“I don’t know what your followers said to push you on, but I wonder how someone who doesn’t know how to wager their own life, would do such a thing. Bullying, how embarrassing. How can you escalate such thing to this point… Ah, that’s right.”
Laila had been furrowing her eyebrows as if she had a headache. She added as if just remembering:
“Ignoring all that about the sanctity and the dignity of dueling, there is one thing I’d like to say. Miss Archive. You’ve repeatedly mocked me for my hair, haven’t you?”
“…And…what if I did?”
She thinned her eyes menacingly and glared at her opponent. While she was afraid of the duel, Riru did not allow her expression to collapse. She was a noble and a lady. It was her pride as someone born into an elite family, it was her last thing to cling to.
It was true that Riru had laughed at Laila’s hair. Laila’s hair was not only unsuitable for a noble, it was not even suitable for a woman. She preferred her hair short. She had heard rumors about it, but apparently, Laila preferred shorter hair for practical reasons.
In Riru’s mind, the only people who would dare cut their hair short were peasants who could sell nothing else to earn a few coins. It was easily worthy of her contempt. It was only normal for Riru to laugh at her. She could not understand how someone who was born as a woman would not try to improve her appearance.
“Hair is the life of a woman. To cut it off for no reason other than the laziness of maintenance? How could I call it anything other than foolish?”
“…You’re an idiot.”
Her hair was short and clearly had very little grooming. This woman who was not worthy of being a noble was now looking down at Riru and snickering.
“…What did you?”
“I said that you’re an idiot. It was about the way you think, but I’ll include your hairstyle in it as well.”
Riru turned crimson at the boldface insult. She was so accustomed to the flattery of her followers that this level of insolence was unbearable to her.
But Laila not only stood by her words but even continued.
“Your vertical rolls. They look stupid. Let me tell you something, even among nobles, you are the only one with some many twisted bars hanging from your head. I mean, won’t having so much weight there hurt your neck?”
She was speechless.
Riru was stunned by the sheer awfulness of the insult. Laila was mocking her and didn’t even look interested while she was doing it.
Riru was assaulted by an impulsive rage at this attitude, and so she finally pulled her rapier out from its sheath.
“I shall not forgive you! You must regret having made an enemy of me. I shall show you once and for all who you are dealing with!”
“…I doubt that.”
Laila seemed completely unmoved my Riru’s threats. She didn’t even react to the tip of the rapier now pointing at her. She had nothing but the coolest of expressions in reply to Riru’s embarrassing tirade.
“You probably don’t even know it. Evolution is the repeating of pain. Trials are what makes a person stronger. Difficulties are what makes you grow. Only those who keep moving and remain unbroken are allowed to stand up high. You, my enemy? That will never happen.”
The weight of those words felt worthy of a person who may still have only been seventeen, yet had attained power that was considered the height of what adventurers could achieve.
The strongest, the biggest, the fastest. She was a special adventurer who held all those reputations. She was the strongest individual, the biggest clan master at the guild, and she had reached the bottom floor of the labyrinth faster than anyone in history.
Laila was a hero who had proved her worth to the kingdom.
“Miss Archive. Have you yourself realized it?”
It was a person who lived through strength pressuring a barking weakling to understand their place.
The black eyes of this girl who had gained so much glory were filled with such vibrant emotion now that it was electrifying.
“What you do. When you introduce yourself, you are not boasting of yourself, but your family name, are you not?”
“Wha-what’s wrong with that…?”
“There is nothing wrong with it. It’s no business of mine if you want to wave that name around forever?”
She was intimidated by the pressure of Laila’s stare, but Riru had her pride as well. She resisted the urge to turn back and retorted.
Laila listened to it without much of a reaction and continued.
“It’s not even a title that you’ve won yourself. But it’s all you can be proud of. All this means is that I don’t see enough worth in your name to bother to remember it.”
This wasn’t a matter of becoming enemies or not. This person who didn’t even have a family had insulted her by saying her name was not even worth remembering.
Riru should have been indignant. Her face should have reddened and she should have shot back. If she could do that, as pathetic as she looked, she would have been able to save a shred of her self-esteem.
But at the moment, she was unable to answer back.
Without thinking, her hands went to her chest. It was as if she were feeling the nothingness in her as she stood there. Without knowing it, she had admitted to the truth in Laila’s words.
“You may have been born at the top, but you’ve lived a lukewarm life without any trials to test you. There is no road before you now but to fall.”
Laila’s logic was nothing but an ear sore to Riru now.
She disguised her fear with rage. Her shoulders shook as she thrust her rapier forward. Riru didn’t even know what the difference in power between them was, and yet she swung and thrust her rapier forward like a clown.
“Taste it if you will, the thrust of everything within me!”
Laila sighed as if bored as she looked at the naked blade.
“Deadly Estoc Braffbhiii?!”
Purple lightning flashed.
It was so fast that not only Riru, but all the spectators could see it as nothing but that. Laila had left everyone in time, she didn’t even make a fist, the palm of her hand was enough to throw Riru into the air.
It was a blow made of Laila’s kindness and restraint as well as her contempt and indifference.
That was all it took to finish this dual, which Riru had claimed was holy. But to Laila, it was nothing more than a farce and a waste of time that ended very quickly.
The protagonist is pretty worthless in the beginning, but grows explosively through meeting other people.
The first Part will be about how weakness can be strengths if given the opportunity.