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    Chapter 7: The Millarion Tournament Begins

     

    A few days ago, Kaede and Kaede had successfully passed the B-rank exam, and since then, they had been spending their time sightseeing around the city.

    And today, finally, it’s the day of the Millarion Tournament.

    We left the inn and walked toward the arena. Along the way, people’s gazes were constantly drawn to me, and it was quite chaotic.

    The rumor about me and Keith making a contract with the contract paper has spread quite widely.

    I believe Keith himself probably spread it. With Earth’s lack of entertainment in this place, it’s heating up just as he planned.

    When we arrived at the arena, which was built like the Colosseum in Greece, I turned around and addressed everyone.

    “I’m off. Everyone, take care. Fenrir, Fafnir, if necessary, feel free to grow larger and ensure everyone’s safety without fail.”

    “Bark bark!”

    “Roar!”

    The two summoned beasts let out emotions of “Leave it to us!” in their voices, and the women also seemed to be gathering their resolve.

    Entering the arena and moving to the waiting room for participants, I looked around. I couldn’t see Keith anywhere. There seemed to be multiple waiting rooms, so he must be in a different one.

    After a few minutes, a man wearing an armband labeled “Tournament Staff” entered the room.

    After listening to his explanation, we used magical tools to draw lots.

    The preliminaries were divided into eight blocks, and one winner from each block would advance to the finals. I was in the sixth block.

    As the preliminaries progressed, it was eventually my turn to move to the stage.

    Observing the surroundings from the stage, I didn’t see anyone particularly suspicious.

    Taking a deep breath and waiting for a minute, it seemed like all the participants for this block had gathered, as an announcement could be heard. The announcer held something like a microphone. It was probably a magical tool utilizing wind magic to amplify the voice.

    “Now, the preliminaries for the sixth block will begin! There are fifty participants in this block. And now, we have an announcement for everyone. The rumored player who has been causing a stir recently will be participating in this block! It’s Rui, the A-rank adventurer who is known for his bet with Keith!”

    At this point, the excitement of the audience reached its peak, causing quite a commotion that was almost ear-splitting.

    However, despite being introduced, since I didn’t have a number plate or anything, few would notice where I was.

    Well, let’s just get this over with quickly.

    While thinking about such things, a middle-aged man holding a magical tool similar to the announcer’s appeared on the side of the stage and shouted loudly.

    “The sixth block, let the match begin!!”

    With that referee’s declaration, the battle began.

    Some opponents charged at me with one-handed swords or axes, but I quickly activated my Level 2 Earth Magic spell, “Earth Change”.

    “Earth Change!”

    This magic allows me to shape the earth and stones on the ground into various forms based on my imagination. Of course, the power varies greatly depending on the amount of MP consumed, proficiency in magic manipulation, and imagination.

    By expending a considerable amount of magical power, this magic rapidly transformed the arena.

    Amidst the thunderous noise, a triangular prism, providing a flat surface where I stood, was quickly formed.

    It reached a height of twenty meters. The surface was made as smooth as possible to reduce friction, causing other contestants to slip and fall one after another. Some of those who fell while still holding their weapons ended up bleeding from unfortunate impacts.

    After a brief pause to ensure everyone was out of bounds, I used “Earth Change” again to restore the stage to its original state.

    Despite winning peacefully, there were quite a few visible injuries. While I felt pity for them, I waited for the referee’s call.

    However, the referee seemed to be frozen, leaving the arena in silence.

    Realizing this wouldn’t resolve the situation, I raised my voice.

    “Hey! Referee! My victory is valid, right? Everyone’s out of bounds.”

    Upon hearing my call, the referee, who seemed frozen, finally regained his senses and shouted in a fluster.

    “Match over!”

    At the referee’s call, thunderous cheers from the audience and the announcer’s exclamation echoed throughout the arena.

    “What an overwhelming victory! I apologize, but it ended before I could even provide commentary! The winner is Rui!”

    It seems the announcer recognized me. It’s essential to remember somewhat prominent individuals to do the job properly.

    While thinking about such trivial matters, I left the stage and headed to the waiting room designated for the finalists, as explained beforehand.

    Upon entering the room, I spotted Keith and Cain inside. Keith had a disdainful smirk on his face as he looked at me, but he didn’t approach. Cain, on the other hand, was glaring at me.

    After waiting for about an hour, the eight finalists who would advance to the finals finally gathered. Aside from Keith and Cain, there was one elf male, two beastmen males, one beastwoman, and one human male.

    It’s indeed a beastman-dominated country. Five out of eight finalists were beastmen.

    After a while, a staff member with an armband approached as the door behind them opened.

    “Thank you for waiting. We will now proceed with the drawing of lots for the matchups in the finals. Please feel free to choose your order. Place the palm of your left hand on the drawing tool on the table.”

    The participants began to move to the table one by one and touched it with their left hands in succession. I also completed the draw in the same manner.

    Once everyone finished, the staff member began writing down the results on a large parchment paper hanging on the wall.

    The matchups were as follows:

    – Match 1: Levnant vs. Karen

    – Match 2: Keith vs. Yeany

    – Match 3: Jhones vs. Rui

    – Match 4: Jude vs. Cain

    According to this arrangement, if I were to face Cain, it would be in the second round. Keith would potentially be in the finals.

    Levnant was a human male, and Karen was a beastwoman. Yeany and Jude were beastmen males, and Jhones, my opponent in the first round, was an elf male.

    “Now, everyone, please move to the player waiting area.”

    Participants in the finals could watch the matches they weren’t involved in just like the spectators. In that case, how much of my hand should I reveal…?

    No, perhaps it’s better to show some strength to deter those who might challenge us in the future. Well, it depends on the opponent’s strength.

    While pondering this, I noticed everyone had started moving ahead, so I followed suit.

    As I walked along the modestly built corridor, Keith approached me.

    “The ladies are still in this country right? If you’ve moved them far away there would be discrepancies with the contract contents, so be careful.”

    As if I would do something like that.

    I sighed before replying, “Huh, they’re here, don’t worry.”

    “While I confirmed like this just in case, I had subordinates monitor them so I already knew there wouldn’t be any issues.”

    For a moment, I found his persistence annoying, but it wasn’t time for a match yet. I needed to remain calm and handle this situation smoothly.

    “Right, if we were to face each other, it would be in the finals,” I acknowledged.

    “If you don’t make it to the finals, we’ll have a special match afterwards. I’ve already arranged to use this facility for that.”

    “Got it.”

    “I’ll be waiting for you in the finals, so do your best.”

    It seems Keith said what he wanted to and left, speeding up his pace to move away from me.

    Arriving at the player waiting area, I took a seat. The participants for the first match proceeded to the stage.

    “Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for your patience. The finals will now begin. First, let’s have the customary player introductions before the matches! Here, appearing on the stage, we have Levnant, known as an S-rank adventurer! And his opponent… is none other than the EX-rank adventurer, Karen!” the announcer proclaimed.

    Adventurer ranks serve as a general indicator of strength, but they’re not an absolute measure. Even within the same rank, there’s a wide range of abilities. For instance, even among S-rank adventurers, there are those with average stats around 1000 and others with exceptional physical or magical abilities.

    EX-rank adventurers, on the other hand, achieve extraordinary feats and can be just as powerful as S-rank adventurers. According to my appraisal, Karen’s abilities were comparable to Taira, whom I defeated in the past.

    On the stage, Levnant wielded a one-handed sword and shield, while Karen equipped claws on both hands.

    As the referee signaled the start of the match, Levnant swiftly moved toward Karen with his shield raised. However, Karen anticipated his move and maneuvered around him, delivering a right straight punch.

    Levnant countered with his sword, resulting in a clash of weapons with a sharp metallic sound echoing through the arena. Karen’s superior strength allowed her to overpower Levnant, pushing him back.

    Levnant, sensing his disadvantage, skillfully avoided Karen’s claws with his sword. The battle continued with Karen using her strength and agility to attack, while Levnant barely defended himself.

    Although Levnant occasionally used magic, it wasn’t at a high level, and Karen easily countered it. As time passed, Karen’s movements became more refined, and she landed a decisive blow with her right straight punch, piercing Levnant’s right shoulder.

    As Karen’s claw swept diagonally upward, Levnant’s right arm hung limply in the air. It was clear that Levnant had surrendered at this point.

    “This settles it!! The winner is Karen!”

    On the stage, individuals who appeared to be healers rushed over. Given the rough nature of this tournament, specialized therapists were on standby. With their treatment, Levnant’s right arm healed as if nothing had happened.

    ◇ ◇ ◇

    The second match ended in a flash. Keith overwhelmed Ene without using magic, showcasing movements that could be considered top-tier even without magic.

    Now, onto the third match. As I moved onto the stage, I awaited the signal to begin.

    “Now, continuing the excitement from earlier, we have another highly anticipated match! It’s the showdown between Rui, the A-rank adventurer causing a stir with his bet against Keith, and Jhones!”

    The rumors about the bet had spread quite widely. It’s inevitable to stand out in this situation.

    Suppressing my annoyance at the attention, I appraised Jhones. There didn’t seem to be any notable features, so this should be an easy win.

    With that analysis in mind, the referee shouted loudly, signaling the start of the match.

    As soon as the declaration was made, I circled around behind Jhones. Unable to react to my speed, he searched for me, unaware.

    Thinking it was over, I aimed an elbow strike towards Jhones’ unprotected back.

    With a sound resembling a broken spine, Jhones’ body flew horizontally and collided with the boundary outside the stage.

    This boundary, which protects the spectators, is essential for the safety of this tournament. Of course, the referee is also outside the boundary. But unfortunately, there’s no fancy feature like nullifying damage upon collision with this boundary.

    “This is it!? Like Keith, Rui secures an overwhelming victory!”

    Upon the declaration of victory, I began walking towards the waiting room.

    The next match between Jude and Cain was evenly matched for a while. However, in the end, Cain’s use of spear techniques tipped the scales in his favor.

    “And with that, the first round of the tournament comes to a close! Advancing to the second round are EX-rank adventurer Karen! The seven-time consecutive champion of this tournament, Keith! His disciple, Cain, who is said to be! And last but not least, in a sense, the most anticipated player of this tournament, Rui!!”

    When the popular prince of this country, Keith, was introduced, the audience erupted into thunderous applause. He seemed pleased with the reception. By the way, I wonder if the applause was as loud for me?

    Next, Keith and Karen headed towards the stage, and the announcer’s voice echoed.

    “Now, let’s get started with the second round of the tournament. The matchups are Karen versus Keith, and Rui versus Cain!”

    Without delay after the announcer’s words, the referee’s voice resonated.

    “The start of the second round of the tournament, first match, begins!”

    At the signal, Karen began to move towards Keith as if crawling on the ground. She slipped into Keith’s guard and launched an attack with her claws. Given that her opponent wielded a spear, Karen likely judged that close-quarters combat would be more advantageous. At mid-range, the spear would dominate.

    However, irrespective of the distance, Keith’s combat prowess was overwhelming among the participants except for me.

    As evidence, Keith effortlessly caught Karen’s claws with his bare hands. Karen, momentarily displaying a surprised expression, immediately backed off.

    Then, Keith, who had placed his spear on the stage, gestured for Karen to come at him. It seemed he wanted to fight bare-handed. Karen’s face was filled with anger at this sight.

    Karen began her onslaught in a frenzy of anger, but none of her attacks landed—eventually, Keith started yawning. After about five minutes of evading attacks, Keith struck Karen’s abdomen.

    As a result, Karen dropped to her knees, and her fighting spirit quickly faded from her eyes.

    I thought she would surrender, but Keith’s attack didn’t stop there. He pressed his left hand over Karen’s mouth and struck her with his right arm.

    Muffled cries from Karen and the sounds of Keith’s blows echoed through the arena. Occasionally, Keith would glance over at me as if to say, “I’ll do this to you next.”

    Unable to resist at all, Karen was lifted off the ground and turned into Keith’s punching bag.

    After being continuously beaten for about three minutes, Karen’s body began to convulse.

    Given her condition, if she took a few more hits, she might die, I thought. Just then, Keith tossed Karen out of the ring.

    Keith still hadn’t used magic. To have that strength with just his body… With his authority, it’s understandable why he could become so arrogant.

    Well, he’s probably using Physical Enhancement magic, though.

    “The winner is contestant Keith!!”

    The referee’s call echoed through the arena.

    “In the first match of the second round of the finals, once again demonstrating overwhelming strength, contestant Keith claims victory!!”

    As Keith raised his right arm in response to the announcement, the deafening roar of joy reverberated throughout the venue.

    But to think he’d go that far. Furthermore, the people of this country seem to accept it as if it were a matter of course.

    So this is the Millarion Martial Arts Tournament…

    Karen seemed to be desperately recovering under the care of the therapist, and from the looks of it, she wouldn’t die.

    I averted my gaze from Karen and turned my eyes to Cain, my next opponent. He seemed to be enamored with Keith’s performance, his eyes shining as he watched him.

    “Now, let’s move on to the next match. In the second match of the second round of the finals, it’s contestant Rui versus contestant Cain!! Please move to the stage!”

    Following the announcer’s words, Cain and I moved.

    Before the referee signaled the start, Cain spoke up.

    “Unfortunately, you won’t get to fight against Keith-sama! The championship and the runner-up are already decided between Keith-sama and me!”

    I had no intention of entertaining Cain’s nonsense, so I ignored it. Seeing that I didn’t respond, he wore a somewhat dissatisfied expression.

    “Well, as long as you know your own strength. Let’s get this over with quickly!”

    “The second match of the second round of the finals begins!!”

    The referee’s voice overlapped with Cain’s words.

    Now, should I take him down quickly too? And then, swiftly snatch the skill “Ancestral Reversion” from Keith.

    As the match began, Cain charged towards me while holding his spear. He’s probably activating his “Martial Arts” skill.

    “Cyclone Roll!!”

    It seemed like the airflow coated the spear with a twist, causing the pebbles lifted from the ground to swirl around the spear. Given the distorted air, it must be rotating at a considerable speed.

    As for me, I remained unarmed as usual.

    While observing Cain’s attack rushing towards me at an incredible speed, I lowered my stance slightly.

    It’s a basic technique from karate that I learned on Earth.

    I lightly placed my left hand on my hip and put some strength into my right fist. Then, using the rotation of my hips, I transferred the power of my entire body and unleashed a mid-level straight punch.

    As a result, all the wind generated by Cain’s “Martial Arts” dispersed. Cain looked astonished by my actions, but he still thrust his spear at me.

    I lightly rotated my body to dodge his spear while simultaneously stepping forward, burying my fist into Cain’s side.

    From the sensation I felt, it seemed like I crushed his ribs. Unable to respond to my movements, Cain was blown out of the stage just like Yonsu, unable to resist the lateral force applied suddenly, and was sent flying out of bounds, hitting the ground after colliding with the barrier.

    “The winner is contestant Rui!”

    Upon hearing the referee’s call, I raised my hand. At that moment, cheers as loud as when Keith won echoed around me.

    “This is incredible! Keith and Rui in this tournament are unmatched by any other players! While Keith has been overwhelmingly dominant in previous tournaments, Rui seems to be on par with him!”

    Since I had another match coming up, I remained where I was and directed my gaze towards Keith. He was glaring at me with a displeased expression.

    “Now, contestant Keith, please move to the stage!”

    As Keith ascended the stage, he spoke to me.

    “As expected, you’re proving my expectations right. My disciple Cain being defeated so one-sidedly like that…”

    “You’ll face the same fate.”

    “Is this what they call ‘big talk’? I haven’t even used magic yet, you know?”

    “There’s no need for further talk. We’ll see who’s stronger once we fight.”

    Interrupting our conversation, the announcer’s voice came through.

    “And now, finally, the championship match! Whether you cry or laugh, this will be the last match! In this match, the prestigious title of the Millarion Martial Arts Tournament champion and the winner of your bet will be decided! According to the pre-match information, if contestant Keith wins, contestant Rui will become his subordinate, and the seven women accompanying contestant Rui will become Keith-sama’s! Will the famous contestant Keith be adding new women to his harem in this country!?”

    So he’s building a harem too. It’s well-known that beastmen like strong men, so I suppose it’s only natural.

    Seems like he’s fantasizing about getting his hands on Eleanor and the others, and his smug face is nauseating.

    “And if contestant Rui wins, he will receive the most important thing to contestant Keith! What could that possibly be!? Keith’s legitimate wife, perhaps? Or maybe that spear made of Adamantine?”

    ‘I don’t need the legitimate wife of someone whose face and name I don’t even know. But speaking of which, does he really have a spear made of Adamantine? Well, Adamantine will be mine once I win the tournament, so it doesn’t matter.’

    “Shall we begin? Will you push me to the point where I have to get serious?”

    Annoying guy. But maybe I should at least defend against Keith’s attacks to showcase my power a bit before counterattacking.

    Though it’s not an issue according to the rules of this tournament, he’s still a member of the royal family of this country. It would be troublesome if assassins were sent after me later.

    Without getting nervous, I turned to face Keith.

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