“Damn it! Why?! Why did such a thing…?!”
After he descended to the first floor and got his bearings straight at the steps, Fernand repeatedly poked his head into each guest room, one after another, confirming what was inside first before moving on to check the next. Every now and then, he would send Ki blades towards the soldiers who would emerge from the entrance. This was enough to be a diversion.
This was a martial arts skill called Flying Slash. Although Mercedia used this in the Twilight Forest as well, it was a technique that was widely used because of how useful it was. It didn’t have a lot of power to it, but could easily be used for mid-range distance attacks.
However, he really was unsightly. This guy was pointing his finger at places while in a daze as he tried to search for potential hostages. After closing the distance, I cast a spell without Circulation.
Just as he peeked into a room, the bullet of air struck the door, forcibly shutting it.
Fernand’s shout rang out. The door had suddenly closed while he was sticking his head into the room, causing his face to be sandwiched in the doorway. Even when he stepped back while holding his head, he did not release his grasp on his sword.
I had wanted to cast a more powerful Spell, but he was in the corridor opposite of me. Since it was possible to accidentally hit someone else if they appeared in the corridor by chance, there was no way I was going to cast spells so frivolously.
However, diverting his attention to me appeared to have been good enough. His eyes turned wide when he recognized us, and then he spoke in a voice that trembled with anger.
“I-I see! So, it’s you!? It was you guys who led me into a stupid trap!”
…I didn’t understand his logic. Whether it was a trap or something else, this result was due to his own failures.
“…What the hell is this guy talking about?”
Mercedia muttered incredulously, to no one in particular. It was incomprehensible, even to me. Maybe he hadn’t known that a one-man show with a mix of a Kabuki Theater type of spectacle had begun when he did that to King Melvin.
Anyway, it seemed that Fernand was repaying kindness with resentment, and had made me his target. He glared at me with bloodshot eyes. I, too, brandished my Dragon Staff, but Mercedia stepped forward and grasped the sword on her waist.
“Sir Theodore, please entrust this to me. I have a debt to pay back.”
I could clearly feel the anger in Mercedia’s words. Since that was the case, I decided to leave this up to her this time. He did almost set her up in a heroic tale, like those where, in the end, the damsel-in-distress was rescued after being taken hostage in an ambush. Her feelings seemed to be under control, but it wouldn’t be strange for her to be furious.
“Mercedia! Damn it! Even though I had my eyes on you and didn’t let you die!”
Fernand yelled at Mercedia, who rushed at him with her sword in hand.
“You disgust me!”
Mercedia charged at him, slashing at his sword. As they locked swords, the momentum of her charge allowed Mercedia to push Fernand backwards, despite her being weaker. After pushing with all her might, he lost his balance, and she went on an all-out offensive. She intentionally aimed at hisblade, violently smashing her sword into his. Every time the swords clashed, a clang rang out.
Fernand desperately tried to shake her off, but Mercedia quickly backed off. She immediately closed the distance again by kicked off the wall.
She slipped by Fernand, who tried to retaliate. She then ran up another wall and swung her sword down at him as she kicked off from the ceiling. Fernand, who was taken aback by this, held his sword with both of his hands and, relying on his intuition, blocked her attack. Greg had tried to make Fernand Chester’s successor, so he was probably at least this capable.
The strange movements that Mercedia had showed was a Triangular Leap. She then planted her feet on the ground once more and, relying on brute force, she violently struck him with sword skills. The soldiers had caught up due to the loud clashes from the fight, but since the two were moving around too quickly, the soldiers couldn’t interfere. Chester was also amongst them, who had probably returned after hearing about this uproar.
“Fernand! You bastard!”
A fierce look could be seen on Chester’s face, and it was probably due to Fernand’s misunderstanding when he yelled,
“Damn it! It’s really cowardly when every single one of you is ganging up on me, you know!”
“For a mere retainer like yourself, you’re not in a position to be able to choose your enemy!”
Mercedia declared while frowning. She was right. He probably had not expected to have a one-on-one battle with Mercedia. Even if he could force his way through, he didn’t know when Chester would intervene. As for what made this unfair, or what he was unsatisfied with… even if he won, the situation itself probably wouldn’t change for the better.
Mercedia widened the gap between them and suddenly held out her sword. She concentrated her Ki on it, which made the sword shine a pale white. Fernand clicked his tongue and stood in a similar stance, also gathering Ki on his sword. Mercedia maintained her stern expression, and then stepped forth without any hesitation.
The opposing Fernand didn’t engage her attack. Instead, he jumped up and fired a Ki blade at her. Perhaps he thought that this was a good idea, since he continued to smile. However, even with that, it seemed that Mercedia had taken this into consideration. She gritted her teeth and charged at him. If she had taken some distance, the fired blades would strike her armor and not cause any fatal injuries. Still, she dashed past them as she rushed forward.
Fernand had thought that his skill would keep her at bay, so he panicked and swung his sword to face Mercedia’s skill. However, Mercedia had fought the entire time with an angry expression on her face. Everything was a set up, including the signal for the grand technique that she was going to show off.
After Mercedia bent her body, she suddenly stepped forward then halted. All of a sudden, the Ki wrapped around her blade vanished, and in turn, white light shone around her leg armor. In the moment that followed, Fernand cut through empty air in vain, since there was nothing there.
Using her whole body as a spring, Mercedia kicked off the floor and accelerated as if her body was a rocket. It was likely that she would win here. Fernand, who was fixated on Mercedia’s sword, took a knee right to his face.
Fernand’s nose and several of his front teeth broke, and he tumbled onto the carpet in the corridor. The winner had been decided. After he fell to the floor, he released his grip on his sword. He then pressed a hand to his nose to stop the blood flow and held up his other hand, as if pleading his enemy to stop. He continued to retreat while screaming in pain, until he was against the wall. The expression on Chester’s face gradually dimmed as he watched.
“P-please stop! I was in the wrong!”
Although he said that, his voice was a bit difficult to hear, since the blood was clogging up his nose.
“P-please! I only did what that Greg told me to do! You guys can straighten things out with His Majesty for me!”
“You bastard… That’s enough out of you…”
As expected, Mercedia looked disgusted. At that moment, perhaps because the sounds of battle had stopped, the corridor door opened, and servants nervously emerged from it.
A joyful expression appeared on Fernand as his sharp eyes took in this view, and he then tried to head towards the servants to grab them. Moreover, he had taken a knife out of his breast pocket. He had probably intended to beg for his life earlier while waiting for a chance to stab them with his knife.
Fernand ended up thrusting his hand into the defensive Flame Spell, Flame Wall, that I had prepared. In addition, Mercedia’s sword knocked away his extended hand, and even Chester, who had been on the sidelines, took out his spear and pierced it through Fernand’s shin and into the floor, to the point that his flesh would need to be sewn back together.
He shrieked from the sharp pain, and since his leg was pierced by the spear, he could only sink down to the carpet and turn around, unable to roll on it. Anyway, Mercedia, along with Chester, began to give clear orders.
“…That’s enough already. Follow me.”
The Soldiers obeyed Mercedia’s weary order, and after several people had suppressed him, he was forced to stand against his will and dragged away. He was shouting about something until the end… He was so miserable that it hurt to hear his voice. His figure faded away with his shouts, until finally, I could no longer hear him.
Now then… enough about Fernand.
Chester frowned and placed a hand on his head. He then shook his head, as if he was suffering from a headache. Well… even if he had been driven into a corner, that fellow had behaved disgracefully.
“Is your shoulder fine?”
“Yeah. The technique I used as I backed away isn’t worth mentioning.”
“Shall I at least cast a Spell for you?”
Mercedia smiled slightly. Although there was a small cut in the gap in her armor…would my temporary Healing Spell be enough for that? I said this to Mercedia as I used it on her.
“…By the way, I have something to request of you. Is that alright?”
“Of course, if it’s something that I can do.”
“Well, I’d like to send a message to the person in-charge of his interrogation.”
She blinked at me after I told her that.
“I want to ask about the location of the Adventurers that followed Fernand into the Twilight Forest. Depending on the circumstances, the background of the case may become clear, so they might be important.”
“Understood. I’ll relay that immediately.”
As for me… I was a bit interested in the conversation that King Melvin and Fernand had earlier, and there were several questions that I wanted to ask that guy. He had mentioned getting burnt from touching the Sealed Door. Although people from my party had touched that door too, nothing had happened. It was fine if it was just some kind of change that occurred to the Door, but…if that wasn’t the case….
However, if I tried to ask about anything here, regardless of if I was the one to ask, I felt that I would have to negotiate terms of exchange, rather than treating it as a request for help.
It would be fine if either Jasper or Fernand were questioned. Neither of them behaved reliably in the first place, and perhaps things would become clearer after questioning them during a Magic Trial.