|Original Source: Syosetu
|Word Count: 3990 characters
|English Source: Re:Library
|Word Count: 1842 words
As ice trees sprout one after another, emitting a chilling wind, everything becomes shrouded in snow. I realize that prolonging this fight would be detrimental. I’ll have to close the distance and end the match quickly.
Just as that thought crosses my mind, my body suddenly feels much heavier, almost as if I’m under the influence of gravity magic. That shouldn’t be possible, so it’s probably because I’m still acclimating to unrestrained movement.
“You’re out of time,” Mathias’ cold voice interrupts my thoughts.
Full Divine Wind can only propel me in a straight line and it consumes a lot of mana. It’s also short-lived; once depleted, it will be some time before I can reactivate it.
“I’ve been watching you these three years, wanting to surpass you. So it’s natural that I’ve identified one or two of your weaknesses,” Mathias continues.
The accumulating snow makes it harder to move but doesn’t entirely immobilize me. Having already used up Full Divine Wind, I can’t rely on it for further movement. Nevertheless, I refuse to let that stop me from winning.
I release a burst of mana to clear the nearby snow, thinking if I can just get close to him, victory will be mine. As I try to move forward, I stop almost instantly. Sharp branches from the ice trees shoot out, narrowly missing me. Had I reacted a moment later, they would’ve impaled me.
“Feullade doesn’t just generate snow and ice. Every flake and shard in this area is under my control and ready to be used against you,” Mathias says.
As I jump back, icicles surge from the ground where I had been standing. Even when I dodge, more sharp icicles point at me from the ice trees. My only recourse is to punch and kick them to destroy them. But it’s still ice; even when it breaks, it quickly reforms.
I hope a fire dragon can help me clear the area.
“That won’t work.”
A large amount of snow falls and snuffs out Ignis Drake. Fire magic is supposed to be stronger than ice magic, but Mathias’ spell is powerful enough to overcome elemental differences. Considering the area it affects, it must be a high-level spell. In that case, I’ll have to counter with a high-level spell of my own.
“Kindle the bones of the dead, and place a pot of corpses to the fire.”
I try to calm my mind and focus my mana to create a magic circle. I’m in the middle of a frigid landscape, so I’ll need to use a high-level spell to generate enough heat to melt all the ice. Even for experienced magicians, using high-level spells is difficult. My best one involves lightning, and the second-best is a fire spell. They’re not easy for me to cast, but I press on with the full chant and the aid of a magic circle.
“Do you really think I’ll let you?”
The blizzard intensifies, but I don’t stop.
“Evaporate the blood of the sinners until there’s nothing left.”
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Just a bit more. As that thought crosses my mind, I feel an intense pain as my body is slammed against the ground.
It takes me a moment to realize that a huge chunk of ice has fallen on top of me.
“Scorching heat, come through the lid—”
I attempt to continue my chant, but another ice block hits me from below and launches me into the air. The impact is so severe, I feel like I might vomit my organs. Once I hit the ground, I struggle to stay conscious as I stand up. My chant was interrupted, and the magic circle has dissipated. I doubt I’ll get enough time to start over.
Grimacing and holding onto my stomach, I use a mid-level spell that I can activate instantly, launching it multiple times in all directions. Multiple lightning tornadoes form in the arena.
“Where are you aiming?”
None of them hit Mathias; they just fizzle out. Although a lot of snow and ice trees dissipate, they’ll likely regenerate soon.
“This ends now.”
As Mathias speaks, all the ice trees grow taller and aim their icicles at me like spears.
“Let the earth know the might of the Gods.”
“Huh? Did you—?”
He notices something, but it’s too late. The earlier Thunder Storms weren’t to attack Mathias or the ice; they were to prepare for something else. All the lightning bolts left traces of mana that I used to form a new magic circle. This will help me activate the high-level lightning spell with which I’m most familiar.
Now I just need to shout its name to complete it.
“Lightning of Wrath!”
A bright flash sears my eyes; loud thunder deafens my ears. The ice trees shatter, the snow melts, and the ice chunks vanish. What remains is a cracked and ruined arena, with Mathias and me standing atop it.
Mathias also took a direct hit from Lightning of Wrath, leaving a lot of smoking burn marks on his body. I was prepared to take a hit as well, having had no time to set up a defense. I can’t afford to take much more damage.
But I’m still standing1.
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I clench my fists and raise my head, despite its heaviness. I begin to gather the floating mana and lightning around me into my hand until it forms a ball of wild black lightning. Mathias raises his hand as well, controlling a set of floating ice claws.
Black lightning and white snow collide in the air. Without any signal, we both start running at each other. Our eyes lock. It’s time to find out how far these three years have taken us.
We both shout loudly as my fist of lightning collides with his ice claws.
We both had the worst first impressions of each other. I thought you were unfit for the classroom, and to you, I was probably some brat who didn’t know when to shut up. But after our duel, I realized your skill was real and not just inherited from your family name; I felt ashamed of my own imprudence.
Then classes started in earnest. We spent a lot of time in the same classroom, and despite the harsh treatment I had given you, you acted as if we were friends. Or well, by then, I guess you already considered me a friend. Many would accept an apology, but few would truly forgive; I was surprised by how amiable you were.
We had many practice matches, and I won plenty of times. However, those victories felt empty because we were restricted to what we learned in class. We weren’t using our true power. At some point, defeating you without any restrictions became my goal. So, I began to analyze your fighting style more deeply until I found your weakness. Then, I asked my father to teach me the secret skill of the Feullade family.
Fighting you became so important to me that I even went against my core values to invite you to this battlefield. And now, you’re definitely strong. I’ve been charmed by you, though I know you already like someone else, so I’ve tried to keep my distance.
Instructor Natalia, I’ve always respected how skilled you are at alchemy and storage magic, and how devotedly you serve Olivia as her maid. However, it frustrates me how you’re aware of Olivia’s feelings but never give her a proper reply, which makes me jealous. I wish you could reject her properly; affairs aren’t something I’m fond of.
Meanwhile, I keep continuously declining the arranged marriage my father wants for me, yet I’m also so weak-willed that I can’t bring myself to blame Instructor Natalia. Olivia, last year when my father offered you an invitation to marry me, my heart sank. But now it’s time for me to cast off this childish selfishness.
Whatever the outcome of this match, I’ll relinquish these feelings and cease competing with you. So, just for this moment, even if I’ll never voice these emotions that make my heart race, allow me just to feel them.
I love you2.
When Olivia clenched her fists and the lightning traces began to collect there, they regained their former brilliance. However, as more energy collected, the light transformed into pitch black. Eventually, all of the traces gathered, and black sparks leapt from her fist. There was no wind, but Olivia’s long, lustrous hair floated in the air, perhaps due to the static from the lightning or her overwhelming energy.
Seeing that, someone in the audience muttered, “She looks like a black lion.” As the two contestants neared each other, the contrast between black and white intensified, resembling a battle between a lion and a tiger.
The black lion bared her fangs, while the white tiger readied his claws. Both shouted each other’s names and dashed forward. Once they collided, there was a blinding flash that obscured both of them. But only one would remain standing… Only one could be the victor…
The light eventually died down. One figure lay on the ground; the other, covered in wounds, still managed to stand on both legs.
‘And…and…and the winner is! The winner is…’ A gust of wind passed through the arena, making her black hair wave behind her as she raised her hand.
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As soon as the announcement was made, the audience erupted in loud cheering. Everyone praised not just the winner, but also Mathias. However, no matter how loud the applause was, none of it reached the fighters’ ears.
“Mathias,” Olivia checked that Mathias was still conscious before speaking to him.
So I lost… It’s not like I need confirmation. Just before the impact, I saw her fist breaking my claws apart, and then she punched me square on the cheek. Now I can’t move a single finger. I lost.
Somehow, I manage to open my eyes and look up to see her raising her fist while her black hair flutters in the wind. Ahh…what a beautiful but frustrating sight. She’s all beaten up; her knees look like they’re about to give in, yet this is the most captivating I’ve ever found her.
What am I lacking? Am I not strong enough? Is my magic weak? Or are my spells inadequate? What must I do to beat her? How much harder do I have to work? This can’t be the end.
Although I’d resolved not to compete any longer, seeing her now makes me question that decision.
“Mathias,” I hear her voice above me. Olivia is smiling as she always does. I had thought winners usually flaunt their victories, but I was quickly proven wrong. “That was really fun! Let’s do it again sometime!”
Right, you never look down on your opponents; I’d somehow forgotten that. I’m too weak to even stand, but I manage to muster a smile. If I weren’t so injured, I’d probably be laughing loudly right now.
Ahh, just how much more of my heart do you intend to conquer3?