Chapter 11 – Semi-finals

 

 

My opponent for the semi-finals wasn’t the Emperor’s son. It was a boy my age who looked about Hell’s age. He was wearing glasses and had messy hair. He came to introduce himself to me 5 minutes before the match.

 

“I am Arism and I’ll be your opponent today. Nice to meet you.”

“Ah, nice to meet you too, I’m-”

“I already know who you are. Otherwise I wouldn’t have bothered introducing myself.”

“I… I see…”

 

What’s up with that attitude ? Sure he’s a child who made it into the semi-finals but shouldn’t he respect his elders a bit more ?

 

“By the way, I didn’t talk to you out of courtesy. I came to give you a warning.”

“A… warning ?”

“Yeah. Give up before the match begins. The chances that you die if you face me are very high.”

“What the – Of course I won’t back down !”

“Mhm. I expected as much. But you see, I am a genius Magician. I have never been defeated, even by adults. So don’t come crying if you lose one or two arms, ok ?”

 

He walked away with an arrogant face. After witnessing such display of overconfidence, I was fired up and determined to teach that brat a lesson.
“I can’t afford to lose against that kid” is what I was thinking. I honestly didn’t want to reveal my trump card by using Creative Magic in the semi-finals but if it came to it, I’d do it anyway.

Shortly after, we were told to enter the arena. There was at least twice as many spectators as yesterday. Although the throne at the top of the Coliseum stayed empty, for the Emperor only showed up to watch the finals.

 

I couldn’t see Father anywhere but surely he was also watching me from somewhere. There was no way I’d shame him by losing against that obnoxious kid.

I walked to face Arism. The referee said “Go !” and as soon as the duel started, Arism used a technique I had only witnessed in my books before.

 

“Let’s end this quickly, shall we ? 『Compression』!”
“Huh ?”

 

Arism made a movement with his hand as if he was squashing something and then I felt a great oppression from the air around me.

The attack came from all directions. I felt like my body was being crushed by an invisible force. As I had read in the book, 『Compression』was one of the most deadly Expert level Wind Magic spells which basically manipulated Wind to trap an enemy and gradually crush them by applying equal pressure from all around the victim with powerful wind.

The problem is that I couldn’t move and therefore couldn’t defend myself against the attack. Since I was already trapped inside, my usual Earth defense techniques were useless. I tried struggling but I couldn’t move an inch.

 

*Crack*

 

“Aaaaarggg !”

 

I felt 4 of my ribs breaking at the same time. I spit quite a lot of blood. The pain was so intense that I thought I would faint immediately. However, thanks to my harsh training, I was able to hold on.

I didn’t have very long left until my whole body turned into mash. Breathing became more difficult and I could feel a sharp pain every time I breathed in. I started thinking fast about my possible options.

 

Let’s see. I quickly analysed the situation. Arism was still holding his hand in the air so he probably had to keep doing that in order to control the continuous pressure. Maybe if I attacked him I could disturb him enough for him to release his grip ?

I tried firing my strongest 『Wind Razor』at him but he created a 『Rock Shield』with his remaining hand. Unfortunately, it was strong enough to resist my attack.

That didn’t go well… During this time, I felt one more rib breaking. The only remaining option I had was to try to destroy this spell from the inside.

 

I tried to remember what I had read about 『Compression』. I hadn’t had the time to practice that technique but I had read the theory.

Basically, the first step was to increase the density of the Wind Cindril around the opponent, then mold the Wind Cindril into a cylinder-like shape with the victim in the middle and finish by applying a continuous『Wind Push』to it to crush the enemy.

Now, knowing this allowed me to execute all these steps backwards.

First, I used 『Wind Push』towards the exterior and finally I felt the grip on my body weakening. Then I used 『Whirlwind』around me to disperse the molded Wind Cindril.
Finally, this Expert technique had been defeated.

 

Arism looked at me surprised while I used that time to regain as much energy as I could before launching my next attack. I tried firing more『Wind Razors』,『Hurricane』and『Earth Spikes』at him but his shield was strong enough to block all the attacks.

I felt considerably weakened by 『Compression』. Usually, 『Hurricane』would have been strong enough to blow his shield away but I couldn’t focus well enough to make it that powerful.

It was obvious from his behaviour that Arism had to concentrate for a while before being able to cast another 『Compression』and he had decided to fight defensively until I ran out of energy because of my wounds.

 

Reluctantly, I was preparing to finally use Creative Magic when I got an idea. I remembered Father’s words of praise about how fast I could master new spells as long as I understood the theory.

Considering that I knew enough about 『Compression』to dispel it, I could probably cast it successfully as well. I held my hand in the air, followed the steps carefully and…

 

“『Compression』!”

 

Just like me a few moments ago, Arism dropped his shield on the ground and started struggling. His arms started bending in unnatural ways and he let out a cry of agony. He fainted only a few seconds after having his bones crushed by my spell.

When he saw that, the Elf referee immediately declared the winner and rushed over to Arism to treat him as fast as possible.

Behind me, the spectators were roaring and I waited for the Elf to be done with Arism to treat me as well. It really was a close match… a few more minutes and I’d faint.

The referee ran over to me and started using Healing Magic on me. A sweet feeling ran through my body and the pain quickly disappeared.

 

***

 

I met up with Father soon after that. He came to congratulate me for winning. Apparently, he was watching from a platform located behind me, hence why I didn’t see him.

He told me that my next opponent would be the Emperor’s son. As expected, he was a strong Magician. And despite what I thought about Arism’s arrogant attitude, he was indeed a genius Magician for being able to master Expert Magic.

 

“Arism Stalford ? You don’t know about him ? Oh, I guess you wouldn’t since you don’t live in the capital.”
“Is he famous ?”

“Not just him, the whole Stalford family is well known all around the country as an elite clan of Magicians. They start teaching their kids Magic as soon as they learn how to speak so it’s not surprising that a 14 years old like Arism could use Expert level Magic.”

“Wow, I should consider myself lucky to have been able to beat him then.”

“I think you need more than just luck to beat a Stalford.”

 

He winked at me and left me to rest a bit. I had one hour before the last match so I decided to spend it reading. My body still ached a bit and Healing Magic can’t cure fatigue so the wisest decision was to rest a bit.

 

I thought about Arism while reading. He probably knew nothing aside from Magic… while at the same time, it was probably everything to him. To be honest, before I was 14, I didn’t have any interest in anything. I spent my 14 first years as a normal boy whose only interests were reading and playing cards.
Not to brag but I was unbeatable when it came to card games. I always played with Hell or Tras and always ended up winning. However, it’s very unlikely that I’ll get a job by being good in that area. So I decided to focus on the only other thing I was good at : studying.

My interest in reading led me to become very knowledgeable about Alchemy and eventually Magic.

Mother always supported me and my decisions but when she noticed that I knew about as much as her in Alchemy, she started thinking that I would take over her shop and it apparently made her very happy. However, when I told her that I had decided to become a Magician, she didn’t look angry and instead, she even smiled at me. Once again, she just said “Do your best, I know you can do it” and cheered me.

There was no way I could disappoint her. I was going to win this tournament and show my worth as a Magician. This was the best way for someone from a small village like me to get recruited and offered a good job.

 

Lost in my thoughts, I didn’t see the time fly by and when I woke up, it was time to go back for the final match.

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