The fights proceeded smoothly after Sophie and Falin's eventful match. Gradually, people stopped looking at Sophie and Lone and started to enjoy the displays of combat being presented to them. There was much to learn from watching other people fighting, after all.
Breena's first opponent was a female archer and it had been a relatively close fight due to the power rank difference and thanks to the fact that Breena was purposefully not entering the shadows or using her fear magic. She wanted to hone her dagger skills and adaptability in battle, so after five minutes of heated exchanges, Breena's was finally able to win and move on to the next round.
Swind was lucky because the person he faced was very kind and gave him a handicap. This Elven warrior would only use one hand, no weapons and didn't allow himself to move. He made it clear that he wasn't looking down on Swind, but was trying to give him an opportunity to grow.
Swind tried his best and even broke through the barrier of an I-ranker and became an H-ranker despite ultimately losing the match. He was still the weakest person here, but overcoming this first hurdle on the road to becoming a valued member of The Wanderers gave him motivation.
Everyone in Lone's direct group had taken a moment to use Clicker's gift to check Swind's status, himself included, upon sensing his breakthrough.
His stats were abysmally low, as was normal for a brand new H-ranker who had barely experienced any battles. Unsurprisingly, his dexterity was his highest stat and this could easily be attributed to the fact that he could knit with only one hand and was the only person who did the chores for the group.
"Good job, Swind. It won't be too long before you're a G-ranker, huh?" Lone praised honestly as he rubbed his chin against Sophie's head.
Ever since he and his group had saved Swind from Clicker's B-rank dungeon, he'd been nothing but useful, so everyone was happy to see him gaining some genuine power.
Swind lowered his head and replied, "You are too kind, Mr Immortus-ss. I am no match for the geniuses-ss that make up our group."
Swind could feel a light tugging from his leather chest plate, so he turned around only to see Rachel with a red face staring at the floor.
"Miss-ss Rachel?" Swind was curious. Why was Rachel acting bashfully once again?
"You... You were really cool up there... G-Good job on ranking up..." Rachel's voice was painfully quiet, but Swind had no trouble hearing her.
"Thank you, Miss-ss Rachel. I appreciate your praise." Swind bowed to her and his scaly face made what looked like a smile.
Eolande arched an eyebrow at this. 'When did those two get so close?'
Unfortunately for her and everyone else, no one here really knew how much the act of Swind constantly saving Rachel from Sophie's devilish hands meant to the young Foxkin.
Thankfully for Lone, he didn't have to wait much longer until it was his turn to fight. "Lone," Sophie called as she got off of his lap, "Don't be too cruel, please," she asked.
Lone made a strange face. "That's funny coming from you... But yeah, I won't. I just want to vent a bit."
Sophie blushed at Lone's remark. He grinned and tussled her hair before walking up onto the stage.
His opponent was a lanky elf that favoured the bow apparently. Like every other Elf here, this man was at least a B-ranker. As far as Lone could tell without using Clicker's power, he was in the middle stages of that rank. Logically speaking, that would give the Elf an advantage, however, he was unlucky in the fact that he was fighting Lone.
"Tch. The world tree isn't smiling on me today," the Elf silently mumbled. He then took in a deep breath and bowed to Lone gracefully. "Please go easy on me, Nine-tails. While I hate you and wish for you to fail this test, I know that's unlikely to happen at this point, so please, give me a good fight, and if possible, would it be okay for you to give me an advantage? I know that despite our level difference, I am not your equal."
"That's fine," Lone replied, much to everyone's surprise.
Likewise, Lone was also a bit startled by the loud reactions the crowd were giving to his unhesitant response. 'Why's everyone so shocked? I don't hate anyone here except for that Shan'len. Even the King is okay now that I know he didn't mean much harm. Geez, it's not like I want to bully anyone, I just want to vent.'
"So," Lone said, "What kind of advantages should I give you?" he added in consideration of his contestant.
"Huh? You're ac-actually going to?" The Elf sounded exceedingly confused and he looked flabbergasted.
"Yeah, why, you don't want me to now?" Lone smiled mischievously.
The Elf immediately began shaking his head violently before he said, "No, please! Um, can you not use any close-quarters weapon, and if it's okay, can you not use that scary aura from earlier?"
"Sure. that's fine. I'll just use magic if you're okay with that," Lone replied with a calm grin on his face.
"He can use offensive magic as well?"
"I thought for sure he was a fighter-type after experiencing that aura of his..."
"Right? Plus, he used healing magic or whatever that was before on his arm, not to mention he's only twenty-six, so learning more than one school of magic that young... Is he a genius?"
The council members and the crowd were chatting amongst themselves and it was obvious for anyone to see that their opinions of Lone were shifting from 'absolute piece of dog shit who's an arrogant bully and rude' to '...maybe this guy isn't that bad after all... for a non-Elf'.
This didn't affect the way they thought about Sophie and her vicious means of winning against Falin, but thus far, all Lone had done was use his aura and his words. While he had belittled the King and an elder, he had also donated a large sum of ruby-gold coins that would, no doubt, help the world tree, so it wasn't too much of a stretch for them to view Lone in a better light depending on his current and future actions.
"I would greatly appreciate that, Nine-tails," Lone's opponent said with a happy and relieved look on his face.
After that, Lone and the Elf fought for roughly twenty minutes. As promised, Lone only used magic. He limited himself to the normal fire magic which he had learnt from Rachel, his self-taught lightning magic, and the small amount of ice magic that he'd acquired back in Milindo. He didn't use the earth magic, illusion magic, or the fear magic that he knew, but he was still having a lot of fun, surprisingly.
The fight ended when Lone managed to freeze the Elf's feet in place, burnt his bow and turned it into ashes before shocking the man's body with a single lightning wave. Lone pulled out a bow from his spatial dimension. This was one of the weapons that he had taken from the Elven village which he and Sophie had lived in for their first year on Altros. He approached his opponent and handed it to him.
"Sorry for destroying your weapon, I kinda lost myself in the fight," Lone scratched his head and said apologetically.
"It's fine," the Elf smiled. "Thank you for the great fight, Nine-tails. I learned a lot." With that, he bowed and left the stage with his new bow in hand.
Lone was told that he had passed and would move on to the next round, so he, too, left the stage and returned to his group. On the way, he couldn't help but hear all of the words that the council and the participants were mumbled while they looked at him thanks to his good hearing skill.
"Did you see that? He used three types of magic! So he's a three-fold mage? That's crazy. Isn't there a limit to talent?"
"I thought he'd fight dirtier for a Foxkin."
"He even replaced Rou'lou's bow when he didn't really need to."
"He actually might be an honourable person?"
'So his name was Rou'lou? It was a good fight. I even got a new skill from it. Shame I only got one skill though,' Lone thought to himself.
|Skill: Bow Mastery|
A skill critical for bow-users. It allows for better handling and control over bows passively.
|Mastery:||Beginner Level 1|
'I'm not sure if I'll ever use it, but hey, a skill's a skill.' Naturally, since he finally gained a new ability and enjoyed a decent fight, Lone was happy. His earlier foul mood had completely disappeared.
"Did you hear that, Breena? Husband is an honourable person, haha," Eolande giggled lightly as she held a hand over her mouth.
"Y-Yeah..." Breena wasn't sure how to reply.
Lone ignored Eolande and sat on the ground again before prompting Sophie to sit on his lap. She did so and covered herself with his tails again.
"You did really well..." Sophie whispered.
Lone kissed her head lightly and replied, "Thanks. It felt good to only use magic in a fight for once. I actually levelled up quite a lot too. The energy in this place is crazy. I wonder how strong it would be if the tree wasn't corrupted?"
"I'm glad," Sophie smiled. She couldn't level up herself since her strength was linked to Lone's, but if Lone was so pleased with something, then she couldn't help but find herself being happy as well.
"Blergh..." Lone looked to his left and saw Eolande holding her mouth with a disgusted look on her face. "Hey Breena, do you think we'll get diabetes if we keep watching sweet displays like these?"
For once, Breena was absolutely in agreeance with the Tylwyth Teg. "No doubt."
Fep laughed upon seeing this exchange. "You're a funny bunch, aren't you?"
Before the Changeling could get a reply, his number was called and so was Eolande's. "Oh, would you look at that. Seems like I'm your first opponent."
Eolande floated off of Kyuubi's back and stuck her tongue out playfully. "Go easy on me, please."
"Shouldn't I be asking that of you?" Fep responded.
The two walked up to the stage and it took no more than a minute for Eolande to defeat Fep with her illusion magic.
"Wow, that was a tough fight. You really had me worried for a minute there." Eolande wiped what looked like sweat from her brow.
"Hahaha... I'm sure... Even though I shapeshifted into Lone... You're incredibly strong," Fep laughed awkwardly.
Eolande jumped onto Lone's back and placed her head on his shoulder. "Hey, Husband, I'm exhausted... Can I have a kiss to replenish my energy?"
A low growling could be heard from Lone's lap. Clearly, its occupant didn't like Eolande's flirting. Lone shook Eolande off of himself and sighed, "Stop pretending that was a challenge and go play with Kyuubi or something."
"... He's mine..." Sophie muttered amidst her growling.
"Yes, yes," Eolande giggled. Riling up Sophie really was one of the most enjoyable things in the world, or so Eolande thought.
Some time passed and all of Lone's friends had experienced their first fight. Eko barely won his match due to not being able to use his most powerful skills as they required a lot of time to charge up.
The Demon Princess left her opponent in a near-critical state and she gave Sophie a run for her money when it came to fighting in a cruel manner.
Rachel won easily since her opponent was a B-ranker while she herself was an A-ranker, and unlike Lone's group, most of the Elves here, Rachel's opponent included, couldn't match someone a whole rank above their own.
Finally, it was time for the second round's first match. It was the A-ranked Demon Princess versus Rachel, and this particular fight had Lone excited. 'I'm pretty sure Rachel is stronger, however, doesn't she have a stupidly large advantage since she can steal people's fire-based attacks, and the Demon Princess specialises in dark-flame magic, right? This is gonna be really interesting...'
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