「It’s your turn next. When is it again? 」
Moore returned from his first match and asked Ardis.
「The eleventh match. 」
「Then there’s still a lot of time left. Wanna return to the spectating room? 」
Looking away from Moore’s suggestion, Ardis’s gaze was on the noble’s seatings.
「What’s the matter? 」
Similarly, as Moore looked at where Ardis was looking, he became 「Oh my」.
「That’s quite a glare. 」
Not even looking anywhere close to the arena where the 3rd match is currently ongoing, there was a middle-aged man who had been glaring at Moore ever since the end of the Moore’s match.
He was a thin person with a flimsy impression. His appearance didn’t seem dignified at all.
But since he’s sitting in the noble’s seatings and wearing good clothes, he must be some high ranking noble.
「Someone you know? 」
「Rather, that’s the Marquis Holguin in question. Well, he must be thinking of us as pesky bugs. Have you not seen him before? 」
He is the perpetrator and the reason behind why Minerva was targeted and Ardis and Moore missing from this world for an entire year.
「That’s the Marquis huh……」
「Since someone not under him like me won, he must be really irritated. I mean, your turn to get that glare is not far from now but……, well, it’s too late to say anything now right? 」
Replying simply to Moore’s word of warning, Ardis switched his gaze onto the fight happening on the arena. The match between the mercenary and the explorer are still undecided, the spectators are even more fired up than when Moore’s match was easily decided.
It was about past noon when Ardis’s turn finally came. After being sent off by Moore, Ardis had chosen a sword about the same size as 『Skies of Myriad Colors』 and headed off to the arena.
His opponent is a mercenary active in the capital. With leather armor covering himself, he’s holding a slightly longer sword.
Seeing the handle and even the blade is several parts longer, Ardis thought that it must be a sword intended for two-handed use rather than one.
「I know of your stories. Having the strength to subjugate the Three Great Demons by yourself. But sorry, is this a joke or what? This is a martial arts tournament. Why a magician like you is here? 」
The opposing mercenary was appraising Ardis.
「Why huh……, it’s a simple reason. To win. 」
Since he would be making troubles for the Duke if he said his real purpose, he had no choice to make one up.
「Even if the weapon are blunt, it will still kill someone if hit the wrong spot. And having no protective gear, are you stupid or what? 」
Unlike the mercenary who had armor, Ardis can be said totally naked. Not even a shield in his hand, he only had clothes that looked like a robe befitting a magician.
It’s too uncertain to even refer something like that as wearing defensive gear. Even a blunt weapon could easily shatter bones with its weight.
It’s natural why the mercenary was pointing that out.
「Defensive gear is only useful when you actually take a hit though. 」
「……I gave my warning. 」
The mercenary’s brows quivered at Ardis arrogant words, and showed that he wouldn’t care any more and turned around. Similarly, Ardis took distance, and as if their timing matched, both of them turned back towards each other at the same time.
「Ready, begin! 」
The judge declared the start.
The first to move is the mercenary.
But as expected, he didn’t underestimate Ardis to not have any countermeasures against himself rushing, so he’s approaching very carefully.
「I don’t know how a magician like you plan to fight but―― 」
The mercenary took his sword with both hand and swung.
「Don’t underestimate a swordsman too much. 」
The target of the sword was Ardis’s wrist. It seems that he plans to disarm Ardis with a strong blow and win by that.
「Who’s the one though. 」
Ardis had a bitter smile as he was underestimated. Perhaps he was suspicious of a magician participating in such a martial arts tournament, so he approached carefully, but still he must’ve underestimated Ardis somehow.
The moment when he thought he can end the match in just one move without even a feint showed his misjudgment in Ardis’s strength. Ardis tilted the blade of his sword, and redirected the blow that came for his wrist.
「I see, so you’re not a total amateur huh? 」
The mercenary took distance while a little impressed. After breathing once, the mercenary dashed in once again.
Three continuos slashes.
The horizontal slash for his right flank was avoided with a backstep, the diagonal slash coming at his shoulder was parried, and the last aiming for his abdomen was dodged with a sidestep.
「I will have to acknowledge that you’re not just a magician. 」
It was a combo that would’ve finished anyone not on par easily. Having dodged all of them easily, the mercenary renewed his appraisal on Ardis.
「I’m going serious now. 」
「Suit yourself. 」
The mercenary’s attack became even more furious than before. It seems like he had decided to go all out having recognized Ardis as a worthy foe, but for Ardis, it’s not something he cared anyways.
The countless times when his sword was swung, Ardis sometimes dodged, sometimes parried, and sometimes redirected them.
It would appear that Ardis is disadvantageous at first glance since Ardis is only on the defensive side. But even the spectators could probably notice that Ardis is easily dealing with all the attacks without breaking a sweat.
At the very least, the opposing mercenary had realized that.
「Why are you not attacking? 」
「I don’t want them to think I won by chance you see. 」
「How easygoing. 」
「At the very least, I’m intending to not let my guard down. 」
A short exchange while their sword didn’t stop.
On one hand, the expression is becoming a little anxious, and on the other hand, the expression is still completely calm.
「It’s about time for me to go. 」
About five minutes had passed since the match started. It wasn’t a long time by any means.
But having defended against his opponent’s sword for that long, the spectators would recognize that Ardis has considerable experience in close quarters combat. Though, it might look like he’s barely holding onto the match defending against the offensive mercenary.
In any case, that ends here too. Ardis switched his defense into offense. Parrying the mercenary’s sword up into the air strongly, Ardis stepped in seeing a gap.
Although the mercenary tried to retreat seeing Ardis approached him suddenly, Ardis wouldn’t easily let him go.
Another blow towards the mercenary’s sword that is one beat later than the retreating mercenary.
If it’s an actual battle, if the mercenary had a spare weapon, he wouldn’t have to forcefully grip the sword even with an uncertain stance. But in this match, losing his weapon would basically spell defeat.
And of course, knowingly it’s a bad move, the mercenary did not let go of his sword, causing his stance to collapse. Although Ardis added on a kick onto the mercenary’s leg, he’s still a warrior who had trained in actual battles.
Seeing through Ardis’s intentions in a moment’s notice, he let Ardis’s kick boost him and take distance.
「That’s not how a magician moves. 」
The mercenary look surprised.
「Is that so? 」
Ardis stepped forward while acting oblivious. Ardis swung towards the mercenary left shoulder from his right leg.
Although managed to block it, the mercenary looked surprised. After all, he almost fell because of Ardis’s unrestrained blow.
Panickily taking few steps backwards, he firmed his grip on the two-handed sword.
「Was that strengthened with magic? 」
Although the mercenary suspected it, Ardis simply denied it.
「No way that’s the case though. I think this armband is supposed to prevent that? 」
The armband that the participants need to wear are for the reason of preventing any outside interference with magic. The effect is very simple.
Within a radius of three meters of the wearer, all mana is disabled. The same mechanism is present on the shackles for criminals, slaves, or cast-away people.
It was the same pattern on the 『Circlet of cast-away people』 that he saw on Fillia and Riana when they first met. The only difference being that Ardis can easily remove it at will.
It’s different from the shackles that would cause immense pain if removed forcefully.
「We both can’t use magic. But it’s not like physical strength is sealed too right? 」
Although under the same conditions, the mercenary was easily overpowered by Ardis. In other words, without magic, Ardis’s raw strength is on par with the mercenary, or much greater.
The mercenary looked speechless.
He must’ve realized Ardis’s strength after exchanging swords.
「Well, let’s resume? 」
Without waiting for an answer, Ardis stepped forward. His legs kicked against the ground, and easily closed the distance to the mercenary in a moment.
Delivering a punch into the guts of the mercenary who swung his sword by reflex, Ardis like flowing water circled around to his opponent’s back.
Although the mercenary struggled to counterattack towards his back, something like that wouldn’t work of course. Before the blade even reached, the mercenary’s wrist was held firmly with one of Ardis’s hands.
「It’s the end. 」
Saying that, Ardis’s sword was touching the mercenary’s neck. Seeing Ardis suddenly turned around the fight in just a few moves, the whole of the spectators went up in cheers.
The judged declared Ardis’s victory. Just as Ardis heard the judge, he withdrew the sword and his grip on the mercenary’s wrist.
「Ahh――, a loss. A complete loss. 」
The mercenary who accepted his defeat massaged at his neck where Ardis’s sword was touching just now.
「A magician with that kind of moves, it’s plain cheating. 」
While delivering a grumble to Ardis.
For the mercenary, all he could do is curse at his bad luck for encountering Ardis at the first match.
In the public eyes, if the news of him losing against a magician in the tournament spreads, it would hinder his future work. Of course, Ardis understood why he was grumbling.
「Though I don’t recall having named myself a magician before. 」
「What? Aren’t you the 『Sword Magic User』? Isn’t it because of it that you can subjugate the Three Great Demons? 」
The mercenary tilted at Ardis’s unexpected words.
「It’s true that I can use magic, too, but I never said that’s the only thing I can do. 」
Hearing that answer, the mercenary looked convinced.
「……it’s something like that huh. 」
「Something like that it is. 」
Losing in a sword fight with a magician would mean his reputation will reach rock bottom. But if Ardis is not just a magician, then it’s a different story.
「Then, at least win your second match. If you go down after this match, I will be even worse than a clown. 」
「Don’t worry. I will make sure you won’t be ashamed of losing to me. 」
Ardis’s purpose in the Lotus Cup is not to smear the reputation of his opponents, but Marquis Holguin’s.
Even more so since the mercenary is an outsider as well.
Leaving aside if Ardis didn’t personally like him, Ardis didn’t intend to make enemies out of anyone.
「Seriously……, the world is wide huh. 」
Saying that, the mercenary hit Ardis’s shoulder lightly, before going down the stage to the waiting room.