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“Oh, is it you again?”
Chris was heading for a place where the two armies clashed.
There was a place like a sanctuary where only two men were present. In that place, which was set up like a stage for a play, Edward was greeting Lloyd with a calm expression like a gentleman and a spear in his hand.
All around them, people were fighting for their lives, but only here was the place impenetrable.
No one else tried to touch them, and only the drifting dust was close to them.
“Would you have preferred Ain-sama?”
Lloyd dismounted and stood in front of Edward. He pulled out the great sword he carried on his back and thrust it into the ground.
“…I suppose so. Unfortunately, there is no one else who can compete with me but him.”
“Hmm. No doubt.”
Edward was taken aback. The reason was that Lloyd readily agreed to the words that he had intended to stir things up.
Has he learned his lesson? Edward observed Lloyd, but Lloyd only showed a clear expression.
“But we’re just right for you.”
“I don’t understand. It’s hard for me to understand.”
“It’s simple. You avoided Ain-sama, so we’re more suited to you.”
The old gentleman Edward’s cheeks twitched for a moment.
However, when his pride allowed him to relax one more time, Edward bent at the waist and bowed his head like a butler would do.
He smiled with a hint of vulgarity in his grace.
“It was a very nice return. It’s very exciting to have this kind of exchange.”
“Is it because you don’t like me anymore?”
“You guessed right. Just imagining a mouthful of dust crawling on the ground is enough to make me reach it. Have you ever thought the same thing?”
“I have. But I’m interested in the sight of you who crawls.”
A moment’s silence, a moment’s stillness, enveloped the area.
“…So, why are you here? I’m sorry for coming, but your presence here will not hinder me.”
Edward uttered a similar question again to the one he had just asked. He put his hand over his mouth and looked thoughtful, then asked Lloyd in sincere wonder.
“If you’re here to fight, you’ve misjudged the situation. Did you come here with the intention of showing your ugly face just like you did the other day?”
“──Hahaha, that hurts my ears. Certainly, my behavior the other day will have to be punished after I return to my home country.”
“I know, right…? You made a mistake in judgment. It is because of this that you came very close to being wiped out. Or… ah! Perhaps your lord told you to die? Then I have no choice.”
He said happily, and Edward finally held up his spear.
“I will be your match if I may be so bold as to presume.”
“If Ain-sama had said so, I would have gladly gone to my death. But this time, I have no intention of dying.”
On the other side, Lloyd pulled out his great sword, which he had thrust into the ground, and pointed it at Edward with a straight eye stance.
Lloyd now had one eye, but his fighting spirit had increased. When Edward noticed the presence that Lloyd was wearing, he began to talk with amusement on his cheeks.
“──The fox desires. A pleasure that melts the brain.”
He swings his spear dexterously and licks his tongue over his lips as if he were looking at a feast.
“──The fox dreams. A momentary sensation that lasts forever and is reached.”
Edward’s foot suddenly lurched as he spoke as if singing.
With a movement that could be mistaken for art, Edward stepped forward and, in time, attempted to thrust his spear forward.
“I’m sorry, I don’t like this way of fighting, but you are not someone who can be defeated by pretension.”
With a voice, Lloyd received a magic tool from Majolica. It was thrown and burst between the two, creating a split-second gap between them.
“A little trick…”
Edward, alarmed, takes a few steps back.
…The direct hit of the magic tool overcame his speed.
“Cough… cough… this is…”
A translucent powder begins to drift from the ruptured ball. The powder winds its way toward Edward with increasing momentum and heaves onto his exposed skin, including his neck and face.
“Raven Butterfly Scale Powder──”
Raven Butterflies were the monsters that Ain encountered during his field training with the monsters.
It has the ability to paralyze a person’s body and lay eggs.
Apparently, Majolica had handed Lloyd a magic tool made of raven butterfly material. When Edward saw through the material, he looked at his slightly trembling fingertips and wounded his body with the knife he had taken out of his pocket.
“This numbness will go away with the pain. It was a useless little trick.”
He looked at Lloyd with a proud yet triumphant smile. Lloyd, on the other hand, had a similar look.
“I know that. But it’s not useless.”
Lloyd readied his sword and rushed toward Edward.
Had he gone mad?
Edward looked at Lloyd in dismay, but Lloyd only put on a bullish face.
“It’s too early for a desperate attack, though. Whatever it is, it won’t change the outcome.”
Just as Edward was about to thrust his spear into Lloyd’s neck, he suddenly saw a blind spot.
Suddenly, a silver flash shone from the blind spot, right at Edward’s side.
“…A surprise attack, huh?”
He forced his body to twist and defended himself by swinging his spear. When Edward turned around to see what had happened, he saw Chris, a blonde-haired elf.
“I thought it was a complete blind spot, but I was surprised it was blocked.”
Chris took a few steps away in surprise when Edward noticed her.
She exhaled and spoke to Lloyd.
“Lloyd-sama, I’m sorry I’m late.”
“No, you’re not. In fact, it was the best timing.”
The two exchange a laugh, and then they sandwich Edward between them with a satisfied look on their faces.
“You are… Oh, we have met before at Euro.”
“Long time no see. If I knew this would happen, I regret that I should have cut you off back then.”
“What an amusing thought. I wonder if you should be so cocky just because there are two of you now.”
Chris glanced at Edward, who spoke as aloof as ever, and saw Lloyd’s eye patch and felt the pain.
Seeing the look in Edward’s eyes, Lloyd turned the conversation away from Chris as if concerned about her.
“Looks like you got through the port town of Roundheart pretty well.”
“Y-yes… that’s right. It was a straight road up to this point, so I had no trouble getting here.”
“A straight road? I think it was a bit complicated there…”
“No. It was a straight road.”
Chris insisted that it was a straight road.
Lloyd recalled his prior knowledge but still could not believe that the port town of Roundheart was a straight road.
But soon, he remembered the presence of Princess Olivia’s main weapon.
“Hah… I don’t understand. How did people like you gain so much confidence just because there are two of you──?”
“Huh! What are you talking about!”
Lloyd raised his great sword and stepped in as he spoke.
“This is why I’m so sure nothing will change now that there are two of you!”
…The moment Edward waved his hand dismissively. A cut appeared on Edward’s cheek.
The blood flowing from his cheek was warm and slippery as he placed his hand on his cheek with a half smile.
After playing with the blood on his thumb and middle finger, Edward looked up to check the expression on the face of Lloyd and his colleagues.
“Don’t get me wrong. Red fox.”
Chris followed Lloyd, leaning back and readying her rapier. The speed was faster than even Marshal Lloyd’s, the fastest in all of Ishtalika.
──The attack just now was not that of the elf.
──Then, what is it?
The question mark is not the only thing that makes him feel like trouble.
Lloyd for strength, and Chris for speed.
If he were to evaluate the chemistry between the two, he would say they are the best of the best. The improvement in strength, which was different from a simple multiplication of power, makes him click his tongue.
And then, after a few more fights, that attack flew again.
“I see. You threw this dagger at me.”
A new wound was made on Edward’s cheek, and he grabbed the dagger that made the wound in midair. He moved away, sighed, and then turned his attention to the new figure.
“Is it good? I may look like this, but I’m the best thrower in Ishtalika!”
She spoke in a mischievous voice and approached with nimble steps.
She exudes an alluring charm that doesn’t suit her petite body and pushes her hands into her ample bosom. She then pulls two daggers from her cleavage and plays with them with dexterity.
“I never said there were two of us.”
“Yes, Lloyd-sama never said there were two of us.”
Irritated by Lloyd and Chris’s smugness, Edward pretended not to care and asked the woman who came to him.
“Who are you?”
Edward never ceases to smile. But it was only an expression, and his voice was losing its normality. The evidence of this was that the voice that asked her who she was was also changing into a rapid voice.
“My name is Lily. Fighting in such an open place is not my thing, but I’ll do my best.”
Lily said with a proud smile, pulling out her dagger.
“The three of us are a handful at the same time, even in Ishtalika. So, if you can enjoy the battle for life with us, try to enjoy it. Well, as for me, I can’t wait to see when your fake smile will be peeled off!”
Thus, the battle went from two against one to three against one. But Edward, sandwiched between the three of them, was still not intimidated.
“I don’t think you can be proud of yourself.”
He looked at Lloyd and gave him a contemptuous look.
“I’m sorry I had to rely on my people, but you wouldn’t say I’m a coward, would you? If you think so, think of what you’ve done.”
“…Huh, I see.”
Sighing languidly, Edward said annoyingly.
“Good grief. I’m getting frustrated with that annoying fiance, and this is just adding to my heartache.”
“What, you don’t like having the chief taken away from you?”
“I feel terrible. I’d like to skewer that Grint guy and tear him to pieces.”
“Then do it. But now you look like a child who has lost his parents.”
“You are not mistaken. She is our ancestor. In other words, she is my mother. I want to soak her whole body with my love. That is why it is important for him to die in this war and for me to make a difference.”
Chris unconsciously takes a step back when he hears Edward’s affection for Shannon. Lily pinched her nose and fanned it with her hand to avoid the stinky smell.
From their point of view, the love of a man who was too distorted for them was sickening.
Lloyd, who was also listening, scrunched up his cheeks.
“I don’t get it at all. What’s so good about her…? She’s beautiful, but that’s all I can say about her.”
“Is that okay? If that woman──Shannon hears about it, she will reprimand you.”
“No need to worry about that. All I have to do is not be heard. And by the way, since you heard it, I will just kill you all right here.”
“Oh, that’s so simple and straightforward.”
“Isn’t it? It should have been easy even for you, a terrible fighter, to understand.”
There was no trigger.
If anything, it was the sound of an arrow flying out of nowhere and piercing the ground nearby.
Lloyd, who had been so focused on Edward, who had shown an overwhelming fight the other day, looked at Edward and furrowed his brow.
Could it be that he is not feeling well? Lloyd thought so at one point, but he quickly concluded.
“You, you haven’t healed from your wounds from the battle with Ain-sama, have you?”
“It seems I was right. You are a terrible actor.”
And now, Lily.
“What’s that? So you really were beaten to a pulp by Ain-sama?”
It was an innocent remark, without much vocabulary to stir things up. But sure enough, Edward turned an exasperated glance toward Lily.
Lily was about to smile back when Edward suddenly disappeared. The dirt on the ground quickly fluttered up, and the next thing she knew, he was right in front of her.
Chris intercepted with her rapier, twisting her body between the two of them.
“──You’re so quick…! Thank you! You saved my life!”
“…I was also surprised to see that he matched my speed.”
The spear was thrown out, and Chris turned her body to the side to avoid a direct hit.
It happened just before the direct hit, but the fact that Chris followed the movement of the spear with her eyes took Edward, who had absolute confidence, by surprise.
But in the next instant, Edward turned around and raised his spear.
At the tip of his swing was a thrown dagger, which bounced off before it pierced Edward’s body.
“Wow, what a great reaction!”
“I am honored by your praise. ──But I don’t like you. You are beyond rude.”
Edward, with a surge of energy, moved his body forward. He was going to thrust his spear at the girl he didn’t like.
“I’m sorry, Edward. I’ll be the wall today.”
Despite his muscular physique, Lloyd closed the distance with remarkable speed.
Having been caught off guard, Edward changed his stance and pointed his spear at Lloyd, but his position put him at a disadvantage──.
The large swinging sword defeated his momentum, and his spear swooped away from his hand.
“Oh so troublesome, troublesome, troublesome…!”
What was different from the other day was Edward’s margin itself.
He easily defended himself against Lloyd’s attack last time and kicked him with an action he would have considered a trivial one. But today, Edward took Lloyd’s attack with a strong effort at the waist.
As expected, he still hadn’t healed from the battle with Ain.
“What’s the matter, Edward? Today you are not as scary as you were the other day!”
“…It’s hilarious! You say that with the help of two women! You are nothing short of arrogant!”
“Heck, I’d rather be called arrogant than be called humble for losing!”
“Kuh… you’re a real prick.”
When Edward said this, he moved away from Lloyd’s side with a dexterous movement.
“…No degradation of his technique?”
Even if Edward was worn out after the defeat to Ain, the brilliance of his spear technique and physical skills were still the same. The evidence of this was the fluidity of the body movement that he just saw.
However, the situation was still three against one.
The dagger that came flying toward his retreating position was aimed squarely between Edward’s eyes.
“Woman…! You really are troublesome!”
“Whoa… how can you react to that attack now…?”
Edward turned his head to avoid the dagger.
She thought she had taken a blind spot, and usually, it would have been a dagger throw that would have told her that the assassination was now complete…
“And don’t forget I’m here.”
Chris approached as if riding the wind and thrust out her rapier to Edward’s waist.
Despite the fact that Edward, who prides himself on his combat prowess, looked as if he had avoided the fight without apparent difficulty, his clothes are ripped wide open, and a single, faint cut appears on his toned body, which had not the slightest bit of extra flesh.
And finally, he was out of breath. His forehead was also slightly sweaty.
“I told you. No matter how many of you flock together, you can’t be an obstacle…..”
“But what if I repeat it? The scars on your body will only increase.”
“How can you think you have risen above me like this? It is just because I don’t like hard work.”
Suddenly, Edward gave a half smile.
“That is why I chose to be third in line when I belonged to the Black Knights. The work is easy, and the position is not so bad. My superiors were troublesome men, but if I put up with them, it wasn’t much of a problem. Even this battle was just a hassle to show my ability.”
“Humph! Why did you suddenly start talking about your personal life?”
“I’m talking about the fact that I don’t want to have to work hard. So please don’t make me say the same thing twice.”
He was bold but still somewhat nervous.
Lloyd’s reply still irked him, and even his sighs were laced with anger.
In the end, he was probably outnumbered. Lloyd and Chris realized this and decided that they would have to attack with more aggression than before and put more strength into their hands, gripping their weapons.