Tournament Finals #2
The huge explosion caused smoke and steam to fill the air. Two 4th Circle magics had been accelerated by wind, causing a deadly explosion on the battlefield. The solid stone floor of the stadium cracked apart, and dust rose up in the aftermath.
Visibility was sharply reduced in this situation, but Theodore's eyes shone a brilliant gold.
It was Hawkeye! Hawkeye, the skill he had received a few days ago after consuming 'Hawk's Skull,' naturally penetrated through the smokescreen which covered the stadium.
The moment Theo discovered Sylvia, Theo's eyes shook. It was because none of the crystals hanging from her robe were broken.
'She blocked it? The accelerated Double Blaze Shell?'
The clear ice pieces nearby were indications of Frozen Wall, a 3rd Circle defense magic. It looked like she had overlapped two or three layers of it. However, she couldn't have blocked that with a defensive ability which was lower than Earth Wall. The strength of the two materials, ice and stone, absolutely couldn't be compared.
The moment Theo thought this, he felt a chill on his skin.
"...Indeed, it is temperature!"
He couldn't help feeling in awe as he understood how Sylvia had improved her defense. Some time ago, he had stumbled upon this concept while reading a book.
According to the study of a magician, ice was said to increase in strength as the temperature dropped. If the temperature was minus 30 degrees Celsius, the strength would be similar to human teeth. Once the temperature was below minus 40 degrees, it would be stronger than minerals like amethysts.
If Sylvia had created an ice wall at a lower temperature, then its defense would almost be comparable to that of a steel wall. The barrier had been crushed, but the ice wall had been sufficient to block Theo's attack.
Theo realized this fact and prepared the next spell, but Sylvia was the one who moved first inside the smoke screen. Her robe flapped as she used her staff to draw a circle of magic power. Theo's Hawkeye vision penetrated the identity of the magic circle faster than anyone else.
'Ah, it is the first time I've dealt with this magic...!'
Theo broke off the spell he was casting and hurriedly retreated as it popped out of the smoke screen.
It was an attribute control magic which existed in the 4th Circle. The opaque body of water wriggled, and the delicate scales shone as they reflected the light from the ceiling. Clumsy magicians often produced worms, but this was like a work of art.
That power was never beautiful.
The water snake rushed aggressively toward Theodore like a real snake. It was like a big swamp snake, but its speed was comparable to that of a wild beast. The tail of the water snake shot upwards quickly.
Theo sensed an early warning as a chill ran down his spine. A lump of water wasn't that painful, but the Liquid Snake wasn't an ordinary mass of water. The heavy water was compressed at a high density, making it hard and heavy like metal.
If he was hit once, then it had the ability to cause damage beyond the absorption capacity of the crystal.
The descending tail hit the spot where Theo had just been standing. The ground was shattered like a warrior had hit it with a hammer, and Theo's robe was punctured by the fragments. It was good that the crystals didn't recognize that as damage.
Theo hurried out of the range of the water snake.
'Faster than I thought...!'
However, it wasn't over after the water snake missed. The water snake quickly turned its head toward Theo. It was a dozen times Theo's size, but it was almost twice as fast as Theo. It wouldn't have been possible to avoid the first blow if it hadn't been for Theo's sensory perception.
He rolled across the floor and desperately avoided the successive attacks of the water snake.
Kwaang! Kwang! Kwaang! Kuwang!
The tail and body of the snake kept crushing the floor of the stadium. Every move was an attack corresponding to 3rd Circle magic. Theo changed direction repeatedly to aim at Sylvia, but the water snake continued blocking him off.
Indeed, it was appropriate to call the water snake a moving defense. Fireball and Lightning Bolt couldn't stop the momentum of the water snake. It blocked a few shots that Theo had fired already. If this continued, he would consume too much stamina and magic power. It was time to use one of his hidden cards.
'My stored Blaze Shell doesn't have enough power.'
The 4th Circle fire magic could offset that snake. However, that was all.
Wouldn't it just revert the situation back to the beginning?
There was still a large difference between him and Sylvia, so the choice would just result in a one-sided loss. Then the second option was the Magic Bullet. Even the hobgoblin chief hadn't been able to withstand it.
The index finger of Theo's right hand stretched out quietly. He had to prepare enough power to penetrate through the water snake. Now that his magic power had reached the 4th Circle, he could shoot three or four of magic bullets. Unlike last time, there was no need to risk his life for one hit.
"...Okay, I'm going." Theo got up and maintained his posture. The water snake was chasing after him at a terrible speed, but it wasn't difficult to stop for a moment.
Sylvia's water snake was persistent magic, but Mitra had been waiting for his call from the beginning!
[Hoing!] Mitra's cute voice resonated in his head as the shattered floor of the stadium suddenly soared up.
The water snake failed to overcome its own momentum and slammed its head against a wall which had suddenly been raised. The strength of the collision shook the firmly constructed earth barrier, but it couldn't destroy it instantly. The water snake had to hit it three times to break Mitra's barrier.
Then beyond the barrier, the recreation of a previous scene appeared.
"Too late, reptile."
As a bluish glow emerged from the tip of his index finger, Theo aimed at Sylvia standing behind the water snake. Funnily enough, the opaque snake's body became an obstacle hindering her view. Her trust in the water snake's defensive ability cased her to become the prey of the Magic Bullet.
Immediately, a streak of light flew across the stadium.
The sound was slower than the streak of light. As the sound caught up one step late, the light had already pierced through the body of the water snake. It didn't care about the snake, which exploded like a water balloon, and flew unceasingly to its target.
As the audience responded to the blue light, Sylvia's talent meant she immediately unfolded a shield reflexively.
However, Theo's attack wasn't something which could be stopped with a basic shield. The Magic Bullet ruthlessly pierced through the surface of Sylvia's robe and hit her stomach. She took a step back from the shock of a power which couldn't be stopped by the Liquid Snake and Shield, and a crystal hanging from her robe broke with a loud sound.
It was a shocking start. While everyone in the stadium went into shock, Sylvia's bangs covered her face. It was impossible for the spectators to guess what expression she carried. How would she respond to this?
Would she have tightly clenched fists and an angry face? Perhaps she would be startled? Maybe there would be tears from the unexpected pain?
At that moment...
His teeth started clattering together. Goose bumps appeared on his skin, and his body shook from the cold. It was an extreme feeling, but it wasn't caused by fear. The pure cold was cooling down Theo's whole body. The sensation of his muscles contracting as he moved in this cold made him shudder.
Theo looked up reflexively at the ceiling, and his expression hardened. A huge number of ice arrows were pointing at the ground.
'No, isn't there at least 100 of them?'
How could Sylvia produce such a number? As Theo pulled up his magic power while being bewildered by the huge number, the arrows started to pour down. If they had a strength proportional to this cold, they would have the same power as a steel arrow. Any accidental scratch would be enough damage to break a crystal.
Above all, there were too many to avoid all of them.
As soon as Theo's spell was completed, three pairs of hands made of fire appeared in the air. The hands heated up the air. He learned from Vince that it was better to get get rid of a magic like Ice Arrow, rather than letting it skim past his body.
The 100 ice arrows and fire palms danced together. The steam caused by the evaporated arrows rose up from the ground. If it hadn't been for 'West Wind's Protection,' he would've been hit. Still, Theo's efforts weren't in vain as he managed to get rid of the arrows without a single bit of damage.
Theo got rid of Burning Hands and tried to penetrate the steam when...
A girl with silver hair suddenly ran through the steam which had spread like fog.
"Eh?!" Theo's eyes widened when he saw that Sylvia had suddenly come toward him.
The distance which of almost 50 meters between them had narrowed in a matter of seconds. It wasn't the 5th Circle magic Blink, yet Haste was too slow compared to this speed. The secret to her rapid movements was the ground at her feet.
She slid along an ice road created by ice magic. It was a technique which was contained in Alfred's memories. The ice road was a feat impossible without an exquisite control over the centre of gravity in the body and the frictional force.
Nevertheless, the technique was possible due to Sylvia's exceptional genius. However, Theo didn't have any more time to think.
The staff which contained magic power appeared right in front of Theo's nose.
He would've been hit if it wasn't for the warning of his sensory perception. If he had been hit without the damage absorbing crystal, his face would be squashed like a tomato. Theo had just barely managed to avoid the first attack, but the staff was notorious for its length.
Huoong! Hung! Huoong!
Sylvia's staff was wielded in succession. It grew increasingly closer to Theo's body and was now at a distance where it rubbed against his clothes.
'Damn, I'm reaching the limit...!'
Theodore had never learned proper hand-to-hand combat, so he couldn't escape from the professional techniques. He had only managed to avoid having all three crystals broken due to his sensory perception.
It was urgent for Theo to widen the distance. As soon as he made the decision, he jumped to the rear.
At almost the same time, the staff moved and hit his crossed arms. His crystal broke half a beat later.
With this, the two of them had returned to a tied score of 1:1.
"Ugh, that hurts..."
Most of the damage had been absorbed, but his bones were still throbbing. He probably had a bruise now. However, Theo used the shock while jumping and was able to widen the distance to almost 15 meters.
He wouldn't allow her to get closer like before. Theo understood that he shouldn't get close to Sylvia, so he paid close attention to her. If he took his eyes off her for even a moment, the same situation would repeat.
For that reason, Theo glimpsed something unexpected as he used Hawkeye.
Sylvia's emotionless face which seemed to be carved out of ice... Her marble-white face was smiling like a child would.