Sorry for the delay and the slight lack of editing, busy times for this whole month of may, but rest assured, ’cause in June, I’ll basically have nothing else to do than to translate ><
For those who pledged on Patreon, chapter 72, and its preview are now available, as well as a translated illustration for everyone with Patron status! Do check it out over here!
Also, the author is writing again! Anyway, here is the chapter, hope you’ll enjoy it!
Francis felt an impact strike him. He did not understand what happened as his body was blown away.
His field of view was changing at high speeds to the point where he couldn’t really tell what was reflected in it. His body, that had lost its freedom, was rolling while bouncing on the ground over and over again, until it stopped at last, as Francis felt another big impact on his back.
From the tip of his hazy consciousness, Francis noticed that one section of the fences that were surrounding the horse riding place had been destroyed. Perhaps his body, after suffering some sort of attack, was finally stopped by breaking the fence.
But that meant he had rolled for tens of meters, at least.
Taking on an attack that powerful could not have been safe. Bit by bit, Francis’ left flank started hurting. And soon, that pain became so great that he could not even groan, let alone move his body.
Indeed, it would have been no surprise to Francis if he were judged to be unable to keep fighting anymore. As Francis found himself in that state, someone walked up to him.
With his right cheek stuck to the ground, Francis slightly moved his neck only, so as to confirm that person’s identity.
And that person was none other than Harold.
With his crimson and yet freezing cold eyes, he looked down on Francis. In fact, for Harold, this extremely boring result had probably been a killjoy.
Perhaps out of irritation from this, Harold slung merciless words at the already beaten up Francis.
【”So, in the end, you were just a fool. The fact that a small fry like you got my hopes up ever so lightly is a disgrace that will follow me through life. How are you gonna make up for this?”】
What an unreasonable thing to say! Thought Francis.
However, the damage that Francis had received were so serious that he couldn’t even utter that complaint in return. Still, he endured the pain as he caught his breath, with all his might, at a rough and irregular rhythm.
Harold grabbed Francis by his shoulders and pulled his body up.
【”Oh well. You’ll entertain me enough by struggling as best as you can, like the small fry that you are.”】
Having said that, Harold pushed something into Francis’ mouth.
That object felt inorganic. And subsequently, some liquid started flowing out of it.
Francis, who was unable to resist, gulped that liquid down his throat. Immediately after he drank that up, the intense pain that was torturing him disappeared, and his strength came back to his body.
After confirming that, Harold took his hand away from Francis.
【”That thing just now, was it Ether…?”】
Ether, it was a recovery item.
Francis had tasted that flavor and sensation many times in the past. All the damage he had suffered from had recovered, but Francis was perplexed as he did not understand why Harold would do such a thing. As for Harold, he turned back, went to pick something up and threw it towards Francis.
Stuck at Francis’ feet was his own weapon, his rapier.
【”Take it. The duel is not over yet.”】
【”…..I see how it is.”】
Apparently, Harold wanted to continue the contest despite the obvious result.
As he recalled the attack he had just received, Francis wondered whether he should reach out to the rapier or not. Just the thought of falling victim to that attack once again made Francis feel frightened.
However, Francis’s pride did not allow him to withdraw and call it a day. So he stirred himself up as he picked the rapier and pointed it towards Harold while taking a stance.
Based on hearsay, his personality was, generally speaking, notoriously bad. He was said to behave atrociously, as he killed people, stole from them, and trampled their dignity underfoot. That man, who didn’t think of people as people, could be said to be an inhuman devil.
Having heard that Harold was such a person, Francis went to warn his friend, Itsuki. You should take your distance from him, he said, if you’re being threatened by him, then I can help you with that.
However, Itsuki’s reaction was the opposite of what Francis expected. Unlike what the rumors claim, he’s not a bad man, in reality, he’s the complete opposite of that. Itsuki seemed to think that Harold had taken on that bad reputation on purpose.
And Francis’ complaint was not able to convince Itsuki.
And so, Itsuki told Francis that he should check out Harold with his own eyes.
That’s how the surprise attack on Harold came to be. And the results were terrible.
Neither surprised, nor afraid, nor angry, Harold had, perfectly calmly, grasped the situation and made Francis submit to him using nothing but mere words. This was more than enough to understand that there was more to Harold than just being a strong man.
At the same time, Francis figured he’d be held responsible for his rude actions.
However, what Harold proposed was a duel. Harold already had the advantage so he had nothing to gain by carrying his point across through that contest. And that was why that action helped Francis slightly understand Itsuki’s appreciation of Harold. Because to Francis, it didn’t seem like something a self-centered man would do.
And then, when he actually fought him, the difference in ability between him and Harold became obvious to Francis. He didn’t expect to be that overpowered by martial arts alone, without the use of any weapons or magic.
Though it was only vaguely, Francis experienced Harold’s strength for himself, and he turned out to be stronger than anyone that Francis had fought up to now.
No matter how unpleasant that fact was for Francis, he was made to understand it with his own body. Francis’ attacks all missed their target, and every time, he was promptly dealt with by being striked, kicked, and flung away. Moreover, whenever that happened, Francis, who was bent down on the ground, was made to drink Ether by Harold, and was forced to fight.
The drink recovered his stamina and healed his wounds, but it did nothing to fix the mental pressure that Francis kept receiving. He had been made to fall down to the ground more than ten times now. And in the end, despite the ether that he was made to drink, Francis was on one knee, unable to get up. Yet Harold mercilessly told him to stand.
Harold was angry. However, that didn’t mean he was just attacking Francis on a whim. There were no signs of anger in Harold’s mood at the Berlioz mansion, it was only after the start of the duel that Harold’s state had changed. And then, adding onto that, came his earlier remarks that showed his disappointment.
All that brought Francis to one answer.
Harold was likely angry that Francis had tried to approach Erica while only having this much power.
Based on Harold’s behavior, it seemed like he allowed Erica to have a relation with people other than himself, despite being her fiance. However, that didn’t seem to be because he didn’t care about her.
Perhaps he was looking for someone, other than himself, who he could entrust Erica to. So the reason he had pressed Francis to make his relationship with Erica progress was to check whether Francis was worthy of being Erica’s knight.
As for why Harold tried to do that, Francis did not know. However, as he pondered on it, Francis was still able to understand some things.
Itsuki had said that Harold was not a bad man, and that he had taken on the many bad rumors about him on purpose. If, for argument’s sake, that were true, then Harold had likely thought that it was impossible for himself to stand before Erica because she’d be at risk by his side, or something along those lines.
Therefore, he was likely looking for a man suitable for Erica, who could protect her. And yet a man, whose abilities were at a level that wasn’t even worth discussing, had went to court her.
Perhaps that was the cause of Harold’s anger.
Even so, Francis wanted to say.
You’ve got to be kidding me.
His anger was boiling up more and more in his stomach.
Harold was strong. Moreover, even in the kingdom, he’d be counted as being a top-level individual.
Then, there were also his brains. Francis could not compare with that man’s ingenuity, with which he could carry out anything he wanted, and that discernment, that allowed him, in but an instant, to take into consideration various factors and elements and to make a concise judgement based on them. He was 18 years old, and he had overwhelming force, great wisdom, and he even had the enough guts to not even be agitated while having swords pointed at him.
The world would surely brand a great man with such brilliance as a genius.
So, for such a man to bring infamy to himself on his own initiative was the epitome of stupidity. Especially if he didn’t want to expose his fiancee to the risks that came from that infamy.
Why did he have to be so roundabout about this? Francis wondered.
As strong as he was, Harold should have been more than capable of protecting Erica from most things. He was so worried about Erica’s fate, and cared about her so much that he got this angry at Francis, so why couldn’t he choose another measure than to go far away from Erica?
【”You’ve got to be kidding me…”】
Francis muttered so while slowly standing up.
He spontaneously concentrated his power in his left hand, which was holding his rapier.
【”What did you say?”】
【”I said, you have got to be kidding me. You’re strong enough that I can’t even reach your feet. So why don’t you try to protect Erica in a more straightforward way?! With your strength, you can do that, right?! And that would be the best for her too, wouldn’t it?!”】
Francis shouted his heart out. He was angry at Harold, but he was also ashamed of himself for not being able to defeat him.
【”Harold, you’re a man who can do what I can’t. But you don’t even try to take on that role and you try to entrust other men with it. So if Erica were to become unhappy because of that, I’ll blame you!”】
If he cared about Erica, he had to protect her with his own hands. Surely, not doing that was akin to running away.
Running away in fear of the time when he would not be able to protect Erica by himself. Francis was getting worked up, how could he let such a coward defeat him, that was――.
【”You’re sure running your mouth a lot for someone who doesn’t know anything.”】
Harold’s ice cold voice cut Francis’ thoughts right off. And the intimidating air fired off by Harold suppressed the fervor in Francis’ feelings in but a moment.
Francis was sweating all over his body and he couldn’t stop himself from trembling.
He felt a pressure he had never experienced before, as if some completely unheard of monster was standing before him.
The moment Francis felt that, Harold became blurry to him. But when he realized it, Harold had already broken Francis’ chance to dodge.
Harold had attacked right from the front, but Francis was still caught completely off guard. It was a surprise attack made through pure speed, without any tricks.
Harold waved the black sword he was grasping in his left hand. As he felt a thick air of imminent death, Francis’ body was stiff, he couldn’t even move.
It all happened in an instant, not even leaving Francis with enough time to prepare for his own death.
However, that death did not come. Instead, Francis felt an impact on his left arm.
Unable to defend, Francis staggered and fell on his backside.
【”You’re not worth killing so I’ll give you an advice, bastard.”】
Said Harold, with cruel eyes, to Francis who could only look up to him.
【”Erica isn’t some frail and fickle woman who can do nothing but be protected by others. She has the strength to fight, and an unwavering will to oppose her own fate. Don’t go thinking she’s just some pretty little flower. Because really, Erica is a mighty tree.”】
Not a pretty flower, but a mighty tree. That’s how Erica looked like in Harold’s eyes.
I see, said Francis, in agreement. Harold believed in Erica. He considered her to be someone at the same level as himself, who did not need his protection.
It certainly had to be funny to watch Francis, who was much weaker than her, repeatedly talk of protecting her himself.
In the end, he was made to fully realize that he had only been able to see the outside of Erica.
He was charmed by her beauty, and he had arbitrarily assumed that her personality went hand to hand with that beauty. So being angry over that was not unreasonable in the slightest.
Francis’ understanding of Erica and his feelings for her were no match for Harold’s.
【”….. It’s my loss.”】
【”What? Do you not see this, you moron?”】
Harold showed the sword he was holding in his hand.
If was certainly Harold’s loss since he had used his weapon, but Francis was not shameless enough to be able to claim such a thing.
After all, before this point, he had been utterly defeated.
【”Don’t make me say it again. The problem’s with the rule that we agreed on before. I was never qualified to have a duel with you, Harold.”】
【”Mhm, then, this time, let’s call it a draw, shall we?”】
Declared Itsuki, who had been watching in silence.
Francis had given up, and Harold had gone against the rules. Both of them had won, and both of them had also lost.
It would have felt better for Francis if this was counted as his loss, but maybe finding a point of compromise was fine as well.
Perhaps still dissatisfied, Harold clicked his tongue and turned his back to the duo. But Francis called that back to a stop.
【”Harold, wait. Even if according to the rules, this is a draw, in the fight itself, I was completely defeated. So I’d like you to make me follow what you say as we agreed.”】
The purpose of the duel had been replaced with a marriage to Erica out of nowhere, but in reality, that was the actual main purpose.
【”This is getting boring already. If you want to hit on Erica, do as you like. I just wish you could become a man who matches her.”】
“I’ll be going back ahead of you. You just stay dead over there for a while.” leaving Francis with those words, Harold left the place. But this time, Francis was not able to stop him.
He just laid on his back, face up.
【”What is it?”】
【”I was really stupid, wasn’t I?”】
【”I don’t know where that’s coming from, but it’s unusual for you to speak ill of yourself.”】
【”In various ways, he showed me the difference in status between us, as a warrior, but also as a man.”】
At the end, Harold had told Francis to become a man who could match Erica. In other words, Francis had to acquire a strength that could rival with Harold’s.
Francis had been quite impolite and ungraceful but Harold did not give up on him, rather, even though he told him he was disappointed, he still approved of Francis ever so slightly. When he thought of that, Francis’ feelings were filled with wonder and delight.
As for why Itsuki adored Harold; having now experienced Harold’s tolerance for himself, Francis actually felt compelled to agree with Itsuki’s assessment.
【”I still have a long way to go. But today, I feel that I have seen the path which I should aim for.”】
He lied down and looked up at the clear and high sky, feeling like he could open it and spread it everywhere.
To Francis, it seemed like it was showing him the way to his future.
Translator’s note: Next chapter, we’ll see things from Erica’s perspective, so do look forward to it!
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