Chapter 21 - Day 2, The Urban District Part 2


When she came to, Sing found her vision shaking.

"Mm… Mm?"

"Oh! You're awake!"

As she used her neck to pulled her head up, Sing soon saw that Nadav was carrying her on his back.

"Wha…What happened?"

"Beats me… you suddenly trailed off while we were waking, and then you collapsed and fell asleep. I honestly thought we are about to get attacked when you went down. But when no one showed up, I soon realized you were just tired."

Tired was quite the understatement. Even as Sing tried to move her body, every muscle fiber within her felt sore. Her Magical Circuits were unresponsive, and her mind felt heavy.

After identifying the symptoms, Sing made a quick mental estimation of her present Cast Limit.

Cast Limit Estimation – About 3 [Point Spells] left

Yup… it's as Sing suspected, she's hitting rock bottom any time soon. The Fifth Absolute Rule of Magic was not one to be underestimated.

Over usage of magic always comes with a price, and once Sing hits that threshold, she may not be able to recover in time for the second tournament round. With this in mind Sing decided that she really has to avoid casting spells for the next few hours at least.

Sing sighed. She came to the realization that she messed up pretty badly.

"Nadav, put me down."

"Are you sure? Can you walk?"

"Yes. I think I can."

Nadav soon stopped moving and helped her down. Sing was about to take a step forward, but she was close to collapsing onto the ground again.

Nadav was quick to respond. He quickly wrapped her left arm around his shoulder and supported her up.

"I guess we will have to move like this for the time being."

"Yeah…"

"Well, if things are of any comfort, look up."

"Eh?"

Sing tilted her head up, only to see some urban building blocks some distance away."

"Is that…"

"Yup, the Urban District. We are here."

Upon approaching the district border, Sing motioned for Nadav to pause. As he gently sat her down to rest near a tree, Sing looked at the entire Urban District over the horizon.

"Where exactly are we?"

Nadav was quick to bring up the tournament map.

"We are at the extreme south of Zone D. There's a straight street we can take up to the bridge linking up to the central tower. However…"

"Yes?"

Nadav directed the paranormal screen towards her.

"I doubt I'm the only one who wants to make use of that street. I have a hunch that we'll encounter many teams if we use that route."

"So we will have to go around then."

"Yeah… that's what I think."

Sing leaned back against the tree and did her best to relax her sore muscle joints.

"Unfortunately, I don't think we are in any position to fight another team at this point."

"Oh? Does that mean it's time to enter stealth mode?"

"Yes… let's do some stealth."

"We'll make it an in-game achievement! We'll be the first team to reach the central tower by being very sneaky!"

Sing could only give a weak smile. Regardless of the sarcasm, she knew that Nadav was doing his best to brighten up the mood.

An explosion could soon be heard at a distance. It was soft, but as the echoes dissipated, the two of them could hear other smaller explosions happening across the urban district. Judging from the noises alone, the fights happening there should be a lot more intensive compared to yesterday.

"Crap… I just hope we don't run into the twins in the urban district. That would super suck." Nadav said.

Sing knew exactly which twins he was talking about.

"Yeah… agreed." Sing said.

Sing soon turned to Nadav's sling bag.

"Nadav, what loot did we get from the three teams we defeated so far?"

"Hm…"

Nadav laid down his sling bag on the dirt floor.

"From the first team of three Dark Students, Cadeus got a Dark obsidian knife, but that was shattered by Nora's Relic during that fight yesterday. From the second team of three Grey Students, we got these."

Nadav took out three triangular metallic Artifacts.

"Yes… you showed me those briefly." Sing said.

The [Trianik Discs] are common market Artifacts that produces flat vertical barriers that are impervious to most basic attacks and phenomena. Their barriers are three to four times stronger than a standard [Repulsive Act], and they are decent enough to protect you from a Criftoae charge. The problem is, they can only function when you place them on a stationary position. You will have to deactivate, move, and reactivate them manually if you wish to protect yourself from different angles. This is why people usually carry around three to five discs at once. Despite the lack of agility, people still found good uses for it.

Nadav could always cast his own barriers if need be, but for Sing who looks like she's about to hit rock bottom…

Nadav soon brought the disks out towards her with a free hand.

"Shall I hold on to these or would you like to have them?"

"I don't think I can swing my arm efficiently. You should keep them for the moment. We'll see if I need them later."

"All right then. Next, the third team – "

"Meiya, Tarson and Torvin."

"Yeah… those three. We did not get anything from them."

"On the contrary, we did."

"Huh?"

Sing reached for her sling bag and eventually pulled out a talisman.

"What's that?"

"The [Tailsman of Plight], used to quickly warp it's user far away from dangerous situations. Meiya had one around her neck, I think she had intended to use it at the very last minute yesterday, but we managed to seal off her movements before she could use it."

"I see…"

Nadav soon thought of something critical.

"If I remember correctly, talismans and jewelry artifacts usually have limited usage. In gaming terms… it means they always have several charges of use."

"Indeed. This [Tailsman of Plight], only has three charges left."

"Three warps… you better keep that with you then."

Sing nodded in response.

"Damn it. Didn't Tarson have this awesome Claymore? Why can't we get that? Didn't Cadeus get an Obsidian Knife a while back?"

"Tournament Rule 15 states that loots are minor rewards. I guess they don't want to give any team an overwhelming amount of advantages."

"So they are ok with giving Cadeus a knife but not a claymore?"

"…That Claymore is a really good Artifact, and Tarson is one of the better swordsmen in our year."

"Sigh…"

"By the way, how are your gauntlets holding up?"

"They seem fine."

Nadav tilted his hands up to show Sing the sizable dent Tarson's claymore left in the fight yesterday. The cut was still deep, but the gauntlets were still in working condition. The enchantments imprinted during its construction was still active, but Sing suspected that if the gauntlets were to suffer further damage it would put the Artifact's integrity at risk.

Because of that, Sing had fortified the gauntlets with an Earth elemental enchantment called [Kragdaus] yesterday. The gauntlets should continue to hold in its form regardless of how Nadav were to use it. It might make his gauntlets slightly exposed to elemental effects, but at least they won't break apart if Nadav were to use them for defense.

Thankfully, the previous fight with Vokrag did not expose Nadav's gauntlets to much danger, but he'll have to be more careful with his gauntlets from now on.

Nadav reached for a bottle of water from his sling bag and took a drink.

"Do you think we will encounter any team that have a huge load of looted Artifacts?"

Sing gazed down onto the urban district.

"Well... it depends whether they much use of the looted Artifacts. Some people might just leave looted Artifacts behind because they have no use for them. Others may just hoard them simply out of greed. If we encounter such teams, they might just not use them anyway."

"I see... do you think we can win if we encounter a team that has a lot of looted Artifacts?"

"Oh? What happened to that stealth achievement you were talking about earlier?"

"I was just asking..."

"Then the answer is simple. Well, if we do encounter a team that has a lot of looted Artifacts, we run. Short and simple"

TOA

Braig managed to dodge that [Fire Ball] at the very last minute. By tilting his feet, he angulated his footing for a side dodge and managed to avoid getting blasted to the face.

Boom!

As he ignored the consecutive explosion behind him, Braig quickly flexed out three thin titanium spikes from a custom-built quiver strapped to his forearm. He continued to run, and as he slowed down to seek cover from a nearby bench, he turned just in time to see his Grey opponent jump towards him with his Arcane Gauntlets fuming with Earth elemental energies.

The Grey student brought his huge gauntlets high up and smashed them down. The bench before Braig instantly splintered, but Braig managed to step back just in time to avoid the blow.

In a quick motion, Braig quickly hexed the Grey student's defensive barrier with [Barrier Tariffs] and threw one of the titanium spikes forward.

The hex mark manifested and quickly disrupted the Grey student's defensive barrier. But despite the glitching barrier, the Grey student did not take the bait. Instead, he saw the titanium spike coming towards him and quickly smacked it to the side with the back of his right gauntlet.

Braig quickly snapped his fingers in quick succession, and as the spike landed on the ground, it instantly sparked fire and triggered a small firestorm.

"Wha?!"

The explosion managed to catch the Grey student's attention, and as the flames spread around his defensive barrier, Briag slyly threw a second titanium spike towards one of the elemental enchantment runes dangling around the Grey student's defensive barrier.

The Grey student quickly tired to douse the fire out with his clothed forearms and his paranormal ability to manipulate fire, but to no avail. Braig had supplemented the flames with the corruptive energies of Dark Magic. Those flames could not be easily doused by the influences of Grey Magic

The spike managed to penetrate the Grey's defensive barrier. But instead of being repelled to the side, it simply stuck itself firmly like an acupuncture needle. In using that penetration as a focus point, Braig soon directed the flames towards the point of penetration, and added on to the existing paranormal pressure.

The barrier soon gave way and shattered, and the Grey student quickly responded by casting [Blessed Glaze]. A continuous stream of water soon exited from his palm, countering the fiery storm, and minimizing the chances of incarceration. With this distraction, Braig immediately seized the opportunity and closed in the distance.

Braig soon sent an uppercut with his palm, slamming his flesh against the Grey student's chin. The Grey student fumbled slightly, but his physical training enabled him to reach to his side pocket and pull out a golden pendant.

A flash of light soon occurred, blinding Braig momentarily.

"Two Arcane Artifacts?!"

Braig did not have time to consider whether if that was a secondary Artifact or if it was a looted one. He quickly pulled back, trying to avoid any incoming –

Braig was soon knocked hard with a hit from the side, causing him to loose his grip on his titanium spikes. Judging from the impact, it must have been a punch from the same Grey student.

As his back slammed against a nearby wall, Braig soon found that he could not rely on his paranormal senses. That flash of light must have tempered with the magical energies within the environment.

Two more punches soon landed on his upper body, forcing Braig to raise his elbows for defense. If this keeps up, his defensive barrier would soon be –

Boom!

A direct explosion to the side rocked the two students off their feet. As Braig landed on his back, he soon felt a hand grab his right elbow.

Boom!

The same explosion happened again. But this time, Braig soon felt the familiar sensations of his body warping towards some distance away.

"Oof!"

As Braig's vision began to recover, he was soon able to make out Ciel's face just above him.

"Thanks…"

"You're welcome."

"What about the student?"

"He's out."

"Eh?"

Ciel helped him up, and Braig soon saw the state of his opponent a few meters away.

He's completely knocked out cold, and his tournament wristband soon teleported him out of the arena.

"That quickly? I thought he almost had me."

"He would still be around if you didn't take out his defensive barrier."

"Didn't recast it in time eh? Where's Rieze?"

Ciel gestured with a nod of her head, and Braig turned to see her toying with her opponent.

Rieze's opponent is a White Mage who's struggling to cast his spells. He carried an opened tome on his left hand, but Rieze was not giving him time to use it. Since she typically prefers hand-to-hand combat, Rieze had been throwing out punches, and she had been trying to grab her opponent for a potential flip and lockdown.

But from the movements of the White, Braig began to suspect that he might be using the infamous [Glyph of Foresight]. But after a few more seconds, the White's movement became slower, and it was harder for him to keep up with Rieze's movements.

It's highly likely that the White is experiencing physical fatigue. Since this team only had two members, they must have been through quite a bit to get to this point of the preliminaries. Eventually, Rieze finally managed to get close enough. Her right arm was soon enveloped in Dark Magic, and as she grabbed the White Student with her right hand, the White student froze momentarily. Rieze soon pulled him in for a kick onto his shin. His weight fell over, and Rieze maneuvered his body down for a quick lockdown.

Braig whistled, and watched as Rieze slither her hand to pry her opponent's tournament wristband off.

Once he was teleported out of the arena, Braig and Ciel walked over to rejoin her. Rieze was soon quick to give Braig a fist bump.

"First team k.o-ed with success!"

"Yes. About time." Braig replied.

"Rieze. You were really lucky there. I thought Whites are generally more dangerous." Ciel said.

"You have been spoilt too much by the information Braig had gathered. I instantly knew he was easy when I first got up to him the first time. He really does not have much of a fight left in him."

"Well. That makes one less White to deal with then."

A nearby explosion caused the three of them to turn.

"Another fight? Shall we go and observe?" Rieze said.

"I don't know… I got a bad feeling this time." Braig said.

"What just from that explosion?"

"Call it a hunch. I suspect there might be someone there I don't think we are in a state to fight."

"Do you think it's Acriscius?" Ciel asked.

"No… but definitely someone else."

"Come on Braig. If it's someone as bad as you think, we can always try to K.O. them if they run out of juice." Rieze said.

"…If only I share your optimism Rieze. Ciel? What do you think?" Braig asked.

"I don't mind observing. Just the observing part though."

It appears Braig could not talk his way out of this one.

TOA

"Ha… Ha…"

Douglas breathed as he carefully watched the White before him take her stance. Visra was slightly crouched with her enchanted two-handed long sword rested on the right side of her neck. It's an odd stance, but Douglas had tasted three swift strikes to know that her stances were well practiced. His defensive barrier might have saved him once, but there's still a chance that she might just overwhelm him.

It all started when Douglas spotted a White walking towards the same street. Since she's alone, he and Glavand thought that they could pick her off, which in turn would mean the potential elimination of another White team when the second round begins.

But oh boy… Douglas soon discovered that this time, the two of them might have bitten off more than what they could chew.

Visra soon moved in. With her blade still resting on her shoulder, she soon lunged forward for a quick stab at Douglas's upper torso. Her strike was swift, but Douglas successfully repelled the tip of her blade with his own Arcane Artifact.

Douglas's Arcane Artifact of choice was a pair of specially crafted [Fiery Bucklers of Inhesva]. It's a set of defensive weapons, but it's specifically designed to enhance the use of the element Fire. The bucklers were specially made by an old Arcane Smith the boys knew back in Volaria, a large town under the demense of Acriscius's family. With the fire runic enchantments on the bucklers' cover, the small shields have a few fire related abilities.

With Visra's blade repelled with his left buckler, Douglas quickly responded by slicing his right buckler forward from the side. The runic inscriptions on the buckler's cover soon glowed, and a circulating disk of fire soon manifested around the buckler's rim.

Visra managed to deflect the incoming flaming disk by maneuvering her blade's pommel around the side to knock the edge of Douglas's right buckler. She then used her left knee to kick Douglas straight in his belly. It did not do much damage since Douglas still had his defensive barrier. But as Douglas regained his footing, Visra quickly smacked him in the face with an open left palm.

"[Vlaire's Pulse]!"

With that additional wind spell, Visra blasted Douglas back to the other side of the street. Douglas soon collided against a wall, his back barely saved by his own defensive barrier. His head however, was spinning slightly due to the blunt impact of [Vlaire's Pulse].

Visra quickly brought her blade around to rest on her left shoulder before charging again. As she raised her blade up for a downward slice, Douglas managed to shake off the numbness within his head in time to raise his left buckler up for a block.

The incoming blow nearly shattered Douglas's left wrist, but his left buckler held on. In a quick response, Douglas sliced his right flaming disk into Visra's defensive barrier. When the disk came into contact, a paranormal clash happened. Visra's barrier gave out a golden flash, while Douglas's buckler triggered an explosive impact of its own. The impact of the paranormal clash was more than enough to knock the two students towards opposite directions.

"Ouch… that golden flash must have been [Aura Shift]…" Glavand said.

With his [Fiery Bow of Inhesva] in hand, Glavand remain behind cover in one of the urban building's upper floors. He already had an arrow nocked in relaxed position, but Glavand still had to wait. The White may have some clairvoyance spells up her sleeve, but since she had not use any them to scan for any more enemies, Glavand might have the element of surprise. If that's the case, now was not the right time to help Douglas.

Visra's back soon slammed against a nearby wall, while Douglas was knocked back into the same wall behind him again. As the two of them quiuckly got back up on their feet, Douglas quickly activated a second disk with the other buckler.

Douglas first went in for the kill, but Visra quickly responded by slamming a hand onto the ground.

"[Bed Rock]!"

The earth beneath Douglas's feet soon erupted from his left side, and it soon knocked the Dark student far towards the side. In seizing this new opportunity, Visra quickly got up and tapped onto her own [Glyph of Feats]. She leaped across high in the air, spinning her body for an eventual downward slice.

Visra was still a few feet above Douglas when she swung her blade down. However, she never intended to hit Douglas, not directly anyway. As Visra gave the downward slice, three runic enchantments on her blade suddenly glowed in bright blue. A water elemental circle soon manifested at the blade's tip, and it set off a discharge of highly pressurized water.

While still on the ground, Douglas could only raise both bucklers up for a block. But when the water clashed against his small bucklers, the impact was strong enough to douse the flaming disks and push the bucklers apart. The highly pressurized water pierced Douglas's defensive barrier, setting off a frenzy of steam when it clashed against [Bond of the Fiery Blood].

Douglas's defensive barrier managed to hold, and his orange aura was not dispelled. If anything, this brief water attack was strong, but it was not enough to break past his final line of defence.

As the water pressure subsided, Douglas quickly rolled out of the way as Visra landed a few feet above him. The resulting steam from the previous engagement was enough to cover a good portion of the street, giving Douglas time to slip back onto his feet. But as Douglas reactivated his flaming disks, the flames gave him away, and Visra came charging at him again.

This time, her blade beamed in bright yellow glow, an indicating sign of the elemental properties of Light.

"Oh shit…"

Blades that were buffed with the elemental properties of Light tend to be a lot more dangerous than they appear to be. If Douglas was not careful, that blade just might cut into his buckler, or cause a considerable dent.

Visra raised her blade up horizontally. It looked like she was going for a stab, but Douglas knew that well practiced swordsmen could change their attack patterns on a whim. Instead, Douglas decided to keep his distance. This opponent is definitely out of his league when it came to close quarter combat.

Douglas soon retracted his right arm, and sent the first flaming disk flying towards Visra like a pitcher throwing a ball. The spinning disk spun gracefully in mid air. But before it could do its work, Visra responded by shifting the elemental properties within her blade. She changed Light to Wind, and as she sliced her blade down, Visra unleashed a huge gush of wind that sliced the disk into two halves.

The slice triggered a brief explosion, but Visra continued her charge with minimal effect on her momentum. In quick succession, Douglas quickly snapped his right fingers three times.

"[Thermal Tyas]!"

Three fire trap runes manifested on the ground along Visra's path. With her present speed, Visra could not notice them in time. As she stepped on the first rune, the ground beneath her exploded. The first explosion triggered the other two, and the successive explosions that happened cracked the paved street open. Fragments of brick and concrete flew across all directions, and Douglas used the chance to create more distance.

As he moved, Douglas had his back turned to the smoke. It's possibly an error on his part, for Visra's two-handed blade came spinning across from within. Visra's blade moved in a single straight trajectory, buffed with White Enchantments for absolute precision. The blade would have hit Douglas's back, but it was knocked off to the side from a firery blast.

"About time Glavand!" Douglas yelled.

Glavand was quick to nock another flaming arrow. With a single fire enhancement spell, the arrowtip burned with a fiery passion. As the smoke cleared, Visra could be seen with her head gazng from one end to the other, trying to find this 'Glavand'.

Glavand was quick to fire three more successive shots. There's no more point in hiding now. Since she's a White, she could easily track him with her clairvoyance spells.

The arrows landed with perfect hits. Even as Visra ran for cover, she had to endure the successive explosions by holding onto her defensive barrier. By the first explosion, Visra got the direction. By the second, she figured out the angle. By the third, Visra had a clear idea on Glavand's current position.

With a flick of her wrist, Visra pulled on the White retractor rune [Vlangur] she had casted on her blade. The two-handed blade soon hovered up from the ground, and flew straight back into her grip effortlessly.

As the entire street baked in the fire arrows' explosive discharges, Visra soon sought cover in a nearby building by crashing herself into a nearby window. Glavand knew where she was, and in the attempt to draw her out, Glavand quickly shot five arrows in a circular pattern at the wall standing between him and her.

"[Talevis]."

Glavand tapped on the fiery arrow tips as a new paranormal focus point. A new fire circle manifested from the five points, and soon the wall's solid form began to melt.

"Now Douglas!"

Douglas quickly casted a [Fire Ball] with his right hand, and sent it forward against the melting wall. The explosion that followed was more than enough to blast the wall open. But as the smoke cleared, Visra was nowhere to be seen.

"Shit! Where is she?" Douglas cursed.

"Careful. She might have hidden herself away with an illusion spell." Glavand called out.

Douglas kept his spinning fire disks close to him, his eyes watching every corner of the vicinity. Glavand was on the watch as well, but he eventually came to the realization that Visra might be after him instead. His instincts kicked in, and when he turned, Glavand soon saw a moving transparent silhouette creeping up towards him.

From the instance the two saw each other, the silhouette quickened in movement.

"Oh no you don't!"

Glavand was forced to jump off the window, narrowing missing the hiss of the swinging blade. He landed directly on the ground with his back, with his defensive barrier glitching dangerously to the impact. Thankfully, his defensive barrier ultimately still held itself, but Glavan did not have much time to think on it. He soon forced himself to roll back into kneeling position before proceeding to run. He did not need to turn to look, for something soon landed at the same spot he fell earlier.

"Douglas!"

"Eh?"

Glavand nocked another arrow and quickly turned to fire. As expected, he could not see her, but it did not matter. Glavand fired four more successive shots, from his left to his right, using the arrowtips to indicate a straight line.

"[Vaedrysil]."

The arrow tips burned and the new fire spell manifested a flaming tripwire. To top that off, Glavand reached for one of his side pouches and took out a jar of ash. As Glavand scattered ash into the air, he uttered the words of another spell.

"[Tinder Ash]."

The ash soon glitered in the burning lights of fire, but they did not burn furiously. Instead, the tiny orange lights glittered across the vicinity, spreading a paranormal corruption that was fairly attuned with the Element Fire. Soon, the air cooked with hints of mirages, and the corruptive distortions should dispel most White illusion phenomena.

After ten more seconds, Glavand spotted a moving silhouette. Visra's physical figure glitched consistently between complete transparency and translucency. Once she's in his sights, Glavand quickly pulled another arrow and fired.

As the next few explosions went on, Glavand failed to notice that a small white spark manifested close to side of his face. When [Bolt Flash] finished its built up, it generated a flashbang, blinding Glavand's vision for a good few seconds.

A cold freezing breeze soon raced towards Glavand. It tore through the flaming trip wire, extinguishing the flames before they could fulfill their purpose. Before Glavand's vision could recover, the breeze soon enveloped his entire body, causing his defensive barrier to steam. If it hadn't been for [Bond of the Fiery Blood], Glavand's defensive barrier would have been paranormally frozen –

Bing!

To Glavand's surprise, the icy cold breeze disrupted the orange sphere and pierced through Glavand's defensive barrier. All it took was a split second, and Glavand was covered in ice.

"Glavand!"

In disbelief, Douglas moved to Glavand's position and checked on his friend. Glavand was frozen cold. His body was fixed in place, and Douglas hesitated in using fire to get him out. After a few more seconds, Glavand's tournament wristband activated from within and teleported the poor sod out of the arena.

"Damn it!"

Douglas punched a nearby street tree, only to hear an unfamiliar voice behind him.

"Sigh… is this really it?"

Douglas turned to see a Lesser White walk up towards him. He had an entourage of three girls, and soon Visra came out of cover to join them. What started as a two against one, soon developed into a one against five.

"Shit…"

With that pale icy hand, it became clear to Douglas the Lesser White was the one who got Glavand.

Klive tilted his head towards Visra.

"How are you holding up?"

"I'm good."

Klive soon returned his attention to Douglas and took a confident step forward.

"In all honesty, I expected just a little bit more. You are obviously no match for my girl there. But still, I thought you would put up much more of a fight. I guess the rumoured Red Flames aren't that big of a deal huh?"

Douglas bit his lower lip. He did not care less if that Lesser White had insulted him. However, if you insult the Red Flames, you insult the boss. Douglass wanted to give this White prick a taste of his fist, but he knew he could do nothing in this situation.

Unless…

Douglas quickly gathered a portion of his internal magical reserves into his right hand. As he thrusted it up open palmed, Douglas unleashed a bolt of fire into the air.

The girls quickly prepared their respective stances, but the Klive merely followed the fire bolt up with his eyes.

"So what will this do? Is it going to rain some fire on us?"

The bold pierced through a certain height, before explosing into multiple fireworks. This was not an attack, but a signal.

"Do you honestly think some of your red buddies are going to be coming for you? Even if they would, do you honestly think they'll be a match for – "

A sizzling hot crimson spark manifested at the middle of the street.

"Eh?"

A massive corruptive firestorm immediately followed, burning away at stone, pave and concrete.

Klive and the girls quickly jumped away before the flames could reach them. Once they settled at a comfortable distance, the flames eventually died out to reveal a new intruder standing at the firestorm's epicenter. It was a Dark student dressed in a custom crimson uniform.

"Boss!" Douglas called.

Acriscius first turned to check on Douglas, before scouting the rest of the vicinity for Glavand's paranormal signature. When he could not find Glavand anywhere, Acriscius returned his attention to Douglas.

"Where's Glavand?"

"He's gone boss. That Lesser White froze him."

Acriscius clicked his tongue and turned to Klive's position.

Klive was about to take a step forward, but Ealora quickly placed a hand on his shoulder and pulled him back gently.

"You better not be fighting him."

"Why not? There's two of them and I got the four of you."

Visra sighed, while Diva and Narsa gave each other looks of uncertainty. Before Klive could set his mind to fight, Ealora quickly voiced out the girls' concerns.

"Perhaps in most circumstances, but against him? I don't think so."

"So what if he's a Greater Dark? He may have fire, but I got ice."

"That may be true, but…"

Before Ealora could finish, she quickly pushed Klive aside and thrusted her left palm out for a barrier spell.

"[Lemeduas]!"

Ealora's golden barrier successfully manifested in the nick of time to block Acriscius's punch. But Ealora did not stop there. With a flick of her wrist, her barrier soon molded to encase the Greater Dark in a spherical cage.

However, before the barrier could bend its form, a red sizzling hot presence soon developed at the punch's point of contact.

Ealora's barrier instantly shattered, and Acricius wasted no time carrying that momentum forward. He struck Ealora's face by the side of her cheek, shattering her defensive barrier, with enough force to send her a few feet to the side.

Klive's eye widened in surprise, but his surprise soon turned into anger.

"Why you!"

Klive gave Acriscius a full blast of his Blood Gift. He snapped his fingers and froze everything within his vicinity.

Bing!

The entire street was soon encased in ice, and the air suddenly became incredibly chilly. Douglas barely manage to scramble for cover to avoid the blast. But when he brought his face out to have a look, he soon discovered that Acriscius was barely covered in ice. Klive's magic was able to dispel Acriscius's defensive barrier, but he only managed to freeze some portions of his uniform. With a simple breath, Acriscius's internal heat was quick to melt all the remaining frost that had manifested on his body.

"Impossible… that was at full output – "

"Klive!"

Visra barked and quickly moved in to take a swing at Acriscius before he could move against Klive. She swung her blade from the left with enough precision and accuracy to land a solid hit. But Acriscius did not move to stop her, nor did he moved his knees to dodge. Instead, he simply snapped his fingers and casted a [Flat Spark].

The [Distance Spell] manifested at the blade's trajectory and triggered a mini explosion, knocking the momentum of Visra's swing away to the other side. Visra staggered due to the surprise interference, and that was just what Acriscius needed to grab her right forearm with a sizzling hot right hand.

This was no ordinary fire. Acriscius's fire was embuned with pure corruptive Dark Magic. Visra's defensive barrier instantly disintegrated upon his touch, and Visra soon found herself screaming to burning pain.

The sight of Visra screaming was more than enough to agitate Klive. The Lesser Noble soon tapped into his own [Glyph of Feats] and launched himself towards Acriscius.

"[Frost Kell]!"

Klive fortified his right knee with a thick layer of hardened dry ice and sent it straight towards Acriscius's face. But the Greater Dark barely even flinched, for Acriscius soon raised his left hand and recieved that knee with his palm. With an active [Dark Embodiment of Strenght], Acriscius was near unassailable even without his defensive barrier.

Klive soon proceeded to launch another kick with his other leg, but Acriscius simply tossed him away with a flick of his arm. Meanwhile, Visra was starting to feel faint due to the shock of the burn. But before things could get anyworse for her, Ealora soon managed to get up and cast three successive [Ray Bolts].

Acriscius soon noticed the paranormal shift headed his way. He soon released his hold over Visra's forearm, but as he snapped his fingers, the light rays soon landed with perfect hits.

"Boss!" Douglas cried.

Acriscius's defensive barrier was previously shattered. If he were to take three [Ray Bolts] to the chest like that…

The smoke cleared, and Douglas soon saw Acriscius standing untouched with a new active defensive barrier.

Ealora clicked her tongue, the speed of his recasting was ridiculous. But before the Greater Dark could do anything else, Ealora quickly moved her left fingers towards her right forearm to tap on the rune [Vrundykias]. The same warp rune soon glowed on Visra's forearm, and Visra soon collapsed on her back directly at Ealora's left.

"Tarsa!"

"Got it!"

Tarsa quickly moved over to Visra and poured a pain relieving ointment on her burned right forearm.

"Ouch… this is bad. And none of us can cast healing spells." Tarsa uttered.

"Tarsa, make sure she's stable! Diva, cover Tarsa! Reijea, on me!"

Meanwhile, Acriscius turned in time to see Klive manifest a spear of ice some distance away with his right hand

"That uncanny speed… an ice related Blood Gift?" Acriscius uttered.

It did not matter. That Lesser White was going down anyway. Acriscius moved, and quickly reinforced his defensive barrier by recasting [Bond of the Fiery Blood]. At the other side, Klive breathed out a cloud of cold air and snapped his left fingers.

"[Bolt Flash]."

The flashbang quickly manifested and exploded in Acriscius's face. As the Greater Noble was momentarily blinded, Klive quickly raised his icy spear.

"[Frost Nvell]."

With the spear's tip as his new focus point, Klive manifested three white magical circles three meters above him, each beaming with cold icy mists. The icy circles soon drew in the moisture within the air into their respective epicenters, formulating numerous ice shards with dangerously pointy tips.

Once Acriscius recovered his vision, Klive swiftly lowered his spear and promted the three magic circles to alter their angle and fire their shards down. The shards fulfilled their purpose perfectly; pin, immobilize and deter. Acriscius was force to stop in his tracks and guard himself against the showering shards.

Klive then shifted his focus to the shards that had landed onto the ground and used them as a new paranormal focus point. Upon snapping his fingers once more, Klive quickly shattered the ice shards and spun the atmospheric moisture into a paranormal swirl. With the increasing number of showering shards, Klive had successfully created a growing environmental alteration associated with the Element Water within a matter of seconds.

Ealora and Reijea soon stopped in their tracks. When they both saw that paranormal alteration, they immediately turned and ran.

"Not good. Diva! Tarsa! Scram!" Ealora cried.

Once Klive was satisfied with the amount of paranormal build, he snapped his fingers once more.

"[Winter's Touch]."

All it took was a simple trigger of White Magic, and soon, dawn bluish mists manifested all around Acriscius in conjuncture with the paranormal swirl. A flash of bluish light happened, and the bluish mists quickly rushed towards a specific spot directly above Acriscius. The Greater Dark could only look up just in time to see the mists convening into a singular nexus before it set of a paranormal discharge.

The resulting discharge created something akin to a frost bomb. Everything within its radius was soon encased in ice. But that was not all. Every substance within the bomb's radius had its physical properties altered. Be it wooden benches, street metal lamps, brick walls, window glass, everything became blocks and chunks of frozen dry ice.

Douglas was fortunate to be just outside of the bomb's radius when he managed to hide behind a nearby stone bench. But as he got up from his cover, the scene before him was one of an overextended environmental alteration. White Magic was not known for having destructive capabilities, and it's more associated with positive paranormal alterations. However, overextensive alterations did not always deliver good results, and what Klive did was apply that theory into practice with his Blood Gift.

At the blast's epicenter, Acriscius's figure was indeed encased in ice. The frost bomb had successfully dispelled his defensive barrier, and the frost completely overran his entire body.

"Boss…" Douglas uttered.

Needless to say, Klive remained unaffected even though he was within the boundaries of [Winter's Touch]. With the fight over, he soon breathed in a couple of deep breaths. Despite being a Pure Blood, that still took some effort on his end. [Winter's Touch] had consumed nine [Point Spells] of his Cast Limit, and since he had used it with [Frost Nvell], he had easily squandered a total of fifteen [Point Spells]. But the end result was indeed worth it. That Dark won't be bothering him anymore.

A pebble soon hit Klive in his face from his left, but his defensive barrier bounced it off. As he turned, Klive soon saw a fuming Ealora walking up towards him.

"Did you really have to pull that off?"

By that, Klive knew she ws referring to [Winter's Touch]. He soon smiled, and quickly re-established his usual confidence.

"It seemed appropriate."

"It was not! You almost broke tournament rules. That spell might have killed him."

"I did not. I held back enough."

"With that radius? You were serious with that one. Reijea and I were almost caught in it!"

"Does it matter? I can easily reverse the alteration."

Ealora was still not amused.

"Come on now, we defeated him. That's all that mattered."

Klive reached out for her, but Ealora smacked his hand away. She's clearly not in the mood for this. Klive decided to change the topic.

"How's Visra?"

"Ask Diva later. What about him?"

As Ealora gestured with her chin, Klive truned. He soon sensed Douglas still crouching behind a half frozen stone bench that was just barely beyond [Winter's Touch]'s reach.

"Ah … I completely forgot about him."

With his ice spear still in hand, Klive soon positioned himself for a javelin throw. He was about to launch his spear when he heard sizzling steam from Acriscius's position.

As Ealora and Klive turned, Acriscius's figure soon regained colour. The steaming frost melted, and the Greater Dark soon moved.

"You… you have got to be kidding me." Klive uttered.

Acriscius cracked his neck left and right. He rotated his wrists and flexed his fingers, as if to stretch them properly after a short nap. Eventually, he turned to Klive and proceeded to crack his knucles.

In fearing for the worst, Ealora quickly clasped a hand onto Klive's left shoulder.

"Klive. We have to run. His Blood Strenght is beyond you, and he has not even used his own Blood gift yet."

"Nonsense. If this guy wants a rematch he can well have – "

Before Klive could finish, Ealora quickly picked up on a new paranormal shift. She quickly stepped towards Klive's side and casted five layers of [Repulsive Acts], just in time to block six [Fire Balls] coming their way from Douglas's location.

The resulting explosions shattered four of five barriers, but the last barrier managed to hold itself.

As the smoke cleared, Ealora and Klive soon saw Douglas and five more Darks. Each of them had the red armband designating their affiliations with the Red Flame.

"Tch… reinforcements." Ealora uttered.

With Visra out of action, the situation had turned into a five against seven. Even if Klive could stall that Greater Dark, Ealora doubt the four of them would last long against six Darks. The odds were presently against them, and unless they use the Elixirs, Ealora half suspected that they ran the risk of being eliminated themselves.

Ealora bit her lower lip. She really wanted to save those Elixirs for the second tounament round, and the more she thought about it, the more she was convinced that this present fight was a waste of time and Cast Limit. The only way out of this present mess was to stop Klive's stubbornness, and Ealora knew exactly how to do that.

"Klive, if you don't stop fighting now, I will not talk to you for one month."

Klive's face instantly froze.

"Eh…? You can do that?"

"I can start now if you wish, so what will it be?"

"Ah… ah…"

Klive fumbled in his words. Before he could think on this, Ealora quickly gave him the ultimatum.

"It's now or never."

"F-Fine… let's fall back."

Ealora soon reached for one of her pouches and took out a small glass jar containing a purplish concoction. As she threw the jar onto the ground, the concoction quickly generated a large purple smoke screen.

As Ealora quickly gave the other girls the signal, Diva quickly wrap Visra's arm around her shoulder and the six of them proceeded to leave the area.

With that purplish smoke screen, Acriscius was quick to deduce that the Whites were retreating. However, he decided not to pursue. He then walked over to Douglas's position with the others.

"Boss." Trion reported.

Acrisicus identified Trion, Valryan, Lenus, Kanz and Drulv alongside Douglas,

"Hm… I guess this is everyone for now."

Acriscius pointed towards a specific direction.

"The teleportation circle is in that direction. You'll see it after turning across that street corner. Vanderburg and Celes will be on the other side to receive you. Don't forget to report to Educator Kris at the gorund level."

"Are you not coming with us boss?" Lenus asked.

"No, I'll stick around a little longer to see if the others are turning up."

"Do you want any of us to stay here with you?" Valryan said.

Acriscius shook his head.

"Go and get some rest, you all deserve it after making it this far."

TOA

With this unlikely alliance, the five Dark students could only move towards the central tower at a decent, yet unnerving pace. Padrela had more or less recovered from the previous fight after a single cast of [Doth's End]. But since Susan's hitting her limit soon, the two of them decided to stay together at a few paces behind.

In order to make sure that they don't get hit hard from the back, Magrus volunteered to stay with the girls, which left Cadeus and Telketh as the vanguard deployment. Naturally, Cadeus was wary of Magrus behind him, but he could not afford to take his eyes off Telketh either. Unlike Magrus, Telketh had full access to whatever curse he had inflicted on both him and Padrela. This continued on for another ten minutes, until Vel soon detected another group of students up ahead.

Master…

Cadeus got the information and stopped in his tracks.

"Hold."

"Yes. I can sense them as well." Telketh followed.

Cadeus turned to Telketh with a raised eyebrow.

So… he has sensory abilities then… Cadeus thought.

Of course, Cadeus knew that there were people ahead thanks to Vel's surveillance, but he chose not to divulge that information with Telketh. Regardless, with this exchange, the two Pure Bloods now knew that each had sensory capabilities.

Telketh met Cadeus's raised eyebrow with a cool gaze. But Magrus soon broke the mutual tension with an interjection of her own.

"So what's the situation? How many of them are there?"

Without taking his eyes off of Cadeus, Telketh was the first to reply.

"Three. They are fellow Darks, but that does not mean that they are friendlies either."

"So meaning that it's either a full team of three, two different teams, or three teams each having one member each…" Magrus stated.

"It does not matter. Since they are not fighting each other, we can assume that they teamed up."

"So what's the plan?" Magrus asked again.

Telketh turned to Susan and Padrela.

"What's your Cast Limit at?" He asked.

Susan turned a concerned gaze to Padrela, but Padrela eventually answered first.

"I have seven [Point Spells] worth left."

Telketh turned to Susan.

"And you?"

"T-Three…"

Magrus whistled, and Telketh soon sighed.

"I knew your Cast Limits were on the low side… but not ever this low…"

Telketh turned to Padrela.

"Especially you. I should have elimitated the two of you back then."

"Cut the crap Telketh." Cadeus said.

Telketh turned his attention to Cadeus.

"And you? What's your Cast Limit at?"

"Since you are so curious, why don't you tell me yours first?"

Telketh snapped his fingers once, and the curse he had imprinted onto Cadeus started acting up. Cadeus gritted his teeth to a blurring mental interference, but it was all the cue he needed to know that Telketh was not in the mood for negotiations.

"Twenty-one [Point Spells]." Cadeus eventually replied.

Telketh raised an eyebrow with surprise. He had not expected that figure, especially since he had been observing Cadeus in his previous fight. This soon brought Telketh's attention to the pistols Cadeus had been using, which eventually promted him to think of the possibility that the pistols each may contain Crystal Shards.

"I see…"

Telketh soon came to a decision and turned to Magrus.

"Stay here with the girls. The Imposter and I will settle this."

"You sure you don't want me around?" Magrus gleefully said.

Telketh gave her the look, but Magrus soon laughed him off.

From this exchange, Cadeus soon made a mental note that Magrus might be a lot more easy going than what he had initially perceived. However, Cadeus chose not to dwell on this further, for Telketh soon signaled Cadeus to move out.

After making a few turned, the two of them eventually reached the end of the lower street. All they had to do was to make a turn to the left, and they'll hit the main street that will lead them to the central tower. Needless to say, the two of them soon spotted a group of Dark Mages, and they were each the band of the Red Flame.

"So some of Acriscius's Lackeys made it here after all." Cadeus said.

It was a rather imbalanced party. The three were clearly close range combatants who carried no ranged Arcane Artifact. How typical of a generic lackey under Acriscius's influence.

With his pistols in hand, Cadeus was about to move to a more suitable position when Telketh stopped him by placing a hand on his right shoulder.

"Hold it. I'd avoid fighting Acriscius's people now if I were you." Telketh said.

"Why? Are you scared of pissing off that muscle head?" Cadeus replied.

Telketh shrugged.

"Perhaps. One often needs to maintain suitable relationships with Greater Nobles. And I'm sure you are aware by now, crossing members of the Red Flame is a straight ticket to disrupted relations with Acriscius."

"Is there even time for such concerns? I'm surprised someone like you even care."

"Do I care? Not really. But I want to avoid meeting Acriscius at this point in time."

"He's not even here."

"Indeed. According to my sources, Acriscius should be at Zone B right. Apparently, the Red Flame had designated a spot in Zone B as a pickup point. Rather than heading to the central tower, they'll rendevous with Acriscius there, and they'll then proceed to the central tower together."

"Safety in numbers…" Cadeus uttered.

"Precisely."

Cadeus raised an eyebrow. Where did he get all that information?

"So? Zone B is a long way from here. Do you honestly think Acriscius can just teleport himself over to our side in an instance?"

"Not immediately. But it would not be strange to think that they already have a plan to communicate effectively, especially once the right people started arriving in the Urban District. In addition, my own sources confirmed that Acriscius has one or two long distance warping spells up his arsenal. Do you want to risk a confrontation with Acriscius here before you report your name to the central tower?"

Assuming you let me do so when we get there, if we ever get there… Cadeus silently thought.

"So what then? We let them go? It seems a shame though, they'll rack up our team counts."

"Defeating a high number of teams is not an integral part of the preliminaries. I'm sure you would have picked that up by now. Unless of course, you are aiming to provoke Acriscius, to which I will order you to put aside your petty quarrel for the moment."

Cadeus clicked his tongue. As much as he hated taking orders from Telketh, what he said actually made sense.

"So what now? If we are not fighting them, are we sneaking past them?"

"There's that. But I rather we stay put for the moment."

"Meaning?"

Telketh raised an eyebrow.

"Haven't you noticed yet?"

Cadeus soon paused to think. Was he referring to another team? Cadeus's attention soon drifted to Vel.

Vel?

There are several teams around us Master, but it dosen't seem like they are coming for us.

Ah… so that's what he meant. Do you think that they will bump into us?

It is hard to say.

Nevermind then, keep surveilling.

Cadeus turned his attention to Telketh.

"Even though the area around us is swarming with teams, what makes you think we can get them to fight each other?"

"Who said anything about getting them to fight each other?"

Before Cadeus could open his mouth, Telketh brought a hand up and manifested a spark in mid air.

"What are you – "

Telketh soon flicked his hand up, and the spark flew up high into the air before triggering a rather loud explosion. The blast soon got Acriscius's lakeys' attention, and from the looks of it, Cadeus doubted that they were the only ones who saw that.

As Cadeus turned back to Telketh, Telketh already had his eyes closed. From the looks of things, Cadeus soon deduced that he was focusing on his paranormal senses within.

"Hm… Six of them… A team of Whites and a team of Greys. The others decided to stay put in their respective positions."

Telketh opened his eyes.

"It's honestly less than I expected, but it'll make do."

"If the Greys and Whites band together, it's going to be a six vs four. How is that good odds?"

Telketh drew the Relic from its scabbard.

"How about six vs six?"

Cadeus blinked his eyes.

"If you honestly think that Acriscius's lackeys will work with us – "

"Do they have a choice? Would they rather we work with the Whites and Greys? As fellow Darks?"

Cadeus could not deny that possibility.

"What if does Acriscius shows up?" Cadeus asked regardless.

"Thanks to your presence, he'll not be welcoming. But I'll leave the two of you to sort out your personal issues. Unlike you Imposter, I do not have any serious quarrel with Acriscius."

Cadeus was quick to draw his right pistol in front of Telketh's face.

"Perhaps I ought to just end you here and now."

Telketh tilted his head to the side slightly. He was not in the least intimidated.

"Did you just forget that I cursed you?"

"I'm willing to take the risk."

"A foolhardly risk, especially if you could be the only one in your team left. Are you an absolute idiot?"

"What difference does it make? I am not going to give you the chance to pull me into a sensless fight with Acriscius if he does shows up."

Telketh gave an evil smirk.

"I'll be honest. The thought did cross my mind. But fortunately for you, you are not disposable to me right now. Besides, as I mentioned earlier, I also have no wish for Acriscius to come here either."

Cadues raised a questionable eyebrow.

"Oh really? Why?"

"Because if he did come over, the two of us will definitely bit off more than what we can chew. Lord Acriscius and I… well, let's just say we are not on the friendliest of terms."

"I thought you just said you had no quarrel with him?"

"Well, we definitely are acquinted, being distant cousins and all that. However, we are not particularly that close either. I cannot fully guarantee he'll not attack me."

"So is that why we are helping his lackeys?"

"Indeed."

Telketh began tapping spots around his left chest, activating some key enchantments he had imprinted on himself prior.

"Those lackeys may not like you, but they'll at least recognize that they'll stand to gain much by working with me. Plus, if they were to put a good word for me to Acriscius, he'll be less likely to attack us… probably."

Telketh eyed Cadeus coolly as he said his last word.

Cadeus gave himself a few seconds to think. Given the situation, working with Acriscius's lakeys might be the better option, especially if Telketh could work out a possible alliance with them. He may not like it, but he could not come up with a better plan. Cadeus eventually lowered his pistol.

"Good. Now then… Do you happen to have [Turvfan] on you?" Telketh said.

Cadeus's turned to the iguvlink on his belt.

"Yes."

"All right. Activate it, we'll both reveal ourselves once they are attacked – "

A new series of explosions and paranormal clashes happened. As the two turned to look, Acriscius's lakeys were already fighting the first team, which happened to be the group of Whites.

"Nevermind. Let's go."

TOA

"Damn it! Which idiot fired that explosive spark?! Now everyone is going to know where we are!" Parsekan cried.

He barely had time to deflect a White student's spear with a swing of his flaming sword. Parsekan managed to swing his sword around in time for a counter slash, but the White sudent was able to make quick steps back in time to avoid the slash, and the flaming breath that came with it.

As the two opponents created space between them, Parsekan turned to see that his companions were busy with their respective opponents as well. Derune was facing off a female White with a tome, while Lexcer's opponent was another White male wielding a pair of enchanted knives.

Both opponents were ill suited for Parsekan's companions. Derune perfered fighting with his fists, as such, facing a White with a tome may make things difficult. On the other hand, Lexcer may be wielding a two-handed long sword, but his strength build may not work well with an opponent that relies more on speed.

In any case, this was no time for Parsekan to be distracted.

The White student before Parsekan soon buffed his spear. As he buried a foot back, he soon thrusted his spear forward, and fired a massive bolt of wind in a straight trajectory.

"Shit!"

Parsekan quickly tapped on his own [Dark Embodiment of Strenght], and he barely dodged it with a side step. The White quickly closed in and gave another deep thrusts, but Parsekan managed to repel it successfully with his sword. As he felt his Cast Limit burning away, Parsekan clenched his teeth. This was the seventh time he had used [Dark Embodiment of Strenght] within the preliminaries. The Dark enchantment had already burned a significant portion of his Cast Limit yesterday. If Parsekan was not careful, he might hit his Cast Limit way before his team had a chance to reach Zone B.

"[Vlaire's Pusle!]"

The White student soon manifested a compressed ball of wind. Parkesan clicked his tongue, and swiftly responded by tapping onto the fire elemental properties on his blade. He soon raised his blade, and manifested a [Fire Ball] at its tip.

As the two elemental balls clashed, the White leaped high over the explosion for a downward thrust, but Parsekan was able to match his speed by dodging to the side again. The White quickly followed up with three successive strikes that landed successful hits. If it weren't for Parkesan's defensive barrier, he would have been stabbed for real there.

In a ditched effort to create some space, Parkesan focused his paranormal energies into the middle of his left palm and slammed that same palm down onto the earth.

"[Thermal Pulse]!"

A stream of fire soon raced across the street, searing the pavement road and burning away at everything on the floor. The flames would have reached the White, but he immediately did a flawless acrobatic backflip and managed to land himself safely beyond [Thermal Pulse]'s touch.

With such flawless acrobatic abilities, that White definitely had an active [Glyph of Feats], but Parsekan was confident that [Dark Embodiment of Strenght] could compete.

The White student soon raised an open left palm, and the ground beneath Parsekan's feet shook.

"Eh? [Bed Rock]?"

The earth uprooted inself, and Parsekan was thrown towards the side of the street. The White soon closed in on him and thrusted his spear out again, but before he could land a hit, he was soon hit with a set of [Lucritive Vibes] from his right.

The hex ensnared the White student and pinned him down against a nearby wall. As Parsekan got up, he found himself taken aback with this sudden intrusion.

"Eh?"

Who fired that hex?

"As usual, it's all fire, fire and fire. You blockheads really need to switch elements once in a while."

"Eh?"

Parkesan turned to see a rather infamous face.

"Geh! Imposter? What are you doing here?"

Telketh walked past Cadeus and pushed a baffled Parkesan to the side.

"Move."

"Huh?"

Telketh turned his head slightly towards Cadeus and gestured to the ensnared White with his chin.

"Imposter, finish what you started."

Telketh bent his back slightly and rushed forward with his Relic in hand. His first target was the White with the tome in his hands.

Cadeus sighed and scratched his head.

"Great… now he's bossing me around."

As the ensnared first White continued to struggle, Cadeus simply pointed his elemental pistol and shot out a [Lightning Pulse].

With [Lucritive Vibes], the additional electric cacoon was more than enough to shatter the White's defensive barrier. The White soon shook with some frantic movements before he ceased to move. Eventually, his tournament wristband activated, and teleported him out of the arena.

At the other side of the street, Derune rushed to his opponent, but his opponent quickly snapped her figners and manifested a [Repulsive act] directly before his face. As Derune slammed his face and staggered in his movements, the White soon flipped her tome to the right page and casted a barrier spell.

Derune was soon encased in a light greenish cubic barrier. But before he could do anything else, the White girl quickly flipped to another page and casted the suppressive rune [Yyavark]. The character lines for the rune soon manifested both below and above the cubic barrier. Before Derune could proceed to punch his way out, he soon found himself caught within an immense pressure. The pressure restrained his movements, and Derune soon found himself dropping to his knees.

With half of his attention still on the barrier and [Yyavark], the White soon reached for a knife from her back and began enchanting it with a barrier disruption enchantment.

But before she could make a throw, Telketh closed in on the distance and sliced the Relic from his left. The Black knife tore through the White's defensive barrier and instantly expelled the effects of [Aura Shift] and other White Enchantments.

As the girl turned her head in surprise, Telketh quickly bent his knees and knocked the White from under with a kick. The White collapsed on her back, but she quickly managed to roll herself out of the way just as Telketh reversed his grip and gave a downward stab.

Telkeht swiftly responded by pulling the Relic out of the ground, and he quickly threw it across the air towards the White.

Witout her defensive barrier, the White was forced to use her own tome as a shield. It was an involuntary action, one that was triggered by pure instinct. However, the tome was magically enchanted to repell any hostile inflictions. It should easily repel that blade to the side –

Telketh's knife landed near the middle of the tome, with half of the blade stabbing through the book. The White girl's tome shook briefly with the resulting paranormal disruption, before the pages within ruptured into fragments due to the corruptive intereference of the Relic.

Before the White could react further, Telketh quickly closed in on the distance, grabbed her face, and slammed her head down against the ground. A paranormal shift soon occurred, and when Telketh released his grip, the girl's conscious faded.

As the cubic barrier around Derune faded, Telketh motioned the black knife back into his grip before moving towards the last opponent.

Meanwhile, Lexcer barely managed to retain his footing as his opponent made a few quick successive slices. With one last swing, Lexcer's opponent managed to shatter his defensive barrier.

"Shit!"

In a last ditched attempt to create some space, Lexcer raised his two handed sword high and gave a heavy swing. The ground before him soon cracked due to the impact, but it was enough to force the White student back.

"[Spur of the Red Dragon]!"

Lexcer soon buffed his body with a fire elemental aura enchantment, improving his physical performances with the energetic properties of the element. Soon, orange paranormal veins soon floated around Lexcer's body, replenishing his stamina, and granting him with renewed strength and vitality.

As he gave a swing of his sword, the blade's weight now felt three times lighter.

Lexcer was about to resume the fight, but he paused, as though he knew he had forgotten something.

"Oh right… defensive barrier."

Once his defensive barrier was recasted, Lexcer's head was hit with a kick from his right. The White student had managed to close in on their distance again.

"Argh!"

Lexcer managed to resist the force thanks to the bonus effects of [Spur of the Red Dragon]. He quickly responded by giving that White a huge sweep with his long sword. However, the White student soon kicked himself off from the ground and did a side flip. Lexcer's bade missed him by a few inches, and the White seized on his momentum to give Lexcer a wide slash with his right knife.

The White student quickly enchanted his legs with [Flight Feet] whilst in mid air. As he landed on his feet, he quickly kicked off against the gorund and kneed Lexcer's face. The increased speed from [Flight Feet] added to his momentum and impact, but Lexcer's physical enhancements enabled him to absorb around half of the impact without much difficulty. That being said, Lexcer was still forced back a couple of feet. However, thanks to the passive effects of the fire elemental aura, he still managed to retain his poise. As the White quickly caught up to him, Lexcer quickly brought his blade's up around for a pommel smack on the White's face.

The White student soon spun around to the side, dodging the base of Lexcer's pommel, and elbowed Lexcer in his abdomen. He then gave Lexcer a couple of slices to weaken his second defensive barrier. Lexcer did all he could to create some space, but the White was too fast for him to put up any defense.

Whenever Lexcer wanted to bring his blade up for a swing, the White was quick to deflect his elbows. Whenever Lexcer wanted to cast a spell, the White was quick to interrupt his focus with quick attacks and kicks. At this rate, Lexcer knew he would soon be over powered.

In the next second, he was…

In a following series of movement sequences, the White successfully applied consecutive hits on Lexcer's forearms. The gradual build up of blunt trauma eventually caused Lexer's forearm to feel numb. With one final hit, Lexcer's grip on his double-handed blade slipped. The White seized on the opportunity by spinning around, and back kicked Lexcer hard in his abdomen.

Lexcer's back soon collided against a wall, and as he tried to get back up on his feet, the White quickly moved in and kicked Lexcer's face from the side. As he landed on his face, Lecer's head spun with brief disorientation. His second defensive barrier began to glitch dangerously, and his blade was a good few feet away.

The White flexed his wrists. He was about to finish Lexcer off when Telketh leaped and kicked him off towards the side. As the White managed to retain his poise, Telketh threw the Relic, prompting the White student to use both his blades to smack the Relic off to the side. However, from the moment the opposing metals collided, a massive paranormal rupture manifested.

The White student was forced to move several feet back. Once he stabilized his footing, he paused to check on himself. His defensive barrier was completely destroyed. [Aura Shift] was gone, and so was [Heroic Might], [Flight Feet], and the [Glyph of Foresight]. As the White student turned to the Relic, the black knife soon flew itself back into Telketh's grip.

"How interesting…" The remaining White student said.

The White student quickly recasted his defenaive barrier. However, instead of re-engaging Telketh in combat, he quickly snapped his fingers for a [Bolt Flash]. The spark manifested directly in-between the two opposing students, but Telketh was quick to recognize the phenomenon.

Telketh charged. He first threw the Relic at the spark, and he qucikly summoned it back to his grip once the small whitish spark was successfully dispelled.

Once the Relic returned to his hand, the White student quickly reached for a back pouch and took out a sealed glass tube filled with a transparent bluish concotion.

Before Telketh could close in the distance, the White quickly slammed the test tube down against the ground. A Whitish mist was quick to swarm the vicinity. The sound of hurried steps soon followed, and Telketh knew, the White had retreated for good.

Telketh breathed out a puff of air. There was no point in chasing that White. As he turned, Telketh soon saw Lexcer getting back up on his feet. The disorientation in his head had cleared, and when the two looked at each other, Telketh shelved his Relic before Lexcer could get any strange ideas.

"You're welcome." He said.

Telketh turned his back on a confused Lexcer and walked back to Parsekan and Cadeus.

TOA

"Imposter, you may have helped us this time, but that does not mean we are friends."

"Oh trust me. If I were to have things my way I would have kicked you guys off the preliminaries."

"Why you…"

"Derune. Calm down. These two helped us for a reason. I want to hear why first."

When he returned, Telketh was slightly surprised to see that Cadeus had not clashed with the two Red Flames just yet.

Derune was this close to striking a fist at Cadeus, but Parsekan appeared to be the team's voice of reason. As Telketh walked, he soon picked up the presences of two teams waiting at a block away.

Six Greys…

Since they hadn't moved yet, they were clearly observing them, but for how long?

As Telketh approached, Cadeus soon spent a few good seconds studying him. Like the previous engagement with the first White, there's not a single scratch on his defensive barrier, and he still appeared to be in fit shape. Not once within those two engagements did he ever used anything in semblence of a Blood Gift, nor did he use any intricate ability associate with that Relic.

This meant that there was never a need for Telketh to ever use his spells or abilities. After all, he had that overpowered Relic in his hands.

This guy… is really keeping his cards well hidden… Cadeus thought.

"Are you three done?" Telketh said.

Parsekan soon turned to Telketh. There's indeed a good level of caution within his facial expression, but unlike Derune, Parsekan was level headed enough to avoid being confrontational.

"Why did you help us?"

"Its simple. I have need of allies at this stage of the game."

"Allies?"

Parsekan turned to Cadeus, and then back to Telketh. He then flipped a thumb in Cadeus's direction.

"With this bugger?"

"Do you have a better alternative?"

"Yeah we do. We call the boss. And if he says we side with you, then we'll side with you." Derune said.

"And if Lord Acrisicius says no?" Telketh asked.

"What are you dumb? We get to kick your ass. That's what we're gonna do." Derune replied.

"Derune…"

Parsekan gave himself a facepalm and sighed. He soon looked up to see Lexcer jogging back towards them, blade reversed in hand.

"So what's going on? Why is the Imposter here?" Lexcer asked.

"He's here simply because he happens to be here." Parsekan replied.

"So what now? We fight?"

"That would be undesirable. We have incoming." Telketh said.

"Say what?" Lexcer asked.

"Two teams of Greys near the next block." Cadeus replied.

"How did the two of you… do you two have sensory capabilities?" Parsekan asked.

""Yes.""

Telketh soon picked up movement. The two teams of Greys began to move towards them. Since they were not fighting, they definitely teamed up well against them.

Telketh was quick to draw his Relic and pointed its sharp tip towards Parsekan. This act drew hostile gazes from Derune and Lexcer, but Parsekan remained composed.

"You're the leader aren't you? Choose now. Fight with us, or we'll bail on you."

Master…

Hm?

Vel soon picked up on the enemy movement as well. Once she informed Cadeus, Cadeus quickly checked on his pistols. The crystal shards within were near depletion. He made a quick swap, and his speed and sense of urgency was more than enough to convince Parsekan that shit was about to hit the fan very soon.

"All right fine! But if you two bail on us midway, you're going to get it once this stupid tournament is over!"

The six Greys soon came into view from a crossroad further down the street. Three forward vanguards, with three in support. As he saw six more Greys, Derune broke out in cold sweat.

"I'm… I'm gonna call the boss!" He said.

"Please don't… You'll only make things worse." Cadeus said.

"Shut up imposter! You are not one of us!"

"I'm afraid I have to be with the imposter on this one. If you bring Lord Acriscius here, he may just go berserk on us." Telketh followed.

"Why the heck should I listen to you?!"

"Derune, shut up!" Parsekan barked.

Telketh quickly turned to Parsekan.

"What's your Cast Limit?" Telketh asked.

"Why would I tell you?"

"Because if you don't, I don't know the extent of how much I ought to help you."

"Halfway! That's all you bloody need to know! It's the same for Derune and Lexcer!"

As the three vanguard Greys came within a few meters close, Telketh soon turned to his not-so-loyal companion.

"Imposter."

"What?"

Telketh raised his blade.

"I block, you shoot. Ensnare them, and I'll do the rest."

The three Grey vanguards soon came into range. Two of them were using the iconic [Rock Fists], but from the additional paranormal glitter, those [Rock Fists] must have been buffed with some unknown properties. The third brandished out an enchanted claymore, to which Lexcer soon grinned in delight.

"Now this is my kind of fight! Hey! That one is mine – "

Cadeus was the first to gun that third Grey down with a fresh set of [Lucritive Vibes] the moment he was several feet closer. The unexpected ensnarement knocked the Grey back, causing his grip on his enchanted claymore to slip.

His companion to his right did not see him go down, for his attention is solely directed towards Derune. The two students soon got into a fistfight, with Derune's flaming fists hitting against the Grey's hardened Earth.

When the two elemental fists clashed, Derune felt the blunt of the impact, and received a temporary numbness within his knuckles.

"H-Hard!"

The next few clashes proved to be a little difficult for Derune. Fire was well known for its elemental properties of energy and destruction, but at Derune's current level, a flaming fist could not do much against a well-fortified hardened piece of Earth.

Thankfully, this engagement did not last long, for Parsekan quickly moved into support Derune by casting a [Thermal Ballista]. The homing bolt of fire found itself landing in between the two students, which gave the two of them some breathing space. With the claymore student down, Cadeus was quick to shift his aim to Derune's opponent and gun him down with another [Lucritive Vibes].

Meanwhile, the third vanguard paused in his movements upon seeing his claymore friend go down. But as he looked at Telketh, he soon saw that the Dark Pure Blood was busy observing Derune's engagement. What an idiot.

The third Grey soon moved, and proceeded to give Telketh a solid punch across the face. Telketh, without even turning to look, raised the Relic and simply tapped against the incoming [Rock Fist] with the flat side of the blade.

Once the Relic came into contact with the opposing [Rock Fist], an ominous marune aura soon manifested at the point of contact. The Relic immediately repelled all the opposing force, and shattered the [Rock Fist] into smaller fragments.

Telketh's opponent widened his eyes with surprise, and he quickly withdrew a few feet away. But before he could properly regroup, Cadeus soon ensared him with a third shot of [Lucritive Vibes].

It was over in an instance. The three Grey vanguards found themselves experiencing such an unexpected setback, which caused their companions behind to hesitate making any more movements. If the three supporting members behind could not act decisively, they must have failed to come up with an answer for [Lucritive Vibes]. Things might have been different if there's a White in their midst, but it'll really make little difference as long as Telketh had that overpowered Relic.

In a quick diplomatic move, Telketh pointed his blade at the remaining three Grey students.

"Choose. Run now, and stand a chance to proceed to the second round. Or, we fight, and we eliminate you anyway."

"This is not how we roll…" Derune uttered.

"Do we have a choice?" Parsekan whispered.

The three remaining Greys looked to each other.

"What do we do? The two Pure Bloods instantly got Dwelvr, Nikshai and Narglke."

"Do we have an answer to that strange web phenomenon?"

"I don't know what that hex is…"

"Damn it… if only I had studied more on hexes… what's with that ominous black knife anyway?"

"What now? Do we retreat?"

One of the Greys soon shouted out towards Telketh.

"What about our mates? Let them go." One of the Greys called out.

"Hell no! They're out!" Lexcer said.

Bing!

As Cadeus turned to look, the Grey who had the claymore soon lost his defensive barrier. After several more seconds, his tournament wristband activated and teleported him out of the arena. The Cast Limit of this particular group must be on the low side. If that's the case, it's no wonder people were more likely to band together within the Urban district. The safety of numbers could really make up the difference for those who have low Cast Limit.

The others were quick to notice the Grey's elimination, and it's only a matter of time before the Greys spoke out again.

"Release our mates and we'll go!"

"I wouldn't recommend that. Their Cast Limit is on the low side anyways. If anything, they will be more of a burden to you at this rate. Just give up on them and make it for the central tower." Telketh said.

"Damn you Dark! We're not heartless bastards like you! Let our friends go!"

Bing!

The second Grey vanguard lost his defensive barrier. His tournament wristband soon activated and teleported him out of the arena.

As the three supporting Greys looked at each other again, they soon came to the consensus that they could not save their companions. Eventually, they turned and withdrew from the vicinity. As Telketh watched their retreating silhouettes, he soon turned to his own paranormal senses, the other teams surrounding their vicinity had moved on as well. It looks like there won't be any new engagements.

Since there's no more active danger, Telketh turned and proceeded to leave.

"Imposter, let's go."

"Just like that?"

"Yes. Our business here is over."

"Oi."

Lexcer halted Telketh by raising the tip of his blade dangerously close to his chin.

"I don't like it. First you use us, and now you're just leaving?"

Telketh tilted his head to the side slightly.

"Used you? We merely helped each other against the Greys and the Whites. Isn't that enough?"

"Don't try to fool me with pretty words. You were the one who fired that signal flaire up into the air earlier, didn't you?"

"I don't know what you are talking about." Telketh denied.

"The Whites that first came for us certainly didn't fire that flare, and the two Grey teams that showed up later were not the ones either. Those two groups had no incentives to fire a signal flare since one, they are not being attacked, and two, they are not allied to each other. And since the attack on us came after the signal flare, we can certainly say that someone purposely fired that signal flare to draw those teams towards us."

Lexcer eyed Telketh with the upmost suspiscion.

"Which leaves you and the imposter. I am willing to bet some good money that you fired that flare on our position so that you can draw those teams onto us, before using us as additional meat shields so that you can avoid getting overwhelmed by other teams yourself."

Oh ho?

Cadeus was slightly impressed, to think that one of Acriscius's lackeys had the brains to pick it up.

The side of Telketh's lips curled up slightly.

"I must praise your imagination. But no, you are probably overthinking it."

"He's not." Parsekan said.

Now both the Red Flames began eyeing Telketh with suspiscion, and soon Derune followed suit as well.

In response, Telketh calmly eyed each of them coolly before giving a response of his own.

"You can assume all you want. If you want to fight, I won't recomend it."

"And why not?" Derune said.

"At your current level, do you honestly think you can best two Pure Bloods? Do you even know what our Blood Gifts are?"

"""…"""

The three Red Flames looked at each other, and Cadeus soon saw hesitations written on their faces.

Telketh drew his Relic.

"If you want to fight, the imposter and I will not hold back, and if anything our activities will only draw more troublesome groups to our location. Is that what you want?"

"""…"""

After a brief moment, Parsekan clicked his tongue and turned.

"Guys, let's go. There's no point wasting any more time and energy on him."

"Huh? We are just going to let this asshole and the imposter go?" Derune said.

"You forget Derune, the imposter is the boss's prize. As for this other Lord, we'll report him to Lord Acriscius. He'll take care of the rest."

"B-But…"

"Come on Derune, you heard the team leader, let's go." Lexcer said.

Once the three Red Flames left, Telketh kept his Relic and turned to Cadeus.

"Let's go back. The way forward should be clear enough for the five of us."

"…"

"What?"

"So much for not pissing off Acriscius." Cadeus said.

Telketh folded his arms.

"I'll admit it. I did not expect one of them to deduce that I fired that signal. But it does not matter. I got what I wanted, and we managed to scrape through all that without using much of our Cast Limit."

"A win win situation for you. But that puts you under Acriscius's radar."

"Worry about yourself Imposter. I'll handle Acriscius myself. Now let's go, before the girls suddenly get attacked by some other team out there."

/

Team: Telketh, Magrus

Telketh – Amount of Cast Limit consumed: 1 [Point Spells], Cast Limit remaining: about 17 [Point Spells]

Magrus - Amount of Cast Limit consumed: 0 [Point Spells], Cast Limit remaining: about 19 [Point Spells]

Number of teams defeated: 9

/

Team: Cadeus (separated from Sing and Nadav)

Cadeus – Amount of Cast Limit consumed: 0 [Point Spells], Cast Limit remaining: about 21 [Point Spells]

Number of teams defeated: 8

/

TOA

As she took the next few uneasy steps, Sing soon paused in her tracks.

"What? Did you sense something?"

Nadav asked as he trudged behind her. Little Tolkein was still latching onto his back. The enchantment [Garvdush] Sing had applied previously was still active, making the golem's weight to be lighter than it's actual mass.

"No… let's take another break."

"Ok."

Half an hour quickly went by since they had reached the outskirts of the urban district. Sing had managed to recover a bit of her strength, at least enough to be able to stand on her own two feet. The two friends had been moving at a rather slow pace. It could not be helped since they were severely handicapped with a lower Cast Limit. Nadav might still have around half of his Cast Limit, but Sing was barely hanging on with a very low number.

Thrice had they encountered other teams, and thrice had they relied on Freiya's fairy abilities to conceal their presence. If they could keep this pace without having any serious confrontations, they might reach the central tower just before the deadline. But Sing knew, she was being overly optimistic. If Cadeus were here, he would be pessimistic enough to keep his guard up with his surrondings.

Now that she had some time to properly think on things, getting separated from Cadeus was a significant blow. Firstly, they had lost a reliable source of reconnaissance, Vel. While she's still uncomfortable hanging around a wraith (at least when it's visible), Vel had been quick and reliable to detect teams without getting discovered herself. However, this was not a huge issue, for at the moment, Freiya had been fulfilling Vel's role in providing some reconnaisanse.

More importantly, the last time she checked, Cadeus had not used a single count of his Cast Limit since he had been using his pistols. This meant that if he was still around, the team had a larger pool of spells to cast.

But there's no point in lamenting on this set back. For Sing knew that there were other teams out there who might be under similar circumstances. With this in mind, Sing soon estimated that at this stage in the game, it would not be strange to encounter opposing teams that had teamed up to reach the central tower together.

The probably of teams teaming up was also more likely if most of the tournament participants were on the lower count of their respective Cast Limits.

"Hm… perhaps it would be best for us to team up with another team…"

This was not a bad idea at all. Working with another team wold prove to be beneficial at this point. But then the question turns to a matter of 'who'. If Sing and Nadav were to team up with another team, it would have to be a team who would be friendly enough to help them along the way, and who would also not be deceptive enough to do a backstab.

"Nadav."

"Yeah?"

"If we were to team up with someone at this stage, who would you prefer to team up with?"

"Hm… hopefully no one Dark. I know no other Darks apart from Cadeus."

"Fair enough. Any one comes to mind?"

"Hm…"

Nadav folded his arms and paused in thought.

"There's Claudis and Zelestia, they make good partners, and there's also Simon, but he teamed up with someone I don't particularly like…"

While Nadav offhandedly gave a few more names, Sing soon caught wind of a new paranormal activity.

When she turned her head, Freiya's wings soon buzzed with activity. From their telepathic bond, Sing already knew what the fairy was trying to convey.

"Nadav… we got company."

TOA

The two soon found themselves hiding on the second level of a damaged building. From the state of the walls, and the heat of the paranormal activity, a fight happened within this building recently. But that did not matter now.

While Sing proned on her belly, Nadav crouched beside her with only a part of the wall to cover his silhouette. The duo found themselves spying at a group of five students compromised of three Greys and two Whites. The five were searching the vicinity actively, looking for some vanished opponents.

"Hm… Sing, it looks like Freiya is right. If they are so active in searching, they are definitely looking for us."

"Yeah…"

The reason why the opposing group had not found them yet, was because Freiya had concealed their presences.

"So… same plan?"

"Yes. We wait them out."

Nadav turned and sat with his back against the damaged wall.

"Have you recovered some of your Cast Limit?"

"A bit… only two [Point Spells]."

"Which brings you to around five right?"

"Yeah…"

"Well, having two additional spells is better than none."

Sing gave a wry smile.

"And you?"

"Well… I recovered around four. So that puts me around twenty-seven [Point Spells]."

Nadav soon looked at Little Tolkein.

"Say Sing."

"Hm?"

"If push comes to shove, maybe we could buff Little Tolkein up for a fight?"

"I'm a little low on Cast Limit here Nadav, in case you just forgot…"

"I know. You see… I was just thinking. What if I buff Little Tolkein up? I could do it, since I have the Cast Limit and all. You can just teach me the enchantment and I can apply it."

"You?"

"Well…"

Nadav scratched the side of his cheek.

"You can't do it now, so someone else has to do it right?"

Sing was surprised. Ever since Sing and Cadeus knew him, Nadav had never casted a single enchantment spell of his own. Nadav always hated casting things he had deemed 'complicated', which was why he had always felt he had a closer affinity with the basic elemental spells, to the point where he's always quick to rely on them whenever trouble happens. The fact that he offered to cast something that's out of his comfort zone really reflected a significant leap in his personality.

"Hm…"

Sing actually began liking this idea more and more. It was not even a bad idea to begin with. All right then… what could they use?

Sing's thoughts soon went to the usual enchantments she had in mind. However, she soon stopped short of her initial thoughts since she remembered that Nadav had a majority concentration of Grey Magic within his blood. This meant that he would only be able to cast Grey Enchantments at most, which points to the possibility of working with enchantments that are aligned with some potent elemental properties.

There was however, one small oversight. Little Tolkein was constructed with meterorite ore, which gave the golem a natural paranormal resistance to elemental manipulation and telekinesis.

Hm…

Sing closed her eyes and focused her paranormal senses on Little Tolkein. Yup… it's as she had suspected. The paranormal energies surrounding Little Tolkein's body was partially that of a natural paranormal repellent. Nadav could cast all the elemental enchantments he wanted, but at his current level, it might make little difference to Little Tolkein's overall performance.

This soon brought Sing's thoughts to a different category of enchantments. Rather than casting elemental enchantments, perhaps it would be better to cast generic enchantments that would simply aid Little Tolkein's physical performance. Perhaps something simple… but effective at the same time…

Sing was soon quick to come up with a decent combination.

Yes… if this certain combination could work, they might gain themselves an additional tank.

"Nadav, I will have to get rid of [Garvdush]. Will that be all right?"

"Eh? Can't Little Tolkein keep [Garvdush]?"

"Unfortunately no. [Garvdush] is a good enchantment, but it will not serve our current needs. Besides, if Little Tolkein's overall weight lighter, he would not throw much of a punch wouldn't he?"

"…All right then."

Nadav soon motioned Little Tolkein over, and when it got pretty close to Sing, she placed a finger on the glowing enchantment and instantly dispelled it with a will of her mind.

"So what do I do?"

"First, I want you to give Little Tolkein the [Glyph of Foresight]."

"Eh? That infamous glyph? I thought only Whites could cast that."

"No, the [Glyph of Foresight] is a generic Divination Enchantment. You can cast it too."

"Ok… so where do I start?"

Sing soon reached for her sling bag and took out a pencil. She soon proceeded to sketch the Glyph on the ground.

"Casting the Glyph is the same procedure as casting your favourite [Rock Fist]. Firstly, store this symbol in your mind, and when you try to cast the enchantment, just think about trying to predict the future, or analyse the future."

"Oh! Like planning out your calender?"

Sing paused.

"That's actually not a bad analogy… Yes, let's go with that. Once you have that image in your mind, I want you to draw your paranormal reserves to your fingers, and trace the glyph on Little Tolkein's exterior."

"Does it have to be any part specific?"

"It can be anywhere."

"All right."

Nadav took a deep breath and followed the steps. Once he memorized the glyph's sketch, he closed his eyes and pictured the phenomenon as Sing had described to him earlier.

Plan a schedule, plan a schedule…

Nadav then directed the flow of his internal paranormal reserves to his right fingertips, before proceeding to trace the rune on Little Tolkein's left chest. When he was done, Nadav opened his eyes, and the rune glittered brightly on Little Tolkeins torso.

"Yes! How is it?"

"Hm… paranormal intergrity is there, paranormal function is live, no phenomenal misalignments… Yup. It's good to go."

Sing gave Nadav a thumbs up for the successive execution.

"Not bad for a first try."

"What next?"

Sing soon reached for her sling bag and took out a small clay jug.

"Take this."

"What's in it?"

"Oil."

"What for?"

"Do you know the spell called [Greasy Skin]?"

"No…"

"It's a conjuration spell that coats a paranormal layer of grease on a person or object. This would reduce or remove any existing fiction at the area of application."

"Conjuration? I thought that's a higher level subject?"

"It is. Of course, we presently can't cast a true [Greasy Skin] since we have not even begin practicing conjuration. Which is why we are going to use this oil here as a substitution."

"You really have the right item for every spell don't you?"

"Not really… this is just avocado oil for our field dishes."

"Avocado oil?"

Sing blushed a little.

"I wanted to try a mushroom dish out in the field… ah nevermind…"

Sing shook her head and snapped back at attention.

"In any case, this is what you are going to do."

Sing poured the oil on Little Tolkein's head and began rubbing the oil throughout its body.

"Nadav, I want you to imagine the oil as an extra set of skin. But not just any skin. Imagine you are in the middle of an oil massage, with that sensation of slippery lubricant. Apply that thought to the creation of the phenomenon, and let your magic do the rest."

"Is that it? No runic image to remember like the [Glyph of Foresight]?"

"No. This is an applicative substitution afterall. Besides, conjuration phenomena follow a slightly different set of rules."

"All right… only, there's one small problem."

"What?"

"I never been to an oil message before…"

"Ah… then think of it like this then."

"Hm?"

Sing moved to Nadav's position and clasped her oily hand on the back of his left hand.

"Like this."

"… It's damn slippery."

"Yup, just like that."

"This is going to be so hard to get rid off…"

Sighing, Nadav went and did as he was told.

He soon pressed his now-so-slippery hand on Little Tolkein's body, and began conjuring up the image in his head. The layer of oil began glittering slightly with the presence of Grey Magic. Soon, Little Tolkein had a shining exterior. It's as though someone took him to the cleaners and had his meteorite exterior polished clean. Nadav soon swiped his clean hand on Little Tolkein's exterior. His grip immediately slip. It looks like the casting was a success.

"All right. It looks like it went well. What next?"

"Give him [Displaced Steps]. I'll do the rest."

"Eh?"

Nadav raised his eyebrows in surprise.

"What happen to conserving your Cast Limit?"

"Don't worry. It's just one or two spells. Besides, if Little Tolkein can act as my shield from now on, it wouldn't be a problem."

"Ah… is that so…"

Sing soon reached for her father's tome and flipped to a page. Once Nadav finished providing [Displaced Steps], Sing pressed a hand on the page, and used the tome to enchant Little Tolkein with [Radiant Shield]. This conjuration phenomenon provided Little Tolkein with an artificial defensive barrier. To top it off properly, Sing burned one [Point Spell] of her own Cast Limit to supply Little Tolkein with an additional layer of [Aura Shift].

BOOM!

Just as Sing finished applying [Aura Shift], a loud explosion happened behind her.

As the two turned to look, the building opposite the street was engulfed in a haze of dust and ash.

"Wha… Wha… did they find us?" Nadav said.

"In what manner are we the ones getting discovered? This is something else."

The two White students from the earlier group soon leaped out of the smoking building's upper level. They landed on the street behind their Grey companions, just in time for a silhouette to charge out of the smoking building's gound floor.

The new face to the scene was a browned haired Asian female student, dressed in an Eastern customized version of the Academy's uniform. She does not appear to have any Arcane Artifact, and from her fingerless gloves, she appears to favour fist fighting.

Sing quickly pried on her own paranormal senses to search for any lingering presences behind the girl's position. It looks like she came alone.

"Something's wrong… where are her companions? Is she really going in alone?" Sing uttered.

The Asian girl soon charged on the first Grey student, who was quick to brandish his enchanted battleaxe. upon seeing her approach, the Grey student began swinging his battleaxe against thin air. From his movements, it's obvious he's building up some momentum for an Artifact ability. Needless to say, the runes on the battleaxe blade began to glow with increased intensity. Once he had accumulated paranormal energy, the Grey student soon unleashed three wind elemental slices across the pavement floor.

The Asian girl was quick to respond. She quickly dapted her footwork with minimal effort, and just barely avoided each of the wind slices like a flexible ballet dancer. Within the next three seconds, she quickly closed in on their distance, and threw in three successive punches against the Grey student's defensive barrier.

The Grey student staggered slightly under her solid punches, but his defensive barrier held firm. He was soon able to recover his poise, before giving a massive side swing of his own. As expected, the Asian girl managed to dodge the slice effortlessly, but the Grey student's companions were not going to let her do as she pleases.

One of the Whites behind soon raised his hand, and a large fire elemental circle soon manifested above the Asian girl's position. A hail of small fiery pellets soon descended on her, landing with multiple explosions upon impact.

"[Flaming Hail]? Someone of our level can already cast something that complicated?" Nadav grasp.

[Flaming Hail] was a [Distance Spell] mostly used by Mages who were at least of the Acolyte Rank. If that White student really could use such a spell this early in the elementary curriculum, he really must have quite the talent. Students who do make it to the urban district really have some capabilities.

In quick response, Asian girl's silhouette blurred and flashed off in a zig-zag direction. She was able to avoid getting hit, and she quickly escaped [Flaming Hail]'s radar. Sing instantly picked up on the phenomenon she had used there.

"[Vanishing Step]… or another equivalent? The application is a little off compared to the standard…"

The White responsible for the [Flaiming Hail] clicked his tongue. He quickly manouvred his fingers and altered the angle of [Flaming Hail]'s elemental circle. The fiery pellets continued to rain for another five seconds before the spell completely subsided. But in the end, he still could not hit her.

Once [Flaming Hail] ceased, the Asian girl soon circled around to meet the Grey wielding the battleaxe, and he was not alone. A second Grey companion soon followed at his side with a distinctive pair of [Rock Fists].

The second companion with the [Rock Fists] moved up first. He first began throwing up a few punches, to which the Aisan girl managed to deflect by slapping his wrists off of the sides. After a few exchanges, the Grey quickly spun around and casted a fiery elemental circle on the back of his earthly fist. Orange cinders soon manifested within the cracks of the earthly fist, and as he gave a wide swing, flaming arcs soon sliced through thin air, accompanied by several brief explosive sparks. The sudden increase in heat soon discouraged the Asian girl from making any further deflections, and she soon resorted to creating some distance,

"An altered application of [Themal Flare] with [Rock Fists]… Nadav, are you taking notes?" Sing said.

"Huh?"

"Nevermind…"

The Asian girl soon somersaulted back three times to create her distance, only to face a high battleaxe slice from her left. She quickly dodged the first Grey's assault, but as she stabilized her footing, a [Flying Rock Fist] soon grabbed her left shin, causing her to lose her center of gravity. She fell forward, but her martial memory soon kicked in and she managed to save herself from a bad fall by placing a flat palm against the floor.

However, the detached [Rock Fist] soon cemented a part of itself onto the floor. It locked her limb in place, and prevented her from standing properly.

In seeing her temporarily incapacitated, the two Greys quickly sized on this opportunity. The second Grey first responded by launched a [Fire Ball], while the first Grey supported him by adding two wind slashes from his battleaxe. The wind slashes soon connected with the [Fire Ball] from behind, and they propelled the [Fire Ball] further with added paranormal intensity.

"Ah… she's done for…" Nadav uttered.

Once the enchanced [Fire Ball] reached the Asian girl, a highly intensive bolt of lighting soon flashed behind the Asian girl. It blasted the [Fire Ball] square in the center and triggered the explosion before it could land a direct hit.

"What was that… [Lightning Caste]?" Nadav asked.

"No… it's something else." Sing uttered.

The Asian girl soon took the opportunity to break out of the cemented [Rock Fist] by chopping her hand against the hardened earth. Three strikes, and she managed to crack her shin free.

"Wow… can she do that? Bare handed?! That's a cemented [Rock Fist] we are talking about here right?!" Nadav said.

"If she had a strength enchancement somewhere, then it's not beyond the realm of impossibilities."

"Oh…"

But why didn't she just use Magic to deform the [Rock Fist]? She could easily get out of here without using any physical force… Sing thought.

With such a flashy cast of Lightning, everyone present soon turned their attention to the source. Sing's eyes soon saw two new faces. Both of them were male Asian students, and they were also dressed similarly in Eastern customized uniforms.

One of them was standing on the second level of the damaged building opposite them, while the other was standing on the ground floor. The one of the ground floor had a staff. And from the renments of electricity buzzing around his open palm, he must have been the one to cast that lightning bolt. Meanwhile, the one above him carried no weapon. From his calm demeanour, Sing soon suspected him to be the team's leader and lead support.

From the paranormal auras within their bodies, Sing soon realized they, like Nadav, were all Mixed Blooded Grey Mages.

"If they have the right to dress differently, they must be from the Eastern Clans…" Sing uttered.

"The Eastern Clans? You mean those spiritualists from the Far East?" Nadav added.

"Yes. That or at least, their distant cousins."

The Eastern Clans were an ethnic cluster of powerful families who were descended from various Eastern cultures. Like their Earth born cousins, they predominantly reside in the Eastern Continent of Zeffernon, which was often described to be a mystical landscape compared to Otium's heartland.

From what Sing knew, the Eastern Clans were a distinctive element of Otium's society. Fundamentally, they perceive Magic under a different set of rules, which caused them to adhere to different educational philosophies. Moreover, they strictly adhere to their own clan hierarchies, to the point where a large majority of the Eastern Clans do not answer to any of the Greater Noble families, much less the Progenitor Families themselves.

These unique affiliations made the Eastern Clans vastly removed from central authority, to the point where the High Council had given up fully integrating them into central society. To this day, the domains under the jurisdiction of the Eastern Clans all enjoyed a rather luxurious level of automony. As long as the tax is being paid to the High Council, the Magisters were content to leaving the Eastern provinces alone.

The Asian trio before them must be either exchange students, or clansmen who formally enrolled for diplomatic reasons. In either case, this should be an interesting fight to witness.

"Hm…"

Nadav soon paid closer attention to the Asian trio.

"I have never met them before. Theu must be from a different class."

Sing was not surprised to hear that. After all, Rigor-atque Cinereo often had the reputation of having the largest student intake out of the three colour sectors. There were definitely more classes there, so it would not be strange to hear of some unfamiliar individuals.

Upon registering the two new enemies, the five students soon made their move. The two Whites soon pulled up their sleeves, exposing the familiar markings of 'Nilth'. They soon activated various buffs on their companions, and from the glow of the enchantments, Sing counted [Glyph of Feats], [Aura Shift], [Glyph of Precision], [Heroic Might], [Glyph of Foresight] and…

"[Elemental Metamorphosis]?!"

Nadav turned his face towards her.

"Is it that amazing?" Nadav said.

"Yeah… [Elemental Metamorphosis] is a highly variable Grey Elemental Enchantment that tampers the properties of multiple elemental phenomena. But it is most commonly used to double the damage and output of the caster's elemental spells."

"What?! Why haven't I heard of such an amazing enchantment? It's even a Grey one to put!"

"That's because we are not expected to learn it yet. [Elemental Metamorphosis] is only used by adept Acolytes and above."

"So… that means we get to learn it sometime next year…"

"Late next year I think."

"Right… But if this particular group can already use it…"

"Maybe not all of them. It's probably just one of them who knows how to cast it. Whoever it is, he must be really ahead of everyone."

"Even you?"

"Even me."

"Geh… I don't think I want to fight those guys anymore…"

"…What makes you think we ought to be fighting them anyway? It's five vs two."

"Three! You forgot Little Tolkein."

"Sigh…"

Sing soon ignored the idiot and returned her attention to the street below her. With those Enchantments, would this Asian trio be able to keep up?

Upon recognizing that they had been buffed accordingly, the three Grey Vanguards soon moved with renewed confidence.

"They're charging? Why not just blast them with

Since they did not fully size the benefits

The first Grey with the battleaxe was quick to envelop his body with [Lightning Aura]. With the effects of [Elemental Metamorphosis], the lightning aura's physical presence had doubled in velocity. If that Grey would ever land a hit with that enhanced aura, his opponent would definitely feel more than just the bite of steel.

With a reinforced aura, the first Grey was quick to move towards the Aisan Girl. In response, the Asian girl merely gave light jumps on the spot to ensure that her footing was still all right, and she soon readied arranged her fists in prepared poise. Even with the obvious electricy aura buzzing around her opponent's defensive barrier, she did not even flinch.

Once he was close enough, the Grey soon brought his battleaxe high and gave a downward slice. The Asian girl moved a few steps closer before raising her left forearm. Her left forearm soon connected with the battleaxe's pole just bellow the blade's body, and she quickly pushed it off to the left, deflecting the battleaxe's momentum to the side. She soon followed up by burying her clenched right fist into the Grey's left cheek, to which a golden flash soon happened.

Meanwhile, the second Grey student recasted one of his [Rock Fists] and charged towards the Male Asian with the staff. His third companion moved up from behind him, whilst brandishing an enchanted saber of his own.

While the two Greys moved, one of the White students behind them soon got ready to join the fray, but he was soon stopped by his other White companion. As the first White raised an eyebrow, the second White companion merely shook his head and gestured towards the third Asian on the second level. The third Asian student still had not acted. From the looks of things, it appears he would not be participating in the current fight. But when would that change? Eventually, the first White relented, and decided to let their Grey companions sort out the present engagement by themselves.

Returning to the vanguards, the two Grey students soon reached for their left chest and activated a flaming enchantment. Soon, their defensive barriers became encased in a fiery orange aura.

"[Bond of the Fiery Blood]…" Sing uttered.

If used in conjuncture with [Aura Shift] and [Elemental Metamorphosis], those two Greys already had pretty good defenses. The two Grey students soon moved up and began flanking the Asian student from the sides.

The second Grey attacked first with a punch, but it was easily dodged as the Asian student spun his footwork to the side. The Asian student soon followed up on his movements with a pole stab, but it was soon deflected with a flash of [Aura Shift], with a tinder of [Bond of the Fiery Blood].

As the Asian student staggered, the third Grey with the saber moved from behind, and proceeded to give an upward slash from the Asian student's lower right. But once the blade was about to connect with the Asian student's back, the Aisan student quickly tilted his back towards the left, and stabbed his staff against the ground to block the incoming attack.

The Asian student then quickly ducked out of the way as the second Grey student gave him another punch. What soon followed was a series of hits and misses. The second Grey would keep trying to land a punch, while the Asian student would be quick to dodge with minimal movements on his end.

This did not last long however, for eventually the second Grey soon gave out another one of his punches, to which the Asian student soon dodged, and finally countered with a strike with his staff from above.

Bing!

The same deflection happened, but the Asian student quickly somersaulted back into stable footing. From the swift agility of his movements, he must have expected the outcome.

Bing!

Bing!

Bing!

Three more strikes soon followed, three more times the staff was similarly repelled, and three more times did the Asian student neatly landed on his feet.

The second Grey soon realized that he was not liking this. Upon checking the itching enchantment on his forearm, the second Grey was quick to notice that [Aura Shift] had already begun flickering on and off. This Asian student was merely testing his barrier. He must have some sort of plan in mind.

Bing!

On the other side of the street, the Asian Girl was soon knocked back with her body surrounded by a static gliter of electricity. Her opponent merely readied his battleaxe again for another go. However, as though unfazed by the electric shock, the Asian girl got up and resumed her usual stance.

The Grey student soon tilted his head to the side, wondering just how she's unaffected by [Lightning Aura]. But regardless, he soon swung his axe for two more wind slashes. The Asian girl charged, and as she approached the wind slices, she soon brought up her right index and middle finger, and shot out a concentrated bolt of paranormal energy of her own.

That singular pulse of paranormal energy soon pierced through the wind slices, and scattered their paranormal energies apart.

"…What?"

The Grey student was surprised by this sudden turn of events, but managed to retain his guard as he soon saw the Asian girl resume her charge.

"She's still coming in? Didn't she just had a tasteful of [Aura Shift] and [Lighting Aura]?"

As he readied his battleaxe, the Asian girl soon leaped high up and gave another solid punch.

Bing!

As expected, she was instantly repelled thanks for [Aura Shift]. But instead of being thrown back completely, this time, the Asian Girl twisted her body in mid-air, and she soon landed neatly with secured footing. Despite the obvious buzzing of static electricity on her body, she's still not affected by the effects of the Grey student's [Lightning Aura].

"Eh?"

The first Grey blinked his eyes, before coming to face another fist to the face.

Bing!

Again, she was repelled, and again, she incurred another wave of static electricity. But the Asian girl soon landed on her feet neatly again, unaffected by the effects of [Aura Shift] and [Lightning Aura].

"What the…"

The first Grey student's instincts kicked in and readied his battleaxe. This unusual agility… and her supposed immunity to his defenses… this girl could be trouble.

When the Asian girl was repelled for the third time, the first Grey wasted no time and hacked away with a heavy slice. The battleaxe's blade would have struck her defensive barrier, but as the blade came down upon her silhouette, it merely passed through.

"…What?"

Wait scratch that. The battleaxe's blade did not pass through her body. Rather, the Asian girl's body disappeared.

As the first Grey looked around, he soon saw the Asian girl just a few feet to the left of her former position. Did he just strike against an illusion? No it can't be… he was sure she was there.

Before the first Grey could pull back his battleaxe, the Asian girl soon leaped and gave a martial art kick. Again, she was deflected. The first Grey quickly gave another heavy slice of his own, but again, he 'missed'.

The Asian girls body manifested a few feet to the right this time. Just what on Zeffernon did she use to dodge his slices? Did she just warped her body at the very last minute? How was that even possible?

While this was all happening, the third Asian on the second level still had not moved at all. He merely stood there and scratched his chin, whilst observing the actions of his companions. His passivity really brought the two Whites behind on a slight edge. There's no telling what this Easterner would do next.

Eventually, the third Asian soon spoke something. The two Whites behind could not hear what he had said, but from the lack of any paranormal build up at his location, it did not appear to be an incantation. Was he communitacting something to his other Asian companions? The two Whites returned their attention to the vanguard engagements, but nothing significant happened.

In the engagement at the left side, the first Grey student soon started going on the offensive. It took a couple more hits from the Asian girl, but now he was feeling the itch from [Aura Shift] more and more. If [Aura Shift] got dispelled, he would not be getting a new one unless he withdrew to his White companions.

The increasing itch from [Aura Shift] would only contribute to a growing build of frustration, for the first Grey found himself struggling to land a solid hit. Whenever his battleaxe would hit the Aisan girl, her body would suddenly dissapear, only to appear randomly at the side for a counter attack. With such fast successive movements, there's absolutely no way she had been warpping.

"[Optical Flash]!"

The first Grey soon shouted out a spell, and an aura of light soon manifested around his body before exploding in a spherical wave. With this, any paranormal attempts to disrupt regional lightwaves would be strongly disrupted. If the Aisan girl was actively using illusion to mess with his sight, she should have a hard time repeating her present phenomenon.

Bing!

Again, another strike to his left. The first Grey soon maneuvered his elbows and wrists, and gave another heavy slice. His battleaxe was poised to slice the Asian girl's belly from the right, but as the blade was about to come into contact with her defensive barrier, the Asian girl disappeared again.

"What?!"

The Asian girl soon manifested herself behind her opponent, and upon retracting her right forearm, she gave the first Grey another heavy punch. This time, the first Grey felt the instant shattering of his defensive barrier. [Lightning Aura] and [Aura Shift] was simultaneously dispelled, and as the first Grey felt the fist connect with his back, he was sent flying towards a nearby wall.

Sing, Nadav, and the two Whites could only stare at disbelief at the sudden turn of events.

""""….What?""""

Even if the Asian girl did manage to wear [Aura shift] down, the first Grey's defensive barrier would still have held on for a couple more punches. Did she somehow have a barrier disruption rune on hand? Even if she did, such an application would take several secondsw to work at minimum, and there was no way both defenses could be shattered simultaneously in a single attack. Just what on Zeffernon did she use?

More importantly, casting [Optimal Flash] was indeed the right move on the Grey Student's part, and yet that Asian girl still somehow managed to misplace her physical vector. If illusion was not the answer, was she using some sort of dimensional misplacement phenomenon?

"Impossible… such phenomena are spells usually used by fully fledged Mages and above. There's no way she should be able to use such a phenomenon… unless…" Sing uttered.

Could this Asian girl be gifted with such a Blood Gift? Or was it some sort of Eastern Mystical Art?

The first Grey soon pressed a hand on the ground to get up. But before he could even lift his knees, the Asian Girl jumped on him and pinned him down with a joint lock. At first she was above him. But as the first Grey struggled to break free, he reversed the positions of their bodies, only to end up in a worse position. The Asian girl's left elbow was soon locking down on his neck, and first Grey's legs and right arm were fully immobilized.

That was enough for the two Whites, for they quickly leaped forward to help their Grey companion. The first White manifested a plated gauntlet over his left forearm, while the second White took out a unique set of glasses, a curious choice for an Arcane Artifact.

As the two Whites rushed towards the Asian girl, the first White ceased scrstching his chin and leaped forward.

"Oh? So now he has decided to move… what would he do?" Sing uttered.

The third Asian student soon glided gently onto the ground, which already indicates that he must have some weight altering phenomenon on hand. He then kicked off against the ground with the ball of his right feet, and instantly closed in the distance between himself and the two Whites.

His instant close up appearance caught the two Whites slightly off guard, but the first White quickly adapted by manifested a whirling vortex of wind on his left gaunlet before launching it forward with a punch. The third Asian twisted his footwork, and managed to avoid the whirlwind with a spin of his body.

But as he landed his feet around, the third Asian soon stepped upon a trap rune. The runic circle instantly expanded, and ensnared him in thick earthly vines.

"Go! I'll keep him here!" The second White said.

The first White nodded and proceeded to move towards the Asian Girl. But by the time he got there, he was too late. Whilst being pinned down in a joint lock, the first Grey soon realized that it's getting harder to breath. Despite making further attempts to break free, the first Grey soon oddly began to smile with a hint of estacy. The reason for it… well…

"That pervert. Enjoying the sensation of a girl's breasts from behind whilst being locked down eh?" the first White uttered.

Honestly… why did they have to team up with such a pervert?

Meanwhile, Nadav lightly slammed a clenched fist on the floor.

"So lucky…" He wisphered.

Sing rolled her eyes but she eventually decided not to comment.

The first Grey eventually gave up, and began slamming his hand against the ground to signal his surrender. But the Asian girl showed no signs of relenting. And after a few more seconds, the first Grey student soon lost conscious with that ridiculous smile still on his face. His tournament wrist soon activated the teleportation, and after a flash, he was gone.

The first White clicked his tongue, but quickly activated a strength enhancement runic enchantment from his left gauntlet. The runes on the plates of his gauntlet soon glowed brightly, and before the Asian girl could properly get up, he slammed his gauntlet fist deep into her abdomen… or it should have.

The Asian girl's body disappeared, and the first White ended up smashing his gauntlet fist into the pavement street.

"Tch! Again?"

The Asian girl soon manifested behind him. She twisted her body for a leap, and moved in for a solid kick aimed at the middle of his back. But the first White soon sensed her presence, and with [Glyph of Foresight], he instantly knew what she planned to do. With his gauntlet fist still on the ground, the First White activated his Artifact's ability.

Three runic symbols began glowing brightly on the back of gauntlet's hand. And in the next instance, the metallic plates around the first White's gauntlet multiplied exponentially. They raced up to cover his entire arm, before moving around to cover the mid portion of his back.

Upon identifying the two Runes, Sing soon saw familiar looking Z, B, and L like symbols. Their respective glowing colours only served to confirm her analysis.

"Oh? An application of the replication rune [Zyafrom], the formal alteration rune [Blenauz], and the fortifying rune [Lancryas]? But just having those two is not enough… did the gauntlet had another infusing property?"

Bing!

Regardless of Sing's enquiries, the Asian girl's kick soon landed as she intended. With the shattering glitter of gold, she managed to break through both [Aura Shift], and his defensive barrier. However, as her feet soon came into contact with hard metal, her attack was forcefully blocked. The shock of the impact soon triggered momentary pain, which caused the Asian girl to stagger slightly.

The First White soon retracted the metallic plates back, and he quickly turned towards his right before giving the Asian girl a solid punch to her abdomen with his gauntlet fist.

Wham!

This time, he managed to deliver a solid hit. And with his active enchantments, his punch managed to deliver a significant impact.

Whilst still being ensnared in the second White's trapping vines, the third Asian soon noticed his female companion flying past his side. She soon crashed through a weakened wall, unleashing a cloud of dust around the area of impact.

The third Asian sighed. In the next instance, he vanished from his position.

"Eh?!"

The ensaring vines ceased to tighten their bonds, and the trap rune soon disintegrated altogether. Needless to say, the second White soon figured that the third Asian managed to slip through the vines.

"What?! How?"

As the second White turned around to look, he soon picked up on the third Asian's paranormal signature. He's presently in the damaged building the Asian girl flew into.

The first White student soon moved to his side after recasting both [Aura Shift] and his defensive barrier.

"Damn it… we are getting nowhere with them at this rate. Just what are those weird phemonena are those two were using?" He said.

"I don't know… I have half a mind to call this fight off. There is no sense fighting someone who uses phemonena I can't identify. Besides, that other group we were originally chasing is still somewhere out here.

"What if they give chase?"

"…"

"If we cannot defeat them through normal means, maybe we can win by making them run out of their Cast Limit first."
"Ah… basically a battle of attrition?"

"With us being on the defensive without using much of our Cast Limit."

"Which means…"

"Yeah. Can you do that thing you did the other day?" The first White asked.

"Hang on, give me a sec."

The second White soon reached for his spectacles. Upon rubbing a specific part of the spectacles, runic imprints soon manifested around the lens' corners, and the second White was able to make out the two Asians' silhouettes beyond the cloud of dust.

The second White then marked the two Asians with the Link Rune [Vadekreya] through his lens. He then turned to his companion, and marked them both with the same rune. Once he was finished, the second White linked the four of them together in a singular paranormal network. And once that was firmly established, the second White then quickly pulled up his left sleeve and activated two new runic enchantments he had imprinted beforehand.

"[Dvumelon], [Dianysma]."

The two new enchantments soon glowed on the first and second White's respective marks of 'Nilth'.

What the second White did, was to link themselves up with their opponents for an advantageous paranormal set-up.

[Dvumelon] reduces the received damage from any external impact by twofold, while [Dianysma] redirects the vector force of any incoming attacks. These two enchantments would reduce the lethality of the most devastating punches or kicks.

When used in conjucture with the Link Rune [Vadekreya], the effectiveness of the enchantments will increase by roughly 20%, but it will only benefit those within the network who have the enchantment on person. For those who do not have the enchantment, said effects will be focused to work against them.

With this set-up, the two Asians should be powerless. Even if they could destroy their defensive barriers, their wierd punches and kicks would not do much damage. If they also need to spend their Cast Limit to enhance their unusual movements, they'll also be the first to run out of steam.

This was not a hex, even though it may appear like one. There was no way the two of them could make the Asian duo weaker. Afterall, White Magic does not bring many negative effects compared to Dark Magic.

Since the two White students could not find nay answers to the Asians' unusual phenomena, their only option was to find a way to make themselves stronger.

It did not take the two Asians long to figure that they had been marked with an external phenomenon. Once they realized that they had been marked, they soon moved into action.

The Asian girl was the first to burst out of the building. In quick response, the second White quickly drew out a short [Ray's Light] with his right hand, and shot that blade of light towards her.

[Ray's Light] was instantly dodged with an acrobatic leap. Once the Asian girl landed on her feet, she quickly took a deep breath, and unleashed a huge spit of fire from her mouth.

"An application of [Flame's Pulse] with the mouth as a focus point? It's not that unoriginal, but why?" Sing uttered.

Upon seeing such an obvious attack, the first White student soon moved forward and brought his gauntlet fist up. He then multiplied the plates around his gauntlet into the form of a large shield, just in time to cover the two of them from the blast of fire.

The third Asian soon followed from behind. First, he jumped and landed lightly on the Asian girl's left shoulder, before using her shoulder as a stepping-stone to leap over the flame blast. Thanks to his presumed altered weight, the third Asian managed to make quite a distance.

As his body rotated around in mid-air, the second White soon locked his paranormal signature on with his spectacles. He then snapped his fingers and casted seven [Vlaire's Pulses]. In the next instance, small gusts of wind soon manifested at various points throughout the air, and soon molded themselves into focused balls.

The second White soon smirked slightly. These Easterners may have successfully pulled those weird disappearing stunts on ground, but there's just no way they could replicate that whilst in mid-air.

However, what happened next soon surprised the second White even more. In an unusual display of paranormal freedom, the third Asian calmly took note of the incoming trajectory of the [Vlaire's Pulses]. With his light body, the third Asian soon twisted his body around, and carefully smacked each ball of air away with flat palms.

"…What?"

There's no sense of weight in his movements. It's as though the Asian was simply gliding in mid air, with a lightness and swiftness akin to that of a falling leaf. He swiftly adjusted his poise for each [Vlaire's Pulses], and gracefully deflected each ball of air away without even triggering any high-pressure explosions.

It did not make any sense. Any contact with [Vlaire's Pulse] would automatically result in an explosion! Just how did this Eastern bugger just smacked them away like it's nothing?

The second White was stunned at such a feat, to the point where he could only watch as the third Asian landed himself neatly behind him.

"…What kind of fairy tale movement is that? Is he using some sort of flight Magic – "

"Varkrynn!"

The first White soon barked the second White back into attention, because in the next instance, the third Asian soon moved in, and struck his face with a palm.

Varkrynn's defensive barrier was instantly shattered, and [Aura Shift] was quickly dispelled as well. The palm strike successfully struck against his mouth and nose, but thanks to the effects of [Dvumelon] and [Dianysma], the Asian's attack amounted to nothing more than a mere push.

The third Asian was quick to notice that something was wrong since his strike did not fully deliver his intended result. He quickly leaped back, just barely in time as his opponent quickly blasted a [Blessed Glaze] in his direction. With his curious weight and effortless ability to glide in the air, the third Asian soon landed on a nearby street lamp.

The third Asian then turned his attention to the weird glowing symbol that had manifested on his uniform earlier. Could this be the cause of his weakened strike? He quickly snapped back to attention as another [Vlaire's Pulse] came his way.

Meanwhile, the Asian girl ceased her breath of fire, and she soon moved in for another engagement.

Clank!

As she threw in a new punch, the first White was quick to mold his gauntlet plates to meet the assault.

Clank!

Clank!

Clank! Clank! Clank! Clank! Clank! Clank!

What soon followed was a series of successive blocks. Since the first White still had his [Glyph of Foresight], blocking those attacks was easy peasy. Be it from any direction, as long as he knew where the attack was coming, he could easily replicated the number of plates, and manipulate their form to cover any angle of strike.

While the two of them kept themselves busy, the third Asian soon gathered his paranormal reserved into a singular focus point on his left index finger, and blasted his Magical energies onto the strange rune. Varkrynn's Link Rune was weakened, but it was not completely dispelled yet. After dodging a couple more [Vlaire's Pulses], the third Asian made three more attempts, before the rune was completely dispelled from his body.

Upon sensing the disruption, Varkrynn soon paled slightly. He quickly brought a hand to his spectacles to mark the third Asian again, but the third Asian quickly kicked against the ground, closed in the distance instantly.

"Eh?"

Varkrynn stumbled in his movements momentarily, and that was all the third Asian needed. Once he came face to face with Varkrynn, the third Asian soon brought his right index and middle fingers up, and jabbed heavily at a crucial weak spot at the side of any human's head, the temporomandibular joint.

In addition, the third Asian also blasted a bolt of his own paranormal reserves into Varkrynn's head, which only served to amplify the damage dealt to the human body.

Varkrynn's vision soon blurred, and his head blanked out to the impact. The third Asian soon sized the opportunity to make a grab for his tournament wristband.

Clank! Clank! Clank!

Meanwhile, the Asian girl was growing slightly frustrated at her continous unsuccess at getting past those armoured plates. She thought that speed and accuracy would be the key to landing a solid blow, but each of her attacks was blocked successfully. In addition, whenever she landed a hit against those plates, it felt as if her attacks were significantly weakened. As time dragged on, her hands and feet were starting to feel numb from the continuous strain.

Eventually, the first White soon counteracted by casting a [Vlaire's Pulse] with his free hand. The focused ball of air soon manifested from behind her, and launched itself at her footing.

The sudden disruption caused the Asian girl to lose her footing. Upon seizing this opening, the first White soon sent his right open palm to smack the Asian girl's belly.

"[Penuce]!"

The White distortion spell soon made short work of the Asian girl's defensive barrier, which came as a slight surprise for the first White student. For some odd reason, her defensive barrier felt weaker than what he thought it would be. But oh well, better for him.

With her body now completely defensless, the first White soon brought out his bauntlet hand and made a grab for the Asian girl's neck.

Once his fingers had a secure grip around her throat, the first White quickly replicated the plates on his gauntlet again. The numerous metallic plates quickly moved to envelop the Asian girl's upper torso, shoulders and upper arms.

The Asian girl soon realized that her opponent was trying to immobilize her. She tried to knee him with her right leg, but his second set of defensive barrier and [Aura Shift] were still active. The Asian girl's knee was soon repelled away.

"Hm… It seems like she cannot pull of that weird barrier disruption phenomenon without her hands…" Sing quickly noted.

There's always a limit to everything… and Sing just might have figured out something.

Once the Asian girl's upper body was completely covered in the metallic plates, the first White soon brough his free hand to grab her head. It looks like he was about to cast a mind disruption spell, but he soon paused. The first White soon blinked his eyes and stared down at his body. The Link Rune was gone.

"What?"

He briefly turned, only to see the third Asian leap and send a flying kick to his face.

A familiar flash of gold soon glittered. But instead of being deflected, the third Asian successfully managed to destroy the second set of defenses, and kicked the first White's head off to the side.

"So they can still destroy the barriers by using the feet as the phenomenal focus point… so does that means that they can use whatever part of their body to disrupt the barriers?" Sing uttered.

If that were to be the case, then it's probably a matter of experience for them.

Unfortunately, the first White was still tightly connected to the Asian girl due to the metal plates' tight formation. When he was kicked off to the side, he ended up pulling her down with him. As the two of them collapsed, the third Asian quickly went for the first White's tournament wristband, and successfully yanked it off his wrist.

On the other side of the street, the third Grey soon went down on one knee and placed an open hand onto the pavement road.

"[Bed Rock]!"

The ground underneath the second Asian student shook, and a large portion of the pavement road, at least five meters in diameter, soon uprooted itself into the air.

"Wow… He easily ripped up thrice the amount of Earth I normally would have!" Nadav said.

Nadav soon turned to Sing.

"You know… Sing – "

"No."

"But I haven't even – "

"No. You want me to teach you how to cast [Elemental Metamorphosis] right?"

"Well – "

"Nadav, that is not happening. [Elemental Metamorphosis] is not a simple enchantment you can just cast on a whim. If you try to cast it without any proper practice, you might accidentally damage your magical circuits."

"Geh…"

Returning to the scene, the Asiant student merely leaped off the pavement and struck the block's center with his staff. The block soon splintered into two, which gave the Asian student the room he needed to fall back onto the ground. Once he landed on his feet, the second Grey student soon launched a [Flying Rock Fist] from his left hand, and successfully cemented the Asian student's left leg.

The Asian student was momentarily stunned with the sudden loss of control over his leg, and the second Grey student soon seized this opportunity. He altered his right [Rock Fist] into a [Drilling Fist], and manifested sparks of lighting with his free hand.

"[Lightning Pulse]!"

Three forks of Lightning soon raced across from the second Grey's fingertips, and the Asian student was soon ensnared in a cacoon of electricity. The Asian student was quick to feel the bizzare effects of an enhanced [Lightning Pulse], but after a few inconsistent jolts, he was able to retain overall control of his own body. Despite the continous stream of electricity flowing around his entire body, the Asian student soon poured up some of his paranormal reserves into the staff, and struck against the cemented [Rock Fist].

Wham!

Wham!

Wham!

Three strikes were all it took, and the second Asian broke his feet free. Upon seeing this change of develoment, the third Grey was quick to deduce that this particular opponent might have prepared some phenomenal resistance to the Element Lightning.

Regardless, the third Grey student quickly activated an Artifact ability. The runes on his saber brightened in colour, and he soon moved the blade up and down in a wide circular motion. Five Light Elemental circles soon manifested along the blade's path, and once the third Grey gave a finishing thrust forward, each of the five circles soon shot out a beam of light.

The Asian student soon picke up on the incoming attack, but he managed to dodge the five light beams by jumping high into the air. But that was precisely what the third Grey wanted, for once the Asian student was in mid air, the second Grey student jumped from behind, and buried his [Drilling Fist] into the Asian student's back.

Or… it should have…

Once the second Grey punched out with his [Driling Fist], the second Asian student merely twisted his body around towards the right, and used the momentum to smack the [Drilling Fist] off to the side. The Asian student followed up with another kick to the Grey student head. But once again, he was soon repelled with another flash from [Aura Shift].

The repelling force obviously threw the Asian student back. But for some odd reason, his body glided lighty off to the side, as though he were floating in mid-air. With the reduction of the repelling force, the Asian student used the chance to realign his posture and landed his feet on the nearby wall.

Despite being knocked off, the second Grey managed to land on his feet neatly in the street's depressive gap, just before the two blocks of the uprooted [Bed Rock] crash landed at his sides. The Asian student then kicked off the wall, and was about to land another hit with his staff when he was soon blasted off to the side with another shot of light beams from the third Grey's saber.

The third Grey soon charged, and brought his blade low for an upward slice. However, just as he was about halfway through, the effects from [Glyph of Feats] suddenly disappeared.

"Eh?"

The third Grey soon stopped in his tracks and checked up on 'Nilth'. All the prior enchantments provided were gone, and that means…

Tap, tap, tap.

A light jab on his left shoulder caused the third Grey to turn. He soon saw the third Asian right next to him.

"You?! – "

The third Asian soon dispelled his defensive barrier with a punch with one hand. In a quick involuntary action, the third Grey gave a swing with the saber. However, that was soon countered with an elbow block and a solid uppercut to the chin. His quick successive strikes completely sealed the third Grey's movements, and as the third Grey soon stumbled on his feet, the third Asian soon made a grab for his tournament wristband.

While this all happened, the second Grey soon got up to see the third Grey disappear around a teleportation circle. Once he had registered the Asian girl and the third Asian's presence, he soon came to the conclusion that his other teammates were most likely eliminated.

Since he presumed himself to the only one left in the group, the second Grey did the only logical thing left to do. He turned and ran for the most audible path of escape.

He could not get away. For as soon as he took his third step, the second Asian soon got up his feet, and soon noticed the second Grey running away. In a quick successive motion, the second Asian raised his right arm, and threw his staff towards his opponent. The staff soon landed into the second Grey's left ankle, causing the second Grey to slip.

As the second Grey collapsed onto the floor, the Asian girl quickly rushed up towards him, grabbed the second Grey's staff, and gave a heavy jab on the second Grey's forehead.

TOA

"Well that was quick… I honestly wanted to see more." Nadav said.

"Yeah…"

In all honestly, Sing wanted to see more too. However, the fact that these Easterners could easily decimate any defensive barrier and auras bugged her. These three Easterners were Mixed Grey, but Sing hardly sensed any hints of the corruptive presences of Dark Magic throughout their engagements. The chances of them being Mixed Grey-White were high, which. But even if that were to be the case, it still does not explain their unusual phenomena.

Moreover, these Easterners seem to be highly efficient in close range combats. If Sing adds in their barrier destroying abilities, they were pretty much near invulnerable tanks.

Even if Cadeus were to be here, it will still be an extremely hard to fight them. Sing decided to abide by her previous decision not to engage this trio.

Freiya's concealment phenomenon would only hold up for a couple more minutes. Once the three Asians leave, the two of them will move on in a different direction.

"Sing… I just can't wrap my finger about it."

"What about?"

"What did those three Asians use to break past [Aura Shift] and those defensive barriers?"

"… If I have to make a decent guess… it's probably something related to Ch'i."

"Ch'i? You mean the Chinese energy thingy?"

"Yes."

"I thought that kind of stuff is rather superficial?"

"Oh no not really. On the contrary, what the Easterners identify as Ch'i, is identical to our own paranormal reserves. It may seem strange to us, but it's just a different set of paranormal practice."

"But could you tell what sort of spell did they use?"

"…No. I'm afraid its nature eludes me."

"Ah…"

Looking back down, the Asian girl soon tossed the staff back to the second Asian, and the three of them met up for a conversation on their own.

"Hey Sing… Does Freiya have any combat abilities?"

"No, don't even bother drifting into that line of thought. Freiya wouldn't even last five seconds against them."

"Geh…"

The first Asian soon broke off from their conversation, and looked up to their position. It was not a definitive 'I found you' look, but it's something more akin to a sudden raise of suspicion.

"Crap… are we discovered?"

"Impossible… Freiya's concealment phenomenon has a high paranormal integrity. It would take at least a fully fledge Mage to notice something…"

But did not hinder the third Asian's suspisions, for he soon scratched his chin and placed a hand on the Asian girl's left shoulder. He then uttered some words, which caused his two companions to look up towards their direction as well.

"Sing… just to be on the safe side… shall we run?"

"No, don't. Freiya's phenomenon is hiding our paranormal signatures as well. If we run out of its radar, we will be giving out our paranormal presences…"

Too late.

The Asian girl soon gave a few light hops, before she jumped up towards their level. She landed just right on Sing's left, and turned to see Sing and Nadav crouching next to each other.

"Ah…"

""Ah…""


Hi guys, hope you guys are all well and safe amidst the corona crisis. I hope this chapter wasn't too blend haha. Stay safe! Next chapter is on the way!

Strovist