For my second fight, I was rather surprised to see that I had been paired up with another of the new Keepers. Things had become a bit more random now, as some of the other new ones that remained were being paired with veterans. Though, more importantly, the new Keeper I was paired up with was the same one that had used the world busting strategy in the previous fight.
He did not appear to spend much time adjusting his character, which likely meant that he intended to use the same strategy a second time. Shaking my head, I calmly waited for the preparation period to pass. This match was the easiest I could hope for, as I won simply by teleporting to his position and dropping a meteor on him.
And this time, I had been the first to finish my match, as I had been put against an opponent who didn’t really deserve to be in the second round in the first place. So, I simply took the chance to watch and wait for the others to finish so that the third round could begin. On the bright side, this gave me time to observe the various fighting styles that were being used by the different competitors.
Most of the melee fighters appeared to be focusing on ki, with a few utilizing divine energy, mana, or other energies that I couldn’t identify. There was one that struck me as interesting, a Keeper whose body was bathed in a rainbow-like glow. I found it rather hard to identify what effects the energy had, because it seemed to be too versatile, launching spells or enhancing his body as needed.
Probably a higher level combination energy… I thought inwardly as the other Keepers began to end their matches one by one. When the last of the fights had concluded, the companion stepped forward, a small smile on her face.
“Alright, everyone. In the winner’s circle, we have nine combatants left. Since the fights are pairs of two, that means we will be seeding one competitor each for a round. Each time, the one to get a free pass will be the one who completed their round the fastest.” Her voice echoed out through the room, drawing in the attention of the other Keepers.
Slowly, she turned her head to look at me. “For this round, that will be EarthForceOne, as he finished his fight in forty-eight seconds.”
I gave a slow nod of my head as I heard that, though most people were probably rather surprised to hear the number. If they knew who my opponent was, things would have been different. But at least like this, I was able to get a pass into the quarterfinal round.
While everyone else was busy preparing for their next fights, I stepped down from the stage to watch them again. With just four matches in this round, I would be able to better observe my future opponents. This was a rather clear advantage for me, but at the same time, I wouldn’t be able to skip the next round as well.
Out of the eight other Keepers, there was only one that I could identify as being part of a new group. From his performance, he was a combat expert fully focusing on ki. I was able to see a number of abilities from him that I had never witnessed monks using before.
Whenever he moved his body, a golden glow would form around him, taking a variety of shapes to attack or defend. Sometimes, he would create a sword of energy in his hand to thrust at the enemy, and other times he would shake his shoulders to reveal a golden shield to defend himself. Even the final attack he used in the battle was shocking, though not one that was completely new to me.
For his last attack, he brought his hands together, creating a golden ball of ki between them. With his fingers spread out and curved like fangs, he thrust his hands forward. As he did, the golden ball washed over his hands before pushing forward as well. However, the shape it took when it pushed forward was different.
The originally sphere-shaped golden light changed into the form of a giant dragon’s head, its mouth opened wide. By now, his opponent was weakened and weary from the fight, and could do little to prevent the jaws of the dragon from closing on him. And like that, he advanced to the next round as well.
I couldn’t help but be shaken as I saw that, and it wasn’t just me… Inside of my spiritual realm, Leowynn was similarly shaken. That attack that he had used was incredibly similar to the last attack that Leowynn used before she died, though it seemed more advanced. Father, are you going to fight him as well?
Maybe… I gave a slow nod. That Keeper wasn’t the first of his round to finish, so he wouldn’t advance directly to the semifinals. That meant that there was a one in three chance that he would be my opponent.
Looking at the back of my hand, I saw that the number eight had changed into a one, indicating that I needed to move towards the first stage. Once I was there, I saw that my opponent wasn’t the Keeper specializing in ki. Rather, it was MeanGreen, the same green-skinned Keeper that had been killed in the demonstration.
“You’re one of the new guys, right?” He asked in a gruff voice, looking across the stage at me. When I gave a small nod, he grinned broadly. “Did pretty good to make it this far. Though this is where you’ll be ending, I think. Maybe you can do good in the loser’s tournament and get another shot.”
It was unclear whether he was trying to offer helpful advice, or just taunting, given his gravelly voice. I simply selected the same character that I had been using previously, while adding in spiritual energy so that Leowynn could potentially watch. I hadn’t done so for the second round because… well, it didn’t seem like the fight would be very interesting for her to watch.
This time, once we entered the fight, I did not bother firing off my detection spell to find MeanGreen. I had seen previously that he already had a detection ability and would be coming to find me soon. So instead, I prepared to set the valley where I spawned as the battlefield.
Trap: Binding Chains. Trap: Soul Drain. Trap: Null Ki. Trap: Teleport Circle. One by one, I began firing a series of prepared spells at the ground, taking the time when MeanGreen was tracking me down to set a nice little surprise for him.
Only once I had finished preparing did I take a deep breath, firing off my detection magic into the air. The land around me was a vast valley, with mountains on one side and an ocean on the other. According to the spell, MeanGreen was coming from the direction of the ocean, and would be at me within moments.
As I looked out at the horizon, I could faintly see a golden glow rapidly charging towards me. Yet, I did not lift my gun to fire at him. None of my three prepared spells were suitable for a situation like this, so I waited for him to enter the area of my traps.
However, as the green figure bathed in a golden glow landed on the plains, he abruptly stopped just outside of the trap area. “Eh? You were waiting for me?” He asked with a tone of surprise. Glancing down at the ground, he seemed to sense the presence of the traps. “You know those things only work if I step on them, right?”
“I know.” I said, smiling calmly. Now, I did raise my gun. “So I’ll have to make you step on them.” Force teleport.
When I pulled the trigger of my silver pistol, a white light shot out. However, MeanGreen didn’t even pay any mind to it, simply stepping out of the way before it could hit him. “Really? Don’t tell me that this is how you won your fights before…” He spoke, a somewhat sad tone in his voice.
I simply shrugged my shoulders, still keeping that calm smile. Seeing that, MeanGreen sighed, shaking his head. I saw the light around his body focusing on his palms, and knew that he was about to destroy all of the traps that I set.
Yet, that was the moment I had been waiting for. With a small step, I appeared directly in front of MeanGreen, my gun already charged for a second blast and pressed right against his body. This time, when the white light shot out, he could only jump backwards, trying in vain to dodge until it caught up with him.
When the white light surrounded his body, he let out a shout and suddenly vanished, appearing behind me in the traps I had placed beforehand. Silver chains shot up from the ground, digging into his skin. Black fog lifted up, burrowing into his legs. Even the golden light of his ki dimmed as it was sucked into the ground.
“This… this is dirty.” He muttered with a grimace, struggling to move his arms. I could see the veins bulging out, his muscles trembling. “You know this won’t kill me…” As he spoke through gritted teeth, I could feel a powerful energy welling up within him, and I could only nod.
“I know. But it keeps you still.” I had to chuckle as I said that, lifting my gun up to aim at him again. This time, I fired off the final attack spell of my arsenal. Dissonance.
From the description of this spell that the system provided, its accuracy was the worst, simply because the spell’s effects even targeted itself. But at this range, against an unmoving target, it was perfect. A spiraling pair of black lights shot out from the pistol, clashing against itself before burrowing into MeanGreen’s body.
MeanGreen’s body buckled over, falling to the ground as he coughed up blood. The energy that he had been building up was suddenly running out of control inside his body. And without a way to control his energy… he popped. His body burst apart at the seams, blood and bone exploding outwards in a cloud of gore.
Like that, I had successfully finished the quarterfinals round of the tournament, and was honestly surprised with myself. Maybe it was thanks to having time to understand that card magic system, as well as the support of the Mage Pistol, but I had not originally expected to be able to advance this far.
What was more surprising was that I had been the first of the two fights to finish, meaning that I had a free ticket to the finals. Ultimately, this meant I was guaranteed to win at least five hundred points, even if I lost both of the upcoming matches. Five hundred points, plus learning more about how the card magic system worked made this tournament completely worth it.
When I got back to the tournament room, I saw that the loser’s bracket was still going strong. Those that had lost already had mostly left, while those that remained were simply enjoying the show. Across from me, MeanGreen had a somewhat unresigned look on his face, but ultimately did not question his loss. In my defense, it was his fault for talking so much…
Unfortunately, the Keeper I had an eye on before did not make it through the quarterfinals, and was eliminated by the other one who had been in the demonstration, MissTery. The red-skinned Keeper gave a polite bow towards his opponent, before moving on to the next battle. When he saw that MeanGreen was moving towards the loser’s tournament, he seemed surprised, and sent an odd glance my way.
I smiled politely towards him, giving a brief nod before moving to watch his fight. His opponent was a Keeper that I had never seen before this tournament, a human-looking one with dark skin. Both had chosen to be melee fighters this time, but ultimately MissTery pulled out another win, advancing towards the finals.
However, unlike what I expected, we did not jump straight into our last match right away. Rather, once MissTery’s battle was over, the companion hosting the tournament signalled for us to wait. Only when the current round from the loser’s tournament ended did she make her announcement. “Alright, everyone! The finalists for the winner’s circle have been decided! We have our reigning champion, MissTery! And on the other corner, the newcomer EarthForce One!”
“Everyone get ready for their fight… once the loser’s bracket has caught up. After all… the winner from that side will still have a shot at the championship!” She grinned mischievously as she said that, much to the dismay of the crowd. Well… at least we have time to rest?