The sound of something being swinged could be heard from the edge of the quiet training grounds.
‘Ah! this feeling! I’ve missed it.’
While Ellier was running around the training grounds to train her physical stamina like how she does in Ventiark Castle, she found a wooden sword that someone had thrown away and was swinging it secretly.
When she had picked it up, there was a crack down the middle of the wooden sword, but she rationalized that she could still use it a few more times as she was weak.
After looking around and making sure that there wasn’t anyone around, she held the handle of the sword seriously.
Then, she followed what she had done in her previous life, and spread her feet and swung the sword.
Although her wrists and muscles were not built, and she was short of breath, she was happy that the sword could move as per her memories from her previous life.
The sensation of swinging the sword thousands or tens of thousands of times remained as it was within her.
‘I’m very fortunate. As long as I continue to increase my stamina like this, there shouldn’t be a problem with using a sword. Ah, having a sword would be a problem.’
Without their master’s special permission, slaves will never be allowed to possess weapons.
If someone finds her wielding a sword right now, it would probably be turned into a great offense.
So, if she wants to practice swordsmanship in the future, this wooden sword would also need a hiding spot…
“I don’t know what else I should be surprised about when it comes to you.”
Ellier was startled by the sudden voice.
She was thinking she definitely can’t be discovered, yet not too long after she was caught.
Even while she was seized with panic, Ellier still tried to hide the hand that was holding the wooden sword behind her back secretly.
But her efforts were for naught, as Slarhan strode over to her and grabbed the sword she held, inspecting it back and forth.
“There’s a crack.”
“Ah, yes! It– It looked like someone had thrown it away! So, I just swung it for fun…”
“Isn’t it human nature to want to wave about an elongated stick? Hahaha!”
“That may be true, but you had quite an accurate posture.”
“That’s not… possible.”
However, Slarhan did not seem to have heard Ellier’s answer, as he went towards a warehouse near the training grounds and pulled out two more wooden swords.
“Sword, hold it tightly.”
Ellier reluctantly accepted the sword handed by him.
“Come at me first.”
“What? Me? Towards Master?
“Stop acting like that and move as you did before.”
The deliberately crafted expression of surprise froze as Ellier’s eyebrows twitched. Oddly, it hurt her self-esteem. Earlier, she was shocked by the presence of the sword, but in reality, it wasn’t something deserving of a huge punishment.
A wooden sword with a crack can hardly be called a weapon. It wasn’t as if she had aimed it at anyone, she had just swung it a little.
But could she, as a slave, admit to doing that proudly?
So, she pretended that it was nothing, but her act had only made it even more ludicrous.
As she was feeling terrible, the hand holding the wooden sword gripped it stronger.
Even in her previous life, Lilliette wasn’t a great enough swordswoman capable of defeating Slarhan.
She also knew that Slarhan was a swordmaster.
But there was a cry in her head, one that refused to back down.
“No matter what, I was just following orders, Master.”
At the end of those words, Ellier gripped the wooden sword tightly and her eyes lit up.
Slarhan was indeed a swordmaster, even if he looked relaxed, there weren’t any visible openings.
But among the gaps that he didn’t have, she still had to find the weakest part.
Ellier focused her gaze on Slarhan’s sword and ran straight at him while swinging the sword towards his left leg.
As the sound of the wooden swords hitting each other rang out, her right wrist throbbed. Slarhan’s sword immediately struck towards Ellier’s sword. Not only that, he also lunged towards Ellier directly.
Ellier quickly rolled her body to dodge his strike. She then swung her sword towards his side.
She thought that this round would be sharper than the previous one, but Slarhan parried with an indifferent expression.
Ellier’s self-esteem took a bigger blow at the fact that he parried without even avoiding her strike.
The ‘limits’ that she thought she had crossed with difficulty resurfaced before her eyes once again.
“Princess. In this world, there will obviously be women that possess an excellent body and walk the path of a knight. But she isn’t the Princess. No matter how hard you try, surpassing the level of male knights would be difficult.”
“When you hold a sword, your pretty hands will grow blisters and calluses. No man would like such a hand, Princess.”
Although Lilliette’s escort knights and nanny continued to advise her to stop ever since she started training at the age of twelve, she still took the time every day to hone her stamina and practice her swordsmanship.
Even if she attended a much more elegant class than the commoner knights that had to roll on the dusty floor, Princess Lilliette put in her best effort.
She trained like that for three years, but as her escort knight had said, she wasn’t able to beat a junior knight.
She couldn’t explain the anger and resentment that she had felt then in words.
When she was unable to control her agitated feelings and her tears were pouring down her face, her escort knight came and comforted her sincerely.
“I can guarantee that the Princess did her best. So, please put your sword down. There must be other things that the Princess is good at.”
So what did she do?
Lilliette doubled her practice time.
Ignoring her astonished mother and the mocking of other Princesses, she spent six hours a day holding her sword.
When she participated in hunting competitions, she held her sword and confronted wild animals, she experienced battles as she quelled areas of conflict with a squadron of knights.
Perhaps others have suffered due to her insistence on doing dangerous things.
But Princess Lilliette was able to push and break through her own limits in that way.
Although she did not become one of the top knights of the Empire, she became a person that could complete the job of a single knight fully.
How can she forget the joy she felt then when she threw the bloody head of an enemy general towards the knights that laughed at her?
‘I had barely exceeded the limit, but once again…!’
Forgetting that she shouldn’t arouse Slarhan’s suspicion, Ellier clenched her teeth and swung the sword with both hands.
With a loud clatter, the sword Ellier was holding flew through the air and fell to the floor.
She had loosened her grip on the sword. If she hadn’t dropped it, the bones of her fingers would have broken, unable to withstand the force of the rebound.
As he left Ellier standing in the position she had dropped her word and exhaling harshly, Slarhan moved leisurely and picked up the wooden sword on the floor.
“Do you not have any recollection of the person that taught you the sword? Both the stance and the swordsmanship are amazing, and your movements are fast and accurate. If you could gain slightly more stamina… Ellier…?”
“Are you… crying right now?”
Slarhan has never felt so bewildered before.
He was surprised by Ellier’s swordsmanship, and he was praising her in his own way, so he couldn’t understand why she was crying.
“Why the hell are you crying?”
“Hey, calm down…”
Slarhan, who had never made a woman cry, was deeply troubled. No, he wasn’t even sure if she was crying because of him.
‘Don’t tell me, she’s crying because she’s upset that she lost against me.’
Slarhan forgot to learn more about Ellier’s swordsmanship, and he stood quietly in front of Ellier, carefully patting her on the shoulder.
EIlier’s body temperature rose just from a brief battle, and was small enough for his hand to easily grip her entire shoulder.
That was what made the swordsmanship from before more surprising.
The origin of her swordsmanship was unclear, but it was hard to believe that such a skinny child would wield it.
“Are you going to continue standing here and cry? I think it would be better to pick up the sword and go back.”
“Hic, huuu, hic, I–I under…stand.”
The tears that welled up out of anger couldn’t be easily stopped.
Continuing to sniff, she used her sleeve to wipe her tears, and took the wooden sword that Slarhan had picked up and headed to the warehouse.
Slarhan also went along and placed the wooden sword in its barrel.
In the dark warehouse, EIlier’s whimpering sound even louder.
“Huu, huu, I’m, sorry, I– I want to stop, but…”
“Are you angry at losing?”
“That, that’s not it, huu, I don’t have the strength, hic, huuk, I can do it better.”
She seemed to be resenting the fact that she wasn’t able to show her skills properly due to her lack of physical strength.
Slarhan became speechless at that, and looked at her silently before sighing.
“Do you want to do better?”
Ellier couldn’t answer because she was sniffling, and only nodded her head vigorously.
“I’ll help you for a while after physical training in the evenings.”
“Mas– master, you, personally?”
“There wouldn’t be someone amongst the knights that would want to deal with you.”
“Come to the back of the warehouse everyday at this hour. Use this as your practice sword.”
Slarhan took out a small knife from his pocket and carved his signature on the handle of her wooden sword.
If she showed that carving, she wouldn’t be beaten for possessing a wooden sword.
At the fact that she had her practice sword, Ellier’s mood quickly improved.
“If you smile while crying, something will sprout.”
“I– I didn’t smile.”
In response to the reply that would never admit defeat, Slarhan turned his head and laughed.
After they had finished speaking, Slarhan led Ellier, who was holding the wooden sword she had received from him, towards the mansion.
But it wasn’t just Slarhan and Ellier that were in the vicinity of the warehouse then.
“Hey, what did I just witness?”
“That’s… I think it would be a little disrespectful if I said it out directly.”
“You think so too?”
Two guards of the Ventiark Mansion that were patrolling nearby, witnessed the scene directly.
However, the scene of Slarhan taking the sniffling slave girl out of the dark warehouse without seeing what happened previously made it easy for a strange misunderstanding to happen.
“Oh my gosh, no wonder it was weird.”
“No matter how I look at it… she seems to be so.”
The younger of the two frowned.
Even if one was a slave and the other was a Duke, forcibly taking a young and weak woman was definitely not the actions of an honorable knight.
But the other guard stabbed the younger guard in the side painfully.
“Just pretend that you’re unaware. In any case, a slave doesn’t have the right to reject its master. His Grace did this and that for that lass, so she’ll get used to it sooner or later.”
“Why? Can I go to His Grace and tell him not to do that? On what basis? It’s only going to ruin your future if you speak directly for nothing. Let’s pretend that we didn’t see it and go.”
However, one of the two opened his mouth, and rumours that the Duke touched the slave child in a warehouse near the training ground quickly spread.
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