Half a Minute
"Come, come, come! Come and get your bets here!" Leguna called out, "How long will the battle last? The one who gets the closest wins!"
"Five minutes!" Kurdak shouted as he tossed Leguna a gold coin.
"Huh?!" a stranger next to him cried, "That beautiful lass is a magus! A court magus at that! Even if Nigruela has experience killing fighters above his stratum, he isn't that amazing! This'll be long and drawn out. That magus might even lose to Nigruela. You must be joking if you think Nigruela can defeat her in five minutes though!"
Kurdak glanced at the man with a troubled expression.
"Brother, you misunderstand."
"But no worries!" Leguna hurriedly interjected, "Mister, won't you join? It's only one gold coin."
"Alright, I'll bet, too!"
He handed Leguna a gold coin.
"Thirty minutes. They'll be evenly matched."
With someone like that taking the lead, quite a few spectators made bets as well. The seats they had were prime spots and cost 10 gold coins each. Even if the people sitting here were not nobles, they would at least be rich enough to bet a gold coin or two.
Many were soon betting.
"Alright, alright," Leguna waved his hand, "It's just for fun. So I doubt people will try to weasel their way out if they lose. I'll put the money here and the one who got closest can get it later. I'll hand the winnings to him."
Everyone agreed. They had joined the bet to kill the time as they waited. They didn't really care who won. The people who could afford a seat here wouldn't break the rules for a few meager coins.
Leguna took out a gold coin from his pocket and waved it around.
"I bet..." he swept his gaze across his audience with a smile, "... a minute."
The people around him erupted. They all thought he bet Nigruela would win in a minute and jeered at him. They were mostly men and were smitten with a beautiful maiden with amazing looks and vibes, but the brat seem to have little faith in her.
Leguna just smiled.
"Hey, aren't you overestimating Annie a too much?" Kurdak whispered, "She is strong, but I doubt she'd use her gifts now. It's not likely the fight will end that fast."
"It's all well," Leguna said confidently, "I can tell she's broken through recently. She should have 14 strata now. I doubt I could defeat her without resorting to my gifts, so it'll be impossible for Nigruela. They say he killed a fighter beyond his rank? He probably just managed to get a lucky strike in in the chaos of a battle. He might be powerful, but he's no match for Annie. She'll settle this in a minute!"
Kurdak gave Leguna a complicated look before looking at Annelotte. He was initially Leguna's 'boss' -- superior to him in both wit and strength. But Leguna was not the same brat he used to be when they first met. He was still a brat, but a different brat. Nigruela would be a tough opponent for Kurdak, but he was nothing against Leguna and Annelotte. The gap was just too great.
Leguna was completely oblivious to Kurdak's thoughts. He turned to Eirinn.
"Want to make a bet as well?"
The half elf shook her head.
"Forget it. I'm not familiar with Annie or Nigruela. I'll refrain."
"Come on, it's all for good fun," pushed Leguna, smiling.
"I want to bet!" Innilis cried.
She took out a gold coin from her allowance.
"Sis will beat that baddie in half a minute!"
"Should a kid like you really be betting?" Leguna frowned.
"Come on!" Innilis said pursed-lipped, "Everyone can spend a gold coin; why can't I? I'm not a kid!"
"No. If you lose your gold coin, you won't be able to afford dessert!"
"I won't lose! Sis's way stronger than that guy!" As Innilis spoke, she started climbing on Leguna. If he didn't allow her to bet, she would climb all the way onto his shoulders.
"Ahahahahahahah! Stop messing around!" Leguna shouted, "Fine, fine, fine! I'll let you bet!"
"Good," the girl chirped as she carefully put her only gold coin in Leguna's hand, "Half a minute. I want all the money when the fight's over."
"Tch, aren't you overestimating her?" Leguna rolled his eyes.
He had spent three years with Annelotte and had a good idea of her capabilities. He did, however, not know that Annie had never revealed the full extent of her power to them. The one or two times she'd needed to use it, she'd always hidden it well, so Leguna didn't grasp how strong she really was.
Innilis was different. She had seen Annelotte defeating mid-order magus after mid-order magus with her own eyes. While she didn't really have an idea of the world's standard power scale, or perhaps because of it, she believed Annelotte was much stronger than Leguna thought.
"Alright, now go back to your seat before I change my mind!" said Leguna as he patted her hand. She said she wanted to bet, but she still held her coin. His pat made her finally let go and return to her seat.
The announcer rambled quite a bit during his introductions. But it was soon time to start.
Nigruela got into position and his figure gradually faded. Though he was quite confident, his opponent was a magus of the same stratum and also a member of the court magi. He would do good to be cautious. He had no desire to humiliate himself with a loss so early.
Annelotte watched calmly as her opponent faded. According to the rules, she could attack the moment the match started, which would have kept him from fading away. But she was too lazy. She wanted to crush him with the sheer abyss between their strengths. She wanted to break him and turn him into a husk. In order to do that, she had to let him be at his best when she crushed him.
Annelotte casually threw out a bit of glitterdust, but Nigruela avoided expertly. Ten seconds passed without anything happening.
Now! Nigruela knew magi paid attention to the results of their spell right after dictation, so he wouldn't give up his chance. The assassin clutched his dagger tightly and approached his opponent quickly before revealing himself three meters from her.
The girl reacted the moment he showed himself. Her body twisted, and she glared at him. He saw her blue-cold lips curl into a mocking grin, like a corpse frozen in a smile.
Her figure vanished.
He stopped in his tracks as a cold wave burst at him from behind. He caught a glimpse of a blinding blue streak of light slamming towards him. He didn't have time to dodge. It struck his shoulder and a thin layer of ice immediately deposited on his skin and clothes. It quickly spread all over his body. In three seconds, he turned into an ice sculpture. The sculpture stared at Annelotte with wide eyes, an expression of terror etched on its face.
Annelotte returned his gaze and slowly lifted her staff. Just as Nigruela thought the girl was going to dictate a spell to end the match, she brought its knuckle down at his head.
It slammed into him with immense force, shattering the ice and sending him flying. The girl looked slender, even week, but she could reinforce her movements with magic, so her physique said nothing about the strength she could wield. In her current state she could match a two or three strata warrior. Being struck with such force when his own power was sealed, would inevitably send Nigruela flying. He scarred the arena as he rolled across it. He twitched twice when he finally came to a stop and lost consciousness. The entire fight took less than 15 seconds!
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