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Rinea and the knight were just about to cross their swords when…
「I really hope your friend doesn’t suffer any serious injuries.」
「Are you threatening us?」
「Of course not. I just want His Majesty to see the reality of the situation.」
「If the student gets hurt, you will have to take responsibility.」
「If that happens, of course I will sincerely apologize. I will tell His Majesty that, unfortunately, my knight must have been unable to hold back his strength sufficiently since she was weaker than he had expected. I will then explain that, to be a knight, a greater amount of strength is necessary and share my opinion that knights should only be men. Any women that wish to protect the royal family should aim to be magicians instead.」
As Rutum told us this, Rinea attacked her opponent, but the knight easily parried her attack and, with a nudge of his hand, ripped her sword out of her arms, sending it flying to the ground. Rinea gritted her teeth to bear the pain in her arms, and picked up her sword to continue the fight.
「I wonder how long she will be able to hold on for.」
「After this, she might never be able to pick up a sword again.」
「I’m going to stop the match!」
Shia said and started to make her way towards the stage.
「Will you be able to get there before my knight gets in an actual attack? I wonder who’s quicker.」
Shia stopped dead in her tracks.
「If somebody tries to approach them during the match… I think you understand why that would be a bad idea.」
Rutum continued and looked at Shia with that twisted smile of his.
I wanted to smack the smile off his face so badly. Would it be okay if I actually did it? Eleanora-san would probably get in trouble for it…
Mu, mu, mu, mu… this was so annoying. If only I could release my anger somehow…
I whispered to Fina and Shuri to let go of my uniform, and to stand behind me, so that I could be free to make a move at any time.
「Why don’t we make a deal? If you accept the engagement to my son, I will order the knight to stop. How about that?」
「Do you think I would allow such a ridiculous bargain?」
「Perhaps your daughter sees it differently?」
Eleanora-san rejected Rutum’s demand outright, but Shia looked conflicted as she watched her friend in pain.
I took a quick look back at the match. The knight looked as if he was about to be hit by Rinea’s attack but then he forcefully moved his sword. His strong thrust clashed against Rinea’s sword, and swept it aside easily. The knight then swung his sword downwards, forcing Rinea to block his strike with her own sword. He continued to swing his sword again and again, leaving Rinea in a lot of pain as she tried her best to block it, eventually losing the grip on her sword. Not wanting to give up, she picked her sword while gritting her teeth, and stood up to face him again.
This time, the knight didn’t waste time, and used brute force to tackle her down.
「I will fight on her behalf!」
Shia shouted at Rutum.
「I just have to win, right?」
「Fu, fu, fu. I know that you are an excellent student, but there is no way you can win against a trained knight.」
「I can’t know until I try!」
「Shia, I won’t allow this!」
If Shia used magic against a melee opponent, she had a chance to win as long as she kept her distance. Still, the moment the knight reached her, she would be done for.
「Alright, how about we agree on this? If Lady Shia wins, then I won’t do anything to that girl aiming to become a knight. However, if Lady Shia loses, she will have to marry my son.」
「Oh, and how about pairing my youngest son with your younger sister, Lady Noa? Don’t you think it would be wonderful to have both sisters marry into the family?」
When Noa heard her name mentioned by Rutum, she shivered noticeably.
This conversation was heading in a very bad direction.
Just a bit more, and I wouldn’t be able to hold myself back anymore.
「If I win against that knight, will you stop trying to prevent women from becoming knights?」
Eleanora-san yelled at her, exasperated.
「Sure, I can agree to that. However, if you lose, you will have to marry my son.」
「You can’t do this.」
Elenora-san tried to stop Shia from going through with it.
「Then, how about I fight for you, instead?」
At this point, I could no longer let this guy get off easily. He was trying to force both Shia and Noa into marriage, so he had to pay.
「And, who are you, young lady? This is a discussion between the Forscheroze and Roland families. I would prefer for outsiders to keep out of it.」
I naturally ignored his remark.
「In that case, what would happen if I walked down to the arena and wiped out all those precious knights of yours?」
「You have a good sense of humor, young lady.」
I was pretty serious, though.
「Still, we’re discussing matters of potential marriages here. I don’t have the time to play silly games with you. Lady Shia, if you don’t hurry, the girl will lose, and at that point, the deal will be off.」
「Yu-Yuna-san. Would you really fight on my behalf?」
Shia looked at me with a serious expression.
「I don’t think I can win against a knight myself. However, if you fought in my place…」
Did that mean that she wanted to let me fight, having her as the wager?
「Please help me!」
Shia requested with a bow.
I had no problem fighting on her behalf as long as she was okay with it.
I couldn’t even imagine Shia having to marry the child of a man like Rutum. What was more, he was even trying to drag Noa into it.
If Shia married that man’s son, Crimonia would become this man’s property.
My home was in Crimonia. My shop was in Crimonia. The orphans lived in Crimonia. I wasn’t going to let a man like that do what he wanted there. Crimonia was my town!
Still, to fight with someone’s future in my hands… If it was something that could be undone then I would be fine with it, but marriage wasn’t something easy to cancel.
I looked at Eleanora-san, unsure of what to do.
「You can’t… I won’t let you wager both your lives.」
「What if I put something on the line instead?」
「And what might that be?」
「If Yuna-chan loses, I will step down from my position. I’m sure that would please you greatly, to remove an eyesore like me from standing next to His Majesty.」
Eleanora-san put forward her own offer and surprised Rutum for the first time.
「Do I have your word that you won’t take back what you just said?」
「Yes, I will promise you I will do it if Yuna-chan loses.」
「Fufu. Great, it’s set then. Still, are you sure about betting your position on the performance of a little girl?」
「Well, even if she loses, I will just have to return to the town where my husband is. However, what will you wager if she wins? Will you agree to step down from your position, perhaps? That should make it much easier for us to raise female knights.」
「Fufufu! Hah, fine, I will agree to that. Make sure you keep your promise!」
「The same goes for you.」
Rutum couldn’t hold back his laughter after that.
The whole situation has become rather out of hand if I had to say.
Rutum shouted at the knight who was still battling Rinea, and he stopped his attacks.
Shia looked very relieved when she saw that the battle had stopped.
「Well then, since I can’t trust your verbal promise, I will ask His Majesty to be our witness.」
Rutum sent us another nasty smile before walking to the king.
「Yuna-chan, I’m sorry for dragging you into this. Rutum has a lot of influence in the court, and I didn’t know what else I could do.」
Eleanora-san apologized to me the moment he was out of sight.
「I don’t mind it at all, but how far can I go?」
「Go as far as you would like. Even if he wins, I will just lose my job, so you don’t have to worry about it too much. I will be able to return to Crimonia and help Cliff in that case.」
「Yuna-san, please don’t let that happen. I will be left all alone in the capital if you do.」
Shia asked with a sad expression very much in contrast to the optimistic Eleanora-san.
「I just have to make sure I win, then.」
I said and smiled at Shia to reassure her.
Since I had to win, I decided to take Eleanora-san’s words seriously and go all out.
「Just don’t let your guard down. The knights are all very good fighters.」
Of course I would be careful. Without my Bear Suit, my defense was limited, taking away a bit of my superiority. I had no intention of letting my guard down without my Bear Suit on.
Not to mention, Eleanora-san’s job was at stake. I could not lose, no matter what.
We followed behind Rutum and reached the king.
「Do you need something of me?」
「We have a request, Your Majesty.」
Rutum adopted a respectful tone when speaking to the king.
「We have come to request a match, with our positions as the wager. We would like you to be the witness of it.」
「You made a wager?」
「That’s correct. If my knight wins, Eleanora-dono will resign from her position. If my knight loses, then I will resign, instead.」
「If I lose, then I will just have to return to Cliff.」
Eleanora said in an almost hopeful tone.
Was it just me, or did Eleanora-san actually want to return to Crimonia?
「You can’t simply decide such a thing by yourself, on a wager no less. As your king, I will not allow it.」
Well, it seemed like at least someone was thinking straight.
「Isn’t it our right to resign from our positions?」
Wouldn’t they need an actual reason to resign?
The king threw a quick glance at me, and it seemed as if he wanted to ask if I was going to be the one fighting, so I gave him a slight nod.
「Alright, who will be fighting whom in this wager?」
His Majesty asked, just to confirm.
「My knight, Figo, will fight on my behalf.」
「She will be fighting on my behalf.」
Elenora-san looked at me as she spoke.
His Majesty turned his gaze to me without changing his expression.
「Your Majesty, will you trust her ability to take a spot in this wager?」
Eleanora-san looked straight in the king’s eyes as she asked him this.
He looked between her and me for a while, lost in thought, then spoke up.
「State your name.」
My name? He already knew my name, didn’t he? Was he going senile?
「You shouldn’t state your real name.」
Eleanora-san whispered to me. Oh, I see, that was what they meant.
Now that I understood what they wanted, I quickly started to think up a name, but it was hard to think of it so suddenly.
「My name is Yu…Yuu…Yuuna.」
His Majesty seemed quite taken aback by my choice of a fake name. It was his fault for putting me on the spot, though. I couldn’t simply come up with a fake name so quickly.
「I see, Yuuna, is it? Are you really willing to battle a knight?」
「I am willing, for the sake of my friend, Shia-sama.」
I felt that, given my current act, it was best to add honorifics to Shia’s name.
「I see. I will agree to witness this battle, then.」
「Thank you very much.」
Rutum bowed his head, his devious smile spreading once again.
Winning this match wouldn’t be enough for me to feel better. I wanted to beat up Rutum, not his knight.
「Your Majesty, may I make a request?」
My words surprised everyone.
「And what would your request entail?」
「Well, Rutum, ehm, Rutum-sama was making fun of women, and saying that he won’t let women become knights.」
「Of course. Only men should aim to become knights.」
Rutum immediately rebuked my comment.
「Women are weaker and hence not suitable to become knights. I think Your Majesty should also have seen this from the match earlier. It is clear that women are inferior to men. If you want to ensure the safety of Tilia-sama and Flora-sama, you should let them be protected by male knights.」
「As I already told you countless times, the girls requested for female knights themselves.」
「We can’t afford to take the risk, can we?」
「Actually, if I could make a suggestion about that.」
Both His Majesty and Rutum looked at me.
「If I am able to win against all your knights, Rutum, er, Rutum-sama…」
I really didn’t like adding honorifics for a man like him, but I had to endure it.
With His Majesty and others here, I had to be careful with my language.
Still, it was a huge pain to do so as I wasn’t used to it at all.
「I would like you to drop the ‘being knights is only for men’ act. Not all women are weak. If raised well, they can be just as strong as men. It’s wrong for you to give up on them from the start.」
「Unlike raising male knights, raising female knights takes more time and more effort, though. It’s a waste to do it.」
Rutum still argued against my words.
It was indeed easier to train someone with a better starting ability, no matter the occupation.
However, talent also played a huge role. In the game, there were players who were quick at picking things up, and players who could never understand no matter how many times they tried the same thing. It was much better to form a party with the former example, rather than the latter.
Still, stats were also important. It was possible triumph over someone with more talent as long as you had higher stats.
Comparing this to the current situation, I could understand what Rutum was trying to say. Yet, simply dismissing all women for having a weaker starting point wasn’t okay in my books.
In my former world, I had been one of those who had been dismissed. My school had given up on me and my own parents had dismissed me from their minds. I had been forced to live all alone, without anyone to rely on.
People could improve simply given the right opportunity. Some might be faster than others, but all deserved the chance. I wanted to open up an easier path for girls aiming to become knights.
Rinea was doing her best, picking up her sword again and again, no matter how many times it was flung aside. She was putting all her effort into it, unlike me, who had gained my powers without even lifting a finger. She believed in herself, believed that she could become a knight if she just tried hard enough. It wasn’t something others had forced her to do, she had chosen to do it herself. With such strong conviction, I believed that she was capable of becoming a knight, given enough time.
「I can understand your opinion, but I will ask you again, Rutum-sama. If I win, will you agree to having female knights? I’m sure that with your approval, others will change their opinions as well. In addition, should you keep treating women with contempt after you’ve lost, I would like for you to be punished properly if the time comes.」
Everyone in the arena was completely shocked by my request. How could a commoner ask for a noble to be punished?
Well, I just wanted to beat up all these knights, especially Rutum. I simply tried adding some extra conditions that would come with my victory.
「Rutum, what do you think of Yuuna’s request?」
「Fufufu… I apologize, but I just can’t stop laughing after being told something so insane. Of course I’m fine with such a condition. But, what will you do if you lose?」
「Do you really plan on demanding something from me, when I’m clearly entering a match where I should have no hopes of winning?」
Rutum looked at His Majesty and at the surrounding crowd.
「I guess you’re right. I will respect your hopeless challenge and not demand anything in return. After all, as you said yourself: you have no hope of winning.」
He said with a crooked grin filled with the arrogant confidence of a strong person.
「Please don’t go back on your words if I do somehow win, okay?」
Knowing my true strength, Eleanora-sama and His Majesty were completely bewildered by my act while the crowd looked concerned for the little girl like me. No matter who it was, they would all be my witnesses; Rutum had no way to void my conditions.
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