The second day of Lotus Cup. Sixteen matches were done in the first day, and sixteen participants were eliminated already.
Eight matches is planned for the second day. Ardis’s match will be the sixth. Moore who had already won in the first match of the day obligatorily sent out Ardis.
「Apparently, it’s the famous kid from the assault platoon. Since the assault platoon is set up by Marquis Holguin, they’re literally reared by the Marquis. Be careful since it’s certain they will target you. 」
「Don’t worry. I know. 」
Lightly brushing off Moore’s warning, Ardis stepped towards the arena.
The spectators that had been with cheers started murmuring.
It’s natural. Although Ardis is famous as a mercenary, that only amounts to his title of 『Countless Swords Sorcerer』.
It’s already considered weird he would participate in the Lotus Cup despite magic is forbidden, on top of that, he had won in his first match. Most of the spectators must’ve seen the spectacle of Ardis’s match yesterday.
Despite that, they must’ve thought that it might’ve been a fluke. Rather than cheers, the murmurs indicated that the audience had not grasped on Ardis’s strength.
Like yesterday, Ardis brought a sword with dulled edge onto the arena. His opponent that entered from the opposite is a young man. His age looks to be in the early twenties.
Although his face wasn’t the prettiest nor the worst, his large eyes gave off a strong-willed impression. His weapon of choice is a short spear about as long as his height.
From his clothing which is the uniform of the Royal Army, it’s easy to guess that he’s affiliated with the army. The same explanation from the judge as the first match took place, and the match started with the both taking five steps away from each other.
The two took few steps towards each other in silence. Albeit short, the opponent holds a spear.
His reach is much longer than Ardis’s sword. As the distance between them closed within three meters, the soldier asked suddenly.
「I don’t know what tricks you used but, a magician treading on the glorious stage of the Lotus Cup……. Stupidity has its limit. 」
The soldier that had been quiet so far was spiteful in the first sentence.
「Have you not seen the match yesterday? 」
Ardis had known from the start the people’s perception of him being a magician participating in the Lotus Cup. That is why Ardis had made it obvious in the first match.
It was not a victory by chance, anyone who had paid attention yesterday would’ve understood that.
「You might be able to get by doing deals under the table with another mercenary, but it won’t work against us from the army! 」
「Aah, there’s that thinking too huh……」
It seems like his first match was suspected to be just a show of backroom dealing. Since his opponent was another mercenary, he was suspected to be match-fixing.
I see, as Ardis was weirdly convinced. The murmurs from the spectators as well would make sense if they’re suspecting that too.
「I shall not let you defile the great Lotus Cup any longer. The Marquis had ordered directly to not show any mercy. If you have a grudge, blame it on your own arrogance to take part in a martial arts tournament! 」
It seems like the first match was not enough to overturn the perception on Ardis. Ardis shrugged inwardly as it seemed like the preconceived opinions on him was greater than he expected.
「That so. I won’t hold back either then. 」
He showed that he can easily defeat his opponent without using sword magic in the first match. He managed to defeat his opponent after receiving attacks from the mercenary.
But since it’s the second match, Ardis had no reason to put up a show just to appeal his strength. All that left is to fulfil his purpose.
It’s easy to win. But just winning won’t calm his irritation. After all, as well as the incident of targeting his pupil, Ardis intends to return his regards of getting separated from this world for an entire year forcefully.
Blowing away the short spear? No, that would decide the outcome instantly.
Beat his opponent with his sword? No. If it hits a critical spot, then the match is over, and even if any wasn’t hit, the match is over if he’s incapacitated as well.
Ardis’s choice was to break the opponent’s heart and force him to forfeit. Unlike the mercenary yesterday, he need not spare mercy for the soldier that is hostile towards him.
There’s no need to play along with him who had been disrespectful from the start. The next moment, Ardis kicked against the ground.
Closing the distance instantly, Ardis hit the short spear up in the air. Ardis who had suddenly closed in had a sword at the soldier’s throat.
The soldier swallowed his breath at the sudden attack. But that’s just a short moment. Ardis immediately withdrew his sword.
「What, are you not coming? 」
Ardis took a few steps back and provoked. Provoked by that, the soldier who already was full of fighting intent stabbed with his spear sharply.
It was not a shabby stab. Since he’s in the Lotus Cup, it is enough to be a sight. But his aim was too straight.
It’s a young stab, Ardis had a bad remark on him. Although it’s sharp, Ardis could read its obvious trajectory and redirect them easily. Stepping forward, while the sword in his right hand pinned down the blade of the spear, Ardis yanked the soldier by the arm and made him fall forcefully.
And within the flow, Ardis’s sword touched the opponent’s neck. But since it was such a short moment between the fast-paced movements, the judge nor any spectators managed to notice it.
Ardis immediately released him and retreated before saying so. The soldier who understood the meaning behind that was filled with rage.
Regardless to whatever he was feeling, Ardis dashed in. Dodging the two spear attacks that came his way by swaying his body, Ardis hit on the spear handle towards the ground and dived deeper.
In a distance that the two almost crashed into each other, Ardis’s left hand stretched, grasped and released the soldier’s neck in only a moment. However, from the judge’s perspective, Ardis’s body was blocking that action.
Ardis was counting the number of fatalities that the opponent would’ve suffered. That would mean he would’ve died three times over in an actual fight.
It’s exactly that the soldier understood that that his face looked like he swallowed dirt. But Ardis didn’t stop there.
Skillfully manipulating his position to not let the judge see the decisive hit, he would repeat touching the opponent’s neck either with his sword or his hand.
Of course, he never forgot to count each time it happened.
No matter how foolish his opponent might be, he would be forced to understand the difference in ability after getting shown that his vital spots can be hit that easily. The rage-filled face that was apparent in the beginning too had lost its color by the tenth time.
It had now surpassed white and in the blue territory. And of course, with that many exchanges repeated, there’re spectators that noticed the irregularity as well.
「Hey, wasn’t that on a vital spot? 」
「Really? The judge would’ve said something otherwise. 」
「Since the judge hadn’t said anything, then isn’t it a no count? 」
「But it looked like the sword stopped just at his neck or chest multiple times already though……」
「Yeah. They’re vital hits no matter how I see it. 」
The spectators started to murmur in a different meaning than in the beginning. Ardis had aimed for the vital spots only when the judge couldn’t see it from his angle.
But in other words, anyone who is looking other than from that angle saw it as bright as the day. For those who are familiar with martial arts or those who have good eyes, they must be starting to realize what’s happening.
The murmurs were heard by the soldier too. Even an amateur could tell Ardis is overwhelming him.
And of course, for those who lives by fighting, they must’ve noticed Ardis’s true abilities long by now.
It can be said that the soldier’s reputation is hitting rock bottom. What an untasteful personality I have, Ardis smiled bitterly inwardly.
But since he had participated with the purpose of humiliating Marquis Holguin, he wouldn’t show any mercy for those that are on his side.
Dodging the soldier’s attack and circling to his back, Ardis poked behind him where his heart would be. If that was a dagger, then it would’ve meant the soldier died instantly.
Although Ardis immediately retreated in preparation for his next move, did his opponent finally lose his will, he collapsed on the ground listlessly.
Even though the match will end if Ardis put a sword at his neck now, Ardis decided to stay back and watch.
An awkward silence ruled a few moments, then he declared.
「………………I forfeit. 」
The words that were wrung out were that the soldier admitted his own defeat. All his attacks were dodged, or invalidated, and the counter attacks that came for him easily reached for his vital spots.
The league is apparent, but his opponent didn’t seem like he wanted the match to end. His heart that would be shaved off whenever the count raised finally broke at the seventeenth time.
The humiliation of him forfeiting in the match, needless to say himself, the master of the faction, what would Marquis Holguin be feeling now.
「Of course, it’s not my intentions to stop at just this much. 」
Looking at the nobles seating where the Marquis is at, Ardis muttered the words that wouldn’t reach.
Among the noisy murmurs of the spectators, the judge finally declared Ardis’s victory.