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A note from dotturndot

I pity the old readers. I'm sure they'll be confused by me changing the term "physically enhanced talent" to "spirit talent". And it's a pity new readers probably wouldn't understand what I mean... ahahahah what a paradox!

Snow white hair, pale skin. He who wore a mantle stood at the corridor. His silver-blue eyes stared at Curtis.

“Huh?”

His mouth was open agape, but without leaking a single word, he just vanished.

What replaced him was a girl dress in a red adventurer outfit. Skinny white jeans with a bow and quiver hanging behind her back.

With black straight hair, with two thin long sideburns curling downwards. Her untied hair ran behind her back, strands of stray hair hooked around her shoulder and bow.

She had monochrome eyes with long eyelashes. Given her face and the way she posed herself, she gave off a jocular feeling.

Curtis’ instincts told him that this person was indeed a royal.

Ellis tilted her head.

“These are the two I mentioned about,” Dean, who stood behind the princess was quick to break in a remark.

Louise’s eyebrows were twitching with a look of surprise, her eyes fixated on Curtis.

Curtis and Ellis had never come so close to royalty. They had no clue how they should react.

Louise nodded at Deans introduction.

“Louise Rozel from Rozel Kingdom, a pleasure to meet you,” she acted as if she wore a dress—she did not. Pinching the two sides of the non-existent gown fabric with her fingers she curtsied.

‘But.. who was that just now?’

Curtis could only wonder.

Ellis turned to look at Curtis, she had no idea what they should do. Should they say something?

“Nice to meet you Princess?” a blunt introduction. Ellis wanted to puke blood. It’s too bland, too bland! What kind of introduction was that? It’s so straight forward and amateurish!

Ellis forced a smile, her stomach being tickled by butterflies.

Dean could sense the awkwardness.

“Princess..”

“Should we have a duel?”

Dean was cut off. Louise’s words were firm.

““Huh?””Ellis and Curtis tilted their heads in unison.

“Miss Ellis and Sir Curtis was it? From Guild Master Dean’s description, you two have some remarkable abilities. Sir Curtis, experiencing a fight with a mage would indefinitely be enticing. Do you accept?”

‘Accept a duel?’

In Rozel kingdom where duelling was akin to entertainment, it was a common thing to receive an invitation of this sorts. In Haital however, the popularity of duelling was still in its initial stages. Most adventurers here battle for the sake of learning and was usually done with a hired mentor or instructor.

“I’m sorry, but...”

“You can’t reject. This is an order,” Louise said in a low, chilly voice “I allow you both to come at me together in a two versus one.”

Curtis sent her a cold glare.

‘Can’t she be more considerate here? What’s up with her demands?’

Dean creased his eyebrows.

“Why should..”

Ellis quickly tugged at Curtis, shaking her head. No good to go against the princess.

A short duel, no harm. Hopefully. “Fine.”

Louise chuckled very softly. “Guild Master Dean, is there any place around to hold a duel?”

“Yes, Princess. Croquel’s training ground, It’s not too far away from here. I can arrange the duel, but are you sure about this princess?” Dean was thinking about how the princess had just arrived today. She had to need some rest after such a long trip, right?

“A single duel won’t do any harm would it?” She made a sly, unruly expression with a weird look of satisfaction.

Curtis and Ellis turned to look at each other.

‘This was a princess?’

|

|

A medium crowd gathered. Something that would happen only when fights were to break out. Well, a fight was actually about to break out so...

The training ground was basically a field with shoddy fences that separated the different sections of the training sets. It was a grass-desolated square patch that stretched out at least 100 meters, both in length and width. The barren mustard ground was composed of fine sand particles, making it somewhat unstable. Frankly, this wasn’t a good place to fight. The conventional requirements for a duelling ground were far fetched when compared to what they were seeing.

No restrictions were imposed. Anyone could use these grounds freely, even members from other guilds. The only rule was to maintain a neutral understanding, which obviously meant: not being authoritative or impulsive.

The sun was beating down on the ground like a flat scorching oven. Curtis being baked, Ellis being cooked. If so then, was the princess being fried?

‘Why now?’

At this moment, Curtis started to regret his choice. He and Ellis had just eaten lunch. It was an implicit, unspoken rule that you shouldn’t run around after a meal, what’s more, a duel.

With this understanding, Ellis felt a shred of guilt. She hadn’t realized this before, if she did, she would have agreed with Curtis back then. And since Dean had already prepared a space for the fight, it would be too rueful to turn down now.

In this situation, Ellis couldn’t fight. So it was all up to Curtis.

You were either born with magic talent or spirit talents. With Curtis being a mage, he didn’t need to move much. Thus, having a full stomach wouldn’t cause much of a problem. Casting spells while holding his ground was the method he would fight.

“That’s rather haughty of you. Well, a one-on-one would still be interesting. Though I must warn you to be careful,” taking out a tiny gryostone from somewhere Louise passed it to Curtis.

“This is?” Ellis raised her feet to a tip-toe.

“It’s a custom compound gryostone.”

With the advancement of forging and transcription technology, a new term for gyrostones emerged: custom compound gryostones. Actually, almost every gryostone was a compound gryostones as gryostone could ever achieve 100% purity. It would be unknowingly mixed in with other compounds during its formation. ‘Custom’ conveyed the meaning that the balance of these impurities had been tinkered with to achieve a combined effect in mind.

A fusion crystal was actually an orange crystal combined with a blue crystal, in a standardized ratio.

What the princess had passed to Curtis was a coin-sized purplish gryostone with a golden chain attached to it. A bracelet.

It shone with three different colours, orange, blue with purple being the main constituent.

The blue crystal inside functioned as the mana supply, the orange one to evoke the spell and the purple one to reinforce the spell.

It should evoke some kind of defensive effect.

“How do you activate the barrier?”

“Oh, so you know about it?” followed by a thinking gesture, Louise continued. “Pour in mana and see what happens?”

As that was said, a faint glow accompanied by a soft feeling enveloped Curtis. A defensive barrier formed around him, his body covered in a tinge of purple. {Coat O’ Arms}, but this one seemed less flexible and porous.

‘Interesting.’

Ellis gave Curtis a look that wished him good luck before backing away. Standing at the sidelines where Dean was.

“Rules are as follow. The crystal acts as a damage absorber. The first person whose crystal loses it’s shine loses. Each party may only bring up one mana crystal in battle,” Louise gave a very brief announcement.

“Understood.”

The fact about the one mana crystal rule was made up.

Louise held her bow in her hands.

The magic-reinforced mahogany frame had natural bark wrinkles all around it. The top and bottom nock had an exaggerated forward bend, having a slightly whiter shade to it. A little above the middle section of the limb, three glistening red crystals. There were also empty dents, and one of it had a blue crystal embedded in it.

‘Weird, there isn’t a single fusion crystal present. What is the need for the blue crystal?’

Curtis squinted his eyes.

Louise attached a golden string at the two nocks of the bow, adjusting the tension with a tiny gear at the base. Plucking the string, a sweet hum, akin to a harp could be heard.

The whispers among the crowd, nobody dared to speak out loud.

Three red crystals. Just how much did that bow cost?

A bow could be seen as an unorthodox weapon. The difficulty of mastering a weapon like this would not be a worth-while option as a close-ranged weapon could play more roles.

So it really unusual.

An arrow condensed in her hands.

Some people were dumbfounded at the sight.

A magnanimous smile appeared on her face, though, she had no intentions of letting her guard down.

This was something similar to his spellbook? The arrow manifested not from thin air but from a marble-like item. Just what kind of technology was that? Or was it, earth magic through a gryostone medium?

Curtis’ spellbook fluttered open, the pages turning gently. The single mana crystal dangling on his neck illuminating an invisible light.

“You may commence your duel,” Dean said, taking a few steps back.

Louise nocked her arrow in an instant and shot forth. It covered the 20 meter distance in a flash.

Curtis waved his hands.

{Wind}

A gale swept past in front of him, tossing the arrow to the ground. Curtis didn’t need the aid of his spellbook. Perhaps he wouldn’t need it throughout the whole fight. He only had so much mana with him, casting a large spell wouldn’t be worth it.

Nevertheless, the power held by that single arrow wasn’t something to be taken lightly. From the mere contact between the two forces, Curtis could feel that there was an unstable layer of air compressed at the tip of the arrow, simply waiting to burst out. The gale that swept passed nullified the intended effect coherently.

Louise was flabbergasted by what she saw. The arrow she shot out was something that took advantage of normal the normal reflexes of a sword user. If one were to dodge the attack, she would command the compressed air to explode, sending the person to the ground.

But to her surprise, Curtis was able to totally eradicate the effect with a spell. Moreover, the way he cast the spell and doing it so quickly made it feel so easy...

The thought of fighting an offensive-capable mage piqued her interest. Mages wouldn’t normally cultivate magic for combat.

She shed her hesitation and condensed another arrow, nocking it even faster. Then another arrow was shot, then a third. In a blink of an eye, three arrows were shot.

Again, Curtis waved his hands, wind with a greater might. Three arrows were shot, two of them seeming got caught in the gale, the third one just flew past as if purposely missing the shot.

Curtis felt something amiss. The arrow wasn’t like the previous arrow which had air condensed at the tip. There was a slight aura of wind magic coming off the back of the trail.

Curtis waved his hand behind. He felt the trail of the arrow that missed would make a turn, and aim at his head.

That ricochet arrow was sent down to the ground.

Curtis considering the crowd. All the arrows had so far ended up like an ostrich’s head in the ground. If it wasn’t for his accurate wind control, it would have sent the arrows flying amok where the spectators were standing.

Presently, the crowd didn’t find the fight any more interesting than seeing squandering projectiles. They continued to wait, the fight had yet to reach a booming point. It was clear that the princess utilized wind magic, which meant she was a mage. A bow would have certainly suited her temperament if such was the case; magic as the augmenting medium.

Ellis was a little hesitant.

Curtis swept his hands at an angle. A flurry of arrows exploded to the ground. However, Curtis was blown back a few steps, the numerous arrows had been charged at the tip, exploding the moment it met the gale. The pressure shockwave was enough to make Curtis tumbling.

Louise stood there, a very delightful smile was shown. The crowd was taken aback. They had initially thought that this would become a stale battle of attrition. From her monstrous nocking speed, how many arrows was that?

“Nine,” One of the spectators who had better eyesight yelped.

Curtis stabilized himself and faced Louise. She stood there, letting him take a breather. Her delicate face shone like glazed pottery; Her smile resembled the imposing standards of a rose. This wasn’t merely a normal fight. She had clearly restrained herself.

“Impressive. Did the little warm-up help enlighten you a little?”

Ellis who stood afar knew that this was an unusual start.

‘Is she really a mage? ‘

Curtis understood the issue, just like Ellis though. Her swiftness wasn’t something people with magic talent could achieve.

“If you’re not careful, everything will end here you know?”

The ground rumbled, rock pieces levitated from the ground. A gentle but powerful wind swirled around Louise. Exploding forth from her initial position, the recoil sent some of the people behind her flying. Woohoo!

{Gale Steps}

No, this was even faster.

Before Curtis could even cast a spell, a decimating strike had already been directed at his side.

Slam!

Louise didn’t only utilize her bow to execute long-ranged attacks. The specially designed, incredibly sturdy frame of it made it akin to a mallet.

This was a killing move! The strength had been adjusted with just the right amount to destroy the effect of the gryostone barrier. Louise had expected Curtis to act, however, his reaction speed was too slow!

Curtis was blown to the side. His foot dug into the ground, wind magic was supplied to soften the momentum. This strike was one of the most direct attacks he had received in quite a while now.

Sliding a full 10 meters before coming to a stop. Then moving an extra 5 meters further to increase distance.

Ouch.

Curtis could feel the food in his stomach shaking, quite unpleasant.

The crowd created an uproar! This princess didn’t only have magic creation abilities! She also possessed physical enhancing abilities! A fusion of both traits!

This was unheard of, sorta..

“How can someone have both talents! That’s insane!”

“She from the Rozel Family! Of course, she has some special talents!”

“Magic boosting physical abilities? That’s cheating!”

“A cheat princess!”

Curtis was fortunately still able to stand. His entire body was numb, the strike Louise unleashed was truly terrifying. This wasn’t something he should mess with. Furthermore, her speed.

The biggest issue of being a mage was people thereof had normal reflexes. Their actions were very slow. Compared to Louise or Ellis who had spirit talents, Curtis was a snail. This was why most people with magic talents chose to not fight.

This wasn’t going to be as simple as he thought. So much for the ‘short duel’ and ‘no harm’ he expected.

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A note from dotturndot

A lot of my chapters are self edited so.... I apologize for rough grammar, misspellings and issues with logic.

Future future me: I'm getting better bit by bit, no worries past me! I can handle it!


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dotturndot

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