Chapter 96 – The Cosmos Arena (7)
[Translator – jhei]
[Proofreader – yukitokata]
Jin’s battles the next day were not that different from Dante’s.
His opponents were introduced with pretentious names like Hellia’s Demon King or something, but it took only seven seconds to kill them.
Once again, the audience went quiet, and Beradin led the crowd to cheer.
"This year’s arena finalists must be those two."
"That Jin Grey fellow is incredible, but it’d be hard for the Runcandel provisional flag-bearer… Who are you betting on? Jin Grey? Or Paul Mick?"
"I’m still with Paul Mick. After seeing yesterday’s fight, I contacted the main house and brought all of the money. You should bet on Paul Mick too. He’s a Runcandel. A Runcandel! Who could beat a Runcandel when it comes to the sword?"
"Hm, good point…"
Jin showed off his amazing sword skill, but the nobles in the audience were already certain that Dante was the Runcandel Clan’s provisional flag-bearer. It was no longer just a rumor to them. More and more money accumulated onto Dante’s pool, and not that many bet their money on Jin.
Thanks to Jin, the other contestants naturally became irrelevant. The previous year’s finalists, victors, and veterans—who were supposed to lead the event—seemed underwhelming.
"Dammit. Those kids are making it hard to touch some money this year."
Most of the contestants were murder enjoyers, but as much as they enjoyed killing, what they wanted most was money.
More than the grand prize of 1000 gold coins for the competitors, receiving a portion of the pool from the host was much more important.
"Should we just kill ‘em off before the rest of the preliminaries? I think we can get ‘em if the veterans band together."
The distributed prize money for the winner would increase as more bets accumulated on one person. Other’s fortune could only be a pain for the veterans.
"Hold on. Did you not see the One-Eyed Pirates get destroyed? This year’s contest is those kids’ stage. If you want to save your life, you gotta stay out of it."
Since the veterans’ mood was this sour, the other contestants had to team up amongst themselves.
"Until the end of the preliminaries, let’s fight minimally. That way, we can come back next year and earn money. We can also bully the newbies too."
The veterans’ plan was to manipulate the victory. They planned to stage ambiguous battles without killing each other. That way, they could guarantee easy money by distributing the bets.
The guide relayed all this information to Cosmos.
"Ha, so they’re plotting something, eh? Bullshitting the fight to bathe in some money…"
"What should we do? If the competition gets boring, then we’ll have some problems next year."
Cosmos scratched his gold tooth with his index finger and shook his head.
"Change the preliminaries around. Make sure that Paul Mick and Jin Grey don’t awkwardly meet and fight each other in the quarter-finals of something. They have to meet in the finals."
"Are you sure?"
"The most important part of the show is to give what the audience wants. They want this duel more than the slaughterfest, so it’s all we can do. Instead, make sure they can’t bet anymore, and increase the other guys’ distribution pay."
"Then who should meet Jin Grey and Paul Mick throughout the rest of the preliminaries?"
"Stick them with the One-Eyed Pirates. We can’t let the other veteran contenders die, since we gotta use them next year."
"There’s going to be a lot of dissent from One-Eyed Joe if he hears about it."
Cosmos burst into laughter.
"You idiot! If Paul Mick really is Jin Runcandel, do you think he’ll live? The One-Eyed Pirates were done for as soon as they pissed him off. Don’t worry about it."
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Translator – jhei
* * *
The remaining rounds in the preliminaries proceeded quickly.
As much as it was staged, it wasn’t as bloody or brutal as the previous year’s.
The veterans just broke some bones and effortlessly wrapped up their eventless battles, causing angry shouts to ensue from the spectators.
They could tell that the fights were staged.
Despite this, however, no one left their audience seats. They knew that, after all of the boring battles, they would be able to see the duel between Jin and Dante.
And every time Jin or Dante faced a One-Eyed Pirate in the arena…
"Paul Mick! Paul Mick!"
Although neither of the crowd favorites really did anything special, the crowd would go wild. The two didn’t even need to brutally murder their opponents.
The two fellows finished their battles within one or two swings of the sword. From the preliminary rounds all the way to the semifinals, all of their battles easily ended like that.
And finally came the finals.
"They finally face each other today."
The entirety of the audience awaited their appearance. Beradin had come out to watch without sleeping a wink due to anxiety.
"Who do you think will win between those two?"
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Beradin asked his bodyguards.
"Seeing the previous battles, I think that Paul Mick’s swordsmanship is better."
"Hm… You think?"
"Youngest Master, what are your predictions?"
"I… bet on Jin. About 100,000 gold…"
"You’ve bet too much. If Jin Grey wins, would Cosmos be able to match that amount? The odds are three to one. I don’t think such a pirate would have that much money."
"No, they’re bigger than we thought. They can pay as much as 300,000 gold. If they sell some of their islands, that is. Ohhh, they’re starting!"
Cosmos walked out to the middle of the arena.
"Thank you for waiting, ladies and gentlemen! I greet you once again today. I, Pirate King Cosmos, thank you for being here for the grand finals!"
Cosmos bowed towards the audience.
Many cheered after seeing him introduce himself.
"Fuck off and just bring out the kids!"
"Yeah! Just proceed with the finals, you dumb pirate fuck!"
And there were also those who swore at him.
Cosmos could only feel disappointment. Usually, the audience would shower him with cheers and flowers for hosting such a great show.
‘These stupid noble bastards. When was it that you gave me a thumbs up for inventing the best show in the world… Starting next year, I’m gonna raise the entrance fee!’
Cosmos stood up, hiding his dissent.
"Yes, yes! I understand. Paul Mick and Jin Grey. I’m sure you are itching to see their battle… Why don’t we call them, then? Paaauuul!"
"""Mick! Paul Mick!"""
Dante was more popular than Jin. It was unavoidable, since the audience thought that he was a Runcandel.
As Dante entered the arena, there were many who screamed their hearts out for him.
"Alright, and his opponent! The nameless teenage swordsman, Jin Grey!"
As Jin entered the stadium, the cheers were significantly quieter. Instead, there were many who had their hands together on their forehead, praying for their desired outcome. They were the gambling addicts who saw the three-fold gambling multiplier and brought all of their life savings to use for betting.
Despite their misprediction of Dante being the Runcandels’ provisional flag-bearer, people definitely thought that he would defeat Jin. Until now, Dante had freely and skillfully handled his sword and crescent slashes, and Jin had not.
So, the people who bet on Jin prayed for his victory.
"Jin Grey! Let’s goooo!"
Beradin stood up and screamed with bloodshot eyes.
Other audience members who bet on Jin began to scream as well.
‘Go where, you sick fuck.’
Of course, Jin didn’t give them a single glance and walked to his side of the arena.
He felt significant pressure. Not because of the gamblers who bet their lives on the line, but because he was uncertain if he could actually defeat Dante.
Jin Runcandel and Dante Hairan.
The two faced each other with a calm expression. Unlike their other fights, they purposefully left thirty steps between each other. One more step would be within striking range. They were standing still, but a crippling tension stifled the two contenders.
As the audience went silent, Cosmos opened his mouth once more.
"Oh my, I didn’t think that my arena would become like this. This is like watching a dueling championship between famous clans… Then, let’s begin the final battle!"
The pirates blew the horns, and Cosmos ran out. The two contenders slowly unsheathed their swords.
Simultaneously, they conjured their aura, and their swords began to glow.
‘There’s no opportunity to strike…’
Jin could not make the first move as per usual. Even without clashing swords, he knew that Dante’s swordsmanship was better than his. He felt it ever since he first watched Dante’s fights.
As for Dante, he couldn’t strike first as well, but not because he thought Jin was better.
‘Strangely, I sense something ominous. I don’t know what it is, but something’s up.’
After hitting 7-star, it was the first time Dante felt uncertainty while in the presence of a sub-6-star, and he fell into a dilemma. Does he use all his energy to finish the battle quickly, or does he observe his opponent and slowly wear him out?
To begin with, he never entertained the idea of losing—never thought that he would lose to Jin.
‘This sense of foreboding must mean that you prepared something to face me. In that case, I should take it slow.’
Thinking that he should be extremely cautious, Dante stepped forward. He chose to take precaution instead of closing the gap and finishing the battle quickly.
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At that moment, Jin smiled in his mind.
‘I guess you chose to carefully take me on. It means that my chances of defeating you just increased by ten percent.’
Jin had already planned a method to defeat Dante.
He, as well, never considered losing this fight.