The four people……two men and two women, who stepped into the corpse-filled audience hall that reeked oaf blood, all had the same spectacularly silver hair that Leygur did .
Silver hair isn’t all that rare on this continent, of course . But——what’s with this chill that I can’t help but feel? Even I, who can’t speak much for my battle abilities, can feel goosebumps on my skin when I look at them for some reason . I feel some sort of gigantic invisible pressure coming off of them, or something like that .
Then, Leygur smiled faintly as though to confirm Luminas’ internal suspicions .
“Your suspicions are correct, Luminas . They are all daemons . I’ll have them be in charge of the units that the generals who have fallen in battle today have left behind . ”
An inexplicable disturbance ran through the few humans who were still there .
It was only Ganoa who replied immediately .
“Is that so? I am overjoyed that our allies have increased in number . ”
He lowered his head once he had readily uttered his nonsense .
Leygur simply nodded .
Still……what is this oddness I feel from these four? All four of them don’t seem to be normal . Well, even if I take the fact that they’re daemons into account, I’ve still never seen their clothing before . The women stand out quite a bit, especially the one with the seductive costume that’s sticking tightly to her body .
“You still look dubious, Luminas,”
Leygur said absentmindedly .
“No……not at all . ”
“I don’t mind…… It’s Noelle’s clothing, isn’t it? It can’t be helped that you’re curious . Clothing as revealing as hers is quite rare in this world, after all . The thing Noelle is wearing can be most accurately described as a leotard…… . Though I suppose the name means little here . ”
Luminas had no idea what Leygur was talking about, but the woman——or rather, girl called Noelle scowled a little .
She looked to be about sixteen or seventeen years old .
Her straight silver hair was cut just above her seductively exposed shoulders, and there was a belligerent glint in her pitch-black eyes .
She was sharply beautiful and didn’t seem to be very reserved . She looked like a gallant girl warrior . And right now, the girl had shaken away the bangs that threatened to cover over her eyes and glared at Leygur as if to protest that his meddling had been unnecessary .
Only Noelle and a giant man boldly remained upright as the other two bowed deeply to Leygur as though he was their master .
“It’s been a long time, Lord Leygur……several dozen years, I believe? Nothing makes me happier than the fact that you’ve reached out to me,”
The man dressed like a noble bowed saluted .
The bewitching woman next to him also lowered her head tellingly .
Leygur responded to them a smile, for once, and suddenly called out,
“——Why don’t you come out already? You don’t really think that I didn’t notice you were there, now did you?”
Then, someone burst out in boundlessly cheerful laughter in response .
The laughter was so loud and light-hearted that it almost made Luminas, who was standing around in gloom, grow exhausted before he could stop himself .
“Hey . It looks like I underestimated you a little, I guess? To think that you’d notice I was here even after I erased my presence . ”
A tall man walked into view from far behind the throne .
His face was effeminate and handsome……but the frivolous way he had laughed made him seem flippant . In any case, it looked like he was rather disliked . Three of the four individuals who had entered the room earlier had put themselves on guard .
“You bastard! Why are you here?!”
“I won’t allow you to be rude to Lord Leygur!”
“You’re not planning on taking all of us alone, are you?!”
The flippant man readily ignored all of the words that had come flying at him and stared fixedly at Noelle, who alone out of the four hadn’t reacted very strongly .
Eventually, he was startled .
“Wha, what’s this?! I’d thought that the resemblance was purely coincidental, but that’s not the case at all now that I’ve seen you up close! You look so much like her it’s uncanny!”
“What nonsense are you going on about——”
Noelle said before she snorted like she had been ridiculed mid-sentence .
“I get it now . You’re referring to her,”
she said irritably when the flippant man nodded . She continued,
“well, you’ve got the wrong person . We may be related by blood, but that’s all there is to it . ”
It looked like he wasn’t listening at all .
“Hmmm……to think that she had blood relations . ”
“……We were estranged from each other and he hated each other . Blood doesn’t matter anymore . And besides, she’s not even here anymore either . ”
“I see, it relieves me a little to hear you say that~ . Indeed . It would hurt if her cute little daughter were to hate me, you see . ”
“Her daughter? But more importantly, what are you talking about?”
Contempt began to color her black eyes . She continued,
“you’ll regret it if you underestimate me, you clown . Besides, who even are you?”
“Well, well……my apologies for forgetting to name myself, o beautiful young lady . ”
The flippant man’s white teeth were visible as he broke out into a smile . He continued,
“my name is Vinter Fon Blumehart! The man who is known as the Prince of the Spirit World!!”
The flippant man bowed deeply to Noelle as he made his introduction, which was so overblown it seemed like a joke .
——It was one thing for Luminas to have never heard his loudly proclaimed name before, but it looked like Noelle, the daemon girl, hadn’t heard of it either . But the other three daemons who had come with her looked like they had . They sighed softly, or shook their heads……each of their reactions were different, but they all seemed to know who he was .
Pointedly, Leygur said,
“a false title . I have no obligation to correct you, but you really are a man who refuses to calm down . That hasn’t changed even after you became one of the Top Four . ”
Noelle’s expression changed visible once she heard this .
Then, she dubiously whispered,
“——you!? It’s my first time seeing you in person……but you’re Vinter, a survivor of the Top Four?”
“Indeed . Though we’re the Top Three now . ——In any case! I’d like to ask you to forget about the little quarrel I had with her . It was an outcome that I couldn’t avoid~”
“I told you earlier . I don’t care about what happened to her . I would have killed her myself eventually even if you hadn’t . That woman was hostile toward me . It was kill or be killed!”
Noelle spat out and swiftly turned away .
She was being obviously unfriendly, but the flippant daemon reacted with a childish glee .
“Wow, so that’s how it is! You’re quite broad-minded, unlike her~ . Your generosity is like the ocean itself! How about it? Won’t you spend a budding, no, a burning night of passion with me?”
“Leave it at that, Vinter,”
Leygur cut in frigidly when Vinter suddenly began flirting .
When Vinter stopped moving, Noelle took the opportunity to quickly retreat toward the wall——which, of all things, put her right beside Luminas . A chill ran down his back . He felt as though he would have rather had a dozen ancient dragons beside him instead . He redoubled his concentration on the king and his conversations so that he wouldn’t have to look at her .
Just then, Vinter walked up to Leygur, who was seated on the throne, without a care in the world .
The king brushed up the silver hair that covered one of his eyes and said,
“……just what did you even come here for? I doubt that you’d come all this way just to pick up some girls . ”
“Well~, I don’t mind it one bit if that’s what you want to call it,”
Vinter replied with an obstinate smile . He continued,
“but, well, I suppose I’ll get a little serious now . ”
He pursed his lips ever so slightly at his declaration .
His frivolous smiled had yet to disappear completely, however .
“This is what I’m here to say . Despite how I may seem, that person entrusted me with their affairs . I’m here to bring you wanderers——no, you Outsiders, a word of warning as one who has been entrusted to watch over the spirit world in their absence . ”
Leygur did not even move an eyebrow .
All of the humans who were listening from nearby looked puzzled .
Naturally, Luminas was no exception .
It was one thing to be troubled because he had absolutely no idea where the conversation was going……but what did he mean by ‘spirit world’ or ‘Outsiders’?
Then, Noelle, who was still next to him, began chuckling .
Luminas was unable to ignore her and reluctantly looked over, only to be met squarely with her gaze .
“It looks like you humans no nothing about us daemons at all, do you?”
Luminas……could not answer .
She was absolutely correct .
Humanity still knew next to nothing about the daemons who had once tormented them, even if it had been long ago .
——They did not even know where the daemons had disappeared off to once the fighting had subsided .
The daemons’ conversation in the audience chamber continued still .
Only, neither Leygur nor Vinter showed any signs of flying into a rage . From the humans’ point of view, it looked like they were enjoying some everyday small talk .
In a composed tone, Leygur said,
“a warning, you say? And you’re delivering it personally? ——To me, of all people?”
His attitude was so cold that most would have at least flinched by now, but the daemon named Vinter did not so much as twitch .
Luminas thought that Vinter was the type to let snide comments go in one ear and out the other . ……At least, that was how it felt .
In any event, Vinter replied cheerfully without changing his tone at all .
“Exactly! The order to retreat from here was given ages ago . You guys are basically breaking the rules here~ . So I’d really like you to come back . ”
“I don’t listen to anyone else’s orders, and I don’t remember ever approving of your system, which is only convenient for you guys, where four leaders sit atop of everyone else . And besides, I’m sure I’ve told you this before . ”
“You really like to run your mouth, despite everything…… . Well, whatever . Anyway, it’s a three-leader system now . And if I remember correctly, you were warned like this once before too . You paid the price for failing to listen, didn’t you?”
Vinter’s voice lowered ever so slightly .
The smile hadn’t vanished from his face, but there was still a slight change in his expression .
Leygur, however, still didn’t look perturbed at all, as usual . Instead, his eyes narrowed into a sneer as he responded,
“It was the messenger you lot sent over who paid the price, was it not? As you can see, I’m still alive . ”
“……Anyone who wasn’t already in the know would think that you’d emerged completely victorious against them . I’m pretty sure that the truth was that it was pretty close to a draw…… . Well, that’s fine too . ”
Vinter refused to do away with his ridiculously friendly smile all the way to the very end . He continued,
“even I have to acknowledge your abilities for being able to defeat a warrior of that caliber . But it might have been a bit rash to think that you’d killed your opponent~, you know . ”
A penetratingly cold smile lit up on Leygur’s face, though he probably didn’t mean to rival Vinter’s .
“If you thought I’d start trembling in fear after hearing that, then you’re unfortunately wrong . I’m not the person I was in the past . I’ve become stronger thanks to you lot . ”
“Oho~ . Is that a threat——that you would even defeat me depending on the circumstances?”
“It is indeed . I suggest you don’t delude yourself into thinking that the Demon Skill you hold is all-powerful . ”
“Demon Skill is such an exaggerated way of calling it . Just call it an “ability,” you know, it’s just an “ability” . ”
Vinter waved his hand in the air . He continued,
“well, I’m sure I won’t be able to avoid fighting you if absolutely necessary! The only reason that I’m not now is because many of our comrades in the spirit world have sided with you . So make sure you don’t misunderstand, alright~?”
“……You wish to avoid causing war to break out in the spirit world since you were entrusted with its affairs——is that how it is?”
“Indeed . Well, I’m sure things would’ve ended up differently if one of my comrades heard you speaking just now, but I still consider myself to be a part of the moderate faction all things despite, you see . I’ll excuse myself for today with just a word of warning . You’re free to ignore it as you please!”
——He gave Leygur a pompous bow and blew a kiss toward Noelle .
Then, the exceptionally cheery daemon quickly turned on his heels .
Just as he did, the other three new daemons apart from Noelle tried to follow after him in pursuit .
It was Leygur himself who stopped them .
“Leave him! Just let him go . ……The castle would be reduced to a mountain of rubble if we fought here . ”
The eccentric daemon turned around again when he had reached the door, as if he hadn’t heard any of the others’ exchange .
“Oh, yes, there’s something I forgot to say . ……My Lord, who stands above us, is trying to resurrect even now, you see . Though, I suppose you wouldn’t particularly care . ”
“You didn’t need to make that last threat if you already knew . Now hurry up and leave . ”
The other daemons had looked to each other for a moment, but Leygur remained thoroughly unimpressed .
He simply waved a hand languidly at Vinter, as though to tell him to get lost already .
Vinter then left the audience chamber for real this time while laughing delightedly from the bottom of his heart upon finding something, though no one knew what, to his amusement .
The humans remaining in the hall stayed ramrod-still even after he had departed .
The situation had progressed so suddenly that even Luminas, a self-proclaimed strategist, was left in confusion . The daemons, however, could not appear to have cared any less about their plight .
The daemon who was dressed like a noble spoke to Leygur without sparing Luminas or the other humans a second glance .
“He won’t become a seed of disaster one day, will he, Lord Leygur?”
“Fret not, Dewy . My subordinates have already begun extending their influence in the spirit world, just as he himself acknowledged . ”
There was no discomposure in Leygur’s voice . He continued,
“it’d be another case entirely if he intended to drag the entire spirit world into the fires of war, but he’ll likely elect to observe the situation carefully for now . If he were to actually make a move, it’ll only be after he’s confirmed our war potential . ……He probably doesn’t think it’s time for that as of yet . ”
Then, a mature woman in a dress stepped up and said,
“then, there’ll be no change in our current policy, will there, Lord Leygur?”
“There will not . We’ll reorganize the army once we announce the change in personnel . ……I’ll entrust you with command over my troops . ”
The male and female daemons who had spoken bowed deeply, and the silent male daemon nodded curtly .
Only Noelle protested among them .
“Wait, Leygur . I still haven’t completely agreed to becoming your subordinate . I’ll be troubled if you got the wrong idea!”
The relaxed mood in the hall tensed up again at her haughty words, which seemed to cut down on him from up high .
Leygur stopped the other three, whom all looked to Noelle together, by raising his hand .
“Wait . I’ll speak first . ”
Leygur stopped the other three from speaking out and looked directly at Noelle .
Luminas, who was standing next to her, starting breaking out in buckets of sweat from the back of his neck because of this .
Noelle ignored Leygur’s frigid gaze and placed a hand on her slender waist .
“Right, so I’m here right now because I accepted your invitation . I thought that I’d be fine with accepting you as the leader of our alliance for convenience’s sake if it was to make this world ours . But you haven’t told me about something important yet, have you?”
“……Meaning? Unfortunately, I’m not that good at reading between the lines . Why don’t you hurry up and make your point?”
“Then let me say this straight . I am talking about this human called Rain!”
she said dauntlessly .
She pointed to the giant daemon standing nearby and continued,
“I heard about it from Philander over there just earlier . You were defeated by him, weren’t you? Do you really think that I’d accept someone who was defeated by a mere human as the leader of this alliance?!”
“I wasn’t exactly trying to hide it……but, I see . It’s certainly true that I withdrew from a duel with him . But I did so willingly . A defeat is a defeat, but I don’t consider it to be a conclusive match . And, just as I told Vinter, I’m still alive . All I need to do is simply ensure that I don’t make the same mistake twice……”
Leygur’s composure did not show the slightest hint of crumbling, but Noelle was harsh with him nonetheless .
“Your excuses are unbecoming of the proud daemon race . You should be ashamed of yourself, Leygur!”
She beat down at him with her stern words, harsh enough that they could have erupted in sparks, as she looked up at him with the dignified beauty of a goddess of war . She continued,
“it looks like you forgot the common sense held among us daemons because you’ve stayed too long in the human world . Our law is that might makes right! Don’t you dare forget that and start sprouting some cowardly nonsense like “I’m still alive”!”
Luminas inadvertently took a few steps away from Noelle . No one had ever thrown such insults at the king as far as he could remember .
After all, the countless corpses on the floor were clear proof of what happened to those who defied him .
Rather, it was actually strange that Leygur’s rage hadn’t erupted yet .
It was the male and female daemons who grew visibly angry in his stead . Specifically, Dewy, the daemon dressed like a noble, and the sexy female daemon .
“You’ve said too much, Noelle! Can’t you tell that Lord Leygur doesn’t even take mere humans into consideration?! He simple felt no need to go out of his way to fight him!”
“It’s just as Dewy says! Do you wish to die at our hands, you little girl?! Philander, you say something about this too!”
“No . This isn’t something for me to cut in on, Sera . ”
The daemon called Philander, who was a cut bulkier than the other daemons, slowly shook his head . He continued,
“the match is not decided conclusively as long as you still yet live—— . I concur with Leygur’s opinion . However, I can still understand where Noelle is coming from by insisting on a complete victory . As someone who was born a warrior, hers is a way of life that I must acknowledge . ”
He answered calmly with his armed crossed .
Sera and Dewy, however, weren’t convinced .
“Are you defying Lord Leygur too, huh? Did you tell Noelle about such useless things because you wanted her to lead in to this?!”
Dewy promptly threw in some dangerous words as soon as Sera’s harsh ones had left her mouth .
“……If you want to make enemies so badly, Philander, then now’s your perfect chance . I, Dewy, am ready to take you on as an opponent at any time!”
Battle seemed to draw closer as Dewy, who had a sophisticated countenance with a high-set nose, glared at Philander with bloodlust in his eyes .
Gracious, are the daemons about to start fighting among themselves? Luminas thought while sweating buckets .
——But just then, Leygur finally stopped them .
“Dewy, Sera, quell your anger . Philander’s answer was something truly in character for him, and I still have something to say to Noelle . ”
Luminas watched in surprise as the two daemons, who had all but taken up battle positions, immediately quelled their anger and fell back . He had thought that fighting had been unavoidable at this point .
Evidently, the two of them were extreme in their devotion to King Leygur . ……Though the other two had plainly asserted their own opinions .
Leygur looked to Noelle from his seat on the throne as though nothing had happened .
“……Noelle, I have no interest in taking the time to tediously explain my every action to you . It is fine if you can’t understand my actions . So, what is it that you want to do? Do you wish to return to where you were before?”
Noelle’s reply was swift .
“I’m fed up with the spirit world, which is filled only with those who refuse to cut off their past . I haven’t gone as far as to deny your goals . ——But!”
She boldly stuck out her chest and continued,
“I’ll be doing things my own way as I see fit . In any case, there is something that I want to do immediately . ”
“Oh? ——I suppose I can more or less guess what this thing you wish to do is . ”
“……I have no obligation to answer you . ”
Leygur, and the scantily-clad girl warrior Noelle . The two daemons locked eyes for a moment, causing invisible sparks to burst between them . It was Leygur, who slowly looked away in the tense atmosphere .
Luminas didn’t know how Leygur truly felt about the matter, but the king looked like he had simply lost interest .
“……Do as you wish . It’s much more of a loss to lose you than it was to lose the generals I killed just now, but it’s not as if I don’t have any replacements for you . ”
“Say what you will, Leygur . I’m going to walk my own path until the very end, and that’s all there is to it . ”
Noelle began to walk away with those last words . Her seductively half-naked retreating figure looked brazen even in Luminas’ eyes, and she was brimming with mettle as she ignored Leygur completely . Well, not that Luminas knew how strong she truly was .
Leygur called out to her just as she reached the door .
“Wait, Noelle . Let me give you a special warning in light of the fact that we belong to the same race . ”
“I’ll at least listen . So speak . ”
Noelle turned back around in composure .
“That man is many levels higher that you imagine by far . I won’t go as far as to say that you’ll be defeated, but don’t underestimate his abilities . ”
Noelle stared back at Leygur with her pitch-black eyes for a bit before she left the room without replying .
Vinter was floating in place far above Gaenys Castle with his black wings spread out behind him .
He confirmed that someone had flown out of the castle below him, which only looked like a speck in his eyes, and nodded tellingly .
“Hmm, hmm . A falling out already? Well, from my side of things, it’s a happy thing if their forces have decreased, I suppose . But if it’s only Noelle~, then the power balance remains more or less the same . ……And he’s gathered more comrades than I’d originally thought, too~ . Man~, what to do, what do to . ”
Vinter spoke to himself without sounding very troubled at all and he looked out to the distance and fell into thought .
A little while later, he began thinking out loud again .
“But the fact that there’s a human that a daemon as powerful as him is being wary of piques my interest too . Maybe I’ll skip~ my way on over and look into that too~?”
Eventually, Vinter flew off as though he was chasing after Noelle .
It was a chilly day as usual, but the skies above the amphitheater were endlessly blue and clear .
Could it be said that the weather was so nice that it actually made her nervous? Shelfa had already arrived at the amphitheater (currently an arena) before noon . She sat at the same spot she had been sitting at yesterday and was patiently waiting for the event to begin .
Things had been moved ahead of schedule, and today was the start of the actual tournament proper .
The preliminary matches yesterday had truly advanced quickly, and all of the competitors who would be participating in the actual tournament had been decided without the preliminaries spilling into a second day as was originally planned .
Naturally, the participants were the eight victors of their respective blocks A~H .
The seeded competitors aside, you normally had to fight and win four separate battles to emerge as a block victor, so in that sense, the eight participants were rather strong——or they should be .
As far as Shelfa could tell, a few of them did not look very strong at all . Though of course, she understood well that her eyes weren’t the best judge for these things, so she had no bias in particular as she spectated the tournament .
She had only managed to watch Sylvia fight yesterday, so she thought she would finally cheer on Lord Gunther today .
That being said, the victors of each block were as follows:
*The words “swordsman” and etc . after each name were written in by the participants themselves .
Block A——Sayle (Swordsman, male)
Block B——Sylvia Rosenberg (Swordswoman—though not her true specialty, female)
Block C——Arc (Swordsman, male)
Block D——Falna (Swordswoman, female)
Block E——Felt (Priest, male)
Block F——Black Mask’s representative, Gunther Valoa (Various jobs, male)
Block G——Gus (Martial artist, male)
Block H——Abel (Hero, male)
Shelfa looked at the last item on the handwritten list that had been made especially for her and opened her eyes wide . She was surprised by the words that were written in parentheses .
The way that Gunther had written down “Various jobs” for himself was rather charming, but what was with the way this person named Abel had written down “Hero”? There was no way that such an occupation actually existed .
Miran was the first to notice that Shelfa had tilted her head to the side .
He was standing right beside her and nodded deeply .
“Oh, the “Hero”, is it? That title generally refers to someone whose achievements stood out during our ancient war against the daemons . It actually refers to a group of people, and not just one . Though there are about four or five individuals who are especially famous . ”
“Is that so?”
——Shelfa couldn’t tell if that was too many or too few . She continued,
“putting their numbers aside, they must be quite long-lived . I was only focusing on Miss Sylvia during the preliminaries, so I don’t know who this Abel is . ”
“Well, no, the Heroes from the legends probably aren’t of this world anymore, except for maybe a select few . ”
Miran smiled wryly as he shook his head . He continued,
“However, their descendants still exist, though they are very few in number, and are scattered across the land——or so I hear . But it isn’t clear if this Mr . Abel of ours is one of these so-called “Hero” descendants . ”
“……A Hero . It’s a bit of an exaggerated title, but were they really that strong?”
There was a slight hint of dissatisfaction, or rather, protest, in her voice, though she was not aware of it .
Shelfa believed that only Rain could possibly be suited for the title . To think that someone, other than Rain of course, would actually call themselves a hero (etc . ) ——she thought .
“According to the legends passed through ancient texts or whispered in the streets, the Heroes were actually quite powerful . Incidentally, the legendary hero Joe Jervael was one of them . I wonder if he was their leader?”
Miran shrugged, and continued,
“the Heroes had special powers that normal people don’t have——or so they say . The legends don’t say anything about why, though……but I think that probably…”
Folnier had walked up to them in the middle of his sentence, so the conversation naturally died there .
“Good morning, Lady Shelfa . ”
“Good morning, Lady Folnier . ”
Shelfa exchanged a friendly greeting with Folnier, as the two of them had grown quite close .
Shelfa immediately showed her the list in her hands .
“Why, thank you, Lady Shelfa . ”
“It looks like most of the participants are gentlemen, or rather, swordsmen . ”
When Shelfa’s words piqued her interest, Folnier suddenly said,
“hmm, so it seems,”
and nodded .
Folnier was standing on Shelfa’s other side and was chuckling as she peered over at the list in Shelfa’s, who was already seated in her special seat, hands .
“I don’t recognize most of the people on this list . But in any event, I suppose Gunther is the only one I need to worry about? It looks like Sayle’s victory is decided . Hahaha . ”
She either ignored the four letters that spelled out “Hero” in the details or she simply hadn’t even seen them to begin with .
“Wait, why are you laughing—I’m not that confident about this at all . Besides, isn’t it too optimistic to only be wary of Mr . Gunther when we don’t recognize any of the other names?”
It was Sayle, who was standing behind her, who had offered up an exceedingly sensible gripe . He continued,
“not to mention that Mr . Gunther is pretty formidable . ”
“What are you talking about, Sayle?!”
Folnier said in a dignified voice . She continued,
“I told you yesterday too, didn’t I? Stuff like you’re not confident, or you won’t know until you’ve actually fought, or that you’re not feeling your best today—none of that matters . Just know that you have no choice but to emerge victorious since you’re representing Chandrys . The glory of our empire is riding on your shoulders!”
“Y, you’re as unreasonable as always, Your Majesty……”
Junna happily cheered, “Do your best, big brother~”, and pressed Sayle further into a corner when he stepped back with a bead of sweat running down his head .
Sayle sighed in grief and looked up to the skies .
“——Maybe I’ll pray that I at least don’t get hurt…”
“Hey, we’re getting in Lady Shelfa’s way . We should make our leave now . ”
Folnier pat Sayle on the shoulder with the smile still on her face . She continued,
“Sayle, you should make a few practice swings or something and get yourself in gear . ”
Then, Folnier and her party left as she dragged along Sayle, whose shoulders were drooping, along with her .
Upon a closer look, Ralphus and his unit were surrounding them in a manner so that they wouldn’t stand out . Shelfa then understood that Folnier was still being guarded as was proper, even if the empress was walking about the premises freely . Shelfa had actually been quite worried about this, so the knowledge relieved her greatly .
You should be guarding me, rather than the empress of another country!
——Such thoughts never crossed her mind .
Shelfa surveyed the amphitheater as noon, the time the tournament was set to start, approached and the hustle and bustle in the audience had died down somewhat, and let out a small sigh .
“Is something the matter, Your Majesty?”
“No……I was simply hoping that Rain would make a sudden appearance . ”
She quickly shut her mouth as soon as the words had left her .
Evidently, she had grown quite used to Miran as of late .
She never relaxed her guard around people whom she had only just met, but she never seemed to grow wary as she usually did around him for some reason . She would have normally been at least a little more cautious, no matter whom she was with .
Still, Miran didn’t look the slightest bit dubious upon hearing her and instead, as though it was only normal, asked,
“Have you still not cheered up?”
“I’m feeling much better compared to yesterday . But still, as long as Rain isn’t here——”
She left the rest unsaid .
Though, she had already said plenty enough to get herself in trouble .
“I’m sure the General will return to the castle soon enough . Why don’t we enjoy the tournament as much as we can for now?”
Yes, you’re right, Shelfa muttered in reply .
It was just about noon, and the tournament was about to start .
Shelfa tilted her head a little to the side upon seeing the small figure who had just stepped out from the gates .
The boy, whose name was Felt, was wearing white priests’ clothes and had a medal with some sort of crest on it hanging over his chest .
Miran, as tactfully as ever, began to explain things for her from her side again .
“It looks like he’s a priest serving under the Goddess Menam . ”
“The Goddess Menam? Um, not the Goddess Myusra? The Goddess Menam, as in the goddess of love, beauty, and harmony?”
“Yes . Though, he’s pretty out of place here, seriously . ”
Miran readily put to words that Shelfa had refrained from saying out of modesty .
And, right behind the priest was a sullen-looking man wearing a black mantle .
It was none other than Gunther Valoa, who was still looking as morose as ever under this beautifully cloudless sky .
“……Lord Gunther will win, yes?”
Shelfa asked Miran just in case .
“Hmm~m . Well, in any case, I’ll be cheering for Mr . Gunther, since he’s the General’s right-hand man . ”
——Just before the match started .
Felt, the priest, purposefully went over to right under where Shelfa was watching from and gave her a low bow . Shelfa inadvertently lowered her head slightly in return .
He still only looked like a boy even after she’d gotten a closer look at his face . This was just her impression of him, though .
The thick black gloves he wore on his hands made a lasting impression on her .
Felt smiled sunnily at Shelfa when she greeted him back and turned to face the center of the arena——rather, he was facing off against his opponent while leaving plenty of space in between them .
And with the referee’s declaration, the match began .
He moved quickly .
The long sleeves of Felt’s priests’ clothes fluttered as he waved his hand .
Then, as though in response, Gunther, who had been standing still until then, turned his upper body ever so slightly .
He then began walking toward Felt as though nothing had happened .
Felt looked on his disbelief as Gunther proceeded to casually close the distance between them and moved his right and left hands in a hurry . He was waving them ceaselessly .
Gunther twisted his body, or jumped lightly, each and every time, and his movements looked somewhat strange at a first glance . It was only a little while later that Shelfa understood what he was doing .
That being said, this was only because she had recalled that Rain had moved similarly while dodging Talma’s invisible whip .
The sudden movements Gunther played out while briskly walking forward made him look exactly like Rain had back then .
“Is Mr . Felt throwing something?”
“Yes, he is . Your vision is excellent, Your Majesty, so I’m sure you’ll be able to see it if you observe carefully . Please take a closer look at Mr . Felt’s hands . You should be able to see that he’s throwing circular chakrams . ”
This was Shelfa’s first time hearing about this weapon called a chakram .
Still, she finally understood after Miran gave her a hint .
She hadn’t been able to tell at first because Felt’s arms were moving too fast, but now she could certainly see that he was throwing something small and disc-shaped . Moreover, they would come back to him after they were thrown . Felt was throwing several of these (so-called) chakrams one after another like the way a magician juggled balls .
And Gunter was dodging them with no difficultly at all .
“……Those chakram things are so fast that I only just realized they were there at all, but Lord Gunther looks like he’s completely fine even when facing against them . ”
“Chakrams have blades attached to their outer rim, so they should make quite the impact when they hit, but…… . Up until now, all of his opponents have surrendered after only sustaining minor injuries . But this time——”
“……This time, unfortunately for him, he hasn’t even been able to make so much as a single scratch,”
Shelfa finished Miran’s sentence .
She felt bad for Felt, but Shelfa was a little happy about it because she wanted Gunther, who was Rain’s right-hand man, to win .
Gunther continued walking forward just as she hoped he would and began to corner Felt against the wall .
Wha, what is with this person?!
Why can he avoid my chakrams like it’s easy? Things were going so smoothly during the preliminaries…
The priest, Felt, continued to throw his chakrams without pause even as he was slowly but steadily being pushed back .
Felt, a priest who worshiped the Goddess Menam instead of the Goddess Myusra, the goddess of war, had hardly ever experienced this thing called battle .
He hadn’t had any particular interests in experiencing it either, but he was participating in the tournament with all his might because he had been attracted to the provision that the victor would be rewarded with anything they wished for (as long as it wasn’t too difficult a request to fulfill) .
Naturally, Felt planned to ask for permission to establish a church in the capital if he won .
His chakrams were self-defense weapons that high-ranking priests of the Goddess Menam were allowed to carry with them, but if they didn’t work, he would have to resort to using his final card .
Half-desperately, he threw several chakrams with his full might .
He made full use of the fact that he was ambidextrous and swiftly waved his arms with only a slight moment between each wave .
——I missed .
He had done this in hopes of overturning the bleak situation, but this man called Gunther evaded his chakrams so easily that it was ridiculous .
And, his chakrams, which he had thrown so hard that they had been an audible snap when he threw them, did not return to him .
They had fruitlessly struck the gate on the other wide and shaved off a part of the wall there .
“……You’ll lose momentum if you don’t intend to hit my vitals from the beginning, even if you throw them at full power,”
said the sullen man idly .
The way Gunther muttered under his breath between spare moments was rather creepy . He would enter Felt’s range soon . A stiff smile emerged of Felt’s strained face .
“You’re absolutely right . But still, no matter what, I don’t want to seriously injure my opponent . ”
——But even so!
Felt’s voice grew louder .
“I still have the protection of the great Goddess!”
Multiple symbols appeared over the medal of the Goddess Menam he wore on his chest when he uttered her name .
A giant silver-white magic circle appeared in front of Felt’s body .
“The gods are always with us! Holy Blast!”
A flood of light particles rushed toward Gunther from the entire magic circle as soon as the words left Felt’s mouth .
He probably won’t die, but he might still be comatose for a few days…
“O Goddess……please forgive——”
His whisper disappeared vainly into the sky before he could finish .
His divine magic, which should have blown his opponent away in spectacular fashion, was repelled by an invisible barrier the moment Gunther nonchalantly raised a hand in front of him .
It’s invisible……no, if I squint, I can see that magic’s been gathered in front of him into a faint shield of light .
“A magic shield…”
Felt moaned before he could stop himself . He continued,
“you were a mage!?”
He was muttering all this time because he was chanting a rune!
Gunther flipped his mantle, dashed the last few meters between them, and pointed his magic sword, which he had drawn for the first time during their match, directly at Felt’s throat .
With an extremely serious attitude, he replied,
“……I’m not exactly a Rune Master, per se . Still, I don’t remember ever telling anyone that I couldn’t use magic . ”
After his rather roundabout explanation, he asked,
“so, will you surrender?”
Felt could do little else but nod .