Former General Is Undead Knight - Act 1-40
Chapter 40 : Earl Aubock⑨
Earl Aubock ran desperately through the hidden passage. In between staggered gasps, he looked behind. At any moment, he expected to see his pursuer in the darkness.
Despite being inferior to the low-ranking soldiers who train on a daily basis, Earl Aubock didn’t neglect to train every once in a while for unexpected circumstances.
Even though he gained some weight, he was one of the most athletic nobles..
His clothes were already drenched in his own sweat, and yet there was no sign of him slowing down.
「T-This distance should be safe… for us to stop running right, Aubock-sama? There are those soldiers who just returned after their daily training… and Rogue Botom on top of that. Trying to get past those guys with just two people is just…」
One of his close aides, a knight on panting next to him, mentioned Rogue Botom’s name.
Earl Aubock turned around to shout at his two bodyguards, each word spewing spit in their faces.
「YOU IDIOT! IT HAPPENED ONCE. IT CAN HAPPEN AGAIN!」
「B-but! Such a feat should be impossible!」
「Only a loser speaks like that. Like h*ll I’ll just wait around and say ‘ALL IS WELL,’ like some sort of neurotic old hag. Don’t put me on the same boat as those fools! Even if the possibility is one in a hundred, it still means that I’ll at least die once in that hundred! MY LIFE ISN’T THAT CHEAP! EVEN IF THIS ESCAPE TURNS OUT TO BE UNNECESSARY, I’D RATHER BE SAFE THAN SORRY!」
Other than the two knights and Earl Aubock, there was also a man with an unshaved beard and long hair.
He was Hector, the swordsman who had been picked up by Earl Aubock.
His normally hunched back was straightened, and there was a sharp glint in his eyes, as if he was convinced of something.
Earl Aubock, whose breathing had gotten raspy from ranting at the knights, groaned in pain.
「A-Aubock-sama… It’ll affect your stamina if you shout like that while running…」
Earl Aubock glared at the bodyguard who spoke those words.
「No, I think you can still run for at least one more hour, Earl-sama.」
「Hector! What’s that…」
Before Earl Aubock managed to finish his sentence, a loud sound echoed down the passage, as if there was a giant monster following after them.
All of them stopped at once, turning around to look at the direction behind them.
They saw a man clad in full-plate armor running toward them while shouldering his greatsword.
Even with his heavy armor, his speed was faster than that of their group. That person was truly a monster in every sense.
The two bodyguards behind Earl Aubock drew their swords.
However, their weapon seemed no different from toothpicks in front of that monster.
They had absolutely no idea which part of that monster they had to attack with the blade of their sword.
That monster’s body was covered with armor from head to toe; there was not even the slightest gap in the metal to land an attack.
On paper, It might look like one against many, but it didn’t feel like it would become something that one might call a “fight.”
That was just how overwhelming Lambert’s presence could be.
「That was quite a workout.」
The man in front trembled and dropped his sword when Lambert broke the ice.
In a flash, Lambert swung his sword twice, not slowing down in the slightest as he closed the distance.
The bodies of the two knights split in half, right through the middle. Each of their upper bodies crashed against the walls of the dimly lit passage.
Earl Aubock’s slitted eyes in his meaty face was opened wide as he glared at Lambert.
「So you are that Aubock.」
Earl Aubock stepped back in fear. Taking one more step, he turned around as if trying to run away.
The one who stopped him was Hector.
Hector drew his sword from its scabbard on his back. In a fluid, practiced movement, the sharp blade was an inch away from Earl Aubock’s neck.
「W-What’s the meaning of this, Hector!」
「Rethink it, Earl-sama. This man is aiming for your life. I’ll be fine, even if you order me to stop him, but he might ignore me if you choose to escape by yourself. That’s why it might be a better idea if I kill you first.」
「B-but, staying here won’t change my fate either!」
Hector ignored Earl Aubock’s wailing, turning his attention to Lambert.
「Hey, armor b*stard. How does a deal with me sound to you? In exchange for preventing the Earl-sama from escaping from this place, you gotta defeat me if you want to claim his life. I mean, you don’t want to be stabbed from behind when you go after him, right?」
「Hm, I find it hard to refuse a duel with you if you say it in that way. Fine, I swear upon my Lord that I won’t go after the Earl till I kill you in a duel.」
As soon as he obtained Lambert’s promise, Hector undid his previously sloven posture. He crouched ever so slightly as he readied his stance.
Earl Aubock had no choice but to watch on.
「My name is Hector. I have no family name. Though I want to introduce myself as one of the knights who serve under Earl Aubock, I don’t think that’ll be good enough. That’s why I stand before you as a swordsman—swordsman Hector.」
The reason why Hector restrained Earl Aubock in that place wasn’t to protect him; it was for the sake of a one-on-one duel against Lambert.
That was why he stood as swordsman Hector, who wished a fair and square duel with Lambert.
Although Hector had said 『Just a nameless swordsman』 when he defeated Germain, he didn’t take such a slovenly attitude in front of Lambert. A while ago, he realized that Lambert might be able to grant his wish for an exciting duel with their lives on the line.
Hector hadn’t recognized Lambert’s strength from the fact that the latter single-handedly broke into tightly guarded Aubock mansion, nor from the time when he saw Lambert decapitate Earl Aubock’s two knight escorts.
He recognized Lambert’s strength from the aura that was seeping out of his body, the overwhelming aura of a champion from the Eight Countries Unification War. That aura was the main reason Hector showed respect to Lambert.
「… I’m rather reluctant to use my name, but I guess I need to show my respect too.」
Hector listened carefully as he lowered his stance.
Because he knew that someone as powerful as Lambert was a nameless swordsman.
To the point that both him, a famous swordsman, and Earl Aubock with his tremendous influence never heard about a swordsman with Lambert’s appearance before.
In addition, meeting a swordsman of Lambert’s caliber was plenty enough reason for him to stay in Earl Aubock’s mansion.
「Lambert de la Croix.」
Hector’s eyelids trembled upon hearing Lambert’s name.
「Lambert… de la Croix?」
「One of Regios Kingdom’s Four Demon Generals, Lambert de la Croix. The sinner who was executed for betraying his Lord—and has now returned from the abyss. In the name of peace and upholding the justice in this kingdom, and to repay my gratitude, I will cut you down.」
Lambert’s Undead Miasma exploded in full throttle along with his shout.
When exposed to that miasma, Earl Aubock was struck with absolute fear, color drained from his face, and his body refused to move.
But Hector was different.
He raised a maniacal laugh after a brief silence.
「THIS IS IT! AHAHA! YOU’RE THE BEST! THE GREAT SINNER WHO RETURNED FROM THE ABYSS, HUH! I ALWAYS THOUGHT I WAS BORN IN THE WRONG ERA!!」
After laughing for a while, his face turned grim as he glared at Lambert.
「… I see. No wonder you don’t know my name.」
From the very beginning, Lambert had no intention to insult Hector.
He showed proper respect toward Hector, thus he told his name to the other party.
But it wasn’t up to him to force Hector to believe him.
Rather, he thought that deceiving his opponent by using an alias was an insult toward his opponent.