“I’d be very interested in hearing more about that.”
The direct reaction to Wilhelm’s words came from someone who wasn’t supposed to be there.
“Hey there, good job in finding out that I was here.”
Wilhelm cast a sharp glance at Eline. He had appeared with a timing that was too perfect.
The spot Eline appeared from had no entrances or exits. Wilhelm had guessed that Eline had hidden himself or there could have been a secret passage.
Wilhelm at first found it suspicious that Eline had not staged an ambush, but concluded that considering Eline’s personality and abilities, it wouldn’t be strange for him to not do something like that.
“I had Lady Holy Woman there predict it. She probably doesn’t remember though.”
Eline revealed the whole truth about his presence, with the same grin he had the last time they met in the church.
His words surprised the source of the prediction, Hermie, the most.
“That can’t be! I couldn’t have predicted him coming here, I…!”
“You did. But, you were told to forget about it. I was surprised to hear that you had seen Wilhelm in this city, though. Together with a rare creature like a black-haired elf too. Bayreuth is quite far from here though, was it her ability that let you travel such a distance in this short time?”
The manipulation item could even modify memories.
Eline’s words and Hermie’s expression convinced Wilhelm that it was the truth.
At the same time, the anger he had suppressed welled up within him.
Wilhelm could not forgive him for wounding Rashia and kidnapping Millie; on top of that, after witnessing how he toyed with Hermie, who was even ready to sacrifice herself, it would have been impossible not to be furious.
“You think I’m going to tell you?”
Wilhelm’s words implied the absurdity of such a question.
Wilhelm told Millie to stand back and materialized 『Beinot』 from his item cards. His eyes did not leave Eline for a second.
The rage burning within Wilhelm was about to rip through his body and erupt.
“Oh, I don’t really care either way. What is that spear, though? It is truly beautiful!”
“I couldn’t care less about your damn opinion.”
“It is truly regretful not being able to share this emotion. I am in a good mood right now, so I will let it go. I am really glad that you brought me such a spear. Who would think that you’d have an even greater spear than the one from last time? You should have wielded it earlier. Holding back is something really cruel to do.”
Unlike Wilhelm, Eline’s whole body expressed how good his mood was.
His eyes were fixed on 『Beinot』, which Wilhelm was wielding. His expression was that of a child who had found a brand new toy.
“I’m going to pay you back for last time, here and now.”
“Haha, rather than paying me back, you should worry about having more to pay instead.”
Eline’s hand was already gripping 『Exvaine』. His jovial expression did not hide the same contempt he had during his first bout against Wilhelm.
His stance showed that after seeing 『Beinot』, Eline had understood that things wouldn’t go like last time.
Wilhelm too, however, was different from last time. The weapon he was wielding was different, but more than that, his whole body was perfectly focused, without the slightest strain: his fighting stance showed no openings.
The distance between the two contenders was roughly 10 mels. After making sure that the guide had made Hermie step back, Wilhelm pointed the tip of his spear towards Eline.
“Shaa!” (T/N: Literally “Shii”. Something like a war cry.)
Wilhelm took the first step.
Wilhelm, whose speed was boosted by the support magic “Ki Manipulation* – Kassen (Living Lightning)”, started his offensive against Eline. (T/N: Also translated as Spirit Manipulation)
Eline’s weapon might have been a High Human creation, but the range of attack for a great sword and a spear are very different. 『Beinot』 had encroached on Eline’s attack range.
“I will not go down so easily.”
Eline held his 『Exvaine』 on the trajectory of Wilhelm’s thrust.
While a sword’s middle part could be said to be its weak point, 『Exvaine』’s abnormally high firmness managed to repel 『Beinot』’s strike.
『Venom』 would have caused him to suffer damage from this clash, but now Wilhelm was wielding 『Beinot』, the masterpiece Shin had crafted based on 『Venom』.
Being the same grade as 『Exvaine』, there was no decisive difference in performance between the two weapons.
If a difference arose, it would be because of the user’s skill and the weapon’s attributes.
After repelling Wilhelm’s strike, Eline’s 『Exvaine』 parried 『Beinot』’s tip, which had changed its target to his feet.
His body slid naturally, without opposing the force thrusting forward.
Eline then moved one step forward, faster than Wilhelm could pull back 『Beinot』.
After parrying one blow, Eline drew closer to Wilhelm, using 『Exvaine』 as a shield.
The distance between the two grew smaller and smaller.
Wilhelm, however, would not make the mistake of entering into 『Exvaine』’s attack range.
One step before Eline’s attack range. Just before stepping inside it, Wilhelm changed the pattern of his attacks.
The methods of attack with the spear are the thrust, focused on one point, and the sweep, boasting a range far superior to other conventional weapons.
The multiple thrusts that had been repeated until that point vanished in an instant, turning into a platinum circle, which attacked Eline the next second.
After blocking the resulting blow, far heavier than the previous thrusts, Eline found himself forced to increase the distance.
Looking at his feet would show burning tracks caused by his shoes grinding against the floor.
The damage sustained was not much, but it was proof that it wasn’t a blow that he could lightly parry on the spot.
“Very good. It appears I can get serious too.”
Eline, once again, stepped forward with the intention of closing the distance that had formed previously. His speed was clearly different compared to the movements up until a while ago.
Eline too had reinforced his physical abilities with “Ki Manipulation”, as Wilhelm had done.
Now the thrusts slicing through the air were not just parried, but knocked aside directly from the front by Eline’s blade. Because their basic stats were different, with the skill’s physical boost Eline’s STR was greater.
Letting his sword arm’s power take control, Eline was swinging the 2-mels long 『Exvaine』 as if it was a long sword.
A crimson arc is drawn in the air and 『Beinot』’s silver flash is repelled.
Few weapons in the world could manage to withstand the attacks of Wilhelm’s 『Beinot』.
If Eline’s weapon had been a legend-grade at most, it could have been possible to push through thanks to the difference in weapon type.
Eline’s weapon, however, had a surprisingly high performance.
Even under Wilhelm’s frontal thrusts, it managed to parry all blows without even the slightest grinding sound.
Eline’s skills were undoubtedly top-notch. He could perfectly defend himself against the spear’s continuous strikes with a weapon as unwieldy as the great sword.
“Tch, looks like the Hero title isn’t just for show.”
“Oh my, you knew? To challenge me despite knowing about that…you must have a death wish.”
Eline responded thus to the words muttered by Wilhelm.
“I heard it increases your status, but I’ll be damned if you aren’t the least worthy of such a title.”
The Title and character did not match.
The character might not be Eline’s fault entirely, but even so, a less fitting match would be difficult to find, or so Wilhelm thought.
“If you envy me, you should just say so. I am a Chosen One. For me to possess a special title like that could be said to be inevitable.”
“Hah, save the dream talk for when you sleep”
The two contenders’ blades collided and made sparks fly.
Even while taunting him, Eline had entered within range to attack Wilhelm. With the enemy so close, even Wilhelm could not continue his flurry of thrusts.
“What’s wrong? Did you think you were stronger simply because you have a new weapon? This duel will end just as the last one did!”
As if in response to Wilhelm’s earlier sweep, Eline suddenly changed 『Exvaine』’s trajectory, which he had been swinging vertically until then.
The swing, originally aimed at Wilhelm’s head, changed directions towards his abdomen, with a sharp angle that a weapon as a massive as a great sword shouldn’t be capable of.
The strike, performed by drawing a sideways V in the air, was the sword art “Aerial Slash”.
『Exvaine』’s deep red light bared its fangs, attempting to cleave Wilhelm apart.
Before such a blade, ordinary armor would be tantamount to nothing.
That is the reason why it should be stopped not with armor, but with another weapon.
Wilhelm, who attempted to parry the overhead blow with 『Beinot』’s handle, swiftly lowered his left arm and matched his spear’s tip with 『Exvaine』.
As 『Exvaine』 and 『Beinot』 clashed, a larger spark burst in the air.
“My, I suppose it will not go just like last time, then.”
The heavy blow forced his soles to grind against the floor, but unlike their previous bout, this time Wilhelm did not suffer large damage of unknown origins.
Wilhelm was safe because of the temporary physical boost provided by a skill and 『Beinot』’s sturdiness.
Wilhelm had heard from Shin about 『Exvaine』’s abilities. The damage of unknown nature that Wilhelm had suffered during their previous fight too was due to them.
“Looks like what he said was really the truth.”
Wilhelm whispered so after confirming that there was nothing abnormal with his body.
He did not doubt Shin’s words, but he needed to see with his own eyes before finally accepting the truth.
Seeing Wilhelm withstanding his blow, Eline’s smiling expression seemed to hide his intentions.
“For some reason, it seems like you know about my weapon. Since it is a High Human creation, I am not deeply familiar with its abilities yet. It appears there is more I need to ask you.”
“No need to worry. You won’t have any use of it either way.”
After saying so, Wilhelm’s mouth formed a grin.
Maybe because he was irritated by that attitude, the smile Eline was wearing on his lips changed in nature.
“That is fine, extracting information is not one of my duties after all. I shall grant you the opportunity of witnessing my true strength. I trust you will make this enjoyable.”
His words had barely left his lips when Eline’s body was enveloped in golden light.
His shining figure was indeed reminiscing of a character from a heroic myth.
“…too bad he’s like that inside.”
Eline was wrapped in blinding light. Knowing about his character, however, prevented Wilhelm for feeling even a shred of divinity in such a view.
The waves of power emitted by Eline were definitely growing stronger. However, despite their difference in status growing even larger, Wilhelm’s attitude did not change.
“You guys!! Stay back so you don’t get involved in this!!”
After warning Hermie and the others, Wilhelm brandished 『Beinot』 in a fighting stance.
Without wasting time, 『Exvaine』 drew closer.
While not being as wide as a spear’s, a great sword’s attack range was longer than most weapons.
Due to Eline’s charging momentum and 『Exvaine』’s blade length, Wilhelm felt as if the tip of the foe’s blade suddenly appeared before his eyes.
Wilhelm struck back that same tip, without a word. Holding 『Beinot』 near the tip, he counterattacked with the least movement possible.
The strike had been performed with surprising reaction speed, and the small arc it formed repelled 『Exvaine』’s blade.
Wilhelm followed it by stepping forward. His left hand still held the spear’s tip, while the right changed positions and lifted the end of the handle upwards.
The strike, aimed square at the chest, was avoided by Eline twisting his body out of the way. With his extended arm, he then forcefully swung 『Exvaine』 wide.
Even without Eline’s full strength behind it, that slash would have been enough to cut Wilhelm apart.
Judging it not necessary to parry, Wilhelm avoided it by crouching. At the same time, he quickly rotated 『Beinot』 and thrust it at Eline.
After observing the sword cleave above his head , Wilhelm released a thrust with all his strength.
The strike, enveloped in blue and silver light, stabbed Eline’s chest with a speed that far exceeded his predictions.
The piercing strike that had left a blinding light effect on Eline was the spear and light combination art “Tetralight Firestreak”.
After a strike performed with 『Beinot』, four spears of light followed by piercing Eline’s armor.
Yet Wilhelm’s hands did not feel the sensation of pierced flesh.
“That kind of speed…it’s not just an ordinary skill, is it.”
Glancing at the missing pieces of armor from his abdomen, Eline stopped smiling.
Even though he barely parried it, the damage he received would have been enough to inflict a grave wound had he been hit squarely.
“You’re not the only one who wasn’t serious yet.”
Wilhelm watched Eline with the vertically slashed pupil of his left eye. It was the sign that the Dragnil blood flowing within Wilhelm had awakened.
What had pierced through Eline’s armor was not just the weapon’s strength.
Wilhelm had unleashed his trump card, the “Evil Dragon Release”, which allowed him to use Lord and Dragnil powers at the same time, thus boosting his stats.
“That eye…I see, so you are a critical.”
A streak of blood flows from Eline’s abdomen.
Even if slightly, Wilhelm’s strike had managed to wound him.
Without bothering to answer Eline’s words, Wilhelm kicked the ground.
The thrusts of his spear, infused with his whole body’s power, moved at a speed incomparable to the strikes Eline had previously parried.
『Beinot』, transformed in a silver blur, attacked Eline while piercing through the air with sounds akin to screams
“Don’t you dare look down on me!!”
Eline attacked back at the enemy spear, which looked like a blur.
Even if Wilhelm’s physical abilities had increased, it was not enough to determine who had the advantage.
Crimson slashes danced in the air.
Silver and red. The two lights clashed repeatedly between Wilhelm and Eline, creating innumerable sparks in midair.
After a more intense clash between the blades, the two contenders created some distance between each other.
After a brief moment, they started their offensive at the same time.
Wilhelm chose the spear and lightning combination art “Thunderhowl”.
Eline chose the sword and fire combination art “Blast Cross”.
Their battle cries overlap.
At this point, not only Wilhelm but also Eline could not afford to hold anything back.
He who relents will lose. As both men knew it, the strength gripping their weapons’ hilts was the maximum they could muster.
“Gh…! This, can’t…!!”
Eline voices his disbelief. 『Beinot』, which had turned into a silver flash of lightning before his eyes, was cutting down the blood-red fiery flames wrapped around 『Exvaine』.
“Your mask is falling, false hero!!!”
The sparks and flames emitted from their clash of strength were burning the floor and ceiling.
A good distance behind Wilhelm, Hermie let out a scream.
The balance slowly changed. The sound of Eline’s shoes grinding against the floor grew louder and louder.
—I can cut through you!!
With a sharp stroke, Wilhelm thrust 『Beinot』 forward.
Their clash had lasted for roughly 15 seconds. The fiery flames, crushed under the lightning’s pressure, disappeared in a thin mist.
Eline replies quietly to Wilhelm’s shout.
“Yes…it’s over indeed.”
As Eline finished uttering these words, Wilhelm felt a shock throughout his body.
Alongside the shock, Wilhelm felt something entering his body, His experience told him it was a small blade.
What he didn’t understand was who could have done it.
“You didn’t think I would just do nothing, did you…?”
Wilhelm felt his hands losing their strength. 『Beinot』, which he was about to pierce Eline with, turned into a spark and vanished in midair.
Eline, his composure regained, motioned with his chin as if telling Wilhelm to look behind him, and the latter does.
Wilhelm shouts loudly, trying to move his now powerless body.
Before him stood Millie, with hollow eyes and a bloody knife in her hand.
She had come closer to Wilhelm and Eline’s clash and her arms suffered burns because of it.
The knife had probably been poisoned, as not only his arms, but Wilhelm’s whole body was gradually losing strength.
Hermie’s scream wasn’t due to the effects of Wilhelm and Eline’s battle.
“It looks like you gathered a fair share of information, but apparently it wasn’t enough. It’s possible to control more than one person at a time, you see?”
Eline makes his revelation with a smile again plastered on his face.
Hermie and Millie are in the enemy’s hands, the guide cannot be of any help in battle. Furthermore, Wilhelm was wounded by surprise. The situation was already desperate.
“Fighting you has been quite entertaining. It’s a true shame that there won’t be a next time, you know?”
Eline’s smile twists and warps. His expression didn’t show a shred of heroic valor.
His smile, an expression that normally gives positive feelings to others, had turned into a hideous mask that could only provoke disgust.
In its eyes danced only the insanity of a life spent pursuing desire.
“Time to say our farewells. We shall make good use of your corpse.”
Eline, showing no intention of capturing his prey alive, raised 『Exvaine』 high, ready to give the final blow.
….but his intentions would never be fulfilled.
Just before his sword arm swung down, the room’s door blew open with a booming sound.
The solid door swung open in a V shape and flew towards Eline.
What split the flying door in two and blocked Eline’s eyesight was a fist clad in a red gauntlet.
That one blow crushed Eline’s nose, smashed his chin and sank his face inwards.
Where Eline was standing there was a black-haired man wearing a black long coat with red streaks.
“I made it just in time…or was I too late?”
Looking at Wilhelm and Millie, Shin let out words filled with anger.