Chapter 85

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On the velvet carpet, a soft sound of pitter-pattering, as white feet lightly danced.

Elpheira had been pacing, chewing on her lip. For hours, she racked her brains, but no solution came to mind.

“He… a horny beast… could have picked me up if he had just waited a little longer.”

This was undoubtedly a result of the ephemeral nature of the short-lived races. Creatures like mice, rabbits, and humans, with just a glance, would quickly initiate courtship due to their fleeting instincts.

In contrast, observe beings like dragons, phoenixes, and elves. They welcomed one mate for a lifetime, nurturing their bond slowly, reaping the fruits of love over time!

The phrase “a century of calamity” was a mere linguistic play for humans. A hundred years of fleeting love was nothing but a momentary bonfire for elves.

Thus, Ivan Petrovich, driven by the impatience inherent in short-lived races, was on the verge of missing the opportunity to welcome an elf as a companion.

“How foolish… Petrovich must be eager to find a mate and have descendants, considering his remaining lifespan. I lacked understanding…”

In just two and a half years, they could go to Kalion, where there were many means to remedy congenital human disabilities.

Here, congenital human disabilities referred to both their short lifespans and limited thinking. As life extended, thoughts deepened, so having one solution was fortunate.

Elpheira slumped onto the sofa, lost in melancholy.

“I can’t let him win.”

Winning meant marrying the princess!

Marriage with royalty among ordinary humans would undoubtedly be a significant social ascent, so Petrovich’s daring challenge made sense.

But no, he was choosing the wrong path. Marriage with an elf was incomparable to human royalty…

“This is not the time for such thoughts.”

Elpheira, a rational elf, forcibly halted the thoughts that were once colored with anger and sorrow. Now is the urgent moment for a clear understanding of the situation and deriving solutions.

Careful not to make even the slightest mistake, as failing to do so might mean being unable to save Ivan.

“How can I prevent his victory?”

Should I sponsor a noble capable of defeating Ivan?

But what if Ivan gets seriously injured in the process…? A horse with a broken leg generally lives a shorter life than its natural lifespan. It wouldn’t be any different for humans. Short-lived races lose their lives even to minor injuries!

“Should I request assistance from the homeland?”

Wait, this seems like a rather good idea.

“The tournament is in five days… and tournaments like these usually don’t end quickly.”

Even regular jousting matches, combined with festivities, tend to last at least a week.

Especially when hosted by the royal family, a tournament with a prize as significant as marriage to the princess won’t conclude overnight.

In that case… it should be enough time for reinforcements to arrive from Kalion. Using airships for swift travel, they could arrive within a week at the least!

“Assuming support is requested and the reinforcements arrive promptly… I must win the tournament within the first two days.”

Tournaments of this kind, such as jousts and sword fights, typically do not allow participants to compete more than once a day. This is because the participants are nobles, not gladiators.

Besides individual condition management, such events serve as a form of social gathering. Tournament participants only need to engage in one, or at most two, duels per day.

“I can do it. I’m a genius. Elpheira Grykencos, the daughter of the genius wizard Beolgrin!”
Stating an undeniable fact calmly, Elpheira prepared herself.

In an instant, she arranged magical energies and activated the emergency communication artifact. A two-way channeling artifact for illusion spells, a miraculous creation beyond the dreams of any human who uses it.

Soon, the artifact shimmered, and a low voice echoed.

– What’s happening?

“Father!”

– Yes, my daughter. I’m listening.

Elpheira shouted as if she had forgotten all noble etiquette and eloquence.

“Dispatch Cohenwolf immediately to Frechankaya!”

– …?? What did you eat this morning? Oh, is it evening there now? Was there an issue with dinner? Or is it magical poisoning?

“Ugh… no, it’s not that…”

Casually dismissing her father’s teasing voice, Elpheira explained the situation with elven rationality, not revealing all truths.

1. The princess has wagered her own union and organized a noble duel.
2. Winning this duel allows a marital alliance with the princess.
3. Therefore, we must use this situation to our homeland’s advantage.
4. There is no nationality restriction in this duel. (Naturally, this information was discreetly conveyed only to the nobles within Frechankaya. There was no need to explicitly state foreign nationality restrictions.)
5. Hence, if one of our covert agents wins, the alliance kingdom of Kalion-Krasilov can be established!

Her logic crafted in a short time left no room for criticism. Elpheira lowered the artifact with a confident smile.

Of course, the artifact conveyed only the voice. Unable to see her smile, Veolgrin, letting out a deep sigh, spoke.

– Our daughter seems more interested in international affairs than studies. Truly, this father feels reassured.

“Father!!”

– Yes, I understand. It’s a valid point. However, there seems to be something you haven’t mentioned. What is it?

“What?”

– You wouldn’t dare request me to dispatch ‘Cohenwolf’ merely for such a reason. Do you wish to interfere with someone in this tournament?

Elven insight. When a daughter suddenly makes a request, there’s often an underlying motive behind it. Elves, by nature, don’t straightforwardly state what they truly desire. It’s the etiquette of Kalion-style nobility.

“That… Ivan Petrovich wishes to participate… in the tournament.”

– Ah, the young Ivan. Hmm… Well, Elizaveta did show some interest in him. That’s… oh… that little one has quite a cunning mind.

“What? Cunning mind?”

– This so-called ‘marital duel’ is essentially a plaything for the princess. Forget it. You need not concern yourself.

Veolgrin, seemingly enjoying something, mumbled before addressing Elpheira.

– Fine. It’s not pleasant that our Ivan is tied down in one place. I will send Cohenwolf. But it will take at least a week, and didn’t they say the duel starts after five days?

“Oh, I can handle it within two days! I’ll submit an application in Cohenwolf’s name for now!”

-Hmm. Also, you do realize that Edelflat Cohenwolf is.. a woman, right? It’s not the most suitable gender for a companion to the princess.

“In love, there is no gender, race, or border!”

– There might be… But okay, whatever … If Ivan is participating, Cohenwolf will garner some attention.

The communication through the artifact ended. Elpheira clenched her fist, trembling.

Elves don’t handle swords. Engaging in hand-to-hand combat is considered distasteful due to their tradition.

And as she once reflected, if an elf is seen wielding a sword, it means they have achieved mastery in combat despite their traditions. Elves, being long-lived, can reach a superior level compared to all known races when dedicating a lifetime to a single skill, given the unique nature of time for them.

Cohenwolf is the strongest among those ‘elves wielding swords,’ meaning the most robust among Kalion’s swordsmen.

Skilled enough to teach swordsmanship to the hero.

***

The next day, after finishing her morning lecture, Isabelle, accompanied by Yuri, headed to the courtyard as usual. The most enjoyable time of the day, lunchtime, had arrived.

It wasn’t that she, resembling a factory worker, eagerly awaited lunchtime. It was because during lunch, Ivan would come out with a packed lunch.

Generally, male employees were not adept at cooking (No, most chefs in this era were male). Ivan’s lunch was usually raw ingredients as is. That meant salads poured with sauce claiming to be a salad.

It was the time for her to introduce him to the cuisine of their homeland. Isabelle was confident in her cooking, and her confidence had mostly been proven through favorable outcomes.

Although he only expressed reactions like ‘delicious,’ ‘hmm,’ or ‘oily’ no matter what he ate…

“In any case, he instructed me to arrive immediately upon being released from the hospital!”

She had been waiting quietly at home after being discharged, but he never showed up. In the end, the stew she cooked that day had to be disposed of entirely.

An adult who doesn’t keep promises is a bad adult, and bad adults deserve punishment.

Isabelle set out for the courtyard with a mischievous grin.

And there, she witnessed Ecdysis casually kicking off his shoes alone.

“Huh? Essi, where’s Ivan?” (Isabelle)

“Uncle is, um… busy today? He wasn’t on your side either?” (Ecdysis)

“Um… he wasn’t in the Knight Studies department.” (Isabelle)

Well, seems like he’s busy. Well, being busy is normal, after all.

Isabelle understood. It must be something extremely busy for him not to find time to visit her.

It seemed that the uncle was so occupied that he could resist the temptation of ‘Kimchi Stew.’

Luckily, the wind wasn’t against her. Isabelle laughed and took out the lunchbox.

“Today, it’s good not to eat that weird salad!” (Isabelle)

“Yeah, sure.” (Ecdysis)

Ecdysis nodded with his mouth full.

***

The next day, and the day after that.

Ivan was nowhere to be found in any corner of Jan’s University.

“Does this make sense?!” (Isabelle)

Someone who was everywhere on campus, who could be seen anywhere, just disappears so cleanly?

While Isabelle was venting her frustration, Ecdysis was biting her thumb nail in frustration. Apparently, she was suffering from nutritional deficiencies since Ivan, the man responsible for her balanced diet, had disappeared

“Again… Did he go to stalk someone again…?” (Ecdysis)

Isabelle was very curious about what that meant but decided not to ask. Responding seriously to the monologue of a mentally unstable person would be meaningless, and she wisely found someone who could resolve the situation. It was Mord, who had been expelled from the orphanage (reason: the King of Drovian destroyed the orphanage).

“Do you happen to know where Mr. Ivan went?” (Isabelle)

“How would I know that?” (Mord)

“No, lately, every time the lecture ends, you rush to the orphanage…” (Isabelle)

“Cough… Yeah.” (Mord)

Since it was quite awkward for a Drovian man to do ‘volunteer work,’ Mord coughed and spoke.

“I was curious too. I should ask when the damn orphanage construction will be finished. Anyway, I know someone who might know.” (Mord)

Mord confidently walked towards some corner of the courtyard, occupied by a bench with a guy covering his face with a newspaper.

“Get up.” (Mord)

“Agents of the Counterintelligence Command never sleep. They only rest.” (Pavel)

“Enough nonsense. Isn’t this negligence on duty?” (Mord)

“Is that what a spy from the friendly nation has to say?” (Pavel)

Wrinkling the newspaper on his face, Pavel wiped his eyes and got up.

He glanced around at Mord, Ecdysis, and Isabelle, then sighed.

“How does our leader keep doing this kind of thing every day… It’s really annoying.” (Pavel)

As a substitute for the momentarily absent Ivan, Pavel—assigned to the security mission of children of the hero party members—wiped away the saliva stuck to the corner of his mouth and stood up.

He had experience directly orchestrating terrorism in the center of Frechenkaya and, therefore, was well aware of the vulnerabilities of information in Frechenkaya.

Therefore, as long as he has returned to the Counterintelligence Command, there is no human agent in this city who can thwart his activities. Under his information network, anyone attempting such activities will inevitably be caught.

So, this matter is just a way to pass the time. If urgent matters arise, he can intervene at that point without being too late.

Pavel scratched his forehead and asked,

“What is it? Keep it short. I’m working.” (Pavel)

“Damn… Ivan Petrovich. Where is that guy?” (Mord)

“Our leader? Uh… Why?” (Pavel)

Isabelle stepped forward and shouted,

“Since I was kicked out last time for national secrets, he’s been missing ever since!” (Isabelle)

“Well, he’s on official duty right now.” (Pavel)

“No, for three days? Without even to go home? Isn’t this exploitation? Doesn’t this country have regulations on working hours?” (Isabelle)

“What? Is there such a thing in Tylesse? I’d like to be naturalized in Tylesse.” (Pavel)

“Seriously.” (Isabelle)

For reference, Tylesse has legal working hours defined. Sadly, these laws do not apply to peasants, serfs, and other commoners. However, in Krasilov, there isn’t even such a regulation. Why do humans get breaks when they can work? Isn’t that a waste of labor?

“Well, want to go check it out? I was curious too.” (Pavel)

“What?! Can we go see? Isn’t this also some kind of national secret?” (Isabelle)

“Of course, it’s a secret. It’s a secret, but… well, does it really matter? It won’t change anything if you know.” (Pavel)

“What? What… What is he doing right now?” (Isabelle)

Pavel chuckled and said,

“Training.” (Pavel)

***

“Next.”

Ivan, with a blindfold on, lowered his head and whispered lowly. Even in the dimly lit room, the senses of a superhuman could detect even the slightest reflections of light, necessitating this measure to maximize sensitivity.

Soon, he sensed the next opponent entering his range.

When a person moves, there are inevitable sounds: the subtle noises of joints, the friction of muscles, the tension in muscles, heartbeat, and the sound of sweat droplets falling to the floor along the cheek.

Tense. Estimated height: 187cm, weight between 80-100kg, well-trained physique inferred from the sound of footsteps. The right foot is heavier. Right-handed. Probably carrying a medium-range weapon.

What is the length and type of the medium-range weapon?

Let’s find out.

“Chet.”

Ivan clicked his tongue softly.

Chet, chet, chet.

In the darkness, towards the unseen opponent, for the opponent who gasped in tension, even with a visibility spell, the opponent dared not approach Ivan, who was practically blind.

The slight sound of flicking the tongue echoed in the indoor space, helping to gauge the shapes and distances of surrounding objects.

Auditory visualization brought by spatial sound. Slowly visualizing the state of the indoor space in his mind.

Ignoring the dozens of men collapsing underfoot, observing the weapons they missed, and paying attention to the spaces, once again, towards the opponent in front of him.

Chet, chet, chet. Softly.

Like a snake hiding its venom, whispering. Low.

*

Author’s Note (Author’s Postscript):

Aeguk (아국): Our country.
Edelflat Cohenulf: The character mentioned briefly in the early part, the elf who taught swordsmanship to the hero.

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