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Chapter 4: Adventurers

Adventurers

Among the facilities of the guild, there was a room for training.

That room surrounded by walls of tidy stone held a bit of a heavy air. While a small window had been installed, I doubt that served for sufficient ventilation.

I held up a wooden mockup of a sabre. The young man with his hair swept back, Creit, stood between me and my opponent Erhart.

Around were my comrades, and that of the large-sworded Erhart.

And perhaps they were curious, and other adventurers gathered in clusters as well.

Those that had returned from their quests were one thing, but some who had just come to the guild were watching us and grinning.

Straining my ears, I could hear their conversations.

"Wanna bet on who'll come out on top?"

"Still, while you hear about them all the time, first I'm ever seeing a duel."

"It's nice to be young, recklessness and all."

"So what was the reason for all this again?"

"No matter how you look at it, that guy over there has a harem, right? Isn't that why?"

"Yes, it's a marvel to the eyes, but quite a different experience."

"Ah~ youth. But it's interesting, so so be it."

"I'm betting on blue hair over there!"

"But I heard green hair has a Skill, it seems."

... They were enjoying it.

Harsh on newbies, veteran adventurers who would pick fights if you went to register at the guild... such adventurers did not exist.

But an adventurer of my own generation was picking one all the same.

(Why did it come to this? Yes, I was leading around Novem and the others, but I'm sure I should have been able to avoid it...)

Looking behind, Clara's eyes were sparkling. Eva was the same, but for some reason she had a memo pad.

And in this place that reeked of sweat, Shannon was making an unpleasant face as she drank something from a canteen.

Novem was preparing some magic to try and vent the place, while Aria and Miranda waved when I turned their way.

Looking to the front, Creit-san was talking to someone in a guild uniform who had emerged from the ring of adventurers.

"... I understand the reason for this duel. A quarrel between young adventurers, right? But I ask that you don't do this sort of thing too often."

Her hair black and bob cut, the sharp red eyes of the guild employee tiredly shifted between me and Erhart.

And...

"The details have been acknowledged. Promise that none will voice any complaints at the outcome to come. And this is just to decide a victor and loser. Wagering something on this battle is strictly prohibited."

She looked around at the surrounding adventurers.

"While I'm at it, you all should make sure not to get too heated over your bets."

The veterans smiled, and spoke to her.

"We're only playing, [Tanya]-chan. Let it slide, won't you?"

It appears the female employee fed up with all of this was called [Tanya].

Creit-san hit his right hand against his chest.

"No worries there. I will personally stand witness! I'll make sure both sides are satisfied with the result!"

Erhart laughed as he held up the wooden sword replacing his giant one.

It was quite an unreasonable match for me, but no one present would be satisfied it I put a stop to it here. And he really was a Skillholder after all.

"I surely don't have enough experience fighting Skillholders."

Tanya mingled into the adventurer crowd, while Creit stepped back a little and gave a signal.

He was looking at me, likely waiting for me to get into a stance.

With my wooden sabre held up, Creit...

"Begin!"

His loud voice echoed through the room, and some cheerful cheers rose.

"This is totally different from the guild I had imagined."

As I let out a complaint, my opponent raised his sword overhead, and lowered it at me.

(He's formally learned the sword?)

Seeing how he handles the large sword-replica, I got the impression he had learned it somewhere. He had given a surname, so perhaps he was the child of some noble somewhere.

Or perhaps just an environment where he could pick it up...

I turned half my body to dodge, and let out a thrust, hitting his arm with the tip of my wooden sword.

But It felt hard.

I wasn't able to put too much power into that attack, but his arm didn't turn red at all.

A cheerful Sixth from the Jewel...

[There's body strengthening in Vanguard and Support... having a Skill at his age, and being able to use it at a moment's notice. I see, there's at least some reason to his assertiveness.]

As he swung his blade horizontally, I retreated to dodge, and felt some wind pressure as it passed. While he had some extent of technique hammered into his body, his movements themselves weren't that fast.

He was using a Skill, but I can't say it was a threat.

"Quit scurrying around! Take this!"

I jumped to avoid his diagonal slash, and blocked the followup strike with my sword only to have a kick instantly delivered to me.

Sent a ways back, I found myself closer to the audience.

"That all? Adventurers are nothing special. I've only used the first one so far."

The Third was delighted.

[He's volunteering information all of his own accord... what a good kid! A second stage, you think he has a third? Why not try asking, Lyle?]

Rather than truly enjoying it... he seemed to be making a fool of him.

Amazed, I...

"So you have a second stage? That sure sounds scary. But if that's all you have to you, it'll work out one way or another."

Offended, Erhart put his large sword over his shoulder, and bragged.

"Who the hell said second? I can use it all the way to the third."

"Well how courteous of you!"

I closed the distance, and entered the space in front of his sword. He tried to protrude his fist, but I grabbed that arm, and twisted it around to his back.

The surrounding voices...

"What? That's it?"

"It's because he undid his stance when he bragged! Dammit, my silver!"

"Hmph, I'm getting some good drink tonight."

When voices rose at the premature ending, Erhart pushed his remaining arm against the ground. His atmosphere had changed.

"Making a fool of me!?"

The muscle of his arm had expanded, and as I saw an illusion of mana gushing out from his body, I instantly released him and took some distance.

Muscle enhancement.

I thought it was a skill of the same sort as Aria's, and it seems I was right. While it may have been made of wood, his was mimicking the shape of his great sword, and quite heavy. But his singlehandedly swung it down on me with great force.

Is this the second, or the final stage?

The Fourth...

[If you try blocking that, your sword will break. It's best you keep dodging, but simple Skills have simple effects... simply strong can be quite troublesome.]

The First's Skill... as a Support Skill, its simplicity was truly effective. In contrast to a Skill that simply strengthened one's muscles, the First's raised the effectiveness of one's abilities in itself.

I mulled over whether or not to use it, but decided not to.

"Oraaaah!"

As he chased after me, swinging his sword left and right, I jumped into his chest area, and slid through his widened legs. Trying to hit me as a passed, Erhart slashed strongly at the ground, and smashed his wooden sword to pieces.

"Don't you ever get tired of running about!? Oy, toss over my [Gramr]"

Tossing aside the broken shaft, he called for his comrades to toss over his blade with quite an exaggerated name.

One of his comrades tossed the blade, but as it sailed in the air, it was hit down by a rock, and sent spinning towards the area with the other adventurers.

The one who picked it up, went to return it to his party and...

"Oy, oy, if he used something like this, they'd both have to resign. Just look at those girlies over there."

I also took a quick glance at my comrades, before immediately turning away.

Miranda dropped the large rock in her hand, and drew one of the daggers at her waist. Aria and the others were all sending menacing glares.

(... I-I'm not scared. They're not scary at all.)

Erhart and his comrades turned quite pale on seeing their movements. I don't even want to know what they had in mind when they picked this fight.

But perhaps this was different from what he had in mind, as Erhart was quite flustered.

"D-dammit! Then fists it is!"

As he rushed at me with his fists out, I repeated a series of thrusts with my sabre. This time, I aimed for his joints, and managed to hit them quite precisely.

If he had Skills, I determined there wouldn't be a problem if it hurt a bit, so I put my all into it...

"C-coward! If you're a man, then fight with your fists!"

"Who's the idiot that tried to settle this with a real sword!?"

Even if it was just a wooden sword, he was unable to find a gap to get through, and he screamed out. The surroundings were full of smiles and laughter.

"That newbie's gonna make it big!"

"He came back like a boomerang!"

"Now then, how long is he going to hold up, that shameless one?"

Erhart's body strengthening was enough to endure my attacks. He resolved himself for the pain and attacked, but as his movements were quite obvious, I dodged them quite easily, and hit the wooden sword into him.

All beat up, he continued to stand against me.

Fed up, the Fifth let out his voice.

[I understand that he's tough, but that's the end of it. Lyle, aim for the chin.]

That on my mind, I faced him head-on, and he spread his arms in an attempt to grasp me.

As he lunged in, I kicked the ground, and sent my knee into his jaw.

It was quite a clean blow. Erhart's eyes swam as he swayed on his feet and collapsed.

He desperately tried to stand, but his body was not listening to his orders. His swelled muscle mass returned to normal, and Erhart let go of his consciousness.

Seeing that, Creit-san declared.

"Winner Lyle! By this, the duel has come to a close."

Erhart's comrades raced over. The large sword had been returned, and one of them had it over their back.

The large blade called Gramr wasn't a magic tool. It was just a normal sword. Its name alone was grandiose, so I looked at Erhart.

"He swung it with strengthened muscles. I see, that could be troublesome."

I can understand why he put up a strong front. I mean he was quite simply strong.

If he was more bountiful in experience, and more masterful of his Skills, it may have been a harder fight.

Creit-san approached, and struck up a conversation with me.

"Now then, you're the victor so let's call it a close. This matter is water under the bridge."

He said that with a nice s mile, but if he hadn't gotten between us in the first place, I wouldn't have even taken Erhart on in the first place.

My face stiffened, and Novem and the others approached.

"Lyle-sama, good work."

"Eh? Was it really?"

Clara seemed satisfied.

"Duels between adventurers are where ability is put to the test. It's nice to read about it, but seeing it in person is exceedingly thrilling."

Eva sounded unsatisfied.

"... If they let him use a real one there, it would've been more exciting."

I...

"Oy, that would be dangerous. And before considering excitement, I think there's something more important to pay mind to."

I looked over Erhart as I said that, and one of his comrades glared at me.

"Don't screw with me. Remember this, we'll definitely get re-"

I'm sure he was going to say 'revenge' but due to the spear that suddenly extended before his face, he didn't let out another word.

The one holding it was Creit-san.

"This duel held the condition of having no grudges left behind. If you plan on laying hands on anyone, your opponent will be me- the witness- as well."

Erhart's comrades retreated, so Creit-san withdrew his spear, and undid his stance. He held it over his shoulder and spoke to me.

"You seem accustomed to battle. You're quite a skilled adventurer. And your comrades are of high quality as well."

He looked at the rest of my party, and put his hand to his chin.

"I'm sure a time will arise where we'll be working together, so how about we get along? Anyways, welcome to the east branch."

On those words, a laugh rang out.

Creit-san's expression changed, and he glared at the voice's owner.

"Albano!"

The adventurer named Albano was a young man with short blond hair, and blue drooping eyes. He had a sword with a characteristically long hilt hung at his waist.

He had a few silver coins clenched in his hand, as he looked at me.

"I've made a bit off of you, blue haired bro, so I'll warn you. Be careful of that straight laced Creit- over there. If you work with him, he's loud about schedules, and he doesn't know the meaning of flexibility. I'm Albano. If there's a chance for us to work together, I'll be in your care."

Saying that, he followed the other adventurers out the room. Watching his back, Creit-san spoke.

"... Be careful of him. His skills are good, but he's a crafty one. He's made me bite the bullet enough times to know that."

Seeing Creit-san's irritated expression, I gave a vague nod.

(Somehow, Beim's guild has some questionable characters.)

Unlike the guilds I'd worked in up to now, I was nervous over whether I'd be able to make it here.