Brendel lowered his head and his brown eyes constricted, bit by bit. His gaze was as still as a lake, but they glinted with some light. One hand was hidden underneath his jacket and the exposed left hand drooped naturally. Those pale and slender fingers were like daggers. The knuckles were thin, like bones, but there was power in them as they curled up.
That was the hand of an excellent swordsman.
He stared intently at Princess Gryphine standing nearby. The look in his eyes was complicated.
“… Tea-teacher?” Haruz looked up, his face pale. He reached out a hand and made a weak grabbing motion as if he wanted to grab the Brendel’s hand that held the sword. Instead, he grabbed onto Brendel’s left wrist; Haruz knew that underneath Brendel’s jacket, Brendel’s hand probably already grasped the unadorned cross-like hilt — the black blade of the Staff of Earth is fast asleep, sheathed in the scabbard decorated in the style of the Dwarves. It was controlled by a calming influence.
Haruz looked up and those gentle eyes opened wide. A thin layer of sweat covered his forehead as he looked in shock at his teacher. He shook his head violently and his features were almost pleading as he said, “No-no, that’s…”
He had seen, with his own eyes, how Brendel killed. Their opponents had been a group of cult members they encountered during their journey. The Count he knew, his teacher, had drastically changed from his usual gentle and calm demeanor into this persona, cold as a drawn blade, just like right now.
He saw how his teacher turned into an emotionless executioner during battle. Every sword strike would take away a life, as easily as cutting the stumps of grass on a practice field. In the little prince’s memory, only one other person came close to that during battle. Maynild. But the female knight was nowhere near as skilled when it came to sword-wielding. Brendel could easily have it slit someone’s throat so that red, the color of roses, flooded across the platinum of the metal.
The air that got sucked into the exposed windpipe mingled with the clots of blood that kept welling out from the throat, the sight of the lifeless body falling onto the ground, and the muffled sound of something heavy collapsing against the earth. Brendel’s eyes were as cold then as they were now, like metal. That was the sword art of a soldier, Brendel had once said. Haruz shivered in his heart.
He looked back at his sister — though she had many differences than the sister in his memory, she was more mature and more beautiful but also more authoritative. But that was her sister after all and Haruz would never mistake her for someone else. He suddenly remembered all the things that Brendel had cautioned him before and the fear grew stronger and stronger in his heart, quietly creeping in through the crevices like a vine along the wall.
No matter what, he refused to see his sister dying by the hands of his teacher.
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