For the first time in her life, feelings of enthusiasm, interest, and appreciation filled her. How long had it been since she felt such intense feelings?
The moment her emotions exploded, Sylvia's stagnant circles started to rotate. The door of the cage which had been locked until now started to open slowly.
A wave of magic power shook the entire stadium! Sylvia's magic power sprang up as the 'wall' was destroyed, creating a rough wind. It was still too early to call it the 5th Circle, but it was beyond the standards of the 4th Circle.
"I want to win!" The words she was thinking popped out unconsciously from her mouth. Whether it was due to the boiling magic power or her red cheeks, Sylvia seemed quite different from usual.
Theodore paused at her bold declaration before laughing. "Yes, I also want to win."
He had always been chasing someone's back.
Back when he was a child, it had been the magicians he read about in the storybooks. After entering the academy, it had been his seniors. After repeating a year, it had been the classmates who graduated first. When he had gotten tired of chasing countless backs, the wings hanging on his back filled with new strength.
So, from now on…
"This is the last one."
Theo's constant chasing of someone else's back would end here. At the same time, Theo used Gluttony's abilities of [Magic Power Amplification] and [Attributes Affinity]. The circles started to revolve slowly, and the magic power in his blood vessels rose. He still had one trump card remaining.
Both Theo and Sylvia were convinced of their victory as the two magicians raised all their remaining strength.
Woong, woong, woong, woong!
The flow of strong magic power emerged from the two people, colliding and spreading in every direction.
The magnitude of the magic power shaking the stadium was already beyond the level of a student's magic. Some magicians became nervous and forgot about the presence of the barrier protecting the audience.
First, Sylvia was surrounded by blue magic power and floated in the air.
'Levitation. Is she concerned about a surprise attack from underground? It isn't a bad decision.'
2nd Circle magic, Levitation… There was nothing special about it; it was just magic that allowed someone to float in the air. However, it was useful when enemies attacked from underground or when facing ranged attacks.
Against a magician like Theodore who was good with earth magic, it was a decent countermeasure. However, as Theo possessed the mysterious Magic Bullet, Levitation was just an ordinary magic which gave him a still target in the air.
Sylvia, who had encountered Magic Bullet directly, couldn't not know this fact. So, it was natural to think that she had set up a countermeasure. Theo looked up at her with a strong determination. As expected from the genius, Sylvia pulled out a magic spell.
"…Ice Shield?" Theo murmured.
It was a bit large to call it a shield, and it wasn't transparent enough to see inside the ice. Maybe it was the shield she'd used to block the Double Blaze Shells in the first attack. Six shields surrounded Sylvia, causing the space she was floating in to be blocked from Theo's view. It was a carefully thought out countermeasure.
'There is no way to penetrate that shield with a clumsy Magic Bullet, and I can't see her, so I can't aim precisely. If the hit misses and I receive the counterattack, that will be the end.'
Should he bet on Magic Bullet and gamble, or do a frontal confrontation? Sylvia was likely asking such questions as well. She also had magic which she could use in a frontal confrontation. The one who could reverse the other person's card would win.
Could she break the magic that Theodore envisioned? It wasn't an exaggeration to say the results would depend on this move.
"Okay, I'll do it." Theo accepted her challenge.
He would use the strongest magic possible and the affinity he was best it. Both of them had great strengths in attack and defense. The power of the the two hidden cards was something which wasn't inferior to ice magic.
There were two Blaze Shells remaining in the Memorize slots, plus he could store additional spells.
"Giant of the earth, I command you to throw the stones…"
It was the chant for the 4th Circle magic, Catapult. After finishing the chant which lasted almost five measures, he gathered the magic power and pushed it into a Memorize slot. Catapult was stored in Slot 3, and another Catapult was stored in Slot 4.
With this, his preparations were finished.
'Sorry to trouble you.'
Theo communicated with the exhausted Mitra and waited for the ice shield around his head to clear up.
It was ridiculous to consume attack power when the barrier would disappear anyway. Based on the magic power coming from the barrier, he could tell that his opponent's preparations were almost over.
Ice started to form on the floor of the stadium, which was a mess due to all the attacks. This was a phenomenon which could be seen in ice magic above the 5th Circle.
Humans caught in the chill would freeze in an instant and die. Even though the destructive power of water magic was lower than fire magic, there was a reason why nobody had said that it wasn't destructive.
However, Theo didn't back down and faced the cold. As the edges of his robe started to freeze, the ice shield melted. Beyond that was Sylvia who emerged belatedly. Theo felt a terrible chill the moment she appeared.
"Master of the cold, Ymir. Show your strength to those who dare to ask for it…!"
It was originally the chant for the 7th Circle magic which turned the ground into a lump of ice. However, Sylvia simplified the magic formula and improved it so that she could use it now. Of course, it didn't have the strength of the original, but it was far beyond a normal 4th Circle magic!
'Minor Force. Blizzard…'
A murderous blizzard started swirling on the ground.
'Let's go, Mitra!'
Theodore also fired the spells he had prepared.
'Memorize. All Slots Open. Double Blaze Shell. Double Catapult.'
Four 4th Circle magic spells were triggered, but it was still lacking to go against the Blizzard. Two fireballs and two stones couldn't resist that.
As Sylvia called the fearsome Blizzard, the skin exposed by his robe started freezing. He needed to act before the damage absorbed would cause the crystal to break.
"Fusion Magic." It was a spell which overlapped the two images of fireballs and stones.
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Then Theo imagined the greatest disaster on Earth. The entire human race was fearful every time it burst out, and they believed it was the wrath of God. As magma started emerging from deep below the ground, a volcano emerged. In the process, lumps of stones covered in lava fell like meteorites.
Then the so-called volcanic ash, in other words…
It was persistent and rough. The power of the spell which combined the strongest attack with the strongest defense wasn't comparable to when they were separate.
This wasn't simply a stone covered in fire. The firepower of Blaze Shell was nestled in the massive rock. It didn't reach the pressure of an actual volcanic eruption, but the destructive power was similar.
Indeed, the two Volcanic Shells rushed from in front of Theo to the center of the Blizzard.
The blizzard was just a breeze before that overwhelming destruction. In the end, Blizzard's magic power greeted the Volcanic Shells. Immediately afterwards, the two magic nuclei clashed together.
The mouths of the spectators dropped open. "Kuah…!"
Black smoke, water vapour, and all types of natural phenomenon appeared. Theo was barely able to withstand the shock wave by triggering a blessing. All his magic power was consumed, and his body wobbled as he held onto the last remaining crystal.
'My limit… This fight… isn't over…'
If Sylvia walked out okay, then it was over. Theo was physically and mentally tired, but the anxiety of the situation caused his mind to shake. Theodore couldn't use Hawkeye anymore, so he had to wait until the dust sank down gradually.
Beyond his blurry vision, Sylvia was walking over.
"…You, what is your name?"
Sylvia admitted she didn't know his name, but Theo couldn't help smiling. He was able to reply somehow through dry lips, "Theodore Miller."
"Can I call you Theo?"
'Do whatever you want.' It sounded like nonsense right now.
"Then Theo, next time, let's play again…"
The sound of someone falling over and a crystal breaking entered his ears. It was a very light sound and seemed like it was coming from a distance away…
Theo looked down at the crystal in his palm with a bewildered expression. The crystal didn't have a single crack in it, let alone for it to be broken. Then what was the sound he'd heard just now? The sound was so vivid that he almost dismissed it as a hallucination.
Theo couldn't help lifting his gaze and looked at the girl with silver hair on the ground. Sylvia had collapsed. Then who was standing?
–Right now! The winner of the Pupil Tournament has been decided!
The yells of the host echoed through the stadium and into Theo's ears.
–The winner of this tournament is Participant Number 132, the disciple of the Red Magic Tower's Superior ranked Vince Haidel! Theodore Miller!
"Wahhhhh!" The audience cheered and clapped.
It wasn't just magicians but normal people who clapped their hands together, unable to control their excitement.
This was because both the boy and the girl were so impressive. A battle between fire and ice… The two dynamically moving battle forces were fiercely reminiscent of being on a battlefield.
What about that last clash? It was unclear if even Average ranked magicians could do such things.
As the two mentors looked at each other with satisfied expressions, the two disciples collapsed on the ground in a similar manner. Unlike the spectacular match, it was a comical finish.
* * *
"She was a formidable opponent," Vince said as he wrapped a bandage around Theo's swollen forearm.
A healing potion was applied to the wound, but it would still throb for three or four more days. Theo nodded as he touched the bandages. "Yes, she was tremendous. Perhaps that is a genius."
In fact, Theo couldn't imitate his opponent even if he could grasp what they were doing. It was different from magic he already knew. Rational understanding was different from understanding with his senses.
However, Sylvia had displayed both of these in the match. Furthermore, her rational learning ability wasn't inferior to Theo's. He'd gone through an intensive training course in the last two or three months and had barely won the match.
Above all, it was because Theo's body was too soft to display all of Alfred's experience.
'I still have a long way to go…'
No matter how fraudulent the grimoire was, Theo needed to focus on his growth. Theo's eyes sunk as he became aware of this fact. Memorize was a useful feature, but it shouldn't be relied upon. He needed to accelerate the training of Magic Bullet even further.
Vince interpreted Theodore's sunken expression and tapped on his shoulder. "Well, how about you admire your victory instead of her genius today?"
"Even if you say so… I still can't believe it."
"It is all about winning. Now, can you get up?"
Theo wanted to fall asleep, but he raised his body forcefully. The awards ceremony would be held shortly after the Pupil Tournament ended. It was a meaningful event he couldn't miss, even if he had a severe injury.
His right forearm was a bit sore, but fortunately, it didn't stop him from moving. Vince handed him a robe and asked, "You haven't worn a robe before, right? I will help you."
"Ah, thank you."
"First of all, put your arm here…"
Vince guided Theo on how to wear the robe, transforming Theo into a wealthy nobleman. The robe was made of a luxurious black fabric, and Theo looked impressive in it, like both a magician and a noble.
"Hrmm, now you look like a gentleman."
"Something feels a bit awkward…"
"It can't be helped since the robe isn't tailored to you. Just wear it until the end of the awards ceremony. You are allowed to participate wearing your original clothes."
"Eh? Then why did you borrow this robe?"
Vince tapped his red robe several times and explained, "I heard that His Majesty is appearing at the awards ceremony. So, isn't this the basics?"