On Professor Glory’s signal, the three of us dashed forward. Curtis, who was mounted on top of Grawder, was to my left and Claire was to my right, both a bit ahead of me.
Tess, Clive and Lucas all split up as soon as we charged. Tess circled around the left side as she prepared to take on Curtis, while Clive dashed around the right side to confront Claire before she reached him.
Straight ahead, I saw Lucas calmly waiting for me, his face twisted into a haughty sneer that seemed to say ‘I don’t need to get ready for you.’ Whether it was at the Dire Tombs or even now, Lucas’ arrogance had no limit. I still remembered when he betrayed us by using us as live bait so he could escape. Even then, he had the same sneer he had now.
Tess was probably going to beat Curtis and I wasn’t sure who was stronger between Claire and Clive but I’d worry about that later. Wind and earth bent to my will as I infused more mana, activating mana rotation as well. Lucas wasn’t weak. His mana pool was bigger than mine, but that didn’t mean he was stronger than me.
“Will you be alright by yourself against Lucas?” I heard Curtis shout as he dashed towards Tess.
Claire looked back at me in slight worry as well until I gave them a silent nod. She nodded back and focused on the student vice president.
Lucas sensed a bit of the killing intent I purposely let out to shock him out of his pedestal as he began quietly chanting a spell while dashing backwards to get more distance between us.
Soaring up ahead, I felt Professor Glory’s keen eyes studying me as I closed the gap between us. I took a deep breath and blocked out everything else. As far as I was concerned, this was a fight between Lucas and me. Narrowing my eyes in utmost concentration, each powerful step I took created small craters in the ground as the wind whistled around me.
Lucas let out a chortle before he released his spell. “Inferno’s Cage!”
The spell reminded me of the Ember Wisp spell that both Lucas and Ex-Professor Geist had used, but it was a lot bigger. The orbs scattered and floated in place around the both of us, creating a dome made of fire.
Don’t tell me…
With a confident smirk, he snapped his finger and uttered, “Activate.”
The orbs glowed in response before spewing out bullets of fire. If it was a spell on the level of Ember Wisp, I would be able to close the gap while dodging the fireballs, but this was insane. Dozens of fire blasts were locked in on my position and fired at a constant rate, coming from all directions. If I hadn’t train my body and fighting techniques during my time as an adventurer, I doubted that, no matter how fast I was, I would be able to dodge everything. Without even giving me a chance to take a step closer to my target, I was forced to dodge and block every incoming missile constantly bombarding me.
Inferno’s Cage…whoever came up with this spell deserved a sword up the ass to feel what a pain it was to deal with. On top of the constant fireballs and streams of flames that locked in on me, the heat inside this dome was wearing me down. Without my fire attribute mana or water attribute mana, there was no direct way to counter the heat inside. Using fire attribute mana to make my body more immune to fire or even using water attribute mana to directly cool my body were both out of the question.
“Keep running around, monkey. Do you think it’s even possible for the peasants of the mages to actually have a chance against someone like me? I can’t wait to step on you to crush whatever speck of confidence you had just because you became a DC member and a professor. I thought this class would be a waste of time but now I know why I was brought here. It was to crush you.” His little pretty boy face was wrenched in an ugly expression as he sneered.
‘Are you okay, Papa?’ Sylvie’s concerned voice echoed into my head after feeling how frustrated I was at the moment.
Yeah, I’m fine Sylv. Don’t worry about me. How’s everyone else doing? I send back.
‘Mama is winning against Curtis and Claire is winning against that serious-looking guy,’ she responded.
Okay, just tell me if something unusual happens. I turned my focus back to the fight. Dodging the flame bullets and the occasional streams of fire was easy but I couldn’t get closer to Lucas. I would release a wind blade and some spikes of earth at Lucas but either the orbs that made up the dome destroyed it or Lucas just blocked the spell with one of his.
What is with this kid’s mana pool? Does he not have a limit to how long he can keep this spell up? No, calm down, Arthur. You don’t want to be impatient. Think. How can I use wind? Wind? What is wind? It’s the movement of air, right? What is air? Oxygen? Nitrogen? So am I able to control oxygen and nitrogen as well? If so, how?
I was growing frustrated at my lack of comprehension in my wind and earth elements. Now was as good a time as any to try and comprehend. It wasn’t just enough to shoot wind bullets or wind blades because Lucas had already prepared several levels of fire shields around himself.
I wasn’t thinking outside of the box when I used wind. Even with mana rotation, I didn’t have the necessary mana to form a tornado big enough to swallow the fire shooting at me, and even if I did, I didn’t think I’d be able to last longer than Lucas. What was I missing?
“Keep squirming! I’m sure I can get away with it if a couple of fireballs land on you, even after your gear activates. You know, since I can’t cancel the blasts from the orbs once they’ve been released,” He shrugged nonchalantly as the shields around him block any spells I fired at him.
Think, Arthur. Let’s focus on fire. What does fire need for it keep burning? It needs oxygen. Could I get rid of the oxygen around me so that the fire couldn’t reach me? Then what would happen to me? Would I be able to breathe?
PROFESSOR GLORY’S POV:
Hmmm… Lucas… he’s better than I’ve heard.
Inferno’s Cage was a pretty tough spell to master, yet he was able to cast it while running backwards. Seriously, he was barely thirteen and he could already use a domain type spell. Haa… the world sure was coming to a change, with a half-elf like him using fire attribute magic, and even Princess Tess—they were all monsters. I got shivers down my back imagining how strong they’d become by the time they graduated from here.
But that brat, Arthur… What the hell was he? Lucas Wykes, since he awakened a few years back thanks to his elf lineage, I could sort of understand the level of control he had with his spells. Tessia Eralith, her being of pure elven lineage from the royal family guaranteed that her skills were a few levels above anyone anywhere near her age. But Arthur?
As soon as he flashed through the field to confront Lucas, I felt cold sweat. The way both the wind and earth naturally gravitated and danced around him—he wasn’t controlling the elements to his commands like typical mages did. No, he was in perfect harmony with the mana surrounding him, as if the elements were mere extensions of his limbs.
Seemed like that brat Lucas was taking Arthur seriously. Good thing too, or he probably would’ve lost instantly. Currently, the spell Inferno’s Cage encompassed both Arthur and Lucas in a large dome of fire. I could tell Lucas was a bit worn out after using it, but this was a continuous spell that he could leave activated until he ran out of mana, which I didn’t feel would happen anytime soon. The dome made up of tiny orbs of fire was like a death trap used by conjurers to gain the advantage against augmenters or agile mana beasts.
The tiny orbs could shoot out beams and bullets of fire anywhere inside the dome, leaving the augmenter occupied enough so that the conjurer could cast more spells, uninterrupted.
I focused my gaze over to Curtis Glayder and Tessia Eralith. As expected, Curtis was having a hard time. I had the chance to observe the elf princess practicing with our director once, and I had to say, the way she battled was exquisite. She was a conjurer but her staff was actually a sharp blade made of a special wood that was lighter but harder than most metals. Casting buffs on herself and using spells in sync with her movement, she danced around the vines she conjured with a speed faster than even some trained augmenters from the wind aiding each motion and action.
She fought in a mixed style of both conjuring spells and using close combat so she had no notable weakness. Compared to my masculine way of fighting, I could only admire how graceful and beautiful her style was.
Claire Bladeheart, on the other hand, was gaining the advantage on our student vice president. Clive was a rare long range augmenter that wielded a short bow capable of firing arrows at an almost unbelievably fast pace. Usually, he would be at an advantage against most augmenters but Claire was a bad match-up for him. Miss Bladeheart’s style mimicked that stick, Kaspian. With her dual elements, she created spears of wind and fire from her rapier. She had yet to reach his level but with constant training, I was confident she could surpass her uncle.
I turned my attention back to the most intense battle, which was definitely Arthur and Lucas’. I noticed that most of the students were watching their fight as well, in awe from both of their abilities.
“Hmm?” I couldn’t help but raise an eyebrow at what was happening. That was strange. Arthur was getting hit by the fireballs now. At this rate, even with protection from mana, his gear was going to activate.
He had dodged them so effortlessly just a minute ago too. I focused more mana into my eyes to get a better look. The dome of fire surrounding them blocked a lot of the view but I could still sort of make out the fight. It seemed like Arthur was trying to do something. Was he holding his breath? What was he trying to do in this situation?
“Torch! Fly down a bit lower!” My bond descended as he angled his massive wings to keep himself level.
As we slowly circled around the huge fire dome that surrounded a third of the field, I began noticing some changes. Around him, for every three or four fire blast that scraped or hit him, one would completely extinguish before it reached him.
“No…” A smile crept up on my face as I continued observing him. “Don’t tell me he’s actually trying to learn how to manipulate air in this situation right now…” I covered my mouth as I continued to smile in wonder. “That little monster… he has guts, I’ll give him that.”
Air manipulation was a variation of wind magic, albeit a much harder one. Breaking down the components of any element and trying to directly manipulate it is something only the most keen and sensitive mages can do, and that’s while meditating in a perfectly calm and peaceful environment. After years of practice through meditation, the mage might begin experimenting in real life situations like incorporating it into spells.
The blue fire technique was a perfect example of that. It took years of meditation to reach the stage of stably summoning blue flames and even longer to do it fast enough for it be of use in actual battles.
This little beast was skipping a few steps and trying to incorporate a completely new technique in the middle of a battle? My hands trembled in excitement at the thought of being able to witness the development of a mage that can perhaps become the pinnacle of power in this school—no, maybe even this continent!
“GROOOOAAAAAARR!” Turning my attention at the sound, it seemed like Princess Tessia and Prince Glayder’s battle was reaching its climax.
Curtis Glayder’s uniform was full of small gashes and nicks. I must admit that Curtis had done fairly well against the only disciple of our Director Goodsky, although it was most likely because of his bond that he was able to last this long.
“You’ve forced me to do this, Princess Eralith! Please be careful! PHASE ONE! KING’S WRATH!” I heard Prince Glayder roar as his body glowed.
Oh! He activated the acquire phase of his beast’s will. Curtis rarely chose to use his beast’s ability because he didn’t really consider it his own power. I had to hand it to him for having the right mentality. It was said that some beast tamers chose to only use their unique powers instead of honing their own. Because of that, while still strong, they never really improve themselves in the long run. In order to utilize the most of the beast will, the user himself needed to strengthen his own power.
As he activated his beast will’s first phase, a noticeable transformation occurred in him. While the amount of visible change differed by the person, Prince Glayder’s change was visibly apparent. Both his deep red spiky hair and eyebrows became longer and messier while the straps that wrapped around his arms tightened from his muscles expanding. His extended canines became visible as he roared.
I whistled.This sight never failed to impress me.
When I shifted my gaze to Princess Tessia, though, who was standing on top of a series of vines, her face looked unnaturally pale. That’s odd, it didn’t look like she took any damage.
I was quite a bit away from Tessia and Curtis’ battle since I was encircling Lucas and Arthur’s, but with mana-infused eyes, I could make out even the beads of sweat rolling down the princess’ face.
“This is my most powerful attack. If you can take this on, I’ll admit my defeat! Please prepare yourself!” Prince Glayder’s voice became a lot louder and huskier after activating his beast’s will. He was a ferocious sight to behold on top of his bond, Grawder.
“WORLD HOWL!” A serious amount of mana gathered in front of the mouth of Prince Glayder as he invoked his breath attack. The world lion had a powerful move that they used as a last resort against enemies more powerful than them. It was a beam of condensed earth attribute mana that could shred anything in its way if not blocked properly.
A little worried, I looked at Tessia again, and I could see her mumble an incantation when the worst case scenario happened.
ARTHUR LEYWIN’S POV:
Goddamn it! This is frustrating as hell! I could only grimace and try harder as I continued to try and manipulate the air molecules surrounding me. I had little success so far but I felt like I was onto something here. Lucas, noticing this, clicked his tongue and started chanting spells again.
“Flame Guardians!” he shouted.
I let out a small grin as I realized he was reaching his limit. Then again, so was I—or more accurately, so was my combat equipment. I wasn’t sure when this thing would start screaming its alarm so I had to finish this fast.
As the flame soldiers gained on me, Sylvie’s worried voice boomed in my head, ‘PAPA! Something’s wrong with Mama! She’s going to get hit by a powerful attack and she’s not doing anything! This is really bad! Should I go help, Papa?’
‘NO! You can’t do anything while you’re in that form!’ I shouted back in my head.
I could sense the feeling of desperation from Sylvie, making me all the more anxious.
I took a quick glance up to where I heard Professor Glory’s scream and noticed she’d gone full speed to where Tess and Curtis was.
‘Papa! She’s not going to make it in time!’ Sylvie echoed back, sounding even more worried than before.
[Dragon’s Will, Phase One. Static Void.]
My knees almost gave upon activation of the first phase of Sylvia’s beast will as the color of everything became inverted. This ability to shift myself outside of the world’s time and space came with a limit. I couldn’t affect anything outside of myself unless I chose to bring it in here with me.
“I don’t have time,” I said to myself.
As I dashed through the gap between the orbs that made up the dome created by Inferno’s Cage, I passed by the frozen professor on top of her mount, Torch.
Quite a bit ahead I saw Tess, already fainted and falling from the conjured vine she was standing on, clutching her abdomen as a massive breath attack released by Glayder was almost upon her.
Sylvie was right. If I had left it to Professor Glory, she wouldn’t have made it in time. I could only purse my lips in dread as I imagined my precious friend dying.
I sped up, my vision growing blurry as I ran out of energy. I was almost at my limit.
Fuck. Hold on, Arthur. You can do this.
I made my final dash towards the area where Curtis and Tess were fighting and as I jumped off a crumbled vine, I wrapped my body around Tess and create a barrier around the both of us with the little mana I had left.
Haa…. This is going to hurt.
I released my first phase and as the world reverted back into its original color, I felt a tremendous searing pain on my back. But before I could even scream, my vision faded, and the last thing I heard before passing out was the shrill sound of my gear activating.