At last, the appointed day had arrived.
I put everything into order by 10 am and quickly headed towards the venue.
The bout would start at noon and the location was the Getsushiyoukan HQ, which would take about thirty minutes to get there by foot…the plan was to meet up with everyone there. Getsushiyoukan would lend us their armor, so I only brought a bamboo sword and a martial arts uniform.
(Now then, it would be nice if things could go according to the plot I constructed.
Of course, that doesn’t change the fact that we’ll win. The question is, how sweaty can I make the hands of those viewing…? How should I make Aogasaki, the main focus this time, stand out?
(I wonder if Aogasaki’s condition is okay? It seems that she went along with Ryuga’s cosplay show until it was late into the evening yesterday.)
They let me go home while it was still going on, but in the end, Aogasaki had a sleepover at the Hinomori residence. According to a message I received this morning, they made breakfast together, took a bath together, and even did some cosplay.
The only thing I had been worried of is whether they would talk about their “feelings towards Kobayashi Ichirou”…but fortunately, the conversation didn’t go there.
If their gossiping went there, their deep bonds could have ruptured, so it’s a relief that it didn’t happen.
…It seems that Aogasaki Rei will now support Hinomori Ryuuga more than ever, both publicly and privately.
If that’s what I was set out to do, bring the girls closer to each other…then this might be a foothold towards returning to being a “friend character.” I put on my shoes at the front entrance while hoping that was the case.
“Ichirou, do your best. You mustn’t lose to a human.”
“If you get injured, be assured that I, Hebizuka, am here.”
“Beat them up. Slice and dice.”
Being encouraged by the three princesses, I left home while full of energy.
Unfortunately for them, they were banned from coming to root for us. If they encountered Ryuuga and the others at the venue, it would be nuisance to deal with.
However, it seems that the three princesses didn’t have such intentions from the beginning. They told me that they had some minor business to take care of. They didn’t give me the details of it, though.
(Anyways, I have to concentrate on the competition. Let’s go, Tie! But don’t come out!)
(*sigh*…I wanted to cheer for Ryuuga at the audience seating, though…)
(It would be strange if there were two of us there!)
(It’s reasonable enough, we could say that we’re twins.)
(No! You’re under house arrest after that matter with Aogasaki!)
While Taotie and I were conversing, I headed towards the location of the battle, Getsushiyoukan HQ.
However…there was something I didn’t know at that time.
An unexpectedly turbulent competition awaited.
All the effort I made thinking about the “ideal development”──was in vain.
After arriving at the venue, I headed towards the waiting room. Ryuuga and Aogasaki have already arrived.
The two were merrily chatting with each other while doing some stretches. It seems that they’ve become closer after that sleepover last night.
“Ah, Ichirou. Good morning.”
“Kobayashi, do your best today. Just don’t injure yourself.”
“I’ll be okay, I practiced some maneuvers and it should be fine.”
After the two nodded their heads, I went to do some calisthenics.
As expected of a big shot like Getsushiyoukan. The waiting room was large, and the lockers and benches were brand new. There was even a gigantic TV installed on the corner of the ceiling.
“Kobayashi. Take a moment to look this over. This is the order.”
Aogasaki spoke as such and gave me a sheet of paper.
The names of the five people on the opposing side were listed in order of appearance. Tanaka, Miyamoto, Sasaki, Kiriya, and King Arthur.
(It’s quite lucky that we know about our opponent’s lineup first. With this, the order should be…)
The first match──Yukimiya Shiori vs. Tanaka Kazuhiko.
Second match──Elmira McCartney vs. Miyamoto Chizuru.
Third match──Kobayashi Ichirou vs. Sasaki Yousuke.
Fourth match──Hinomori Ryuuga vs. Kiriya.
Final match──Aogasaki Rei vs. Yamanashi Asao.
…Something like that.
I thought about going against Miyamoto, but I’d like to be in the middle so that I can make adjustments to ensure victory.
My flag with her is of no concern to me. In this competition, it’s vital that I liven things up for the last two matches. Who would be interested in skirmishes with people in minor roles?
“All things considered…Shiori and Elle are quite late.”
How long has it been? Ryuuga suddenly looked at the clock on the wall while muttering those words.
Before I knew it, it had become half past 11 o’clock. There were only thirty minutes until the beginning of the competition.
“It shouldn’t be a problem for them to find this location, but…I did give Shiori and Elmira a map just in case.”
Aogasaki crossed her arms while holding her hand over her chin.
It seems that child pupils were already rushing towards the audience seating. It’s hard to imagine that those two would be lost when little kids were able to find their way here.
“I’m going to try making a call. Just to make sure where they──”
It happened the moment Ryuuga took out her cellphone.
As soon as she did that, her phone rang.
The three of us exchanged glances. Like me, they also had a bad feeling about this.
“It’s from Shiori.”
Ryuuga told us while looking at the screen on her cellphone. She immediately pressed the call button and held the phone to her ear.
‘Hinomori! Are you at the venue?!’
A ghastly cry obstructed Ryuuga’s voice. Since Ryuuga put the call on speakerphone, I could also make out what she was saying.
“Yeah. I’m already here. Did something happen?”
‘Apostles! A group of apostles appeared on the way there…’
“A group of them?”
Our complexions shifted when we heard the unexpected news. Apostles? And a group of them? Why did the “Apostles of Hell” appear at such a time?!
“Shiori, are they the ‘Three Princesses of Hell’? Did they launch a surprise attack again?!”
‘No, they’re not the three princesses! These ones don’t seem to be higher-ups!’
I secretly felt relieved upon hearing that.
I trembled in fear after remembering that the three princesses had some minor business to take care of, but…it seems that I was wrong. No, this isn’t the time to be at ease.
‘I was just with Elmira, and none of them are tough opponents. There are more than ten of them, and I’m worried that it’ll take a bit of time, though…’
“I’ll be there soon! Where are you?!”
Ryuuga instantly asked with a roar.
This time, my cellphone rang. When I checked, it was from Elmira.
‘Hello, Kobayashi Ichirou?! Are you with Ryuuga right now?!’
Elmira’s voice echoed within the room before I could even speak. Following Ryuuga, I put the call on speakerphone as well.
“Yeah. I’m with Ryuga and Aogasaki already. Where are you Elmira?!”
‘Listen, Kobayashi Ichirou! Shiori and I will do something about the apostles!’
‘Today’s competition is important for us! Right now, we’re at the riverbank where we fought Taotie before…if you people come here to help, you won’t make it back in time for the competition!’
“No, but…if we tell them that we have urgent business to take care of, they might delay the start of the bout.”
‘Are you willing to make Rei lose face?! Putting the bout on hold would disgrace the Aogasaki style! There may be many people there, but they’re all just small fries!’
Even as she spoke, I could hear signs of battle coming from the other side of the call.
It seemed like a situation where the two could handle it without having to go overboard. Since their opponents were apostles, there’s no need for them to refrain from using their supernatural abilities. But the problem is that…there are many enemies.
‘Just have faith in Shiori and me! We’ll definitely exterminate the apostles!’
‘Then, we’ll try to rush over there! So, please delay the competition for as long as possible, everyone! At least until we can make it there!’
Elmira’s and Yukimiya’s voices bounced around in the waiting room.
‘Or you could obtain three consecutive wins and claim victory in the competition!’
‘Guh, it seems we’re being surrounded…so, let’s wish each other luck!’
Both of the calls ended there. After that, there was only a silence that ensued as we laid petrified.
…What just transpired? A large event occurred just when the beginning of the competition was about to happen.
Even if Yukimiya and Elmira rush to the venue, they’ll probably only make it in time for the second half…and if things get really bad, then they’ll end up having to take part in the climactic fourth and final match.
No matter how much I think about it, I can’t see people getting excited about those matches. Should we have three consecutive wins instead then? That won’t do. Having things be half-hearted and unamusing isn’t the way to go.
(They said that we shouldn’t assist them, but we can’t leave the apostles alone either. Damn it…why do all of my plots keep collapsing?!)
…No, calm yourself, Kobayashi Ichirou. Don’t troubles always arise each time?
I should be used to the worst case scenario by now. Think. What’s the best course of action in this situation──I’ve got five seconds!
(……I’m a bit uneasy about this, but I suppose this is the only option.)
It took eight seconds, but I managed to work out a solution.
With this, I might be able to give Aogasaki the spotlight and also patch things up for Yukimiya and Elmira. However, it would put a heavy burden on Ryuuga, the protagonist…
“──一Ichirou, Rei. Listen.”
Before I could give my suggestion, Ryuuga spoke. It seems that the protagonist came up with an idea in her usual protagonist-like fashion.
“I’ll do the first battle. I’ll fight Tanaka.”
Ryuuga, whose tone of voice became that of a man’s, offered to be first. Strangely, that was the same as what I came up with.
“I’m going to instantly defeat Tanaka and then heard towards where Shiori and Elle are. Then, I’ll hurry and bring those two here.”
That’s also the best I could come up with. Since the apostles would swiftly be driven back under Ryuuga’s overwhelming power, those two would make it in time for the middle battle and the fourth battle. They’ll be able to arrive before the final match.
“In that case, I’ll go second.”
After Ryuuga spoke, I raised my hand.
My role is to delay the competition. I have to stall for time until Yukimiya and Elmira arrive.
Then at last, Aogasaki will battle with King Arthur. I thought about dishing out my trump card in case of an emergency, but I’ll keep silent about it for now. It’s a trump card that I want to use as scarcely as possible.
“W, wait, you two. How about having the one who’s doing the final battle go and assist them? In that case, if I just come back before it’s my turn──”
“No. Since we don’t know the situation at the riverbank, the one who’s finished should go. And when thinking about it in terms of combat power, Ryuga is the best choice.”
“That’s right…I think that’s our best option as well.”
Aogasaki hesitated, saying “But,” in response to our suggestion.
“Please, just concentrate on your battle with King Arthur today, Aogasaki. Ryuga and I will take care of the miscellaneous tasks, so focus on the thing that really matters!”
“Someday, when someone else becomes the main focus…please be the one doing the patching-up!”
While Aogasaki tilted her head to the side, not understanding what I said, I looked up at the clock.
It won’t be long before we have to enter the venue.