The tournament’s first round fights had all concluded, and the second round was about to commence. As the royal family was watching this time around, the match times had shortened. And in the first round, they were conducted using other facilities as well. Fina’s hopes taken into account, they had set their eyes on Rudel’s block.
“The second round, eh… the next class is a strong one.”
Izumi looked at the tournament’s match sheet as she muttered to Rudel. Rudel had his own thoughts on the matter.
“Is there anyone strong in it? The strong people in our year… I won against Luecke, but apart from him, only Aleist and Eunius are coming to mind.”
At Rudel’s thought process, Izumi felt her head hurt. From the Rudel- constantly in the academy’s top rankings- point of view, the other students weren’t a threat. But this tournament was a team competition. There was no point if Rudel won his match alone.
“Hah, if the rest of us don’t win, we can’t rise in this tournament.”
To Izumi’s words, Rudel smiled.
“It’ll be alright! We’ll definitely win!”
Rudel answered full of confidence. Seeing him like that, the other representative of his class smiled too. Switching gears, Izumi stated the name of her next opponent.
“Millia… so I’m taking on the elf Millia.”
Right, the second battle put Izumi up against Millia.
So Rudel’s class entered the second round, and by the time it came down to Izumi’s second-to-last slot, the score was at one win and two losses! Izumi was burdened with quite the heavy responsibility. And her opponent Millia was also a problem… for some reason, she was glaring at her. Not because this was a competition, or because she was serious… she was just glaring.
“Do your best, Izumi!”
Mixed in with her classmates cheering her on from outside the ring, Rudel rooted for her with all his might. And the more he did, the more Millia glared. Equipped with a bow, she stood with a load of practice arrows prepared.
Millia’s mind was plagued by Rudel. And she felt disdain for his goal of being a dragoon. The reason lay in her elder sister Lilim. While being an elf, she had become a dragoon, one of Courtois’ elites.
Lilim held considerable abilities, even among the elves, and the clan placed their expectations on her… after realizing Lilim’s secret, her elven betrothed annulled their engagement. With that as a trigger, Lilim began taking distance from the notions of elves and clans.She had chosen to be a dragoon of Courtois over an oppressed elf.
Millia’s beloved sister was now a dog of the humans… and this time, the dragoons had even enraptured the one on Millia’s mind. While she was well aware her anger was misplaced, she still couldn’t bring herself to like the organization.
“… I have no grudge against you. But I shall be fighting with all my might.”
Alongside the starting call, wings appeared on Millia’s back. Half-transparent glowing wings… and Millia freely jumped about the area over the ring… right, it wasn’t flight, it was hopping.
“Kuh! What movements!”
Taking distance, and once she circled around back, she launched a stream of attacks with her bow. Izumi reacted well and dodged… but it was at that moment. Izumi ended up muttering. The bug often seen in the kitchen… the black demon that hopped around.
“Just like a bug!”
Snap! The ring’s air change so suddenly it was almost audible. Those wings that were an elf’s specialty, or rather trait, it’s not as if you couldn’t say they resembled a bug’s wings over a bird’s. And her flapping whenever she leapt, they were just assisting her jump strength, but… it did look quite bug-like.
Elves were aware of that, and mindful of it. Reactions varied by the individual… Millia went into the frenzy.
“Y-you… what did you just say? No, I heard you, don’t bother answering… you called me a bug. You’d better prepare yourself!!!”
Millia accelerated in her next bound. Unable to keep up with her movements, Izumi took some practice arrows across her body. Even if they were for practice, if they hit, they would hurt and inflict injury.
In regards to Millia’s violent bounds, Izumi stopped moving altogether. Sharpening her senses, instead of seeing Millia’s movements with her eyes, she tried to foresee them. Feeling the sound of her rhythm and the attacks of her bow, Izumi made a prediction, closed the distance in an instant and hammered in an attack.
Millia avoided Izumi’s swipe by the breadth of a hair. But Izumi didn’t let the gap she created slip through. In that space, Izumi grasped Millia’s ankle, making for a one-sided development. As Millia was unable to move, Izumi thrust her wooden sword at her neck.
And unable to escape, Millia vexingly muttered.
“I-I admit my loss.”
Hearing that, the referee declared Izumi’s victory. Feeling that she had successfully fulfilled her responsibility, Izumi pat her chest. And as she did, Rudel jumped at her.
“That was amazing, Izumi! Catching a skipping elf!”
Rudel happily praised Izumi. But seeing that, Millia only glared at her more. As the foe who beat her, and the woman who called her a bug… and while she didn’t quite understand why, she recognized Izumi as a source of her unease.
“That was quite a boring match. An elf doing nothing but running away!”
Princess Aileen gave her impression of the match. In regards to that, Fina surprisingly held the same opinion. An elf just running away… there should have been more contact, more fluffing! As she thought such a thing, Fina…
(When there wasn’t even any petting involved, I hate myself for getting so heated up! Hah, hah… let me nibble on those eaaarrrrs!!!)
Unlike Fina, Aileen hated demi-humans.
The demi-human hater Aileen. Once upon a time, her carriage was attacked by goblins on the move. To be more precise, it faced an attack from multiple monsters. Seeing the attacking goblins up close, Aileen cried and screamed, making for quite a sorry sight. That itself wasn’t much of a problem.
Aileen was young at the time, and if monsters attacked, then anyone would feel fear. But the problem was that Aileen was a princess. A princess attacked by monsters… of course, responsibility would have to be taken by the knight who served as her guard. And the one in question happened to be Aileen’s first love.
By a stroke of ill luck, or perhaps fate, the knight who carried out the execution was a demi-human. She had shown her disgraceful form to her first love, and after a period of brooding, she only learned of his death a long while later. A young girl at the time, she couldn’t get by without someone to hate, yet at her base, she still remained a kind girl.
It was around that time that she started to twist. The demi-humans disturbing public order should just go away… then we’d have a peaceful world for humans alone… Aileen honestly believed it.
“Calm down, Aileen… just look at Fina. She’s always calm, never flustered by anything. You have to take a lesson from her as part of the royal family.”
The king soothed Aileen’s agitation. The one he compared her too was looking at Rudel’s split-second defeat of his opponent in the final match.
(As expected of master!!! Just a bit of genius! And there he goes! But make sure you hold back when you’re going against fluffies!)
Expressionless to the end, and free to no ends.