Author: alyalia

* * *

“There’s a participant in this swordsmanship tournament wearing a black mask, shrouded in mystery, and their skills are extraordinary. Interestingly, they have a slender, almost feminine figure, and they precisely slice their opponents’ swords, disabling them instantly.”


“Wearing a mask in this heat?”


“Yes. The organizers aren’t stopping it since it’s not against the rules. In such tournaments, it’s common for participants to conceal their identities and use aliases.”


“That’s true, but I haven’t heard of many young swordsmen with such exceptional skills, especially those who can disable by slicing swords.”


“This tournament not only attracts excellent swordsmen but also treasure hunters. It’s possible they’re not swordsmen by profession.”


“That makes sense.”


Edward nodded, looking doubtful. Something didn’t sit right with him.


“By the way, do you know why Miss Luize has been so busy lately?”


“I’m not sure. I heard she’s been busy tending to the garden every day as summer approaches… I guess she’s busy in many ways. It’s the peak season for roses.”




A slight curve formed on his lips. It must be that rose, the one he said, resembled the color of his eyes.


“The last match of the preliminaries is about to start, right?”




“Let’s see who I’ll be facing. Are the seats reserved?”


“I’ve arranged box seats closest to the arena for the last preliminary match.”


“Great. Let’s get started with real sparring.” Edward lifted his sword with a clear expression.


* * *

A deathly silence had fallen over the arena after the match. Someone let out a sharp whistle in the quiet. Thunderous cheers followed as the masked swordsman slowly raised their heads.


“Sword Reaper! The Sword Reaper!”


‘Sword Reaper’ was the nickname given to the masked swordsman. They had never harmed an opponent from the preliminaries, only breaking their swords, leading someone to murmur, “It’s like watching a reaper collecting the souls of swords.”


The cheer got louder as the swordsman’s gaze slowly turned toward the audience.


“Sword Reaper, my foot. There’s definitely some trickery involved.”


Holding a broken sword, the defeated opponent gritted his teeth in anger. He was Rante di Edvin, the second son of the noble Edvin knight family, proud of his considerable swordsmanship. A graduate of a renowned knight academy, he had always been at the top of his class. This means he’s definitely not someone who deserves to be eliminated from the preliminaries in a tournament like this.


The masked swordsman sheathed their sword and returned to the waiting room with a calm expression. Even though it was a real-time match, the swordsman wasn’t wearing any armor and left the arena without changing their clothes in the locker room.


Rante quietly followed behind them. “It’s impossible for me to lose to such a lowly wretch. I’ll uncover your identity!”


The masked swordsman headed toward a secluded alley on the outskirts of the capital. Rante quietly followed them into the alley.




Suddenly, Rante gasped as a cold blade pressed against his throat. The swordsman, wordless, glared at him from behind the mask.


“No, wait. Hahaha. Remember me? I was your opponent earlier.”




“A-actually, I’m a fan of yours.”




“I really wanted to talk to you.”


“…” The swordsman just continued to glare at him without moving.


“I really mean it. No one ever talks to you during matches, right? I wanted to be that person. But why are you walking so fast?”


“I’m sorry, but I’m busy. I have to tend to the garden before it gets too late. Be careful next time, or I might cut you severely.”


“Ah, yes, of course! Haha!”


As Rante laughed awkwardly, the swordsman sheathed their sword and went on their way again at a brisk pace. After confirming the swordsman had disappeared, Rante coughed and mumbled, “That person looks like a child, but I can’t believe I’m being humiliated by them…”


But a garden? There’s no such thing as disgrace for swordsmen.


“Anyway, everything about their voice, size, and even how they take care of the garden is like a woman…”


He trailed off, then widened his eyes and opened his mouth. “A woman?”


Shock spread across his face. “No way. That person is a woman?”


His hands began to tremble. “If others find out I lost to a woman…!”


It was not just personal humiliation but a disgrace to his family. He returned to the arena with a pale face, needing to cover up this incident immediately.


* * *

Meanwhile, the masked swordsman reached a secluded alley near the mansion and removed the black mask and short, dark brown wig. A woman with flowing silver hair and violet eyes shook her head. Luize, having changed into a dress from her hidden luggage, straightened her hair.


Luize looked around. Fortunately, the tournament opponent from earlier seemed to have completely given up. She sighed. “I need to go take care of the rose garden…”


Since joining the swordsmanship tournament, she had been busier than ever, teaching Edward swordsmanship, managing the blooming garden, and participating in the preliminary matches.


Moreover, she had an important decision to make after the tournament – her relationship with Reiad. She had put it off for now, unable to spare it a thought amid her busy schedules.


After changing her clothes, Luize headed back to the mansion and straight to the garden. Wearing a wide-brimmed brown straw hat and carrying a metal bucket and tong. She scrutinized the rose garden with sharp eyes.


“Let’s see, here it is again.”


The garden was full of blooming red roses. Luize cleaned up the fallen petals and plucked off caterpillars, nibbling on the green leaves. Although she had hired a gardener, she preferred to tend to her favorite flowers herself.


“They’re beautiful.” She smiled brightly at the roses, but then a hint of worry clouded her eyes.


“From now on, every time you see these roses, you’ll think of me.”


It must have been just a joke at that time, but as Edward said, looking at these roses reminded her of him.


Luize, who continued to worry until the last day of registration for the swordsmanship tournament, ended up participating as a commoner. Her purpose was one – the sword of Dragon Slayer Lensia.


“I’m sorry, Edward.” She fiddled with a rose petal, murmuring to herself. Luize needed that sword.


Dragon Slayer Lensia. That person wasn’t only Luize and Maxion’s respected teacher but also Luize’s dearly loved mother.


* * *

The preliminary round of the swordsmanship tournament was drawing to a close. Today, only Luize and Edward were in the secret training ground, as Maxion was busy with knight training.


“Watch all the final matches of the preliminaries together? There are fifteen rounds…”


“Yes. I’d like Master to watch and analyze them for me.”


After practice, Edward suggested they watch the final preliminaries. There would be fifteen matches, with fifteen winners advancing to the main event. With Edward joining the main event, a total of 16 participants would compete in the quarterfinals, semi-finals, and finals. Edward only needed to win four matches to claim victory.


“It sounds good, but it might be hard to do in one day.”


“Do you have other plans?”




Luize rolled her purple eyes and avoided Edward’s gaze. “I have a prior appointment.”


“Have you made friends other than Maxion and me?”


Ah, it’s similar.”


“What is similar?”


Luize hesitated. Her participation in the tournament was a secret. He might have known it if she had told him from the beginning, but she was reluctant to say it because she had already missed the right time to say it.


Luize wanted to hide it somehow, especially from Edward, who was learning swordsmanship from her in order to participate in the swordsmanship tournament. If he finds out about this, he will definitely be disappointed or angry at her. She didn’t want to lose him over this, especially since they had become closer.


Luize knew she couldn’t lie, so in the end, she decided to answer with a bit of facts mixed in. She spoke around metaphorically, making it as difficult to understand as possible and leaving as much room for interpretation as possible.


“It’s a physical conversation, similar to what I have with you, Edward. A kind of exercise.”


Ah, I see…”


Edward’s perfect smile faltered. He was her official lover, but not in the true sense. But if she was having a physical conversation similar to theirs… Was she implying she had a real lover?


It seemed certain that it was some kind of exercise. Edward was quick-witted as he had spent a long time in the imperial palace, where sharp political strife was in full swing. In his view, Luize was definitely not someone who could easily take over a lover… However, his expectations about Luize often went astray in unexpected directions.


“Since when?”


Sigh… I knew you’d figured it out. It started right after the swordsmanship tournament began. I feel sorry for you, Edward.”


“Participant of the tournament?”

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