『You ready to get going?』
We had breakfast, checked to make sure all our equipment was in good form, and headed out.
Our destination was one of the many venues in which the tournament would be hosted. The tournament had actually started yesterday, but today was more so the one Fran had been looking forward to, as it had finally come time for her first match. According to the schedule we got from Dias, the tournament was to last for 14 days, with the first 4 dedicated to the preliminaries. The preliminaries were defined as a 2 step process, with each of the 2 taking up half the allotted time.
Over 1000 people had signed up for the tourney, and thus, there simply wasn’t enough to time for the preliminaries to be done in the usual 1 on 1 style. They were instead organised such that they’d allow for four people to be eliminated at once. That is, the preliminaries consisted solely of 5 person battle royales in which only the last man standing would be allowed to progress.
Not surprisingly, the tournament’s managers knew exactly what they were doing. They understood that the only way for them to complete all 200 plus preliminary matches within the 2 day timebox was for them to have multiple matches running at once. Thus, they had set up a series of locations around town in order to facilitate the process, a feat only made capable precisely because the tournament happened to take place in Ulmutt. Ulmutt was unique in the sense that it existed for and because of adventurers. Hence, its city plan included a great number of open areas that often saw use as training or dueling grounds.
The second preliminary round would have far fewer participants than the first, and thus, they had it hosted within a pair of larger stadiums instead of a bunch of smaller ones scattered all over. Unlike the first, the second also allowed for spectators.
The main event consisted of 6 rounds, which meant a total of 64 participants. About 50 of the combatants typically came from the prelims. The rest were seeded and thereby excluded from the qualification process.
Interestingly, killing one’s opponent was not actually considered a crime, as you weren’t allowed to participate in the tournament unless you signed a waiver. Said waiver included a statement about the fact that you knew you were going into something that might lead to your death. Honestly, I’m not really sure what else I should’ve expected from a world as violent as this one.
That said, I had to admit that it wasn’t actually as bad as it may have otherwise seemed. After all, health potions were a thing, so you probably wouldn’t die unless you were killed instantly. That said, the organisers only really supplied that kinda stuff to the main event’s participants. You could say it was rather cold hearted for them to not assist those that got eliminated early on, but I couldn’t really blame or antagonize them for it. Culling the weak was kind of what this tournament was all about in the first place. Besides, distributing potions to all thousand or so participants would probably put the organisers well in the red, so it was honestly only fair. There was also always healing magic for people that couldn’t afford potions, though again, healers weren’t really something supplied to people participating in the prelims.
Speaking of which, healing magic was precisely what made it possible for the tourney to take over the course of such a short time period. Its effects were more or less instant, so injured participants didn’t have to wait for their injuries to heal. All they needed was for someone to say the word, and they’d be back in tip top shape.
『You feeling nervous at all?』
Fran nodded. We’d done everything we could these past few days to get ourselves as ready as we could possibly be, and so, the look on her face almost seemed to be the spitting image of confidence.
『I’ll just stay on the sidelines and watch unless we run into someone really strong. Alright?』
「Nn. Want to know how far we can go.」
Fran wanted to both test her own strength and see how much stronger she was when we fought together.
There was still a decent bit of time before the match started, so we walked through town at a rather leisurely pace. The venue we were headed to happened to be right by the guild, so we weren’t even the slightest bit worried about getting lost.
I made use of our travel time by explaining to Fran the tourney’s rules.
Given that this was a martial arts tournament, an event that almost seemed to ooze with violence, there weren’t actually all that many restrictions. We just had to be careful not to consume any potions mid-combat, and we were pretty much good. There weren’t any rules against any skills and spells, you were pretty much allowed to do whatever. The only thing one would probably want to avoid would be the Evil Arts, as using them would more likely than not cause one to get instantly mobbed by any and all nearby adventurers.
The only part of the rules that we really had to pay attention to was the part that detailed what you could and couldn’t do with summons. Any non-human summons were in fact allowed, but only under the condition that they weren’t summoned ahead of time. In other words, we could bring Urushi so long as we had him hide in Fran’s shadow and have him not come out until she pretended to summon him. The reason that this was in fact legal, and not against the rules, was because they stated that rules regarding summons applied not just to summons, but also to anything else that happened to function in a similar manner. Specifically, the rules would apply so long as the creature you called was initially either not present or hidden from sight.
Fortunately, there weren’t any restrictions with regards to magic items, you could use whatever you wanted. It seemed that what this tournament cared about wasn’t one’s base stats, but rather how strong one was with all one’s gear and familiars factored in as well.
There were only two possible ways to get disqualified. The first was to leave the ring, and the second, to deliberately attack someone that’d already surrendered.
Fran looked at all the stalls around her as she slowly made her way forwards, but as one could expect, not even she was enough of a glutton to start chowing down the moment before she had to fight her first match.
『You can eat as much as you want after we’re done, so sit tight for now, alright?』
She continued glancing at the stalls in our vicinity despite voicing her agreement. It was simply something that couldn’t be helped. Stalls started appearing en masse the moment the tournament began, and their merchandise honestly looked nothing short of delicious.
Her staring any longer would only serve to tempt her, so I had her rush back over to the guild. I didn’t think we’d end up stopping on our way there given that she’d hit the gas, but for some odd reason, we did.
『Is something the matter, Fran?』
I looked in the direction Fran’s finger was pointing, only to find a stall that almost seemed a bit familiar.
『Wait, isn’t that… The Dragon’s Table?』
The Dragon’s Table, one of the stores that’d competed against us back in Barbra, had a stall set up right by the Adventurer’s Guild. Upon closer inspection, I discovered that they seemed to be selling the Dragon Bone Soup they happened to be famous for. Standing behind the counter was a familiar face, a tall, A ranked adventurer by the name of Fermus. He was looking just as sharp as he was the last time we saw him.
「Oh, well if it isn’t the Black Tail’s Fran.」
「Nn. Long time no see.」
「It has been quite a while. Are you perhaps here in order to participate in the tournament?」
「Well, then please do try your best.」
Fran ended up speaking with Fermus till we had to go.
It turned out that he was also taking part in the tourney. But as one would expect of a former A ranked adventurer, he’d been seeded and wouldn’t be going through the prelims.
「I would normally opt out of participating seeing as my age is what it is, but this year happens to be be a bit special, as one of my acquaintances asked me to participate. I was unable to turn him down because I owed him a favour.」
He had nothing to do in the meantime, so he ended up deciding to set up shop for publicity’s sake. I had to say, Fermus seemed really into this whole merchanting thing. Dude’s spirit was brimming with entrepreneurship.
Well, that’s one more powerful foe we might end up running into. He’s literally killed dragons. Like shit, no way in hell we’ll be able to beat him easily.
Fermus also told us a bunch about what happened to Barbra in the event’s aftermath. The former Lords, the Krystens, had effectively thrown away their fortune by using it to fund the city’s reconstruction. The guild had helped out as well, so the reconstruction was pretty much right on schedule.
Amanda’s support had allowed the orphanage to get back on its feet, which in turn allowed Io go all out and cook to the best of her ability. The soup Io made was ridiculously delicious despite the fact that she used nothing but super low quality vegetables in it. I really couldn’t help but wonder just how delicious the stuff she was making now was, given that she finally had access to all the spices and condiments she could ever dream of.
Last but not least, he mentioned that Barbra was currently going through what could only be described as a curry boom. People were setting up curry stalls all over and naming them after our own. They’d call themselves the X Tail, or the Black Y, with X and Y being substituted out for random words. Many of these stalls would claim that they’d inherited our recipes, which I guess wasn’t entirely false seeing as how I’d handed the recipe over to the Chef’s Guild and told them to do whatever with it.
Fran was really engaged in the conversation, and seemed really interested in everything else Fermus had to say, but we had to go.
『Hey Fran, it’s time.』
「Nn. Time for match.」
「Well, I won’t keep you any longer then. Sorry for the hold up.」
「Not problem. Wanted to talk about Barbra.」
「Great. Then I’ll look forward to trading blows with you in the ring.」
「Nn. Got it.」
「Fufu. You sure do seem eager.」
It seemed that Fermus’ words had flipped Fran’s switch, as the smile she flashed him was one filled with drive and battlelust.
Welp, here’s to hoping she doesn’t hit the people we’ll be facing in the prelims too hard.