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By this time, the commons were full and Tom stopped his talk with Sally. Stein sat down next to him and so did two Susanese students. Their cyan outfits were outlined in White, making them seem right out of an old painting.
Neither Tom, nor Sally had any idea of the organization in Water-lily, but they could tell that they were some sort of partners. They were a girl and a boy, looking even younger than Sally. They kept to themselves at first, but they cordially greeted the others. They clearly didn’t want to talk much, as they didn’t even say their names.


 Tom couldn’t keep from eavesdropping. The girl had shoulder length black hair, and warm black eyes. She seemed like the person you could always talk to, given the chance. The boy also had black hair. It was a round cut, and he fastened a little bit into a ponytail. He had an aura of fervor. Their uniforms’ pants were more of an ashy color as compared to Oakwood’s darker grey. 


The same woman who gave the opening speech appeared and started again on a meandering speech. She stressed the importance of community and alliance and such. Finally she ended by saying, “All athletes, change into proper gear and standby outside at the courtyard. We will commence the third annual schools’ tourney in half an hour.”


They all changed into a thin, cloth like armor. The armor was completely black, and it was obviously made out of synthetic materials. It seemed to stress mobility over protection. But instead, modern-day armor was usually far more protective than it seems.

 They would use weapons given to them by the school. Finding a rapier or something similar was easy, but Tom hoped to find a gun.


Outside, just by the courtyard, lies the arena. It was a vast ten by ten by ten feet. On either side of it, there were many temporary seating arrangements. It was completely constructed with some sort of tough glass. It allowed for perfect visibility. So this is all for show, Tom thought.


There was an electronic screen. At the moment, it only showed the countries’ flags. Lodestone’s flag was a black stone on a lavender background. It represented the country’s sturdiness.


 Likewise, Susanoo’s new flag was a white crescent and a white dove on a grey background. The dove represented a will to keep the peace, while Tom wasn’t sure exactly what the crescent meant. To him, it seemed eerily like a blade.
The electronic screen burst to life and displayed instead a bracket. The names were blank, but after a second they randomly displayed the combatants. Next to their names, a small flag could be seen for either country.


Tom looked at a weapons rack. He took a blade that resembled his own in terms of weight. Before the tourney he had asked for a gun, which was unusual to the event’s staff. He found one that was much like his own.


The pairs were set so that at least in round one, Susanese fighter would go against one from Lodestone. The next pair was randomly selected, and it looked like the men’s tourney was first.


Tom had to use blank to keep himself from laughing.


The pool of potential enemies for me is disappointing. They all lack talent and have major flaws in their techniques.
I have a moderate chance of winning. However, I was wrong in my last few statements. There are a few who could possibly worlds above me.


Finally, but inevitably, Tom’s turn came for round one. He saw the name that he would face, but he wouldn’t bother remembering it.


His opponent was about a foot taller than he was, with a full build. Around his waist, he had a thin sword and a flimsy looking shield.


Imperial Guard, surely. I didn’t know that they specialized even before graduating.


Tom heard a screeching bell and the audience’s roar. It was his mark to draw and immediately fire. As he did so, his enemy extended his shield and was unfazed.


So that won’t work in practice.


He drew his sword in his other hand and dashed towards him, with little effect. Tom struck and struck again. Every time he would get parried. His enemy got a chance to land a clear blow to his arm.


I don’t think it is advantageous to reveal my trump card yet. He completely ignored the injury on his arm.


He tried in vain again. Luckily, this time he got a nick on the fellow’s foot.


Though, I believe it is necessary now.


He ran towards the edge of the arena and started at his adversary with a running start. He walked into melee range and blocked the guardsman’s sword with his own. He used his offhand to do so. With his main hand, he tore away the shield, and before he was hit with a sword slash, he did the incredible.


He dropped his sword; it landed on the floor with a thud. With his offhand, he quickly drew his gun and shot two shots into the poor boy’s chest. While he was frozen in pain, Tom used his right hand to disarm him and snatched his sword.
Now he stood in front of his piteous enemy, with both a gun aimed at his head, and a sword by his neck. Needless to say, he was declared the winner.


Blank may also improve mental keenness.


It was the last thought he had until he loosened blank. He didn’t completely lose it until moments before his next match. He saw Sally wave to him from the audience and then he whitewashed his next enemy, a half-baked warrior.


Still, I never conceived that technique I used on my first opponent, he thought to himself. I vaguely had the idea of ripping away the fellow’s shield, he hypothesized.


He continued on: Why is such a great technique disregarded? It doesn’t have any consequences thus far, so that may not be the problem, as I previously thought.


His next enemy would be the only one he would remember. The screen showed that Tom had made it to the semifinals.

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Zarelliel

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