The precedent set by Lucas was important.—Those who watched Lucas’ duel understood that there was nothing wrong with committing a foul. And obviously, people did everything they could to survive one minute in the duel.
72nd duel—The giant man screamed and swung his great sword. However, a big move was unlikely to work against Roman, and as such, after his sword cut through the air, he picked up a stone from the ground and threw it toward Roman’s face—It was a surprise attack.
Roman turned his head to the side to avoid the stone, and then he kicked the man, who was about to attack again, in the face.
His blood spattered all over the ground. Then, his pupils loosened, and he fell to the ground right on his face.
A foul was not a condition for elimination. However, the moment someone crossed the line, Roman ended them. In that respect, Lucas was clever—If Lucas had not given up in the duel, Roman’s sword might have broken his body.
Naturally, the test continued.
80th turn, 90th turn, and the 100th, as well—Even though the applicants kept on coming, no one could hold out until the one minute Roman mentioned. From a certain moment, even those who were smiling at the rules of the second test looked at Roman with a shocked face. The current situation didn’t make even a little bit of sense. Roman had spent over an hour fighting a hundred duels. Even though it would be natural if he had ragged breathing, Roman was still showing stable breathing as if he was fighting for the first time. His physical stress was not visible at all.
Naturally, such a scene was nightmarish to the applicants, and they couldn’t even dare to think of winning now as they knew that the test would end soon.
They didn’t know about Roman—He had created a mountain of corpses and a sea of blood.
At the edge of death, no one shows you mercy. If you can’t manage your breathing, your movements will naturally become sluggish, and then you will be just another corpse lying on the floor.
That’s why Baek Joong-hyuk learned how to fight till the end—Breathe in and exhale—The natural mana obtained through breathing in a continuous process circulated inside the body and properly got rid of the fatigue of the body.
Roman’s body is still weak.
It was natural for 100 duels to be physically burdensome, but after taking proper care of his body, which had become stronger due to the body transformation, Roman proceeded with the duels as if he was fighting the first duel.
This is a fight without mana.—As Baek Joong-hyuk, who fought for three days and three nights straight during his conquest of Murim, his stamina could not be exhausted by such a light battle. Honestly, the applicants were utterly wrong. They thought that delaying their turn would give them an advantage, but Roman did not falter even a bit—Thus, the fear crushed their hearts.
The last applicant—It was the 120th duel. He went to the stage with a face that had already accepted defeat, and didn’t even last ten seconds, let alone a minute—as everyone expected. With a single blow, the applicant was on his knees. Seeing his wooden sword break with just a single strike, he voluntarily declared he would surrender.
Now, the test was over. And when the 120th duel’s conclusion was reached, people looked up at Roman bewilderedly. “…What the hell are we looking at?” They couldn’t understand it even after seeing it themselves. Roman Dmitry—his change was beyond their comprehension.
All the test takers had lost to Roman. Nevertheless, defeat did not mean elimination. Chris sent all the desperate applicants back and announced that he would declare the results two days later.
The next day, Roman handed over the list of successful applicants to Chris.
“This is a list of successful applicants. Starting today, you will take charge of these 30 people and conduct training.”
He received a list. Then, as he turned the first page, he saw a familiar name. ‘He said his name was Volcan, right?’—He was the first challenger in the second test. He was a man who dared to take on a challenge but fell out at once. Although the content of the match was insignificant to most, he was still a person who had enough qualifications to enter the list of the 30 successful applicants.
‘The master must have highly appreciated Volkan’s courage. Even though it was clear as crystal that the 120th person would have an advantage, Volkan challenged him and attempted the first duel without hesitation. And he got destroyed. However, considering his courage and physical condition, he is an exceptionally talented person for a private soldier.’
Chris turned the page. Most of them were understandable. Even if they couldn’t show much performance against Roman, those with a strong will and satisfying conditions passed.
There were also unexpected people. Henderson was an ordinary person. He also managed to pass the first test, but he showed a passive attitude in the match with Roman and was eventually eliminated. So, Chris thought he would be eliminated. Unlike other successful applicants, he had a weak will and body, and there was no reason for him to be included in the list of successful applicants. Still, he accepted his master’s decision. If it was the Roman that he knew, he wouldn’t pick someone without a reason.
However, when he looked at the next page, he had no choice but to ask a question—“Lucas passed as well?”
“I admit that Lucas is a talented B-class mercenary and has enough qualifications. However, he is a cowardly and selfish person. Not only did he commit the foul of throwing a dagger and sprinkling sand during a test-purpose match, but when he thought he lost, he did not fight to the end and declared he would surrender. A person like that will be poisonous to us on the battlefield. He’s a coward who will abandon his comrades. Can the other soldiers trust Lucas and fight?”
Lucas was a typical mercenary—He was the kind of person who gave up his honor and did anything to survive. Obviously, Chris didn’t like that. He had the honor of a knight, and if he had been in the position of Lucas as an applicant, he would not have cried out surrender even if he died. As Chris was the one who would take charge of the soldiers in the future, he wanted to exclude people like Lucas.
Roman said, “That’s why I passed him.”
“…What do you mean?”
“As you said, Lucas may be a cowardly guy who abandoned his comrades. However, in a situation where no one even thought of committing a foul, he was a guy who actually thought about how to deal with me and put it into practice. On the battlefield, that’s the kind of soldier who will shine. They’ll always find a way to live and somehow open up a way for you. Is he a coward for doing what the others didn’t? I never told anyone that foul play was not allowed. He has not done anything to make me lose my trust in him.”
Chris was speechless. Obviously, Roman was right—Lucas only thought realistically, and there was no basis for evaluating his personality yet.
Suddenly, Chris remembered what his teacher, Jonathan, had told him.
“The survivors on the battlefield are not knights who can use auras like you and me. At the juncture of life and death, where blood and screams are common, those who can face the situation and judge it realistically can survive as human beings till the end. So, always keep that in mind, Chris. No matter how strong a swordsman you become in the future, there are always chances of you falling victim to humans who play dirty like hyenas.”
Chris nodded. As Roman said, it was still too early to judge Lucas.
However, he still had a question—“Is there any reason why you have specifically recruited 30 private soldiers this time? 30 people is not a small number, and managing them takes a lot of money and effort. Don’t the Dmitrys also have soldiers and knights?”
Chris’ question was understandable. Five months from now, Roman would leave for the battlefield. However, that was in the future, and there was no reason to prepare for that already. The central government was not a vicious group that recklessly drove the nobles to death just because they had conscripted them.
Conscripted troops—They were only used in emergencies. They usually spend time in the waiting area just before the front line and take on the role of support when dangerous things happen. So, if one is lucky, they can end their military service without fighting a single battle. Roman also didn’t know where he would be deployed, so he had no reason to nurture soldiers.
Moreover, Dmitry was a fringe—As it was an area where battles were not common, it was burdensome to maintain 30 people by giving eight silvers per person from 5 months before the conscription.
Chris—He had served as the deputy commander-in-chief of the Dmitry Knights. As he managed people and knew a little bit of accounting, he realized that handling 30 people wasn’t that simple. It was a question he would have naturally asked someday.
Roman said, “As I announced in front of everyone, I have no intention of staying cooped up on the outskirts and watching from the sidelines. One by one—I plan to climb up by stepping on the things I see in front of me one by one. So, who do you think my immediate enemy is as of now?”
The first goal—When Roman asked about it, Chris immediately thought of someone. ‘No way.’ He didn’t want to believe it. I knew Roman had become aggressive, but I didn’t know he had such dangerous thoughts.
Roman’s death—The cause of that death.
“We will prepare for the war against Barco from now on.”
Then, with the central government’s approval, the Barco family officially issued a statement announcing the start of the war.
“We believed in the promises of the past and waited for Lawrence’s decision. However, they threw the honor of the nobility to the ground and betrayed our trust, and we decided to draw the sword after being patient for a long time. Lawrence’s sin is clear. They did not repay the debt left by their ancestors and showed an attitude that they would not give up the land they had put as collateral. Therefore, through this statement, I will inform the people of the kingdom of Cairo. If Lawrence does not pay off their debts or give us the land that was pledged as collateral within the next week, the Barco family will declare a territorial war against Lawrence with the approval of the central government.”
A territorial war—It was a fierce battle fighting for each other’s things. By obtaining the central government’s approval, the Barco family acquired the justification to declare war on the territory legally. In the aristocratic world, a cause was important—With a cause, the nobles in the North-Eastern part of the kingdom of Cairo would stand by the war between the two.
However, if Roman and Flora’s marriage had not been broken, the Barco family might have moved a little more carefully. For descendants of two families to marry, it meant blood ties. In the world of aristocracy, blood ties gave a strong cause, so even Lawrence’s problem would have been a strong cause to get involved.
However, the marriage was called off. And from now on, it was Lawrence’s turn to pay the price for an impulsive choice.
“I hope you will choose wisely. If you keep your inheritance and don’t take this letter seriously, Barco’s flag will soon be planted in the heart of Lawrence. We don’t want war. However, please do not forget that it is Barco who, if necessary, will become bloodthirsty.”
It was a one-sided notice. Finally, war was approaching.
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