Chapter 949: Momentum

From the very moment Tiona and Bache both stepped into the arena, the atmosphere within the viewing stands had greatly increased in momentum. Even more than the duel Vahn had witnessed when first entering Telskyura, every Amazoness present had their auras ignited like flames as they looked forward to the coming fight. Vahn was also affected by the atmosphere a bit, even though his mind was focused on a few other matters. Still, in an effort to support Tiona, Vahn rose to his feet with Tione at his side and leaned against the stone railing so he could get a better view of the battle to come…

Tiona had an easygoing and infectious smile on her face as she stretched her body, proudly displaying her flexibility and power by releasing a few quick strikes that caused waves of air pressure to disperse dust towards the periphery of the arena. Bache, standing around twenty meters away, had her veil lifted slightly but, with the small weights on the ends, it prevented anyone from getting a clear view of her rather large scar. She ignored Tiona’s display and focused on her own stretching, twisting her body around to the point that she was nearly able to turn 180 degrees, effectively facing backward while her hips were still oriented toward the front.

Though it felt like an eternity, the actual warm-up took less than a minute before Tiona began bouncing on her feet, smiling as she said, “I always wanted to be stronger than you when I was younger. Let me show you how far I’ve come…” Bache already knew the disparity in strength between her and Tiona but still smiled behind her veil before turning her body slightly, extending out her left hand while her left leg was bent at the knee. She made a taunting gesture as a battle-crazed light glimmered across her golden eyes, simply stating, “Come…”

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Seemingly without any time passing after the utterance of the word, Tiona had already vaulted forward with tremendous momentum, kicking against Bache’s guard with the heel of her right leg. The tension in the air felt like it was shattered by the resultant shockwave as, for a brief moment, there was the sound of shattering glass before Tiona had kicked against Bache’s guard, vaulting backward more than a hundred meters. To her credit, Bache had withstood the opening blow without any major difficulty but it was clear to those with higher perception that she had lost out in the exchange. Vahn had even seen a ‘ripple’ pass through her arm, creating a peculiar sight where Bache’s arm seemed to lose its solidity…

Not willing to let Tiona get enough momentum for another charge, Bache had immediately given chase, ignoring the fact that her left arm was completely numb. Her eyes were already beginning to glimmer red as her medium-length sand-colored hair beat violently as a result of the aura that had begun to emanate from her body. It felt like a powerful bloodlust had descended upon the entire arena, causing the spectating Amazonesses to begin breathing heavily as a fervent light burned in their eyes.

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Tiona had landed near a massive stone pillar, one of six that were interspaced in a hexagonal pattern. Her feet traced a strange rhythm that made her footwork almost impossible to follow before she eventually turned into a blurred after-image. Bache’s right hand had pierced through the area where Tiona had stood, her eyes already darting toward the right as a healthy-brown foot barreled towards her head. Vahn was briefly reminded of the first time he has sparred against Tiona but, unlike how she had stopped to tease him, this time she completely followed through with her attack and sent Bache crashing through the 6m diameter stone pillar before a cloud of dust and shrapnel emerged, pelting the surroundings as Bache’s body was sent careening across the arena’s floor.

The difference between someone around the mid-line of Level 7 and someone who was around the middle of Level 6 was a monstrous and seemingly insurmountable wall. If Tiona had been a normal warrior who reached her Level after several decades of effort, the match could have been a bit closer. The simple truth of the matter was that Tiona was truly prodigious when it came to battling and, even though she had yet to use her [Pactio], the fight was already extremely one-sided. This was something Tione had noticed as well, deciding to lean against Vahn’s shoulder with her arms crossed as she muttered, “I give up…”

Over the last few days, Tione had started to come to terms with her past in the truest sense and, with more than three months to recover after her fight with Argana, she had already put much of her past behind her. Now, though it was still profoundly frustrating, Tione no longer felt the need to try and compete with her prodigious sister any longer. She had already found the happiness she had been seeking since childhood and, instead of stressing out over things that ultimately had no meaning, Tione decided to start going at her own pace and enjoying the rest of what life had to offer…

Vahn habitually placed his hand around Tione’s waist, holding her a little closer to him as they both continued to watch the match. Even though Bache had nearly no hope of gaining any real advantages against Tiona, the fire in her eyes hadn’t dimmed in the slightest. After climbing out of the rubble, the black veil covering the lower half of her face was noticeably suffused with blood as a line of the crimson red liquid was also running down her body. She didn’t seem to notice or simply didn’t care as she immediately launched herself with even greater momentum than before.

Bache’s initial movement caused her body to blur and, at least from the perspective of most Amazonesses, she had completely disappeared from the arena. Tiona, however, wasn’t most Amazonesses and, seemingly without any initial movement, her body vanished with an even smoother transition. The after-image she left behind had persisted for nearly a full second, during which time she and Bache had exchanged several heavy blows. Each strike caused a thunderous pulse to pass through the arena, further stimulating the crowd of Amazonesses as their blood boiled in expectation.

As the fight progressed, Bache’s attacks were becoming faster and heavier, sending out spheres of air pressure that were almost like heavy cannonballs. Everywhere the spheres contacted turned into rubble after a loud explosion resounded out yet, completely unaffected, Tiona simply danced around Bache without any major difficulty. She didn’t even turn her head whenever a piece of shrapnel would launch toward her and instead made small movements, completely evading the seemingly unseen projectile. As for Bache, her chest was heaving up and down noticeably as the momentum of her attacks continued to increase, a powerful light of determination burning in her crimson-red eyes…

After a series of intense exchanges, Bache managed to close the distance between herself and Tiona but this resulted in her being in a ‘bad’ range. Her only real choice of attack was using a quick elbow strike or a headbutt unless she wanted to try and grapple, something Bache’s instincts warned her wouldn’t end well. Tiona had a happy and excited smile on her face as she made the decision for Bache, twisting her waist around quickly while tucking in her leg, fully prepared to release a spring-like whip kick into her former mentor’s waist. Bache had no choice but to close the gap even further, grabbing he pareo cloth around Tiona’s waist while her left hand snaked towards her former protege’s neck…

The instant Bache grabbed the cloth around her waist, Tiona had moved both of them forward with [Shundo], causing a momentary gap in the mind of the sandy-haired Amazoness. Her kicking motion turned into her pushing off of the pillar they had appeared next to, allowing her to slam into Bache with her shoulder while moving her hand up and grabbing the extended left hand that had gone for her neck. Bache’s body tried to move backward with the momentum of Tiona’s blow but, with even greater force, the latter had jerked her arm forward with a slight twist. It felt like her arm was being wrenched out of her shoulder and, even though her muscles strained to resist it, Bache felt a ‘pop’ before her arm was painfully dislocated.

In a normal situation, Bache wouldn’t have been caught so easily, even with the difference in stats, but her arm had still been numb since Tiona’s very first attack. By the time her mind processed what was happening, it was already too late to do anything about it so Bache chose to sacrifice her arm completely as she tightly gripped her right fist and struck towards the small of Tiona’s back. For the first time in the match, her blow landed true but, from the eyes of those with high perception, the only result from this blow was sending a small ‘ripple’ through Tiona’s flesh that was quickly dissipated by her inordinately high Endurance. Had Bache been able to throw a fully extended punch, the outcome might have been different but, with her body experiencing conflicting forces and her proximity to Tiona being too close, the result was lackluster at best…

Tiona felt a thump against her backside, causing her brows to perk up slightly in surprise before she quickly twisted her waist once again, this time using her hips as a lever to flip Bache over her. The latter tried to move with the motion, twisting around to land on her feet, but Tiona had long anticipated this, putting strength into her legs and feet as she pushed hard against the ground. Tiona released her grip on Bache’s wrist, causing the latter to fly up into the ground well over a hundred meters as a look of acceptance slowly began to extinguish the fire in her eyes. When people were capable of moving at hypersonic speeds, being caught in the air without something to spring off of was a death sentence…

Bache had nowhere to run and could only fall as slowly as gravity would allow her, leaving her unable to do anything but shore up her own defenses as Tiona adopted a proper stance on the ground below. She had stepped forward with her left foot slightly, opening up a bit of a gap between her legs as she lifted both hands like a boxer. As Bache was beginning her slow descent, Vahn was able to see the elemental energy in the atmosphere congregating towards Tiona as, even though she wasn’t using a magic item, her body was channeling the mana into her physical attacks themselves…

From Tiona’s right arm, jade-green runes began to spread across her skin starting from the back of her hand and extending up her arm. They were very similar to the markings that Tiona would have whenever she was in her [Pactio] form, indicating that her constant use of the ability had bee ‘remembered’ by her body. Even without using Vahn’s own mana, Tiona was able to use the mana from the atmosphere to power her attack and, to the shock and awe of everyone present, this attack ended up being far outside their expectations…

Long before Bache was anywhere near the ground, Tiona had shifted her weight slightly, using her knees, waist, abdomen, shoulders, and even wrist to create a rotational movement as her fist struck out with monumental force. Though it wasn’t as extreme as when Lili would attack, Tiona’s singular blow had created a green pillar that was a little more than three meters in diameter, instantly rising to meet the falling Bache. She had no choice but to try and defend it from her aerial position but, having no real resistance against magical attacks, even if they seemed purely physical in nature, things quickly took a turn for the worse…

Bache’s clothing had practically disintegrated from her body, veil included, as parts of her skin and muscles began to crack at a visible rate. Even Tiona realized she had erred greatly as the attack she launched out had been a ‘critical’ strike, causing it to completely overwhelm what little defense Bache could muster. Fortunately, just as Bache’s body seemed like it was going to begin breaking apart, Vahn began using [Wound Transfer] to move most of the damage to his own body. As a result, Bache was able to withstand the blow but her consciousness had been robbed long before her bloody and maimed body was caught by Tiona.

The moment Bache had touched down, the arena practically exploded in fervent cheers as each Amazoness in the crowd was extremely riled up by the spectacular display of speed and power. The fact that their Captain had been defeated didn’t seem to bother them much and, seemingly without any regards for her well-being, they were more focused on chanting Tiona’s name and releasing exciting war cries instead of moving to provide aid. Tiona simply ignored them and instead pulled some master-grade Elixirs out of her storage bracelet, quickly applying the vital liquid to the surface wounds lingering on Bache’s body…

Tione’s perception wasn’t nearly as enhanced as anomalies like Vahn and Tiona, but she had still noticed the moment when Bache’s body ‘stopped’ breaking down. She gave Vahn a questioning look that seemed to ask, ‘Are you sure…?’, earning her a small nod in return. Just as he had been cautioned about several times, there was a great price to pay for interfering with a match. Though it was obviously Bache’s loss, the fact the blow very likely would have killed her meant his actions were the same as saying, ‘You are mine now’. If Bache understood he was the one that saved her, it would be almost impossible to stop her from trying to pursue him without taking a hard stance. However, since she was supposed to be one of the women who he would have a relationship with in the future, Vahn was willing to accept responsibility for his actions…

Eventually, though the excitement hadn’t even started to die down, a group of Amazonesses came into the arena to fetch Bache’s unconscious body and move her to one of the recovery areas. Her body was already in a stable condition but it would probably take her more than an hour just to regain consciousness after the strenuous battle. As for Tiona, she watched the group carry away her former mentor with an uncharacteristically stoic and measured smile. She then turned toward the direction of Vahn, allowing her smile to soften into something more natural before it practically blossomed on her face. Tiona felt like she had just settled the matters of her past and, though she still cared for her former mentor, now was the time to look toward the future…

(A/N: Short chapter today since I worked from 7AM to 11PM yesterday without many breaks in between. I had to wake up at 5AM just to write this before going back to work once again xD.)

(A/N: Alternate Titles: ‘Tiona Hiryute, the Amazoness vs Bache Kalif, the Veiled Reaper’,’Tione is moving forward in her own way…’,’Tiona still takes center stage, however…’)

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