The audience was startled by the sudden storm. The announcer was tossed into the corner like a rag, but nobody was paying attention to him.
Theta used all of his mana to create a pair of miniature cyclones; they may have been small, but their impact was enormous.
He smiled at the storms in his hands. “Have you ever heard of a battle of the attributes? Wizards are simpler than you think; they dislike frivolous confrontations.
“Like knights, wizards are dead set on leveling up—or increasing our class. The feeling when I gain another ring is like nothing else I’ve ever felt.” Theta looked positively ecstatic as he thought about it. “The most efficient method of gaining rings is to focus on a single trait. A fire wizard only needs one fourth-class spell—Rune Flare, for instance—to be considered a fourth-class wizard.
“The formula for comparing classes is complex and difficult, but once you get down to it, all attributes adhere to certain fundamental concepts.” Theta’s eyes sparkled. “To be honest, maybe that’s why us wizards are so proud of our chosen specialties. Me, too. I love it… so, so much.”
He began to push his hands together. The cyclones repulsed each other, but he eventually forced them into a single, ear-rendingly powerful storm.
Theta grinned, cheerful in spite of the godlike power trapped between his hands. Although someone with that much power really didn’t need to worry about it; he was manipulating his sixth-class mana to create power on the level of a seventh-class mage.
“In elemental magic, there’s links between every attribute. So which one is the best, when certain attributes have inherent advantages over each other?” He looked at the typhoon in his hand and smiled. “I’ll show you. Wind is the strongest.”
Joshua laughed, to Theta’s annoyance.
“What are you laughing about?”
“You sound like a kid.”
Theta’s eyes narrowed dangerously.
“If there’s links, like you said, then why wouldn’t you study all of them equally and then use them based on the circumstances?”
“You’re a bigger idiot than I thought,” Theta grumbled. “No matter how much synergy they may have, you can’t overcome the class barrier. Third-class magic can’t beat fourth-class magic, even if it’s water against fire. So just pick one and stick with it. What an idiot…” He shook his head disparagingly. “A jack of all trades can’t beat a master of one.”
On top of all that, Theta didn’t use water magic, so Joshua’s electricity didn’t affect him. He was brimming with confidence.
“You actually believe that?”
“What?” Theta tilted his head.
“You already know someone who’s done it. Someone with enough skill in all attributes who can challenge even the Tower Master.”
Theta stopped and shut his eyes.
“I didn’t have a chance to say it, but that name is off-limits in the Tower.”
And that traitor will never surpass me.
Theta leveled his gaze on Joshua.
“No more gossip. Show me Bronto’s strength.”
“As you wish.”
Joshua drew on the four energies lurking within him. He could manipulate each one individually, channeling a stream of pure white electricity through him into the ground.
The magic power inside him had been maximized thanks to Duke Altsma, but Bronto’s energy was Joshua’s first.
After seeing Ulabis’s annihilation flames, I have a feeling Bronto might have more abilities I don’t know about.
Today, Joshua intended to test the limits of Bronto’s strength—because growth extended to more than the passage of time on his body.
Impossibly, an immense bolt of lightning cracked through the cloudless sky, terrorizing the audience with its thunderous roar.
“That’s not something you see every day…”
Theta’s uneasy expression was mirrored by the crowd.
“Hey, are we gonna be okay? It’s like a typhoon! With thunder!”
“What happened to your enthusiasm? I want to see this even if it kills us all!”
“I’m, uhh… I’m a little scared, but I don’t want to miss this! The wizards will protect us, anyways!”
The colosseum’s stands roiled with agitation.
“So why did that lunatic say he was going to give up, and then do this?”
“Shh! He’ll hear you. What’s a day or two to a wizard’s whims?”
“Anyone who saw that could tell you that that loser isn’t a wizard.”
“You better be willing to back up those words, you blasted fool!”
The wizards were breaking into a cold sweat despite their collective might as they fended off the buffeting winds. The shielding magic isolating the arena took on a darker, more distinct form as more and more mana was pushed into it.
Joshua didn’t pay attention to any of it. He was immersed in thought, even as lightning poured into him.
What is growth?
In the beginning, he struggled with Lugia’s explanation and with developing boundaries.
Not the body’s growth, but the growth of strength. This is an excellent chance to put your understanding to the test.
Joshua’s eyes gleamed as the thunder surged.
Years ago, I accidentally attained the sixth level of the magic spear arts. Now, though, I’ve already leaped past that point, albeit imperfectly.
The sixth level was not something you were likely to attain in a lifetime. Perhaps not even with multiple lifetimes.
But now, Joshua was taking his first steps into an undiscovered realm, and heaven and earth trembled beneath his advance.
Lighting ripped forth from the sky, crashing down onto Joshua. Theta reeled back in shock, mumbling incoherently as the sparks crackled over his skin.
“A-are you alright…?”
Joshua casually lifted his hand as if the torrent of lightning was not there at all.
The judges’ eyes shook as they beheld his power.
“Hey, is this—?”
“What is this—”
“Is he… still human?”
“Crazy—!” Every nerve in Theta’s body was sending him alarms. The idea of having a casual match had gone down the drain; if he didn’t give it everything he had, he risked losing his life. He took a deep breath and began to spin up his heart’s rings as fast as they would go. Every iota of mana slumbering in his body cascaded out of his hands into his mighty twin cyclones.
And yet, Joshua still seemed to have the upper hand.
“If Ulabis’s flames reduce all things to ash, then my thunderbolt does not permit life in its presence.”
Joshua’s right hand was not occupied by Lugia—rather, a blinding spear of brilliant lighting sat in its place. This impossible spear drank in Bronto’s energy and transformed it into a pure thunderbolt.
“AHHHHHHHHHHHHH!” Theta squeezed as much mana into his storm as he could possibly fit, and frantically launched the tempest. Joshua was assaulted by the flurry of endlessly compressed cyclones. It tore through the hardened stones of the colosseum; human flesh would no doubt fare much worse.
But Joshua gently raised his glowing body to face the approaching storm.
A brilliant radiance enveloped the sky.
A single bolt of lighting struck the heart of the storm.
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