! Another one followed, then another and another, until it was pouring at me. They were many as they were fast, and I spun my sword to deflect them just as I spun to dodge some of them. I was fast too, fast enough to jump and duck when I was supposed to. He moved so swiftly and I felt one graze my hand slightly as he pressed on.
One came so close to my face and leaned to the side, barely missing a scratch to my cheek. I almost smirked at Leonardo; that had been close! But I was holding my own, spinning again when a few more came close to cause my body harm. Leonardo’s magic was a force to be reckoned with and I weighed my options on how to strengthen my defense. I could not keep dodging forever, I needed a plan of attack.
One went past my ear so fast I didn’t have time to move out of the way, and when I felt a drop of blood trickling down my ear I realised I had been grazed. And so close to my head too!
Another barely missed my chest, and I could not imagine the pain I would be in right now if I had not gotten out of the way. A few came at me again, aimed at stomach. I managed to dodge them, but felt a sharp pain in my side as I missed one that finally hit me. He had succeeded?!
The pain was real, and I took in a deep breath and chanted more of my strengthening magic.
It gave me power enough to dodge his next attack, and I pulled out my rifle and shot them all. I was fast enough not to miss, but not fast enough to realise it had all been a decoy to distract me from his next move. Leonardo had managed to distract me well! The power of the mind indeed.
I could only blink as he suddenly appeared in front of me with his sword, too fast for me to dodge out of the way. One second he wasn’t there and in the next there he was! So fast.
The weapon came at me swiftly, slashing me before I could block it. I did not feel it immediately, but I knew I had been hit. And when I finally felt it, the pain took me by surprise. I had expected to feel pain, but not this much! The pain was intense, and I struggled to stay upright. I had to be strong! But Leonardo had managed to wound me deeply. I missed a step and staggered, barely managing not to fall to the ground. The metallic taste in my mouth built up until I tasted blood.
The smell and taste of it was so strong and I coughed, feeling like I was going to choke as I felt more blood in my mouth. I breathed through my nose and tried not to panic, reminding myself that my blood was a sign that I was still alive. That I was still in this fight and that I would never, ever give up.
For as long as I had breath in my body and even a little strength left, I would fight! Was that not what I had said before?!
“But as long as I have life I will return. If I can’t run, I will walk. If I can’t walk, I will crawl. Cut off my legs and I can drag myself with my arms. Cut off my arms as well, and I will train my stumps to hold a knife and swing a blade. But I will return, all the time. And not just to fight over a woman… but to meet you and fight you as well, to restore my dignity and to strip your dignity. I will not parry and die. Nothing can kill me.”
Those had been my words to Leonardo at the wedding, and I would see them through!
I took another step back as my feet felt too heavy, managing to draw my gun again and aim it at Leonardo. I raised it just as he moved, aiming a thrust at my stomach and managing to injure me again. I saw stars behind my eyes and tried to blink the pain away, summoning every ounce of energy and will power I had left. It felt impossible to do so now, and even my strength failed me.
I tried again to summon my strength. The pain was too much to handle though, and I felt blackness overpowering me as I fought to keep my eyes open. I aimlessly swung my sword, my vision splitting as I saw many versions of my enemy in front of me. He seemed near and yet far at the same time; I could not tell. I swung again at the apparition, the blood in my mouth making it unpleasant to breathe in.
I managed not to fall but it did not matter, I felt myself slipping way anyway. Consciousness eluded me, and somewhere voices were shouting something. I tried to focus on what they were saying, if they were cheering on Leonardo as they had in the beginning of the fight. There had been many cheers for the hero, and they were probably cheering him on now to finish me and end the fight.
Then I heard the voices again, more clearly this time. They were calling me.
My name! Two distinct voices were calling my name. Sera and Evelyn, I could tell. I tried to open my eyes for them, to keep fighting, but it was too much. It was like my body refused to listen to me. My mind was telling it something and it was doing another. I wanted to keep fighting, but my body was giving up and shutting down already. My opponent’s face swam in front of mine as I became one with the ground.
The air felt thin as I struggled to breathe, just before everything went black. I could not see anything, the arena just disappeared from my eyes. Leonardo too.
It was over!
A surge of power went through me just as I had that final thought, reminding me of what had taken place back in the throne room. The feeling was strong and calming, taking all my fears away. I was not dying, I was not defeated. Instead, I was given another chance, to rise up and fight.
My eyes shot open and the weakness started to leave my body, replaced by my new strength. I was on my feet before I knew it, surprising even me. The pain was lessening as well, and I looked down to see my wound starting to close. It was slow, but it was there.
I looked up at Leonardo’s surprised face then back at my regenerating wound. I felt almost as good as new, renewing my vigour! And my determination as well.
I gripped my sword and charged at him again, this time with more speed than before. Remarkable!
Leonardo looked even more surprised this time at my renewed speed as I attacked, but he managed to block me. I didn’t stop going forward, furiously slashing my sword at my opponent. I had one goal in mind, to attack! Leonardo blocked my every attempt but I did not let up, I would not let him rest. I swung my sword towards his stomach, much like he had to me. Our swords clashed again as he defended, his right foot taking a step back in a defensive stance.
I swung as if aiming for his chest, and as he moved to block my slash, I quickly lowered my aim and managed to finally land my attack. It caught him by surprise and I quickly tried to land another blow as he recovered, but he managed to block me this time. My previous blow had not slowed him down, in fact he seemed even more determined that I would not succeed again.
The man would not be stopped!
He countered my attack with one of his own, swinging his sword in furious circles as he started to come at me. I spun in the air as I deflected his efforts, drawing my right arm in front of me to block his fast sword. I summoned more strength and thrust in his direction, my eyes widening when he slashed at me and almost knocked my sword out of my hand. It was like his sword was part of him, an extension of him!
He was that good, and I could not let him knock my sword out of my hand. I almost let out a shout when he jumped and swung his word in my face, as if aimed for my neck. I met his sword midair and pushed it away with mine, growling in anger at his efforts. He fought with our weapons raised high, the sound loud whenever our swords clashed against each other.
I attempted to knock him off his feet with a kick but he quickly jumped out of the way and landed a distance away from me. I pursued him now, my sword drawn and ready to attack again. We were almost equal, but the hero was still better than me because he almost wounded me again. I coughed when he landed a swift kick to my stomach, managing to scratch my arm with his sword because I did not move it out of the way fast enough.
There was slight pain on my arm, but I was aching a lot from different parts of my body from this fight.
We fought some more until I started to feel my strength decreasing once more. Leonardo was fast and would not give up! It seemed as if he was not even tired and could do this the whole day and night. My side was still a bit sore from where my wound had been and I just wanted a second to rest and breathe. His Sword scratched me again and I growled angrily and pushed forward with all the strength I had, managing to land another blow on him and catching him by surprise.
“Well fought,” he smirked as he took a step away.
He took a few more steps backward and he created some distance between us, and I also did the same.
“I still have a few more tricks up my sleeves,” I responded, wondering what to do next.
“Is that so?” he asked, and I noticed he sounded a little breathless.
It was pleasing to note that he had weaknesses too, just as I did. Despite his far greater level. I smirked when I realized the hero was also tired as he was panting just as I was. I put my hand to the side, feeling where my wound had been as I took a deep breath to refresh myself.
Before I could breathe again, Leonardo had come at me again, this time with his magic. I felt his power in full force but moved fast enough to dodge. He was determined, and I was too. Summoning my getsuga like attack, I threw my force at Leonardo, knowing I could overpower him finally.
I had not been lying when I had said I still had a few tricks up my sleeve! I focused on my aura as I summoned with all my fight, eager to get this fight over and done with after all. It was time to win this. I send my energy in Leonardo’s direction, feeling the wave of power as it transferred. It was my strongest summoning yet, and I was confident this would work.
But it was wrong to underestimate Leonardo. First rule of any fight or duel, never ever underestimate your opponent. Because you never know just how much power they might be hiding from you. Waiting for the right moment to attack and catch you off guard. I should not have forgotten that rule, because of what happened next.
He surprised me with a counterattack of his own, similar in power. Or perhaps even stronger?
The whole arena seemed to stop in time for a second, and I felt the strength of the two beams clashing. The air went still. Nothing moved. Nothing sounded. It was complete and utter silence. It was like we had gone to an alternate universe where nothing existed, except the two of us. The air around us in the arena was filled and heavily saturated with the power. So much power was too much to handle, and when time seemed to restart again, everything around us seemed to vibrate. I felt the strength of the forces in my whole body, feeling as if it would tear me apart.
The ground was shaking and I lost grip of my sword when the vibration intensified.
What was happening?! What had we just done?
Before I could understand what it was, an explosion knocked me backwards. It was loud and powerful, and the magic expelled was tremendous. I wanted to move out of the way, but I was still shaken from the vibration and slight confusion of what was exactly happening. I didn’t move fast enough and the effect of the explosion caught me in the way.
I saw blackness again as the power hit me in full force, making me fall onto my back. It was as if time had stopped again, or it had slowed down. Because I felt every stage of my fall from the explosion. And my final contact with the hard ground. I groaned in pain and tried to clear my head and watch out for Leonardo. It was too much! And the explosion made my ears ring with the loud sound and my head felt like it was still vibrating. The air felt stiff and hot, and I tried to inhale to calm myself, but I failed.
The place was spinning.
I found myself in a dark space and I swallowed my panic and tried to focus my senses. But it was so frightening, and my human body was protesting. I felt the harsh air against my skin as I opened my eyes to bright white light, wondering if I had died. But it was not my time today. I was very hurt, I knew that, and when my head finally cleared I saw Leonardo on the ground too.
I took in my surroundings, trying to determine the extent of the damage of the explosion. There was an enormous hole in the arena, showing the extent of the damage our power had caused. The prickling sensation at the back of my neck alerted me of the presence of the people around us. My stomach felt hollow and my side ached, if only I could find relief from this pain. I doubled over as the pain gripped my aching stomach and trembled, wishing momentarily for death. Anything to relieve me. My body was ready to surrender, death would be wonderful. Death would mean rest. Death would be peaceful.
Ah, my stupid thoughts. I was not a coward! I quickly pushed them away and ignored the pain as I faced Leonardo once more. Now was not the time to listen to my body and give in, a little pain wouldn’t kill me. I thought of Evelyn and reminded myself the reason for all of this in the first place. I needed to win this fight for her, because I needed her.
Leonardo was holding his side and panting, his sword on the ground next to him. He didn’t look too hurt, but he had suffered some damage as well. His blonde hair was dirty and messy, evidence of everything he had been through. It had been a long fight, and now the explosion in the arena. It put us on level ground if we were both injured, and if he could still fight through the pain, then I would do the same as well!
I took a deep breath and got to my feet, tightening the grip on my sword. Now was not the time to show weakness, I had come so far. Even though I was hurt and in pain, I wasn’t going to show Leonardo my weakness.
He got to his feet as well as he picked up his sword, ready to attack or defend, I wasn’t sure. He seemed to be waiting for me to make a move. Did I make the first move? Or did I wait for him to expose himself? I was not sure what to do next, either attack or wait to defend when he attacked. I looked at his hand which slightly trembled, showing me he was injured and hesitating too.
One of us needed to initiate the next move, and soon.
We both panted as we glared at each other. Our eyes saying all that we wanted to say. He wanted to end this fight, and I was proving to be a worthy opponent. That alone encouraged me to soldier on and make the next move. If he was not going to do it, then I would. We could not just stand here in the arena all day while the people waited for an outcome.
I winced at the pain in my body but ignored it as I took a step forward. I was determined to see this to the end. I took another step in his direction, never taking my eyes off him. Move, anticipating my attack. I had no plans to be hasty in my attack this time around, I planned to take my time and do it right.
“It seems we have caused a great destruction,” He said, breathing heavily and betraying his tiredness.
The explosion had really taken a toll on him.
“It seems so, and I am about to cause even more.”
“You are injured,” he scoffed and pointed at me with his sword.
I smiled, pointing at him as well. He was injured too, and if he thought that I would let him use my injury against me, he was very mistaken.
“You are injured too,” I pointed out. “We are evenly matched.”
That was a slight exaggeration and maybe a lie on my part, but I wanted to intimidate him and sow doubt in his mind. If that was even possible to intimidate a great hero like him!
“You have to win no matter what, you get me?” Emilia’s words echoed in my head again as I took yet another step.“I won’t let your hard work go to waste.” I had promised.
And so with that, I took another step in Leonardo’s direction.
And then I charged at him, raising my sword with one goal in mind. To strike, and not miss. Our swords clashed loudly as the battle began once more. This was far from over