Chapter 15 ~ Main Battle, Preliminary Round, Versus Gustav
The stadium is tightly packed with visitors.
Both side of the ground now accommodate the participant who leave their seat to the venue for their match. Those participant from the qualifier cannot hold a candle to these people.
“This is the final qualifying battle. Today we are having a special match! The winner of this match will enter the main tournament.”
A moderator stood on the stage, and while facing the audiences, he is commenting with a loud, resonating voice that seems to reach inside the venue.
His commentary only introduces me and Gustave as new player. Our duel is not disclosed.
The clerk in charge guide Sati to the stage, and at the place where it’s devoid of people, stood Gustave and Tilika, dressed in Truth Official garb. Together with them are people from the management. They are people who are involved with this matter.
“First, a promise is a promise.”
And the direction where Gustave points to is, a very good-looking keyed treasure box, and from the inside, I can hear the clink of gold coins. As for the amount, the people from the Commercial Guild went to take a look and they have guaranteed that there are indeed 1000 gold coins among the pile of coins.
However, despite them saying 1000 gold coins, I couldn’t see that much.
“Before we start the match, I would like to hear the confirmation about this duel.”
So, says the Truth Official representative.
“Representative of Byron family and Yamano family, both of you will fight fairly with your respective strength, and regardless of the result, both families will not leave any grudges. Will both of you swear on it?”
Then, Tilika started talking.
“If Masaru’s ability is proven in this duel, George Byron will receive an appropriate measure, and Masaru’s honour shall be restored among the Byron family.”
I don’t care about George anymore……all I wish for is to return to my home at my village.
“Are both of you ready?”
So, the Truth Palace representative asked. My mind is hardly prepared at all, but at least my equipment preparation is in place.
“Well then, let us welcome the warriors for the first match of the day!”
Cheers rise from the auditorium. This is going to be the first match for today. The spectator’s sights are all gathered here. Meanwhile, all participating players are gathering at this venue. This is getting more attention than I expected.
My stomach is churning and hurting. If it’s turning like this, then wouldn’t it better for me to participate from the start.
Sati who is with me calls me anxiously.
“It’s okay. It’s going to be okay.”
I took a deep breath, but my heart remains beating fast like an alarm bell. It’s an unprecedented tension.
I tell myself that everything is going to be alright.
I’m familiar with the equipment, and to add to that is my numerous training that I had for the past few days. I should feel no fear.
If I win, then I get 100 million yen. One hundred, million yen. What should I do with them?
Maybe I should buy an erotic slave. I’ve bought three so far, but none of them are willing to go that far……
While my thought is preoccupied with strange stuff, I gaudily fall over the stairs going up to the stage. It’s a small staircase with four steps. Suddenly, a laughter unwinds.
“Oh boy, now that isn’t good.”
Shut up. I can hear the voices from the audience stand.
“You can still do your best next year——”
Hey you—get out from the battle stage!
“Hilarious. An A rank magic swordsman, but seems like his strong suit is his magic alone.”
“We can’t expect anything from him if he’s already in that state. Even if he’s in the best condition, it’s hopeless since his opponent is Gustave anyways. Betting on Gustave is a sure thing……”
A heavy loss is fine too……
I went to the starting position on the stage.
“I don’t mind even if you put up an uncouth fight.”
So, Gustave voice flies to my side.
Despite my trembling voices and miserable appearances, I am well aware that this guy is way weaker than Sergeant dono. Moreover, it’s just a match with a referee. There is nothing to be afraid of. Concentrate. I have to concentrate on the match.
I stiffen, and the referee raised their hands. They’re going to signal the start manually.
It has already begun.
Our starting position is separated in a distance where a sword could not reach, and Gustave……he doesn’t move an inch.
Gustave is equipped with a medium size shield type with one-handed sword in another hand. I’m wearing a small buckler, the type where you wear on your arm, and my sword is big. It’s heavy, but I have longer reach.
“I’ll give you the first move. Come and get me.”
He’s still composed. While I’ve lost my composure.
I dislike having to appear in front of a lot of spectators, and hearing their voices are making me feel restless. I used this sword for practice all the time, yet it felt way heavier than yesterday. And here I thought that I might be able to somehow do it once the match started……
I drew nearer, first step, second step, till we finally met.
I need to defeat him quickly and finish this match as soon as possible.
I step forward. I swing my sword. First clash, second clash, we continued to trade blows. My body is moving steadily. I can fight. Let’s go.
So, I thought, and my own carelessness shown. I easily get caught with his feint.
I’m not prepared to defend against the incoming sword swing——evasion is——and I failed.
“I see. With this amount of skill, you serve around George’s opponent.”
Crap, he got my dominant arm. This way I cannot put all my strength in my swing. Recovery……
“I shall wait.”
Him waiting is much appreciated. Start casting 【Heal】——the pain has eased up.
Gustave is strong. I might have dug my feet a tad too deep this time.
Without giving any time for me to think, Gustave quickly makes his move. Receiving his attack. Getting hurt. Received his attack, again and again. Another feint——and it changes. Crap. Crap. I received yet another blow. I’m getting toyed with.
I tried to create a distance between us with my footwork, but he is not letting me escape that easily. Unlike my previous match with Nania san, Gustave is way stronger than her and his stamina is less likely to run out, hence his sword strike still retains the weight behind them.
At this rate, I’ll probably be chewed up by him before I managed to put up a proper resistance.
Again, another attack aimed at my flank. Sharp pain course through my body. But this time he will not wait unlike the previous time.
Sati’s voice can be heard clearly among the noises.
Damn it, this guy is supposed to be weaker than Sati……another feint. This time I can see it clearly.
That’s right. This guy is weaker than Sati. I can see his movement clearly. I can read his move if I’m calm.
I no longer run away, and I stopped my legs.
I fortified my defence. I calmly analyse his attack, block it and evade them.
He is weaker than Sati. Compared to Sergeant dono or Armand, he is league below them. I couldn’t feel any pressure behind his attack.
Immediately after I performed the evasion, I turn to counterattack. First blow, followed by the second blow. He’s quite good at using his shield. His defence is tough, too. If only I can use magic, then I can take him down with a single strike.
While we’re exchanging blows, for a moment, our swords were locked together. Our movement stopped——【Small Heal】——Gustave tried to interfere by pushing his sword, but I already finished my casting. The pain got lighter.
We distanced ourselves and faced each other. He is an opponent that I need to be careful of, but not someone that I should be afraid. I can use Recovery Magic to tend to the injuries from his attack. However,……
“Are you feeling unwell?”
“That’s why I’m asking you to hold back.”
While we’re talking, I cast 【Heal】once again.
Even after looking at me healing myself, he is not in rush whatsoever. I bet he isn’t fighting seriously yet.
Gustave adjusted his breath and slightly changed his stance. He adjusted his shield outward for a bit, then he makes his move.
I evaded, then I intercepted his attack. I tried to make a counterattack. However, my attack merely brushes his shield, confirming his solidifying defence. His attacks afterward have a heavy weight behind them.
As expected, he’s extremely skilful with shield. Gustave evaded my attack at the last minute and he actively preventing me from further attacking. I need to break his defence somehow.
I can still hear Sati’s cheers. I tried to calm myself down while listening to Sati’s voices. I no longer mind the great audience that came to watch. Gustave is just that strong, so he could afford to have that composure.
Thinking about it calmly, I see the speed of his swings and his power is way beyond my own.
Yet, all his attacks are block able.
Why does that happen?
Usually, I would have reach out to my Item Box or used my magic to deal with this situation, but such is prohibited in this tournament. His solid defence is immune towards frontal attack, although blending together feints and thrusts occasionally is too awkward.
The condition for winning.
I can avoid his charge well with my Evasion and Mind Eye skills.
Keep repeating the process, no matter how many times we met, I’ll just use the same technique. Either way, I can’t let the opponent has the first strike.
“Strong. Very strong.”
The moment we were separated, Gustave said so. That’s my line.
“You’re still young, yet you possess such skills. You’re also talented with magic. If this is a true death match, then there’s no way I can win.”
It would be nice though if magic is permitted to be used in this tournament.
“But if it’s the sword alone there’s no way I will lose!”
Gustave is coming. I thought he was planning for something but for now I repeat the same flow.
However, his fighting spirit is clearly different.
Besides, I’m having plenty already.
I’m already fighting with all I have. I just couldn’t afford not to.
Since Gustave is highly skilled in both offense and defence, I couldn’t find a way to hit him.
Even if I went in forcefully, my attempt to attack with all my strength will only be warded off, and in turns create an opening. I may know what Gustave is trying to achieve, but I still cannot move carelessly. It’s a miracle that I’m not being finished off right in the middle of the stage.
The clashing of our swords is repeating many times over and over. Seems like this time he is not going to make a feint anymore and is pushing inch by inch. Is he planning to sip my stamina little by little? Certainly, I do have a small build and that may be reflected in my strength, but with my skills, I may have compensated for it.
Gustave made his move at last. At first, he is attacking with his shield, and next he set up a Shield Bash.
Before I noticed, Gustave’s shield was already drawn nearby to my body, simultaneously while he was stepping into my territory. It is a simple technique where the user hit with their shield, but it can still deal a good amount of damage if the opponent was directly hit by the hard shield. The only way is to repel the shield is to fire off my own.
I may be inferior to him in physique, but there is no way my own power is lacking. I just have to step in firmly and accepted it with my shield——the next moment I intercepted his Shield Bash, a great shock run through my left shoulder. I’m taking the impact directly.
Crap. My bone might already be……my left arm was already numbed. I cannot move it due to severe pain.
Gustave began his assault from that point onward. I can only either block it singlehandedly with my sword or evade it.
Casting 【Small Heal】——Evasion, casting complete. Again, casting 【Small Heal】——complete.
I still haven’t recovered enough, yet. One more time……another Shield Bash incoming.
My left arm has finally recovered after I healed it with magic twice. I take on his Shield Bash with a buckler on my injured left arm, barely able to stop his sword from pushing too close to my face.
No, it feels like my ear and my cheeks are coming apart. I cannot dodge it.
My attack only scratched the surface of his shield, though to lunge a continues attack on the same spot is troublesome. He is being hidden behind his shield so I couldn’t tell where his attack is coming from until the last minute.
Just like before, he’s launching another Shield Bash. In order to avoid his Shield Bash, I need to get away from him first……so I fall back to the rear, and barely avoided his Shield Bash. Unfortunately, right now I’ve been chased to the edge of the stage.
Next, his incoming thrust will be……not there. Then once again, he tried to initiate another Shield Bash. Falling from this stage is enough to make me disqualified.
I received a solid Shield Bash. I couldn’t see his thrust. I directly suffered from his charge. I can only swing the sword in my right arm. As long my right arm is fine, I can continue to fight.
For the first time since we started crossing swords, my sword managed to hit nearby Gustave waist. Despite my strike becoming weaker due to shook in my hand, I still managed to make Gustave staggered from my strike, and I used that opening to escape from being cornered.
Chanting 【Small Heal】. My left arm can now move, slightly. One more time, 【Small Heal】——Gustave is now inching closer, already recovered and prepared for his next attack. I evaded his next attack. Then I launched my attack, rinsed and repeat. I cannot find a gap to cast another healing spell.
Another Shield Bash incoming. I forcibly move my hurting left arm to intercept it.
There! On the same time Gustave initiated Shield Bash, he also ignored his own defensive stance with his shield. While we simultaneously strike each other, as long I avoided getting a fatal wound, I can always heal them with Recovery Magic later.
My sword hit Gustave left shoulder, meanwhile his sword hit the side of my torso. My sword hit him slightly ahead than his and I felt a firm response. Gustave took it to his knee.
But I refused to collapse, though I cannot concentrate enough mana for healing spell since the pain is so intense that I have difficulty to breathe. I can barely muster strength to remain standing.
During the gap when I’m applying Recovery Magic onto myself, I permitted Gustave who is on his knee to gather his leftover strength to get on his feet. Like this, I don’t think he can move anymore. His left hand is pretty much left swaying. He even let go of his shield and left it roll over. In his current state, if I can use Recovery Magic, then Gustave will no longer has any chance to win.
Gustave stood up and let out a yell while raising his sword.
He will not give me any time to recover. Following suit, I endured my own pain and set up my sword. The sharp pain throbs at my flank each time I tried to move my body.
Gustave swing his sword down in a linear path, which doesn’t make it harder for me to evade. It’s clear as day that Gustave movement is riddled with damage that he has taken. Mostly he is just attacking out of desperation.
Each time, I evaded his sad attempt, and then I strike at his defenceless torso.
Gustave was slowly put to his knees, and he fell as it is.
When it looks like he is trying to get up, I give him one last swift strike. Then, the referee holds me and shouted, “We have the winner!”.
Cheers are raised surrounding the stadium.
Any movement that I make now are followed by an even more intense pain. I cannot afford to be pleased by my victory, and while I’m trying to focus my remaining mana, I can see the priest running, coming to my way. I’m saved.
The pain withdrawn from my body at once. Recovery Magic is the greatest as always. If we’re depending on healing naturally then Gustave and myself would already be on the stretcher and send for hospitalization. No, to begin with, my chance to win almost slip away when I received the first damage.
From what I heard on the later day, people who are capable of using Recovery Magic are in advantage, and it’s quite a big deal if there are a lot of people who can actually use it in combat. In fact, the person who invited me to the tournament answered that he would actually love to be able to use this magic.
That is because there is insufficient Recovery Magic user everywhere in this world……
With an addition of my own, they applied healing spell several more times and the pain completely disappeared. Gustave is finally getting up.
I have no word for the loser. Not only that, I don’t want to see his face anymore. I walked towards where Sati is, and I was greeted with magnificent applause from the auditorium, right when I get off the stage.
Sati hugged me after I descended from the stage. She had teary eyes. She must be worried after I took that much damage during this fight. Seeing her like this is unusual.
Sati has never seen me like this before, but this degree of injury is normal, and I’ve experienced them quite a lot each time I have training session with Sergeant dono. Thanks to that, I was able to remain standing today and could put up a fight. Experience is very important.
“I’m perfectly fine. These wounds are nothing but scratches.”
I said to comfort her.
“Heh. I’m glad then.”
I flinched when Lazard san appeared so suddenly.
“I’m surprised to see you have grown this much stronger.”
Now that I remember, Lazard san is inside the same block with me. Another two more win and I will end up in final today.
When I found out about the pairing this morning, I’ve thought of losing if possible. But I’ve promised Shira chan that if I take on Lazard san then we will have a man to woman moment. If I lose midway through this competition, then she might lose interest. Now that I am aiming to raise Shira chan loyalty, it’s necessary for me to win.
“Masaru, you’ve become strong in a surprisingly short time. This might be my last chance to win against you. I’ll come at you with all my might.”
“I-I will not lose, either. But if I don’t win another two matches, then……”
“You’ve just defeated the winning candidate. There’s no other who can serve as your opponent in our group anymore.”
If Lazard san said that then I guess, he might be right.
“I’m really looking forward to our fight!”
Lazard san let out a feral smile akin to a carnivorous animal. Then, he turned away and left us.
A physique that gather admiration from the other. Bulging muscles. Sword that is several times bigger than mine.
Lazard san can calmly fight directly with a dragon and defeating it.
I did it too……with a magic sword, though. I can’t do the same with a sword alone.
Do I really need to fight that person……?