Royal Academy Prison.
Plop! Plop! Plop!
Water droplets leaked from the ceiling, splattering through an uncomfortable, cold, rough surface.
After winning the duel with Shin, Ryu found himself in a dark, secluded place with his hands and feet helplessly tied together.
Fortunately, his mouth was uncovered, so he could chant detection magic to determine his current situation.
"Epitrepste mou na do mesa apo tous toichous."
Transparent characters made of mana drifted out of his mouth, then magic swept throughout the place. On search, he found rooms sealed with metal bars that prevented people from escaping, pieces of furniture like beds, toilets holes, and more. A place that was identical to where Ryu bought the slaves.
A prison. To be exact, an underground prison in the royal academy.
The spell continued to go further until he found an exit. There, Ryu saw two people arguing. One was a familiar lady, and the other was a guard on duty.
"Epitrepste mou na akouso mesa apo tous toichous."
Amplified hearing magic. Now Ryu could hear their conversation.
"...L, Lady Yume, please forgive me as the Vice-principal ordered not to allow any visitor."
"Sir Guard, I just want to see my friend."
'It was the Princess... But friend? Was she, by chance referring to me?'
"M-My head will roll if the Vice-Principal learns I let someone inside. So please, my Lady, I still have a wife, two children, a senile grandpa, and a dog to feed."
"Then, can Sir Guard at least give my message? Tell him I will undoubtedly let him out of detainment. So please wait for me."
"I'm sorry, Lady Yume, the Vice-Principal precisely sai—"
"Fine, I understand!"
Yume glared sharply before leaving, pouting while the guard sighed as their conversation ended.
Her actions made Ryu burst into uncontrollable laughter.
Even in the original novel, he had never known her as someone who could forthright act. He thought that she was leaning more toward a stoic type of character. A silent type. Seeing her in real life slightly changed his perspective. Her expression and behaviors were quite different from what he had read.
'What was the reason for her change?'
Dwelling on this would result in nothing. So Ryu stopped guessing and decided to address his current situation first. With no guard beside him, he called.
A person swiftly appeared outside of Ryu's prison cell. He was covered in black, wearing a hood and a tight suit with two daggers on his waist. Yes, the same person made a scene with Ryu in the amphitheater.
"You called, my Lord?"
Bowing down his head with his right hand to his chest and his left hand on his back. As a part of Shadow Intelligence Guild, Felix greeted Ryu respectfully.
Six hours ago before getting imprisoned.
Shin and Ryu were facing each other, standing in the middle of a platform where the whole audience could see both of them directly.
"Are you scared now?"
The fight hadn't started, but Shin looked at Ryu, curling one corner of his mouth upward, taunting.
Shin instigated a duel between them because of Yume's Silverlight sword in Ryu's hand. It was more of a man's pride than jealousy.
If Ryu were to win, the academy would accept him as a student. Or else, failing only meant he needed to return to the Xan Kingdom.
Earlier, even Yume's worried face was so cute that Ryu almost declined the duel, tempted to take her home immediately. Yet, he agreed to fight and satisfy his decades of a novel reader's pent-up frustrations.
The first word came out of Ryu's mouth. He grasped the Silverlight so hard that the handle had imprinted onto his palm.
Imagine the things Yume had suffered because of this pathetic couple. If only Ryu could kidnap Yume and summon a giant meteor turning everyone to dust. He would not hesitate. However, he needed to calm down because of the mission given to him by the author.
'Slow, I need to take it slow. Phew...'
"What are you mumbling about—?"
Shin, not wasting time, formed into his sword stance.
"—If you're not attacking, then I will."
Based on the data Ryu collected, the Crown Prince used the Zen Royal Sword Art, a sword style passed down only to the heirs of this kingdom's royal family.
The style had an aggressive play that focused purely on offense. The royal family believed that the most effective technique was the one dominating an opponent.
As Ryu expected, Shin raised his sword with both hands and stretched it to his back, then lunged forward in full strength, attempting to slice the enemy's whole body downward in one strike.
Yume covered her mouth with both hands in nervousness.
The crowd gasped, anticipating that the battle had already ended.
Shin's blade hummed as it whipped through the air. The majority of the audience even closed their eyes in fright.
"Is... Is the fight finished?"
A moment of silence.
After the attack, Shin was positioned where his knees were bent forward while his sword was at his side.
"The Crown Prince missed!"
His attack was so slow that even Ryu had the time to yawn, dodging his attack a few inches before the sword reached his head. Making Shin in a position vulnerable to a counterattack.
Shin had his eyes wide open from the shock. Not wanting to accept the truth, he gathered momentum to follow up another attack, hastily turning around.
Without notice, using the end of the sword handle, Ryu hammered Shin's nape with a strength strong enough to render him unconscious, making him drop to the ground.
Ryu stared at Vice-principal Gibson.
"Can you please announce the winner?"
Everyone was still in a trance that they didn't know what to say. The crowd began to cheer a few seconds later with claps, shouts, and whistles.
"He defeated a 4-Star Sword Master?"
"The Crown Prince didn't lack any sword trainer since birth, and he still lost."
"Does it mean Sword Masters are this weak?"
"The black hair guy is so cool!"
All applauses were stopped when Gibson shouted.
"You! You! You! How, how dare you assault the Crown Prince! Guards, arrest this uncultured fool!"
The flustered Yume tried to stop in between, but the other senior students joined, stopping her. Ryu raised a hand, telling her it was alright. Giving back her sword with an unworried look, she calmed down only then.
With this, Ryu was apprehended and sent to the Royal Academy Prison.
Seven hours later, after the duel.
Someone forcefully opened the door of the Royal Academy Principal's office.
"Impudence! Who has this bravery to disturb me in my office?!"
Bellowing, the aged man with a long white beard stood up from his chair with a grimace.
Three people appeared and entered. In the center was a middle-aged man wearing formal attire. On his right was a woman with pink hair and blue eyes wearing a sword and shield. While on the left was a woman with red hair and eyes, carrying two long spears crossed together on her back.
"I'm the Xan Kingdom's envoy. Our King has a message for the academy's Honorable Principal."
The envoy announced, opening a letter.
"The Xan Kingdom sent Ryu Astre to honor the Zen Kingdom's foreign cooperation request. We expect the academy to fully support our representative without discrimination and unfair treatment. For the betterment of both country's economic blah blah blah..."
In the middle of reading, the envoy looked thoughtfully at the Principal before continuing.
"If ever the Xan Kingdom found that any mistreatment has been done to our dear representative, further cooperation between the two kingdoms will be halted. Including the newly conducted business trades."
The envoy folded the letter and bid his final words.
"This message came directly from the King of Xan, The Dragon Slayer."
Wrapping up, he gave the letter directly to the Principal before leaving. Hence, the Principal immediately summoned all available academy staff for a meeting.
Royal Academy Conference Hall.
The attendees were the Principal, Vice-principal, Head Scholar, assistant scholars, teachers, instructors, and the representatives of student councils.
Everyone was confused when the Principal stood in front and cleared his throat.
"I sincerely thank everyone who gave their time to attend this meeting. I now announce the discussion about the foreign students incident to start.
First, we need to address the Kingdom of Xan letter issue.
Second, addressing how our students and staff behaved against foreign students.
Third, the incoming monster expeditions throughout the year and years to come.
So let me hear your opinions and suggestions."
Vice-principal Gibson raised his hand quickly.
"Principal Cedric, the issue about the Xan Kingdom is because a lowborn from another kingdom assaulted the Crown Prince—"
"Pardon my intrusion, Principal Cedric, Vice-principal Gibson, with all due respect; the Crown Prince lost in a fair duel."
It was Yume, one of the student council representatives, who interrupted. Though, Gibson seemed prepared for retaliation.
"But Principal, we can't allow these newly founded barbarians to insult us!"
"Sir, thousands of people watched the duel, and our honor is at stake if we force this, just because the Crown Prince lost miserably—"
"That Ryu or whoever he is fought dirty! Didn't everyone see that he disrespected the swordsmanship duel by using a random barbarian move against his opponent?"
"Is there a rule—"
Yume and Gibson's debate was heating up when Principal Cedric decided to interrupt.
"This is not about how the Crown Prince lost. Tell me, Vice-principal, will you take responsibility if the Xan Kingdom stops trading with us?"
"Principal, they are just barbarians."
The discussion was going nowhere, so instead, they asked for the opinion of other people present. One of them was the Head Scholar.
"Honorable Principal and Vice-Principal, the product of Xan Kingdom can't be neglected. Things that were only produced there have benefits to our daily life. There are new inventions that are currently being developed that are not available anywhere else. So I think provoking them is not a wise decision. Our King might punish the academy."
There was a long heated debate between a few who supported the Xan Kingdom and the majority who supported the Crown Prince. But because of the great benefits the Zen Kingdom would have by trading with the Xan Kingdom, everyone settled by just giving a light punishment.
Principal Cedric pondered, sighed, and paused before finishing.
"Then please raise those hands who consent in accepting Ryu Astre of Xan Kingdom into the academy and acknowledge that the duel between him and the Crown Prince is fair."