Chapter 123: Competition
Even though the secret base was locked down, its interior was still bright as though it were daytime. In addition to the activation of the illumination tools, the Mage Towers were also in operation, brightening everything in their surroundings.
At this moment, an anachronistic event is occurring on a stretch of flat land.
"Handball, handball in the restricted area! Referee, this is a penalty kick. It is definitely a penalty kick! Hell, ignoring me. Did you accept a bribe again?!"
Diyer is full of resentment. If the referee is not going to call a foul on such an obvious handball in the restricted area, how could this match go on?
"Ha, you actually dare to howl at the referee, red handkerchief (Substitute for the red card)!"
The gleeful Yingou whips out an old handkerchief that’s painted red and waves it towards Diyer.
"Friendship comes before victory. Such obnoxious players and such a fair referee. I praise you, the fair Gnome referee," Beifeng declares with a calm expression. However, if he wasn't the one who committed the handball foul in the first place, perhaps his words would be much more convincing.
Enraged by Beifeng's words, Diyer whips out his staff in preparation to start a battle against him. However, his teammates swiftly stop him.
"It is normal for Gnomes to accept bribes. On the contrary, it would be abnormal for them to not accept bribes. It’s because we already know that he’s been bribed that we don't have to worry about him extorting us. Furthermore, it's not like you don't know how greedy that lad, Yingou, is. Since he accepted the money, he’s obviously already thrown his pride away. If you get into an argument with him, he would only make use of this opportunity to expel more of our players out. If that happens, we will lose for sure."
"Yesterday, didn't you all say that we were going to send in money too? Why is that fellow even more against us today?"
"That’s because we only sent in 2,000 gold coins. But the Gentlemen National Football Team (Simplified as National Team) sent in 6,000. Given that his eyes twinkle at the mere sight of money, how else would that Gnome referee?”
"Then why did our lord allow that Gnome to referee? Can't we swap him out for an impartial one?"
"I have also asked our lord. Lord Roland said that Gnomes have short legs, making them unable to play the game properly, so neither team was interested in employing them into their lineup. It is possible to swap the referee, but that’s as long as we have sufficient players. Are you willing to accept players whose knees don't even reach the height of the ball?"
"...Actually, they can try becoming the goalkeeper. Oh, let's just forget it. We’d just be laughingstocks."
"Hehe, indeed. That’d be even more ridiculous. Even if they jumped, they probably wouldn’t be able to touch the ball.'
Anyway, it was only for entertainment. The price for losing was just some household chores. The two people chuckle without thinking too deeply into the matter. To the side, Yingou, Kabala, and the other Gnomes' faces darken upon hearing their words, as rage well up within them.
"Insulting the referee, foul! Red handkerchief!"
"Red handkerchief your head, we’re already off-field! Are there any football rules that make it possible to foul someone for chatting?”
Un, you’re not seeing things. This is a football competition between an allied union of the Law Faction and the East Mist Communal Country (Simplified as France National Team) and the Gentlemen National Football Team (Simplified as National Team). Again, you’re not seeing things. These simplifications were my brainchildren. I only wanted to make use of this opportunity to vent the frustration I had been piling up in the depths of my heart for many years.
TL: Law (律法)| National/ Country (国)| Thus, when simplified, 法国 -> France.
It’s been a month since we started hiding in the secret base. There's sufficient food and potable water here, but staying a long period of time in the restricted space of this chamber made the group, which was used to being carefree, uncomfortable. The morale of the group was low, and thus, it was time for a sports event that could be used to vent one’s excessive vigor.
Thus, I 'invented' football, basketball, badminton and similar ball-related sports. However, the only sport accepted by the group is football, which has the highest level of difficulty. After all, basketball and such are too dependent on one's innate talent. Furthermore, the various races are much too different, making it impossible for them to play on the same field.
For example, in basketball, there would inevitably be physical clashes between the players. In such cases, then the races blessed with strong, physical bodies had the greater advantage. Furthermore, even the Giants would be dunking with their heads lowered, as well as the Gnomes and Dwarves who can’t even see the net even with their heads raised. The reason why football is accepted by the masses is because everyone isn't used to kicking with their foot. Thus, they were all on the same level.
Even so, there many kinds of messy scenarios that still kept on happening.
"The heck, Beifeng. You’re really getting too hooked on it! Can't you just follow the rules and use your legs to kick the ball!"
The seemingly honest man smiles faintly.
"Excluding the hands, the rules allow players to use their other body parts to hit the ball. Tails fit such a description. How about you try using your tail as well?"
With an honest smile, Beifeng's face is full of astonishment, seemingly doubtful as to why the opponents weren't using their tails.
"I’m a human, why would I x have a tail! You #%……%￥%!" I have no idea how many unlucky fellows have been provoked into hurling abuse at the captain of the National Football Team, Beifeng.Herault.
Alright, this here is the crux of the problem. The rules for football played between humans aren't suitable for foreign races. Thus all kinds of bugs crop up during the game.
However, should I say that the simplified name, National Football Team, was used very aptly? Leading the National Football Team, Beifeng and his crew are experts at searching for bugs and loopholes. All kinds of messy tricks continuously appear on the field, as they cross the limits of decency over and over again.
The two teams have exchanged blows for more than thirty matches, but the France National Team has only won five. The remaining ones were won by the National Football Team through their schemes.
Of course, bugs that appear on the field will be fixed when the game ends. In a sense, this is also a way of forcing the National Football Team, who is lacking in players, to search for new loopholes in the rules.
"Insulting the opponent, red handkerchief!"
After accepting their money, the Gnomes diligently fulfill their responsibility and immediately calls a foul towards their opponent.
Alright, at least he’s the third unlucky fellow to have been sent out today. The current situation turns into an 11v19 match.
What, the number of players isn't correct? Initially, we played 11v11, but that group of Gentlemen was simply much too savage. It’s impossible to play without an additional ten players or so in the other team. Even then, under all kinds of underhanded tricks, the France National Team was only able to win a handful of matches, while the National Football Team continues their winning streak.
What? This is open corruption? After so many years, watching the competition of the National Football Team is just like a penalty game. Since we’re at a foreign world now, let's just continue on with the open corruption for a while longer.
Sigh, when can the National Football Team get into the world cup competition again? I don't expect them to win, but it should at least end in a draw so that we can celebrate it a little.
"You want to win? In the afterlife!"
Just when I’m drifting off into wonderland, the Dwarf Lowens's hoarse voice pulls me back to cruel reality.
Thus, I start my revenge without any hesitation.
My ice sword stabs into the ground, and an ice wall rises up in front of Lowens, who is dribbling the ball. Pang dang, he crashes into the wall, and the dragon-skin football smashes into his face before he falls violently onto the ground.
In the rules that I came up with, direct aggression or any hindering of opponents is off-limits. However, the creation of a wall on the ground isn't. Furthermore, the one I’m dealing with isn't an opponent.
"Bastard Roland, we’re from the same side! Why the heck are you blocking me!"
Perhaps it’s due to Lowens's incredibly buff body that allows the Dwarf to surpass the disadvantage of having short limbs and thus, become a member of the team.
Furthermore, the words that he shouted are the very same, making me both distressed and depressed.
I originally intended to join the human's faction, yet why did they insist that I join the Gentlemen's side? Furthermore, they even restricted my actions, preventing me from using underhanded methods and forcing me to become a goalkeeper who’s unable to move freely. Does this mean that rather than a human, I am more of a Gentleman?
"That, I didn't do that. Look at Reyne on the opposite side, she’s also an Aurora Knight. She must be the one responsible for it."
"What are you going on about! How could that lass, Reyne, be so despicable? She’s even using a three-tier wall that caters to one's height. Knocking on the knees first, before the abdomen and finally the head! My waist..."
While the teammates of the National Football Team are busy arguing, the ball has been picked up by Casio, who is playing the role of a forward. In an instant, tension can be seen on the faces of the France Football Team members.
Recently, the rules have undergone a series of changes, limiting all kinds of supernatural abilities and race talents. However, one thing that cannot be limited is Casio's four legs.
That agile Centaur is a true sharpshooter and a nomad. Previously, in order to limit him, the France National Team came onto the field with a Knight order, forcefully turning football into polo.
However, this kind of play is unfair to the other players. Thus, after that single victory, horse riding has been added to the list of banned actions in the rule book.
Of course, absolute fairness is impossible to achieve. Regardless of whether Casio is able to run faster than a war horse, it’s highly improbable to expect a Centaur to be able to walk on two legs.
At this moment, Casio fully expresses his ability as a fantasista. After a few feints, he manages to get past the defenders through a series of high-speed maneuvers and soon, he approaches the scoring region, about to earn another easy goal.
Indeed, young men do get complacent after being praised a few times. The moment I finish my words, he trips on his front hooves and falls to the floor.
"That bastard dug a pit to trap horses! To think that he even prepared a rope to trip me, you all are too vile! Do you all think that this is a battlefield? Where is your sportsmanship?"
At the back of the field, I fondle my nose, not saying a single word. It was something I thought of when chatting with Reyne yesterday night, but I didn't expect that they would really carry it out.
"Looks like rule number 643 is also confirmed—the banning of any tampering of the football field beforehand."
Around forty to fifty new ways to cheat would appear in every single game. Presently, our football rule book is already as thick as a telephone directory. I reckon that if they continue on this way, by the time the final edition of the rule book has been confirmed, it would probably be large enough to fill a whole bookshelf by itself.
"Heh, by then, when new players join the game, we’d first have a written examination, banning all players who score less than 60 points from entering the field. After the written examination, we’ll test them on their ability to dribble, making turns and carrying out underhanded tricks, one item at a time. Before they can even pass the examination, they’d probably be so pissed off that they’d be tempted to murder the examiner. After passing the examination, a C-class license will be given. If you’re able to survive on the football field for ten years, you’ll be promoted and given a B-class license. Additionally, football stars will be able to exchange it for an A-class license."
Of course, I can limit the rules to state what can be done rather than what cannot be done. However, there isn't much point to it. Anyway, this is for entertainment purposes, and it’s much more interesting this way.
Furthermore, it seems that they’ve already treated football as a battle of wits. The true way of winning is to come up with underhanded methods to trip their opponents. What used to be a pure battle of physical prowess has become an integrated sport in which players compete over both physical prowess and intelligence. I can't wait to see how football will evolve in this foreign world.
"No matter what it becomes, at least it’ll be much better than homicide tennis and table tennis."
Cold sweat drenches my back the moment I recall the past two failures. I had already limited what the players were able to do in those two sports, thus sealing a large portion of the loopholes that could be exploited. However, the sports apparently evolved in a bizarre direction.
"Since I can only serve in the way the rules dictate, I will put my full strength into it. Prepare yourself—White Whale Serve!"
The female Aurora Knight’s serve is elegant, and the Snow Giant transformation adds great force to it. However, after seeing the shattered metal tennis ball, it seemed that if her serve hadn't been off, someone might have died on the spot.
"Hmph, it’s time for me to show you what true skills are. Look, Disappearing Magic Ball! There is only one true ball in the midst of thousands of golden balls!"
Golden balls, your head! Those are obviously countless arrows shot by a golden bow. What do you mean by there’s a true one in its midst? The main problem here is the countless tennis balls on the tennis court! You disappear, Casio!
"Prepare yourself! The saber severs the physical body, the heart splits the soul. Razor Serve!"
Do you think that it’s a razor just because you said that it’s a razor? Where is your ball? I can only see sword qi! Do you think that other people won't notice it just because you’re using a racket to create jian qi? I know that move, too. Look, Whirlwind Cut Serve, let's see if you can survive this!
It’s fortunate that it’s a special ball created using dragon skin. Otherwise, it would have been reduced to powder just from their brute strength. Very quickly, no one played these two games anymore. After all, other than the few perverts, everyone cherished their own lives.
I learned from this lesson. If the rules dictate everything too rigidly, the players would only be able to increase the force behind their serves and returns. In the end, each return would be even more bizarre and heavier than the previous one. It’d just be a matter of time before someone died.
"Homicide tennis or whatever, let's just drop it and focus our attention on cheating. This should be safer for the players and the audience."
However, reality has already proven that safety is relative. When forced into a corner, Giant's Leg Bone and Nashor's Tooth will start appearing on the battlefield. Suarez's fang and Suarez's claws are also common visitors on the field. Nevertheless, everyone is still interested in the game, which shows that this bizarre version of football still has room for development.
"Perhaps it might even make it to the Country of Mages and a bunch of Mages could ride brooms in midair to play the game. Then, there can be someone responsible for smacking opponents off their brooms. Un? Somehow, it seems familiar. I think a foreign wizard has already invented it. I think it’s called... Quidditch!"
While I’m busy recalling the memories of the past, a France National Team member has dribbled the ball forward, and a knight shoots with great force.
My ice sword stabs into the ground once more, and the entire goal is blocked by an ice wall. The enemy's kick is unable to send the ball through, and it’s deflected back.
This is clearly an act of cheating. Naturally, this method of creating objects in front of the goalpost to hinder the ball will be banned afterward and can only be used once.
"Rule number 644. The banning of the tampering of the football field's geography. Damn it, one less loophole to exploit."
Although I’m internally depressed due to the fewer loopholes to exploit, I smile brightly at the opponents so as to suppress their morale and confidence. However, in the next moment, a lightning strike destroys my ice wall.
"Ice Wall is a 4-circle magic spell. He doesn't have much mana, so it’s impossible for him to cast it too many times. Don't give up, push on!"
Krose's voice invigorates the morale of the entire team. However, I frown. Naturally, it’s not because of the youths who are cheering loudly before me.
"Rule number 645. The banning of off-field members from interfering with the field. To get your cheering squad to help, this is too much."
Wearing a short skirt, Krose is pushed onto the position of the cheering team. However, all along, she has been hoping to get on the field.
At this moment, Reyne has already dribbled the ball to my front. However, I had no intention of blocking her advance.
"Aiyo! I’m in pain! My tail has been bent from the impact!"
Yes, the reason why I’m not at all worried is because of my golden defender—Beifeng.Herault.
With him around, scoring is no longer a competition of one's physical abilities. The first thing you have to deal with is his endless, thick-skinned underhanded tricks.
This time, just by having his tail stepped on (I realized that he intentionally placed his tail under the person's foot), the fellow lies down on the field, puts on an act, then...
"Red handkerchief!" How could the bribed Yingou miss out on such an opportunity? A red handkerchief once again changes the entire situation.
The presence of this referee is simply too strong. The boos from each side of the field pierce into the heavens.
"Rule number 646, if the other party strongly objects, the spectators can vote to enable the substitution of referees."
After a series of messing around with one another, the football match finally reaches its last moments. The National Football Team is leading by 30:9 (You didn't see wrongly, it’s much easier to score in this messy game than in conventional football games.)
"It’s time to end it. If we don't, the France National Team's goals will reach the double digits."
"Referee, we want to change players! I’ll be going off-field for Clint's entry!"
The moment those words are said, the hyped up crowd immediately turns silent. When the giant figure enters the field, the surrounding crowd collectively takes a few steps back.
After all, he caused quite an impact when he walked onto the field a week ago.
Back then, when I shouted, 'The crucial moment is here. Everyone, charge! Kill them!', that fellow just presses a button and boom boom, the entire field and all the players on it were sent flying.
Although he did control the quantity of gunpowder properly and no one was injured by the explosions, the chili powder, and pepper that were mixed in it still brought about excruciating pain to those caught in it.
After the smoke clears, most people were plagued with red eyes and coughed for two to three days. At the time, Clint was beaten up to the point his face swelled up like a pig’s head. He is also demoted from a key player to a substitute.
I only found out after the matter that it was because of me saying that the football field is like a battlefield and that we have to prepare in advance. That fellow took my words seriously and actually made preparations as though it were a battlefield.
A night before, he dug several holes in the field and filled it with over nine hundred miniature Gnome explosives. Fortunately, he designed the explosions in a such a profound way that no one was severely injured. Even so, the competition was placed on hiatus for three days, and quite a few spectators were caught in it.
Even though explosives have been clearly banned from the field, his hulking figure undoubtedly reminds everyone of the tragedy that happened.
"Clint, I will leave it to you. Destroy them!"
The person Clint substitutes is me. His hulking figure makes him suitable to be a goalkeeper. However, the truth is that Clint doesn't know how to defend the goalpost. The reason I substituted him in isn't for him to defend the goalpost either. At this moment, my primary goal is to quickly escape and find a safe spot.
"Don't worry. This time, I didn't bring any explosives..."
His lie is exposed in two seconds. The unlucky Diyer was sent flying.
The second bomb was in the spectator stands. How could the spectators remain interested in watching the match after that? All of them, including the players, scatter and run in all directions. Under the multiple sounds of explosions, with various players being blasted around in the background, the football match ends prematurely as usual.
The next day, the drama-like ending of the football match is still the hottest topic of conversation. The figure of the sinner who hangs upside down on the football field becomes the target of contempt for the masses.
"Hmph, it’s all thanks to that bastard that I lost all my money."
"What did you bet? The victory of the France National Team? Then, you really deserve to lose."
"No, the National Football Team is too shameless. As long as underhanded tricks are still allowed, the France National Team, even with their overwhelming numbers, can't possibly win. I only bet that the France National Team would score ten or more goals."
"I also bet on that. It was so close, just one more goal. It’s such a pity! However, it seems that there are a lot of people who chose to bet that as well. The results made them so enraged, they’re on the verge of exploding."
"You all don't get it. This time, my bet is on Clint blasting away the entire field. In the end, I was spot on! It’s a ten times payout!"
"The heck, to think you would even get that spot on. You’re really incredible. However, is such a bet allowed as well?"
"You don't say. There’s even a 'Suarez's fang' option. As long as a biting incident occurs on the field, it’s considered as a win. Previously, someone won quite a sum betting on it. This time, I also chose to bet on this one. It is a pity that I was off."
"Impressive, to think someone would dare to bet on such a minuscule possibility and even win. However, that ten times payout for an explosion on the football field seems to be unexpectedly low."
"Indeed, it seems like there’s a fellow who placed great stakes on this option. If I’m not wrong, he seems to have also bet on the 'An explosion closure before the France National Team can score 10 goals'. He single-handedly won 90% of the stakes, which caused the payout rate to be lowered..."
In a certain pitch black room, the fortunate ones who won the majority of the stakes, stare at the mountain of gold coins before them and laugh maniacally.
"Stop laughing, it’s time to split the spoils!"
I survey the surroundings. My accomplices, Yingou, Beifeng, and Reyne, are all here. Their eyes are filled with a thirst for the profits.
"Yingou, here is your portion. A fifth of it. You’ve worked hard for the referee work and the preparations for the explosives."
Yingou happily collects the money pouches. To a Gnome, nothing brings greater happiness than counting gold coins.
"Let's continue working together. We will make big money together!"
I nod my head with a smile. I didn't intend to tell him that due to him going overboard on the field, his rights as a referee have been stripped from him. The next time, the one sitting beside me to split the spoils may very well be the Gnome Prince Kabala.
"Beifeng, here's yours. A fifth of the lump-sum. You did well on the field, but..."
"I understand. I won't forget Brother Clint, who took the blame. As the elder brother, I have to value our brotherhood, otherwise, how else can I convince the crowds. Leave the aftermath to me, I will make sure that Brother Clint will be satisfied with the ending."
Although I had no idea when this person had become the publicly recognized leader of the Gentlemen, I still nod my head at his words. In a sense, so long as it’s something that doesn't concern his hobbies, the cunning Beifeng is a reliable ally. His actions are swift and nimble, and he is much more trustworthy than anyone else.
"Reyne, a twentieth. Be more serious the next time you kick. Your expressions and actions are much too fake. We almost got exposed, did you know that?"
"Brother Roland, didn't we agree on a fifth?"
"You fool, what use is there for a kid to have her hands on so much money? I will help you take care of it and pass it to you when you grow up."
Perhaps the princess was just joining in for the fun of it. Despite being exploited, she didn't get angry in the slightest.
"Oh right, Brother Roland, do you know that Big Sister Kelly made a bet with me as well?"
"She said that you would definitely confiscate my portion through the reason that children should not spend money extravagantly."
"Heh, she sure understands me well... No, that's not right. Do you think that your Big Brother Roland is such a person?"
Suddenly, I realize that something is amiss.
"Wait, how did Kelly know about this?"
"Hehe, it’s as you’ve said. My expression was too fake, and I got exposed." Knocking a fist on her head, Reyne playfully sticks out her tongue.
The moment she finishes her words, Beifeng and Yingou grab their money and prepare to sneak off. But before they can leave, the door suddenly opens.
"As I expected! Lord, you, you are really unbelievable! When I first heard of it, I thought that someone was framing you. How can you call yourself an oracle of the God of Law like this!"
Krose's face is filled with sorrow and shock, as though seeing her own child walking down a twisted path.
"The fortune that Momo saved up with much difficulty... It’s you again, you evil Roland! But as long as Momo is allowed to hug little Rolo to sleep tonight, I will let it slide. Hehe, Momo promises that she won't do anything. Really! At most, I will only remove his clothes a little..."
Momo, wipe your saliva before you continue speaking! What do you mean by doing nothing? I would be truly foolish if I trusted your words.
"Little Roland. Hehe, to think you would dare to lead Reyne astray. Did you forget the ways of your Big Sister Kelly? Big Sister Kelly definitely isn't angry just because she lost money."
That, Big Sister Kelly, I will refund you the amount you have lost. Don't smile at me in that manner, you are scaring me.
"My armor. The Missilor mithril alloy full body armor that I almost lost my life to obtain. Lord, can you return it to me?"
The door has been blocked by angry debtors. There are familiar looks of anger on familiar faces. After lowering my head in contemplation for a moment, I make a declaration.
"One must remain rational when watching football. Gambling will ruin one's entire life, and I mean it! Furthermore, humans live to fulfill their greed, so it is impossible for me to refund you all. Right, Yingou and Beifeng are about to leave, do not let them escape. Finally, please do not hit my face, I still have to meet someone tomorrow."
【Rule number 647. The personnel related to the football competition aren't allowed to place bets on it. Rule number 648. The greedy Gnomes are not allowed to serve as referees, and the cunning Roland is not allowed to join in the competition! Gnomes and Roland are permanently banned from gambling in football competitions!】
TL: National Football Team -> China National Football Team