Lone instantly knew he couldn't dodge or block the one-hundred fireballs, so he channelled his mana into Dawn and created several lightning waves, each of which built up behind him to create an even more powerful lightning wave.
Lone didn't possess Rachel's level of magical control nor mana points, so he could only make a total of seven lightning waves before he was at his limit.
Rachel wasted no more time and lowered her hand, resulting in all one-hundred fireballs of death to plummet towards Lone. His face hardened and he surrounded his body with the combined lightning wave, using it as a defensive shield.
Explosion after explosion filled everyone's ears. It was now impossible to see Lone through the sea of flames. Rachel slowly descended and deactivated her cloak of fire. "H-Hmpf! He... He isn't dead... Is he?"
Lossa has a sad look on her face and she spoke to the Elven woman once more. "Your Highness, please heal Lone now. He must be in a critical condition after suffering such a devastating attack. Really... Rachel went way too far."
Al'ka relayed her words and replied with, "Her Highness would like to tell you that the fight isn't over yet."
Lossa's pupil dilated. "What... Impossible! Lone is only a C-Ranker!"
Al'ka and the woman remained silent. Lossa glanced back at Lone's position and waited for the flames and smoke to fade. Suddenly, a loud slicing sound was made clear and a shockwave cleared up everyone's vision.
Lone stood upright and he looked horrible. His armour was all but gone and his face had been burnt almost to the bone. He had clearly used Dawn to slice away the smoke, and he was now leaning against the weapon to support himself.
Rachel was surprised. "Y-You're alive like that?!"
"Ha... ha... ha... I have to thank... you... for the new skills..." If he still had a face, Lone would be grinning.
"Everyone... is so fucking secretive with... their skills... it's so hard to put... my talents to good use..." Lone mumbled while he took out a mana orb and absorbed all of the power stored within it. He then put the crystal sphere away and put a hand to his own chest.
It took him a few seconds, but he recreated all of the damaged parts of his body, completely shocking Rachel. "Wha... wha... wha... YOU'RE A HEALER?!"
Lone held his shoulder and cracked his bones a bit to loosen his joints. "Something like that. Anyway, you like fire, yeah?"
Rachel looked confused and lost, but she slowly nodded her head since she was unsure of what else to do.
"Great. Then this should be easy for you to handle, yeah?" Lone happily said as a small pure blue flame appeared on the tip of his finger.
"What on Altros is that?" Lossa asked rhetorically, not expecting anyone to know the answer.
At some point, Brahman had shown up after feeling the powerful magical energies. His ancient voice could be heard replying to Lossa. "I've never seen such a thing in all of my days, but if I'm not wrong, the purity of that flame's magic must be at least seventy-percent." There was confidence and a certain wisdom in Lord Elksworth's words that made it very hard to not believe him.
"As usual," Eolande's mocking voice could be heard from above, "You have no idea what you're talking about," she stated while approaching Brahman and Lossa.
The Purity Dragonkin gave Eolande a scornful look. Even if he was weaker than her, he still had his pride, so being trampled over by the Tylwyth Teg was not something that he appreciated.
"Oh, look. Lone threw the flame," Eolande commented happily.
Everyone's attention returned to the fight. Lone's Kindling of Mana gently flew towards Rachel and it looked harmless, cute, even, despite its immense power. Oddly enough though, Rachel wasn't moving an inch and she hadn't even reactivated her cloak of flames, which confused Lone.
"You might want to take some countermeasures. This flame will destroy the first thing it touches," Lone warned. If she really refused to move, Lone would redirect the kindling into the ground, but Rachel's actions had really confused him.
"Lone made a big mistake," Lossa commented lightly.
Eolande made a strange face. "How so?"
"Simple," Lossa replied with a proud look on her face, "Rachel has inherited the racial trait of the very first Crimson Foxkin," she added.
"And that would mean?" Eolande probed.
Brahman took this moment to display his knowledge. "It means that the girl has the ability to consume all flames and add them to her own power. Permanently. Surely she would reach S-Rank if she consumed that, no, Lossa? That was why she went out training, after all, to gain enlightenment. I'm fairly certain that such a powerful and unique flame will give her more than enough insights into her own power."
Before anyone could reply to his assumptions, Rachel ran forward and forced the small kindling of pure mana into her mouth, eating it with a gluttonous expression on her face.
"... What?" Lone was more than perplexed. A few seconds passed and Rachel didn't explode into a ball of ash, nor did she look pained or troubled in the slightest. "Hey, how did you negate my Kindling of Mana?"
Rachel burped lightly and smiled sweetly. "Is that what it's called? It was really tasty! Since you were so nice to me, I'll return it to you!"
Lone suddenly had a very bad feeling. Rachel closed her eyes, and a brief moment later, her entire body was covered in a layer of pure blue flames. "Fuck me. I'm used to me stealing skills, but really, it feels kinda dirty being on the other end."
Rachel's tiny body rose into the air once more and twenty orbs of blue fire appeared around her much like before. Each one was as powerful as Lone's normal kindlings of mana, if not, slightly more so. "Do you give up? I win with this, right?"
Rachel sounded excited, however, Lone shocked her with his reaction. He simply sat on the burnt ground and crossed his arms. "Go ahead and attack me. I've won anyway. I've already earned way more than I was expecting to get out of this fight. Time to stop playing around and get serious."
Lossa, Brahman, Rachel and every else not a part of Lone's group, were confused by this statement. Had Lone lost his mind in the fear of Rachel's vast power? Brahman turned to Eolande and asked her, "Tylwyth Teg, care to explain?"
Eolande's beautiful face wore an impish grin. "Just watch. Lone has some really dirty abilities. It seems like he's about to use one. And I have a name." Brahman simply scoffed in response.
Rachel wasn't quite sure what to do. 'Won't this much power kill him? I don't hate him anymore and he did give me that delicious flame... Arg! Damn it! He's asking for it! I'm sure the Elder will save him anyway!'
With her hesitation no longer holding her back, Rachel let loose all of the twenty orbs of pure mana flames at Lone. They tore through the air like hellfire and spiralled towards the unconcerned-looking Lone.
Lossa held her breath and prayed that Lone did indeed have a way to deal with this, otherwise, she would have to perform a certain dark ritual to reverse everything that might happen. A ritual that might cost her life, but that was okay if it meant saving someone like Lone. 'I knew I should have stopped this madness before it began...'
Lone had one brief thought before the kindlings of mana hit him. 'Should I put on a bit of a show for everyone?'
Lone quickly raised his hand and said two words. "Time Counter."
In front of everyone's eyes, each of the twenty balls of fire that were strong enough to destroy Lone a hundred times over suddenly disappeared and Rachel fell out of the air. Her body looked particularly stiff and it was almost as if she had been frozen in place by something.
Before she hit the ground, Sophie caught her and placed the confused and frightened girl on her lap while she sat on her barrier saucer. Gently rubbing a tail against her face, Sophie claimed, "This is mine now. I'll be playing with these for the next twelve hours, so come collect it when I'm finished."
Rachel wore a pitiful face, but her body refused to move and she couldn't stop Sophie's harassment of her very fluffy tails. Sophie flew off into the distance with her new, and very fluffy, hostage.
Confusion seemed to be the emotion of the day because everyone except for Lone and Eolande seemed to be experiencing it. 'Really, when she acts like that, it makes me wonder what happened to the shy girl from two years ago. Fluffiness really is her biggest weakness.' Lone sighed in his mind.
'Well, now that that's out of the way, I think I'll check out the four skill and new affinity that I just gained.' Lone could only wish that more people like Rachel existed out there. Stupidly strong, and willing to show their skills to him. If Rachel knew that Lone's main purpose in fighting her was to 'acquire' her hard-earned talents in fire magic, then she probably wouldn't have been so quick to challenge him to battle.
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- The Scottish Slothy Sloth
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