The distance between us was not that great, but it seemed as if we were running for ages towards each other. My eyes never strayed from Leonardo’s and his never left mine. And although the effects of the fight and now, the explosion, were trying to wear me down, I ignored the exhaustion and the pain and kept my focus on the target. We both lessened the distance as we made way towards each other. When we finally reached each other Leonardo jumped high to increase the weight of his swing, while I did the same and our swords finally clashed in the air.
The force of our clash was enough to knock any man down, let alone two tired and injured men. But we held on, each of us determined to best the other. Even though we were both injured, we were going to fight as if we were not. Because no one was going to expose their weakness now. Not when the fight was about to reach its climax and conclusion.
We landed on the ground with our swords crossed, and he used his entire body weight to push me back before promptly swinging his sword again. His strength surprised me indeed. Was this the same man that had been panting only seconds ago?! The very same man that had just suffered damage from when our two beams clashed? I stumbled but kept my sword raised in defense, using my left leg to balance and support me so that I would not fall.
I felt the strength of Leonardo’s magic gripping my chest and I struggled to breathe. I summoned my own strength to force him to release me as I coughed, feeling a bit lightheaded from the lack of breath. He did not give me time to catch my breath as he was back in full force again, using both his magic to overpower me while our swords clashed. I knew then I needed to raise my level of attack if I had any hope to win.
And so I chanted my strengthening magic once more as I jumped high, kicking Leonardo and the chest and managing to push him to the ground. I noticed we had moved closer to the hole our magic had created in the arena and I made a mental note to watch my steps. I approached him with my sword and avoided his right leg that tried to make me stumble.
“Tsk!” Leonardo clicked his tongue while blocking my sword with his.
Leonardo roared. I could tell by the determined look in his eyes that he was getting impatient. He probably had not anticipated that our duel would take this long which is miracle. Normally, he should have defeated me already. We fought some more, our swords clashing, until another wave of his magic hit me.
His magic was far superior to mine. I had known that even before I got into the arena! And not only his magic, but his skills with the sword were far superior and above mine that I was impressed with myself for getting this far already!
But the look in his eyes told me that I was driving him close to the edge now, and I had no idea what an impatient man could do when he was determined to win a fight. I needed to watch him closely, to be aware of his every move or else I would end up losing this fight!
I tried to think of what I could do to take advantage of his desperation to win and impatience with me, it was my only chance. I also needed to be extra cautious and careful, I could not just carelessly implement my plan of attack. Not when I did not have the slightest clue of what someone like him could and would do when put in a corner. He was the people’s hero after, a much respected man which is opposite of me. He was probably always defeating his enemies instantly, never lose to anyone after become this strong, or ever being embarrassed in front of people.
I wonder what other skills he was still hiding up his sleeve. What other magic could he use to attack and defeat me? Could he be actually holding back and was there more to come? More than what I had already seen? More powerful magic than what had caused the explosion?
I needed answers to all these questions, which meant I needed to be careful and watch his every move! Also, where the hell is my supposed power-up? I already fight him for almost hours already yet that drug still shown the effects!! It’s truly miracle for me to fight him on equally like this!
Hmm? Wait a minute… fighting him equally? Normally that’s impossible. My base power is shit even I got enhanced. It’s still nothing compared with Leonardo. Especially I got my ass kicked so thoroughly by him. But what about now? I actually can fight him on the same ground! Don’t tell me, the drug actually already in effect without me notice it?
Just as I had that every thought, the man came at me with a spinning sword. It was so fast and I focused on my own speed as I blocked every swing. Our swords clashed furiously and he kept on advancing. The move made me start to take retreating steps as I tried to keep the fast sword from grazing me or worse.
“Getting tired already?” Leonardo taunted me.
No matter. I have come this far! I don’t need to think anything else! Drugged or not! I had to win this!
I readied my battle stance as I glanced at him. Leonardo might be faster, stronger and more powerful than me. But I had managed to land a few blows in this fight. Not only that. But I had managed to injure him and make him bleed too. On top of perfectly defending myself against his superiors attacks.
“Yeah, probably… but I also can say the same thing to you.” I taunted back. And that was the truth, whether he would admit it or not. I mean, he also looks terrible. It was truly good thing Leonardo wasn’t at his best either. His diminishing mana meant that he had use high amount of mana to that magic and he had at least expended a substantial amount of his energy. It was still a very tiny advantage nonetheless, but it was better than nothing, something that can help swing the odds in my favor. From his restlessness, Leonardo probably knew this as well.
“You think a few scrapes were enough to defeat me? I have fought greater men than you and lived to tell stories about it!!” Said Leonardo, agitatedly.
….Seeing him like that made me believed that my first taunt was really effective. Evelyn is indeed his kryptonite. I knew that he loved Evelyn, and the thought of losing her to me of all people, was enough to enrage him. I could only hope that his rage would be enough to make him lose his calm plan of attack. If he could not think straight, then I could make my move.
And Yes, I know. I can see that you are more experience on that area. But I can’t help myself from smiling as I perfectly deflected his blow.
“While I can understand his reason… I still cannot believe my brother spoke up for you to change the mind of his majesty!” Leonardo snorted.
Yeah, even I could not believe it either at first, but it was no use dwelling on it now. What is done had been done already, and now we were here.
“Are you saying you wish he had not? Are you, the so called great hero Leonardo, confessing that you wish your brother and the princess had not asked the king to allow this fight because you fear of defeat?”
His eyes narrowed and he attacked but in that split second, I see blind spot giving me an opening to attack his left side. As my slashed land, I cannot slash deeper. The armor is preventing me!
The hero groaned in pain, he stood strong and slashed me back with his gleaming sword. Shit!
I tried blocked it but the blow sent me flying into the air. FUCK! This bastard is so persistent! No wonder he is hero! Ugh… and he slashed me good… if I don’t wear this armor or blocked that… I might split in half!
Flipping my body around in midair, I conjured a magic barrier and rammed my feet against it– the impact reducing it to splinters – and propelled myself back at Leonardo.
The hero was ready!
The both of us exchanged another couple of blows and the area around us crashed, sliced apart by stray cuts and hacks. I used my weight to push him backwards, managing to graze his arm with the tip of my sword.
Moving across the arena, we waltzed across the battered concrete, suffering from our inhuman footwork and reckless attacks. A deadly dance of whirling spears and blocking blades, I was barely able to keep up with Leoardo’s tune, my feet moving to an unheard melody and my arms responding to an abstract tune of metal and sparks.
After a single massive clash, we finally pulled apart. As the both of us retreated to the opposite corners of the courtyard, Leoardo took a deep breath as he glared at me.
“Why won’t you just return to your world?!” Leonardo spat, his eyes flaring in annoyance.
“I plan on returning to my world alright, I just plan on returning with Evelyn by my side.”
“I won’t let you!!” He shouted angrily, and I knew I had succeeded in provoking him again.
I ducked under another of Leonardo’s slash and countered with a riposte, but Leonardo evaded the stab by twisting his head to the side. He pressed on with another strike, which I parried, only to see his blade glow with silver light.
As the energy blast erupted from Leonardo’s illuminated blade, its ethereal body uncoiling and unleashing destructive beam, I responded with my own attack.
The beam slammed into each other like the light and golden black energies fusing into a another spectacular explosion that blew a crater into the earth.
The devastating shockwaves that followed buffeted Leonardo and me, throwing us off our feet.
Despite my heavy injuries, I didn’t have time to rest. It was so difficult to move my body. Every step felt heavy, and with every movement my wounds burned. I was finding it increasingly harder to breathe, with each inhalation a sharp pain lanced through my lungs. The fragments of my ribs had embedded themselves deeply into the soft tissue, causing internal hemorrhaging.
Ignoring the blood dribbling from my mouth, I struggled to my feet, panting.
Then I caught sight of Leonard raising his sword. The divine mana gathering on his blade amplified in an instant, and he swung it. He looks fine than I am!
I instinctively hurled myself out of the way, my chest screaming in agony as red-hot knives buried themselves deeply into my chest.
“Guh…” I coughed blood.
As I was swaying unsteadily on my feet, Leonardo casting an ominously strange color fire balls spell hurling at me. Reacting more from instinct than tactics, I grip my sword tightly then slashed the incoming fire ball and really glad it does not explode this time.
Leonardo continuously shot them but I managed to block it
Snarling, Leonardo charged at me, swinging his sword. Spinning around to avoid the attack, I kicked up, my foot connecting with Leonardo and stunning him for a brief moment. However, the hero recovered almost instantly with a riposte.
He swinging his sword at me again and I managed parried his sword though the ground underneath my feet cracked from the force. What power!
Blocking another of Leonardo’s slashes, I was sent skidding backward. Alright, I probably said this few times already! But the exchange of blades further proved that Leonardo was a far superior swordman! His sword skills easily exceeding my half-baked ones. It wasn’t a surprise because I tended more toward the gun and physical combat skills, while whereas Leonardo focused on fighting using magic and sword in the frontlines.
I winced as Leonardo seized an opening to cut open a laceration on my shoulder. Making use of his superior swordsmanship, Leonardo pressed on and cut me up pretty badly. his blade twisted and snaked through my defenses, slicing into my arms, torso and legs. I managed to avoid thrusts to my neck and vital points, but it was only a matter of time before I slipped up and fell to a single strike. Not only that, I was losing far too much blood to be able to keep this up indefinitely.
I needed to do something drastic soon, but I had expended almost all my mana fighting this guy. There were not many spells I could use now, and most of my Constellation spirits were either too costly to summon or would be of no use against someone as skilled as Leonardo.
“Guh…You sure wasting time,” I smirked, trying to anger him further. “I mean, what the hell did you do while I’m still imprisoned? Nothing! If I was in your position, I would force myself on her!”
I provoke him again but the hero this time maintained his emotion. He was just taking it as if it didn’t bother him.
“I know what you are trying to do, Ogawa Kyousuke.” He replied, surprising me. “It was fool of me to fall that cheap trick twice….”
Tsk. I had to change my tactic and make sure that I angered him to the point of madness. He could not just continue to ignore me if I continued to provoke him. Right?
“I am not trying to do anything, Leonardo, it is only the truth I speak.”
He scoffed and remained silent. We kept our eyes on each other as we circled each other, our swords raised and ready to charge.
“That Evelyn loves me, and we both know it.”
Yeah, she does love me… but what about me?
“……….” He fell silent.
“And right now she is silently cheering me on to win, instead of you. So that we can go today, and she doesn’t have to marry you. And for the wager, that is because she told me not to lose, no matter what. There is only outcome Evelyn wants in all of this, and that is me winning so that we can be together.”
Leonardo’s eyes were filled in anger and I knew that I had finally succeeded in infuriating him. And with that, I went in for the final blow.
“And even if you did win, you will live knowing that all she wanted was me all along! You’re not even her first or second choice!”
With that, Leonardo roared with anger and started to attack me furiously, swinging his word on erratic directions. It was like he wasn’t really focused, he just wanted to hit something to let out his anger. I could easily deduce his next move, and his intentions. My plan had worked! I would have given myself a pat on the back if I wasn’t trying to keep an angry man from killing me with a sharp sword.
“Getting angrier?” I taunted him as he kept on attacking angrily.
His sword came at me, its intent to stab judging from his angle. I carefully moved out of the way and hit him in the side that he had left unprotected. It was enough to slow him down, but not enough to cause any serious damage.
In a flash, Leonardo swinging his sword down to cleave me in half. Instinctively I parried the blow with my sword. The ground underneath me shattered from the mere impact of the strike, and I gritted my teeth to withstand the blow. Pain continued to scrape sharply at my ruined chest, reminding me of my deteriorating condition.
I screamed in pain and fell to my knees as the psychic feedback slammed into me, my mouth, nose and eyes bleeding from the stigmatized wounds. Gritting my teeth, I fought to endure the excruciating rebound, which was much more agonizing than Taurus’s demise. At least that was quick, a single burst of pain that vanished quickly, but the explosion of a thousand barbs from within was on a completely different level.
And the hero took advantage of that.
He came at me with fast punches, and I used my arms to block him yet he managed to land a couple of punches in my face.
But I did not lose my focus on his movements. He would use his sword as long as there was distance between us. And if the distance became great, he resorted to using his magic. If we came too close, he favored using his strength and punches.
Lunging forward, he sought to deal the finishing blow, hurtling his sword right at me. I barely clamped down on the violent sensations boiling through my body, which were thankfully fading away with each passing second, and brought my sword up to block them.
As he tried to slash again, I see the opening! Springing to my feet as the final vestiges of agony vanished, I yelled with all my might and unleashed waves of magical energy, at pointblank range. Leonardo disappeared under a flurry of explosions and I allowed the shockwaves to hurl me back. Doing a back-flip in the air, I managed to somehow land on my feet unsteadily, waving both arms frantically to catch my balance.
Using the chance to catch my breath, I straightened myself and prepared for the next onslaught of blows. However, as the smoke cleared, I realized the folly of my actions.
Blood profusely streaming down his face, Leonardo were clutching the glowing of a violently throbbing Caliburn. The heroic sword seemed to glower at me hungrily, its barbed tip howling for blood silently. Murderous waves of magical energy seemed to emanate from it, yet at the same time it was paradoxically drawing a nauseating amount into its length.
And there was no way for me to stop it. Not as I was currently.
Geez, this not for the first time I wished I was a genius who could cook up a miracle on the spot. That I had some sort of talent. Unfortunately, I wasn’t born with the gift for this shit. I wasn’t really clever either. I was merely knowledgeable and trained. I also had no talent whatsoever, always falling behind everyone else and needing to work doubly as hard just to catch up. I had relied solely on hard work to get me this far!
Sigh, well, it’s to time for one thing that could swing the battle in my favor.
Planting my feet firmly on the ground, I discarded all defense and switched to offense, swinging my sword wildly. Leonardo was taken by surprise by my sudden aggression – having been used to my cautious fighting style all those seconds earlier, he didn’t expect me to abandon everything for one final charge.
Well, if drawing the battle out with a cautious approach would only delay the inevitable. I couldn’t prevent my defeat no matter how much I prolonged the duel by defending against Leonardo’s attacks. I was losing too much blood, I wasn’t skillful enough to completely dodge his stabs and slashes, and I didn’t have much time left before my body gave out on me.
So the only way left was for me to gamble everything on offense and hope I landed a fatal strike.
“Do you really think you can beat me with such pathetic skills!?”
Leonardo assaulted me furiously, weaving past my flailing blades and stepping into my territory. Twirling my Sword, I succeeded in landing a slash on his neck, forcing his to withdraw.
Leonardo staggered back, clamping one hand on his neck to stop the blood from gushing out. It was useless. I had managed cut open his carotid artery.
“If you wish to kill someone, you should have the resolve to be killed in return. Or have you gotten complacent after winning so many times?”
Leonardo snorted as he removed his hand from his throat, stemming the blood flow with silver energy to cauterize the wound. That would certainly leave an ugly scar on his otherwise delicate skin. Gripping Caliburn with both hands, Leonardo adopted an offensive stance.
“I win. It has already been set in stone.”
“For being cuck, you’re pretty confident, aren’t you?” I taunt him.
“I look forward to silencing that rambling mouth of yours.”
Snarling, Leonardo shot forward like a bullet, his body disappearing into a blur from the high speed. I could barely parry his blow, crossing my Sword to block his thrust.
However, Leonardo wasn’t done yet. Twisting his silver sword upward, he launches another series of swings and slashes that nearly overwhelmed me. I was forced back onto the defensive because every single thrust was now a fatal attack aiming for my heart, head or neck. If I didn’t give my all in blocking them, it would mean an instant death.
As the battle pressed on, I began responding with reckless and desperate counterattacks, which Leonardo blocked superbly every time. However, I didn’t give up, alternating between defense and offense in unpredictable fashion while sustaining injuries in between. That was fine. My goal wasn’t to escape unscathed. It was to lead Leonardo to where I wanted his to go.
“I won’t let you!” Leonardo shouted, his voice sounding a bit breathless from all the energy he was expending.
“I suppose I might,” I responded, which was true. Maybe he would end up getting the better of me anyway. But I wasn’t going to just let that happen, not if I could help it. “But you don’t get to decide that, not today!”
And with that, I launched into my own attack. It was time to force Leonardo into a corner, putting him in a position where he had to start defending himself as I had been. It was easy, he had been fueled by rage to attack, whereas I was full of calm and knowledge of his movement. I knew where to hit, where to strike. And I knew when to lean back and when to withdraw. His movements were becoming predictable, and I was relying on that to make sure I succeeded. My plan was simple enough, but simple did not mean ineffective. It was simple to execute, but it was going to do the trick to finally defeat Leonardo.
His eyes were dark and full of anger as our swords met in an opposing motion. I pushed his downwards and he quickly raised it to attack but I was ready for him. I had memorized his moves, and I attacked from his left side which he was leaving unprotected too much of the time. The moment he caught on to my plan of attack and moved to defend, I knew I finally had him where I wanted him.
Now he had to defend his neck for all it was worth!
Seeing no other way to counterattack, Leonardo resorted to magic. It was desperate and predictable, which showed me that he really was in a corner. I had anticipated this use of magic of course, and I was ready with a defense. I felt the energy around me building up, which meant he was really calling on his strongest magic. The hairs on my skin stood up and I felt the shift in the atmosphere. It was like he was separating every atom of energy in the air, then putting it together again to create one big ball of energy to attack me with.
His magic caused the arena to vibrate once again, as it had the first time.
This time when I felt the vibration, I knew what to expect. I braced myself for the impact and felt my heartbeat in my throat; my heart was beating so fast. Leonardo’s magic shook the entire arena and there was a deafening explosion. The explosion made my heart race even worse. I felt myself flying as the force of the explosion threw me backwards into the air.
I took a deep breath and summoned all the strength I had left to control my body and focus on my surroundings. I landed on one knee with both my fists to the ground, my head bowed down. I shook my head slightly to clear the ringing in my ears and focus again. The air finally cleared and I saw Leonardo standing a few feet away.
I stood up slowly and faced him, his eyes widening in clear surprise at seeing me. He was obviously shocked that I was still up for a fight.
His nostrils flared in anger as he stared at me in disbelief. I had never seen anyone so angry before, and I could understand where he was coming from. If I was in his shoes, I would be angry too. After trying to defeat someone for so long, and someone inferior in both skill and magic too! After pulling out every skill and trick I had, after using my best magic. Yes, I would definitely be angry too. Just as Leonardo was right at this moment.
His eyes were narrowed and his chest heaved with fury, his fists clenched by his sides.
“Impossible!” he spat.
I smirked, “I told you not to underestimate me, Leonardo.”
He unclenched his fists then clenched them again.
“You will not make a fool out of me, criminal!”
“That was never my intention,” I smiled. “My intention was just to win.”
He roared with anger, “I will finish this fight. I will end you, once and for all! It all ends now, Ogawa Kyousuke!”
He looked like a desperate man, and I now knew in his desperation he would do absolutely anything. He raised his hands and I braced myself for another attack of his magic, calling upon my own magic. But I did not have any mana left, magic could not save me anymore. It seemed as if Leonardo’s magic essence was gone too, because he looked even angrier as he decided to finally charge at me.
I clenched my fists and I could feel my jaw tightening, it was time to bring out the best I could manage. I no longer had magic to rely on, my mana was gone. My sword and gun had been lost somewhere in the arena after the explosion and I could not even begin to try and find either now. Not only would it be wasting time I did not have, but it was exposing myself to Leonardo’s attacks. And we were nearing the end of our fight, I could just feel it in my bones.
It was not even the fact that we had shown our best magic and our best sword play, or that we had been fighting for a long time. No, it was not that. It was just a feeling I could feel in me, and judging by the look in Leonardo’s eyes, he could feel it too. He could sense that the atmosphere had changed with that final explosion. There was no place to go now except to the finish line. We were two warrior about to hear the verdict of our strengths. About who was best, and who had won this battle. And most importantly above all, who would walk away with the one and only Evelyn today.
I could almost see he face smiling at me when I walked out of this arena, victorious. And I could almost feel her in my arms as we made our way out of here in each other’s arms. It was right there, just waiting for me to finally claim it.
So yes, it was about that time. And only one of us could be that warrior. The winning man who would take all the glory.
All our fighting and shows of power had come to this, the end of the fight everyone had gathered for. We were both eyeing the finishing line and we both wanted the ultimate prize. It would take just one good decision to win, or just one very bad mistake to lose it all. Leonardo and I were both too tired to drag this out any more than we already had. I personally could not take any more hours of this fight.
My body had been through enough!
I had been kicked. I had been punched. I had been cut with a sword, and been injured with magic. I had even been damaged in an explosion, and felt pain like I had never felt before! I had almost given up when I thought I could not take any more of the pain. No, enough was enough. This had to end, and now. And Leonardo was wrong when he said he would be the one to end me. I would be the one to end him!
I had not come this far for nothing.
One of his fists came into contact with my cheek and I bit my tongue as my head was thrown back. It was sheer pain and agony and I struggled to see clearly after the punch. In his anger, Leonardo did not stop, but kept on throwing punches. He was still fast in his fist fighting, and he threw fist after fist at me. I raised my own to block him but he was too fast and I felt blood running down my nose.
Enough was enough!
I roared with anger and used all my strength to push him away. He was not expecting that and he stumbled a bit as I created distance between us. He came back at me again and landed a punch to my stomach when oi raised my arms to protect my face. It knocked the air out me, it was so painful! I felt as if he had created a hollow space in my stomach, and it was nearly as painful as when his ice magic had pierced my side.
“I will end you, Ogawa Kyousuke!” he shouted as he threw punch after punch.
His moves were those of a desperate man, and I knew just how to handle that. I took a step back and used my head to hit his, succeeding in damaging his nose. He groaned in pain and his hand went to his nose, which was now bleeding. I spun quickly and kicked him as hard as I could, and he stumbled backwards.
Leonardo spit out blood and mustered all the strength he had left to bring himself to his feet and come after me. The man’s height served as an advantage to him as he quickly covered the distance between me and himself. But I had determination on my side as I ran, and also the fear of losing the womanI loved when I was so close to winning her back. That, alone, was enough to fuel my strength and bravery as I caught up to the great hero and tackled him as soon as he tried to push me to the ground.
The man lay on his back, surprise clearly in his eyes at my quick recovery from the obvious damage I had suffered at his skilled hands. I was immediately on top of him, using all of my weight to pin him in place and throwing endless punches in his face. Leonardo pushed me off and we both scrambled to gain the upper hand on one another.
I could feel the blood on my face begin to clot as we fought, but I was too far gone to even try to feel anything. We fought like two beasts, not two men. It was chaotic and there was blood on both our faces and our hands. Each other’s blood and our own, all mixed up that no one could tell which belonged to whom. Even our clothes were now torn and dirty, not to even mention the blood on them.
My face throbbed from Leonardo’s punches, and I was not sure if my nose was broken or not, but it sure felt that way. Judging from the punches he had thrown to my face, I knew there was a high chance that it was broken. Wounds of the battle, right. I would just have to deal with it after this was over.
“Why will you not stay down?!” Leonardo seethed as he threw punches non-stop.
He was like a man possessed, and there was nothing I could do to stop him. I could only raise my arms in defense to try and minimize the damage. He would not be moved! His anger seemed to be fueling his desire to win. It seemed to be giving him strength! And for a second I was at a loss for what to do. If only I could find a second to fight back and gain the upper hand. He gave me one strong punch and I saw blackness.
I shivered when I felt cold hands around my throat, what was going on? I struggled to breathe as I finally opened my eyes to face Leonardo’s cold ones. My senses went into overdrive as I remembered where I was and what was happening. I started kicking and scratching, anything I could to stop the man from choking me. He was indeed a great deal stronger than me, but I was not going to give up without a fight. My eyes were watering as I struggled, hitting him anywhere I could and kicking. I do not know where one of my limbs hit but it was painful enough for his grip to loosen and I grabbed the opportunity. I stuck my fingers into his eyes and crawled away from him when he let go, groaning in pain.
He went on coming after me, and using his hand again to try and choke me.
The moment he put his hand around my throat, I knew I had found my chance. He did not know it yet, but he had just given me the opening I had been looking for! I used my elbow to knock his arm away, turning and throwing him to the ground. He groaned in pain as he landed on his hand, twisting his wrist.
I did not give him time to rest as I attacked him with my fists. I alternated between my left and right hand until I felt out of breath. We both breathed heavily as we faced each other. Blood running from our noses. I did not know how much more I could take, I was feeling tired!
It was clear that even though Leonardo was strong, I was more skilled at fighting with my fists than he was. He kept on punching out of anger, without any plan or measured movements.
I could easily gain the upper hand in this fight if I just calmed myself and focused on Leonardo. I took a deep breath and wiped my nose, wincing in pain as the back of my hand came into contact with my sore septum. I tried to calm my beating heart as best as I could, then closed my eyes as I focused all my senses. I opened them and clenched my fists, watching as Leonardo struggled to get to his feet.
His chest heaved as he took a deep breath too and I watched as he clenched his fists in preparation of a fight. His face was probably as bad as mine looked, and there was blood in his hair too. He was quite a sight, and it took a moment to remind myself that I had done that!
“Have you had enough?” I asked, keeping my focus on him and his movements.
He looked annoyed that I had asked him that and he charged at me again, his fists ready for a fight to the finish. I blocked and dodged his every move, using my right hook to hit him in the ribs. He groaned in pain as I launched into attack. I threw my punches quickly and in a very controlled manner, making sure I blocked his attempts to hit me back.
He swayed a little with his hands balled up in fists in front of him. He looked dizzy and was just swinging all over the place, not actually aimed at me. I looked at his bruised knuckles as he swung wildly at me and missed. I had finally worn him out it seemed, and he was just too tired to aim properly. I punched him directly into the chest and he coughed violently and spat out blood onto the ground. He would not give up yet so easily though, because he came at me again with a strong left hook.
I quickly blocked it with my palm, holding his fist in place and twisting it. He winced in pain and groaned until I pushed his hand away. He cradled his hand to his chest for a moment as if soothing the pain away before attacking again. This time he did so with his right hand. I was ready for him, and I calmly stepped out of the way and he stumbled when the force of his weight met air.
I kicked the back of his legs, bringing him to his knees in front of me. I put my arm around his neck to try and knock him unconscious. He surprised me when he grabbed my arm and hauled me over his shoulder and brought me to the ground on my back. I groaned when my back hit the ground, reminding me of my previous damage in the explosion.
He took a deep breath, trying to calm himself. I took the moment to recover as well and got to my feet as quickly as I could manage before he could knock me out again. I kicked his leg out of the way as he tried to kick me, and then blocked his arm with my forearm at the same time. His eyes narrowed in anger and he attacked again, trying to kick me. We fought like that for a while, and I blocked every one of his attempts.
I stayed in control of the fight, managing both my attack and keeping my defense in place at the same time. He could not keep up. And as his exhaustion kicked in, I landed a punch to his jaw then threw several more in succession until blood ran down his face. I was suddenly done with this whole fight and my anger fueled me as I kept on punching Leonardo.
His head was thrown back as he took punch after punch. One was his eyes was now swollen shut, and he looked like he was in a world of pain. His upper lip was swollen too, and his left cheek discolored. The fight was slowly leaving his eyes, and I kept up with the beating until his other closed and he fell to his knees in defeat.
I was raising my fist again when I felt arms around my chest from the back. There were small and dainty, and familiar. I knew those arms.
I closed my eyes and let my hand drop to my side, the other coming up to close around her clasped hands in front of me. I felt so much at peace, a sharp contrast to how I had been feeling just a few moments before. The fight drained out of me and it was replaced with peace and a feeling of being utterly content.
It was over.
The fight in me was gone. And my opponent was on the ground, defeated.
“Please stop now,” Evelyn said softly, still hugging me. “I don’t want him to suffer anymore. Stop, Kyou, please.”
I had already stopped, the moment she had touched. How could I continue when she had asked me to? I squeezed her hands with mine to show her that I understood and would do anything she asked of me right now.
We stood like that for a long heartbeat, with Evelyn’s arms around me. She did not mind my dirty and bloodied clothes, she just kept hugging me. She smelled so good and I closed my eyes to soak in her comfort, feeling so tired now that I just wanted to sleep in her arms and not wake up for days.
That was the only thing I wanted at this moment, to be far away from all of this and just be with her. Just the two of us. In bed.
I opened my eyes to see Leonardo looking at us with pain in his eyes. Well, just the one eye that wasn’t swollen shut. He really needed to tent to his face, he looked like he had been trampled on by wild beasts.
“Why?” he repeated, then cleared his throat with a slight cough. “Why, Evelyn?” his voice croaked, and he appeared to be in pain even trying to speak.
Evelyn came to stand by my side, and I felt the loss of her arms as she removed them from around my chest. It all suddenly became so real. When we had been fighting, the idea of what would happen after one of us won had just been that, an idea. Now that it was finally happening, it dawned on me that only one of us would walk away with Evelyn, and that person was me. Which meant Leonardo was going to return alone, on his wedding day! That would be hard to accept to anyone, and I was glad I had won.
“Leonardo…” her voice trailed away and she obviously did not know what to say to him next.
I could only imagine what was going on in his head, or hers for that matter. The two of them had been about to get married earlier today, until I had interrupted them. They probably had a lot to say to each other, or maybe nothing at all. I really had no way of knowing. I tried to think of what I would say in such a situation. If I had been in Leonardo’s shoes.
Still, I had no idea what I would be thinking. Or what I would say.
“Why him, Evelyn?” he asked. ‘Why do you not see me?”
I looked at Evelyn and she looked at a loss for words. She did not know how to respond to Leonardo who was obviously in pain because of her. Because she wanted me and not him.
“Everything…everything I did. All I ever did, it was all for you,” he continued, placing his hand over the left side of his chest. Over his wounded heart.
I took Evelyn’s hand in mine to offer her support; she looked like she needed it. My bloodied hand looked so wrong next to her clean, dainty one. But it felt so right to be with her at this moment.
“The fame, the power…everything, for you. I built this reputation, so that people would respect me and you too. I did it all for you, Evelyn. It has always been for you, all of it!”
“I am so sorry, Leonardo,” Evelyn said in a low voice, almost a whisper. She looked guilty and I wanted to take her pain away in that moment.
“NO, YOU’RE NOT SORRY!” Shout Leonardo
Leonardo looked like it was paining him to say everything he was saying. And not just physical pain from my beating, but his heart was in pain too. I could understand what he was feeling, and I did not want to be in his place right now.
“Did you even want to marry me today?” Leonardo asked, and I saw a tear go down Evelyn’s face.
He turned to look at me, “I guess you win. You get what you wanted after all.”
My mouth felt dry and I swallowed, but did not reply. I did not want to take away from the man’s dignity any more than I already had.
“Just know that I would have done everything in my power to make you happy, Evelyn.”
She nodded and he looked at me again. I could tell he really felt tired and defeated, the look on his swollen face said it all. Whatever he wanted to say now was probably very difficult because he paused for a very long time then took a deep breath. As if he was not sure what to say, or if he was supposed to say it. And it was very heavy for him to say.
“Take good care of her,” Leonardo finally said, surprising me.
I nodded but stayed silent too until I heard the king’s authoritative voice behind me.
‘Ogawa Kyousuke” his voice boomed.
That voice would never stop impressing me! The man spoke with power and I thought for a moment we might get to see a third explosion in the arena.
Everyone paid attention and I waited for him to speak again. Even though everyone had just witnessed the same thing, we all eagerly awaited what he had to say about the fight. He had been so against it in the beginning and we all just wanted to know what he would say about it now that I had won.
“It appears we have a winner,” he said, turning to give me a slightly annoyed look.
It appeared the king was not too happy to have me as the winner over his beloved and respected hero. But he had to take what he got, and that was me! I almost smiled in satisfaction but was afraid of what the king might do. I might have won against Leonardo but what if the king came up with a new rule or something?!
I could not take that chance!
I held my breath and waited for him to finish.
“With my power as King, I declare you the winner of this duel. You have fought fair and well, and you can claim your victory.”
I wanted to kiss Evelyn then there, but did not want to offend the king. So I just smiled and bowed my head in thanks. He gave me a nod and walked away, and I turned to give Evelyn a tight hug.
We walked side by side and met up with the Queen, Emilia, Fianna and Elsha. I don’t see Sera anywhere.
Emilia smiled at me and Fianna hugged me in congratulations. The king eyed me but said nothing, obviously accepting that I had won according to his rules and he had to accept my victory. I was strong enough to protect Evelyn too, if the need ever arose. I had fought and defeated the great hero of Vaerian after all.
“You won!” Emilia laughed.
“Of course, you told me to,” I replied, smiling too.
Leonardo’s brother gave me a quick nod in acknowledgement of my victory before walking away towards his brother. I wanted to thank him for giving me the chance but now was not the time. And his nod had said it all.
“So, are you leaving now?” She asked.
I nodded and looked at Evelyn who looked complicated now that Leonardo was nowhere near in sight. Maybe Sera took her brother away from this place so he won’t see Evelyn leaving… But I guess we have to part away without saying good byes…
You might spoiled little bitch but I have been under your care, Sera… Thank you.
“Take care of my daughter,” The queen said with smile, as she blessing us.
“Yes, I will,” I replied.
“You look a mess,” she said, making me laugh slightly.
I winced in pain when I felt my ribs protesting the movement. I had forgotten that my body had taken quite a beating. I really needed that rest now.
“I am pretty certain I look like a winner,” I winked.
It had taken a long time, and this fight had been quite an experience to get to this point. And I was grateful to all of them for their help and support. I told them so, and I wondered what would happen now that we were going to leave. Today had been a long day, and the pain was starting to catch up to me, I did not want to think about anything anymore.
Except me and Evelyn, together finally.
Evelyn took my hand in hers and squeezed it slightly. She fit perfectly by my side, and I just wanted her to remain by my side forever. We said our goodbyes to Emilia and Fianna, and I thanked the princess again before we said our final farewells.
I then sense familiar feeling…. Ah, how nostalgic… it’s been while I sense this… It was time to go. And so, hand in hand, Evelyn and I departed as the light covering us.