After finding a relatively out of the way bush to go behind, Colson discovered a new problem that he had never considered before.
Just how was he supposed to go to the bathroom while wearing light plate armor!?
No matter how he looked at it, this wasn't going to be possible while wearing the lower half of his armor. In the end, he could only resign himself to unbuckling his leg armor to do his business.
Fortunately, he was only wearing light plate armor that could be buckled and unbuckled without the help of others. Colson shuddered to think about if he had been wearing heavy armor which would require someone else, typically a squire, to help him put on. Would that mean that he would need to take someone with him every time he needed to go to the bathroom?
Inconvenience aside, he had to admit that this light plating was indeed far better than the leather clothing he had before. That was because as Colson was pulling up his pants, he suddenly sensed danger from behind him, whirled around, and blocked a sword attack aimed directly at him with his armor's armguard!
"Oh? Not bad for a guard in the Hart army. Didn't expect that you would notice me coming." Colson saw a tall brown-haired man with a slash scar across his face holding a curved sword in one hand while scratching his face with the other.
"Quite surprising, really." Dega mused to himself rather than continuing to press the attack. "Although it's partially due to that armor you have on, I didn't expect you to really survive that... but this is better."
His voice suddenly turned cold as his face contorted with a dangerous look in his eyes as he slid his hand through his curly brown hair. This man seemed to exude a newfound aura of violence and foreboding, which was actually the effect of one of Dega's skills, [Intimidation].
He seemed like the most stereotypical type of villain right now! There was also the fact that Colson had just been attacked for no apparent reason by a man that he didn't even know, right after he finished going to the bathroom. Although he has pulled up his pants, Colson hadn't even had the chance to re-equip his leg armor yet.
"Who the hell are you supposed to be!? Why did you attack me!?" Colson asked the first questions that came to his mind.
Dega grinned widely, as if he was proud of himself. He then pointed his free left hand's thumb at himself. "Hahahaha, you don't even know who I am? I should be on the most wanted list in the Hart Domain! The name's Dega Stormwell!"
However, his grin soon disappeared as his gaze hardened. "Now then, shall we get down to business? You're just simply unlucky to have ventured out here by yourself without the company of all your guard buddies to back you up. Not so tough in a one-on-one fight now, are we? Actually, I probably could have got in a much better attack against you had I ambushed you while you were still in the middle of doing your business. I just thought it would be far too awkward if you turned around and started spraying everywhere if I did so." Dega wrinkled his nose disdainfully.
So this had something to do with the guards? Colson was still confused about just why he had been attacked, but he understood one part quite clearly – this Dega individual just said that he was a member of the most wanted list in the Hart domain. This clearly meant that Dega was a dangerous criminal who needed to be taken down!
A fire lit up in Colson's eyes as he imagined himself playing the hero and saving the day. 'This is it. Rid the world of scourges, protect the people, following Gramp's footsteps….This was what he lived for!'
Blood started rushed through his head, and his heart started palpitating at a faster pace. 'This man must be nothing more than a coward who only knew how to play small tricks and attack from behind. How can I possibly lose!'
"Rahhh!" Colson unsheathed his longsword and charged directly at his opponent in a straight line, activating his [Stab] skill in the process. If it was a fight he wanted, a fight he would get!
But for the bandit leader, this direct attack which possessed no feints whatsoever was incredibly easy to read. Dega deftly sidestepped and chopped down with his curved sword against Colson's longsword, intending to knock it out of the latter's hands.
*Clang!* With an ear-piercing rattle of metal against metal, sparks flew, and a gasp of pain was heard.
Colson flew back a short distance. Although he slammed his foot forward to abruptly pivot his body and counterattack the incoming blade, he still had to jump back by reflex. His sword arm felt a numb sensation from the impact, and as he turned and flew back with a slightly broken posture, he was forced to grip his sword with both hands in order to not drop it.
"[Arc Slash]!" However, using his remaining momentum and the force of his opponent's attack, he spun around and used a sword skill!
"Oh? You're just full of surprises for a greenhorn brat, aren't ya?" Dega commented while activating [Raid] to increase his speed to dodge the arc-shaped mana-infused shockwave that Colson's sword sent out.
"But…." Dega added as he appeared by Colson's side. The latter was still recovering from the stagger of having swung with his own sword full force to launch the mana-infused sword skill. "All of you are too weak!!"
*Clang!* Dega slashed and aimed for Colson's currently unguarded thigh that was only covered by light leggings. However, Colson managed to prevent Dega's curved sword from connecting with flesh by ducking and rolling on the ground, so that his upper half's armor absorbed the blow. Still, the point of impact hurt like hell and Colson was noticeably wincing as he got up again.
The brown-haired bandit narrowed his eyes. "Hahahah…. Don't you bastards like to act high and mighty? Don't you sh*ts like claiming to enforce that damned Count's laws and think of yourselves as our betters?" Dega's voice oozed with rage and bloodthirst as he slowly walked to Colson, his laughter full of derision and budding rage.
His footsteps stopped, while Colson took some distance in wariness. "So….how does it feel to be on the side of those played with?....Still think yourself as all great and mighty?" Dega clenched his teeth and once again stepped towards the half-kneeling Colson.
The crackling pops of bones resounded as Dega's grip tightened on his sword and his eyes narrowed. "Hahaha, really, all you sh*ts should just die!"
Colson heard the words filled with cold yet burning malice, his hairs rising as a shiver pass through his back. This feeling made him recall how he felt this sense of danger when he was forced to fight against grandfather or a difficult monster.
'I can't allow such a dangerous man to run around while Milady and the town's citizens are still here!' Colson's abrupt thoughts and past experience awoke him from further spiraling thoughts. With such a man carrying malicious intent against the Hart Household, he couldn't rest easy if nothing was done.
"Haaa," Colson gave a deep exhale as he discarded needless thoughts. No matter what, he just needed to ensure the well being of his lady. Placing his left hand on to the ground, he started to stand back up.
"Shah!!" Instead of fully taking a stance, he dashed into another charge against the criminal. One foot stepped in front of the other, with his sword stabbing towards Dega's heart.
"Pathetic." Hearing the criminal's word filled with disdain, he saw Dega's sword parry his blade before trying to riposte with a horizontal Slash to his neck.
"Kuh!" However, Colson already responded by circling his sword back to the inside/chest area the moment he saw the parry. Using the moment of the blocked attack, he stepped and leaned to Dega's side as he swung an overhead diagonal slash at the waist.
"Haaa," Dega blocked this blow as well. He then pivoted his body and sent a front kick with his back right leg.
Colson quickly chose to charge forward again and slam his shoulder against the kick before the leg is fully extended. "Guh," Resisting the numbing sensation, he jumped back as Dega's blade barely missed him. A small cut of blood flowed with a scatter of hair in the winds.
"Huk," Ignoring this, Colson charged back and attack. Exchanging as many moves as possible, he could only rely on his armor parts to take some hits. He has to take advantage of his armor to brave the dangers.
*Clang* *ding* *clang* *shiin* "Haah!" Delivering a downward slash yet having it blocked, raged continued to overflow as Dega watched the boy flew backwards and slightly staggered. His armor and clothing have scratches and dents all around him. A cold glint shone from his eyes.
"Enough playing around." Exerting greater speed again, Dega swiftly closed the distance made by Colson with murderous intent radiating through his own eyes.
"Die…." He swung diagonally upwards, managing to slash across Colson's cuirass from the lower left to the upper right despite his quick reaction. Sparks and metal fragments flew as Colson rolled towards across the ground. "...for crime of being one of the Count's lackeys in all his tyranny."
"I'm not one of the Count's lackeys!" Colson protested. He quickly pushed himself up while breathing roughly, a long tear with several cracks ran through his armor. "My liege even told me to think about just what it is that I can do!" If his lady really disregarded him as a mere tool, she wouldn't ask him to think on his own. He may not know about the normal rules and methods of the nobility, but he at least knew about Mia Hart.
Despite his spirited protesting, he still nervously focused all attention on Dega's every movement. This was a strong opponent that he had never encountered the likes of before!
Colson's earlier move, [Arc Slash], was the most powerful attack in his arsenal. Although it was just a basic AOE skill with no additional effects whatsoever, it cost 10 mana, which was a significant drain on his small mana pool of 24 points. He could use it only twice at most and at the cost of hardly being able to invoke any other skills afterwards.
Yet, this villainous-appearing scar-faced man had been able to dodge his surprise use of [Arc Slash], which had a wide AOE effect to begin with. Even worse, despite being blinded by rage, his experience and swordplay allowed him to suppress him to this extent. He really is too dangerous of an enemy.
"[Arc Slash]!" Colson swung his sword at Dega yet again.
'[Arc Slash] again?' Dega frowned as he activated Raid once more and flashed to the side. From the fighting so far, he could tell that Colson was several levels below him in both the figurative and literal sense. As such, with every indication being that this red-haired boy was in a normal [Swordsman] job class, the boy would be limited in mana pool and couldn't possibly sustain the activation of any powerful skills too many times. He knew this already, yet…
"Damn it, he was just bluffing me, and I fell for it?" Dega cursed under his breath when no shockwave passed to his side as he expected. It had only been a ruse!
Colson took this opportunity to put some distance between the two of them and slightly catch his breath. This was actually a trick that he "borrowed" from Mia!
When against an evidently much stronger opponent, even the powerful could potentially be caught off guard by shouting out the name of a technique that wasn't actually used in the end.
Truth be told, Colson wasn't quite at the level where he could actually cast most skills without vocalizing them out loud. As most others, he had to call out [Arc Slash]'s name to assist him in concentrating and activating the skill without lowering its output. Nonetheless, faking it and simply shouting the technique's name was rather simple enough to do. Although he earned a slight respite, that still wasn't going to solve this problem before him.
Dega decided to settle this as swiftly as possible before the loud sounds of fighting attracted any unwanted attention from the other guards. Once again, he cursed under his breath at his own supposed teammates. Just where were the other bandits when he needed them?
Dega continued with his power-focused approach to overwhelm his opponent. He rushed forward under the buff effect from [Raid] and placed his body's full weight into the next swing of his sword, not caring if Colson was able to block the blow or not.
Colson's hands were still somewhat shaky from earlier impact that almost knocked his sword out of his hands, and his whole arm was starting to numb or sting. With how things were progressing, he didn't dare to block this with a parry.
"[Arc Slash]!" He could only hope to bring out his strongest skill one more time.
Dega ignored this [Arc Slash], no longer caring if it was a bluff or not. So what if it was real? He had the [Savagery] skill which would boost his prowess upon being injured, and he now wanted to end this battle as quickly as possible.
He wanted each of those scum to suffer before they die….to quell the anger and regret...for his family, for those countless friends and innocents…. However, he had time to be slightly shocked at his opponent, which in turn helped him to cool down slightly.
The fight had gone on long enough as is. He would have more opportunities in the future. As for his current target, he already got a good sense of the kid's combat strength. Even if he took a real [Arc Slash] head on, at most, the injuries wouldn't be too troublesome.
To his slight surprise, the [Arc Slash] attack was real this time. However, Dega didn't even flinch as he sliced right through it and landed a clean hit on Colson's left shoulder, leaving a visible dent in the armor!
Colson felt a sharp pain in his left shoulder as his entire left arm finally went numb and unresponsive. Knocked off balance, Colson ended up falling backwards onto the ground. Dega immediately took this opportunity to knock away Colson's sword.
"Give up, greenhorn. You're still too young to be a match for me." Dega checked his own status in the meantime and saw that the [Arc Slash] that hit him had surprisingly inflicted over 30 points of damage. Truthfully, his own armor was more damaged than he thought after taking that last collision and will likely need to be replaced or repaired sooner than he would have guessed. To make things worse, he didn't notice when, but the kid managed to stabbed a small bit into his thigh.
'Was it when I cut his armor?' Dega frowned. Although it was not fatal, he took away a portion of his speed and mobility which helped to save his life during the last strike. It seems like he allowed his emotions to really overcome him too carelessly this time. Even so...
"If it wasn't for your armor, you'd already be dead several times over." Dega stared down as he readied his sword. "Hmph, maybe, I should take a second look into getting one of those Slime Armor things for myself. Seems more reliable than this hunk of metal, no matter how good its protection."
"Wait… Slime Armor!? You!!!....Why do you know about Milady Mia Hart!?" Colson noticed an important detail that the bandit let slip as his chest clenched in fear.
"Oh? You know her and that Slime Armor she has? I'm actually working under her orders, don't you know? She was the one who said that it was time to cleanse the guards of their rampant corruption!" Dega paused in contemplation as he wondered why this red-haired boy also knew about Mia and Whimsy. Wasn't Whimsy supposed to have been a secret?
Meanwhile, as for the topic of their conversation, Mia was currently preoccupied with checking out what was going on with the commotion. She had an ominous premonition – were things going to turn into a full-scale riot, with how worked up the crowd was getting?
There were far too many dots in her mental minimap for her to keep track of. While she was aware of Dega's current location, that wasn't where her focus was currently.
One dot seemed to be approaching her swiftly, yet try as she might to strain her eyes, Mia couldn't actually physically see anyone that was coming right at her. Not only that, the blue tinge on her mental minimap indicated that this person also possessed at least some low-tier items or equipment, rather than just being someone normal with nothing special at all. Just what was going on?
But Mia didn't have to think on this topic for much longer, as she was suddenly stabbed from the back with a knife right when this dot got next to her.
Sorry for the late chapter guys, I was down with a nasty cold.
The Mia Chapters should resume as previous from now on.
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