“Oh, wow… They’re really going at it!”
As soon as we arrived at the venue, Platy’s face lit up.
Just to reiterate, we’re underwater right now.
Platy, now back in her mermaid form, drags the bubble we’re in.
Land-dwellers like me and Junior can breathe underwater because of it, and we don’t get wet.
Anyway, back to the competition.
It’s much bigger in scale than I had imagined.
Mermen’s bodies are clashing all over the venue.
Unappealing screams reverberate under the waters.
It’s strange that I can still hear them clearly.
Two mermen contestants swim around, tail fins swishing.
They are fully armed, each with a spear and shield in their hands.
“…That’s the basic fighting style of mermen,” says Platy as she pulls our bubble. “While mermaids fight with potions, mermen pride themselves with their toned bodies. It’s a clash of power with their arms and tail fins!”
What a crude tournament we’ve come to.
Can we even let Junior see this?
In the meantime, the first match I saw was coming to a close.
Two mermen wade the full distance of the designated area, accelerating to collide with spears and shields clashing each other.
One of them was blown away.
The decisive factor in the match is the difference in pure acceleration.
“Game, set, and match! The winner is Wild!”
The crowd cheers at the referee’s declaration.
But that’s not the only match being held, plenty of other venues have men clashing with each other.
“Wow… It’s so lively here.”
“It’s probably the qualifying rounds at the moment, so there’ll be no end to these matches for a while,” explains Platy.
“I see. No wonder they’re all competing at the same time. How many participants do you think are there?”
“A thousand, give or take?”
That’s way more than I expected.
I didn’t know it was that big of a competition.
“It’s a national tournament, so I actually think it’s less. The number fluctuates year to year, but I’m sure the average is the same. The tournament does determine the strongest merman, after all.”
“I thought mermaids were a more elegant race…”
You know, like love and romance as depicted in fairytales.
Still, the number of mermen swarming this place is amazing.
It’s like a sea of men!
As we move through the venue, we’re greeted by the men’s enthusiasm and an exchange of typical lines.
“Woaaaaa! Fighting you is like destiny!”
“We’re tied by the red string of fate to fight!!!”
“All my life, practice, and hard work has been for this very day!”
“Come! Let’s enjoy the fight!”
“Tell me more about yourself! Like how you’ve trained and what you fight for!”
“Fighting is the greatest form of communication that surpasses even sex!”
Typical. Too typical.
We pass by this heartburn-inducing masculine venue, and by the time we reach our VIP seats, we’ve had enough.
“Master… I feel like I’m having a heartburn…!”
Even Veil is strangely affected by the atmosphere.
This merman festival is terrifying.
And who awaits us at the VIP seats is…
“Ah, long time no see, my lovelies!”
The Mermaid Queen Mahi, my son’s grandmother.
“Nice to see you, Mom. You look younger than I last saw you.”
“You can tell? I’m a woman, too, so I should be getting prettier every day.”
The mother and daughter are happy to see each other again.
The seats for the royal family are specially designed, with chairs set up in a temporary (but still luxurious) building for spectators.
The strangest thing about it is that somehow it is filled with air, so Junior and I can feel at home without the bubble.
Their magic potions must be the ones behind this wonder.
It’s also spacious enough to feel like a royal area.
“We appreciate you coming this deep, Saint. And little Junior has grown bigger!”
“H-Hello, it’s nice to see you again…!”
‘Coming this deep’ instead of ‘coming this far’? Really…?
However, it wasn’t just Queen Mahi waiting for us.
A wide variety of unexpected faces are also here.
“I knew I’d see you again if I came here, Sis Veil.”
“Oh hey, Ardheg.”
He’s from the dragon race.
He just became Geyser Dragon, so he shouldn’t be in a position to attend these events.
He was probably invited by someone from his circle of friends.
Speaking of which, Ardheg and Prince Arowana are close.
They used to travel the land together and joined forces to defeat the previous Geyser Dragon.
With that relationship, it’s not unusual for him to go back and forth to have fun.
“Hmph, a dragon, the ultimate life form, attending a lower race’s event? It’s bad for your reputation.”
I’m even more surprised by the person beside Ardheg.
It’s Bloody Mary, the strongest Graugrinzel Dragon.
“Why are you here with him?”
“Huh? Is it strange seeing me with Ardheg?”
The way she and Ardheg sit side by side looks like he’s her first lady.
Did something happen between them that I don’t know about?
“Ardheg is still inexperienced as a Geyser Dragon. I will be by his side to guide him so that lowly races won’t look down on him.”
I sigh at her blatantly-obvious tsundere attitude.
“It’s been a while, Mary. Have you gotten stronger since then?”
Veil is happy to see her sister again.
However, Miss Mary in question freaked out.
Is this the aftereffect of her defeat?
“My, look at all these people who came for Arowana. My son truly is blessed!”
Queen Mahi is overjoyed to see her child’s friendships, but looking at the Dragon Emperor makes her feel especially awestruck.
“But my husband has even greater connections! Probably the greatest!”
Platy says calmly, “By the way, isn’t the Demon King coming today?”
The Demon King is also an important friend of Prince Arowana, so it’s definitely a good idea to invite him for the sake of international friendships.
Queen Mahi replies, “Of course there was talk of that. But, you know, we’ve never welcomed people from other countries to this event before. We haven’t built up any expertise in welcoming and escorting such people…”
They had to postpone this year because they didn’t have enough time to research and prepare, it seems.
“He has to be welcomed as a guest of honor. It might turn into an international problem if he feels disrespected. In that regard, it’s rather easy for you lovelies, as you’re related to us. Our people just have to treat you like royalty.”
“Is it really…?”
Once again, we were intimidated by the intensity of their hospitality, but we decided to do what we came here to do—and that was to watch the competition.
The event is already in full swing with the preliminary rounds.
A few of the winners will advance to the finals.