Two days remain for the Lotus Cup. Only four among thirty-two initial participants were still on the stage. And of course, among them was a mercenary, Ardis.
Naturally, the organizer, Marquis Holguin wasn’t pleased with that. Thanks to that, Ardis was faced with assailants last night.
「Anyways, I don’t think that’ll be the end of it. The last two days, don’t let your guard down. 」
After telling Moore about what happened yesterday, he warned Ardis, Ardis didn’t think it’ll end like that either. After all, the surrounding gazes were incomparably more than yesterday.
And there were certainly people watching him in the dark. In any case, unlike the dark streets in the night, there’re many eyes in the arena.
Ardis wouldn’t expect anything to happen, after all, they couldn’t be planning to do something in broad daylight with so many audiences.
But as a consequence, all Ardis was experiencing were only annoying harassment. Something like his chair was missing, the meal prepared for him had strange smell, and only Ardis was subjected to a long lecture about strangely detailed precautions.
「If only they would make my life easier and just do it more properly. 」
Although he could easily fend them off if they actually attacked him, Ardis couldn’t do much about the strange harassment. Despite each of them individually trivial, they’re still an annoyance when piled up.
「What a bad personality. 」
Of course, it was needless to say who was the one who gave the orders.
「But well, even if they do pranks all day, what I’m doing isn’t going to change. 」
The person in charge of carrying the rack of weapons strangely tripped on nothing. Many sharp bladed weapons were thrown at Ardis’s way as the rack overturned, but Ardis easily avoided all of them without sparing a glance as he continued down the corridor to the arena.
Among four that remains in the semifinals, three of them are affiliated with the army. Ardis being the only outsider certainly was standing out.
Although it might be an exciting development to see an outsider advancing in the Lotus Cup for the spectators, the army itself, rather Marquis Holguin wasn’t at all fond of it.
Of course, the opponent Ardis is going to fight next is from the army.
「Certainly it was the captain of the assault platoon or something……」
Ardis recalled what he heard from Moore. Apparently his personality is lively and fearless uncontrollable wild animal.
It’s a very straight forward personality that would not stop until all his foes is annihilated. Choosing the same sword as usual, after getting used to it with a few test swing, Ardis looked at the person in question.
「Though he looks different than what I heard……」
According to what he’d heard prior, Ardis expected him to be a muscular and tough looking guy, something along the lines of Ted, the leader of 『Bright Stars of White Night』. But his opponent in the middle of the arena didn’t suit the descriptor he heard at all.
Rather, his surrounding atmosphere was calm like a farmer rearing sheeps.
(Either way, there’s no judging a book by its cover)
Only bad outcomes await if he would get deceived by someone’s appearance. He had seen many scenarios of it, and Ardis himself failed many times during his younger days because of that too.
And in reality, his opponent was holding a halberd, a weapon that required the most strength to swing.
The weapon that has the shape of an axe and spear combined, the blade shaping like an axe, and the back having two sharp points, a total of three damaging points are on that.
Because of that, it’s possible to perform many forms of attack but, on the other hand, it just meant that it’s difficult to use it at its fullest potential.
If he chose something like that, he must have the confidence to use it in an actual fight. There’re magnificent muscles without unneeded fat on his thin body.
He’s not an opponent to be underestimated.
「Why are you so slow! Come out already! 」
An angry yell from the judge interrupted his thoughts. The judge that was waiting together with his opponent on the arena was looking at Ardis hostilely.
It seems like it’s a different person than the judge yesterday. Ardis frowned a little as he continued to the middle.
「My goodness, this is why mercenaries are so……」
The judge grumbled without hiding even one bit of his displeasure. It’s not words and behavior a fair judge should express even if they thought so inwardly.
At the very least, the previous judge didn’t seem to be displeased with Ardis, and his judging was fair too.
(But it’s not going that way this time huh……)
In the first place, Ardis is an eyesore for Marquis Holguin. Enough for him to send out assassins for Ardis.
Though, it’s not like there’s any proof that the assassins yesterday were sent by Marquis Holguin, but at present time, the Marquis must be the person who hates him the most.
And someone like him sending out a new judge isn’t unexpected at all.
「Listen here, no magic is allowed! Do you understand? Using magic means disqualification instantly! 」
Even as he narrated the rules, the judge were mostly directing them towards Ardis with scorn. Ardis definitely wouldn’t expect a fair judgement from this judge.
On the other hand, the opponent was looking at Ardis without any shred of intimidation. Ardis couldn’t see any scorn or laughing behind those eyes.
Although the opponent this time is a tough nut to crack, he’s still Marquis Holguin’s man.
What Ardis would do hasn’t change.
Then the start of the match. In that instant, his opponent’s face totally changed.
The expression like a meek sheep just now suddenly vanished, replaced with an intimidating face.
The distance of five steps behind each, a total of ten steps between them were closed in rapidly.
The same time as his surprise, his bodily reflex moved him in action to block the incoming attack.
Ardis’s sword intercepted the halberd in hopes of changing its trajectory.
Just before his sword managed to reach the halberd moving quickly, it suddenly showed a strange movement.
His opponent’s wrist twisted, and responding to that, the halberd turned and the two sharp tips switched place with the blade.
The curve of the two tips were like ice picks, although blunted, they are still considerably narrow.
And naturally, all the force behind the weight of the halberd and the swing would be focused in that one point.
And it’s target, is the sword that Ardis held, right up at the center.
What Ardis was holding in his hand was just a common sword unlike 『Skies of Myriad Colors』.
Even a heavy iron-made blade probably wouldn’t withstand one strike from that. Even though their weapons are made from the same materials, the weights are too different.
His attack that was aided with centrifugal force would utterly shatter Ardis’s sword if it hit square on.
(From the beginning!?)
Ardis was surprised at his opponent aiming for his weapon without any precursor.
Although Ardis knew he was going to stab, Ardis couldn’t tell he was aiming for the sword.
Leaving aside if there’s a large gap in strength between them or the quality of their weapons, doing that as the opening act is too reckless.
After all, breaking a sword would need his full strength, and to do that would mean a wide swing with his entire body.
Although it’ll be fine if it succeeded, failure would mean leaving a significant gap for the opponent.
And presently, Ardis’s opponent was right in the motion of a full swing. It didn’t seem like he was even thinking Ardis would dodge.
「Don’t look down on me! 」
It might’ve made the match if it’s against others. Despite being caught off guard by his intentions, Ardis is still a swordsman that had stood in many battlefields.
He can handle this much.
Ardis parallelized his sword with the trajectory of the halberd, softening its blow before retreating.
Pursuing him, his opponent pulled up the halberd at the end of its course forcefully, correcting its trajectory.
That action that would definitely strain the muscles of his arm made Ardis feel tingle in his back. Ardis immediately kicked against the ground to take more distance.
The halberd of his opponent ran through the spot where its target was at.
Taking a distance and then a breather, Ardis who expected his opponent to do the same instead had his expectation shattered as his opponent stepped in again.
He was akin to a hungered wild beast. Before the match started, the calm face was the intimidation towards Ardis, and the eyes that were calm as the waveless ocean were the joys of finding a new prey.
「So you’re that type huh! 」
He’s someone who would show his true colors fighting. What he heard from Moore must be referring to this.
Ardis gave up retreating. After all, this kind of opponents have nothing on their mind but pushing through with bruteforce.
He would only fall to his opponent’s pace if he continued to retreat. Ardis closed in with his turn to attack.
Since his opponent’s Maai is wider, Ardis fighting at range is a disadvantage.
TL: Maai, or interval, is the engagement distance, effective range
While slashing, Ardis advanced another step. He’s now at a distance swinging a halberd is difficult, a sword’s Maai.
A normal opponent would probably try to retreat now. But the assault platoon commander wouldn’t.
Rather, he would challenge himself and participate in the exchange. The reason behind that is probably with his weapon.
His halberd has a shorter handle than a normal one, it’s probably shortened to ease handling it.
On the other end, the blade was made bigger, and heavier than a normal one. A fight where he considers reach and distance was not in his eyes in the first place.
The second, and the third clash between their weapons. Even as that continued, the assault platoon commander would continue his onslaught, pressuring Ardis.
That’s probably his way of fighting. Knowing how his opponent fights would ease Ardis’s judgement.
Ardis’s experience shaking hands with a death god many times in battlefields are not for show.
There’re three approaches for his current situation.
The first approach would be waiting for a gap and counter attack as he deflects blows, or luring him to a physical trap while avoiding his attack would be the textbook solutions.
But his reason in the Lotus Cup was none other than crushing Marquis Holguin’s face. And his current opponent is an officer of the target’s faction.
Then what he can do narrows down to one――.
「To beat him head on. 」
It was the third approach, to properly show to the audience the patheticness of his opponent collapsing after being exhausted.