The One I Won't Meet
Geoffrey's eyelids couldn't help but twitch as he watched Annelotte's match from his booth.
A level six blink spell was quite a commonly used transference-type spell to move short distances in combat. But as it needed a longer dictation because of its high level, it wasn't as effective as it could be.
He had seen Annelotte dictate before, but he only now realized how truly scary she could be. It was far too quick. Though her blink wasn't dictated instantly, she dictated way too fast.
It's a level six spell for heaven's sake! How long did it take her? A second? A fraction of a second?! She's at least twice as fast as me!
Her second spell only flabbergasted Geoffrey even more. It was a level seven evocation-type spell called Depth Frost. A commonly used frost spell, it deals impressive damage to a single target.
Annelotte had dictated the spell instantly, immediately after dictating a blink spell. Instant dictation cost four times more mana than dictating it normally. More importantly, this was a level seven spell, which meant she had mastered the instant-dictation spell-mutation technique.
Many high-order magi couldn't use instant dictation on level seven spells, not to mention normal mid-order magi. Yet Annelotte, a girl not even 18 yet, could do it. Such an ability in and understanding of the theories of magic was rarely seen. She was a genius, a rare genius, probably the greatest in a century!
Greed flashed across Geoffrey's eyes as he gazed at Annelotte.
Only such a woman is my match! Only she is fit to be with me, heir of the Empire of Hocke! thought he.
The whole colosseum fell into silence. Nigruela was a famous assassin. Though many had yet to see him in action, word was that he had killed high-order warriors beyond his stratum and his exploits were well known. Most thought he was most likely to win. His opponent was a magus, but most people had never heard of the girl before. Many thought she only joined the court because of her looks. So, they believed she was nothing but a decorative prop.
She sure slapped their faces.
Suppression with absolute power! This gap wasn't just a few steps wide. It was a canyon, an abyss infinitely deep.
Everyone, Leguna included, had thought she'd take much longer to deal with her opponent. While she'd taken him out much faster, it had no elegance. She bruted him unconscious like some barbarian. People wondered if she really was a magus, or just a brute who knew a few spells.
Even Annelotte knew she'd acted completely out of character. This was completely unlike her, and that brat was the reason. The bastard had disguised himself well, but she knew him all too well. He could never hide from her. It certainly didn't help that he had Kurdak and Innilis on either side of him, undisguised.
She immediately knew what he was doing when she saw him collecting coins from the people around him.
She didn't show it on her face, but the scene enraged her. How dare he sit there like nothing was wrong? Like he'd not betrayed her most intimate trust? She knew he was a scoundrel, but this was just… In the end, she vented her fury on her poor opponent.
She'd originally planned to just teach him a lesson, but then the brat had showed up. While Depth Frost wouldn't kill the fool, his entire body, especially his innards, were a mess. If he didn't get treatment soon, proper, priestly treatment, he'd suffer scars from this for the rest of his life.
Her showy strike was infused with her rage. She had used a lot of her mana, but thanks to her gem, she still had plenty left and more was pouring into her every moment.
All things aside, it was a pretty effective anger management method. At the very least, it improved her mood significantly. She put her staff away and turned to leave.
Loud cheers suddenly erupted from the crowd. The match was short and ended quickly, but it was exhilarating. Many were pumped to have discovered such a beautiful, elegant, talented, refined and violent maiden.
Her beauty alone was enough to propel her to fame, but, when the audience realized it wasn't her only strength, their excitement boiled over into wrapt cheers.
According to a later report by the tournament organizers, her match took only 17 seconds. However, she managed to defeat her opponent and win the audience's hearts all the same. She was one of the favorites to win the entire championship. The betting rings even went so far as to bet at 100 to 1 odds in her favor.
Annelotte returned to her restroom. Though most of the contestants had traveled to the venue from Melindor through a portal, the colosseum provided quite a few rooms for contestants. One flash of their passes and the guards would give them a clean room.
Annelotte found a room for a short rest. She knew that group would come for her. She'd kept telling herself she had no desire to meet them, but she eventually gave in and wait for them. For only two of the three, however. A certain brat would never get to see her as long as she had anything to say about it.
"Might I ask if Miss Annelotte is here?" Leguna asked politely.
The room wasn't hard to find since quite a few people had gathered hoping for an audience with the young lady inside. The group cut through, Kurdak shoving people aside as subtly as a brute could.
"Miss Annelotte will only meet Kurdak and his companions, no one else," the guard bellowed at the crowd.
"I am him."
The guard checked the bulk. After he was satisfied that the mound of flesh resembled the mistress's description, he nodded.
"You may enter, but--"
Leguna's heart stopped and his blood froze.
"But the miss said there is someone in your group she will not meet. She said you'd know who it was."
Leguna's expression turned awkward.
"It's me," a clear voice said behind him.
He turned around and stared at the girl.
"You have to do your best!" Eirinn smiled gently yet emphatically, "I know who Sis means."
"--That's good!" Eirinn continued, "It means she is still angry at you."
"Why would that be good?"
"She's angry at you. You told me she normally only gives people the cold shoulder. If she's still angry at you, it means you're not like other normal people. Do your best!"
Leguna nodded silently, "Thanks, Eirinn."
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