As we are escorted out of the castle grounds by the only guard that seems to be able to walk next to us without wetting himself, I do my best to stop myself from fuming in anger. As we make our way onto the normal streets, and the guard parts from us, Juire begins to talk to me.
“Sorry you got dragged into that, I would have warned you he was going to try something, but I figured he would at least sit on his over-confident laurels for at least another round. I guess the trouncing you gave that big fellow really scared him good.” Juire says in a genuinely apologetic tone
The change from his normal tone is so drastic that I can’t help but stare stunned for a moment.
“Was beating up Riese really that big of a deal? I mean sure it was difficult, but surely that alone doesn’t make it look like I’m on par with the Yuusha?” I ask in return
If I was in the king’s position I certainly wouldn’t be freaking out just yet. I nearly lost after all.
“You are on a first name basis already? You certainly are a mysterious one, aren’t you? Here I was planning to wait until he recovered from the shock of losing to swoop in and take such a valuable asset, and yet you managed to grab him up even before I did.” Juire says with a snake-like grin
“How much do you know?” I ask as I place my hand on my weapon
I wasn’t cautious enough. Even if it seemed like we were alone, I forgot that Juire has ears and eyes all over the city. I can’t risk a villain like having valuable information on me like that monster village.
“I know that the envoy I sent to recruit our large mutual acquaintance was turned down and that the lumbering oaf seems to think of you as his benefactor. From your reaction though, I imagine that can’t be all there is to learn? Perhaps I should dig deeper?” Juire responds
“I would advise against it. I don’t care what kind of deal we have, I won’t hesitate to cut down someone that digs into my past.” I say as I draw me blade
“And here I thought we were starting to get along better? I joke anyways, we don’t dig into our business partners business. Call it a thieves code if you will, but most groups we work with have a similar policy with prying ears and eyes.” Juire says as he puts his hands up in surrender
I let my blade fall back into its scabbard, and he continues.
“Your right, however, about the king overreacting, but he did so with good reason. Your fight looked staged.” Juire says as his smile returns and he lowers his hands
“Staged?” I ask almost insulted
“It looked like a poor attempt to hide your strength. Although you seemed to be on the ropes for most of the fight, you walked away from a strike that would have killed most with virtually no injury. All of course before taking down your opponent in a single strike. To a coward like that king, the fact that you could afford even a poor charade like that against a thought unbeatable opponent made you a real threat.” Juire explains
“It’s not like I didn’t get hurt. If the fight had dragged on anymore it would have been trouble. Thankfully I managed to end it fast so I could heal myself right away.” I respond in a huff
I’m not being humble either. I’m pretty sure I was bleeding internally after that blow. Forget losing, if I had been banned from using magic much longer I probably would have outright died. How exactly is spitting up blood “Virtually no injury”?
“…Did you say you healed yourself?” He asks in the most stunned face I’ve ever seen him wear
“What… was I not supposed to? The rule on not using magic is only until the round ends right?” I ask nervously, afraid I might have made a mistake
How stupid can I be?! I did it right in front of all of the other contestants too!
“No, it’s nothing like that. It’s just… Healing magic is incredibly rare. Enough to be called a national treasure if you are capable of it. You just keep becoming more interesting.” Juire says as his smile returns with twice the scheming behind it
So that’s why I was getting such weird looks when I healed myself. If healing magic is so rare I can’t imagine a country would ever risk sending someone capable of it to a foreign country to fight to the death. The fact that I was able to take out Riese must have put them plenty on edge, but to realize that I could use healing magic on top of that must have made me everybody’s enemy.
“You should be careful by the way. The king rigged the drawing so you would be against the worst match in each round. Riese the Kollossal in the first round, and Afeuro in the third, but somehow his attempts to rig the second round failed. It seems like someone might have gotten to it before he could.” Juire says growing more serious
cric CRACK crack cri-
The cobblestones under my feet begin to crack as a wave of anger washes over me.
“HE WHAT?!” I yell out
“What?… You hadn’t realized yet? You didn’t find it odd at all that you were slated to go against the strongest people participating?” Juire ask with a disappointed look
I clench my teeth at his question.
I mean I might have noticed if I could READ!
“Of all the no-good tricks! How could he and Anata even be related?!” I let out angrily as I stomp the cracked cobbles
“Listen, I like to watch you destroy a public road as much as the next chump, but I don’t think you’re understanding me here. Sure he performed an underhanded trick, but it’s not like that alone was something I didn’t think you could handle. The problem is even I have no idea who this hidden element that rigged your next fight is. No matter how deep my organization digs it’s as if this guy doesn’t exist. They could prove to be far more of a threat than that measly coward of a king.” Juire continues with a serious face