261 – Why…… (Trembling Voice)
Editor: Thor’s Stone
“……Why did it turn out like this?”
The next day, we ended up visiting the Minfa clan’s territory. We got along pretty well with Nect-kun yesterday and he invited us over.
In any case, I was told to stay on Theta for at least a week more so the shining seed would have enough time to adapt itself to my ‘magic power’ in order to prepare itself to sprout into the next generation of the elven Sacred Tree. We were going to be staying at one of their best and most luxurious 5-star traditional inns for the duration of that period. We really didn’t have any more urgent matters to accomplish, so we decided to accept their offer, but we ended up with a lot of free time on our hands but nothing particularly meaningful to do.
I told Tinia and Nect-kun about our current situation yesterday, and Nect-kun suggested coming to the Minfa clan’s territory for some sightseeing. Since he was such a likable guy, I immediately agreed.
And right now, I’m deeply regretting that decision. Why, you ask?
“You tricked me, Nect-kun!”
“No, that’s not it. You may not believe me, but I really didn’t intend for this to happen. I really had no idea they were going to pull something like this off.”
I am currently inside the Minfa clan’s large stadium– No, I better stop running away from reality. No matter how you slice it, this place was an out and out combat arena. A spacious field of neatly flattened earth was enclosed by tens of hundreds of spectator seats, and on the opposite side of the spot I entered from, there was a good number of elven warriors who looked like they were raring to have a go at fighting me. All of them were wielding an assortment of weapons and wearing leather-like armor sets.
“You gotta be kidding me! You’re telling me you had no idea something this big was gonna go down the moment I came over even if you’re the Clan leader’s son?”
“I understand. I really do. But please just listen to my explanation first.”
Yesterday, after we agreed to pay a visit to their place, Nect immediately contacted his mother, Miriam, who was the Minfa Clan’s leader, on his way home. This was only natural. Nect was her son, so if he invited guests over, it was only natural to tell his mother, Miriam, about it. She was also the clan leader, so that’s all the more reason to have her notified.
“Alright, I understand. We will give them a grand welcome for sure. Just leave everything to your mother.”
Miriam replied as such. Nect’s mother, Miriam, was somewhat curious– err, I mean very interested in magical research, but she was still the current clan leader of the centrist Minfa clan. Of course, there was nothing wrong with informing the clan leader that guests were gonna visit their territory and have her make preparations. And since she insisted that he leave all the details to her, that’s exactly what Nect did.
“It was really foolish of me to have entrusted everything to Mother.”
Miriam ended up extensively promoting my visit. After all, this was a visit from the great benefactor of the elves, as well as the newest chosen one selected by the legendary seed of the Sacred Tree. Thus, nothing less than a grand reception would be acceptable. And since we ultimately didn’t manage to take a tour of the Grado clan’s territory due to the accident, she also invited people from the Grado clan to join the festivities in their territory instead. She eventually extended an invitation to the Rose clan as well, and now they were gonna entertain people from all three major clans.
With that in mind, she immediately consulted with the Grado and Rose clans, and during the meeting, my being a mercenary was mentioned, and that I was, in their words, a ‘formidable warrior who charged inside the stronghold of the villains all by himself, and cut them all down’. And since I haven’t had the opportunity to display my prowess as a formidable warrior since coming to Theta, why not organize a tournament and pit me against the best elven warriors the Grado and Minfa clans had to offer? Anyway, that was the suggestion. And now here we are.
That’s not what I’d call ‘a grand welcome’ dammit! Usually, a grand welcome for state guests would have a feast with lots of delicious food, a showcase of traditional performance arts, and the like. Why did it turn into a tournament where we’d have to swing weapons at each other!? Was this their idea of ‘taking good care’ of me?
Of course, most of the elves (Well, Minfa clan’s Nect at least.) didn’t think something like this was a shining example of ‘warmhearted hospitality’ though they did concede it would probably be pretty entertaining.
“I’m really sorry. My mother’s bad habits got triggered again……”
『It’s the advent of the hero of legend. Just how powerful is he, really? According to the stories, he is supposed to be unrivaled! But is that really the case? I’d like to know. That’s right. I want to witness the power of the legendary hero with my very own eyes!』
“I suppose that’s roughly how her thought process went.”
“Once Mother’s intellectual curiosity gets stimulated, her common sense just goes flying out the window, so to speak……”
“But why……? Really, why……?”
“Um, you don’t really need to play along if you don’t want to……”
“Eh? You’re not gonna do it, Boss? I mean, there’s a lot of people gathered here already, so why not just get it over and done with?”
Tina cocked her head as she questioned me beside the bitterly smiling Whisker.
“And why would I wanna do that?”
“Eh? But you’re hella strong, right, Boss? Ain’t it gonna be easy for ya to beat up all those challengers and look down on ‘em with a smug grin afterward? That’ll liven the place up even more for sure!”
No, that’s definitely out of the question. Uh, I don’t really like painful stuff, and I’m sure most guys don’t as well, but it’s not like I hate the notion of fighting itself. I don’t think displaying one’s prowess in front of others is meaningless either. It’s just that I find the idea of being forced to fight by others really upsetting.
“I don’t think I’ll benefit from this anyway…… I mean, I’d get lots more attention if I win, but I’ll only get hurt and disappoint the elves if I lose, right?”
“Even so, it doesn’t make sense to just turn tail and run here y’know…… As a Platinum-ranker and a Gold Star recipient, the drop in reputation and trustworthiness you’d suffer if you run away now wouldn’t be insignificant……”
Elma also had an annoyed expression just like me. It’s just as Elma said. Considering all the various factors, no matter how reluctant I was, I really had no choice but to accept the challenge. And I found that fact highly unpleasant.
“Even though they presented this occasion as part of the welcome ceremony for Master, they made it so you would have to accept a risky challenge with no way of refusing. Elven hospitality really is something else.”
Mei expressionlessly directed a sub-zero glare at Nect. He nodded with his arms raised in surrender.
“I-I understand why you would be angry. I am of the same opinion after all. I’ll make sure to give Mother a proper scolding later.”
“If you’re gonna apologize, then it would be better to show it with actions, not words…… Or rather, aren’t you guys too much? I thought you elves wanted to express your apology for all the trouble you’ve caused us, but what the heck’s happening now, huh?”
“Is this due to cultural differences?”
“Stop. Don’t imply that all elves are muscle-brained idiots. Because I’m definitely not.”
Elma replied with a horribly unpleasant expression to the bitterly smiling Mimi.
“Oh, right, I kinda get that.”
“If you wanna say something, then say it directly to my face, won’t you, dear?”
Okay, okay. I get it. So stop trying to crush my hand with your grip while smiling please. And you’re still claiming you’re not a muscle-brain with this?
“Well, I suppose there are some elves who don’t find the fact that an outsider like Boss ended up being the chosen one amusin’. Don’t ya think this was already bound ta happen the moment Boss found that seed thingy?”
“Well excuse me! It’s not like I wanted to find this thing in the first place, you know?”
“So just chalk it up to fate, Boss. I think it’s important to take your usual bad luck in stride or you’d just pop a vein stressing out.”
“But it feels like I’d lose the moment I accept such a fate though.”
While sighing dejectedly, I chose a longsword and short sword that weighed roughly the same as my personal swords from the weapons the elves prepared for me and strapped them onto my waist. They didn’t have sharp edges, but they still appeared to be made of iron, or perhaps, steel. Their sword points were fairly sharp though, and even with blunted edges, they’d probably still be able to rend flesh as long as the swing was powerful enough. Wasn’t it too savage to try and hit each other with these things? Wasn’t there a less painful alternative?
“Would it count as my win if I incapacitate my opponent or have them surrender?”
“Um, yes. That’s how it is. And even if there are injuries, we can treat them right away with healing arts.”
“Healing arts huh……”
From my point of view, both the magic of the elves and the emergency treatment method using medical nanomachines are pretty much the same in the sense that I found them mostly incomprehensible. Well, I suppose it’s fine as long as they work. Alright then. I suppose I’ll just have to try my best while being careful not to get hurt.
I probably won’t have a hard time dealing with normal opponents who weren’t enhanced by cybernetics and advanced biotechnology anyway. Fine, let’s get this over with.
However, I’ll definitely give the one responsible for this absurd ‘welcome’ a piece of my mind later. Just you wait, Miriam!