“I’ll kick your ass, bitch!” I spat, my glare intense and unyielding as I faced the self-assured girl before me.
“Are you aware I could kill you for speaking to me like that?” she responded, her voice dripping with mockery as she leisurely stretched her muscles.
“That won’t be happening, not on my watch,” Anthony chimed in, his eyes blazing with unyielding determination.
‘I miss my old world. I thought your life was peaceful; I miss my parents,’ Roger mused within my thoughts, a touch of melancholy evident.
‘Now’s not the time for that, you idiot.’ I responded mentally, my thoughts sharp with irritation.
Amid the escalating tension, one figure remained notably silent, his eyes mirroring deep despair at the chaos.
“This is precisely why I have such disdain for overpowered younglings,” the city guard’s captain remarked with a weary sigh.
“We didn’t anticipate much from your group, but following the emperor’s command, you must learn. Knight Erikson and I will strategize. If you’re adamant about this duel, make it swift. The adjoining room is suitable,” the captain said, subtly pointing towards the nearby door.
Taking a deep breath, I reminded myself to maintain composure. The last thing I needed was to have an unnecessary battle.
I took a deep breath, striving for calm. The last thing I wanted was to disappoint my father further. Yet, her words about my mother echoed in my ears, stoking my anger. I had to stand up to her if only to set things right.
“Hmm, very well. I’ll stay put,” I responded, battling my rising emotions.
“Hey, Duke. Aren’t you a disgusting womanizer?” The vampiric shadow duke teased Anthony.
Anthony scratched his head, a hint of discomfort evident. “I wouldn’t exactly put it that way.”
Her voice dripping with malice, she taunted, “I know someone you might f*** endlessly without price; she’s nothing more than a slut.” A malicious grin began to form on her lips.
“Enough!” Anthony’s voice was sharp, his patience clearly waning. “We have more pressing matters. I know you are absolutely insane, but keep it under control.”
“This is very entertaining, but you all are distracting us,” the commander remarked, struggling to suppress his laughter.
“That slut is his mother,” the shadow duke declared, pointing directly at me.
‘Jesus…’ Roger whispered inside my mind, his voice tinged with disbelief.
The woman’s antics were driving me to the brink of insanity.
“Let’s move to the next room,” I suggested, fighting to maintain my composure.
Anthony, the mysterious girl, and I ventured into the adjoining chamber together. Rage boiled within me, the likes of which I hadn’t felt in years. The room’s vastness seemed to amplify every sound, making even the subtlest of noises echo hauntingly. She confidently took her position in the center, her smirk only fueling my irritation.
“Think you’re up for the challenge, geek?” she taunted, mockingly gesturing in my direction. “I despise commoners who get too full of themselves.”
“Once this coin touches the ground, the duel commences,” Anthony announced authoritatively, raising a coin high above his head.
“Hold on a moment, let me just stretch my mouth,” the vampire girl interjected with a smirk, starting to massage her cheeks. “Wouldn’t want to hurt myself when I devour you.”
I responded briefly, “Just get on with it.”
However, before the duel could begin in earnest, she paused, her fingers delicately touching the corners of her lips. In a horrifying transformation, her mouth tore open, expanding not just vertically but in four separate directions. The grotesque sight was enough to chill one’s soul.
The three of us screamed in synchronized horror. “WHAT THE HELL?!”
Despite my shock, I instinctively took a step back. Though clearly shaken, Anthony held onto an act of composure, a testament to his encounters with magical creatures. The room was soon filled with the weird sound of the vampire girl’s laughter. She momentarily enjoyed our reactions before her face reverted to its normal state.
Anthony, with disgust, shouted, “What the f*** was that? Don’t you dare pull that stunt again! It’s disgusting!”
Roger’s voice trembled within my mind, ‘That… that was… unthinkable.’
With a smirk, I retorted, “Quite the party trick you’ve got there. Can you also make balloon animals?”
She responded with pretended innocence, hands on her cheeks, “You all are so adorable. I find it sweet.”
I tightened my grip on my sword, “Enough games. Let’s get this over with.”
With a nod of agreement, Anthony tossed the coin into the air, signaling the commencement of our duel. Time itself seemed to slow as it descended, each moment stretching on endlessly.
The instant the coin rattled against the cold floor, I propelled myself toward the girl with a newfound sense of urgency. My sharp skills and agility compensated for my lack of raw power. I aimed a swift kick at her midsection, hoping to catch her off-guard. Yet, she evaded my strike with ease. Her speedy movement created a noticeable gust, betraying the formidable power beneath her pale skin.
Predicting her next move, I executed a perfect backflip, narrowly escaping a devastating swipe. The tips of her claws skimmed the fabric of my clothes, leaving a sharp tear as evidence. I didn’t require any more proof of her staggering strength.
She paused, her eyes assessing me. “Impressive reflexes,” the Shadow Duke remarked, amusement evident in her voice, “but you lack the necessary force behind your attacks. Still, I didn’t expect such finesse from you.”
I gritted my teeth and said, “Shut it, you crazy bitch.”
She let out a defiant roar, the sound magnifying within the chamber walls. “Then prepare yourself!”
Without warning, she lunged, her speed astounding. This time, her target was my neck. Reacting instinctively, I ducked beneath her outstretched arm, using my momentum to deliver a powerful uppercut. Although my fist connected, I felt like I had punched solid granite. She remained unfazed.
I quickly reassessed the situation. Direct confrontations were useless. While her raw power was undeniable, she lacked my finesse and technique. This was my advantage, and I needed to exploit it.
Relying on my agility, I jumped around the room to disorient her. My movements were erratic and unpredictable. Occasionally, I incorporated feints, attempting to trap her. The room became a theater for our dance of evasion and attack. Yet, as time passed, I could sense her adapting, her strikes growing more precise, her gaze ever more discerning.
Fatigue began to creep up on me. The vampire’s endurance clearly surpassed my own. However, her mounting frustration was evident; her once-cocky demeanor was replaced by visible annoyance. Internally, I communicated to Roger, ‘Get ready. We’ll lure her in and finish this with a coordinated assault.’
She momentarily halted, genuine surprise flashing across her face. “You’ve proven to be a formidable opponent, Alex. But look at you, already drained.”
I smirked, seizing the opportunity to enrage her. “For someone of your stature, you’re disappointingly weak. I know commoners with more skill than you. Perhaps you should quit your title; having you represent the empire is a disgrace.”
Her reaction was immediate. Her intense gaze paced through me, and I could feel the temperature drop. The room became charged with her palpable rage.
Roger’s voice echoed urgently in my mind, ‘Why did you do that?! She is out for blood now!’
Gathering my resolve, I mentally replied, ‘Now, Roger. Let’s synchronize and end this.’