Translator: Saitama-sensei Editor:Ryunakama
76. Darkness and Sword King Festival 
After winning the first battle safely, I returned to the president and senpais who were watching me from the stage wing.
「As expected, Allen-kun! You were splendid!」
「It was a wonderful front kick! I was completely enthralled!」
「Well done though…」
They were quite happy with my victory.
「Thank you very much.」
After replying with a smile, I sent a glance towards the audience, and my gaze met Ria’s.
When I waved over to Ria, who had been cheering for me all the while, a big smile bloomed on her face.
When I was doing so, the commentator’s voice resounded loudly.
「Who on earth expected such a result! Allen Rodore, perhaps he is going to be the『Dark Horse』of this tournament! Now, let’s continue. We will start the『Second battle』!」
The Second of Thousand Blade Academy is Lilim Tsuorine-senpai.
「I’m rooting for you, Lilim-senpai!」
「Take advantage of Allen-kun’s momentum, Lilim!」
「Do your best though…」
「Fufufu, leave it to me!」
Saying that, she went up to the stage triumphantly.
After that, Lilim-senpai displayed an offense which almost seemed like a raging fire, and won the Second battle.
And the Center match continued, where Ferris-senpai managed to win safely despite struggling a little.
When we won all three battles – the Vanguard battle, the Second battle, and the Center battle,
「Sword King Festival Qualifiers A Group – The winner of the commemorative first match is one of the Five Academy, Thousand Blade Academy! Congratulations!」
We were able to safely win the first match against the famous, veteran Werewolf Academy.
「Way to go! Each one was a good match!」
「Hey, is this finally the year of resurgence of the『Invincible』Thousand Blade Academy!?」
The audience sent a voice of blessing and a crackling applause.
「Now then, we will continue with the second match, Twilight Academy vs Mist Academy! For everyone at Thousand Blade Academy and Werewolf Academy, please go down to the contestants’ waiting room!」
Then we went to the contestants’ waiting room as the commentary progressed.
Walking down the long corridor, the moment I opened the door of the waiting room.
Almost every swordsman in the waiting room stared at me.
A person who peeped at me with a sidelong glance.
A person who turned an evaluating glance towards me.
A person staring straight from the front, without hiding it.
(It’s not my imagination, right…)
As I felt uncomfortable with the strange situation,
「Fufu, everyone is very interested in Allen-kun, aren’t they?」
「Because he had a brilliant “Sword King Festival debut!” Kuh, how I envy you!」
「No, it’s troublesome as usual though…」
The president and senpais said so and laughed it off lightly.
「We don’t need to care about their glances. Let’s take it easy and prepare for the next match. 」
「Yes, that’s right.」
Then I waited for the start of our second match, talking happily with my senpais as usual.
After that, we continued to win with unstoppable momentum.
Most of the matches were three straight wins – Vanguard, Second, and Center.
There were rare matches where Lilim-senpai or Ferris-senpai were defeated, but…
The president, who was waiting in the Vice General battle, firmly secured a win. And we finally advanced to the final match of the A-Group qualifiers.
「Now, let’s start the final match of today. Thousand Blade Academy vs. Astrology Academy!」
The commentator declared with the loudest voice by far today.
「At the Sword King Festival, the top two academies in each group will advance to the main rounds, which means, both of these academies have already advanced to the main rounds. But will they break through in first place or in second place? Due to that, it is basically heaven and hell beyond this point!」
She took a breath and continued commentating.
「In the matching of the main rounds, the academy that broke through in the first place will be matched against the second place of another group! The second place will clash with the first place of another group! In other words, both Thousand Blade Academy and Astrology Academy will want to break through the first place at all costs!」
When I heard the matching of the Sword King Festival main rounds for the first time,
(Well, we can’t lose here!)
I was firmly made aware of the『weight』of this final round.
There is no doubt that the first place of each group will be the『Five Academy』including the Ice King Academy.
If we continue winning in order, we will eventually clash with other Five Academy.
But it’s better to be as『late』as possible.
(In the main rounds, we will have to fight four matches, excluding the finals.)
The last four matches will be the best 16, best 8, quarter-finals and semi-finals.
Of course, every single match will be a deadly match, and the physical exhaustion will be tremendous.
(We have to win『consecutive battles』in the form of a『tournament』. Which means, in the sense of avoiding unnecessary exhaustion and injury, it is advantageous to clash with a Five Academy as『late』as possible.)
When I was thinking about that,
「Now, let’s quickly introduce the contestants!」
The commentator moved on to the customary introduction of the contestants.
「First of all, Vanguard of Thousand Blade Academy – Allen Rodore! What a total victory of all the battles so far! Moreover, he is the dark horse of this tournament that achieved the feat of『all wins unscathed』without receiving a single sword wound!」
And without delay, she began to introduce the next contestant.
「And next, Vanguard of Astrology Academy – Sven Rosrick! He belongs to a rare school of the southern origin called the Soft Sword Style, and has left a wonderful performance of winning all the matches so far, the same as contestant Allen!」
The swordsman who was introduced slowly climbed up to the stage.
Long black hair extending on both sides.
Cool facial features that could be mistaken for being around 3 years older.
He was almost as tall as me, about 170 centimeters tall.
Yellow lines running on white fabric, the uniform of Astrology Academy, which looked like noble clothing, dressed his person.
When he climbed onto the stage, he stared at me.
「I am Sven Rosric. Just want to say best regards.」
He held out his right hand and seeked for a handshake.
「Me too, Sven-san.」
I grasped his right hand tightly and shook his hand before the battle.
(Sven-san has honest eyes. And above all, he’s a very polite person…)
It seems like we’ll be able to have a pleasant match.
As I was thinking about that,
「You… You’ve been having a hard academy life, right?」
With my right hand still in his grip, Sven-san said something I didn’t understand.
「Aa, my bad… When I hold the other person’s hand, I can relive what kind of life they have lived so far. It is something like a “by-product of my soul dress”.」
「S-Something like that…!?」
「Aa… For example, Gran Swordsmanship Academy was a really terrible place, right? From such a terrible environment, you did well to grow to this point, and…!?」
While speaking, Sven-san’s face suddenly turned pale and he pulled away his right hand.
As he hyperventilated, large beads of sweat appeared on his forehead.
Did he perhaps… Relive my memory in the『Prison of Time』?
(If so, I feel like I have done something bad…)
I don’t know how many『hundreds of millions of years』of memory he experienced, but…
Judging from his reaction, he must have experienced quite a painful memory.
I should have warned him when he told me about his ability.
「Umm… Sven-san, are you all right…?」
And when I approached him, who was as white as a sheet,
「Hi-Hii…!? D-Don’t come near me! MONSTER!」
He screamed, jumped off the stage, and ran away frantically towards the waiting room.
As I was left stunned, alone on the stage,
「…What on earth happened!? Contestant Sven was shaking hands with contestant Allen… And suddenly ran away! Well, uh… I would like to seek for the judgment of the Sword King Festival Executive Committee on this matter, so please wait for a while!」
The commentator said so, and left the seat for a while.
Tens of thousands of people’s gazes pierced me.
「As expected, there’s something『hidden』about Allen Rodore.」
「Exactly. That frightened figure of Sven… I’m sure he received some kind of『threat』!」
「No no, maybe Sven was just ”acting”, right?」
「W-What do you mean…?」
「It’s quite simple really… Allen Rodore offered him a deal.『Give up the match in return for a large sum of money』.」
From here, I can’t hear what the audiences were talking about, but…
I could somehow feel my bad reputation spreading.
(Haa… Why am I the only one who always has to go through this…?)
Just when I ended up thinking we’ll be able to have a pleasant match, things turn out this way.
And when I heaved a sigh deeply,
「Thank you very much for waiting! So… As a result of the deliberations, it has been ruled that, Allen Rodore wins by default in the Vanguard battle!」
The commentator said, and announced my victory by default.
At that moment, the buzz of the venue became even noisier.
It is most likely that… The audiences don’t agree with the result.
「Well, come on! That was an unexpected happening, but let’s put in behind and move forward to the Second battle!」
With a cheerful voice that blew away the noise of the venue, the commentator advanced the qualifying rounds.
After that, the match with Astrology Academy was extremely fierce.
In the Second match, Lilim-senpai was defeated after a fierce battle.
And when the score was tied one-to-one, Ferris-senpai managed to attain a narrow victory against a strong opponent in the Center match.
And in the remaining Vice General match, the president picked up a certain victory.
As a result,
「The first place of the A group is one of the Five Academy, Thousand Blade Academy! Everyone, please give them a big round of applause!」
We got through the A-Group Qualifiers in first place and advanced to the『Sword King Festival Main Rounds』.