I didn’t know how to react when Lucia lifted the pillar and threw it at Cain. Apparently, Cain didn’t know either. By the time it was right in front of him, he still hadn’t moved. He barely managed to move his head out of the way, but it still clipped his shoulder, creating an awful cracking noise. The pillar continued flying through the air like a beam of light, showing no intentions of falling. Cain tumbled along the ground like he was hit by, well, by a massive pillar that weighed a lot of tons. By the time he stopped rolling on the ground, the pillar had landed as well.
Everyone fell silent for the second time in a very short timeframe. I wonder how much my father is regretting having Lucia represent him for this decade’s brawl. Lucia’s voice broke the silence. “Hey, why aren’t you announcing my distance? You announced everyone else’s instantly.”
Cain didn’t react to her words, his body lying completely still on the ground. Don’t tell me he died because of that; though, I wouldn’t be surprised if he did. At the very least, his shoulder should be shattered, maybe a few ribs too. Lucia tilted her head before skipping over to Cain. She nudged him with her foot a few times. “Hello? Mr. Man on the Ground? What’s my score?”
I should probably stop her. …But I really want to see what’s going to happen if I don’t. Does that make me a bad person? Have I become a deviant after meeting Lucia? There’s no way that’s possible; I’m an honest, down-to-earth, upstanding person. But an upstanding person wouldn’t have to reassure themselves about being one, right? Maybe I have become a little twisted. Is it wrong that I don’t feel bad about it? I reached the sixth circle and managed to cast an unprecedented spell after meeting Lucia, and all it cost me was a bit of my morality. That’s a pretty fair deal in my opinion.
Someone tugged on my sleeve. Lucia? No, it was Mirta. “Hmm?”
“Do you know healing spells, Ms. Ilya?” Mirta asked.
Miss Ilya? Am I that old that I have to be referred to as miss? No, it’s just that Mirta’s too young, and her elders taught her how to respect people who deserve respect. “Yes, I do. I’m very good at them in fact.”
Mirta furrowed her brow and tilted her head. “Then why aren’t you healing him?” she asked and pointed at Cain. Lucia was still nudging the poor tenth-circle magician with her foot. I say nudging, but his body was being flipped over every time she made contact with him.
“I kind of wanted to see what would happen.”
Mirta blinked. “Huh?”
“I mean, I thought someone else would heal him, you know? I can’t be the only one who knows healing spells around here.” It’d be weird if I was. Any second-circle magician could cast a simple cure spell, but it seemed like everyone else was a bit too stunned to move. Or they were afraid of approaching Cain when Lucia was kicking him around like that. “Hey, Lucia.”
Lucia’s legs stopped moving, and she turned her head to look at me. “What? Are you going to tell me to stop? Huh? This magnanimous man told me to do one attack. It’s not my fault he got in the way, is it? Huh? Is it? Is it?” With every question, Cain’s body flew forward a little as she prodded him with her toes. “This little nemesis of bones is just a harmless little girl who can only smack a pillar a negative distance. There’s no way the person in last place knocked out the strongest man in the world, right? Nope, I’m too weak. He’s just ignoring me.”
I always knew Lucia was a vengeful person, but … wasn’t this a little excessive? It’s that weird nickname Cain gave her, isn’t it? Ah, this competition has turned into a giant mess. Cain was struck down by Lucia; it wouldn’t be a surprise if tensions between demons and beastkin rose. To avoid an international incident—or should I say mitigate—I have to get Lucia to stop kicking Cain around. I think the easiest way to do that is to convince Durandal to stop her. But how would I do that?
Luckily, Cain let out a groaning noise before I had to do anything. Lucia stopped kicking him and took a few steps back, returning to her original position near the area she had thrown the pillar from. Cain sat up and winced before looking at his arm which was hanging limp at his side. His brow furrowed as white light enveloped his body, his bones cracking as they mended and reset themselves. “Did I pass out after being hit by the pillar?” Cain asked Lucia. “How long was I unconscious?”
“You fainted for a couple of seconds,” Lucia said, her face looking completely simple and honest. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to hit you with the pillar.” She scratched her head and tilted it to the side.
Cain frowned and stood up. He winced again and touched a hand to his ribs where Lucia had repeatedly nudged him. “Odd,” he said as more white light circled around his body. “I vaguely remember you shouting, ‘Catch!’ when you threw the pillar at me.”
“Nope, I didn’t,” Lucia said, shaking her head. You totally did! “You can ask anyone.”
Cain looked at me, but I looked away. There was no way I was going to sell Lucia out; my safety’s the most important thing to me! “She didn’t. She actually shouted, ‘Look out!’ before it hit you.”
Mirta stared at me before staring at Lucia. Then she stared at Cain, and turned her gaze back onto me. She opened her mouth to say something, but I channeled a spell and silenced her. Sorry, Mirta, this is how the real world works. It’s best if you learn while you’re still young.
“The distance…,” Cain said, turning his gaze onto the pillar. He shook his head. “Let’s just say you’re first for now.” The pillar rose into the air and landed in front of Lucia again. “Next.”
Lucia smiled at Cain before skipping over to me. She patted my head and ruffled my hair before giving me a hug. I struggled, but I couldn’t get away, so I gave up. Lucia laughed before she whispered into my ear, “Nice one, partner in crime.” Lying to Cain, I guess that could be considered a crime. But no one else said anything to disprove Lucia, so it’s not just me!
Speaking of everyone else, my spell had damaged the competitors who had still yet to go. The pillar was also about four times heavier because Cain pulled out a new one after Lucia’s absorption stunt. Those two factors made it nearly impossible to move the pillar, causing the next two to three hundred people to obtain zero distance with their attacks. A few people complained, but Cain wasn’t exactly in the best of moods after passing out in front of everyone important in the world, so those who complained were directly disqualified. When the last person futilely hit the pillar, causing it to move the grand distance of zero, Cain rose into the air and said, “The second portion of the competition is over. Though some of you did poorly, there will be chances to make up for it. Even if you’re in last place, you can still become first if you excel at the remainder of the competition. With that being said, the third part will proceed after a ten-minute break. The first portion tested your talent. The second portion tested your offense. The third portion will test your defense. Do your best to prepare yourselves.”
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