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Chapter 4: The Shabby Cabin (4)

In the novel, I, Razen Berthus, was a character equivalent to the final boss.

With unrivaled martial prowess, I was depicted as the zenith of combat within the story. Wielding ferocious sword energy with precision and scattering immense powers, I was formidable.

Even the most perfect male lead, the crown prince, couldn’t beat me in a one-on-one battle.

This held true up to the final showdown. It took a considerable struggle and collaboration of several male leads to even attempt to bring me down.

It was only natural for someone like me to be talented with the sword.

I never slacked off in my efforts.

Clang

Our swords clashed. Terion and I tirelessly worked to break through each other’s defenses.

The two blades screamed as they scraped against each other, a moment of intense power struggle, until I shifted my grip, altering the blade’s trajectory.

A sword is merely a line, but our world is three-dimensional, with width, length, and height. A slight change in direction can create an opening.

The moment Terion’s defense faltered, he wisely retreated.

Creating distance was a sound decision; had he stayed, victory would have been mine.

Still, the advantage hadn’t slipped from my grasp.

“Time for a hit!”

Striking a guarded opponent is challenging.

So, let’s start by breaking his stance. I quickly closed in, feigning a sword strike, and then kicked Terion.

It was a direct hit. 

So, once more. 

My low kick exploded against Terion’s leg.

Seeing Terion stagger back significantly, Sirien’s eyes widened in surprise.

“Wow! Well done, well done!”

“Hey, whose side are you on?”

“Obviously Razen’s side. I wouldn’t support my brother!”

“I’ll deal with you later!”

Sirien giggled.

Modern siblings are programmed to be at each other’s throats, they say.

It wasn’t much different for noble siblings of this era. Terion was always brimming with energy from a young age, and Sirien had an air of innocence.

However, there weren’t many around to be the target of their ‘jokes.’ This fact became a tragedy for the siblings.

Well, more precisely, Sirien’s tragedy.

Regardless of time or place, a younger sister in her growing years could never beat her brother.

Of all the tears Sirien had shed, Terion was responsible for half of them...

“You should be watching me now!”

“Razen! More, do more!”

Once I had disrupted his stance, I focused on attacking mainly with my sword.

Instead of engaging in a blade-to-blade struggle, I kept swinging my sword, maintaining pressure.

Terion wasn’t just on the defensive either. Occasionally, he would launch a brilliant counterattack.

Utilizing those counterattacks was a skill in itself, but it didn’t always go smoothly.

After all, the strongest version of me depicted in the story wasn’t the current me but the me ten years in the future. 

Between then and now lay a vast gap of experience. Or perhaps, it was more a lack of experience?

Terion’s lips curled up in a smug grin as he lunged forward like iron.

“Got you!”

* * *

Sirien let out a laugh.

“Pfft, pff-haha...”

“So, how did the two of you end up rolling around in the snow together?”

It was a voice, cool and collected. Hena still wore her kind, gentle smile, but her eyes held a chill more biting than the winters of the north.

Behind Hena, Sirien munched on snacks, her face full of mirth, as if thoroughly enjoying the situation, leisurely watching us from her seat.

That girl had a sly side to her, pretending not to.

“Well, Razen was being particularly annoying today...”

“And you’re blaming this on me?”

“Sir Razen, do you have something to say?”

“...”

Hena added ‘Sir’ before my name.

Usually, Hena would just call me by my name. After all, I was still but a squire, not yet a fully commissioned knight.

We had known each other long enough to not need to be so formal.

The only time she addressed me like this was when she was very angry.

And I was afraid of Hena when she was angry.

“No, it’s not like that...”

The root cause of the incident was as follows.

I was enthusiastically swinging my sword when I left an opening, which Terion didn’t miss.

It was an acknowledged fact that I was several levels above in terms of swordsmanship and combat. However, Terion had one area where he didn’t fall short compared to me.

Specifically, there was a domain I wasn’t good at.

That was soft martial arts. Swordsmanship and soft martial arts were closely related enough to be considered as one, but strangely, I never excelled in soft martial arts.

Thinking back, the me in the novel was highlighted for my exceptional sword skills, sword energy, and formidable powers.

No matter how much I racked my brain, I couldn’t recall a scene where I overpowered an opponent with soft martial arts. There were only scenes of cutting and slashing.

Perhaps the author of <Saintess, Reverse Harem is Impure!> was unaware that soft martial arts were a fundamental skill for knights.

Since it wasn’t mentioned in the novel, it was unlikely I had any special talent in it.

When I wilted before Hena, for some reason, Terion’s spirits revived.

Did he think Hena was taking his side? 

Today’s events were indeed a cause for celebration for Terion.

His win rate against me in duels was dismal. But today, he had managed to achieve a ‘draw’!

“Well, I had grabbed Razen’s arm, you see? When knights grapple...”

Once my arm was caught, I had to desperately dodge his sword while entangled.

My sword was blocked, and Terion still had the freedom to swing his.

The most effective tactic for me then was to throw Terion off balance. In the process, both of us had to let go of our swords.

The moment we hit the ground, it essentially became a brawl. It was a fierce struggle for dominance, either to overpower the other or to retrieve one’s sword first for an attack.

Terion displayed commendable skill today.

But there was a problem.

Snow is essentially frozen rain. Beneath the snowscape wasn’t grass but dirt.

To the snow of the snowfield, we, heated from the duel, were like warm bodies. The snow melted away under the heat of growing boys.

The snow naturally turned into water, and the waterlogged dirt, naturally, turned into mud.

And what Hena was truly curious about wasn’t ‘how we dueled’ but ‘how we managed to cover our expensive clothes in mud’.

Every time Terion excitedly opened his mouth, Hena’s kind smile drooped further.

Her eyes had already cooled.

“I had Razen’s leg pinned first, but then Razen flipped over to escape. I still had the upper hand, though...”

Terion.

Stop.

“But I’m stronger, right? I saw Razen trying to grab his sword in the meantime!”

Stop.

“By doing this with my arm...”

Please.

I’m begging like this.

I’m only pleading in my heart due to Hena’s presence, but how can it not work with such earnestness?

“Young master.”

“I was thinking today was really... Huh?”

“I have something to say, may we go upstairs together?”

“Huh? Oh, okay.”

“I’ll go up first.”

Terion endured a full hour of Hena’s lecturing.

Fortunately, she was more lenient with me, sparing me after about 10 minutes.

The sun was already setting.

Terion, with his spirits dampened, pretended to read a book while sneaking glances at Hena, who was tidying up the table downstairs.

On the second floor where we were, there was a window in the attic.

Looking out the window, one could see the setting sun disappearing into the deep forest.

The sky blushed crimson, and the shadows of the conifers stretched as long as the distorted sunlight.

Sirien seemed to like that window.

Or maybe she found the view incredibly fascinating.

Her beautiful red eyes gazed endlessly into the distant sky.

“It feels strange. Thinking about it, I believe this is my first time sleeping outside the castle.”

The sunset streamed in through the window.

It tinted Sirien’s white hair with the same hues. Even in such a humble place, her pure white skin didn’t lose its color.

A delicate and fragile-looking girl. She was destined to be loved by all, both now and in the distant future.

The servants of the Eilencia Ducal Family often said that years from now, when Sirien stepped into high society, she would captivate the hearts of men across the empire.

They weren’t wrong.

In the novel, Sirien was depicted without sugarcoating her cruelty, yet many men were enchanted by her beauty and willingly became her followers.

The original female protagonist was a gentle and warm sunflower. Sirien, however, was portrayed as a beautiful but dangerous poison.

The illustrations reflected this as well. A finely crafted beauty with pure white skin. But the background was always dark, never without bloodstains.

“Have you ever slept outside the castle, Razen?”

“I have.”

“When?”

“Probably when I joined the knights for training.”

“How was it? Tell me, tell me.”

That Sirien wasn’t someone who could wear such a beautiful and innocent smile.

“It wasn’t easy. It was training after all. The senior knights did look out for me, but I was already exhausted. As soon as it was time to sleep, I just passed out.”

“Well, you do fall asleep as soon as you hit the bed.”

“How would you know that?”

“Um... The nanny told me!”

“Really? Well, I guess the nanny would know.”

Sirien stretched.

The way her cheeks were squished by her arms looked quite cute.

“Ugh, I miss the nanny. I wonder if everyone’s doing well.”

“We can go see them in ten days.”

“Yeah. Let’s definitely do that.”

As we chatted, the sun, which seemed to linger, had almost completely set.

I was worried Sirien might have trouble sleeping in a new place, but she fell asleep before even the first verse of the lullaby was over.

A long yet short span of ten days.

For those ten days, we lived fully yet uneventfully, passing the time with playful laughter.

And Count Roxen never came.

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