The Morning of the First Round
『Morning Fran, you get a good night’s sleep?』
Fran was still only half awake, but somehow managed to have absolutely no difficulty shoveling her breakfast down her throat regardless.
『Today’s the day. The tourney’s finally starting.』
I’d been a bit worried as to whether or not Fran would actually be able to get a good night’s rest, but it turned out that my concerns had been totally needless. To her, today was honestly just another day.
Our morning routine went just as usual. I washed her face, dried her hair with warm air, and gave it a good brushing.
『Today’s your big day, so we’ll have to make sure you look even cuter than usual.』
『Don’t be silly. Of course it’s going to matter, you’re practically going to be put on display.』
I finished styling her hair as I responded to her. Only after I finished that did her eyes finally snap open and fill with energy. She promptly began imitating my actions by brushing Urushi’s. The wolf narrowed his eyes and enjoyed the sensation for a few moments before flipping onto his back and demanding more affection. The way he acted reminded me of the Golden Retriever one of my older neighbors had in the past. He seriously didn’t give off even the slightest bit of the feral feel you’d normally expect from a wolf.
『We’re still a bit ahead of schedule. Feel like doing anything in particular, or?』
「Nn. Master, over here.」
『Huh? What’s up?』
Fran grabbed a cloth and began polishing me off.
『We haven’t actually fought yet, so make sure you don’t tire yourself out doing that, alright?』
「Because not just me.」
『What’s that supposed to mean?』
「Master also being put on display. Will have to make Master look cool.」
She continued polishing me as I brooded over whether I should thank her or tell her to stop. As far as I was concerned, Fran was going to be the star of the show, and I was just going to be an extra. I would’ve loved to keep contemplating so I could actually arrive at an answer, but ultimately stopped giving a shit not too long after she started because of how good it felt.
My loss of control led her to continue polishing me for a good 30 minutes, after which my blade became nice and sparkly.
『Are you sure that didn’t tire you out?』
『Alright, let’s head out then.』
All contestants were to report to and gather in the Adventurer’s Guild. Block A was scheduled to be the first to fight, so its members had to get there extra early.
Upon arrival, we were immediately led upstairs by one of the guild’s clerks. It seemed that the rooms on the second and third floors were being used as temporary waiting rooms. The fact that the rooms were private rooms as opposed to larger rooms with participants aggregated within them was one that I could only possibly conclude as beneficial. Hot blooded adventurers, like Fran, would probably start fights if left with all the other participants.
「Please wait here until we call for you. Your match will be the 6th, and each is timeboxed to 30 minutes, so I believe you won’t have to wait more than 2 hours. It depends on how long each match lasts. The shorter they are, the sooner you’ll be up.」
「Nn. Got it.」
「You’re free to observe the rest of the day’s matches once you’re done with your own, but you’re not allowed to leave the room until we call for you.」
The fact that matches were timeboxed meant you couldn’t really stall forever and just bore the crowd. It’d also prevent the tourney from getting thrown off schedule. However, it also meant that it was possible to run the timer. To that end, all combatants had to put on a magic item known as a Bracelet of Judgement prior to engaging in combat. The bracelet would allow one to determine a victor should the combatants eat up the whole 30 minutes they were allotted. The bracelet was capable of determining the contestants’ HP and MP values, as well as their relative consumption thereof. It would use the numbers it read to discern which of the two combatants would have emerged victorious had the match continued indefinitely.
「There’ll be a staff member just outside the door at all times, so please don’t be shy. Let us know if you need anything. 」
The tournament’s participants were treated like VIPs and could order the staff to do all sorts of stuff. A few examples of the services provided were preparing light meals and acting as a proxy in order to do one’s shopping. It seemed convenient and all, but didn’t quite pertain to us. The stuff we had in our dimensional storages served to more or less satisfy all our needs.
As a result, Fran basically ended up just sitting down and taking it easy for a while.
We weren’t bothered at all until about an hour passed, after which someone gave our door a knock.
「The fourth match has just begun. Your match will begin after the next one ends, so we would like to show you to a waiting room closer to the arena.」
It seemed like the tourney was a good bit ahead of schedule, so we decided to ask the staff what was up. Apparently, what’d happened was that Goldalfa had lived up to his reputation and ended his opponent in what was literally an instant.
Both the other matches, however, ended right around the 30 minute mark, and apparently not because they ran out of time. Most combatants naturally disliked having things decided by their bracelets, and so, they’d often pull off their biggest moves and decide things right before the match was forced to end.
We moved to the venue by taking an underground passageway with one of its entrances in the guild’s basement. It seemed like a pretty good measure to take, as having more popular participants waltz right through the streets would probably lead to the populace kicking up a fuss.
The room we were moved to was, not surprisingly, yet another private room, one several orders of magnitude more luxurious than the one we’d been staying in at the guild. The sofa they had in the room was gorgeous, and the bed was seemingly filled to the brim with down.
「The fifth match has now begun, so we may end up calling for you at any moment now. Please make sure you’re ready for us when your turn comes around.」
「Nn. Got it.」
Fran dove straight into the super soft looking sofa and began enjoying it to its fullest.
After a moment’s consideration, I realized that the match that was going on right now was the one between Kurusu and Radyer — which meant the explosions I’d been hearing from time to time were Radyer’s spells. They were so loud that they even eclipsed the crowd’s deafening cheers, which I actually had to strain my ears in order to catch.
Unlike me, who’d spent my time thinking about the match and whatnot, Fran had instead focused on relaxing. She’d leapt off the sofa, jumped onto the bed, and played on it with Urushi until an incredibly loud series of cheers resounded through the room.
『Sounds like the match’s been decided.』
Given that realization, I strained my ears even further so I could hear the caster.
「And it’s over! Despite popular speculation, Kurusu has taken the win!」
Wait, seriously? Kurusu won?
「Master, something wrong?」
I must’ve seemed really shocked, as Fran had immediately turned her head towards me in confusion.
『It’s just that Kurusu’s the one that ended up winning is all.』
『Did you really forg- oh, whatever. Let’s get ready to go. We’ll be up soon.』
「Nn. Got it.」
It didn’t take long for a guide to show up at our door after Kurusu’s and Radyer’s matches came to an end. Said guide not only led us over to the arena, but also handed us a Bracelet of Judgement along the way. Surprisingly, the bracelet didn’t actually take up an accessory slot, so we didn’t have to swap any of our stuff out.
The venue used for the main tournament was both gigantic and incredibly well lit. I called out to Fran on our way to the actual arena part because I was a bit worried as to whether or not she’d be nervous. Again, it turned out that my worries were completely needless, as Fran was in such a good mood that she’d actually been skipping along as we moved.
『Are you really not even the slightest bit nervous?』
『Nice. Let’s do this then.』
『Make sure you stay in the shadows till after Fran gives the signal, alright Urushi?』
The moment we entered the arena, we discovered that there were over ten times as many audience members present as there were during the secondary preliminary round.
They were so numerous that I found it incredibly difficult to discern individual comments anymore. There were so many different people cheering that the whole thing just kind of came off like a wave of sound.
The crowd’s cheers roared at such high volume that Fran ended up grimacing and lowering her ears.
「Nn… Already used to it.」
The sheer volume of the sound waves blasted at us made me understand that having sensitive hearing wasn’t actually always a good thing. I didn’t get how rabbitkin like Royce and basically anyone else with super sensitive hearing could actually manage to cope.
「And our contestants have arrived! In one corner we have a fair maiden whose strength betrays her looks, the youngest C ranked adventurer to date. Ladies and gentlemen, please, extend your welcomes to Block A’s 11th contestant, Fran, the Magic Sword Girl!」
Fran slowly stepped up onto the stage with the caster’s announcement as her cue. On top of it stood her opponent; he’d already been awaiting her arrival.
Her expression immediately stiffened the moment she saw him.
「And in the other corner, we have an incredible man with a mercenary band at his back. Put your hands together for one of the younger generation’s most respected Blue Catkin: Blue Pride’s Leader and Block A’s 12th contestant, Zefmate, the Blue Strike!」
Fran’s opponent was not only none other than one of the Blue Catkin she detested, but also Blue Pride’s leader. Knowing that, she glared him, reached for me, and silently drew me from my sheath.