The time until the next fight passed quickly. I practiced with my new sword in any given opportunity I had, although I’m still not completely confident with it. The weight is significant. Even if I can swing it with ease, it delays the speed of my attacks that had become second nature during Shishous hellish training. If possible, I shouldn’t rely too heavily on it this round.
As I sit in the waiting area in the arena, waiting to be escorted back to my prep room, I make sure I’m mentally prepared.
What kind of attack will he come at me with? With such a small physic he is either a mage or relies on speed most likely. If he is the later this should be a simple matter of my speed versus his, but if it’s the prior then I should be on the lookout for tricks. Any mage that would enter this tournament would have to understand the disadvantage they were at. That being the case if they still joined they must have a trick or two to help them advance through the rounds up their sleeves.
“I don’t know whether to be flattered or insulted that you are so deep in thought just before our match. I suppose the answer lies in whether you are deep in thought about me or not?” A familiar voice says snapping me out of my focus
I’m almost startled by how suddenly Incha appears before me. He is certainly light on his feet.
“I suppose I am. I have no idea how you fight after all. That, and something a friend of mine said is still weighing on my mind I guess.” I answer
I still haven’t discovered who rigged this next round. I can’t really figure out why someone would to be honest. If it’s to decide who moves on to the next round, was I the person meant to lose or Incha? The bracket was decided before almost anybody here had seen me fight so surely nobody should have been counting on me progressing unless Incha is truly weak. If so, then why not rig the first round as well to make sure I made it this far?
Was Incha meant to lose this round then? His opponent dropped out of the first round, so it was possibly rigged in his favor. If so, then why? Who benefits from me advancing to the third round to fight Afeuro? Worse yet… could Incha have rigged the drawing?
“Contestant number 34 Mano, and contestant number 35 Incha, please proceed to your prep areas.” An attendant says robotically as she indicates the way for us
“I guess it’s our turn. Let make it a good fight.” Incha says with a smile as he holds his hand out to shake
“Of course,” I respond as I grab it
“Ow!” I let out as a sharp prick hits my palm out of nowhere
The pain is enough that I was sure I must be bleeding, but when I inspect my hand I see no wound.
Confused I inspect the hand I was shaking, however, there doesn’t seem to be anything in his palm. He’s not even wearing a glove.
A look of regret flushes over Incha’s face as I inspect his hand.
“Oh my goodness! I completely forgot I’m so sorry!” Incha says as he hovers his hands around mine looking at it, but avoiding contact
Confused at the message I received and his sudden panic I simply look at him skeptically.
“I was born with a curse… it hurts those that I come in contact with. It is so rare that I make friends that I had forgotten about it.” Incha says with a sorrowful look
His face… looks genuine, but I can’t help but remain skeptical. Regardless, thanks to my new resistances it doesn’t seem to have affected me, so, for now, I’ll just go with it.
“It’s alright, I feel a tad wheezy, but I should be fine before the fight,” I say attempting to look a bit sickly
This is a complete lie. The first time he touched my hand I will admit I felt a little woozy, but I figured it was just because of how hungry I was. That fight really took it out of me. This time, however, I feel completely fine.
“Is that so? Thank goodness. Not to put myself first, but if you had dropped out of the fight as well I probably would have been kicked out on suspicion of fixing my fights. Are you sure your okay?” He asks again as he hovers around me in a doting kind of way
I suppose he does have a point. It would look suspicious if his second round opponent dropped out as well, plus with a curse this weak there is no way he would have been able to take down Afeuro using this method. He would have just been defeated next round instead if he was relying on some cheap method like that.
“I’ll be fine. If you really feel guilty about it, just treat me to some ramen after the fight.” I say with a smile
“…Pfft, is that all?! You must be fine after all. Alright, it’s a deal, I’ll treat you later.” Incha says as he goes to put out his hand to shake on it
He jerks it back before he fully extends it though, clearly remembering what happened.
“Sorry, I’ll be more careful,” Incha says with a nervous smile
The attendant standing next to us is beginning to look a tad irritated, however.
“This. Way. Please.” She says as she points with irritation towards the prep rooms
“Shall we?” I say as I follow her instructions
Incha gives a nod and we separate into our prep rooms.
While I wait for my our fight to begin I give my stats a thorough inspection to make sure the curse hasn’t affected them. Although I can’t seem to find anything wrong I cast “Restore” on myself just in case.
I receive no visitors while I wait this time, and I spend my time waiting enjoying my peaceful boredom. It doesn’t last however as after a short while the attendant pokes her head in yet again to lead me to the Arena.
“LADIES AND GENTLEMEN! We have yet another amazing fight for you today! I’m sure you are all excited to see our one-hit wonder in action again after her last fight, but today she is matched up with another new face to the tournament. Due to a drop out in the first round, it is still unknown what kind of fight we have ahead of us today. Will it be a one-sided slaughter, or will the unknown element turn the tables? I suppose the only way we will know is if we get down to it. LET THE MATCH… BEGIN!” The announcer excitedly says as I take up my place across from Incha
I begin to draw my sword, but before I can even get it out of my Scabbard, my vision goes white.