The survivors were fated to meet. The top ten contenders of the cultivation event eventually found themselves against one another on the final day. Locke’s duel against the green-robed caster wasn’t the only showdown. Unbeknownst to the two, there was another ferocious battle unfolding in the central mountainous terrain.
“Vienerson?!” The eldest Roland sister, Airen, stared at the knight ahead in confusion.
“I’ll defeat that bastard Jelredar once and for all once the Leaf of Life is mine. Come on now, surrender your brooches!” The chips and cracks along the edges of Vienerson’s armour were obvious. He swung his sword at the three women without warning. The elite knight’s movements were trained to impeccable precision; his technique was a sight to marvel at. Before Airen could conjure a mana shield, he was already in her immediate peripheral.
“Airen, watch out!” Ailee screamed and dashed over with Avril. The sisters created a joint mana barrier to deflect Vienerson’s otherwise lethal blow. The knight’s momentum was ultimately disrupted by crackling purple lightning and a violent swirl of wind.
“Show us what you have if you’re after our brooches!” Airen challenged through gritted teeth. Vienerson’s ambush was largely unexpected.
The three sisters quickly formed an array; their most potent attack against an unwelcomed guest. The loss of his monster bone shield had diminished a fraction of his defensive ability and soon enough the battle was forced into a standstill. Everyone was growing desperate for points on the closing day of the games. Only fifty had remained out of hundreds of participants so it was only natural for the survivors to be the best among their peers.
Locke unleashed a wave of impetus as he dodged Jelredar’s explosive attack, which devoured a third of the negative energy in the caster’s shield instantly. Unfortunately for him, Jelredar was able to build his mana barrier with unrivalled efficiency upon every breach.
“Crap! This won’t do!” Things were growing intense and Locke quickly summoned Fermoss the scorpiondrake. Needless to say, Jelredar was surprised by the massive monster.
“So this is your last resort?” Jelredar chuckled, immediately recovering from his surprise. He unfurled his fist, releasing a few green rays into the great cliff walls of the Blaze Valley. The walls began to rumble, and out emerged a few rock elementals that glowed red. Those were rock puppets! It became apparent that Locke had severely underestimated Jelredar’s spell vocabulary and incantation speed.
“You’re not the only one with mana!” Locke couldn’t be bothered to be thrifty at this point. He tossed a few mana scrolls at Jelredar, letting the mana assault the air to birth a few elemental puppets.“Go!” Locke roared. The elemental puppets stomped over to the rock puppets.
“Howling Slash!” A blade of wind sliced over.
“Ivory Scales!” Locke triggered the defence magic embedded in his full-body armour and blocked off the attack, pressing onwards for Jelredar.
“Ball of Lightning!”
“Waves of Death!”
Locke was deeply troubled by Jelredar’s creative use of spells. Casters that were simultaneously equipped with the knowledge of two elements were known to be difficult opponents. Jelredar, on the other hand, was armed with a huge arsenal of spells. Locke could pinpoint at least six different disciplines from the spells he’d used so far. The diversity of elemental energy stirred the atmosphere; Blaze Valley’s energy field was in utter chaos.
Even Fermoss’ massive size was turned into a disadvantage. Its sheer scale had made it an easy target for Jelredar’s spells. The scorpiondrake’s scales were flipped out of place and bleeding once again! It had only managed to heal a few days ago and its body was once again subjected to such unforgiving torment. Fermoss began regretting leaving home with Locke. Things would’ve been different if it chose to stay in Morphey Forest; it would’ve been napping in a moist dark cave instead of suffering a caster’s assault.
Jelredar’s ball of lightning blasted a few pieces of scales off Fermoss’ chest. It screeched. Lightning magic was rooted in photomancy, making it an effective attack against shadowmancy monsters like scorpiondrakes. Fermoss howled in agony and tried to stomach the searing pain. It strode over to Jelredar and lifted its leg intending to stomp him. It was almost impossible to survive its weight even if one was made of metal.
Jelredar flew for the clouds with a light jump, distancing himself from Fermoss. He downed a vial of potion and peered down onto the knight and his scorpiondrake. His current opponent was merely resilient. Jelredar was confident that he could destroy both Locke and his mount without difficulty. Plus, his intent to kill was further solidified by the skull-shaped brooch on Locke’s chest that was brimming with intense energy. Since a knight from the Scar of the Death Bell had so kindly delivered himself to him, there was no point in wasting such generosity.
The next series of mana explosions had riddled Locke with anxiety. Not only had his piercing impetus failed to harm Jelredar, but his vast collection of mana scrolls was no use against the caster. In short, Locke was at a total disadvantage. The mana activity of his enchanted armour was growing meek, which meant that it would soon reach its limits. He couldn’t afford to have the calcareous armour shatter on him or he’d have to shoulder the spells with flesh and bones, which was a feat that only monsters with the thickest coat and flesh could achieve.
Another gargantuan ball of flames zoomed towards Locke’s head. It broke into blinding sparks, burning a hole through a corner of his helmet. He removed it in the nick of time, finally revealing his silver locks and face. He was no pretty boy by all accounts and the burnt mark sustained had sullied his appearance. There was a wound of two fingers wide on his right cheek, left behind by the melted iron earlier.
“Come on, is that all you got?” provoked Jelredar. The knight’s dishevelled appearance had brought him more joy than anticipated.
Locke remained silent in the face of his jeers. He brought out a tube of lilac potion, popped the cap open and emptied its contents. Weirdly enough, Jelredar hadn’t seized the opportunity to interrupt him. As chivalrous as he was, the caster too was curious to see what the knight had up his sleeves.
Grandmeisterin Ashar, I’m counting on you, thought Locke. It was obvious that the caster wanted to kill him. Now that he was forced into a corner, the lilac potion Ashar had pressed into his palm before leaving the Three Western Isles was his glimmer of hope. He had no clue about its composition but a sharp pain bloomed in the pits of his stomach seconds upon ingestion. A wave of intense heat rolled over his body soon after.
The whites of his eyes turned bloody. The angry red soon transitioned into a purple that glimmered with mysterious colours.
“Ah… So this is power!” An unfamiliar power surged within him and Locke felt as though he was tossed into a volcano. The heat was unbearable; he felt like he needed to exert it urgently before he exploded into pieces. His best target: the green-robed caster floating in the air.
“Your end has arrived!” Locke stomped the ground and leapt into the air, clawing for Jelredar with barred teeth.