The intense clash of light-clad swords didn’t let off the sound of wood colliding.
The ring’s floor was gouged out and sliced, growing worse every time the two met. Preparing two shields around a meter in length, Rudel kept them stationed close to him.
With those, he could reduce the damage caused by the movements of Eunius’ warping blade. While Rudel had been on the offense, Eunius’ fierce charge put him on the defensive.
The magic sword, at times it would grow, and at times it would shrink making it impossible to judge distances. Protected by his shields, Rudel thought of carrying on an offensive with magic, but he saw himself running out of gas first.
The shields of lights… while powerful shields, they expended great amounts of mana and concentration. On the handling of those shields he had yet to grow accustomed to, Rudel understood he was being pushed back.
He used his swift wind magic movement, but as Eunius was able to see through his destination, there would usually be a magic sword waiting for him. Rudel needed to take another step or he would never reach Eunius.
While Rudel thought he was at a disadvantage, Eunius was much the same. The attacks of his magic sword were being blocked by the shields. If he didn’t see through the path of Rudel’s high speed movement in an instant, then that instant would decide the match.
As Rudel would fly over whenever he showed a gap, Eunius put up a desperate offensive.
In contrast to Rudel’s bountiful hand, Eunius was at a loss on how to continue. Quite some time had passed since they both put out their magic swords. Eunius could only display his swordplay during the timeframe his wood sword could withstand his mana.
“Dammit! And I wanted to settle this match with the sword!”
The wood sword he gripped had been specially made. But its strength was completely insufficient to endure Eunius’ powerful magic sword. It was a special item made for a single match with Rudel, and that went to show just how fixated Eunius was on this match.
The off-sensation he felt when he swung his sword grew worse, and it was just about nearing its limit.
Rudel could also tell Eunius’ magic sword didn’t have long left. But what Rudel held was nothing more than an average wood sword. Its limit was also closing it.
Rudel erased his shields and flooded his mana into his magic sword, launching a charge on Eunius. On that high-speed charge, Eunius reacted, but as Rudel had completely abandoned defense to close in, he was only able to block.
In the next instant, Rudel’s wood sword had destroyed Eunius’. In that moment, he had put in an explosive amount of mana, aiming to destroy Eunius’ weapon.
“So you aimed for it, Rudel!”
Eunius tossed aside the broken sword hilt, but Rudel’s hands still gripped a wood sword. As he constantly changed the output of his sword, Rudel’s blade was still going strong.
Seeing how he didn’t use his high-speed movement again, Eunius could tell Rudel was also near his limit. At the sword Rudel lowered to end the match, Eunius clad his left hand in magic, putting everything he had into blocking it.
He endured the blow that, if played poorly, would likely have cost him his arm.
From Eunius’ left arm came the sound of bones breaking. But Rudel’s wooden sword was destroyed. In that moment of Rudel’s surprised, Eunius hammered in a roundhouse kick with all his might.
Rudel leapt to soften the blow, but unable to kill the momentum, he flew and tumbled across the ring before rolling to regain his posture.
Seeing the two of them grow tattered, laughing as they faced one another, the audience raised cheers. What was truly a battle that surpassed their imaginations now unraveled before them.
At the same time, Luecke was busily ordering around his shield knights to maintain the barrier. It was fine for now, but when Eunius’ magic sword snapped, they confronted a crisis where the barrier might break with it.
Sweat running down his forehead, Luecke kept a careful watch on their actions.
Lena also watched the match in seriousness.
After Izumi spotted Millia coming out of the waiting room, she got Vargas’ permission to use the reserved front row and invited her.
When she appeared in the spectators’ seats, the fact that everyone seemed to shout blessing for her was surely Aleist’s fault.
With Basyle sitting between them, Izumi and Millia watched the match.
“Even so, Rudel-sama sure has gotten strong.”
As Basyle spoke in a nostalgic tone, Izumi nodded as well. In the academy, Izumi was the one who had watched him most closely.
The Rudel who made a mortified face in his first year, and the Rudel who didn’t give up in his secod year. And now the Rudel who had obtained the dragon of his dreams was before them.
“… He’s been working hard all the way.”
As Izumi thought back over the past five years, there was weight in the words that came from her mouth. When Rudel constantly lived his life at full force, watching him from his side truly made it look dangerous.
In truth, when he tried to obtain a dragon, he did almost lose his life.
Izumi knew that side of Rudel, and after glaring at her profile, Milla turned her eyes to look at Rudel. She knew. That Rudel had never been conscious of her.
Even now, there were times she wished their first encounter had been something a bit more decent. If only she had a bit more courage… sad as it was, Millia had finally broken away from Rudel. To move on, she had decided in her heart.
Rudel and Eunius’ match had turned to a grappling match.
Rudel wanted to use magic and attack from a distance, but his mana was close to its limit. As if neither competitor cared the slightest for their next match, they exchanged blows with all their might.
The techniques they boasted only made the match all the more ill in nature.
When it came to fighting styles, Rudel’s was generally dirty. He threw sand into an opponent’s eyes as if it was ingrained into his body. Avoiding that and fighting him down with proper hand-to-hand combat, Eunius fought while ignoring the fracture on his left hand.
“Oy, Rudel! You won’t use that technique you showed me before!? Get a bit serious, why don’t you!!”
Blessed with physique, you could also say that alone would let him defeat Rudel. Yet being able to contest with him, Rudel was also a monster. Both sides let off attacks that made their mana-strengthened bodies creak, and they endured.
“If that’s what you want!”
Jumping back, Rudel activated his high-speed movement. In the space of an instant, he leapt into Eunius’ bossom, touching both hands to his chest, and firing his magic with all his might.
Qigong… when he heard of such a thing from Izumi, Rudel had worked on his own to recreate it with Mana. Its level of completion had risen much higher than when he unleashed it on Fritz a few years back.
The impact pierced through Eunius’ chest, its effects even felt on the wall behind him. On that intense impact, the barrier warped for a moment. It showed its fault of being weak to an unanticipated attack.
But Eunius laughed as he smacked Rudel away. Rudel rolled across the Ring again before standing with a perplexed look on his face.
“That’s all you’ve got? The one before it got me worse…”
His outer wear that received the attack was already torn up, but Eunius’ upper body was completely uninjured. It seems the magic sword he lowered on him before was a greater threat.
As a countermeasure against Rudel, Eunius chose to endure the threat he saw in the attack against Fritz… he decided to try enduring. It was a simple application of brute force, the moment he received the attack, he would guard with all his might. That’s all there was to it, but as he was producing an explosive power to defend, the timing was important.
Rudel’s shockwave that required accumulated force was no longer a threat to Eunius.
He cast off his tattered garments, cast them off and took a stance. It was definitely an attack he had held back on. Since he raised the output, Rudel thought it would inflict a serious injury.
But it did seem that wasn’t enough for his friend before his eyes… Rudel took his own stance, and perhaps delighted, he gave a smile.
As both sides exchanged fearsome smiles, they stepped in simultaneously, meeting in an intense clash.
“Oh, how amazing. (Master’s crazzzy. And wait… how does he plan on beating Eunius? How does he intend to conquer that muscle idiot? It can’t be an upset where Eunius will be the one fighting Aleist, right? But when he’s so tattered, I get the feeling it won’t even be a match.)”
The scene Fina saw from the noble visitor room was a battle heated enough to make one clench their fists until they were covered in sweat. But perhaps Fina herself wasn’t interested as she thought over who would come out on top.
As things stood, compared to Rudel and Eunius, a fight where warriors of similar strength clashed, Aleist’s next opponent was Fritz.
In the semi-finals, they predicted that Aleist would win. Perhaps those around were thinking similar things, as Sophina made a conflicted face.
“Sophina, who do you think will win the tournament?”
“… Aleist-sama, perhaps.”
As Sophina muttered, Cattleya and Lilim beside her nodded. In the case that Eunius won, his left arm was already broken. If Rudel won, he was already out of gas. From the destroyed state of the ring, it would take some time to repair. So the problem would be how much of his stamina and mana he could recover in that time.
In contrast, Aleist showed leisure in his first match, and his next one was against Fritz. Speaking to ability, it was difficult to see Aleist losing that one.
The man himself had confessed before so many spectators, and was now regretting it in the waiting room. His face bright red, he was rolling around from the sheer embarrassment.
Cattleya touched her hand to her chin, thinking as she tried to say something, when a voice called over to Fina. It was her older sister Aileen, who had birthed some interest in Fina’s conversation.
“Oh my, so you’ve already decided the victor of the next match? This match hasn’t even ended yet.”
Aileen was smiling, but she was letting off an intimidating air that went beyond her expression. She couldn’t forgive the fact that Fina’s group had decided on Fritz’ loss.
As she looked over the three knights, perhaps it was the first time Aileen took them to mind, as her eyes grew sharp for an instant.
Meanwhile, Fina was delighted her plan had worked out.
(Whooh! With this, I’ve dropped the probability Sophina and the two dragoons will head over to my sister’s faction!! I’ll whittle them away bit by bit!!)
Fina had kept the two dragoons in want of fluff replenishment, but on these harvests beyond her expectations, she declared this match viewing session a success.
The match where both sides lacked a deciding blow was finally coming down to brute strength.
If Rudel attack with versatility, Eunius would bet on a single blow and swing around his fists. The top of the ring had been destroyed, making for terrible footing.
It was fine if they continued exchanging punches, but it was about time for them to decide the match.
As both sides leapt back to take distance, they got their breathing in order.
“Eunius, I’ll decide it with the next one.”
“Oh, what a coincidence… I’ll also be deciding it here. Regrettable as it is, I do have my next match ahead of me.”
Both believed in their victory without any doubt. They had not the slightest thought of loss. But there could only be one victor. Even if it was difficult, Eunius held the advantage on a defensive front. He was able to endure Rudel’s blows.
As Rudel stepped in first, Eunius prioritized his offense over defense. Rudel plunged himself straight forward, and he intended to greet him with his strongest blow.
He channeled magic into his fist, magic with exceedingly high destructive capabilities. Where he lowered his fist, Rudel had definitely been there, but he dodged at a paper-thin margin. In the next instant, Eunius braced his body to endure, but Rudel laughed.
“That’s no good, Eunius. That’s where you should attack.”
Grabbing that lowered arm, Rudel performed a shoulder throw on Eunius. Flying through the air, Eunius tried to roll as he slammed into the floor. But the moment he rolled, he noticed his defeat.
Sending himself into the air with wind magic, Rudel did a rapid descent straight into Eunius. By the time he noticed it, Rudel’s kick was already ready to pierce him through. Unable to dodge it, Eunius was only able to endure.
As Rudel fired that piercing kick, he put all his body’s weight into his foot, and with magic… he accelerated further to pierce through Eunius’ defenses.
With nowhere to run, Eunius took the brunt of Rudel’s full force, cracks spreading across the entirety of the ring.
Yet Eunius managed to endure the attack that exceeded all his expectations. As a price for enduring, he was left out of mana. An intense pain assailed his body leaving him unable to even stand.
He suddenly recalled the form of Luecke standing even when he was out of mana.
(That bastard, so he endured this pain… I’ve got to praise him a bit for that… more importantly, I have to stand soon and get in stance. Otherwise, I’ll lose.)
Eunius somehow managed to keep his consciousness from fading, but as the referee’s voice declared Rudels’ victory, he faded away with a smile. He had given it his all and lost. He made a satisfied face.
The arena was rocked by an enormous cheer.
Eunius was hurriedly rushed to the infirmary, while Rudel received first aid in his waiting room.
As he had a match ahead of him, Rudel had to prepare for his next fight. He couldn’t quite forfeit before the king.
But it would take some time for the ring to be repaired, and Rudel had bought some valuable time. Watching the ring’s repairs from their audience seats, Izumi and the others worried for Rudel.
Millia felt the disadvantage of the finals, and opened her mouth in anxiety.
“At this rate, it really will be bad. Rudel’s almost out of mana, while Aleist might be able to win his way there unscathed.”
Basyle stroked her enlarged stomach as she thought.
(No, you could have just put in a bit of effort. It’s your fault he got here unharmed to begin with, right?)
Supporting her former employer Rudel, Basyle gazed over the swift ring repairs being carried out through magic. The way things were going, the matches would resume in less than an hour.
There had already been a break, and around, the spectators who had used the school cafeteria were beginning to return. The cafeteria was unable to accommodate all of them, so the audience was divided up. The three of them had finished their lunch first, so they were killing time in their audience seats.
“H-he definitely does have a disadvantage, but Rudel has always overturned disadvantageous situations. So I’m sure he’ll be fine this time.”
Izumi answered Millia as if to get herself to believe, but it was clear Rudel was at a disadvantage after a close-combat match with Eunius.
Basyle understood Izumi’s feelings, but this time it was a terrible matchup. She knew the black knight was undoubtedly skilled, and she wondered how long Rudel would be able to put up a fight.
The black knight Aleist had become somewhat decent. Expecting that he wouldn’t end a match in an instant before the king’s eyes, she hoped both sides would fight a good fight…
But Basyle’s hopes were splendidly betrayed.
As Aleist and Fritz stepped up to the mended ring, apart from the cheers, some separate jeers echoed through the arena.
Over his match with Millia, Aleist was being teased. He tried his best to concentrate on the match, focusing his attention on his opponent before his eyes.
But before the match began, Fritz opened his mouth.
“Good grief, this is why you laid-back nobles are no good. When you’re at a match the royal eyes are gathered to see, to show off such a farce…”
Even Aleist didn’t want to be told that by the man before his eyes. His tone grew gruff. You put on a production of your own farce just a few years ago, didn’t you!? He somehow managed to swallow the words.
“It’s laughable to think they’ll call a knight like you the black knight. I heard it was a revelation from a goddess, but that goddess must have had knotholes for eyes.”
“Combatant, speak with moderation! Now let the match commence!”
As the referee declared the match’s start, Fritz took a stance with his wooden sword. Ever since he was defeated by Rudel, Aileen had hired him a personal tutor for swordplay and the martial arts.
His placement in the individuals’ tournament was something he crawled up to through ability, and he had some confidence in his current self.
But just as the referee declared the start, Fritz’ consciousness was blown away. The last thing he saw was the bottom of Aleist’s shoe.
Right as the match started, Aleist had visited Fritz’ face with a well-placed drop-kick. The kick from the needlessly high-speck Aleist instantly had Fritz flying out the hall.
“Try saying that one more time! I’ll have you seeing stars again!!”
Blown off the ring, Fritz was already unconscious. Having truly ended the match in seconds, Aleist suddenly recalled his next match was with Rudel.
And the fact he planned to extend this match as long as possible… the spectators were the same, but the royal family watching from their private room were surprised by Aleist’s actions as well.
“V-victor, Aleist Hardie!”
Ignoring his victory declaration, Aleist rushed over to Fritz, grabbing his lapels in both hands and shaking him back and forth. With Sakuya mocked, he had- against his better judgment- put in a serious kick. Aleist desperately tried to wake Fritz up.
“W-wake up, Fritz! We won’t be able to buy time like this, dammit!!”
“Cease and desist! We do not accept any attacks against the defeated party.”
As Aleist violently shook Fritz back and forth, the ref and those in charge frantically restrained him.