Herbert’s intense training with Rodeo lasted until the next morning.
He lost consciousness by the end of it, and woke up late at 11 in the morning.
He stood up to attend the day’s classes, but since he wasn’t a diligent student thus far anyways, he decided to spend that time resting and preparing for the upcoming duel.
He was that exhausted from the previous day’s training.
Whether it be seriously using magic or swinging a sword, it has been a long since Herbert has done it.
A body that lacked a significant amount of training couldn’t possibly move as well as it once did. Even one’s magic skills was liable to become rusty over time.
Even if he compensated for it with spacetime magic, he doubted it would be enough.
Some part of him thought he couldn’t win in a head-on fight.
But there was a way to win. There was a chance.
He was willing to push himself to his limits and even forgo some time for sleep if that would help.
At the very least, he didn’t want to have regrets in case he lost.
Without a doubt, Herbert has begun to change.
Herbert was standing in the royal magic academy’s prized arena.
Before he knew it, talk about his duel has spread wide. There were so many people seated, and they included not just people from his year but also those above theirs.
In fact, it seemed like everyone in the academy has come to watch the duel, the first one held in the academy in a good while.
And apparently, people even wagered with their meal coupons on who would win between Herbert and Marlon.
The odds were 1:43. To whom it was in favor of, well, it was rather obvious. There were even people who were betting not just on who would win but also on how many seconds Herbert would last.
“Erm, I will now explain some matters about this duel. Firstly, Herbert and Marlon, you must both swear in the name of His Majesty that you will conduct a fair fight. The use of magic is allowed. As for weapons, only imitation weapons are allowed. If any of you drop your weapon or submits, the duel is considered concluded. Any questions?”
Serving as the referee was Ligart von Eckenstein, a senior of the participants in the magic academy. He was the only son of an earl as well as a member of the student council, a body that held considerable sway in the academy.
But It wasn’t him who had Herbert’s attention.
It was the brawny, frizzy-haired, red-eyed Marlon.
Marlon was doing some practice swings to check his weapon, but even those swings were so quick, one wouldn’t have imagined he was still a student.
This was who Herbert was dueling with today.
<<Marlon is a man who would later on become a hero. He and I have never gotten along, and at times, we even tried to kill one another. Yes, in this life, the hero and the sage were always at each other’s throats.>>
Marlon’s every action produced shrill cheers from the crowd.
He was extremely popular even with the noble women. He has become such a celebrity in the academy that people just can’t stop talking about him.
This was in stark contrast to Herbert who rarely comes up in conversations, and when he does, the words were usually spiteful.
That Marlon was glaring at Herbert, his eyes full of determination and also anger.
Herbert acted indifferent by folding his arms and closing one eye off.
He has been acting as his future self told him.
“You haven’t explained the part about the victor’s privilege.”
“Oh, right…for a duel, the winner can demand anything out of the defeated. Do any of you want to announce what your demand is right now?”
“If I win…I want you to apologize to Helene immediately.”
Obviously, there was a reason why Marlon was so angry.
It concerned Helene, the other scholarship student.
Helene and Marlon were childhood friends who studied hard together so that they could attend the academy.
One day, Herbert, on a whim, invited Helene to a party House Unruh was throwing. Looking back on it, a part of Herbert probably just wanted to be friends with the scholarship student. However, due to Herbert’s usual arrogance, Helene timidly turned down the invitation.
“How dare a mere commoner like you turn down my invitation!”
Herbert lost his temper like that and posed to strike.
“Oi, Herbert, put your hand down.”
Marlon grabbed Herbert’s arm and stopped the latter.
Moreover, Marlon talked as though he and Herbert were in equal standing.
“That’s no way to talk to the heir of a duke!”
Herbert was enraged and challenged Marlon to a duel, ignoring the words of his posse.
Officially speaking, everyone was supposed to be equals within the magic academy, and one’s court rank and social standing didn’t matter here.
However, this rule issued by the academy was practically a hollow one.
After all, people normally wouldn’t talk in a casual tone with someone who was bound to be their superior in the future.
In other words, this public stance was nothing more than a means to associate themselves with truly equal-treatment schools.
Marlon, however, fully believed in this rule and treated everyone as though they were his equals.
Thanks to this, Princess Isabela found him interesting. On the other hand though, this was what pushed Herbert to issue the challenge.
In other words, how Marlon’s casualness was perceived varied greatly from person to person.
I guess it’s impossible not to get upset when you see someone about to hit your childhood friend. If someone tried to hurt Tina, I’ll doubtlessly be enraged as well.
His arms still folded, Herbert paid no mind to referee Ligart’s further explanations.
No matter how he looked at it, he was definitely the bad guy in the crowd’s eyes.
His supporters were basically just his posse, and they were but a small portion of the crowd.
Cheers of ‘Marlon! Marlon’ erupted, making it perfectly clear Herbert was the one they were rooting for.
Nell and Tina then crossed his mind and he began searching for them among the crowd.
For better or for worse, he was unable to find his fiancee and his once good friend.
Regardless, now wasn’t the time for irrelevant thoughts.
He slightly puffed his cheeks and tried to fire himself up.
Now that he was roused awake by his future self, Herbert realized the errors of his ways.
“Hmp, it’s only natural for me to win, so I’ll take my time later to decide on what I want. Although inviting Helene to my residence sound mighty appealing.”
Gulping down his wish to apologize, Herbert deliberately said so in his usual and unchanged arrogant tone.
He also put on an impudent face and even squealed.
“This is between you and me! Don’t involve her in this!”
“Oh my, do you perhaps like her? I guess it’s only natural for childhood friends who grew up in the same shabby place to have a relationship or two like that.”
“—!! Helene and I aren’t in a relationship like you’re implying! You, just how much are you going to look down on us until you’re satisfied!?”
In order to win, Marlon’s judgment had to be impaired.
And apparently, the mention of Helene was the most effective way to achieve that.
Herbert’s future self told him to do so in order to get Marlon to act the same way the future Marlon did. In this way, Marlon’s actions were predictable.
This was all to avoid a protracted battle in which Herbert’s current body couldn’t hope to endure.
“Anyway, my demand is…I’ll announce later. Like I said, I’ll win anyway. I’ll teach you the earthy taste of defeat. You should be honored.”
Marlon wasn’t suspecting anything.
After saying what his future self told him, Herbert saw the sparks of rage in Marlon’s eyes that he was expecting.
Marlon didn’t even seem to notice the cheers coming from Helene and the princess behind him as all his attention was currently devoted to Herbert.
Herbert ran another simulation in his head and then raised his head.
At that moment, the explanation of rules has finished
Marlon held his sword and pointed its tip toward Herbert.
Marlon was currently a knight apprentice of a baron household. He could use magic, but in a long-range fight, Herbert definitely had the advantage. As such, his plan was to push for a close-range combat.
While Marlon held a long sword, Herbert had a one-handed sword he could swing easily.
From an observer’s point of view, the only reason Herbert held a weapon at all was due to the duel’s rules and was planning to fight mostly with magic.
This was still all according to future Herbert’s plan. It was going smoothly. Too smoothly even.
Herbert couldn’t help but feel anxious inside.
Will I really win? Against an opponent the future me lost to? Hopefully…no, I will, definitely. From this moment on, I’m no longer the Herbert that lost!
He bid farewell to the person he used to be.
From this point on, he would be reborn anew.
And so, he shook off the phantom of his past self.
“So then…let the fight begin!”
This was the moment to seize the possibilities born thanks to the letter from the future and create his own and new future.