Ardis welcomed the lightning sharp halberd from the captain of the assault platoon from the front.
Ardis stepped forward and used his own sword to deflect the trajectory. Diving straight into his bosom after seeing a gap, Ardis delivered a gut punch into his armor-less abdomen.
Leaving aside if he was wearing a full plated armor, the assault platoon captain was wearing leather armor that emphasized mobility, but left many places unguarded.
A short cry of pain was heard from the platoon captain.
「You have too many gaps! 」
Ardis’s right foot stepped past the gap between his legs, and immediately pulled back. His heel was going to hit the calf on its way out.
Ardis tried to make him fall over but, as expected from someone in the semifinals, such an easy trick wouldn’t work.
The platoon captain leans forward and kicked against the ground before Ardis managed to swipe his feet, passing through Ardis.
With only his upper body twisting, he swung his halberd aided with centrifugal force, aiming for Ardis’s back.
「Again with the recklessness! 」
Ardis easily avoided by going further past the direction where the platoon captain turned. A dull sound of air being ripped apart can be heard behind him, it’s obvious how much force was behind the halberd.
After readjusting their position for a few steps, Ardis’s opponent, the platoon captain finally spoke like a human for the first time.
「Ha―kha―ha! Not bad, brat! 」
His face was full of joy, it’s like he’s a completely different person than the one before the match started.
「Who’s the brat, greenhorn! 」
Ardis reflexively retorted after having called a brat. The platoon captain looks to be over thirty in age, and Ardis who in comparison looks below twenties is certainly the younger one here.
But of course that’s only if considering their appearance, after all, Ardis himself had lived much longer.
Although some might catch onto something with what Ardis said, but it seems like the platoon captain wasn’t a person to hear for little details.
「Ha―haha―! Being feisty is good too! 」
He was totally wearing a joyous face as he slashed at Ardis.
「Thanks for that! 」
Ardis replied without a shred of appreciation. At the same time, the two sides kicked against the ground. Within a blink of an eye, the two’s weapon clashed.
Ardis is at a disadvantage clashing frontally. In terms of physique, strength, weight of their weapons, all of them are in favor for the platoon captain.
Despite so, Ardis is not intending to let it be his downfall. There’re countless ways to win without a frontal strength contest.
Along with a war cry, the platoon captain swung down the halberd overhead. Ardis could easily predict its trajectory and dodged it nimbly.
Although he could dodge it by a hair breadth, seeing from how his opponent fought for the last few exchanges, Ardis knew that he could forcefully twist his weapon unreasonably.
The more exaggerated his evasion maneuver is, the less chance he would have to counterattack. But Ardis didn’t think it was a big problem.
The platoon captain’s fighting style that can be said uncontrollable has too many gaps to aim for even if Ardis isn’t looking.
Certainly his offense is very intense. But his defense are too clumsy to even call it a defense.
If he’s up against someone weaker than him, or equivalent, that might’ve worked but unfortunately it isn’t such a situation now.
Aiming for the gap that manifested between his attacks, Ardis swung down at the halberd hard. Utilizing the weight of the halberd, Ardis caused the weapon to slip out of his hands.
The halberd that escaped from his hands easily spun several times before hitting the ground. Even though blunted, it was a heavy weapon hitting the ground with considerable force. Making a heavy sound, the halberd stuck itself into the ground.
According to the rules of the Lotus Cup, a participant losing their weapon would mean defeat instantly. And of course, since the platoon captain only has one weapon, the halberd with him, it’ll be Ardis’s win if the halberd escaped from his hands.
With loud cheering from the spectators, many spectators standing up, Ardis who wanted to lower his sword suddenly sensed the killing intent and took up a stance again.
The platoon captain that should’ve lost just now picked up his halberd and rushed at Ardis. That expression didn’t change one bit from before, it’s still one that’s enjoying the fight.
It didn’t look like someone asking for a handshake after the match to Ardis in any way.
「Oi, hold up! 」
Ardis tried to call out to stop him even when he was forced to continue the fight. Seemingly not lending an ear to what Ardis said, as if drown in the fight, the platoon captain continued swinging his halberd with no degradation in his speed continuously.
「Judge, how’s this going to be!? 」
And as usual going all offense with no regards to defense, Ardis complained to the judge but, the judge gave no bother.
「Tch! It comes to that huh! 」
It seems like this judge doesn’t see it as a lost even if his opponent lost his weapon. But of course, that only applies to the platoon captain, it’s easy to imagine that he would announce Ardis’s lost if Ardis lost his weapon.
It’s unknown whether Ardis’s opponent is continuing to fight despite knowing that. But seeing his face and his conduct so far, Ardis thought that he only wants to fight.
Although he felt it before the match started, it seems like the judge is evidently holding a grudge against Ardis somehow.
Even though Ardis expected that the judging would not be in his favor, he was surprised to see that it was to this degree that it can be said cheating.
Ardis’s sword once again caught on the halberd, and lobbed it off the platoon captain’s hands. But the announcement never did come.
The platoon captain picked it back up as if nothing happened, and continued to slash at Ardis.
「I wonder what kind of excuse are you going to make! 」
As expected, seeing the weapon drop for the second time, even the spectators could tell something was wrong.
The first time had already resulted in disturbance, but seeing the second time, the spectators could tell what the judge’s intention was, as they cursed at him.
「The match is already over! 」
「What the heck is that judge looking at! 」
「He’s cheating――! 」
But the judge didn’t bat an eye even when the spectators were hurling curses.
Rather than being resolute for getting showered with angry voices, the judge had probably gotten an order from the beginning, and he must’ve understood well that this would happen.
Ardis smacked down the halberd into the ground the third time, and the platoon captain similarly picked it up for the third time, as the booing from the audience became more intense.
There’s no need to ask who sent the judge. But it’s obvious that the aftermath is hard to clean up. Ardis could never begin to understand what Marquis Holguin was thinking.
「Was he that desperate……? 」
While dodging the attacks from the platoon captain, Ardis muttered.
「Well, the thinking can be later. 」
The problem at hand is to clear the current situation.
Even if the platoon captain won in this match, it was obvious that he cheated, the spectators wouldn’t be convinced, and the one to blame would be the organizer, the army, and lastly Marquis Holguin would definitely get caught in the fire.
Crushing the Marquis’s reputation would’ve probably been fulfilled at this point of time. Despite so, Ardis didn’t plan to pull back now. And of course he didn’t have any intentions to lose.
Ardis recalled the four winning conditions stated in the rules.
A hit that would be counted as vital. It’s not hard for Ardis to do that.
But even if he did that, it wouldn’t count if the judge doesn’t acknowledge it. And seeing how the judge favors the platoon captain so much, Ardis knew that it wouldn’t be counted in any case.
The other way is to knock his weapon away, the method that would be the most apparent even to the audience. But presently, the platoon captain had lost his weapon for a total of three times, yet the judge showed no signs of announcing Ardis’s victory.
If he could’ve won in that way, he would’ve won a long time ago.
Another is to make the opponent give up.
However, his opponent would even pick back up the weapon that was dropped and continue fighting.
Rather than him being consciously doing it, it’s more like he had totally forgotten about the Lotus Cup while too caught up in fighting. So it’s likely that his opponent wouldn’t give up.
Then the last choice would be incapacitating his opponent.
As expected, if his opponent fell on the ground unmoving, then there’s no choice but to acknowledge Ardis’s victory.
Although it’s also possible for his opponent to lose because of cheating, in the first place, it’s already cheating not acknowledging the platoon captain loss.
「There’s no time to waste. 」
If he took more time, the platoon captain’s stamina would probably run out, but there’s a possibility the judge would do more if it dragged on.
It’s a judge that would not let Ardis win even if it meant antagonizing the entire audience base. There’s no knowing when the judge would suddenly announce Ardis loss for no reason.
Then his only choice would be to decide the outcome before that happens.
「Having said so……」
His opponent is someone capable albeit totally unable to defend. His attack never stopped once, his speed and weight are top class. His stamina must be bottomless as well, seeing how his attacks were just as sharp and fast as the beginning.
「……I will go with that. 」
Ardis made his decision and continued defending against the platoon captain’s attack while looking for the timing.
One, two, three attacks……. Not stepping back once, Ardis stood against him while dodging and deflecting.
While making a show that would make the audience cheer, quite some time had passed. But that moment finally came.
The moment when the platoon captain put his entire weight into that attack, Ardis dived in deep. Grabbing onto the platoon captain’s right hand which was holding the halberd, Ardis pulled it to himself while stepping in further,
Performing a half spin, Ardis found his way into a position like piggybacking the platoon captain, and utilizing his opponent’s momentum, Ardis kicked him upwards. The platoon captain that had lost his footing spun in the air with Ardis’s back as the axis.
At the same time, Ardis pulled his right arm harder, causing the platoon captain to hit the ground after doing a full spin.
「Don’t die. 」
Ardis delivered words that was either a warning or a prayer, as the next moment the platoon captain’s head found itself hitting the ground with a thud before everything went silent.