35.1 An Unexpected ad lib
It was sudden.
She didn’t know why—but for some reason, she suddenly felt upset.
Sharina realized she was called. Before she knew it, she was grabbing the hem of Riol’s uniform.
“I’m sorry, before I realized it, I…”
Around the time lunch break was over and the first match for the afternoon was about to approach, Sharina grabbed the hem of Riol’s uniform as they walked to the waiting area for the next match.
“Riol, please don’t overdo it… Also, please stay safe.”
Her words were spoken with unsettling turmoil. She couldn’t explain it well—but she had a very bad feeling. Involuntarily, her grip on his hem only tightened.
He must had felt her indescribable anxiety. Riol bent down to match Sharina’s eye level. She was currently sitting. Without asking about anything—
“—I won’t overdo it. I will do my utmost to stay safe. Would this suffice?”
“…Yes. Be careful.”
When Sharina gently removed her hand, Riol went down to the stage.
“I’m going.” Were the words he left.
“What’s wrong, Shari? You make it sounds like he’s going to sustain a serious injury—relax, it’s just a duel.”
“Y, yes, I know…”
The match was about to end. Riol’s turn would come soon after. Up until now, she was worried—but the joy of seeing Riol’s victory greatly exceeded her concern. There were no other students like Roland, who launched an unfashionable attack even before the match had started.
“…I know, but…”
She had a single concern.
All the referees strangely wore harsher expressions than the day before.
“—Patrick Wardington, 2nd year magician. Riol Glen, 1st year magician, step forward!”
Some time after the first match of the afternoon, the teacher who seemed to have finished adjusting the loudspeaker raised his voice. The teacher took a strange amount of time. The announcement resounded just after the audience started to complain.
“It sure is late! How long does it take to adjust a loudspeaker, really?”
Staring at the stage, Sharina clenched her fist on top of her lap. Her unpleasant premonition hadn’t disappeared. The start of the game had been delayed for a few minutes due to the preparation for the loudspeaker, and that alone aroused her anxiety for some reason.
“If the loudspeaker is broken, they could’ve just switch it out…”
She recognized the opponent—Patrick Wardington. He was one of the students who testified for Riol and Sharina’s innocence during their conflict with the former crown prince, Leonardo.
“Huh…? Why hasn’t it started, yet?”
The two competitors went up onto the stage, but that time around, there was no signal to start the match. Angelica tilted her head in doubt, and Tobias wondered if the loudspeaker had broken again.
At that time, those in the audience seats were about to erupt in dissatisfaction. The voice of an older teacher echoed in place of the younger teacher—
“—as for this match, the victory belongs to Patrick Wardington!”
After a moment of silence.
“Eh!? What’s the meaning of that!?”
Tobias and Angelica screamed. At the same time, the entirety of the audience became tumultuous.
The start of the match hadn’t even been announced, let alone the actual duel—what did they mean by that?
Finding it unbearable, Sharina stood up.
What the hell is going on—!?
“Riol Glen, you aren’t qualified to continue the match anymore! Be honest with us—how did you pass the first round of the tournament?!”
She grabbed the railings and leaned forward to see Riol’s face. He was facing the teacher, and his expression was seemingly more intense than usual.
“Can you claim that your victory in the first round was definitely because of your own strength? Answer, Riol Glen!”
The teacher’s voice could easily be heard across the loudspeaker. The audience suddenly calmed down due to the extraordinary atmosphere. Everyone seemed to wait with baited breathe for Riol’s reply.
In the quiet venue, Riol’s voice could be heard just by normally concentrating. Sharina’s breath paused at the unexpected response from Riol.
The same probably went for the teacher. Through the loudspeaker, the teacher’s stupid voice resounded.
“In the first round, His Highness’ water magic suddenly experienced an outburst, resulting in such an outcome. Perhaps it was a malfunction in the magic tool that His Highness was wearing… so I can’t honestly say that I won through my own strength.”
“Huh? Well, tha, that’s true, there’s that, but… uh—…”
She didn’t know. She didn’t know what Riol was saying. No, she could hear what he was saying clearly—but she couldn’t understand why. It was obvious that Riol had defeated Roland on his own—
—why would he tell such a lie?
“N, no, that’s not true, Riol-kun! Riol-kun is—”
Although she didn’t know, there must be a reason behind Riol’s lie. She was sure something was wrong, for something to have been done by chance in the first round’s victory.
“Mugu, Shari, do you not trust Riol?!”
“It’s exactly because I trust him!”
Sharina tried to close her best friend’s mouth. In a similar manner, Sharina suppressed her voice and desperately tried to calm down. Angelica had joined her in front of the railing.
In all honestly, Sharina wanted to scream, too.
She wanted to attest to Riol’s power at the top of her voice.
But it turned out that wasn’t what Riol needed at that moment.
When she turned towards the stage, Riol had moved from the center to the edge of the stage, standing before the teacher.
“…As the teacher has said, considering the purpose of this tournament, I’m not qualified to continue the match anymore because all I did during the first round was stand still—in short, I did nothing.”
“What are you talking about—!? Did your victory truly not come from your own strength—!?”
“Yes. Therefore, I hereby decline this fourth round. Had I been aware of this, I would’ve declined from the start.”
Riol hit his upper body, his expression was empty. Then, he raised his face as if nothing had happened and went down the stage step by step.
“W, wait! Please wait, teacher! Even if his victory during the first round was a coincidence, his victories in the subsequent matches came from his own strength! I saw it! The amulets he used caused his opponents to fall!”
His previously stunned opponent, Patrick Wardington, moved as if his switch had been flipped.
“Riol! You don’t have to step down! I’ve been looking forward to facing you…”
Patrick ran up and grabbed Riol’s shoulder. But Riol just shook his head quietly. As he held his thick book, he left the stage.
“W, what is happening!?”
“Since the victory during the first round was a coincidence, is there a rule that outlaws such a victory!?”
“That… doesn’t fit the purpose of the tournament, which is to make use of what we’ve learned so far and work hard together… why now, all of the sudden—!?”
“M-maybe it’s because His Highness Roland hasn’t showed up!? Could it be, His Highness paid for someone to stop this guy from winning!?”
“S, shut up! What if someone hears you!?”
***T/N: The true face of second arc’s antagonist… corrupt ppl and their tendency to power abuse…
Please also consider donating to my ko-fi! It’ll greatly support me in action, no matter the amount!