Noone could make the head nor tails of this situation. It was as if Lina was here as an adventurer. She wore clothes that couldn’t be any farther from the image of a mage, but from Lina’s face, it was evident that she wasn’t messing around.
Her red skirt was not too long, exposing her thighs, and thin pink leggings covered up to just above her knees. Her white shirt was slightly puffed up, and on top of it was a plainly designed scarlet vest. And… she had the same key accessory necklace as the one I was wearing. When did she get one for herself?
She probably accounted for Idéa’s swift movement and staff martial art skills. She was my excellent pupil, sure, but I didn’t expect her to pay this much attention to every little detail.
Or was it precisely because she was my excellent pupil that I hadn’t expected it?
I might have said at one point that new ideas may put one on the right track, so this might be an example of that in practice?
But this was what Lina had come up with, without any involvement from me. Now let’s see how that unpleasant girl deals with this.
Along the duel perimeter in which Lina and Idéa stood, Irene created a force field-like wall to protect the spectators. Then she took a glance at me and turned to Warren. Looks like they made eye contact, too.
Is something going on? Warren and she were on opposite sides, maintaining Spell Circles — Oh, it was the Force Field spell. Billy was probably in charge of first aid, so Irene would need assistance from someone else. She couldn’t have asked me, what with me being a Freshman and close friends with Lina, and Warren did have a reputation of being trustworthy. Being in a high position of power, she had to account for many things usually taken for granted.
The way I am now, I wouldn’t be able to do that.
The battles’ referee was Billy, as elected by the Black Faction. They feared that if the White Faction were to elect the referee, the judgment may be biased and put the Black Faction at a disadvantage, which made sense.
The winner of today’s tournament would go on to represent the Black Faction in the Friendly Matches. They would be fighting a White Faction member on the day of the event, so not electing a White Faction referee was to avoid the weakest candidate being favored. The candidates here may be Freshmen, but they were potential Black Faction representatives all the same.
As for the White Faction’s candidate, I had been selected thanks to an overwhelming wave of recommendations. I had planned to nominate myself, of course, but as it turned out, many of the influencers had requested for me by name. It was a rare case for there to be a representative selected without a preliminary contest.
Hmm, it looks like the match is finally beginning.
“No matter what happens, no regrets, all right?”
“Yes, please don’t hold anything back!”
After Idéa’s and Lina’s brief exchange, Billy raised his hands. The very moment he swung them down, the battle would commence.
Pochi’s ears twitched, at the same time, Idéa shot off a spell at blinding speed.
Together with the shout of the chant, a violet electrical stream gushed from her staff.
I see, so she had set Thunder as one of her Swift Magic. The Thunder spell itself had high speed, and making it Swift Magic meant she could activate it simply by chanting its name. Not a bad choice.
Lina hopped away from the Thunder’s area of impact and landed safely at a distance. She sure has gotten better at combat maneuvers. Her moves now seem to resemble Reid’s style in some respects too.
However, Idéa’s attack didn’t stop. She let loose a flurry of Thunder, filling the entire Maginasium with violet flashes and thunderclaps.
And then, seemingly tired of seeing Lina evade them all with energy to spare, Idéa switched from her stationary attacks to swift maneuvers. She dashed forward while keeping up her magic attacks, closing the distance and effectively reducing her opponent’s time to react.
Now Lina could no longer spare her stamina.
Although Idéa’s martial art was an unaltered classical form, the issue was not her unpredictability. Rather, it was her quick-wittedness and advantage of close range.
Obviously, in a battle between a warrior and a mage, the mage would hold an advantage at long range and the warrior at short range. With the duel grounds being the not-so-wide Maginasium, Idéa had the advantage in closing gaps and maintaining her zone.
That went to show how familiar she was with the warriors’ approach to combat.
High-leveled warriors like the members of The Silver may have several countermeasures, such as rushing in for a surprise attack, bulldozing through or closing in little by little while dodging, but could Lina do any of those?
If not, then how would she deal with this zoning…
…And before I even finished thinking, I saw Lina’s lips move. What? What did she do?
At that moment, Lina’s speed sharply rose. She nimbly slipped through Idéa’s fierce assault and closed the gap almost instantly.
–Which means… that estoc of hers is…!
Just when the estoc’s tip pointed at Idéa’s neck, Billy shouted, announcing the end of the fight.
“M-Master — She did it!”
“Y-yeah, she sure did…”
“I know everyone is also making a fuss over it, but how did she raise her speed so suddenly like that?”
I made eye contact with Pochi and stooped down, then explained to her in a whisper.
“Chances are… with the Speed Up spell.”
“Huh? There weren’t any Spell Circles traced anywhere, though?”
“Yeah, but that was probably by Swift Magic…”
“…Which means that estoc is–“
That reaction of ours was reasonable, I suppose. After all, that was a novel concept for us in a way.
Lina had purchased a Swift Magic-compatible staff, carved out the key components, and used them to craft a sword. Taking a closer look at it, I could see that its edge was handmade.
A staff was not only a mage’s catalyst, but also their weapon. Naturally, this meant that its strength was an important factor. Her method was a novel concept for us in that she had utilized that ‘strength’ unbelievably well.
“Our Headmaster, Tangalán the Meteor Battle Mage… Well, even in his days as a warrior, as Professor Tangalán, he had already been using speed augmentations by tracing Spell Circles in the air. But with today’s advancements, using Swift Magic with that method would make Lina something more than just a battle mage…”
“A Magic Sword Fighter, right, sir?”
“Exactly. Idéa may have had some other tricks up her sleeve, but with how swift that attack was, the match was over in an instant. Boy, Lina’s already making herself more and more distinguished with all this.”
The rest of the crowd have yet to make their way to the answer we found.
Even Idéa, who had fought at close range, still hadn’t realized what had happened. But I suppose that’s fair, considering her level. Chances are the only other ones to see it through were a portion of the Student Council and the faculty.
And that’s with me evaluating them humbly. Well, I shouldn’t be too far off.
“Ah, there’s Midors, sir.”
“Even with these battles being consecutive, it looks like Lina has an overwhelming advantage.”
“Huh, why is that the case, sir?”
“The effect of her spell hasn’t worn out yet, that’s why.”
“She’s got increased speed right off the bat, so…”
Slower than Idéa, and with a shorter range than Idéa and Lina’s zoning… Midors had absolutely no means of evading what he got coming for him, let alone launching a counterattack.
“So one-sided, indeed, sir~~~”
“Had Midors realized that Lina’s spell was still active and somehow survived the beginning of the match, then he might have had a good chance, but I suppose a Freshman wouldn’t be able to process that while being so nervous.”
“Are you suggesting that you can, Master?”
“If I didn’t realize it beforehand, then I wouldn’t be able to. But I would if I did, of course… Now, the spell’s effect will wear out soon. In the end, the real roadblock’s gotta be our top student, Hornel.”
“Ah… But sir–“
Oh, looks like Midors is protesting the decision?
A reasonable reaction, I suppose. With the match ending without him getting to do anything, it might have felt like a lot of wasted effort.
Still, the crowd is so loud that I can’t even hear him.
“Pochi, can you make out what he’s saying? Might be hard though, since you couldn’t hear Lina’s chanting just now…”
“I might just be able to at this volume… eh, well, ‘I demand the match to be reinstated,’ I think that’s what he said.”
And the referee, Billy, was now shaking his head. That was definitely a ‘no’.
“Now he’s saying something like, he couldn’t accept how it played out since his opponent was fighting like a warrior, unlike a mage… Are you sure things won’t take a bad turn from here, Master?”
“No, I’m sure it’ll be fine. He should be at the limit of his anger soon.”
“Aha, so that’s where you’re coming from…”
While Pochi was mid-sentence, Irene stepped forward to address the dispute. Seems like she’s scolding Midors.
“Let’s see, ‘it’s unsightly for you to make such excuses. Your enemies and monsters won’t give you another chance. You lost, and that’s final.’ …that’s what she said.”
“Hahaha, now those are some harsh words.”
Hornel, after taking a sidelong glance at Midors as he hung his head down in shame, took one step forward, then another. Looks like he’s quite nervous too. I suppose expecting anything different in this situation would be unreasonable.
And although Lina wasn’t showing any fatigue, it was apparent from her face that she wasn’t perfectly fine, either.
“So this battle here will decide your opponent half a month from now, in the Friendly Match, yes?”
“With how Hornel is now, he may very well overpower those two that Lina has beaten. But Lina was also able to conserve her stamina and mana in preparation for facing Hornel. There’s no telling how this fight will turn out…”
I had been observing Hornel’s movements during the practical exercises in class, and his speed wasn’t much different from the common soldiers. Idéa’s unique skills aside, he was the top of the class,
With his mastery of basic-level magic, he surely would be able to invoke them even in unfavorable situations. Moreover, he had one unique power that most others didn’t.
Namely, the power of financiers.
Hornel was rich, for he belonged to quite an affluent aristocratic household. It was immediately apparent from his high-quality clothes and expensive accessories.
There were some among the aristocrats that lived in poverty, of course, but that was not the case for him.
Being rich was inherited talent, so to speak. Having just that would make a great difference in the rate of acquisition of knowledge and magic.
But the most noticeable effect it had was… most likely, the “staff”.
As I had checked with Irene beforehand, the most expensive staff currently in the market was the ‘Damascus Rod’ which was crafted from a special alloy.
It costs as much as a large mansion… which would make one think no man would dare to buy it, but there were some who would, even if it cost them their house.
And the reason would be for its capacity in storing Swift Magic. Five spells at once.
My Star Rod could fit no more than two.
If I had one of those staves, I could create a well-balanced loadout of two support spells, one recovery spells, and two attack spells, all ready to invoke immediately.
That was the very reason why most mages would want it. I want it too, as a matter of fact. After all, even if I had a large mansion, it wouldn’t do me any good if I were dead.
One’s strength was what elevates one’s chances of survival, so in desperate times, anyone would be willing to sell a mansion if they wanted a higher chance of staying alive.
But of course, Hornel didn’t own a ‘Damascus Rod’. Even the rich have their limits, after all.
Still, the staff Hornel did have was one with the capacity for four Swift Magic spells, the ‘Blazing Dragon Staff’. It was also quite expensive and required the precious horn of the A-ranked giant red dragon, the Lord Dragon, to craft.
The market price for it was 200,000 Gold, approximately 200 times the enrollment fee of the Magic University.
Even after being promoted to Rank A, I wouldn’t expect to see that much gold in my pockets anytime soon… Which means even if I defeated a Lord Dragon, I still wouldn’t be able to get my hands on a Blazing Dragon Staff. Besides, it would take more than a single horn to make the staff.
The artisans’ skills were also an important factor, but even the most renowned craftsmen would still need at least three horns.
Moreover, the Lord Dragons weren’t exactly common. Perhaps the materials could be substituted with those of other Dragons.
Still, four slots, huh…
If I had that many, I’d put in two support spells, one recovery spell, and one attack spell, I guess?
Now, Hornel… let’s see what setup you’re bringing to the table, eh?
“It’s beginning, Master!”
Silavin: A little bit of a team update here.
Xemul will be joining us as a proofreader and Anna will be busy for a while with exams.
Meanwhile, p4553r, will be focusing more on Rebuild World.
On a side note: I’ll be posting on Patreon again. If you wish to support us or read ahead, click here.