༺ Duel (1) ༻
“The duel evaluation will now commence.”
The day had finally arrived.
‘Duke Hall’, an arena dedicated to the first-year students in the Magic Department. The interior of the spacious building was divided into four equal sections, each of which contained its own arena.
The first-year students of the Magic Department were divided into four groups and each moved into a different arena.
I was in Group A. I recognized Luce, Ian, Mateo, and Tristan among the many students, but Kaya and Amy seemed to have gone to another group.
Next to the arena, there was a judging stand with middle-aged wizards sitting side by side in their seats. They were all presiding judges.
“The rules are simple. You win when your opponent is unable to continue, or by forcing them to surrender. However, please note that surrender is not possible during the first minute of the duel. Due to the nature of this performance evaluation, no sudden actions are authorized. Be aware that you may be restrained by the proctors.”
In the arena, Professor Fernando, along with his zombie-like teaching assistant Marco, and an associate professor, were giving the students a briefing on the performance evaluation.
“The only time you are allowed to run amok is during the duel. We have the best medical staff and clerics are on standby, so focus on showing your full capabilities. That is all.”
Professor Fernando finished his brief explanation and walked out of the arena.
Then, the associate professor called out the first rounds of students who were going to face off.
Mateo Jordana and a student I had never seen before stepped into the arena, and when the referee called out, ‘match start,’ the match began.
Psychology: [Wants to catch up to you.]
Mateo had grown considerably in my absence.
Hmph, he’s been working hard to target me… I may be caught in the act sooner or later.
‘What should I do about Tristan?’
Even though I promised myself that I would beat the shit out of Tristan no matter what, after he humiliated me, it was an undeniable fact that he outclassed me in terms of strength.
Besides, I didn’t even know how he honed his skills.
The conflict between Ian Fairytale and Tristan Humphrey in ❰Magic Knight of Märchen❱ was during the Familiar Summoning. At that time, Ian lightly knocked down Tristan and refreshingly blasted him. After that, Tristan also began to learn defensive magic.
But I had already provoked him during the class placement evaluation. It wouldn’t be strange if he had properly learned defensive magic by now.
Even if Tristan was a conceited person, I had to give him credit for his offensive magic. If he could defend as well as he attacked, I would be out of luck.
So I had to defeat him with a single move. Otherwise, I would be defeated unconditionally.
Professor Fernando whispered something to the assistant professor and then quickly stepped out into the hallway.
His usual poker face seemed shaken…
‘Well, it’s probably nothing.’
I calmed down my anxiety that briefly rose.
That was because nothing serious would happen in this dueling chapter, nothing that could be called a crisis anyway.
Maybe he ate something wrong or needed to use the restroom in a hurry.
“Mateo Jordana, wins!”
Mateo easily subdued his opponent with rock magic.
After the duel, the judges gave their feedback.
Most of them had things to say regarding Mateo’s wits, things to praise, and things to work on, but one judge had some harsh words.
“It’s pathetic. Your proficiency in rock magic is very low. Rock is an element that can be shaped at a moment’s notice, which means you need to be able to sculpt rock forms with forethought and precision in combat. And yet, do you know anything other than violent battles? No wonder your skills are only at a Class B level. Must be because you’re a commoner…”
Oh, that one. I knew who he was.
A middle-aged man with red hair. An openly discriminatory professor.
It was Professor Philip, who was in charge of Class A.
Elements: Fire, Rock
Psychology: [Displeased because a commoner has defeated a noble.]
He was a professor with a notorious reputation, but his skills were certain. He treated nobles well, meaning there was little reason to dislike him if you were a noble.
Mateo clenched his fists and trembled, then calmed down.
“Thank you for your feedback.”
Mateo bowed his head and calmly accepted Professor Philip’s feedback. Contrary to how one would expect, his obedient demeanor seemed to have angered Professor Philip.
Mateo was determined to prove his worth through his skills. He was confident that he would be as solid as a rock regardless of the challenges he would have to face, and Professor Philip’s provocation wouldn’t faze him.
“Next! Isaac from Class D, and Tristan Humphrey from Class B, come forward!”
It was my turn now.
Whew. After taking a deep breath, I stepped up.
When it was my turn, the stadium looked bigger than ever. Perhaps because of my nervousness, my heart was racing wildly.
I slowly made my way up the stairs and into the arena. On the other side, Tristan Humphrey, the conceited blond aristocrat, was grinning as he approached.
We faced each other at a distance, with the referee in between us.
It was then that the system window appeared in front of me.
[A demon has been detected nearby.]
Suddenly, I heard the sound of the wind in my head, and it felt as if my heart was being pulled upwards.
I reflexively raised my head.
Above the high ceilings, I could sense an intense energy from beyond.
At the same time, information about the demon that was probably on the roof appeared before my eyes.
Elements: Darkness, Fire
Danger: Very High
Psychology: [Wants to kill all students, including you.]
Was this part of 「Act 3, Chapter 1, Duel」 of ❰Magic Knight of Märchen❱…?
‘What’s going on…?’
The final boss of ❰Magic Knight of Märchen❱, 「Act 6, Chapter 3, Fictional Hell」, Leafa the Illusive.
He still had a long way to go before appearing… Why was he here already…?
* * *
Under the clear sky, the wind whipped through the rooftops of Duke Hall.
‘Leafa the Illusive’, a dwarf-sized demon with grey-brown hair, was leaning against the railing and staring down at the ground.
The roof floor was carved with a large magic circle that emitted a faint purple light.
But Leafa’s interest laid beyond that.
With his unique skill [Clairvoyance], he could see through nearby places and now, with the power of [Clairvoyance], he gazed beyond the roof floor and into the interior of a certain building.
It was an arena divided into four areas. While each student was engaged in a duel, no student stood out yet.
[No troublemakers yet~]
Leafa spoke in a bored voice, like a mischievous child.
A troublemaker who went around slaying demons. He had yet to see anyone who could be the slayer, but when he did, he intended to play a death game centered around that person and Ian Fairytale.
The participants would be every first-year student of the Magic Department present at Duke Hall. The boring judges were a bonus.
[Soon, very soon.]
I’ll trap all of them with my magic, and let Ian Fairytale and that troublemaker protect the people. Ah, that will be fun.
Leafa giggled. The heightened anticipation was filling him with ecstasy.
It was then.
The roof door opened, revealing a stoic-looking man. Silver hair and blue eyes – it was Professor Fernando Frost.
Leafa’s eyes turned to Fernando.
Fernando’s eyes narrowed as he glared at Leafa cynically.
Leafa grinned from ear to ear. He hadn’t expected a professor to show up here.
[What are you doing, Professor~? Aha, you were in the middle of the first-years Dueling Evaluation of the Magic Department, right?]
[It was forbidden to enter Duke Hall! Alas, I forgot, I forgot! I’m sorry~]
Leafa answered like a little child, but he didn’t show any sign of remorse.
What surprised Fernando was that Leafa spoke like a normal human being.
Demons were inherently less intelligent and were known to be unable to have normal conversations.
[But what happened? Didn’t you only net inside of the building? Aha, I guess you extended it outside of the building this time? It was too much~]
“···Where did you hear that?”
Normally, when a test or a performance evaluation took place inside a building, Fernando would set up a net using telekinesis magic throughout the building. It was a kind of barrier. Therefore, if an abnormality occurred, Fernando would immediately notice it.
However, only key groups within the academy were aware of that fact. The faculty, the Four Constellations, and the student council.
“Do you have a mole?”
Leafa only laughed with his characteristic cackle, but did not respond. As if he didn’t need to answer.
The implication was clear.
‘You’re going to die here anyway.’
“What are you planning?”
Fernando held out his right index finger toward Leafa. Water mana and ice mana flowed out in front of his finger and compressed into a small round ball and formed a bullet.
「Water Generation (Water Element, ★1)」 + 「Ice Generation (Ice Element, ★1 )」 + 「Compression (Neutral Element, ★4)」
= 「Elemental Magic Bullet (Water+Ice Element)」
[Oh my, calm down, calm down~ Let’s talk peacefully.]
“That’s quite a thing to say.”
The magic circle engraved on the rooftop was in the form of jumbled strokes that tangled here and there.
He had memorized almost every circle. That was why Fernando had a strong feeling that this ominous and unknown magic circle was extremely dangerous.
No mana was detected from it. Maybe it hadn’t been activated yet.
No, normally, when a magic circle was about to be activated, shouldn’t some amount of magic power be felt…?
[Haah, I didn’t want to be interrupted. Still, I suppose you could be an appetizer if nothing else!]
With the demon’s shrill voice, the purple light emitting from the magic circle became more intense.
Then, a blackish yet bizarre mana spread out in an instant, swallowing Leafa and Fernando in one fell swoop…
[Have fun, Fernando Frost.]
…And a circular purple space was created on the roof, [Fictional Hell].
The natural mana floating in the air was sucked in, and a new world that was disconnected from the laws of nature, the principles of this world—Providence, was created.
Fernando was forcibly invited into such a world.
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