The Sparring Begins
Dewfo, the young but decently leveled Phantom Swordsman, slowly dragged his feet towards the arena. His face relayed an obvious sense of discontent. One could easily tell that he felt that this whole thing was just a waste of time. He didn’t understand why he, the strongest of the bunch, had to waste his time fighting a weak little girl.
The guildmaster disregarded his emotions and instead positioned himself between Fran and Dewfo as would any other referee.
「Oh and you’re going to have to spar Fran at least twice.」
「Maybe if she lasts that long.」
「Well, how about we just say it depends on how well you guys can handle her?」
Dewfo’s only response was to lightly shrug his shoulders.
「I’ve already got someone to heal anyone that gets hurt, so hurry up and start.」
「Fine, fine. I get it.」
The person Gamud had called in was honestly one I could only possibly describe as someone’s aunt. She basically looked like the average middle aged villager. Like, seriously. She was even wearing the overly plain clothes you’d normally expect a villager to have. She pretty much embodied the concept of “Villager A.”
Despite that, she was still a capable healer. Appraising her allowed me to realize that there was a stark difference between her appearance and her capabilities. She was quite strong. In fact, she was stronger than all the adventurers Gamud had asked us to fight.
My eyes were immediately drawn to her level 3 Recovery Magic skill, a clear indication that she was even capable of using Greater Heal.
「Hi, I’m Beth. I used to be a B ranked adventurer, but then retired and got married, so I’m just a housewife now.」
「You say that, but you do still take on the odd request every once in a while.」
「Only ’cause their rewards catch your eye, no doubt.」
「Well, I do have to work hard for those rewards, you know? They really help with our household finances, since my husband’s income isn’t what you’d call the highest. Ahahaha」
A part of me almost wanted to say that the woman’s appearance served as the perfect disguise with which she could camouflage her abilities.
Fran caught onto the fact that she would be able to inflict a good bit of damage without having to worry too much. Her eyes had almost began gleaming as a result.
「Take your places and bow as per the routine.」
Both fighters took their stances and raised their weapons as Gamud began the match.
Neither budged as they stared each other down. It was as if both fighters wanted to let the other take make the first move. Their actions were the same, but their reasons completely different. Fran had started off by observing her opponent and deducing the extent of his strength. The conclusion she derived was that Dewfo was much weaker than her and that the battle would end the moment she engaged. Hence, she was allowing him to make the first move.
Dewfo, on the other hand, had placed his trust in the result of Red’s appraisal. He was allowing Fran the first move because he thought she was much weaker than him. His stat page made him look experienced enough to be able to gauge the strength of an opponent that lay right before his eyes, but he wasn’t able to judge Fran regardless. It seemed that his judgement was being clouded because he never so much as even considered the possibility that the young black catkin girl he was facing off against was stronger than him.
Seeing him made me once again affirm that getting and maintaining the wrong impression of one’s opponent was a fatal flaw.
「What? Something wrong? Are you not going to attack?」
Fran’s question was directed towards Gamud, but Dewfo answered because he’d interpreted otherwise.
「It’s normally good manners to let the weaker person seize the initiative at times like these.」
His words almost made me break out into laughter.
『Nah, it’s nothing.』
「The hell are you mumbling around for? Hurry up and come at me so we can get this over with. I need to get back to work, and I don’t have all day.」
「But letting weaker attack?」
「Weaker first. You first.」
Fran’s words ended up provoking Dewfo even though she did nothing but state the truth. They pierced right through him and delivered a blow to his pride.
「The hell, brat? You trying to put on airs or something?」
「Put on airs? Is what?」
「It means getting all full of yourself, you damned brat! It’s clear that you’re doing exactly that, seeing as how you’re claiming you’re stronger than me!」
「But obvious truth.」
「Why you little…」
It seemed to me that Dewfo was a bit immature. He started acting like a brat the moment he saw Red dismiss Fran’s abilities. Thinking about it though, it did make sense. Dewfo was older than Fran, but he was still only 22 years old. He was still technically on the much younger side.
Gamud and Forrund had trained up his abilities, so he was a lot stronger than most of the other adventurers his age, but he probably hadn’t really seen the world or faced any sort of real crisis. He was still lacking the experiences he needed to really grow up.
That was likely one of the reasons for which Gamud had asked Fran to knock him down a notch in the first place.
「Oi, hurry it up and just attack her already.」
「Right? Arguing with her isn’t any less disgraceful than not letting her make the first move, so hurry it up!」
「Just show the girl her place already, damn it!」
All the other adventurers began urging Dewfo on. None of them seemed to think that the strongest amongst them would end up losing in personal combat, at least not to Fran.
「Shut the hell up! Why wouldn’t I rescind the first move to someone weaker than me!?」
Despite that, he refused to budge. He simply wouldn’t initiate.
『Well, it doesn’t look like he’ll move until we do, so we might as well just attack.』
（Nn. Got it.）
Fran brandished me and made a declaration before finally initiating.
「Will attack now. Defend.」
「Haah? Let me guess, the one thing you’re good at is bluffing.」
As his guard was down, Dewfo wasn’t able to respond to Fran’s attack at all. One moment, she was standing across from him, the next, she was right up in his face. He hadn’t been able to perceive that she had attacked him, but the sharp pain that shot through his leg and forced his knees to buckle informed him that he’d taken a hit.
『Hmmm… Do you think that might’ve been a bit too much for a first strike?』
Fran’s charge had been a rather slow one. She had purposefully held back in order to make Dewfo take her seriously, but things didn’t seem work out the way she intended.
（Hope others take seriously now.）
『Yeah, true. They probably will.』
We’d basically made an example out of Dewfo and used him to inform the other adventurers that they’d end up getting totally smashed unless they took Fran seriously.
『Right. He’ll probably take you more seriously next time he has to fight you.』
「Rashid, you’re next.」
「Hurry it up!」
Gamud shouted and egged the next sacrifice up onto the stage. The person in question was one of the guys that’d been insulting Dewfo just a few moments prior.
「I-I’m Rashid. W-Wait! Hold on a second!」
Rashid had yet to fully process exactly what’d just happened, but Gamud clearly didn’t care, as he immediately signaled for the next match to start.
Rashid was forced to retire nearly as quickly as Leopaldon. His right arm was blown off the moment he raised his spear and pointed it in Fran’s direction.
Only then did the adventurers truly register than Fran wasn’t just some random girl. And so, they once again began to tense up as their companion’s screams filled the arena.
 This is how they do martial arts spars. The two fighters will face each other and more often than not introduce themselves before beggining. In some MA stuff, you say your school(style), etc, during this part of the match.