༺ The First Letter (47) ༻
A pure white streak materialized as the hatchet blade’s trajectory locked onto the target. Clang, the sensation of the blade penetrating a solid surface emanated through my hands.
Meanwhile, Senior Delphine showed no signs of movement.
There was no need for it.
The target of my hatchet was not Senior Delphine, but the wineglass beside her.
The wineglass shattered and shards scattered through the air as a cracking noise resonated through the room. The scene resembled that of snowfall. The sweet scent of wine tickled the tip of my nose.
The wine spilled over the table, soaking it, and immediately dripped down the table’s edges.
I came out of my trance and met Senior Delphine’s eyes. Senior Delphine exhibited neither surprise nor embarrassment. She merely responded, “Huh.” and let out a small laugh.
Her crimson eyes remained serene. The lack of urgency displeased me.
Annoyance flashed in my eyes in response to her carefree demeanor. My brows knit and I spoke to her in a chilly voice.
“……Stop messing around with me.”
“Did that agitate you?”
Once again tilted her wine glass. The woman’s beauty was akin to a bright star. She sipped wine while donning an alluring expression as moonlight shone on her back.
A playful smile materialized on her face. It was a gaze imbued with blatant goodwill, yet it did not feel pleasant.
It was an expression belonging to the strong. The expression conveyed that she had just found a new toy to play with. She was looking down on me as I posed no threat to her.
My eyes lit up with ferocious spirit. Senior Delphine laughed as if she found my subtle change to be amusing.
The hand that held the hatchet trembled. Patience was key. My opponent was the heir to the prestigious Yurdina family, but more importantly, she was currently half-naked.
To be invited to the private chambers of an aristocrat indicated one’s full trust in the other individual. Such trust could not be discarded. Isn’t honor the most valuable virtue to an imperial noble?
Regardless of how provocative the enemy was, I couldn’t overlook the importance of their honor. She was an outlier. And above all else, her eyes did not waver in the slightest.
It was indicative that she had already predicted everything, even me attacking her. It also signified her absolute confidence in subduing me.
If even the advantage gained by an ambush could not be utilized, there was no opening to attack her. I clenched my teeth and retrieved the hatchet that was lodged into the table.
A grizzly gash was left on the old-fashioned table. The spilled wine flowed into the crevice, staining the cracks the same shade as the wine.
If you were to ask me, it made sense. This was only a small matter for Delphine, the rightful heir of the Yurdina family.
Noticing me reattaching the hatchet to my belt, Senior Delphine nodded slightly as if my actions were within her expectations. She then poured the rest of the wine into her mouth. A faint blush materialized on her cheeks as she slowly became drunk.
Her eyes drew an arc, displaying a captivating smile.
“It’s just that when I like someone, I can’t help but want to bully them… one could say that I’m quite the mean girl.”
I uttered a ‘huh’ before letting loose a laugh. Those words were pointless, my eyes were perceptive.
“…… It didn’t seem like that to me based on today’s occurrences.”
“It hardly matters. After all, you will serve me.”
Senior Delphine slowly strode before me. Her body slowly approached mine. A subtle blush on her skin could be discernible by focusing a sliver.
The scent of fragrant wine intoxicated my mind. Delphine’s hot breath circulated on the nape of my neck.
“For us to trust one another, there must be no secrets, correct? That’s the reason I told you the truth.”
“You will regret it.”
“I’m sorry… I’ll regret it? Ahaha!”
Senior Delphine grinned, then burst into laughter as if she had just heard an amusing joke. It seemed that her excitability had increased slightly due to being somewhat tipsy. Come to think of it, I myself felt somewhat drunk and spaced out.
That must be the reason I could speak to Senior Delphine in a nonchalant manner.
The distance separating us was insubstantial. My cold, sunken eyes continued to examine her vital points.
The pale nape of her neck was the most vulnerable location for the time being. But Senior Delphine, seemingly having read my thoughts, laughed for some time and then whispered in my ear.
“…… Ian, Percus.”
Her crimson eyes that could be recognized appeared to be blurry at first glance. Yet, the distinct darkness in her eyes could not be completely hidden.
The pride of a beast and absolute confidence in oneself.
“I have never regretted anything in my life. If the day that I feel regret were to ever arrive, it would only be the day I tasted defeat.”
To reiterate, she has never lost. Moreover, her statement exhibited absolute confidence that she believed it will remain this way in the future. If the speaker wasn’t Senior Delphine, I might have laughed and rebuked them for their arrogance.
However, it was different because the speaker was Senior Delphine. She earned the right to be arrogant. The course of her life was proof of that.
I knew it well too, that the significance of words changed based on the speaker. I spouted spiteful words in annoyance.
“You should be more vigilant… Especially when you are unarmed such as now.”
“Would you like to test me?”
Senior Delphine’s lips curled into a provocative smile. I sighed and looked elsewhere as if uninterested.
It was at that moment that my hatchet was drawn.
A hissing sound reverberated through the air as the hatchet blade flashed, tearing through air. Like the blade of a guillotine, the hatchet fell with the most efficient route.
It was a straight, simple, and extraordinarily powerful blow. Short-ranged weapons are predominantly disadvantageous unless the enemy was in close proximity.
The shorter the weapon is, the more effortlessly it can instantaneously accelerate. Such was the case with my hatchet. A flashing line that was drawn down at a greater velocity than what would be feasible with a long sword.
But that white line never completed its course.
Sparks scattered as a loud bang resounded.
In an instant, Senior Delphine’s hand which had been resting on her thigh jerked like a lightning bolt. A golden light swung up from below.
In an instant, a dagger enveloped in a golden aura collided with my hatchet. My onslaught came to a halt as the hatchet was propelled out of my hands and into the air.
The dagger, still encased in a golden aura, came in contact with the nape of my neck. I could feel its gentle heat permeating onto my skin.
I’ve been informed that Senior Delphine’s aura has an intense heat capable of melting any metal just from contact. If it was only at a level that I felt warmth, it indicated that she was going easy on me.
A groan of dissatisfaction was emitted from my mouth. Senior Delphine smiled gently.
Unable to withstand her sudden movements, her gown slid slightly off her shoulders, but I did not pay any attention to it.
As of this moment, I felt defeated both as a man and a swordsman.
Senior Delphine withdrew her dagger upon noticing my paralyzed state. The golden aura strengthening the dagger quickly dispersed.
“……Were you concealing your weapon?”
“Of course, did you think that an individual of my stature would ever meet someone while lacking a means of self-defense? Oh, to make it easily accessible I hung it on the inside of my thighs.”
That’s why the blade had a pleasant scent. I suddenly recognized the identity of the faint scent I inhaled when her blade came in contact with my neck.
Senior Delphine stared at me with playful eyes. Her expression exuded confidence. She seemed pretty relaxed, but knowing her she might really kill me if I were to cross the line.
It was an attractive proposal, but my response would never change. I spoke while staring at Delphine senior with trembling eyes.
Senior Delphine’s face paled as her pride was damaged. The successive rejections may have offended her slightly. She quickly dismissed the feeling and spoke as if indifferent to the rejections.
“Anyway, are you aware of the difference in our strength now? It’s impossible for you to defeat me, whether it’s with a surprise attack or a frontal assault…….”
At that moment, my arm that was gripping the hatchet hilt gained strength once more.
The hatchet was still raised up high after having collided with Senior Delphine’s dagger. My arm muscles tensed up and what occurred next was only natural.
The hatchet’s blade descended like a flash of light, tearing through the air.
Once again it was a surprise attack. Taking advantage of her carelessness, I thought it would be the perfect ambush, but Senior Delphine’s response was even quicker.
Her crimson eyes turned cold again, and her dagger jerked again like a lightning bolt. It was certain that the previous situation would repeat itself seeing as how the scenario unfolded. A faint smirk materialized on Senior Delphine’s face.
But in the next moment.
Blood quickly gushed out as the sound of flesh being torn apart reverberated in the room. Senior Delphine widened her eyes in response.
What blocked her dagger was my hand.
A burning pain surged through my hand. I couldn’t get accustomed to the feeling of my skin and muscles being torn, no matter how many times I experienced it. The pain was so intense it felt like a needle was piercing through my spine, I clenched my teeth and forcibly shut my mouth as I felt a scream emerging.
Senior Delphine’s eyes displayed bewilderment as this event was not within her expectations.
It was a devious act, but how else could I land a blow? I just couldn’t endure the thought that I didn’t land a single attack on her.
At that moment my hatchet finally reached her.
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