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KENS Interlude 7

Interlude 7

(Masaki POV)

While I was spending time observing the matches while leaning on the stone wall, someone came beside me.

There, a good friend of mine who wasn’t much taller than me—-Souichi-kun was standing. He wasn’t in his uniform like yesterday, instead he was wearing thick, yet easy to move in normal clothes.

On his waist was one of the mass produced swords given to the participants. While feeling a bit disappointed at seeing that, I turned back to observing the matches.

“How does it look?”(souichi)

“Just so-so, I guess?”(masaki)

Did he understand what I meant, Souichi-kun didn’t speak anything more.

In front of me, on the arena ring, the one who was fighting was Yamada-san. While skilfully using the short sword he doesn’t normally use, he was handling the opponents large sword.

The fact that he was fighting even more fluidly than when he was fighting against the Knight Commander. Looks like he’s gotten rid of his nervousness properly this time. Not to mention, his opponent right now is levels below O’brien-san as well. I think right now Yamada-san must be feeling much more free in the ring than the first round. There was no wastage in his movements, in fact he even seemed to be relaxed.

He has a habit to over think everything a little. Though it might be troublesome to not think much like I do as well, but I’m sure his habit to overthink isn’t proper either. If you stay over concerned about something, your head gets filled with nothing but that problem and your body automatically becomes restricted.

That’s why, I think that after finally winning against the man that he hadn’t won even once before, he’s finally gotten rid of one of his shackles.

He’s really easy to understand. Seriously, what a strange man.

“Somehow, niichan’s fighting style feels strange.”(sou)

“yeah. Using a short sword against a large sword—-Probably, he’s teaching your senpai how to do it?”(masaki)

What was her name again?

When I brought that up, Souichi-kun went ‘Ohh’ as if he also realized it.

“To Francesca-senpai, eh?”(sou)(T/N: hereon I’m using ‘sou’ for souichi.)

“Right right, that girl.”

Since she fought in front of me as well, I remember her face.

Yamada-san’s disciple.

For his disciple, her movements are rough, though she did match his style of fighting, it felt more like she had taught that herself by somehow mimicking it instead.

Certainly, she had a similar fighting style to Yamada-san—–to all of us. Dodgin attacks with speed and making certain hits in the openings of the opponent.

But she was still had faults in her attacking. Both timing and speed, were odd. It’s amazing how she even survived travelling with Yamada-san with just that much. Well, I doubt his current journey is anywhere as dangerous as his previous one though.

Above all, she was still hesitant in slashing against humans. Like that, it’d be impossible to keep on winning in this tournament.

“Oh right, Senpai lost didn’t she.”(sou)

“………you know, she is your senpai, shouldn’t you have at least gone and seen her?”

“ugh. What could I do, the timing with my match was just too bad……”

It seems he felt a bit guilty about it as well as he scratched his head awkwardly.

“Anyway, there’s still time till your next match right? Why are you here, Souichi-kun?”(masaki)

“Nothing. Was just wondering how you were doing, that’s all.”

“What’s this? Wore you worried for onee-san?”

“What ‘onee-san’…….You’re just an year older than me.”

“Doesn’t change the fact that I am older though, does it?”

As if he was dissatisfied, he pouted making him look really cute. That part of him was so childish, or rather, so adorable. My right hand almost moved to hug him but I used my will to stop myself. If I did that in such a crowded place, I’ll be labelled as a pervert. I’m not Rin-san! (T/n:Kudou Rin)

“Masaki-san, what’s wrong?”(sou)

Looks like I was staring at his face a bit too much as he looked at me confusedly.

Why is this boy so innocently pure? No, I’m sure he’s not that much but, how should I say this…….he feels like a small animal. It’ll be a different kind of problem if he was actually like Yamada-san or that muscle daruma Itou-san, but still why does he feel so different even though he’s also a guy? Really, men are strange creatures.

“Umm, so, do you need something?”(masaki)

“Nah, I just came to check up on you.”

“Eh?”

“Well, your next to next opponent will be Renji-niichan right? I was worried that you might get a bit to eager about it, that’s all.”

“………shouldn’t you be more worried for Yamada-san then?”

Folding my arms in front of me, I spoke that feeling slightly disappointed.

I am happy that Souichi-kun was worried for me, even more so that he came all the way to me and talked to me but, it feels strange that he was more worried for me.

Fighting Yamada-san…….well, I was the one who made the challenge but I’m not going to go crazy about it.

I’m simply unhappy about how he hid away for a whole year making everyone worry that’s all.

At least he could have sent a letter or two to tell if he was fine or not. I knew that he hates going through trouble and is a bad writer as well but still, I didn’t expect him to be the type who’d make his comrades worry like that.

That’s why I was relived after finally seeing him again but still his aloof/detached part of him was……..well, yeah. At least, apologise for once! That’s all I wanted.

Well, I’m just trying to vent my anger but it looks like Souichi-kun thinks I’m just very eager to fight him.

“Niichan, though like that, does take it seriously when he needs to after all.”(sou)

“Really? He still seems pretty absentminded most of the time to me though.”

“Well, he does, yeah.”

Saying that and giving a bitter smile, Souichi-kun turned to look at the arena.

On the arena ring, Yamada-san was still clashing swords with the random mercenary. Yes, just clashing swords. That wasn’t even a fight anymore. It looked more like the swordsman called Yamada Renji was showing the skills he knew and had learned from his experience.

That……….Francesca was it? I wonder if she can even understand why Yamada-san was using a short sword.

Thinking that, I gave a sigh.

“How should I say this—— I thought he had changed but there are parts that haven’t changed at all in Yamada-san as well.”(masaki)

“Yeah.”

Even on this great stage, Yamada-san was fighting not for himself but for another person. That part of him hasn’t changed at all.

Not for himself, but for someone else. Always.

As someone who cannot fight otherwise——I guess, that part of him would never ever change.

“But if he could change a bit, it’d be great if he could treat Yuuko-san a bit more nicely.”(masaki)

“I wish that he’d more nicer to Aya though.”(sou)

Saying that, he dropped his shoulders.

When I looked at him, he simply gave a wry smile while giving a shrug. That gesture really didn’t suit him at all as rather than looking cool, looking cute suits him much more.

“I’m the one who has to deal with the repercussions, after all.”(sou)

“That’s just probably because you’re just too thickheaded.”

“………I’m not that thickheaded, I think.”

But, he doubted himself on that as well it seems as he averted his gaze with stiff face.

Looks like he has been told that a few times by his friends at school as well maybe. It felt like that.

Also, Souichi-kun is definitely dense. I can say that with sure confidence and pride.

“What do you think, Souichi-kun?”

“Hm?”

“About Yamada-san……..he’s, keeping some sort of secret you know?”

“———-”

His stiff face stiffened even more as he turned towards Yamada-san fighting in the arena. I as well turned to look at him.

An year ago, he was the type of guy who used to laugh a lot. But, in what I have seen for the past few weeks, he rarely laughs. No, even when he laughs on the surface, if you were to ask if that was from the bottom of his heart, I’ll have to shake my head. That’s kind of smile the current Yamada-san always has.

“I know.”(sou)

As I thought, Yamada-san really is easy to understand.

The moment when our fight with the Demon God was settled. We all clearly remember the fury he released at that moment.

Yamada-san had never been that angry ever before. But at that moment, he revealed his complete anger, so much that even all of us felt scared of him, and even now I can never forget his back as he madly rushed at the Demon God.

I’m sure, everyone has realized it. They have realized it, yet nobody dares to ask.

And that man, as long as we don’t ask, he won’t talk about it I think.

——-Eru. We felt her magical energy incredibly weaken, and then, the earth was cut apart and the sky was split open, and the Demon God, who could regenerate from even a small piece of flesh, was completely obliterated, so completely that we couldn’t even sense a single bit of him.

“But still, I want to wait till Renji-niichan tells us about it himself.”(sou)

“And you’re fine with that?”

“Yeah.”

Muu.

That, when he makes that ‘I believe in oniichan!’ face, even I can’t say anything further.

I’m sure Aya would make the same face as well. Was it because they were childhood friends, or was it because they both trusted Yamada-san with all of their heart?

The fact that I don’t find it agreeable is probably because the fact that Souichi-kun likes Yamada-san more…….fills me with this sense of weird rivalry, or should I say jealousy, I’m sure. I can’t deny it. Or rather, I don’t even want to think about losing to a man in such a thing!

I know why Souichi-kun thinks so highly of Yamada-san, after all, I’ve seen such a scene countless times. No matter how many monster stood in front, even against giant descandants of the Demon God, even against the Demon Lord both me and Souichi-kun couldn’t defeat even together—–he, Yamada-san, stood in front of all of us. Without making an excuse that he was the weakest, he treated us as children because he was an adult………and his back felt big enough, worthy enough for him to say that.

But still, it’s normal to want to be the number one person of the guy you like right? I’m sure I’m not wrong to wish that he’d look more at me than Yamada-san.

Rather than feeling worried for me, I want him to rely on me more.

But the person who has become my first love was focusing not at me who was standing right beside him but more at the arena. If this isn’t being dense, what is? If he was just acting to not notice my feelings, I would have cut his head apart.

But, because he really hasn’t noticed at all…….I can only sigh.

“Haah.”

“What’s wrong, Masaki-san?”(sou)

“Nothing.”

I spoke in such a displeased voice that even I myself noticed.

I wonder if that was due to Yamada-san for being so secretive or was it because the person I love was standing right beside me yet felt far away.

But oh well, it’s not like I have confessed my feelings to him either. I don’t intend to hide my feelings but as someone who hasn’t spoken it directly, I’m not really in the position to call him dense.

Once again, I sighed.

To change my mood, I rested my hand on the katana on my waist.

“I really want to cut Yamada-san already…”(masaki)

“Scary!?”

“Well, rather than worry about difficult things, it’s easier for me to just move my body.”

Whatever happened back then, it won’t help no matter how much we think about it.

We were all there during the battle between Yamada-san and the Demon God Nayfell but we still don’t know exactly what happened. So, we should focus more on what we can do right now.

In my case, it’s to vent all my resentment, or rather anger, no my emotions of having made us worry for a whole year at Yamada-san.

“Then, I’ll accompany you as well.”

“Ara, really?”

I brought my lips closer to Souichi-kun’s ears as he dropped his shoulders while saying that. Did I succumb to temptation or just got too courageous? Giving a few glances around, it seemed everyone else was too busy with themselves and weren’t paying attention at us. Of course, neither Yayoi-chan nor Rin-san, who’d interrupt me at such times, were here either. As I took a quick breath to calm my fast beating heart, I smelled a boy’s sweat——so as to speak, I could smell Souichi-kun slightly.

“Then, will you accompany me tonight?”(masaki)

“Yeah, sure.”

“———-”

No, wait, well, uh..

“I, I see.”(masaki)

“It’s really fun training with you after all.”

“……….I should have known.”

Being looked at with such an innocent face, as he joined his hands behind his head and gave a smile, I felt like punching him right in the face but………at the same, time I lost the will to explain what I truly meant.

Was it because I lacked guts or was it because I’m simply incompetent?………Wait, they’re both the same.

Looking away, my face stiffened. When I gave a sidelong glance at him, Souichi-kun was looking at me with a confused face.

Could it be that he thinks of me as a complete fight loving maniac? Even if it’s not that, it was clear that he wasn’t aware of me as a woman of the opposite gender.

“What’s wrong, Masaki-san?”(sou)

And as expected, without realizing my intentions, he asked that.

His truly confused face was painful.

Even though the strength in my arm resting on my katana grew, it’s not anything bad right?

“Ah.”

At the same time, inside my head the [voice] resounded as it announced the name of the winner.

It was Yamada-san.

Well, that wasn’t a surprise. On the arena, Yamada-san, while breathing slightly heavily, was holding out an arm to help the mercenary who was on his knees using his large sword as a support.

At the same time, I removed my had from above my katana and lightly smacked my own cheeks. Though there was also the fact that it felt imprudent to be like this before my match, but above all I just didn’t want anyone to realize how red my cheeks were getting.

“What happened?

“It’s nothing, you thickhead.”(masaki)

“…….Eeeehh??”

From what I’ve seen, Yamada-san’s fighting style hasn’t changed. Dodge an attack, deflect it, and attack in the opening to end it. It was different from the pure overpowering smashing he did on that day. It was the original way he used to fight. Looking at it, I felt relieved yet slightly disappointed as well.

As someone who has seen Yamada-san’s true rage, I want to fight that Yamada-san but——-the constraints put on Eru. I don’t know what the seventh is. And, above all to truly anger someone you have trust in is…….painful to my heart as well.

For now, let’s wish that maybe someday I can get to fight Yamada-san at his full strength.

And it looks like Yamada-san had noticed us quite a while ago as he was looking at us from the arena. Souichi-kun was giving a wide smile and I was……..probably smiling, I think. Probably.

Haah.

“So next is your fight right?”(sou)

“Yeah.”

I released the strength in my arm resting on my katana.

I did confirm my opponent’s name just in case but it wasn’t anyone I knew of. Just an experienced adventurer but oh well.

“Do your best!”(sou)

While looking at the person I like cheer for me like that, I gave a sigh.

The mercenary that fought Yamada-san passed by me but he was actually a bright one. It was the face of a man who was satisfied that he’d done his best in that fight.

Turning my gaze back from that man, I saw Souichi making a troubled, somewhat unsure of how to respond face.

“……Why did you sigh?”(sou)

“Tonight. Don’t you forget our promise to accompany me in my training, okay?”

“su, sure?”

But I’m sure, hindrances will be there as well. While thinking of that, I headed towards the arena. While thinking of the faces of the hindrances that will come, I stood on the arena.

It’s where Yamada-san had been fighting till now.

Against me, stood a man.

Now then,

I’m not nervous at all. My breathing is perfect and can clearly hear the sound of the audience.

When I gave a pleasant smile, my opponent’s face went pale………isn’t that reaction a bit too rude?

I thought that but oh well, whatever. I’m going to use him to release all my frustration now.

While smiling, I put my hand on my katana’s grip. Lowering my waist, I loosened up my body.

I sharpened my mind, you could say. The man in front of me took a stance with his sword but, I calmly observed him. Neck, elbow, wrist, knee—-heart. All the vital parts were in plain sight, and I had to suppress my body to instantly rush in before the match was declared start.

And even among the countless cheers, I heard the sound of my katana unsheathe, very clearly.

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