Chapter 8 : Preliminary Rounds
I stepped into the arena with my arthropod legs, but my pincers hit an invisible barrier.
When I tried to spread my legs to the left and right, I found that there were barriers there too.
As if to confirm, I gently stretched my tail backwards, only to hit that invisible barrier again.
It seemed that I was trapped in a transparent box.
Other battle beasts inside the arena were also trapped in similar boxes.
Their reactions varied, with some panicking and pounding on the transparent barriers while others probed them lightly as if they were flytraps.
Watching their reactions, I felt like I could understand their personality and intelligence to some extent.
However, the four-armed bear was lying flat on the ground as if nothing was happening.
This guy should have had some sense of urgency since he was lying next to me and we would be the first to fight each other, but his defenselessness made me worry.
The transparent barriers were created by a form of spiritual art used by some spiritual casters.
I could sense the energy emanating from the barriers.
The ones responsible for creating them were probably the people in the front row of the…… audience, holding big staffs and concentrating on maintaining the walls.
It was thanks to their efforts that we could watch the fights safely.
I wondered if someone could sneak up behind them and stab them in the back? So that I could escape.
“Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Rookie’s Tournament! This is the last match of the long preliminary rounds of this year’s “Rookie battle” tournament! Professor Bertingen, our commentator, which combatant should we keep an eye on in this match?”
“Well, that’s a tough one… If we’re talking about raw strength alone, then it would have to be the demon fox, but that’s just a young specimen.
It’s still inexperienced, even though its potential is remarkable.
On the other hand, the young male scarlet-eyed dog is brimming with power.
You could say it’s in prime condition.
And we can’t overlook the dark emperor scorpion, which was raised by the renowned trainer, Sir Georg Angeles.”
As I indulged in my unrealistic fantasies, a loud voice resounded across the entire arena from the opposite side of the spiritual casters platform.
It was the fat man, whom Georg had referred to as the manager.
Apparently, he was also the host of the tournament.
Beside him stood a long-haired and bearded old man wearing glasses, known as Professor Bertingen.
He appeared to be an academic from the country’s educational institution, given his deep knowledge of biology and animal strength.
Neither of them seemed to be shouting, but rather amplifying their voices with spiritual arts.
Moreover, they were not using their own spiritual power but rather relying on the spiritual casters stationed behind them.
It was a lavish use of spiritual arts.
Judging from the number of spectators, the “Battle Beast Tournament” seemed to be doing well financially.
It was more surprising to me that the professor knew about Georg than the fact that I was one of the attention-grabbing beasts.
I wondered if he was a well-known trainer.
Oh, this might be the first time I’ve actually heard Georg’s full name.
But that was not really important.
“Thank you, Professor.
Twelve beasts will be participating in the 16th preliminary round! There may be a future ‘rookie king’ among them! Which beast will be the final one to enter the tournament!? Well then…let’s begin!”
As the host signaled the start of the match, the transparent barrier that had been enclosing us disappeared, allowing us to move freely.
Some of the beasts who had been ramming into the barrier stumbled and fell, eliciting laughter from the audience.
Those idiots weren’t even trying to aim for the barrier…… They were just not smart enough.
Well, there was no need for me to fight irrationally.
Should I just run around and conserve my energy, and if I have a chance, break Woodsorrel’s collar? As I pondered my plan, the spiritual casters who had created the barrier began chanting something.
Then, the spiritual circuits engraved on the walls of the arena glowed eerily.
At that moment, the bear sleeping next to me jolted awake.
Drool dripped from its mouth and its eyes, bloodshot and darting around, before they locked onto me as it swung its four paws down with force.
“Oh dear! As soon as the ‘Berserk’ spiritual art was activated, the four-armed bear went berserk! Regardless of how docile a creature may be, ‘Berserk’ leaves them with only the thought of killing everything in front of them! It’s an essential spiritual art for the ‘Beast Battle Tournament’ preliminary rounds!”
As I blocked the bear’s paw with my exoskeleton, I listened to the manager’s explanation and understood what was happening to us.
The nearby bear had gone wild, and it was all because of the spiritual art that made even me want to give in to my violent impulses as well.
The only reason I was able to maintain my sanity was because Georg had trained me in mental resistance against spiritual attacks.
I was quite sure that he stood somewhere in this arena, looking down on me and gloating over the fact that the arena’s spiritual circuit didn’t work on me.
That old bastard would certainly be overjoyed if his creation worked perfectly.
The effects of the “Berserk” spiritual circuit were not limited to just me and the bear but had spread to every beast present in the arena.
The crazed fighting beasts attacked each other without regard for their own safety, and the audience cheered madly every time blood and flesh flew around.
Those who were forced to kill each other or those who cheered at the sight of the killings—who was truly insane?
I continued to ponder this as if it were someone else’s problem, but I grew tired of being drilled repeatedly.
The beasts in the vicinity were rampaging as if they were led by some sort of spiritual art…sigh.
I successfully suppressed the urge to succumb to the violent rage boiling inside of me.
All that was left was to kill this guy.
I caught the bear’s swinging arms with my pincers.
The surprised bear tried to yank it out with all its strength, but I didn’t let go.
At the same time, I thrust my jointed legs into the ground to brace myself so as not to be thrown off.
The bear outweighed me in both size and weight.
However, I had a well-developed, albeit harder to use, fighting spirit and spiritual power.
In contrast, this creature could use them instinctively to some extent, but its inability to use them consciously was a fatal weakness.
I mercilessly closed my pincers and cut off the opponent’s arms.
The bear roared in anger and swung its remaining two arms at me.
Its decision to attack instead of fleeing after its arms were easily severed was proof that its instincts had been driven haywire.
It was pitiful, but there was no reason to let it go, and more importantly, there was no point in doing so.
I will kill it so that it doesn’t suffer anymore.
I quickly moved forward, avoiding the bear’s arms, passing under its belly, and then climbing its hind legs.
The bear thrashed about trying to shake me off, but I stuck my legs to its fur while riding on its back and thrust my poisonous stinger into its neck.
The poison flowed from the tip of the needle, and I could feel it infiltrate the bear’s body.
It was all over now.
The bear that had been poisoned convulsed once before spitting foam from its mouth, rolling its eyes back, and collapsing.
I had honed my spiritual power and fighting spirit under Georg’s orders, but my strongest weapon remained the poisonous stinger on my tail.
This was the scorpion… no, the Dark Emperor scorpion’s—fatal weapon, to be precise.
But regardless, my instincts told me that my poisonous stinger was the last resort I could rely on.
It wasn’t a matter of reasoning; just like how humans instinctively know to rely on their legs, I instinctively trusted in my tail.
“Oh, the four-armed bear has already fallen to the Dark Emperor scorpion’s venomous sting! The assassin of the desert lives up to its name, doesn’t it!?”
“Rumor has it that the dark emperor scorpion’s poison is strong enough to even kill a dragon, so a four-armed bear would have no chance of survival.
It may not have even realized that it was dying.”
The arena erupted in excitement when I took down the bear.
The manager and the professor were making some kind of announcement, but I didn’t have time to listen.
Because, suddenly, a pink object extended towards me from behind as I rode on the bear’s back and wrapped itself around me, pulling me back in one swift motion.
I found myself being drawn towards a frog’s gaping maw, its skin as tough as stone.
It seemed as though I was about to be swallowed whole and crushed by the frog’s throat muscles.
Did it really underestimate me that much?
But I didn’t need to resort to using my tail in this situation.
Instead, I swiftly closed my pincers and plunged the sharp tip into the frog’s belly, creating a gaping hole from the inside out.
My pincers were not merely tools for grasping, but also deadly weapons capable of piercing like a spear or delivering crushing blows. I have been fighting since I was ten days old, so don’t underestimate me.
After I emerged from the ruptured belly of the frog, I was met with an immense shock wave that threatened to knock me off my feet.
However, I managed to maintain my balance with my jointed legs, while other creatures were tossed around like rag dolls in a tempestuous wind.
The smaller beasts were embedded in the walls, while the larger ones struggled to regain their footing.
For the time being, I beheaded the creature that had fallen near me with my pincers.
The preliminary rounds were in the form of a battle royale, where everyone fought until only one was left standing, and since I had to be the last one standing, everyone else would have to die.
All I could do was bury them swiftly so they wouldn’t suffer any further.
It seemed that the cause of the shockwave was the collision between the scarlet-eyed dog and the demon fox—Woodsorrel.
The fiery ball that the scarlet-eyed dog had launched from the tip of its horn was blocked by the barrier that the demon fox had erected by swelling its tail, causing it to explode.
Although I couldn’t use spiritual arts now since Georg has forbidden me to do so, the clash between the spiritual arts was quite spectacular.
The audience seemed to be thrilled by it.
From what I saw, both sides were evenly matched.
Initially, I thought Woodsorrel was stronger, but it seems that the “Berserk” spiritual circuit had a significant impact.
The scarlet-eyed dog was using its strength according to its instinct to fight, not opposing the “Berserk” spiritual art affecting it.
On the other hand, Woodsorrel was resisting the “Berserk” effect in order to have full control of her own spiritual art.
However, due to her resistance to the spiritual art, her focus was disturbed, and she could not use her full power.
Still, I judged that this stalemate would last a little longer, so I decided to take care of the other small fry while I had the chance.
I quickly moved my jointed legs and ran around the arena, fighting the still-living battle beasts and ensuring their demise.
Each time I dealt the final blow, cheers and screams erupted from the crowd.
Most likely, they had bet on the dead battle beasts.
Although I was occasionally hit by the aftermath of the battle between the two entities, my sturdy exoskeleton, strengthened with fighting spirit, made me immune to their attacks.
It might be dangerous if I were hit directly, but I had endured Georg’s training and was not a weakling who could be injured by the aftermath alone.
Apparently thinking that the fireballs were not effective, the Scarlet-eyed Dog aimed its horn at Woodsorrel to try and pierce her.
She intercepted with a spiritual art attack, but the scarlet-eyed dog increased its defense with fighting spirit and charged, prepared to take the damage.
Startled by the unstoppable Scarlet-eyed Dog, she leaped to the side but couldn’t avoid it completely.
Although she wasn’t pierced by the horn, the impact of the Scarlet Eyed Dog’s headbutt sent her flying towards me.
This was the perfect opportunity.
If I was going to save her, it had to be now.
I whipped my tail towards her, flicking it like a whip.
To the audience, it must have appeared as if my poisonous stinger had pierced her neck along with the slave’s collar…..However, in reality, I had only destroyed the collar, leaving her with no a scratch.
But she convulsed violently before foaming at the mouth and falling still.
She, like me, had been resisting the effects of “Berserk” and kept her sanity intact.
Moreover, the breaking of her “Binding Collar” had granted her freedom.
So she promptly feigned death.
With that, I had kept my promise.
Now you’re on your own.
The remaining scarlet-eyed dog charged towards me while continuously firing fireballs.
If I could use spiritual arts, I could create a wall of sand to counter it, but since It was forbidden, I had no choice but to receive them head-on with my body.
Although the firepower was quite impressive, it couldn’t burn or shatter my exoskeleton with the explosion.
However, I knew that the fireball wasn’t its main “weapon”.
It wasn’t even trying to hide the fact that it was better at handling fighting spirit than spiritual power.
That meant it was more skilled in hand-to-hand combat using fighting spirit.
The fireballs were just a distraction.
Its true attack was…
A bite attack from its sharp fangs.
I had suspected it would use either its horns or fangs, but of all things, it chose its fangs.
It seemed to believe that by biting, it could finish me off without having to weaken me with its horns first.
I’ve been underestimated.
I strengthened my exoskeleton with fighting spirit and took the bite attack head-on.
A metallic clanging sound echoed throughout the arena, as if two pieces of metal had collided.
The Scarlet Eyed Dog struggled to bite down harder, but it was futile against my strengthened exoskeleton.
In its desperation to bite, it had forgotten about my most reliable weapon.
Together with a small sound that probably only I and the scarlet-eyed dog could hear, my poisonous stinger pierced its neck.
Injecting a powerful venom, the scarlet-eyed dog foamed from its mouth and fell down.
“And that settles it! The winner of this preliminary round is none other than the eldest son of Lord Ashvald, Mr.
Ehric, and his Dark Emperor Scorpion!”
With my victory, the preliminary rounds came to an end.
I relaxed my body a little, covered in foam from the scarlet-eyed dog.
Ah, it’s good that I managed to survive another day.
Amidst cheers, I looked around the arena with my compound eyes at the dead bodies of the beasts left behind.
If luck hadn’t been on my side, I could have been one of them.
Trembling with indescribable fear, I found myself following Georg’s orders and leaving the arena.
Amidst the corpses scattered around the arena, I did not see the silhouette of Woodsorrel.
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