It rained for a few days, but the skies had cleared up once again.
The mansion that momentarily sought peace recently found itself embroiled in activity.
Today was the day of the match between the commoner friend of the duke’s illegitimate daughter, and the rising star of the fourth knight order.
“Did you hear the news They say that the commoner wiped out an entire shady guild all by himself.”
Those guild members were all bloody when the guards took them in.”
“Do you think it’s true”
“Yeah, I think it is.
I know someone from the third order who was dispatched along with the guards.
He said that he saw it himself.”
Hah, my word.
It was hours before the start of the match.
Taking the day off for the special event, the knights gathered in twos or threes and talked about ‘Maxwell’.
What circulated was the story about the ignored street rat, who wiped out multiple enemies alone.
“Then the match later… Maybe it’s actually worth watching”
“I know right.
I thought Maxwell would get owned in less than a minute.”
“At this rate, maybe… David’s going to lose”
After someone carefully uttered their guess, a moment of silence stretched out.
Then, after that pause, people began to laugh one by one.
Their laughter was either incredulous about it happening or mirthful at the thought that it might.
These guffaws and chuckles were contagious amidst the crowd.
They all went on their way to find seats for the match that would start in a few hours.
Meanwhile, behind a tree, there was one particular person who heard the entire conversation.
That is, the subject of the conversation himself.
He cursed furiously while suppressing the volume of his voice.
One clenched fist hit the trunk he was leaning against behind him.
There was a glint in his brown eyes.
‘Why the hell am I hearing this ridiculous nonsense.’
Even if they just said that he might lose to that street rat as a joke, David was enraged.
He wanted to step out of the shadows and turn the place upside down, but he had to save his energy right before the match.
“Those morons just heard stupid rumors like that and came here, but…”
No matter who looked at it, they were so unsightly with how they believed in false rumors so easily.
These guys are just spineless, that’s why they believe it.
However, on the other hand, it’s also true that David felt some anxiety.
What if those ridiculous rumors were true
What if Maxwell’s skills were better than he assumed
So if it’s as those guys said… and he’s the one who’d lose…
As he speculated and came to this conclusion, apprehension flooded in.
He tried to calm himself by clenching and unclenching his fists.
‘I heard that the shady guild’s name is the Black Lion Guild…’
Now that he thought of it, he somehow felt that the name was familiar.
He might have heard it somewhere.
But when he wracked his mind, nothing exactly came up.
‘Maybe it’s just a feeling.’
There were still a few hours until the match began.
To shake off this odd sense of déjà vu and his soaring anxiety, David headed towards the training grounds.
He was thinking about loosening up there.
No matter what, a perfect mental and physical condition would lead him to the perfect victory he needed.
To quell those rising rumors, he had to throw that commoner’s face to the ground and take that place next to the ducal princess.
Against his expectations however, he couldn’t even reach his perfect condition before he arrived at the training grounds.
As his lips were twitching while greedily thinking about it on the way there, he met the very person he didn’t want to meet.
Seeing Cassion walking towards him, David gnashed his teeth together.
His legs halted obliquely mid-step.
Cassion also stopped walking when he saw that David was glaring at him.
A little taller than the other man, Cassion looked down at David without a word.
In the silence between them, their gazes met in the air.
The first to avert his eyes was Cassion.
He looked away as if nothing happened, then walked past David.
However, this act only ignited David’s rage.
‘Just because of those rumors— you think you can look down on me’
It felt as if the other man’s characteristic nonchalance and relaxed attitude was deliberately being done to mock him.
David shouted at once and roughly snatched Cassion’s wrist.
Cassion passively stopped walking, then he turned around to face the person who called out to him.
His black eyes looked straight at the hand over his wrist, gripping tightly.
“What is it”
As the question was asked in a low voice, David laughed in vain.
“I heard a very interesting rumor about you.”
“What was it You took down a criminal guild all by yourself, or something… Ha, it’s not even funny.”
“Is that all you have to say”
After listening to David’s sarcastic remarks wordlessly until now, Cassion asked calmly.
And David’s eyebrows suddenly distorted.
As if he’s some hotshot, as if nothing happened, he couldn’t stand looking at the guy act so nonchalant.
With his indignation rising even further, David’s breaths grew rougher.
As the sound of his breathing became louder, so did his voice.
“Is that all I have to say Who isn’t going to be infuriated when there’s a ridiculous rumor going around.”
Fuming, David roared at Cassion as he twisted the other man’s arm to pull him in.
Even though it was a bit painful, there was still not the slightest hint of agitation in Cassion’s demeanor.
His black eyes, entirely calm and collected, alternated between looking at David’s hand and face.
“It’s prohibited to lay a hand on your opponent before the match.”
“What So are you threatening me now”
Cassion spoke quietly, but David snorted back as though he’d heard a dull joke.
As he glanced down at David without saying a word, Cassion eventually put a hand over David’s wrist.
I’m warning you.”
At the same time he said this, David’s wrist was caught in a tight grip.
The grip was so powerful that David let out a pained groan.
The hand that was on Cassion’s other wrist loosened helplessly.
But David’s wrist continued to stay in Cassion’s grip.
The hand caught by Cassion tried to flounder in the air, but before David knew it, it turned red and white.
“Le… Let go…”
David said so as it felt as if his wrist was about to be snapped off.
With clenched lips, he looked up at Cassion’s face, where a shadow was cast upon him beneath the sun.
Matching the shadows, the man’s black eyes stared back at him.
The still gaze and the pain in his wrist rendered his limbs numb.
He felt goosebumps rising over his skin.
Chills ran down his spine.
David gulped down his breath for a moment.
“Please… let go…”
Right after he said this, it’s as if the following action was the natural consequence.
Cassion stared at him and relaxed his grip.
David’s hand fell down as though it plunged.
As his blood flow suddenly returned, he felt a numb, tingling feeling going through his hand.
“You… You son of a…”
David grabbed his wrist and stuttered.
Then, stretching his own wrist calmly, Cassion replied.
“It’s an exchange.”
David felt wronged.
Exchange, he said.
But there was a clear difference between that bastard’s wrist and David’s wrist.
There was a clear red mark on his, but wasn’t that guy’s wrist just fine
David chewed on his lower lip.
It was the difference in their innate strengths.
He felt another chill.
And there was that rumor he heard earlier.
As his nerves were at their highest, he put it all together in his mind.
As David was engulfed in panic, Cassion opened his lips again.
“We’ve settled the score once, so please follow the rules from now on.”
“…Is this also a warning”
Cradling his sore wrist, David asked back with his lips twitching.
Even in the face of fear, that insignificant pride of his couldn’t be extinguished.
Cassion shook his head slightly.
Then, in the same leisurely strides that David took earlier, Cassion approached David.
The height difference became starker because the distance between them was narrowed.
The man looking down lowered his gaze more, the man looking up craned his head more.
The atmosphere around them was like thin ice.
It felt as if even one dry gulp would be too loud, so he had to hold his breath.
The taller man’s lips slowly opened.
It’s a warning.
Rules exist as they are meant to be kept.
So that dangerous things can be prevented.”
The tone of his voice was exceedingly polite, but David knew that it was nothing short of a threat.
A warning that if he tried to do any nonsense one more time, something dangerous truly might happen.
Cassion wasn’t done speaking.
There was a menacing glint in his black eyes.
“Please be careful with your words, with that look in your eyes.
That is, if you wish to continue having your senses of sight, hearing and taste in the future.”
A sense of mortification dawned upon David’s gaze.
He wanted to say something back, but he felt so humiliated by that bastard that he couldn’t even open his mouth.
“Ah, this is a threat.”
After adding this, Cassion stepped back.
With a casual salute, he walked past the stunned David.
No one held him back this time.
The person who was left behind just stood there with his two feet stuck on the ground, huffing and puffing.
“That goddamn bastard.
Who exactly do you dare warn And a threat! Just wait and see.
I’ll make you regret it.”
His voice, as he muttered under his breath, quivered.
His hands, clenched into fists, also shook severely.
David spat sharply down the ground and soon headed elsewhere.
He originally intended to head towards the training grounds, but that’s not the direction he was taking any longer.
Red flames of indignation and outrage flared over his brown pupils.
No matter what, he would definitely win this match.
The only thought that filled his mind was a crooked desire to win.