Duel — Part 2
Editor(s): Speedphoenix, Joker
“My rival… was far… too powerful…for me… to overcome…” Mr. Fit delivered a line as he collapsed in an overdramatic fashion—he stretched an arm out towards me as he fell to his knees, then onto his face.
Ten-odd seconds had been all I needed to deprive him of the ability to move.
Although his statement had almost sounded like a series of last words, they were, in truth, far from them. His character sheet indicated that he still had about a third of his health. Yeah, he’s probably just unconscious. If he was really dying, he wouldn’t have bothered with all the theatrics.
Wait, he just called me his rival. Yeah, uh, no. Can we not?
Lyuu’s father, who had been watching the duel from just outside the ring, clicked his tongue and shouted in frustration, “I can’t believe it! He wasn’t even able to lift a finger!”
This is going to sound kinda cocky coming from me given that I just won, but honestly, what did you expect to happen? After sighing to myself, I began to reflect on the differences between this world and my last. One of the most notable was the creatures. Those that resided here were far more powerful. Myself included. I was confident, but not overconfident. I knew that there existed both creatures with stats that far eclipsed mine and true masters capable of pulling me off my high horse with skill and skill alone.
The year I had spent in this world had forced me to gradually adapt to it. I too had become capable of putting up a fair fight. But in the end, I relied more on stats than I did martial prowess. It didn’t matter whether I chose to employ might or magic. In the end, I was still relying on brute force.
Still, I wasn’t going to fall to some nameless warrior.
“It appears I don’t have any other choice.” Again, the warwolf chief clicked his tongue. “Come, Demon Lord! I will take care of you myself!”
I wasn’t the only one that found the old dog’s whining annoying. Even his men began to jeer and boo as he engaged in the shameless act of asking for a second duel the moment his proxy failed him.
“Shut up! Do you really think I can go home empty-handed after all this!?” He shouted at his underlings before turning back to face me. “Well, Yuki? Are you enough of a man to rise to the challenge?”
“Ehhh… I mean, fine, sure, whatever. But only if you’ll actually shut up once we’re done.”
“Hah! Let us see how far that hubris of yours will take you!” snorted the warwolf.
The result of our duel was nothing if not obvious.
“Not… like… this…”
The chief had lost the ability to rise to his feet. The knee he had on the ground was so weak that it was incapable of supporting his upper body. He had to prop himself up against his fang-like blade just to keep himself from collapsing. His breaths were ragged. Every pant that left his throat was laced with alternating waves of pain and exhaustion.
While he wasn’t a match for me, Lyuu’s dad had at least proven himself a more worthy foe than Mr. Fit. His movements were much swifter; his attacks were more complicated and required more effort to read. But that was it. Unlike the old butler, who had used his blade to carve himself into my memory, the warwolf was nothing special. He wasn’t even able to pressure me.
“Give it up. You can’t win,” I said. “Hell, you don’t even come close to standing a chance. I could take on an army of people just like you and not break a sweat.”
“Give it up? Give it up!? You think I can just give up!?” He started with a low, spiteful growl, one that quickly morphed to a hate-fueled scream. “Do you have any idea how I feel!? My daughter went missing! Next I heard of her, she was working as a maid for a man, a demon lord, I know nothing about! And she thinks she’s happy!? What absolute nonsense!”
Only then did I finally come to understand why he was being so insistent.
It was because he was a father.
He wasn’t just being stubborn.
He was showing that he cared.
He was trying to do what he thought was best for his daughter.
That was why he was willing to endure any amount of physical harm, permanent damage and potential side effects be damned.
That was why he was willing to throw away his pride, even before his men.
That was why their jeers failed to change his mind.
And that was why he was now desperately trying to push himself to his feet.
It was all for his daughter.
And as a man with girls of my own, I understood him.
I understood that I would have done the same.
“Shut up! I don’t want to hear another word out of you!”
My voice only served to fuel his rage and encourage him to tighten the grip he had on his weapon. But it wasn’t all bad. His eyes were locked on me, which meant he didn’t miss the moment I retrieved a dagger from my inventory and used it to slit open my thumb.
“Now pass me yours,” I held the bloody digit forward, presenting it to him.
“…What are you playing at?”
“I’m making a vow. Isn’t this how you warwolves do it?”
My knowledge of the ceremony came from Lyuu. While I didn’t remember the exact circumstances involved, I did remember that she mentioned that this was how warwolves made promises. I don’t think she actually went through with it though. Mostly because whatever she swore wasn’t actually all that important. This though…
“I swear that I will keep your daughter safe from all possible harm, regardless of the circumstances. I’ll drive away every threat to her safety imaginable, even if it means putting my life on the line. And throwing it away.”
“…Are you serious?”
“Yeah. I am,” I said. “Lyuu is just as precious and irreplaceable to me as she is to you. I can’t even begin to think what life without her would be like anymore.”
It was true.
Lyuu had become a key part of my life.
Even the thought of considering that she might suddenly vanish filled me with an emotion so disagreeable I could only call it dread.
“And I swear that I will do everything in my power to allow her to enjoy life to its fullest.”
Neither he nor I spoke.
But the exchange continued.
He stared at me, and I at him. His purpose was to discern my intentions. Mine was to convey them. That was why I refused to recoil. I simply stood there with my hand outstretched, even as my blood dripped down my hand and onto the floor below.
And in the end, he chose to trust me.
“…I understand.” He slit his own thumb and pushed it forward as he finally managed to get back to his feet. “But is that something you can truly swear even knowing that I’ll do everything in my power to make you suffer if you fail to follow through on your promise?”
“Yeah. It is. I’ll say it as many times as you want me to. Lyuu will be safe here. No matter what.”
“Fine.” He dragged himself over and pushed his bloody thumb against mine. “Repeat after me.”
“I make this oath upon the blood of my ancestors. And if it is broken, their vital fluids are to be purged from my veins.”
“I make this oath upon the blood of my ancestors. And if it is broken, their vital fluids are to be purged from my veins,” I repeated.
“…Then my daughter is yours. You’ve proven yourself both a worthy warrior. And a worthy man,” he said. “But never forget your vow. If you break her heart, my ancestors and I will have you plagued by curses.”
“Yeah, that sounds kinda terrifying, so I’ll make sure I don’t.”
“Hmph.” He dismissed my gag with a snort. “Then I will allow you to wed my daughter.”
His tone made it obvious that he wasn’t proposing the idea. It was something that, at least in his mind, was already fact.
I, however, didn’t share the sentiment. Wait. What? What the fuck just happened?
“I will be visiting in a year to make sure that you’ve done as promised.”
Dude. Wait. Hold the fucking phone. I’ve got a ton of things to say about this.
First and foremost?
Not this shit again.