Arc 27: The Reverse World
Chapter 291: Third day, Afternoon till Evening
On top of the arena, six participants are ruthlessly competing with each other.
Attacking, defending, dodging, receiving, thrusting, and cutting each other. Eventually, they collapse one by one.
Those fallen and fainted are immediately transported immediately outside the arena where trained nurses apply recovery magic on them.
Various contraptions are installed in the arena, in order to protect the lives of the participants. This transportation magic is also one of those protective measures.
The last two persons, who are still standing, cross their blades. One of them is an adventurer with a greatsword while the other is a boy wielding a katana.
Who might that boy be? Ah! It’s Kokonoe Juutarou-san, Yae’s elder brother.
We’re the ones lending the participants their weapons, but it doesn’t even matter since their edges are blunt. Receiving an attack from a greatsword regardless of its edge will still cause bone fractures or even death.
Well, there’s a chance for a person to recover as long it wasn’t an instant death. Besides, Moroha-nee-san will stop the match — if a real danger arises — with her authority as a judge.
Meanwhile, Juutarou-san nimbly dodges the swings of a greatsword while making a retreat.
Appearance-wise, the greatsword user seems to be the one putting pressure on his opponent, but then Juutarou-san steps forward all of sudden just when I was thinking that he might be looking for gaps in between his opponent’s attacks.
Like a lightning, his katana flies and lands accurately into the opponent’s torso.
Donn! The sound of an impact resonates at the same time as when the greatsword user falls forward and gets transported outside the arena.
「End of the match! The winner of the G Group is… Kokonoe Juutarou!」
Moroha-nee-san raises her voice and cheers and clapping echoes from the audience seats.
Juutarou-san bows, descends from the raised arena and heads towards a waiting room for the participants.
「He surely won without breaking a sweat, didn’t he?」(Yumina)
「Aniue is that skillful after all」(Yae)
So proudly nods Yae in agreement towards what Yumina said.
The group, who has come to watch the preliminaries for the martial arts tournament, consists of me, Yumina, and Luu. We then meet Yae and Hilda, who are already among the audience.
Looks like the preliminaries are proceeding favorably, and close to half of the participants for the main event are already decided. The number of applicants was big, so the preliminaries turned into a battle royal. Nevertheless, that change is exciting in its own regard.
「Do you know if the Knight King of Restia… Did Reinhardt-san qualify already?」(Touya)
「Aniue is in group A, which was one of the previous matches. He’s probably watching the current matches right now from downstairs」(Hilda)
The direction Hilda is pointing at is in the direction of the waiting room, on the first floor of the contest grounds made after the Coliseum.
Ah! That’s right. Both Yae’s and Hilda’s brothers will probably be fighting each other, depending on the match-up. Which one should I be cheering for? While it’s trifling, I can’t really say to both of them to keep at it.
「Is there anyone among our acquaintances who have already qualified as well?」(Touya)
「Knight-Commander Gaspar from Regulus, General Leon from Belfast, and our own Baba-dono have」(Yae)
So old man Baba has advanced as well, huh…? Well, I don’t want him to do anything unreasonable given his old age.
I suppose this outcome is expected from someone who belongs to the Four Heavenly Kings of Takeda.
I then notice a familiar face among the participants of the H group, who are going to be the next participants at the arena.
It’s someone having brown skin with a pattern made of scales and sharp ears. Two horns stick out from the head, and a thick tail from the back, which indicates that the person belongs to the dragon tribe.
「It seems that Sonia-san will also be participating」(Touya)
A female melee fighter from the dragon tribe, she’s an adventurer and one of our acquaintances from the time when we participated in the “Pruning Ceremony”, which is a martial arts tournament in the Great Forest Sea. We also cornered the false heavenly emperor of the now collapsed Yuuron together.
After defeating the sham-emperor, she apparently continued to work as an adventurer by going to the dungeons of our country and the like, so it may not be surprising for her to participate in this tournament as well. To begin with, it looks like she started traveling the world in pursuit of other martial arts.
Speaking of which, her partner Rengetsu-san must be participating as well. I immediately remember that bojutsu user with a shaved head. He did say that he’s her traveling companion in this pursuit.
While I’m having those thoughts, the match has already started and a melee is already unfolding in the arena.
An ax user receives a flat-out gauntlet attack from Sonia-san, which almost sends him flying outside the arena.
Contrary to my expectations of him somehow managing to stop himself, the ax user receives the next attack. A sudden, invisible impact crashes onto him from the front, and he’s sent flying outside. Naturally, it’s a disqualification once you’re outside the arena.
This must be Sonia-san’s “Hakkei”. This ability is really troublesome since it can be used mid-range.
In the end, Sonia-san remained unchallenged among the H group and proceeded to the main competition without a stitch. Her fellow melee fighters, like General Leon from Belfast, will be making an appearance there, but she may even be more skillful than him…
Oh well. It’s said victory depends on the luck of the day, so we won’t know for sure until that time comes.
「I wanted to participate as well…」(Yae)
「Hey-hey. Just so you know, we are essential personnel who will deal with whatever problems that may occur. Don’t lose focus, okay?」(Touya)
Both Yae and Hilda let out disappointed-sounding voices, so I call their attention to remind them of what matters with a strained smile.
Naturally, this is the official stance, but I’m slightly worried if letting everyone participate in the tournament is a good decision, especially those two and Elzie.
In addition to that, they’re receiving the affection of many gods. It’s possible that the top three positions would be monopolized by Brunhild, which probably would’ve made the festival boring. I don’t want others to think that the game was rigged.
「The martial arts tournaments looks fine for the time being. Let’s head to other places. Speaking of which, Sakura and others are at school…」(Touya)
The moment I think of urging them to go to the recital, a telepathy comes from one of my summoned beast deployed throughout the town.
「… I am sorry, but something urgent came up」(Touya)
Leaving everyone, I immediately teleport outside of the arena.
I did so in the shade of a building so that it won’t cause an uproar. After that, I immediately come out at the main street bustling with people.
Once I push my way through the crow, I notice a man with a black bandana in front of me walking this way. Behind him is a mouse following in a crawl. It’s one of Kohaku’s subordinates. So this is the guy, huh?
I then silently stand in front of the man with a black bandana.
「Ah? Who the hell are you?」
「May I ask you to return that thing in your breast pocket?」
「… I don’t know what you’re talking about」
「You’re holding it, aren’t you? That purse that you’ve pickpocketed 」
Chi! The man clicks his tongue and takes a knife out of the pocket instead of the purse and thrusts it at me. Looks like he’s an idiot, he could’ve just run away immediately.
I dodge the incoming knife, grab his hand, twist it and raise overhead. The man loses grip of his knife due to the pain he feels from having his arm bent in another direction at its joint and grovels at the ground.
「Guaaa!? B-basard! The hell are you doing?!」
I‘m not doing anything aside from striking you, am I? The little mouse drags out a purse from the man whom I’m holding down. The purse if made from a seemingly high-class clothing, an unbecoming item for a hoodlum such as him.
According to the report of the little mouse, this guy apparently snatched this purse from a traveling merchant earlier. I was the closest one to the scene, so I just jumped in to apprehend him.
A short time later, the guys from our knight order come along after hearing about the commotion and arrest the perpetrator.
At first, the man shouts about this purse being his and whether I have proof that he had stolen it. But then, he becomes docile once I disclose my social position to him and projects an image of his crime, which I took from the memory of the little mouse using the memory restoration magic “Recall”.
The knights then take the thief to the guard station. Once I make sure of that, I decide to return the purse to its rightful owner. There’s quite a lot of money in it, so the owner is probably very much troubled right now.
Thankfully, I have the memories of the mouse, so I know who was pickpocketed.
I display a map, and I easily find the person in question. It appears that this person in front of a street stalls a bit further down the street. I should return the purse to him at once.
After arriving at a quick pace before the stall, I see a plump man in merchant clothes having a quarrel with an old man who seems to be an owner of the stall. The merchant clothes have an excessive amount of red in them. I didn’t know about that since the memory of the little mouse was monochrome in color. He’s quite the gaudy merchant, alright.
「What do you mean “I have no money”!? If you planned to run away without paying for the food right from the beginning, then…」
「I did not! My purse is no longer with me! I might’ve lost it or I was pickpocketed…」
Oops! Looks like the situation turning into a case of “having no wallet and leaving the restaurant without paying”. That’s serious.
「Excuse me. Could this be the purse that you have lost?」(Touya)
「Eh? Ah! My purse?!」
Raising my voice from behind, I hand over the purse back to the merchant. It appears that I wasn’t mistaken.
After I convey the matters to the proprietress of the food cart in detail and explain that the man never had any ill intentions, she consents and takes the payment from the merchant.
「Thank you very much. You’ve saved me」
The man himself then bows. Since the moment I saw this man, I’ve been interested in one thing about him.
His red clothes are indeed interesting, and he’s also wearing a turban-looking hat. His physique is good for someone who’s in his forties. All of the things above plus his black beard makes him a real-life example of an Arabian “merchant”. Still, what draws my attention even more than his overall appearance is the color of his skin.
His skin is even redder than the dragon tribeswoman Sonia-san. It’s so red that it might be alright to call him a red man. Could this person be…?
「Could it be that you’re a red citiz… from the Arkana tribe?」(Touya)
「Oya? Are you familiar with my family?」
As I’ve thought. An ancient tribe which is said to have been regarding the color red as sacred, they left behind cryptic letters and sealed a Fraze beneath the former capital of Belfast. It’s also said that this enigmatic tribe visited the icy Elfrau Kingdom about a millennium ago. That merchant is probably a descendant of that tribe.
「If you are from the Arkana tribe? Then there’s this something I want you to see no matter what」(Touya)
I take out several photographs from the “Storage”. It’s the cryptic letters that were drawn onto one of the walls during the first time we encountered the fraze for the first time.
Perhaps this person might be able to read these cryptic images.
The red merchant then takes the pictures and, while groaning, looks at them.
「Those are… They’re cryptic letters that are being passed down in the Arkana tribe since the ancient times. Nowadays, there are almost no people who use that alphabet even amongst the tribe members themselves, you know?」
「So you can’t read them then? As I feared」
「No, I can read them. My grandmother was one of the shrine maidens of her time, so she taught those letters to me. There are probably about five people, including me, who can read them in this age」
That’s quite few, isn’t it? Those letters, aside from being one of the alphabets used since the ancient times, could be something sacred or used only to write down something important. Perhaps there weren’t letters used on a regular basis.
「Hmmm… “We, the red nation, write this. A group of shining devils came out from a hole leading to hell and made an offering of the people. When the capital was about to be ruined, two small knights, a black one and a white one, were called upon by the king. They shot every devil to the very last one of them through time and space, closed the hellhole, and then left somewhere. We leave a devil’s husk here so that you can defeat and ruin the devils if the hell hole is about to be opened yet again through the passage of time. Absolutely do not pour life into it”… something like that 」
The subject, that’s being read to me, makes me cock my head in confusion once more.
The “shining devils” are likely the frazes. The “hell hole” is probably a crack in the barrier.
Still, who are the “black and white knights”?
「Where did you find this?」
「It was on a small underground ruin left beneath the former capital of Belfast」
「I see… We’ve been told that people, who separated from our tribe, migrated to the lands of Belfast. Those letters might’ve been left behind by those who separated from us」
The frazes invaded the former capital of Belfast more than 1000 years ago. In order to convey to the future generations about what happened at that time, the red nation, or the Arkana tribe, made those ruins. However, why did they have to bury this secret in the darkness of history? It wasn’t made to just disappear… right?
It might’ve been the instructions of the king at that time, and they might’ve forgotten about it after some time has passed. No, the red nation utilized the underground ruins specifically, it could be done to seal the fraze… Still, the problem lies elsewhere.
What’s written on those ruins is probably the truth. The frazes invaded the capital, which turned into an unprecedented peril for the city.
There are certainly people who were either killed it or ran away from it.
The Black and White Knights. Those two are the key. They could be owners and their respective golem who was summoned from the Reverse World, or they could be two genuine knights. I’m troubled as to how to treat this information.
What does that mean? I’m collecting all the pieces of this mystery, and yet I feel like I don’t know how to arrange them. Looks like I have no other choice but to go to the Reverse World once more.
「Thank you very much. You’ve helped me」
「No, that’s my line. That money are meant to be used as funding for the purchases I’ll be making this time, it would’ve been a heavy loss to lose them. Please, let me express my gratitude once again」
It appears that the red nation, the Arkana tribe, had been moving from one place to another until they eventually reached the peaceful lands on the island floating in between the Demon Kingdom Zenoasu and the Hanock kingdom.
Speaking of that place, it’s located close to Zenoasu, so it’s said the tribe lives in coexistence with demonkins on that island.
The merchant… Porunga-san had left the island during his youth and followed the footsteps of a merchant. Right now, he seems to be going around the world as an adult merchant. Him coming to Brunhild is due to the need to procure unusual commodities that can only be obtained here.
Since that’s the case, I’ve introduced Porunga-san to Alba-san’s Strand Company. That place deals with lots of unusual stuff after all.
Having thus separated from Porunga-san, I once again recall what he said earlier.
「Two knights… is it?」(Touya)
Ye-e-ep…. It’s no good. I don’t understand what that means. Let’s leave it aside for the time being.
「Aah! There he is. Touya-san!」
I turn around to the source of the voice and see Yumina and Luu pushing through the crowd and waving their hands.
「You did well to find me here」(Touya)
Although my location isn’t far away from them, they still managed to come here immediately after I had teleported. I try to ask them about how they found me since it’s mind-boggling for me, but the two just exchange glances and slightly tilt their heads.
「Well… I don’t know how, but lately, I’ve been able to generally understand where Touya-san is located. It’s the same for Luu-san here… 」(Yumina)
「It’s somewhat vague, but I get a feeling that says “this way”… Looks like everyone feels the same thing」(Luu)
Hey! What’s with this psychic sensory?! Is this one of the effects of them becoming dependents?!
It’s certainly possible for that ability of theirs to surface if their connection with me gets stronger. That power, which Kohaku and others possess, might be the same thing.
However, for a wife to accurately grasp the whereabouts of her husband is… it’s unpleasant, isn’t it? Affairs can’t be done with this. No, I won’t do something like that anyway!
「What about Yae and Hilda?」(Touya)
「They said that they will continue watching the martial arts tournament. They’ll be joined by Elzie-san afterward as well」(Luu)
Well, our household’s fighter clique consisting of those three girls are like that, I guess.
Obviously, the people who belong to this clique are Elzie, Yae, and Hilda. Linzie, Rin, and Sakura are from the magician clique. The remaining Yumina, Luu, and Suu are of the royal clique, probably? No, both Hilda and Sakura are royalty as well.
After this, we inspect the recitation meeting held by Sakura’s group, enjoyed the amazing skill of traveling street performers, and punished drunkards who are causing a ruckus and acting violently since afternoon.
At the recitation meeting, it’s amazing to see the demon king reading to children with a ghastly appeal. Later, he’s severely scolded by Sakura for completely scaring the children and making them cry. Why did he speak with that evil-sounding tone anyway?
It would’ve taken all the evening if he notices us, so we decide to return to the shogi hall. Isn’t it about time for the winner to be decided?
We finally arrive at the grounds, and we see that the erected monitors are all projecting the same image on all four of them. Looks like the final match has already begun.
「Etto… Ooh! If it isn’t the Paluf King and Doran-san? That’s amazing」(Touya)
There are people among the audience who let out surprised voices as well.
The Boy King of the Paluf Kingdom, Ernest Din Paluf, was apparently registered under the alias of Er Palus.
Due to the effects granted by the badge I’ve given him, everyone else sees the figure of an entirely different person, but his age is supposed to remain the same.
A mere 10-year-old boy mingles with the adults and reaches the final match. It’s natural that they are surprised.
「Make no mistake, that boy is a genius… His cousin Rachel is one thing, but those two are ominous pair」
As I quickly glance at the audience, I see Rachel watching her boy king fiancee. Beside her are the guard company of Paluf.
Rachel continues to watch the match while making a tense gulp. She seems to occasionally ask for an explanation about the game from her father, Duke Rembrandt, who’s sitting next to her. She’s probably worried.
Meanwhile, the boy king concentrates all his nerves on the pieces atop the table, whether it be because he knows about her feelings or not.
His opponent, Doran-san the owner of the Silver Moon inn in Leaflet, makes his usually stern face even sterner than before while glaring at his pieces. He’s frightening… If the recipient is a regular kid, that kid would’ve probably run away from him at full speed.
The pieces are already gray, which means that the time is almost up. Thereupon, Doran-san extends his hand and moves the “Silver general” diagonally to the right.
The next moment, the boy scowls and starts to brood. Doran-san turns over the hourglass standing next to the table. The color of the piece returns back to normal. Right now, it’s the boy king’s turn.
「Who do you think is going to win?」(Luu)
「Hmmm, based from what I’ve seen on the board, Doran-san seems to be in the lead…」(Touya)
Such is my answer to Luu. Truth be told though, I’m not sure about that. Everything can change depending on what moves will be taken after this, and how an opponent will react.
The pieces that the two people hold at hand are displayed at the space open to the audience as people exchange opinions about this and that move.
There are also those who don’t know much about shogi, yet they seem to be completely drawn in into the seriousness those two are displaying.
The color changes once again, and the time limit is fast approaching.
The King of Paluf moves his hand. His “Horse” jumps diagonally on top of the table.
The moment he quickly places the piece, the color reverts again. This time, it’s the boy king who flips over the hourglass.
Doran-san’s face becomes even grimmer than before. Ohh? Is he being pushed back by the boy king? I can’t really understand. Ye-ep, it may be a good idea to station a permanent commentator for the audience from the next year onwards.
Troubled to his limit, Doran-san moves his piece. In an atmosphere wherein anyone will hesitate to cheer on them, the only thing we could do now is to watch those two people fight as if they’re using real swords.