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    “It is truly a meaningful honor for Beric that the Captain of the Guard personally requests a match,” Ian remarked.

    At his words, Captain Jeirutt lightly bowed his head in courtesy. Beric wiped his bloodied palm on his outer garment, then extended it to Jeirutt.

    “Hehe. Then shall we have a round? Hmm?”

    Perhaps it was because he took the praise at face value. He seemed genuinely delighted. Or it could be that he was satisfied with turning the man he had picked a fight with into minced meat. Jeirutt merely glanced down at Beric’s hand with a stiff expression, not shaking it.

    “You won’t shake hands?”

    “…Do you permit the match? Viscount Ian Hielo.”

    Ian gazed down at him, his chin lightly resting on his hand. Wasn’t there murderous intent in his expression? Unlike starting with a bare-handed match, he was gripping the sword hilt as if he had made up his mind.

    ‘…He’s trying to kill him.’

    The reason this fellow was acting this way was misunderstanding stemming from Petreio, just as it had been with Barsabe. They seemed to be similar in age to Petreio, and as a former deputy commander, they must have been comrades-in-arms for quite a long time.

    “Old man, you lack manners. I held out my hand!”

    Beric flailed his hand, throwing a fit in irritation. His impudent attitude and choice of words… He needed to be put in his place at least once. Just like in the desert, after experiencing an intense crisis, Beric would grow a step further.

    Moreover, if he realized there were numerous skilled people above him, wouldn’t he learn humility and manners firsthand?

    “Very well. However, I have a condition.”

    “Condition?”

    Jeirutt frowned deeply. There was nothing more dishonorable than betting on a match. But Ian, as if reading his thoughts, gently added.

    “It’s not a bet, but do you perhaps want it?”

    “…How could that be.”

    “It’s clear that there’s a definite difference in skill between you and my swordsman, so whoever wants it can end the match.”

    “Ian… No, Master! What difference in skill!”

    “How about it, will you accept in the name of the Captain of the Guard?”

    Although Beric was raving like crazy below, Ian lightly ignored him. Unlike in the desert, there was no one here who could stop Beric even if he was panting for breath. So he had no choice but to use a trick in advance. Jeirutt stared at Ian with a calm gaze, then soon nodded.

    “Alright.”

    I’ll just cut off that impudent fellow’s tongue first, Jeirutt vowed as he tried to draw his sword. However, when Beric, tired of waiting, pounced on him with his bare hands, he reflexively caught his fist.

    Thud!

    “Oho, Old  man! Good reaction.”

    “……”

    “Huh?”

    Beric tried to pull his hand out, but it didn’t budge at all. Jeirutt’s grip strength was tightening more and more. It was as if he would crush Beric’s hand itself. The flustered Beric flailed and threw a punch with his other fist.

    Thud!

    “Let go! Won’t you let go?”

    “…Don’t act up.”

    But in the end, he ended up with both hands caught. Along with the cracking sound of bones twisting, Beric screamed.

    “Aaargh! Crazy!”

    “When having a match, basic manners and respect are fundamental. Your reckless behavior is no different from a beast.”

    “Bullshit. Get lost!”

    Crack!

    Beric immediately changed the direction of the force trying to pull away and got close to Jeirutt’s neck. And without hesitation, he bit as if to tear off the flesh. The usually unflappable Jeirutt was startled and let go of Beric’s hands.

    “Did he just bite Captain Jeirutt’s neck? Really?”

    “Wow, that bastard is insane. He’s the real deal.”

    “He looked a bit rough, but that was a good move. If not, he wouldn’t have been able to free his hands at all. They would’ve been crushed and he wouldn’t even be able to hold a sword, right?”

    “Heavens. Not all street rats are like that, right? It would be tricky to face him in real combat.”

    Now there was no one in the training grounds who wasn’t paying attention to them. A match between the Captain of the Guard and the escort of Viscount Ian Hielo! Where else could you find such a spectacle? While Jeirutt rubbed his neck, Beric laughed and touched his lips.

    “Aha. As expected, the captain is different. I was really surprised!”

    “Your actions are exactly like a stray dog.”

    “Yes, thanks for the compliment!”

    Beric shook off his hands and pounced again. If there was one thing he was quick to learn about combat, it was his fighting instincts. In a short moment, through a brief clash, he realized how he should deal with Jeirutt.

    ‘If I get caught, I’m screwed! Then I just need to not get caught! Good!’

    Beric focused his attacks on the lower body rather than the upper body. Lowering his body as much as possible and digging in from below made it difficult for Jeirutt to grab him one-sidedly like before.

    ‘He’s more clever than I thought.’

    Thud! Thud!

    Jeirutt effortlessly received the attacks while observing his opponent. It could be called a kind of occupational habit. The habitual analysis that developed while leading subordinates.

    ‘He’s also vulgar but has innate talent. His strength and speed are impeccable. Above all, he has excellent guts. This is something that’s hard to gain even through training.’

    Then suddenly, Petreio’s face came to mind. Right. Even if it’s a waste, this fellow…

    “Let’s stop now.”

    “Huh?”

    Beric, who had been kicking with gusto, faltered. He thought he hadn’t given an opening to attack, but with a single word from Jeirutt, it felt like the flow was changing. Upon realizing it, it was as if he was in the palm of his hand.

    Bam!

    Kwang!

    At the same time, Jeirutt’s fist, like a boulder, slammed into Beric’s face. Along with the pain that felt like his skull would shatter, his vision turned pitch black. He felt his body floating up, and then the world turned upside down.

    “Damn, shit.”

    He was knocked down in one hit. Beric wiped the blood flowing from his nose and made a shocked expression. In all his life, this was the first time he had encountered such a fast and strong fist. It was incomparable to the Cheonryeo Clan.

    “Wow, he took a solid hit but didn’t lose consciousness.”

    “Isn’t he unconscious with his eyes open? Or maybe it grazed him.”

    “No, his body flew, so how could it have grazed him.”

    “Gasp. That, that, bastard. He’s getting up.”

    The feeling of the world spinning. Beric staggered to his feet and started giggling. Ian was quietly watching that sight while leaning on the railing.

    “Ahaha. Haha. Wow, old man, you’re really…”

    Bam! Thud!

    Before he could even finish his words, Jeirutt’s merciless attacks poured down. Jeirutt grabbed Beric’s neck with his left hand and pressed his solar plexus with one foot. Every time his right hand struck Beric’s face, blunt blood splattered up.

    “Sir Ian, isn’t it okay to stop that? In a little while, he’ll stop breathing, you know? Ah, no matter how much he’s worth just the price of meat dishes, he seems like a waste. Ahem.”

    Unable to watch any longer, Mallon sneakily glanced at Ian. But Ian, who had seen Beric’s lowest in the desert, knew that he hadn’t been driven to the edge yet.

    “Iaaaan!”

    Beric, who had been beaten to a pulp, called out to Ian, wheezing. It was a gap where he had barely blocked one of Jeirutt’s attacks with both fists. At his voice that sounded like it would tear, everyone in the training grounds held their breath. It was like the scream of someone on the verge of death.

    “I, I’ll kill this bastard!”

    “Yeah. Do as you wish.”

    “Uwaaaaah!”

    Ziiing!

    Bang! Boom!

    As soon as Ian gave permission, Beric opened up his magical power. In an instant, blade-like winds swirled around. Captain Jeirutt and the Imperial Palace guards were startled and hesitated.

    ‘A swordmage?’

    Thud!

    Beric barely shook off Jeirutt with the power of his magic and panted while lowering his body. Blood trickled from the corner of his mouth. The eyes of a predator whose pride had been wounded.

    “Ah, shit! That really f*cking hurts.”

    “What’s going on? Is he a swordmage?”

    “Why! Are you going to beat me less because I’m a swordmage? Don’t look down on me, damn it! I just got hit a total of forty-five times, you know? I’ll return it right back. Wow, this is fun after a long time! Right? It’s fun! Ahahaha!”

    Tap tap tap! Thud!

    His movements were incomparable to before. The spectators could barely follow his afterimages and gauge his trajectory, and Jeirutt, who was facing him, constantly retreated backward to gain distance. Wherever Beric stepped, an explosive flow of energy erupted.

    Ziiing!

    “Die!”

    “Ugh!”

    Boom!

    Jeirutt, who caught Beric’s fist, unconsciously let out a groan. The level was different. No matter how much it was the power of magic, wasn’t this the level of being reborn? And he was rampaging and pouncing as if he had lost his mind…

    “Damn it.”

    Ziiing.

    “Captain!”

    “The captain is using magical power!”

    “No way!”

    Jeirutt also opened up his magical power. The guards who were watching covered their mouths in disbelief. It was something that would only happen in battles against magic beasts for him to open up his magical power.

    Everyone was so shocked and astonished that they couldn’t utter a word. In the vast training grounds, only the shouts of Beric and Jeirutt resounded fiercely.

    “This bastard…”

    Thud!

    It felt like fighting a beast with his bare hands. Jeirutt pushed Beric far away, then drew his sword. A cold energy as chilling as the frost of midwinter spread along the sword’s trajectory.

    “In the end, you bring this upon yourself.”

    “Aha. Using swords? Good, good.”

    Swish.

    Beric also drew his sword with a grin. His red eyes glowing with magical power gave the illusion that lava was boiling in them.

    “I only cut chest hair earlier. Didn’t get to see how well flesh gets sliced. Ah, I’m so excited!”

    “Crazy bastard. You’re out of your mind.”

    “Didn’t you know? You can’t live in this world in your right mind!”

    Ziiing! Zing!

    Crackle!

    The sword reacting to Beric’s magical power ignited with a purple glow. In an instant, a hot heat filled the surroundings, and a thick smoke that seemed to invade even the lungs settled.

    Small sparks flashing in the smoke. As it was a sword never seen or heard of before, Jeirutt faltered.

    “What in the world is that sword…?”

    “I don’t know either! I picked it up on the way!”

    “Beric!”

    “Huh?”

    The moment he was about to swing his sword with all his might and charge in, Ian shouted loudly. Then Beric reflexively stopped and looked back.

    “Didn’t I tell you not to put magical power into the sword?”

    “Aaah. Right. But can’t you let it slide just once?”

    “No.”

    At least until the identity of the sword was revealed.

    While Beric looked back and pleaded, Ian and Jeirutt exchanged glances secretly.

    “No, since I don’t know what it is, let me just swing it first and-“

    Bam!

    Jeirutt thought this was the moment and immediately struck Beric’s neck. As he had even wrapped magical power around his fist, an ordinary person’s neck bones might have been broken.

    “Ugh!”

    But who was the opponent? Beric just let out a short scream and fainted on the spot. At the same time, the sword that had been reacting to the magical power also returned to its original black color.

    An awkward silence filled the training grounds. The guards all rushed over to check on their captain’s well-being.

    “Captain. Are you al- alright?”

    “What should we do with this bastard? Should we arrest him?”

    “Wasn’t it a match? What arrest?”

    “Oh no, Captain. You’re bleeding!”

    Barsabe hurriedly took out a handkerchief and supported the captain’s neck. And very softly, as if reciting, she muttered.

    “Captain. And I’ll tell you this while treating you. I, I already received my father’s keepsake.”

    At the unexpected words, Jeirutt’s eyes widened. But it didn’t seem like a conversation to have here, true to her word. He left the training grounds while receiving concerns from his subordinates, and Ian also came down to the first floor.

    “Beric. Are you alright?”

    “Mmm…”

    “Tsk tsk.”

    And he squatted down and touched Beric’s forehead. Just like in the desert, wasn’t magical power the best for restoring stamina?

    Ziiing.

    As Ian’s eyes turned into golden pupils, Beric’s furrowed brows gradually relaxed bit by bit. Mallon, who had followed him down, couldn’t even step on the floor stained with blood.

    “Is, is he dead?”

    “No. He’s not someone who dies easily.”

    “That, that sword earlier, what is it?”

    “…”

    Ian also shrugged as if he didn’t know well either. The heat from earlier was gone without a trace, and only the coldly cooled sword was lying on the floor.

    Meanwhile, at Romandro’s residence.

    Lady Viviana, who had been spending a peaceful time embroidering, felt a presence outside. Minnie was the same. She ran out in a hurry and opened the door, and wasn’t it a postman standing there?

    “Hello. Is this the residence of Sir Romandro?”

    “Yes, it is. Is there mail?”

    “Yes. It’s from Mayor Karenna, can I deliver it here? The recipient is listed as Sir Ian.”

    “Yes, yes. Sir Ian is staying here. Please give it to me.”

    “Please sign here…”

    Minnie received the letter and firmly stamped the residence manager’s seal. It was quite a thick letter. Bibianna put down her embroidery and asked.

    “Minnie. What letter is it?”

    “The postman said it’s from Mayor Karenna.”

    “Let’s see.”

    Unlike the illiterate Minnie, Viviana could read the words written on the envelope.

    ‘…Bandit interrogation report?’

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