The moment they passed through the corridor from the waiting room and went up to the stage of the arena, a loud cheer could be heard.
''Anos-chan, good luck!
Anosu, you're going to win this one! Get fired up!
Mom and Dad's voices.
'Anos-sama! I'm looking good today!
As always, a quick death, please!
But if you kill him, you won't get to see Anos' heroics for very long!
Well, then, I want you to take your time with me.
Oh, but then I'd want you to do it to me!
What the hell?
The voices of the fan unions, as usual, could be heard.
''The next one to appear is from the Log North Magic Sword Association! He's won so far unscathed in a furious fight, Ray Grundley!
From the opposite aisle, Ray appeared on the stage of the arena.
The crowd cheered even louder than before, and the auditorium overflowed with cheers.
''I've been waiting for you, the Swordsman of Nerima!
Show that half-breed kid what's in his eyes!
Hey! Let's give those foolishly excited Unificationists a good smack in the head!
The imperialists are cheering for Ray.
It's just like a proxy war between the Unificationists and the Imperialists.
Hmm. It's a lot of noise.
Ray smiles briskly, as usual.
It was a blast. It was a natural smile, not an overbearing one.
''Before the start of the finals, the steering committee of this tournament has an announcement to make.
I thought he would try to play some tricks, but I think he's set it up quickly.
'The finals will be held under special rules. First, each competitor will be given an armband to wear first.
As the owl utters this, the watchers come up to me and Ray.
I did as I was told and held out my left hand, and a glittering bracelet was attached to it.
''In addition to the sword, if this bracelet is destroyed, it will also be considered a defeat.
Hmm. He's losing his magic power.
＜It's a sucker's ring. It's a magical artifact from the mythical age.
It's a magical tool from the mythical age. This tool will forever suck the magic of the person wearing the bracelet.
An ordinary person would find it extremely difficult to use magic.
The only way to prevent it is to break it, but if you do, you'll lose.
You're trying to reduce my power.
"Don't try anything foolish, Anos Voldigord.
A voice rang directly into my head.
It's a thought transmission (leaks) addressed only to me.
I trace the magic and look up at the top of my head.
Is it from that owl?
"The magic power that this sucker's circle continues to suck in is being sent to another place.
Indeed, if you work your magic eye, magic power is being sent somewhere from the through the magic line.
If that magic power is cut off, Sheila Granzly's spirit disease will worsen and she will disappear.
So you are prepared to erase the rumors and lore that were the source of Sheila's roots?
'And if you win against Ray Grandsdry, his root source will disappear.
Hmm. I'm sure that the magic sword of the contract will work.
I guess I've said what I wanted to say, but the 'thought communication' (leaks) from the owl was cut off.
The guards also put a bracelet on Ray's left hand and left for the corner of the stage.
I'm not sure if it's a magic tool or not, but it seems that Ray's bracelet is not.
''Well then, the final round of the Dillhade Magic Sword Tournament!
An owl's voice rang out from above.
As the signal to start, Ray draws out his Initio.
Then he raised the pure white sword barrel towards me.
I pulled out my vajra sword and piled it on top of Inythio as a greeting.
A light metallic sound could be heard with a snap.
''I wonder how happy I would have been if I hadn't thought about it and just swung my sword.
Ray mentions something like that.
'Hmm. You sound as if you couldn't do it.
He gives a vague smile.
'Can you fight with your magic sucked out of you?'
What? Don't be shy. If you think you have me at a disadvantage and I do something to you, you're dead.
That's what I thought.
Ray held his sword in the middle with a lean position.
I loosely lowered my Vajra Iron sword as usual.
We were already in the middle of each other.
But I couldn't move.
There are no gaps in Ray's stance. Wherever he attacked, he would be beaten back by the pure white magic sword.
I'm not going to be the only one who can do that.
If you're careless in attacking it, Innitio will slash your sword with all of his magical techniques of "secret magic power" and "armament enhancement" and that's it.
The only way to do that is to take advantage of the other side's attack.
And even if he did that well, if he beat Rey, he would disappear.
Now, what was to be done?
It's not that we're stuck on all sides, but it's quite a troublesome situation.
For now, we'll see how Ray comes out.
But he didn't move, either.
They stared at each other for a few minutes, and time just passed.
But the next moment, Ray suddenly relaxed.
'Actually, I've been told to stall for time for the final.
I was a little surprised that he exposed his inner workings.
''The longer it goes on, the better off I'll be.
＜It's a big drain on magic power to layer on the "Armament Enhancement (Adesin)" and "Secret Magic Power (Nazira)".
But that doesn't mean that Ray's sword is so naive that he can only use his magic when he's fighting.
Moreover, my magic power is constantly being sucked up by the sucker's circle.
If Ray is on the defensive, it's no easy task to defeat it with this rigid iron sword.
It is true that if I don't move like this, I will only be at a disadvantage.
''But. I stopped.
At the same time as the words, Initio's sword tip blurred.
The tip of the sword grazed my cheek as I saw off the blade, which was thrust straight out with unstoppable speed, just before my eyes.
In order to get out of time, I swing the Vajra Iron sword into Ray's left hand.
I pull my left hand back and think I'll avoid it, but Ray closes the gap even more.
My arm stops as Ray and my body make contact.
There's no way to swing my sword at this close range.
What kind of technique is this? From the space where there's no room to hit my fist, the sword comes towards my chin as if it were played. I quickly step back and duck. The pure white blade looms in front of me as I lose my balance.
If you receive it with the sword, it will be cut through both.
If that's the case--
Ray's sword dug into my left arm.
Flesh was ripped open and the blade reached the bone, but the sword stopped there.
'That was close. Those bones are hard.'
This is bullshit as usual, Anos.
Pulling Initio back, Ray retreated to re-partition.
His left arm could be seen slouching down unnaturally.
Come to think of it, his current strike was also slightly slower than usual.
If he had gripped it with both hands, the sword would have bitten into his bones.
''What's wrong with your arm?''
Ray smiles briskly.
'I just wanted to make it as equal a match as possible.
You cut your own tendon.
It's pretty painful.
As if it was nothing, Ray held the magic sword Inytio with one hand.
''Are you sure?''
It would be a betrayal to the imperialists to avoid an endurance fight or to slash the tendons in his left arm.
It would be a betrayal of the agreement to treat his mother.
Quietly, Ray replies.
''During that inter-squad exam, I thought. I thought to myself, "I've finally met someone. It's a good thing that I'm not the only one. I wanted to face you with all my might.
As he speaks, he gives me a guarded look.
'But you can't give it your all when you're holding me, and my mother, hostage.
Ray should be under surveillance.
The demon tribe that stabbed him with the magic sword of the contract would have known that I had a hunch with this line.
''I thought about it a lot, but in the end, all I had was the sword.
Ray says, as if prepared to do so.
'I disobeyed the contract. Now the magic sword inside my body has eaten into my roots.'
As expected, I should say. An ordinary person would have been destroyed at the root with the magic sword of the contract that had eaten into them at this point.
However, it's only a matter of time before that happens.
I'm going to die soon. "I'll be dead before long and my mother will not survive. There's no need for you to feel sorry for yourself.
The tip of Initio's sword is pointed at the on my left arm.
''I'll let you win in order to protect my friendship with you.
＜If you destroy the Circle of Suckers, Ray will win.
And as the owl reported, Sheila's rumors and lore will be erased, and she will die.
But if I don't destroy it, I'll be able to keep sucking magic for good.
Do you think I can't abandon Sheila and take my mother's life myself?
To protect me.
Risking your own life.
"Will you ask me for help?
At the risk of killing you?
I don't have to die.
Maybe so. But maybe not. No matter how transcendent you are, is it really your friend to think that you're willing to risk it?
'This is most like me. I'll win you in the end, and I'll protect you.
Well, if you intentionally defeat them, that's all that matters.
＜If the sucker's ring is destroyed, I can't guarantee Sheila's safety, but that owl hadn't said anything about the breakage of the Vajra Iron Sword.
In other words, the objective is to keep sucking my magic power in the "Circle of Suckers".
The victory or defeat of this magic sword tournament would be of no importance.
I dare to lose and pull out the magic sword of the contract that was stuck in Ray, and we can play the game again after Avos Dilhevia's plan is defeated.
The wise man will do so.
But I can't.
With the magic sword of the covenant cutting into the root of the situation, Ray wanted to fight me.
He didn't want position, he didn't want fame, he just wanted the sword.
It's not a matter of whether this is the last time you're going to be able to get your hands on it or not, Ray gave his all to the sword.
People may think that this is a foolish thing to do.
It's not just a matter of time before the game is over.
You can't be a friend of this man's if you suggest putting it off until later.
"You didn't give in to your enemies, you didn't rely on me, you didn't stand up for yourself. That's my friend.
I take a step forward.
"Ray. You don't need to think anymore. It doesn't matter if you are the royalists or the Unificationists. Forget about your mother. It's just you and me now.
'Come on. I'll play with you.
Whatever Avos Dilhevia is up to, we will not let it stand in our way.
My mother and father are rooting for me.
I swore to Misha that I would win.
And now Ray is putting his life on the line to challenge me.
This has nothing to do with the tyrannical demon king, it's about the two of us in the finals, the reborn me, and what we wanted.