If this had been a battlefield instead of a competition, Philip's head would already be rolling around on the ground. In fact, Philip touched his neck a few times to reassure himself.
Then he got up and spat out angrily, "Y-You bastard! Don't you know how shameless it is to use such coarse magic, you hillbilly!"
As soon as Philip stood up, Theo fired the magic he'd gathered in his hand.
It was an arrow with blue discharge around it―the 2nd Circle magic, Lightning Bolt.
The speed, derived from the characteristics of the lightning attribute, greatly enhanced the effectiveness of the 2nd Circle magic. By the time the opponent saw the lightning spell with their eyes, it was already too late.
However, Philip wasn't that incompetent.
"Don't expect to surprise me twice!"
Even if he'd been born in a good family and had rich support, he still had to rely on his own talents and efforts. Compared to Theo, his head wasn't as good, but his sensitivity was several times better. Philip witnessed the discharge of Lightning Bolt and reflexively prepared the magic formula for Shield.
The moment that he was about to shout out the magic with a confident face…
The ground suddenly rose and swallowed Philip's right foot. The magic formula he had been preparing shattered just before it was completed, and the lightning struck Philip's face as his magic power dispersed.
He grabbed his tattered face as he fell, before rolling around. It was truly a sight to behold.
Once again, the crystal which absorbed the damage was shattered. Now, Philip only had one crystal remaining. If one more was broken, Philip's defeat would be confirmed, and all the tokens he possessed would go to Theodore.
Theodore looked up as victory appeared before him in an instant.
'So much silliness… No, is this type of guy common?' He started thinking about it.
Where would people who studied at academies or with a private tutor experience true fights? They might be praised during a relaxed spar or at best, experience being attacked while surrounded by guards. The true meaning of a 'fight' had never once been felt by them.
After absorbing Alfred's experience and the fight with the hobgoblin, Philip was like a child compared to the tempered Theodore.
However, Philip's thoughts were different. "Kuaack! Damn hillbilly! Don't you have the desire to fight fairly as a magician? It is insulting to use 1st and 2nd Circle magic in an honourable duel!"
"You, are you stupid? Why does the circle matter, as long as it is magic?"
Vince, who was sitting in the stands, nodded in agreement with Theo's disbelieving feelings.
It was rarely the case that big magic was used in a battle against a large army. Whether it was from Hellfire or Fireball, they still died. The spotlight of small-scale magical battles was dealing a blow to the neck with a small magic spell.
On the other side, Loren hit his forehead at his disciple's stupidity. Perhaps it was thoughtless to just teach him battle magic.
Theo's next words were like daggers stabbing Loren. "If your teacher tells you differently, can you really be proud of such a teacher? Or maybe you haven't learned this part yet?"
"Kuk!" Philip grew silent as the nail had been hit on the head.
The expressions of the two magicians watching the argument were interesting. A smile broke through Vince's poker face. Meanwhile, Loren's face swelled like he was going to explode; his blood pressure rose because of Theo's words.
Had a wise man said this? A person who lost to words could only swear or throw a punch.
Philip Gullock was a person who didn't fall far from that category. "Shut up! Soldiers from the frozen ground, hear my call!"
As he drew up magic power angrily, the temperature around him fell rapidly. Frost covered the smooth stone floor, and a chill, which seemed like it would turn everyone into statues, began to gather. Once completed, Theodore Miller would find it hard to prevent the 4th Circle magic, 'Frozen Orb.'
Of course, if it was completed.
"Don't you know not to use big things?"
Theo raised his fingers like he had been waiting.
It was an action which was no different from when he cast Ignite.
'Is he trying to do the same thing again?' Philip scoffed and moved his head back. He hadn't known it the first time, but he wouldn't fall for something after experiencing it already. If Philip didn't back away, he wouldn't fall, and his spell wouldn't fail again.
That was the crucial mistake.
"Keo… Huu…uk?" An unexplained pang occurred in the vicinity of his hips. The crystals which absorbed damage didn't completely erase the pain.
Philip didn't care about the last crystal which broke, but as he looked down, he managed to see what caused the terrible suffering. It was a sharpened piece of stone made to resemble a spear. The stone had emerged from the ground and pierced his hip at a precise angle.
Needless to say, it was a collaboration between Theodore and Mitra.
"That, cooperation, ha… keek." Philip couldn't finish what he was saying as he fell to the ground. For someone who wasn't used to pain, this injury was really terrible.
Even the host turned to Theo with a pale expression. Theo scratched his head as if he had made a mistake.
"Mitra, let's make the end a little more blunt next time."
[Huing?] Mitra made a sound as she emerged from the ground and looked at Philip with a naive face.
* * *
Philip looked so terrible that the host called for a stretcher and sent him away. Damage was mostly absorbed by the crystals, so the host had never seen such a terribly wounded person before.
He tried to make a calm expression as he told Theo the result of the match, "Theodore, congratulations on your first victory in the Pupil Tournament."
"Ah, thank you."
"You have achieved one victory and obtained Philip Gullock's four tokens. It doesn't matter if you lose them, but you are responsible for any damages, so please be careful."
The four tokens were placed on Theo's palm. Due to the metal material, they were heavy. Theo realized it was his first victory and stared at them blankly until Vince neared him.
"How was it? Isn't it easier than you thought?"
"Yes, it wasn't a big deal."
"That is the difference of experience. When you received Alfred's memories, you had already become familiar with fighting. Students who grow up like plants in a greenhouse aren't a match for you."
It was the reason why Vince had allowed Theodore to participate in the Pupil Tournament.
Skilled war magicians penetrated through the armour and helmets of vigilant knights and were grim reapers who could kill senior magicians. Practical experience made a big difference, and Theo's sensory perception wasn't much different from the intuition of a warrior who had been on the battlefield for decades. He could find small gaps in the opponent and dig into that to defeat them.
So, it wouldn't be too hard for him to win this type of competition. As the two people were thinking hopefully, someone approached them. "Hey, Vince Haidel!"
"What―?" Vince, who hadn't felt the person's presence, looked behind with a confused expression.
Then he immediately sucked in his breath. No matter how much he'd fought on the battlefield, it was rare to see such a person. Vince's face distorted strangely as he confirmed the other person's face. "Aren't you too busy to come to a place like this?"
The person's white beard and hair were a sharp contrast to the muscles which could be seen underneath the blue robe. His two forearms were as thick as logs and seemed strong enough to crush a person's head. He carried a staff on his back, since it was too large and heavy. If he had been carrying a greatsword instead of a cane, he would look like a warrior, not a magician.
At Vince's grim answer, the sturdy old man grinned and knocked against Vince's shoulder.
"Hahaha! Don't be like that when I haven't seen you in such a long time!"
"Ugh, wait. Ah, that hurts!"
"A man should at least have this much strength. Now, introduce me to the disciple that you brought!"
Vince, who finally managed to escape from the old man's violence, shuddered as he massaged his shoulder. Despite his trained body, that was enough to hurt his bones.
The old man wasn't known as the Terror of the Blue Tower or the Muscle Master for nothing.
Vince introduced Theo reluctantly, "This is Theodore Miller, a student from Bergen Academy."
"It is nice to meet you."
"Yes, yes! Nice to meet you as well!"
The old man laughed for a moment before it disappeared as he stared at Theo's face. The expression was quite different from the old man who had been laughing just a moment ago. His gaze seemed to see right through people, similar to what Theo had felt from Myrdal.
"…Interesting. Did you get picked up on the battlefield? It is shameful to call you a greenhorn."
The gaze of the old magician was so heavy that Theo turned his head away to escape. In order to change the subject, Theo asked Professor Vince a question, "Professor. This is…?"
However, the attempt was interrupted by the old magician. "Hmph! Why are you asking Vince instead of me? If you are ignoring me because I am an old man, you shouldn't!"
"I-I'm really sorry."
"Huhaha! Well, it doesn't matter!"
The old magician was like a storm. He grabbed Theo's hands, and Theo felt dizzy. There was no magic power in the old man's hands, just simple strength. Maybe it was possible for the old man to pick Theo up with one hand? Questions kept circling inside his head.
As Theo was feeling dizzy, the old man let go and put on an air of importance. Then he squinted at Vince and urged him to speak.
Vince carried a worn out expression as he told Theo the identity of the old man, "Don't be too surprised. He is… the Supreme of the Blue Tower, Blundell Adruncus."
"Ah, indeed… Huh?" The shocked Theo asked with blank eyes.
Then Vince repeated the truth again. He whispered in Theo's ear so the old man couldn't hear, "That old geezer is the Blue Tower Master."
"…?!" Theodore's eyes shook fiercely as he encountered the most important person he'd ever met in his 19 years of life.