Chapter 12 – The Illegal Tournament
by lemuel moo
Eyes were affixed at Jacinta as she was walking around the school with Gale, Clere, and Reynard. As her hair flowed with every step and her perfume’s scent permeated through the surroundings, scores of guys cast jealous stares at Gale and Reynard.
The quartet was stopped multiple times as guys tried to hit on Jacinta, but Jacinta coyly hid behind Gale, and Gale stood forward to shoo them away.
“You are so assertive even when you are weak!”
“… What kind of perfume are you wearing on you?! It’s spreading pheromones all over the place!”
“Are you aroused?”
Jacinta leaned unto Gale, and the latter blushed before stepping away. At the same time, Gale wasn’t too happy being called ‘weak’, and he frowned.
Clere was surprised by what Jacinta said too and tugged Gale’s sleeves for an explanation.
“Weak?! Why is she calling you weak?!”
“…The same reason you told your mom that I was weak when I didn’t defend myself against a few bullies.”
Clere went silent immediately as she knew she judged Gale on his cover at that time. When Clere wanted to speak up to defend Gale, Gale raised his hand to stop her, and she relented.
Aelfsige Academy was a rich private institute, and it was gigantic. The school had at least four cafeterias to cater to different crowds and even a shopping arcade within its facilities. There wasn’t enough time to tour the entire Aelfsige Academy, so Gale led the group to explore only the middle and high school portion of the school.
As the quartet roamed around the middle school portion, they heard a chirpy voice from a distance.
“Brother! Did you come to look for me?”
Raine came running from the school cafeteria as she spotted Gale.
“Hey Raine, meet my new classmates, Jacinta and Reynard. Clere and I are showing them around the school.”
“Pleased to meet you both! I am Gale’s little sister!”
Reynard greeted Raine warmly, while Jacinta gave a sweet smile in response.
“Pleased to meet you and thank you for hosting me at your house, Raine!”
Raine looked at Gale for an explanation and Gale sheepishly replied.
“Jacinta had no place to stay at the moment, and she will be staying with us for the time being.”
“But brother, this is so sudden! You didn’t mention anything about it before — ”
“I’m sorry. I only knew it today too.”
There was a moment of awkward silence between the siblings and Sunny came to them as she spotted the Gale and Raine talking with each other.
“Hey, Gale! It’s rare for you to pop by at the middle school’s cafeteria! Quite the entourage with you as well!”
“Yeah, these are my new classmates, Jacinta and Reynard. I am just orientating them around the school.
Jacinta, meet Sunny Zackloft, my sister’s classmate.”
As Reynard and Jacinta greeted Sunny warmly, Jacinta raised her suspicious eyes at Gale as she surveyed Sunny’s short blue hair, excellent facial features, and sexy curves.
“Wow, Gale, you even know your sister’s classmates?! Sunny looks pretty hot and sexy!”
“…What’s that supposed to mean? Is it that strange to know my sister’s classmates?”
“Do you have a sister complex or do you like younger girls?”
Gale heaved a sigh as he ignored her question.
“We better get going, Raine and Sunny! We are going back to the high school’s cafeteria to have our lunch so I will see you later.”
“Okay, brother! Talk to you later!”
Sunny tugged Gale on his sleeves and asked a question.
“Can I have a private moment with you after school later?”
“Sure. Message me on my mobile phone to inform me where you want to meet.”
The group continued their tour, and Gale highlighted the different menus between the middle school and high school cafeterias. The menus were prepared according to scientific research that caters to their growth and development for their age group. However, it’s common to see high school students eating at the middle school’s cafeteria and vice versa for the sake of variety.
Aelfsige Academy was also well-known for its variety of clubs and activities. Motorsports, diving, and the flying club were some of the famous clubs that garnered interest and enthusiasm among students.
Above all, the fighting clubs were the most popular clubs among the students at the school. Winners of the annual school fighting competition would get prestige, media coverage, and even scholarships, while they would have a chance to represent their school in the national fighting competition. The Occult Research Group and the Student Council were listed among the top fighting clubs, and their training facilities were state-of-the-art with student scientists and researchers who aided them in their growth. Gale brought the group around to tour some of the training grounds, and they witnessed the enthusiasm of the students as they prepared themselves for the upcoming fighting competition.
Afterward, the quartet had lunch at the high school cafeteria before returning to class. They spotted Hideki who was standing impatiently at the classroom door, waiting for them to return.
As soon as Hideki saw Jacinta, he ran to her to apologize.
“Hey Jacinta, I’m so sorry about what happened earlier! Satori is just a friend, and she can be clingy sometimes. Is there any way I can make it up to you?”
“It’s alright, Hideki. Perhaps you can make it up to me when you teach me your sword techniques? I will be meeting Miss Mizushima later, and I will join her martial art classes together with Reynard.”
“Sure! Both Reynard and you will also be coming to my sister’s dojo this evening, isn’t it? I will be there to assist you both in your training!”
Jacinta then turned to Gale for a request.
“Could you give me a set of spare keys to your house? Perhaps I might come back late, and I do not want to trouble you by making you wait for me, so having a set of keys will be helpful.”
Are you planning to live in my house permanently?!
“…I don’t have any at the moment. I will get you a set of keys soon.”
After school, Gale met Sunny privately on one of the school building’s rooftop.
“What’s up, Sunny? It’s pretty rare for you to seek me out like this.”
Sunny looked worried as she tried to verbalize the concerns which were plaguing her heart.
“It’s about my brother! Recently, there is someone who tried to wreak havoc at our motorbike shop and caused a lot of inconvenience to our customers.”
“Why would that someone do that?”
“It was a rivalry between my brother and our childhood friend! Dylan, a guy who studied under the same master who taught my brother his tools of the trade in motorbikes, has been ordering his minions to mess with my brother’s shop recently!
Dylan moved into our city a couple of weeks ago and stationed his minions in front of our shop to poach our customers! Then, he met with my brother and offered a price to buy our company, but my brother refused. As negotiations broke down and the customers were loyal, he hired rascals to harass them and even attempted to break into our shop during the night! I am afraid we are heading towards a street war if this continues!
Lately, my brother has been coming home late with all sorts of injuries and bruises! When I questioned him, he didn’t want to reveal anything, and I can’t bear the see my brother getting hurt anymore — ”
Tears formed at the corner of the Sunny’s eyes as she couldn’t contain the worries she had for her brother. In response, Gale reached out and gave Sunny a napkin to dry her eyes.
“Alright, I will check it out at Zeel’s shop and help him if I can. I have to bring Clere along though since I am her bodyguard.”
“That’s fine! Thanks a lot, Gale!”
Sunny immediately grabbed the unsuspecting Gale and kissed him on the cheeks! Gale blushed uncontrollably and froze for a couple of seconds before catching himself!
“You’re so adorable when you don’t know what to do! Shall I kiss you on your lips instead?”
“No! But thank you! Wait, what am I saying?!”
Gale flustered, and Sunny giggled at his response.
“Anyway, I’m late for an appointment, and I have to go now. Talk to you soon!”
Sunny promptly left the rooftop, and Gale stayed on the roof for a while. Shortly after, Clere came to the roof and approached Gale.
“Are you ready to go yet? I just saw Sunny leaving the vicinity.”
“Do you mind if we dropped by at Zeel’s motorbike shop? I want to know what is happening to him.”
Clere took a moment to observe Gale and noticed his countenance was grim. Clere instinctively knew that Sunny sought Gale’s help regarding Zeel, and she responded immediately.
“Alright, let’s head to Zeel’s shop!”
During their walk to Zeel’s shop, Clere began to ask Gale about her training.
“Have you crafted the next stage of my training yet?”
“Yes, and we will meet at four in the morning every day at your house.”
“Four in the morning?! Why so early?!”
“I used to train daily at that time, and sometimes even earlier with Aunt May. This is how we hid from Raine when she’s asleep.”
“…Why do you have to go that far to hide from Raine? I’m sure she is pretty used to your abnormally strong skills! Besides, you can’t hide forever!”
Gale paused for a while before he replied.
“We don’t intend to hide from her forever. Once Raine reaches fifteen years old, Aunt May and I will reveal the truth about ourselves to her.”
Shortly after, as Clere and Gale arrived at Zeel’s shop, they noticed there was a commotion in the midst. Zeel and his workers were confronting a group of punks with chains and metal bats in front of Zeel’s garage. As they observed the commotion, they noticed why Sunny was so worried about her brother.
Zeel looked like a shell of himself from their last encounter a couple of weeks ago. His face looked hagged, and his body wrapped with bandages.
“Gale?! What brings you here?!”
“I heard you met with trouble, so I came to check it out. Where did you get those injuries?! These punks in front of us aren’t capable of doing anything like that to you?!”
Zeel turned his face one side and muttered to himself.
“…I told Sunny I could handle it myself.”
The punks were provoked that Gale interrupted their conversation with Zeel, so they swung their bats threateningly and approached Gale.
“Who’re you?! We have business with Zeel so scram off!”
Gale snapped and unleashed his murderous aura, which shook the whole place! The amount of energy and aura was so enormous, the floor cracked, and everyone in the vicinity could feel an invisible weight pressing on their shoulders! Fear rattled the very bones of those punks, and they immediately broke into a cold sweat before backing away.
Ignoring those punks as though they were pieces of furniture, Gale walked over to Zeel and examined his wounds. Zeel tried to resist, but Gale was having none of it.
“W-What’re you doing?! I’m really fine – ouch!”
Gale lifted one of Zeel’s arms and realized his left arm was broken.
“Explain. Where and how did you get these wounds?”
One of Zeel’s lady workers, who could not bear the suffering look of Zeel anymore, immediately blurted out the details to Gale.
“Zeel has been fighting in an illegal underground tournament! Dylan has threatened he would overwhelm our garage with 30,000 men if he did not participate.
If Zeel wins the tournament, Dylan promised to leave us alone.”
Clere immediately thought to herself. Thirty thousand men?! I have never heard of ‘Dylan’ within the upper echelons of the underworld, and he had 30,000 men?! Moreover, if Dylan can overwhelm Zeel with pure numbers, why would he require Zeel to participate in an illegal underground arena in the first place?!
Gale then looked at the lady worker and inquired for more details.
“30,000 men is not a joke. Does Dylan belong to any organization that we would know of?”
“No, Dylan only surfaced a few months with a company called Dylan Industries, and he began harassing us two weeks ago. He also has a private factory on an offshore island, and he sells expensive vehicle parts exclusive clients, but now he wants to steal Zeel’s business!”
Gale pondered for a moment. Something didn’t feel right.
“Zeel’s business may be great but if this Dylan has so many followers, why would he even desire Zeel’s garage in the first place?! What’s happening, Zeel? I feel that there is something you are not telling us!”
As Gale turned to look at Zeel in his eyes, Zeel turned away.
“It’s a private matter, Gale! Don’t butt your nose into this!”
At that moment, Gale had a flashback of how Raine felt when he came back with bruises and wounds from refusing to fight back when he was bullied. “It’s not good enough that you said you are fine! Every bruise and wound which you suffer pierces my heart, brother! Why don’t you get it?!”
Gale had seen Raine’s and Sunny’s tears, and he knew Zeel was only winning his battles by the skin of his teeth.
“Tell that to Sunny then! How on earth am I to face her when she shed tears for you?!”
Gale immediately marched to one of the punks, grabbed one of them by the collar and lifted him in mid-air.
“How can I meet Dylan? And where is this underground tournament held?”
“N-Nobody gets to meet D-Dylan unless h-he calls for it!”
Gale sunk his fist on the punk’s face and the latter bled from his nose and mouth.
“Choose. Lose all your teeth, or you give me the information I want.”
Clere stared at Gale as he was uncharacteristically merciless. She could not believe this goofy bodyguard of hers was this cold-blooded, and everyone else didn’t dare to move a muscle.
“B-Babel Square! Babel Square! I don’t know where to find Dylan, but I know he will be there for the tournament!”
Gale paused for a moment at the punk’s reply and then tightened his grip on the poor chap.
“Babel Square?! Isn’t that area off-limits by the government right now?!”
“I-I don’t know!”
At that moment, Gale threw the punk, and he crashed unto the ground. Dylan’s minions hurriedly carried their friend and scurried away in haste.
After those punks left, Clere approached Gale to inquire more.
“Why are you surprised about Babel Square? What is that?”
“Babel Square is an offshore island that was linked by a bridge at the outskirts of Aelfsige City where heavy industries once thrived in manufacturing over there. It was a place full of factories and warehouses. However, it became a criminal’s haven, and I was tasked to destroy those factories as they started producing drugs at a massive scale.
After I destroyed the facilities some years back, the authorities took control of it and sealed the area. If illegal tournaments are being held there, that means Dylan has ties to the government and that somebody from the government is pulling strings behind the scenes!”
Gale then turned to Zeel, but the latter walked away to return to his office.
“C’mon, Zeel! This is more dangerous than I thought! What about these workers who look up to you and depend on you?! It’s bad enough to fight in an illegal tournament, but that Dylan has significant clout with very shady people from the government!”
Every worker in the garage had their eyes on Zeel, and he paused for a moment.
“Fine. Meet me in my office. I will explain in detail there.”
It was late in the afternoon and Zeel, Gale and Clere sat on the sofa with hot tea on the table. Zeel wasn’t good with words, and he was struggling to begin verbalizing everything that weighed upon his heart.
“… I-I just had to win ten matches in the tournament, and everything will be over.”
“What is this tournament? And why?”
“This illegal tournament is where lynchpins and criminal syndicates scout potential talents for assassins and bodyguards.”
Clere and Gale looked at each other, and they knew they would need Agatha’s help on this. Dealing with shady organizations without intelligence was suicidal.
“How many matches have you won so far?”
“You have a broken arm, and you have not recovered from fatigue in your past battles. Do you honestly think you can last through the remaining seven rounds?”
Zeel became silent. He knew it was going to require nothing short of a miracle but his will to win had not been shaken one bit. Upon seeing his determination, Gale looked into Zeel’s eyes as he asked a couple of questions.
“Tell me a few things. Why did you insist that you shoulder everything alone? And why is Dylan so fixated on you?”
Zeel took a few moments before he could muster enough strength to utter his explanation.
“… Dylan used to be a family friend.”
“… I heard that from Sunny. Why would a family friend do such a thing to you?!”
“Yeah. We were childhood friends, and he was the one who introduced me to the master who taught us everything about motorbikes.
My master took an interest in training both Sunny and me in combat skills, but Dylan wasn’t allowed to join us in our training. He fell in love with my sister, but she flatly rejected him too. At some point, he took offense against all of us and left our neighborhood in bitterness. Since then, I have not heard from him until recently.
After you both saved Sunny from the Flowers Of Death, Dylan suddenly appeared at our shop the very day with a large group of thugs and demanded that I join the underground tournament. When I refused, he threatened to overwhelm our garage with his minions, so I eventually accepted the challenge.
Sunny did not know about this as she was in school, and I ordered my workers not to breathe a word to her about it.”
Gale and Clere didn’t look convinced with Zeel’s answer, so Gale enquired further.
“I see. However, that doesn’t explain why you would want to shoulder everything yourself! Crushing your business isn’t his only intent, and you are up against a foe that is beyond you!”
Zeel suddenly became embarrassed and looked at the tiles on the floor, and his behavior bewildered Gale and Clere.
“…Is something wrong?”
“No… Actually, Dylan has an elder sister, Dinah, and she came with Dylan when we met. She said she would date me if I win the tournament.”
There was a moment of awkward silence as Gale and Clere couldn’t believe what they just heard.
“…I don’t know what to say, Zeel. That Dinah is bad news if she was going to accept you on the condition that you win the illegal tournament — ”
“You don’t know Dinah! Dinah has been my pillar of support when we lost our parents!”
“If she had been a good friend, why would she goad you into accepting this nonsensical challenge in the first place?! What are they trying to get out of you?”
”…Dylan said if I lose, I must yield my shop to him.”
Gale and Clere slumped on the sofa upon hearing about the wager.
”…Zeel, are you sure Dinah is worth it in exchange for your shop?! What about Sunny? How are you going to explain to her if you lose the shop?!”
“That’s why I want to win this tournament! I can’t imagine Dinah being so ruthless, and it seemed as she was an entirely different person from what I had known about her! Something must have happened to her!”
Gale looked at Clere and Clere heaved a deep sigh before making a suggestion.
”Is it possible to pull out from the tournament? I am sure there are other ways to find out about Dinah outside of winning the tournament.”
”…The tournament is known among all the illegal criminal syndicates in the country, and many affluent lynchpins wagered in millions of dollars for entertainment. To pull out in the middle of a tournament is to antagonize these criminal syndicates and not only will I lose my shop, but I could also potentially endanger my workers’ lives too.
They will destroy everything that I deem as precious if I upset them! Moreover, those thugs whom you met previously came to check if I was beginning to tonight’s match!”
There was a long pause between the trio. Gale and Clere scrambled in their brains to find a solution but to no avail. Finally, Gale broke the silence as he turned to Clere for a question.
”Do you think you can ask your mom about it? I’m sure she knows about this tournament.”
”Alright, I will give her a call.”
Clere immediately picked up her phone and called her mom.
”Hello? Hey mom — “
At that moment, Gale struck Clere on an acupuncture point on the back of her neck, and she fainted. Zeel was astonished and couldn’t muster up a response as Gale picked up Clere’s phone to talk to Agatha.
”Hello? Hey Aunt Agatha, I have a question that I want to ask you.”
”Gale? Didn’t I hear Clere just now?”
”I just knocked her unconscious. My friend, Zeel, met with a problem and had to join an illegal tournament which is being held at Babel Square. Could you tell me more about it?”
There was a moment of silence emanating from Agatha’s end.
”…You know, she might scream at you for not giving her a chance to participate in whatever you are doing.”
”What am I to do? I’m her bodyguard and if some criminal organization wants to kidnap Clere at the illegal tournament, how am I supposed to guarantee her safety?”
Agatha shook her head as she heaved an audible sigh.
”Fine, I will explain it to her when she wakes up.
For starters, it is dangerous to try to spend the tournament by force. I have sent you to decimate enemy bases before, but I always ensure that there isn’t going to be a backlash from the government or other affluent organizations outside the scope of your mission. We try not to bite more than we can chew here, and this tournament is an excellent example of why I have never sent anyone to destroy it. Neither was I ever requested from the government to do so. I have sent my agents to find out about the real mastermind behind these events, and I have not heard back from them, so it is unwise to do anything about them directly.
Second, these battles are witnessed not only by the crime syndicates in our country. They are broadcast to the crime syndicates around the globe as they use these matches to scout potential assassins or bodyguards. At other times, these crime syndicates use these battles between rival syndicates to compete in strength and bets instead of declaring war with each other.
In the first place, why has your friend joined this illegal tournament?”
Gale briefly explained Zeel’s predicament and Agatha heaved another sigh.
“Trouble sure loves to follow you around, Gale!
I am worried that you might anger many criminal syndicates if you decide to crash their party. However, your friend is in great danger since these people don’t bat an eyelid when someone gets killed in the middle of a match. Hence you won’t have any choice.
When you bring Clere back to my house, I will give some pills and medicine that can bolster both of your strengths temporarily. To ensure that Zeel isn’t going to be killed during the match, register yourself as Zeel’s manager. Before he is dealt with a fatal blow, you can throw a towel into the arena to forfeit the match, and it can save his life.
However, this is an illegal tournament and rules can change in an instant. Always be mindful of what is happening around you at all times. Come to my place now, and I will provide you with further advice and information.”
After Gale ended the call, he looked at Zeel with confident eyes.
“Clere’s mom is going to help us out! Let’s head to her place together!”
However, Zeel was still shell-shocked and stunned that Gale had knocked Clere out and that the Gale didn’t even feel any tinge of remorsefulness in the slightest.
“…Are you sure she’s going to be alright? I am pretty sure she is going to be infuriated at you when she wakes up!”
Gale picked Clere up, carried her on his shoulders and then faced Zeel with a mischievous grin.
“We’ll worry about that later! Let head to Clere’s house and get all the help we need from Aunt Agatha!”