Book 2 Chapter 138

Instant Defeat

Kiranou's expression darkened. He translated Leguna's words into orcish for the others to hear.

All the orcs snapped angrily.

"So Mister Leguna has come here with for that... Ebony is indeed a good dagger. It was to be offered to our tribe's strongest youth. While an old guy like me doesn't mind giving it to you, the youngsters won't allow it. I will not wound their hearts for a human either."

Leguna laughed.

"I knew there would be orcs unsatisfied by this. I will accept any challenger."

"You need not agitate them," Kiranou shrugged, "We old people have weapons we've used for years and know well. We are not like humans, we do not exploit the young and naïve. Rhodsais is considered one of the tribe's strongest youths. As long as you can convince him, I'll give you Ebony."

As Kiranou finished his sentence, a young orc stepped forward and glanced at Leguna like one would a clown.

"Alright," Leguna nodded.

Everyone had just eaten, so the match was set for later in the evening. However, the many orcs were riled with interest upon hearing about the match and had been crowding around the dueling grounds for a good spot to spectate for at least an hour.

The arena was a round, elevated platform made of stacked stones, roughly 20 meters in diameter and half a meter high. Every square centimeter around it was occupied when Leguna arrived.

The derition was clear in the orcish eyes staring at him. Some whispered and muttered in orcish.

You'll be quiet when I finish off Rhodsias, he thought.

Rhodsias returned from his residence fully equipped. He wore a tight, full-body leather suit. Two daggers hung on his hips, two longswords on his back. None were enchanted, but they were cearly of unusual workmanship.

"You're dressed quite well," Leguna commented, "Seems you got quite a few decent things from the humans."

A middle-aged orc stepped onto the platform and spoke a few excited orcish sentence. The crowd roared in response.

{What did he say?} asked Leguna.

{Just an introduction. He basically gave a short summary of your and Rhodsias's backgrounds,} answered Gahrona.

It must be an occupational hazard, but the orc kept going for ten minutes. Everyone present, including the two combatants were annoyed by the end. An orc in the audience took the lead and hurled a stone at the one on-stage. The rest immediately joined in. They even threatened to throw knives if the match didn't start soon. The middle-aged orc was battered quite badly before he shut up and got off the platform.

Rhodsias looked at Leguna excitedly and nodded.

{He's ready. Nod if you are as well. You may start immediately after. Remember, you lose if you fall off the platform,} explained Gahrona.

Leguna could tell his teacher had trained on the platform before given how familiar she was with the conventions. He activated only a portion of Host of Darkness's power. While it only raised his abilities a little, it wouldn't make him suffer any side effects. There was no point to using Host of Darkness to its full extent and hurting himself badly against an enemy like Rhodsias. He just needed to enter a shadow state.

The moment Rhodsias saw Leguna nod, his eyes flashed and his speed exploded in an instant. He drew one longsword from his back and came slashing down.

Leguna silently watched Rhodsias's approach. He neither drew his weapon nor ducked.

Confusion flashed across his opponent's eyes. But he had to defeat the enemy no matter what and keep Lady Gahrona's weapon with her tribe. He was reared on her legends. She was, as to all Bladedge youngsters, an idol. Neither he nor any of his peers could let some pale human brat take her weapon from her tribe!

The longsword was only two meters from his enemy's neck. The brat had yet to move. His utter helplessness made Rhodsias hesitate for a moment. He thought of how arrogant the bastard had been just a few hours earlier and his resolve returned.

Apologies, human, thought he.

His sword would cut through the kid's neck in half a moment and his head would roll off the stage.

At the last possible moment, an insidious smile crawled like a worm onto the brat's face. His pale, lanky figure diappeared.

What?!

Before he figured out what just happened, a force shoved at him from behind. I tpushed him off his feet and sent him tumbling forward, off the platform and into the crowd.

{Even I have to admit you cheat at times,} Gahrona sighed.

Leguna's gifts aside, his opponent was better than him in every way. The crowd thought that, at best, the human brat would fight Rhodsias to a draw. No one imagined he would defeat one of their best youngsters in an instant.

{My gifts are part of my strength, how can you call it cheating? He would stand no chance if I fought him seriously, so I might as well not put up a farce and end this quickly. So I can take Ebony now?}

{No. Your opponent will ask for another duel. This is what you must learn.}

{What?}

{You'll know soon enough.}

As Gahrona expected, Rhodsias jumped back up and glared at Leguna as he muttered in orcish.

Leguna turned to Kiranou for help.

"Rhodsias admits your abilities far exceed his under normal circumstances. However, he still hasn't been fully convinced. He requests another duel, fighting blind."

"Ah?!"

He didn't think Rhodsias would actually make such a request.

Are we both going to wear blindfolds? How will we fight if we can't see? Aren't you afraid you'll cut yourself?

Kiranou feigned a smile.

"You can refuse, but if you can't convince Rhodsias, you can't take Ebony."

{Accept it. This is what you have to learn.}

Fighting blind was a practical technique for assassins. It required an assassin blindfold themselves and rely on their other senses like hearing, smell, even touch, to get a grasp of the environment as they fight. Given his talents as a shadow dancer, Leguna had always had decent night vision, so Wayerliss didn't train him to fight blind. Gahrona, however, wanted him to try it. He had no hope of winning!

{You said Balor could seal an enemy's sight, correct? How will you fight if he seals your sight and you don't know how to fight blind? Bladedge orcs have elven blood, but our nightvision is still horrible. We must thus all learn to fight blind. I don't expect you to learn how to fight blind right away. Just learn enough to not panic when you lose your sight. Otherwise, you'll stand no chance against Balor.}

Leguna finally understood how much Gahrona had been thinking of his welfare.

{Teacher, do you think he will kill me outright?}

{Probably not. I expect he'll return the favour you just did him.}

{Probably?! Expect?! You have no clue! Can you joke around with your disciple's life? You know there's a good chance you'll also disappear if I die, right? This joke is a little too dangerous,} complained Leguna.

{How many things in this world can you predict? As long as my chances of success are above 50 percent, I'll take the risk,} Gahrona said casually.

{You're not suited to be an assassin! YOu should have become a gambler instead!}

{Alright, stop yammering. Don't forget if you don't know how to fight blind, you'll die in your fight with Balor in two days anyway. Since it's just a matter of time, it shouldn't be that big of a deal.}

Leguna was dumbstruck. He stared at Rhodsias, already blindfolding himself with a strip of black cloth, and nodded at Kiranou.

The orc smiled and handed him a strip of cloth as well.

{Remember. Sight isn't your only sense. You still have your hearing, smell, taste, and touch. If you lose your eyes, then turn your whole body into eyes!}

Everything was pitch black. Leguna pondered Gahrona's words and gradually entered a strange state.


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