By the fourth day of the Master Battle, several losers had emerged for failing to demonstrate abilities befitting a Master—sometimes both participants in a match at the same time.
Only two people had been awarded the rank of Master so far. First, Marquis Australo, from the Swallow Empire, known as the “Mihwang” for his double-length limbs. And then there was Joshua, victor of the opening match and one of Reinhardt’s most well-known characters.
Today there was a fight that attracted even more attention than usual.
In the designated seating for national officials, two people sat in identical brown robes. The substantially smaller person on the left spoke first.
“Group A’s morning match is between the Force Magician and one of the Seven Magicians; in the afternoon… it’s your turn.”
“Mmm.” Joshua sighed and turned his attention towards the arena. This was the first time he’d watched someone else’s match.
He recognized the man entering the stage immediately.
Theta, Theta… Around thirty years old, light green hair, cool, picturesque features. He looks familiar. Where have I seen him?
“WAAAAAAA!” Joshua’s thoughts were interrupted by the crowd’s raucous cheering.
“Isn’t this the first time wizards have fought in the Master Battle?”
“Yeah! Normally the knights’ fights are over in the blink of an eye, but this is something else entirely!”
“Isn’t magic beautiful? Even being able to see them outside of the Continental Magic Battle, here at Reinhardt—my goodness!”
The Continental Magic Battle was a festival of wizards analogous to the Master Battle that took place in Terra every four years. The contents were slightly different to the Master Battle: only wizards were allowed to participate. Also, interest in the Magic Battle had not waned as much as it had in the Master Battle. Terra Kingdom’s astute management had ensured its continued popularity.
One thing the competitions shared, however, was their opening ceremonies.
Joshua watched the arena intently, sparing Iceline no reply.
The man named Theta, a polite-looking storm magician, cast an unbothered gaze at the colosseum. On the other side was a man in his forties wearing a gray robe and face that screamed “I am a wizard.”
The Force Magician, Astello… Joshua’s eyes narrowed. His gaze was laced with strange emotions—remorse, possibly? Joshua shared a unique bond with the man, though Astello didn’t know it. It was more of a connection than a partnership, really.
Terra, the Magical Kingdom, stood as the apex of magic in the midst of the three great powers—but it would be annihilated within decades. Soon after Kaiser’s ascension to the throne, he felt the need to channel the nation’s attention elsewhere. Terra was his first victim. After losing, it was reduced to a tributary of Avalon.
All Joshua used to know was that Kaiser aspired to unite the entire continent. He convened the golden generation of Avalon—including Joshua—and issued an order to wipe all traces of Terra from the land. So he… murdered them. Murdered and murdered again. Not just the people—Terra was burned to the ground, every brick of every castle.
Astella, the Force Magician, was the head magician of the royal family of Terra. He had been in their service for two decades, but after Kaiser’s war, he vanished from history—by Joshua’s hands.
“In the end, your exploding magic circle is what killed me… fate is laughing at me.” Joshua smiled sourly.
While he was musing, the fight was in full swing.
“The brilliant magician Astello uses four spells at once. That’s beyond double- or triple-casting. The best is the best, after all.”
“Let’s see how long you can act calm.” Astello waved his hand, conjuring a Fire Lance and Ice Spear without a word. “Go!”
“Storm Wall.” A wall of solid stones rose into the sky to protect Theta and clashed with Astello’s magic.
Unphased by the tremendous explosion, Astello recited yet more magic.
“Hmm?” Theta tilted his head at the curtain of blue mist. “Burn away and erupt: Burn Flare.”
Burn Flare, a 5th-level flame-based explosive spell, violently shook the arena, engulfing it in crimson-hot flames that threatened to melt everything.
“Dangerous, dangerous.” Theta appeared in the corner of the area, having used Blink to flee the danger. His fleet splashed into a puddle.
“…What?” He recoiled from the dampness. Theta looked up and grinned at Astello. “Old man, cut it out! Are you planning on murdering me? This seems a little excessive for a kid!”
Astello grinned back. “All I see is a careless kid.”
“No, no, wait a minute.”
“I don’t want to lose like that.” Astello scanned the battleground.
When the icy fog and high-energy flames met, the entire arena was drenched. That meant that the Theta had nowhere to escape from Astello’s next spell.
“Crazy!” Theta eyed sparks flying from Astello’s hands.
“I’m not going to die, you cheeky boy.”
“Double Chain Lightning.” Astello hurled the superimposed lightning at the ground, coating the entire arena in a web of electricity.
Astello opened his eyes again after a moment.
“Uh, how—” His eyes widened.
“It hurts, mister.” The sparks still crackled on Theta’s flesh.
Astello’s spell was good. So how…?
“How are you fine?”
“You didn’t see this, did you? I altered it myself. How does it look?” Theta turned towards Astello, showing him a gray, transparent barrier.
“Wall-type protection magic is getting a bit of attention these days, right? However, as you noticed, this one has a very weak wind attribute. Fire wall, ice wall, rock wall… Each of these spells has their advantages, depending on the situation, but wind wall is just a waste of mana. Where are you supposed to use a wind wall? Maybe to deflect arrows, but a rock wall would be better, no? It bothers me, because wind magic is my specialty. So I tweaked it. What do you think?”
“What a gift!” Astello was surprised, but amazed. Modifying magic was an easy thing to say, but practically impossible. You had to rewrite the formula from beginning to end, with not a single mistake throughout.
“I call it the Wind Shield Curtain! What are your thoughts, eh? Awesome, innit?” Theta grinned, basking in the wind power around him.
“I remember!” Joshua sat up like he was struck by lightning. That wind wrapping around Theta’s body was practically his trademark. “The first 8th-Class Magician of the Magic Tower… Thetapirion Whitesocks—the traitor.”
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