We weren’t left to our own devices until after we were led back through the underground passageway we used to get to the arena. The guide informed that our next match was scheduled to take place two days from now and that we’d have to arrive just as early in the morning as we had for this one. We were also told that we were pretty much allowed to do whatever we wanted in the meantime.
『So, what now?』
『Hey, that’s a pretty good idea. We might make it in time for Colbert’s match if we rush over.』
（Nn. Want to see other matches too.）
Fran mentioning that she wanted to spectate the other combatant’s matches made me realize that we’d never actually had the chance to actually just sit down and watch other people fight.
I figured doing so would actually work to Fran’s benefit. It’d allow her to see things from a whole new perspective, which, in turn, could probably allow her to learn a new trick or two.
『Alright, let’s go.』
Fran turned to leave the guild and head towards the arena, but was stopped by the guide before actually setting off.
「Were you intending on watching any of the remaining matches?」
「Nn. Planned to.」
「In that case, I recommend you wear some sort of disguise. The other spectators might make a fuss if they see you, especially since your match just ended and is still fresh in everyone’s minds.」
The clerk’s advice was spot on. Most of the spectators present for Fran’s fight were probably still at the arena, and there was fair chance they’d be able to recognize her on sight if she didn’t keep her face hidden. Some of the spectators might’ve lost a fair bit of money because of her, and getting involved with them sounded like a pretty bad idea if you asked me. The same applied to people that were overly interested in her. Actively avoiding pedophiles interested in her sounded like something that we’d probably benefit from doing.
「Then will put on disguise.」
That said, we probably weren’t actually going to disguise ourselves too much. A quick change of attire seemed like it would probably be enough to do the job so long as we popped all our stealth based skills.
As such, all Fran did before heading towards the arena was throwing on a cloak. The tourney’s contestants were allowed to enter through the back door, so she did. The guard responsible for watching it ended up not only letting Fran in, but also giving her a salute of the highest order immediately after seeing her guild card.
The place was packed. It didn’t look like we were going to be able to find a place to sit.
『Looks like there’s one spot free over there.』
But fortunately, I did happen to spot a single empty seat.
The seat wasn’t broken or anything, so we were pretty confused as to why it was empty, and remained so until just after Fran sat herself down.
「Oi, where the hell do you think you’re sittin’?」
「Move brat, that seat’s taken.」
「That seat’s for our bro!」
There were a bunch of tough looking dudes sitting right next to us. They seemed to have been chasing off everyone that tried to take the seat.
A quick appraisal allowed me to understand that they were basically a few of Ulmutt’s local thugs. They tried to scare Fran away, but completely failed given that she was used to dealing with people much more intimidating than they were. The fact that they were annoying basically made it so we didn’t mind depriving them of their seats.
Fran stunned all three thugs and threw them into the aisle.
The people in our surroundings immediately stood up in surprise the moment they spotted Urushi, but Fran ignored them and loaded his back with two of the men while the wolf grabbed the third with his mouth.
Fran saw Urushi off and then sat down, which, in turn, also caused the people around us to return to their seats. They didn’t bother talking to her though, seeing as how they likely thought that doing so would bring trouble, which, to us, was pretty much the best possible outcome.
Nothing in particular happened thereafter. We watched the remaining matches in peace.
Unfortunately, we weren’t able to gain too much from watching Colbert’s or Amanda’s matches, as both ended their opponents in an instant.
The match between Erza and Charlotte was actually quite worth mentioning. The crowd had really cheered for the latter as she danced, but she was unfortunately too weak to take down Erza.
She managed to start dancing in a rather bewitching manner, but her moves were cut short, as she ended up having to fight a desperate, one sided struggle in order to dodge Erza’s mace. In the end, she ended up getting grabbed by the nape of her neck and chucked out of the ring.
Though we didn’t learn much about Amanda or Colbert, we were still at least capable of learning a few neat ways to apply certain skills, ways we never would’ve thought up ourselves, even in our wildest dreams.
One of the more interesting combatants was a thief that buffed his opponent’s sense of smell and then started throwing stink bombs and other foul smelling shit. The takeaway we got from that wasn’t his technique itself, but rather the concept of buffing one’s opponent and then turning that buffed stat into some sort of disadvantage.
We’d also learned just how one was actually supposed to use Lava Magic in combat. The mage we saw use it not only melted his opponent’s weapons, but also superheated the ground for the sake of zone control. It was a magic that really allowed its user to take advantage of an opponent’s weakness. Learning more about its applications really made me really consider leveling it up.
The sun had started to set by the time the day’s matches had come to an end.
『Looks like it’s about time for us to start heading home.』
『Did you want to go somewhere instead, or?』
「Still have Zefmate’s sword.」
Right. I’d almost forgot that we were still holding onto Zefmate’s Blue Dragon Fang Shortsword. It was a pretty strong weapon, and honestly seemed to be on the more expensive side.
『We should probably give it back to him.』
We didn’t exactly think well of Blue Pride, but Zefmate himself didn’t seem too bad. In fact, I’d honesty had to say I thought him to be a pretty good guy. Plus, giving it back to him probably wouldn’t take that much time, so it wasn’t like doing it would be detrimental.
『Hey Urushi, do you still remember Zefmate’s scent?』
The operation was a go, and so, we had Urushi lead us over.
All in all, we spent about 20 minutes walking, after which we arrived at the city’s outskirts. There weren’t many houses around. The place was practically a large open field.
『Is this it?』
Set up on that large field were a whole bunch of tents. It seemed Blue Pride had chosen to camp out instead of staying at an inn, as renting out rooms for all their members would be a pretty sizeable expense. Plus, camping out wasn’t really that tough on the mercenary band’s members anyways, seeing as how they were all fighters and whatnot.
I soon realized, however, that there was a bit of an issue. We weren’t really too sure how we were supposed to get to Zefmate. We couldn’t just waltz right through the camp seeing as how his band’s members would probably end up spotting us and kicking up a fuss.
Maybe I could create a doppelganger and deliver the sword that way?
My brooding was interrupted as one of Blue Pride’s executives ended up exiting their tent and spotting us.
「Ah! It’s you!」
The person that’d caught sight of us was one I recognized, the stuck up, 17-18 year old girl we met in front of Aurel’s manor.
「I’m Seren, Blue Pride’s second in command.」
「Yeah, I know. You’re the one that’s completely played our band for fools. Why are you here?」
「That’s… my brother’s sword! You thief!」
Seren immediately began giving off an aura of hostility.
Wait, did she just call Zefmate her brother? I guess that’d be why she gets treated as the band’s second in command.
「Just how did a little Black Catkin girl like you manage to beat him in the first place!?」
「Stop lying! Black Catkin are famous for how weak they are! There’s no way you could ever be stronger than my brother! You must’ve done something underhanded or cheated!」
「There’s no way you didn’t! There’s no other way he could’ve possibly lost to a Black Catkin!」
Seren stamped her feet on the ground and threw a tantrum in a childlike manner unbefitting her age. She didn’t seem to share Zefmate’s views despite being his little sister.
「Ugh! Fine, whatever! If you want me to forgive you for being a cheater, go to the Adventurer’s Guild, tell them you cheated, and make them let my brother take your place!」
Fran’s eyes narrowed a bit because of how ungrateful Seren was acting.
The black catgirl’s mood was getting worse by the moment. She’d visited because she wanted to see Zefmate, not because she’d wanted to deal with this shit.
「Haaah!? What are you saying? I was offering to go out of my way to forgive you for cheating. You’re supposed to thank me, not give me attitude!」
I was starting to doubt whether or not Seren was really Zefmate’s younger sister. Their temperaments were… a little too different.
「Oh come on! This is why I can’t stand you stupid black catkin! I’m telling you to know your place!」
「Why are you looking at me like that? I’ll never forgive you if you refuse! Do you know what that’ll mean?」
Fran responded in an irritated tone; she was only barely managing not to lash out because Seren was Zefmate’s sister. Her efforts were praiseworthy, but she did held on, but it definitely wasn’t something that could last too much longer.
「Hmph. You Wimp Catkin only remain free because we Blue Catkin allow you to. If you refuse to forfeit, then we’ll not only capture and enslave you, but every other Black Catkin out there!」
Ah, she said the word. RIP Fran’s self control.
Seren had pushed Fran all the way to her boiling point; my wielder was as angry as she had been when Dias told her about Kiara. There was actually already no more helping Seren. Fran was going to kill her, and if worse came to worst, the entirety of Blue Pride would likely follow in her footsteps. I kinda felt bad for Zefmate, but it seemed to us that his followers were all your everyday average Blue Catkin. And if we were going to kill Seren, then wiping the rest of them out was probably for the better. They’d likely demand revenge if we didn’t bother tying up all our loose ends.
Fran didn’t say a thing. She simply drew me and attacked the girl in front of her eyes. The attack wasn’t a well refined one. All Fran was doing was just lashing out in anger. Still, her strike contained more than enough power to reap the other girl’s life.
But my blade never reached her.
Instead, it cleaved the flesh of another.
Zefmate had dashed between Fran and Seren so he could function as a meatshield and tank the hit; my blade smashed through his collarbone and dug all the way down into his lungs.
Fran had just tried killing his sister, but, despite that, Zefmate’s glare fell not on her, but on the person he’d been trying to protect.
「What… are you saying…Seren…?」
「Zefmate!? Are you okay!? What the hell did you just do to my brother!? I swear I’ll never forgive you, or your kind! I’ll wipe out every single last Bl-」
The Blue Leopardkin slapped his little sister across the face shortly after she began cursing at Fran.
He didn’t bother treating his wound, and instead just immediately prostrated himself before the person that had just mortally wounded him in an attempt to apologize.
「I’m… sorry… my sister… didn’t mean it…」
Despite that, Fran’s response wasn’t a favourable one. She’d been pushed way past the limit of what she could bear. Her anger could no longer be abated by a mere apology.
「I swear… I won’t… ever let her… say something like that… ever again! I’ll… re-educate all… my troops… and exile the ones that won’t listen… no… I’ll even force them… into slavery…!」
Zefmate knew that something like mere banishment wouldn’t be enough to calm Fran down. It was too half-hearted. And so, he even offered to voluntarily sell his own blood related sister into slavery.
His battle with Fran had caused him to realize that she was way out of his league, and that she might end up slaughtering every single last one of Blue Pride’s members if he didn’t manage to influence her mood..
「Wait, what are you saying? She’s just a-」
Zefmate clobbered Seren, knocked her unconscious and caused her to collapse on the spot.
「I’m… really sorry…」
His injuries were serious. He was on the verge of death, but he completely ignored his own safety and only continued to apologize.
I sensed the people that lay within their tents begin to move.
『Well, Fran, what do you say? More people’ll start showing up if you don’t make up your mind fast.』
『I’ll have your back regardless of what choice you make, so don’t hold back. Do whatever you want.』
She couldn’t make up her mind immediately; it took her a few moments, but ended up deciding against completely obliterating every Blue Catkin present. She didn’t trust them. In fact, she hated them, but her impression of Zefmate was a good one and she didn’t think he deserved to die.
「Will be back another day. If no changes by then, will take action.」
「Thank you so much!」
Sensing the fury that lay within, Zefmate dropped to his knees and thanked Fran for her mercy.