Ahh, so itchy!
I’d never expected her repertoire of trolling skills to increase this much!
Damn it! Now she’s gone and taken away all the seriousness of this scene!
Who the hell even taught her to be such a pranker? WHO?! Oh, that’s me.
“Sir Asley? …E-excuse me?”
While that was going on, Lina approached me, as if peering into my face, and called for my attention.
And it looks like Pochi was already done with her preparations for battle. Damn you, first you interrupt my flow, and now…!
“Feel free to call out Baladd right from the start this time! This new-and-improved Pochi here will show her a thing or two!
Pochi seemed quite proud of the gesture she had displayed, but it seemed that Lina had already intended to do that either way.
That reminds me, this would be my first time seeing Baladd after two years.
She’s gotten super huge by now, I’m sure.
Ryan will likely be fine, but… Reid, Mana, and Adolf… they wouldn’t just faint from this kind of surprise, right?
“Rise, A-rise, House!”
Her tracing speed has increased quite a lot too.
It seemed that, just as I had taught her, she had not neglected the tempering of her out-of-combat skills.
Her Spell Circle exuded light.
What appeared from it was the very same four-winged dragon that had caused Hornel much suffering in his preliminary round of the Friendly Match two years ago – the Ballad Dragon.
…Oh? Her size doesn’t seem to have changed much. Is this… normal?
“…Whew, I don’t think I’m ever going to get comfort-table in there, Lina.”
Her voice has become fairly deep and husky now, but it looks like she hasn’t entirely fixed her strange pronunciations yet.
She has grown up ever since her public debut at the Friendly Match, sure… but just by about twenty percent, I suppose? It wouldn’t be strange for others of her kind to be fully developed physically by her age, after all.
“Splendid! A Ballad Dragon, the four-winged dragon… in the flesh!”
Ryan openly expressed his admiration as he gazed upon Baladd’s entry.
On the other hand, Reid and the others were agape with shock, as one would have expected.
With one exception – Adolf was smiling in innocent awe like a little kid.
Well, that’s a dragon we’re talking about…
It’s one thing that would hype up a kid’s heart. I suppose this reaction of his was not quite unexpected.
“Baladd, this is my brother, and this is my sister. He’s Sir Ryan, and that’s Adolf.”
“Aye’m Baladd, Lina’s Familiar. Nice to meet you, everyone.”
Hmm, looks like her pronunciation issue now only kicks in when she’s trying to speak quickly.
Had this one aspect been left untouched because Lina liked it? Or no matter what she had tried, was it simply incurable? What a mystery.
Baladd bowed her head down to greet Ryan, to which he then greeted back. I see that she has learned the appropriate mannerisms too.
She then turned to exchange greetings with Reid and the others, ignoring the fact that they still have not calmed down, and then turned to the only ones she had yet to address – which would be us.
Baladd looked at me for only a second and bowed her head down, seeming to have caught only a glimpse – and then when she caught a clear sight of Pochi, her eyelids were wide open.
“M-Master Asley, and… Pochi?”
“Long time no see, Baladd!”
“Yeah, it’s been quite a while.”
We gave Baladd casual greetings, but it seemed that she isn’t being so casual about this reunion.
Her eyes welled up with tears, her legs seeming ready to rush her forward at a moment’s notice.
No, she is already rushing… AT ME?! She’s so fast! It’s like she’s on Melchi’s level!
“Gah-! Wha – waitwaitwait! Stop it, Baladd! L-let go-!”
“Hahahaha, no, I won’t! Do you have any idea how much I missed you?!”
Guh…… G-gonna die…!
“MASTERRRRR!! ……I’m next!”
“Wha – Pochi! Help me!”
Caught in Baladd’s choke-hold, I began to envision the conclusion of the Principles of a Philosopher.
I have heard that one would see their life flash before their eyes when they die, but all I see now is a smiling four-winged dragon in all its deathly innocent glory.
I can’t even see anything in front of me now, what with the tears in my eyes. Pochi, who had asked to switch just moments ago, now had an expression suggesting that she was fine with not getting to switch anymore. And I’m foaming from my mouth so hard that I could comfortably shave my facial hair right now. IF I HAD ANY!
“S-stop it, Baladd!”
A voice of an angel called out from behind the dragon.
Ahh, she has come to take me……
I turned to the sky, refreshed by the warm veil of the wind. This world… it’s so blue…
Released from Baladd’s arm at last, I plunged my knees onto the ground and looked up at the endless sky.
…Once again, my tears have completely obscured my line of sight.
“-gh! KAH! Ha-! HAHA… hahahah…! Ahh… I thought I was dead for a second there!”
Lina’ face has already gone quite pale – just like mine, I’m sure – as she rushed over to me.
Pochi, seemingly opposed to how glad I felt to be alive, jumped on my dying self as if to deal the finishing blow.
“T-this is bad! Master’s… he’s got an even weirder face than normal!”
Gah, be ready for some hellish tickling once I get up, doggo.
By the time I woke up, the sky was still blue, albeit with the sun inclining fairly far toward the western horizon. I guessed that the back of my head was leaning against Pochi’s back.
Ah, yes, the Pochi pillow, as comfortable as ever. Makes me want to forgive all of her transgressions.
“Yeah, as if! Takethistakethistakethistakethis-!”
“Whuh – ahahaha! M-Master! What’re you-! AHAHAHAHAHA!!”
Lina, observing us worryingly from nearby, heaved a sigh.
Next to all of us, Baladd was obediently sitting down on her soles, most likely after having received a good scolding from Lina.
Ryan, Reid, and all the others also heaved a sigh of relief.
Damn it, looks like I’ve worried them quite a lot – I thought as I got my bearing back together, lightly pinching my cheeks to wake myself up.
“Well then, sorry about the delay, Lina! Let’s get started!”
I stood up, and then we both faced each other with our battle-ready stances.
Looks like Lina is still using the same Star Rod as she’d always been. That reminds me, I still haven’t gotten myself a new one even though I planned to so.
Lina produced a faint smile as she brandished her staff, and Baladd readied herself for a charge.
Okay… this does look quite difficult to deal with already.
(Anna: Baladd should simply knock out Asley just like she did before XD)
So fast! This is… Swift Magic with the same special formulas that I used to use!
At the same time, Baladd rushed forward right behind the trajectory of the Fire.
First I’ve got to have Pochi gigantify, and then-!
“Rise, All Up Count 2 & Remote Control!”
Pochi ran ahead and intercepted the Fire from the side, leaving me to face Baladd.
She is fast, sure, but now that my body was enhanced with All Up, she’s nothing I can’t handle!
I evaded Baladd’s charge by slipping through between her legs, just as I had done two years ago. Lina, on the other hand, unleashed her second spell at this time.
That’s the other Swift Magic?
It would be safe to assume that this Title Up has also been enhanced with special formulas.
Now that she applied a support spell onto herself, I’ve got to test how much of Lina’s abilities are enhanced.
I rushed at Lina… but then Baladd called me out from behind, saying “I won’t let you!”
A breath attack? Well, it shouldn’t be – Lina IS right in front of me. If I were to dodge it, the attack would be hitting the wrong target.
“-Wha-! What’s… happening?!”
I can’t move?! Wait, this is… Baladd’s Space Interference!
She can already activate it so quickly?! Damn it, I barely move a finger!
“Y-you’ve got a lot of power! I would dent have been able to stop you if yew were a little stronger!”
“Let my Master go! GAR-!”
Pochi rammed herself at Baladd’s side, and as a result, returned the freedom of movement to my body.
I see, so it’s got a similar restriction to some strict magic spells in that it can only be invoked while the caster is standing still!
While it’s all good that I’ve gotten out of that, Lina has already invoked another one of her Fire Swift Magic.
“Kuh-! Rise, Heavy Chain!”
Just as I dodged the Fire, I unleashed a body restraint spell.
I see, now she’s doing single-handed tracing! In anticipation of my counterattack, she had readied the Burst spell with just her left hand.
Then, with her staff infused with arcane energy, she was able to simply smash my Heavy Chain apart.
“Nicely done, Lina! Now that’s what I’d expect from the Student Council President!”
Although she did smile in response to my praise, she wasted no time to apply her support spell onto Baladd.
Oh boy, what a talented pupil she is.
Looks like Baladd and Pochi are still in a deadlock behind me.
Pochi, technically a common beast, and a Ballad Dragon, an A-ranked monster being stuck in a deadlock was probably because of the sheer difference in their levels and the effect of All Up.
Once Baladd gets herself to Level 100, an absolute wall of raw power and archetype would appear between her and Pochi.
Still, I don’t quite get it… why would Lina want to fight me?
“Finally… I feel like I’ve somewhat caught up to you, Sir Asley…”
Lina uttered in a whisper, perhaps not intended to be heard by me.
However, I did hear it.
…Right, so Lina has always strived to surpass me in her own way.
That was exactly why she had come to challenge me with the knowledge and power she had attained during the past two years – to measure the distance between us.
And in turn, that is exactly why I can’t ever afford to turn my back on her.
…That’s right, I ought not to stand my ground and take her on, and instead show her full extent of my power.
“No hard feelings, all right?!”
“I haven’t lost yet!”
Lina used one hand to invoke the Swift Magic in her staff, and another to start drawing a Circle.
However, in the time she took to be ready, I had already invoked enough power to decide the fight.
“…Deca Spell, Invoke!”
“Fire! Rise, Speed Up!”
The speed-enhanced fire streaked head-on toward me.
“One, Fire Lance!”
First, a fire of my own to swipe that Fire out of the sky.
“Two, Air Wall!”
A wall to defend against the Fire that had not been entirely extinguished.
“Three, High Cure!”
Recovery for the exhausted Pochi behind me.
“Four, Cross Wind!”
A concentrated blow to knock Lina’s staff out of her hand.
“Five, Parasitic Edit! Six, Remote Control!”
A disruptive combination against Lina’s newly drawn Spell Circle.
The attack spell that Lina had just invoked was now changed to a Dispel that targeted her instead.
Dispel – as in eliminating the effects of augmentation spells. This meant the effect of her Title Up was no more.
“Eight, Enemy Trap! Nine, Gravity Stop!”
“Ngh-! W-what is this?!”
Now an intense gravitational force descended onto Lina and Baladd.
Lina was now unable to continue fighting, while Baladd had her speed dropped drastically.
“Ten, Gravity Stamp!”
And so I targeted Baladd with even more gravitational force.
“Gyah?! Can’t… move!”
Almost immediately, Pochi pointed her sharp nails at Baladd’s neck.
Ryan promptly stopped us. He definitely knew what he was doing, as I’d expect of him.
Lina seemed to be completely out of it halfway through, but she immediately came to her senses once Ryan’s announcement reached her ears.
I wouldn’t blame her though – she probably hasn’t ever been in a combat situation where she had to deal with that many incoming spells at once.
“Deca Spell” – was one of the extreme ideas I’d imagined up a few centuries ago, with the general idea being that I would invoke different spells with each of my fingers at once.
Thanks to me having gotten to learn the Split Invocation recently, I now had the means to test my idea – and so this super special spell was now mine to use, and mine only.