32-a fight

 We came to the barracks.
 The fifth squad and Eleanor were facing each other.
 The knights were standing around her.

I'd like to thank you for taking the time to help us.
We don't want to raise any unnecessary suspicions. It's better if we can clear up any misunderstandings by meeting face to face.
It's a win-win situation.
So? Who do I have to deal with?
The best of you, of course. Who was the key player in wiping out the undead army?
It wasn't just one person. It was the combined efforts of all of us. I don't like to be asked who the key players are.
But everyone seems to be looking at you, don't they?

 I looked around at my friends.
 I looked around at my friends. Seira, Spinoza and Fam were all staring at me.

I'm not sure if Zeke is the leading player.
I'm not sure. I don't disagree with you on that point. We couldn't have done it alone. It's because you were on the front lines.
And I don't think she'd be happy if we fought. I think she'll only understand if you fight.
"What are we going to do? Eleanor asked.
"I guess I'll have to leave now that you mention it.

 I muttered to myself and stepped ahead of my companions.

I'll be your partner.
"Done. Okay, let's get started. Do you want to use a wooden sword?

You can be serious. I'm not training so hard that I'll die from it. Unless, of course, you want to use it.
I agree with you. Let's do it seriously. Just don't do anything you'll regret.

 Eleanor drew the sword from her waist. The cold glow of the sword's body is revealed. I could feel the air instantly tense up.
 I also drew my sword and held it in front of my midline. In my left hand is my shield.
 The knights who had been watching from afar said to each other.

"That guard is dead .......
You don't even know how strong Vice Commander Eleanor is. ......
It's a good idea to have a good idea of what you're going to be doing.
He's not someone that a squad leader of the guards would be able to compete with.

 They're right, Eleanor is no ordinary person. You can see that she is so dedicated to her sword that she has earned the nickname "Ice Princess".
 But they're overlooking one thing.
 If I didn't have confidence in my ability to compete with Eleanor, I wouldn't take the fight. And if I did, it wouldn't have been one-on-one.
 And I'm not being smug.

 I mean--
 I'm confident enough to go toe-to-toe with Eleanor.

 Eleanor kicked the ground and ran.
 She had an agility that rivaled even Sayla's, even though she was wearing armor.

I'm sure you've heard of it.

 He caught the blow with his shield with a burst of energy.
 The blow is heavy. And it's fast.
 If he had gone for the parry, he would have been pierced.

"Huh! "Huh!

 The tip of the sword at the shortest distance.
 A precise trajectory, as if through the hole of a needle. It was mesmerizing. More beautiful than any swordsman I've ever met.

 That's why I can read the trajectory.

 I was trying to create an opening.
 There's no way someone as skilled as Eleanor would miss that.
 Sure enough, she was on it.

I got it!

 She tried to thrust her sword into the left flank, the bait.
 I parried it there.

"......? !

 You'll be able to find a lot more information on the web.
 It's the first time she's had an opening in her life.

"Okay. I got it!

 She tries to swing her sword down on the unprotected torso.
 At that moment, I was sure I'd won.
 But Eleanor didn't throw the game away so easily. She immediately held up the palm of her non-sworded hand to me.

 I had a bad feeling about this.
 My sixth sense was ringing an alarm bell.
 Instincts tend to come true in times like this.

"Ice Shoot!

 Eleanor's left hand shot out an ice bullet as she mouthed the chant.
 It's a good idea to have a good idea of what you're doing.
 I blocked it with my shield just in time.
 The ice bullet froze the shield.

 It tried to erode from my shield to my wrist. I threw down my shield in a panic.

 ...... That was close.
 If I had reacted a little later, I would have been an ice statue by now.

...... You surprised me. I thought I had you all figured out. Great response. You're certainly more than just a guard.
"Ice magic - you're a mage.
Yeah. Unusual, isn't it?
Swordsmanship and sorcery are two very different fields. It's no small feat to master them. Especially when they're both at the top level.

 Eleanor is definitely a top-notch swordswoman. In addition to that, the ice magic she just used was that of a top-notch wizard.

It's easy. You just have to make a bloody effort.
"I see. Then I could be one.  

Eleanor put a smile on her face.
 The knights were buzzing when they saw it.

"Vice Commander Eleanor is smiling. ......
She's usually as expressionless as an iron mask.
Are you enjoying the fight with those guards?
"Oh, by the way, I haven't heard your name yet. If you're so good, why don't you tell me your name?
...... Zeke. It's been a long time since I've had an opponent I could fight with all my might. But it's over. I'll beat you with everything I've got!

 Eleanor said, and held up her left palm. The ice magic goes into effect.
 The next moment--.
 A pillar of ice came out of the ground at my feet.

"d*mn it!
I can't escape!

 I run around and dodge the icicles as they come one after another.
 After a while, I realized.

 --I'm surrounded.

 Before you know it, you're surrounded by icicles.
 Well... Eleanor wasn't shooting ice magic to attack me. Her real goal was to prevent me from escaping.

 I look above me.
 Eleanor was descending from the vault of the icicle. She swings her sword at me, hoping to kill me.

 I can't dodge.
 I can't dodge, but I don't have a shield to protect me.

It's over! --Haaaaah!

 Eleanor struck a blow at me with all her might.
 The air trembled.
 The impact shattered the icicles surrounding me.

"What ......?

 Eleanor had a look of disbelief on her face.
 She had indeed sliced through my torso.
 But the sword had been broken in half.

"Oh no ......! I'm pretty sure it was a direct hit. ......!
Yeah. But my defense outweighed your attack power.

 That's all I'm saying.

...... I see.

 Eleanor's mouth twisted into a wry grimace.  

I finally understand. The only reason you were able to annihilate the undead army was because of your unbelievable defense.
That's what I mean.

 I thrust my sword at the unarmed Eleanor's neck.
 Eleanor giggled.

...... I'm losing. I have no means to defeat you.

 She raised her hands in the air and announced her surrender.

...... But I've never been so utterly defeated in my life. Zeke. I'm interested in you as a person.

 Eleanor had a soft, thawed look on her face.
 The way she was looking at me was fervent.