The Second Preliminary Round
Fran pumped herself up and stepped into the arena, only to be greeted by a stage of epic proportions, one so massive and well decorated that it simply couldn’t be compared to the dingy thing used in the first preliminary round. Its construction consisted of two parts, a round platform and the larger cylindrical wall that enclosed it. Around the arena were enough seats to fit over a thousand spectators. The place was beyond packed; every single seat was filled and then some.
Our entrance was welcomed by a set of cheers from the audience, cheers so deafeningly loud that they caused my blade to tremble in response.
In spite of all that, Fran was as usual; she literally didn’t care about her surroundings.
Three of our four foes already stood atop the stage, one of which we happened to recognize.
「Oh come on! Now I’m sure to lose!」
Judith fell forward onto her knees the moment she realized she was up against us. It was an action I honestly couldn’t blame her for. There was basically no way for her to win given how the fact that Fran was way stronger than she was.
Apparently she wasn’t the only one to have recognized Fran, as the other contestants had also adopted similar expressions of unease.
「So that’s the Magic Sword Girl…? Huh, she really was just a kid.」
「Don’t let your guard down. Her rank is even higher than ours are. I hear she’s a C ranker now.」
The first round of the preliminaries seemed to have filtered out most of the less capable adventurers. All but one of the contestants present were skilled enough to intuit that Fran was no weakling. The only one that failed to recognize her strength was the last to enter the ring.
「Hahahah! Why’s there a brat here? Isn’t this supposed to be a Martial Arts Tournament?」
The obnoxiously loud Blue Catkin that joined the fray laughed before taking a closer look at her and furrowing his brows.
「How the hell did you manage to get past the first round? Did you bribe all your opponents? Or were they just all pedophiles?」
「Heh. Bullshit! You’re a god damned Black Catkin! No way in hell a wimp catkin like you could actually put up a decent fight. Know your place. Wait, I know. That old White Dogkin geezer must’ve pulled a few strings. That has to have been it.」
Getting a closer look at him allowed me to recognize that he was in fact a member of Blue Pride. Specifically, he was one of the two people that’d been standing by the gate and trying to convince Aurel to see them.
The realisation immediately explained why he was aggressive on both Fran and her benefactor.
「Just you wait, wimp cat. I’ll tear your jaw off so you can’t surrender, strip you nude and embarrass the hell out of you before finally slowly beating you death.」
「…Talking really big for just Blue Pride.」
「Haah? What’d you just say?」
「You tried to visit Aurel by lying and claiming you were famous, but you were turned away at the gates because your lie seen through right away. You’re just a group of weak, pathetic, small time mercenaries. And stay away from me. You stink.」
Fran seemed to have snapped given that she’d started speaking in longer, more drawn out sentences.
「You little bitch…!」
A large screen that resembled the kind you’d see in a sports stadium decorated one of the stadium’s sides. It seemed to be some sort of magic item, as it was doing as a monitor would, and displayed a blown up version of the interaction that’d just occured in real time.
The crowd’s response to the Blue Catkin’s remarks was rather poor. A few of the men had urged him on, but a greater number of women had ended up booing. Fran’s rebuttal, on the other hand, had caused the entire stadium to erupt into cheers. The man immediately popped a vein in rage, but Fran just totally ignored him and everything he said from that point onward, which, as one might suspect, only caused him to get even angrier.
Their interaction was one the crowd really seemed to like, as its members began to jeer in an attempt to urge the two on.
With the mood set, the match finally began.
The Blue Catkin immediately locked his eyes to Fran’s position and lunged straight at her. His skill with the sword wasn’t too shabby, and he came at her with nothing held back; it was clear that he planned to kill her. His actions caused me to want to scoff at how childish he was. He ended up completely losing all sense of rationality just because of the slightest bit of mockery.
Though, that much, I’d honestly expected.
What I didn’t expect, however, was for the three other contestants to join him. They all immediately decided to cooperate in order to eliminate Fran, as, the Blue Catkin aside, they were aware that she was the strongest in the group. Judith happened to stand out from her peers, as she purposefully placed herself at the rear so she could use the other three contestants as meat shields.
Both Fran and I were rather impressed by her actions. She hadn’t given up on winning despite the fact that she knew we’d be able to overwhelm her.
The unexpected four versus one situation put Fran in what could be thought of as a numerical disadvantage, but she didn’t mind. Fran simply didn’t care that all four other contestants had ganged up her. She didn’t complain, nor did she bother calling any of the four out for unfairness.
Instead, she simply retalited.
She swung me without bothering to draw my blade from its sheath and hit the Blue Catkin right in the jaw. The impact caused him to fly into the air before spiraling back down towards the ground.
Fran then struck again; she used the rising momentum that accompanied her first strike in order to deliver a powerful horizontal blow.
Heavy Slash was considered a relatively low tier skill, but it’d proven to be more than effective enough given just how powerful Fran had become. The attack sent the swordsman and spearman that followed the Blue Catkin tumbling back into Judith. Neither of the three were capable of recovering from the attack and so, they were all forced out of bounds.
Only a few seconds had passed, but Fran had already eliminated three of her four opponents. She could’ve easily done the same to the last of the bunch, but instead, intentionally chose to draw out her assault.
「Hiiii! F-Fwelp me…!」
She swung me downwards. In doing so, she caught the Blue Catkin in midair, smashed him into the ground, and caused a dull crack to reverberate through it.
The blood in the Blue Catkin’s mouth rendered him incapable of anything but a few groans. He’d barely managed to hang onto his consciousness, not because he was sturdy, but because Fran had made sure to hold back just enough for him to do so.
「I… huwwenda! I huwwenda!」
「Still don’t understand.」
Well, yeah, it’s kinda hard for him to actually speak given that he doesn’t have a jaw or chin anymore.
「I horheit da hatsh!」
「Too stupid to know how to surrender? Well, can’t be helped since Blue Catkin.」
Fran basically totally admitted to knowing exactly what he was trying to say, but it didn’t matter. What did was the fact that she’d done unto him exactly what he claimed he’d wanted to do to her.
「Should strip and humiliate you?」
「Hiiii! I’m hwory! I’m hworry! Pweave, htop! Haf murhy!」
The sheer amount of bloodlust Fran’d been emanating caused the Blue Catkin to become as scared as he could possibly be; a warm, wet patch spread across his nether regions as he deliriously begged for her forgiveness.
Naturally, the referee had realized that the match couldn’t go on, and so, he hurried over to the stage and attempted to climb atop it.
Fran noticed him approach, so she immediately moved to deliver the finishing blow before he could stop her.
「Will end as requested.」
She muttered a few words under her breath while swinging me like a golf club and sending the Blue Catkin fly right off the stage. She seemed to have gone a bit overboard, as he soared for what looked like 10 whole meters before finally hitting the ground.
I was a bit worried that the crowd would end up finding her actions distasteful, but it turned out that they actually ended up liking them as they immediately broke into applause.
「And it’s over! The young lady just pulled off the impossible and sent a full grown man flying off the stage with just one hit! Ain’t that just incredible ladies and gentlemen? It’s not something you’d expect from someone with such a cute face, that’s for sure!」
Wait, there’s been a shoutcaster this whole time? How the hell did I not notice?
The caster’s announcement caused the crowd to break out into an extra loud cheer.
「And with that C rank adventurer Fran, the Magic Sword Girl, wins the 11th west block and secures herself a spot in the main event without even drawing the blade she’s nicknamed after!」