KENS Interlude 5

Interlude 5

(Francesca POV)

As I sat down on the seat provided in the waiting room, I gave a sigh.

My stomach felt slightly heavy having just eaten lunch but that’ll soon be digested after I move around in the tournament.

Compared to when it began, the number of participants had already become half of what it was and the remaining contestants were talking to their comrades freely right now. There was not a single team another than us who was wearing a school uniform anymore.

Among the two waiting rooms prepared for the contestants, the other one was being used by the only other student team, other than us, left in the tournament. The [Demonic Sword User] Masaki-sama’s team from Tactics city.

“But still, it was great to know that both Souichi-sama and Aya-sama were such light-hearted people right?”

The one who said that was one of the girls, younger than me, in our team.

With small face and stature, she looked cute with her short golden hair tied with a red ribbon. She looked more childish than Aya-san, who was also an year younger than me, but still she had her own charm.

What she was talking about were the words spoken to us today when all of us were in the room.

‘We don’t like being referred to with ‘-sama’ suffix so at least try to stick to ‘-san’.’

“Yeah, for people who hold the title of Heroes, they even readily listened to our thoughts and opinions as well.”

The one replied was also a girl of our team—–and the same age as me.

With bright red hair and confident looking eyes, her expression was filled with confidence. She had a charm I didn’t possess.

She was also only slightly shorter than me, still pretty tall for a girl. Even her uniform that she wore perfectly at school, since no one was here to reprimand her, her chest button was more open than normal. I thought that she was a serious type of person but I guess this is more of her natural personality.

“I was really surprised……that both of them were so lax with formality and stuff like that.”

“Yeah. I always thought that they’d have a more strict personality. What do you think, Francesca?”

Having the topic suddenly turned towards me, I got surprised since I was only listening to their chat in a daze. My reaction must have looked funny as both gave a giggle.

“Looks like you’ve really worked hard today, senpai.”

“Well, all said and done, she did win in her battles in both the first round match and the second round match. You were really amazing.”

“Really, I was totally surprised.”

“……..I think the opponent just let their guard down against me though.”(fran)

“Even still, that was great.”

To those that knew of my scores at school, their feelings must be more complicated than just pure surprise. A big part of nobles put great importance on status and ratings. Tournaments like these have a great impact on graduation scores and even the ratings of the whole family so many are aiming for wins in it. Though victory alone won’t raise your grades but for her who must have been aiming for a good evaluation yet lost must not find this amusing.

The younger girl though, seemed to be genuinely surprised.

Magician wasn’t a job that fights one on one. That is taught while at school and a fact that I learnt while travelling as well.

We need to be protected while prepare to fire our magic and when you run out of magical energy, you’re useless. Though we have many weaknesses, once the magic becomes active, we can fight with immense strength.

Though we need to be protected, we surpass knights or soldiers in terms of firepower. Quite an extreme existence if I were to say so myself.

And for both of them who were stereotypical magicians, they got defeated before they could activate their magic.

Even though they did learn for such times, it’s still difficult to beat someone who can fight normally without protection. As a matter of fact, though I have no learnt how to use the sword, but the first time I left on a journey I was almost killed by goblins. These two might be fortunate that at least there’s no danger to their lives here.

“So were you taught how to fight one on one by someone?”

“Ah, no. Not really………”

“Really?”

“Yes.”

It was true so I could look straight in her eyes and nod. The red haired girl was asking about if during my travels…….was I taught by Renji-sama.

But in truth, I only travelled with him and the only thing he taught me was the basics of journeying and how to apply them……..as for being taught something, there was just that pitfall magic and its importance. Also, he explained about the ecology of monsters.

The reason I was able to win like this was due to my experience with fighting monsters.

Monsters were far stronger and faster than normal humans. And for the past half month, I have been constantly facing such opponents. That and my opponents must have let their guard down thinking they were facing just a student. I don’t if I can win one more time.

“After all, you were travelling with the [Hero] right? Did he teach you something special or something………..”

“Special……….that’s the last kind of thing that person would focus on.”(fran)

Renji-sama puts the most importance on fighting using his own experience as the focus. Countless, innumerable times, he has fought against monsters, killed and valued the experience of living through that fight.

And because Renji-sama is like that, by travelling with him and watching him, I learnt things that would be useful to me. I learnt various things like habits and specialities of monsters as well.

He never talks about it but I think that he might be more knowledgeable about the monsters and their ecology than even Feirona-san and Mururu-chan. He himself said that he had spent lots of time learning such things.

All said and done, no matter how much talent you have, no matter what kind of power you may have received from the goddess, he believes that learning is the still the most important thing.

But, well, he is special in his own way. He does possess the special weapon called Ermenhilde-sama.

“Is that so?”

“Yes. After talking I learnt that he’s actually quite the friendly person. He didn’t abandon an amateur like me after all.”(fran)

“hmmm..”

The topic had changed from Souichi-san and Aya-san at some point but if they’re willing to continue conversing, I don’t mind.

For some reason, after it was known that I was travelling with Renji-sama, somehow they became more distant around me. Even though it was pure luck that I met him.

“Oh right, Renji-sama even said the same thing as Souichi-san as well.”(fran)

“Same thing?”

“What did he say?”

“To not use ‘-sama’ while calling him.”(fran)

When I told them that, both made a surprised sound in a loud voice. But the next moment, they quickly looked at the other participants standing nearby and quickly shut their mouths while blushing in embarrassment.

Was it really that strange? But I feel like I was equally surprised when I heard this the first time.

After talking for a while, becoming tired of talking we took a breather.

“But all said and done, we ended up advancing far more than expected.”

The older girl muttered that.

We cleared through 2 rounds.

It was so anticlimactic that we couldn’t really truly feel that it was true. It’s because unlike us students, we were fighting together with those two who were in a whole different level.

Souichi-san and Aya-san.

They were very carefree and easy to talk to but, as holders of the title of heroes who saved the world, the difference in our abilities was clear.

After fighting desperately, we won just barely but those two won without even coming slightly in danger. Even against, older and experienced adventurers, that didn’t change.

“I could bag to my friends about this.”

“fufu, that’s true.”

The red haired girl spoke so happily. It must be because normally students are all eliminated in the first round of the tournament.

Well, it would have been the same if not for those two.

“That aside, Francesca, do you intend to use that sword in the next battle as well?”

Saying that her gaze pointed towards the short sword hanging on my waist.

“Yes, I plan to, why?”(fran)

Was there a problem?

I tilted my head in confusion not understanding what she meant when the girl gave a sigh and the younger girl gave a wry smile.

“umm………is there something wrong with my sword?”(fran)

“After all, that’s just an iron sword right?”

“Well, yes.”

When I said that, they gave another sigh.

“The tournament is such a rare occasion. Shouldn’t you be using a better sword? C’mon, want to go but a new one right now?”

“Ah.”

“That’s right, senpai. If you have a stronger sword, you’d be able to perform even better.”

I wonder about that.

They’re probably speaking with good intentions but I doubt my result would change, whether good or bad, even if I bought a new sword right now.

“It’s because I’m used to using this one.”(fran)

“That one?”

“Yes.”

I do, though only somewhat, understand what they want to say. It might seem weird for someone taking part in the tournament to be using such a common sword.

But still, it’s the sword I have been using from the time I first started travelling. I am attached to it and also accustomed to it as well. Even if I got a new sword right now, I doubt I’ll be able to use it as well as this short sword.

While feeling their gazes, I gently patted the handle of my sword. When I do, somehow, I feel more courageous.

“You should use a magic enchanted or a sword made with better materials at least. Like a student of the Academy would.”

“Haa.”(fran)

Being told that I couldn’t say anything.

A magicians weapon is a staff/wand. It acts as a catalyst when using magic and can also be used as a blunt weapon when needed. Even Aya-san normally uses a wooden staff with skill.

Even though she was enhancing her physical abilities with magic, she could still beat a veteran adventurer with just a wooden staff. Until now she hasn’t had an opponent that required the use of actual magic but I could still imagine how she’d look fighting through the battlefield. That’s what a true magician should be like.

But was I wrong to use a sword instead of a staff? If this sword was buffed with magic or a mithril sword, it’d still be okay though.

I thought like that but I didn’t have to think too deeply about it right now. I know I can’t suddenly change the way I fight. I am not that skilled. If I fussed over such things, it’ll only end in my failure.

As I was giving a vague nod to my friends, the door to the room made a noise and opened up. Everyone’s gaze turned towards it.

“thanks for your hard work, Aya-sama.”

“Ah, yeah. Thanks.”(aya)

Aya-san replied to their greeting in a somewhat tired manner. I recalled just how much she disliked being called with a ‘-sama’ suffix back when I travelled with her for a short while.

She really resembles Renji-sama in that sense. Souichi-sama gives an image of lightly putting it all aside but Renji-sama and Aya-sama alwys make a difficult expression whenever someone talks to them like this.

It was not very Hero-like that it felt pleasant and charming instead. I wonder if I’m being disrespectful to think like that though?

“What happened Aya-san, you seem a bit tired.”

“No no, I just met my next opponent that’s all.”

“The next one?”

Who was it? I tried to recall.

That’d be the winner of the next match……..that means, either the adventurer team of the capital or the student team of the Tactics city.

That means, our next opponent must be the tactics city student team.

“Masaki-sama, is it?”(fran)

When I asked, not just Aya-san, even the other two girls made a surprised face.

I think the math result was already pretty obvious just from Aya-san’s expression though?

“yes, that’s right. I met Masaki-san, a little.”

“A little?”

“……..yeah, something like that.”

What happened I wonder?

As I tilted my head in confusion towards Aya-san who wasn’t being very clear, next Souichi-san  came through the doors. His expression was equally troubled as Aya-san.

“thank you for your hard work, Souichi-sama.”

Saying that, the girl the same age as me smilingly went to talk to him. The younger one, left one step behind, quickly followed after her towards Souichi-san.

Being surrounded by the girls, normally Souichi-san would have his usual happy, yet troubled vague expression but right now, as if he hadn’t even realized the girls were there, he had a truly troubled face.

Once again, I looked towards Aya-san.

“Masaki-san, has proposed Souichi to fight each other seriously.”(aya)

“Seriously?”

“Well, they still won’t use their respective weapons though.”

Serious, i.e. at full strength. Even now I feel that they are over powered already. To go even further than that……..i couldn’t even imagine how amazing they’d be. It’s not like I have ever stepped on the battlefront of the war that had lasted till an year ago even once. Only the active veteran soldiers and knights would be aware of these two’s full strength.

Students like us could only imagine just how amazing they could be.

The image of Renji-sama appeared in my head but even he hasn’t shown his full strength. The only times he even held Ermenhilde-sama was that time when fighting against those Orcs and in the battle against the Ogre near Magic CIty. And in both of those cases, according to Souichi-san, that was far from Renji-sama’s full strength.

As I sat there unable to imagine just how incredible Souichi-san and Masaki-sama’s full strength would be, Aya san gave a laugh while looking at me.

“Well, I bet it’s hard to imagine considering how Souichi acts like normally.”(aya)

“Eh, um, yes.”(fran)

“Unlike what his face would suggest, he’s actually pretty amazing.”

“My face is unrelated okay!?!”

On Aya-san’s words, Souichi-san reacted in a loud voice. He’s always very conscious of his face, almost to desperate extents.

But then, all the gazes in the room focused towards Souichi-san, and realizing that he quickly ducked his head in embarrassment. How cute.

I think I realize why all the girls obsess over him so much a bit.

“So, what will you do?”(aya)

“No, I refused her.”(souichi)

“What are you talking about, Souichi-sama?”(student girl )

Probably because she wasn’t actually listening to our conversation, the younger girl asked. But he simply gave a vague smile back.

Aya-san gave another laugh at that. She must really find Souichi-san’s troubled look to be amusing. And he only gave pleading looks asking for help towards her. It seems he was bad at dealing with women and was currently unable to move being surrounded from both sides.

“Well, it’s nothing. I am interested in Masaki-san as well but I will definitely get scolded by Yuuko-san and Renji-niichan later so……..”(souichi)

“That’s true.”(aya)

Aya-san nodded in agreement.

I couldn’t imagine Renji-sama be angry but for Yuuko-sama to get angry must be………really scary I suppose. Having received a title like The [Witch of the Capital], she must be a frightening person.

I recalled back when Renji-sama had collapsed and we had carried him over to the capital, I met her at the guest lounge.

At that time, she was really scary. Extremely cold eyes, that seemed like they could see through me completely.

Recalling that, I felt my face cramp a bit.

“Also, people will misunderstand the way you said that you know?”(aya)

“Huh, misunderstand?”(souichi)

“………Well, whatever. Be careful of things behind you (read as Yayoi) at night okay?”(aya)

“Uh, sure. For the time being, the problem is the next battle. I want to look cool in front of nii-chan and I want to win as well.”(souichi)

“Obviously.”

But he must be hesitating over what to do. Though he refused, he’s getting second thoughts right now.

The full power of the [Brave] Souichi-san. I do want to see it but I also wonder whether that is something I’d want to see just out of curiosity as well.

It’s power granted by the Goddess Astraera herself. Power to protect the world and the power that did save the world. I don’t believe that power should be seen just out of curiosity. In the first place—-

“Would it be fine to freely use your full strength inside the Coliseum, Souichi-san?”(fran)

“Yeah, you have a point.”(souichi)

Saying that, he scratched his head feeling troubled.

I believe that their full strength would be too much for the arena to bear, After all it is a power that rivals that of Gods—the Demon God.

“You did properly refuse her right?”(aya)

“I think so.”

“……..meaning?”

“Don’t make such a scary face. Even if I refused, I’m sure Masaki-san will come at me with full strength anyway.”

“Yeah, I guess that’s true.”

I don’t really understand but does that mean that Masaki-sama will not be satisfied with Souichi-san refusing?

“Well with normal weapons, I doubt the weapon would be able to bear it very long.”(souichi)

“As expected, even she wouldn’t draw her demonic sword right in front of Yuuko-san and others……..Right?”(aya)

“If that happened, I’ll die.”

The conversation seemed to be turning more and more dangerous but it’s not like anything I could say would solve this.

“Are you not at very good terms?”(fran)

“It’s the opposite actually. Masaki-san wants to have a serious battle with Souichi.”(aya)

“I don’t get it.”

“She’s what you’d call a battle loving junkie……..she likes such things, just think of that way.”

“Haa.”

I don’t really understand what battle junkie means but basically Masaki-sama wants to have a serious battle with Souichi-san so much that she can’t resist it?

Neither Renji-sama nor Feirona-san show much interest in fighting so I’d don’t really get it though.

“That aside, Souichi-sama, are you free right now?”(girl student 1)

“Hm?”

“If you have time before the next match, how about—–“(girl 1)

“We go for some tea or something?”(girl 2)

Seriously, I thought. It’s great that you’re carefree but we’re still in the middle of the tournament you know?

Aya-san just continued laughing while watching Souichi-san troubling over this.

…………Are they completely disconnected with the concept of nervousness? I felt jealous of such team mates of mine as I dropped my shoulders without letting anyone else realize.

.

.

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(Part 2 )

It was the 3rd round now. If we win 3 more times, we’ll win the tournament but now only veteran warriors against whom normal students like us cannot stand were left in the tournament. While looking at the tournament table hung over the entrance of the Coliseum, I gave a sigh. Nearby were people who were passing time till the next match started or those that were betting on who’d win in the next match.

We were able to advance this far only thanks to Souichi-san and Aya-san. Also, because our opponents must have been underestimating us since we were students. But that won’t happen anymore. Because we’re facing another school next. Only the stronger one will win.

“But still, a win is a win.”

While caressing the handle of the short blade hung on my waist, I nodded to myself. The sun that had been at the highest point when the tournament began was already beginning to set now. And its only a matter of time before it fully sets. And with that, the team battle tournament will also end.  No matter what the result, today half of the complete tournament will be over. That made me feel a bit sad.

Tomorrow, the individual battles will start. It’d be great if I’m able to win tomorrow as well.

“In the first round, I was so nervous that I didn’t even realize that I had won till some time later.

I can’t even remember how I fought or what moves I used to finish the battle. Before I realized, my opponent was just lying in the arena defeated. In the second round as well, my opponent let their guard down and I was able to win. Because I was a student and a woman. He looked like a rough adventurer but because he came close to me carelessly, I was able to win easily. Even goblins are more alert than that.

Victory. At first, I was just satisfied with taking part in the tournament but after coming this far, I’ll be able to attain all that glory with just three more victories. It’s so close to my reach.

I wonder how much have I grown while travelling with Renji-sama? Have I become stronger?

If I could get a solid proof of that…

“You alright?”

While I was thinking, a hand was put on my shoulder.

Looking back, a good-looking, long golden haired elf, Feirona-san was standing there. Beside him was Mururu-chan and Solnea-san as well.

“Huh?”(fran)

“What happened, making such a surprised face. We came to encourage you but you don’t seem that nervous.”(elf)

“Ah, no, it’s not like that.”

Nervousness………I’ve won twice already, it’s faded a bit. But, I was just surprised by being called out by Feirona-san and others. Or rather, at the fact that all of them were here.

“I thought you weren’t good with crowds?”(fran)

Thus, I thought he wouldn’t come to see the tournament. During the morning, he did say ‘good luck’ to me already as well.

“fumu.”(elf)

I wonder what he was thinking of my reaction as he rested his chin on his finger as if in some deep thought.

The reason why each and every action of his feel like it could be made into a beautiful painting must be because his every movement is done with such grace and polish. He’s more noble-like than nobles who go through training for such stuff.

“We came to cheer you on. Because we’re comrades.”(mururu)

“I see. Thanks a lot, Mururu-chan.”(fran)

Comrade. Feeling a bit embarrassed I patted Mururu-chan’s head to divert my emotions.

As I stroked her animal ears, she squinted in pleasure. Her expression was so cute that I put more strength into it but she made an embarrassed face and escaped from my hands.

“Normally, we should have come before the tournament began but we weren’t sure about the way to here.”(elf)

“No, I’m just happy you came here for me.”(fran)

“Then that’s great. Stuff like this is Renji’s speciality after all.”

“You can’t help it. Renji-sama is very busy as well right now.”

Since we travelled together so much I forgot how bad he was with crowded places. I’m very happy that he actually came all this way just to cheer for me.

Same for Mururu-chan. Maybe because she’s a beastwoman and her senses are too sharp, when in such a crowd, she gets confused from the chaos. Solnea-san was……….i am not sure. Even when I look at her, she just looks back with dazed gaze. Even now, while Feirona-san and Mururu-chan were talking, Solnea just stared at us from a step back.

The one who talks the most to her was Renji-sama but she barely talks back to even him. Honestly speaking, I cannot tell what she’s thinking at all.

“That aside, you seem to be putting your all. I thought that you might get flustered against a human opponent but you did pretty well.”(elf)

“Really?”(fran)

“Un. Give your best in the next fight as well.”(mururu)

Being told that by your comrades makes me really happy.

Next we’re facing students like us but……..it’d be great if we could win. If they are watching as well, I really don’t want to lose.

“I’ll give my best, Mururu-chan.”(fran)

This time she came close herself and I gently combed through her pretty silver hair.

“Francesca.”

And, like a ripple in a calm lake, a quiet voice came to me.

Somehow, even though it was such a noisy place, I could clearly hear Solnea-san’s voice.

It seems it was the same for Feirona-san and Mururu-chan as well as both of them looked towards her as well. Well, it’s just too surprising for her to just talk after all.

“Why, do you fight?”(sol)

“umm, what do you mean?”(fran)

“I thought you didn’t like fighting much?”(sol)

Ahh, I see.

“That’s true, I don’t really enjoy fighting.”(fran)

Or rather, I’m just not very good at it.

I think I’m severely lacking in talent for fighting. Neither did I have a gift in magic nor in sword fighting. But even so, I became an adventurer.

The reason I’ve made it this is far is all thanks to my comrades, for always protecting and helping me.

But still—–

“Then why, do you take part in a show like this?”(sol)

“I don’t think it’s right to call this a ‘show’ though..”(fran)

I ended up giving a wry smile at such a frank wording by her. There are a lot of people desperate to take part in this [show] you know?

“I, want to know how much stronger have I gotten, how much have I grown, that’s all.”(fran)

“Growth?”(sol)

“It’s a bit embarrassing to talk about it but I was always the one being a burden to everyone else.”

When I said that, she looked at me with a confused look.

Her, confused yet expressionless face was so like her that I found it a bit amusing.

I want to know how much I, who had only been holding others back, have gotten stronger. I want to know how much I, who possesses not talent at all, have been able to grow. Things I learnt on my journeys, things I learnt at school, I want to know how far I can go by myself. This tournament is the best opportunity to learn that.

“I don’t understand.”(sol)

“I see.”

That’s why, I don’t feel sad even when she said that.

Once again, I stroked the handle of my short sword. I feel like I get courage just by touching this sword that has been with me from the start of my journey.

“Well then, I’m off.”(fran)

“Un, good luck.”(mururu)

“yeah, go and have fun.”(elf)

“…….I think it might be difficult to have fun though.”(fran)

After all, this time my opponent will be greater in both ability and talent than me. And neither would they let their guard down against me.

“Have more confidence in yourself. You don’t have to follow Renji’s example in that area as well.”(elf)

“Am I resembling him that much?”(fran)

“Don’t sound so happy about it.”

He sounded pretty happy as well. Mururu-chan as well.

Solnea-san continued to look at us in a daze as usual.

Curious I looked back at her but it’s not like she’d do something just from that. As usual, I don’t get her.

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.

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Cheers rose and I concentrated my gaze.

The one who entered the area, with the square arena in between them, were 10 people. Not a single one of the 10 were older than 20 yrs old and were students, yet I feel like the cheers are the greatest right now compared to all of today.

It was only natural. On this side were Souichi-san and Aya-san. On that side was Masaki-sama. This might be the biggest match of today that the people were most excited about.

I’m sure the rest of us are nothing more than extras right now. Thinking that way actually made me feel a bit more relaxed but it still didn’t make my nervousness go away.

No matter who the audience is more interested in, I still have to fight. I can’t feel relaxed yet. I am the first fighter from our team.

“uwahh.”

Nearby, Aya-san made a surprised and somewhat fed up voice. Since I, who was on the farthest end, could hear her, I bet everyone else could as well. On looking, she was putting a hand on her forehead and giving a sigh.

Beside her, even Souichi-san, though he didn’t make a sigh, his face was clearly stiffening up.

Following their gaze, I also looked at their leader, Masaki-sama. Even the other 4 were only in their school uniform, only Masaki-san was in her full armaments.

That said, it wasn’t some heavy armour or something. With her long beautiful black hair tied behind her back, she was wearing not her uniform but thick adventurer-like clothes. Above it, she wore a breastplate along with gauntlets on her arms and greaves on her legs. It’s probably light weight and is meant to restrict as less movement as possible.

At her waist was a sword of shape I had never seen before. It wasn’t just hanging on her waist like mine, it was properly fixed in place on her belt.

She looked exactly as the way she did back when they came back to the capital one year ago with the rest of the heroes after defeating the Demon God. Basically, she was in the exact outfit she used when fighting during the Demon God’s subjugation.

………..I can understand Aya-san and Souichi-san’s reaction.

I recalled the conversation back inside the waiting room. Masaki-sama truly wants to fight against Souichi-san seriously.

Her expression was, with a daring smile she was looking directly at Souichi-san.

Seeing her like that, Souichi-san was muttering something in a low voice. Probably, he must be talking about how to deal with Masaki-sama who was actually serious about this.

Since it’s Souichi-san who has to fight her, it’s not like we could do anything though.

“uwahh…….”

“What the hell. Is she serious?”

Seeing her dressed like that, the other two girls were uneasy and anxious as well. At the same time, every other member from the other side seemed to be filled with confident gazes.

I wonder if the leader’s appearance alone is able to bring out this much of a difference. Though I can’t really call it morale, but the other team sure has more vigour than us. And even among the audience, the ones cheering for them seem to be higher.

It was evening already. Probably, from the next match they’ll use magic to light up the arena.

And as the lighting of the surroundings changed, regardless of the cheers from the audience, a [voice] enhanced by magic resounded in everyone’s head. At the same time, the cheers also stopped.

The [voice] called my name and I stepped up into the arena. At the same time, cheers rose once more.

“Well then, I’m off.”(fran)

“Do your best, Senpai.”

“Go get that first win for us!”

In my head, my introduction was given by the [voice]. The school I go to, and how I ended up taking part in the tournament. And the fact that I travelled with Renji-sama.

It’s a bit embarrassing but after 3 rounds you get a bit used to it. Without minding it much, I drew my short sword and held it in my right hand. I looked straight in front without letting my eyes off the enemy. Taking one deep breath, all idle thoughts inside my head disappeared.

My opponent was man with a tough looking face for a student. With short blonde hair, his eyes seemed to hold strength. According to the introduction, he is supposed to be the same age as me but his body structure seemed to be as grown as adult men. In his hands he held a broadsword that I probably wouldn’t be able to hold even with both hands. He was currently shouldering it.

“……….”

“oh, not going to even greet?”(boy)

While I was getting nervous while looking at his giant sword, he called out to me. It seems he’s quite the friendly guy.

In between the arena, I crossed glances with him. I’ve seen his fighting style many times during the tournament. He’s the type that lively swings around that giant sword. He shows quite a few openings but it’d be impossible to even parry him with my short sword.

I tried coming up with many countermeasure during the rest time but I wonder how well they’d work.

“hm……..”

I wonder what he thought as I didn’t answer as he scratched his head with his free hand.

At the same time, both of our introductions were finally over.

Once more, I took a deep breath.

“Now then,”

I put more strength in my arm holding the short sword.

As he changed stances and held his sword with both hands, at the same time he started closing in towards me unhesitatingly. His sword has the bigger reach, and he’s more skilled at using the sword as well. Even if I want to use magic, I doubt he’d let that happen. After all, this is the 3rd round. Against an opponent that’s come this far, my shabby magic won’t work that easily.

While strafing in a circle at the centre of the arena, I gauged the distance between us. I’ll distract him with my sword and use magic to deal the final blow. Just the same as always. Or rather, that’s all I can do.

“—–fuh!!”

The next instant, without any indication he rushed towards me while still holding his sword in his stance. Maybe because it’s size was its special characteristic, he used his sword like a spear and charged towards me.

Maybe due to his great physique as well, for a second I felt like my body would just freeze but I quickly dodged to the side, when he quickly changed direction swung his sword horizontally towards me.

I received the sword swing that came with the sound of wind cutting with my short sword.

“kii!?!”

“Waa!!”

From my sword, a shrill sound I had never heard before came. Faced with the attack from a sword clearly much greater in mass, my sword felt like it was screaming.

Having difficulty to bear the strength of the sword, I was moved a few steps back.

So heavy. It’s much heavier than I thought.

“………uu.”

“It’s amazing you were able to parry it with that thin sword.”

My hand holding the sword had gone numb. Trying not to show that on my face, I held the sword with both hands. I can’t take that one with just one hand.

Maybe he realized it as the man, as if to quickly end this battle, rushed in to attack again. This time, he held the sword high up.

And he swung it down at me. I averted that attack by receiving it at the widest portion of my short sword. The sound of sword clashing against sword resounded, and the sound of the large sword smashing on the ground came clearly even above all the cheers and shouting of the crowd.. The surface of the arena broke and its fragments blew around.

I tried to plunge in towards his chest but the large sword jumped back even faster. It’s edge aimed for my legs.

I became a bit surprised from the sudden attack but I was able to jump back at the last moment and avoid it. Even though it smashed against the ground, his large sword looked completely fine.

“Not a bad dodge.”

“why, thank you.”(fran)

He swung his sword again. With the swing that seemed like it could cut through even the wind, my hair swayed slightly from it.

After only a few moves, my breathing was already ragged. One vs one matches really make me nervous. Stamina depletes faster and my limbs felt more fatigued than normal.

Stepping back enough where neither of our sword could reach each other, I reset our positions . My opponent seemed to be breathing completely normally and even seemed to composed. But still he looked at me with caution. Though talkative, he must have a steady personality.

While calming my breath, I held my sword down near my hips. But he didn’t seem to rush in again and had become more careful. Maybe his sword actually wasn’t in good condition but he didn’t show it on his face so I couldn’t be sure.

I let out a deep breath.

At the same time, I focused my magical energy towards my front. What I imagined (read as created) was a ball of wind as big as possible for me.

Sensing the flow of magical energy probably, he hesitated for a second deciding what to do but the next moment he rushed towards me.

It was difficult to dodge wind balls. But if you could sense the magical energy, you could tell instantly and you could even notice the distortions in the air if you concentrate.

“fu!!”

Before my magic could be completed, the man closed in at me while making sure to avoid the ball of wind. The wind ball remained right in front of me since I had yet to fire it.

Having become sure of his victory, I clearly saw the change in his expression. He tried swinging down his sword with the momentum he had but still, it was too slow. Before he could swing his sword down, I exploded the ball of wind.

Though it didn’t damage anyone clearly like a fire or an ice ball would, the explosion of the compressed wind blew both him and me away with its pressure.

For a second, my consciousness flew away and I became unable to understand what was what. When I realized, I was lying on the ground.

“th, this was……..”(fran)

This was more effective than I thought it’d be. It feels like my head was hit with a bludgeon weapon many times as I was still dizzy.

Somehow, I raised my head and saw the male student also lying on the ground a bit far away. He seemed to have become completely unconscious and wasn’t moving at all. I’m sure he isn’t dead.…..

But still, I didn’t think exploding magic would be so powerful.

Though there are explosive magic, I doubt there’s any magician that uses it so close to themselves and even gets themselves dragged into it.

Maybe I’m the first one.

Headache and nausea hit me.

But enduring it, I stood up.

I can’t win with my sword alone, I can’t hit with just magic. Then I thought I’ll have no choice but to get myself dragged into it as well. Maybe I was a bit too hasty.

The [voice] inside my head declared me as winner but even that only made me feel bad.

As I stepped down of the arena, everyone came to me worried. I guess this was supposed to happen. I did explode magic so close to me.

Even Souichi-san and Aya-san were giving a bitter smile.

“The next one, I leave the rest to you.”(fran)

“Yes!”

The younger girl gave an energetic reply.

This makes one win. Now if only both Aya-san and Souichi-san win………..I wonder if we’ll be able to advance once again?

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21 responses to “KENS Interlude 5

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