༺ The Lord Is With Us (10) ༻
The hatchet descended continuously, each strike accompanied by agonizing screams and a gory display of blood.
Delphine held back her screams as best as she could, clenching her teeth as her body convulsed, but the pain soon became unbearable.
None of her limbs remained intact. The hatchet sliced through flesh, and tore through muscle fibers, revealing glimpses of pure white bone.
It was impossible to retaliate. Everything below her neck was in tatters, and if left untreated, even death by hemorrhage was a real possibility.
Waves of pain shot through her nervous system as if she was being continuously stabbed by a needle. After what seemed like an eternity, she didn’t even have the energy to scream. She could only gasp for breath while looking at Ian.
Despite her horrid state, the perpetrator still seemed indifferent.
There was nothing in his eyes. She would have rather preferred for him to enjoy her suffering, but his expression remained composed.
Delphine’s quivering pupils betrayed her terror. She felt as though she were a lamb waiting for her death at the slaughterhouse.
She wondered if butchers were just like the man in front of her — Mercilessly cutting through the bones and flesh of the animals only out of necessity rather than pleasure.
Her voice was hoarse from all the screaming.
Her once confident and domineering tone had all but vanished. Pitifully, she looked at Ian and pleaded, her teeth chattering uncontrollably.
It was a request made with the last shred of her pride as a noble. It was a life-or-death battle with her honor on the line. As such, death was trivial.
She had been completely defeated as both a swordsman and a noble. As such, she wanted to rather die than let it be known that she had lost after forcing a duel under her family’s name.
Had Ian been more merciful, there would have been no further violence the moment Delphine admitted defeat. But as she had experienced, Ian was merciless.
He was bloodthirsty and ruthless. Still, that was his weakness as a swordsman.
Indiscriminate violence came naturally to him, and he was willing to sacrifice his body for victory. His relentless obsession for victory and his exceptional talent created many variables in practical combat.
In a way, they were similar. Yet, they were fundamentally different from each other.
While Delphine sought victory in all things, Ian only became obsessed once he drew his sword.
Another similarity was that they felt no sympathy for the defeated.
Just like right now, as Delphine pleaded for death.
Ian paused upon hearing her plead for death.
“Kill you ……?”
“Y-yes…ugh… I’d rather die… than…….”
Her voice was a mix of broken sobs and groans, and her crimson eyes had long lost their clarity, clouded in pain and blood.
She just wanted to rest, and for the pain to stop.
At the very least, she wanted her end to be dignified. In the first place, Ian Percus had shown no sign of fear towards the Yurdina, so it was likely that he would have no qualms about killing her.
He was not a man who considered the consequences before acting, and she pinned her faint hopes on that.
“Y-you… were going to… kill me… weren’t you…? Then… you might as well… do it sooner…….”
The man’s golden eyes briefly shifted sideways, as if he was contemplating it.
“P-please… it… it hurts so much.”
Tears started to trickle from the corners of Delphine’s eyes. It was the only clear liquid on her blood-soaked body.
Ian’s silence only lasted for a moment.
“I don’t plan on killing kill you.”
The girl’s sobbing stopped, and a light returned to her eyes.
He was going to spare her?
It was a perfectly reasonable decision. As the heiress of one of the Empire’s five great families, she commanded respect from everyone except the Imperial Family.
There was no reason why she should die.
Even in a duel, killing an heir would only result in consequences and regrets.
It would be better to win and plan for the future.
The only problem was that the person who had just said that defied such common sense.
If he had intended to spare her from the beginning, his actions made no sense. No part of her body had been left unscathed.
All the tendons in her limbs had been severed, and as much as she wanted to struggle, she couldn’t. Groaning in pain and curling into a ball were the only things she could do.
He had long since crossed the line. She wondered if he was trying to negotiate with her life on the line.
A faint glimmer of hope reignited within her eyes. Begging for her life was one thing, but negotiating was different.
Negotiation occurred between equals, preserving both her pride and her life.
Her face brightened once more.
But at that moment, the man sliced apart her newfound hope.
A hatchet lodged itself back into her thigh.
The unexpected pain caused her to cry out.
“Because death would be too merciful a fate for you.”
With that, the man wiped the blood off his hatchet using his collar. It left a stain on his clothes, but he didn’t seem to care.
His uniform was already drenched in her blood. Strapping the hatchet onto his belt, Ian pulled out the sword that had been embedded in her shoulder.
Blood continued to pour out. It was an amount that normally would have been enough to kill an ordinary person, but for someone like Delphine, death did not come so easily.
Although she would eventually die if left to bleed out, her life was not yet in immediate danger with her mana constantly replenishing her blood.
Ian coated the blood-stained blade with aura.
The silver aura resembled a waning moon, emanating an ominous presence.
Delphine’s eyes, which had been dimming due to the pain, trembled.
It was strange no matter how she thought about it. The density of his aura was not something that could be replicated no matter how much mana he had.
At the very least, he had to be a sword expert to refine his mana to that level.
It was an ability that only swordsmen of at least her caliber could display, and yet her opponent had produced it effortlessly.
Ian glanced down at her, meeting her eyes.
“Yurdina, you should know this better than anyone. Aura wounds are difficult to heal even with holy power. There are several high-rank priests stationed at the Academy, so they might be able to help, but…….”
Delphine’s attention snapped back to the blade in Ian’s hand. It was emanating a chilling silver aura.
She determined that if she were to be wounded by it, not even a high-rank priest would be able to fully cure it.
As this realization struck her, Delphine’s eyes widened in trepidation, fearing what would become of her limbs if they were to be cut by the eerie silver.
“W-what are you going to do?”
Her body began trembling involuntarily. For once, she disregarded the pain that tormented her.
Her vision narrowed, and soon, only the man’s golden eyes filled her view.
She was terrified.
“You’ll probably be able to go about your daily life since the Saintess is here. No, wait. Or do I have to crush you so thoroughly that you’ll never be able to wield your sword again even if you were to offer a sacrifice for a miracle?”
His words pierced through Delphine’s mind like a hot knife.
She gasped, frozen in place. The possibility of never wielding her sword again had never once crossed her mind.
The sword was something she had pursued her entire life.
For her, wielding the sword was like breathing. It was such an integral part of her life that she couldn’t imagine it being taken away.
She had experienced both joy and sorrow through her sword.
And now, he was about to take everything from her.
Delphine’s face drained of all color as a feeling of overwhelming emptiness and horror flooded her heart.
Death was preferable.
Her sword was the one thing she refused to give up.
“I guess I should mess up your legs just in case. With the resources of the Yurdina Family, you should be able to walk somehow.”
The girl’s voice quivered pathetically with fear, but the man didn’t care.
“I’ll start with your shoulder cartilage then your wrist tendons.”
“Even if you can’t wield a sword again, you should have enough wealth to live comfortably for the rest of your life. That’s not such a bad deal, is it-”
The girl broke down and let out a pitiful scream, akin to that of a common wench.
Her crimson eyes overflowed with tears.
Delphine Yurdina had finally fallen.
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