The royal seats we were invited to are very convenient for spectating—built high up in the middle of the venue, so we could see all the matches being held simultaneously.
I think these are what you would call box seats.
“Being here is making me uncomfy…”
I feel like I’m cheating.
I guess this goes to show how deep my commoner sentiments are ingrained to my very core.
“We need this,” says Platy as she rocks Junior. “It’s our duty as the royal family to watch the game.”
“Yes. This tournament isn’t just a contest of strength. It’s also a way to find out who the best merwarriors are. The stronger the merman, the more attention they will attract if they win the competition regardless of their status or origin.”
The winners are then employed by the royal court or given an important post, so the Martial Swimming Competition also acts like a gateway to success, apparently.
“Our family is also responsible for making such decisions, so we can’t miss every single match throughout the prelims. So, special treatment as it may be, we have to sit in the best place to see everything.”
I feel a little less guilty thanks to her explanation, but I’m not part of her family, nor I am involved in such decisions, so feelings of anxiety torment me instead.
“Darling and Arowana aren’t here today, so we’ll have to keep a watchful eye. I’m counting on you too, Platy.”
U-Uh… What should I do? Do I help out too?
I don’t even know anything about watching sports…
“Where’s Prince Arowana and His Majesty? I don’t see them anywhere…”
They should be the ones sitting here as the central figures of the royal family.
“Why, of course they’re not here, my dear.” The queen chuckles, “They’re also participants.”
Prince Arowana won last year’s tournament, so it’s only natural he’d be participating this year too.
“Look, they’re playing in the area over there.”
Queen Mahi points to a very heated match.
I see the prince.
Watching a game of someone who’s both a prince and a defending champion would be exciting, I suppose.
“Mom, what are the odds of Arowana winning this year?”
“1.01x… No, he’s a sure winner. There’s nothing worth risking.”
You dabble in gambling, ma’am?!
Or maybe Prince Arowana is just that good. He’s probably the most likely contender to win.
It’s like the calm before the storm, but his opponent is already overwhelmed by his aura and is trembling.
He still looks young. I pity that his luck led him to bump into the best contender right away.
“Ready… Fight!” ruthlessly says the referee.
At that moment, the young merman was blown off the field.
Everything was too sudden for me to process. And people expect those who sit here to have keen eyes!
“Arowana overpowered his opponent with just his aura?!” comments Platy.
He can do that?
“My little Arowana has really grown during his training. The amount of energy he exudes is so much different than before.”
“Of course. Lord Arowana has been through countless hardships on our journey!” boasts Ardheg.
However, Prince Arowana’s rapid progress didn’t stop there.
Even after his victory, he showed the dignity of a strong man.
“The winner is Arowana!”
Right after the referee’s announcement…
A beautiful mermaid swims from outside the playfield and hugs Prince Arowana.
“Isn’t that Puffer?!”
“She snuck out of the farm again!!!”
Puffer, one of the Six Witches, is the Witch of the Bitter Cold.
It seems she’s assisting Prince Arowana just like she did last year.
However, she’s bold.
She’s blatantly hugging him in public.
“I knew you’d win!”
“Oh, Puffer… I’m glad you’re happy, but aren’t you too lax? People are staring at us!”
A man and a woman embracing in the middle of the field attracts a lot of attention, especially when that man is a prince.
“Who’s that young lady hugging the prince?” “She’s so pretty!” say some.
“I heard Puffer also helped Prince Arowana last year. Was she this open at the time?”
“I didn’t see things myself, so I don’t know… But it’s definitely an upgrade from last year…!”
It was this year that she and the prince got engaged.
However, her background as a witch hinders her from getting married, so she must gain the people’s trust and support first.
This is why the couple hasn’t had a wedding ceremony yet.
“I think they’re trying to build a solid foundation by showing their lovey-dovey act to the people around them.”
I could feel Puffer’s determination to get married to Prince Arowana no matter how long it takes.
But you see, Puffer.
While this is hard to remember nowadays, you’re still a fugitive. Don’t just act freely as you wish!
“…Anyway, at that rate, Prince Arowana will have no problem winning.”
“He’ll definitely make it to the finals.”
Just as I was about to turn my attention to the other games, I felt a terrible chill nearby.
“Huh. That vixen is quite something!”
Queen Mahi is radiating a dark aura!
“Following my dear Arowana wherever he goes… She’s an adulterer who doesn’t know her place!”
“But, um! She’s his fiancée! She has all the rights to cling to him, so to call her an adulterer is just…”
Then again, there’s no room for logic between in-law conflicts.
“She better not think she has won. I’ve already made a move to shatter her naïve plans!”
This is not how I was expecting this conversation to go!
Not too long after I wondered what the Queen had done, the answer revealed itself to me.
On a different playing field, a sonorous announcement was made.
“Game, set, and match!”
“That was way too fast!!!”
Another instant defeat.
When I looked to see who won, I saw a merman so huge it made me cower.
His Majesty King Nagus!
He’s the father of Platy and Prince Arowana and the husband of Queen Mahi.
He sank his opponent in a single blow and sent the crowd into a frenzy.
“Strong! His Majesty is too strong!”
“It’s been ten years since his last appearasnce, but His Majesty hasn’t weakened at all!”
“Back in my day, His Majesty set an unprecedented record of winning the championship for 15 consecutive years. Since then, he has been refraining from being inducted into the Hall of Fame!!!”
“According to some, he joined this tournament just to see the improvement of his son, Prince Arowana!”
“Will we witness an alternation of generations today?!”
The crowd is on the edge of their seats to see both the Mermaid King and Prince Arowana participate.
The instigator of this tremendous lineup is…
“Haha! Behold, wretched woman!”
…None other than Queen Mahi.
“You? Getting married to my son? Not on my watch! Any plans for your betrothal will be canceled if you don’t defeat Darling. Remember that!”
“When and how did things escalate to this?!”
Queen Mahi’s rashness knows no bounds.
The Martial Swimming Competition goes on, but this time, it involves the fate of two loved ones.