For the first time in a long time, I poured my brains into something other than summoning and began working on a strategy to capture the Third Princess.
There were two options. Namely, it was either going to be a frontal attack or a roundabout approach.
For someone like me who had already sold my soul to the darkness of random summoning, morality no longer mattered. As such, neither ethics nor morals, only risk and return, factored into my decision on which method to take.
I asked my merchant friends for help. King of Laundry, the Slime sex service, and Metal Seed trading. Since this was the 4th time I was asking the merchants for help, I was completely unruffled, even when the merchants stared at me like they were wondering what chaos I would stir up this time. Just as I was obsessed with summoning, they were obsessed with money. I felt that being obsessed with summoning was preferable to being obsessed with making money, but perhaps both were equally bad from the perspective of others.
For the first time, I began researching the kingdom I lived in.
The merchants were on my side. If there were any gaps, I would exploit it. I also had a list of clients from the time I ran the Slime sex service. I had not had any plans of threatening or blackmailing anyone when I first started running the sex service, but I guess this is what you would call a weakness for those in high positions… interspecies relations was a very sinful thing.
After researching, I found that the kingdom had no openings.
Despite there being no signs of war, the military was well-equipped and ready for action. The king had a decent government set up, and the economy was also running smoothly. For now, the only weakness seemed to be the low supply of magic stones, but I could see no way to take advantage of that.
On its own, the power behind the client list of the Slime sex service had little effect, and I did not think that the threats would be successful on an ongoing basis. I would be caught in no time. Even in the best of circumstances, I was still going to be the most prominent suspect as the boss of the Slime sex service. I knew that the sole reason I had not been arrested yet was because I had remained well-behaved.
I weighed the risks and returns in a cheap hotel room and clicked my tongue. The only opening I had was that my target was the Third Princess ― someone who was not a high priority within the royal family. If the nation were in financial trouble, there was a good chance I could just buy her with money, but that was impossible since the economy was good. When I learned that part of the reason for the good economy was the running trade of Metal Seeds on the market, I despaired.
Although there were a number of other small gaps, they were way too dangerous for a lone Mage Summoner like me to take advantage of. I was cautious in all things besides summoning.
I was left with no choice but to challenge the frontal approach. Fortunately, I had the means.
As it was the 1000th anniversary of the founding of the country, everyone was in a celebratory mood and had their guard down. I knew there was going to be a grand tournament as part of the festivities.
That’s right. A great martial combat tournament hosted by the kingdom.
It was said that there were no limits on the means or fighting style of the contestants, and the winner would have their wish granted if at all possible. It was a simplistic set-up that seemed like it could have been something a student had cooked up while half fooling around.
Using my connections, I made the most of the limited time I had to thoroughly vet the participants. ‘To do my best’ was my motto.
I clicked my tongue when I looked over the as of yet unreleased list of participants which I had obtained through my connections. Indeed, as expected of such a grand prize, there were many distinguished members on the list.
As its name implied, the tournament would be a competition where participants fought each other in a tournament format. Victory would be determined by the death of the opponent or when the opponent could no longer fight. It was a tournament for hot-blooded muscleheads ― and though it was also intended for public entertainment, it had the added value of tradition. It was common for combat tournaments to be held from time to time at key points in history. However, this was the first crazy tournament to offer to grant any wish of the winner. Although tournaments were rarely as large as this one, half the participants were regulars.
Even I, someone who spent most of my time summoning, could recognise the neatly arranged names on the list.
There would be no chance of winning if I approached this directly. To start with, a mage’s role was to attack from a distance. Although there were no holds barred in this tournament, having to battle within a constrained range gave melee combatants, such as swordsmen and knights, a definite advantage over mages. Powerful magic required long chanting times.
So, I did not have sufficient chanting time, and the only vassal I had was a Slime anyway. I quickly gave up on trying to win in a straightforward manner.
No matter how hard I tried, it would be impossible. My opponents would be professional warriors. Meanwhile, I was a Mage Summoner, but not part of the military. Since 99% of Mage Summoners ended up as civilians in military employment, I had learned how to fight in school, but my skills in this respect never went beyond that basic level.
However, as soon as I came to that conclusion, I paused to think.
I would not do anything pointless. That said, if, just if, a dragon was drawn, there would still be a one in a million chance of winning.
I looked down at the 10 magic stones I had been keeping as a good luck charm. I had been pulling Slimes all this time. However, at this time, at this decisive moment, I had a feeling that a dragon would appear. God would not have forsaken me.
I placed the 10 magic stones into a summoning array with trembling fingers and prayed.
Then, as usual, I summoned 10 Slimes.
I decided to poison my rivals.
My rivals fought on the board while I fought off of it.
I was a Mage Summoner, but also a merchant. It was unheard of for a merchant to participate in a martial tournament. There was an opening to exploit here. Without mincing words, it was money.
I teamed up with the arms dealer whom I had been supplying Metal Seeds to. The arms dealer, who had been the third largest arms dealer in the kingdom when he first began delivering Metal Seeds, had leveraged the power of the Metal Seeds to overwhelm his rivals, and was now in a position to provision weapons to the kingdom’s military.
I traded the production method of Metal Seeds for the dealer’s help in gathering information.
Each participant had their own set of circumstances. The arms dealer knew a lot about the warriors he was trading with, and he had his own unique knowledge of their circumstances.
It was rumoured that the tournament was rigged from the start. And this was when I first learned of the existence of the top contender to be the winner.
It was a young hero who was the leader of the Knights of the Kingdom. With his outstanding swordsmanship, it was only a matter of time before he would be crowned as the kingdom’s greatest swordsman and earn the title of ‘Sword Saint’. It seemed that the man would be using a sword and armour made from Metal Seed, which had the highest resistance to all types of magical and physical attacks. Needless to say, the sword and armour were made from the Metal Seed I had supplied. I felt like dying.
As long as he had the equipment to fend off all attacks, the man’s victory was beyond questioning.
The arms dealer warned me about this, but I wasn’t concerned since my weakness wasn’t against the ‘strongest’ but rather against the ‘random’.
I classified the list of participants into 4 categories. The strong and the weak, and those I could use money to deal with and those I couldn’t.
Miracles were called miracles because miracles don’t just happen. Even if they happened, it would be a one-time occurrence. A win earned without any fighting involved would most likely be declared null and void. I tilted my head and rearranged the participants’ names in various ways.
The rumoured rigged tournament of the kingdom became my own personal rigged tournament.
The tournament could be broadly divided into two blocks. I separated the 4 categories of participants into these two blocks. In Block A, the top contender and those who I could not sway with money; in Block B, myself and those I could control with money.
I would make a deal with the strong fighters who would accept money to lose. I also asked them to knock out some of the weaker participants who would not accept money along the way, which would help reduce the number of monetary transactions I would have to deal with.
The merchants were on my side. Or rather, they were on the side of money. This was my business, but this was also business for them.
The irregular tournament blocks I created went through various channels to finally end up in the hands of the management committee of the tournament. If there had been any blatant bias, the blocks would never have been adopted officially. However, at a cursory glance, the tournament blocks I had drafted with the full application of my brain cells seemed to have a fair distribution of strong fighters.
Meanwhile, I continued to summon hopefully with magic stones procured secretly by the merchants as I waited for the day of the tournament to arrive. In the end, no miracle occurred. No Dragon presented itself. As expected, there was no God in this world. In that case, I had no choice but to become God.
God does not roll the dice. What was needed was inevitability.
And so, I entered the tournament.
I was introduced as the Slime Master. I didn’t even register as a Mage Summoner among the group. The Slime Jewel wobbled beside me, further impressing my image as the Slime Master upon all the other participants.
I progressed through the first and second rounds without having to fight. I had poisoned my opponents beforehand with a poisonous Slime. Since it was poison from the lowest level of poisonous Slime, the poisoning wasn’t fatal. If they had died from the poison, as their opponent, I would fall under suspicion.
As a master of Slime, I was very familiar with poisonous Slimes. I used different poisonous Slimes to bring down my opponents from the first and second round with different symptoms. There was already a fierce battle being waged outside the field. The announcer called me the luckiest man in the tournament. I wondered what in the world I was doing.
My opponents in the 3rd, 4th, and 5th rounds were all formidable warriors who had achieved great results in other combat tournaments before this. However, they just so happened to be in bad shape this time, so I was able to win easily. Only the merchants and I knew how much money was moving behind the scenes. The announcer called it a great upset, a miracle. The audience was driven wild by these seeming miracles. A fierce battle was going on at the same time in Block A, but the excitement in Block B was even greater.
The lone focal point of attention in a venue with tens of thousands of eyes upon me, I said to myself, “Miracles don’t just happen. They are made to happen.”
In the 6th round, for some reason, a different opponent than planned stood in my way. However, this opponent’s body was tattered from the fierce battles he had been through so far to get here and he was on the verge of collapse. I commanded Jewel, who was only about equal to a Dragon in weight, to sit on the opponent, crushing him, and I successfully moved on to the next round. The winning prize was substantial, and the tournament was turning out to be more intense than I had foreseen. The only ones who emerged unscathed from the battles were myself, who had progressed through fixed fights, and the leader of the Knights of the Kingdom, who had beaten all his opponents in Block A through sheer skill and ability.
Despite the consecutive miracles, the audience members did not view me in a bad light.
Many of them, both men and women, were former clients of my Slime sex service. Moreover, Jewel’s plump and quivering figure was pleasing and coquettish, and she had an avid following among young and old alike. I had predicted this development, and so I began selling Slime goods that I had prepared in advance. The sales of the Slime merchandise was outstanding, and I became known among the merchants as ‘The Slime Magician’. I thought, ‘Enough with the Slime.’
And so I made it to the finals by a series of predetermined miracles. My opponent was the Knight Commander, as I had planned.
His holy sword and armour, made from Metal Seed, were powerful. But more than that, the Knight Commander seemed to be a man beloved by the god of war.
The night before the final match, I made a wish on a magic stone. If a rare could be summoned, I would be able to win.
Perhaps God heard my prayer, for the magic stone produced a relatively rare Slime. That wasn’t what I had meant though.
On the grand stage of the final, I went on stage without Jewel. No matter how synthesized a Slime was, it would be no match against a professional military man. Partly a merchant, I could not risk Jewel, my only asset.
The announcer called me ‘a man who had lost his mind’. My opponent was a knight commander who was fully protected with Metal Seed armour and was equipped with a long sword across his back. Meanwhile, I was dressed in light armour. The contrast between the both of us was striking, driving the audience wild as it fed into their appetite for entertainment.
In an interview before the match, the knight commander said he would not let his guard down, regardless of whom his opponent was. During my turn, I promoted the new Slime plush toy I was going to release onto the market.
I drew my sword single-handedly and struck a pose I had learned by imitation. With the kingdom’s best weapons merchant on my side, I had a suitably sharp sword, but it was still far inferior to one made from Metal Seed. But all I needed was lightness. I was a weak man who could not even swing an iron sword properly.
The knight commander snickered at my swordsmanship. I smiled when I saw that the Third Princess, seated in the honoured guests pavilion, was holding onto some Slime merchandise.
And then, the final battle began.
Metal Seed was considered one of the strongest metals to date. Still, even though it was one of the strongest metals, it was, in the end, only Slime.
Slime which I had summoned.
I swung my sword down at the knight commander, who chose to meet my attack directly with a parry. As I was swinging downwards, I gave a command to the Metal Seed Slime, who was still alive even though it had been transformed into the form of weapons.
The supposedly strongest equipment shattered into pieces under the barest touch of my sword. The venue descended into pandemonium.
I attributed the phenomena to the special sword I had developed. I claimed to have shown mercy by not shattering my opponent’s body as well.
I was recognised as the winner.
Subsequently, I used my win to obtain a court title as well as secure my position as Slime merchant to the royal family.
At first, I had considered asking directly for the princess, but then realised that this was potentially troublesome in application. If I had a court title, I could leverage it as a stepping stone to obtain both the princess and magic stones. Besides, if I were to demand the princess as a prize, I would certainly incur the ill will of the royal family.
I was a prudent man. The applause and popularity I had earned in the tournament had made me a hero. I could not let that reputation be tarnished.
I was a man who had fallen in love with the Third Princess, but I was also a Mage Summoner.
Around this time, I received news from my homeland that my cousin brother, who had accumulated substantial battle merits with his Dragon, had become engaged to a nobleman’s daughter.
It was proof that wealth, fame, and even a lovely bride would follow as long as one could obtain a Dragon.
My experience with the tournament had taught me that miracles do not exist. Thus, I would just have to increase my number of attempts.
God does not roll the dice. I would keep summoning until I obtained what I wanted.
My next target would be the magic stone mines. I resolved myself to the slow invasion of the merchants’ territory.