Chapter 48.2: Opening Act
The sparks lit up the side of the stage as a lean man walked out into the spotlight with a relaxed gait.
He was the thin, intellectual sort, dressed up in a neatly kept bartender’s outfit with the shirt tucked in. His soft grey eyes peaked out from behind a pair of horn-rimmed glasses which sat upon his foreign face. His facial features were on the pleasant side, but they didn’t stand out as too handsome or too plain. One thing that interested Akira was his well-kept orange hair, which would still have been referred to as red hair had it not been for the clan Akira’s mother, Haruna, had come from.
When the man reached the center of the stage, he stopped and bowed to the crowd, receiving several cheers in response as the seats lit up with activity. When the cheering reached a new crescendo, he pulled himself out of the bow with a gentle smile.
Looking at him, one would never have thought he was the contestant, and rather a referee from the calmness with which he conducted himself. Such was the grace of Aurel Schwarz, Nature’s Living Nightmare.
“Ahhh, to zhink zhat I would be able to see zhe No. 2 Maestro fighting in person at zhe arena, against zhat man no less… what a miracle.”
“That’s right, Dion. I can’t believe he’s standing right there on stage… right within arms reach…”
“Hohoh, are you perhaps jealous since your goal is standing right zhere on stage? Well mademoiselle huit, should you not focus first on defeating zhe other five zhat stand in your way? You’ve yet to come close to even scratching monsieur sept, non?”
“That’s rich coming from you, ninth place. You’ve yet to defeat me in a duel, and you dream of fighting that monster. Shouldn’t you be the one redirecting your focus considering that you’ve got a much more ridiculous goal?”
“No matter whether it is he or she, feminine or masculine, a person who is truly living should strive to reach as far as zhey can. Zhey shouldn’t give up on first and settle on second while saying it’s impossible as zhey’re too cowardly to try.”
“Oh is that so? How about we give the audience a second exhibition match to see, then? Let’s see if you’ve got any bark in that bite of yours, rabid dog.”
“Bah viens, you barbaric witch.”
Sparks flew from the announcers box as the Frenchman and the woman sent cold smiles at one another and the area around it seemed to be drained of heat, but the audience cheered despite the hostile atmosphere that quickly took root. In fact, a good half of the audience was laughing, and Akira’s group was no exception.
“Puahahahaha!” Haya chortled as she slapped her knee “They’re always the same!”
“Ufu—can you… Ufu!” Akane grasped her stomach as she failed to suppress her laughs “Ufufufu! Can you believe that, ufu, that they’re engaged?”
“I think it’s pretty great that a couple can act so comfortably with one another that they can still bicker like this after getting hitched.” Hiroaki noted with a grin. “Really shows how close they are.”
Dion Richelieu and Nakatoni Usagi were the ninth and eight ranked Maestros respectively, and were well known for commentating on a majority of the Maestro related events that they weren’t a part of.
They had clashed with one another several times in sanctioned duels, as Richielieu wished to surpass Nakatoni and rise in the ranks. Nakatoni too held the same desire to climb the rankings, and defended her rank with tooth and nail. Because of this, and the fact that Nakatoni had a slight advantage in terms of ability synergy, the two would always have an extended match that always ended with Nakatoni’s narrow victory.
There would always be an after-match argument with the bitter Frenchman swearing in a foreign language as he lay sprawled on the devastated arena as the hyper woman taunted him while using her Speculo as support for her shaking legs.
For some reason, someone at the SMC had thought it would be a good Idea to ask them to provide live commentary on a certain duel together. If it had not been for the fact that this man had purposely left out the fact that the other was coming when he told them, it would have seemed like a careless mistake. As expected, the two began fighting at the start and end of the match, and the resulting clip went viral on the internet.
On a side note, the man who orchestrated this was fired the next day. It is said that his boss gave him an hour long lecture about how his stunt may have caused immeasurable damages to the plans of their branch, which handled all media affairs in the Duelling Department of the SMC. The man reportedly yelled “I’ll be back, and we’ll see who’s boss then!” as he was kicked out, receiving a scoff from his now ex-boss.
Thanks to the viral clip and the fact that their duels occurred almost weekly, both of them gained a huge increase in fans over the course of a few weeks. Due to this popularity, the SMC began to ask them to provide commentary together for any duel that they were able to attend, and they became the unofficial commentators of the SMC.
This ended up causing a sharp increase in viewers for every single duel, as many people began watching just to see the commentary of the two bickering top rankers. It was a huge hit thanks to the fame they received from the viral clip, and it resulted in the creation of several more clips which were often found in ten hour long compilations online that had at least ten million views each.
On another side note, the man from before was rehired nearly instantly after the second time the duo appeared on television, and was promoted to Director for the media branch of the Duelling Department of the SMC. It is said that he walked back into the office with a smug grin worthy of legend that tempted his former boss—now his underling—to jump at him and hammer away with his fists. Thankfully, his ex-boss was restrained by the other staff.
Yet, despite years worth of bickering, fights, and arguments, they had gotten engaged.
One day, Dion had made a sudden announcement that he was about to leave on a two year global training trip using some of the savings he had earnt from commentating on an endless amount of matches. He had stated that recently he hadn’t felt whole, and wished to go on a trip around the world to reflect.
For two years, the world saw little trace of the Frenchman save for an occasional post on social media every few months. Nakatoni continued her unofficial job of commentating, working with several guest commentators during this period, but it just wasn’t the same as before when the passionate Frenchman had been there. Nakatoni herself seemed somewhat listless during this period, and thus the duels slowly lost viewership.
Then as promised, around two years after he had left, Dion returned and immediately challenged Nakatoni to a duel, causing a resurgence in viewership. Everyone was pleased to see the trash talking duo back at it again, only to receive a great shock at the end of the usual duel where Nakatoni once again triumphed.
Although Nakatoni taunted him in the same provocative manner as usual, Dion had merely laughed instead of retaliating. He then pulled a titanium protective casing covered in kevlar from his back pocket, which he opened and held out to her even as his back was stuck to the floor of the arena.
It had been a ring box, and it held a simple engagement ring with an opal: Nakatoni’s favorite gemstone that she had mentioned in a passing during one of their many commentary sessions.
Just like that, the cheering crowd, the commentators taking over for the duo, and Nakatoni herself had become speechless. It was in the middle of that dead silence that the Frenchman’s accented tongue echoed into the special arena microphones that were made to pick up any conversation between combatants.
“Zhere is no one in zhis world who has ever frustrated and angered me to zhe extent that you have, and zhere is no one in zhis world who has ever made me look forwards to a duel to zhis degree. On zhat two year journey, I realized just how much of my mind you occupy. I could not go a single day without wishing to see you, argue with you, fight you.
“But even zhen, I was unsure. I didn’t know if what I felt was truly… what I zhought it was. But today, after zhis match, I am certain. I do not feel alive without you, and can not stand zhe zhought of being separated from you again. Will you marry moi?”
For the first time in the history of their weekly matches, Nakatoni let her Speculo be absorbed back into her body and fell to her knees in front of Dion, her entire body shaking more violently than ever. Then, as tears washed the dust off her cheeks, she let out a choked cry of ‘What do you think the answer is, you block-headed beast.”
Within an hour after the proposal was uploaded, it became one of the highest trending clips worldwide. Social media was filled with messages containing congratulations from all sorts of people ranging from celebrities to politicians. The streets of France (where Dion was a national celebrity due to his status as one of the world’s top ten duelists and his status as a commentator) flooded with partying citizens who gave a proud toast to their countryman and got drunk in broad daylight.
It was a truly wonderful story, destined to be remembered as one of the greatest Maestro love stories of the Magician’s Era’s first century. It would likely be adapted to books, TV shows, movies, and more in the years to come.
Hi, sorry for one day delay, moving houses and the WIFI had issues yesterday -_-
I’ll be writing another bit for this chapter tomorrow (yup, it’s still not done!)