In the Imperial Palace, there were numerous training camps for the guards and the knights who were there for guarding the Emperor.
Among them, there was a group of people who had appeared at the ground behind the Palace which was at times used by the knights.
They were Luke, Philip, and the three guard knights.
“I’ll make you regret meeting me.”
Said Juan to Philip after relaxing.
In the past, when Philip used to serve as one of the guard knights, Juan was much weaker than Philip, who had graduated from the Royal Military Academy.
So, there could be a chance that he was jealous of Philip and decided to push him out.
But years had passed since that incident with Philip being cast out happened.
In the meantime, Juan, with his family’s support, got trained under a very experienced and well-known teacher.
That practice had allowed him to become an Intermediate Expert in a very short time.
‘When that guy got kicked out of the knights, he was just a low-level expert. He must have wandered for years and wasted his time in the countryside. There are high chances for me to win,’ thought Juan.
After being convinced about his own win, Juan took leisurely steps toward Philip and said,
“If you kneel before me and apologize, I’ll nullify the duel.”
“I would rather die than kneel before the likes of you.”
“Kukuk, then I will just have to kill you.”
While the others watched, the two began their duel.
In normal cases, the duel would need a public notary.
But neither Philip, who was dreaming to get his revenge, Luke, standing there for his honor and Juan, who was engrossed in his wish to trample on the thief he disliked, ever thought of needing a notary to the duel.
The duel had begun with Juan taking the first step.
Juan was alternating his skills from the swordplay he learned at the Knights of Guard and the skills that were thought to him by the brilliant private swordsman from the Southern continent who had trained him.
Just the same as Juan had evolved his skills, Philip too had developed his.
After learning from Luke about the Gold Sword, he was able to stop the attacks from Juan.
When his confrontation with Philip didn’t go as he had imagined, Juan began to use Aura.
Just like any Intermediate knight, his Aura looked thick and heavy.
Philip too decided to respond to him in the same way.
Philip didn’t even have to release the Gold Sword.
Just moving the polished phantom sword as he used to at the capital’s Gigant Arena was enough to drive fear into Juan.
“Sh*t, Dammit!”, cursed Juan.
He had no idea that he would be pushed back by Philip, Juan, who couldn’t control himself anymore, began to curse.
The fencing skills Juan had been displaying were as fine as an advanced knight.
However, there was just one thing that he lacked.
It was a hands-on experience.
He had only learned and mastered the sword skills. Just like the green plants and trees that grew in any manor, he had never come across the strength or stubbornness of weeds.
On the other hand, Philip had developed a unique sense of responding and performance by fighting against monsters, bandits, who came into the Rakan territory, as well as the Royal Gigant Arena.
Which made it hard for Juan to attack him.
Juan who got the back of his hand cut by Philip, stepped back, dropping his sword.
It all happened in just five minutes, Juan stared at Philip, who placed the sword on to his throat with a darkened expression.
“This can’t be possible. How can this guy…” Juan wasn’t able to understand.
“You idiot. Did you think that you got stronger after learning advanced sword skills? All you know is just the shell of it. Your skills became worse compared to before,” said Philip.
Juan did not respond to the bitter criticism of Philip.
Rather, Philip shook his head and pushed the sword a little closer to his neck. Philip walked out of the place.
While walking out, Philip laughed at the other two, who were scared and asked,
“Do, do you also want to duel?”
Jack and Carwin had lower fencing skills than Juan.
They were low and lower class Experts, and as Philip noticed their discomfort, he spoke with a smirk,
“If doing it alone isn’t enough, I don’t mind if you two do it together.”
The two of them exchanged glances and pulled their swords.
It was hard for them to win alone, but if they fought together, then they would surely win.
However, as they were about to go in for the duel, they heard a loud shout from far away.
The owner of the voice jumped between the two teams and stopped them.
Philip and Juan recognized the person who stopped them and was shocked.
It was the vice-captain of the Guards.
One of the seven Sword Masters in the Empire, a neutral noble.
With a beard that looked similar to a bandit, he stopped them by putting his palm in front of Juan and his friends, not bothering Philip.
The three of them turned white as a marble in front of the count.
Count Ferrero began to beat up the three of them who didn’t even try to defend.
Puck! Puck! Puck!
“It isn’t enough for you two guards to make a duel with another who seemed to be at the top of his game, but you two pulled your swords against one person? Do you people have any sense of duty and respect to being Guard Knights?”
“Please, Please let me be!”
“Oh my, you want me to let you be? I’ll let you guys be and then make sure to fix those attitudes of yours, too. Go back to the Knight’s Headquarters right now!”
The three of them ran away the moment Count Ferrero ordered them.
Philip formally greeted Count Ferrero.
It was because the Count was the one who had defended Philip when everyone was against him.
Ferrero looked at Philip from top to bottom and said,
“You have improved a lot in the time that I haven’t seen you.”
“I still am very far away from the skills vice-captain possesses.”
“Don’t talk like that. We lost what could have been a good Sword Master just because of a noble… How about this, Philip? If you want to, I can get you back into the Guard Knight.”
Of course, it sure was a difficult task.
Even if he was indeed a Vice-captain, it would be very difficult to reinstate a person who had left the Guards after a rather infamous past.
But since a lot of time had already passed, people could have forgotten about it.
However, one person had objected Ferrero’s request.
“That isn’t possible!”
“You are?” Asked Ferrero.
Luke sneaked from behind Philip and introduced himself.
“Luke de Rakan. Philip had sword allegiance to me till the day he dies and said he would never rejoin the Knights of Guard.”
‘Hoh, look at him?’ Thought Ferrero.
Ferrero looked at Luke’s face.
He had no concern as Luke looked like a kid, but he could feel strong waves from Luke.
‘Maybe he is stronger than Philip.’
Count Ferrero thought for a moment and suggested to Luke.
“I am Vice-captain, Count Ferrero of Knights of Guard. Would you duel with me?”
Ferrero was known to have a boneless body. He was the kind of man that only fought against the strong ones.
Which was why he never felt like there were any strong men in the Capital, and there was no one who could go against him.
But Count Ferrero was feeling different that day.
It was like a new challenge had appeared, and his eyes began to shine like the ones of a beast.
“I don’t want to. Why should I even fight with you?”
In fact, Luke wanted to verify his skills as well.
He had to go against someone strong to measure his skill, and Luke saw a suitable opponent right in front of him.
But to fight him, a Sword Master, he would have to use the dark magic that be had taken from the demons.
Other places might be different, but for a person to use dark magic in the Imperial Palace itself, he would be run over.
“I am a Sword Master. Going against me will help you a lot. I can even give you some advice after our duel.”
The guidance of a Sword Master could never be received by the Knights.
Which was why Count Ferrero decided that Luke would accept his offer.
However, his assumption was wrong.
“I refuse. I am under the orders of the majesty, and I need to go to work as soon as possible.”
“I’m sure the majesty will understand if you are away for a few minutes.”
“It is annoying.”
“Then I’ll give you a sword made of Ergen alloy…”
“I told you that I don’t want…”
Luke went away from the persistent Ferrero and walked out of the palace.
At that response, Count Ferrero looked at the unexpected situation and laughed a little.
“Oh my! That Philip guy, he got a very frustrating man as a master.”
There was no young knight who wouldn’t want to cross swords with a Sword Master.
But Luke, even when asked, refused it.
Such an act didn’t make Ferrero feel that bad though.