Ch. 223 There Was Only One Way (2)
Elena observed the other matches from the side. As they were the final ten knights, all of them fought with great skill.
‘This won’t be easy.’
She had not yet fully recovered from the arrow wound on her back. If she didn’t overdo it in the beginning she would be fine, but it might hamper her later. The only way to avoid the worst possible scenario was to win each match as quickly as possible.
The upcoming battles were simple tournament-style matches where the winner moved up and the loser was eliminated. There were a total of ten knights, so Elena had to fight three or four matches.
‘That man stands out…’
At the moment, Wickley was completely dominating his opponent. It looked to be a tight match, but Elena knew that Wickley could have won a while ago and was deliberately toying with his opponent. After the knight was worn down, his face darkened as he realized what Wickley was doing.
‘Is he going to forfeit after all?’
Elena watched the scene with narrowed eyes. The knight turned to the referee as if he couldn’t endure the battle any longer.
A sharp spear pierced the man’s shoulder before he could even get a word out. Wickley was strong enough to even pierce armor, and blood started to spurt from the knight’s shoulder.
The knight fell from his horse, screaming in pain. The referee watching from the distance turned towards Wickley.
“He was about to forfeit. Was this necessary?”
Wickley simply gave a shrug.
“Was he? I didn’t know.”
The referee looked doubtful because of Wickley’s unapologetic attitude, but Wickley hadn’t violated any rules. At the time, it wasn’t clear whether the other party had forfeited, and soon the referee declared the winner.
“The victor is Lord Wickley!”
Other injuries had occurred during the competition, and it didn’t matter much to the spectators. A thunder of applause rang in the stadium for Wickley’s victory. Some murmured among themselves about the cruel nature of his win, but it was not considered an official problem anyway.
Wickley, having won his first match, exited the arena with a bold swagger in his step and he glanced towards Elena. He grinned, showing his yellow teeth. She couldn’t help but notice that his smile bore a current of provocation.
‘What? Does he have a bad relationship with my brother?’
Elena was puzzled, but she soon smiled back beneath her visor.
It had been a long time since she faced the tension of a fierce battle. Her blood tingled in anticipation of fighting as a knight again. Although her condition wasn’t the best due to her injury, she wouldn’t let that hold her back.
As she watched Wickley walk away, she heard the host announce the next fight.
“Next up is Lord Paul Dayed, and Lord Derek Blaise!”
Much of the crowd was expecting Derek’s fight, and there were loud shouts coming from the stands. Elena stood up from her seat and climbed onto the horse that Derek was supposed to ride for mounted combat.
Now it was her turn to fight her first match.
Carlisle’s worry grew when Elena did not return from giving Derek his handkerchief.
‘Where the hell has she been?’
Her brother’s match was up next, and she had been anticipating it the most. Carlisle couldn’t wait any longer, and he was about to summon a servant, when—
A loud clash caused Carlisle to pause and look towards the arena. As soon as the match began, Elena had aimed for her opponent’s chest with her lance, and the opponent was quick to change the direction of his horse to avoid it.
But that’s exactly what Elena wanted.
She swiftly rotated her lance in midair and struck her opponent on the shoulder with the momentum.
The sound of metal clashing on armor was enough to fill the stadium. Elena followed up with a series of attacks, causing her opponent to lose balance on his horse.
The spear was so fast it was like a whip.
The knight, unable to withstand another blow, finally toppled from his horse. He tried to pull himself up quickly to make up for the disadvantage, but it was too late.
The tip of Elena’s lance touched the opponent’s Adam’s apple. The knight weakly lifted his hands and he spoke with a defeated expression.
Never had a match been decided in such a short amount of time. The grace and power that Elena displayed was vividly embedded in everyone’s mind. There was a moment of stunned silence, and then a thunderous cheer broke out from the stands.
It was a short but intense game, and the crowd leapt up from the stands and whooped. Elena’s red eyes slid towards the referee. He was just as astonished as everyone else, and he coughed and finally shouted out the judgment.
“T-the victor is Lord Derek Blaise!”
The cheers bursting from the stands did not abate even when the match was over. Elena lifted back her lance with a smooth motion, then slowly exited the stadium on her horse.
Carlisle had been watching the scene intently.
‘Has he been holding back his skills? The previous matches were good, but this time…’
Carlisle sat in his seat, mulling over what he saw. As he watched the knight leave the stadium, the knight turned towards him, and he caught a glimpse of red eyes. A sudden realization rushed into Carlisle’s head.
‘Could it be…’
The distance made it difficult for him to see, but those eyes looked familiar to him. He knew what Elena looked like in armor as well, and while others might not notice the small differences between her and Derek, it was glaringly obvious to Carlisle. He also knew that Elena’s abilities were far superior to anyone else’s, and it was strange that she hadn’t come to see Derek’s game. Moreover, the knight had wielded the the lance with great skill.
‘Someone with a weaker arm usually uses that kind of technique. The momentum can deal a stronger blow than a direct attack.’
Elena was an excellent knight, but nevertheless, as a woman she was relatively weaker to a man. Naturally, she would attack with a style suited to her physical capabilities.
If Carlisle’s guess was true, then it was likely that Derek had been compromised.
Carlisle suddenly stood up from his seat. If the knight was indeed Elena, he was both immeasurably proud and worried for her winning the match when she hadn’t fully healed yet.
‘…I really can’t take my eyes off her for a moment.’