Through gritted teeth, Alosrin looked to Riveria and asked, “What is this farce, Riveria…?” Instead of answering his question, however, Riveria just maintained an unperturbed expression and remained silent. Earning greater ire from Alosrin, the person to answer was Vahn, saying plainly, “Riveria had agreed to become my apprentice in the past, officially accepting me as her Master so that we can proceed in our research together.” At this point, both Alosrin and Keelan both had dark expressions on their faces until Alosrin’s suddenly changed into a grin and he said, “I see what game you’re trying to play, I see, I see…hahahaha~!”
As if he had experienced a great epiphany, Alosrin looked to Riveria with a reproachful gaze and said, “To think you would go to such great lengths to avoid your ‘responsibilities. Everyone back home lauds you as some great Mage, the pride of the High Elves, but you’re really just a coward that couldn’t accept their status. You would shame our entire race by pretending to apprentice yourself to a human child? What a farce…” Contrary to his expectations, Vahn didn’t seem perturbed by his words at all, even though there was a fierce look persisting in his eyes.
At this point, Alosrin had already fallen into their entrapment and there were only a few steps before he would completely fall as a result of his own hubris. Vahn had been keeping his domain at bay, but now he slowly started increasing the pressure in the room as he coldly stated, “How peculiar…to have reached your age without ever having developed the insight to see through to the truth of a matter. Do you truly believe Riveria is putting on a show of being my apprentice? That must mean you intend to discredit my accomplishments as well…curious that you would come all this was on the ‘pretense’ of validating my accomplishments just to ‘steal’ the results of my research. And you believe I’m supposed to be ‘grateful’ to receive such a title? Well, I was when Riveria gave it to me, but I have no interest in playing games with the Elven Kingdom. You may return to your King and explain to him why you have failed your entire species by offending the Sage Aldrnari…”
Alosrin had wanted to rebuke Vahn for speaking ‘out of turn’, but he felt a strong pressure around his body every time he tried to open his mouth. He was confused since, even though he knew the pressure was coming from the boy in front of him, he couldn’t sense anything at all. Vahn had previously identified how Riveria was able to sense his domain, primarily being that she could see the change in the elemental energies under his control. However, if he simply decided not to control the elemental energies at all, Vahn found that he could completely conceal his domain from others. Alosrin was likely misconstruing the feeling as ‘animosity’, which could also take on a tangible form when it is concentrated enough. Typically, such an occurrence only took place when there was a powerful grudge between warriors, but Alosrin had no understanding of Vahn’s true capabilities.
When he had finished speaking, Vahn eased up the pressure and allowed Alosrin to gnash his teeth and say, “Your title of ‘Sage’ has been invalidated! I’ll make sure the entire continent knows you’re just playing at-” Vahn turned to Hestia and smiled before saying, “It looks like this buffoon has forgotten his manners, Hestia-sama. Please return to the Manor so you don’t have to waste your time listening to his baseless drivel…” As he helped Hestia stand, Vahn sent a contemptuous look at Alosrin and said, “I’ll continue to call myself as Sage Aldrnari, as I’ve grown rather fond of the title. Feel free to do as you please, as the truth of the matter will come to the light regardless of your efforts. Truth is a curious thing, you see, as it resonates deeply with people and can easily tear through lies and deceit when it is known~” Vahn used a lecturing tone like he was speaking to a child and gestured to Maemi and Emiru to escort Hestia.
Alosrin was in a rage but his thoughts were racing as he tried to make sense of the situation that was unfolding before him. He ‘knew’ this was Riveria’s plot, but he couldn’t think of a manner to regain control of the situation. Though he wanted to teach Vahn a lesson, Riveria was inarguably stronger than both he and Keelan. They may be able to get an advantage in a two-versus-one, but it was ‘rumored’ that Vahn was a Level 4 as well and there was no way of knowing what he kept in his storage magic dimension. Space magic was a tricky element and there was no telling what other skills Vahn had at his disposal. His only chance would be to try and remove Vahn from the equation and…
As if another epiphany had hit him, Alosrin watched as the two ‘hateful’ beasts began escorting the goddess. They passed by the ‘monster’ standing in the back and exchanged smiles with each other before walking toward a door at the back of the room. With a sly expression and mocking smile on his face, Alosrin said, “I’ll give you a chance to prove yourself, even without allowing me to see your research. You claim that the ‘truth’ will come out naturally, but I cam here to verify the claims directly. To manage such feats at a young age shows you are quite prodigious…” For a brief moment, Alosrin’s expression turned sour before transitioning back as he continued, “You even managed to make one of the most prolific Mages on the continent your disciple. I wonder if someone of your caliber would do me the honor of a demonstration~?”
Vahn arched his brow with a confused expression and asked, “What kind of demonstration? Why should I have any interest in your proposals after the disrespectful behavior you have shown. Riveria’s status is much higher than your’s, yet she refers to me as Master…what worth do you have for me to demonstrate my skills for you?” Hearing Vahn mention how Riveria addresses him, Alosrin felt like his blood pressure had skyrocketed. It took several long seconds for him to calm down and say, “I wouldn’t think someone with the title of ‘Sage’ would be so inflexible…though, perhaps it is not Riveria who is the coward, but the fool she calls her Ma…’Master’.” Alosrin put a lot of inflection on the word as if it were a curse that would cause Vahn’s skin to peel.
As if he were very upset by Alosrin’s words, Vahn frowned deeply and said, “You never mentioned what kind of demonstration you wanted to see. Speak, fool, I’m not afraid to show you how vast the world is compared to the small world that has warped your mind to such an extent!” Alosrin felt like every word Vahn spoke was the greatest insult he had ever suffered in his entire 99 years of life. He originally just wanted to shame Vahn and bring this farce to an end, but now he planned to cripple the boy for his endless slights against his betters. Thinking of Vahn’s pathetic figure helped Alosrin calm down a lot as he said, “It’s simple, we’ll have a short duel using magic to see who the more capable Mage is.”
Vahn gave Alosrin an incredulous look and asked, “You really want to duel me…you? Perhaps you should rethink this, or maybe get your little friend there to fight in your stead. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying you can’t use magic at all, but you don’t really strike me as a ‘competent’ Mage…” For several seconds, Alosrin’s mind had completely short-circuited at Vahn’s words and he felt like he had transcended all other emotions and become the embodiment of icy rage. Rather than simply cripple him, Alosrin became resolved to kill Vahn if he was presented with the opportunity. Since he hadn’t made the method public, it would also allow him to ‘expose’ Vahn for the fraud he was after the ‘cure’ for his people died with him. If Riveria truly knew the method, she would undoubtedly expose it herself one day, vow or not, so it was the best possible solution for the current situation.
Believing Vahn to be an overconfident child, Alosrin’s smile turned especially cruel because he had seen the ‘worry’ in the eyes of Vahn’s monster. He had never seen such a beautiful and exotic humanoid monster before and the aura she radiated reminded him of the Sacred Trees back in the forest. Alosrin even speculated she was the real ‘solution’ to the Elven Fertility issue so, if he were able to take her back to the Kingdom, he would be lauded as a hero. He might even get enough supporting to become the next Elven King if he played his cards right. Riveria would then be forced to become his Queen, no, his concubine. She had tested his patience far too much at this point and the only outcome for her would be beneath his feet, firmly situated where she ‘belongs’…
After considering the matter, Alosrin said, “Your confidence is unbecoming…but I will allow you to pretend as much as you want…unless, of course, you’re willing to make things more interesting by accepting a wager?” As if he couldn’t wait to start, Vahn impatiently asked, “What kind of wager!? Money!? Materials!? I’ll show you that I’m not some child you can insult as you please!” Vahn felt very awkward putting on this kind of act, but it was made a lot easier by the genuine rage he felt for this idiot in front of him. If not for the fact they were trying to leverage the situation in their favor, Vahn would have already beaten this fool to a pulp and sent him running back to the Elven Kingdom cradling his broken magic staff.
Alosrin’s face became serious as a cold glint passed through his eyes, saying, “I would have wagered my two servants against your’s, but it seems you treat animals as your family. Instead, I will wager one of my servants against your little pet…” Seeing him look in her direction, Terra showed her characteristic smile and said, “I am not some pet that can be battered so cheaply. Do you really think an Elven servant-girl, barely scraping at the bottom of Level 3, is equal in Value to a True Dragon near the peak of Level 4? My Master is correct, you are quite the hack~.” Terra hadn’t spoken throughout the entire conversation so her words were a surprise to Alosrin who had trouble speaking for a moment. He hadn’t know which Level she was at, only that she had a very powerful aura. Hearing her claim to be a True Dragon at Level 4, Alosrin felt like he had just hit the jackpot since her elemental affinity was related to nature. If they ‘cultivated’ her properly, she would be a veritable mine of rare materials that could make him one of the wealthiest High Elves in the entire Kingdom.
With a ‘grim’ expression and a ‘celebratory’ look in his eyes, Alosrin nodded his head and said, “It seems the terms are indeed unfair…however, other than some paltry ornaments, I have only brought the two servants with me. Fortunately, unlike those undisciplined brats, my servants have been ‘properly’ trained and would even fetch a high price in the market. I believe two Level 3 pure-blooded Elves are more than a fair exchange for a single ‘monster’…unless you are some kind of monster sympathizer and believe the lives of Elves to be beneath such ‘creatures’?” As if he had been highly offended by Alosrin’s words, Vahn gnashed his teeth and let his anger radiate from his body as he said, “Fine! I accept! Let’s get this over with…!”
Though he was pleased that Alosrin had fallen for their bait completely, Vahn couldn’t tolerate the way he kept berating the people he cared about. If he hadn’t given the conditions soon, Vahn felt like he was about to send the arrogant High Elf flying, repercussions be damned. If this event had taken place similarly in the Divination, Vahn could understand why he had been unable to compromise with the Elven Kingdom until things had gotten out of hand. Knowing they gave rise to fools like this confounded him greatly and he wanted to smack the man that had raised such an incompetent and abrasive son.
Alosrin smiled as if he had already won the duel and said in a snide tone, “Let’s make a vow so that, not saying you’re dishonorable and untrustworthy, you are unable to go back on your promise.” Vahn waved his hand dismissively and said in a mocking tone, “I’d rather not, as you’ll probably whine and say I cheated you when you want to renege on your own word. I can barely believe someone like you can use magic at all, so I won’t treat this matter too seriously. Come, let’s get this over with…” Hearing Vahn treating him like an incompetent fool, Alosrin realized his earlier illusion of transcending anger was just him reaching the base of a tall mountain.
A strange urge to laugh welled up inside of Alosrin and his pupils shrank into small beads as he looked at Vahn as if he were the corpse of his most hated enemy. He was so angry that his voice broke slightly as he said, “I swear on my pride as a High Elf, a descendant of Nord, and my honor as the son of Duke Alfred Els Lainu, I will not renege on my promise to the pretender, Vahn Mason!” Without waiting for Vahn to make a vow of his own, Alosrin flicked his mantle and turned on his heels as he walked outside. As if he were challenging Vahn’s earlier eagerness, his movements were swift and decisive as he clutched his own staff to the point his knuckles had turned white.
Keelan glared at Vahn with an expression filled with disdain as he said, “Pathetic human fool…you don’t even have enough sense to realize you dug your own grave. Come, it’s time to experience humiliation beyond your imagination…” Though he knew Alosrin wasn’t the most capable Mage amongst High Elves, he was still one of the ‘supreme beings’ and Keelan knew how many resources his Master, Alfred, had invested on him. He also had ritual magic and a powerful magical staff at his disposal so Keelan believed that there was no way that Alosrin would lose. If Vahn tried to play a trick, he intended to cut him down himself and, if necessary, sacrifice his life as a criminal and traitor if it meant protecting his Master’s progeny.
After leaving biting words, Keelan made his way toward the door after urging Sierra and Pram to move by kicking the smaller Elf with his hard metal sabatons. Vahn’s mind turned cold after he witnessed this yet, instead of lashing out, he became very calm as he walked forward with both hands behind his back. He actually agreed with one thing that Keelan had said, the fact that he would be witnessing humiliation…except that it wasn’t beyond his imagination and that the target was very different than the arrogant Elf intended. He sent a look to Riveria and saw her encouraging nod before walking toward where, not his opponent, but the ‘fool’ who believed himself a worthy ‘enemy’…
Alosrin had already opened up a fair distance in preparation for the duel and Vahn squinted his eyes slightly after realizing that the idiot wanted to fight in the front courtyard. It didn’t really make much of a difference, but damaging an area that could be seen from passersby was probably another method the arrogant High Elf had thought to embarrass him. Fortunately, Vahn didn’t plan to allow things to get to the point where damage was done to the Manor and its surroundings. Without any hesitation, almost as if he were showing up to teach a class, Vahn walked with his arms behind his back and stopped around 100m away from Alosrin’s position.
They hadn’t designated a referee for their duel so it was left to both Riveria and Keelan to observe from the sidelines at opposite ends of the ‘battlefield’. The moment they were in position, Alosrin shouted, “Let’s see the strength of a ‘Sage’ pretender!” as he produced a small green ‘wand’ and waved it toward Vahn. Vahn furrowed his brows slightly before waving his hand and cutting through the invisible blade of wind that had come directly toward his neck. Alosrin had already started chanting after sending the surprise attack, likely meant to buy time or get a lucky hit, but Vahn didn’t mind as his aquamarine green eyes turned a pale blue with his activation of [Eyes of Truth].
Riveria had already informed Vahn about all of Alosrin’s magic so he was able to tell that the High Elf was using a spell called [Ignis Infernus], a fire elemental magic that could create large fireballs that homed in on their target. Vahn analyzed the spell structure before using his domain to ‘erase’ two of the defined verses as he waited for the chant to complete. The fact that Alosrin decided to use long-chat magic in a fight against someone known for their speed made Vahn question if the man had any knowledge of him at all. It seemed like he had been more focused on Riveria than his actual duty, or there was no way he would have tried such an attack from the beginning of the fight…
Seeing that Vahn was ‘waiting’ for his attack, Alosrin felt a great deal of scorn well up inside him because he hated being looked down on more than anything. Vahn was acting like he was high and mighty, completely unphased by the swarm of mana being converged in front of him. Alosrin wanted to wipe the calm from his smug little face so he focused his mind to ensure that his chant was a success. He had expected Vahn to charge him at first, as it was difficult to believe a human was competent in magic, so he set up various mines on the ground after quickly leaving the building earlier. Now it was beginning to look like he had wasted his efforts since he had managed to complete his chant, ensuring Vahn’s defeat…
Five massive fireballs appeared around Alosrin’s body as a cruel smile appeared on his face and he shouted, “Ignis Infernus~!” at the top of his lungs. However, even after several seconds passed, the five fireballs just ‘wiggled’ around in the air as they slowly drifted away. Vahn had removed the part of the magic circle that controlled the movement vector of the fireballs and also erased the homing component. Though he was able to complete the spell, the only thing Alosrin had managed to do was create five fireballs around his body that were slowly ‘baking’ him. Vahn raised his brow in confusion and asked, “I waited for your attack just to see you whiff your own spell? Is it supposed to be some kind of defensive magic?”
As they were never meant to exist for long, the fireballs eventually started to disperse because the final alteration Vahn had made was to their explosive property. Instead of ‘explode’, he changed it to ‘slowly dissipate’ to ensure there wouldn’t be any damage to the grounds. Alosrin had an incredulous expression on his face as he watched the fireballs he had painstakingly conjured dissipate into hot air. Vahn’s words dealt a blow directly to his mind while his own failure caused a bit of fear to rise up inside of him. He had wanted to kill Vahn in a single strike so he had pumped a large quantity of mana into the spell after investing another portion on the mines within the ground. Without Vahn taking a single step, or firing off a single spell, he had already used up more than 40% of his reserves…
Vahn shook his head with ‘disappointment’ written on his face as he said, “This is why I told you not to overestimate your own capabilities. Without a calm head and, at the very least, a marginal amount of competence, you shouldn’t be trying to become a Mage. It’s obvious you haven’t trained much at all…what a waste of, what, ninety years?” Alosrin took several deep breaths and began chanting, “Spirit of Fire, Lord of Purgatory, Relea-” before Vahn completely disappeared without showing any signs of movement. Though he had expected it somewhat, Alosrin’s eyes widened greatly after realizing Vahn had ‘teleportation’ magic. It seemed that his mastery of space magic was enough to qualify him as a capable mage…but Alosrin knew it would take a tremendous amount of mana if he wanted to keep using it.
If he used [Shundo] to its limits, it did take a fair amount of mana but it was less than 1/1100th of Vahn’s mana pool. For a short distance of 100m, it took next to nothing at all and, by the time he had reappeared in front of Alosrin, his mana had already started to recover as his pores absorbed the elemental energy from the air. This time, Alosrin jumped back quickly as an invisible figure parted from the robe of his body and tried to strike at Vahn. Just as he had done before, Vahn swiped his hand to disperse the defensive cyclone that had emerged from the robe. He didn’t give chase and instead reached out his hand and cautioned, “Wait, watch where you’re stepping!” as Alosrin stepped on one of his own mines, which Vahn had repositioned around him previously.
Alosrin’s eyes widened greatly as he tucked his body and rolled to the side in an effort to evade his own trap. He had set them all over the battlefield, but he didn’t recall setting one in the direction he had jumped to. Though he couldn’t figure out how they were doing it, Alosrin realized Vahn or Riveria must have been doing something to interrupt his magic. He had never heard of being able to move someone else’s magic mines before, but Alosrin refused to believe he had made a mistake. From the side, however, Keelan had been watching the duel with an incredulous expression on his face as he muttered, “Was the Young-Master truly this incompetent…? A lavish lifestyle has spoiled him and completely crippled his combat senses…”
Realizing there was a real chance that Alosrin would lose, Keelan looked toward Sierra and Pram only to see the supposed ‘True Dragon’ standing near them. Knowing she was Level 4 didn’t ease his mind any, as he likely wouldn’t be able to strike down the two girls before Riveria and the True Dragon interfered. His only chance was to look for an opening when Vahn dropped his guard and try to surprise attack him. Though his speed couldn’t rival Vahn’s ‘teleportation’, Keelan was confident he could get the jump on the young boy when his mana was exhausted. The only thing he could do for now was to tighten his grip on the hilt of his sword and wait for the opportunity to present itself…