Chapter 27:

Chapter 26. Enchanting Allure

Zero to Hero

"You're supposed to wake him up, not stare at him like a creep," Tina chided Candace.

"Shut up! He looks so cute! I can't help it," Candace defended herself, unabashedly admiring me.

"Abigail! He's not cute at all, right?" Tina appealed to Abigail for support.

"I think Ken is pretty cute too. I might prefer a beastman, but for a human, he's not bad looking at all," Abigail admitted with a shrug.

"Traitor!" Tina teased, though her playful tone belied any real offense.

"Doesn't matter if I'm cute or not, I'm unavailable, so there's no point in discussing it," I interjected, trying to steer the conversation away from my appearance.

"I can't believe you're still holding out. It's been over three months! How have you been able to resist my beauty?" Candace teased, her words laced with playful flirtation.

"I'm a changed man who's no longer susceptible to beautiful women," I lied, struggling to control my desires in the face of Candace's undeniable attractiveness.

After some more banter with the girls, we made our way to the stadium after breakfast to check out the tournament bracket set to be released that day.

"WHAT! How come you're only second in best odds to win?" Candace complained loudly before I even had a chance to examine the bracket myself.

"NO WAY! Why do I have one of the lowest odds to win?" Tina protested, her voice echoing with indignation.

"Well, you're pretty strong for a kid, but with so many corrupted and blessed people out here now, the overall strength of the world has increased," I reasoned, attempting to console Tina.

"I AM NOT A KID!" Tina retorted, her irritation evident.

"Wow, this list is pretty detailed," Abigail remarked as I perused the information for myself, intrigued by the thoroughness of the analysis.

Name: Tina Wulric. Age: 18. Height: 5’8. Race: Beastman(Wolf). Strength: Master level in all physical enhancement. Weakness: Intermediate level in all elemental enchantment. Overall Odds: 100/1.

"I don't even know what this 100/1 or 2/1 means! Explain!" Tina exclaimed as she examined her and mine information.

"Basically, if someone bet an ounce of silver on you and you ended up winning, they would get 101 ounces of silver back. If they bet an ounce of gold on me winning, they would get 3 ounces of gold back if I win," I explained, simplifying the concept for Tina's benefit.

Turning my attention to Candace, I perused my own profile to gauge the perception of me.

Name: Ken. Age: 25. Height: 6'0. Race: Human. Strength: Low-tier holy level in every area, ability to double boost. Weakness: None. Comment: New contestant, first tournament, highest recorded power in every area except water magic in Aenwyn. No noticeable weaknesses. Overall Odds: 2/1

"Looks like I'll get a few early round byes for being the second seed. Let's see who's ranked higher," I mused, curious to see the top contender.

Name: Carla. Age: 22. Height: 5'10. Race: Elf(Corrupted). Strength: High-tier holy level water magic, low-tier holy level in earth, fire, and air magic. High-tier divine level in all physical enhancement, ability to double boost. Weakness: None. Comment: Strongest local contestant. Highest recorded power in water magic in Aenwyn. 75% win rate in tournaments entered. Overall Odds: 1/2

"Wow, a young girl with high-tier holy level water magic and she is not even blessed," I remarked, genuinely impressed by this Carla's abilities.

As the day progressed, the stadium filled with more and more people, the atmosphere buzzing with excitement. Attendees checked their brackets, fans purchased tickets for the fights, and engaged in lively debates about where to place their bets. Some sought out interactions with top contestants like us.

After mingling with the crowd, Candace charmed a group into betting on me instead of Carla, while Tina persuaded another to place a small bet on her as a dark horse contender.

"I can't believe only a single ounce of bronze is bet on me! Go bet 10 ounces of gold on me!" Tina demanded, her tone a mix of indignation and determination.

"Are you stupid? I'm not wasting my stamina on 10 ounces of gold just to throw it away," I retorted, knowing Tina would throw a tantrum if I didn't intervene.

Reluctantly, I handed each of them an ounce of gold to do as they pleased, and poor Abigail ended up getting bullied into squandering her gold betting on Tina.

As we relished the interactions with the locals and other attendees filling the stadium grounds, suddenly we heard a commotion at one end of the stadium. There, a woman was seen entering the Colosseum. Her appearance had drawn the attention of most, causing them to pause and stare in admiration

Tall and graceful, with typical elf ears, flowing white hair, yet horns unlike any natural animal, a slender red tail with a pointed tip unlike anything I had seen before, and glowing red eyes, the girl captivated me with her beauty, a sensation I hadn't felt since meeting Candace.

"Stop staring at her when you already have me!" Candace protested loudly, breaking my reverie.

"She must have some similar corruption like Kate to look like that," I remarked, ignoring Candace's complaints, thoroughly impressed by the elf girl's presence.

Despite the adoration from fans, Carla remained stoic, ignoring the attempts of those trying to engage her in conversation.

"Hey, Carla, right? Got a minute for a chat?" I approached the stoic girl, hoping to strike a deal with her.

When Carla turned to see it was me speaking to her, she gave a slight nod, indicating her willingness to engage.

"It's too noisy here for a proper conversation. Why don't you join us for lunch?" I suggested, hoping to entice her with the promise of privacy.

"Say what you want now. I'm not interested in going anywhere with you," Carla replied coldly, her voice soft yet devoid of emotion.

"How much gold to either lose to me on purpose or to introduce me to the boss of this place if you win?" I whispered discreetly, attempting to negotiate a deal without alerting bystanders.

"Not interested," Carla responded curtly, before walking away without another word.

"How could you ask her out when you already have me!" Candace shouted in protest, drawing attention to her before any bystanders could start gossiping.

"I couldn't help it. She's so beautiful!" I replied loudly, eliciting nods of agreement from some bystanders while others scolded.

Tina seized the opportunity to pile on the insults as we chatted with the locals before bidding them farewell and heading back towards the food street for lunch.

"Thanks for the quick thinking, Candace. It was rough with so many people around and her refusing to chat in private," I acknowledged, grateful for Candace's intervention.

"Most of it was just me complaining about you! I knew right away you were attracted to her! Didn't you claim this morning that you weren't susceptible to beautiful women anymore?" Candace retorted, her tone laced with accusation.

"She is beautiful, but I wasn't attracted. You're making things up. All I wanted was to see if I could pay her off to get that VIP access," I lied, my attraction to Carla undeniable.

"He definitely likes her. He was drooling all over the moment he saw her. Guess you're just not as beautiful as you think you are," Tina interjected, never one to miss an opportunity to stir up drama.

"Since she rejected you, can you beat her in a fight to get that VIP invitation?" Abigail inquired, while Candace and Tina continued their quarrel in the background.

"It will be interesting, to say the least. Obviously, her water magic will be much stronger than anything I'm capable of, and that polearm of hers looks interesting. But I don't think she'll be an unbeatable opponent like Fernard or one of the heroes," I reassured Abigail, pretty confident in our chances to gather more information about the secret underground boss controlling her people.

After lunch, we ventured to the shopping district, where I purchased protection artifacts for both Tina and me, knowing the tournament provided no protection, and contestants could face deadly consequences if they didn't surrender quickly.

With our artifacts secured, we strolled through the beautiful city, soaking in the cheerful atmosphere while the girls bickered over trivial matters.

Returning to our hotel room early to prepare for the tournament the next day, I wished the girls a good night and retreated to my room.

Lying awake, thoughts of Carla flooded my mind. Somehow, something about the girl reminded me of Clare, the most beautiful girl I'd ever known. Was it her demeanor? Her beauty? Memories of Clare made this night especially difficult to bear without the warmth of a lover.

last picture I created before taking my pc apart =0 Someone once commented that they wanted to see a girl with a devil tail. I remembered when I was creating Carla =)