TL: Last chapter to go.
Chapter 81 – Difficulty
Maher and Jocah got upset when Brendel refused to accept Cohen’s offer, especially when the sickly youth’s hands grasping the bars slid down as though he had given up. Even if they were freed and went outside, it was a fact that they had caused this incident.
The conclusion was almost certain death for all of them even if they got out. If Cohen and the other youths could not be freed, they intended to stay behind.
Maher was especially vindictive against Brendel. The latter was at least a noble, and probably someone of considerable importance because of his combat skills. If it was not for him, they would not have been imprisoned.
[If that bastard loses, it’s all worth it. Getting trapped with all of us is worth it to get back at him.]
Brendel was secretly thankful that the announcer gave him extra time. Perhaps winning the sword was the reason. He turned towards Romaine and said:
“Romaine, we will leave the stage. When the announcer asks you the question again, raise your hand and say that you’re giving up, do you understand?”
“Y-yes. Brendel, did I do something wrong?” Romaine asked again.
“…… No. I think that trying to do the right thing and failing is better than doing the wrong things to do the right thing.”
Cohen suddenly shouted: “Mister Brendel, catch!”
Two cards left the sickly youth’s hands and were flung to Brendel’s direction. The latter turned around, saw his actions and waved his hand. A wind carried the two cards and allowed the cards to land on his hands.
“Are you crazy!” Maher looked at Cohen’s actions in disbelief.
But Cohen gave a satisfied smile at Brendel’s confused reaction and said:
“Mister Brendel, I don’t exactly know why you came here. Given your skills, I’m sure that you will be highly regarded anywhere, even if you’re not a noble. Why would the silver mines interest you? It doesn’t seem like you came here specifically for rare crystals or to challenge this strange place……”
“But I believe you are destined for greatness.”
“I don’t know how the cards work, but I saw you taking and using them during the duels. I also noticed that you blanked out during the third and fourth duel and received cards, but you did not do so in the second duel.”
“That means this Coliseum did not award you any rewards on that round because if it did, you would have at least told that rescued subordinate to wait for rescue, since you did so for your other subordinate during the third round.”
“But I don’t think that you are in the wrong.”
“While you sought for power, you did not leave your subordinates behind and instead risked your life for them.”
“We don’t serve you, nor did we attempt to save our lives by making a deal with you during the start. Perhaps if I had acted sooner, there would be a different outcome.”
“However, if I have to guess why you had to come here, it’s something that has much more gain than just mere trinkets……”
Brendel’s eyes widened when he realized Cohen was about to reveal his secret.
“…… Perhaps you wish to find a way to gain control of the silver mines?” The sickly youth said.
Cohen’s words made everyone fall into a shocked silence, but he ignored them and continued: “I’m intrigued by Trentheim’s new lord. As I’ve said before, I do not think you are wrong. No, on the contrary, I think you’re on the path to be a wise lord, more so than the other nobles ruling these lands, and your name will surely be written in history books and sung in bards’ tales.”
He suddenly went into a coughing fit, and the girl beside him patted his back and supported him.
“We’re certainly insignificant people…… and perhaps it’s too late for us to change our fates, but I can at least try to change yours. And if you do escape, I shall be part of your legend.”
Brendel stared at Cohen in complete astonishment. He did not know how to gauge the young man in front of him.
“I hate to disappoint you, but I might still fail the next challenge even with these cards,” he said.
Jana and Scarlett held their breaths when they heard his answer.
“Boy, wait, are you……” Kodan suddenly realized Brendel was going to attempt the challenge again.
Cohen suddenly laughed. “It seems that my lord did not deny any of my words. No, Lord Brendel, since you have already accepted the cards, I’m satisfied with whatever the results may be.”
The youths were completely dumbfounded by the chain of events.
They felt like it was the first time they truly knew Cohen, and they felt a little distant and worried about him revealing such a secret. Brendel might choose to silence him even before this place turned them into statues.
At the same time, they felt like they had to raise their heads up to look at him because he seemed to be sitting in a place unreachable by them.
In fact, he seemed to be sitting in a place where he could look at that noble, Brendel, straight in the eyes.
It was unthinkable.
Brendel’s expression changed a few times.
[This person’s insight is unbelievable. Did he reveal my secret because he knew that Kodan and I entered into a deal? Wait, perhaps this person is someone of importance—]
“What’s your full name?” He suddenly asked.
“Cohen Kvaern. My teacher gave me that surname.”
[You’re that Lord Kvaern!? ……I see, so this is the person who eventually reached the pinnacle of power. I certainly remember that he lived in Trentheim when he was young. But how did he start gaining power? By simply acquiring coldsteel in the mines? Or is there still something else that he found?]
The history in the game had Lord Kvaern replacing Lord Randner, and he took over the latter’s entire territory. It was a legendary tale where he started from a commoner and eventually rose to the position of a duke.
Brendel furiously went through his memories when he realized a small possibility.
[Did I create this mess and changed history? Or is this possibly part of the history that’s supposed to happen?]
But the announcer’s voice finally rang out again, as though the coliseum was tired of waiting.
“Mortals, will you challenge your fate?” The announcer’s voice rang out.
“Romaine, give up on the challenge.” Brendel had no choice but to stop his thoughts: “You’re Odum, right? Go along with Romaine and give up, I’ll attempt the next challenge.”
“What did you say, boy?” Even though Odum’s voice was a little low because of his age, it was loud.
It was an insult to tell a dwarf to give up on a challenge, and no dwarf would back down from it because it was a cowardly thing to do. It was especially so when he was a Rune Dwarf with the bloodline of a Silver Lineage.
Not to mention that this was a sacred place where countless ancestors were watching him.
How could he back down right here?
“I might be old, but I will never back down! Especially when this place is the territory of us Rune Dwarves, you impudent brat!” Odum roared.
Kodan immediately smirked upon hearing Odum’s words. He had never heard such fitting words in his life, to the point that he saw the grumpy old man in a better light.
[Torbus’s grandson certainly has no manners, but—]
“Odum, why are you down here?” Kodan asked.
The old dwarf still had more complaints in his chest, but it quickly died down when he saw the Gold-ranked Kodan in an injured state: “Commander Kodan, what happened to you?”
“That’s because your Rune Dwarves’ territory is a fine place indeed,” the old man raised a bushy brow and replied with a huff, “come to think of it, are you not a Gold Dwarf? When did you become a Rune Dwarf?”
“I merely stayed in the Gold Dwarves’ territory when I was young, I’m a full-blooded Rune Dwarf!” Odum was furious to hear someone suspecting his bloodline.
“Fine, I’ll believe that you’re a citizen of the Silver Lineage, what are you doing down here?”
“I……” Odum suddenly blinked at Kodan’s sinister smile. It seemed like the latter had baited out his secret, and the old dwarf tried to think of an excuse while he stuttered.
Surely he could not say that there was a rumored legend where a treasure vault buried here and as a real Rune Dwarf, he had the authority to inherit it all? Leaving other greedy nobles aside, Count Randner would turn him into a genuine dead Rune Dwarf first.
“M-more importantly, why do you have Halran Gaia?” The dwarf tried to change the topic and turned back to Brendel.
“You recognize this sword?” Brendel looked at the dwarf and asked with surprise.
Even though Odum said he was the last bloodline of the Rune Dwarves, Brendel had encountered too many of such ‘last bloodlines’ in the game. The majority of them in the whole continent had already forgotten about their Legacies.
In fact, one could trace the current citizens of the continent back to the Gold Lineage if they tried.
But the era of the Gold and Silver Lineage were already over, and so was the Era of Darkness. The current Vaunte was a different thing compared to the past Vaunte where Gods and legendary figures were still around.
“Ahem, of course, …… my lord,” Odum lowered his head slightly and spoke more respectfully when he remembered that the youth was carrying Halran Gaia.
The corners of Kodan’s lips went up to reveal his teeth. He suddenly felt disgusted at the sudden change of the dwarf’s attitude.
[Why is this old bastard changing his tune faster than that cowardly Perkins and sucking to the brat? I’ve experienced his stubborn attitude before. Sure, that sword looks like a good sword, but is it really that important?]
Kodan’s gaze went to the sword, and so did Brendel.
“Is this sword very important to you?” Brendel said.
He brought his sword a little closer to the dwarf, but he naturally had no intention to give it to him.
“Rather than it being rather important, it has something to do with a…… legend.” Odum was a little disappointed in his heart.
There were many legends about the Rune Dwarves’ treasure vaults, but there was only one of the Halran Gaia. If the sword appeared here it meant that the sword was the only ‘treasure’ here.
[This is really such a waste of time. I waited years to get my chance to get nothing. I’m just a minor branch of the Rune Dwarves too. I didn’t even learn my ancestors’ architecture skills that rival Galbu’s Wizard Craftsmen……]