I’m not sure how I feel about Lucia’s request to cripple the princes. But I suppose that doesn’t matter, does it? A weapon spirit shouldn’t feel. We’re tools meant to serve. I guess that makes Pup—Gae Bulg and me bad weapon spirits, huh? Well, I’m not sure if Gae even counts anymore since he was converted into a sock spirit. He’s become a lot more sensitive and touchy. It’s understandable. I’ll let Gae deal with the competitors who aren’t princes since he used to be royalty and all.
“The princes,” Gae Bulg said as he materialized next to me. “Let me fight them.”
…Or not. “You know what to do?”
“Lan lived a terrible life in the royal palace,” Gae Bulg said. “He had no talent in magic. His mother was a commoner. He was forced to play a fool in order to survive. The years of stress built up, causing him to become paranoid. After a while, he refused to see his own mother because he thought she would kill him. I’m not sure if he even trusted me.” Gae Bulg ground his teeth together. “The princes are the ones to blame, especially Algar. Crippling them should make Lan rest easy on the other side.”
“Ah, we’re not fighting Algar,” Lucia said, smacking Gae Bulg’s back. “He’s the future emperor and the key to my dreams. If you dare ruin my dreams, I’m going to demote you to a single sock spirit.”
Didn’t Lucia buy a bunch of spirit seeds before the competition started? “Lucia, what happened to the spirit seeds you bought before that you wanted to plant into all of your clothes?”
Lucia wrinkled her nose. “All of them were men! So I threw them away.” She hung her head. “That was my favorite set of underwear too. What a waste. Isn’t there a way to determine their gender beforehand?”
“No. And female spirits are quite rare compared to males.” The only woman spirit who I knew was Vera. And Roland had a lot of weapon spirits. I’m not sure why that is; I never really thought about it before. Ilya would probably know. But that’s not my problem; I have to focus on sharpening my technique.
“I’m going to meditate for a bit.” It’s been a long while since I’ve fought someone other than Lucia. I’ve been secretly watching some mages cast spells; I think I can deal with them if I take advantage of the flaws in their defense. A battlemage may prove to be more difficult to defeat if he’s able to cast while moving. I’ll use this time to simulate a few battles since it seems like it’ll be a while before everyone else finishes. “Tell me when the fighting begins.”
I don’t know how much time passed, but Lucia summoned me out of my weapon body. “Is it starting?”
“Yup!” Lucia said. “The last person just had their numbers checked.”
Cain’s voice echoed through the coliseum. “Now that the general ranking has concluded, the next portion, the brawl, will begin. The rules are the same as the previous brawls. For those of you who don’t know them, ah, I really don’t want to explain.” He sighed. “But I’ll do it anyway. Pick someone and fight them. If you win, you take their position on the leaderboard and they take yours. You can fight as many times as you’d like. To speed things up, up to ten battles can happen at once. Killing is not allowed; feel free to severely injure each other though. The competition ends ten minutes after all the platforms are unoccupied. Fights end when one side is incapable of fighting or surrenders.” He yawned and snapped his fingers, causing the circular platform with the statue to split into ten separate pieces. “Remember what you’re fighting for. There are rewards—actual ones—for the people in the top ten. I’m also establishing a clan. Anyone in the top hundred can join.”
A few people murmured to each other, but Cain ignored them. “With that being said, let the brawl begin.” He looked around, but no one moved. “If none of you want to fight, we can end this in a neat ten minutes and have it be the shortest Godking’s Brawl in history.”
“It’s your turns to shine, Puppers and Durandal!” Lucia hopped onto the largest platform. “I, Lucia Fluffytail, challenge the fifth prince of the Ravenwood Empire! I forgot your name, but I’m challenging you! Get your royal ass up here.”
A man with a scowling expression stood up. He wore a full suit of armor with chainmail underneath the plate. Attached to his back was a massive greatsword. Was that the weapon spirit, Balmung? So that old fart was still around.
I looked at Gae Bulg. “Can you take both of them?”
Gae Bulg grimaced. “It’ll be difficult. The fifth prince is a battlemage; though, he’s not as strong as Algar. And Balmung is at the peak of spirit warrior.”
“Then I’ll fight Balmung. I can use him as a benchmark to see how much I’ve grown.” Should I use a sword? My last duel with Balmung ended in a narrow victory on my part. But I’ve taken a liking to the spear since I’ve met Lucia. “Lucia, pass me a spear.”
“And me,” Gae Bulg said.
“Here you go,” Lucia said and tossed two spears towards us. “Luckily for you two, I managed to pick these up on the way here.” Where did she get them? These aren’t low-class goods that you find for sale in a street stall.
“Ah!” someone from the crowd, a dwarf, shouted. “My family heirlooms! How does she have them!?”
“Lucia…?” Did she…?
“Found them on the floor,” Lucia said with a cough. “Do your best! The enemy approaches.”
“So you’re the one who killed Bryant and Lan,” the fifth prince said as he drew the greatsword on his back. “Balmung.”
A man with flaming red hair appeared beside the prince. One of his eyes was closed with a diagonal scar running over it. Weapon spirit injuries healed by themselves unless the spirit chose to keep their scars as a sign of pride. It makes no sense to me, but that’s just the type of spirit Balmung is. “Durandal,” Balmung said. “It’s been a while. Is that a spear?”
“No, it’s a really flat sword. If you had both your eyes, you’d be able to tell.”
“This injury is a reminder to myself. And today, I’ll reclaim my honor. Don’t make an excuse after you lose.” Balmung raised his arms, and a two-handed sword appeared out of nowhere.
“Prepare yourself, murderer,” the fifth prince said and pointed his sword at Lucia … who was sitting down and sipping on a cup of hot chocolate.
“Ah,” Lucia said and blinked. “Think of me as the final boss. You have to get through my underlings before you can fight me. Don’t forget to cripple him, Puppers.”
“I won’t,” Gae Bulg said. His eyes narrowed as he pointed his spear at the fifth prince. I raised my spear and pointed it at Balmung’s throat. Balmung steadied his sword in his hands. The fifth prince mirrored Balmung’s stance. We stared at each other. …And continued to stare. When does the fight start?
“Ah, that’s my job as host, isn’t it?” Cain asked. “Let the first fight of the Godking’s Brawl begin.”