Game of Persuasion: Claude vs Alexei (Jarazack’s Vote)
They were at an indoor arena inside the manor, its size big enough for fifty people to train simultaneously. The place was packed, with spectators lining the walls.
Where’d they come from?! Claude wondered.
Standing in the middle of the arena, his eyes widened as he watched the spectators that numbered more than a hundred. Thirty minutes had passed since he talked to Alexei in the audience chamber. After that, they moved to the arena. In the meantime, more and more people arrived, and before he knew it, a mass of people had entered the arena.
「Ahahaha! I was wondering what kind of person would challenge the boss, and it turns out it’s just a scrawny dude!」
「Who knows? Maybe he’s a master Mage.」
「Fighting with magic would be boring.」
「The boss has been really looking forward to today’s match.」
It seemed Alexei told the public of his fight with Claude today.
「Yeah. He said no one really wanted to fight him anymore.」
At least do mock battles with him! Worry gripped Claude. Was he that strong that no one wanted to fight him in mock battles? Does he employ incredibly nasty tactics when fighting? Will my sword even reach him?
Luka grabbed Claude’s slightly trembling hand.
「I know you can win.」
Right now, those words meant everything. As soon as Alexei entered the arena, the spectators broke in an uproar. The Boss wore clothes that were easy to move in and no sort of armor at all. Apparently it was normal for participants in Jarazack mock battles to not wear any defensive equipment.
Practice weapons were brought in to the center of the arena. There were plenty to choose from — short, straight, curved, and great swords, short and long spears, halberds, and shields.
「Sorry to keep you all waiting!」Alexei said in his thick voice.
The spectators cheered.
「Choose any weapon you like.」
Claude went for the straight sword, a one-handed weapon, without hesitation. Its blade had worn out. The weight was just right, and there was nothing wrong with the design too. He glanced at the shield, but didn’t reach for it.
「Hmm? Is that it?」
「Just that one sword?」
Alexei frowned. The spectators were abuzz.
「Is he underestimating the Boss?」
「Maybe he didn’t plan to win from the start.」
But Alexei noticed something. Ivan and Mikhail, who were standing behind Claude, didn’t seem to care. It seemed as though they were baffled, but at the same time, were fine with Claude’s choice.
The Boss took the great sword, unsheathed it, and swung it around above his head. Claude’s forelocks swayed from the wind produced. The spectators clapped and cheered.
「All right. I feel great.」
Claude and Alexei stood at a distance. A referee — apparently a commanding officer in the Jarazack army — appeared between them and explained the rules.
· The match ends when one says they surrender or they lose consciousness.
· No killing.
· If things look dangerous, the match will be stopped. Healers are on standby.
「None from me.」
The referee nodded.
「Okay. Everyone else, please step aside.」
A tinge of fear dawned on Claude’s face the moment Luka let go of his hand. But from here on out, it was his fight alone. Luka stepped back, worry in her eyes.
Claude jumped to his feet as Mikhail tapped him on the shoulder all of a sudden.
「Just do your usual thing. If you do that, I’m sure you’ll win.」
「Alexei had gained more muscle. But you will win.」
「You’re getting married, right?」
Mikhail flashed a grin and backed away with Ivan. The boss got stronger, but if I fight like I always have, I’ll win… Claude understood the meaning of the professor’s words, but he couldn’t agree with them right away.
He trained with Mikhail every day on their three-day trip to Jarazack. Like Mikhail said, he could win nine out of ten times. But that also meant there was a ten percent chance he would lose. He didn’t understand how “doing what he always did” would win him the fight.
No matter. I still have to do this. I have to win. He steeled himself. Amidst the roaring of the crowd, Claude and the Boss stood facing each other.
Claude raised his sword, pointing it towards Alexei. The boss lifted his great sword in one hand and placed in on his shoulder.
They both moved at the same time. Alexei quickly closed the distance in long strides.
With a roar, Alexei raised his sword from his shoulder and swung it downwards in an arc. Halfway down, he held the grip with two hands, increasing the speed of the swing even further.
The rule stated no killing, but a swing like this would cut Claude’s body in half.
But Claude could see everything clearly. A diagonal downward swing — even Mikhail didn’t do such a simple move. The professor’s swordsmanship was beautiful and smooth, even though his primary weapon was a great sword. He was indeed worthy of the title “Professor”.
He’s slower than the professor…?
Alexei, who was stronger than Mikhail, was slower. The thought caused Claude to hesitate for a moment.
This is my chance.
Then he was quick to react. Twisting his body, he dodged Alexei’s attack. In that split second, he struck the boss’s blade with his sword’s handle. With the swing parried, Alexei’s body pitched forward. Then—
Claude had the tip of his sword on Alexei’s throat.
The boss, his face red, accepted his defeat. The cheering ceased, followed by a stir.
「What was that?!」
「Did you see that?!」
「What the hell just happened?!」
Almost none of the spectators grasped exactly happened in that short moment.
「Ah, damn it! You got me, kid! I thought you’d resort to some surprise tactics. I never expected you to shut me down head-on!」
「Using dirty tricks will come to bite me back in the future.」
「Very well said! Hahahaha!」
Alexei laughed heartily, feeling relieved after accepting his defeat.
「I must say… I didn’t expect you to dodge my attack so easily.」
「I found that strange too. Permit me to say this, Lord Alexei. Your swing was…」
「Call me Alexei. Just Alexei. No titles needed. We fought each other head-on, and you won. We’re friends now. Don’t you agree?」
That’s awkward in and of itself, but okay.
「I’ll be honest. Your swing was… Please don’t be offended. But it felt slower than Professor Mikhail’s.」
「What did you say?」
Alexei glared at Claude, causing him to lean back.
「Please don’t scare him, My Lord.」Mikhail stepped in.
「Mikhail… What kind of things did you teach this kid? Don’t tell me you agree with him.」
「I believe what he said to be true.」
「You said you trained hard. You gained more muscle, but you became slower.」
Alexei looked confused, so Mikhail explained further. There were necessary and unnecessary muscles. One could carry heavier stuff with more muscles, but the more unnecessary muscles, the slower one’s movements would be.
「But against great sword users like me, power is more important than speed. If I fought you, I would’ve lost.」Mikhail said.
「Still… No ordinary man can parry my attack from the side like that.」
「That’s what makes him incredible. He does have the traits of a Spirit Elf, though.」
「A Spirit Elf?」
「Claude is a member of the venerable Zahard family. Spirit Elf blood flows within him.」
Those words caused a stir among the spectators. It seemed most people knew about Spirit Elves. The Queen herself, Marquedo, was one. They didn’t look that much different from humans, but they had great affinity to magic and sharp senses. They also had a keen sixth sense.
I think it’s thanks to my job class, rather than my blood. Claude touched the soul card in his pocket. Hikaru was right. I got a new job class.
The new class popped up after Hikaru added another point to Claude’s “Sword”, but the young man thought it was a product of his training.
There were two of them: Sun Sword Dance God: Sword Dancer and Elite Ritual Sword God: Sword Police, a four and five-character class respectively. He chose the four-character one without hesitation. Thanks to that, his body felt lighter, and his ability to respond to his opponent’s sword improved.
「Whatever. Whether it was his blood or not doesn’t matter. You won against me, Claude! Tell me what you want!」
「Thank you, Alexei.」
Claude bowed. He asked the boss to vote for the creation of the student alliance, and…
「Whaaat?! I-Is that lady the third princess of Ludancia?! And you want to marry her?!」
Alexei was shocked. It was the biggest commotion of the day yet. The boss simply nodded along as Claude told him about the student alliance, but his expression quickly changed when the marriage came up.
「I see. I understand now why you wanted to fight me, even putting your life on the line.」
Uh, didn’t the rules say no killing?
「Very well. I approve! A marriage between Kirihal and Ludancia. Now that sounds interesting! Everyone present here is a witness! Today we make history!」
The crowd went wild. Men approached Claude, tapping his shoulders. Women cheered for Luka. Somehow the whole thing turned into a feast, and they drank all night.
I-I did my part, Hikaru. I hope things are fine on your side.
His head still fuzzy, Claude thought about how things were out there on the battlefield.