Chapter 48.3: Opening Act
As the two were about to break out into the usual lover’s spat (which typically devolved into one challenging the other to another sanctioned duel), the spotlights dimmed as smoke rose from the other side of the arena opposite Schwarz.
“Ah… and there’s that monster in question.”
“Don’t call him a monster, he could fight both of us at the same time with a blindfold around his eyes, and zhat still wouldn’t be enough of a challenge for him.”
“That’s why he’s a monster!”
“Also, don’t bring your personal feelings into your work.”
“…Hmph, fair point. Well, continuing off…” Nakatoni muttered begrudgingly as she cleared her throat once. “On the other side of the arena, we have the man responsible for giving S-rank Maestros their reputation as ‘one man armies’! A terrifying monster in human flesh who will let out an annoying laugh as he dodges all your attacks, what a son of a bi—.”
“Oi, I said don’t bring your feelings into your work.” Dion cut her off with a sigh before continuing onwards. “Besides zhat, I believe zhere’s little else to be said, non? He is zhe one and only No. 1 Maestro…”
“The De-meow-n Lord (Nyaou) capable of putting your life on indefinite paws and clawing through armies single-pawdedly…”
As the two yelled out his name, a figure appeared on stage in spectacular fashion as he leapt high into the sky out of the arena entrance in a golden blur. As he came close to the ground, he rotated his body so that his hands were facing the stage and did a series of backflips towards the center of the arena. It was only after he was in the middle of his second flip that the audience’s cheers grew louder, as it was then that they realized his presence.
Once the figure came close to the center, he did one last backflip high into the air, his body spinning in all directions before he landed on his feet with his arms raised into the air in a theatrical manner. As the crowd burst into applause, he began to wave at the audience stands
He was a lean, caucasian man in his twenties, wearing a casual T-shirt and jeans. As he waved at the crowd, his muscles rippled ever so slightly underneath his clothes. His face was well structured, and his lively blue eyes stood out against his brown hair. But what stood out the most about the man was not his attractive traits, but the two triangular ears jutting out from the top of his head, and his long tail that swayed from side to side.
A real life catboy.
Ryuji Yamazaki was famous for two things: his overwhelming power as an S-rank, and his Overflow Trait: [King of Beasts]. [King of Beasts] was an Overflow Trait of a rare archetype which physically altered the Maestro’s body in a significant manner. It had given him enhanced senses, instincts and intuition on par with that of a wild beast, and had also given him his signature ears and tail which were the trademarks of his image.
“It’s really something to see him in person.” Tsubaki said as she used the zoom in function on Horus, her glasses shaped Speculo. “I wonder if his Overflow Trait made his ears and tail grow immediately or gradually.”
“Nn.” Amaya said as she leaned forwards in her seat. “Cat cute.”
The reactions of the public to this trait were split between interest and adoration.
“Daaamn.” Shun exclaimed as he let out a whistle. “That entrance was impressive as hell!”
“Yeah, it really was…” Akira muttered as he deactivated his ability, [Bullet Time].
Using his ability (which Haya had renamed at the behest of the others as [Elementality] was simply too… unique for their tastes), Akira had sped up his brain’s processing capabilities in order to get a better look at the notorious Demon Lord as he entered the stage, and had watched the entire thing in slow motion.
Even though it may have seemed like Yamazaki Ryuji had been spinning randomly at the end of his entrance, he had exerted a fine control over his movements throughout the entirety of his time in the air. Not even the best acrobats in the world were capable of demonstrating that level of mastery over their own body.
“Nii-chan, Nii-chan, look!” Akane suddenly tugged at Akira’s sleeve and dragged him out of his thoughts. “He’s looking this way!”
Akira looked back down at the stage, and sure enough, the man was staring right at the direction where Akira and the others were located. Perhaps it was his imagination, but Akira felt a strange sense that the man was watching him. He wore the same toothy grin on his face as his eyes passed over them, but they seemed to linger for the slightest second on Akira.
In that moment, Akira felt a strange shiver run down his spine, but before he could think further, Aurel Schwarz called out towards the cat boy.
“I see your love of theatrics hasn’t changed in the slightest, Ryuji.”
Ryuji turned back to his opponent, who had spoken to him in perfect Japanese without even a trace of his German accent. The grinning European cracked his knuckles together before summoning his Speculo: a small syringe filled with a strange, clear liquid that contained blue particles which seemed to swim around it.
“We’ve got to put on a show for the crowd you know?” He replied as he began to stretch his arms and legs. A pair of shackles appeared on his wrists, ankles, and neck. “It’s been a while since we last fought, nya. I’m pawsitively bursting with energy.”
“Your tendency for cat puns also hasn’t changed…”
The entirety of their conversation was conveyed perfectly through the special microphones that had been set up nearby the arena. Although the two were chatting amiably, a strange sense of bloodlust seemed to be lurking in their words.
Like Richelieu and Nakatoni, the two had a rather long history, dating back to their high school years where they had been close friends. Upon graduation, the Yamazaki Ryuji and Aurel Schwarz had shot through the rankings until landing at 1st and 2nd place respectively.
However, once they reached the top of the rankings, they found fewer and fewer chances to fight each other. Ryuji was busy with work for the SMC, while Aurel’s main occupation as a bartender caused him to travel the world due to the increase in demand for his amazing drinks.
Today, on a rather rare occasion, both had found their schedules free, and had offered to participate in an exhibition match against each other. It was their first match in around a year, so it was understandable that the tension between the two would be high.
“It seems like both of zhe contestants are ready!” Richelieu’s voice boomed throughout the stadium as he stood up from his seat in the announcer’s box and summoned a black scythe with a simple design. With one arm, he raised the scythe above his head. “Zhen, without further ado…”
He swung the scythe downwards and what seemed to be a force field appeared around the entirety of the arena, creating a dome that separated the contestants from the audience.
“Let us begin zhe match!”
With that, the bartender and the cat boy dashed at the other with a raised fist.
A/N: I’d like to thank everyone for their patience, and I’m happy to announce that I’ve finished moving houses. I’m sorry if the chapter quality may feel a bit lacking these days, due to school and other factors. Next chapter will be released around the 14th if all things go well.