In the waiting room at the center of Pentarium, there was a measuring device to check the rankings of the participants. The names of 150 young magicians and the number of tokens they had were accurately described there.
The bottom-most players naturally only had one token and weren't in the waiting room. Fortunately for them, no one was interested in the participants at the bottom.
"Hey, look at that…!"
"What is it? Oh, the number one rank? Of course, it is… Huh?"
"…Surely there wasn't an error in the tool?"
"It was installed today, so what error could there be?"
"If this is true, how many times has she fought?"
The audience murmured in disbelief after seeing the leaderboards.
It was the last round, so the outline of the winner was revealed in the rankings. Participants satisfied with their ranking gave up on any more fights. This was because their rankings could lower if they challenged or received a challenge from someone else.
For that reason, previous Pupil Tournaments the final token count had been somewhere in the range of 30 to 40 tokens. There had been no big difference between the token counts of the winner and the other challengers.
However, what did the top of the leaderboard look like now?
[1st Place: No. 13 Sylvia – 95 tokens
2nd Place: No. 7 Pogani Wolgast – 21 tokens
3rd Place: No. 31 Robert Diane – 18 tokens]
The number of tokens possessed by the person in 1st place surpassed the previous record by nearly double, causing the audience to let out cries of admiration.
"2nd place is only 21 tokens… Doesn't it mean that other people didn't have time to collect the tokens?"
"That is the Blue Tower Master's disciple."
As the disciple of the famous Blue Tower Master Blundell, she was considered as the favourite to win the competition.
However, nobody had thought she would reach 1st place with such a ridiculous record. It was a contest where young magicians participated, but it wasn't easy to establish such an overwhelming record.
The people who saw the leaderboard naturally looked at the silver-haired girl sitting in a corner of the waiting room. If it wasn't for the huge mass of muscles sitting next to her, she would've been buried by those who wanted to speak to her.
The mass of muscles, Blundell, spoke in a somewhat rough voice, "Ah, young people these days have no spirit!"
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He was lamenting the fact that there had been no challengers for a few days. Blundell had tried to give a good experience to his disciple, but the other participants had turned on their tails as soon as her strength had been revealed.
Did they want to become magicians who had to live with failure because they were afraid of defeat? Blundell couldn't understand the concept of 'run away.'
'It is a chance to compete safely with a superior magician. A lucky opportunity like this is hard to come by!'
The magicians in the area stirred uncomfortably every time Blundell's eyebrows twitched, and the sparks flying around him were almost as strong as the Red Tower Master. Their anxiety grew as he grabbed his staff—no, the club on his back.
However, before his temper could explode…
"Good morning, Tower Master," someone entered the waiting room and spoke directly to Blundell, despite the heavy atmosphere.
"Um…?" Blundell's seemed unmoved, but his expression changed as soon as he saw the owner of the voice. His expression was one which wondered why this person had spoken to him. "Vince's disciple… Yes, aren't you Theodore?"
"Yes, that's right," Theo replied calmly.
He had experienced the presence of the Blue Tower Master once before, so he could tolerate it more easily now. In any case, Theo hadn't come here to confront the Blue Tower Master. Theo didn't lose his respectful attitude as he looked at Sylvia sitting next to Blundell. Sylvia's dream-like beauty still remained, but Theo noticed a change.
'…I don't feel like I am unable to win, unlike before. Does it mean I should try it now?'
Unlike when Theo faced the hobgoblin chief, he wasn't feeling a strong sense of tension at this moment. There was only a cold chill on the back of his neck. It was obvious that she wasn't an easy opponent, but she wouldn't be as difficult as before.
Blundell realized the meaning of that subtle gaze and stared at Theo thoughtfully.
"Hoh, have you reached the 4th Circle? Congratulations."
"You wouldn't have looked for me just to hear these words… Perhaps…?"
As Vince had said, the old man was quick to notice. Blundell laughed and moved his massive body away the moment he noticed Theo's purpose. Theo was now able to meet Sylvia, who had been hidden by Blundell.
Her eyes were emotionless, like she had already forgotten his existence. However, that didn't matter.
"Number 13, Sylvia. I challenge you to a fight in the Pupil Tournament," Theo's voice resonated throughout the somewhat silent waiting room.
Some people laughed at his reckless challenge, while others were pleased they could see a funny sight. Sylvia just stared at him blankly and parted her pink lips, "…Me?"
Instead of answering, Theo held out the tokens he had. The five tokens made a rattling sound. They were shabby compared to Sylvia's 95 tokens. However, the tournament's 1st ranked participant couldn't refuse a challenge. It was a rule to give everyone a chance to ascend to the top, making it a perfect opportunity for Theo.
Finally, Sylvia rose from her seat. "…Okay, I also wanted to reach 100 tokens."
She accepted Theo's challenge.
The moment the two people agreed, the main hall of Pentarium was opened.
There was two hours left until the end of the tournament, so the match with Sylvia would be the last one. The magic tool recognized that this was the 1st ranked final's fight and opened up the main hall.
"Oh? The main hall is open!"
"Does this mean the final is starting?"
"That reminds me, the Blue Tower Master's disciple is participating this year…"
"The time spent here is worth it."
The people who noticed the opening of the main hall gradually began to gather in Pentarium. They all wanted to see the final match. People were interested in boisterous events, and so the crowds swept in.
They came to see the disciple of the Blue Tower Master. As all sorts of spectators were gathering, the two competitors entered the main hall.
* * *
'No, why are there so many people…?' Theo was half-stricken as he looked at the crowd behind the transparent barrier.
When he fought Philip, there had been barely anyone in the crowd. However, this was the main hall and Sylvia's fame had increased, gathering an audience of more than 1,000 people. Theo's stomach hurt since it was the first time he had seen something like this.
Fortunately, the voices of the audience members didn't reach his ears.
"Theodore Miller? Have you ever heard of him?"
"No, I don't know it."
"I heard that he came with a magician called Vince…"
"Vince Haidel? Fire Killer Vince?!"
"But a few days ago, he was only at the 3rd Circle. It might end up being more boring that I thought."
There were doubts and curiosities. A few rare people remembered Vince's old nickname, but there was no one who thought that Theodore could win.
They noticed Sylvia's abilities had already surpassed the magic tower's Average rank and didn't think that another genius like her would appear in the Pupil Tournament. After all, geniuses were called geniuses because they were rare.
However, Vince, sitting next to Blundell, thought differently as he looked down at his disciple.
"…This is a fight that can surely be won. Win the fight that can't be won. Isn't that the motto of the magic towers?"
"The Red Tower Master, she always said those words."
Then Blundell said, "You think that he is a rival to Sylvia. That child called Theodore, will he be able to win?"
"Well, it isn't a story that should be told with my mouth," Vince replied, indicating that Blundell should see with his own eyes.
The match started shortly after that.
As a ball of light rose between the two people, Theo pulled up his magic power at full speed.
He had watched Sylvia's fights several times and noticed one thing—she deployed magic unusually fast. It took 5~10 seconds for her to activate 4th Circle magic, and 3rd Circle magic was invoked with just a word.
'If she takes the initiative, then it will be hard to take it back. It may be unreasonable, but I have to act first!'
Even if they started their spells at the same time, Theo would be half a beat slower than Sylvia. However, Theo had a means of storing magic in advance.
'Memorize. Two Slots Open. Double Blaze Shell.'
"Blow forward, strong winds!"
Two fireballs were created in the air, and an additional magic was used at the same time.
Among the four attributes, fire was the best at causing damage, while the wind enhanced one of its weaknesses—speed. Due to the physical repulsion, the compressed fireballs, called Blaze Shell, accelerated.
If this was a battle, Theo would've used all his slots for the first attack. However, he couldn't use all his cards in a tournament match where he had to hit the opponent three times. Therefore, this was the best combination.
The combined power of Blaze Shell and Gale Force, which had both destructive power and speed, couldn't be stopped with any simple defense magic!
With the wind blowing at its back, the fireballs rushed forward like wild beasts. As a ghastly heat filled the air, Sylvia's silver hair caught his eyes. Sylvia moved forward with her brutish staff and scattered a blue magic power. Theo didn't know what defensive magic it was, but it wouldn't be able to completely block any damage.
With that conviction, the two fireballs shot forward.
It was a bombardment fierce enough to close the mouths of the audience members feeling doubtful about Theodore.