Now to conspire
Under the sun, the glow in the steel of the swords (even if dull) revealed the prelude to a fight between swordsmen, or what was supposed to be one. Instead, both opponents were watching the other after a single clash.
"What was that!?" Garonte thought, after being pushed two meters by a young man whom he exceeded by almost half a meter of height.
Garonte expected a skill match. If the boy had been trained by that great man, he must surely possess some kind of technique that was difficult to anticipate, an incredibly fast movement or something like that. Above all, he didn't even consider the possibility that if the young man surpassed him, it would be in strength.
Even so, it happened. After the brief moment in which the swords collided, Garonte could feel a terrible force. If wasn't for his skill and experience in combat, he would have been forced to drop his weapon. That shock should have raised the curtain for an exchange of movements between the two swordsmen, instead his entire body had been repelled, leaving the drag marks made by his feet as proof that it wasn't a dream.
Everyone present looked surprised, with the exception of one person. Argent, who watched Garonte with pleasure, as if saying "Did that surprise you?"
Now the rumors didn't seem like an illusion. The man in front of him was no longer just an illusion. If his disciple had such overwhelming strength, what kind of monster was his master?
Even with his victory vanishing before his eyes, Garonte didn't give up on his desire to face him. However, first he would have to pass the test in front of him.
He immediately thought that if the boy possessed such strength, perhaps all his training had been based on improving his physical strength. After all, the fact that he had not continued with his initial attack, showed that he wasn't ready to react, or rather ... His face showed how stunned he was because of what had happened, as much as everyone else. As if that was the first time his opponent was overwhelmed by his strength in that way ...
It is possible that ... He had never faced someone he could surpass in strength before ... If this was true and considering he had been trained by Argent, that only meant that in a clash between them, Ryuuji was the one who normally were repelled ... At that moment the figure of Argent seemed to get bigger in Garonte's eyes, like a giant watching him from behind Ryuuji's back.
Suddenly, while everyone kept watching frozen, Garonte pounced on the young man, who nervously defended himself by raising his sword. At that moment, Garonte took advantage of his carelessness and kicked him in the abdomen using the impulse obtained while running, transferring all the kinetic force to Ryuuji, who was thrown a meter and a half away, landing on his back.
"Believing that your opponent will only attack you with his sword is the biggest mistake a swordsman can make".
Garonte's words had a great impact on everyone present. His men immediately began to cheer him. He had, in a show of skill and experience, made his opponent feel what he felt when he was pushed before.
"I can beat him" he thought. If all he had on his side was an overwhelming strength, it was no different from the monsters he had exterminated hundreds of times. Humans ruled this land not for being the strongest species, but for being the most versatile and those who could overcome obstacles beyond brute force.
Of course, Garonte would not waste the opportunity offered by the disadvantageous posture of his adversary, who lay on the ground confused. He would continue his attack until he won.
In a brief moment, he crossed the distance he had created between them and prepared for a vertical cut. However, once again he was surprised by his adversary, who in a matter of a blink rose above his head (Garonte's). Ryuuji had only required a movement to get out of his disadvantaged position, and now he was standing on the other side of the arena.
Leaving the momentary stupor that witnessing the intrepid acrobatics induced in him, Garonte went again to lash out at Ryuuji. With this huge gap between their abilities, Garonte couldn't afford to let the boy take the initiative. It was time to use his special technique.
Garonte ran quickly, while leaning his body forward. The distance between them was enough for Ryuuji to react and put himself on guard before he was too close ... And that was just what he wanted.
When he was just over a meter from Ryuuji, Garonte jumped forward and prepared the blow, taking advantage of Ryuuji's guard being low. However, at that precise moment, the old general felt an icy chill run down his entire back, and then, his entire body froze. He could perceive it through every muscle, tendon and bone. Every movement that his body was capable of was observed and studied with pinpoint accuracy.
Even if he was behind him, he could see the eyes that looked at him like a lab rat. He didn't need to turn to know whose gaze it was. What he felt was not the physical pressure that had crushed him when he first heard the demon's voice, but terrified him even more. It was that brief moment when his mind could not stand the pressure, that moment of distraction, that prevented him from reading Ryuuji's movements.
Seeing his opponent approaching him, Ryuuji held his sword with both hands and took a stance that no one in that world could have foreseen. The same position that any player of a popular sport in which a bat was used would take. With a speed that barely allowed to react, he struck the formidable body of his enemy horizontally.
Garonte's distraction moment didn't allow him to see that attack coming and the sum of all his skill and experience barely allowed him to protect himself. Although, he would have preferred to deflect the blow, for he was aware of how unwise it was to try to block something that struck with the same strength as a Rakthan.
The show which those present witnessed lasted almost seven seconds, in that time Garonte's enormous body flew through the air until it struck the arena wall hard. While holding in his hand what was left of his sword, Ryuuji watched worriedly the dust cloud where his opponent was ... Was that too much?
Fortunately, the men in the barracks confirmed that Garonte was still alive, something that didn't seem to surprise Argent.
Before the fight I had a talk with Ryuuji. In which I not only told him who Garonte was, and that the consequences of his defeat would force us to leave the city and forget about the people of Galatea. I also told him what I believed about the story he told me the day we met.
My theory is that what he said about waking up alone and then flying away was real. In my opinion, that was because he tried to get up by applying what appeared to be his normal strength, but because of his stats, that was too much and he ended up rising several meters above the ground.
I also believe that this didn't happen again due to his high Spirit stat, which I understand has to do with the connection with the body. I assume that because of this he could suppress his power without knowing it.
So, if he was aware of it, he could use his true strength without problems. It should be said that the result was optimal, and I must give him credit for using that experience in combat, maybe he has talent in addition to his stats. That is promising.
Of course, I never doubt his victory. The difference in stats was too much to overcome with skill and technique. Maybe when Ryuuji was a complete newbie it would have worked, but just knowing the basics is enough for someone with his stats to win.
Fortunately Ryuuji's hit wasn't fatal, although it did reduce Garonte's health to 8 points. The truth be told, it was a tremendous strike, maybe he fractured some bones, although that doesn't concern me as long as he don't die in the next few days.
The most important thing is that I strengthened my position and I could finish reading Garonte, time to apply pressure.
A little later that day, when it began to get dark, we met again in that room of the red building. Garonte needed a few hours to regain consciousness. In that time he received some treatment, so he is now in front of me, with most of his torso, hands and neck bandaged.
"You don't need to say anything, from now on I will carry on the conversation".
Trying to hide his pain, he made the least possible movements, so he nodded slightly.
"We can leave the talk about the demon general for another day. What I want to talk about now is about the person you work for".
The slight widening of his eyes let me see that my words took him by surprise.
"You can blame your assistant for this too if you wish. I know you work for someone else thanks to him".
"What do you mean by that?"
"Before, when he discouraged me from buying slaves, he said he didn't want to undermine his merchants ... That was a lie".
"Then I thought, why would he want to prevent me from buying from the merchants here? The simplest answer is that he don't like them or have something against them. And since he works for you, I imagine it's because they antagonize you".
"You are a scary guy ..."
"Naturally, the best reason for this is that the merchants do not really work for you, but for someone else. But the next question would be, why would you allow them to trade freely then?"
"Which means they work for someone I can't oppose".
"Exactly. And on second thought, you may be a guy capable of governing this city, but you doesn't have the coldness to lead a large number of underworld merchants, at best keeping them under control".
"Before I was someone very capable, now you say not enough".
"No more flattery is needed, you lost that right when you challenged me. A group of merchants can only be led by another merchant. No merchant would risk the possible benefits that someone like me would bring to his city for the desire to prove my strength".
"What you say must be true, I could never think like those little vermin".
"... Who is it? I want to know who is the true leader of the merchants".
"I will tell you. Actually, I want to tell you. You are an authentic nobleman, the common people should serve you and the other nobles show you respect. But that man will not. Nor did he show it to me, until I could earn it by putting this city under control".
Without warning, Garonte rose from his seat ignoring his injuries and prostrated himself before me.
"Instead of serving a vermin like that ... I'd rather serve you!"
"Don't you think of being yourself who has the power?"
"That idea came out of my head a long time ago".
"... The demon general".
"Indeed. After what happened, I realized that I am not up to being the one who takes the reins".
"... Very well. I think I want to hear what you know about him after all".