Thankfully for Lone, the fights proceeded smoothly and the third round ended almost as soon as it had begun after his 'fight' with Sophie.
Since the third round only had thirty-two participants in it, there was a total of sixteen battles.
Out of the people that interested Lone, Breena was the first to fight. Luckily, her opponent was very fortunate thus far and had managed to fight the weakest of the Elves consecutively and was actually quite weak, resulting in Breena being able to win without any trouble as soon as she used her shadow walking.
Eolande was unfortunate enough to face the Demon Princess, and after a few attempts at using various kinds of illusions, she quickly found out that it was useless due to the teenager's sword, so she admitted defeat.
The young Demon Princess immediately allowed the victory to go to her head and Lone could almost feel the arrogance rolling off of her. 'We're probably going to get put on the same team, aren't we? I'm gonna have to fix that rotten attitude of hers. I've seen what blind arrogance can do to a person.'
Eko was paired against a rare nature mage who greatly interested Lone. She actually managed to defeat Eko purely by healing all of the damage dealt to her body and waiting until Eko had exhausted himself completely.
It would seem that she had an incredible amount of mana points, or she had a superb healing skill that cost next to nothing to cast, both of which drew in Lone's attention, though he would be lying if he said that a low-cost high-efficiency skill wouldn't be the better of the two options.
After that, the fourth and fifth rounds swiftly ended. Either due to luck or the King's manipulation, Sophie, Breena, the Demon Princess, and that skilled Elven healer. were the last four contenders.
Facing Sophie was the confident healer. She looked at the young Cosmos-ranked being and calmly bowed before saying, "Please forfeit, Human. I would hate to defeat you only for the Nine-tails to direct his rage at me."
'Hey!' Lone shouted internally. 'I won't get mad if you beat Soph fair and square! Christ, I'm not that much of a loose cannon...'
Sophie smiled sweetly and replied, "Thank you for your consideration, but I won't lose."
Sophie gave no time for the Elf to reply before she took out two identical swords from a small dimensional pouch that Lone had gifted her. These two swords were made from pure alterion and were perfectly suited towards Sophie's fighting style and small frame, unlike her previous ones that had been bought at the auction in Milindo.
They had very basic enchantments on them that increased their weight and sharpness. Lone was still a beginner at enchanting due to his negligence during Eolande's teachings. That would change in the near future now that he knew he could create Mythic-ranked weapons, but for now, these swords were far more powerful than most ordinary weapons and were rated as rare by the system.
"Look at that stance. Is she a skilled swordsman?"
"Surely not, right? I mean, she has the strange powerful magic in addition to her teleportation, there's no way she's good at close combat too, is she?"
"Think about it. She's almost a thousand years old. That's a lot of time to learn a lot of things and her strength was rated as being far higher than her actual rank, wasn't it?"
"That makes sense, huh. So many scary outsiders. It really makes you think if the outside world is full of people like this."
"Don't be stupid. Of course that's not the case."
The Elven healer narrowed her eyes and smiled. "Using melee against me instead of magic? It's all pointless. The only way to defeat me is by killing me, which is against the rules."
"Oh really? And what if I just hurt you until you can't heal anymore?" Sophie asked with some bite in her voice. Her usual shyness had disappeared the moment Lone was brought up into the conversation. 'The only person that's allowed to be arrogant around me is Lone!'
"That's not possible. After all, despite your high combat potential, there's no way your stamina and mana can outlast mine, please, do not waste both of our time and simply admit defeat," the Elf said confidently.
'Lone,' Sophie called telepathically.
Lone was a bit surprised, but he answered promptly. 'Hmm? What's up?'
"Do you think exhaustion counts as a negative effect?" Sophie asked.
Lone took a moment to think and replied, 'Probably, but to be honest, you can beat that girl. Just use your barrier blades and rip her to pieces over and over again. If you run out of MP, you still have those five mana orbs I gave you right? I kinda wanna wrap this whole test shit up soon.'
A cute frown appeared on Sophie's face. 'Muuuu, potty mouth. I wanted to beat her with my swordsmanship, but okay, I'll do what you suggested.' Sophie wanted to show off her close combat capabilities to increase her chances of being placed in Lone's team after this test, but she could tell that he was getting impatient, so she stored her swords back in her dimensional pouch and closed her eyes before taking in a deep breathe.
Cleary misunderstanding Sophie's intentions, the Elven healer smiled and clapped her hands together. "Oh? You've decided to concede? Excellent. I can conserve my mana for the final fight then."
"No, I just thought that I should end this quickly," Sophie said as she stuck her tongue out and then did something that filled everyone with more fear than even Lone's Aura of Dominance had.
"No... way..." the Elven healer gulped as she looked at the one-hundred barrier blades that were towering over Sophie's small figure.
With her mana, Sophie could create twenty-two of these blades. Indeed, she was using the Barrier Blade Barrage skill that she had learnt while fighting the Ogres in the neighbouring forest to Everlast.
Lone had told her that it was okay to use her mana orbs, so she unreservedly consumed all of the mana from four of the five spheres and created another eighty barrier blades. Now, the scary thing about this ability wasn't the number of blades, no, it was the absurd effect that adding one fold of strength to each blade per extra barrier in the barrage.
That meant that each of them was equal in power to one-hundred and ten such blades! This was almost like the young Elven Healer was facing an arsenal of twelve-thousand and one-hundred barrier blades!
A single one of these was strong enough to kill a normal C-ranker. Even with her almost unparalleled healing speed, even she wouldn't last long if Sophie attacked her with one blade at a time, and if the attack could only be launched with all of them at once, then she would instantly be turned into paste!
"I... I admit defeat! Please cancel your spell!" the young Elf, while proud of her talents, knew when to back off. She had seen how crazy the Nine-tails was and she wasn't willing to take any risks with his Human lover.
Sophie smiled, but her eyes looked worried and there were tears coming out of her eyes. "I... I kind of can't stop the skill..."
Lone could naturally hear Sophie's weak mumbling thanks to his Good Hearing skill and he raised a palm to his face. "Fucking hell... I told her to go all out, but I didn't mean this... Is she trying to kill everyone here? Well, I'd better go deal with that."
"You can stop something like that? Look, even the King and the Elven council are freaking out!" the Demon Princess yelled with terror clear in her voice.
Lone couldn't look any calmer as he replied, "Of course I can. I'm the leader of The Wanderers. I can deal with almost anything."
Fep was stood nearby and he whispered to himself, "Who are 'The Wanderers'? I've never heard of them before..."
Lone hide his embarrassment after hearing Fep by rushing up onto the stage. 'Damn it, he's right. We really need to do some adventurer work and get our group name some fame...'
"L-Lone! Help me, please!" Something about the desperation in Sophie's voice tickled Lone's ears. He thought that she was being very cute right now.
'Well, I have a few options. Option one: Unsummon her. That should unsummon her blades too, I think, and then she can just release them in the summoning room. Option two: Knock her out. Probably not since that'll forcefully cancel the skill and give her a backlash. Even if she's immune to negative effects, I'm not going to take a chance. There are a few more options, but, hmm... Yeah, let's do that.' Lone had finally concluded his train of thoughts so he grinned and walked up to Sophie.
"Soph, I'm gonna hold you, okay? You can still move the barriers, can't you?" Lone asked gently. He didn't want Sophie to panic or get upset because she had made a tiny error that could potentially kill everyone present.
"I... I can!" Sophie tried to move one without launching it and felt relieved when it went towards the place she desired. 'With this, whatever Lone is planning should work... right?' Sophie thought.
"Great! Let's have some fun then, shall we?" Lone grabbed Sophie by her waist and began to slowly sky-walk up into the air.
The King widened his eyes in shock. 'He can fly? No, wait, that's a bit different... Sky mastery? But it's not sky magic... Who exactly are you, Nine-tails?'
King Ele'hunda ordered no one to move and to continue watching the situation while it developed. Roughly a minute later, Lone and Sophie had reached the tip of the world tree's barrier.
"My stamina is draining like a bitch," Lone laughed lightly as he tried to ignore the sweat gathering on his entire body. He had forgotten how stamina-consuming his sky-walking ability was.
"Hey, Soph, your barriers should be able to leave this world tree's protective boundary, right? I distinctly remember that you were immune to it before," Lone asked.
Sophie didn't answer and tried to move one of the power-filled blades outside. It slipped right through without any resistance, which forced a beautiful smile to blossom on her face. "What now, Lone?"
"Simple," Lone stated. "Just launch them in, hmm, this direction. It doesn't really matter where they go so long as they're gone, right? Maybe we can create our first legend through you, Soph. Isn't that great? 'One-hundred and ten unstoppable blades tore into the sky of Altros, announcing the presence of The Wanderers!' Sounds pretty great, huh?"
"But... Isn't that really irresponsible?" Sophie loved and trusted Lone, however, she felt like he usually wouldn't ask her to do something this stupid.
"Believe in me. It'll be fine," Lone smiled mysteriously.
Sophie could tell that Lone had ulterior motives, but she decided to ignore it and have faith in him. She focused her mind and stopped holding back the barrage, sending all of the barrier blades rocketing through the air in the direction Lone had specified.
She was sweating as she held onto Lone who was struggling to stay standing in the air. A big grin was on Lone's face and it looked like he was trying to keep in a laugh. "Lone, what's in that direction?"
"Ah, if my calculations were correct, your barrier barrage should be heading straight towards The Academy. I'm pretty sure that Headmaster can stop them, but it'll give him a nice surprise. I made sure to add my mana to one of the blades so if they make it, which I really hope they do, he'll know it was from me." Lone couldn't hold himself back anymore and he let loose a wild cackle before he started to descend from the air.
'Oh... Well, Lone did say that the Headmaster was really powerful, right? I hope this doesn't come back to haunt us later...' Sophie had this final thought and put the matter in the back of her mind. What was done was done.
It would be a long time before Lone could ever do anything that would garner as much reputation as this stunt would. The only issue was, how would anyone know that one of The Wanderers was responsible?
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