The hesitant Vera was a little funny. Leguna took out a bottle of human red wine and poured her a cup.
“Oljharok got it for me. More or less as thanks for helping him.” Leguna waved the bottle around before taking a swig. “Tell me, Sis. Don’t hold back.”
Vera looked at the boy and grit her teeth.
“I know of one weakness Balor has. It might help you.”
It never hurt to know an opponent’s weakness.
“What is it?”
Vera descended into silence.
“I can tell you, but you have to promise me..”
“Promise you what?”
Vera mouthed her words with difficulty.
“I know this is selfish, but please don’t kill my brother.”
“So, if I don’t promise you, you won’t tell me?”
“No, I will still tell you. Ley, your sister begs you… If you defeat Balor, please leave him alive. He… He’s the only family I have left…”
“He’s also the reason why he’s your last family. And he also tried to make him the only one left in the family entirely. He tried to kill me and is threatening the most important person in my life,” Leguna replied coldly, “How can you forget Uncle Ferd? He was your dad! After everything he did, you still want me to spare him?!”
Vera didn’t know how to respond. He had tried to kill her family and her closest friends, he was an enemy no matter how you looked at it. Killing him was the obvious, even the righteous choice. But he was also the only family she had left. She had grown up with him for ten years. He was her brother. She couldn’t forget that innocent face that used to stare at her with sparkling eyes and called her ‘Bis Sister’. She was also at least partially to blame for how he turned out. She could not face him, nor could she let him be killed. Her conscience would not let her.
She couldn’t do it. She really couldn’t. This duel was her worst nightmare. Her greatest wish was to pinch herself and wake up. She wished, with her entire being, the two could make up, maybe even become good friends. But this was a delusional fantasy, and she knew it. The least she could hope for was that Leguna would spare Balor, so, in spite of how selfish and unjust it was for her to ask it of the boy, she still did. She had no trust or hope left in her little brother, what little hope she had was crushed when he killed her father, but she could not bare the thought of being the only one of her bloodline left in the world. She had no choice but to beg Leguna to spare him.
She could not, however, force him to, and it was clear he had no intention to do it. The corners of her lips twitched bitterly. Her brother had done nothing but try to cause Leguna as much pain and suffering as possible since the kid came over from Chino. He had not only been indirectly responsible for Cyranos’s death, but probably also had a hand in Jaehart and Minnie’s deaths as well. Besides her bias, did he really deserve any mercy?
Having thought everything through, she dropped to her knees.
“What are you doing?!”
Leguna rushed to lift her up but she would not budge. She wouldn’t get up no matter what. Helpless, Leguna kneeled as well.
“I’ll just kneel as well, then,” said Leguna, his eye rolling.
Vera giggled slightly in spite of her sour mood.
She slowly got back on her feet. Leguna had this peculiar way of making even the most serious of moments a joke.
“That’s better.” Leguna scratched his nose proudly.
“Why are you always so laid back?!” Vera shot him and odd glance. “Do you promise me or not?”
“I do.” he answered sourly.
“Then why did you make such a fuss?”
“I didn’t want you to make a decision you’ll regret because of a moment of recklessness and pity. You needed a wake-up call. If you insist Balor is still your brother, I won’t kill him.”
“How dare you test me!”
Vera returned to her usual self. She tried to grab the boy’s ear, but he ducked, causing her well-trained skill to miss.
“Hehe, I practiced!” snickered the brat mischievously.
“Humph! You’re no different from Kurdak! You two have even been colluding this whole time!” Vera pouted.
“Of course!” Leguna took another swig of wine and thumped on the table. “you might not be aware, but you’ve pulled Boss’s ears so hard they’ve actually begun tearing. He looked like an elf! He came to me for tips so I taught him to just dodge!”
“You overgrown babies…” Vera felt both the urge to laugh and scream. But she did neither when she remembered was the kid was about to face. “Alright, let’s not joke around anymore.”
“I only remembered this recently. It shouldn’t be a big issue to defeat Balor once you know his weakness.”
” What weakness is it? It sounds bad,” Leguna said curiously.
“It is. It won’t kill him outright, but it should incapacitate him pretty much immediately.”
“Okay, okay, tell me!” Leguna bobbed impatiently.
“It happened not long before we were attacked by the orcs. I went foraging with Balor and he was bitten by a snake.”
“Bitten by a snake? Was he poisoned?”
Vera shook her head.
“It was a really rare snake. I think it was the azureback bloodsnake. Its venom isn’t fatal to humans, but–”
“–But when mixed with dusksoul grass and a softbone flower’s petals, it becomes a very strong paralyzer. A fighter’s resistance to poison rises as they get stronger, but the azureback bloodsnake’s venom is potent even against saint ranks. The most horrifying part is that the venom is still potent even after being in the human body for years, even decades.”
“You know?” Vera asked, shocked.
Azureback bloodsnakes were incredibly rare and Balor had no reaction to the bite, so no one really bothered with it.
She only learned how possibly precarious Balor’s position was after she became a mercenary years later. He found a manual on poisons and realized what had bitten her brother from it. She believed he was already dead, so she didn’t pay careful attention to it and quickly forgot. She only remembered this recently during her distraught nights over the duel.
“Of course I do. What kind of an assassin would I be if I don’t know about these things? We’re not just experts at attacking from the shadows or escaping, but at lock-picking and in poisons too,” Leguna smiled
Wayerliss had made sure he studied poisons carefully; there was little he didn’t know about it.
“Then you know what to do,” Vera nodded, “I was too young at the time and it’s been too long; I can’t be sure that really is the snake that bit him.”
“Even if he were, we can’t be sure the venom is still in his body. Not that it matters. I just have to smear my weapons with the concoction and see if it works. If it does, great, but it’ll cost me nothing even if it doesn’t.”
“I’ll make it tomorrow, thanks, Sis.”
She smiled painedly.
“I should thank you, since you’ll spare him if you win.”
“Don’t be so distant. You helped me out a lot in the past, so I’ll do you this one favor,” Leguna said with a bright smile, “Don’t worry, Sis. I will bring you back the Balor you knew.”
Vera stared at the kid blankly. The kid she used to have to watch carefully had, at some point, grown into a youth who could solve his own problems. He had not just rescued her and her lover, but was now going to ‘fix’ her brother for her.
You’ve really grown, you little rascal!
Though she was overwhelmed with gratitude, she could only master these two words.
“Sigh, I already told you not to be so distant.”