Chapter 176 – Clash
“Ms. Noelle. I see that you are wearing a relic that restricts your mana.”
I nodded at Ilis’s words.
“You are very observant.”
“What kind of relic is it?”
“A Rank 2 magic seal bracelet. It halves your mana when you equip it.”
Luke had let me borrow it before the battle against the Holy Blade.
That experience of training before that fight, ended up being useful during the fight against Count Wilhellm, where our mana was limited. And so I continued to use it during the past month while training.
“Halved, and still that much mana. I suppose I should have expected as much from you.”
Ilis said with a smile.
“I am looking forward to this. When you take that off, you will be the strongest opponent I have ever faced.”
“I won’t be doing that.”
“I don’t need to remove it to beat the likes of you.”
The light disappeared from her eyes.
Her face tensed, and her mouth twisted violently.
There was intense rage there.
“What? You must be joking.”
She glared at me.
“You’re going to regret this.”
“No, I won’t. As you are now, you cannot beat me.”
“Oh, I will beat you. I will crush you without mercy.”
Ilis said as she activated her magic.
My aim for this fight was to show Ilis that she was still not ready.
And so merely winning was not enough.
I had to show her the overwhelming gap between us. Make her understand that she did not have the smallest chance of winning in her current state.
However, in the next instant, I gasped at the force of the explosive water magic.
(She only just recently graduated from the magic academy, and yet she can unleash this much power…)
It was a lot of skill for someone with no real combat training.
That was why she was a genius, who was unbeatable amongst her peers.
She had great sensibilities for modern magic. Perhaps much more so than me.
At the very least, she was much better than I was at her age.
(However, I have done so much more than you since then.)
The experience at the Magic Artificer Guild.
No matter how hard the situation was, I never slacked off when it came to magic.
In terms of blood, sweat and tears, I would not lose.
And then there was the experience fighting against Luke, and the battle at Count Wilhelm’s mansion.
I knew far harsher situations than this.
(Come. I will show you the power of your senior.)
◇ ◇ ◇
For Ilis Reed, the Vice-captain was a real goal that she had to reach.
She had first heard of Noelle during the World Trophy tournament. And that was when she first became interested in the small magician.
(She is not bad at all.)
After all, she had acquired that position as representative, which Ilis herself had failed to do.
Ilis had lost by a few points against an older magician. And yet Noelle had not backed down a single step, and surprised everyone.
(Her magic structure is different from ours and so unique. How interesting.)
More than anything, what moved her the most was that she smelled the same scent in Noelle’s magic.
(She is the same kind of being as me. Someone who has dedicated more time to magic than anyone. Forsaking everything else. She lives only for her precious magic.)
‘The best way to become good with magic. It is to discard everything else.’
That was the one truth that Ilis’s parents had taught her.
And when she did just that, her level as a magician rose rapidly.
It caused more trouble with those around her, but that was nothing.
She would not waste her life, worrying about such weak and untalented people’s feelings.
For she was a true genius. Her time was worth more than theirs.
(She should understand me more than anyone.)
And so Ilis ignored the objections of the others, and decided to go to Ardenfeld in order to become a Royal Magician.
There were some struggles, as magic was quite different in this country. But that was a good thing, as it helped to deepen her knowledge.
And after negotiating directly with the Central Command Office, she had them assign her to the same unit as the small magician.
And then, came the shock.
‘I want the 7th unit to be a lively, wonderful place for us to work.’
‘Since you are all new here, please don’t hesitate to ask me anything.’
‘Oh, that’s fine. I will teach you…’
(What is this…)
It seemed like she was prioritizing her role in instructing the new recruits over her own training.
(Rediculius. That is no way to become stronger.)
But what annoyed Ilis most of all, was that expression. How it looked like she was enjoying magic from the bottom of her heart.
(What kind of soft…)
Is this a joke to her?
You should not be enjoying it like that.
No, one must think of magic and nothing else for every waking hour.
Waking up at five in the morning and training.
Even while walking to work, she would think of ways to improve her magic, and she would read books while resting and eating.
When she returned home, she would run eight kilometers in order to improve her mind and body.
She would then read for another two hours, and spend an hour translating ancient magic texts.
And it was with new regrets and goals in her mind that she fell asleep.
As it was a waste of time, she did not do any chores around the house.
Her room was a mess, with clothes scattered everywhere.
Paper bags from groceries littered the floor.
(She has such a high ability. And I acknowledged that by coming here.)
It was unforgivable. She could not accept it.
(I must show her the error of her ways.)
As Ilis had been thinking this, the duel was a better opportunity than she could have hoped for.
(I shall crush her without mercy. And then she will know how wrong she was.)
Layers of magic formulas were activated.
Spear of Piercing Water.
A chain of attacks by water spears that shatter all manner of things in a second.
On the other hand, Noelle’s reaction to this was disappointing.
It was as if she could do nothing, and so she was forced to use Spell Boost and retreat while dodging.
She was not even as fast as she had been during the World Trophy.
(Of course. She is using a relic to halve her mana.)
It was not a fair fight from the beginning.
The goal of this fight was not to just beat Noelle.
(I will make her understand that I’m not someone she can beat at half power.)
While her opponent focused on escape, Ilis put all of her resources into attacking.
But as she took a step forward, she saw the corner of Noelle’s mouth rise just a little.
The small wind bullet was fired.
The attack was a simplified spell, however, it had been shot at the worst timing for Ilis.
(There was no sign that she was about to attack…)
Attacking the moment she started to lean forward. It was as if her mind was being read.
(No. She had been targeting this moment from the beginning.)
She was retreating in order to lure her into this action.
When Ilis used everything towards attacking in order to end the fight.
Even if it was simplified magic, Ilis had been taken by surprise, and so it would be difficult to counter.
(Tsk. But with this output…)
She adjusted the magic she was about to activate, turning the water spear into a wall instead.
(Mine is much more powerful. It will be able to block it.)
And like that, the wind bullet was smashed.
However, the water splashed, and Ilis gasped.
And she realized.
Noelle’s intention had been to block her vision.
She did not know where the attack would come from.
But she needed to win no matter what.
To show Noelle that she was wrong.
The jade magic formula shone vibrantly.
It was hard to believe that her mana had been halved.
Shock and fear.
She could not predict the attacks.
(Lose. I am going to lose…)
Her heart became cold.
(If I lose, then I will have nothing left…)
What went through Ilis’s mind then was the days she spent training.
‘She really doesn’t stop.’
‘Why doesn’t she enjoy life a little more?’
‘She is so serious. It’s kind of sad, really.’
She did not understand the feelings of the weak.
She knew that they laughed behind her back.
There had been days when she wanted to quit.
At least twice a week, she would not want to train in the morning.
And yet, she still worked her hardest every time.
She never played with classmates on their day off.
Never celebrated a birthday together.
She had given everything. Sacrificed it all.
And in exchange, she became stronger than anyone.
(No one should be able to have it both ways. It should not be allowed.)
Ilis closed her eyes.
Focused and searched for the presence of mana.
Identifying Noelle’s position behind the wall.
(No matter what, I cannot lose.)
The blue magic formula let off a beautiful glow.
Severing Water Sword.
A giant blade of water appeared.
It was specialized for short range attacks, and while delayed, it managed to cut down the wind cannon that Noelle unleashed.
(I am going to win…)
The water sword moved towards Noelle.
It was just as Noelle suddenly raised her left hand and touched the sword.
The sealing bracelet shattered.
The mana that was held back was now released.
She suddenly felt as cold as ice. There was magic pressure like she never felt before. She could not breathe. Did not understand what was happening.
Vibrations and shaking like she was inside of a machine.
Dust and sand flew in the air.
She felt the hard ground against her back.
Her vision turned dark, and her consciousness faded.
And then someone’s voice rang in the far distance.
‘Ilis! I’m sorry! Are you alright?!’
Her mind went blank.
But she had seen something in the cracks that she could not grasp. Like a monster.
(I don’t know why I lost…)
She could not accept it.
(I gave everything to magic…)
Her mouth was completely dry.
(But this person is stronger than me.)