William thought that challenging him to a duel was a bad idea. Of course, from Albert Lockridge’s perspective, he was just a young man. He would obviously lose the duel. Albert wouldn’t have known that he was the one who personally killed Cecil Lockridge, instead he would just have been present as the interpreter- an accessory to the crime. Dong Xin was the one he thought was the actual killer there. No, that wasn’t what made it a bad idea. It wasn’t even whether he was going to win or lose that was the problem. Instead, it was that he brought it up at all. That meant he was afraid the accusation was true. If not, there was no reason to dispute it in such a manner. Of course, if he won then it would have to be treated as if it didn’t exist… but even if it wasn’t usable as evidence in court, it would make every other piece of evidence seem that much more suspect. It wasn’t like William was a longstanding rival of his house who just made the accusations to cause him trouble. Well, not publicly, anyway, and he wouldn’t have known all of the issues William had with the Lockridge family.
“So, what if I kill him?” William asked Javan, as he was preparing for the duel.
“You can’t kill him.”
“Can’t… or shouldn’t?”
Javan looked at William suspiciously. “You can’t. That’s why we have wards. If you continue to attack after he is already seriously injured, there would be problems. If the wards were tampered with to make lethal combat possible, that would also be a major issue.”
“Right, but people have died in duels before. It doesn’t happen often, but occasionally things go just wrong, and somebody dies.”
Javan shrugged. “That happens, but usually one when there is a large disparity in ability… and also usually when one side reacts in a manner that makes the attack they are facing worse. If that happens, it happens, but it is extremely unlikely. This is not his first duel.”
William nodded. “Well, good. I wasn’t really sure how this whole thing worked. I just wanted to make sure I can go all out.” That was mostly a lie, but Javan didn’t need to hear that, even if he was on William’s side.
Albert Lockridge stood on the other side of the arena. “You can surrender now, boy, if you are afraid of getting hurt. There’s no cowardice in that.” Of course, saying it in that manner didn’t really mean it was intended to get him to surrender. However, it did confirm one thing. Albert didn’t even suspect he was the one who killed Cecil. Otherwise, he would have been more cautious.
“Are the wards active?” William looked for confirmation, then stepped up into the arena. “You can surrender now, old man, we already know you and your family are both cowards and a traitors.” That was certainly not meant to cause a surrender. William would be rather disappointed at that. Albert wasn’t even old, just middle aged, and certainly nowhere near old enough for William to call him that… but as expected the whole pronouncement got him riled up.
Albert stepped up onto the arena. “Very well then! Since you have no respect…”
Then, the match started with a countdown, then an exclamation of “Begin!”
Albert began chanting a spell. He was a wizard after all. Meanwhile, William dashed across the arena. He remembered when thirty meters had felt rather long. Although it had only taken half a dozen seconds to sprint across, that was enough time for a spell or two to be lobbed his way. Of course, that was before, and while his body wasn’t as good right now as it had been in his former life… his ki was much more developed, and more importantly intentional instead of a vaguely recognized ability. William seemed to be only a blur as he dashed across the arena in less than three seconds, a speed that would beat any olympic sprinters from Earth. Albert obviously hadn’t been prepared for such speed. In fact, he probably hadn’t expected William to be able to fight much at all. However, he didn’t worry about that for long, because William struck out with Chris… and then Albert collapsed onto the arena floor in an undignified heap. Then, everything seemed to stop as the arena went quiet, and no movement came.
After just a single attack, Albert had collapsed onto the floor of the arena. William stepped back and waited… not for Albert to get up, but rather for the declaration of his victory. That took a few moments, since it was unexpected. Then, the wizards who were on standby with healing magic went into the arena to check on Albert. They were a few of the wizards who were allowed to keep operating, both because they were useful and also because they had not been involved with the corruption of the guild- provably, at least. “He’s dead.”
All eyes turned to look at William. “I only hit him once. Maybe he had a weak heart.” William thought he probably did have a weak heart. Wizards weren’t prone to getting a lot of exercise. Of course, he knew that wasn’t the reason, just that it could possibly be true.
Several of the Lockridge family members watching screamed, “Murderer!” They tried to approach him, but a wall of knights blocked their way.
“Me? A murderer? I am not. However, your family is responsible for the murder of the Archmage William, as well as at collusion with demons. That has just been proven.” William turned to the king, who was overseeing the whole thing nearby. “Hasn’t it, your majesty?”
“That is correct. There is no doubt now. The Lockridge family will be stripped of all the titles and lands granted to them as a member of the nobility, and we shall pass down appropriate punishments to those members guilty of further crimes.”
There was no one who was able to object. Though other members of the nobility who had been colluding with the Lockridge family and the guild to increase their own power looked unsatisfied… they also avoided saying anything. After all, as things stood they were at most going to have minor penalties, or perhaps some particular members being arrested and imprisoned or executed. The rest of them would be unscathed, and without the Lockridge family around perhaps they could jockey for the top position. That possibility didn’t please William in the slightest, but he consoled himself that maybe they would get themselves killed in the war with the Demon King. He knew it was more likely they would just lose money spent on sponsored troops, but he could dream.