When the clock strikes one o'clock in the afternoon, the duel will begin.
We will fight in the training camp, but before we fight, we are told to choose our weapon.
Swords, spears, mallets, chain sickles, etc. You name it, we had it.
It looks like we can choose freely, so I want a sword.
"Oh, a sword. Make sure you pick a good one. I don't want it to be an excuse for you to lose later."
Marks spoke with a sarcastic tone, but it didn't matter and I checked the sword.
Then something dawned on me and I was about to protest to Marks, but then I noticed a glance from the dignitaries' table and stopped.
"...So my stepmother prepared my sword."
The sword had been cracked to make it brittle. This would probably break during the duel and render it useless.
"Well, I have no intention of winning, so it doesn't matter."
Even so, it is better to make sure...
I cast a magic spell on the sword and strengthened it. Of course, without reciting a chant, so that no one would notice.
I swung my sword, swinging it in the air. It was a pretty good result. Just as I was thinking that, the hands of the clock struck 1:00 pm.
It is time to begin the duel.
Marks and I stood in the center of the arena and put our swords together, waiting for the signal to begin the duel.
"So you'll use a sword too?"
"In House Estark, a man is only as good as his sword. That alone makes it clear how pathetic you are."
As I say this, the starting signal sounds.
He stepped forward and swung his sword. The blow was quite decisive.
If I were a normal warrior, his accurate strike would have taken me by surprise, and the duel would probably be over within seconds of starting. But I've been training with a sword practically under my pillow since I was a kid, and Marks' movements seem to occur in slow motion before me.
I dodged his attack, and repressed my intentions of wanting to attack, so I take half a step back, and at the moment the blade of his sword approaches, I parried his attack.
"...Wow, you're not as bad as I expected, Marks."
"Ha ha ha ha! I see you are afraid! Surrender and succumb to my power!"
He swung his sword around him and prepared to launch a new attack.
I'm stunned by the amount of weaknesses it exposes, if it weren't for the fact that I want to be banished, this fight would be over by now.
Meanwhile, my sister Ellen sees my true intentions.
"What are you doing, Brother Licht!? Please take this seriously!"
She was desperately pleading.
I can't help but be heartbroken when I see her like that, but I don't want to be in this place.
I want to be banished. And my stepmother also wants to banish me. Our mutual interests are aligned, and I can't go against that.
So I decided to stagger over to take the blow from Marks.
Marks threw a punch. It wasn't strong enough to kill me, so it should be enough to end this nightmare. But it didn't end there.
Because the moment I tried to stagger, I felt my legs being grabbed.
No, it's more like I was being held still by my feet.
When I looked down, the floor opened up, and spiritual hands were coming out of it.
"...What kind of magic is this?"
When I looked at my stepmother, she was giving me strong looks of hatred. In addition, there were several wizards in the place, discreetly chanting spells.
...So that's what this is all about.
She doesn't just want to banish me, she also wants to kill me.
That is why she had sabotaged the sword and placed several magicians in the room to hinder me.
Why does she hate me so much?
There were so many questions in my head.
My father's wife, Minerva, was a very jealous woman and had a hard time putting up with my mother, his concubine. Perhaps she was even the one who killed her. More than that, it was already a known fact in this castle.
She had been punishing me since I was a child, trying to kill me at every opportunity, and now she finally had the chance to do it.
She has been waiting for the moment when my father, the Count, would be away from home, to banish when there would be no one left to protect me. I'm sure she's been patiently waiting for this. In fact, she was probably planning to send an assassin after banishing me, but since Ellen suggested a duel, she seems to have changed her plan.
Or perhaps this duel was a blessing in disguise for Minerva.
It is tradition and law in this country that if it is a duel, no matter what happens, there will be no consequences.
"...I am honored to receive so much hate."
I have two choices: I keep my mouth shut and let Marks cut me down, or I stop Marks' attack and strike him.
Now that I've gotten this far, there's no way to solve this without seeing blood.
That's what I thought, and I chose the latter.
I will kill my brother.
I looked around to check the exits. I wanted to secure my escape route after killing my brother.
Killing someone during a duel is legal, but there is no way I can be forgiven for killing Marks.
Soldiers will capture me and tear me to pieces. My stepmother is a sadist.
After killing my brother, I decided to flee immediately.
My choice was correct, but the action was never carried out. Because my sister, who was crying and was protesting, exposes Minerva.
Ellen is clever and perceptive. She immediately sees that my sword has been manipulated and bewitched, and protests to her mother.
Ellen is crying and running to her mother - how long had it been since I had seen her cry?
"...It was that time..."
The day my mother died, the only one who cried at the funeral was Ellen. She was the one who cried for me when my tears had long since dried up.
Ellen protested against Minerva and Minerva slapped her.
With that image etched in my eyes, I chose a third option.
I knocked the sword from Marks' hand as he aimed to kill me.
Then I threw his sword into the air and sent magical power to my feet.
And from all four sides of the room, the wizards who were bewitching me, their magic exploded in their faces and they fell to the floor stunned.
All I had to do was wait for Marks to create a fireball, and throw it at me with the intention of killing me.
The moment he threw the fireball, I cut it in half, took a step towards him and put the blade of my sword to his throat.
"My brother Marks and my stepmother Minerva are cheating!"
My sharp words cause the audience to fall silent. The people named look at me in a cold sweat.
"Yes, they're right. I'm useless, and I'm also a bastard, so I'd rather they banish me and I'll leave this place without saying a word. But what I won't allow is that they make my sister cry!"
Ellen turns her face to look at me.
"If I wanted to, I could kill all of you right here. But I'm not going to do that. Because my sister will be sad. And a drop of your blood is worth less than a drop of my sister's tears!"
"She is everything to me. I'm leaving this house, but if you do anything to my sister, I'll cut off each and every one of your fingers one by one."
As I say this, I cut the skin on Marks' neck with the tip of my sword. The blood begins to seep out little by little.
Marks groans in horror.
"Do you understand, Brother?"
He nodded his head as he was frightened.
Minerva also nodded in a cold sweat. The winner of the duel was decided.
I wanted to end this duel without difficulty, so I ordered Marks to grab his sword and jab me with it.
And with an exaggerated performance, I fell to the ground.
"Oh, what a blow! I have lost, I am defeated. I am not a worthy match for the second son of the Estark family."
Then I stared at the referee. The referee gets nervous and declares Marks the winner.
After making sure no one would do anything unusual, I left the training field, which was quiet as a graveyard.
I went back to my room, packed my luggage, and left the Estark estate.