After returning home, we found Eryn’s uncle waiting for her yet again. I took off my scarf and waved ‘bon voyage’ to her as she was dragged away. Since we had left immediately after coming back last time, the pile of work in store for her was even bigger than normal.
“Claude, you traitor! Come and help me!” Eryn’s voice trailed off as I stood there teasing her.
I may have been her servant, but I hadn’t signed up for accounting duties. Hopefully, she’d forgive me if I baked her something sweet.
For the moment, there were a few errands that I wanted to take care off. Taking only a knapsack and my levi-board, I headed to town.
Given the close brush with danger last time, I felt like I needed to do something in case I had to fight human opponents again. With how dangerous my critical attacks have been, I could have accidentally killed someone if I weren’t careful. However, the question was how would I go about fixing this?
Without much to go on, I wandered around the marketplace hoping to come up with new ideas. I had relied on throwing objects last time. While I saw many things that I could potentially combine to create a makeshift thrown weapon, my savings would probably dry up if I relied on consumables. Plus, I was never one for using a bunch of items in games. They would usually sit in my inventory until it got full, when I had no choice but to sell or toss them.
By the time I reached the end of the marketplace, I had the ingredients for a pie, but no ideas for self-improvement.
Just then, I spotted a fancy looking building that was two stories tall. A sign hung over the door depicting the face of a monocled-man with an open book.
“A bookstore? Guess it wouldn’t hurt to look.” I walked in.
“Welcome to the Royal Read! How can I help you?” A man at the counter welcomed me.
“Ah…do you have something…about fighting people?” I had no idea what exactly I was looking for.
“Hmm…battle tactics and fighting techniques? That would be in the back next to the Horror section.”
I nodded and excused myself. Maybe I could research other ways to fight people that didn’t rely on attack power.
Not knowing what to look for, I picked up a few books and flipped through the pages to see if anything caught my eye. My hands stopped on one section which showed diagrams of a person with arrows pointing out weak points across the body.
Having aimed for a monster’s vitals all this time, I hadn’t considered weak points on other locations of the body. Looking at the back over, a price tag indicated that the book was only a few copper coins. I had plenty of funds, so I decided to start grabbing anything that I could find that seemed remotely useful.
By the time I finished browsing that section, I had a significant pile of books lined up. Taking the stack to the register, the man at the counter grabbed each book and moved some beads on his abacus. After getting through half of the stack, his pace suddenly slowed down. Noticing the change, I saw him eyeing each book and then me, back and forth with an odd expression. Nearing the end of the stack, he stopped counting altogether and told me the amount.
I handed him the money, but he pointed to the counter, asking me to just leave it there. A bit distraught, I placed my books in my bag and turned to leave. The man’s eyes never left me until I exited the store.
With the heavy atmosphere lifted, I went home to bake and scroll through my purchases.
Over the next few evenings, I had my head in the books searching for anything that would be of use. Enemy weaknesses, unconventional fighting techniques, bizarre weapon designs…I was really grasping for straws at this point.
Late one evening, I heard a knock at my bedroom door. Looking around the room, I realized that it was currently a disaster area, with books littered everywhere. A half-eaten piece of pie was in my hand. Before I could do anything, Eryn opened the door and came in.
“Wha-, that’s quite the mess. What have you been doing while I’ve been gone?”
“Just some light reading. Trying to figure ways to work around my combat disability.”
Eryn eyed the books strewn about and started to gather them in a pile. I turned back to finish the section of the book I was on. A few minutes later, Eryn loudly plopped a stack of books on the desk next to me, making me drop my pie.
“Claude, should I be fearing for my life right now?”
“Huh? What do you mean?”
“What are you getting yourself into?” Eryn brought the book covers to my face one at a time.
‘How to Arm a Commoner – Preparing for a Coup d’état’
‘The Art of Breaking One’s Limbs’
‘Carving the Human Body – A Guide to Dismantling Flesh’
‘An Assassin’s Guide to Covert Killing’
‘From Household to Mass Destruction – Dangerous Common Products’
‘It’s Not My Fault He Tripped Over My Foot and Fell on My Knife’
Somehow, my mind failed to notice that I had acquired some very strange books. I had been so focused on various tidbits of information that I didn’t even bother to check the covers. No wonder the shopkeeper had given me such strange looks.
I dropped my book and started flailing about in panic. “I..err…you see…”
“I have no idea what you’re thinking, reading such peculiar titles.” Eryn shook her head and sighed. “But I get the feeling that it’s another one of your weird ideas.”
I stopped and blinked. “No, I’m actually kind of stuck right now.”
Explaining to her about my reservations in the previous battle, I wanted to know what I could do in situations like that.
“Oh, I see. So you want to become more versatile when it comes to different opponents. It’s true that all you’ve been fighting are monsters. I know! Let’s talk to Pietro, I’m sure he’ll have some ideas.”
We found Pietro watering the garden outside. Explaining the situation to him, Pietro stroked his chin.
“Well, there is a fighting tournament being hosted in the capital in a few days. Why not see first-hand how other people fight? It may give you some inspiration.”
The kingdom of Sistina’s Tournament of Warriors, an annual event happening in the late fall. This was hosted at a coliseum erected in the capital of Engelberg.
Many physical fighters hoped to prove their skills here in order to gain recognition for themselves or demonstrate their capabilities to the country. Among the regular crowd of onlookers were members of nobility and officers of the kingdom’s army. Even the king’s family was present in a special box viewing area. Proving yourself here was a ticket to success. For adventurers, that would mean access to better requests offered by those in high positions. For those seeking to be a soldier in the army, an esteemed officer position was in their sights. Regardless of each person’s motivation, getting far in this tournament meant that one’s name would be known.
As this was a tournament of physical talent, magic spells other than physical fortification were prohibited. Magic knights were stationed around to detect any foul play of magical attacks on opponents. Those who wished to demonstrate their magic prowess had to wait for Spring, at the Tournament of Sages.
Eryn and I had obtained a seat close to the arena. ‘How?’ One might ask. Well, Eryn had signed up as a competitor, partly out of self-interest and partly to give me a good position to spectate.
“You should have joined me in the tournament, Claude. It would’ve been a good experience.”
Shaking my head, I recoiled at the thought. I really didn’t want to be a part of something so troublesome, and if I somehow got knocked out early on, it would defeat the purpose of coming here to learn. Eryn puffed her cheeks before turning towards Cornelius, who we ran into on the way here.
“What about you, Cornelius? You won the Tournament of Sages last year. Don’t you want to go for the Dual Crown?”
“Oh surely you jest, Eri. I’m not one for rigorous physical exertion during the day. Ha ha.”
An image of Cornelius trying to seduce Eryn in the bedroom for nighttime physical exertion started to play out in my mind. I smacked myself in the cheek to rid that thought. Some trumpets sounded in the arena to signal the start of the event.
With that cue, several people from the audience started approaching the middle of the arena. Eryn drew her sword and examined it for a moment before returning it to her scabbard. We wished her luck as she joined the rest of the contestants.
A certain old man joining the contestants caught my attention. Donning a mask, he was in a butler’s uniform while carrying a sheathed sword in one hand. That familiar stride and body language tipped me off as to who it was.
“What is Pietro doing here?” I muttered, too softly for anyone to notice.
Since he was the one that suggested the event to us, I wasn’t surprised about that. My confusion was why he felt the need to hide behind a mask. Eryn looked over and didn’t seem surprised, so it seems like I was the only one lost. Oh well, he must have had his reasons.
“Oh my. So that one has decided to participate again.” Cornelius words interrupted my train of thought.
Cornelius pointed to a female contestant that had a large mallet resting over one shoulder. Raven black hair and features of Asian descent, she looked to be around my age. However, the full-body armor sans helmet and heavy weapon she shouldered made her look out of place. I looked back at Cornelius for more information.
“That, my friend, is Lord Chancellor Willingham’s Electi, Saki the Destroyer.”
Another Electi other than me had finally appeared, one with a daunting name.
Once again present at this arena, Saki fidgeted nervously as all the contestants were lined up and introduced. As she had won the contest the previous year, she was positioned at the end of the line. While she didn’t mind fighting, being in the spotlight was not something she was comfortable with. Last year, she had been a nobody but quickly stole the attention of everyone with her strength.
Having been summoned by her master, the Lord Chancellor of this kingdom, only two months prior to that tournament, Saki had reservations about entering. However, the Chancellor insisted due to her abilities and future role by his side.
Yes, Saki had been summoned as an Electi, one who was blessed with certain advantages. Having shown a window displaying her stats, she had discovered that her attack power was extremely high compared to her other stats, allowing her to invoke destructive power with every attack. However, her defensive capability barely grew, necessitating expensive armor to compensate for this. Luckily, her master was a top official in the kingdom and could acquire such things with ease.
As she piled win after win in the tournament, her confidence grew. Standing at the top as the victor, she knew that she could be of use to her master.
The Chancellor oversaw law and order throughout the kingdom, acting as an inquisitor for the kingdom’s most worrisome problems. By royal decree, he was able to act as judge and executor as needed to keep the peace.
Saki felt right at home with this. Having a strong sense of justice, she would strive to help the people and punish those responsible for turmoil. Having grown up under constant discrimination in her previous world, she was highly responsive to injustice. Maybe it’s due to satisfying her inner desire, the painful memories of the past seemed to fade with time in this world. Lately, she even had trouble recalling those moments, but it was likely for the best.
She would do everything in her power to demonstrate the strong arm of justice.
As the previous tournament’s victor, all eyes were now on her as she was introduced. Lifting the mallet off her shoulder, she twirled it in her hand before resting the head on the ground. What should have been a gentle thud instead caused a light tremor traveling through the entire arena before the audience erupted into cheers.
Mentally switching gears, Saki was ready to go. It was time to show everyone the strength of justice.