Report
Chapter 78

Chapter 78: What Always Ends up Happening from Stopping at the Last Instant


When the time for my match comes close, I leave the room on the pretext of having to visit the toilet and hurry to the participants’ waiting room. It seems that Nee-san had successfully won her first match. Perhaps she might be able to go pretty far.

As I walk down the corridor with such thoughts in my mind, a gray-robed person passes by me.

That instant, my feet stop.

Then a slight moment later, the other person also stops.

We turn around at the same time.

Blue eyes size me up from the depths of the gray robe.

“You smell of elf.”

It is a husky female voice.

The faded gray robe appears frayed in several places.

I maintain silence, waiting for her next words.

“Do you know any elves?”

Her blue eyes gaze into my eyes, as if trying to probe inside.

“I do have several friends who are elves.”

There’s no particular reason to hide it, so I admit it.

“I am looking for an elf.”

“Is that so.”

“She’s a cute girl.”

Heehh~”

“Anyone come to mind?”

“With just that alone, I can’t really……”

“She looks really similar to me.”

“I see.”

“She’s the daughter of my departed younger sister.”

Heehh~”

“Any elf who looks really similar to me come to mind?”

“Umm.”

“You’ve thought of someone?”

“I can’t see your face because of your robe.”

“Oh, right.”

She draws back her hood and exposes her face.

I don’t react at all.

I consciously make the effort to not react at all.

Her face looks extremely similar to Alpha’s.

“Hmm, I don’t think so, no.”

“Really?”

“Yea.”

I should probably confirm this with Alpha the next time I meet her. Though they don’t look completely alike, but there’s enough similarity there that I would believe it if they are related by blood.

“I see.”

She shrugs her shoulders in disappointment, then draws her sword in a natural movement.

There’s no killing intent, no extra movement, simply a single sure-kill strike.

I catch it in the edge of my vision, and accept it.

I know what this is, she’s going to stop at the last instant.

In result, her sword touches my neck and stops.

It’s only touching. It hasn’t even cut the surface of my skin.

Then at this exact timing.

“Uwah?!”

I fall on my butt, as if my knees had given way.

Yep, passing mark.

Mu?”

She tilts her head and withdraws her sword.

“I made a mistake. Sorry.”

Then she bobs her head in apology.

“I thought you to be stronger. What’s your name?”

So she says, while reaching out a hand.

“S-, Sid Kagenou……”

So I reply in a quivering voice, accepting her hand and getting back up.

“I am Beatrix.”

Beatrix does not let go of my hand.

“Erm……?”

“Nice hand. You will get strong.”

Then she flashes an elegant smile. That smile is extremely similar to Alpha’s.

“Sorry for surprising you.”

After one last apology, Beatrix turns around and walks away.

I gaze at her departing back, and mutter, “…… she seems pretty strong.”

Then I, too, turn around.

◆◇◆◇◆◇◆◇◆◇◆◇◆◇◆◇◆◇

Iris is waiting for the start of the next match in the special seats.

The special seats are situated such that anyone inside can command a view of the entire arena, and there is also a dedicated staircase that allows direct access to the floor of the arena.

There are already two magic swordsmen standing in the arena.

One of them is the person that Iris has her eyes on, Annerose. She is a female swordswoman with hair the color of water.

The other is a black-haired swordsman that she’s seeing for the first time, Jimina Sehnen.

Iris gazes at the both of them with sharp eyes.

“It’s just about to begin.”

A man sits in the seat next to Iris’.

That’s Sid’s seat.

“That seat……”

“Yes?”

Iris sees the man’s face and swallows her words. Then she mentally apologizes to Sid.

“Doem-dono……”

“Iris-sama, good day to you.”

Doem elegantly smiles, but his eyes are not laughing at all.

“Being able to watch a match together with Iris-sama, it’s like a dream come true.”

“Surely you jest. Does Doem-dono not have a fiancée?”

“To my chagrin, she’s run away. But there’s no cause for concern. It is merely a lover’s quarrel.”

Doem laughs breezily.

His face is quite handsome for a thirties-something, but Iris cannot bring herself to like that smile of his.

“Is the Oriana king not feeling well?”

“Unfortunately, he cannot make it today. But he did say that he would surely come tomorrow.”

Doem adroitly answers Iris’ question.

“Tomorrow also happens to be when the Midgar king begins attending.”

“What a coincidence.”

Iris attempts to probe Doem’s eyes, but fails to read anything from those unsmiling eyes of his.

“So she is the rumored Annerose.”

So says Doem while looking down on the arena.

“Indeed.”

“She is the magic swordswoman who’s riding on the biggest momentum right now, right? I heard that she left Begalta on a journey of training, but I would very much like to invite her to our country.”

“Sure you would. A magic swordswoman of her caliber would be greatly welcome in our Midgar Kingdom as well.”

“Ha ha. Doesn’t Midgar Kingdom already have numerous exemplary magic swordsmen? In comparison, our country……”

“That’s what our alliance is for, yes?”

“But we do feel quite apologetic relying so heavily on Midgar Kingdom.”

“Is that so……”

‘This is so tiring,’ sighs Iris inside her heart.

It almost feels like she’s speaking with a puppet.

“How is the opponent, Jimina?”

“Today will be the first time I see a match of his. The rumors about him are generally not so positive, and he himself also does not look strong.”

“Which means Annerose’s victory is guaranteed.”

“I’m not so sure though….. Jimina gives me a slightly uncanny feeling.”

So says Iris in an ambiguous tone.

“Uncanny, you say?”

“Yes. He does not look strong with any stretch of the imagination. However, he possesses a characteristic that would never appear on the truly weak.”

Hou…… what characteristic is that?”

“Absolute confidence. From what I can see…… he is absolutely confident that he will win.”

“Isn’t that just mere hubris?”

“Perhaps. But there is not even a shred of doubt in his eyes. Assured victory…… exists at least in his eyes.”

“‘At least in his eyes’, is it. Then do you see it too, Iris-sama?”

“No I do not. How about Doem-dono?”

“Me? I know nothing at all about the sword.”

“Is that so.”

Iris shoots a glance towards Doem’s well-trained hands.

“Ahaha, as expected of Iris-sama, nothing gets past you. The sword is scorned in Oriana Kingdom, so I beg your pardon. To be honest, I am proficient, to some degree.”

“‘To some degree,’ is it.”

“Indeed, to some degree.”

Doem flashes another smile that does not reach his eyes.

“Well then. Let’s take a look at how much this absolute confidence is worth, shall we?”

Then he looks down on the arena.

“Annerose vs. Jimina Sehnen!!”

Both participants’ names are called.

“Battle, start!!”

Then it begins.