Chapter 77 – Annual Tournament Arc
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On the following day 2 of the flowering season at a room where Alicia was laying down on a bed.

"It seems you went beyond your limits, I had never seen you using such a beautiful skill before, that last one you used daughter," Alfred said happily as he was excited from the swordsmanship she displayed earlier.

 "It was a very incomplete level one skill that I used from the remnants of the peasant who ascended to a hero, who gave it to me, I now have a fragment of her power so I know what I must do to improve further and get even stronger like she was," Alicia said with a calm and mature tone unbefitting of a child her age.

Sylvia noticing a few differences as she's very obsessed with her daughter she says," what else did this hero of the first generation blessed you with, Alicia?"

"I got to see her whole life in a glimpse, so I got to experience her memories, her emotions and I've come to realize many things especially the truth about the human kingdom which I'll do my best to change, once I have obtained the hero of the first generation power, it was thanks to her that the goddess started summoning heroes, however, it was not always like this, this blue sword was also summoned by her and there're more of these things hidden in the kingdom, I'll be sure to collect every single piece or armor, accessories, and weapons that may be loitering around before they fall in the wrong hands."

"You changed a lot dear Alicia, are you still my lovely daughter and not the hero?" Sylvia asks as Alicia feels too different from what she was used to be.

Alicia stares deeply into her mother eyes," I didn't go through all that training to lose to a mere soul fragment of a hero, I am the heir of the white rose family, the daughter of the swordmasters Sylvia and Alfred, I'm also the best friend of Iris who told me about this sword secret so that I could reach higher heights, I won't let any of you down, and I'll for sure become the strongest swordmaster the world has ever seen."

"I understand dear," Sylvia patted her hair softly and then Alfred asked," since you're out of the tournament what would you like to do next Alicia?"

"I'll join Aurora in the South once I'm fully healed since I have the memories of the past wars against such monsters, I'm sure it'll be helpful as the hero used to be a brilliant general if the two of you allow me of course."

They look at each other and then each nods lightly," I'll allow you to assist your friends and the army that is being led by the general Aurora, mostly because we are allies to the crown Prince Julius and the blue rose family, however, I'll have you train for a while with your mother instead once she thinks you're good to go, then I'll have no objections daughter, after all, I can't have you dying."

Upon hearing these words Sylvia smiled," it seems like you'll have to get stronger fast if you want to go meet your friends in the southern outpost even though if the armies fall we'll all die, no matter how strong an individual might be, it only matters in a one on one, if you're faced with hundreds, thousands, millions of enemies, you can't help but get tired of cutting them down eventually dying, that is how war is, a greedy monster consumer of souls," Alicia smiles as becoming the strongest has turned out to be her absolute goal.

"I understand and I know, I saw the memories and felt the despair the hero did through the wars she led, the friends she lost, it was... truly sorrowful, it even made me pity her who sacrificed everything, becoming the first hero and also the strongest woman in the kingdom back then, and the main reason the expansion of the Lumen kingdom even happened, past heroes don't compare to her, much less the current ones who are still growing."

"In other words, now that you've obtained the hero power at such a young age which probably took her the whole life, you'll be able to transcend her past achievements, but even if that's true your body can't keep up, and you using that skill demonstrates as much, so you must train harder but for now you must completely rest as the healing was successful but that won't dissipate the fatigue you made your body feel.

"At least I didn't lose to Ange this time around," Alicia laughed lightly and then fell asleep, whereas Alfred pulls the linens closer to her chin to make sure she has no cold and then he says.

"Surprised Iris knew about the sword secret, it is information that not even I had, I wonder how that mysterious girl unraveled it."

"Must be a skill of sorts also it seems the Saintess gave a blessing just not sure to who yet but a green light was said to reach for the sky and when that happens it means the goddess Aria will directly bless the chosen human."

"Talking about that the one fighting for the crown Prince Julius was Iris right?" 

"I believe so Alfred, since she said Aurora doesn't have an element and since they're twins there's a big chance the crown Prince asked Iris to fight in her place, to increase the general fame which could result in a bigger number of troops for his army."

"Hum... I'm wondering if the Saintess didn't mistake the twins and blessed Iris instead since she was fighting in Aurora name and place."

As soon as Sylvia's words finished Alfred started laughing and then he said," I honestly hope she did I'd be happy since she's Alicia's good friend and a potential knight to guard her in the long future to come."

With a lower tone while signaling him Sylvia says, "not so loud honey, our daughter resting, and yes either of the twins will be a good addition, they both can easily serve a certain purpose to Alicia in the future."




The hero Ken and his colleagues' perspective around the same time.

"It seems we will be deployed to the southern outpost to take a role in one of the prince's army, it took a while for the church to come with a decision but it seems like we'll have the support of the Saintess, I just wish she'd choose to bless me already so I can reach higher heights and become a hero among heroes," he puffed his chest full of pride.

"It's probably due to your personality that lady Saintess hasn't chosen you, she seems like a very long person who's more likely to choose someone who actually does something other than being lazy waiting for orders, at this pace we're sure to be behind in levels compared to the other parties, even the other hero where one of the priests said they were already there fighting along with the army, yet here we are catching criminals and doing all sorts of religious missions, I feel like you choose the worst place for us to be here," said Honoka as she exploded tired of hearing him being so full of himself almost every day.

Another classmate of their university spoke," To think I'd live long enough to see the calmest girl of the world to erupt like this."

"Oh shut up Vini, it's not like anyone else said something when we were summoned you all agreed to be here and some of us are already on the battlefield if anything being here at least has kept you all safe from harm, so suck it."

"Tsh, once a trash always a trash, even if you got lucky and received the hero class I'll still become stronger than you, just wait, I'll make you suck in those words soon, I'll be heading out I'm done being in the church if anyone wishes to come with me feel free to join my party, from this day onwards I'll become an adventurer and grow my own status in this new world," as he left the church dining hall some chased after him including Honoka leaving Ken behind with the leftovers who didn't care too much about what who to follow.

"I'm not sure about the rest of you who stayed but I'll do what the pope asks as he treated us in a good way and I do believe in him and the Saintess, we can certainly take our time leveling up and getting stronger, after all, if we die it's the end."

"Yeah, you're right on that Ken, we have time to get stronger and it's not like everyone wants to fight, there're many ways to help the kingdom prosper, with our knowledge and different blessed skills it is only a matter of time till a new king comes forth and then we'll bring a change."

"That's reassuring Zen, however, we should indeed step up a bit more so that we can at least protect ourselves from the other summoned ones, as we may have to fight them in the future."

"Leave it to me, I've already started befriending nobles and got some contacts with the different rose families, we'll start by establishing political and economical influences, raising the prospect of our future so that we can then manage what's to come and easily control the outcome of the Lumen kingdom, by getting the new technology to be used by everyone, which will make our pockets full in no time," they smiled at each other as they planned quite the scheme to overthrow the kingdom behind the church.




Iris's perspective in the present.

I open my eyes and look at my twin sister Aurora who's resting next to me quietly, 'I really do look different with short hair, don't think it looks bad, maybe I just grew used to having it long for most of my life as a mother would only cut the tips to keep it healthy.'

I get up quietly and softly to not wake up my sister even though I never really know how her sleeping works as she calls it a sort of rest and not quite the sleep she knew about in times.

Once I'm up on the room floor I dress into the set of clothing a maid brought even before we were here, and I end up in a very interesting uniform of sorts, I walk closer to the windows and take the left side curtain to the side leaving the other side dark where Aurora is.

I then grab the chance to look myself into the window reflection, 'it really does feel reassuring being able to see my green eyes unlike when I was even younger, and this uniform... it is quite cool, white shirt with a blue dragon and a sword in the back and in the front, the flag of the Lumen kingdom.'

'I suppose that today match will be quite important even though at the dinner yesterday night, the crown Prince said I would most likely lose, after all, my opponent is the daughter of Isabella the successor of the pink rose family, an expert at assassination and the one this pink ring in my finger belongs to,' my dominant left-hand trembles of excitement.

'Teacher Ray himself said I wouldn't get very far and he was right, if I didn't use my mirror world to always be in top shape towards my mana, I certainly wouldn't have bested some of them, perhaps I would even be heavily injured.'

'Ray said I can try again in two years after he finishes training me, if I am able to learn everything I'm sure a lot will change, but I wonder if it will be enough to become the strongest like that...'

'Teacher did say that there are very strong people in this kingdom, however, they don't compare to those outside, monsters, and beasts capable of destroying us as if we're nothing compared to them.'

My hand shakes so I grab it with my right one to hold it tightly.

'Yet... why is it that I can't help but smile at such thoughts? The stronger the opponents the more excited I feel running through my veins, I want to go back to adventuring with Aurora I'll even take our parents with us so we all get stronger and even Elise to learn with my father, I could even introduce her to Alicia, I'm sure they would become good friends.'

'You're sure filled with happy thoughts all the time little sister Iris,' I turn around slowly and notice Aurora sitting on the bed to which I say, "good morning big sister," making her laugh.

'It is interesting how I get to read your thoughts just by turning telepathy on, perhaps it is due to all the things that connect us.'

'Prying on my thoughts you evil sister, I can't even have any privacy,' I start laughing mocking her.

'Related to your thoughts I'll try to conquer the southern lands as fast as I can but it'll depend on the total number of forces I'll receive from all of this, after all, compared to the enemy we're truly outnumbered reason why I haven't started attacking and have only been invading closest parts of the forest killing whatever beast or monster we find so the soldiers get stronger through levels and skills while learning teamwork.'

'Leading an army sounds very tough, shall I ask the adorable witch to give you a hand?'

'It can be tough but I already have some experience, and can she even go pass through the mirror world to the world of Artana?'

'Now that she has a physical body, and a complete soul made from a soul stone that belongs to the world of Artana, it should be possible. I did try to use the most expensive ones for that, some of them were really old since not just anyone can kill rank B monsters and beasts.'

'That does sound interesting but I have the hero and the sage always close protecting me, so it would be best to get her to do something else instead... just not sure what she can help you with.'

'She made it so the mana recovery in the other world would become a lot faster for me, as long as she's in one of the nine spots of the magical  star circle, which I used to always have close to the maximum mana during the tournament.'

'That does sound useful but since she's over there maybe she could explore the mirror world?'

'I'm afraid that's out of the question since the soul I used awakening you has been reduced a lot, and I don't know how much more I'll need to fully awaken you, so we'll focus on you acquiring soul power and then you can proceed to awaken on your own, along with consuming any skills that you find during the 2 years I'll be gone, and convert everything that you can't use since you're a grimoire into more soul power.'

'Once you fully awaken you should save the skills that you find useful and give them to me once we meet again, you can either do this from the very beginning or not depending on how close you are to awaken, one way or another, I'll go back home once I'm done with Ray and wait for you at our home while doing some quests and explore the ruins from back then.'

'Sure Iris, that's a good plan, I'll keep consuming soul stones while I can, even though at some point I might have to exchange them for money for supplies in case we run out, even though I've been setting some countermeasures to not be low on money, as well as making the soldiers create farming fields by rotating crops, including some taxes from entering and leaving the kingdom, along with some other things which Prince Julius is sorting, so I can avoid someone messing with the economy while I'm absent.' 

'I'm surprised how you can just think on those things so easily.'

'Well I did live for quite a long time and learned with a lot of mistakes and people always trying to steal the things I acquired, and since I can't just kill traitors neither opportunists, I'll have to do my best to not be stabbed in the back while I'm in the front lines, the main reason I put the one who has the most to lose handling the capital and domestic affairs, the Prince himself.'

'I suppose he won't bother you while you command the army that way as well...'

'Exactly, this world will soon become filled with chaos once I get enough pieces to toy with.'

'Truly like a... pandemonium,' Aurora makes a cold smile upon my words.

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