Episode 103 – Deora’s specialty
In the VIP lodge, the examiners were calmly observing the proceedings and commenting on it.
Seeing Kiel retreat, the green haired man smiled approvingly. “Creating some distance between himself and Nelaira and Rhur is a clever thing to do. It would be quite chaotic and easy to get hit by a stray attack if he stayed near their battle. Rhur Rroda is not a team player. He probably wouldn’t mind if he hit him with a stray attack.”
“Hmm, prolonging the fight until Deora tires out isn’t a bad plan. Deora is spending mana at an astonishing rate, he will inevitably run out of mana before the end of the exam.” The only female of the four mused. “His strategical conserving of mana is quite fine as well. He is using just enough mana to avoid the fireballs and not a speck more. Such a fine mana conservation is quite admirable.”
“He is quite adept at hiding his strength. Does he intend to lull Deora into a false sense of security and then catch him off guard with a sudden attack?” The green haired man cupped his chin in thought.
“That might work.” The burly man gruffly said. “After all, Deora is a simpleton…”
The green haired man and the female shared a look. Indeed, everyone was thinking the same thing, but the burly man was the only one rude enough to voice it out loud.
The burly man didn’t stop there, he suddenly threw his head back and roared with laughter. “Should we call Deora over to watch this fight? He is not supervising any of the exams right now, is he? I’d love to see his face when his Replica is beaten down!”
The green haired man smiled wryly. “This… would be a bit… inappropriate?”
The woman snorted coldly. “Feel free to call him over if you wish. But when he ends up blowing up the entire VIP booth, causing chaos to the exam, you’re the one who is going to be held responsible.”
The burly man stopped laughing, his face turning unsightly. “You think I can’t restrain the pipsqueak?!”
The female smirked venomously. “Say, wasn’t it you who got blown up into smithereens last time you made fun of him inside the Replica Dungeon?”
“You… that was one time! One time! He caught me off guard!” The burly man bellowed, his face red with rage.
The female’s smirk only grew. “To be caught off guard by a youngster who isn’t even a warlock. Disgraceful…”
The burly man abruptly got up from his seat, a vein pulsing on his forehead. He was about to start yelling out curses when an apathetic husky voice sounded out. “Quiet.”
When the fourth, grumpy looking man finally spoke out that single word, the entire booth fell into silence.
Some time had passed in awkward silence before the green haired man spoke up again in hopes of dispelling the oppressing atmosphere: “We shouldn’t bully Deora…”
The female smirked. “Right. That’s Zerel’s job.”
The green haired man sighed. “We really shouldn’t, he has it bad enough. I hear he hasn’t received his contribution points for several months already.”
He didn’t even manage to finish his sentence before the burly man erupted into uproarious laughter. “I hear he won’t be getting any for the next 6 months!” He continued laughing, not even stopping to wipe off tears from the corner of his eyes.
The female’s lips curled into a coy smile. “He hasn’t received his monthly pay since Nelaira went on sick leave. Without her around there is no one that can keep Zerel in check.”
When Nelaira’s name popped up, the room suddenly returned to the deathly silence with an air of solemnity. Even the burly man couldn’t find it within himself to be jolly.
In the arena, Kiel was still under a heavy barrage of fireballs and to make matters worse, he was nearing the edge of the arena. If he chose to strafe left or right along the edge of the arena, Deora would catch up to him. And Kiel couldn’t allow himself to get close to Deora. He clearly remembered how Deora’s previous opponent met his end – the high temperature around Deora burned him into ashes.
I can’t continue to run forever. Kiel grit his teeth. Considering how much mana Deora was spending, it was highly likely that he won’t be able to last until the end of the exam. Unfortunately, it was very likely that Kiel would tire out before Deora. Avoiding fireballs required his utmost attention, it required him to be on high alert, tense and ready for a flawless and quick reaction. A single delayed response could be the difference between life and death.
Kiel had to bring out his all, without any time to rest and recuperate. This state of alertness caused considerable mental fatigue and couldn’t be sustained for long. In a battle of attrition, Deora, who was relatively leisurely, would definitely last longer than Kiel.
Dodging was not a long-term solution.
Kiel’s eyes involuntarily darted towards Rhur. Rhur had said that he would finish his fight with Nelaira quickly and come to help Kiel out with Deora. However, the sight that greeted him was Rhur running around Nelaira leisurely. He wasn’t giving it his all in the slightest! On the contrary, he was intentionally prolonging the fight!
I can’t believe a thought of relying on him even ran through my mind. Kiel couldn’t help but let out a self-deprecating chuckle. I knew it would be like this. I knew…
Yet… no matter how he tried to turn his blood and heart into ice for the last twelve years, in the end, that last tiny spark of hope simply refused to be extinguished.
Perhaps that tiny flame was the last remnant of his past, of who he used to be. A relic of a time when he was happy, a time when the world was still beautiful.
A memory that he wasn’t willing to let go.
A decisive light flashed in Kiel’s eyes, and he suddenly switched his direction of movement, he flipped around and Accelerated towards Deora.
Kiel’s sudden, reckless move startled Deora, and he paused his charge, casting a Temperature spell on his surroundings, planning to incinerate Kiel as soon as he came near him. The fireballs also momentarily paused, giving Kiel that brief moment he needed to turn the situation around.
Kiel channeled his mana into the ground below and Morphed a dome of earth around himself to act as a shield. Then he charged right past Deora, using his acceleration magic to bring the large ball of earth along with him. The thick walls of the dome helped to block the majority of the heat from reaching him.
The temperature isolation he had cast on the dome broke down almost instantly. Right afterwards the earth making his shield rapidly heated up, turning molten. It started dripping down the sides of his shield, thinning the layers of the dome.
However, in that short amount of time that the temperature isolation managed to buy Kiel, he was able to chill down his sword to sub-zero temperature, lowering it as far as his hasty casting of Cooling would allow. He was worried that the sword would melt when it neared Deora so he did his utmost to extend the amount of time it could stay within Deora’s heat field.
After the Cooling, the sword started radiating a bone chilling cold causing the moisture in the air to form intricate patterns of ice on the surface of the sword.
Just as the last layer of the earthen shield melted into lava, Kiel sent his sword flying through the collapsing shield towards Deora.
Seeing the sword that approached him as fast as a meteor, releasing steam as it swung down towards him, Deora switched his attention to defending from the sword and temporarily released control over his fireballs, stopping them from chasing Kiel.
Initially, Deora didn’t think that the sword could last long enough inside his heat field to reach him, however, when he saw the billowing steam waving around it like countless slithering snakes he realized the danger it posed to him. He quickly reacted to the change of circumstances and barely dodged.
While Deora was dealing with the sword, Kiel had run past him, creating a considerable amount of distance between them. When Deora dodged the sword, Kiel chose not to attack again, making the sword retreat. It wouldn’t be able to last for much longer inside the heat field, and Kiel didn’t want to risk losing his main weapon.
When Deora realized that Kiel had increased the distance between them, continuing to run the way they came from, he finally lost his patience. He had no desire to play catch. Especially because he was going all out and couldn’t sustain his enormous mana consumption for long.
“Stop running away and fight me like a man!” Deora bellowed furiously.
Naturally, Kiel ignored him. Only an idiot would stop to fight a melee fight with Deora. Kiel might not be in his best mental condition right now, but even if he were brain dead, he’d know that entering a melee fight with Deora was tantamount to suicide.
Deora stomped his feet, and suddenly a large wave of mana erupted outwards, chasing Kiel down like a tsunami. At a blink of an eye, Kiel was swallowed by Deora’s mana, like a rock surrounded by a rapid river stream.
Kiel wasted no time and erupted with mana as well, pushing Deora’s mana away from him. He had to prevent Deora from getting his mana in his vicinity for if Deora chose to create fireballs right next to him, it would be impossible for him to dodge.
However, apparently, Deora didn’t expect for his mana to swallow Kiel’s up entirely. His intention wasn’t to create fireballs in Kiel’s vicinity but rather, to restrict Kiel’s movement.
He used the wave of mana to weave a web of mana roots into a large dome which surrounded Kiel from all sides.
Kiel’s eyes widened, and he Accelerated with as much speed as he could muster, attempting to break out of the dome. However, his Acceleration speed couldn’t be compared to Deora’s casting speed.
A moment later, the dome of spell roots let out a pulse of power and the entire world turned orange.
The dome of mana turned into a dome of fire, trapping Kiel within a sea of flames.
As the flames erupted coloring the entire world orange, Kiel’s face paled, and his pupils shrunk.
Fear and dread that he had been keeping in check suddenly burst out, turning into uncontrollable panic. His heart threatened to leap out of his chest, beating so hard that it made his entire body shake. His breath ran short and rugged. His mind blanked, overcome by irrational horror. He stood rooted to the spot, his legs refusing to move a single step towards the flames.
Suddenly, the dome of flames started shrinking, jolting Kiel out of his stupor. With trembling hands he made a swishing motion, covering himself inside a large dome of earth.
As soon as the shield of earth blocked Kiel’s line of sight of the fire, his sluggish mind started to speed up once again. He reached his hand into his pocket, clutching Elaru’s egg artifact.
He didn’t want to use it this early in the exam unless he had no other choice. Yet, he needed to be ready just in case his efforts failed short.
Kiel gritted his teeth and forced himself to charge towards the wall of flames, attempting to break out.
Meanwhile, Deora didn’t stay idle. He directed a barrage of fireballs to assault Kiel’s earth shield, making it shake and crack. Yet, Kiel kept reinforcing it and fixing it with more earth.
As Deora realized that his fireballs didn’t have the desired effect, his mouth turned upside down, and he changed his tactic. He didn’t stop his assault but rather, he added a special fireball into the mix, or perhaps, it was more accurate to say that it was an airball.
If Kiel’s vision weren’t being blocked by his earth shield, he would notice that there was something strange going on. For this special fireball had a very similar spell cast on it as the other fireballs, yet, to the naked eye it was completely invisible, and it didn’t let out any flames or heat.
When the examiners recognized this airball, they quickly covered their ears. It was Deora’s specialty magic targeting hydrogen in the air to create an airball with a high concentration of hydrogen.
Unfortunately, since Kiel couldn’t see this strange airball, by the time he realized that it wasn’t quite the same as the others, it was already too late to dodge it.
The moment the airball slammed into Kiel’s shield, Deora set it on fire.
What followed was a scene from an apocalypse.
The invisible ball ignited, and flames rapidly spread outwards making it look as if a flower was blooming. Looking like a miniature sun, it expanded and expanded until it swallowed everything.
The explosion left a large crater around the epicenter, the blast shaking the whole stadium. The earth around the impact point cracked and disintegrated, and a large mushroom of dust and vapor rose into the air.