~ Chapter 45: Official Duel (Part 1) ~
[Alkelios' point of view]
Broken and confused, I walked down the hallway of the Royal Palace, lost in my own thoughts and pain. I didn't answer any calls nor looked at the guards that passed by me. I didn't even fear the possibility of being pointed at as an intruder and slain on the spot.
There was no more strength in my limbs, no more desire to fight. With Seryanna's answer, I had lost everything... at least as far as I was concerned. Even the fight for Earth didn't seem like a good enough reason to keep on fighting.
Funny... now that I have lost her, why do I feel like I'll never be able to love another woman? Why do I feel like I had just one chance and ended up squandering it on some foolish fear? I thought and stopped.
Looking up at the ceiling, I felt like nothing mattered anymore. Then, I realized that there was no certain place for me in this world.
The thought of going to the human kingdoms crossed my mind, but I didn't know if I could communicate with them. I knew only the language spoken in Albeyater. Even if I managed to learn it somehow, I had no idea how to reach them. Right now, I was in Drakaria, the capital of Albeyater Kingdom. I was brought here by my friends, by my ex-lover... so I had no idea how to get there. I was completely lost.
“Huh? Am I that useless?” I thought and then looked to my left.
On the wall was a painting of some sort of scenery, but it was unfamiliar to me. The dragons living in this palace might have been able to recognize it, but I was in no way able to. It looked like something made up even if it was just the painting of a simple mountain as it was viewed from the shore of a lake at sunrise.
Is this world even real? It can't be, right? Such crazy things are happening around me... Dragons, spells... Maybe I simply went mad from all of that gaming? Or maybe... I'm trapped in VR game I don't even remember buying? What's happening to me? Why was I picked, you stupid God-like! I wish you would show your face to me and tell me... Tell me... is being with Seryanna only a dream within a dream? I shook my head and the I grabbed it in my hands.
I felt like pulling all of my hair out and even shouting out in despair, but I couldn't release the sounds trapped within my chest because I was still afraid... of the dragons... the guards... everyone around me, crazy murderers who thought of humans only as enemies.
“Well! Well! Who do we have here?” the mocking voice came from behind me.
I wanted to reply: a madman. But I abstained and instead took a deep breath.
“Who are you and what do you want?” I asked coldly.
“My, that's no way to speak with the one who will soon become the General of the Brekkar Army.” he replied in the same mocking tone of voice.
General? Is this... him? I thought and then turned around.
The white-scale bastard who stole Seryanna from me was right here, looking back at me with a triumphant smirk on his face. I wanted to punch him, so I clenched my fist, but I didn't launch the attack.
“I have nothing to talk to you. Leave me alone.” I glared at him.
“Well, as much as I would like to do that, you see, that's a bit impossible for me.” he tapped the hilt of his sword.
“You won already. Seryanna is yours. The Third Princess party is done for. What the hell do you want from me?” I asked in anger.
“True. True.” he nodded. “But you see, you still need to do something more.” he smirked.
“What?” I asked.
“Grovel at my feet and beg for forgiveness for being born a human from... stinking human parents.” he smirked.
I gulped and clenched my fist tight.
If glares could kill, I would have destroyed him by now, yet he was still here, mocking me, insulting me, insulting my family too.
“Grovel at your own feet, you bastard!” I retorted.
“Well, you see. I'm a noble with royal blood flowing through my veins. See the golden scales?” he tapped on his chin “That's a proof of that. As such, I cannot take an insult lightly and simply ignore it, especially since it comes from a human. To think that here, in the Royal Palace of Drakaria, a human like you instead of begging on his knees for forgiveness for ever being born and breathing the same air as us, dragons, he stands up straight and dares challenge me! Ah~! Such shame and disrespect! Well, no matter. I am a merciful dragon, so I will give you the chance to repent yourself... in a duel.” he smirked.
“A duel? Why should I accept it?” I glared at him.
“Because otherwise I'm free to kill you. Then I can just say I did it because you were plotting something against his Majesty. You are a human, no one will bat an eye and search for the truth.” he shrugged like it was nothing.
“What?” I furrowed my brow at him.
“Don't you get it? This is why I hate your kind... so stupid to understand even the most simplest of things! Well, let's put it this way, I'm bored. You are said to be fairly strong, so a duel against me should be considered an honor! But relax, I promise I'm not going to kill you if I win. You will just be tossed out of the Palace and forbidden from ever seeing Seryanna again. However! IF you win, I will... what will I do... Hm.” he scratched his chin. “Oh, yes! How about I... will extend a letter towards his Majesty through which I will ASK him to dissolve my engagement with Sir Seryanna?” he asked with a cunning smirk on his lips.
This was a trap, I could feel it... I knew it, yet this was the only chance I would ever have at making things right. If I still had a chance with Seryanna. If I could still come forth and tell her... no, prove to her that I was strong enough to be by her side, then... then... things would turn out differently.
Inside my head, this was my reasoning. The result of my logic told me this was the only chance, the only shot I would ever have.
Even if this is just a dream or some weird VR game... Even if this is reality, I already lost everything, so I have absolutely no reason not to accept this. I thought as I glared at this dragon.
“Fine. We have a deal.” I told him.
“Great! I will meet you outside in the courtyard, where the Royal Knights usually train. Don't be late!” he said with a smirk on his lips and then left me alone in the hallway.
I let out a sigh and tried to calm down.
A few minutes later, somebody placed their hand on my shoulder. Blinking surprised, I looked back and saw Kataryna there.
“How are you doing?” she asked me with a gentle look in her eyes.
“I'm sorry... I must look pathetic to you now...” I looked away, nailing my gaze to the floor.
“Yes. I won't deny that, but you also have a lot on your mind, don't you?” she asked me.
I didn't answer.
“Let's go back. The others are waiting and then we have to see what that Draejan fellow wants.” she told me.
“I'm not going back, and I already met him... He challenged me to an official duel, and I accepted. I'm going to go fight him now.” I said and then shook off her hand as I walked away from her.
[Kataryna's point of view]
What did he just say? I thought when I heard him mention duel.
I was too shocked by this and lost my time to stop him. Clicking my tongue, I shook my head and clenched my fists.
“I can't let it happen again.” I growled.
There was no way I was going to let tragedy repeat itself again. There was no way I was going to let Alkelios fall into the same political trap my friend did. These duels of the nobles were all just a convenient way to try and kill someone. It was a way for the strong to flaunt against the weak, but more importantly, the nobility against the commoners.
Alkelios didn't know, but in a duel like this, a commoner was not allowed to kill the noble, but the other way around was permitted and considered most of the time an unfortunate mistake. The idea that the nobles were far more powerful than the commoners floated around these duels and permitted tragedy to repeat itself time and time again.
Besides, there was no telling if the winner of the duel would keep his promise or not. If it was between nobles, then the promise was required to be kept. Even the King himself would enforce this, but Alkelios was a human. He belonged to the enemy's side. Thus, if Draejan killed him, then it wouldn't be seen as a mistake, but an honor. Even if Alkelios was a noble himself, it didn't really matter at all.
Blasted be these hallways! If I didn't get lost or stumbled into those two brats, I would have reached Alkelios in time! I cursed in my mind as I hurried back to Seryanna and the others.
They had to know of this duel and be there to put a stop to it, if not I was going to do so, and it wasn't going to be pretty.
[Alkelios' point of view]
The training grounds for the Royal Knights were right outside the Palace to the right as we entered. I arrived there thanks to the guidance of a maid who worked here, otherwise, I would have found myself to be endlessly lost among these luxurious corridors. Either way, I was far too upset and distracted to notice their beauty or even think that maybe this whole duel was something I was getting lured into from the get go.
Actually, it wouldn't have been that surprising if this Draejan fellow aimed for this duel from the moment he sent out the summon. It made sense, however, he miscalculated one, very important factor.
I am the owner of the 100 Luck stat. The only one with perfect Luck! There's no way I can lose this! There's absolutely no way! I thought as I made my way to the training ground.
Honestly speaking, Draejan may have been a powerful dragon. He may become a general who will lead the Brekkar Army, but I was a human who defeated a Breakthrough Awakened. I was someone who could fight fate itself because I held all the dices.
In this game event, there was no way I would lose against a mob character like Draejan.
I can't lose... There's no way. I kept thinking.
When I reached the training ground, I barely kept my anger in, but I was glad I was like this, because then I could unleash it entirely on this foolish dragon.
How dare he steal my dragoness away! I thought.
The training ground was a big patch of dirt with a ring in the middle, a running track around it, and several dummies scattered about for sword, tactics, and skill practice. It wasn't very impressive in my opinion. I saw larger ones in the pictures with military camps back on Earth.
As expected though, there were quite a lot of stares aimed at me. I was a new face, and more so, I looked like a non-awakened dragon. It was normal, and from what I heard from Seryanna, although not unthinkable, it was still very rare. Dragons didn't treat unawakened ones with the same respect as they did awakened ones. It was almost instinct with them.
Even so, I ignored them and patiently waited for jerk-face to make his appearance. I was here to beat some dragon general behind not socialize with the knights or anything like that.
After several minutes passed, Draejan finally arrived on the battlefield, but he wore a completely different armor. This one was bulkier and didn't have any sort of emblem on it, however, I could feel a far more intense Magic Energy flow from it.
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