Chapter 425: Grimm Sigurd
The guests were led to the open-air garden on the castle's second floor. There was a ring in the center of the flowerbeds, and the guests could enjoy the battle on the observation deck. The rulers of Cintra took the center seats, while Mousesack sat on their right.
Everyone else formed a circle and engaged in hushed discussion.
The servants would go around distributing wine and fresh fruits.
"You will have to give me some time to summon my champion. He's back at my abode." Raymund had resumed his composure. There was a smile on his face, and he looked like he had won the match.
Calanthe nodded. "Raymund, after the battle, I hope Toussaint will join the right side of the war."
Raymund bowed. "If I were to win this battle, then I hope you shall apologize, Queen Calanthe."
Calanthe held her husband's arm and craned her neck proudly, her eyes filled with confidence. "I might be a woman, but my promise carries as much weight as a man's."
Raymund nodded and left the palace.
"So, who are you going to send in? Firenze, Magosivan, or Reinhart?" Calanthe clasped her hands and rested her chin on them. She stared at her husband's face with worry in her eyes. "Beauclair's knight tournament is world famous. A three-year reigning champion must be formidable. We need to send in our finest."
Eist smiled at his wife, his eyes burning with the flame of determination. "I was a two-time reigning tournament champion back in the Skellige Isles. My opponents hailed from the seven families of the six islands. A knight tournament is nothing but child's play for us. I shall claim victory for you myself," he promised. "Cintra needs this victory. We shall show our strength to these indecisive landlubbers. We will make them see that an alliance with us is good. And that cheating dog has to apologize for his rude behavior."
Calanthe shook her head. She spoke gently but firmly. "I do not wish to be a widow yet again. Not even if there's a slight chance of that."
While the rulers were talking, a servant in a white robe approached Eist and said respectfully, "Your Majesty, someone requests an audience with you."
"Who is it?"
"He calls himself Raxis of the Fourhorn."
Eist frowned. I don't remember a land with that name in Cintra.
Calanthe looked surprised, then conflicting emotions of dislike, fear, and a hint of gratitude filled her heart. Memories flooded her mind.
Ten years ago, the one named Raxis went against her request during Pavetta's blind date and ruined Calanthe's plan of marrying Pavetta to someone from the Skellige Isles and had her beautiful daughter marry that cursed man who went by the name 'Duny.'
Duny was grateful for Raxis' help in lifting the curse. He wished to reward the man, so he invoked the Law of Surprise. The man wanted something Duny didn't know he had—Duny's unborn daughter. The very same daughter Pavetta carried in her belly. He wanted Ciri as the reward.
Four years ago, Raxis came to the palace once more as agreed. Worried he might take Ciri away by invoking the Law of Surprise, she tried her best to dissuade and even threaten him, but the man left without even asking Ciri's name or gender. He didn't even look at her.
Last year, he met Ciri for the first time in Brokilon and saved her life, yet he sent her back to the palace, much to Calanthe's confusion. And now he comes again to haunt me. It's like he shares a bond with Ciri. The mere thought of that shocked the queen.
Send him off! Calanthe screamed in her heart, but she changed her mind a moment later. Raxis was more powerful than most humans. Winning a battle against a knight should be no problem for him. And I did grant him the title. Well, in name only. No ceremony or actual benefits, but he's a Cintran knight. He fulfills the duel's conditions. And now he comes to us all wrapped up like a present.
"Let him in." Calanthe smiled at Eist. "Our knight is here."
The witchers were led into the palace by a knight. After twisting and turning around the corridors, they eventually reached a clearing. What met their gaze was an open-air garden. The witchers raised their heads and saw the observation deck on the second floor. Standing there were the tanned, burly king and the queen. A beautiful, familiar woman with a golden cape on her back.
The witchers went up to the deck.
"Raxis of Fourhorn, and…" Calanthe was surprised to see Roy. "Roy of the Viper School?"
"A pleasure to meet you, Your Majesty, Your Highness. Yes, I'm Roy." Roy bowed to the rulers, but by no means did he look subservient.
Eist nodded and smiled at them. He could see their perfectly sculpted, muscular bodies even through their shirts. They were a lot better on the eyes than all the pot-bellied aristocrats standing around him. And he let his wife take over.
"It's a pleasure to see you. I don't know how you got together, but I can guess why you came." A mysterious smile curled Calanthe's lips. "But before that, I must tell you something. There's a great challenge ahead of us. A fair, honorable duel. One that requires a skillful knight. The honor of Cintra is on the line here. Defeat will not be tolerated."
She turned her attention to Geralt and teased, "Raxis of Fourhorn, will you join the duel under Cintra's banner and defeat the champion from Toussaint? We shall reward you handsomely should you emerge victorious."
She added, "And my granddaughter shall only meet the victor."
Geralt and Roy exchanged a look. It had been a while since the White Wolf fought anyone. Time for a warm-up.
"Your Majesty, Your Highness, Raxis of Fourhorn, Geralt of Rivia, is at your service." He bowed to the rulers and nodded at Mousesack.
"I see you're still in one piece, Geralt. Glad you took my advice." The druid let out a hearty laugh and patted Geralt's shoulders. He then turned his attention to Roy. "And you changed a lot. There's something about you." A frown furrowed his brows, and suspicion flashed in his eyes. He felt something familiar resting within Roy, and he wanted to bring it up, but he stopped himself.
Roy didn't elaborate. Now was not the time to have a chat with the druid. He turned around to look at the representatives. Let's see where Raymund is.
Then in came a fair, handsome man. Standing beside him was a knight in armor.
"Allow me to introduce you to my champion." Raymund led his knight over, a hint of pride shining in his eyes. "This is my bodyguard. Toussaint's knight and three-time reigning champion of the knight tournament—Grimm. He once cleaned out a group of bandits that terrorized Toussaint for years all by himself. Fame and fortune are nothing for him. I was lucky enough to win a bet in a round of Gwent, and he's doing this as a favor for that win."
Everyone was surprised Raymund had a knight like that up his sleeve, while Roy remained silent.
He was observing the knight. Grimm was a tall knight clad in armor. Every step he took, his dark gold armor would clang loudly. He had pauldrons, chest armor, cuisses, gauntlets, and vambraces. The cracks between his armor were filled with black leather armor, and a black leather skirt decorated the part underneath his belt.
His helmet was also dark gold, and a pair of wings jutted out from its sides. A Y-shaped hole cut through his visor, revealing his sharp eyes and pursed lips.
But the most eye-catching thing was his sheathed blade. He was holding it with both hands. The sword was nearly five feet long, and it drew a line across the soil with every step he took.
Age: Thirty-five years old
Status: Champion of Beauclair knight tournament, wandering knight (Heroism is his duty)
Sword Mastery Level 10, Polearm Mastery Level 10, Horseback Riding Level 8, Basic Ranged Attack Mastery Level 6, Military Training (Passive).'
"Your Majesty King Eist, Your Highness Queen Calanthe." The knight took his helmet off, revealing the face of a handsome, mature, and battle-hardened man. He had golden hair and brown eyes. The man knelt on one knee. "It is an honor to meet you." There was energy in his voice. And genuine respect as well.
"A wandering knight, eh?" Eist nodded. Grimm was big enough to be the kind of warrior Skellige people like him had in mind. "Can you tell me your real name and crest?"
Grimm thumped his chest with his fist. "On my honor I swear that no wandering knight may reveal their real name and crest."
Eist nodded, but he did not insist.
"If I may, I would like to battle the strongest knight Cintra has. 'Tis nothing but a spar."
"You have courage, Grimm the wandering knight. As per your wish, you shall fight the strongest swordsman of Cintra." Eist turned to Geralt. "Raxis of Fourhorn."
The representatives' eyes shone. They had heard of Toussaint's wandering knight, but none had heard of Raxis of Fourhorn. Surely none had ever seen someone with skin as pale as paper and hair as white as snow. Nor did they ever see a fighter with a face as stiff or eyes as amber or wild as Raxis’.
Nobody knew who he was, though they wondered why the rulers of Cintra would name a witcher as the lord of a land.
"Raxis too is a swordmaster who roams the land, vanquishing evil." Calanthe smiled, her eyes burning with the desire to win. "Countless bandits have died by his hands. And he has taken the lives of many bloodthirsty monsters."
Grimm's eyes shone. He stared at Geralt, his eyes flaring with the desire to battle, but he didn't make any provocative gestures. He and Geralt nodded at each other. One look at Geralt and Grimm knew this was a different fighter than those he met before. "Do not hold back. Going in at full power is how you respect a wandering knight. On my honor, I swear I shall fight with my full strength as well."
A referee led the fighters into the center of the garden. But before that, Grimm took off all his armor and placed it outside the ring for fairness' sake.
Raymund sat beside Mousesack, and Roy took the seat on Calanthe's right. She asked him to. He then turned his sights to Grimm's blade.
It was a special sword. The blade was gold, wide, thin, and lacked a fuller. Its hilt was the size of three fists, and a black weighted ball hung on the end of the hilt. About thirty centimeters of the blade was unedged.
The guy probably uses it to thrust when he charges at his enemy. And judging from the structure, its main form of attack are slashes.
Golden sunlight shone on the ring, and Grimm's blade reflected its brilliant light upon the knight's face.
Geralt swung his sword, his hair billowing in the air.
The fighters stood five meters apart, measuring up their opponent.
Geralt held his blade by his side, pointing the tip at Grimm's throat. He assumed a plow stance.
Grimm held his sword on his shoulder like it was a lance. He parted his legs and crouched a little. The man resembled a bow that was ready to shoot an arrow.
The fighters circled each other, closing the gap with every step they took.
Roy thought Geralt would finish this in one blow, but the White Wolf seemed solemn, not unlike he was fighting a man of equal skill.
Grimm made the first move, and he let out a terrifying roar. He swung his sword right down at Geralt, stirring up a small gust of wind as he tried to smash his target apart.
Geralt made a small leap backward and swung his blade down as well, though he was targeting Grimm's left arm.
As if anticipating that, the knight changed his attack into defense by holding his sword up on his right like a shield.
Metal clashed, and sparks flew, but the fighters backed off right away. None had an advantage.
The look on Geralt's face changed. He did not anticipate this much strength from Grimm. It felt like he was attacked by another witcher or a chimera, not a human.
But the veteran witcher quickly found his tempo. He circled the knight like a panther eyeing his prey. Time and time again he kept trying to hit Grimm's hand, elbow, and shoulder to force him to relinquish his blade and surrender.
But Grimm blocked all his attacks every time.
Once again, Geralt tried to attack, but this time, Grimm took a deep breath, and an invisible whirlpool swirled behind him. He began to retaliate. The first few times, he defended himself like an impregnable fortress, but now he had relinquished his defense and switched to offense.
And what an offense it was. There was nothing but pure strength and speed in Grimm's retaliation as he cut and slashed his way to Geralt. The ring was filled with the sounds of metal clashing, fighters roaring, sparks flying, and blades flying across the battlefield.
Like a tree lambasted by a gale, Geralt kept blocking and rolling around, barely able to keep his balance. The witcher did not look happy. He wasn't reacting like how a witcher should. There were more than ten times when he could exploit Grimm's weakness, but his body wouldn't listen to him. And he would be one step too slow to land the attack. The pressure he felt in his chest almost made him suffocate.
Roy had been keeping an eye on Grimm, and he noticed something wrong. Every time he swung his blade, the knight would undergo a weird change. His Strength, Dexterity, and Constitution would double, bringing him well over the limits of an ordinary human.
Through his witcher senses, he saw golden flames coming forth from the blade and surrounding Grimm like fiery blood. For a moment, Roy thought a golden humanoid creature was roaring behind Grimm, its hair billowing in the air like a lion's mane. Every time Grimm swung his blade, so too would the creature.
Grimm looked like a powerful god, and the flames that hung in the air would lock onto Geralt, restricting and pressuring him. Grimm got stronger the longer he fought. He was fighting on a level beyond what he was supposed to, while Geralt's own strength was restricted.
Roy had a grim look on his face. This is no ordinary sword.
He cast Observe on it.
'Sword of Justice—Sigurd
Components: Adamantine, magma, meteorite ore, leather, pine wood, soul.
Specs: Weighs 6.06 pounds, hilt measures at 1 foot, blade measures at 4.26 feet.
Ancestor's Strength: Summons a Sigurd ancestor to possess the user. Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, and Will receives a dramatic increase. This skill consumes a lot of stamina.
Shapeshift: Sword of Justice—Sigurd can change into Lance of Courage—Solarion.
Restore: This weapon can automatically repair itself.
Horn of Victory: The user will receive minor healing upon the defeat and death of an enemy.
Judgment: Any enemy the user sees as evil or heretical shall be judged by Sigurd. The more sin the enemy has committed, the stronger the effects of Judgment will be.
Note: This phylactery was created by the founder of the House of Sigurd. Only those of the Sigurd bloodline can use this weapon.
From the moment a user uses this weapon, they can never wield another weapon in their life. And their soul shall be a part of Sigurd after their deaths. Such is the price of power.
Justice and courage shall prevail.'
Roy gasped. That thing is about as powerful as my bound weapons. But… Damn, it's as scary as the Book of Shadows. I wonder if it's a blessing or a curse.
Roy licked his lips, and he was starting to get an idea, but then he took a deep breath and held his urge down. I am in control of my mind, not the other way around.
The battle was raging on, and the spectators were discussing as well.
"Seems like my knight is the superior one." The one-sided situation pleased Raymund, and he touched his mustache as he let out a hearty laugh. He could imagine the moment when this lioness of Cintra would have to apologize to him.
Held by excitement, he decided he would summon all his lovers and have all the fun he wanted after he claimed victory.
Fyodore and Claude nodded as well.
"You speak of conclusions before the battle is over." Calanthe shook her head. She still looked confident. "Nobody can be sure of the outcome until the dust has settled. The knights have different styles. One is aggressive, while the other is defensive. There is no clear winner as of yet, but Grimm's aggressive attack cannot hold on for much longer.
And just like a signal, the flames around Grimm vanished. He shivered, and sweat poured forth from his forehead. Shit. Grimm quickly held his sword up like a shield.
But Geralt saw through his weakness and jumped back at an incredible speed. He circled the knight like a phantom, but to the spectators, the White Wolf was performing a beautiful but deadly tango.
His blade arced through the air as he danced through the battlefield, and then the edge of his sword found itself millimeters away from Grimm's throat.
The knight felt goosebumps rising up on his skin, and he relinquished his weapon.
"Winner, Raxis of Fourhorn!" the referee shouted.
The spectators stood up. There was praise in their eyes, and a thunderous applause ensued.
"On the name of my honor, you are the strongest swordsman I have ever fought." Grimm bowed to Geralt, but he was shivering, and his breathing was as ragged as a patient with pneumonia. His hair and face were drenched with sweat, and his strength was leaving him, but his eyes still shone. "It was an honor to battle with you."
"You are powerful as well. Never expected a regular human to back me into a corner." Geralt shook his hand, though he shuddered a little. I could have lost. "But I was wondering how you gained so much power."
Grimm showed Geralt his sword. It was still shimmering under the sun. "This is a family heirloom. It possesses incredible power and should not be underestimated."
Raymund plopped back down in his chair in disbelief. He couldn't understand why his knight would lose all of a sudden when he had all the advantage. He thought Grimm would win. Is this his plan? Is he trying to humiliate me? Suspicion got hold of his heart, and Raymund looked at Grimm with darkness in his eyes.
A big smile curled Calanthe's lips. She had gotten what she wanted, so this time, there was no mockery. "The battle has ended. Time to do what you promised."
Raymund noticed the looks everyone was giving him. Despite how humiliated he felt, the duke bowed to the rulers of Cintra. "I apologize for my rude speech, Eist, Calanthe. Please, forgive my ignorance."
"Very well." Calanthe was still staring at him.
"I shall depart Cintra this very night. On my name, I swear I shall convince Anna to never help Nilfgaard. If they do launch an invasion, we will not lend a hand."
"And I hope you can hold up that promise. Everyone's watching."
Raymund said nothing.
"The meeting has concluded, and we have witnessed a great battle. It is time for us to leave." Fyodore and the other representatives bowed to the rulers of Cintra.
Raymund sternly summoned Grimm, who was chatting happily with Geralt.
"Take care, Your Majesty."
"We shall convince our kings to send reinforcements your way."
Eist extended his hand only to pull it back. I couldn't convince them over the last two months. Not like talking will do anything good.
And just like that, only a few people were left in the garden.
Calanthe held her husband's hand and consoled him. She then smiled at the approaching Geralt, her earlier frustration gone with the wind. "Come with me, witchers. It is time for me to hold up my end of the bargain. I think you have a lot to talk about."
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