The day’s second match wasn’t able to start even after the first ended. It was originally scheduled to begin about an hour afterwards, but it couldn’t. The massive, gaping hole we’d created ended up ruling that option out in its entirety. The necessarily repairs simply couldn’t be completed in time.
「Looks like the finals will be starting soon.」
「Are you still eating?」
「Yeah, yeah, I get it. You can eat as much as you want.」
The Beast Lord had once again summoned us to the VIP room, which turned out to be real convenient seeing as how we’d planned on checking in with him anyways. He seemed to have caught onto the fact that Fran was a foodie, as the room was filled with all sorts of extravagant dishes laid out much in the same manner as they would be at a buffet.
She, being who she was, had naturally ended up falling victim to their appeal. That is, she did as the Beast Lord wished and decided on watching the finals together with him and his associates — which, in and of itself, wasn’t really a bad thing. Their invitation was actually one that took Fran’s convenience into account. She’d become extremely popular, especially amongst her fellow beastkin.
I was almost certain that there wasn’t a beastkin present in the arena that wouldn’t want to talk to her, especially seeing as how she’d finished all her matches and raked in the third place prize. They’d been rather patient and calm up until now, but it didn’t seem like they could hold themselves back much longer. Some had even began to seem to want to stalk her.
People, as a whole, had the tendency to be rather stupid regardless of where or when. From that understanding came the assumption that she would most likely be approached by one or more nobles that wished to use their positions in order to extort her.
In other words, staying in the Beast Lord’s vicinity benefited us because it would likely prevent any less morally sound individuals from acting out of line.
The Beast Lord had taken a decent liking to Fran, but that didn’t necessarily mean he was free of ulterior motives. She, as an evolved Black Catkin, was definitely someone that could be of use to him. Thus, his invitation had likely been extended because he didn’t want any other noble stealing a march on him and doing something that would cause Fran to feel ill will towards the Beastkin’s Country or its residents.
Of course, not all the benefits the Beast Lord could derive from having her around were longer termed ones. Seeing him with her would likely lead onlookers to view him in a more favourable light.
Being the world’s one and only evolved Black Catkin was something that, by nature, granted Fran an incredible amount of attention.
I wasn’t actually sure whether or not Fran knew just how much attention she would be getting, but she was at least roughly aware of the consequences of revealing her identity. The reason I could say that with certainty was because Fran had wanted to use the tournament as a means of becoming famous in hopes of bettering the world’s treatment of the Black Catkin race.
That was why she’d purposefully awakened under public scrutiny. She was more than willing to draw attention to herself so long as she managed to bring benefit to her tribesmen.
We’d been a bit worried that nations and nobles would end up eyeing her, but acquainting ourselves with the Beast Lord had at least mitigated that concern to an extent.
「Here. Take this.」
For some odd reason, Goldalfa was going out of his way to provide Fran with all the service she could possibly ask for.
He’d even headed down to the kitchen and asked for both more of Fran’s favourite dish and raw meat for Urushi.
Asking him why he was acting so subserviently had caused him to respond with several interesting notes. The first was that he respected Fran, both as a warrior that’d defeated him in battle, and as member of one of the Ten Original Tribes. The other was that her personality was almost identical to his master’s; he was more than just used to being ordered around by Kiara. The combination of the aforementioned factors made it so he was in fact unable to refuse any of Fran’s orders or requests.
「Oi, look. They’re about to start.」
We watched closely as both Amanda and Forrund took to the stage.
Both contestants were extremely popular, and as a result, the cheers that resounded for them turned out to be so loud they caused the entire colosseum to shake in the same manner it would have had it been hit by an earthquake.
The roars were so loud that they pierced through the VIP room’s soundproof walls and caused everyone inside to cover their ears. It was cute when Fran did it, but, the same couldn’t be said for the Beast Lord and his companions. Seeing them cover their cover their ears in a childish manner left a pretty bad taste in my mouth.
「Entering from the west, we have Amanda of Hariti! The rumours say that the semi-final round had made her weapon unusable! Just how will she handle today’s match!?」
Amanda didn’t manage to get her whip repaired in time. The one she had with her today was a decently powerful magic item, but several grades poorer nonetheless.
「And against her will be Hundred Blade Forrund, a powerful adventurer said to be on the brink of becoming an S rank!」
The two A ranked adventurers exchanged a few words as they stared each other down.
Unfortunately, the crowd made it so we couldn’t hear them despite the massive screen-like thing magnifying their voices.
Either way, the match ended up beginning.
Their duel was a fierce one.
Amanda immediately distanced herself from Forrund and began bombarding him with both storm-based spells and her whip.
The stage, which the staff had gone out of their way to painstakingly repair, ended up getting torn to pieces in the blink of an eye. Much to my surprise, Amanda ended up using the resulting rubble to boost her attack’s power by sucking it into her storms.
Forrund, on the other hand, did his best to close in on Amanda while spawning and throwing magic swords. He was capable of being extremely effective in long ranged combat, but he wasn’t able to outdo Amanda, who happened to specialize in it.
The first major event happened about ten minutes in. Amanda suddenly started to throw out more powerful attacks in an attempt to bring the match to a close, seemingly because her whip had started to run out of durability.
She knew she would eventually lose if she didn’t do something.
「Secret Art — Skanda’s Demise!」
This time, however, she attacked not with the storm she’d sent at us, but instead with a single, godspeed blow.
I didn’t even actually see her strike him. The only reason I knew she did was because his Forrund’s arm had gone flying.
Her looking rather vexed in spite of that made it clear that she’d been aiming for his head, and that he’d somehow managed to dodge.
The whipmaster’s weapon immediately began to crumble, a result likely in part brought about by the fact that it was a backup weapon and, relatively speaking, an inferior good.
Because she lost her weapon, Amanda also ultimately ended up losing the battle.
「And the winner, the one man that triumphed over all his peers, is Hundred Blade Forrund!」
Fran regarded Forrund with a serious look on her face as the caster named him the tournament’s victor.
『He sure is strong.』
（Nn! But will surpass one day. Both Amanda and Forrund.）
『That we will.』
Likewise, the Beast Lord was also starring Forrund down. His eyes, however, expressed a much different emotion. It was almost like he was a predator observing its prey.
「So Forrund won? Man… I really would like to give sparring him a go.」
「Please ensure you stay calm and rational, Your Majesty.」
「Make sure you don’t suddenly jump at and attack him, alright, Lord Rig?」
「Well yeah, no shit! Just what the hell do you guys take me for?」
「I guess the best way to describe it would be to call you a combat enthusiast.」
「I’d say a battle maniac.」
「Oh come on…」
It seemed not even the seemingly ever arrogant Beast Lord was a match for Royce and Roche combined. Getting called out by both had caused him to shut up.
「It’ll soon be time for the awards ceremony. You should probably get ready, Fran.」
Royce reminded us of something that’d totally slipped my mind. Fran had managed to rank herself in at third place, so she wouldn’t be able to skip the ceremony.
The tourney had actually contained three different types of contests. The first was the restrictionless one one that we participated in. The second only allowed those at or under level 20, and the third was open to parties between three and five people strong.
Both the other two types had already ended. The type we participated in was the one that tended to house the greatest number of, and the most skilled participants, so it ended up dragging on the longest. That said, all the awards ceremonies were set to take place at the same time.
That was nice and all, but I had a pretty major concern with the whole scenario. I didn’t actually know how I was supposed to get Fran, who really hated boring ceremonies, to actually sit still and behave herself throughout the whole goddamn thing