That day, a request for a duel arrived at my room.
“Those guys really are just idiots.”
It was sent from Julian and the others, and the date of the duel would be the day of the closing ceremony.
“If they win, they want me to no longer intrude on their relationship with Marie? Do they think this is a sacred duel or something? Do they not know that they're going to lose?”
Luxon, who was beside me, spoke in a cold tone of voice.
[There's not much to say about this. Would it be fine to refuse?]
I thought about it for a bit.
Did they want to be with Marie that badly?
“No, I'll accept it.”
[You're going to accept?]
“If they want to be with her that badly, I'll lose. After a bit of thinking, it would be a poor move to have Livia be with one of five who had chosen Marie. Livia's too good for them. Julian's an idiot for abandoning Anjie for Marie.”
[You just realized that?]
Wasn't this AI being too cold towards its owner?
“Anyways, those five can do as they like. Honestly, I don't have time to get involved with Marie.”
Things were getting busy on my end since I had to deal with the princ.i.p.ality, the matter of the saint, and so forth.
Those guys would probably be satisfied if I lost.
[You can't say for sure that Marie won't interfere with you in the future. Aren't you being a little too careless?]
“She's someone who reincarnated here and knows about that otome game. That being the case, she should know that the kingdom will fall unless Livia becomes a saint, so she probably won't be a nuisance anymore.”
[Is that so?]
The strongest foe had been defeated, and now the enemy's trump card, the magic flute, was with the kingdom.
I was still being cautious, but I didn't think that being anymore vigilant would result in anything.
Though, I wondered why I had this certain feeling of restlessness.
[Could Anjelica get angry?]
“I'll persuade her. I could convince her to leave them be already. If she does get angry though, I'll just win against those guys.”
[You're treating those five pretty lightly.]
“Anjie's feelings take priority, so I've got no choice.”
I headed towards Julian's place in order to tell him that I would accept the duel.
The closing ceremony had just ended.
The academy was encapsulated with an eccentric enthusiasm.
Students and teachers gathered at the stadium.
Girls ran forward in a circular arena to cheer for Julian.
“Julian's team, you five should do your best to defeat that fiend!”
“It seems that the five had gathered each night in order to repair their armor.”
“E, each and every night.”
Livia listened to the surrounding people while concerned about Anjie.
She was worried about whether she would get angry or not.
However, Anjie stood dignified.
“Hmm? Oh, don't worry. Leon had spoken with me beforehand. I agree with his reason for losing. I have no qualms.”
“He would like to give at least one word of complaint to his Highness, though. He may have a bad way of speaking, but it seems that his att.i.tude towards his Highness has calmed down. I feel sorry for Leon now that he had gotten involved in so many things.”
“Will he be safe for tomorrow's awarding ceremony? Leon, I hope you don't get hurt.”
Julian was Anjie's former fiance. The person she had loved started yet one more duel for the sake of another woman. It seemed that Anjie accepted her loss.
The surrounding girls were getting excited.
The same went for the boys The boys seemed fond of how the five had prepared a unit of armor themselves. They had hopes for the five, even though they suffered utter defeat by the hands of Leon before.
“They're quite bold to challenge him again after losing.”
“Ah, they'll definitely get it right this time.”
“I'll be rooting for his Highness and the others.”
They were impressed by Julian and the others, and when the villain, Leon, appeared from the sky, the venue was filled with a storm of unified jeers.
Anjie made a troubled smile.
“Who would think that the most hated person in the academy would also be the knight who will go down in history?”
When Livia, who couldn't hear her well, asked a question, Anjie smiled and shook her head.
“It's nothing. Look, shouldn't we at least support Leon?”
The two cheered for Leon.
The five were in the arena.
Once Arroganz landed onto the venue from the sky, Greg readied himself and got into the armor.
He double checked with the four.
“Is it really okay if I go?”
Brad looked at Greg and nodded with a serious expression.
“It's frustrating, but I wouldn't be able to win. I have great expectations for your ability.”
As Greg smiled in response to his friend's words, Chris also entrusted Greg with the match.
“It's impossible for me to win with only swordsmanship. Greg, I leave it to you.”
Chris, who was obsessed with the sword, didn't think he would be saying those words.
Jilk touched the green portion of the armor.
“Everyone's hopes are under your care.”
Julian also nodded.
“You're our best bet. Now go win against Baltfault!”
Greg responded to their feelings.
The venue was swept with a wave of inspiration upon seeing the camaraderie of the five,
Once Greg closed the chest of the armor, he sensed everyone's dense feelings. He noticed that the armor felt very warm and was delighted.
“It seems you're worked up as well. I can see that you're ready to fight alongside me. Let's do this, partner!”
He looked at Arroganz in front of him.
“Baltfault, let's go! We'll show you our power!”
I was inside Arroganz.
“I wonder how I should lose.”
I watched the situation unfold amongst the five people, slightly rotten people if I may add, who seemed delighted.
It seemed that night after night, they had been doing maintenance on the armor.
The armor, which they all chipped in some cash for and repaired themselves, looked conspicuous and had some crude portions After which, a self-purported craftsman offered to polish it up, and not only made it look better, but apparently increased its performance as well.
They did a lot just so they could beat me.
──Such youthful vigor wasn't necessarily a bad thing.
[What a refreshing friendship. You, on the other hand, expanded your ring of friends by tying them to contracts──quite lowly.]
“Just let me flaunt what I have. Well then, now that I have permission from Anjie, how should I lose?”
The referee declared the start of the duel.
Greg was heading towards me, so I took a distance while parrying his spear with my blade. However, there was a large difference in Greg's movements compared to the previous duel.
The power and speed of his armor had risen, and the mishmashed armor was stronger than any armor they used before.
“A spear in his right hand and a rifle on his left? Huh, it seems that he has grown.”
While impressed at Greg, who was going all-out right from the get-go, Arroganz was gradually stepping back.
To the people spectating, it probably looked like I was getting pushed around.
I let out a voice and spoke to Greg.
“It seems that you've done the impossible.”
“This is all for the sake of winning against you! Baltfault, show me what you've got!”
“Ah, how pa.s.sionate. Are you that much of a zealous guy?”
I was chuckling, but I was seriously envious when thinking about those five.
I muttered “I envy you guys,” while making sure that n.o.body would hear me. Such youthful figures looked so radiant.
After I had said that, Luxon issued an alert.
[Master, please tell Greg to break-out right away. His armor is on the verge of exploding!]
[I'm not lying. The quant.i.ty of heat is reaching abnormal levels. The internal structure of the armor was haphazardly put together. In its current state, I can only say that it's enough to get the armor to move. It's not that the armor had its performance improved, but that it has been set to run wildly.]
When Luxon told me that, I immediately alerted Greg.
“Hey, your armor is acting up! Get out of there right now!”
“Hah! You're trying to deceive me. Right! Did you really expect to trick me when I already know how you work? However, now I've cornered you!”
──Greg didn't believe me.
His armor was stirring around quite a bit.
I thought it was improbable at first, but now I was convinced that it was running wild.
I shouted at referee.
“Referee! Abort! This guy's armor is unusual!”
However the referee, a teacher, shook their head.
“Baltfault, how shameful. You have to earnestly accept their thoughts head-on.”
“Stop kidding me! What do you mean by their thoughts?! How about you earnestly accept my words?!”
The referee seemed to think that I was lying.
Indeed, it seemed like I was being cornered since I was fighting half-heartedly in order to lose. It turned out that losing through being cornered had backfired.
──However, I wasn't lying. This was different!
Luxon was amazed. My conversation with it didn't leak out to anybody outside.
[It seems you're suffering the consequences of your actions. You've been acting with bad manners, so now you're facing difficulty. I have completed my a.n.a.lysis. It could explode at any given moment.]
“──You must be joking.”
It was going to break? The armor that represented a portion of those guys' youths? As expected, that would make my heart ache!
“N, no. Could such a thing happen?! I mean, those guys have been working their hardest to build it──there must be some kind of demon causing it to break!”
For example, consider if five people built an aircraft with their own effort during the summer vacation. They pulled all-nighters to build it and though they had their quarrels, its completion created a set of summer memories. With the memories they all made from its completion, no matter how battered it was and how much others saw it as worthless, it would be treasured item for those five.
Thinking that such a thing would break down was not something that pleased my mind. Rather, I wanted to provide some aid.
When I denied it, Luxon indifferently asked me a question.
[In that case, are you going to watch as Greg dies in an explosion?]
There were many times where I thought Greg, the meathead he was, would die! However, it's not like I wanted him to!
I grabbed Greg using Arroganz's left hand.
Greg's armor acted violently.
“Hey, get out! For Pete's sake, get out of there!”
“You're still gonna say that?! Not yet. I haven't lost yet!”
“No, you're actually in danger!”
“I will not be tricked by your deceit anymore! We haven't forgotten about when you swindled us!”
It was a mistake to swindle money out of them when they were riding Partner instead of just charging them for the pa.s.sage fee. I had intended to teach them how the world worked, but it turned out to be a poor choice to reveal my trick afterwards.
I was poking fun at them, but now I regretted having done it.
These guys didn't trust me, or rather, they didn't have any reason to trust me.
“Grow up a little! You got scammed by an imposter!”
The armor's internal structure normally wouldn't work right. The scammer who posed as an armor maintenance technician might have put it together without thinking.
This all happened because they were young men from wealthy families! They needed to study the ways of the world, at least for a bit!
Up until now, the people around looked after them, so perhaps they didn't doubt the person who labelled themself as a craftsman. They should have had some distrust towards that person!
Julian and the others, who were rooting for Greg, shouted at him.
“Get away! His arm is dangerous!”
Jilk also raised his voice. Quite unusual since he was normally composed.
“Detach that part! Flee at once!”
Brad denied Jilk's advice.
“That won't be possible. The purge function had been removed. Greg, do whatever you can to escape!”
Chris cheered for Greg in a loud voice.
“Greeeeg! Show us your power!”
He was supposed to be the cool character! If he was going to cheer, then he should have done it more calmly! Otherwise──
“──If Chris is going that far, then I have no choice but to do my best. Here we goooo!”
Greg displayed an eagerness and was about to force himself away from Arroganz. The output of his rampant armor continued to increase, but I was somehow able to hold him down using Arroganz's power.
[Master, we're nearing the time limit.]
“You guys are terrible! You've forced my hand!”
I hung my head──and pulled a trigger on a joystick with a trembling finger.
Luxon seemed lighthearted.
Once it said that, the plating on the left arm expanded and emitted light.
A shockwave a.s.saulted Greg while he was inside his armor, causing the armor to scatter and fly. The pilot, Greg, had fallen unconscious, but safely fell to the floor. What a relief it was that Arroganz had an attack to destroy only the armor. Indeed a relief, but──
“──I'm so done with all of this.”
[Thank you for your hard work. Well~, those five were formidable enemies.]
──The arena fell completely silent.
I pulled the trigger, but also ended up pulling the rug out from under the audience's feet. They were speechless
Then, I heard a delayed scream coming from Marie.
“GYAAAAAAAAAH! My five hundred thousaaaand! Everything I owneeeed!”
Next to Marie, who was shrieking while her hands were clutching her head, stood Kyle, who was covering his ears.
Marie couldn't help but scream when seeing everyone's armor scatter into pieces.
If it still had retained its form, it would have still been usable and even sellable.
That possibility had now vanished, though.
It was just worthless sc.r.a.p metal at this point.
“Ah~ It fell apart quite splendidly. It's probably irreparable, right?”
Marie, who blanked out, collapsed right then and there while twitching.
Kyle rushed over in a panic.
The trembling Marie muttered incoherently.
“T, this is just a dream. Right, everyone is surrounding me, celebrating an uneventful day. Today is the anniversary for when everyone saw Marie's smile, and now I'm receiving presents. Never, ever did anyone boast about armor. That was definitely forbidden since that mob, Leon, would break it. If it was broken──it wouldn't be sellable. My five hundred thousand dia──my living expenses──I don't want to go into debt. A dream. Yes, a dream. I'm in my bed, just having a slightly frightening dream right now.”
Kyle calmly made a retort.
“No, this is reality. Wake up from your irresponsible delusion of the world.”
The armor, and with it, Marie's living expenses, were all destroyed by Leon.
Marie couldn't face reality, and had become victim to both mental and monetary damage.
Leon had also received a fair amount of damage in his heart, and so the duel ended as a draw as far as the two were concerned.
The royal palace had a conference room.
Gathered inside were n.o.bles from a faction opposing the Redgrave duke household.
“Did you hear? His Highness and the others lost again to that person who had been promoted.”
“It's a good thing that he won't ascend to the throne.”
“Nevertheless, the att.i.tude and behavior of that promoted man are intolerable. There are even rumors that he's the queen's favorite, but what do you think?”
The n.o.bles were talking amongst each other.
Meanwhile, a marquis at the top of the faction looked at the n.o.bles.
(Each and every one of them are being careless towards that promoted person.)
That marquis was the only one not excited by the discussion of the duel.
Thereupon, one of the n.o.bles spoke lightly of Leon.
“It's fine to leave such a person alone, right? The Redgrave house's watchdog is just desperate to be liked by his owner, after all. He's a mad dog who recklessly picks fights. Leaving that aside, there's also the matter of the princ.i.p.ality. It's pathetic how they talked big, yet lost to students. We should soon make our own──”
The surrounding people agreed with the n.o.ble, but the marquis pounded the table with a fist, silencing the others.
They were surprised, and everyone's sight gathered onto the marquis.
“──We need to deal with that brat no matter what. Use whatever means you can.”
The n.o.bles smiled and disagreed.
“H, however, we have no reason to. Besides, we also have the princ.i.p.ality's movements to be concerned about, and the queen──”
“Do whatever you can to crush him! Don't mind the fact that he may be the queen's favorite! Before considering the princ.i.p.ality, we need to deal with that brat first!”
n.o.body talked back in face of the marquis' vigor.
(He's the only one we need to do away with. He repelled the princ.i.p.ality alone with just one airship, no? We can't neglect such a lost item. Why can't the king, nor the queen──nor Vince understand?! They should know just how much of a danger that guy is!)
The marquis saw Leon as more dangerous than the princ.i.p.ality.
“Get in touch with the princ.i.p.ality. Furthermore, bring her Highness Hertrude over to this location.”
A knight who was there quickly left the room and headed towards Hertrude.
In the royal palace, there was someone was more hostile to Leon than even the princ.i.p.ality.
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