My second opponent was an eighth-layer practitioner. He was a bulky twenty-something young man with a greatsword on his back.
His aura was as stable as a mountain, but at the same time, his muscles hid a powerful strength ready to erupt like a volcano.
When the two of us appeared on the stage, the arena erupted in excited cheers.
We could be considered as two of the favorites to win the tournament. Although of course, the main favorite was still Louis.
I gazed at my opponent briefly, quickly realizing something.
Mm? He was not poisoned.
I’m not sure if it was because he noticed the poison and did not eat the snacks or because he accepted Alan’s proposal, but I could see he was not poisoned.
However, I did not have time to ponder about that. When the emperor realized both of us were ready, he swung his hand down.
Once more, the young man was the first to move. He stomped on the ground and launched himself towards me.
With each step he took, the stage trembled violently. It was as though an earthquake was shaking the arena.
Then, he raised his greatsword and swung it diagonally.
The attack was so powerful that even before reaching me, the wind it brought had already pressed my clothes against my skin.
When the attack was about to arrive, I jumped aside, evading it before unleashing a punch against the young man.
*BOOM!!!* the great sword hit the ground, causing the entire arena to shake. The young man in front of me then used the recoil of that attack to lift his sword again and block my punch.
Punch and sword collided, creating a metallic sound that resounded in the stage. It was then followed by several more metallic sounds caused by the countless collisions between my attacks and the greatsword.
The young man’s battle style was very steady, but at the same time explosive. He kept an airtight defense, stopping each one of my attacks from reaching him, while at the same time watching out for an opportunity to attack me.
To him, he just needed to land a blow. With just a blow, it was more than enough to incapacitate most of the enemies he fought.
Of course, I was not included there. But the young man did not know it.
This time, I did not defeat the young man easily. Instead, I held back and showed I was struggling a little bit.
I was putting on a play to fool Alan. To make him believe he is in control.
Alan thought he poisoned me, right? Then, I will act like that, only to crush his hopes at the last second.
I’m sure his expression will be very interesting then.
With the course of the fight, my movements started to become wider and slightly slower. Most of the spectators did not notice anything, but those with a keen eye could see that.
Immediately, most of them came to the conclusion I was becoming tired.
In fact, Dina and the empress were looking towards the stage nervously, while Alan was smiling confidently, as though everything was in his grasp.
“What is happening? You are becoming slower!” The young man fighting me taunted me with a grin. “It looks like you are nothing more than this!”
I said nothing, just putting a slight frown as though thinking about the situation. From an outsider’s perspective, it seemed like I was worried about the battle.
Instead, I was wondering inwardly how long I needed to prolong this.
Mm… If I want to fool Alan, I need to make it as though I only won due to a fluke, and that I could have lost with just a tiny mistake.
Thus, I continued slowing down my movements, making them stiffer and stiffer. Soon, my punches became less frequent, and the young man’s attacks increased in intensity.
His greatsword made swooshing sounds as it cut through the air in a try to crush my body under its weight. At the same time, the grin on the young man’s face turned more savage, as though he could see his victory already.
Even the spectators started to notice that something was wrong. They could see I was being suppressed by my opponent.
At that moment, the young man bellowed.
Gathering mana on his legs, he stomped the ground, causing it to tremble even more than before.
The tremor was very strong and sudden. Moreover, I was just repositioning my position at that moment.
For an instant, I staggered.
The young man’s eyes lit up in glee.
With a wild expression, He raised his greatsword once more and swung it towards my head.
Gasps sounded from the stands, and many people closed their eyes unable to bring themselves to see the gruesome scene that was coming next.
But to their surprise, they did not hear the disgusting sound they were expecting.
Instead, they heard a soft thud.
When they opened their eyes curiously, they saw the bulky young man looking towards me with an expression of disbelief as my right hand rested against his chest.
As for my left hand, it had pushed his greatsword away, making it miss its mark.
“You…” The bulky young man tried to speak, but then, blood spurted out of his mouth, falling on the ground.
Finally, he collapsed unconscious.
I panted heavily and took a deep breath. Then, I stood up firmly and looked towards the stands.
The emperor spoke up at that moment.
For a moment, a deafening silence filled the stands.
But all of sudden–
Cheers louder than the ones before erupted from the crowd.
Smiling softly, I bowed once more and left the arena.
Mm… This much acting should be enough, right?
At the same time, in the Imperial Family’s booth.
Alan was frowning softly while he heard the empress and the emperor discuss the battle just now.
“This battle was pretty good, huh.” The empress spoke up while looking at the arena. “That young man, the way he turned around the situation at the last second was amazing.”
“You are right,” The emperor nodded. “However, he tired himself out during this battle. I’m not sure if he will be able to win next time.”
“Who knows? Perhaps he will.” The empress said with a small smile.
Without she being aware of it, though, her words made Alan’s frown deeper.
Alan then called at a servant nearby and whispered something in his ear.
“Get him out in the next round.”
The servant nodded, leaving immediately.
Coincidentally, he was the same servant that talked to Claus.
In fact, he talked with each one of the favorites to win the tournament.
Of them, only Claus and another person refused the crown prince’s offer.
One of them was already eliminated. Now, he needed to make sure the other is out as well.
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