The End of the Imperial Sword Tournament
Daniela was the winner. And so the tournament ended with me as the runner-up. I was fine with this conclusion and had no regrets. I felt great as I stood on the stage during the ending ceremony.
“It was a glorious battle that will go down in history. I am greatly pleased.”
The Emperor said as he held the trophy. His voice was surprisingly soft when he talked. I had imagined him to be a more hot-blooded military-type after hearing his roar echo across the arena earlier. And as insolent as it may sound, it made me like him a little more. Perhaps it was this discrepancy that made him loved by the people.
Emperor Veldrid handed Daniela the trophy and shook her hand. Then the crowd erupted into applause and cheering. Suddenly, the air was filled with a storm of confetti. It was beautiful and grand. It reminded me of how great and historical this event was for them.
“This trophy is like a title bestowed on the victor. But there are other prizes as well. I could give them to you here, but I would prefer it if you came to the castle. As the gates of the city are open wide, we do not know who may be here and what they are thinking.”
He said in a whisper. In spite of strict security measures, such things still happened.
“I understand. We will visit the castle tomorrow.”
“Hmm. Well, now that I think about it, I doubt there are any enemies here that can match you.”
The Emperor said with a chuckle.
□ □ □ □
Once the tournament was over, all of the participants were invited to a sort of night festival.
It was held within a corner of land near the imperial castle. There was a huge mansion there, but I wasn’t sure who lived in it.
People from the castle also attended, and it was a grandiose affair. That being said, Daniela and I were in no mood for that. We had talked about it in advance and decided on just sipping some tea and then leaving. It was while we were attempting to do just that, that someone stopped us by the gate.
“You’re leaving so soon?”
I turned around to see Adlus standing there. He had collapsed from a rapid magic deficiency, but had recovered and was standing on his own two feet now. There were a few other light elves with him, but they stayed silent.
“We’re practically falling apart… But they didn’t want any more delays, so here we are. But we’re heading back now to get some rest.”
In spite of everything that had happened, I was able to talk very calmly. Perhaps it was because there was something about Adlus that seemed different. His eyes weren’t glaring menacingly and he was composed.
“I see… I watched your fight. It was wonderful.”
It was a short reply, but Daniela actually looked at him for once.
“Such power would not be possible without much training. No…you two traveled together. You must have gone far as a team. I didn’t know that and was insolent. I apologize…”
Very slowly, he bowed his head. I couldn’t help but glance towards Daniela.
“I apologize to you as well, Asagi. Of course, I don’t expect to be forgiven.”
He continued. As for me, it was in the past and didn’t matter at all anymore.
“I won’t ask for forgiveness, but if my life will make up for, I will gladly offer it.”
“Wait-wait. I don’t think that anyone cares about…”
“No, Asagi. I actually do care. Besides, he dug up your past and insulted you.”
“I don’t care about that. I really don’t, Daniela.”
It was nice that she was angry on my behalf, but I wanted to leave it in the past.
“Adlus, raise your head. Your companions seem to be a little flustered by all of this.”
“It is fine. Raise your head.”
Adlus looked at her carefully and slowly raised his head. The other elves moved closer to him. In spite of appearances, perhaps he was rather nice to his close friends. Or else I’m not sure why they’d care.
“Daniela and I are two parts of a whole. Just as your companions are important to you, she is important to me. Just remember that and we can leave this all behind us. Fair?”
“…Yes… But, are you certain? You will forgive me?”
He now looked a little like a scolded child. I couldn’t help but chuckle. So did Daniela.
“That is what he is saying. Now, let us forget it.”
Daniela dragged her wounded leg as she moved forward to pat him on the shoulder. Adlus whispered through gritted teeth. But I could hear him clearly.
“Thank you… I was so wrong.”