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1-31 Bedlam

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Author: EnroItzal Original Source: Scribble Hub

Being the Sword Saint— former—, appraising a person’s sword skills was second nature to Erin. It became an involuntary response for her that it was actually difficult for her to not appraise a person’s skill with a sword. Without fail, she had successively appraised the skills of everyone she encountered or simply walked past. All it took was a brief glance. That said, Erin was currently thrust with an aberration.

This is curious.

If Erin judged it on normal grounds, Aedan was new to wielding a sword, or at least that was what his stance was conveying. However, Erin knew that to be false despite the evidence. It wasn’t a rule but smiths tend to have the minimum skill in wielding a sword. What’s more, Aedan was a Dragon-kin. No matter how many times Erin re-appraised Aedan, she always got the same incorrigible result. Only his race was laid bare to her appraisal; a transparent “Dragon-kin” overlapping his displayed race. “Dwarrow”.

She didn’t know anything about the Dragons of this world but if she went by her former world’s knowledge, Dragons were the apex for a few good reasons. The prime reason being their versatility. They were quick to adapt to novelties and unexpected circumstances. She remembered hearing a campfire tale. It spoke of a Fire Dragon, who was lured into a field of Ice Magecraft-based traps. The Fire Dragon was overwhelmed by its opposing attribute, at first. Its flame adapted to the Ice Magecrafts and soon, the Dragon’s flame dominated the ice battlefield and gained an overwhelming victory.

That was just how fearsome Dragons were in Erin’s former world. If Aedan, a Demi-human Dragon, was anything like those Dragons, Erin was sure she would lose. Although at the same time, Erin couldn’t be more excited. Ever since her reincarnation, she had yet to find herself a worthy opponent with a blade and Aedan might just be the most suitable step-in for her wishes, for now.

Don’t disappoint me now, Aedan.

Erin bared her grin and lunged with a strike.

“Son of a—!” Aedan shrieked at her sudden movement but he easily parried her blow with only a single hand on his sword.

Oh? You’re good, even though your stance says otherwise. What more are you hiding?

Erin cleaved up but Aedan dodged her blade by a hair’s breadth.

“Oi! Are you trying to kill me?!”

“You jest, Dwarrow.” Erin chuckled. “Like hell I’m capable of that.”

“You— Ah. I see.” His shoulders loosened but his guard didn’t. He parried another blow that seemed to have the potential to carve through his hand. “Cat’s out of the bag, isn’t it?”

Since they are conversing at a volume near whispering, Lyra and Sven couldn’t not pick up their exchange but Nivia would have been able to if she was here.

“Does it matter?” Erin said and thrust at his head.

Aedan slanted his head in response and battered her blade away. “How much did you know?”

“Not much.” Erin stepped forward and slashed in a wide arc. “Just your name and race but that’s enough to make a pretty good guess on what you’re capable of. I thought you were long aware of my knowing.”

Aedan curved her swing and led the slash away from his body. “I had suspicions of your knowing.” Aedan did not riposte the following strike. Instead, he took a few steps back, letting the blade sliced through the empty air.

Erin stuck herself close to Aedan and unleashed a flurry of attacks. Although Aedan’s techniques were hollow and shallow, Erin couldn’t believe how he was swiftly and perfectly defending against each of her strikes. The more apparent that her blade couldn’t reach Aedan’s body, the more exuberant she was becoming. Despair and hopelessness were rarely thoughts that occured in her mind when it came to crossing blades. A stronger opponent to Erin was just a means for improvement of herself.

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“You’re planning to tell everyone?” Aedan asked. He evaded a slash that almost took his ears.

“As long as you don’t commit anything foul, your real identity isn’t my business.”

Aedan caught a blow but the shockwave was transmitted to his body. His guard faltered but he held it up. “And I’m just supposed to take your word for it?”

“I can’t dictate your beliefs but I speak only the truth.” Seeing his solid guard, Erin circled around him and struck from different directions. Contrary to his panicking expression, Erin wasn’t close to even grazing his skin.

“It’s hard to believe that you meant no harm towards me when you’re obviously trying to kill me.” Aedan grimaced and shrilled at a blow that threatened to cleave his head. His groan was audible to reach the ears of the only two audiences.

“Kill you? We’re just sparring though?”

“Oi, don’t give me that bullshit right now, furry tails.” Aedan shouted as a few thrusts came close to scratching his face.

“You’re still unhurt. Therefore, this is still sparring.” Erin’s hand didn’t stop moving as she replied.

“You manic vixen.”

Erin smiled. “I’ll take the compliment.”

Erin couldn’t stop. This was just too thrilling. It was supposed to be a spar but after witnessing how Aedan remained untouched by her attacks, she became exhilarated at the appearance of a worthy opponent. She had long accustomed herself to her new saber but it was now more than just a test swing for her new weapon. This was a duel. This was a test for the current limits of her sword skills.

No way Erin would admit that, not if it meant ending the “spar” soon.

“Why haven’t you retaliated?” Erin asked. She lashed out a few swings that were easily parried. “Do you think I won’t be able to handle your counter strikes?”

“Your lover is boring her gaze into my very soul and a certain Elf would have my manhood if she caught wind that I hurt her fellow kin.”

Erin’s brows twitched. “First of all, Lyra isn’t my lover, currently speaking.” She struck his guard hard. “Second… Well, you might be right about the second one but be a man, would you? Or is that c̲o̲c̲k̲ of yours just a display?”

Aedan scoffed. “Some Fae you are.”

“One of a kind, I might be.” She said and swung hard.

Aedan was able to parry it but Erin coiled her slash and locked their blades in a cross. Their eyes met one anothers’.

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Erin grinned at the grimacing Aedan. “This spar would not end if you don’t go on the offense.”

“Or you could surrender,” he retorted.

“And devoid myself of the chance at experiencing a blow from a legendary race? Not bloody likely. So come on, give it to me.”

Aedan clicked his tongue. “You need a doctor.”

“Well, these past few days have been… straining.”

“Fine then, I’ll sur—”

“If you surrender, I’ll tell the guild.”

Aedan widened his eyes. “Wow. You’re a fox alright.”

Erin smiled wryly.

Maybe this is why I’m reincarnated as a Fox? I sure am sly but how could I forego such an opportunity, a proper “spar” with a legendary race?

“Do you think that would work on me? I know your secrets too, Ninetails.”

“Perhaps but too bad, it ain’t a secret. I’m not trying to hide it but you are.” It wasn’t all bluff. While Erin didn’t want people to know, it wasn’t as if she was actively trying to conceal that secret of hers.

“And they said you’re friendly. What bunch of horseshit of a rumor. You’re so infuriating.”

“I’m well aware of that,” Erin flashed him another grin as she taunted. “Takes one to know one, I guess.”

Unbeknownst to Erin, her taunt worked but just not on her intended target. From the start until now, Lyra’s expression was only further darkening.

Still locked in a cross, Aedan attempted to break out with brute force but Erin’s proficiency with the sword denied him of any attempts to create even a little distance.

Aedan released his grip on his sword. Erin toppled forward with a confounded expression due to the missing repelling force. The sword fell into Aedan’s other hand. He immediately kicked off the ground and drew a gap between them.

“I commend you,” Erin praised as she quickly recollected her balance. “Your movements are smooth and swift but they lack rhythm and tune. You never had any proper practice with a sword?”

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“Why does it matter to you?” He shot.

Hanging her head for a while, Erin replied with a shrug, “nothing, really. Just curious.”

Aedan cast a sidelong glance at the only two audience members. “They looked worried. Shall we end it here?”

“Not until you retaliate.”

“You have some strange perversion but I don’t judge.”

Erin laughed internally. “This is the first time someone called it a perversion.”

“What do they usually call it?”

“Passion.”

It was Aedan’s turn to chuckle. “You’re quite a jester too in addition to being a sword master and a Ninetails.”

“And you’re quite a disappointment, Aedan. I took you for a Dragon not a lizard.”

“Years of peace and flowers can do that to you.”

Erin arched her brows. “Flowers?”

“You won’t get it,” Aedan said and lowered his posture. He raised his sword above his head.

“Finally going to have at me?” Erin went into a stance of her own too. One that heavily emphasized on defense.

“If something happens to you, you better explain it properly to your Elf.”

“Nivia isn’t “my” Elf.”

“She begged to differ.” His grip tightened on the hilt.

“A-Aedan?” Erin heard Sven called out under his breath. She sneaked a glance and saw the horror painted on the Dwarrow’s face.

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Is Aedan really getting serious? But I don’t feel any danger coming from him.

Erin tried to gauge the severity of Aedan’s retaliation but she didn’t feel any threat emanating from him. However, Erin was astonished at his stance. A stance of a form originating from the east. The users of this form wielded a saber-rapier hybrid type of sword. It was the most elegant of all sword techniques. Erin had attempted to imitate the technique but her former robust build just wasn’t compatible with it. But now, that would be a different story.

“Here I come,” Aedan said and lunged.

“Aedan, no!” Sven shouted.

Aedan vanished from everyone’s sights.

“Erin!” Lyra yelled out in anguish. She couldn’t see Aedan either but his stance told Lyra enough on what his actions and disappearance entailed.

A wave of menace assailed all of Erin’s senses. It was crushing her from all sides. It reminded her of her final moments before succumbing to her last defeat as Argon Raze. However, Erin wasn’t perturbed in the least. This was after all, a norm to the former Sword Saint. Long before she achieved that title, failure was a friend and a teacher. Which was why Erin was able to keep her calm. She steeled her screaming nerves. She focused her eyes in front of her, without the slightest deviation.

And…. now!

Erin moved.

She caught his blow but it was too heavy to be taken with her guard. Sparks flew and an ear-splitting noise resonated from the grazing clash. She pivoted her sword, guided the strike away, and reeled in the sword along with the assaulter. She stepped forward and let her sword flow with its rhythm.

Just like that, Erin had managed to parry Aedan’s blow and broke through his guard. Her blade continued to travel but she stopped it right before it carved into Aedan’s neck.

I won.

She declared so in her heart.

[Experience gained +15% – Level Progression: 72%]

What the… this is even more than slaying a single monster.

Unaware of her audience’s and opponent’s reaction, Erin mulled over the amount of experiences she gained.

Sven gagged at his surprise from witnessing a pseudo-miracle.

Lyra gasped with her eyes spanned to their limits.

“You’re good, really good,” Aedan praised without looking the least bit frustrated at his apparent loss.

“Were you trying to kill me?” Erin asked sarcastically.

“Just returning the favor in kind.” He reined in his sword and relaxed his stance. “I have not seen a swordsmanship this refined ever since Astoria.”

“A-Astoria?” Erin raised her brows. “Astoria Stormedge? You know her?”

Aedan shrugged as he stretched his neck. “For a time,” he answered.

“Lassie, are you alright?” Sven asked immediately after he ran over to the two. Before Erin could even answer, he turned to Aedan and dropped a fist down on his head. “You brat! You could have killed her!”

Aedan said nothing in return but simply stared at his own feet.

“Erin, are you not hurt?” Lyra also came over with a worried look. She fussed over Erin’s body with her hands but she was stopped when her hands gave in to the temptation.

“I’m fine, Lyra,” Erin assured. “In fact, I feel great.”

Lyra wasn’t sure how she should respond to that. She was glad Erin was unhurt but the smile she had— it frustrated Lyra to no end. It was unacceptable that she wasn’t the one who caused it. She turned and glared at the red-haired Dwarrow, incurring a pinch in the ear from Erin.

“O-ouch!!” She shrilled. “What was that for?”

“I should be asking you that.” Erin peered.

“You know exactly what that was.” Lyra peered back.

Erin sighed. She knew there were no words that could convince her. Without asking, Erin pulled Lyra into an embrace, stunning the short-hair girl into silence.

“E-Erin? D-didn’t you say you don’t have such preferences? A-and there are others w-watching…” Lyra’s voice trailed off.

Erin parted from her. “Now you know how I feel whenever you act up.”

“Act up?” Lyra frowned. “I’m no child.”

“Hmm.”

Lyra scoffed. She leaned forward with a smirk. “Have you forgotten who taught you the ways of being a woman.”

A yelped almost escaped through her lips but Erin fought it down. “Lyra, if we’re continuing our acquaintance, I implore you to rethink your habits and conducts.”

“Wow, you’re rigid. What changed?”

“I was just being considerate back then. Now that we’re close— relatively, I’m comfortable in speaking to you with such a tone.”

“Close, eh…” Lyra snorted. “Fine then, I guess I can let this go.”

Erin sighed in resignation.

“Lassie?” Sven called out.

Erin turned around. “Master Sven. I hope you can forgive me for going over the line.”

“Ah, no no. It’s alright. I’m just glad that my sword is on par with your skills. As long as the customer is satisfied with the product, all is well. However, I have to apologize for my brother. He went overboard.”

“All is well, as you said, Master Sven. Your brother and I are both at fault but I trust you’ll be lenient with your brother. I’m honored to be able to have such a gainful exchange. Your brother taught me a lot.”

Sven laughed. “Thank you for your kind words, Lady Erin.”

Aedan let out a groan and an eye-roll in the back.

“L-lady?” Erin stuttered at her new title.

“Why not?” Sven snickered. “You earned it, milady.”

“Lady Erin…” Lyra mused. “I like it.”

Erin felt like refusing but she didn’t want to come off as rude after receiving what was presumably compliment and praise of a tremendous degree.

“Hey!” Sven gestured at Aedan. “Give your gratitude too.”

Sensing the futility in refusing, Aedan relented. “Thank you for your tolerance and the exchange, Lady Erin.”

“See? That wasn’t so hard,” Sven said and patted Aedan in the back. Well, it was more of a smack from Erin’s perspective but being a Dragon-kin, Erin was sure Aedan should be fine.

“That was a good display, Master Aedan.” Erin extended her hand.

Spurred by Sven, Aedan reluctantly took it and shook her hand. He glimpsed briefly at Lyra, who was working hard in suppressing her outrageous jealousy.

“I hope we can spar again in the future.” Erin grinned.

“I hope not,” Aedan retorted, unamused.

Sven guffawed. “Hah! What a miracle! You managed to rattle him. I’m truly amazed, milady. It’s a shame that you’re not into men. You two would have been great together.” The Dwarrow laughed, leaving the rest in a state of bedlam.

Erin dropped her jaws at such a statement. She couldn’t come up with any response.

Aedan frowned with an affronted glare directed towards his brother.

With that as the breaking point, it started a whole other quandary with Lyra as the impetus.

It was already noon when Erin finally began her quest.

Erinthea – Faerie-kin: Three-Tailed Fox-kin

Level: 10 | Status: Mildly Exhausted

Might: 19 | Arcane: 15 | Finesse: 14

Magic Arts – Spirit Magic Lv. 6 | Arcane Edge Lv. 2 | Arcane Armor Lv. 5

Combat Arts – Sword Art Lv. 6 | Fleet Foot Lv. 5 | Brawler Lv. 4

Innate Skills – Appraisal Lv. Ex | Night Vision Lv. Ex | Sixth Sense Lv. Ex | Toxin Resistance Lv. 1 | Lust Deviant Lv. Ex

Unique Talent – Mystic Blade Lv. Ex

Level Progression: 72%

Remaining Skill Points: 2

Remaining Ability Points: 2


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