Tiner felt strange after declaring Zich’s victory, and the people around him felt likewise.
Not a single audience member cheered for the winner or sympathized with the loser. Some had their mouths shut or talked to those sitting beside them while others were lost in thought. At the unbelievable and ridiculousness of Zich’s second win, people fell into a panic.
Someone grabbed Zich’s arm.
“I can treat you now, right? I am going to do it even if you refuse!”
It was the priest who had sprung onto the dueling ground as soon as the fight was over. With his red face, it seemed like the priest wouldn’t accept a refusal.
“Do what you want. I’m tired anyways.”
Zich threw his sword away and sat down. Truthfully, he was only moving his body with sheer willpower. He would have lost consciousness if Greig’s declaration of defeat had been a moment late.
Nevertheless, it was his win.
Zich stared at Greig. A priest was also treating him. The area under his eyes was sunken, his face had lost all color, and he had lost a lot of blood.
‘He is out of it.’
Zich felt satisfied.
‘Greig lost to his older brother who he had always looked down on. At this rate, he may never recover.’
But did that matter?
‘Should I end it here?’
This was enough to screw him over, and Zich lost all interest in Greig.
‘Ok, let me start the finale now.’
Zich still had someone left to screw over: the servant, Hans, and—
‘All the Steelwalls!’
They all had despised and looked down on him; Zich didn’t intend to give any of them an easy pass.
“Is it over?”
“Yes, it is over. But since you lost a lot of blood, you should rest for a while!”
Zich ignored the priest’s words and stood up again.
“Y-Young master! You can’t abruptly stand up like that…!”
“Ah, it’s fine. I know my body better than anyone else.”
Zich tuned out the nagging coming from behind him and walked forward.
Zich halted in his steps and arched his neck to see the Count in the upper seats.
“I won, Father.”
“…Yeah, I saw.”
As expected, the Count’s response was curt while the Countess’s gaze was piercing. Still, Zich calmly continued, “Didn’t you promise? You said that you would let the winner of this duel succeed the family.”
People broke into murmurs. They didn’t think that Zich would bring that up first so bluntly. Although rumors about the conditions of the duel had spread, all of that was unofficial.
A vein popped out of the Count’s forehead.
“Stop spouting nonsense! How could a single duel like this decide anything?!”
Of course, by using the fact that he had not made the conditions public, the Count was planning to make it seem like the promise had never been made.
‘Well, it doesn’t matter.’
At the Count’s outcry, Zich still smiled.
‘What in the world is he thinking?’
Trell furrowed his eyebrows.
‘Why would he mention that out loud here? It won’t do him any good.’
Although Zich had shown people a new side to him, they still didn’t have good feelings for Zich. Saying something like this would only gather hostility. For instance, Chris Nunn, whose eyes had sparkled just a moment before, was scowling now.
‘Has he become short-sighted in his excitement?’
If that was the case, Trell would have to adjust his assessment of Zich again and deduct some points. However, the reason for Zich’s words was something that no one, including Trell, could have even thought of.
“I knew this would happen.”
Zich took a ring out from one of his fingers. Then, he threw it high up in the air.
The ring dropped right onto the seat of honor and rolled in front of the Count and collapsed. Everyone sitting in the upper seats froze in place after checking what the ring was.
“You… what is the meaning of this?”
“What do you mean, Father? What else can I mean by throwing the Steelwall ring away?”
Zich took in a deep breath and yelled loudly.
“I, Zich Steelwall, will henceforth give up my right as the heir of Steelwall!”
A shock as intense as getting struck by a mace on the back of one’s head waved through the stadium. The Count and the Countess, the knights, bureaucrats, and various retainers, as well as Greg and the priests, looked at Zich with their mouths hanging open.
Zich, however, snorted in a refreshing way.
“Just because I put up with it—do you see me as some dirt stuck on the bottom of an orc’s foot? I am talking about all of you! How can you all unite to bully one person pettily—did you think that I would continue to put up with it like an idiot?!”
Vulgar words flowed across the stadium, but people couldn’t say much but stutter.
“I am not going to accept a damn family like this!”
“What the hell are you doing!”
“Are your ears blocked now that you are growing old, Count? I am saying that I will leave Steelwall!”
Zich no longer called the Count, Father, and the Count’s cheeks shuddered in anger.
“Isn’t this what you wanted? An eyesore is leaving the family with his own feet! Now, you can hand over the family to your lovable younger son.”
“You should just tell me bluntly that you have no intention of handing Steelwall over to me. Do you know how surprised I was to see you, the Kingdom’s metal fortress, resort to such cheap tricks?”
The Count was so angry that no words came out of his mouth. His wire-like beard twitched.
A powerful current circled the Count. The Countess, Trell, and others who weren’t trained made a commotion.
“Suppress your anger, Count!”
Chris Nunn grabbed the Count, and Tiner went up to the seat of honor to also help restrain the Count.
“Fine! If that’s what you think, leave at this instant! If you appear in front of me again, I am going to split you into two!”
“P-please calm down for now!”
“Don’t worry! I don’t have plans to come back here ever again!”
“Y-young master! You should also calm…!”
Chris Nunn tried his hardest to fix the situation somehow, but the father and son pair had already crossed a path of no return.
Zich turned around. He walked towards the stadium’s entrance, and everyone’s eyes naturally followed his back. Zich was completely different from the boy they had ignored for so long. Suddenly, Zich turned his head around as if he had just thought of something, and his eyes landed on Hans.
Hans, who was hanging on the wall, answered in shock, “Yes, yes sir!”
“I think I will need at least one servant since I am leaving the family. So, I am going to take you with me.”
Hans’ face was pale stricken. He knew what kind of horrible things would happen if he followed Zich right now.
But Zich was too scary for him to refuse outrightly. He couldn’t say this or that and heard a voice from his savior.
“Why would you take Hans? Hans is a servant who serves Steelwall!”
It was the Countess. She growled as if she was talking to the archenemy who murdered her parents. It seemed like Greig’s loss and ruination had input a considerable amount of resentment in her.
Hans’ face brightened.
“Um, why would you protest against me taking Hans?”
“Did you think that I would allow it?!”
“Then, it can’t be helped.”
Because Zich backed off much more easily than she expected him to, the Countess was shocked. But that shock quickly turned into horror. Zich pulled out his sword and walked towards where Hans was.
“What are you doing!”
“It’s nothing really. Countess, I am going to finish it quickly, so you don’t have to mind it.”
Zich changed the way he called the Countess from Mother to Countess back again. Truthfully, she felt relieved to no longer hear that creepy title of Mother from him, but it didn’t make Zich’s behavior any better.
“What do you mean it’s nothing! You look like you are about to slice Hans’ neck off!”
The Countess was at a loss for words. Hans’ colorless face became even paler, but Zich calmly said his biggest blow.
“Yes, it’s true that I’m going to slice that servant’s neck off.”
“H-have you finally lost your mind?!”
“What do you mean that I have lost my mind? I am completely normal. Countess, did you forget why I started the duel in the first place?”
Byner and Hans claimed that they didn’t offend Zich while Zich swore that they did. Since Zich had won the duel, Zich’s claim would be accepted as the truth.
“Since Byner is a knight, I am sure that Steelwall will give him a fitting punishment, but it will be a different story for Hans. Even if I gave up the title, that guy insulted me when I was the Steelwall’s rightful heir. With my win, it has been recognized that he insulted me, and I now have authority over his life and death.”
The Countess finally realized the severity of the situation and fell into great shock.
The Count was the only one left to rely on.
The Countess quickly hung onto the Count. After Zich gave up his right to succeed, the gap between the father and son deepened beyond repair, so she thought the Count would do something to fix the situation.
However, the Count didn’t say anything. His face looked like he wanted to yell at his men to drag Zich out, but unfortunately, Zich was right. If there were fewer eyes on them, things might have been different, but the Count couldn’t break rules in front of so many important figures.
Increasing the size of this duel was backfiring on him.
Hans cried out as the black sword edged closer to the bottom of his neck. It was a terrible experience to have a sword coated in blackish-red blood pushed right into his neck.
“Hey, Hans. Listen to me carefully. Even though you dared to look down on me and disrespect me, I will give you a choice.”
Zich stretched out his thumb and middle finger and showed them to Hans.
“You have two choices: one is to die here right now with your head rolling. The other is to follow me as my servant. How is it? Which one are you going to choose?”
Zich’s tone sounded benevolent, but he was one-sidedly pressuring Hans. Hans darted his eyes and stared at the Countess. He saw the Countess grab the ends of the Count’s garment and plead, but the Count was still silent.
At that moment, Hans realized that the Countess, who was his strong and solid backing, didn’t have the power to get him out of this situation.
“I will follow you. I will follow you, young master.”
Tiny tear droplets trickled down from his eyes, and Hans whimpered. He looked like a cow being dragged off to a slaughterhouse. It was a tearful scene, but it made Zich smirk.
“That’s a smart decision.”
Zich took back his sword from Hans’ neck, but Hans’ expression didn’t become brighter. He couldn’t fathom how dark and terrible his life in the future would be.
“Get up. We have to leave.”
“Wh-what? Right now?”
“Is there a need to hesitate? It’s my first step out of the nest into the world. You have to do things like this the moment you make the decision!”
Zich grabbed Hans by the collar and pulled him into the stadium. Then, he half-dragged him out of the entrance.
Without even looking around, Zich could feel stares on his back. The Count was still huffing, the Countess was holding onto the edges of his clothes while watching Hans. Tiner and Chris Nunn were urgently running after Zich, and finally, Greig, whose wounds were all healed, sat on the ground and blankly stared as Zich disappeared.Previous Chapter Next Chapter