The second semifinal match is Prince Arowana vs. Hendra.
It was another unexpectedly good game that lasted pretty long.
Prince Arowana had the edge in overall ability, but Hendra’s uncanny tenacity kept him at bay. At times, he even had the upper hand.
In the end, however, Prince Arowana still won, and Hendra was eliminated in the semifinals.
Incidentally, Hendra’s appearance in the final four is his best record.
He has built up yet another career irrelevant to his main job.
At last, the final match is between…
Prince Arowana and me.
This is a complete reversal of our expectations of a royal father-son matchup between Prince Arowana and King Nagus.
I was so worried everyone would be disappointed and lose interest.
But their enthusiasm didn’t diminish.
A father-son match may not happen, but instead, a battle between the future Mermaid King and his brother-in-law will take place.
His father passed on the baton to me, and our match was a challenge to prove his worth.
As I was making preparations, Platy said, “Don’t worry about what people say. Let’s defeat Arowana and make you king of the Mermaid Kingdom!”
“You’re being overambitious.”
Who will run the farm if I become king?
It’d be a hassle if I won, but I can’t cut corners, either.
“Platy, a strip of seaweed, please.”
“No more swallowing or spitting out, okay?”
I went into battle after being able to breathe underwater.
The stage for the finals is a gorgeous arena.
There would be no more matches after this. All eyes are on eyes on this big stage.
This is where I will face Prince Arowana.
“…I apologize the situation has escalated into this even though I invited you as a guest, Lord Saint.”
Although reluctant to speak, the concentration of fighting spirit emanating from his body is tremendous.
He seems different from the Prince Arowana who always comes to the farm and frolics around.
But this is his true form—the image of the future king who will shoulder his nation.
If the significance of the Martial Swimming Competition is to show a king’s magnificence, then this match deserves all the attention it’s getting.
I must fight without reserve as the opponent chosen to battle him.
“…Prince Arowana,” I say. “You are my wife’s brother and a dear friend to me. It pains me to cross swords with you, but I’d like to think of this as another kind of bou-globglobglob…!”
Why do I feel suffocated?
I’m chewing on seaweed right now to help me breathe underwater!
If I open my mouth to talk, the seaweed will come out!
“How many times must you repeat the same mistake?! Are you stupid, Dear?!”
I mean, I thought it’d be disrespectful to Prince Arowana if I didn’t say anything in return!
Plus, we’re both guys, so-
That’s not the point right now!
More and more water is going into my mouth!
Platy! Get me a new strip before I die of suffocation!!!
“You’re so hopeless, Dear. Fine… Huh?”
Platy fumbles in her pocket for a new seaweed strip.
What’s wrong? Hurry! I’m going to die without fresh oxygen ASAP!!!
“…We’re out of seaweed strips.”
“It’s all your fault anyway! You eat and spit them out so easily, as if you were a cow grazing on plain grass! Besides, I never dreamed that you’d actually participate in the competition, so I only made a few for precautionary sake!”
Okay! I apologize for carelessly handling them!
But right now, I need you to do something quickly to get me some oxygen!
Breathing underwater is too much!
Is there any other way???
Oh, my breath!
My breath! My…
I thought I heard Platy’s silly voice, but the next thing I knew, I’m lifelessly floating.
I found it funny seeing my body drifting in the water. Then I wondered, “Is this astral projection?”
“Gyaaaaa! Dear! Dear’s deaaaaaaad!!!”
As it turned out, I didn’t die.
Platy dragged me into a bubble, and with quick CPR, I was able to come back to life.
However, the final match was blown away by the commotion, and it ended indefinitely.
Prince Arowana won by default in this year’s Martial Swimming Competition, making this his second win in a row.
It’s practically impossible for me, a land-dweller, to move about underwater as I would on land.
If it weren’t for Platy’s genius invention, it wouldn’t have done any of that fighting.
Anyway, that’s that. Prince Arowana is the champion.
“That wasn’t engaging at all…!”
I, too, was hoping for a more heated match.
Normal manga would make them last for over fifty weeks or something.
And yet, it ended in the worst possible self-destructive pattern: the opponent drowned on his own and lost consciousness.
“Don’t let it bother you, Lord Saint,” reassures Prince Arowana.
The award ceremony was conducted, and things have considerably died down.
“If anything, I’m very much honored you went out of your way to participate in the first place! I just hope you enjoyed yourself…!”
Now that the event is over and we have no more business to attend to, it’s time to go home.
I’m worried about the farm, too.
“I’d like to invite you to come and watch next year’s tournament. If you’d like, you can even participate from the very start!”
“Oh, no… I know now that this isn’t really my thing….”
And I’m serious about that.
I think I’m much better suited to tilling the earth and building houses than fighting.
However, Platy is mumbling to herself next to me.
“I should triple the amount of seaweed next time we come back… No, five times? I also need to prevent accidental ingestion and spitting out, and look into mediums other than seaweed…!”
Can you please stop coming up with new strategies for the next competition?
“I won’t let you abstain from the competition, my son-in-law.”
Queen Mahi says her part, albeit scary, among the group of people seeing us off.
“Darling will definitely get his revenge, so be sure to come back next year, okay?”
Unlike men, women have their way with words to express grudges.
“…By the way, ma’am. What’s the plan now that Prince Arowana has won? Don’t you think it’s time to give him a full-fledged approval for his marriage to Puffer?”
“Whatever are you talking about?”
The queen is feigning innocence.
The road to love between Prince Arowana and Puffer seems bumpy.
“Since Arowana and Darling didn’t get to fight, no decision is to be made this year. It all depends on next year’s results.”
She smoothly postponed their wedding plans until next year.
Puffer is saddened to hear that. Now I feel guilty for letting things come to this.
Still, the days I spend with this family are fun and heartwarming.
I’d love to visit them again should the opportunity arise.
“We’ll definitely come back to watch the games next year!”
Platy’s family saw us off, and we left the Mermaid Kingdom in happy spirits.