Chapter 12 ~ Gladiator Competition, Second Round Qualifier ——Invitation——
Sati won her first match successfully, and after that I resumed the conversation that I had with the King. I want to see if there are any contestants who will serve as Sati opponent, but the King is more interested in talking about me and Lilia compared to the other matches.
“So, how far were we when we stop just then?”
“Around the part when I met Masaru after I escaped my country.”
There is an element of dramatization in her story. It is the story used to tell the outsider with various parts that are likely problematic already filtered out. Recently, opportunities like this have increased, so I have more leverage to change the narrative. Still, it doesn’t deny how flamboyant our success sounds, but I don’t think it is in a degree that sound unnatural for an A rank.
However, I hardly had any chance to talk, so should I really be here?
If my memory serves me right, right now I am supposed to be sitting together with my wives while being encircled by the elves, celebrating in joy towards Sati success on the field, yet why am I here stuck acting as a companion to this old man? Thanks to the bet that I have forgotten to place on Sati earlier, today is a major loss.
For now, it is a relief when I was told that it’s unnecessary to act formal since this is an informal place. I was told that I am currently at the same level as Lilia, though.
“Father, it is going to be Francesca honoured sister turns next.”
Our company with the King is interrupted by the young prince remarks. This prince, I wonder if he is around 10 years old. Seems like he is more concerned about the game than Lilia’s story. I too, wish to do so.
Francesca second matches isn’t any inferior to her beginning match, instantly defeating her opponent. She exchanges blow directly, *clang* *clang* *kapow*. It ended in three shots. If she continues this way, then she will serve as a powerful opponent in this tournament.
In Sati’s venue, the same pair is still fighting since a while ago, interlocked in a death battle. Both suffers a certain amount of damages, but neither of them is willing to step down. Like this, there will be some time before Sati’s next turn come.
“The opponent doesn’t serve as a challenge at all.”
“Her opponent is just that weak.”
They shouldn’t be that weak since they are participating in this tournament, just the difference in their ability is that high.
Next is number 776 match. It is easy to spot him since he is wearing the same bib as the first qualifying round for the second qualifying round.
“That is the guy. The person Sati lost to during first qualifier.”
The winner of this match will compete against Francesca in final, so I continue to pay attention to this game.
Again, his match ended after a couple of exchanges and just like that he proceeds to the final.
In exchange for the loser, Francesca appears on stage and cheers were raised. Seems like this Francesca is quite popular.
“Is her opponent strong this time?”
“He is an unknown fighter who just made his debut, isn’t he?”
Even the respected captain is unaware of this person.
“However, this person managed to beat Sati. Let’s assume he is strong.”
“Nothing much can be said because neither of them has demonstrated their true ability so far, hence both has the same chance to win.”
It’s hard to say it out, but I felt like number 776, Armand is stronger. If I were told to fight either of them, I will choose Francesca. That is the choice that I think I could win.
“Honoured sister Francesca will never lose!”
The prince said so, but even I have never expected Sati to lose.
“We will know the result soon, Stephan.”
Right after the King sooth the prince, the signal was released, indicating the start of the match.
However, instead of immediately brandishing his sword, he starts off with talking. I tried to eavesdrop, but the battle has begun before I finished adjusting my Hearing Detection. This skill requires sometimes to get used to…….
The one who makes the first move is Francesca. From her starting point, she immediately rushes into Armand while driving her sword in. Her sword was then swept away, and just like that their faces are interlocked with each other.
Suddenly, Francesca abruptly take a step back.
The cunning Armand lowered his sword and laugh in amusement.
The King questioned Francesca weird movement.
Simply put, that guy tried to do Mubyōshi-uchi, however Francesca managed to sense it beforehand and took a step back.
“Seems like Armand tries to do something which honoured sister Francesca hated, so she back down at the end.”
This time, Armand hang the tip of his sword below his waist and slowly stride forward, and he stopped. Both swords are now within the range of each other. But Francesca doesn’t flinch at all.
Suddenly, Armand sword leaped.
It hit, the prince thought and raised his voice in astonishment, however the attack was dodged by a paper-thin difference.
Next is Francesca turns to counterattack. Armand evaded her attack this time as well. They both keep swapping offence and defence, throwing out and receiving the sword, yet both of them never fail to evade each other attack.
However, after several exchanges, Armand sword was stopped by Francesca shield. Armand strategy was to lure her to evade his preliminary attack and then quickly goes for a real attack.
Francesca fall back and again took her distance.
“Both are amazing. My eyes have difficulty to catch up.”
They surely are amazing. There is no way I can execute such evasive movement. But they are still in the level where I can handle them well. Both still haven’t show their strength yet. They are trying to measure each other’s power level.
Still, her true ability is almost apparent. If this is the ability of the last year tournament champion, then I’d say Sati is strong enough to become a winner too.
“Lilia, observe them carefully. Here they come.”
The air around Armand remain unchanged, however Francesca obviously putting out her fighting spirit to the max. It looks as if she is in fire herself.
Francesca moved. She rushes forward in an instant.
Clang, ding, violent sound from their clashing unheard from before resounding around the stadium. Although Francesca intensely going for the offensive, Armand counterattacks exactly and has not pulled a step.
To put it bluntly, there is a margin between them before calling them equal. Perhaps, there are difference between their ages and their experience. All Francesca attacks were successfully repelled by Armand.
Despite only launching few attacks, Armand strike managed to scratch Francesca. Of course, Francesca doesn’t flinch from that alone, and continues to launch her attack aggressively, however she is a step behind Armand.
Armand has a dexterity corresponding to his age. If not for Francesca ranks as one of the best contestant out there, Armand would has easily win this match.
So, I thought. Yet the flow has changed. Doesn’t it look like Francesca is pushing more and more?
Armand movement invoke a sense of eeriness……here, again. Another strange move set.
Even in situations where it is better to block with a shield, it looks as if he intentionally receives the attack with his sword……
He never uses his shield that is hanging on his left hand so far. And his opponent, Francesca realizes that.
Is his left hand injured?
But whatever the reason, Francesca doesn’t seem to miss it. She mercilessly increases her attacks throughput towards the weak point. I don’t think it is cowardice. Even I will do it. Armand is that strong.
Ever since Francesca becomes more aggressive in her attacks, Armand has turn to become defensive. Defeating him is not going to become difficult since one of his hand is unusable. There is a possibility that it is an elaborate trap, but at this rate, she will have a difficulty to win trough ordinary mean.
Finally, Francesca swords manage to cut open Armand shoulder.
Shallow. Even so, Armand get on his knees, then proceed to raise his hand.
Seems like he is giving up. The injury is griever than it looks……
“We have a winner!”
Francesca face clearly shows her blatant looks of surprised. She certainly never thinks that she will win the match this way.
They are talking about something again. I adjusted my Hearing Detection.
“Seems like they are looking for something.”
The King said without anyone asking.
“Looks like Armand is getting scolded for intentionally losing the fight. He is asked to fight again properly. But Armand said the match was already decided.”
I could only listen from the middle of their conversation, but perhaps he couldn’t use the shield at all. Besides, it is next to impossible to continue the match with the amount of damage he suffered. That’s why he gives up in haste.
The referee has come to mediate, but Francesca doesn’t look like she was convinced.
“Looks like nobody knows precisely what is happening. Hey, come here both of you.”
The knights ran off after receiving the order from the King.
So, the two of them come to the presence of the King.
At the same time, Tilika is requested by the King to stand at his rear.
“What are you disputing about?”
“Esteemed uncle! This man, he is holding back!”
“I definitely not trying to hold back or anything.”
“Hmm. Were you Armand? Were you holding back in this game?”
“Of course, I were fighting with all I got, King Albrecht.”
Tilika doesn’t respond to his word. Just like I suspected, his left hand is truly injured?
“Then fight me with one hand and give it your all!”
“Without a mistake, I fought with only my right hand and there is no doubt that I’m giving my best. I’m still defeated.”
“As if I would agree! I demand a rematch!”
While saying that, Francesca struck her sword at Armand.
“Even if I fight with my usual style, there is no way I could win. I doubt you are that naïve to not notice that?”
Francesca was silenced. If one has his hand sealed as handicap, it’s clear to everyone that he couldn’t win, even if he gives his best.
“What is your usual style?”
I asked him.
“I am two handed users, Priest boy.”
Two handed users! Not only Mubyōshi-uchi, he is also a two-handed user, which means he is a versatile swordsman.
“A two-handed user……are you the Empire’s Armand Mojica?”
Paula san seems to realize something after hearing he is two handed, then she interrupted the talk.
“I didn’t saw you in the recent tournament, however I still remembered it well.”
“He won the championship in the Empire about a decade ago, didn’t he? I remember it well because it is rare to see someone using two handed swords.”
I heard Francesca was a winner in the Empire’s tournament too. I leaked a surprised voice.
“I never had an intention to ruin other country tournament from the start. For that reason, I am fighting here with a handicap.”
The Empire held tournament is the biggest in this world, and swordsmen who aim to be the strongest are all gathered from all over the world. From the winner point of view, it isn’t weird if he treated the Kingdom tournament as a local competition of some sort. Moreover, he won the championship about 10 years ago. I guess he is about 30 to 35 years old now. The age where he has matured the most.
“However, in any case that I won with a handicap, I thought that would be inevitable, though.”
“Then, why did you compete in this tournament in the first place?”
I asked him what I have in mind. Going as far as putting a handicap on himself, I wonder what propelled him to join this tournament.
“I am scouting. I want to take a direct look at a person that my teacher mentioned. The person who is rumoured to be one of the two candidates to take up the name Sword Saint.”
He registered himself in this tournament after hearing that Francesca is going to participate, but it turned out in the last minute that she is not participating this year. Even if he did manage to confront her, his opponent is a duke daughter. He doesn’t have any connection to the Kingdom, so any letter that he sends to the premise might be thrown out.
“I was told that if I want to encounter a strong person, then take part in the tournament. I am glad that you came out.”
“Even without going such a roundabout way, you can simply visit from the front with dignified manner.”
“If he proposes to have a match with the daughter of the duke, then wouldn’t he be put inside a prison?”
Even without going that far, it’s easy to imagine how troublesome it would turn out. At any rate, the King love his niece that much.
Well, I wonder how it will turn out if he thrown out such a suspicious letter.
“So? Should I grant this strong man his wishes?”
“She is a genius for her age. My teacher, Barnabas Hayda welcome Francesca Stringer dono to visit us. Of course, only if you are willing.”
Armand told us with a serious voice, which is completely different than his easy-going attitude so far.
Sword Saint, Barnabas Hayda. Sergeant dono master. I feel like I was told by him that he wishes to introduce me……
Francesca didn’t seem to be fazed to hear that name. Looks like she has predicted it somewhat from the story that she heard so far.
“That is a given. However, before that, Armand Mojica. I want you to fight me will all you might.”
“If you manage to snag an overall victory, then I will serve as your opponent again, with my full power.”
“I have grown stronger in the past year. There is no one in the Kingdom who can serve as my opponent no more.”
“Hopefully it is that simple.”
Armand looked to the venue. It is currently Sati’s second round. Her match is nearly overlooked.
“Oh, it’s Sati’s match. Everyone, lets watch the match first.”
The game soon began.
Sati’s opponent is a huge beastmens swordsman. His arms look powerful and he looks like he got skills.
Sati makes the first move. The other beastmens easily endure Sati’s barrage of attack. Next is his turn to counterattack. His weapon filled with destructive force doesn’t bode well with Sati, and as she retreated, the opponent pursued her. At least he has speed with him.
Sati was soon caught at the end of the stage. The beastmens took the chance and thrust into Sati who is standing still. However, by using the edge at the corner of the stage, Sati passed through the beastmens through his side. Moreover, when she finally passed through, she sweeps down the beastmens leg.
Sati shove her sword toward the beastmens who barely able to turn toward her, and then the beastmens collapse.
The beastmens could no longer stand, so a winner was announced. The healing surgeon rushes over to the beastmens. As expected, nobody is good enough to serve as Sati’s opponent in this qualifying round.
“She added a blow to her opponent foot while she slips through his side. Because of that, her opponent response was delayed for a moment and that opportunity is used by her to launch a stab.”
I explain what is going on to Lilia and the King.
“If she keeps this up then she might be able to enter the final.”
“Her next opponent is a Templar Knight. Last year, he manages to win two battles in the main tournament.”
“I fought him once. He was a troublesome opponent. Whenever he receives damages he will recover himself with Recovery Magic.”
Francesca further explain what the captain has in mind.
His odds are 1.5 times as the most powerful contestant in his group. At first glance, he doesn’t look that much different than an ordinary adventurer, but he is equipped with a shield so big his whole body is completely hidden by it. Although at first, he looks like someone who emphasizes defence, the fact that his shield itself hold an immense attack power cannot be ignored.
The shield is also a mass of iron. If anyone got hit on the front, then they might get blown away. And if the user hit someone with the shield’s side, it will holds the same offensive power as the sword’s blade.
“She will be my opponent, Sati is her name, correct? Must be tough to fight with such a small stature.”
Francesca concluded after the starting signal for the match is released.
I wonder if Sati herself think she doesn’t have enough attack power. Certainly, the opponent has a good physique. If he lunges his shield forward, then Sati can make use of whatever the small opening creates to reach his inside. I think it’s an unnecessary worry.
Immediately after the signal for the start is released, Sati begin her assault. She went straight ahead to the ridiculously large shield and bend her body downward, allowing her to go through the shield from lower position. Then, a blow.
The opponent drops his shield and protect his knees. Sati aimed her attack there.
The Templar Knight raised his hand with a painful expression and raised his hand, giving up. After a moment of silence, the venue was filled with roar and cheers.
Again, Lilia seems to be oblivious to what is happening on the stage.
“Just now, what happening was a feint. She hides behind the shield and hence, disappear from the opponent points of view. She let out her right hand as a feint while her left hand is dealing the blow.”
It’s easier to explain, but the secret lies within her Covert and small body stature that are completely hidden behind the shield. It’s a kind of blow that can only be released at overwhelming speed. She is lucky to meet all those conditions. It would be unfavourable to her if the Templar Knight was not wearing a metallic armour that they normally equipped.
Sati looks at this side and waves her hands to our notice.
Sati got stopped by the staff at once, but after telling them that she is coming here, I met her at the stairs of the guest seat.
“Well done, Sati.”
Everyone welcome Sati and praise her. Sati was very happy.
For now, all Sati’s matches are over, but it is better if I stayed to observe the other matches. There might be another strong contestant.
“How about lunch with everyone sound?”
Unsurprisingly, the King isn’t going to stay here the entire day to watch the match. He instead invited us to the Royal Palace. Well, Lilia is still halfway through her story, too.
Everyone looks at me. Probably they are waiting for me to make the decision. If possible, I would like to refuse the King’s invitation, however that would require me to find an excuse that wouldn’t garner any attention my way……
“Esteemed uncle, you may have the entire day free, however we have an upcoming match to look up into. We don’t have time to play.”
Perhaps she guessed that I am lost for word, so she opted to lend me a hand.
“Mu, you are right. I don’t mean to force you or anything……”
“Since I am staying here with Sati, would you mind going in my stead, Lilia?”
They are just going to listen about the story, hence my presence is unneeded.
“That will do.”
Ellie and Ann accompanied her to the Royal Palace.
Tilika remained here and together, we watched the King departed.
“By the way, we were told to go to the office.”
They were asked to return the number bib. Besides that, the committee is interested to hold an interview with the contestant who manage to enter the main competition.
“That’s why Sati, I say why don’t we return them together.”
Francesca hasn’t done it before, and because of that she is reluctant to return them all on her own.
“I’m going too.”
Both me and Tilika are outsiders, but nobody is stopping us when we entered the hall alongside Francesca. Perhaps it was thanks to her prestige and charisma.
Sati intermittently sneak a peek at Francesca while we are walking.
Is she worried about her due to her being one of potential rival?
“Is there anything on my face?”
“Ah, um. Francesca sama is a princess, isn’t it?”
“My mother was a princess, but when she married father, she abandoned her title due to the confusion for the right to succeed the throne. That’s why I cannot say that I am a princess.”
Sati quietly hear her explanation. But I couldn’t help not to get a little disappointed.
“When we finally meet at the main match, feel free not to hold back just because I am the King niece, understood? I won the championship last year, but until then I was beaten may times. Going easy on me is useless.”
“Understood, Francesca sama.”
Sati never go easy on battle, so I guess she is just purely interested on her being a princess. If Sati wishes, I am sure there will be another chance to visit the royal palace while we are still staying here in the Kingdom’s capital. Even today we were invited to a luncheon.
Without speaking anything, she quietly follows Francesca who went to the office that is located under the stadium auditorium without any delay.
“Well then, Sati. I am looking forward to fight you in the main competition.”
Francesca returns her number to the person working inside the office, and after saying so, she exchanged a word or two, then she left off quickly.
“Number 777, Sati isn’t it? Congratulations for making it to the main competition. I’d like to hear various stories from you……”
And they look at me, with a facial expression as if asking who this guy should be?
“Please don’t mind me. I am Sati’s husband.”
For the time being, I was asked about my name, place of birth, career and so on.
However, there isn’t much additional comments that I can talk about. I can use magic, and I don’t want to tell them about how it is only about half a year since I first learn how to swing a sword.
“You have never participated in this tournament before. Your most remarkable achievement is a dragon suppression. What were you doing before that?”
“She helped around her house at the rural village. Then, she came to the town to become an adventurer. There is when she learns swordsmanship.”
Sati seems reluctant to answer, so I answer in her stead. I don’t bother to tell that she was sold as a slave.
“Please tell us what your motivation is, like going to final, etc.”
“I am aiming for the overall championship.”
“Alright, that was the last question. Thank you. The pairing will be displayed on the morning the day after tomorrow, so please come to the venue as early as possible.”
When we returned to the seat prepared by the elf, there are only a couple of elves left. Most of them have followed Lilia. Will and Armand are already in a good term.
“Welcome back, big bro. And congratulations for your advancement, Sati san.”
“Thank you very much, Will san.”
Despite there being an ample room of space, I didn’t bother to sit further away than those two. After I sit nearby, I heard Armand trying to start a conversation with me.
“I have been waiting. There is a little something that I want to talk about.”
“I don’t mind that at all, but did you see if there is anyone else that is strong enough for the rest of the matches while we were away?”
“So far, I couldn’t find anyone who is outstanding.”
Just like I guessed, there isn’t anyone who is stronger than Francesca who won the championship last year.
“That’s right. I would like to see this girl skills once again.”
Armand easily swift the topic to Sati.
Introduction to swordsmanship can be done via Sergeant dono, hence there is little to no point about this skill test. But, it will serve as a good opportunity to see whether Sati can cope with Mubyōshi-uchi or not, plus he can serve as a good training partner before the real match start.
With that said, it was decided that we will meet again after the qualifying is over at the Elf Mansion.
“Armand is the Sword Saint disciple, isn’t he?”
While we are watching the rest of the matches, I decided to voice out things that have been on my mind.
“That is correct.”
“Is the training with the Sword Saint as gruesome as I’ve heard?”
“He is a demon. I was prepared to die for many times.”
Ah, that is to be expected……
“Since my teacher is already in his late year, he rarely does direct guiding.”
Why are you scouting in the first place? Despite having many disciples, it was said that the Sword Saint was unable to find a person with enough qualities that can convinced him. A person worthy to succeed the title of new Sword Saint. That is after he considered Armand, and countless other talented disciples.
“He is a monster. Hence, the reason why he is called the Sword Saint. There is no swordsman who is good enough to replace him in the past decade that has appeared yet.”
The strongest swordsman in the world who is also called as monster by Armand.
“Well, it’s hard to get master to join the practice without talking about his successor.”
Sati who wants to begin asking questions look this way. I guess she wants to go.
“Don’t mind me. Sati may go.”
“Masaru sama come and practice with us too.”
“But I am not trying to become a swordsman.”
“Priest boy, if you still remember your skills, then why don’t we have a little test?”
“I am fine.”
“Masaru sama must be together with us! Let’s become stronger together!”
“No, he wouldn’t take a disciple that easily, you know?”
“Armand san please be quite for a while.”
“When it was time to practice with Sergeant dono, he would put a rope on Masaru sama neck and then Masaru sama join us.”
It’s rare to see Sati so stubborn. Perhaps this is one of the outcome from Sergeant dono education. Naturally, I wish I can grow stronger like she said.
“I-is that still a no……?”
I despise it, but it certainly better if I practice. Sati looks like she is going to cry any moment, plus I already promise Sergeant dono that I am going to visit the sword sanctuary Viels……
“Understood. Let’s visit that place together.”
Perhaps, the training wouldn’t be that harsh. Plus, there is nothing left that I can teach Sati anyways.
“Yes, let’s work hard together!”
Well, as long Sati is pleased, I guess everything is alright? No matter how intense the training is, there is low probability people are dying. I’ll just need to brace myself.
“Are you done discussing?”
“Fufufu. Well then, if you want to have the first taste of master’s training menu, let’s start by defeating me first!”
This person is very energetic.
“The priest boy seems like he is going to train too, so I wish to see your skills.”
“Masaru sama is stronger than me!”
“Sati san is a bit stronger with sword, however big bro commands legion of magic.”
“That is if you don’t mind me releasing my magic 100 meters from your location~”
“By the way, how great are you in using magic……?’
“I am an A rank mage. I can go as far as terrain changing magic.”
“Masaru sama magic is truly spectacular!”
‘So, your sword skill is inferior to the little lady?”
“Masaru sama is not as good with sword as me!”
“That is……is it okay with you to show me your serious sword skills?”
“Well, if casually……it’s fine.”
“Do you seriously wish to see the Sword Saint together with this passionate young lady when you yourself are that disinterested?”
“Well, to tell you frankly, someone else already arrange our meeting beforehand, so.”
“No, it isn’t that simple a matter to introduce people……”
Armand cast his suspicion on my words, however I don’t think Sergeant dono will say something that he doesn’t mean.
“I was referred by a guild instructor name Vaulk.”
“Vaulk……I have never met him, but I’ve heard of his name. I see. So, he is an instructor in the Kingdom’s capital.”
“He is currently staying at the capital. I think you can meet him if we visit the Adventurer Guild together.”
“Yeah. I am fine with that.”
I see. He has no qualms about that. That’s quite disappointing.
Sergeant dono was fighting for the strongest swordsman in the world spot a generation behind Armand. If only he isn’t injured, then I am sure he will still become the hot topic among swordsman even until now.
“The Demon Grueling Training. I hope you will accept the full course.”
Armand has a look of absolute delight.
“Was the training that harsh?”
“Don’t worry. A lot of people was traumatized by master’s teaching menu, however none of them left while dying……probably.”