The large arena was now again separated into four different blocks. Larger tournament brackets were on each side where the students mixed with each other. Tomoyo was seeded in group A so she had more time to rest while Nishida who was in group D and Kazuya in group C. Kuronuma Ayame was also a seeded contestant but she was placed in group B.
Sacred Forest Academy only had three participants. Mahiru who was supposed to compete as well had forfeited due to injury and gave away a free victory to her first opponent in group B. Since they have stolen the championship from Saint Tera Technical Institute, eyes were starting to observe them more intently.
Kazuya was even more so taken note of since the information of him having not lost a single point was spread around by those who checked the results. Mei felt proud when she heard the audience talking about her Kazu and informed Kyouko of whatever things related to Kazuya were happening in the stadium.
Unfortunately, the incident with Ainu required Kyouko to be absent until she finished talking with her parents. She was disappointed in not being able to watch Kazuya's performance but Mei had been asked to continue recording it with the camera she brought. Miyamoto was also there to help communicate with both Ainu and her parents. He found out that she was Kazuya's mother when Jirou had introduced them.
"Kid" Jirou called out to Kazuya. He was sent by Miyamoto to guide the students participating in his place.
"What is it? Shouldn't you be guiding the others?"
"I just wanted to speak with you for a moment. You shouldn't be too hard on that Sawada child in the future" Kazuya's eyes narrowed after hearing what he had to say.
"You're not going to tell me about some sappy story about why she did it now are you?" he scoffed.
"Just listen. That girl's father died a year ago after being hospitalized for a long time. Her mother shouldered all the debts and costs of their family. The father's family turned their backs on him when he got sick and refused to help and even tried to take over their small company. They even sold their debt to loan sharks recently.
That girl didn't know of this until only recently. She couldn't believe that she was asked to sell out the person who she only recently started to befriend. That is why that girl hesitated a lot and stalled by not losing directly. She wanted to think of a way out but…
I don't know if you understand the world of adults even though you're smart. Clearly, she was wrong to have done what she did but, she is but a normal child dragged into the circumstances of adults". Jirou clenched his fists. He was frustrated that such a thing happened.
"Is this a conversation that is supposed to motivate me for the tournament?" He was annoyed. "You and your granddaughter have the same talent of always disrupting the way I do and handle things" of course he knew that Mahiru may have had her reasons but that didn't matter to him at all.
"The scale of this regional tournament isn't enough to faze you. I even doubt that the nationals would make you go all out"
"Well you may be right about that but I also do not have a reason to win this tournament. I can just settle for third place or something and mom would still be proud of me" Kazuya scoffed before he continued.
"I don't want to talk about this again nor do I want any advice on the way I handle my own business. You were not the one betrayed and you can't even come close to guessing how I feel about it and that is a guarantee"
"I heard your conversation. You said you died? Aren't you exaggerating a bit?" Jirou indeed took the words he overheard earlier when he was dealing with Mahiru to heart.
"Exaggerating? Have you ever died? Have you felt your blood flowing out of you and dripping inside and outside your own body? Has your chest experienced that burning feeling right before you feel your own heart stop?" he tried keeping his cool so that he wouldn't attract too much attention but he could only control the volume of his voice.
"I…" Jirou had a thought. He assumed that he was revived with a defibrillator while being half conscious. Kyouko never told him the details of when Kazuya was rushed to the hospital nor did he think it was appropriate to ask.
"All of that because I trusted the wrong person. She might not have wanted to do it and had the reasons you said but what about me? Do I not have a reason for doing what I did? Would you be pestering me like this if their plan were successful and I was in a hospital bed?
I can empathize with her and understand why she did what she did but was that her only choice? If she really did want to become friends with me then what did she think would have happened after? Deceive me while playing the part of a fellow victim? Could she have not warned me of the plot so I or we could have made preparations?
I don't care if she had her reasons or what they were. The fact remains that she cared more about her own circumstances rather than my wellbeing. Did you want to read the requester's demands? He or she wanted me to be 'crippled'. Me being crippled over a mere debt? I could have just asked my mom to pay it off.
Now you're asking me to be lenient. Have I already not been? Did she end up with any injury aside from the needed dislocated shoulder? You say she's still young. If I let her get away with it without consequences, what would happen if she is put in a similar situation when she grows up?"
"…" Jirou couldn't say a thing. He would always avoid arguing with this kid and this was the reason why. Being a lot older than him made it harder to accept that he was the one who didn't think about it enough. He had indeed pitied Mahiru because of her remorse towards what happened with the kid but after hearing him out, he really didn't seem that unreasonable now.
"I'm almost up so I'll be heading off now grandpa Jirou. I'll ask you a question before I go. What would you do if a person was holding a gun to the robot girl's head and told you to shoot me to save her? I'll be waiting for your answer" Even after being left with nothing else to say, Jirou was still given a conundrum. Both he and Kazuya knew the answer to this if the answer was needed instantly but neither wanted to speak about it.
Kazuya had gone pretty unchallenged. He was able to continue his flawless streak with very little effort. It was then that he started to wonder about what he learned about earlier. He could have still trained his body and maintained the profile of his original self if he had picked to join the basketball team instead. The best part about it was that he could have avoided dealing with the Shiroyuki duo and all the troubles that he encountered after joining the kendo club.
"Kouzuki…" it was the boy who mocked him from his old school. They were unexpectedly placed in the same group.
"So, it's you. You should have no problems dealing with me since I can't get good in kendo in a month, right?" Kazuya laughed and walked to his position.
"I'll make you a deal Kouzuki" he whispered. "Let me have this one and I promise I won't tell Tennouji-san where you are and what you've been doing. We never met okay?" a confident smile could be seen on his face. He seemed to have quite the confidence in using this person to coerce Kazuya.
"I don't know who that is nor do I care" he was already in a bad mood because of Jirou's meddling. He wanted to finish this match quickly to let the tournament proceed.
"I forgot that you lost your memories… Her name is Tennouji Maron-san. She is Stockton-san's cousin and our basketball team's ace" he tried to explain. Although Stockton Kurimi's name was mentioned, Kazuya still didn't care.
"Stop wasting your breath and get to your position" Kazuya made sure to reciprocate the threat he had received. It wasn't as eye catching as the robot girl's match but every hit made him squirm.
"You better not regret this Kouzuki. Tennouji-san has been looking for you for a while" He said before holding his arm and walking away.
"(Does that person have a grudge against me? Is she the one who sent those people?)" Kazuya wondered. If she had any relation to that weird girl then he thought that the person might also be one of the weird ones.
At the Sacred Forest Academy, there was an announcement broadcasted throughout the academy.
[We have just gotten word that today's elementary school kendo tournament team championship has been won by our very own Saint Forest Academy Team. Furthermore, the individual tournament final four have just been announced. To those unfamiliar with the system, these four will attend the national tournament. Two of students from our school have made it to the final four. From second grade class 2-B, Shiroyuki Tomoyo and from the same class, Kouzuki Kazuya.
We will be announcing the results after we receive the news. Please help us wish our young schoolmates good fortune so they may make us proud]
"Looks like that young man is living up to his word" The elementary school department head smiled in his office after hearing the announcement. He had looked at Kazuya's files before and knew that he was a member of an athletic club but didn't expect him to be able to make an impact this soon.
"Looks like it was a wise decision to put him in an athletic class, director" Ono sucked up. He felt a little regret since it would have been a great achievement he could have bragged about if Kazuya had won the regionals and topped the exams while being in his class.
A similar announcement had been made last year but only Shiroyuki Tomoyo's name was mentioned. Unfortunately, she was not able to win the championship but no one could blame her because she already achieved an amazing feat while being a first grader.
"Damnit!" Lee shouted as he broke the mirror inside the boy's bathroom. He took out his phone and dialed a number. "THAT GIRL WAS USELESS! FIRE HER PARENTS" he routed in rage.
"But young master, that would…"
"I DON'T CARE HOW YOU DO IT. IT'S EITHER THEM OR YOU! DO YOU UNDERSTAND?" he stomped on the mirror shards on the ground.
"Y-yes!" the manager replied as the phone call was cut.
"You must have made good use with the connections you've gotten with the Shiroyukis to worm your way into the tournament but you're still a bug to me Kazuya!" he broke the rest of the mirrors before leaving the boy's bathroom wearing his fake expression.
"Looks like I've gotten quite the scoop yeah?" a figure cautiously made sure that no one was around before stepping out. It was surprisingly a girl who was hiding in one of the cubicles and had been spying on Lee the whole time.
"I wonder what that young master of mine will do to get ahold of this?" She played back the video she took on her phone of Lee's rage episode. She giggled before carefully exiting the boy's bathroom to return to her class.
Back at the tournament venue, the final four of the tournament have been decided. Group A's Shiroyuki Tomoyo, Group B's Kuronuma Ayame, Group C's Kouzuki Kazuya and Group D's Akabane Nanami. Nishida almost made it to the top four but he was eliminated by the seeded Akabane Nanami in D group's last match.
To determine the rankings, the four of them were going to have to face each other round robin style. The person with the most wins would be ranked first and so on. The first match of the rankings made all those who kept track fall silent in anticipation. The current champion Kuronuma Ayame, whose team was unexpectedly relegated to second place versus the person who had the most potential to beat her and a core part of the team that sent them down, Shiroyuki Tomoyo.
"Hey robot girl" Tomoyo's steps stopped. This was the first time Kazuya had called her out today.
"…" she turned around but remained quiet. Contrary to her silence, her eyes held a bit of expectation.
"Show me that I didn't waste the time I spent paying attention to you" his mood was able to improve a bit after venting it out on his former school-mate who now wore a cast after 'slipping' multiple times during their duel.
*nod* a sharp glint could be seen in her eyes. She turned around and entered the dueling area.
"Wasn't that putting more pressure on her Kouzuki?" Miyamoto asked. He was able to finish matters and stood beside the two members who made it into the finals.
"That's the only way to get through to that robot. More importantly, did things go well on your end sensei?" He glanced towards the stands and could see Kyouko waving at him beside Mei.
"Everything went smoothly. Your mother was really a lifesaver. With her help, Ainu's family was relieved" he noticed Kazuya's gaze in the stands and changed the topic "Your elder sister must be happy that you've made it this far"
"Haven't you read my file sensei? I'm an only child. See the ring on her finger? That's my future bride" Kazuya smiled. He knew that Miyamoto was attracted to Mei. He wanted to save him the trouble of being mercilessly exposed to her cold rejection since he was nice enough to share his knowledge.
Ayame entered the duel area as well. She frowned as Kazuya had kept ignoring her this whole time. He disappeared during the long intermission after the team matches so she couldn't get ahold of him.
"(He definitely understood and heard me. He even replied! Why isn't he curious about it?)" She was already in position and noticed the opponent in front of her. "(Is it because of this little girl? Grandfather already told me about it and he really had been a fool)"
"…" Tomoyo noticed Ayame's gaze and met her eyes without hesitation. She was no longer the same person that cowered under that strange pressure.
"Shiroyuki Tomoyo. You and your grandfather were lucky but Kouzuki Kazuya and I share a connection that you will never have" Ayame said as the referee took his position.
"He… is… mine" Tomoyo replied with a voice that was barely audible that only Ayame could hear.
"BEGIN!" Their fight had officially begun.