“Ahh, it’s over~~”
“Sure is, sir~~”
During the time the Sophomores’ Friendly Match was in progress, as evidenced by the quaking felt even from outside, Pochi and I dropped our bodies on a bench in the courtyard, recovering the fatigue we had sustained thus far.
“Still, I never would’ve expected that from Lina, training Baladd to use magic and all.”
“It’s a perfect fit for Baladd, sir. I reckon I could’ve used it as well if I wanted to, but my small MP pool is a big issue…”
“It was so surreal, you know, seeing her using a staff so disproportionate of her size to cast support magic of all things.”
“I could barely hold my laughter, sir.”
“Anyway, thanks for keeping Lina safe back there.”
“Oh, you’re welcome. I never thought you’d take care of Baladd without a single attack spell, either, sir. But that aside, are you sure you’ll be fine loitering around? Don’t you have Student Council work to take care of?”
“Well, not quite – for some unknown reason, our Mister Honorable President Warren told me to wait here, you see – hmm?”
I turned around on the bench, and as Pochi was leaning against me, she plunged headfirst onto the ground and landed with quite a prominent ‘thud’.
I felt a brief tension upon detecting the arrival of a certain someone, and sure enough, the one approaching me was an old man, with whom I didn’t want to interact very much.
“Heh, it’s only been a few months since, but it looks like you’ve trained yourself up quite a lot, haven’t you, young man?”
“It’s been quite a few months since, but it looks like you haven’t changed one bit, ‘Gaston’ …sir.”
I gave him a mildly sarcastic reply while grabbing Pochi, who had tried to sneak away in face of my predicament, by the nape of her neck.
The old man stood his short-ish staff straight up and rested both his hands on its top, giving off a dignified air befitting for one of the Six Archmages. That was one part of him that hadn’t changed one bit.
“Heh heh heh, you’re looking quite energetic – that’s one thing you didn’t have months ago. Makes me want you in the ranks of our Magic Guardians.”
“I’ll have to decline, sir. I already have so many things that need to be done.”
Gaston grinned upon me stating so.
“That’s it – Looks like you’re thinking about some interesting projects right now, aren’t you, young man? I’ve heard about it from old Irene. Had to do with object-space-transference magic?”
“Oh, for the love of… I suppose I should ask how much you know…”
“What I’ve heard are that you were plotting to help the girls at the Colorful Food District with the money you made from selling the Teleportation spell, and also to invest in starting your own business.”
“Goodness… calling it a ‘plot’ made it sound evil, sir. I’ve planned to ask you for advice down the line anyway, so I suppose that got one step out of the way. Do you have some free time this evening, Sir Gaston?”
Gaston raised one eyebrow, seeming to have not expected my invitation. But of course he wouldn’t have. For this particular issue, I had to rely on Gaston, for he had a significant relationship and connections with the Nation.
“Hmm, very well. I’ll be waiting at the usual restaurant.”
“Thank you, sir. So, anyway… do you need something from me? Warren told me to wait here… and by that, he meant to wait for you, I assume?”
“That young lady… Lina, was she now?”
Why did Gaston, of all people, have the need to talk about Lina? Is he ‘that’ kind of person? Oh, who am I kidding, there’s no way – …or maybe there is.
“Cease the nonsensical thoughts, young man.”
Well excuse me, sir.
“Now, the main reason I’ve called for you is that I needed some questions answered. I’ve heard that you taught Lina how to use magic… is that true?
“I did. Just the introductory level, though.”
“I predict that she will become valuable personnel in the future… So, after her graduation, I would like her to be one of the Magic Guardians. I thought I would tell you while I can.”
“Are you… sure about that, sir?”
“Now, don’t tell me you’re not aware of the true purpose of the Friendly Matches. It’s to pick out the capable Freshmen while the time is ripe.”
He wasn’t wrong about that…
“But… did you already discuss this with her?”
“The necessary documents will be submitted to and processed by Magic University. I’ll have the particulars for her when the right time comes.”
“Oh… I see…”
That wasn’t a bad deal. A good one, even. If anything, Gaston the Great Mage of Flame, one of the Six Archmages, had taken an interest in her prowess. For those enrolled in the University, that was considered a great honor. Still, work as a Magic Guardians had its set of inherent dangers…
As I pondered the latter part over, Pochi started nudging my leg with her head.
“What’s up, Pochi?”
“This is for Lina to decide, Master!”
“…Uh, yeah, right.”
“Doesn’t seem like you understood the whole thing, though… Perhaps I should just say it straight up, what with you being such a passive fool. The meat of this thing is at least three years away, just so you know. And did you already forget what I just said?”
“Bah, you can be too dense sometimes, Master! Sir Gaston was inviting you to work with him as well!”
“That’s right – but in your case, not through the official procedure. First time I’ve done it this way, in fact.”
That left me speechless.
“Again, he was inviting both you and Lina, Master!”
This time, Pochi butted her head against my leg. That did leave quite an impact, shaking my vision, and in front of me, the Great Mage chuckled at my cluelessness.
I stood there, dazed, and Gaston promptly left after stating that he’ll be seeing me later in the day.
Still, the Magic Guardians… Hmm. Who would’ve thought we’d be scouted for such a position.
Pochi and I loitered around the area for some time, and then we heard the strongest tremor ever since we had come to the University. Most likely, this means the Black Emperor is making his entrance. And in turn, that would mean this is the final match of the event.
I can probably learn something from properly witnessing Warren’s abilities. With that in mind, I dragged Pochi with me back into the Maginasium.
The venue was in so much uproar that my ears felt all messed up just entering there. Most voices were from the students, but the ones from the front rows were quite prominent as well, which went to show how charismatic Warren was. If not that, the fact that the Senior class’ match was held before his would clue anyone in.
Standing on the stage were Warren and Vice President Jeanne. She had dark brown hair in a short cut, her chin was sharp, her eyes large, her eyebrows prominent and dignified, overall giving her a boyish look, and also higher popularity among the girls than the boys. But of course, without a doubt, her thighs had given many boys a reason to live another day, courtesy of her preference for shorts. On top of that, she now wore a short shirt that exposed her belly button, held down by mesh-patterned leather suspenders, and overalls covered under a white mantle with golden embroideries. She was slender and her martial arts form was on par with today’s professional warriors. From her dazzling white motif and her proficiency in lighting magic, she had been nicknamed “The Lightning Flash”.
If she hadn’t been preoccupied with the White Faction’s logistical work in negotiation with the Warrior University and various aristocrats, she would have made great contributions to the Ogre subjugation quest as well.
Before the cheering even calmed down, Headmaster Tangalán announced the match’s commencement.
Simultaneously with the signal, Jeanne fired off a Thunderbolt, an intermediate-level spell. Purple currents crackled as they lashed forth. Assaulted by a literal lightning flash, Warren thrust the end of this staff firmly into the stage floor. His staff acted as a lightning rod, sparing Warren of the shock as he stood behind it.
Seeing how the lightning homed in on the staff, I would assume that the staff’s upper end had been applied with a concentration of arcane energy. It had been made so that the Thunderbold would be drawn to the staff, so to speak. That was quite impressive, considering how much subtlety the technique required, particularly in manipulating the arcane energy.
And I would give the same compliments to Jeanne. While Warren was dealing with the Thunderbolt, she had taken very little time to apply quickening magic to herself… Wait, no. Was it supposed to be Regeneration? A modified formula, perhaps?
“That’s it! That’s Lady Jeanne’s original spell!”
Right, I’d heard rumors about this – the true merits of Jeanne the Lightning Flash lied in her use of her very own magic spells…
That was an electrically induced air trace… I couldn’t see in detail from this distance, but it was certain that her spells’ formulas were slightly modified. With Warren nonchalantly observing her moves, Jeanne sharply glared back at him.
Bah, they never get along. How unfortunate. How unfortunate indeed.
Still, at the same time, Jeanne grinned. It seemed that the reason this spell hadn’t been set as Swift Magic was that she was daring Warren to try and take it head-on. Jeanne’s staff was the Shamal Staff that supported three Swift Magic spells. I’d heard that the staff originated from the earthly elements of a certain distant desert. The three slots had been used for a speed augmentation spell, an improved Regeneration, and Thunderbolt. I see… so she was aiming to end it quickly and decisively.
Never heard of that spell before.
Pochi and I blurted out quite loudly, in fact, so loud that even the Freshmen seated a little away could hear us.
That was astounding… but now, I understand – it’s exactly what it says on the tin, a vestment made of a thunder. She’d need Regeneration to go with that.
The electrical cloak not only boosted her physical capabilities, but also could be used for defense. It was a good concept of a spell, but in face of it, Warren produced his trademark creepy grin, as if announcing his triumph.
It was as if he had been waiting for it to be used. What could he be planning… His staff was still stuck in the floor, too… Aha.
“Is he planning to pull some elaborate move off with that?”
“Yeah. Warren’s got this down.”
“Huh? What do you mean, Master!?”
“Just wait and see.”
Probably irritated by the creepy grin, Jeanne charged forward at full speed. I understand all too well how she must have felt, but-
Quite an unusual spell for Warren to utter at this time. Considering there wasn’t any dirt to be manipulated around here. Not many would turn to such a spell for the solution to their situation.
From deep underground, rocks and pebbles rich in iron content burst forth and clumped themselves over Jeanne’s body, rendered her completely immobile. Warren pulled his staff off the ground, walked up to her, and pointed his staff at her face. Billy then announced the end of the match. Damn, it’s annoying to admit, but that was a pretty neat strategy.
To top it all off, Warren pushed up his glasses as he was showered with cheers and praises.
“Master, what was that all about?”
“You know how Warren stuck his staff into the floor when he avoided the Thunderbolt, right? That was the move that decided his victory. Seeing how Jeanne moved faster than him should have raised from red flags, really.”
“Are you suggesting that Warren acted faster than her?”
“He used swift magic to manipulate the earth deep under the stage, which would explain all the setup time he needed. Boy, he’s always so good at these kinds of calculation that it’s annoying… whoops.”
Conscious of unpleasant gazes from the surrounding people, I promptly shut my mouth.
“Well, I wouldn’t lose to him when it comes to calculations, sir!”
“Ooh, that’s amazing. How about you show me what calculations you’re good at?”
“I’ve gotten all the stuff out, therefore, I can eat more sausages!”
Well, yeah, that’s… amazing.