Published at 29th of December 2018 09:36:31 AM

Chapter 121
"Alright! We'll head to a break and continue the matches at . . . " Mitsui paused as he checked the mana-dial on his wrist and checked the time - 10:35 AM; 35 minutes ahead of time .

"Since we're well ahead of time and our finalists have each had a gruelling match . . . We'll start the winners' finals as per schedule, 11:25 AM! Please return to your seats and stands on time as the next round will start sharp!" His confident gaze swept over the crowds as he captured their attention and spoke emphatically, " . . . Or you will regret it for your entire lifetime if you miss this world-shaking match between the masterful and invincible Darius against the unfathomable magic swordsman Lars!"

"Have a good break and don't forget to check out the entertainment stalls and food, all provided free of charge by our beloved Duke Leanne! Enjoy!"

With those words, Mitsui left the stage, heart pounding in nervousness and butterflies in his stomach . He was breathing shallowly as he left the stage and finally rounded a corner into the administrative hallways, leaning against the wall in relief .

'Oh man . . . It's tough filling in the boss' shoes . . . I don't think I want to get promoted, not ever!' He wiped away sweat from his forehead and straightened up before heading over to update Mr White on the match results .

* * * * *

Lars pulled a cloak over his shoulders and lowered the hood to cover his face as he left the restricted contestant's waiting room and headed over to the public area . He momentarily glanced over and saw Darius still sitting there meditating and preparing for the upcoming fight, then directly left to look for Charlie and Seline .

He weaved his way through the crowds, keeping his head low and hoping that no one would bother him . He wasn't one to care for publicity nor for fame; all he wanted was to quickly settle things here, retrieve Moira, wait for the teleportation fields to stabilise and head over to Earth!

'I just hope . . . I'll be able to advance to the Mythical realm . . . And pick up some heavy-duty equipment, runes and power-up before then . . . Earth . . . I wonder how you're doing . . . ? I hope the war isn't over yet . . . '

'Hmm . . . It's been about 15 years right . . . So . . . I can't say for sure . . . But it's unlikely that the All-Heaven Divine Empire could actually finish the war so quickly . Based on the rumours I've been hearing, their system isn't far from us on Yiluo planet here, but they don't seem to be a major power anymore . . . That fact together with how you described their military efforts and the condition on their planet should mean that the devil's faction is no longer in control of their Empire . ' Kizorik analysed the facts and assured Lars that he needn't rush .

'And that should mean that they can't mobilise the entire Empire's military might to conquer Earth! I don't know if you're familiar with planetary battles, but it's crazily costly to send over large amounts or high-levelled fighters through the rifts! So unless they make great inroads on the first invasion or the natural resources are exceedingly alluring, they won't have taken over your planet . . . Not yet, at least . '

Lars breathed in deeply before letting out a long sigh; but he smiled slightly, looking relieved at his buddy's words .

'Thanks . . . Kizorik . . . But . . . '


'WHAT THE F***!!! Do you think information gathering is easy?!? And after picking up those bits and pieces of news here and there, do you think I'm that smart to immediately--Ahem, I mean, I mean, NO I didn't just say that! I'M NOT SLOW AT AAAAAAALLLLL!!! Shut up! Shut up shut up!!! STOP LAUGHING!!!!'

Kizorik flew into an insane saliva-spewing frenzy at his own slip of tongue as Lars fell to his knees in the middle of the walkways, laughing hysterically . They both began to choke right then; the penguin from outrage and Lars at the outrageous admission from his cute little buddy . Then Kizorik bit Lars on the head (in his mental world), but was ignored completely as his tiny teeth couldn't even pierce Lars' skin .

Soon, the boy recovered and got back up to his feet, shaking his head at his silly and mildly slow-witted friend .

'Thank you, Kizorik . . . Sorry for making fun of you . . . You're really cute and funny and . . . It's ok to be a little bit slow okay . . . ? Pffftt hahahahah!!!!'

He couldn't help but break out into giggles and chuckles again where he stood and received the silent treatment from Kizorik . Then he was quite taken aback at the disparaging and irritated glances shot at him by passers-by and stall vendors in the public area, but lowered his head and decided to ignore them .

'They wouldn't recognise me anyway, right . . . ?' Lars nodded to himself and picked up his pace to find his other companions .

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But then a tinge of dread ran up his spine as he heard a familiar voice calling out to him from the distance as a pair of excited footsteps pitter-pattered over towards him from behind .

"Lars! There you are! We've been looking all over for you!" Charlie's friendly voice called out to him, trying to catch his attention as Lars tried to tuck in his shoulders and pretend it wasn't him, no, he wasn't Lars, no no no it wasn't him!!!

"Lars, what's wrong? Why are you ignoring us . . . ? Are you alright . . . ?" Seline's honey-like seductive voice called out in concern as two pairs of hands landed on his shoulders - though, at this time, he felt more like those were the calls of the ghastly underworld and the claws of a demon ripping away at his reputation and pride!

He realised it was then too late as he heard the voices of those around him turn into voices of disgust and condescension . . . !

"Lars . . . ?"

"THE Lars . . . ? What is he . . . "

"Oh my gosh . . . I didn't know he's so . . . Weird . . . "

"JUST WEIRD? He's outright mad . . . !"

"Boy, you better keep away from him! I don't care if he wins the tournament, he's NOT going to be your idol or aspiration! He's crazy!"

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' . . . . . . . . . ' Lars froze there and cried as he wished he could disappear from the face of the world forever .

* * * * *

Charlie handed over a pack of snacks to Lars as they sat in Seline's private viewing box, courtesy of her position as one of Duke Silvan's lieutenants . Byrus, Susano, Sharon, Boa and the rest were also there earlier but had left to look for food, wine and take a look at what they called "the inane commoners' attractions", though their eyes were sparkling with excitement even as they dashed off to fool around .

Charlie then clasped Lars on the shoulder, flashed him a lascivious grin and whispered, "Good luck, boss! Hope you manage to get lucky tonight, if you know what I mean!" Then he made two ridiculous smooching sounds in Lars' ear, making his face turn black and nearly wanting to rap him sharply on the head .

Seline stood at the side, averting her gaze in embarrassment as she tried to play it cool . But her hands were constantly clasping and unclasping, tense and growing clammy as her heart began to race .

She smiled nervously as she watched Charlie out of the corner of her eyes . She waited as he sauntered away with his bags of free food, though he was by now filthy rich as Lars' Chief Financial Officer (CFO), it turned out that he only grew stingier and more penny-counting!

Then she suddenly froze up, not knowing what to do! Here she was, finally alone with Lars in a place where no one could interrupt them, but she didn't know what to do! It was as if though she were a young girl, a little girl in front of her first love all over again . . .

'Oh . . . Wait . . . ! I . . . I'm just 15 right . . . ? And Lars . . . He's not just my first love . . . He's my only love . . . ' Her eyes grew downcast and her face melancholic with longing at her unrequited love as she looked away at a blank corner that was incredibly interesting right now .

"Seline . . . ? Are *you* alright . . . ? You look . . . Unwell . . . ?" Lars placed a gentle touch on her arm as he spoke with concern .

He realised by now that he felt gratitude to the girl for sending in Sharon to get him and his followers out of a sticky situation like rescuing Charlie and then once more against Stars Boa, as well as a strange sense of indebtedness towards the girl who he knew loved him . And deep down, he wasn't quite sure of how he felt anymore as Moira seemed so far away and distant, while Seline was right here in front of him . . .

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He shook his head, dispelling his wandering thoughts quickly as he felt Seline shiver at his touch, her skin cool and silky soft under his fingers as she turned around to face him .

And when she tilted her head upwards, her sharp jewel-like eyes did not bear her usual domineering attitude, but instead one of loss, vulnerability and hurt . Lars' heart panged as he saw her in this state and felt a strong feeling of sadness and empathy as he realised . . .

Wasn't this exactly what he had felt with Sara all those weeks . . . No, all those years ago . . . ? 15 years in this new life as well as about 1 month in his previous life . . .

It was only after a moment when Seline looked away and blushed that he realised he had been staring deep into her eyes for a long time, holding her arm gently and locking gazes with her with passionate eyes . But though she blushed, she did not pull away, and she was so near he could smell the sweet and fresh scent of shampoo, herbal soaps and top-grade perfumes from her being .

Lars breathed in deep, firming up his resolve, but felt it waver as he felt her warmth and presence keenly in their closeness - close enough to just lean his neck over, reach out and kiss her . . .

He shook his head once more, his dilated pupils returning to sharpness . He dropped his hand slowly, reluctantly and could feel her shoulders droop slightly in disappointment .

"Seline . . . I promise I'll repay you for how you've helped me and how . . . How I've disappointed you . I'm . . . I have to go now . . . It's time f-for my, my match . . . " He turned away quickly, not waiting for her to reply, not wanting to hear her reply as he hurried out of the private room .

And he left Seline there, gazing sorrowfully at her beloved's departing back with sad eyes as she whispered out .

"I don't want you to pay me back . . . I don't need you to . . . Lars . . . "