The match between students in Mariules Academy. After receiving her share of wage being a judge from the academy, the female explorer lurked around the city before returning to her inn.
Waiting for the night to fall, she entered the tavern across of her inn, and occupied the same table near the counter she always had.
「Yoo. You’re early today. 」
The woman turned around at the voice after her second glass of wine.
There was a man there. A man wearing a thin leather armor and a sword by his waist reflected in the woman’s eyes.
「Good work out there. 」
After greeting the familiar man as usual, the woman continued.
「It’s not like I had any late work outside today, I don’t have to wait until it gets crowded before finding a place right? 」
「Aah, you had that job with the academy today right? 」
The man who knew what work she accepted nodded, and sat opposite of the woman. It seems like they will share a meal.
The man is a familiar acquaintance, he’s also a fellow explorer. Even if she allowed his company, there’s no reason it would ruin her mood.
「Yeah. It was to be a judge for a match. 」
Quickly ordering beer and his usual stewed food, the man fired his own question.
「An explorer of your caliber, being a judge for a match between students? It’s not like the reward was big or anything. 」
「I wasn’t up for it initially though……. But having asked so enthusiastically, I wasn’t able to refuse it after all. 」
The one who requested the woman to be a judge wasn’t the academy. It was actually a girl, classmate of one of the participants of the match.
The woman refused the girl at first.
That’s natural. Leaving aside if it’s the academy requesting a third party to judge, it was a request coming from one of the contender’s side. They were probably looking for a judge beneficial for their side, that’s why the woman had refused with an expressionless face.
Rather than facing head on fairly, manipulating from behind the scenes wasn’t something that she tolerates. Although she didn’t yell at the girl because it was only a young girl, her gaze was definitely chilling.
But after hearing the girl’s story, it seems like it was her misunderstanding. The girl was requesting the woman to be 『A judge that will judge the match fairly without any behind the scenes manipulation』.
It seems that the girl’s friend’s opponent was a son from a count family, the girl wanted to recommend a judge earlier than the son could send someone of their sides.
Certainly, if the match is between a noble and a commoner, it’s hard for the match to be fair in the first place. Nobles had the power and fortune commoners don’t have, and they have invisible string they can pull outside of the match.
Even more so if according to the girl’s story, the commoner’s side is stronger. There were more than enough chances that the noble side would hire a judge that is on their sides for the match. The girl who thought of that wasn’t wrong.
That is why the girl wanted the woman to accept the request of being a judge.
Certainly, the woman didn’t intend to head there just because one of the contenders is a noble. If she was like that, her life wouldn’t be so tough. On top of that, the woman is known as a famous explorer.
If the woman became the judge, there probably wouldn’t be any snakes able to cheat from the back. Not even requested by the contender, the girl who came out on her own to find a fair judge for her friend, it moved the woman slightly.
In her extended silence, the woman who was debating if she would accept the request being a judge, the girl who named herself as Ellenoa of a viscount family bowed her head in the public.
That surprised the woman.
Even though she herself isn’t someone who holds a peerage, she is still a daughter of nobility. On the other hand, an explorer’s standing in the society is low.
It sounds good to be a meritocratic occupation but, in fact, they’re not too different than mercenaries in the sense that they don’t have any other choices to live other than being one, the lowest position in the society. They are often laughed as cleaners of ruins.
Most of the nobilities scorn the explorers, it’s even usual for some normal citizens avoiding explorers in the city. With the woman’s contribution and results, she wouldn’t be ignored by nobles but standing on the same level was still difficult.
And such young girl had lowered her head to the woman, asking with sincerity.
Moreover, the request was to be 『A judge that would judge fairly without any bias』. The reward would only be the normal amount paid by the academy, it was insignificant. But in any case, that was all the demerits she could think of.
The woman had no reason to refuse. The woman would be doing nothing if she would refuse anyways.
After all, she planned to take a break in the capital for a while. It would be a good change of mood to see some student’s match, and so the woman accepted the young girl’s request.
「You look too good of a mood to just be that though? 」
After all, she said it as if she had no choice but to accept it, that’s why the man’s question was natural.
「Am I making a face like that? ……Well, I guess the match between the students was kinda interesting. 」
As if caught by her words, the man poured half of the mug’s content that was just served by the waiter and prompted her to continue with his face.
「The match between the students, with both of them magicians, I thought they would be shooting magic at each other at the starting position though――」
When the real match started, it was a development unexpected.
Despite being a magician, the commoner rushed straight to his opponent just as the match started. On top of running while chanting, he even dived into his opponent’s abdomen and delivered a firm punch.
Even though that was enough of a surprise already, he gave his opponent no leeway and fired a spell at point blank. The surprise attack right after the match started, the physical prowess unbefitting of a magician, the spell at a short distance, it was a way of fighting that was attuned to an actual fight that couldn’t be thought of from a student.
「Well, that must’ve been interesting to watch. Was that guy really a student? 」
The man’s suspect was founded.
Certainly, among the explorers, there’re magicians that fight with that style too. If it’s a mercenary who is always on a battlefield with allies and enemies all over the place, they can probably do the same.
「I think he’s really just a student though. Although he looks to be accustomed to fighting, not mentioning his power, it’s probably just a difference in experience―― is what I think. 」
On one hand, the noble student was standing still to cast a powerful spell, contrarily, the commoner student took magic as only a tool for him to fight.
In fact, the spells that he casted was only the basic spells, 『Earth』 and 『Fireball』. But he had synergized his moves and spells, and thought not just one step but multiple steps ahead.
Without being fixated of casting spells to defeat his opponent, he used all his means to pave a path for his victory. He gave off such an impression, the way he strategized showed his clear intentions.
With so many magicians only fixated on their spells, leaving aside the magicians who are mercenaries or explorers, it was a fighting style that was unbefitting of a young man in the academy.
On top of that, as she was receiving her compensation, she heard that the young man is only a first year and enrolled just four months ago. Since he’s a commoner, it’s unlikely he had received early education.
He had probably experienced certain extent of actual combat before he enrolled. Children that are raised while gaining experience from their mercenary parents, there were some such precedents.
「Also, I found something― someone interesting as well. 」
The woman who finished talking about the match changed the topic.
It was when the commoner student, Kyrill put up a magic barrier to defend against the rampaging arts. Since that time the outcome had already been decided, the woman was about to warn the two young man to get out of there and dive in to defend against the arts.
At the very least, she should protect the noble young man who had lost his protection talisman. The moment when the woman thought to move was when she caught it.
The short moment when the woman was looking at the rampaging arts, there was another magic barrier casted on the noble young man. The barrier that looked like it was casted in an instant, it looked really tough to the woman.
It was a barrier that was put up in the time that the woman switched her gaze from the materialized rampaging arts to the noble young man. The person that could’ve casted that wasn’t normal.
The woman who tried to look for the caster found her gaze on a young man with black hair and black eyes in the spectator area.
It might even be more fitting to describe him as a teen. He didn’t seem much older than the other students but, the calm expression he had when looking the rampaging arts without any fear wasn’t anything like his age.
With a short purple robe, there was a violet cloth as a head band on his forehead.
「Black hair and black eyes? Short purple robe? That’s……」
The man probably had an idea to that appearance. The man put down the mug on the table, and leaned out.
「Yes. I think he would be the rumored 『Sword magic user』. 」
The man was about to say it, when the woman said it first. Although they had never met him, it’s a mercenary’s nickname that is well known in the capital.
Whether truth or lie, he’s a supposed a monster that had subjugated the Three Great Demons that had been troubling the kingdom for a long time.
「Why would he be in there? 」
「Not really sure. It might be that he’s hired by the count son for some measures but……. He didn’t do anything during the match, and the barrier he put up was also after the match, so it’s not like he’s interfering in it. 」
If he would’ve ignored the rules and supported the contenders during the match, even if her opponent is the 『Three Great Demons Subjugator』, she would spare no effort in calling him out.
But luckily, the 『Sword magic user』 didn’t actually do anything during the match. The reason why he put up the barrier was to ensure the contender’s safety, it was after the outcome had been decided, it wasn’t anything she as judge could see trouble in.
In any case――, the woman continued.
「It’s not like I’m really sure that the barrier was casted by him though. 」
But the woman was strangely confident that the barrier was definitely casted by 『Sword magic user』. In such a short time, moreover, from the spectator seat all the way to the contenders, he had put up a barrier at that range, his power is not ordinary.
Even if in the capital with many talented magicians, it’s not like that many skilled magicians are walking around in the city.
『Three Great Demons Subjugator』 and 『Sword magic user』, his name was Ardis if she recalled correctly. I would like to meet with him once and talk with him, the woman thought so as she toppled the glass.