『Gift Game – Hippocamp Water Rider –』
- Qualification for entry: Receiving the Game Host’s invitation.
- Winning Conditions: Finish one lap of the obstacle race around the Underwood’s Great Tree faster than the Game’s Host, Shirayuki-hime.
Summary of the Rules:
Rule #1: Before the start of the Game, all of the participants are allowed to look at the map of the Underwood area to choose the preferred route they wish to take.
Rule #2: The Game’s Host has the freedom to freely alter the route she wishes to take, with the added restriction of stopping whenever she raises her head onto the water’s surface.
Rule #3: If at any point during the Game the Players will get turned over and fall into the water, they are allowed to resume the race from the place of the fall on the condition that they will be able to do so immediately without delay.
Rule #4: All of the participating Players are allowed to interfere with the other players at fixed intervals of time.
Player Victory Reward: The right to obtain 1 Gift Card from the Game’s Host and the guarantee of receiving any daily life necessities the Players will require.
Host Victory Reward: Receiving an apology from Sakamaki Izayoi for all the humiliation he has subjected the Host to up until the present day.
Oath: Agreeing to and respecting all of the rules stated above, we swear upon the glory of our Community and its Flag to host this Gift Game.
『No Name’s』 Shirayuki-hime
After carefully reading through the paper handed to them by Shirayuki-hime, the three of them looked at Kuro Usagi and asked:
「「「Those are the game’s rules?」」」
「YES! What you now see before you is the Geass Roll, an official document upon which the Gift Game Rules of Little Garden are always written. If you agree to the rules and conditions listed on it, then all you have to do now is to communicate your readiness to undertake the Game to its Host!」
Instead of agreeing to the rules right away, Homura decided to ponder them for a bit. On his mind were many things he wanted to ask, but there was one rule in particular that required precise clarification before all of the others.
「I want to make sure about one thing regarding the Rule #4: Interfering with other Players at fixed intervals. When it says 「intervals」, does it mean distance, or perhaps its about time?」
「In this particular case it’s about time duration. It means that one you start interfering with your opponent, you have to wait for a set period of time before you can do so again. Moreover, only the Host knows exact amount of time you have to wait.」
「In other words, we have to stay on the defensive, and when she attacks us first, that’s our cue to attack as well? Is the amount of time we can do that limited as well?」
「No, t is not. If it was, it would be too much of a disadvantage to the Host, don’t you think?」
「Eeeh? Even so, don’t you think that it is a bit unfair that she is the only one who knows how much time has to pass before one attack and the next?」
「Think about it carefully, Suzuka. The Host is taking part in this game without any sufficient compensation, and offers us a valuable reward in case we manage to win. Granting an important piece of knowledge to her and her alone might seem unfair at first glance, but I would say that the rules of this Gift Game are still tailored very much in our favor.」
Ayato chastised Suzuka for being rude towards Shirayuki-hime with her implications. But hat was also another thing on Homura’s mind. Even if they took into consideration that this was going to be their first Gift Game ever, the reward offered to them should they managed to win seemed to be too generous in comparison to the Game’s difficulty and the potential risk it carried with it. Was their Host carrying any ulterior motives when designing the game in such a way? That was what he didn’t consider at all.
「I also want to ask the Host about one thing. Regarding the Host Victory Reward: Receiving an apology from Sakamaki Izayoi for all the humiliation he has subjected the Host to up until the present day. What exactly did he do to you that you seem to be so hell-bent on making him apologize to you?」
「If I were to list all of the transgressions he committed against me we would be here until the day that daytime would become black as the darkest of nights and the Underwood’s clean water would run red with my rage and anger towards that simple-minded brute!!!」
「Ah… okay then. Sorry for bringing the painful memories up I guess?」
「Uhm, I… I’m sorry as well?」
The two of them became very apologetic towards her for some reason. They knew full well how it felt to be trapped in Izayoi’s machinations, but it would seem that ever since he came here to Little Garden he trapped many more people into his shenanigans, which also seemed to be much more harmful to the people involved in them.
「*Ekhem!* We seemed to have strayed off topic a bit too much, so let us just get guess? 」 on with the Game already, shall we? Feel free to use whichever water cart you see fit. Now, if would be great if there was a Hippocampus willing to pull it for you nearby, but…」
Shirayuki-hime said, looking around their surroundings. Just then, they all noticed one of the Hippocamps approaching their location at high speed. When it arrived, it stuck up its head above the water, bringing right in the gap between where Suzuka and Ayato were standing.
Suzuka was so surprised by the creature’s sudden appearance that she fell on her butt, but Ayato calmly stood in place, examining the creature with curious eyes. She thought that even among the other Hippocamps, the one in front of her was exceptionally beautiful. Its blue limbs looked to be firmly trained, and it’s green, semi-transparent fins shone brightly when the sun shone on the water dripping down its entire body. Looking at the Hippocamp’s dorsal fins, their shine was enough to make Suzuka squint her eyes. ‘without even realizing it herself, she sighed in admiration at its magnificent body which looked like it was sculpted from the finest marble.
「So… so beautiful…」
「Right? I am a complete amateur when it comes to appraising the animal esthetics, but even an amateur like me can clearly see that this one is a cut above all the others.」
「Umu umu. The fellow you see before you is called Hyutos, and he is the king of the Hippocamp herd. During the campaign 3 years ago, he even served as the Queen’s Knight.」
「Queen’s Knight? By “Queen”, are you perhaps referring to 『Queen Halloween』?」
「YES! It was a brave Knight who has come our aid on more than one occasion. 3 years ago, he was also a competitor for Izayoi and the others during the very first 『Hippocamp Water Rider』 game!」
Hyutos the Hippocamp responded with a proud neigh.
「It’s been a while, Hyutos. I’m glad to see you’re doing as good as ever.」
Scratching him under his neck, Ayato muttered in a voice that only she could hear.
The Hippocamp responded, looking rather pleased.
After giving a satisfied not, Shirayuki-hime handed them the Geass Roll and a map of the entire Underwood.
「And with that the preparations have been finished, so what do you say we start the Gift Game tomorrow at noon sharp?」
「That’s more then enough time, so its fine with us. Oh, but there is just one more thing I would like to ask about.」
Homura said, looking at the several water carts in their surroundings, and then gazing at Hyutos with a wide grin on his face.
「The water cart that we are supposed to be using… can I design it myself?」
「Hou hou? That confident in your abilities, are we?」
「Rather than that, it’s just something that is one of my strongest points. Of course, if there’s no time for me to do that, then I will adjust myself to it properly.」
「YES, of course you can do that! All that Mr. Homura has to do is designing the blueprint, and we will ask the Tree Spirits to assemble it in no time!」
「Wow, can you really do that?」
「YES! And you can be sure that they are going to deliver the result of the highest quality without the shade of a doubt.」
「Okay then, if you say so.」
Homura happily expressed his agreement. Seeing him looking happier and more excited than ever, both Suzuka and Ayato tried to do their best to suppress the smirks on their faces.