The main street of Imperial City was more crowded than usual.
There were shops lined up like in a festival, from early in the morning was overflowing with parents bringing along their children and adults taking a day off from work, and everyone was heading for the same place.
An amphitheater usually used for entertainment that can accommodate thousands of people.
Today’s event is The Imperial Warrior Academy [Graduation Commemorative Match].
This tournament selects the best among the newcomers who have yet to become warriors.
The event is not a small one, but also a showcase of young people who will bear the future of Imperial City. It is a grand event with a long-standing tradition and style in which not only the commoners but also nobles and the Imperial family including the Emperor watch.
Therefore, some patrons stop their carriages in front of the arena, and from the passenger cabin escort guards and the gorgeously dressed elite were seen. With more security than usual, some warriors wore armbands throughout the arena.
It’s such an important event for the Empire, much less this year’s match which is a little different from the usual.
“Hey, who do you think will win today?”
“If you go in order, it’ll probably be the Princess or a Rebal.”
“I’m here for Rebal~! He’s too cool!
“Hmm, by far I’m with Mr. Fu.”
“Fu is super first class as a mage too, but what about the duels?”
“No, you don’t understand, do you? The matchups will be announced on the day, so if the Princess and Rebal face each other early…”
“Ah. Earth might be the dark horse here.” 1
I can also hear my name in the conversation among the guests arriving at the arena.
It’s only natural.
Today, four children of the Seven Heroes who defeated the Great Demon King and saved the human race and the world over ten years ago will come out.
They’re all looking forward to seeing the next generation of heroes and the potential for the future.
『Ho. Seems quite the success. Though tis a game between children.』
「That’s just what peace means compared to your time.」
『I see. If so, as a matter of fact… tis quite the exciting situation that draws out one’s spirit.』
As I tried to run around the venue for a warm-up, Tre’ainar mentioned that he was impressed as I saw where people were getting into the arena.
I’m ready to fight myself.
I carefully performed shadow and ladder training to get peak level performance.
「Well, it’s about time I got in too…」
As many people gather at the main gate of the Arena, I go in through the back door used for officials and contestants.
In the square in front of the entrance going straight through a narrow corridor that leads directly into the arena, everyone else had gathered and was waiting.
“Moh? You’re finally here, Earth!”
“Earth, good morning!”
When they saw me, the Princess and Fu ran up to me.
I’m finally here…. I’ve been around the venue for a long time, but…
“I was taking a little walk…”
“Easy Going guy. Do you really know what today is?”
“Is that right? Earth. I’ll tell you… me…… fighting Earth, I won’t go easy on you, got it?”
Won’t go easy on me. Usually, when you say, ‘I fight with all my strength’, you’re just trying to say that ‘I’m superior’.
Maybe he’s saying it unconsciously. In other words, Fu unconsciously believes he’s much stronger than me.
Looking down on me.
“Same with me, right? To win, I won’t lose the championship. To anyone… That’s it.”
And the Princess also sees a man with a cool atmosphere, his eyes closed in the corner of the room, as if declaring war.
Rebal was there.
He’s trying to unify his spirit with a cold air as if he was saying, ‘Nobody speak to me’.
And then, either he was done or he noticed my existence, he opened his eyes, glanced my way and came up to me.
Two people facing each other. Rebal had confessed, but there is no sweet atmosphere present.
“I won’t lose.”
They clash and show off their will to ‘not lose’ to each other.
But from my point of view, it doesn’t seem like the mood matches.
Tch, are they going out already?
“Fu… How are you?”
“I’m in my best shape.”
“I see… When I think about it, I’ve been studying abroad with you for a year, but this may be the first time I’ve fought you.”
And, going with the flow, Rebal turns eyes to Fu.
Fu’s childish face also changes completely, and he shows a manly smile as sparks fly between him and Rebal.
Well, this selection match is a tournament of 16 contenders, so there are others in sync besides us, it’s just like they’re saying, ‘someone among us will win’.
In fact, it feels like they’re nervous yet they can’t afford to be.
And Rebal looked at me last…
“I’m in this tournament… No matter who sees it, I’ll show off the obvious difference in power and win the championship and prove my all.”
“To the Empire… To the people… To his majesty… To my father and the former heroes. And…… To the princess to whom I offer my sword.”
A declaration of war on me…. Or rather, all I hear is ‘I’ll win the championship’.
Two months ago, I would have said it back here, but since it was on appointed the day, I can’t stand it with just words.
I retort with just that and turned my back.
Shut them out and suppress my emotions!
“Oh, hey, Earth! What’s that attitude towards Rebal! If you’re a man, say it back! That…… here, you too. I…. what?”
“It’s not like Earth, is it? Right?”
The princess and Fu agitate me, but I don’t take any part of it.
“Hmm… two months ago, just saying that, is that your answer today? Earth. Well, it doesn’t matter to me anymore, but… at least you’ll try not to fall before you fight us.”
Perhaps he lost interest in me with that, Rebal looks at me with a slightly cold eye, but I won’t say anything back.
『Kukukuku… Your patience wears thin, does it not?』
The only person who understands my feelings right now is Tre’ainar, who has a grinning smile on his face.
「Yes, I can’t stand it anymore.」
I didn’t think I could endure so much yet not raise my clenched fist or say anything.
If I had talked with Rebal anymore, I would have said, ‘Let’s go! I want to end the fight right now’.
I was looking forward to it, just like Rebal was doing everything today.
That’s why I decided.
That’s all I can bear.
『Hmm? Is something wrong, child? For some reason, your expression tells me you have a fiendish scheme in mind.』
「Ah. I don’t think I can put up with it anymore. So if I’m doing this, I’ll do it quickly.」
『Hoho… Hmmm. I see. Your malicious intent is oozing out, is it not?』
『No, no, no, no, no, no, no. Tis intriguing.』
The tournaments will soon begin…… a lottery beforehand.
The tournament bracket is decided by drawing lots in front of the audience.
So, I thought I’d give my response, everything I wanted to say here, in front of a large crowd anyway.
[S1]The term originally used here is ‘漁夫の利’ which literally means ‘Benefit of a Fisherman’. It’s meant to describe a situation where 2 parties fighting over a prize occupy each other when an unexpected 3rd party would swoop in and take it for themselves. Basically the speaker believes the only way for Earth to win is for the competition to take each other out. I opted for Dark Horse instead since it gets the point across better for English speakers.