Translator: “Hakou” Editor: “Weasalopes”
The royal castle towering to the north of the central square of the royal capital of the kingdom.
A guest house was built in the corner of the premises, where the Saintess and her group from the eastern countries were staying.
「It has been a while, Saintess-sama」
A tall, muscular old nun kneels on the soft carpet and lowers her head.
The Saintess, who looks like a high school girl with a princess cut, stands and calls out to her back.
「Yes, it’s been a long time since I’ve seen you too, Monastery Director-sama」
This old woman is the director of a monastery in the north. She was on her way back from the Divine tournament in the Holy City.
She knew that the Saintess was staying in the royal capital, so she decided to pay her a visit.
「I heard that you won the women’s division in the Divine tournament. Congratulations!」
The Saintess congratulates her with a serene expression. Shitanaga-sama kneels down and bows her head to the old nun, his teacher.
After politely thanking the saintess, the very mature woman smiled at Shitanaga.
「Since you gave your right to participate, I thought at least I should put on a show that won’t embarrass you」
The world’s top double-digit ranked Shitanaga-sama has the right to participate in the Divine tournament. This time, however, she gave up while holding back her tears. This was because of her first important job as a bishop, which was to escort the Saintess to the kingdom for a rescue mission.
(The Abbes is indeed a hero of our country. She might as well be a legendary figure)
The eyebrows on her downward-facing face twisted slightly.
(But I never thought she’d win the women’s division of a Grand Slam tournament. It’s been decades since I’ve begun competing)
She has surpassed her own best results to date.
Although I respected her, she was a person from the past, and my current ability was better than her. It was a big shock to her because she had always believed that that was the case.
「Director-sama, can you please tell me about the tournament?」
The saint, oblivious to the gloomy mood of the Shitanaga-sama, innocently begged for a souvenir.
With her hands folded in front of her chest, the girl’s eyes sparkled. The robust old nun narrowed her eyes at the sight.
「If you’re fine with an old lady like me, then sure」
The two of them sit facing each other on the reception desk. Seeing them, Shitanaga-sama spirits were lifted.
(I can’t keep looking down. I have to keep moving forward)
Knowing the contents of the matches between the top players is a great source of information to improve oneself. It is important to hear the details from the people involved.
「Shitanaga-sama too, please come here!」
She stood up, giving a stiff smile to the Saintess who beckoned her with a smile.
Time moves surprisingly fast when you are listening to something that interests you.
In particular, the Shitanaga-sama was very interested in the match against Lightning. Since she had lost to him last year, she asked a lot of questions to the Director.
「For you, I think you should fight upside down」
Shitanaga-sama leans forward as she takes notes on the advice of the very mature woman.
「And then you should go all out fighting using your tongue」
「But wouldn’t that mean I’m exposing my vital spot to my opponent」
Clings onto him with both hands and feet to prevent him from being shaken off. At this instruction, Shitanaga-sama looked worried.
The very mature woman had a smile on the corner of her mouth and offered insights based on her extensive real-world experience.
「Lightning’s skill with his fingers and mouth is probably low. I think that no amount of fiddling can do you any damage」
However, Shitanaga-sama still seemed unconvinced.
「But what do I do if he attacks my pearl with that mustache of his?」
At the disciple’s excessive concern, her master, the old nun, smiled widely and opened her mouth.
「He’s definitely the type that only honed one side of his sword. As long as you don’t get stabbed, you’ll be alright」
The way she said that confidently calmed Shitanaga-sama’s mind. After looking at her with narrowed eyes, the very mature woman let out a sigh and turned her face to the missing Saintess.
「Saintess-sama, why don’t you come here for a tea? This old woman is starting to get thirsty too」
Before she knew it, all three cups and the teapot were empty. There were no sweets left on the plates.
Perhaps realizing that she was overly enthusiastic, Shitanaga-sama left her seat, blushing. She went out into the hallway to get a drink and some sweets.
「By the way, Director-sama, why did you decide to participate in the tournament? Even though you have been refusing the invitation until now」
The high school girl Saintess asks with a smile on her face in the reception desk where there are just the two of them now. The very mature woman searches her brain for the answer.
(I guess it’s because of that Girl from the Kingdom)
The Goblin old man from the royal capital merchant guild. With this letter of introduction in hand, a woman visits a monastery in the north.
There was only one wish she had spoken out at that time.
『I want to become stronger』
From a very mature woman’s point of view, she was more than strong enough. However, she said it was still not enough.
She was fascinated by her pure heart and taught her as much as she could. In the midst of this, a question arose in her mind.
(Could it be that I’m not strong enough?)
The days she spent with the girl of the kingdom are more like friendly competition than training. In the midst of this, such feelings gradually grow inside her.
(But such a thing…)
The very mature woman who realized that she began to decline with age several decades ago. She hated exposing her weakened self, that’s why she retired from active duty.
Is it now that she’s starting to grow again? It wouldn’t normally be possible. But if that is the case.
(I want to test it)
The offer to substitute for Shitanaga-sama was something that the Director could not have wished for.
Looking straight into the eyes of the high school girl Saintess, the old nun smiled and opened her mouth.
「You can grow no matter how much you age. I just wanted to confirm it」
The very mature woman put her thoughts into words. She wondered if the high school girl Saintess could have realized the depth of her feelings.
She probably couldn’t have had that much insight. She only smiled and said, “As expected of the Director”.
「Ah, Shitanaga-sama has returned. Let’s take a short break」
The maid was pushing a cart as she followed Shitanaga-sama. Tea, a teapot, and a cookie set were placed on this cart.
They were chatting about the Saintess and other trivial things, while taking a break in between.
「Well then, lastly, let’s talk about how the final round went」
Shitanaga-sama nodded and leaned forward with a serious expression. The high school Saintess on the other hand, just smiled happily.
「If it’s you, Shitanaga, then you must know him, right? My opponent was that number one, world champion. He’s finally shown up」
Hearing that name, Shitanaga-sama’s complexion turned pale.
『The world champion』
He is also known as 『The man with thousand scars on his back』. He is a thick, middle-aged man with an overwhelming number of points who continues to reign at the top of the ranking.
He is a different existence from the world ranking, which is based on points from the past few years. He is sometimes referred to as the 『True number one』.
「Even though he never appeared in any tournaments as of late」
Shitanaga-sama’s voice is trembling.
『The man with a thousand scars on his back』 , his main occupation is a tuner. He travels the world and participates in the tournament only if he feels like it.
He was dominating the world ranking a few years ago. The points he accumulated during that time were so enormous, he still holds the number one spot in the world until now.
「Maybe he came out now because last year’s heated battle」
Perhaps he was interested in last year’s champion. It was the woman who had won without a single struggle with her intense rotation technique.
There, the very mature woman smiled pleasantly.
「He must have been so bewildered when what he wanted wasn’t there. Serves him right」
The world champion can miss any tournaments, even A-class tournaments on a whim, probably because he is no longer interested in the rankings.
However, between doing it himself and someone else doing it is completely different.
『Someone other than himself is refusing the invitation to one of the Grand Slams』
That middle-aged man would never have considered such a thing. And it was amusing for the very mature woman.
「Now then, let’s continue where I left off」
She changes her expression and opens her mouth again.
「His first move was Tengen」
Shitanaga-sama swallowed her saliva when she heard that word.
Tengen means to strike straight into the center of the opponent. There are many spots to gouge, like the inner side of the front and diagonally to the back, so it is rare to see it as a first move.
「The only thing I can say was, as expected of him」
The very mature woman nodded, her eyes slightly downcast. A champion who had absolute confidence in his own strength, she felt that this was a suitable first move for him.
「Me on the contrary, was like this. I was next to him, in this angle and this deep」
The old woman made a circle with the fingers of her left hand and thrust the index finger of her right hand into it, moving it back and forth. Her appearance was that of an educator herself, teaching and guiding the younger generation.
「Director-sama, what do you intend to do by using this move?」
In response to Shitanaga’s question, the Director squeezed her right index finger with her left hand.
「It’s a fuseki*. If I don’t tighten it up here, he’ll get in two moves ahead of me. I can’t let him get more advantages」
「*TL Note: “布石” (Fuseki) is a way the stones are arranged in the beginning of a game of Go(traditional board game). Figuratively, it’s an arrangement made in preparation for the future.」
Her disciple leaned forward on the table, eager to discuss the subject. The saint, unable to keep up with the conversation, just smiled while leaning her weight on the couch.
The discussion had reached its midpoint. Shitanaga clenches her fist around his mouth and looks up at his teacher with a grim expression.
「….Something is strange. It was as if this match isn’t a serious match」
The very mature woman shakes her head with a bitter expression at her disciple’s words.
「So you noticed huh. That’s right, this isn’t a match, it’s coaching」
It’s a completely silly story, really. She continued and sighed loudly.
「Even I didn’t notice it until halfway」
She probably recalled the event as her face twisted into a wide grin.
「His move wasn’t the kind that would defeat the opponent with a single strike. It was a move to see how they would react」
She released her clenched fist and put it on the table.
「When I started to realize it, my blood rushed to my head. I’m already at this age, and I’ve retired, you know? How dare he try to teach me!」
But then she shrugged her shoulders and sighed, a bigger and deeper sigh than before.
「But it was no use. I couldn’t get him to fight me seriously」
Coaching an opponent in the finals of a grand slam. The difference in level was so great that Shitanaga felt like she was going to pass out.
She managed to regain her composure somehow and spoke.
「Did the match last until the time limit because it was a coaching?」
The old woman’s expression became grim again as she shook her head.
「The coaching only lasted until I gave up. The rest was just him enjoying himself」
「He was enjoying it?」
The very mature woman nodded to Shitanaga who opened her eyes wide.
「No matter how I tried, I couldn’t win and I was starting to run out of energy. So I surrendered. But he didn’t let me do that」
She then spoke with a hot breath.
「He kept getting me stirred up at the edge of my limits until the time limit was almost up」
Her cheeks turned red and her breath grew hotter as she remembered it.
「I felt like I was going crazy. I screamed at him to stop, and I scratched his back, but he didn’t care even he was bleeding from it, he just laughed with his dirty face」
She let out another deep sigh.
「I guess that’s where he got those scars from his back」
The very mature woman finished her story. Neither Shitanaga nor the Saintess could speak for a while.
「The Grim Reaper was defeated, and Lightning has risen in his place. And there’s a new play called 『Sin and Punishment』」
She leans back and opens her mouth.
「On top of that, there’s the world champion looking for a worthy opponent」
There is also the return of the Legend of the Eastern country, right in front of me. Shitanaga’s voice was trembling
「I wonder if the willow world is about to undergo a major change?」
The very mature woman nodded greatly and added.
「And then, there’s also the girl from the kingdom who didn’t participate in the tournament. You got beaten by her, didn’t you?」
She remembered and the color drained from her face.
She had been struck down by that woman who could only be considered a dojo raider. She hadn’t been able to come back from heaven for three days because of her.
「I heard after that she mastered that technique thoroughly. What an amazing girl, really」
At the words of her master, who rarely praised others, Shitanaga looked down and bit her lip.
「I got the news just the other day, that she manages to stand on the same standing with the person she set as her goal. She also give me her thanks」
The very mature woman looks up and smiles broadly. She then changes her expression and leans forward to place her hands on Shitanaga’s shoulders.
「That person was different from what I initially thought, it turns out he was a man. I’d like to play against him someday, don’t you think so too?」
Her tone was calm, but it carried a bigger meaning.
『Don’t run away from powerful enemy』
The disciple, Shitanaga, accurately perceived the thoughts of her master. Her expression became even more stern as she grasped both of her hands tightly.
Seeing this, the Saintess only gave a slightly puzzled smile.
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