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 Chapter 178 - Eye of the Storm (2)

The moment she spoke, a cold wind started blowing. Apart from the lethal force that the magic implied, the phenomenon which occurred was unbelievably beautiful. It was a glorious silver storm!

The white, snowflake-like particles glittered like crystals as they froze. Even a human with a strong vitality wouldn't be able to survive. Theodore would become an ice statue before he could even feel the cold.

"...This... Isn't it really amazing?" Theodore marveled at Sylvia's genius.

'Using Blizzard and then the technique of Frozen Orb to compress the frost... There are at least five types of ice-making procedures being used in combination to create this... It would be difficult even for a Prime of the Blue Tower to do.'

This was a unique magic, but Sylvia had not designed or developed it. She had just combined existing magic formulas in a way that no one else had tried. It was similar to the magic fusion theory which Theodore had used to develop Volcanic Shell, but a few steps further.

Sylvia's 'Diamond Dust' overtook decades of research. It wasn't in the 7th Circle, but it was a magic which surpassed the 6th Circle! After Sylvia shouted 'Diamond Dust,' she pointed her shaking staff at Theodore and exclaimed, "Go...!"

The storm swirling above her staff followed her command. The movement of the high-density magic power condensed into a vortex which could be seen even by a person who didn't learn magic. Then it descended from the air toward the ground.

This storm which could freeze flesh and muscles descended toward Theodore, and-

Nothing happened.

Kurururung!

Theodore stayed still as Diamond Dust descended toward him, but he didn't even use defense magic.

"T-Theo...?!" A sharp scream burst from Sylvia's mouth.

It was a magic which a sword master couldn't be safe against when defenseless, and yet Theodore was defenseless?

Sylvia wanted to be acknowledged by Theodore, not kill him. Therefore, she received a huge shock. However, ironically, her legs didn't collapse because of her thorough training over the last year.

Unlike the robustness of her body, her face was pale white. The moment her mind was about to collapse like a perforated dam...

Puhwaak!

A red robe emerged from the storm. Theodore took off the robe, which was decorated with frost and icicles, and ran toward Sylvia. Unlike Sylvia, Theodore had calmly grasped the situation a while ago.

'This is a power that can only be called a foul.'

It was the Artificial Yin and Yang. Half of it was supported by Aquilo's Blood Mark, and the power derived from it was a natural enemy of water magicians.

[* Understanding of water magic and fire magic has greatly increased, reducing the casting time of magic. Ignores attribute damage that is below the user's level, and halves it if it exceeds the user's level.]

Sylvia's unique magic was definitely amazing. 'Diamond Dust' was perhaps the best magic which could be achieved by a magician who hadn't reached the master level, as it was in the boundary between 6th and 7th Circle magic.

Even a 7th Circle magician like Theodore had to be careful against it. He admired Sylvia's talents and efforts which had created such a unique magic.

The problem was that the target of the magic was Theodore.

It might be different when using magic to mobilize physical force, like the old Liquid Snake. However, the pure water magic phenomenon was blocked by the water resistance in Aquilo's Blood Mark. No matter how comparable to 7th Circle magic it was, Diamond Dust wasn't a 7th Circle magic.

He ran across the frozen ground and called out to Sylvia, who was losing control, "Sylvia!"

"Ah." Relief filled her eerily blank expression, and she held her staff like it was a spear.

She had already pioneered the staff techniques Blundell had taught her. It wouldn't be easy for a knight to find gaps in her defense to pierce through. In the finals of the tournament, Theodore had almost lost to that very staff technique.

'...No, it has changed from that time!' Theodore realized.

He was now 10 meters away from Sylvia. Simultaneously, a few ice spears floated around her, gleaming menacingly.

Kwa kwa kwak. Kwack! Kwa kwak! Kwack! The spears pierced the ground of the stadium in succession.

The strength of the spears, which had frozen at extremely low temperatures, was already above steel. Theo could defend against being turned into an ice statue, but it wasn't possible with physical force.

The spears aimed toward him. Sylvia was well-aware of Theodore's ability to use Battle Song with other magic tricks, so she didn't let him use it. However, the discipline carved into Theodore's body was incredibly sharp.

His ability to invoke Battle Song in this moment was amazing. Theodore easily pierced through the wall of rock aimed at him. The movement, however, was slow in comparison to Randolph's sword strikes or the water droplet Aquilo fired.

Kiiiiiik!

Theodore's hand flowed lightly. An object moving quickly in a straight line was vulnerable to attacks from the side, like an arrow being deviated due to a gust of wind. The strike from Theodore's hand caused the staff's trajectory to change.

"Ah...!" Sylvia gasped.

As Theodore's fist aimed for that fatal gap, Sylvia foresaw the pain and couldn't help closing her eyes.

She could endure pain, but she was somehow afraid of looking at Theodore. Sylvia tried to reduce the impact by tilting her head backward, but Theodore had no intention of hitting her from the very beginning.

He touched his finger and thumb together. Yes, it was an action that anyone would've done as a child. Theodore's powerful flick struck the middle of Sylvia's white forehead.

Ttaak!

"Kyak?!" Sylvia's legs loosened at the unexpected pain.

Perhaps it was due to the previous mental shock that the power behind the flick seemed like she was stung by a bee. Sylvia grabbed her forehead while feeling it was absurd. Theodore looked down at her with a smile and asked, "Have you calmed down now?"

"I'm angry!" Sylvia had been flicked during the middle of a serious fight, so she couldn't help complaining. "Forehead flick... Why...? I'm serious about this fight."

"Ah, wasn't that obvious with the magic you first used? It was definitely amazing. I would've suffered if I didn't have a foul method."

"F-Foul?! Theo, what foul?"

"I can't teach you that," Theodore teased Sylvia in a mischievous tone while looking at her innocent face.

It might be due to Diamond Dust having no effect, or maybe she was surprised by the forehead flick, but a dark shadow appeared in her eyes. Theodore realized that it was finally the atmosphere for a talk and sat down beside her.

"I'm sorry," he said.

"Huh?" Sylvia's blue eyes widened as he apologized.

"You were the one who always helped me when I was having trouble, so I'm sorry that I left without saying anything."

"Theo...?"

"It was me, not you, who was lacking in the relationship between us. I didn't do enough for you, compared to everything you did for me."

Due to his bad memories of the academy, Theodore was reluctant toward the existences called 'friends.' Therefore, he hadn't taken good care of Sylvia. He knew that he was her first friend, but he'd ignored how heavy a responsibility it was. He hadn't been able to say goodbye, and he'd left without telling Sylvia anything.

Theo had left her alone... because his baggage was too heavy.

"I'm sorry, Sylvia," Theodore apologized once again as Sylvia's eyes stared at him. It seemed like all his pent-up feelings were being released. "In the future, I won't leave without saying anything."

"...Sob." Tears formed in Sylvia's blue eyes. As the tears fell down her flushed cheeks, Sylvia jumped into Theodore's arms.

"Huaack, h-huaaang...!"

It would've been okay if she had been alone from start to finish. After all, a child left alone wouldn't know the concept of being together with someone.

However, Sylvia knew. She'd felt the warmth of being with someone, as well as what it felt like to share emotions and joy with someone who wasn't a family member. Along with a sense of fulfillment, she also felt a sense of loss.

Theodore patted her back and murmured, "Yes, I was wrong."

He felt the front of his shirt was becoming wet, but he didn't know what to do. These feelings of warmth, moisture, and a soft texture were unfamiliar. Theodore hugged Sylvia on the floor of Pentarium. He thought that the sobs had stopped, but it was probably his mistake.

Then at least five minutes passed by.

'S-So. How long should I be doing this...?' Theodore's mind was confused from hugging a girl for the first time.

He had experience with Veronica, but it was a situation where she had always initiated it. He had never once held someone through his own will. Theodore also didn't know how to comfort a woman who was crying.

At that moment, somebody's voice rang out from behind him, "Oho..."

A saying from the Eastern Continent fit this situation perfectly.

"I flew for three days and nights without sleeping, only to see you playing with this kid...?"

Speak of the tiger, and it will come to see you.

The woman, Veronica, revealed her presence behind Theodore and Sylvia.

"T-Tower Master...?!" Theodore exclaimed.

"Hrmm... You are still calling me Tower Master...?" Veronica remarked.

Theodore got an uncomfortable feeling when he looked at her. Sensing that, he let go of Sylvia and then rose to his feet. With her red hair flying around her, the beautiful woman looked like a literal flame. The fact that she'd flown for three days and nights sounded ridiculous, but the scent of the cold night air was coming from her disheveled robe.

Chiiiik! Heat spread from Veronica's feet, quickly melting Sylvia's ice. No, the speed was closer to 'evaporation,' rather than 'melting.' Veronica didn't use any magic. It was just that the temperature went up when she was feeling agitated. So, the cold air warmed up as well.

Veronica's shoes made loud sounds as she walked forward and said, "I haven't seen you in a year, but this is much more than I expected..."

Theodore couldn't move his body. Just like a herbivore that froze before a predator, he stood still as Veronica's golden eyes stopped in front of him. She stretched out her white fingers and patted Theodore's cheek gently.

"By the way..."

Her fingers moved from his cheek to his ear.

"Why?"

Then her fingers descended toward his neck.

"Why is there a bad fishy smell coming from the body of my kid...?"

Veronica's fingers stopped at a certain point on his neck. She gently touched the area, which Aquilo had bitten, and simultaneously poured out Dragon Fear like a full dragon.

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