SYS (Novel) Chapter 401

C401 - Emperor Sword Banquet (6)

The Central Training Field of the Sword Emperor's Castle was known to be the largest in the world.

It was also a place one couldn't normally visit unless they were a member of the Hairan Family.

When outsiders entered the training field, they would catch their breath at the vastness of the arena.

In the center of the arena, the Hairan knights were lined up.

At Ron's signal, the knights split, leading the spectators to the left and right.

The spectator seats were quickly and orderly filled.

Jin and Lata faced each other in the center of the arena, and Ron took his place between them.

Despite the large crowd, not a single sound was heard.

Everyone silently wished for the person they supported to emerge victorious.

"Lata Proch, Jin Runcandel."

"Yes, Ron-nim."

"Yes."

"I don't know what dispute there is between you two. But as a senior warrior and the owner of the Sword Emperor's Castle, I feel I must offer you some advice."

"Please, go ahead."

"Refrain from incapacitating or killing your opponent. Anyone who violates this rule will face my sword."

In reality, Ron was warning Lata.

Even those who didn't know the circumstances between them could tell that Lata held a unilateral grudge against Jin.

Murder during the banquet was strictly prohibited, even at Runcandel banquets.

"I'll keep that in mind."

"Victory brings honor, and defeat brings wisdom. I hope this battle between you two is splendid, worthy of my grandson and all gathered here."

As Ron stepped back to the spectator seats, a knight to the side of the arena struck a giant drum with all his might.

Kwang!

It was the signal that marked the beginning of the duel.

And even before the sound of the drum faded, Lata extended his weapon.

Like Fey, he also used dual swords.

Clang!

The clash of the two swords and Sigmund resounded with a deafening noise that echoed in their heads.

"I expected it, but it's quite brawny."

As the two stepped on solid ground, cracks spread beneath their feet.

Those among the spectators who hadn't anticipated such a powerful exchange from the start were quite amazed.

"I thought you'd show some moderation, especially considering you're my superior and have a great reputation," Jin commented.

"Well, I'm not the kind of man who likes to show that kind of courtesy to you."

"True," Jin replied with a smirk on his face, "If we look at it purely from a martial skill perspective, regardless of age or fame, this seems to be the right match."

Hearing this, Lata couldn't help but feel a surge of anger.

He had felt it the moment their swords clashed.

"The rumors about how you went wild in the Garden of Swords... they don't seem to be false."

The blades of the twin swords, the "Phantoms," trembled in response to the formidable energy emanating from Jin.

The shiver that ran down Lata's spine from the sword's tremor was unsettling.

"He's strong."

At first, Lata had thought that Jin had just been lucky or that his own direct subordinates of the Phantom Legion had made some mistake, allowing Jin to survive.

Even though his younger sister had secretly participated in the mission, Lata had thought that as long as "Grimol" was by his side, they couldn't fail.

But that wasn't the case.

"In the first place, it should have been me or my direct subordinates in charge of this mission. Or maybe we should have gathered a team of mercenaries like Grimol."

Lata had underestimated the weight of the title "Twelfth Flagbearer."

Though not well-known, Lata had defeated other Runcandel Flagbearers in the past.

Clang!

The clash of the three swords continued to create explosive sounds.

While Jin's strength was undeniable, that didn't mean Lata's anger had subsided.

He still believed it was impossible to lose to Jin.

Throughout his life, Lata had faced numerous formidable opponents and had never failed to overcome them.

Enemies who seemed impossible to defeat had ended up kneeling before him.

The future of the Twelfth Flagbearer of Runcandel in front of him would be no different.

On the other hand, Jin didn't feel as enthusiastic about facing Lata.

Even considering Ron's strict rule against killing opponents, Lata's sword didn't seem particularly threatening, despite the constant approaches of Lata's twin swords that grazed or came dangerously close.

'...Have I been recently fighting only formidable opponents?' Jin wondered.

A little over a month ago, he had fought with all his might against the entire Runcandel clan.

In that battle, Jin had narrowly escaped death several times, which meant he had broken through his own limits.

In other words, Jin's sword had become more refined than before.

He now possessed knowledge he wouldn't have attained at his age, and even those who had reached the peak of their martial art would struggle to grasp its depth.

It was as if he could predict the trajectory of Lata's sword movements in advance.

"It seems like the Twelfth Flagbearer of Runcandel has fallen behind," someone in the audience commented.

"It's still too early to say he'll surpass the Leader of the Phantom Legion," another replied.

Those who had little knowledge of martial arts guessed the outcome like this.

However, the Warriors who accurately discerned the course of the battle barely concealed their astonishment.

While they exchanged divergent opinions, Ron remained confident.

"Is this really the level of the Twelfth Flagbearer?"

"At this rate, the Leader of the Phantom Legion will undoubtedly be defeated."

In his eyes, Jin and Lata already lived in different worlds.

'This demon has already reached the level of transcendence... The Leader of the Phantom Legion has quite some potential, but he still remains in the world of criminals.'

To the audience, it appeared that Jin was retreating, but in reality, it was because he could comfortably withstand the incoming attacks.

Ron turned his head to look at his grandson.

To his surprise, Dante seemed to be in a state close to ecstasy, as if a devoted follower were witnessing their god.

Is it only the excitement of rivalry or competition that excites you about your friend's accomplishments, Dante?

It was a strange feeling.

Ron had always believed he was the only person Dante looked at with those eyes.

Indeed, during his childhood, Dante had always looked at Ron that way.

He had considered Ron as the ultimate goal he had to reach.

But at that moment, Ron suddenly realized the most significant difference between Dante and Jin.

Jin Runcandel, unlike my beloved grandson...

This demon...

He doesn't have a final goal.

He must have seen his father and the world's strongest knight, Cyron Runcandel, merely as a 'wall.'

He probably believed that the extreme pinnacle he had to reach was somewhere beyond that.

Realizing this, Ron felt chills run through his body.

It had been a long time since he had felt such emotions while watching someone else's fight.

Swish!

Suddenly, blood splattered in the air.

It was Jin's blood.

The twin swords, the Phantoms, had grazed Jin's hand.

If it had been a little deeper, it would have cut his hand.

Jin quickly distanced himself.

Or at least that's what it seemed to Lata.

"You should have gone all out and settled the match, Twelfth Flagbearer."

The twin swords came down diagonally. Jin, already in a disheveled state, seemed unable to avoid the attack.

Slash~

Or, rather, he should have been cut.

The moment the twin swords, the Phantoms, grazed the empty space, Lata felt as if the world's time had stopped.

'Impossible, the distance was perfect...!'

In the next instant, Lata saw a single point in his vision.

It was the tip of Jin's sword.

He couldn't comprehend when he had executed such a devastating thrust; it was beyond his understanding.

Drops of blood splattered on Lata's cheek.

He had turned his head at the last moment to avoid Sigmund's blow.

That evasion alone was an astonishing feat for someone like Lata.

But Lata knew.

"He aimed at my face on purpose, to avoid giving me a fatal wound."

In a fight, the face was naturally one of the worst weak points.

However, it was also one of the body parts easiest to protect.

A slight turn of the head or a slight body tilt usually sufficed to fend off attacks directed at the face.

That's why in battles among warriors, wounds on the neck or other areas were often deadlier than those on the face.

If Jin had aimed somewhere other than the face, like the heart, he would have responded as he would have responded, ending up with a wound that could have cost him the match.

"What's the matter this time?"

"You intentionally aimed for my face..."

"I aimed for your face because I deemed it safer than other parts. If I had aimed for your heart or abdomen, you would have counterattacked, even at the cost of your life."

It wasn't a lie.

In that case, Jin would have suffered some injury, and one of the parties would have died or suffered equivalent damage.

"And if I fought properly, you wouldn't survive, Lata-nim."

Unfortunately.

To Lata, these words didn't sound arrogant.

They simply sounded like a natural assessment from someone who was clearly stronger than him.

"At least in this training field, that's the case. If this were a battlefield or my bedroom, the story might be different."

The "Mercenaries of the Phantom Legion" didn't engage in one-on-one duels like knights. They were a group of mercenaries specialized in efficiently facing stronger opponents. Lata was their leader. This didn't mean he lacked combat skills, but when the opponent was too formidable, there was nothing to be done.

For a while, the two of them remained in silence, staring at each other. Some in the audience saw it as a new phase of the battle, while others interpreted it as a moment of acknowledgment between victor and vanquished.

And Lata felt ashamed.

He wasn't ashamed of losing or challenging an opponent without knowing their true strength and causing a commotion like thunder. He was simply embarrassed to realize he had less at hand than the young man in front of him.

Jin had saved his younger sister, who had come as an assassin, and so far, he hadn't demanded too much from him. Lata had barked like a scared dog with the determination to rescue his sister.

Amid the silence, Jin suddenly felt immense energy emanating from Lata. Even though he had accepted the outcome... Lata thought the same as Jin.

He believed Jin was emitting that dangerous energy. Therefore, as a Warrior, Lata was about to offer to cut a part of his own body based on the result. It was natural to think that Jin would get angry.

However, that dangerous energy was neither from Jin nor Lata. It originated right beneath their feet.

"Move!"

"Dodge!"

Both of them realized and shouted at the same time.

The next moment, the entire arena floor cracked open, and something massive shot out. Ron was already prepared with his sword to stop it.

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