“So easy… so simple.”
Theta was exiting the colosseum, having just finished his match. His lips were curled into an elegant grin, and he hummed constantly.
“That monkey Astello was content with just becoming a Master and gave up right away… For the last match, the last member of Group A is…” Theta paused and his lips slowly split into a venomous smile. “Are we finally going to meet, Joshua Sanders?”
Theta was not actually interested in the Master Battle. He got into a spat with Grandpa Ian when his powers were discovered. Master Ian wouldn’t accept the invitation from Reinhardt if there wasn’t anything interesting here, though. Even if it was an order, not a request.
“I’m a specialist in escaping.” Theta’s smile widened. What would they do if he decided to run away to some remote idyll? Would the Tower Master come after him? Grandpa Ian?
While he was daydreaming, the creature that dominated his attention appeared: Joshua Sander of the Avalon Empire, future star of Igrant.
“Skill is a talent too, but I’m extremely interested as to how ‘Code Zero’ acquired the power of Bronto.” Theta was certain that Joshua had Bronto, which made him very curious. No human could handle a primordial stone carelessly; Bronto was so powerful it could turn your hands into charcoal, and the other stones were no different.
“The only reason the Prince was able to consume Magma was because of his innate constitution and training technique. Obviously, it doesn’t hurt that he was nearly a Master anyways…” Theta trailed off and slowly opened his eyes. “When Joshua Sanders stole Bronto, he was only ten years old. He may have been considered a monster even then, but he was only about C-Class. How could he claim Bronto’s power without dying?”
There was no response, but Theta continued to kick his feet and whisper.
On top of that, how was it that a ten-year-old seemed to know where Bronto was? Theta had heard the rumors on how Bronto was discovered in the Black Monster Forest. That was a most perilous, treacherous region filled with demons—and a little kid had entered on his own?
“Maybe there’s something about the primordial stone that I’m not aware of that let Joshua Sanders find it…” A peculiar light flickered across Theta’s eyes.
Theta wanted the primordial stone Stormwind. He doubted he’d be able to discover much about it, nevermind its location—because of Joshua Sanders.
“I’m looking forward to our battle, Joshua Sanders.” Theta flashed a brilliant grin and vanished.
Just past noon, the colosseum was gripped with an eerie stillness. The audience was dizzy with delight and still wasn’t able to leave their seats.
“The Seven Magicians… they live up to their name. Literally, Astello didn’t stand a chance, and he’s one of the biggest players in Terra Kingdom!”
“I heard that Storm is the youngest of the Seven. I don’t know what to expect from the other six!”
“I think they’re only Six now… Weren’t there rumors years ago that the Thunderbolt Magician died? So it’s the other five, not the other six.”
“Groundless. What on this continent can harm a monster like that? Tell me.”
“Well… that’s all I’ve heard. I don’t think we can really be certain.”
“Anyway, it was fantastic. That was way better than the knights’ fights.”
The crowd buzzed with a plethora of hot takes. Joshua’s lips remained silent while he pondered. He then glanced at Iceline, whose exquisite lips were still agape with astonishment.
“You must have been quite surprised.”
Iceline twitched, awoken from her stupor by Joshua’s voice.
“Such a beast… I’ve never seen anything like it. The allocation of mana, his comprehension of magic, and his ability to adapt were all flawless. I’ve met quite a few ‘geniuses,’ but…” She sighed. “I see there’s a sky above the sky.”
Joshua grimaced. His memory told him that both Joshua and Iceline were once-in-an-era geniuses. If Joshua had lived longer, maybe he would’ve seen Iceline achieve far more.
“Well…” Joshua’s expression hardened.
“What?” He turned to Iceline.
“He tired out his opponent until he surrendered. Slowly weakening his opponent like that instead of taking him out in one fell swoop only works if he has an advantage in at least two areas. The last time I saw Force Magician Astello, he was near the beginning of Sixth-Class. The Seven Magicians call Theta a—”
Iceline nodded. “So long as he continues to challenge the Master Battle, even after being acknowledged as the Magic Master, you’re bound to encounter him eventually. He’s your next opponent.” Iceline seemed unphased, despite the incredible chance this represented. Being recognized as a Magic Master in the Magic Battle was dramatically different from being recognized as a Master in the Master Battle.
The majority of Master Battle participants—knights—viewed wizards poorly, and the judges were knights, after all. They had a tendency to ignore the feats of wizards, hence why they had yet to recognize Astello as a Master even though he could easily claim it in the Magic Battle. The fact that they recognized Theta, however, was an indication of his sheer, intimidating power.
Thetapirion Whitesocks… Joshua smirked.
They called him the Storm Magician, but what he showed in the arena today didn’t live up to it. Joshua was looking forward to their match.
It’s a great opportunity to meet a star. Fighting the first human great magician was an excellent learning opportunity for Joshua. Heinz the lich, Asmodeus’ contractor, was a giant said to have reached Eight-Class. He was intimately connected to Evergrant kun Aswald and the Imperial family of Avalon.
Joshua turned back to Iceline, who was still deep in thought. Her rate of development was far superior to any other wizard Joshua knew of. It would be fantastic if she could take on Evergrant and if Thetapirion could handle Heinz…
Joshua shook his head. He couldn’t afford to consider cheap tricks against the foes he was thinking of.
I need to be wary of Kaiser’s closest allies as well, but for now—
“AAAAAAAAAHHH! Prince! Prince! Prince!”
Joshua was yanked away from his thoughts by the crowd’s shrieking.
“Ulabis in combat! You’re the hope of the non-imperials!”
“You must win, Knight of the Red Flame!”
Most of the noise came from the western side of the colosseum, where Ulabis entered. Shortly, an equal roar rose from the east side.
“Prove that being the number two mercenary means something, Akshuler!”
“I’m with you 100%! If you lose, don’t even think about going home!”
“Don’t you dare lose to a kid like Ulabis!”
The east side was dominated by men’s voices.
“Hmm.” Joshua swallowed.
The two men in the arena approached each other. On one side was a young man with fiery red eyes; on the other was a man whose granite muscles exuded palpable power, even from a distance.
“Pleased to meet you!”
“You already know me.”
“What, we can’t greet each other anymore?” Akshuler grinned bitterly and raised his fists.
In reply, Ulabis deftly flung his blade into the air, creating a tongue of brilliant red flame in the sky.
The crowd was instantly startled into silence.
Ulabis and Akshuler studied each other for a long moment.
And then, with an ear-splitting, sky-rending roar, the most exciting match of the Battle began.
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