Ixi kept leading me through the building while talking my ear off. “You were great, Leo! I mean, sure, you looked like you had no idea what you were doing… your poker face can use some work… but that just made everyone even more surprised when you beat her! I’m real proud of you, Leo. You’re a real champion--”
I held up a hand to stop her, and she shut up. “Look.”
“The girl. Over there.”
My opponent was sitting on the ground, her knees pulled up to her chest, arms wrapped around her legs. She stared at the ground.
“Yeah, her, what about her?”
“Wait here, Ixi.” I walked over to my opponent. “Excuse me…”
Her eyes shot up. “What?”
I knelt in front of her. “My name is Leo. What’s yours?”
She stared at me for a second, then answered. “It’s Nioi.”
“May I ask you something, Nioi?”
“That’s the second question you’ve asked me already, so one more can’t hurt.”
I flinched. “… Right. Anyway, I was wondering…”
“Spit it out,” she snapped. She seemed annoyed at me.
“Um, why are you fighting?”
She stared at me silently again, then tilted her head. “… Explain.”
“Why are you playing against people? What’s your reason?”
She narrowed her eyes. “I fight to give my country its rightful place. This planet… It will be named after Reginea, the true queen country!”
“Why? Why is it that you want Reginea to defeat Leonteria so badly? Did Leonteria’s king do something bad to your country?”
Her voice finally had emotion in it when she answered. “… Yes.” She sounded like she was going to cry. Her eyes found their way back to the ground. “My brother crossed the border once. He didn’t mean to. Someone pushed him across the border. He didn’t cross on purpose… But the king of Leonteria…” She wiped at her eyes. “He accused him of warfare against Leonteria. I told everyone that he was pushed… But no one else saw the guy. They didn’t believe me. No one believed me.”
I stayed where I was, wondering why I was on the side of Leonteria, when the king had done something like that.
But I would find out.
“I’ll find out,” I told her quietly. “I promise I’ll find out somehow why the king did that. And I’ll find out who pushed your brother, and why he did. And I’ll make sure that if your brother is innocent, he won’t be seen as guilty anymore.”
She glared at me. “Don’t make promises you can’t keep.”
“Fine. I won’t promise. But I promise to try.”
She looked away.
“I’ll see you again, Nioi. Okay?”
“… Alright. Alright, fine.”
I smiled. “Good.” I stood, and walked back over to Ixi.
“What was that all about?” she asked.
“You were wrong,” I told her. “Your people do destroy each other.”