The Second day of the tournament began with a peculiar air. The first year student matches ended without issue, and the princess’ class claimed victory… Chlust also participated as a representative and showed off his mettle. There were a number of matches that were suspicious no matter how you looked at them, but before the royal family, they were fought fair and square.
And the base of that abnormal air was, of course, Rudel. Rudel’s classmates were in tatters, but Rudel’s state was much worse. That was simply how severe his fights with the top candidates Luecke and Eunius had been.
Right, he was worn out, but…
“It’s finally here! We’re definitely going to win!”
He was terribly energetic. In the hall, Luecke and Eunius who had slipped out of the infirmary… and Vargas alongside the upperclassmen who trained with him every morning were there. Mixed in with them, Basyle had also come to cheer him on.
In such a hall, Aleist’s class on the opposite side of the ring looked at Rudel’s tattered comrades in relief. They had been wary of Rudel’s class, that had managed to win its way through this block of strong foes, but with this, they were sure they could come out on top.
And from the start, the finals were a heated affair. Regardless of the leisure Aleist’s class let off, Rudel’s class somehow managed to hang on. At the final matchup, the results were set at two to two, and with this, everyone knew they could count on an exciting finale.
Rudel stood opposite Aleist, waiting for the referee’s signals. And as he waited, Aleist called over.
“Looks like someone’s on fire… but even so, you’re in quite a terrible shape over there. When I’ve finally gotten a stage to show off, I’m worried it’ll just look like me bullying the weak.”
In contrast to Aleist’s cynicism, Rudel was a manifestation of seriousness itself. Right, Rudel had been waiting for this moment, and from the results up to now, he took Aleist’s cynicism to be only natural… but he’d prove him wrong! With that on his mind, Rudel prepared his wooden sword.
As he focused his attention on the match, the pain in his body seemed to fade away.
Seeing Rudel like that, Aleist grumbled over his light response as he took a stance. Confirming both sides were ready, the referee gave the signal.
Watching from the noble visitor room, the royal family swallowed their breath at the fight unraveling before their eyes. This was no longer a contest between students of the fundamental curriculum. Between these two who could easily be compared to upperclassmen or even full-fledged knights, the hall itself held its breath.
(M-master!!! Why are you so beaten up! You’re going to lose at this rate! My master’s going to lose!!!)
Fina panicked left and right within. At the match, Aileen,
“Oh how wonderfully strong Aleist-sama must be!”
He saved her little sister, and that beautiful appearance. His form overlapping with the knight she once loved, to Aileen, Aleist was the ideal knight.
But the impression the queen held was something else entirely. Folding up the fan she used to cover her mouth, she leaned a bit forward to get a better look. Sensing the queen’s growing interest in the match, the king tried asking for her impression.
“How about it? Do you see something you like?”
Leaving a space of silence, the queen answered the query.
“Yes, that boy called Rudel, the Arses House’s legitimate heir is strong. But… how shall I put it, the Hardie House’s Aleist is… quite light, I’d have to say.”
The queen’s eyes open wider than usual felt Aleist’s strength as something light. The queen who would describe strength in such a way… from the start, the queen had a liking for a strong man. In his youth, Albach had excelled in the sword, and it was accurate to say she fell for his skills. But forced to sit through a tournament of students- the fundamental curriculum even- their crude matches and untrained movements were unbearable to watch… she thought.
But in reality, starting with the Three Lords’ sons, she was able to bear witness to some interesting fights. However…
“What a letdown…in the finals, what’s more, the final match… one of them’s in tatters before the match even begins, the other’s strength has no weight to it. If that’s how it’s going to be, then yesterday’s match between Rudel and Eunius was leagues better.”
The Queen opened her fan once more. It seems she had lost interest.
“Then who do you think will win?”
On the king’s nonchalant question, the queen gave an uninterested response.
“Well, the winner will be…”
Unnoticed by her parents, Fina expressionlessly…
(My fluffing! The fluffy kingdom of my dreams!!! Master!!! Hold on!!!)
Faithful to her desires to no end.
It was a harder match than Aleist could have imagined. In both swordplay and magic, Aleist thought he would come out on top, but Rudel wasn’t losing. No, you could say he was winning. Rudel…
(Aleist’s swordplay falls short of Eunius! His magic is nowhere close to Luecke! It isn’t strength… Aleist lacks an overwhelming level of technique. If I’m to win, I’ve no choice but to stab into that flaw!)
Thinking that, he parried Aleist’s attacks that pushed through with brute force and aimed for a counter. While Aleist had been pushing from the start of the match, he had failed to land a single hit. In contrast, suppressed as he was, Rudel’s attacks landed accurately. Even so, the fact he was dragging his beaten body at a disadvantage hadn’t changed.
In the hall, the voices in support of Aleist- who saved the princess- comprised the large majority. Receiving their encouragement, Aleist had started out in high spirits. But when it came down to it is, he was hard-pressed to win. What’s more, the opponent was Rudel. That Rudel! Inept and prideful! Rudel who only existed as a hindrance!!!
“Why are you getting in my way… just fall already!”
Growing irritated, hastily used magic sword. His wooden sword was clad in flames, taking on the form of a blade made of fire itself. But its size was around twice that of a human. As Aleist swung it around, he launched an offense on Rudel.
“You! Someone like you! Should just dissapeaaar!!!”
Horizontally, vertically, Aleist swung his sword… as he avoided it, Rudel also flowed magic into his blade. His special sword he had made to imitate magic sword. Rudel’s magic sword of pure magic ran parallel to his wood sword, taking the shape of an orderly blade.
Its length wasn’t anything great… but as Aleist’s blade came down to consign Rudel to oblivion, even when he knew it wouldn’t reach, Rudel swung his own sword. The magic surrounding it left the blade, but in exchange, Aleist’s magic sword had been cut through.
“W-what’s with that! I don’t know such a move… how cowardly!”
The moment he tried to protest to the referee, Rudel closed in right to his side. He hurriedly lifted his sword to block, but perhaps both wooden swords had already reached their limits as they snapped the moment of impact.
“R-ref! I can’t use my wooden sword. Temporary time ou…!”
The moment his sword snapped, Rudel instantly changed to close combat. Aleist used the abilities he had been granted… he dodged with his talent in martial arts, but he faltered against Rudel’s difference of spirit. HE felt fear at Rudel’s serious eyes.
(Why!? Why did it come to this!? This is my world, right… isn’t this a world where I’m the lead role!!!?)
A high-level display of hand-to-hand combat unfolded between the two, but Aleist couldn’t help but draw back. No matter how strong he was, in what he lost out in force of will, he could only find it in him to block. Unable to do anything but block, Aleist recalled his life before his reincarnation… the truth of the true Aleist’s bullied life.
(Harassed day after day… I finally croaked in an accident, and reincarnated into the world of the game I loved! I even got cheats! I even got status! My face wasn’t ugly! … and yet, and yet, even here… you’ll bully me here!!!)
As Aleist’s face warped in fear, it was taken in by Rudel’s fist. Blown back, Aleist crawled atop the ring. It was a scene no different to his past life.
(I’m scared! Scared! Scared! … Am I going to be bullied again? By this stepping stone of a character…)
As Aleist wasn’t getting to his feet, Rudel didn’t pursue. He simply stood before him. The fearful Aleist wasn’t even able to look at him.
Around, voices of encouragement for Aleist… he could hear jeers raining down on Rudel.
“Stand up! Why aren’t you fighting me, Aleist!!!?”
Rudel’s fist shook in his strong grip. Was it from anger… of emptiness, Rudel flared up. At his voice, Aleist felt even greater fear.
“I’m fine with losing! Just let me lose!!!”
On Aleist’s voice, the referee tried to declare the match’s end. But Rudel stopped it.
“Please stand! I’ve finally come all the way here… for what sake did I… I came here with my sights on you! I wanted to win! I wanted you to recognize me! And yet… Aleist, you’re strong, aren’t you!!?”
With those words, Aleist stood against Rudel. Rudel answered him, getting into a punching match once more. But this time’s match was a clumsy one, a blind exchange of blows.
Unlike the high-level match up to now, it was practically a fight between children. But even that exchange was cheered on by the crowd.
“Which side is winning?”
(What pointless thing do you think you’re doing!? Stupid master!!! You just won, didn’t’ you!? Just take that guy down already, and take me off the fluffy paradise!!! … Fluffy paradise? Fluffadise… huh? Not bad at all!!! Fluffadise! Fluffadise!)
She expressionlessly got excited alone.
And her sister, the first princess,
“How barbaric… I hate that Arses House brat!”
And the king,
“Now this is quite a manly fight. Even so… with this, isn’t the Arses House child at a disadvantage?”
Her fan still opened, the queen’s expression didn’t change. She looked down over the ring on the ground. Perhaps convinced her predictions weren’t off the mark, she wouldn’t answer the king.
The headmaster looking over the royalty and his students gazed quietly over the match. They were both students of the academy… so he thought. If this match’s results became a good result for the both of them…
As the two exchanged blows, their footing turned unsteady. Their arms took large swings with barely any power behind them. Even in such a situation, the audience gather in the hall cheered on. A majority of them cheered Aleist on, but there were definitely some rooting for Rudel.
“Fall already… isn’t that enough!”
Aleist and Rudel made terrible faces. One of Aleist’s blows got him in the face. But Rudel didn’t go down, sending another blow in return. Neither of them would stand down.
But their limits were close. Rudel had been at his limit from the start. The only reason he still stood was his will not to give up. His drive for victory wasn’t just because he wanted to stay at the academy… for some reason, Rudel was fixated on Aleist. The individual himself has noticed it. A sensation he had never felt before had become Rudel’s will.
Wringing out his last power, Rudel clad his fist in a magic of wind… At the end of the end, running his magic dry, Rudel’s fist came at Aleist to settle the match, knocking him off of his feet.As the hall swallowed its breath, the two of them collapsed Rudel who had run out of both stamina and magic, Aleist who had been pushed this far for the first time in any of his lives… after they lay immobile a while, some surrounding voices came to cheer them on.
“Stand up, Aleist-sama!!!”
“Don’t lose to someone like him, Aleist-senpai!!”
“You can’t lose to that idiot!!!”
The students rooting for Aleist mocked Rudel. Within all that, starting with Vargas, the upperclassmen started calling out to Rudel. In loud voices, they cheered him on.
“Don’t lose, Rudel!!! Show them the results of your training every day!!!”
Luecke and Eunius cried out as well. Despite their injuries and Mana deficiency, they forced themselves to cry out! Millia’s voice mingled in with theirs.
“I won’t forgive you if you lose here, Rudel!!!”
“Stand up quickly! And you call yourself the man who beat us!!!?”
“Quite sleeping there and stand already!”
On the words of the heirs to the Three Lords’, the surrounding classmates also sent words of encouragement. And the voices of Rudel’s class weren’t losing out.
“Stand up, Rudel!!!”
“You promised you’d be with us to the end!!!”
“Don’t lose to the likes of Aleist!!!”
At the end, Izumi called out in a large voice!
“How long do you plan on sleeping there, Rudel!? Strongest… the strongest knight, you’re going to be a Dragoon, right!!!?”
The collapsed Rudel tried to use his arms to raise his torso off the ground, but he instantly collapsed. He tried again and again… and right at that moment, a dragon passed over the grounds. For just that brief instant, a dragon’s shadow passed over Rudel. And…
“That’s right… I decided I’d definitely become a dragoon! For that sake, I can’t always be on the losing end… I’m going to become strong! I decided I’ll be the strongest dragoon who won’t lose to anyone!!!”
Rudel rose with shaking feet. All the voices of support raised cries for joy. And Aleist didn’t even try to stand. His shaking legs wouldn’t listen to him. His heart had long recognized his loss, and no matter how high his abilities were, he was unable to stand.
Aleist’s wrung-out voice was drowned out by the cheers resounding through the hall. There, the referee declared the victor.
“Victor, Rudel Arses!!!”
In the noble visitor room, Fina expressionlessly stood from her seat. Making a gist with both hand, she raised them both to the sky to express her delight. She even let out her voice.
“Yeeeeesssss!!! He wonnnnn!!!”
(Master woooonnnnn!!! You really are amazing, master! My heart skipped a beat there, you know!!! Even when there was nothing fluffy related, it skipped a beat!!!)
“W-what are you doing, Fina?”
The king looked at his daughter with worry. The queen dropped her fan, while the elder sister held her mouth open in surprise. Within all that, the headmaster clenched his fist triumphantly where no one could see.
On the ring visible from the room, the classmates gathering around the victor. They hurriedly tried to drag him off to the infirmary, while Rudel said something incomprehensible about how the match lasted until the closing ceremony, and argued… It seems he said he wanted to stay to the end, but it was clear his hazy head wasn’t thinking clearly.
(So you overcame it… how about Aleist-kun…)
The headmaster thought of Aleist, who had already been carried off. ◇
Aleist was carried off in a stretcher. He was told to lay down in the waiting room for a while, before he was left alone in the room. In that waiting room without anyone, Aleist wept.
“I… no matter where I go, I can’t change.”
To that room, a single classmate entered. Once Aleist realized it was the student who always tried to get involved with him, he made a displeased face. To that point, none of the other classmates had come. He was sure they were speaking ill of him. From his bullied experience, he had long-since realized.
“Y-you were close, Aleist… I’m sure you’ll win next time… I think.”
His classmate hesitantly called over. Even now, he tried to become friends with Aleist. Should I refute those words or depreciate them… as he thought that, Aleist cried again.
(Ah, I see, so that’s it. Why hadn’t I noticed… I wanted a friend. The reason I came to love a game where everyone liked the main character, I’m sure it’s because I wanted someone to like me… why couldn’t I realize something as simple as that…)
“A-Aleist! Are you in pain!? I’ll call the doctor over.”
Seeing off his classmate’s hurried rush for a doctor, Aleist listened to the cheers he could hear through the open door… will someone like me be able to be his friend… as Aleist thought over it, he cried and smiled.