Chapter 257: Battle of the Inferior Goods
Translator: Atlas Studios Editor: Atlas Studios
But Sa.r.s.en wasn't a rookie, either. He was not an easy opponent for anyone with his peak level-14 strength. Moreover, he was in good condition. He hadn't suffered any losses during all the exchanges. His performance was far beyond his usual standard. At least Lin Li could see that the present Sa.r.s.en was stronger than he'd been back in Shadowglen.
Nevertheless, the battle was a boring one despite their powerful strength. There was neither an interesting display of casting skills nor an intense clash at all. There wasn't even a slight thrill in the battle. All there was constant probing from both sides. The energy they spent on defense far exceeded that spent on attacks. They'd put up another Elemental s.h.i.+eld once the previous one disappeared, but they were holding back the Mana Retroaction, never releasing it at all.
From a level-one spell to a level-eight spell—this was the entirety of the match.
There was no excitement at all in this process. There were no splendid casting skills like those in the battle between Lin Li and Loken; there was no hair-raising clashes like the battle between Mason and Larry. Both of them were only using basic skills learnt from the textbooks, and repeated cautious probing.
Lin Li was falling asleep. This was simply a torture for him. He'd rather watch two mage apprentices fight than watch those two guys sounding each other out.
However, he had to put up with the torture.
Matthias' progress was too out of the ordinary. He'd been only slightly stronger than Mason in the beginning, but he was on par with Sa.r.s.en at present. Covering this distance couldn't be explained in a word or two. Even Lin Li—who thought himself to be extraordinarily lucky such that even a pie would drop before him while walking on the streets—couldn't have done this. Even with the Eternal Furnace left behind by Osric and the magical crystal from the fire dragon, Lin Li had merely made the leap from level-13 to level-15. What did Matthias have? Surely it couldn't be that there were another Eternal Furnace and another fire dragon magical crystal in the world? It just couldn't be possible…
Lin Li had to see how much Matthias had improved—and if he had really broken through to the Archmage realm!
Therefore, even though the battle was making him drowsy, Lin Li tried to keep his eyes open, paying attention to every probing move between the two guys.
In fact, Lin Li wasn't the only one. Almost half of the thousands of mages on the stand were perhaps thinking about the same thing. They, too, thought the battle couldn't be more mundane. However, they would like to see how strong Matthias had become. Hence, the battle continued in this strange atmosphere.
Everyone was yawning yet desperately trying to keep themselves awake just to see what was going on.
Then, they dozed off. And with that, Sa.r.s.en lost…
“Ah?” Lin Li rubbed his eyes vigorously. He thought he had seen it wrong.
The two guys were still sounding each other out with Wind Blades not long ago, but in the next moment, Matthias released a Flaming Hands and it tore through the Elemental s.h.i.+eld on Sa.r.s.en. It was followed by a close-distance Air Bomb, and Sa.r.s.en was thrown out of the arena.
“Sa.r.s.en lost?” Looking at Sa.r.s.en, who was lying on the ground, Lin Li couldn't believe what he'd seen.This was all too sudden and strange. It was as if two boxers with equal strength were fighting each other in the ring, with exchanges that'd dazzle the onlookers. Then, one of them suddenly spat, and the other fell inexplicably.
This was impossible…
Lin Li remembered clearly that Sa.r.s.en's Elemental s.h.i.+eld only held up for slightly more than 10 seconds and had at most received two Wind Blades. How could it have been torn through by a mere Flaming Hands?
“The victory goes to Mage Matthias from Nightfall City!”
The referee's voice couldn't be clearer. Indeed, Sa.r.s.en had lost.
Lin Li scratched his head and thought for a long time where Sa.r.s.en could've made a mistake. The match just now could definitely be compiled into an encyclopedia of the artful. Both Sa.r.s.en and Matthias were fighting with a more conservative att.i.tude than nuns. They spent at least 90% of their energy on defense.The remaining 10% had to be divided into two—half for defense preparations, and finally the other half for attack.
Lin Li had even seen Matthias putting up a Mental Protection Field before releasing the Flaming Hands. It was no doubt to prevent Sa.r.s.en from disrupting him with mental spells.
Lin Li couldn't have imagined such a thing. How could someone be that sly?
Such a devious tactic. In addition to the slow rhythm, Lin Li thought nothing could go wrong with a mage on a level like Sa.r.s.en. Lin Li even thought the battle would last through the night, until both of them had exhausted their mana and could only fight with their fists to decide the winner.
However, at that moment, Sa.r.s.en had lost. It was a puzzling defeat, no less.
It wasn't just Sa.r.s.en himself that was puzzled, but also Lin Li and the thousands of mages on the stands, who all sat with their mouths agape.
Anyhow, the outcome was decided.
Matthias, who'd been only a little stronger than Mason a month ago, had defeated Sa.r.s.en, one of the best apprentices in the trial. This battle alone was enough for everyone to see him in a new light. The past Matthias was just dandy, but from this day on, no one would dare to treat him as a simple dandy. Even if he was, he had to be a powerful dandy!
“This Marathon fellow isn't at all likeable, but he has sure improved tremendously in a short time. I remember he was just a level-11 Magic Shooter the last time I saw him,” Herza mumbled as he secretly took note of Matthias.
Hoffman pouted, and said indignantly, “This little b.a.s.t.a.r.d was just lucky, like the old b.a.s.t.a.r.d in his family…”
“Why don't you say that in front of Wilhelm?” Herza was slightly annoyed. The Marathon Family and Glittergold Trade Union hadn't been on the best of terms. This was a known fact in the whole of Anril. In particular, Hoffman and Wilhelm had completely fallen out with each other.
At least it wasn't even the second time Herza had heard it in person. Hoffman was clamoring about sending people to poison the unscrupulous arms merchant's food, while Wilhelm swore to hire an a.s.sa.s.sin to get rid of the darned fatso.
It was fortunate that one of them was in Alanna, and the other in Breezy Plains. Otherwise, devil knew how much the chief a.s.sa.s.sin, Oro, would benefit from their feud.
How could Hoffman have nice things to say now that Wilhelm's son was just below them?
The feud between the Marathon Family and the Glittergold Trade Union naturally made it impossible for Herza to take part in it. He could only pretend not to hear Hoffman's last remark. “It's not just luck this time. Don't you see that Matthias had the ability to beat Sa.r.s.en from the start, but he didn't want to reveal it? To be honest, Hoffman, you may be really out of your mind this time. Looks like Gryffindor and your favorite Felic are not the only people likely to win this compet.i.tion…”
“Nonsense. How can this little b.a.s.t.a.r.d match up to Felic?” Hoffman said in spite, and suddenly came to his senses. The expression on his fat face froze. “How… how do you know I have my eyes on Felic?”
“Just think back to how nervous you were in the first match. It was so obvious that even the blind could see it.” Herza smiled, and did not question further, but simply said, “Hoffman, it's normal that you don't see it. After all, you are not a real mage. There are many things that only a real mage can understand. Keep your eyes peeled. The finals today will be more exciting than any finals in the past few decades…”
“I don't believe it…” Hoffman gritted his teeth furiously.
The morning pa.s.sed in a hurry, and the first round of the 12 matches was all decided. The names of the 12 trial apprentices were written on the promotion table. It was followed by the drawing of lots, presided over by Aldwin himself.
“First match—Mage Mason from Chevan City is up against Mage Lauren from Snow City!”
“Ah?” Mason was slightly stunned. He couldn't believe his luck…
Lauren, from the Snow City, was an old acquaintance of Mason. Back in the Shadowglen, the fellow had followed Sa.r.s.en into the cave to occupy their place. In the end, Felic had scared him off with a Flaming Hands, and he had nearly peed in his pants because of that. Mason remembered that Lauren had already been at the peak of level-10 then.
Most of the trial apprentices had progressed one or two levels in this trial that had lasted for two months. After all, all of them were young geniuses chosen by their respective guilds, and possessed considerable potential and capability. After coming to Alanna, there were not only Archmages to guide them personally, but also places like the Omniscient Tower to study in. It was nothing surprising for them to improve one or two levels.
However, there were exceptions to everything, and the same was true for the enhancement in magic strength. In this trial, some freaks had made the leap from level-12 to level-15, yet some fools made no progress. They'd entered the finals with the same level as they were when they came to Alanna.
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Lauren was undoubtedly such a fool.
“…” Lauren almost vomited blood.
What was to be a serious match turned out to be an amus.e.m.e.nt afterwards.
There was a disparity in strength and Lauren had wasted a Mana Retroaction as soon as the battle started. The outcome was settled by this point. However, Mason was not in a hurry to end the battle. He was having a great time playing with Lauren. The short five-minute match had become his one-man show. He applied all the casting skills he'd learnt from Lin Li in the past month on Lauren. Moreover, he deliberately went easy on the other party. He'd pull the brakes each time his opponent was about to be beaten. Lauren was suffering immensely from this repet.i.tion.
The only thing Lauren could do was to recite all the spells he knew in a hurry. However, except for a freak with infinite mana like Lin Li, this high-intensity spell-casting was not for anyone to bear. Not to mention Lauren, even an Archmage wouldn't have been able to withstand such consumption of energy. As such, Lauren exhausted all his mana in a mere five minutes, and was blasted off by an Air Bomb Mason had so sinisterly released…
The match ended too fast, such that Mason didn't even sweat a bit. Just like that, he was the first to make it to the final six.
“Old man, how's that? I haven't disgraced you, right? Shouldn't you reward your disciple for being the first to make it to the final six? I don't want just any reward. I'm not a beggar. Don't think you can send me away with just two lousy scrolls…”
“Go and die, will you…?” Macklin was annoyed. If they weren't under the public's eyes, he would've given Mason a kick in the b.u.t.t. b.l.o.o.d.y h.e.l.l, this little brat really thinks too highly of himself. He'd forgotten his name after having won against a level-10 Magic Shooter. He should take a look at how amateurish he is instead of having the cheek to boast about his petty win.
But then again, that was some sorcery from Aldwin. How could he manage to draw Lauren and Mason in the same match? b.l.o.o.d.y h.e.l.l, now that he had won, that little brat's going to have to brag about it for a few days…
“What are you looking at, Felic?” Mason was boasting excitedly when he suddenly realized his teammate was staring into s.p.a.ce.
“Did you notice? Something seems off about that fellow…”
“Which fellow?” Mason asked, puzzled. He followed Lin Li's gaze and realized that the latter was staring at his opponent for the next round, Garat from Far Seeing City. “Him?”
“You don't say. This fellow is indeed weird…” Mason scratched his head in puzzlement. “Far Seeing City isn't that far from Chevan City. My mentor once brought me to their Guild of Magic when I was young. That fellow was a jerk from young age. He peeped at girls taking shower when he was just in his teenage years. I heard that he'd gotten worse as he got older, visiting houses of ill-repute as and when he likes. Nine out of ten prost.i.tutes in Far Seeing City has once served him. Why else do you think he's so skinny?”
“Duh…” Mason finished with a lecherous smile, then frowned, and mumbled to himself, “Strange. When we'd just arrived in Alanna, that fellow wanted to take me for drinks and what not. Why has he become like this? Look at his face and his eyes. Reminds me of the zombies in the Shadowglen…”
“He really does look like one…” Lin Li nodded. Although Mason's words might sound exaggerated, Garat had indeed given him such a feeling. If Lin Li were to find someone similar to Garat in aura, it would be Sendros, who had visited the Guild of Magic a few days ago.
However, even a half-human, half-undead monster like Sendros had more human aura than Garat.
“Anyway, you'd better be careful later. I can't stop thinking how abnormal this fellow is. He could've been cursed. It'll be trouble if he spreads it to you…”
Mason was exaggerating way too much. Even Orrin, who had stayed quiet all this while, couldn't listen any longer. He scolded him feebly in his chair. “Idiot…”
“d.a.m.n…” Mason glared at him, and was about to break out in a curse when he suddenly lost heart. “Forget it, pretty boy. You're injured. I shan't hold it against you.”
“Do you even dare…” Orrin pouted, and looked at Mason with disdain. Then, he turned his attention to Lin Li. “Be careful.”
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