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After agreeing on the conditions for winning or losing, I was about to go to Shia when she instead came to me with a lowered head.
「Yuna-san, um, I’m so sorry. Because of me, you…」
「Shia, you did nothing wrong.」
This was entirely Rutum’s fault for being a grown-up who didn’t care about the feelings of children.
I noticed the rest of the girls had worried expressions just like Shia.
「Shia… You think of us as friends, right?」
I wanted to confirm what I was to her.
I really hoped she wouldn’t say 「I don’t really,」 or 「I can’t be friends with someone who wears embarrassing bear costumes.」
「You are a person I look up to, Yuna-san.」
For some reason, I received a response I wasn’t expecting.
「You’re strong, you can cook, you are knowledgeable about many things, and you always take care of me. I’m very happy that you think of me as your friend.」
I was relieved to hear that she did think of me as a friend, after all.
「In that case, just as you were trying to protect your friend, Rinea, I’m now going to protect you, because you’re my friend too.」
「Yuna-san… Thank you so much.」
Shia said with a warm smile.
「Onee-sama… that’s not fair. Yuna-san, I’m your friend too, right?」
Noa latched onto my arm and peered up at me. Even when she looked at me like that, I could only respond:
「Umm, I think of you as my little sister, I guess?」
「Your little sister?」
「Yeah, like a slightly selfish but cute little sister?」
「Selfish… I don’t act selfishly. Yuna-san, you’re so mean.」
Noa protested, puffing her cheeks, but I could see that she was also smiling.
Shia quickly wrapped her arms around Noa as if to prevent me from taking her away.
「Yuna-san, Noa is my little sister. I won’t hand her over to you, even if you are my friend.」
「Onee-sama, you’re hurting me.」
Both Shia and I laughed as we watched Noa struggling to escape Shia’s arms.
「Well, I may have lost Noa to you, but I still have two little sisters of my own.」
I said, hugging Fina and Shuri to me.
The two of them exclaimed in embarrassment as I hugged them. At least they now had smiles on their faces instead of worried expressions.
They would look sad if I lost the upcoming match, so I really had to win.
I looked towards the arena and saw Rutum already ordering all his knights except for one to return to the sidelines. The audience started making a fuss over the matches being over but were soon appeased learning there would be a special match up next. From what I gathered, they had only been told they that there would be a special match and not the contents of the wager.
Rutum then proceeded to speak with the remaining knight. Would he be my opponent?
「So, he really is going to be the opponent…」
Eleanora-san, who had been chatting with the king, spoke as she looked over at the knight talking to Rutum.
「Eleanora-san, is that man strong?」
「He is indeed. Among the knights in Rutum’s Chivalric Order, he might be the strongest. Also, he for sure won’t be holding back.」
Even with me, a small girl, as his opponent, that knight would not hold back? In that case, I didn’t have to hold back, either.
「By the way, what were you and His Majesty talking about just now?」
Eleanora-san waited for Rutum to finish his conversation and walk away before answering me.
「Nothing much. He was simply mad at me for doing things without asking him first and wanted me to think about everyone who would be troubled if I suddenly quit!」
Of course deciding on a course of action without asking him was going to make him upset.
Despite constantly skipping out on her duties, Eleanora-san was apparently still viewed as an important subordinate by his side, and they also seemed to get along well.
「Honestly, I wouldn’t really mind if I had to go back to Crimonia and be with Cliff. After all, if I did that, I could eat Yuna-chan’s cooking more often.」
Was my cooking possibly the real reason she wanted to return to Crimonia?
If so, I felt bad for Cliff…
「After scolding me, His Majesty asked me if you will win the fight.」
「Who knows? I don’t really know myself until I actually fight him. If that knight is stronger than a Worm or a Black Viper, then I might not be able to win.」
I couldn’t give her a definitive answer since I had never battled him before.
「Yuna-chan, making such a comparison is a little strange.」
I wished she didn’t look at me with such a shocked expression… I really didn’t really know the strength of people in this world.
Looking back at the knight who would be my opponent, I noticed that he was carrying a weapon.
「Eleanora-san, do I have to bring my own sword? Or, can I use one of the practice ones?」
I did have the steel sword that I had bought from Gold-san. I had planned to use it to practice swordplay but had ended up learning magic, and focusing on that when battling, so that sword had not seen the light of day since then.
「It should still be considered a practice match, so you can use a sword meant for that. Shia, can you get one for Yuna-chan?」
Shia nodded, and went off to get a practice sword for me. I followed her with my gaze, and saw she actually ended up asking her friend Rinea, and borrowing a sword from her.
「Here you go, Yuna-san.」
I took the sword from Shia and unsheathed it. It looked to be a bit smaller than the swords the knights used, most likely because Rinea had chosen it to be her sword. Well, this size was just perfect for someone of my height.
After inspecting it, I swung it around lightly. Right, left, down, stab. I repeated my swings several times in order to get used to it. Once I was satisfied, I returned the sword to its sheath.
Mhm, swinging a sword really felt good. My body hadn’t forgotten the movements at all. It seemed like I could still fight efficiently even though it had been a while.
「Yuna-san, you’re amazing.」
「Yuna-neechan looks so cool…」
The girls all gazed at me with respect. It was a bit embarrassing to be praised for something so simple, though.
「Yuna-chan, are you ready? Rutum is waiting for us.」
I nodded then lightly patted each of the girls’ heads.
「Okay, let’s go.」
I collected myself and walked up to face the knight who was waiting for me at the center of the arena.
As I walked onto the stage, I heard someone announce I was the representative of the girls of the academy, which prompted many people to exclaim in surprise and speak amongst themselves.
「Who is that?」「I’ve never seen that girl around before.」「That small girl is going to be the representative?」
They had most likely introduced me as the representative of the girls so that Rutum could use the match to lower the reputation of women. If I were to be defeated, he could easily use the chance to denounce all the girls trying to become knights. Still, I didn’t think that it would be of much help to him. People must expect for a little (regular-sized) girl like me to lose this match, so the crowd shouldn’t take his words too seriously.
Of course, I had no intention of losing this fight, so Rutum’s scheming would end up being wasted.
As I stood in front of the knight, I realized that, with my height, I barely reached his chest. He was huge, and I could only see his face by looking up. Judging by his face, he should be in his mid-twenties, maybe?
He was wearing armor and had a shield in his left arm while his sword was still kept in its sheath.
「Hey, is that small girl really going to be okay?」
「With such a big difference in physiques, this couldn’t even be called a fight, no?」
「She’s not even wearing any armor.」
The students expressed their concerns.
Well, I really wasn’t wearing any armor and was rather still in Shia’s spare uniform.
The only thing I had that could be considered armor was my Bear Suit, but there was no way that I was going to be putting that on.
「Miss, don’t you have any armor?」
The knight questioned me.
「I don’t plan on getting hit, so I don’t really need any. Actually, I could ask you a similar question. Will you even be able to fight with such heavy armor on?」
It certainly looked very heavy, and he even wore a big shield with it. Well, he should be well protected with this sort of equipment… Should I aim for the areas that weren’t covered well, or maybe his legs?
The knight looked at my outfit and waited a bit before speaking up again.
「What you say does make some sense. It would be a problem if you lost because I had armor on and you didn’t. Let us battle under equal conditions, then.」
Everyone was shocked by his proclamation.
Rutum shouted at him.
「You bastard! Do you know how important this match is?」
「Lord Rutum, I know it very well. However, if you would let me explain myself. Eleanora-dono chose this girl for such an important battle. It’s very unlikely that she’s weak. With her small stature, she must be very quick on her feet. In that case, it would be better for me to be more agile as well. If I were to wear armor, I might not be able to keep up with her speed.」
As the knight spoke, Rutum looked at me.
「You might be right. Eleanora indeed decided to entrust the match to this girl instead of her own daughter. Do as you please. Just don’t let your guard down.」
Having gotten permission from Rutum, the knight called over one of his fellow knights. He then took off his armor and his shield and passed them to the other knight.
Under his armor, he was wearing casual clothing that showed off his well-trained muscles. Looking at his body, even I was almost convinced that women shouldn’t aim to become knights.
Well, battles weren’t determined by strength alone.
「I hope you don’t assume that my movements are slow.」
「Thank you for the warning, but don’t think you will be able to catch up to my speed just by removing your armor.」
I returned his warning with one of my own. The knight simply replied with an “Okay.”.
For some reason, this knight’s whole manner seemed way more knight-like than Rutum’s. He still didn’t look like he would hold back, though. Maybe that was why he had suggested fighting on equal terms: so he wouldn’t have to take it easy on me.
If only he treated me more like a fool, like giving me attitude or insults. Then, I could have taken out of my stress on him during the fight. Well, I had had no intention of holding back either way.
It was just a bit awkward now.
「Miss, I’m sorry, but Lord Rutum has ordered me not to take it easy on you. As such, I would like to ask you to forfeit before you get hurt.」
「Thanks for the warning, but I don’t think it will be necessary.」
「I see. In that case, I shall do my best and make you accept your defeat.」
「I look forward to going all out in this match with you.」
I was starting to remember my gaming days. I felt a bit bad for Eleanora-san, but I was almost beginning to enjoy myself.
「You’re quite strange, Miss. Normally, people are quaking in fear at this point.」
He must have noticed my excited expression…
「There’s just no way I’m going to lose this, that’s all.」
「I could say the same.」
This was a match neither side could afford to lose.
For me, I had to win for the sake of Eleanora-san and Shia.
For the knight, he most likely had to uphold his honor. There was no way he could lose to a girl like me.
「Are you two ready? As per usual, you aren’t allowed to perform any lethal attacks against the face and other vulnerable areas.」
Did that mean that attacking family jewels was also out of the question? Well, I never had to worry about it, but I had heard that certain spot was the most sensitive spot for men. Hitting it should result in great pain for the bearer. As a girl, I didn’t know how it felt, but… Was I allowed to hit it or not?
「Also, if we declare the match is over, both sides must stop fighting immediately.」
「That should be all. Get into position.」
We both responded with a nod and stepped away from each other.
The referees, Rutum and Eleanora-san, also moved a distance away. From what I gathered, both of them had been made referees in order to keep the fight fair.
If Rutum had been the only referee, he could clearly ignore some fouls done by his knight, so Eleanora-san managed to force her way in.
「You should stop the match before your little girl gets hurt.」
「How about this? If you agree to let girls become knights, I wouldn’t mind telling her to throw the match.」
The two referees started to argue. At this rate, a fight might break out between them before we even officially started the match.
「Yuna-chan, fight carefully okay. Even if you lose, I’ll just go home to Crimonia, so you don’t have to feel responsible for anything. However, if you get hurt, the girls will all be worried.」
「Figo, go all out. Prove to all these people that knighthood is for men only.」
With those words of encouragement, the knight and I readied our swords.
We didn’t make it to actual battle this chapter, but we will surely get to it in the next one.
I must also apologize to you, my dear readers. Because the publication deadline for the next light novel volume is getting closer, I couldn’t find the time to reply to your comments. I think I should find some time next week, so I will get to them then. I hope…
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