A Returner’s Magic Should Be Special - Chapter 196: The Beginning of a Plan (5)
“Nice to meet you. Remember how I said we’d meet again soon?”
Hersaint-Blanc was nowhere to be seen when Desir came out after the meeting, and instead there was someone who Desir had met yesterday waiting for him.
It was Swan Katarina.
She casually offered a handshake.
“My name is Swan Katarina. I’m the archer of the Royal Guard.”
Desir replied as he reached out to her hand.
“Pleasure to meet you. I’m Desir Arman who will serve as the mage.”
To his reply, Swan looked at Desir with surprise.
“I like your confidence. I’ll directly guide you to the drill hall where the battle will be held so follow me.”
They walked the Palace’s hallway side by side.
“You know, sometimes I just don’t understand what His Majesty is thinking. Not even in my dreams could I imagine him recruiting a commoner student as the Royal Guard.”
Swan turned back.
“Oh, don’t take that the wrong way. It’s not that I have any doubt in your capability. It’s because a student joining the Royal Guard has never happened before.”
Desir understood what she meant.
The title of Royal Guard was just as heavy and significant as the privileges it offered. The fact that a young student, a commoner at that, was joining the Royal Guard, was something that could cause a lot of conflicts.
“Well, that’s why there was also some internal debate within the Royal Guard about whether to accept you. We agreed since Your Majesty was so stubborn about it, but Raphaello… … still has his own opinion about it.”
Passing back through the security gate, the guard returned an object to Desir. He quickly inspected it, and slipped it back into his pocket, where it fit snugly.
“He must want to completely verify me. He’s a really thorough person after all.”
Swan looked at Desir with a pair of sharp eyes and asked.
“… … do you know Raphaello personally?”
Desir played dumb.
“There isn’t anyone who doesn’t know about the Sword Grand Master Raphaello after all. He’s also well-known in the media too.”
“Good point. That guy’s definitely just as famous as you are.”
Swan continued on.
“Well, don’t think it’s just a superficial match held for that kind of reason. If you fail to get his approval, it’s better to think that even if His Highness wills it, joining the group would be impossible.”
Shortly after, they arrived at a gigantic drill hall.
Desir got a rough sense of the scale of privilege the Royal Guard had from the fact that they were able to use a place this large inside the royal palace.
“This is the place where the captain and you will have a match.”
Desir could feel a large surge of mana surrounding the drill hall. It was an incredibly powerful defensive spell.
‘There’s an Aurora system set up here.’
Desir had heard from Zod that the Hebrion Empire was also implementing an Aurora System, but he didn’t imagine it would be set up in a place like this.
The Aurora system was a defensive device designed to protect against spells above the Sixth-Circle.
Furthermore, when it was used in a fixed installation like this, it demonstrated even superior defensive ability compared to the portable version.
Just when he thought that implementing such a defensive system in a mere training hall was overdoing it, Desir discovered many scars of battle left on it.
“Seems like you Royal Guards train really intensely… … ”
“Cause everyone’s so capable, they’re really competitive about it.”
Following the footsteps of someone arriving at the drill hall, a voice could be heard.
“You got here first, Swan.”
Desir turned around.
A man with golden hair as bright as the sun entered the drill hall.
The man’s jade eyes met with Desir’s.
The current Sword Grand Master, and captain of the Royal Guard.
He looked so much younger than Desir remembered. His hairstyle was different and his face was clean and scarless.
The memories he shared with him briefly flashed by as Desir stood there staring blankly.
“And you are Desir Arman?”
“It’s an honor to meet you, Raphaello Cheringer.”
But those memories now only belonged to Desir. They were created in a timeline that never occurred here. No matter what happened now, those memories would never manifest, not with how much Desir’s actions had changed the world. That thought made Desir a bit sad.
Casually, just like he had done to everyone he met up to now, he greeted Raphaello, pretending as if they had never met before.
Raphaello smiled and shook the hand Desir offered.
“Same here. It’s an honor to meet the Shy Hero.”
Desir thought that despite the difference in his appearance, his humorous personality stayed the same.
“I assume you’ve heard from His Majesty?”
“I’ve heard that I need your approval in order to join the Royal Guard.”
“So, do you have the confidence to gain my approval?”
Desir shook his head.
“Truthfully, no. If we were to fight here, it would end in my defeat.”
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Even among those who reached King Class and stood firmly outside the realm of mankind, Raphaello was praised as the Sword Grand Master for his supernatural mastery over the blade.
In a drill hall without anywhere to conceal himself, it was apparent that Desir would be slashed without a chance to even cast his magic.
It was reasonable, but Raphaello pointed something out.
“If we fought ‘here’? Meaning you could win if we fought some other place?”
“… … ”
As Desir stayed silent, Raphaello smiled as if amused.
“Well, that’s fine. I wouldn’t be so unfair to demand one-on-one combat with you. Let’s take it easy, shall we?”
Raphaello picked up one of the steel bars piled up in a corner of the drill hall, and planted it deep within the center of the room.
“Try to break this bar, and I will protect it. If the bar breaks in under ten minutes, it’s your victory. How about it, simple enough?”
Raphaello served as the shield of the Royal Guard. It meant that he was approved by the Emperor as the single best person in the entire Empire at defending.
“It’s worth trying.”
While protecting the steel bar, Raphaello’s movement would be significantly restrained. He would be able to perform his role as the shield but would struggle to go on the offense.
Desir nodded before speaking again.
“Good. Let’s get started then.”
Raphaello took out his sword and shield as he positioned himself in front of the metal stick. Desir stood slightly away from him.
As the atmosphere of battle set in, Swan tapped on Desir’s back and whispered in his ear.
“Do your best to serve him right. I’ll treat you good if you manage to wrinkle that smug face of his.”
‘So they’re in a rivalry.’
As Swan walked out of the drill hall, Raphaello spoke as he stretched.
“It’s fine to use whatever means you have hidden up your sleeve. After all, being a Royal Guard means doing anything for the Emperor, no matter the cost.”
“Then I won’t hold back.”
Desir reached into his pocket and once more fished out an object.
An A-Tier artifact made out of the strongest metal, Blankšum.
Desir’s shield and weapon that detected any danger to himself and moved without his conscious guidance.
The silver sphere hovered around him.
Spontaneously, Desir began calculating a spell. It unfolded immediately in front of him.
Desir had completely adapted to his new Fourth-Circle, in no small part due to the training with Radoria and Kelt.
Static electricity arced everywhere and lightning bore down inside the drill hall.
As one of the higher tier spells amongst the Fourth Circle, Giga Lightning had the power to easily melt steel.
But Raphaello didn’t seem to dodge the attack. By simply raising his shield while firmly planting his feet, he easily defended against Desir’s spell.
‘That wasn’t even close, huh?’
Desir’s calculation continued.
Combinations of various types of elemental magic rained down on the steel bar.
But no magic could pierce through Raphaello’s shield;his defense couldn’t be any sturdier. Every attack was nullified by a simple repositioning of his shield.
Just when Desir was about to continue casting his magic.
A sharp noise spread throughout the drill hall. It was the sound of a shockwave from Runel and Raphaello’s aura colliding.
Solely focused on defense until now, he switched gear and started making his own moves.
“It wouldn’t be fair if I just stood here taking hits, don’t you think?”
Raphaello’s attack continued.
His sword emanated a powerful aura that continually battered Desir.
It was the only attack he could use while restrained, but it had the power to break the limit of what Runel could handle.
[Binder of Earth]
A spell that had the best defensive ability amongst the Fourth-Circle spells. The ground twisted and formed a wall around Desir.
But the wall couldn’t block the attack at all and was instantly cut open.
A Fourth-Circle defensive spell could only reduce the power of the sword aura Raphaello was wielding. Runel was barely able to block such an attack, despite having its power significantly reduced.
Once Raphaello switched to offense, Desir was unable to cast any offensive spells.
Raphaello spoke with an immensely disappointed voice.
“That’s it? A whole three minutes spent on defending?”
At this pace, Raphaello’s complete stomp was guaranteed.
Just when Raphaello became confident of his victory and lowered his guard slightly, something entered his vision.
“… … ?”
There was a silhouette of something forming on the other side, only visible due to the cracks in the wall.
“A magic… … spell?”
It was different from any spells Desir had cast thus far. It had an incomparably sophisticated form and was both elegant and beautiful.
As he spaced out looking at the magic unfolding before his eyes, the spell was about halfway completed.
Raphaello’s face stiffened.
“It’s still too early to be disappointed, Mr. Raphaello.”
‘This one’s dangerous.’
Having determined that, Raphaello concentrated all of his aura in covering his whole body to prepare for the impact.
No, that wasn’t nearly enough. He raised his shield. All his aura flooded towards the shield, forming a turbulent sphere around it. Soon after, the aura compressed and took form in the shape of three runes.
It was a unique defensive skill possessed by just the current Sword Grand Master, Raphaello Cheringer.
He, who hadn’t put in his best effort until now, finally began to use his full power to seriously focus on defense.
An intense wave of flame churned around Raphaello, and unbearable heat radiated throughout the drill hall, threatening to spill into the rest of Leonhardt Palace.
After a very long few seconds, the storm died down and Raphaello appeared amongst a cloud of dust.
“… … ”
The metal stick was still in good shape, but there was no composure left on Raphaello’s face.
On the contrary, Des1r seemed to be relaxed.
“This is just the beginning.”
Chapter brought to you by Kevin K.