There was barely any time left in the third semester. The academy was in a flurry with graduation and preparations to accept the next batch of new students. And the time had come for the Arses house to fulfill its promise with Fritz. The first princess Aileen dropped by the school, and alongside her in the noble visitor room, Fina also ended up watching the duels.
There were more students gathered in the arena than there had been for the class tournament, the guest seats largely divided between noble and commoner. The students rooting for Fritz cheered loudly as they sent their encouragement, while jeers and heckles flew towards Chlust standing opposite to him.
“Rip him a new one Fritz!!!”
“Chlust, quite shaking and say something already.”
“Don’t lose to some noble halfwit!”
The student body held an overwhelming majority of commoner students. In the noble side audience seats, the young nobles gathered around Luecke and Eunius of the three lords as they loathsomely watched over the situation.
To Eunius’ side, Aleist sat with his friend, while Izumi was next to Luecke. Rudel was standing near Chlust, and as he was next to the ring, he didn’t have an audience seat.
“Chlust sure is the popular one.”
Luecke read his book as he gave a sarcastic comment on the arena’s atmosphere.
“No, you sure they aren’t just taking out their anger against all of us? Did you know? Because this guy beat up Fritz, people are thinking Chlust had him beat the hell out of him in his place.”
“Y-you’re wrong! I definitely did beat him up, that had nothing to do with Fritz and Chlust.”
After gazing uninterestedly over the ring, Eunius pointed at the restless Aleist to his side and laughed. Aleist hurriedly gave an excuse. Izumi listened in on that exchange as she watched Rudel looking at Chlust.
“I hope this ends without incident, but…”
In the noble visitor room, the two princesses each gazed at the men they were rooting for. Aileen gave a warm smile to Fritz standing on the ring, while Fina expressionlessly stared at Rudel outside it. The high knight guards and headmaster also watched over the students from there.
“Ah, Fritz-sama… he’s definitely going to win, right?”
While Aileen confirmed it with the high knight to her side, Fina,
“Sophina, by your judgement, who do you say will win?”
“Yes, I believe the commoner student called Fritz holds the advantage. It seems Chlust-sama has trained, but they started off from different foundations. I believe it would have been difficult for him to catch up in a space less than a year.”
(Not that I care. Honestly, it’s no problem to me whether Chlust or Fritz loses. As long as master gets through his fight safely, then all’s well! Even so, she’s totally lost her integrity… even if it’s my sister we’re talking about, isn’t that a huge problem?)
But hearing Sophina’s words, Aileen asked for her evaluation on Rudel. She held a high evaluation of the high knight who stayed at the academy as Fina’s guard, and she wanted to confirm Fritz’s victory. But…
“Yonder high knight, by your eye, who shall win the following match? I’m sure that man is strong, but Fritz-sama has trained considerably.”
“If I may, your majesty, my lowly opinion is but a…”
While Sophina was hard-pressed for the right words, the expressionless Fina laughed internally as she enjoyed the situation.
(Just say it! Tell her how you rate her beloved Fritz-sama! When he was beaten up by Aleist, and Aleist lost to Eunius, tell her how master is the strongest! Well, if you do, she’ll remember your face and name and harass you!)
Atop the ring, the two competitors faced one other, exchanging glares through the deafening cheers. To be more precise, in contrast to Fritz’ glare, Chlust was averting his eyes and shaking a little.
“Do you know how long I’ve waited for this day? This resentment I’ve built from all my childhood, oblivious to how your people may suffer under the brutal taxation, I’ll teach you nobles playing around a lesson.”
Fritz took a stance with his wooden sword, and Chlust prepared himself as well. Once the referee standing between them signaled the start, Fritz stepped in and lowered his sword at Chlust.
“L-like I care!”
Chlust blocked the lowered blade, but the next attack was already ready for him. Fritz swung his wood sword freely in all directions, and Chlust could only take it.
He blocked and dodged, but above all of that, Fritz attacks would reach his body… Rudel simply watched it happen.
“Both you and your brother are trash! Just how many suffering people do you think there are in your lands.”
With those words, Fritz’ lowered sword knocked Chlust off his feet. Letting his sword leave his hands, Chlust collapsed and Fritz gave pursuit. Not only with his sword, he started kicking him with his foot.
“What’s that? Say something! To all those suffering, tell them I’m sorry, or it was my fault!”
In only a few minutes from the start, Chlust was in tatters… but without a word, he stood to his feet. He went to pick up his sword only to be kicked by Fritz again. It was a one-sided development. The nobles lost their initial cheers, watching the match in silence.
“… Apologize? Then you apologize first.”
Chlust clung to Fritz’ foot as he spoke. With rough breath, and with a voice barely anyone could hear…
“I-I’m telling you to apologize for calling my brother trash.”
In that moment, he was kicked again. What flashed through Chlust’s mind in that instant was his brother Rudel. When everyone abandoned him, Rudel was the only one who stayed to the end.
(My friends and classmates all look down on me. Everyone who sees me calls me trash… even father and mother won’t properly reply to my letters. At the end of the end, my brother’s the only one who never abandoned me!)
Since he lost to Fritz, everyone around had abandoned Chlust. But Rudel alone chipped away all his time to train him. And even now, he was watching over his match.
(Why… do I have to be so pitiful? I can’t let myself look any more pitiful in front of my brother.)
Chlust desperately kept a grip on Fritz’ leg. Kicked with Fritz’ free leg and smacked with his sword, the match carried on. Plenty of Chlust’s blood flew in that match, and the screams that came weren’t small in numbers.
In the noble visitor room, Fina looked at her excited sister Aileen with cold eyes. Once she knew everyone’s attention was focused on Fritz’ achievements, she expressionlessly sighed at the ring she looked down upon.
(This isn’t the fight of some hero of justice. How laughable that my sister’s little prince charming is acting like a common thug. It’s such a turnaround I can only laugh.)
That match that was practically the strong suppressing the weak, to Fina, it seemed almost as if it signified the power relation of the nobles oppressing the commoners. If looked on from one side, Fritz was righteous, and the Arses House was evil. But it seen through another’s eyes… from standpoint of the country’s law, the Arses House was the victim, and Fritz was an assailant.
In Courtois ruled by the royals and nobles, Fritz who pulled his bow against the grand noble Arses House was a criminal. And the reason he pulled his bow wasn’t one the other nobles or royal line could accept so easily. The lords ruling over us have no qualifications to rule, was what he was saying…
(Even if the Arses House is a hive of scum and villainy, your Fritz on a white horse’s methods are plain awful. From the air in this arena, it doesn’t look like he has enough charisma, and he isn’t looking at himself objectively. Without any talented people to compensate for his faults, Fritz Charming is nothing to fear.)
Just as Fina thought, the surroundings were pulling back at this one-sided match. No one could think of Fritz’ fight as justice. Those who couldn’t read the mood would eventually shout their jeers onto the quiet ring. But even so, the atmosphere was on a downward spiral.
(More importantly, that black hair! I hate her… sealing my master’s petting with just a word, that damn vixen that’s enraptured my master in her cage is, well, she’s cute, so I guess ‘black hair’ is enough. Anyways, I hate you, black hairrr!!! More than Fritz, this kingdom has to do something about black hair, or it will lose a national treasure!!!)
Fina gazed expressionlessly at Izumi, who was sitting with concern to Luecke’s side…
The referee stepped in to stop Fritz’ attacks against Chlust, who could no longer move. Confirming Chlust’s unconscious state, the ref went on to declare Fritz’ victory.
“Get up here, Rudel!”
As Fritz took a stance with his wood sword and cried out, Rudel draped the collapsed Chlust over his back and left the ring. That action irritated Fritz considerably, but,
“I’m going to carry my little brother. Just rest or something in the meantime.”
On Rudel’s line, displeased as he was, he stepped down from the ring and took some rest.
Rudel left the ring with Chlust over his back. Regaining consciousness over his shoulder, Chlust understood the fact that he lost.
“… Haha, after I tried so hard, I still lose in the end? I really have no talent.”
As Chlust derided himself, he shed tears of frustration. Irritated at himself for not being able to land a single blow, and even after his brother was mocked, he chastised himself for only being able to cling onto a leg.
“When the time comes, I’ll just face another unsightly loss, and drop dead in some ditch on the border.”
Rudel silently carried him through his regretful sobs. But the place he brought him wasn’t the infirmary. He brought him to the arena’s guest seats, where Luecke and Eunius sat.
“I’m sorry, could you clear some space?”
Rudel pleaded to Luecke and Eunius.
“Rudel… why’d you bring him here?”
While Eunius sighed, he made some space between him and Luecke, and matching him, everyone in his row moved down as if sliding. And after he sat Chlust- beaten and red around the eyes- in that space, Rudel leapt down from the audience seats to the ring.
Fed up, Eunius called out to the dazed Chlust sitting to his side. It was an action carried out after sensing the awkward air.
“Have a good look at your big brother’s fight. Awkward as he is, he’s trying to do what he can for you… I won’t tell you to get along, but at the very least, can’t you recognize him?”
Hearing those words, he tried to say something, but swallowing those words, Chlust looked down at his brother and Fritz on the ring.
“I doubt it’ll be an interesting match.”
Luecke closed the book he was reading, turning his eyes to the two facing each other. Izumi sitting to his side also directed her eyes. But Aleist alone seemed caught up in those words.
“Not interesting? Fritz is fairly strong. I heard he trained a lot after I beat the living daylights out of him, you know?”
“Hah, that’s why you can never overcome your walls. When you’re ridiculously blessed, that’s the part that’s no good…”
Eunius breathed a sigh at Aleist. While he possessed magic that surpassed the realm of humanity, Aleist wasn’t using it productively at all. Those around sent fed-up glances, holding much the same opinion themselves.
“W-what’s with all of you!?”