Ch. 226 …I Won’t Lose (1)
“The winner of this match will be the champion of the tournament. Who will the goddess of victory smile upon?”
Because it was the last match, the host gave a longer introduction to the crowd than usual. The audience in the stands were on their feet, and were shouting at the top of their lungs for the knights they supported.
“Derek! Derek! Derek!”
The stadium was filled more intense fervor than ever. At the challenge of facing her first difficult opponent in a long time, Elena felt her sleeping instinct slowly start to wake up. With only a split second to react in battle, the wrong choice between attack or defense could spell death. After a few games of life and death, it became like a drug. However, experiencing the moment of the battle was a thrill unlike anything else.
Despite Elena’s rising anticipation, she calmly looked at Wickley across from her, proudly standing beside his horse. Wickley had a muscular physique even compared to other men, and so when he stood up straight, his form looked considerably different from Elena’s slim one.
‘The pain medicine has made this easier, but I’ll be at a disadvantage if that battle drags out.’
If she fought with Wickley directly, she would be forced to use more energy with her relatively weaker muscles. She had to control the flow of the match to her favor.
“Knights, please get on horseback.”
At the host’s signal, Elena mounted the horse that was prepared for Derek. When she turned her head, she noticed that Carlisle was watching her closely with a fierce expression. He really did look a moment’s away from leaping into the arena himself. She was here for Derek of course, so she wouldn’t let it happen. However, the thought of it brought a warm smile to her face.
‘…I won’t lose.’
Now and in the future, Elena would not lose a fight for Carlisle.
Elena swung her lance atop her horse. The wind blew through the handkerchief, causing it to point in Carlisle’s direction. She had done it intentionally, and Carlisle understood the gesture immediately. He was meant to believe in Elena and wait.
A smile crossed his mouth, but his brow was furrowed in a frown. For a very brief moment, Elena’s and Carlisle’s eyes met in midair, their feelings coming across each other wordlessly.
When all the match preparations were complete, the host continued.
“At the signal, begin the final match.”
Kung kung kung kung.
The sound of drums rang in the air, thundering like the collective heartbeat of everyone in the stadium.
Elena looked at Wickley from across the arena. She could see the confidence in his eyes between the slats of his helmet.
When the signal went off, Wickley and Elena charged at each other at the same time.
The harsh sound of hooves thundered on the dirt, and two lances clashed in the air.
Dozens of attacks and counter attacks were exchanged in the blink of an eye. The audience could barely contain themselves at the incredible display of skill.
Wickley’s spear shot furiously towards Elena’s side.
Elena noticed it quickly and rapidly struck it away. Wickley’s attacks grew in speed in power, and Elena’s red eyes shone brightly as she took in her opponent’s every minute movement.
If it weren’t for the fact that the battles were fought on horses, Elena would have been able to use her slender body to dodge more freely and attack from unexpected angles. She had far less flexibility and agility on a mount. That didn’t mean she would inevitably lose, but she did have to work with one less advantage.
‘Well, I can’t complain because I was able to hide the height difference between Derek and myself.’
It was almost impossible to notice on horseback, so mounted combat could not be regarded as a complete drawback.
‘The problem is when we’re forced to strike each other…’
The more such attacks came, the worse it was for Elena. She didn’t have the same muscle mass and brute force as Wickley, and whenever their lances struck each other’s, she started to feel pain in her back. Although the medicine had numbed the pain somewhat, the longer she fought, the more it grew.
‘…I don’t have much endurance left, so I’ll have to end this as quickly as possible.’
Elena blocked an attack with her lance, and she searched for an opening to strike back. Wickley then spoke in a voice that was audible only to her.
“You’re better than I thought. But it’ll be another hundred years before you can beat me.”
Elena kept calm in the face of his taunt, and replied back with gritted teeth.
“I look forward to what you’ll say when you lose to me.”
“You cheeky bastard!”
Wickley used his strength to push down on Elena’s lance. Elena pushed back upward as hard as she could, and then swung her lance to the side to redirect it.
At this point, an observation lit Wickley’s head. When Elena made a strong attack, she would swing her lance to use the momentum, and when he tried to directly attack her, she avoided it.
‘He has less strength, so he must have been injured during the tournament.’
Wickley usually won his battles with overwhelming force, and as a result, his opponent’s strategies were fairly obvious. None of them actively evaded his attacks as much as Elena, but he intuitively noticed that she was afraid of his power.
‘Then I’ll fight even harder.’
Wickley began to aggressively attack Elena with more cold confidence. They had both displayed their own style of combat to each other, and were now trying to hunt out each other’s weaknesses.
Wickley’s lance struck heavily against Elena’s. She was unable to withstand his strength, and her slender body shook slightly. He soon felt that victory was near.
‘Strange…his body looks smaller.’
But he didn’t care about every little detail. What was imperative right now was to win the competition.
Ophelia made no mention of hiding a paralyzing needle to Derek’s armor, but she had summoned Wickley before the match.
— Kill Lord Derek on the field if possible.
Wickley was going to follow her orders.
‘I didn’t like it at the start, but now I think this is a great opportunity.’
Wickley grinned, raised his lance, then slammed it down. Elena had no choice but to lift hers to stop the attack again. Wickley was planning to push through by force, then bury his weapon into Elena’s neck.