Chapter 78 – Challenge
The day of the match.
It was being held in the 1st maneuvering ground of the Knights Order, which was currently packed with spectators. Nobles and those related to both sides.
Why were there so many people…
It reminded me that this really was a grand event within the palace.
I had been feeling excited, but what if I failed…
This was more attention than I expected, and my stomach started hurting.
“It will be fine. Don’t be so tense.”
My coworkers and fellow participants tried to encourage me.
The games were five separate battles between some of the best fighters in the Royal Magicians Order and the Royal Knights Order.
And so four other magicians had been selected along with me.
“You don’t have to worry, just because you’re facing the chief. We’ll end things before your battle even begins.”
“All of you…!”
I was moved by their kind words and watched their backs as they left.
This event was incredibly important for the Royal Knights Order.
On top of that, I had to face the opposing side’s leader. The pressure was immense, and I did not want to do it.
What a relief.
Now I could relax and focus on myself.
And so I drank some tea and stomach medicine as I watched the other matches.
The results were two wins and two defeats.
I was in a daze. Unable to accept this reality.
“NO! They’ll treat me like a war criminal! Help!”
“Please, Noelle! Everything depends on you now! Please win for us!”
They urged me as my eyes rolled back.
I strongly regretted ever thinking that I could rely on them.
And as the pressure caused me to walk unsteadily on my feet, I headed towards the entrance.
Said Luke as he approached me.
“Of course, I am. There are so many people watching. And I didn’t think that I would have to be the tie breaker.”
If I lost, then the Royal Magicians Order would lose in front of everyone.
In front of His Majesty. The effects of that could be enormous.
If I suffered a horrible defeat here, it might put other magicians in a bad place within the kingdom.
I could not fail.
“It will be fine. No one actually expects you to win. Even if you are annhilated in an instant, it will not affect the Royal Magicians Order’s reputation in the least. It is merely the expected result. That’s all.”
“Hey! You’re terrible! Even though you are probably right!”
And to think that I had hoped he would encourage me.
He really did have the worst personality!
He had not changed at all. Just horrible!
“Most of the spectators are nobles who know little about magic. And so they expect you to be blown away without a trace in an instant. They think that you’ll be crushed until there is nothing left.”
“However, what if you didn’t die in the first second of the battle? After all, you are facing the Holy Blade. That alone will astonish everyone who is watching. And that is wha you have been preparing for.”
“What do you think? Don’t you feel more excited?”
I felt my heart beating.
Faster and faster.
“You can do it. I know that you can.”
Hmph. He really was good at getting people on board with him.
I was then urged along and stepped out into the field.
Numerous eyes moved towards me from the grandstand.
However, they didn’t phase me now.
For the person who had lent me his power for this fight…
They don’t have to expect anything from me.
That was fine.
I would show them.
With this resolve in my heart, I looked up at the great obstacle that loomed above me.
Holy Blade. Eric Rushford.
The greatest knight in the kingdom.
Luke had told me what points I needed to be wary of when facing him.
‘Don’t focus on his importance any more than you need to. Try to think of him as a slightly above-average knight, that you might find anywhere.’
An average knight. Average knight. Average knight.
I changed in my heart.
‘And most importantly, do not get hit be the first attack.’
The first attack of the Holy Blade.
Luke wanted me to deal with it with the greatest caution.
‘The Holy Blade’s attacks will surely be faster than any attack you have experienced up until now. Most of his opponents fall during his first attack. And so you must focus, as if everything depends on that very moment.’
And so I sharpened every nerve in my body.
So my body did not become stiff, instead of focusing on one point, I tried to see everything as a vague silhouette.
While jumping lightly forward, I entered a stand that would allow me to react to his attacks.
The signal for us to start rang.
I had prepared to the best of my ability.
I was focused and not too excited.
I had even activated Spell Boost perfectly. I felt that I was in better condition than usual.
Indeed, I could not have hoped for a better start.
And yet…I was not able to react to the first move.
I couldn’t see it.
I had no idea what had happened.
But I was thrown against the stone walls near the outer rim of the battle grounds.
The impact was so strong that for a moment I wondered if I had broken some bones.
I could hear the sounds of shattering near me ear.
Dust and rubble rose into the air.
Parts of the wall had broken away, and I had was inside of the crater.
I knew he would be strong.
I knew it.
And yet, the person I was facing ended up far exceeding my imagination.
Seven hundred victories.
The strongest knight in the realm.
I spat out the sand from my mouth and let out a deep sigh.
So this was the real thing.
I saw how he was on a different level.
It was so overwhelming that I suddenly felt very foolish for trying to fight at all.
The wall was too high that it even covered the sky.
Though, that also meant that overcoming it would be the best feeling imaginable.
And so I used recovery magic to recover what energy I had lost.
And while hidden in the cloud of dust, I smiled.
No one thought that I would win.
That was fine.
I would show them the biggest upset in this kingdom’s history.
Now, the challenge had begun.