What happened to Durandal’s graceful fighting style? He’s devolved into, into…, well, something like me! He totally stole my super-secret final technique too! Ah, and he’s using up a lot of qi. How come his qi spears are weaker than my qi blades? Shouldn’t they be on the same strength if he’s using my qi? Mm, I’ll test a Breaking Blade on the diamond walls and see. “Breaking Blade!”
A red line flew out of my sword towards the fourth prince. It touched the diamond wall, and instead of crashing and dispersing against the surface like Durandal’s attacks, my qi continued through it like a hot knife through butter. It went through the second wall, and third, and fourth, and, oh, there were only four walls. I don’t understand why that was so difficult for Durandal to do. I know I’m stronger than him and Puppers combined, but the difference shouldn’t be that great, right?
“Lucia?” Durandal stopped attacking. “I thought you weren’t going to fight?”
I wasn’t planning on it, but my curiosity got the better of me. “I was testing something.”
“Oh,” Durandal said and nodded as he put his spear on his back.
“Arron!” the shield spirit shouted. He pushed Puppers back in exchange for a wound and rushed over to the prince’s side. My Breaking Blade didn’t just cut through the diamond walls. Well, at least the prince is still alive, right? He’s missing part of his arm and leg, but they’ll grow back, I’m sure. The crown prince wanted me to injure his brothers enough to prevent them from taking the throne for at least three months. I’m not sure why he wanted three months, but an arm and a leg should take that long to grow back, right? Maybe the emperor’s going to die in three months. Mm, well, that’s not really my problem. I’m technically a criminal according to the Ravenwood Empire’s laws since I ran away from the army. And killed two princes.
“This revenge for Lan,” Puppers said as he approached me, “feels a bit too easy. The years of suffering Lan went through by these prince’s hands…. He was powerless to fight back. I don’t think he would’ve expected the person who killed him to avenge his injustices.”
I’m not beating these princes for Lan’s sake, but as long as Puppers is happy, I won’t bother correcting him. “Next! I challenge the third prince of the Ravenwood Empire!”
Everyone in the crowd turned to stare at a man with a scraggly beard. He grimaced before standing up, approaching the stage. “Is there a reason you’re targeting my brother’s and me?” he asked as he climbed up. “Perhaps you’re angry at the mistreatment of beastkin in the army. I know about your past. I think everyone here does.”
For some reason, something about this prince’s face makes me want to punch it. “I’m going to personally fight him. You two can rest for now.” Puppers and Durandal nodded before standing behind me. “Let’s start.”
“Wait.” The third prince held up one hand. “Let’s talk before we fight. I can pardon all your crimes as long as you surrender right now. Swear loyalty to me, and—”
“Breaking Fist!” It’s great how his guard was completely down. He still managed to avoid the punch to the face, but I clipped his shoulder as he retreated. As expected, he flew off the stage with a loud crash. Ah, that was super satisfying. What was he saying about pardoning my crimes? The crown prince already promised me that without any loyalty swearing required. “Next! Second prince of the Ravenwood Empire. I challenge you!”
A sharp-looking man wearing a blue robe with a popped collar appeared on the stage. Was that teleportation? Maybe it was a movement technique; I didn’t sense any mana. “Hello, Lady Fluffytail,” the second prince said and bowed. “You’re challenging us princes because of my brother Algar, aren’t you? There’s no need to deny it. It’s obvious my brother has a hand in this.”
Algar didn’t say I had to keep the deal a secret, but it was obvious he didn’t want anyone else finding out. The second prince smiled at me—his face isn’t as punchable as the third prince’s. All the princes really do have different mothers, huh?
The second prince glanced at Algar. “Whatever Algar is offering you, I’ll offer double.”
“Really.” The second prince clasped his hands behind his back. “I’m in charge of the empire’s finances. Algar’s in charge of the military. Who do you think has more wealth to spare?”
Does that mean I’ll receive two times the land, two titles, and two mansions? “Deal!”
“Wait!” Algar shouted and ran onto the stage. “I can offer more!”
The second prince didn’t even look at his brother. “Whatever he’s going to offer now, I’ll double it. You just have to cripple him instead of me. I imagine that shouldn’t be a problem with your strength.”
Will Algar offer even more now? I looked at him, and he gritted his teeth. A barrier went up around the three of us as he waved his hand. “No one can hear our conversation,” Algar said. “I’m willing to give you a third of the empire’s lands. Everything in it will be yours.” He glared at the second prince and crossed his arms over his chest.
“Then that means he’ll give me two-thirds?” Whoa. That’s a lot more than what I expected, but I’ll take it!
The second prince winced. “Two-thirds of the empire is a bit much,” he said. “And I don’t believe Algar has the ability to gift away a third of the empire. He’s no good at politics. He might be capable of leading an army, but he’ll make a terrible ruler. As soon as he gives you that land, the nobles will revolt.” He smiled at his brother. “I, on the other hand, am more than capable of giving you a third of the land. I assure you there will be no issues with the transfer. Not only that, but I will send the best aides to help your land grow and prosper.”
“Half the empire,” Algar said. “So what if the nobles revolt? You and I are both capable of shutting them down by force.”
“Half the empire is still doable,” the second prince said, stepping ahead of Algar. He knelt on one knee and grabbed my hand. Is this how princesses are treated? I’m really liking this prince more than Algar. “And once again, I assure you there will be no issues on your end. Whatever Algar can do for you, I can do it better.”
“I concede.” Algar sighed and shook his head. “The only method I have now is to appeal to your honor. You and I made a deal. Are you willing to break it?”
“Breaking Fist!” Bye, Algar. I looked at the second prince. “When do I get my land?”
The second prince smiled at me. “As soon as my father dies and I become the emperor. A doctor determined he has three months left to live. It’s a pleasure doing business with you; I concede this fight.”
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