Under the Oak Tree

Chapter 444 - 205.
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Chapter 444 - 205

Maxi studied Ulyseon's face with concern. More than his wounds, it was the sting of defeat that appeared to trouble him. Carrying his helmet at his side, Ulyseon glared at the victor before storming out of the arena.

"Will you excuse me for a moment, my lady?" Garrow asked as he watched his friend leave.

Maxi nodded eagerly. "Are you going to Ulyseon? Let me go with you."

"No, my lady," Garrow said quickly. "You should stay. It will be Sir Riftan's match soon."

Maxi was already rising from her seat when she awkwardly froze at his firm refusal.

Gabel placed a hand on her shoulder. "Please think of the lad's pride, my lady. Rovar would be embarrassed to see you in his current state."

"What is there to be embarrassed about? Did he not fight bravely against Livadonโ€™s champion?" Maxi protested, but she settled back into her seat nonetheless.

Garrow gave a respectful nod before descending the stairs. Maxi watched him go when suddenly, the trumpet sounded, announcing the start of the next match. She redirected her attention to the arena as the administrator introduced the new contenders: a young knight from Wedon's Royal Knights and one from Balto's Southern Confederacy.

The third match of the day began. Despite their evident skill, the duel failed to captivate the audience, which was still reeling from the intensity of the previous fight.

Maxi's eyes swept across the noblewomen, who were speculating about the next contenders, then over the audience. Occasional cheers rose from the stands, but the earlier excitement had faded. Finally, the match ended with a lackluster reception.

"Sir Varis Hector is the victor!" the administrator announced from the podium.๐–‹๐”ฏ๐”ข๐”ข๐–œ๐–Š๐–‡๐–“๐”ฌ๐”ณ๐–Š๐”ฉ.๐–ˆ๐–”๐–’

The audience offered light applause. The knights quietly left the arena, seemingly unfazed by the crowd's tepid reaction. Without delay, the administrator announced the participants of the next match.

"Entering the fourth match is the commander of the Knights of Phil Aaron, Sir Richard Breston!"

The nobles' board expression shifted to keen interest at the mention of Richard Breston. Bunching her skirt, Maxi craned her neck over the balustrade.

As hushed anticipation fell over the stadium, the administrator shouted, "And his opponent, none other than Sir Ursuline Ricaydo of the Remdragon Knights!"

Gasping, Maxi whipped her head around, half expecting she had misheard. But Gabel's equally shocked face confirmed it.

Her eyes snapped back to the arena. Ursuline Ricaydo, resplendent in Remdragon Knight armor, followed a colossal figure, clad in heavy steel. Maxi held back a groan. Ursuline looked small next to the northerner, who towered over him by at least two heches (approx 24 centimeters) and nearly doubled his size.

Maxi seized Gabel's arm. "W-We must stop the match."

"Stay calm, my lady," Gabel said evenly. "This is an official duel. Unless Sir Ursuline forfeits, no one can stop it."

"B-But.. The man openly declared that he would not honor the knight's code! Who knows what he intends to do."

"Sir Ursuline is quite adept at fighting against bigger opponents. He will not be beaten so easily."

"E-Even so.."

Before she could finish, the trumpet announced the start of the match. Maxi looks down at the arena with a horrified expression. Drawing their swords, the knights briefly exchanged cautious glances before simultaneously charging at each other. Maxi squeezed her eyes shut, unable to bear the sight of what seemed like a cat challenging a tiger.

An instant later, the sharp clang of clashing blades jolted Maxi. She flinched, her shoulders tensing. Time seemed to stretch on forever, but the trumpet signaling the end of the match was stubbornly silent.

Mustering her courage, Maxi opened her eyes. There was Richard Breston, brandishing his massive white six-kevette sword (approx 180 centimeters). Her initial terror quickly gave way to awe as she realized that none of his heavy strikes were landing. As if by magic, Ursuline, with his five-kevette blade, was skillfully parrying his opponent's greatsword.

"Notice how Sir Ursuline swings three times for every one of his opponent's." Gabel explained, smiling. "It's that speed that allows him to match Sir Hebron."

At that moment, Ursuline's blade moved in a blur, deflecting the northerner's powerful attack. His arms were a whirlwind, giving the illusion of three swords striking at once.

Maxi shifted in excitement. Though she knew that Ursuline was among the best within the Remdragon Knights, she had not expected him to be on par with Balto's champion. Her eyes twinkled as she turned to Gabel and shook his arm.

"D-Did you see that? It was truly amazing! And against someone twice his size!"

Then, in a sudden burst of movement, Ursuline lunged. The northerner, caught off guard, reacted a second too late. The swift blade found its mark, piercing through Breston's shoulder.

A collective gasp rippled through the stadium. It seemed incomprehensible that Balto's celebrated knight would fall in the fourth round.

A triumphant smile rose on Maxi's lips. With this defeat, the prestige of the Knights of Phil Aaron was effectively tarnished. The arrogant man would no longer be able to maintain his imperious ways.

However, her smile quickly faded when she noticed Breston's shoulders shaking.

Is he laughing?

A chill ran down her spine. Confused, Maxi's eyes darted to the podium. Why were they not ending the match? She was about to protest when the northerner gripped the blade penetrating his shoulder.

"You do know the match isn't over unless one of us yields or drops his sword, don't you?"

"What do you-"

"So hold on tight."

With that, the giant raised his greatsword. And, seemingly unconcerned about his wound, struck Ursuline on the side of his head with the hilt. Cries of shock erupted all over the stadium.

But the northerner seemed far from done. He repeatedly hit Ursuline's temple, each blow resonating with a chilling thud. Though Ursuline tried to pull back, Breston had his blade in an iron grip.

"Oi, oi, oi! Stay sharp!" Breston bellowed as he continued to rain down blows. "It's your loss if you let go of that sword! You're not going to give up that easily, are you?"

Maxi covered her mouth in horror. The sound of cruel laughter mixed with heavy thuds filled the stadium. Despite Ursuline's desperate attempts to wriggle free, the stark reality was apparent - Richard Breston was stronger.

Finally, Ursuline managed to release one of his hands, but Breston appeared disinclined to end the match there. The northerner grabbed Ursuline's hand and yanked the blade from his own shoulder. Blood spurted like a fountain, yet the man, seemingly impervious to pain, switched sword hands and lunged forward with the force of a thunderbolt.

Ursuline, hastily trying to retreat, was a fraction too slow. The northerner's blade sliced diagonally, embedding deeply into Ursuline's arm. Maxi screamed at the horrific sight. Though Ursuline had managed to keep his limb, the damage to his bone and nerves was evident. In agony, he let his sword fall.

"S-Sir Richard Breston is the victor!" the administrator's voice rang out.

Clerics promptly rushed into the arena. After looking on with an ashen face, Maxi sprang from her seat. If not treated properly, Ursuline could lose the use of his arm forever.

She dashed into the arena and elbowed her way past the converging clerics. Seeing the hierarch bent over Ursuline, attempting to heal his arm, she roughly shoved the man's hand away.

"You could cripple him if you don't connect the bones, muscles, and nerves properly! We must inspect the wound first. Is there anything to stop the bleeding?"

The startled young cleric hurriedly removed his belt and offered it to her. Maxi snatched it from him and strapped it above the knight's wound. Soon, the bleeding stopped. The clerics stood awkwardly around her, unsure of what to do next.

"We must get him to the infirmary," Maxi said impatiently.

Ursuline, his face as white as a ghost, finally spoke through clenched teeth. "I can walk there myself."

When he attempted to rise, Maxi firmly stopped him. "No. You could aggravate your wound."

Humiliation flashed across the knight's face, but Maxi knew her priority. His arm needed immediate and proper care; his pride would have to wait.

She stepped aside, allowing the clerics to move him to the infirmary. Moments later, as he was brought in on a stretcher, Ruth directed them to a cot.

"Put him here!"

A wave of relief washed over Maxi as soon as she spotted Ruth. The ever-prepared sorcerer began setting out various medicines and tools next to the bed, issuing instructions as he did so.

"I will heal the wound. I need the clerics to remove his armor. My lady, please take a look at his head injury."

Maxi promptly removed the knightโ€™s dented helmet, revealing his bloodied head. The gruesome sight filled her with rage. How could a man do this to another? Suppressing her anger, she grabbed a clean linen and gently began to wipe the blood from Ursuline's forehead and temple.

The helmet had saved his skull from fracturing, but a deep cut marred his temple, and there were dark bruises on his cheekbone. After carefully inspecting his wounds, Maxi healed them with magic. Meanwhile, Ruth used a peculiar device to stitch Ursulineโ€™s arm. She watched anxiously until a somber voice interrupted her thoughts.

"Will he be able to wield a sword again?"

Startled, Maxi looked up to see Riftan.

Ruth searched the commander's impassive face as if trying to gauge his thoughts. He said calmly, "I cannot promise anything."

There was a pause.

"I see," Riftan replied.

Then, he spun on his heel and left the infirmary. A wave of anxiety overwhelmed Maxi, and she hurried after him.

Out in the waiting room, Richard Breston was getting his shoulder treated.

He sneered upon seeing Riftan. Leaning against the wall, he taunted, "I've never seen that face on you before. Is your dog's condition worse than you thought?"

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