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Chapter 87

I Pulled Out the Excalibur

03/28/2024

WE TRIED TRANSLATIONS

Translator/Editor: Ryuu
Discord: https://dsc.gg/wetried


I PULLED OUT THE EXCALIBUR

Chapter 87 - A Midday Date (4)

 

Knight of Atanga, Argo.
In the heart of the Empire's capital, Argo's face lit up with joy upon encountering a familiar face. The young man known by the alias Ivan. Though they had promised to meet again after becoming knights, chance encounters were beyond their control.

"Good to see you, nameless young man."
"Pleased to meet you, Sir Argo."

Argo was aware of the alias Najin, but since he hadn't heard it from Najin himself, he refrained from using the name Ivan. Instead, he simply greeted the young man with a cheerful smile, calling him a nameless youth.

"I've heard quite a bit about you. You've been causing quite a stir, haven't you? I heard you even had a hand in something with Sir Griffin."
"It just turned out that way."
"Just turned out that way, huh? Sounds like you."

Argo laughed heartily.

"What brings you to the capital of the Empire?"
"I accompanied a friend who had business here, partly as a guard and partly for sightseeing."
"Sightseeing, huh? But why a forge? There's much more to enjoy in Camelot."
"Well, about that..."

Najin gave a bitter smile.

"I was drawn by the sound of hammering metal and found myself in front of this forge."
"True, the sound of the forge's owner working the metal is quite lively."

Argo nodded vigorously.
Then he gestured to a girl sitting in front of the forge. The girl, who had risen from her seat, now stood beside Argo.

"This is my squire, Flansh."

Argo said, ruffling Flansh's hair.

"I stopped by the forge to have a sword made for this child. Now that I can engrave the Atanga crest, I thought I should gift her with at least one sword."

Najin looked at Flansh with a brief expression of admiration.
The emblem of crossed swords and a shield engraved on the girl's shoulder pauldron was a stylish design and one that Ivan held dear.

Amidst their conversation, a piercing gaze was felt, and upon slightly turning his head, Najin saw Flansh's eyes staring intently at him. While Najin felt puzzled, Argo gave a bitter smile.

"Ha, my squire seems quite interested in you. She always squints her eyes whenever she hears about you."
"Is that so?"
"Indeed. On that day, pursuing the Demon Knight was her first mission. Having met you then, it's no surprise you left a strong impression."

Flansh still gazed intensely at Najin. Argo squinted his eyes and gently tapped Flansh's shoulder.

"Apologize, Flansh."
"I'm sorry."
"Not to me, to him."
"I'm sorry."

Flansh bowed her head towards Najin, and amidst this, Argo stroked his chin. His squire showing keen interest in Najin and their chance meeting made Argo ponder before he spoke up.

"If it's alright with you, could you perhaps take a look at this child's sword?"

 

***


Damano's Forge.

This forge was under exclusive contract with the Knights of Atanga, and naturally, there was a space behind the forge suitable for testing swords. Upon recognizing Argo, the blacksmith gladly opened the way to the back.

Arriving at the sparring ground.

Argo's squire, Flansh, warmed up while facing her opponent. A man standing across from her, loosening his shoulders, was someone she had first encountered during the Demon Knight Verheigen subjugation battle, and since that day, he had not left Flansh's mind.

At first glance, the man appeared to be her age.

However, Flansh knew that this man had single-handedly subdued Verheigen. Verheigen was a feared Sword Seeker-level adversary, yet how? Flansh couldn't comprehend this.

「A genius.」
「He could surpass even Sword Saint Karan, possibly breaking his records. A once-in-a-lifetime genius.」
「At the tender age of seventeen, he's nearing the realm of a Sword Expert. It won't be long before he reaches the Expert level.」

The stories she had heard.
The world called her a genius, and by objective standards, Flansh was indeed a genius. There was no one in her age group who could match her, and she had a natural talent for wielding a sword.

Flansh was aware of her own genius and the compulsion to surpass everyone else her age.

To her, Najin was an anomaly. Someone around her age, yet far surpassing her own realm. Flansh was troubled by Najin.

"Knight of Atanga, Argo's squire, Flansh."

Flansh pointed her sword at Najin.

"I ask for your guidance."

The conditions of the duel were simple.
A pure sword fight, with neither mana nor sword aura involved. In such a rule, Flansh was confident. She wouldn't lose.

Pure swordsmanship. The realm of technique.

That was her domain. Flansh had been swinging a sword since she could walk, a practice spanning 12 years. She didn't rest on her talents and had always practiced her swordsmanship more diligently than anyone.

'I don't underestimate you, but.'

Flansh was certain she wouldn't be outmatched in the realm of pure swordsmanship. She had faced the swords of numerous formidable opponents, mastered various sword techniques, and even managed draws against Sword Seekers under such rules.

Thud.

Thus, with confidence she wouldn't at least lose, Flansh took a step forward. She dashed forward, closing the distance and swung her sword. The sword sliced through the air with a clean trajectory.

And Najin.

"......"

He watched Flansh's sword trajectory with an expressionless face and then casually swung his sword. Thud, and then clang. Flansh's eyebrows furrowed as her sword was easily deflected, but she calmly continued her sword strikes.

The sword moved smoothly, drawing sleek trajectories. Yet, the result was much the same.

Thud, and clang......

The process repeated several times. Throughout, Najin barely swung his sword, only lightly flicking it aside or using a snap of his wrist.

Ching!

When a swift thrust, using the body's elasticity, was also parried, Flansh's eyes wavered. She knew her opponent was stronger, but this was uncanny.

'How?'

A strange sense of dissonance. Flansh suddenly looked into Najin's eyes and found the answer. As she swung her sword, Najin's eyes were precisely following the tip of her blade.

Reading the trajectory of the sword and interrupting the strike before its force peaked. Realizing this, Flansh felt a chill run down her spine.

'Somewhere......'

She had experienced a similar situation before.
It wasn't difficult to recall when it had been. About 2 years ago. To Flansh, who was making a name for herself as an unparalleled genius, a swordsman had suddenly appeared.

A swordsman who had single-handedly invaded the Knights of Atanga.

Brushing aside the swords of the tense knights with his bare hands, he approached her and requested a duel. That swordsman, too, had swung his sword just like the man before her.

Not too fast, nor too slow, just the right speed.
A sword swung in sync with Flansh's pace.
But her strikes were deflected all too easily.

The exact same situation as back then made Flansh grind her teeth. That's why the memory had resurfaced.

「This is disappointing.」

That day, the swordsman had looked at her with cold eyes and said that.

「Ordinary. No different.」
「Merely faster than others.」

The swordsman, who had left murmuring in disappointment, was later revealed to be Sword Saint Karan. That incident had left a deep wound on Flansh's pride. And now, a similar event was repeating.

With a swordsman of a similar age.

Flansh couldn't accept that fact. She boldly charged at Najin. The speed of her sword increased, and she varied the trajectory of her strikes. The prowess she demonstrated was not befitting of someone nearly a Sword Expert.

Najin narrowed his eyes.

Then, whoosh.

For the first time, he took a step forward and assumed a stance.

***

"What's so interesting that you're watching?"
"I'm observing the duel."

The owner of Damano's Forge.
The master blacksmith, Damano, sat on the fence of the forge, with a cigarette dangling from his lips. Flick, he lit his cigarette and took a deep breath.

Then, whoosh.

He exhaled a long stream of smoke, stretching his gaze. The sound of clashing swords echoed loudly from where Argo was watching.

"One of them is Flansh... Who's the other?"
"A young man making a name for himself in the adventurer's city, a key figure in the Demon Knight subjugation battle."
"Ah, that Ivan fellow?"

Damano squinted as he watched the duel.

"Huh."

He let out a long sigh.

"If I'm not seeing things, Flansh seems to be on the losing end? Without using mana or sword aura."
"Seems so to me as well."
"Isn't she a child who wouldn't fall behind even the mid-rank priests of the Order of the Sword in pure swordsmanship?"
"Indeed. She's extremely talented and hardworking."

No one denied that Flansh was a genius. The world buzzed about her talent being comparable to that of a Sword Saint.

But......

Damano, his cigarette extinguished, focused on the duel between Flansh and Najin.

"Then what's up with that young man?"
"I wonder about that too."

No matter how intricate Flansh's sword trajectories were, they couldn't reach Najin. He cut through, blocked, and deflected her strikes before they were fully formed. Such a feat could be dismissed as chance once or twice......

Clang!

But when it repeats over a dozen times, it's hard to call it mere coincidence. To achieve this, one would need to understand exactly what sword techniques Flansh had learned and mastered, an almost impossible feat.

Flansh had mastered nearly dozens of sword techniques.

Empire's swordsmanship, Atanga's sword, the Order of the Sword's techniques, the Imperial Hero Aigar's Guardian Sword...... It was impossible to fully comprehend all these techniques. Especially since Aigar's Guardian Sword was a technique exclusively passed down to Flansh.

'Then.'

Is he mimicking the Sword Saint?
Damano, having never crossed swords with the Sword Saint, couldn't know, but Argo did. It was something the Sword Saint often did.

"Tsk."

Damano clicked his tongue as he continued to watch the duel.

"Flansh will take this quite hard."
"She needs it."
"Needs it?"
"Stimulation, the frustration of defeat. It's good nourishment, isn't it? It’s necessary for progressing forward."

Argo smiled contentedly.
For his squire, who had been keenly aware of this young man, this would be a good opportunity. Especially for Flansh, who could become complacent in her environment, this duel would serve as a good vent.

That's when it happened.

Flansh assumed a stance. The moment Argo saw it, he frowned. It was a stance for executing Atanga's swordsmanship. In her competitive zeal, she was about to resort to techniques she shouldn't.

'This needs to be stopped.'

Just as Argo was about to step in to halt the duel, Najin moved first. Before Flansh could execute Atanga's swordsmanship, Najin's sword traced a clean trajectory and struck Flansh's sword.

Straightforward, and determinedly direct.
A strike that shattered the opponent's stance.

It was a technique that required plain yet precise control of power, and Najin executed it flawlessly. The moment their swords clashed, Flansh's stance crumbled......

Clang!

"Ugh...!"

Eventually, Flansh's arm was flung upwards, and she lost grip of her longsword. The sword she dropped clanged as it hit the ground.

"......"

With her lips tightly pressed, Flansh spoke.

"I concede defeat."

As she acknowledged her defeat, Argo stood still, eyes wide open. After a moment, he burst into laughter.

'To think I'd see this again.'

The swordsmanship Najin had just displayed.
A strike that demolished the opponent's stance and pressed down. Those distinctive moves and footwork were also in Argo's memory. They were the same techniques that had defeated him several times when he was a squire.

The technique Najin had used as if by habit, was undoubtedly tinged with Ivan's remnants.

Facing those remnants, Argo laughed pleasantly. He had never imagined he would see his old comrade's techniques again.

 

***

 

"Well done. This is my gift to you."

Argo handed Najin a small chest, and upon opening it, a pair of leather gauntlets lay inside. The leather was well-crafted, indicating they were high-quality.

"Gauntlets are as important to a knight as swords and armor. Do you know why?"

When Najin shook his head, Argo grinned and mimed throwing his glove.

"It's traditional to throw your glove before a duel. The louder the sound it makes when you slap it down, the better the atmosphere."

Najin chuckled.

"I gratefully accept."
"Good. And, thank you for crossing swords with this child. It was a big help."

Flansh bowed her head to Najin. There was something different in Flansh's gaze, both before and after their duel. Najin smiled at Flansh.

"You are impressive. Your sword is fierce. I look forward to clashing sword auras next time."

At Najin's words, Flansh's eyes widened.
Seemingly surprised, she fumbled with her lips before whispering in a barely audible voice.

"Th-Thank you..."

As Najin was about to leave, receiving their farewells, he touched his neck. He had felt a gaze on him for a while.

'A subtle gaze.'

He could sense the gaze, but couldn't pinpoint its origin. Even as he looked around, he found nothing. As Najin's gaze settled on a distant tower, one of the five surrounding the imperial palace, he felt as if the gaze might have originated there. After staring at the tower for a while, Najin shook his head. It must be his imagination. He had been overly sensitive lately......

***

The old man stroked his white beard.

His hair was white from the ravages of time.
His skin was wrinkled, but age hadn't bent his back or waist. The old man slowly rose from his chair.

He looked towards a certain direction for a while.
For there, he could hear the resonance of swords.

The clash of swords, resonating even from afar. Sword Song, the only sound that could stir the old man's soul.

"Berlot."
"Yes, sir."
"Grey hair. Adventurer's attire. Sunset-hued eyes. Investigate the young man who visited the city today."
"Yes, understood."

The Empire's First Pillar.
The Empire's foremost champion.
The apex of humanity bearing the Seven Stars.

"Interesting."

Gerd of the Empire smiled. Humming the pleasant Sword Song that had just caressed his ears, he watched the young swordsman who had come to the Empire for a while.

 


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Chapter 87

I Pulled Out the Excalibur

03/28/2024

We Tried TLs Logo
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