The race continued, and was on its last lap. This was when the race got really chaotic.
The contestants weren’t holding anything back as they attacked those in their surroundings with all kinds of attack.
Amelia jumped over an axe that was swung at her legs. The competition forbid killing, but that didn’t mean that you couldn’t take down your opponent by taking a limb or two.
Having jumped over the attack aimed at her legs, Amelia mercilessly stomped down on the head of the attacker, forcing his head into the asphalt. She then ran to catch up with Rory.
Rory was attacked as well, but before his attackers could do anything to him, they all froze before they could attack him. They all felt a suffocating sensation when they got near to him.
It was as if, if they push their luck and force their way towards him, they’ll drown in something. As such, everyone stayed clear of him.
“What did you do? Everyone who approached you, ran away covered in cold sweat.”
Amelia approached him and asked.
“Nothing much. I just let them feel my spirit that’s all.”
Rory said with a smile.
“More importantly, look. The real cards are starting to move.”
Amelia looked towards her front and saw two shadows bouncing of the the buildings and stepping on the heads of the contestants to reach the front.
“Look, it’s Hayley and Emily Brooks!”
A contestant identified who the shadows were and called out their names. The two silently landed at the front of the crowd. The moment they landed no one dared to approach them.
“Who are those two?”
“From what I’m picking up from those around us, those two are under the Second Prince’s banner. A pair of sisters who hailed from a prestigious noble family. They’re considered among the rising stars of the kingdom.”
Suddenly, the waves of people were flung about as someone forcibly split the crowd. They emerged right beside the black haired siblings. The person was a muscular dark skinned male, who was wearing loose clothing.
“Brooks brats, how dare you walk in front of your superior?!”
The man shouted.
“Forgive us, Omar. You were so slow that we couldn’t help it.”
The sisters laughed.
“The man is Black Bull, Omar. He follows the the First Prince, and is a rank higher than the siblings despite being the same age.”
“Your ability sure is handy for information gathering.”
“There’s another soldier who’s under the third prince, who is far stronger than those in the front, but he’s keeping a low profile, unlike the others.”
The last lap ended with Omar and sisters tying for first place. As Rory wanted, he and Amelia finished near the bottom without drawing much attention to themselves.
There were countless people mourning the fact that they failed to make it to the main tournament, while those that did make it were celebrating. The amount of people who got injured weren’t small. There were some who were crippled for life, but those people could only blame themselves for getting greedy when they lacked the skills.
“We made it.”
Amelia said looking at the other contestants who were breathing heavily.
“So what’s the plan now?”
“Next, we go pay a certain place a visit.”
Amelia followed behind him. He led her to a crowded gambling house.
She immediately figured out, what his plan was.
“You’ve guessed it.”
Rory turned around and smiled at her.
“We’re going to bet on yourselves.”
“So that’s why you didn’t want us to stick out.”
“That’s right, my Elia.”
Rory stood beside her and wrapped his arm around her shoulder.
“We will bet on the two of of us reaching the finals and get rich fast.”
He started laughing.
“Just the finals? You’re not going to bet on who’s going to win?”
Amelia asked. In her mind, Rory would definitely win.
“No need. I don’t want you to feel burdened. Like say I bet on you winning, you would get upset if I threw the match right?”
“It’s the same for me. If I bet on myself, you would think that it’s okay as long as I win, and won’t even attempt to fight for real. If that happens, I’ll be disappointed. As such in order to prevent negative feelings forming between us, betting on the finals will be enough. That way we can fight for fun and won’t be burdened in anyway.”
“What you say, do makes sense.”
Amelia said, after factoring their personalities and realizing that it would definitely play out like he said.
“But, what if we faced each other before the finals?”
“Don’t worry about that, I already took care of it.”
Rory walked into the gambling house with Amelia behind him. Amelia then saw something posted on the monitors. It was the tournament brackets. She and Rory where on the opposite side of the brackets and could only face each other in the finals.
“How did you…”
“I have my ways.”
Rory smiled and said.
Amelia didn’t ask him anything more and went to one of the betting booths with him.
“What are the odds for Amelia and Rory reaching the finals?”
He asked the employee behind the booth.
“Since no one has made a single bet for them winning, the odds are 100/1. In other words, you’ll win 100 times the amount you bet.”
Rory smiled when he heard that. He took out a stack of money he just robbed from some thugs, and placed it on the counter.
“5000 Ani on that two reaching the finals.”
The employee was shocked to hear that. She was wondering if this man had a gambling fetish, or was just a rich guy who loves to bet on the underdog.
Either way, she did her job without asking anything further, and processed Rory’s bet.
“Here’s your ticket, sir. Be sure to keep it safe.”
Rory smiled at her, and left with Amelia.
While he walked away, the woman watched his back and smiled.
“What a strange person.”
The main competition didn’t begin immediately, because they’ll be 64 matches in the first round alone, it was decided that the tournament would span to a week.
The next day, the competition kicked off and Amelia and Rory went to where they’ll fight their first matches. Since there was so many matches, several stages were prepared so that multiple matches could happen at once.
When Amelia arrived at her stage, she was pit against a rough looking man. From the crowds lack of attention towards her match, she deduced that the man wasn’t famous at all.
She wasn’t disappointed at all, and took a fighting stance. The man looked at her with a lustful gaze, as his eyes scanned her body from head to toe.
“You sure have a beautiful face for someone dressed so manly.”
The man said while looking at her.
Amelia was someone who preferred to dress in a manly manner. This is a habit she had from she was a child. Even so, her beautiful face gave her overall appearance a charming look, despite being a tomboy.
Amelia didn’t pay the man’s comment any attention, and focused her mind.
Seeing that Amelia didn’t respond to him, the man became irritated.
“After I win, I’ll be sure to take you as my woman.”
Amelia smiled when she heard that.
“You’re really lucky my companion isn’t here to hear you say that.”
Her words confused the man.
“From what I can tell from my time with him, he’s very territorial.”
“He might would’ve killed you where you stand if he was here.”
“Trying to use your man to scary me?”
The man started laughing.
“That won’t work!”
He charged towards Amelia with his body cloaked in anima. When she saw the anima around him, she smiled.
“Good. He’s a novice. That means I can use him for practice!”
Amelia didn’t budge and welcome the man’s charge. She pictured herself as a tank with pipes connected to it. The pipes had the following labels: Left arm, Right arm, Left Leg, Right Leg, torso, head. This was an improved version of her image training, that she developed over the past month.
She turned on the pipe that was labeled right arm and let the water (anima) flow inside, while making sure the water pressure didn’t burst the pipe.
She gripped her right fist and thrust it out, when the man was in her range.
The man was hit in the stomach so hard that his eyes looked like it was going pop out. He fell to his knees, and began vomiting. He then passed out in a pool of his own vomit.
“Winner, Amelia Rosa!”
The announcer for her specific ring shouted.
“My control is still poor.”
Amelia said while looking at her fist.
“I didn’t mean to take him out with that punch.”
She spoke with some disappointment.
“I guess I still need practice.”
She walked off the stage and said.
“That girl….She’s quite something.”
Amelia was oblivious towards the attention she was getting after overwhelming her opponent so easily, despite being so young.
“I wonder if Rory finished already?”
“Hey, did you hear?”
Amelia overheard some people talking.
“Apparently, someone stripped his opponent, used their clothes to form reins and turned them into a horse.”
Amelia froze and her expression darkened.
“Yeah. I heard that the guy who did it was trash-talked to by his opponent, who said that his face looked like a donkey’s ass. Apparently, his opponent was famous for his poisonous tongue, and would anger his opponents and cause them to make stupid mistakes.”
“Looks like he did it to the wrong guy.”
“Yeah. In the end, he was the one who turned into a donkey. I heard the guy even rode him off the stage when he surrendered, and called him daisy.”
“Really? Damn, that’s savage.”
Amelia broke out into a dash and ran towards where Rory’s stage was. Before she even got there, she saw a crowd of people looking at a tree next to a bench.
On the bench Amelia saw Rory relaxing and drinking liquor like always. However, that wasn’t enough to draw a crowd. It was what was beside him.
Tied to the tree was a naked man, on all fours eating raw vegetables out of a dish. He was sobbing while eating.
Amelia once again froze in place with a darkened expression. She didn’t even know where to start retorting. After a while she sighed, and sat beside Rory like it was natural.
“Want a carrot?”
Rory asked without looking at her.
She took the carrot and ate it, while Rory drank beside her, ignoring the sobbing man.
“What’s going to happen to my life?”
That was all she said before continuing to eat the carrot with a deadpan expression.
It was like this that the two passed the first round and entered the second one.