Chapter 13:

CHAPTER 9: THE TRI-SKILL TOURNAMENT

The Human Saint is Bored, so I was Summoned to Another World Vol. 2


And so, the time for battle had come.Bookmark here

Truth be told, after returning from the town when it was time for the long sleep, there was a great disturbance in the other candidates’ camp. Some contestants became ill and had diarrhea.Bookmark here

“…”Bookmark here

Those Rubinforth siblings have begun their move. I have to keep my mouth shut.Bookmark here

So, when it was time for me to meet my opponents on the battlefield, there’s not a single soul to fight.Bookmark here

Honestly, I’m a bit disappointed. To think that I even went to great lengths just to find gunpowder and bullets for my weapon. Haha…Bookmark here

Ah, anyway, at least, I won’t have to tire myself from running around the battlefield.Bookmark here

“!!!”Bookmark here

Alright, here comes the judge.Bookmark here

“Ladies and gentlemen, we are here to partake in this sacred tradition of our great kingdom! As you know, the Tri-Skill tournament would showcase the martial prowess, sound mind, grace, and manners of our candidates on this battlefield. The eventual winner shall receive the hand in marriage of our great Saint, Her Holiness, the Duchess of Rubinforth!”Bookmark here

Loud cheers and swoons were heard from across the battlefield. Everyone’s eyes turned towards the tent where they expected the Human Saint was to appear; however, her velvet chair was empty.Bookmark here

The crowd immediately went quiet.Bookmark here

“A-ahem…” the judge, visibly taken aback, cleared his throat to continue his speech, “It seems Her Holiness is resting for a while. But please do not be disappointed, for in her stead, the Beastman Saint, Ruro of the Wolf, graces us with her presence!”Bookmark here

Formal claps were heard from the crowd upon the mention of Her Fluffy Holiness’ name, something that you won’t hear whenever the human Saint’s name was involved. I guess that’s the natural human being for you; we’re utterly racist.Bookmark here

“…”Bookmark here

Well, if you guys only know; your saint is utterly averted to bloody businesses such as this.Bookmark here

Yeah, yeah, this judge went on talking about the ‘sacred customs’ that came along with the tourney and stuff like those. And then came the time to announce the members of the groups that would compete in the first stage of the tournament.Bookmark here

“In Mithril Group: the Ducal-Prince of Savoy, the Imperial Prince of Chersea, the Prince of Amarth, the Prince of Shent, and the Prince of Amaranth…”Bookmark here

“In Gold Group: the Prince of Hareth, the High-Prince of Colveente, the Prince of Halveth, the Prince of Galad, and the Grey Knight of the East…”Bookmark here

“In Silver Group: the Stadtholder of Honmes, the Templar-Prince of Baltes, the Satrap of Mercia, the Prince of Calabria, and the Seneschal of Ven…”Bookmark here

Wow…I couldn’t help but get interested in those names of the countries that comprised the human land of Chersea. Maybe I should go on a journey to visit these places some time in the future…Bookmark here

“In Bronze Group: the King of Nerfes, the Grand Duke of Loos, the Marshal of Hern Valley, and uh…”Bookmark here

“…”Bookmark here

A resounding silence was heard when the judge suddenly stopped to announce the next name on the paper he was holding. He had a confused look on his face, and he went back to the Duke’s pavilion to make sure that he’s reading it right. The Duke simply nodded; so, the judge had no other choice but to announce the name of the last contestant.Bookmark here

“My apologies, ladies and gents, but the name of the last contestant in the Bronze group is some commoner named Kuro!”Bookmark here

“!!!”Bookmark here

There was a huge commotion among the ladies and nobles when they heard my name. Most of them were laughing, and some were already jeering.Bookmark here

“Hey! Why did a commoner enter the tourney? Isn’t this blasphemy?”Bookmark here

“Yeah! The tournament is for the great nobles only!”Bookmark here

“Such preposterous commoner! Get him beaten to death!”Bookmark here

I guess it’s unprecedented to have a commoner fight alongside nobles in tourneys like this…Bookmark here

“…”Bookmark here

The Duke then stood up to calm the unruly crowd, “My dear guests, as the head of the Holy House of Rubinforth, I assure you that this will be an entertaining match! Indeed, a lonely commoner from some far-away country has come and wanted to join our Tri-Skill Tournament. Though I initially refused him, I eventually consented to his application, since he liked to be beaten up so bad, he’s resorted to using the cowardly demons’ weapon!”Bookmark here

There was a chorus of mocking laughter and jeers from the crowd. For them, a matchlock gun was ‘cowardly’, just like what the nobility and clerics in the late Middle Age Europe thought.Bookmark here

Well, I pray they stay the same in such thinking. They don’t know what they are laughing at…Bookmark here

“…”Bookmark here

“Unfortunately…” the judge then resumed on his announcement, “For the Bronze Group, a tragedy has struck! The King of Nerfes, the Grand Duke of Loos, and the Marshal of Hern Valley suddenly got ill and had to drop from the contest.”Bookmark here

“…”Bookmark here

My eyes fell on the two kids who were sitting beside the Duke of Rubinforth. Their expressions remained indifferent, but for some reason, I couldn’t help but picture them having sinister smiles on their faces.Bookmark here

Well, I’m sorry guys from the Bronze group, we’re just trying to win here, see?Bookmark here

The jeers and boos became even louder when they heard about the incident and King Rambo’s and the others’ fate. These people want the ‘arrogant commoner’ (me) to get beaten shitless by their king in the tourney’s course.Bookmark here

“Please calm down, everyone!” the judge pleaded, “Because of this unexpected circumstance, the Duke of Rubinforth has allowed one replacement contestant to cross arms in our tournament in the Bronze Group!”Bookmark here

“!!!”Bookmark here

The crowd’s ugly noise suddenly died down. The announcement had appeased their thirst for blood against me. I also was surprised by it; my eyes automatically went towards where the Rubinforth siblings sat.Bookmark here

Good lord, the looks on their faces are telling me they didn’t expect such development either. Well, I guess I’m on my own then.Bookmark here

“Ladies and gentlemen, please give way to the honorable Paladin Prince of the Fire Plains!”Bookmark here

I could hear the swoons and shouts of praise from the audience the moment a dashing, yet intimidating knight-in-shining-plate-armor graced the battlefield of the Bronze Group. His arms were raised in a victorious pose as if he knew he’ll win this contest. Several of his attendants were following him, carrying his war implements.Bookmark here

Well, I guess I need to prepare my weapon then…Bookmark here

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The Tri-Skill Tournament’s combat phase then begun. A lot of members of Nerfes’ nobility and some foreign dignitaries had exchanged bets on who’s winning in their respective groups. These wagers were then displayed on a board in front of the battlefield. Naturally, the audience would place their money on the candidate they thought to possess the greatest potential to advance to the next round.Bookmark here

Hmm, let’s see, I think for the Mithril group, the crowd favorite was the Imperial Prince. For Golden Group, it’s Prince of Hareth. And for the Silver Group, the Seneschal of Ven had the most votes.Bookmark here

“…”Bookmark here

I guess I needed not to tell you who got the most votes in my Bronze Group. I thought the people never even considered that I’m a combatant…Bookmark here

That hurts, you know…Bookmark here

The Paladin Prince was a rather an unlikely figure. He was taller than me, but not that tall compared to other contestants. His moderately long hair was that of golden-brown, and he wore it in a bun so that his attendants could squeeze it on his helm.Bookmark here

“…”Bookmark here

Well, his armor was pretty impressive, as I’ve said before. It had a shimmer that glistens brightly under the light of the sun, and his sword, spear and his shield were well-maintained. His horse was also wrapped in armor; his face displayed only the grimmest of expressions. Anyone who’d see him could tell that he’s well-prepared for this fight.Bookmark here

“Are you the commoner called Kuro?” I heard him asked me.Bookmark here

“Hmm? Well, yes I am, Your Highness.” I sheepishly replied to him so as not to offend him that much.Bookmark here

“Nice to meet you, Commoner.”Bookmark here

“Eh?” Honestly, I was surprised by his friendly tone, despite the seriousness of his face.Bookmark here

“Don’t worry, I don’t intend to kill you.” he laughed softly, “I’m just here because the Duke himself asked me to fight and beat you.”Bookmark here

“Oh…” That pesky Duke wants me to lose, huh?Bookmark here

“Honestly, I have a family already, though in secret.” The Paladin Prince explained to me, winking, “I have no intention of marrying our Saint, so I intend to back out of the contest once I did my mission.”Bookmark here

“I…I see…” Man, this was kind of awkward and heavy, you know. Even though he’s supposedly my enemy, knowing the Paladin Prince’s background was something that made my heart waver.Bookmark here

After all, if things go smoothly for me, I’ll be shooting a person and could kill him in a real scenario.Bookmark here

“Ah, anyway, Kuro. I admire your courage, or foolishness, whichever you may want to put it.” the Paladin commented, “You’re the only commoner that I encountered in my entire life that will take a stand against us, nobles. Do you have the intention of marrying Her Holiness?”Bookmark here

“Nope, I don’t.” I gave him my honest answer, “I’m only here because I wanted to help a friend in need.”Bookmark here

“I don’t understand your reasons, but well, let’s have a good fight.”Bookmark here

“Yes, Your Highness!”Bookmark here

“Brave commoner, know that this humble paladin won’t hold back for this contest.” the Paladin Prince bowed before me, which kind of unnerved me since no noble should and would do it. It only meant that this guy was considering me a worthy opponent. Something far different from the usual arrogance of most nobles that I’ve met so far…Bookmark here

“What a coincidence!” I replied confidently, getting fired up, “I have the same intention as you!”Bookmark here

Good lord, this will leave an ugly aftertaste when I shoot him.Bookmark here

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For the Bronze Group, candidates, please step forward!” the judge called out.Bookmark here

The Paladin Prince and I took our brave steps and proceeded to the middle of the battlefield. The audience, composed of mostly aristocrats and esteemed commoners, watched silently on the bleachers constructed to accommodate them temporarily.Bookmark here

Our group was the first one to go since everyone was expecting it to be a brief fight, thus not worthy of much attention. Think of a boxing match back on Earth; our contest would be a sort of ‘warm-up’ for the crowd, who’d soon be going wild for the subsequent matches in the other groups.Bookmark here

Now that I had a good look at the bleachers, I could say that most were uninterested. It was half-empty, and those who remained to watch were busy on something else. Even at the Duke’s Pavilion, the host was missing, and of the two Rubinforth siblings, only William seemed to be interested in what’s going to take place—I could see Sophia chatting with some noble girls not too far away from her brother.Bookmark here

“…”Bookmark here

I took one last look at my weapon, just to make sure I prepared my first shot sufficiently. Now’s not the time to get pissed off at these arrogant jackasses.Bookmark here

“Combatants, to the center, please!”Bookmark here

We did just what the judge said. The Paladin Prince had his horse ready; on his hand was a long lance, and on his hip were a sword and a mace. The shield was attached to the iron glove on his left hand.Bookmark here

Man, unlike what he said before, he wants me dead with those weapons…Bookmark here

I, in contrast, stepped forward with a dagger on a strap slung across my body, and the matchlock gun in my hands. I asked Sophia to light the soft match for me on both ends so that I won’t get caught unprepared should the other end’s ember died down.Bookmark here

From afar, it may have looked like a battle between a well-armed tank versus a poor, ill-equipped infantryman.Bookmark here

“…”Bookmark here

“The one who draws blood shall be declared the winner.” the judge explained, “The contest can also be stopped if one of you yields to his opponent, or I deemed one of you as incapacitated, thus can’t continue to fight. Am I understood?”Bookmark here

When we both signaled that we understood his instructions, the judge then stepped aside…Bookmark here

“Fight!”Bookmark here

And our clash was on!Bookmark here

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The Paladin Prince began his charge towards me on his horse. At first, it was slow, then as he drew near, he increased his speed, and his lance suddenly came pointing down in my direction.Bookmark here

If I got hit by that lance, I’ll be dead, even if there’s a substitute doll in place…Bookmark here

“…”Bookmark here

However, I remained unmoved in my position. I could hear the angry shouts coming from what remained of the audience, egging the Paladin Prince to beat me thoroughly. And also…Bookmark here

“Look at the commoner! He’s so scared he forgot to run!”Bookmark here

“Hey, you better run now so we can have a bit of fun, you fool!”Bookmark here

“Maxwell, do us a favor and go easy on him! Let us have entertainment for a while!”Bookmark here

These idiots were annoying, I wish they’d just shut their mouths.Bookmark here

“…”Bookmark here

But I did my best to stay calm, even though in some sense, I’m about to get run over by the tank. I knew I couldn’t fire yet at this distance. I needed to make sure my shot counts, or I’ll either be a laughingstock or dead.Bookmark here

“!!!”Bookmark here

No, it’s way too far just yet. I remembered a rock song about when to shoot while using a matchlock gun as a weapon. I repeatedly played it on my mind…Bookmark here

See the whites in their eyes, Caroleans are marching on!  (1)Bookmark here

See the whites in their eyes…Bookmark here

Fortunately, the Paladin Prince wore an open type of helmet. I could see his gritting expression well, as he charged towards me. In any minute now, he’d be within the range of my weapon…Bookmark here

“Beat him to death!” shouted the crowd.Bookmark here

See the whites in their eyes…Bookmark here

The paladin on his charging steed looked like a furious tank bulldozing everything on its path. They were a terrible, yet awesome, sight. Anyone who might end up in my position would be scared shitless by what they were witnessing; but surprisingly, my sanity hanged on. Honestly, I couldn’t tell what entered my mind when I agreed to join this stupid death game…Bookmark here

“Run him over!”Bookmark here

See the whites in their eyes!Bookmark here

“!!!”Bookmark here

Now, Kuro!Bookmark here

I quickly pulled the trigger as I turned away to protect my eyes from the blast. I aimed for the paladin as the loud explosion of burning gunpowder tore through the screams and jeers of the crowd, and the overwhelming recoil of the gun punched through my body. I almost fell because of the excessive force.Bookmark here

“!!!”Bookmark here

I heard the horse neighed terribly, followed by a loud crash and shout. Then I opened my eyes just in time for the armored horse to hit me as it fell; it looked like that my shot went to its head instead and caused the Paladin Prince to be unhorsed.Bookmark here

“Guh—” ACK! Good lord, the pain is terrible! The iron armor of the war steed hit me fair and square on my chest, and the only thing that went in between that solid mass of steel and muscles was the dagger that I slung across my shoulders.Bookmark here

So this is what Her Holiness meant by painful!Bookmark here

Good thing that I was pushed away by the fallen horse’s body instead of crushing me with its weight. So, though in pain, I still got up and return to the fight, using the gun to support me.Bookmark here

“…”Bookmark here

The crowds continue on their jeers and screams, but their shouts have changed. They were now desperate; urging the Paladin Prince to get up and finish me.Bookmark here

Of course, I won’t allow that.Bookmark here

Even though I’m limping and I could feel blood coming out from my mouth, I pulled myself away from the carnage. The Paladin Prince, trained as he was, had recovered from his nasty fall and was now ready with his sword and mace in both hands. His face was dirty, and his helmet was gone: a result of tumbling on the wet grass.Bookmark here

“!!!”Bookmark here

However, I could also see his shocked expression. He just couldn’t believe I just felled his horse using the cowardly ‘demon weapon’.Bookmark here

I quickly took the gunpowder flask and began the arduous process of reloading my gun. The paladin resumed his charge, albeit slower since he lost his horse. I still had a considerable distance, but it was getting smaller by every second that passed, so I considered running around while loading my gun…Bookmark here

However, the sheer weight of the matchlock was a hindrance for me. My chest injury didn’t help my cause, either. With my heart racing, I had to hurry in reloading, or I’ll be fighting this guy using the bayonet and dagger, in which I’m hopelessly untrained.Bookmark here

“…”Bookmark here

“Aaaaaaarrrrrrgggggghhhhhh!!!”Bookmark here

When he noticed he could quickly close the distance between me and him, the Paladin Prince bolted in my direction. His sword was raised to protect himself from melee attacks, and his mace was up, ready to be flung down on my head to bludgeon it.Bookmark here

Fuck, I need to hurry!Bookmark here

“Get him now, Maxwell!”Bookmark here

“Here I come!” the Paladin Prince shouted with all his might, as if it was his war cry. The screams and cheers from the angry and excited crowd were deafening…Bookmark here

But I never had the time to notice it. I quickly emptied the gunpowder on the hole of the gun after ramming in the bullet, and desperation on my part made me quickly aim my weapon at him. And then I saw his face…the ‘whites’ of his eyes…Bookmark here

Good lord, I don’t want to kill someone…Bookmark here

“…”Bookmark here

But I’ll be dead if this is a true battle!Bookmark here

“!!!”Bookmark here

I pulled the trigger and off came another loud bang.Bookmark here

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The next few moments were a time of confusion, at least for me. Smoke from the burning gunpowder temporarily obscured my vision, and when I returned to reality, I noticed that the entire battlefield was quiet.Bookmark here

In front of me lay the bloodied Paladin Prince. His armor had a terrible hole right at the cuirass, and he was bleeding terribly.Bookmark here

“Oh my god, I’m sorry Your Highness!” I dropped my weapon and rushed towards the fallen knight. He was still conscious, yet his deathly pale look was enough to give me nightmares.Bookmark here

“D-don’t…wo-worry!” the Paladin Prince tried to speak, “I-I’ll b-be fine! It’s j-just that, i-it h-hurts, terribly!”Bookmark here

Of course it would. You have a gaping hole in your chest after all.Bookmark here

His assistants had come to his side by now, with one carrying a stretcher. The substitution doll had a pronounced hole in its chest part, a clear sign it absorbed the damage that was done to the poor paladin. I looked at him again and sighed with relief; his normally fatal injury was healed. The horse was okay as well, even though it received a bullet straight on its head earlier; one of the Paladin Prince’s attendants was leading it away from the battle site.Bookmark here

They should just take a rest for a while…Bookmark here

It was then that I came to notice that the entire battlefield was full of shocked people. They stared at me like I did something awesome, as well as terrible at the same time. Even the Duke (who reappeared just in time) and Sophia were silent in utter surprise after witnessing what had just transpired.Bookmark here

I picked up my matchlock gun and started walking away from the battlefield.Bookmark here

“W-wait!”Bookmark here

I turned around and saw the judge.Bookmark here

“Is this…Is this even allowed, Your Excellency?” he asked the Duke, “He just used a cowardly weapon against our noble knight!”Bookmark here

“Yeah! That’s a coward’s weapon!” Someone supported the judge’s argument from the crowd. Soon enough, the entire audience was in an uproar, and the Duke’s guards had to intervene to prevent a riot from breaking out.Bookmark here

“!!!”Bookmark here

Another blast tore through the air, and the crowd suddenly became silent. All of their eyes fell on me since I’m the one who fired the matchlock gun once again.Bookmark here

“You stupid bloody idiots!” I couldn’t help but berate them, “You keep on saying ‘coward’s weapon’, and ‘honor this’ and ‘honor that’, but what the hell? You just saw a man almost getting killed by this weapon and all you could think of is your stupid honor and fairness?”Bookmark here

“…” The supposedly arrogant nobles had nothing to counter me.Bookmark here

“You may have the best knights or paladins in your employ, but have you thought what would happen if a war breaks out between you and the race who invented this thing? Let me tell you what an actual war is. There is no fairness and honor in that; only death and blood, and the ability to kill multitudes of people in a matter of when you blink your eyes!”Bookmark here

Good lord, all these shouts are making my chest burn in pain. I’m having difficulty in breathing. But I had to make these morons see reason; at least a few of them would be a good start.Bookmark here

“You surely lie! Don’t lecture us; what do you know about war? Real wars aren’t fought in deceit!” a noble from the crowd argued with me.Bookmark here

“Then so be it! Wallow in your chivalrous delusions! From where I came from, we could annihilate an entire city in a matter of seconds, that is, how fast your heart completes a beat. Do you talk of ‘real war’? The actual war you’re dreaming of isn’t decided by chivalry; it’s won by killing as many as you can, using any way you can think of!” I brandished the gun in front of them, “If you won’t believe me, then ask yourselves, how am I able to use this weapon?”Bookmark here

“Didn’t the demons teach you how to?”Bookmark here

“He’s telling the truth!”Bookmark here

“!!!”Bookmark here

Our attention then fell on the white-haired woman with wolf’s ears and tail. The Beastman Saint had finally decided to intervene on my behalf.Bookmark here

“You all know that we Saints can read or see through your minds and hearts.” Her Fluffy Holiness explained with a grim look on her face, “As scary as it may sound, but this commoner speaks the truth. I’ve looked into his memories.”Bookmark here

The crowd had no counter against my statement now that the Beastman Saint had said her words. Everyone just fell quiet for quite a long time, and when they realized the futility of arguing against a Saint, they slowly exited the bleachers to take a break to prepare for the next group’s fight.Bookmark here

I guess the advent of matchlock guns in Chersea is a hard pill to swallow…Bookmark here

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The next thing that I saw when I opened my eyes, I am now back in my cottage.Bookmark here

“…”Bookmark here

My eyes instinctively went around for clues to what happened. If I remember correctly, I was standing in the middle of the battlefield, contending against the anger and disbelief of the shocked Cherseans upon learning the devastating power of a matchlock gun…Bookmark here

“Well, your injuries aren’t light, Mister Kuro.”Bookmark here

“!!!”Bookmark here

It was Her Holiness, who was sitting beside my bed. Her siblings, Sophia and William, were beside her. Sophia was looking at me with an expression of concern in her eyes; William stared at me with fascination. Lily was preparing food nearby, and the Beastman Saint was standing not too far from me either.Bookmark here

“What happened?” I asked.Bookmark here

“You suddenly collapsed on the field after you won the first round of the Tri-Skill Tournament.” it was Her Fluffy Holiness that answered, “When we looked unto you, you’ve been injured. Maybe it’s by that falling horse that crashed unto you, but no matter what the reason is, someone had deliberately forgotten to put up your substitution doll…”Bookmark here

I felt goosebumps when I learned that. So, all this time I’m fighting in that tourney, I was unprotected? What if that lance from the Paladin Prince hit me?Bookmark here

“You’re dead. Simple, eh?” The Beastman Saint’s face sarcastically turned on the individual who was hidden behind the two Rubinforth kids.Bookmark here

“…”Bookmark here

It was the old Duke of Rubinforth. God, this old man just literally tried to kill me!Bookmark here

He had an irritated, unrepentant expression, and he glared at the Beastman Saint, who exposed his scheme. However, he knew that he had done something wrong, so he could not answer her provocations.Bookmark here

“Mister Kuro, I’m ashamed and sorry for the actions of my father and my siblings.” The Human Saint bowed so low that everyone in the room tried to make her sit up straight, including me, “My siblings for forcibly dragging you into this matter, and my father for doing an underhanded attempt on your life.”Bookmark here

“Uh…I accept that apology, Your Holiness. So please, raise your head as soon as possible.” I tried moving my body around, “Look, I’m fine already.”Bookmark here

“Maddie did her best to heal your injury, that’s why.” Her Fluffy Holiness said, “If she didn’t give her best effort, you might as well have died. Several of your ribs were broken, see?”Bookmark here

Oh…so that’s why I’m having difficulty breathing earlier, even though I shouted out of anger and desperation at the crowd. Maybe I could stay for that long because of what they call, ‘Adrenaline Rush’.Bookmark here

“Thanks, Your Holiness.”Bookmark here

“Please don’t thank me.”Bookmark here

Oh, come on! Just accept and be done with it!” I tried to lighten up the heavy atmosphere inside the cottage.Bookmark here

“Mister Kuro, is it?” I heard the Duke speak.Bookmark here

I didn’t know what to say or how to react to this person who tried to have me murdered. Honestly, I wanted to freak out, but I also knew that doing so wouldn’t turn back what just had happened. The only words that I could say were, “Yes, Your Excellency?”Bookmark here

“If I may ask for your forgiveness for my foolishness.” he also apologized, though he never bowed, “But please understand that everything that I did, it was for my daughter.”Bookmark here

“…”Bookmark here

Hmm…yeah, even though this old fucker almost had me killed, I understood where he was coming from. I mean, look, wasn’t it natural for parents to be wary of strangers hanging around their child? Back when I was a teacher, it wasn’t uncommon for us to encounter what we call ‘stage parents’—moms and dads who would take control of everything just to have their kid be the star for everyone else to see.Bookmark here

They are utterly annoying, and obnoxious as well…but in a hindsight, they only want the best for their children, even if we want to punch their faces occasionally.Bookmark here

“Ahem. Anyway, Mister Kuro.”Bookmark here

“Yes, Your Excellency?”Bookmark here

“Please take a rest for now.” he suggested to me, which frightened me since it was out of his character, “You still have the second stage to think about after one long sleep. Don’t worry; I won’t do anything to you this time, so you may take your well-deserved rest.”Bookmark here

Hmm…the kindness he’s now showing to me was making me fear more for my life than when he was open in his contempt for me.Bookmark here

“Yes, Mister Kuro!” it was Sophia, “You don’t have to be on guard for too much now. I’ll have some of my attendants posted around and protect you from threats.”Bookmark here

“Those guards are under my pay to protect you, Sophia.” the Duke rebuked his younger daughter, “And besides, I’ve already declared I won’t harm this man. Such arrangements are unnecessary.”Bookmark here

“Well, someone else could attack him though.” William suggested, “I think Mister Kuro had made a lot of enemies among the nobility after that fight earlier.”Bookmark here

“I could post a pair of guards to this cottage.” the Duke offered, “Any more than that would be a luxury.”Bookmark here

“I won’t entrust him to you, Papa!” Her Holiness flatly refused her father.Bookmark here

“What, do you intend to stay here and guard this commoner? Do you even realize your worth and status as a noble, Maddie?”Bookmark here

“If it shall be, then I’ll do it! I have my guards as well!” the Human Saint stubbornly declared.Bookmark here

“You can’t do that, big sis!” William was in a panic, “This is unprecedented.”Bookmark here

“Kuro’s life is my responsibility! It is because of my selfishness that he’s suffering right now!” Her Holiness countered, “And I won’t allow any harm to happen to him!”Bookmark here

“Stay quiet, you insolent daughter!” the Duke fumed.Bookmark here

“Yes, big sis! He’s just a commoner, and you’re the Holy Saint!” Sophia cried out in protest.Bookmark here

Uhh…the mood went from solemnly apologetic to a fiery, argumentative one. The entire Rubinforth household was here in front of us, fighting their hearts out, just because of the duty of protecting me…Bookmark here

What the hell am I watching? A holy lady being dressed down by her father for being stubborn? A father that is being disobeyed by his children? And kids who are meddling with their big sister’s and father’s lives?Bookmark here

This was like an awkward family sitcom…Bookmark here

I guess I need to intervene now…Bookmark here

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Everyone shut the ffffffffuuuuuuuuuucccccccccckkkkk uuuuuuuuuuupppppppp!”Bookmark here

I think my roar struck fear into the hearts of everyone present in that cottage. They immediately fell silent, and Lily even dropped the bowl of soup that she had just made. As a result, she had to clean it in the meantime.Bookmark here

“Alright, you guys calm down.” I asked them to sit on the nearest chair they could grab and gathered them around, “Just calm down for a bit…”Bookmark here

The Saint, her siblings, and their father quietly obeyed me; maybe it’s because of the initial shock on what I just did. Though they did what I told them, their faces have terrible expressions written on them; they hated each other as of now.Bookmark here

“Hey look here, Your Holiness…” I turned to Her Holiness first, “No matter how ‘Holy’ you are, that old man over there is your father, and you have to give him respect though you may not agree to his methods sometimes.”Bookmark here

“But, he just tried to kill you—”Bookmark here

“Precisely that’s it. Has Her Holiness realized that her father only did that because he’s suspecting me of malintent? I’m still fearful of my life, but I understand his actions. I mean, he just did that because he wants to protect his daughter in any way he can! If I’m in his place, I may have ordered my men to have that arrogant commoner be killed on the spot!”Bookmark here

The Saint kept her silence. But the angry expression on her face had slowly vanished. It seemed like she understood what I told her.Bookmark here

“And you, Your Excellencies, Sophia and William!” I turned to the sheepish younger siblings of Her Holiness, “I know you love your big sister just like how you love your mother. But you know, if you love someone with all of your heart, you would only want what makes that person happy!”Bookmark here

Like their big sister before them, the Rubinforth siblings were speechless. They kept their heads low as if I’m their father who was angry at them.Bookmark here

“Your big sister has been suffering from your meddling in her life. I understand that you only want to protect her, but know your limits as well. Her Holiness has her own life too, and it would do her good if you let her commit mistakes from time to time. Experience is the best teacher, after all.”Bookmark here

Sophia and William nodded. Looks like they also understood what I just said.Bookmark here

“You sure talk big, Mister Kuro.” it was the Duke of Rubinforth who told me, “Do you have a family back in your country?”Bookmark here

“No, I don’t, Your Excellency.” I gave him an honest answer, “But in my workplace, I have a lot of children to take care of. And even though I’m not their family, I care for them deeply. So, I know the feeling of being a father. And pardon me for saying this to you, but Sir, I don’t think forcing your will on your daughter would be best for her.”Bookmark here

“What do you know to tell me those?”Bookmark here

“As I’ve said before, in my former work, I deal with a lot of children. If my classes have 300 students, then I’ll interact with all 300 students, and be concerned with their problems. It’s not a surprise that I would encounter kids who have trouble with their parents because the adults wanted something for their child that he or she doesn’t.”Bookmark here

“…”Bookmark here

“You know, Sir, those kids had trouble in their daily social interaction later on. Since their parents controlled every aspect of how to live their lives, when they grew into teenagers they became dependent on the adults for everything—even though they try to act independently.”Bookmark here

“So, what are you trying to say?”Bookmark here

“Please give your daughter a few liberties for herself, especially those matters that concern her future life as an independent lady of standing.”Bookmark here

“You mean to say I won’t guide her anymore?”Bookmark here

“Nope. It’s not like that.” I had to be careful with my words; this situation could be tricky, “What I’m suggesting for Your Excellency to do, is that you allow her to choose her path with your guidance. For example, let her choose the person she’ll love and marry for the rest of her life, while educating her on how to choose that right person. You don’t have to force your will on her.”Bookmark here

At that moment, the Duke clearly understood what I meant. He remained in quiet reflection; I could tell it from his face.Bookmark here

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Bookmark here

The Rubinforth household was certainly silent, maybe all of them were reflecting on what I just said. It was the Duke who was the first to excuse himself out, but not before reminding me…Bookmark here

“Please take a rest, Mister Kuro. There’s still a contest after one long sleep.”Bookmark here

Ah yes, it’s the ‘command’ phase of the Tri-Skill tournament. I thanked the Duke for his reminder, for which he had his silence for an answer.Bookmark here

“Sophia, William, come to the dinner table with Papa now.” the Human Saint requested her siblings to go out of the cottage. Even though Sophia lightly protested, William quietly obeyed, but not before giving me a meaningful look.Bookmark here

This guy is fascinated with weapons, as was his earlier reactions show…Bookmark here

And then, after a few more moments, I was alone once again. Or so I think…Bookmark here

“You sure give those Rubinforths a dressing down of their lives.” the Beastman Saint remained with me for a while. She was lying down on the bed, complete with a sardonic smirk on her face.Bookmark here

“I did?” I couldn’t believe her words just yet. I mean, I only talked like that to placate the angry feelings of each family member against one another. I hate to see a family breaking up because of matters that could be negotiated, anyway.Bookmark here

“Yes, you are.” Her Fluffy Holiness nodded, “And to be honest, I think the Duke himself will reconsider after this; I mean, I read his thoughts after your speech.”Bookmark here

“Hmm…that’d be nice, at least, I did what I intend to do, anyway.”Bookmark here

“You are something, Master.”Bookmark here

Nah. I’m just trying to be of use.”Bookmark here

“Yep, that, and Maddie can’t help but rely on you now.”Bookmark here

“I hope that doesn’t happen…”Bookmark here

“Well, why? Don’t you want someone as beautiful as her to be your wife? You said before that you’d marry her, that’s why you joined this tourney.”Bookmark here

“I did that because I wanted to.” I countered the Beastman Saint’s statement, “And Her Holiness is a good friend to me. Although I find her beautiful and I have desires for someone like her to be my life partner, I don’t think I should be the one whom she would be married to.”Bookmark here

“Hah? But why?” the Beastman Saint suddenly sat up on the bed. She had that ‘I-can’t-believe-you’ expression on her face.Bookmark here

“I’m just an ordinary bloke from another world, and she’s the Great Saint of Chersea. It’s like a useless fly being paired to a magnificent griffon.”Bookmark here

“You guys interest me…” Her Fluffy Holiness could only say.Bookmark here

Author's Note:  (1) 'The Carolean's Prayer' by the Swedish heavy metal band, Sabaton.Bookmark here

Bookmarked
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