That was a total waste of time! There weren’t even any rewards. I feel cheated. And Ilya looks exhausted after today’s events. When the man in the sky said the preliminary was over, the plane had dissolved, and we were back inside the city. Ilya got a message from her father telling her to go back to the inn since it would’ve been too hard to find people in the crowd. A lot of people stared at us, but no one got in our way. Even the lionkin from the acorn stew incident avoided me after I made eye contact with him. Does this count as becoming a legend? Mm, even if it does, that doesn’t matter because I have to ascend higher than the divine realm to achieve my dreams. Ah, speaking of dreams, that reminds me of my deal with Albert…? Algar? The human crown prince. It’s still a secret though!
“So,” Ilya said. I was holding onto her hand because she’s super tiny and would probably get lost in the crowd if I let her go. “Why is she with us?”
In my other hand, I was holding Ilya Number Two by the back of her belt—kind of like a shopping bag. Her arms and legs dangled uselessly in the air; she had stopped struggling a while ago. Obviously I have a reason to bring her along. “We’re friends!”
“Friends,” Ilya said. “Right. I’m pretty sure her grandmother’s a high elf. I’m not sure how strong she is though.”
“Nine circles,” Ilya Number Two said. She raised her head, which was a bit red from all the blood rushing to it, and flailed her arms and legs a bit. “She’ll rescue me! You better let me go right now.”
A voice shouted above the din of the crowd, “Mirta! Where are you!?”
“Gran—” Before Ilya Number Two could give away our position, I stuffed her face into Ilya’s shoulder to prevent her from making a sound. The little elf girl struggled a lot, and Ilya also tried to run away, but I wasn’t going to let that happen! I was curious about the enchanting process, and Ilya Number Two told me weapons can be upgraded by a whole grade. I’m not sure what a grade was, but I decided I had to kidnap the elf in front of me right away! If I reached the peak of divine realm, and then had Ilya Number Two’s grandmother enchant mini-DalDal, wouldn’t Durandal directly step into the legendary realm? That saves me a whole lot of work! That’s why I have to bring Ilya Number Two away. If I can’t befriend her, then I can always hold her hostage. Hah? Someone will accuse me of kidnapping a child? Well, they’d be wrong! This is called pursuing one’s dreams.
The voice is getting further away. Nice! Let’s hurry back to the inn before the grandmother can track us down. Ilya frowned. “I really don’t think this is a good idea.”
“Nonsense! All my ideas are good ideas. When have I ever gotten the short end of the stick for one of my choices?” Other than trusting Snow. That was a bad idea, a really, really bad one. I still haven’t seen him around. Is Ilya’s dad really sure about his participation? Snow doesn’t seem like the person to compete for prizes fairly. He’d probably steal it from the winner.
“Well….” Ilya’s brow furrowed. “Does almost dying count?”
“No. Only actual dying.” Keyword, almost. And Ilya’s only almost died around three or four times since she’s met me. That’s nothing!
“Then I really can’t think of a time you’ve been punished for making a dumb decision,” Ilya said and bit her lower lip. “Is that true? Why does that feel wrong on so many levels? No, that’s impossible. Someone like you should definitely get your just deserts with all the bad karma you’ve accumulated. Ah! Being punished by my teacher! Falling for his trap was definitely a bad idea on your part.”
“But then I met you?” I don’t really think of meeting Rogath as a misfortune. If anything, I got a super-powerful magic tool and a handy-dandy encyclopedia to boot.
Ilya’s expression darkened. “You’re right.” She sighed and hung her head. “There is no god.”
Don’t equate my lack of divine punishment to the lack of a god! I’m sure there’s someone out there plotting out our lives as we speak. Oh, we’ve arrived back to the inn. That was quick. I need to take a nap and relax. I already finished my daily one thousand swings of my sword while attacking the man in the sky. And I get to sleep in since the competition starts at noon. Life is great!
“Um, Ilya,” Ilya’s dad said when we entered the suite. He pointed at the bundle I dropped on the ground. “Who’s that? A guest?”
“This is Mirta,” Ilya said. “Lucia kidnapped her.”
“Help!” Ilya Number Two shouted. “Hel—” She stopped shouting when I placed a mug of hot chocolate in front of her on the ground. “For me?”
“Yup!” The easiest way to placate someone is with good food. The second easiest way is to cut their head off, but that’d ruin the whole point of me kidnapping Ilya Number Two. You can’t ransom off a dead hostage! …Well, you can, but you wouldn’t get as much. “We’re friends, right?”
Ilya Number Two stared at the cup. Her lips quivered before she lifted her head and stared at me. I did my best to smile at her. So why did she look so scared? I’m not scary! Didn’t we already establish our friendship during the competition? Ilya Number Two’s stomach growled. She swallowed her saliva as she grabbed the hot chocolate. “Right, we’re friends.”
“You’re just like Roland,” Durandal said from mini-DalDal. “I’m starting to wonder if it’s an issue with me.”
“I’m just like the Godking?” That’s right! Aren’t I? I’m the strongest warrior in the world, and I own Durandal! If I fought with the Godking in his prime as I am right now, I’d definitely kick his ass. At least I think I’m the strongest warrior in the world. Ilya’s never heard of a divine warrior except for me, and she’s super well informed.
“I’m pretty sure Durandal was saying that as a criticism,” Ilya said and pursed her lips.
“That’s right!” Ilya Number Two said. “The Godking kidnapped my grandmother, and now you kidnapped me!” Then she glanced at the hot chocolate in her hands. “But we’re friends…. Then is it really kidnapping?”
My face is turning red from all these compliments. I’m an incredible person now; it’s unbelievable. Just a few years ago, I was a punching bag for the army. A few years before that, I was a slave. My life’s really changed after meeting Durandal. That’s why I love him! “You’re the best, Durandal!”
“I know I’m the best, but what am I the best for in this particular moment?” Durandal asked, raising an eyebrow as he neatly received my hug. I’m not even angry at him for throwing me out of the carriage anymore. Well, maybe just a little.
“Mirta! I found you!” The door to the suite flew off the hinges before I could say anything to Durandal. An elf lady walked into the room … followed by the man in the sky? What was he doing here?