An awkward silence filled with air.
Rozen and Heathcliff faced each other with their weapon still in their hands, speechless.
Saichou and Hanachou that were flying on Rozen’s side, looked at each other in confusion.
Asuna, who also saw this scene, wanted to stop them from repeating their duel, but from the look on her eyes, it was clear that she hesitated.
Since the winner hasn’t been decided, normally Players would do a rematch, right? That was why Asuna was worried.
But the fact that Rozen could tie with Heathcliff was very surprising for Asuna. After all, Asuna herself has witnessed how strong Heathcliff’s Holy Sword was. Unlike other Skills and Extra Skills, only one person could learn this Unique Skill, yet Rozen managed to hold his own and, in fact, almost win if only the time weren’t up, but had the duel continued, such a dangerous duel could lead to accidents, it’d be awful if there either of them died in the duel earlier.
Right before Asuna was about to stop them, Rozen and Heathcliff finally said something.
“To be honest, this is the first time I feel there’s a shortcoming in SAO’s system,” Rozen said with disappointed tone: ”It’d be nice if the duel’s time limit is longer.”
“Same here.” Heathcliff nodded with a bitter smile: “This is an unexpected situation indeed. It’d be nice if the game developers realize this and make some changes.”
It seemed that both Rozen and Hitzcliffe were dissatisfied with the outcome of this duel. However, they didn’t seem to have any intention of having a rematch.
“In any case, this is a rewarding experience.” Rozen sheathed his Queen’s Knightsword and looked at Heathcliff. “I managed to learn about the existence of a Unique Skill, and the Clearers should be assured that a Player of your calibre will join us.
“You’re exaggerating; I still have ways to go. You’re the amazing one here, Chairman Rozen.” Heathcliff also sheathed his one-handed sword back to his Kite Shield and looked at Rozen. “At first, I thought even if you have two Tamed Monsters, you’ll still be helpless against a Unique Skill. It seems that I was too naive. This world still has many undiscovered possibilities, and knowing this is very rewarding as well for me.”
Both Rozen and Heathcliff shared their respective impression of each other with these words. But as for their true feelings during the duel, only both of them know.
“Today is a fruitful day, indeed.” Heathcliff closed his eyes, smiled calmly, and said: “I was only interested in the Tamed Monsters you raised at first, and that’s why I come all the way here, but to think that Chairman Rozen still have more surprises in store, it really is worth the trip.”
“Well, I’m glad to hear that.” Even though that was what Rozen said, Rozen didn’t particularly care about Heathcliff’s impression of him, and then he added: “So, what Chairman Heathcliff’s going to do next?”
Heathcliff answered without hesitation.
“It’s about time I go back to base,” Heathcliff said casually as if he had achieved his objective for coming to that place. He then added: “I guess the next time we meet will be at the Floor Boss Raid. I’m looking forward to seeing the Magician in action up close.”
“I’ll try to live up to your expectation.” Rozen did not hesitate to say: “With you joining, the 26th Floor Boss shouldn’t be a threat.”
“I sure hope so.” Hitzcliffe nodded, but his expression was completely unreadable, especially with his eyes closed.
Only then this Knight of Blood’s leader finally opened his eyes, and as he watched both Saichou and Hanachou flying on Rozen’s side, he looked straight at Rozen and smiled mysteriously.
“I am looking forward to seeing what you have in store for the future.”
Heathcliff, who seemed so mysterious, left that as the parting words as he turned around.
Asuna approached Heathcliff as he turned around.
“Sorry to drag you all the way here.” The smile on Heathcliff’s face gradually disappeared, and he was back to his usual precise and rational look, and he said to Asuna: “I’ll go straight to the headquarter, you should take a rest for the day, you must be tired after the Field Boss Raid today.”
Heathcliff then walked toward the 24th Floor’s teleport gate, and Asuna saw Heathcliff off.
Various thought popped up in Rozen’s mind as he watched Heathcliff’s back.
Both Saichou and Hanachou approached Rozen. One seemed to ask for his praise, while the other looked down in frustration.
Upon seeing them, Rozen snapped back from his thoughts and petted Hanachou, who looked dejected.
“it’s not your fault. Your level is still pretty low, after all. Once you get more levels, you’ll be stronger for sure, and after some training, you’ll be able to toy with your opponent like Saichou, so don’t blame yourself.”
Hearing Rozen’s encouraging words, Hanachou that seemed down, cried pleasantly
Suddenly a voice was heard behind Rozen.
“I didn’t expect you’d be able to tie with a leader. You’re far stronger than back then on the 1st Floor.
Rozen knew it was Asuna’s voice without turning back, so he just shrugged and said: “That goes for you too, no?
Asuna then answered.
“Use everything you can to fight and free yourself from this world, isn’t that what you said?”
Asuna looked at Rozen as if curious about his response.
“I did say that, but you seem to have a slight misunderstanding.”
Rozen said indifferently without turning back to Asuna
“I didn’t mean you can literally use everything to achieve your goals. There are some things that you can’t and can do.”
Asuna frowned when she heard Rozen’s words. She was wondering what he meant by that? But Rozen didn’t bother to explain.
“Well, you will understand what I mean eventually.”
Rozen then left along with Saichou and Hanachou with that as parting words.
Asuna could only look at Rozen’s back that gradually became further and further.
A moment later…
“I will fight to the end, no matter what…”
Asuna also left after she said these words.
That marked the end of the meeting that no one knew, and no one knew what will happen from there onwards.
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