Duel – part 1
Editor(s): Joker, Speedphoenix
“That sounds like an awful idea, dad. You ain’t even close to bein’ a match for Master,” said Lyuu.
“You’ll never know if you don’t try, Lyuu,” lectured her father.
“But you already did try…” She wasn’t very amused by her father’s antics. “Master beat you guys up pretty bad even though he was tryin’ not to hurt you.”
The warwolf chief humphed and turned towards the man sitting beside him as if encouraging him to give his opinion.
“I am afraid that I do have to take milady’s side on this one, boss. We’ve lost any reason to be hostile. Lyuu is safe. I understand that you have your own thoughts and feelings on the matter, but I think that you should just leave her be, seeing as she’s both alive and happy.”
“Shut up, Bijgal! You know you would do the same if you were in my position!” He crossed his arms and effectively roared in a display of stubbornness, a display that caused both his daughter and the man I assumed to be his aide to sigh.
“Thanks for trying, Bijgal, and sorry my dad’s such a blockhead.” The exasperated pair began walking in my direction as they aired their grievances.
“Don’t be. I’ve long accustomed myself to the boss’ ways. It’s why he trusts me as his advisor,” said Bijgal. “Don’t worry too much about everything that the boss is saying. We’re all grateful to see that you’re still alive.”
The first thing Lyuu did upon reaching me was apologize. “Uhmm… I’m real sorry about my dad, Master.”
“I don’t really mind,” I said with a shrug. “This works better for me than sitting around arguing all day anyway. Especially if it’ll actually drill the goddamn point into that stupidly thick skull of his.”
We left the inn shortly after the exchange in order to get the duel underway and over with. Our destination? The grasslands, of course. I spent some DP and spawned an arena in order to host the event and provide us with some proper boundaries. It wasn’t anything particularly fancy; I went with one of the cheapest options available. Unlike the dungeon’s residents, the warwolves hadn’t expected the stage to suddenly appear out of thin air. The reactions that followed its sudden appearance were filled with so much genuine surprise that I couldn’t help but snicker like the haughty bastard I was. Heh.
Dueling Lyuu’s dad wasn’t something I felt, by any means, obligated to do. That said, warwolves seemed to be the type of race that prioritized strength over all else, so I decided to abide by their cultural norms and show off a bit, just to get the point across in a way that they would understand. And vent a bit of frustration because Lyuu’s dad is kind of a piece of shit and I kind of want to kick his ass again anyway.
The dungeon’s residents seemed to regard the duel as a special event of sorts, one whose purpose was clearly, clearly, entertainment and entertainment alone. Leila had not only busted out the picnic sheet, but also decked it in a whole slew of homemade treats. Even Nell had nonchalantly started to dig in. Would you look at that? She’s already fitting in. Guess she must be getting pretty used to this whole dungeon life thing.
“Yuki, sir, I’m terribly sorry about our chief. Please know that, while he is our representative, this isn’t, by any means, how we as a people feel about everything you’ve done for us. I would just like to take the chance to apologize once again before the boss completely ruins your impression of us.”
The so-called advisor, a warwolf who looked to be in his prime, bowed as he joined Lyuu in ridiculing her father’s behaviour.
“Honestly, it doesn’t really matter all that much to me,” I said. “There is one thing I’m kinda curious about though.”
“And what would that be, good sir?”
“How old are you right now?”
“Me? I happen to be sixty as of this year.”
That can’t be right. He looks like he’s around forty.
I realized, upon scanning the surroundings, that many of the other warriors looked to be in about the same age group. Does that make all of them 60 too? Maybe looking younger than you are is just a warwolf thing?
“How old does that make the chief?”
“I think he’s around 40,” said Lyuu.
40? No way. No fuckin’ way.
“Is it just me, or do all of you look a good bit younger than you really are?”
“That’s just how we warwolves, er, beastkin, are, Master. We live longer than humans. It takes us longer to get old too.”
So what you’re saying is that you’re basically elves? God damn, that’s some high tier fantasy bullshit right there. Man, this really is another world, isn’t it? Well, I mean, of course it is. But Oh man, that’s a thought I haven’t had in ages.
Though I found myself lost in thought, I didn’t end up missing out on any part of the conversation. Lyuu had also momentarily paused to prepare her next words.
“Uhm… Master, I know it isn’t my place to tell you what to do, and I know that my dad’s a stubborn idiot, but he’s still my dad. And my tribe is still my tribe. So I’d be real grateful if you didn’t kill anyone…”
“Relax, Lyuu. Don’t worry. I don’t plan on losing you. But I’m not going to kill any of your friends or relatives either,” I said. “Just head on over to where everyone else is, sit down, kick back, and relax. This’ll be over before you know it.”
Her cheeks reddened a bit as she gave me a bit of a bow before heading over and joining the rest of my family. Speaking of…
“Do your best, Yuki!” cheered Illuna.
“Yeah! Do your best!” echoed Shii.
“No losing,” said Enne.
“Don’t worry. I got this!” I appeased the crowd with a grin.
“Let it be known that I am sure to mock you should you manage an unsightly display,” said Lefi.
“Yeah! Don’t do anything too silly!” added Nell.
“Woooow girls, thanks soooo much for cheering me on. I’m glad you’ve both got my back,” I said as I rolled my eyes.
The only individual who had remained silent throughout the exchange was Leila. She had quietly watched it all unfold with one of her usual smiles.
“You aren’t taking this seriously, are you?” asked Lyuu’s father as his eyes narrowed into a glare.
“Was I supposed to?” I asked, casually. “I didn’t have much trouble beating you guys up last time, and nothing’s changed, sooooo…”
“…You certainly do have a point,” he said with a wince. “But that means nothing!”
The warwolves had proven themselves inferior even to many of the forest’s weaker denizens. Even as a coordinated group, they failed to stand up to the monsters’ primal violence; many of them were injured in their encounters.
It wasn’t as if I was personally capable of defeating everything that lurked within the Wicked Forest. Many monsters powerful enough to thoroughly destroy me lay within its depths. But that didn’t mean I was weak. I was still far more powerful than the monsters that had crushed them underfoot. So much so, in fact, that I suspected I could handle any number of them with ease.
“Right, so about this whole duel thing. Were you going to fight? Or did you have a proxy lined up?”
“I would have loved to do it myself, but the honour belongs to another,” grumbled Lyuu’s father. “Lynaut!”
“Right here, boss!”
The man who stepped forward and entered the space between the chief and I had a much larger build than any other. Wait, Lynaut…? So he was the one Lyuu’s dad was trying to set her up with? Yeah, I can see why she ran away from home.
If there was one thing I learned from interacting with warwolves, it was that dog ears did not work well on anyone with male genitalia. They worked on Lyuu. Her ears were adorable. But seeing near-identical structures on big, burly warriors filled me with the urge to throw up everything I had for lunch. Any artist willing to illustrate a battle-hardened male warwolf likely would have been heralded as a heaven-sent genius destined to portray the grotesque.
“Yuki! I thank you! You saved many of us, myself included, from the verge of death!” His loud, booming voice almost seemed to resemble that of an over-enthused gym teacher. It was disciplined, and yet somehow naggy and obtuse.
“No problem,” I said. He’s one of the ones I healed? I guess that means he must’ve been one of the ones that almost got himself killed by some weak ass monster. No wonder I don’t remember beating him up. He was already down for the count before I started swinging.
“But do not be mistaken! I have not forgiven you for fooling my fiancee with your trickery!”
I mean, I get where you’re coming from. It probably feels like you got cucked. But still, you can’t be serious. What kind of self-serving bullshit is that?
While I wasn’t a fan, I could see why Lyuu’s dad had taken a liking to the weird jock that was Lynaut. And why Lyuu wanted to stay as far away from him as she could. The amount he shouted could have potentially made him come off as equal parts intimidating and obnoxious. Intimidation was a survival mechanism, one that suited this world well.
Those with loud voices, be they figurative or literal, distinguished themselves from the crowd. They appeared more reliable, and it was easy for people to see them as beacons around which they could gather.
“I cannot allow you to manipulate the woman who will be my wife any longer, Demon Lord! And that is why I challenge you to single combat!”
“Lyuu, milady, watch carefully! Watch as the man you will soon wed demonstrates the extent of his valour!”
“Wow, Lyuu. Someone sure seems popular,” I said.
“Good for you, Lyuu!” added Illuna.
“Why the heck would anyone wanna be popular with guys like that!?” shouted the maid. “And stop callin’ me your future wife! It’s givin’ me the creeps!”
“It’s okay, Lyuu! I understand you! You’re just far too pure a maiden to fess up to your feelings! You’re only putting up a front to hide your embarrassment!” shouted Mr. Fit. “Can you understand her, Yuki!? Can you hear her heart whisper its truest desires!?”
“Nope. I’ve got no idea what you’re going on about. And frankly, I don’t really care.”
“And that is why you are not worthy of her! A real man would be able to see right through her!”
Wow, uh… I honestly can’t tell if he’s really optimistic or just downright retarded.
“…Sure, whatever you say. Anyway, enough of that. Pick up your weapon so I can finish dealing with your dumb ass.”
I was getting tired of his shit, so I made sure to throw in a taunt as I grabbed my weapon and assumed a casual, one-handed stance—if you could even call it that. My ‘stance’ was so sloppy that it looked even less impressive than what one might see in a third rate B movie.
He wasn’t using a training weapon. Under normal circumstances, I would have opted to equip Enne, but I ended up resorting to the wooden greatsword I had used earlier in the day because I didn’t want to run the risk of accidentally killing him. Now that I think about it, I could’ve just used her and kept her sheathed, but it’s a bit too late for that. She’s already settled down on top of the picnic sheet with everyone else. Oh well.
“Finish dealing with me!? Do not underestimate me! Use a real weapon! Take me seriously!”
“Nah, I’m good,” I said. “This wooden sword right here is courtesy of Lyuu. You should really thank her once all this is over. For saving your life, that is.”
“Fine!” He grumbled, angrily. “Prove to me that you’re more than just all bark!”
With a battle cry, Mr. Fit raised his spear and began dashing right at me.