In a corner of the examination grounds, Fii sat crying into her knees.
(I couldn’t win…)
The strike that she had given her all for had hit Gorms in the head.
It wasn’t enough to take him down.
Even so, the damage he had taken was significant.
His massive body started to sway.
“Seriously? That Gorms got…!?”
“Oi, it can’t be that he’s really gunna lose, yeah?”
A shocked clamour ran through the spectators.
Fii’s airborne body landed on the ground.
(I couldn’t beat him with just one strike… I have to finish him off now…!)
Gorms was still unsteady on his feet.
Taking a deep breath, Fii raised her sword and kicked off the ground.
“I’m going to… win!”
In the next instant, the body that hit the ground was Fii’s.
An intense pain assaulted her legs. Because of the cramping sensation, her hands clutched at them.
The audience started to grow noisy.
“Oi, don’t tell me…”
“What the hell.”
Fii’s body had reached its limit after avoiding Gorms’ fierce assaults.
That already strained body was then subjected to intense movement once more to give herself an opening, and then in the end she even sprung off a sword and tried to continue attacking when she reached the ground again. After all of that, her legs finally passed their limit.
In agony, Fii couldn’t stand.
Seeing that, the judge ran over.
Seeing that, Fii immediately said,
“I can continue…! I can… still continue…!”
And again, she tried to stand.
But her legs had reached their end a long time ago. It was impossible to stand while they were cramping that way.
Attempting to do so had only worsened the pain.
“I can still… I still haven’t… lost…”
Even so, Fii gripped her sword, and struggled against the ground to rise.
She didn’t want to lose. She had come all this way. Even though everything was just a single step away…
When the masked man presented her that question, Fii had taken it to heart.
There was nobody in that villa. Besides Fii, not a single soul. And that was where Fii’s life was destined to end. In the villa, surrounded by the tall walls, alone. In that gloomy place, alone. Always alone.
It was the resting place for an outcast who would fade away in solitude.
Fii couldn’t accept it.
She wanted to walk where the sun shone. She wanted to spend her life there with other people.
Fii thought that back when she was a child and still adored the tales of knights, she had seen light there.
As she approached marriageable age though, she was forced to quit the sword, and before she knew it, she had forgotten her dream.
But now, she felt it more strongly than ever.
Somebody like Crow-san. Some special person she had yet to meet. Friends, companions, seniors she had yet to meet. People who would look at the real her. Fii wanted to live in the place where she could find all that.
“I can’t lose… I can’t… give up… aahhh…!”
She struggle desperately against the ground, despite the tears from the pain, and the crowd silently watched her.
Even Gorms just stood stock still, dumbfounded.
It continued for a whole minute.
The referee knight shook his head sadly.
“With your body like that, you’re done…” he judged. “The winner of the match is Gorms!!!”
The moment she heard his voice, the power left her body.
(I lost… I couldn’t win…)
A cold despair permeated her heart.
(In the end… I couldn’t grab hold… of anything…)