Shelfa woke up early in the morning before even the birds had begun chirping as usual in her bedroom deep inside the palace of Galfort Castle.
Her daily habits hadn’t changed despite that she had become a ruler, and, as always, she was asleep by eight at night and woke up bright and early before five.
Nothing had changed from before.
She sat up in her large canopied bed that could have easily fit three people and slowly took a look around her extravagant bedroom.
She was enjoying a healthy life of being early to bed and early to rise, but her expression lacked any cheer as she blinked away her sleepiness. After looking around her room with extreme thoroughness, she touched the pendant that she kept around her neck even when she asleep.
She grasped the precious ancient coin in her hand.
“……Rain isn’t here,”
a sorrowful whisper escaped her lips.
Not only was this fact blatantly obvious, but there was no way that Rain would be in her bedroom at this hour even if he was somewhere in the castle.
——Or so most normal people would think, but, unfortunately, Shelfa’s circumstances were a little different.
Or rather, her circumstances had changed.
She hadn’t spoken about it to anyone other than Rain, but Shelfa was much sharper than people gave her credit for. Shelfa knew when Rain was somewhere inside the castle, or if he was near the castle, even if she couldn’t see him. Or rather, she could feel it.
“Oh, Rain is somewhere close by……”
Or something like that.
It was a sensation that even Shelfa herself couldn’t quite explain, but her heart was clearly plunged into a dark and cold place because Rain was absent. The difference in what she felt was so definite that she could never misread it.
I can feel Rain——or so that was what Shelfa had decided to call the strange (but happy) sensation.
Incidentally, her senses had never once been wrong, except for when Rain purposely erased his presence. And so, Shelfa sensed that Rain’s absence was a fact, and this in turn spurred on her loneliness.
Many a warrior had said……that they could feel Rain’s power if he was close by.
Joe, for example, had once told her when they had dined together.
“I feel a colossal wave of power from Rain, like the water pressure of a great waterfall.”
Thanks to this, Shelfa had been greatly worried for the next few days after they had dined.
Shelfa was extremely sharp with these things, though only if they had to do with Rain, but she had never felt something as terrible and scary as he’d suggested. Anytime she was with Rain was a time of supreme bliss for Shelfa.
Eventually, she had come to a natural conclusion.
That everyone else was only looking at one side of Rain.
For example, the sky was beautiful and gentle on a clear sunny day, but people would say that its violent winds had threatened them after a storm. It would certainly cause for an unfortunate misunderstanding if they only knew of the stormy sky.
Everyone was misunderstanding Rain in a similar manner. If they could feel him properly, they would know just how kind and warm he really was.
Shelfa let out a deep sigh and climbed out of bed.
Thinking about this had caused her to become extra lonely.
Inadvertently, she repeated again something she had already whispered to herself many times over.
“I really should have asked him to take me with him, even if it was unreasonable.”
She put on a gown on top of her nightclothes and tottered along.
Perhaps she would feel better after a bath.
Shelfa finally went outside after she had finished her bath, had breakfast, and put on a dress.
It was nothing to be proud of, but Shelfa was still such as sheltered princess that she could count “how many times I’ve gone outside”. It needn’t be said that she was nervous every time she went outside, especially since she became concerned about the eyes that were on her even when she only left the palace.
It felt like everyone (especially the men) was always stealing glances at her.
As proof that it wasn’t just her imagination, people would always look away quickly when she suddenly turned in their direction——and it had happened multiple times.
And so, Shelfa did not like men very much, though she had never professed it publicly.
She was also fairly uninterested in how men looked, or rather, it didn’t really hit her that men were attractive, save for the person who she thought as most handsome boy in the world (Rain, who only looked eighteen!).
The way she viewed other men was similar to how people normally could not care any less about the specific shapes of the rocks by the road.
A long time ago, she had even mistaken Leni and Ralphus for each other just because they both happened to be blond.
To put it nicely, she did not care too much about how a man looked.
That being said, it wasn’t as though she particularly liked women either.
It was more so that, somewhere deep inside her heart, she thought of all men as “dirty” and “crude” and as “people who look at me with disagreeable eyes (to put it bluntly, with perverted looks)”. These feelings had only grown stronger ever since she started appearing on the public stage. Why do most gentlemen always ogle at my chest and waist? she wondered in her faint revulsion.
Save for a few exceptions, nothing would make her happier than if she could live without ever having to meet such uncultured men.
She never really felt up to going outside because she was extremely sensitive to their “disagreeable eyes”.
Still, this was pretty unfair of her, as Rain would lean back against the rim of the bathtub when they bathed together and say, “Man, women’s naked bodies really are nice!” in a very upbeat and loud voice while looking at Shelfa naked in front of him. The way the rest of the men in the world only snuck glances at her should have been nothing compared to Rain.
But, Shelfa ranked Rain in a special place in her heart and did not mind it at all no matter how much he stared at her —if she had to choose, she actually wanted him to do it.
Not only did she not mind when he said things that a dirty old man would say in the baths, but she would also smile and laugh along with him.
The unfairness also extended to her perception that men were “dirty”.
While it wasn’t Shelfa’s fault, she felt that there were a lot of dirty individuals among the gentlemen who stared at her as of late, especially since only nobles had ever looked at her previously.
Most common people, including ordinary knights, did not have a bath at home.
If they wanted to clean their bodies, they would either wipe themselves down in a large bucket or pay an exorbitant fee in order to use the public baths. It was fairly difficult for them to bathe as frequently as did the nobles of the kingdom. A commoner was thought to be considerably cleanly if they washed themselves at least once every ten days or so.
Besides, while women would typically mindful of hygiene even if they were commoners, there were many slovenly types among the men who neglected it entirely. When it got bad enough, they’d take note of their own stench and say, “Can’t be helped. Guess I’ll go take a bath.”
And so, there were many people who gave off an unpleasant smell.
Speaking of people, Rain was the kind of person who liked taking a bath despite being a man and wouldn’t go a day without bathing if he could help it. Especially when, as of late, he was in the happy situation of getting to go to a mixed gender bath that all would be envious of every day.
Still, there were times when Rain was covered in the tumult of war and reeked of sweat.
His sanitary habits would also slip into questionable territory if he was encamped somewhere for a long time. It was only natural.
Incidentally, Shelfa would still say that Rain “smelled like the sun today too” even when this happened —it was the very definition of favoritism.
——And now, to return to the main story at hand.
Shelfa and her guard detail quietly slipped out of Galfort and headed for the amphitheater, which was only ten minutes away by carriage.
They reached their destination without being attacked by anyone suspicious, likely thanks to Gunther, who had professed, “I’ve deployed many of my men amongst the passersby,” along the way.
Shelfa gracefully stepped out after the carriage had entered an entranceway that existed for the royal family’s exclusive use.
Even Shelfa, who was not very interested in the event, started to grow gradually excited as she walked through the private stone corridor while surrounded by Gunther and the other guards. It wasn’t as though she had suddenly developed an interest in the fighting. It was simply that her heart had started beating faster for reasons even she couldn’t determine why.
“This pleasant feeling…… It’s just like when Rain is by my side……”
Someone responded to her whisper.
“Oh? Is he participating too? If so, then there really was some merit in delaying my return.”
Shelfa turned to the playful and willful voice to find Empress Folnier standing at the end of the corridor.
——With Sayle and his sister behind her. The corridor was originally meant for the Sunkwoll royal family’s exclusive use, but the lady ruler didn’t seem shy about her presence at all.
“I was getting bored waiting for you, Lady Shelfa. Though, I admit it’s my fault for getting here an hour before things were supposed to start.”
Folnier laughed as her hair, a blonde color that was a shade lighter than Shelfa’s, waved behind her.
She walked up in Shelfa in large strides.
“I’m weak for festivities like this. Even now, I can’t wait for it to start.”
Folnier, who had been waiting for this day, was filled to the brim with eager anticipation.
To state the truth, she had abruptly postponed her return the very moment Rain had told her, “That thing you guys did before, we’ve decided to do it here too.”
She had left Joe and Shing in charge of the army and sent them home before her insisting that she be able to spectate the tournament today.
Folnier was sure that the event was the type that would “make her blood boil and her soul dance!” Her mature beauty was flushed red in anticipation for the fighting that was soon to unfold.
Even though today was only the first day of the preliminaries.
“Good morning, Empress Folnier……I mean, Lady Folnier.”
Shelfa was a little hesitant, but she addressed Folnier with the same familiarity that Folnier had addressed her.
Shelfa smiled back at the empress and asked,
“……um, when did Lord Sayle and Lady Junna arrive here?”
Sayle scratched his head with an expression that seemed to say, ‘Well, there was a bit of effort that had to go into that……hahaha,’ at her question.
“Well, Her Majesty called for us all of a sudden. We only just got here last night. I guess we’re just here to accompany Her Majesty in spectating the tournament.”
Just then, Folnier, who had been listening, suddenly let out a mischievous snicker.
“Hahaha……you’re accompanying me, you say? This’ll be good.”
“What is it, Your Majesty? Why are you laughing like you’re plotting something?”
“Oh, don’t mind me.”
Folnier’s shoulders quivered again as she shook her head. She continued,
“it’s nothing, nothing at all, Sayle. Yeah, let’s just say you’re accompanying me and leave it at that. ——For now, in any case.”
Sayle paled as his liege’s words. As far as he could remember, nothing good had ever happened whenever Folnier began talking like this.
“Um, Your Majesty? Are you thinking about something, or rather, are you scheming some——”
“By the way, Lady Shelfa. What you were saying earlier—does that mean that Rain is here?”
Folnier blatantly changed the topic.
Shelfa glanced sympathetically at Sayle before replying,
“no. Unfortunately, there is no way that he’d be here right now……. But, for some reason, my heart is at rest as though he was.”
“Your heart……I see.”
Folnier chuckled from deep within her throat. She continued,
“but it’s you who’s saying that he feels nearby. Perhaps he really is around, as surprising as that would be.”
Then, Folnier stood up and pointed to the corridor exit.
“Now, let us depart together, Lady Shelfa.”
They climbed up the steps outside of the corridor and exited into the seating area of the circular amphitheater. Location-wise, they were at the highest level of the outer circumference.
Naturally, the numerous spectators’ gazes poured on them at once in the winter sunlight.
The guests seated closest by were the first to notice the arrival of the noble entourage, and the other guests began turning to the small group one after another like dominoes.
Or rather, about ninety percent of the gazes rushed directly for Shelfa.
Normally, Shelfa would have quickly turned away and immediately wished to return to the castle.
But today was an exception.
She did not mind the eyes of others today.
What she was feeling now——the warm and gentle wave that seemed to wrap smugly around her……made all the gloom she was feeling up until now visibly fade away.
Shelfa picked up her pace and subconsciously walked to the front of the group.
She closed her eyes and absentmindedly turned her head while spreading out her arms in an effort to receive the gentle wave she was feeling with all of her body.
——I’m so very happy and it feels good……just like when I’m kissing Rain.
A ray of sunlight showered down upon her snow-white dress, causing her slender frame to give off a soft white light and her long golden hair to glitter. Everyone held their breath and forgot what they had just been talking about at the sight of the blissful smile on the faultless beauty. Everyone in the audience firmly believe that their divinely beautiful ruler was smiling as a greeting to them.
They had all misunderstood, as Shelfa’s smile was only meant for one person who wasn’t present at the moment.
No one in particular had taken the lead, but everyone sitting around her got out of their seats and knelt.
They were expressing their reverent respects for the ruler of their kingdom.
Shelfa, who had lost herself in the intoxicatingly pleasant feelings she had been experiencing, abruptly opened her eyes and began to panic a little as she finally realized what was going on.
“Um……why is everyone doing that?”
Someone else spoke up just as Folnier opened her mouth to say something.
“Basically, the great majority of the citizens love you, Your Majesty.”
While it needn’t be said of Shelfa, everyone else in their group also turned to the voice in slight surprise.
A baby-faced youth had begun standing near Shelfa while smiling at some point.
The diligent youth broke out into an even wider smile.
“You remembered my name? But your respect is too generous for a mere squad leader such as myself. Please feel free to address me without any honorifics.”
After responding cheerfully, Miran continued in a quieter tone so that the others couldn’t hear.
“And besides, everyone is waiting for your reaction, Your Majesty. I’m sure they’ll all be overjoyed if you waved back at them.”
Reflexively, Shelfa turned to the kneeling audience before her eyes and waved. While smiling a modest smile. Instantly, the amphitheater broke out in cheers as the people began to extol their ruler from all around them. The cheering echoed all throughout the amphitheater, which was constructed to be highly acoustic to begin with.
However, the voices began to quiet down as if by some kind of signal when Miran turned around and slowly looked over the crowd.
The audience returned to their seats greatly satisfied.
Miran nodded lightly and turned back to Shelfa.
“I apologize for being late in my greetings——”
He bowed low and continued,
“I’m Miran, and I was put on your personal security detail as per General Rain’s orders. I look forward to working with you.”
He acted naturally, apparently having completely forgotten about the time he had met Shelfa during the ghost incident.
“——! On Rain’s orders?!”
Shelfa was more than a little surprised and lowered her head as usual in a courteous manner that was unbecoming of a ruler. She continued,
“I look forward to working with you as well.”
“And now, Your Majesty, though I may be rushing things…”
Miran smiled in a way that was very pleasant even for Shelfa, who generally disliked people (especially men). He continued,
“would you mind heading over there? Yuri is doing something interesting.”
Shelfa parroted back as the feelings of loss and loneliness disappeared from her heart before she knew it.
There was a spring in her voice even as she grew puzzled at the changes in her own heart.
Miran lead them down toward the middle of the audience seats.
Eventually, they heard a girl’s spirited voice. Someone had placed a long table at the spacious area in front of an entrance at the middle of the amphitheater and she was calling out from there.
She cheerfully slammed a piece of wood against the desk at every turn of her voice.
“Now, place your bets, place your bets! All bets are valid right up until the preliminaries start! There’s no time like now to win big~. Right now, the most popular contestant is——”
The girl who had been swimmingly exclaiming her lively words——Yuri, in other words, abruptly closed her mouth.
She had finally noticed Shelfa and the others approaching upon seeing the reactions of those around her.
Also by her side was a girl named Selphie with wavy hair who let out a small shrill saying, “Ahh! This is why I said I didn’t want to do thiis!”
Gazaram stepped out from the group of guards following after Shelfa and looked to the two girls in exasperation.
“Just what are you guys doing? ——Though I can tell just by looking at you.”
“Eh, well. That’s…how should I put this—we’re celebrating today’s tournament with the rest of the audience, or something like that,”
Yuri trailed off into a murmur.
Shelfa honestly did not understand what was going on, however, so she pointed to the table and asked,
“um, what is this pile of money for?”
“Uwaa! Er, this is…”
“So basically, you’re trying to make money off of a makeshift gambling center, right? You have a pretty good eye for things,”
Folnier said delightfully as she eyed the crowd gathered around them.
Shelfa, to whom Miran and explained things quietly, finally understood what was going on as well and was earnestly impressed.
So this is another way to make money in this world.
She resolved herself to ask Rain for more details about it later.
“Hmm, I think I’ll place a bet as well.”
Folnier looked to the wooden board that had been placed next to Yuri and Selphie.
All of the participant’s names had been written on it.
They were evidently supposed to make their bets based on the names written there.
“I’m betting ten Chandrys gold coins on “Sayle” from block A of the preliminaries.”
“Alright! Thanks for your patronage~”
It was Sayle who was surprised. He continued,
“what are you even talking about? I never applied to enter!?”
“——So you say, but look, your name’s written down here and all, isn’t it?”
Folnier laughed as she pointed at the board.
Sayle quickly turned his eyes to it and groaned.
“When did you…?! Your, Your Majestyy!”
Folnier turned around at his pitiful tone but simply laughed and let it go out the other ear. She had apparently planned on forcing him to participate from the start. Sayle continued,
“but Your Majesty! This tournament is basically Sunkwoll’s promotional exam to headhunt capable personnel. What’s the point of me entering?!”
His argument was spot-on, but Folnier refused to budge.
“Well, it’s fine, isn’t it? —there’s no point in being all stiff about it. Right, Lady Shelfa?”
Shelfa simply smiled and nodded.
Then, Junna, who had been clinging to her brother silently like a doll, suddenly tottered forward.
She completely ignored the hustle and bustle of conversation around her and abruptly slammed both of her hands down on the long table.
Then, in a loud and adorable voice, she demanded,
“I’ll take one for my brother, please!”
Yuri and Selphie looked at each other before Yuri said,
“so…. Well, Miss. We aren’t selling tickets here. This is a place where you bet money on people, so you have to tell us who you’re betting on and how much you’re betting……”
Junna panicked and rummaged around the inside of her robes. Then, she pulled out a small leather pouch, opened it, and carelessly dumped out its contents.
A sizeable pile of gold and silver coins poured out of it, drawing sighs from curious onlookers.
All of the coins were of Chandrys coinage, but they were easily worth at least several dozen thousand taran in Sunkwoll’s currency at the current market price.
Yuri’s attitude did a complete one-eighty.
“Thank you for your patronage, dearest customer! For Mr. Sayle, right? —okay, I’ll just take that now!!”
“Hey, Junna! Isn’t that my wallet that I entrusted you with?”
Junna blinked her large black eyes in blank puzzlement. She continued,
“oh~……I used the wrong one……”
“Now, now. It’s fine, isn’t it, Sayle?”
Folnier’s voice was as cheerful as always. She continued,
“it’ll work out as long as you win. Besides, I need you to win for the glory of our empire anyway, haha!”
she casually put more pressure on him. Junna was nodding enthusiastically at her side.
Shelfa broke out into a smile as she looked to the names written on the board.
“……Um, why is there an empty space there?”
“Oh, about that…”
Yuri, too, tilted her head to the side and she continued,
“I’ve no clue either——I mean, I don’t know either. Their name wasn’t announced for some reason.”
“I’ll announce it now,”
a low and plain voice cut in.
Gunther crouched in front of the board as everyone watched with a thick pen he had brought out from somewhere in his hand.
Then, he wrote a name down in the empty space on the paper on the board with excellent penmanship.
Selphie leaned forward and read the name out loud.
“U~m……Phantom Thief Black Mask——wait, huuuh!!?”
Selphie let out a shrill scream as the onlooking knights and squires joined her in her outcry.
Shelfa didn’t say anything, but she could do nothing about the fact that her heart was beating furiously.
After all, everyone involved knew that Phantom Thief Black Mask = Rain.
“Hey, let me take back the bet I made! I want to bet my entire fortune on Black Mask!! I’ll even throw in all my spare change!”
said someone who was probably one of the squires.
The area around then began to grow noisy after the unfamiliar youth’s wail.
The details surrounding Black Mask’s real identity had been revealed to everyone there because a shrewd member of the audience had posed the question to the knights.
In an instant, every one of them began shouting, “Let me change my bet too!”
Only Junna and Folnier did not attempt to change their bets, and the long table was quickly buried in a swarm of people.
“Noo!I You can’t change your bet once you’ve made it!”
they heard Yuri’s small yell from the swarm.
Miran, who had been looking over the chaos as though he had no part in it, turned to Shelfa and whispered,
“look, Your Majesty. Mr. Gunther secretly wrote in an addendum.”
——He wasn’t kidding.
Gunther had taken the chance to nonchalantly make a change to his announcement when people had stopped looking at him.
In other words, he had added the following underneath Phantom Thief Black Mask’s name:
“To be represented by his proxy.”
Then, he stood up with an innocent look on his face.
……Apparently, he was also planning to participate.
Shelfa and the others finally arrived at their designated seats ten minutes before the tournament commenced.
It needn’t even be said that their seats were the royal family’s private seats, which were in front of rest of the audience and had the best view.
The stage (now arena) was slightly below them just over the guardrails.
Folnier had apparently secured her own seats, though they weren’t too far away, and went there instead. Evidently, she planned to watch the tournament separately. In addition, Shelfa’s guards had secured the perimeter from a distance and only Miran was left at her side.
There was at least a good seven or eight meters between them and the nearest regular seats, and Shelfa and Miran were occupying the spacious area all by themselves. According to Miran’s explanation, the area around Shelfa had been left empty on purpose so that it would be easily to tell if someone suspicious came close.
“Is that so……? But that makes me feel a little apologetic to everyone else.”
Miran responded to Shelfa’s whisper, saying,
“it’s nothing. It’s just a privilege given to royalty. There’s nothing to be worried about. Everyone’s already accepted this. If you sat amongst the regular seats with everyone else, it would only serve to make your value decrease in their eyes, Your Majesty.”
“……Is that how it is?”
“That’s how it is,”
Miran answered promptly with overflowing confidence.
Then, he smiled with his eyes and continued,
“does it make you nervous that I’m the only one guarding you from close by?”
“Not at all.”
It was Shelfa who answered promptly this time around. She continued,
“after all, I heard that it was Rain who ultimately planned this entire event, including the details of my security.”
“The General won’t make any mistakes. Is that why you aren’t nervous?”
“……It’s difficult to explain.”
But she took a stab at it anyway.
Shelfa had full confidence that Rain wouldn’t make any mistakes, but, with that being said, she also didn’t think that the chances of here being attacked here today were zero either.
After all, while Rain might be as close to perfect as possible, the people who were actually carrying out his plans weren’t.
She was apologetic to the guards for saying this, but Shelfa thought that it was only natural that everybody made mistakes.
She thought that the only exception to this rule —if such an exception even existed— could only be Rain. She was certain of this.
And so, the danger that she could be attacked and killed was ever-present now that he wasn’t here.
Even still, Shelfa felt that it couldn’t be helped if something unexpected took place and she was prepared for what came next should it happen because it was Rain’s plan.
She had entrusted him with her life, and so, she was not nervous and she did not have any regrets.
——Shelfa explained something of that nature to Miran, whom she wasn’t even that close with.
Even Shelfa did not know why she had risked this. It wasn’t something that she should have told him, even if he was Rain’s retainer. Or rather, she should not have talked about this at all.
But even still, for some strange reason, she didn’t feel as though she had done anything wrong.
Miran, too, simply nodded casually and did react in any particularly extreme manner.
He simply looked closely at Shelfa and said,
“……I see. You really trust the General——and only the General, come hell or high water, don’t you, Your Majesty?”
“Yes. Likely more than you could ever imagine, Lord Miran.”
Shelfa, too, stared back at Miran and continued,
“after all, Rain is the person who saved my heart.”
The young man looked troubled and turned away as though he didn’t know how to respond.
The arena was vast enough that the stage had been divided into eight sections where eight duels would be simultaneously carried out during the preliminaries.
Block B (of eight blocks) of the preliminaries was right before Shelfa’s eyes.
Eight referees entered the stage at ten o’clock sharp and announced the start of their respective matches. Block B was no exception.
A lone large man lumbered out of the gates beneath the audience seats.
He was shirtless despite that it was winter, and all he was wearing was leather pants and suspenders.
He wasn’t carrying any sort of weapon in particular.
Despite the fact that, while there existed a time limit according to the rules, there were no restrictions as to what kind of weapon the contestants brought as long as they didn’t kill their opponents.
“Looks like he’s a wrestler (a type of martial artist),”
Miran informed Shelfa. He continued,
“he’s a type of fighter who fights using only his body and his skills. ……But that being said…”
When Shelfa furrowed her brows, Miran laughed and asked,
“what do you think of people like him?”
Shelfa tapered off at the end. Then, she began again and said,
“I think that Rain has the perfect amount of musculature, and is also much nicer to look at.”
Shelfa, who always crowned Rain supreme at everything, truly thought this way.
As she did, the large man in question noticed her gaze and, in a bout of misunderstanding, flashed a grin at her.
When Shelfa nodded back a little, the large man flexed to put his muscles on full display. All of the muscles on his body, like his abdominal muscles or the muscles on his back, swelled up when he did.
……Shelfa wanted to return to Galfort.
Then, another cheer that was completely different from the cheer that had resounded for the large man erupted out of the audience.
This time, a lightly dressed girl wearing a white mantle walked out from the same gates that the large man had.
The girl entered the stage with elegant steps, threw off her mantle with a snap, and waved at the audience.
She was met with a huge cheer.
She was wearing only a blouse and a flared miniskirt, and she had two longswords at her back. Her long silver twin tails, tied up with ribbons, bobbed as she walked.
It was midwinter, but she didn’t look cold at all.
“——! Sylvia Rosenberg!”
Miran said to himself as he drew back his head a little.
“Is she someone you know?”
“……No, not exactly. I met her at the reception desk yesterday.”
Just then, Sylvia reacted as though she had heard what Miran had said.
She stopped waving all around her and swiftly looked up to where Shelfa and Miran were. ——Even though there was no way she had heard him.
But the truly surprising part came next.
Sylvia smiled widely at them and suddenly kicked off into the air.
She had taken them by surprise in every sense of the word.
She nimbly leapt up several meters before Shelfa could even process what had happened and curled up in a ball to make a somersault in the air. Her snow-white panties were visible for a brief second because of this.
Then, she fearlessly landed and stood up on the guardrail. She was more agile than she looked.
Moreover, she was standing so confidently on the guardrail despite that it was only a few centimeters thick in width.
……But before that, what had been up with that somersault in the air just now—it wasn’t even at a height that humans could feasibly jump? In any case, the guards came running over with their swords in hand because she had suddenly approached Shelfa.
Sylvia would have been surrounded by knights with their swords drawn if Miran hadn’t stopped them by raising his hand.
“It’s all right! She doesn’t have any ill intentions……er, I think.”
Sylvia completely ignored her discomposed surroundings and smiled mysteriously.
She fixed her eyes on Miran and said,
“it’s been a while! ——It’s okay to say that, yes?”
“It hasn’t even been that long.”
Miran smiled wryly. He continued,
“we met just yesterday.”
“Ahaha……you’re right ♪”
Miran shrugged and pointed down as Sylvia laughed in an extremely profound manner.
“Will that be okay? Your opponent is seething in fury right now. You stole his spotlight.”
“It’ll all be over soon enough anyway. This is why I dislike men who don’t know their place.”
The large man from below jeered at her with great timing, as though he had heard her speaking ill of him.
“Hey, hurry up and come down already, little girl! I’ll treat you reeal good.”
For a moment, Shelfa was sure that lightning had flashed through Sylvia’s wine-colored eyes.
However, Sylvia quickly returned to her smiles and let the continuing verbal abuse slip into one ear and out the other.
She looked to Shelfa and smiled before she left.
“My apologies for disturbing you, Your Majesty. Then, I’ll see you again——”
“Oh, yes! Umm……please be careful.”
“Please say that to my opponent instead, alright?”
Sylvia casually threw herself backward with one last chuckle. She landed on the ground with the agility of an experienced cat.
The wrestler was about to complain at her, but he abruptly looked up instead upon hearing someone’s remarkably shrill cheering.
“Listen up, Dandon! I’ll publicly appoint you as my personal guard if you win! Do your best!”
When Shelfa looked over, she found that Elena was sitting far to her left while flapping her white feathered fan at the large man with an air of composure.
He was evidently a warrior whom she had picked up. Elena noticed Shelfa looking at her and gave the latter a slight bow. Shelfa returned the bow as routine and quickly turned back forward again.
——She had decided to cheer on Sylvia.
The match commenced when the referee brought down his hand.
The large man spread out his arms as though he was challenging his opponent to approach him. Or at least, he tried to.
Unfortunately for him, Sylvia’s movements were too much for him.
She kicked off against the earth in a dash and leapt again just before she entered his range.
However, she did not dance leisurely into the air in splendor like she had earlier.
Instead, she glided at low altitude and immediately rotated her body upon leaping over the man’s head.
Sylvia’s leg blurred into a kick mid-rotation before her opponent could even look up. Even the audience could understand that she had kicked the wrestler in the face because of how spectacularly his head shook.
Dandon’s gigantic frame spasmed after a dull sound had resounded. He stag~gered and was on the verge of losing consciousness. But Sylvia’s assault had yet to end.
She off-handedly grabbed her opponent, who was about to pitch forward, by the pants and by his neck once she had landed behind him. Dandon began to bleed at the base of his neck when she did. Her hand was too small to wrap around his neck, so her slender fingers had dug into it instead.
—Everyone gulped. The slender girl before them was easily carrying a large man who weighed at least a hundred kilograms over her head. She made it look so simple and did not seem to be straining at all. It was as though she had lifted up a paper doll.
A cutting shout escaped from her delicate lips a moment later.
Sylvia bent her knees and leapt into the air yet again with the man still carried above her head. She deftly changed their postures in the air so that she was on top of him now. Then, she let his large frame fall with his face to the ground. The large man let out a faint scream.
Shelfa instinctively closed her eyes.
Immediately after she did, she heard the dull and moist sound of flesh crashing down against the ground. When she opened her eyes again, Shelfa saw the giant man lying face-down on the ground and Sylvia smiling fearlessly.
Ultimately, the surprising girl had won the match without having drawn her swords even once.
“……You probably won’t be able to get out of bed for the next two months. But you reap what you sow. Next time, make sure you learn who your opponent is first before provoking them,”
Sylvia Rosenberg said frigidly to the wasted loser.
Her words had reached Shelfa, strangely enough, but the person to whom they had been directed was already out cold.
Shelfa heard Elena shriek in fury and grief from somewhere.
Sylvia had truly mesmerized the audience.
Fierce preliminary matches had broken out in the other blocks as well, but most of everyone’s gazes were glued to Block B, which was right before Shelfa’s eyes.
Sylvia waved as she withdrew, and most of the audience, including Shelfa, awaited eagerly for it to be her turn again even as other matches proceeded on Block B as normal.
Then, her turn finally came again and the venue erupted in cheers when she walked on the stage again with her hand up.
The devilish girl was incredibly skilled at keeping the crowd entertained.
This was likely the reason why most of the audience treated the scene from earlier, which could have been construed as cruel, simply as “a beautiful girl of justice taking down the bad guy.”
She would show the occasional mysterious smile filled with mature allure or leap into the air in a manner that almost made her underwear peak out from beneath her flared miniskirt (it actually did a few times), which increased her popularity with the audience, who were mostly male, in leaps and bounds. At some point, a bunch of young, pimple-faced men had created a band and were yelling, “Do your best, Sylviaaa!” so unabashedly that Shelfa could not help but let slip a sigh.
It wasn’t that she was ridiculing them.
But she had simply thought——about how she wished that she too could express her feelings for Rain so honestly in front of other people.
This was why she was a little envious of the men as they cheered Sylvia on by chanting her name on repeat.
“Miss Sylvia sure is popular.”
“She is. And she’s certainly strong, too. But, well, the way that the men are making such a loud ruckus about her is……”
Miran promptly turned to the band of fans in exasperation. It looked like he was fed up with them.
Shelfa was always awkward and uncomfortable around other people, so she found it curious as to why she didn’t seem to mind at all that this young man was standing nearby.
Miran pretended he didn’t notice her star~ing at him and pointed to the stage.
“Oh, look. It’s her next opponent. ……It’s another big guy.”
——A big guy.
As Miran had pointed out, a giant had taken to the stage before Shelfa had even realized.
He was carrying a scary, vicious-looking weapon that looked like an enlarged hammer and shone with a black luster.
“Oh, that? It’s called a war hammer. They usually weigh under four kilograms, so that one’s probably specially made……it looks pretty heavy,”
Miran informed her.
He also told her that the man’s name was Largo and that he was a seed in the tournament because he was a famous mercenary. The hammer (war hammer, she meant) across his shoulder more than fit his frame well. No joke, it looked like it was at least several dozen kilograms heavy in total.
And, unlike Sylvia’s previous opponent, Largo kept his silence and wasn’t even the least bit flippant.
As usual, however, Sylvia didn’t appear to be afraid of anything at all. Her silver twin tails fluttered slightly in the wind and she faced against him with a smile on her face.
She threw a wave over at where Shelfa was as well.
“Will, will Miss Sylvia be all right? If she were to hit by something like that——”
“——Who can say?”
Miran irresponsibly tilted his head to the side and continued,
“but she’ll probably be okay, since she’s so calm about it, I think?”
Shelfa’s worry remained as the referee brought down his hand.
The frequent cheers that sounded for her didn’t feel terrible at all.
Sylvia simply looked up at Largo in silence without drawing her swords, once again, and without even bothering to ready herself. Indeed, she could hardly be called short, but her opponent was such a giant that it only felt right to look up at him. Besides, unlike the large pervert from before, he had more than just his figure going for him.
——At the very least, he was relatively strong among the humans.
Largo, who was wearing leather overalls that joined his pants and his jacket together, stared deeply back at Sylvia.
He stroked his mustache and spoke as if he were in deep thought.
“I don’t understand you. I won’t be tricked by your appearance, but I don’t feel any sense of intimidation from you either. ……I don’t feel any pressure right now.”
“It’s not really that much of a mystery.”
Sylvia didn’t dislike serious men like him, so she smiled at him affectionately.
The reason you don’t feel anything is simply because I’m keeping down by Ekseed and because I’m not being serious at all, she thought to herself.
She didn’t say it out loud because it would be rude, but she had determined that he was hardly an opponent for her.
Besides, amongst the humans, there is only person in the world who is skilled enough that I would have to fight against him seriously.
“Anyway, the match’s started, you know? You may come at me whenever you’re ready, Mr. Largo. Or perhaps you’d prefer that I come to you?”
Largo grunted and sluggishly prepared to bring up his war hammer. It looked like he couldn’t bring himself to fight seriously against a girl of exceptional beauty (she thought of herself).
In that case, Sylvia thought as she rushed in.
Largo looked tense for the first time during their match as Sylvia lowered her body and dashed.
He tried to bring up his hammer in a hurry as his opponent charged him while cutting audibly through the wind. ——However, he was too late.
Sylvia had already entered into his range and had swiveled her leg into a kick.
A roundhouse kick was beaten into Largo’s defenseless abdomen.
Largo’s giant frame flew straight forward and crashed violently against the wall beside the gate.
While it was impressive that he managed not to let go of the war hammer all things despite, he bounced back from the wall like a ball, landed on his knees, and coughed up a chunk of blood.
His sturdy back quivered, perhaps from the shock of the impact.
He couldn’t be faulted for it, though, as there were several cracks running through the walls behind him. The kick had simply been that terrifyingly powerful.
Likely due to his nature as a mercenary, however, Largo forced his trembling knees still and stood back up without hesitation.
He cast a ghastly smile at Sylvia, who had been waiting instead of following up with another attack.
“I see…… That was an effective greeting if I’ve ever seen one. I don’t think you’re someone I can hope to match, but I can’t let things end just yet!”
Largo howled fiercely despite that his lips were wet with fresh blood.
Sylvia started to grow slightly more serious as well. She kicked off against the earth in a dash once more.
Largo made it in time this time around.
He swiftly brought up his exceptionally large weapon in a feat of skill and brought it down while using his own body weight for additional momentum.
The hammer crashed down violently against the earth, Sylvia’s afterimage and all.
Instantaneously, a magnificent about of dirt was thrown into the air and the earth shook from the resulting shockwave.
A deep chuck of the earth was carved away, and countless cracks appeared from the epicenter like a spiderweb. Then, the moment Largo let go of his hammer, he brought it up again and swung his arms into a horizontal swipe.
Sylvia, however, easily dodged this too and both parties jumped back and faced off against each other again.
Sylvia tilted her head to the side like a little bird and said,
“that was quite the powerful blow, but it’s meaningless if it doesn’t hit. ……That being said, it actually won’t do anything to me at all even if it hit me directly.”
“Oh yeah? Then I’ll let you have a taste this time!”
Largo took the lead this time and ran toward Sylvia. Naturally, she did not simply wait for him blankly. She, too, took off running at a speed several times faster than her opponent’s.
Both sides entered the other’s range in the blink of an eye and Largo brought down his war hammer with a sharp cry. Unlike before, however, Sylvia made no move to evade it and simply raised her left hand to stop the hammerhead in its tracks.
Largo’s face froze up in astonishment as his deadly hammer was stopped by the girl’s tiny hand.
Sylvia took the opening to vigorously push the hammer back and slip closer to him as his posture crumbled. She switched her own posture as she moved, forcefully grabbed him by the collar, and dug in her heels when he lost his balance.
The difference in their heights was so great that it shouldn’t have been a problem for Largo, but his gigantic frame was thrown cleanly into the air.
He was thrown in such a manner that he was unable to roll out of it and the air was squeezed out of his lungs from the resulting impact and pain.
In the meanwhile, Sylvia had already leapt high and gracefully into the skies.
The last thing that Largo saw before his consciousness was cut off was Sylvia’s kneecap falling upon him.
Shelfa let out a long sigh after she saw Sylvia quickly descend from the sky and plant her knee into the pit of her opponent’s stomach.
The venue was so filled with cheering that the ground began to shake when Largo fainted and his body jerked into the air.
An outpour of applause rained down on Sylvia as she never forgot to entertain and waved to everyone in the audience.
Shelfa shook her head slightly.
“M, Miss Sylvia’s very strong, isn’t she?”
“That she is.”
Miran nodded with his hands clasped behind his back and surveyed the arena. He continued,
“still, it looks like there’s a considerable difference in skill among the participants in the other blocks too. Initially, the preliminaries were set to last two days, but we might be able to know who’ll be participating in the elimination matches by the end of today since things are moving so quickly.”
Just as the words left his mouth, a cheer erupted from the audience again from the north.
Shelfa and Miran looked over to find that Sayle had just ended his own match in Block A on the other side of the arena.
He was bowing his head an apologizing to his opponent, who was sprawled out on the ground.
It looked like he had successfully cleared the second round of matches at his block as well.
Shelfa, who had excellent vision, could even see that Folnier, who had settled down in the audience seats on the other side, was smiling at Sayle as if she was saying, “Exactly. You should all endeavor to cheer him on like this!”
She looked very pleased.
“By the way, will you be taking a break for lunch?”
Miran proposed gently.
“Yes……oh, but… I wanted to cheer on Lord Gunther.”
“I think he’ll definitely make it to the elimination matches. Please don’t push yourself, and feel free to eat.”
Shelfa decided to let him spoil her and decided to follow his advice.
Shelfa returned to her seat once she had taken a leisurely lunch break with the guards.
All of the blocks had finished their second rounds of matches while she was away, and Block B had finished its third. Evidently, Sylvia had finished her last match with greater ease than her first two, and the arena was filled with loud chatter (mostly from the gentlemen).
Shelfa, too, was completely in the mood to cheer for Sylvia on the inside, and was extraordinarily excited when the block finals started.
Sylvia had been fighting without break, but she didn’t look tired at all when she stepped out from the gates.
She was showered with the kind of loud cheering that was normally reserved for famous actors and she waved her hands back at the crowd while beaming in return.
Then, her opponent appeared from the same gate that she had immediately afterward. Surprisingly, he received his fair share of cheers as well. He was a boy with glossy black hair and well-ordered features.
“Um, who might that be?”
“……You’re pretty bad at remembering men, aren’t you, Your Majesty. Well, it’s not as though I was trying to criticize you.”
Miran laughed a little and informed her,
“it was a boring turn of events, but he appeared this morning and won his match. His name is Mr. Ferris——I believe.”
“Oh, I remember now. He ended his match rather quickly too, yes?”
Ferris, who entered the stage in steps so li~ght that he was basically skipping, smiled at the female members of the audience and faced off against Sylvia.
Just then, a loud and almost atrocious cheer sounded from the seats where Elena had been earlier.
“Uraaaah! Put some spirit into it, Ferriss! Let’s fight each other in the finals! At this rate, that’s the only way to go, right?!”
……What does he mean by “at this rate”?
Then, the scarily energetic youth turned her way, perhaps because he felt her gaze.
The bandana wrapped around his unkempt hair made him stand out.
He couldn’t hold a candle to Rain (in Shelfa’s eyes), but he too had a fairly virile mien.
His sharp features suddenly collapsed into limpness just as she thought this.
His face crumbled into a smile and he began waving enthusiastically.
Shelfa looked behind to see who he was waving to, but couldn’t find anyone who seemed to be involved with him.
“He’s waving at you, Your Majesty. You couldn’t tell?”
Shelfa was honestly surprised.
Still, she smiled back reflexively because she felt bad about it.
The way that he became so childishly happy because of it was strangely charming and impressionable.
Sylvia beamed and started a conversation with Ferris, who was scowling while looking at a large man in the audience.
“That person with the loud voice—he an acquaintance of yours?”
“Nope, not at all. I’ve never seen him before in my life, and he’s a complete stranger~. And I don’t think I’ll ever interact with him again in the future either. ——Or so I want to say.”
Ferris shrugged and continued,
“but here’s the thing—he’s actually a pretty close friend of mine.”
“What a cheerful man he is.”
“Hm~m, yeah, he is. A bit too cheerful, if you ask me……. Wait, what are you doing?”
Sylvia tilted her head to the side as she tried to free the swords on her back.
“Eh? I’m preparing for battle, as you can see. The string I used to tie my two swords together isn’t coming off. I didn’t free them with magic because it’d stand out too much, but now it’s come back to bite me.”
“……That’s not what I meant. Why are you only drawing your swords now that you’re fighting me? You fought bare-handedly until now, didn’t you?”
“That’s true, I did. But, though I pull my punches when fighting sometimes, I make a habit of never looking down on my opponents.”
A slight smile pulled at the edges of her vibrant lips. She continued,
“I’ve seen how you fight. I thought it’d be rude if I didn’t take you at least a little seriously.”
“What a thing to say~”
Ferris didn’t take any offense and broke out into a smile. He continued,
“then, you weren’t serious before?”
Sylvia smiled sweetly.
“I had no other choice. I mean, I would’ve killed my opponent if I’d been serious.”
“Oof~. I’m kiinda starting to regret being here a little.”
Ferris’ face twitched ever so slightly.
Sylvia giggled and pulled out her twin swords one after another.
“Well then. Rain One, Rain Two——let’s do this, okay ♪?”
“Geh. Is that what you named your swords?”
“Yep. They’re good names, aren’t they? I like them a lot.”
Putting aside the matter of whether they were good names or not——it was at least true that her twin blades were very uncommon. A bluish radiance enveloped the blades and the characteristic buzzing of magic swords sounded between them.
A sigh of admiration covered the audience.
Sylvia brought the sword in her right hand up high and readied the sword in her left hand in a middle stance before the smile vanished from her face.
A sharp glint appeared in her deep, wine-colored eyes, as if she was a hawk marking down her prey.
“Now then——. Shall I show off my twin blades dancing for the first time in a long while? ……I’ll make sure you don’t get hurt too badly, of course.”
The referee’s hand came down just as Sylvia’s red tongue slid over her lips.
Ferris, who had readied his own sword without ever losing his smile, quickly braced himself as he saw Sylvia running at him like the wind.
She entered into his range with a whoosh and her right hand, already raised up high, blurred.
The first blow from her shining magic sword came down from over Ferris’ head.
Ferris swiftly raised up his own sword, of course. He was planning to parry his opponent’s blow and throw in a counterattack if he was lucky. The hilt of his longsword was steady in his hands and he made it time to guard, if only just.
——And yet, he failed to properly block the magic sword that had come down at him with terrifying speed (Rain One) and nearly broke his knee. The impact of their swords clashing passed through his body and caused the ground around his anchored feet to cave-in.
Sylvia had only swung her sword with one hand while Ferris had blocked it using both of his, and the impact had been so great even still.
Then, the second magic sword in Sylvia’s left hand (Rain Two) mowed down at Ferris’, who had blocked the first attack with his teeth clenched, unguarded torso.
The two swords were in perfect sync.
Ferris somehow managed to repel the second sword even as he was astonished by its speed and jumped to the side.
The second sword swept through the air while leaving a trail of blue light behind it.
However, Sylvia had already closed the distance between them and had flicked her wrist to bring her magic sword into a horizontal swipe from yet another direction.
It was all Ferris could do to block it by holding his sword up vertically. It was only out of instinct that he managed to put his left hand on the blade of his sword to stop the blow with his entire body. The magic sword, with light still trailing behind it, crashed against his sword immediately after and he was sent flying backward.
He hadn’t been able to stand firm.
Ferris let out a voiceless scream as he flew easily over a few meters and tumbled to the ground.
He had only taken two hits, but his hands were numb and his knees were shaking.
“Th, this is a joke, right? I might be in a bit of trouble here.”
Then, he heard Arc’s voice from above him.
“Don’t let yer guard down! Yer opponent ain’t gonna wait for ya!”
Arc was right on his money.
Ferris was met with wine-colored eyes the moment he looked up.
“I’m gonna go faster now!”
Bam bam! Clang clang clang!
Ferris somehow managed to avoid a new diagonal slash and the second blow that had come after it.
He blocked with all he had by switching gears and re-directing his opponent’s excessive power instead of stopping it head-on. However, he hardly had any room to transition into an offense.
Sylvia’s movements were truly as a wild dance of her two magic swords with intensity in each and every blow.
One sword attacked first, and the other came aiming for her opponent’s vitals just as he had stopped the first. The explosive blows made possible by her physical power alone came one after another with only a few seconds in between each round. She repelled Ferris’ attack and cut slightly across his cheek instead.
She stepped in with her right foot, then used it to pivot as she stepped in with her left, and from time to time should would rotate her slender frame to bring down her large magic swords upon her opponent like rain. The two gigantic magic swords looked like they were blue shooting stars. ——They’re too fast! Ferris was unable to beat them back and kicked off against the ground to jump back.
Shelfa’s hands were becoming sweaty as she looked down at the arena from her elevated seat.
“M, Miss Sylvia’s very fast. Are dual blades always so unrelenting? It doesn’t look like her opponent’s able to fight back at all.”
“……So it seems. I don’t think there’s any other type of swordplay as scary as this, since it leaves no gaps in both offense and defense if carried out perfectly.”
“But, you’re saying that it’s not easy to accomplish?”
“What I’m about to tell you is something I learned from the General myself——. First, please take a good look at her swords.”
Miran pointed at Sylvia’s magic swords. He continued,
“her swords aren’t only similar in length to normal swords, but they’re actually a bit longer. Normally, it’s impossible to wield a sword that long with only one hand. Even if you were able to swing it around, you wouldn’t be able to block your opponent and your form would collapse. And that’s not all. You need to be efficient if you want to use both swords for offense and defense. You’d need a good sense for battle and a lot of talent for that. That’s probably why there’s aren’t many swordsmen who dual wield.”
“……What about Lord Leni?”
“Captain Leni’s swords are slightly shorter than your average sword, and, not only is he a lot stronger than he looks, he also has a really good sense for swordplay. But——”
Then, Miran apologetically continued,
“I don’t mean to be rude, but Captain Leni’s attacks don’t have enough power to blow back his enemy several meters. But Miss Sylvia’s attacks do. And her skills are super first-rate. She’s a formidable dual wielder.”
“Is that so. ……But…”
…I still have to say this, Shelfa insisted.
She refused to concede her next point on the personal level, even if she was honestly impressed by how amazing dual wielding was.
“Rain can still defeat even Miss Sylvia. ……Without a doubt!”
Miran bowed to her reverently.
“That needn’t even be said, Your Majesty.”
The fierce fighting continued.
“The only person who ever managed to break through my “Dance of Twin Blades” in the past was that boy ten years ago! Give up already!”
Two simultaneous glints of blue light attacked as Sylvia’s sharp rebuke beat down upon Ferris.
Ferris, having managed to dodge the first blade as it came up diagonally from below, immediately prepared himself to evade the second sword that followed up a moment later.
However, Sylvia twisted her slender frame instead and planted a reverse roundhouse kick on his collar, causing her panties to flash for a moment.
“——Oof, oooh! I feel like I got something good there for a moment, but now it feels more like a net loss cause that really hurt.”
Then, Ferris heard the ominous cutting of the wind and jumped back in a panic.
Sylvia had pressed in on him.
A blinding beam of bluish aura came for his torso, and the muscles in his arms immediately began complaining as soon as he blocked it. His arms, with which he had blocked a powerful blow that felt like he was being kicked by an elephant, creaked, bones and all, and his posture collapsed readily as the impact superseded the limits of his ability to maintain it.
He even felt as though all of the veins in his body had burst from that unbelievably heavy blow.
But his enemy refused to give him even a little amount of time to spare. Her knee was closing in on Ferris’ abdomen now that he had blocked the first blow.
He evaded it by jumping back, only to have his opponent’s sword to rush into his range.
Ferris evaded that destructive blow, which couldn’t be adequately described by words as simple as ‘heavy’, by rolling over and over again across the ground.
The sword carved into the earth instead and left behind a deep crevasse.
For once, Sylvia looked down at the unsteady Ferris instead of following up with another attack.
“……It hasn’t been long since we got started. But do you wanna stop things here? I did make sure to hold back, but it’ll still be dangerous for you. You can leave without getting hurt if you surrender, you know?”
Ferris didn’t get angry.
He smiled in spite of everything and spread open his hands.
“I’d reallly like to. My sword’s in horrible shape too. But, you know, I’ll be troubled if you and the Chief end up clashing down the line.”
“I see. So the reason why you didn’t go all-out was because you couldn’t decide between throwing the match or letting it drag on, yeah?”
Sylvia grinned and continued,
“I thought it was quite strange. But I get it now. You’re probably just afraid of that “cheerful friend” of yours getting hurt, right?”
“Well, it’s not like I think I’d beat you even if I threw myself at you with my life on the line. ……But I can’t ignore the possibility that the Chief might die or get seriously hurt. You’re ridiculously strong, after all.”
Sylvia laughed again in pleasant tones.
“I don’t dislike that sort of thing. ——But your concerns are unfounded. I don’t plan on seriously injuring anyone here, other than that large man from my first round. Of course, that includes you.”
“——Can I trust you on that?”
“Of course. I’ve been even less serious about this fight that you are. If I thought it was okay to kill you, I’d have done it already.”
“The hell?! You should’ve told me earlier!”
Ferris still wasn’t angry.
Rather, he felt as though a heavy weight had been lifted from his shoulders. He put away his chipped and battered sword in relief. He looked Sylvia, who had opened her eyes wide in surprise, out of the corner of his eyes before he waved energetically at the referee.
Then, a shout of criticism ran out from the audience.
“Heyyyyy! What the hell?!”
Ferris waved back at the audience nonchalantly and returned a rather childish excuse.
“Well, I really don’t like getting hurt!”
“And ya call yerself a grown man, huhhhhhh?!”
Sylvia quickly pointed toward the cheerful man.
“Your Chief’s yelling at you, you know?”
“Yeah, it’s fine. He does that all the time. Besides, we used to be mercenaries once. It’s an ironclad rule among us that pros only fight battles they can win easily. Only an idiot would bet their life on a fight like this, right?”
Then, although there was no way Ferris’ reply had been audible to the audience, yet another shout was returned to him.
“Go at it with yer life on the line, damnitt!”
“……So says your pro friend over there, you know?”
“Well, the Chief’s a bit of an idiot. So I’m just gonna ignore him this time.”
Ahaha~, Ferris began laughing out loud.
——In any event, this was how Sylvia emerged as the victor of Block B.