“…What the hell?”
Irene grumbled in frustration while forcing her trembling body back under control.
Fuyu, done raining down her fire spears by now, stiffened up upon witnessing Asley’s transformation.
Trace and Dallas were unable to say anything, their mouths agape with surprise.
And the Black Emperor and his sister seemed just as excited as children in a candy shop.
“Very interesting…! From what I see, he has disengaged his arcane energy limiter. In other words, all of the arcane energy in Asley’s body is being released constantly!”
Warren made a guess as to what he was seeing was, and Dallas asked him,
“…And that’s the aura around him?”
“As hard to believe as it is, Asley possesses an arcane energy pool so large that he would not run dry even when operating in that state for extended periods of time. Ah, yes… perhaps in this state, one may be able to cast magic spells instantly — no need to draw Spell Circles at all.”
“So it’s like he can use Swift Magic as much as he wants! Ahahaha! Now that’s what I’d expect to see from a Holy Warrior!”
Jennifer laughed, contributed her comments, and then laughed some more.
Irene was not so amused, however.
In fact, she was keeping her turbulent emotions in check. As she folded her arms, she was clenching her fists so hard that her biceps were starting to bleed.
To Irene’s side, Trace was looking at her, staying silent.
[Perhaps this battle has turned out to be counterproductive to Miss Irene… No, it still IS necessary to analyze, but who would’ve expected the difference in power to be so great– Oh?]
And then Trace realized that Irene’s emotions were not as simple as they seemed.
Now Irene’s frustration was gone, her eyes induced with an intense spark of inspiration.
[Hmm, she’s managing to keep her emotions in check… by inducing her sense of curiosity and ambition. I suppose that’s what earned her the nickname of Invincible Sprout — As they say, one’s path to greatness never ends. Yes, yes… I’ll stay by her side. I’ll follow her to the ends of the earth!]
Trace looked away from Irene and turned to see Lina standing up with her staff… and in front of her, Asley striking a bodybuilder pose.
“HWOOOHOOOOOO! ABDOMINAL & THIGHS!”
And then Asley proceeded to explain,
“One foot forward, up on toes, hands behind your head! Flex your quadriceps! Upper body bent down, flex your abs! And breathe! Breathe like you’re squeezing all the air out of your body! And that’s how you conquer the world with a MUSCLE POSE! How’s that, Lina!?”
Asley looked at Lina triumphantly, but Lina was not at all looking at his so-called world-conquering muscle pose.
Asley’s arcane energy aura was so dense that it felt like it was covering the whole world. The Magic Shield around him stayed up no matter how many fire lances Fuyu rained down on him. Before long, the rain of fire lances stopped, replaced by a shower of arcane energy.
Lina muttered to herself.
“FWAHAHAHAHAHAHA! I knew you’d get it! See, you notice the trapezius muscle – from the back of my neck to the middle of my back!? That’s the subtle finishing touch that makes the pose SOOOOOO much better! HAHAHAHAHAHA!”
…And Asley proceeded to quite comically miss the point.
Sensing the overwhelming arcane energy, Hornel and Viola promptly woke up.
“Ugh, damn it…”
“The knowledge he possesses is on a whole nother level…”
Asley moved around, striking poses for everyone in the arena to see.
But Pochi, and only Pochi, was actually looking at his muscles.
“Stop flexing already, sir! It’S SO CREEPY!”
“Aw, don’t hate me ’cause I’m beautiful, doggo! Look! Everyone else is amazed, unlike you!”
“Absolutely no way, sir! I bet tonight’s dinner that they’re NOT amazed by your muscles!!”
“Hahaha! Two servings of dinner for me, and none for you! Nice!”
“……Nope, I don’t think that’s going to happen.”
Pochi said, giving up trying to argue with him in exasperation.
And then she continued,
“Also, Master… You’re such a big troll, you know that?”
The one to pick up on what Pochi had meant was Warren, standing next to her.
“Oh? Are you dropping out already, Fuyu?”
Everyone reacted to Warren’s comment by, of course, looking at where Fuyu was supposed to be.
She was still standing — with her staff, and she was expressing not a shred of surprise at Asley’s arcane energy aura.
Irene immediately realized what was up.
“What in the–!? Magic Drain!?”
Fuyu’s downcast eyes showed no energy whatsoever.
By this point, Asley had already caused her to fall unconscious.
“How did he…?”
Dallas asked, and Warren pushed up his glasses before pointing it out,
“Over there — look…”
Warren was looking at a spot below Asley’s feet.
“What!? He sneakily drew a Spell Circle… with his foot!?”
“For a moment, I thought that he was just being silly when he was spinning his toes around… Who would’ve figured that he’d take this chance to teach those two a counter to their gambit? His transformation meant that he could use any spell he wanted, but he did not rely on that and instead went out of his way to use a normal Spell Circle… Interesting, very interesting.”
Warren’s evil-looking grin caused Pochi to promptly look away.
Then she moved away from Warren, going to Dallas’ side instead.
“E-excuse me! May I sit here!?”
“Hmm? Sure, why not…”
Pochi heaved a sigh of relief and sat down next to Dallas.
“Aw, you’re making me feel lonely.”
Warren grinned and gave Pochi a sideways glance.
“W-well, you’re scaring me, so…”
Pochi folded her ears and covered her eyes with her paws.
“Giving Magic & Remote Control!”
Hornel held Fuyu up as the latter collapsed.
And then Asley set up a Giving Magic fixed-position Circle under them.
“Curses… curses! He’s got another trick that I never knew about!”
Hornel grumbled, taken aback by this particular Giving Magic’s peculiarity.
“Yes, another interesting trick! Remotely controlling a fixed-position type spell! He’s teaching us a great deal of things today.”
As Warren shuddered with excitement, he kept his sights locked onto Asley with intense concentration.
“…If I were to guess, he’s created a platform of arcane energy and put the Spell Circle on it. Do that, and a technically immobile Spell Circle could, in practice, be carried around. Tricking magic itself — now that is impressive. And his arcane energy control deserves even more praise than the idea itself. Hehehe… I see, I see. It’s much harder to perform than it looks — in fact, it’s too complicated for me to do… at this time.”
Lina heard Warren talking as the latter stood around behind her.
At this moment, she was the only active combatant left standing in the arena.
Hornel and Viola, despite having woken up, did not rejoin the fight. They understood that those who had already lost consciousness once were not meant to jump back in.
And so Viola walked over to Hornel, who was holding Fuyu up.
Another one of Asley’s help — this time in the form of the Holy Virgin’s Boundary — moved under them. Seeing the Craft Circle be delivered, Hornel muttered,
“He’s doing it again…”
“It’s like he’s always had spells ready to deal with any situation.”
“Yes, I think so, too.”
“We can be annoyed later. It’s not often that we get to see this much power be exhibited in battle — We must take note of as many things as we can.”
“Yes, ma’am… Hey, Fuyu. Wake up.”
Fuyu slowly opened her eyes.
In the middle of her eyes, she could see Asley… still striking bodybuilder poses.
Knowing that she had been defeated, Fuyu quickly got up and sat on her knees. Her face reddened up in frustration.
“Not yet… The fight isn’t over yet!”
Lina’s eyes were induced with a spark of determination as she pointed forward the Blazing Dragon Staff that Gaston had given to Asley — then Asley to her.
Asley muttered apologetically, and then a tremendous blast of wind was released from his hand.
“Air Wall Stamp.”
The pressure of the air wall made it almost impossible to even breathe. Lina held out her hands to try and block it, but she was immediately pushed back.
The mass of concentrated air gradually wrapped around Lina, and as Asley slowly stepped forward, her body was lifted up and pushed toward the rock face behind her.
Having lost her footing, Lina tried to flail around — but she could not do even that, as the air pressure was rendering her completely unable to move.
In the end, she was pressed against the rock face.
Asley was now right in front of her, pointing one end of his Drynium Rod at her.
“…O-okay… I give up…”
Asley promptly disengaged his spell and caught Lina as she fell from the rock face to the ground.
“Ah — no fair, Lina!”
Fuyu shouted as Lina was held in Asley’s arms.
At the same time, Dallas started moving, but then…
Someone held out her hand in front of Dallas, stopping him.
“Don’t be like that, ol’ Dallas! I’m in front of you — so I oughtta go first, don’tcha think?”
It was by none other than, among the five fighters in waiting, the one most itching to get some action.
“Now it’s time for Jenny to shine!”
Jennifer the Bone Fist — Sister of the Black Emperor and former Six Braves — cracked a grin.