[6th of September, 2740 AD; Kun Tournament Hall, Kun, Jiaikohn]
The dawn of a new day brought many visitors from all over the world as the Thekohnian Accuracy Tournament was only an hour away from starting. Kiku was about to show off her skill in front of a large audience and, to Sorin’s surprise, she was squirming in her chair as Ayame patted her on the back. Gale came into the room and handed Kiku a hot cup of tea.
“Thank you so much, Gigi,” Kiku said as she took a sip. “I’m so nervous about today… Oh poppies, I knew I forgot something!”
“What is it, Madame?” Ayame asked.
“It’s such a blunder, Aya, but I forgot to put on a pair of panties this morning,” she replied. “I spent so much time worrying about my nicest white dress and how I was going to greet the crowds that I forgot the most important thing!”
“While that is too much information, I can understand why you’d be nervous,” Gale said. “You shouldn’t have to worry about it, though; just treat everyone in the crowd as you would us.”
Kiku giggled as she took another drink. “You really know how to console somebody, don’t you?”
“I was just offering a suggestion,” she replied.
“It is quite a good idea,” Ayame said.
“Thanks,” Kiku said. “I just hope it isn’t too windy today… Or maybe that’d be something you would like to see happen, wouldn’t you, Wilkie?”
“Why are you asking me?” Sorin asked.
“Oh, nothing,” she replied.
“Anyway, where’s Igor?” Gale asked. “He’s been outside for quite a while, hasn’t he?”
“Come to think of it, he did say that he had some business to attend to,” Ayame commented. “What could be keeping him busy?”
Gavin stood at the sign-up desk, his fist firmly planted on the surface as Law and Igor could only watch him stare down the female attendant. It had been nearly an hour and Gavin was not about to give up here.
“Could you calm down, Mr. Powers?” Igor asked. “People are looking at us.”
“It’s ‘Power,’ and no,” Gavin replied. “These idiots are taking too long to sign me up. It’s a load of bullshit if you ask me!”
“Oh for heaven’s sake… Excuse me,” Igor said to the attendant, “Perhaps you can push this along a little thing, because he’s got a lot of ants in his shoes.”
Law chuckled. “That’s quite a way to put it,” he said. “I suppose you mean ‘antsy,’ Iggy?”
“Oh, not you too,” Igor said. “Only Madame Izumi and Miss Hayashi can call me that.”
“So Ayame can call you that just fine, then?” Law asked. “Interesting. Very interesting indeed.”
Igor slapped his hand upon his head. “Whatever.”
“So I’ve been looking at your identification, Mr. Gavin Power,” the attendant said. “You were born in Ameci, right?”
“Yes,” Gavin replied. “What about it?”
“It’s just that we’ve never had a participant from Ameci before,” she answered. “There’s something about that that really would be an interest to the crowd out there.”
“That’s news to me,” Gavin said.
“Sounds like we’re set for a milestone,” Law said. “The first ever Ameci-born participant in the Thekohnian Accuracy Tournament. That’s quite an honor, wouldn’t you say, bro?”
“Well, it’s certainly an honor to me,” the attendant said. “Of course we can get you set up right away. Just head over to the desk at the end of the room and they’ll hand you all the necessary stuff.”
Gavin nodded. “Thank you.”
“Looks like you two got what you needed,” Igor said. “I have to go back and see how Madame Izumi is doing, so if you do not mind…”
Igor walked away from the brothers, who decided to head the the check-in desk. The blue walls were much more calming than they were before as Gavin turned to Law.
“Looks like I’m up to the task,” he said. “That whole crowd is going to see the amazing skill of a man who put tons of hard work into precise and efficient aiming.”
“I’m glad it’s gonna be you out there, bro.”
“Of course it’s going to be me, Lawrence,” Gavin said. “Who else would it be?”
“Not what I meant,” Law replied. “I’m saying that because it’s not going to be me who has the potential for failure. Just saying.”
Gavin scoffed. “If you think I’m going to fail, then you’ve got another thing coming.”
“We’ll see, I guess.”
“You really are an annoyance, you know that?”
But before Law could reply, Gavin ended up bumping into another man on his way to the desk. Gavin looked and saw the man turn around, revealing himself: a tall, blond man wearing sunglasses and dressed in a beige shirt and long, black cape.
“Move it!” Gavin demanded.
“That’s quite a way to introduce yourself,” he said. “Quite an authoritative voice aren’t you, bud?”
“Who are you calling ‘bud,’ jackass?” Gavin asked.
“Oh, you obviously,” the man replied. “After all, I’m going to go up against you in the tournament sooner or later, right Mr. Power?”
“How do you know my name?”
“It’s hard not to hear you yelling out our lovely attendants,” he replied. “By the way, my name is Amile Ahnle, the crown prince of Ahnlikohn.”
Gavin took a step back. “E-Excuse me?”
“How disappointing,” Law said. “I figured that if we were going to see some royalty, it’d be a beautiful princess.”
“And who may you be?” Amile asked.
“That’s pretty rude of you, if I’m being honest,” Law replied. “Fine. I’m Law Power, the younger and more dashingly handsome brother of this guy here.”
Gavin slapped Law on the back of the head. “Younger, sure,” he said, “But you’re more a nuisance than anything else.”
“Sounds like quite a quarrel,” Amile said. “Makes me think of my own younger brother. Say, he’s still around here, isn’t he?”
“The fuck are you asking us for?” Gavin asked.
Amile laughed. “Well, he’s usually around somewhere,” he said. “Amos, can you hear me?”
Almost as if on cue, the younger brother of Amile came running to his side. The younger, shorter-haired blond looked at Amile and then to Gavin and Law.
“Are those two bothering you, brother?” Amos asked.
“I’m having fun, to be quite frank,” Amile answered. “That man over there was the one making that spectacle earlier, what with his proclamations and all that good stuff.”
“Ah, that’s the Ameci participant, then?”
“Representing your country is quite a tall order,” Amile said. “To announce such pride for your homeland is inspiring. I look forward to seeing what the crowds have to say upon your debut.”
“Prince Amile, you really do like to fluster the other opponents, don’t you?”
“There’s only one person who that voice belongs to,” Amile said. “Looks like you’ve decided to show up, Prince Brook of Thekohn.”
At the other side of the group stood Brook Rio Thedam, the primary representative from the Royal Kingdom of Thekohn. He laughed as he joined in the small group in front of the desk.
“So you’re all alone, then,” Amos said.
“Unfortunately, that’s the case,” Brook replied. “Not like it matters, because I’m pretty sure that I’m going to win regardless.”
“That’s a shame,” Amile said. “I miss hearing Rain’s lovely voice. I take it she’s doing her own thing?”
“It’s none of your concern,” Brook said. “What you should be concerned about is your own performance.”
“Yeah, you should worry about what you’re going to do out there, you fucking asshole!” Gavin said.
“Thanks for repeating what I just said with much more colorful words,” Brook said. “You, too, need to worry about yourself; after all, you’re the Ameci with a lot of high expectations on himself.”
“Yeah he is,” Law replied. “Anyway, about this sister, the princess… you wouldn’t happen to have any photos of her, would you?”
“Lord, I can’t believe this,” Brook said to himself. “Mind yourself not with my sisters, because you should be worried about your brother.”
Brook walked off as Gavin sighed.
“Whatever, man,” Law said. “I’ll just have to ask the ‘clown prince’ over here, instead.”
“Sorry, but that’s ‘crown prince,’ bud,” Amile said. “As in: I’m the heir to the throne of the Royal Family of Ahnlikohn.”
“Spare me the explanation,” Law replied. “Tell me more about this ‘Rain’ woman.”
“I would love to dwell on Thekohn’s own lovely Rain-doll, but I do have other stuff I must attend to,” Amile said. “Amos, please.”
“Of course, brother,” Amos replied. “Come with me.”
Amos walked away first, with Amile closely following behind him. Gavin clenched his fist, raised up as he growled.
“I don’t care if he’s a prince or not,” he said, “I’m going to kick his ass!”
“Hopefully you mean in the tournament,” Law said. “I can’t imagine the trouble we’d be in if we’d actually had to fight them.”
“Right, you mean in the tournament,” Gavin said. “I’m sorry, but that guy really pushes my buttons.”
“Yeah, I can’t say I care for him either,” Law replied. “Seems like one of those guys that just thinks of life like it’s a game.”
Gavin stared at Law with a puzzled look on his face. “You’re one to talk,” he replied.
“I feel insulted that you’d compare me to him,” Law said, “But I’m still going to wish you good luck out there, whether you like it or not.”
“Let’s not waste anymore time,” Gavin said. “For now, I’m just going to get the equipment and head to the locker room.”
The hour had passed and the tournament opened with a ceremony that everyone was sure to remember. A large orchestra played the ceremonial melody for the opening of the tournament as all of the eight participants made their way onto the field one by one. Sorin and Gale took their seats at the ground-level seats and watched as Kiku waved to the crowd and smiled. Nearly everyone in the audience applauded and cheered as Kiku walked over to the archery range.
“Good luck out there, Kiku!” Gale said.
“Can she hear us?” Sorin asked. “It’s pretty loud.”
“I’m sure she can,” she replied. “Oh, look, there’s Gavin!”
They turned their attention to Gavin, who walked out onto the field with Law beside him. As the announcer brought attention to his Ameci nationality, Gavin received a moderate applause. With one look to the crowd, Gavin immediately turned away and headed to the range. Once there, he bumped into Amile again.
“I guess he wasn’t too happy about the response,” Gale said.
“He’s talking with that one guy over there,” Sorin replied, “The one with the sunglasses. Wonder what they’re saying…”
“Maybe he’s wishing the other guy well?” Gale asked.
“This is Gavin we’re talking about,” Sorin said, “So I highly doubt that.”
With all participants on the range, Kiku had to step in between Gavin and Amile before it got any worse. Gavin stood there with his bow in one hand and his other hand balled up into a fist as he just shook his head.
“Now, now, Gavvy,” she said, “I know you’re heated up, but please try not to get yourself disqualified due to something Mimi said.”
“Kiku-doll is right,” Amile said. “Surely you can channel your passion into this little game we’re going to have, right?”
“Believe me, I can do just that,” Gavin replied, “And if it’s you I’m going to go up against, all the more reason to do it.”
Amile chuckled. “Glad to hear it, bud,” he said. “Amos, do you see the official yet?”
“She’s coming down here as we speak,” Amos answered. “Looks like we’ll be getting the draw now.”
The woman wore a black and white uniform as she finally arrived to the group. A small name tag on her outfit said “Yumi” as she held a black hat in her hand. Everyone gathered together as she began to speak.
“Hello, and welcome to all of you,” Yumi said. “I’m happy to see that everyone here is ready for the events that are about to happen.”
“Same to you, doll,” Amile replied.
“Anyway, I’m sure you’re all wondering who’s facing who in the opening round,” she continued. “That is why I have this hat here: to reveal exactly who each of you will face.”
“Good luck to everyone!” Kiku exclaimed.
Yumi reached into the hat and pulled out the first slip of paper. “Before I announce the first matchup, there is one clarification of the rules,” she said. “The four people who score the highest amount of points will move on to the next round, so even if you lose your matchup you might still have a chance.”
“Hear that, Mr. Power?” Amile asked. “There might be hope for you yet!”
“Shut it,” Gavin retorted.
“If you’re done, then let me read the first draw,” Yumi said. “The first matchup will be between Gavin Power of Ameci and Prince Amile Ahnle of Ahnlikohn.”
Amile patted Gavin on the shoulder. “Looks like it’s true, bud,” he said. “You’re gonna be facing Amos and I after all!”
“Don’t touch me,” Gavin said, “And why is he here anyway?”
“Well, it’s because I need someone to cheer me on,” Amile replied. “Now come on, if you want to beat me, you’ll need to head over to your positon.”
Gavin grumbled. “You’ll see.”
“Now that that’s out of the way, here’s the next matchup,” Yumi said. “Kiku Izumi of Kikuisha and Prince Brook Rio Thedam of the Royal Kingdom of Thekohn, you will be facing off in the second matchup.”
“Oh, I finally get to face you, Brooksy!” Kiku said. “Care for a hug before we go?”
“How could I refuse?” Brook asked.
Kiku and Brook hugged each other as Yumi continued to call the rest of the matchups. After that, the two of them went over and started their big matchup. Meanwhile, Gavin looked over at Amile and Amos, who were busy getting set up on their side.
“Look over the target for me, will you Amos?”
“Very well, brother.”
Amos hopped over the small barrier and ran out to the large target on the other side. Amile grabbed his bow and arrow and stretched out the wire.
“If you want to see a talented sharpshooter in action, then you’ve got one, Mr. Power,” Amile said. “Amos, let’s go!”
“Ready when you are!” Amos responded.
Amile let the arrow go as Gavin watched it fly through the air. He could not believe it, but the arrow landed close to the bullseye as Amos confirmed the shot.
“No way,” Gavin said. “You really think you can intimidate me like that?”
“If you can do better, then go ahead,” Amile replied. “Just don’t go attacking me when I win.”
Gavin picked up his bow and arrow and got set. “Fuck off,” he said.
It was his time to shine, Gavin thought. This was the moment where he’d show off his impressive aim and finally get to silence that obnoxious prince. All he had to do was post a higher score and it would all be golden. That was it. With the shot on its way, Gavin knew that he had this match in the bag.
To be continued…