Getting back to the tavern, I saw that Vanessa was sleeping.
After telling Nyu to take care of her and leaving her some chocolate, so she won’t grumble, I left the food for Sixxy and Nyu, then logged off to get some much needed sleep.
Logging back on, it was morning in Loiterous, I told Vanessa that she’s going shopping.
Icicle: I can’t really help you pick the clothes, as I simply don’t know anything about it, so Nyu will go with you in there.
Nyu: Huh? Why do I need to go?
Icicle: You’re a girl, and you’ll get the chocolate.
Nyu: Hmph, always bribing me. Cheeky human.
‘Yet you still catch the bait…’
I gave Vanessa 20 gold coins to buy whatever is necessary for her and her daughter.
Icicle: Don’t be stingy. This is for you.
Vanessa: B-But it’s a lot of money.
Icicle: *sigh* Whatever’s left is yours anyways. So do whatever you want with it, just don’t nag at me that you don’t have appropriate clothing.
Vanessa: I don’t need to look like a lady!
Icicle: Can you cook?
Icicle: It’s a simple question. I want to know if I can trouble you with housekeeping.
Vanessa: Yes, I can cook. I was doing all of the chores in my household. But what does that have to do with…
She didn’t even get to finish her sentence, as her eyes went wide with shock.
Vanessa: Y-You bestowed nobility upon me?
Well, I gave her the Housekeeper position, but she’s a part of the Whitesnow household now.
Personally, I think that housekeeper position requires a lot of work, and enough responsibility, and tenacity to actually manage the house for someone.
Vanessa: I-I d-don’t know how to t-thank you *sob*.
Icicle: It’s okay, it’s okay. No need to cry. Come on, let’s get to the coliseum. The tournament is starting soon.
Albatros Company’s Studio
Carl: Boss! That kid you have your eyes on is doing something big again.
Carl: He has just challenged rank 7 Mercenary.
Jack: Want to bet that he’s gonna lose?
Boss: Sure, same amount as last time?
Carl & Jack: You’re on.
Boss: Guess I won again. Want to bet on the tournament outcome as well?
Jack: No thanks, Boss. We’re broke.
Boss: Well then. I won another 400$ off of you guys, so I guess I can pay for the takeout. Order some pizza, we’ll enjoy watching the tournament, ufufu. You better be grateful, normally, it’s the loser who pays for it.
Hanging their heads down, Jack and Carl could only meekly respond.
Jack & Carl: Thank you Boss.
Seeing Vanessa off to her seat, I left her with Nyu.
Leaving another bar of chocolate for Nyu, to make sure she won’t object like always, I headed to the underground area, where all the participants, or should I say gladiators, congregated.
Now that I think about it, I don’t even know what’s the prize for this tournament… oh well, whatever.
I’ll find out sooner or later.
Maybe asking these guys down here will “enlighten” me…
Asking around, I gathered that the group I joined was called E group, one that was consisting of all the participants that joined the tournament through the test or simply by paying.
The reason it cost 25g to join, was because it was already a second stage of the tournament.
Today’s participants have already fought and achieved top 8 in their respective areas.
I learned that we’re supposed to face a group of 50 people, who were in top 16 in their areas, for a few spots left in the tournament.
The thing is, our group counted only 23 people, including me.
‘This will be a nice experience. I need to try these combination attacks.’
Asking about the main prize, everyone in the room looked at me funny, as if I was joking.
Laughing it off, they told me that it was 2500 gold coins and some rare magical beast.
‘Magical beast? Wasn’t it supposed to be Vanessa’s daughter…? Well, I never asked her what she is…’
I wanted to ask about more things, but we were called up to the arena.
Arena guard: Group E, you’re up.
I saw all of the people leaving for the exit, as if being the first to walk out would bring them more honor, fame and glory.
Walking slowly behind them, I was blinded by the rays of sun.
‘No wonder, I was in this dark underground for at least 10 minutes.’
Getting accustomed to the light, I saw a huge crowd, counting around 50 thousand.
Some were cheering, others booing.
I can’t tell who was rooting for who, but I saw some of the guys in my group were shaking.
Whether it was excitement or fear, I have no idea.
The entire arena. was a sand ground encircled by the stands.
This coliseum had some kind of a barrier, seemingly preventing any damage done to the spectators.
With the 4 entrances, one on the east side of me had a majestic balcony, where the princess of the Kingdom of Minaeryth, Saress, sat.
The group of 50 in front of us, was definitely giving off a vibe of veterans.
‘Why did these people in my group even sign up for the tournament… They should have known who they will be facing. *sigh* ‘
Icicle: *Nyu, if someone from the outside tries to interrupt me in any way, kill him.*
Nyu: *Such a bold decision. Are you finally becoming a man, kid?*
Tournament’s official: Good morning ladies and gentlemen. This is the moment you’ve been waiting for. The elimination round! Before we start the official tournament, we’re going to have 5 groups, from E-I battling it out for the remaining spots in the tournament. Right now, group E, consisting of 23 new participants that decided to join this Intermediary Level Tournament, and group F, made of 50 participants that barely missed their entry spots in their respective regions will duke it out!
Both groups will fight for their spots in the main tournament.
No matter which group wins, their remaining participants will get the spots in the main Intermediary Level Tournament.
I heard some of the crowd booing, probably at the size of the groups.
The most surprising thing, was that large portion of the people gathered, was actually excited.
Some people covered in coats through and through, were going through the crowd.
I saw some people exchanging their coins for something that looked like a piece of paper.
‘Illegal betting, huh. I should have bet on myself…’
Tournament’s official: Now for the rules. Killing is not allowed. Receiving help from the outside equals disqualification. If you’re in a critical condition, or below 30% health, you’re out. Using forbidden magic in whatever form is banned. Everything else is allowed. That’s all.
‘Participants that are using poison will have a field day… if they want to kill someone, they’ll just use a poison that will kill you after this round, or after the whole tournament. Gotta be careful.’
Tournament’s official: On my mark. Ready?! Fight!
Equipping my Water Archmage’s Orb, I heard gasps coming from the stands.
“Look at this, he’s using an ancient orb!”
“FUCK! I placed all of my money on the F group! Arghhh!”
“Group E is definitely going to win now, poor guys in group F, stumbling upon an Ancient Mage…”
“It’s only intermediary tournament, but we’ll get to see one in action! I’m so glad I bought a ticket now!”
Hearing the loud cheering, I realized that the orb I equipped is probably wielded only by the Ancient Mages.
Icicle: *Eshel, is that orb really that rare?*
Eshel: *It’s one of the best middle tier orbs, and just having an orb is a huge deal. For these people, who came here to see some decent fights, this is like going to a Master Level Tournament. Now that you’ve gathered attention, you can go all out. It’s not like hiding your abilities will make people on the stands or other participants believe that you’re weak.*
Icicle: *I can’t go all out. It’s an elimination round. I was planning to test combination skills. That’s what I’ll do.*
Eshel: *These ones, huh. Very well. I’m excited to see what you’ll think of, kid.*
‘He’s excited, huh. Yeah, right, Eshel probably wants to laugh at me if I fail…’
He’s right on the attention thing though. Now that I’ve inadvertently exposed myself, might as well win with a bang.
If I am to be recognized, I need some publicizing.
Earning some respect now won’t hurt. House Whitesnow will become more distinguished as well.
Warriors, Berserkers, Paladins and all the other melee classes already clashed at the middle of the arena, while archers and mages started readying their ranged attacks.
Seeing that the fight has already started, I rushed in kind of late.
To help out my teammates a bit, I decided to test two of my somewhat changed existing skills first.
The first one was water version of [Gliding step].
[Gliding step] allowed me to move in one direction, until the dash ended.
But what if I were to be attacked by a spell in middle-dash?
That’s where I hoped the water versatility will come in handy.
What I wanted to achieve, was a technique, that allowed me to move as chaotic as water, in a completely unreadable pattern.
One that resembles the flow of water, ever-changing.
Focusing on my feet, I made sure that water mana is gathered there.
Trying to move like water was hard.
Let’s try with snake’s movement first.
Using the skill just in time to dodge incoming fireballs and thunderbolts, I felt quite irritated.
‘Annoying fuckers, can’t even let me test my skills!’
Realizing that it’s my fault for dawdling around, I focused on the mages in the back.
I have no idea why they stood so close to each other, but that was definitely helpful.
Imagining 15 of them enclosed in water, as in my [Water prison] skill, I lifted the balls of water up.
Their skills were interrupted, while they were completely at my mercy during the skill duration.
With the water orb, it was a stunning 5 seconds.
But that wasn’t all. I didn’t want [Water prison] to be just another crowd control spell.
It needed to do some damage as well!
Imagining streaks of water piercing through the [Water prison], I made sure they froze inside, piercing through the poor mages with impromptu ice spears.
I knew that killing them was not an option, so I made sure that their vital organs were not hit.
Seeing as my mana dropped by this much, I was quite perplexed.
I mean [Water prison] didn’t use much mana, and even 15 of them would use around 900.
These water streaks that became ice spears didn’t cost much to freeze as well.
Why was the cost so high then?
Commentator: Ohhhh! Did you see that?! With just one spell, 15 participants of group F are eliminated! Now this is 33 vs 17!
‘Six people from my group got eliminated, while they managed to get only two. This number advantage does wonders for group F.’
Icicle: *Oi, Eshel, why was the cost of my spell so high?*
Eshel; *Can’t you figure it out yourself for once?*
Icicle: *I think it is because I actually imagined it, without making it my skill. Is that it?*
Eshel: *Why are you asking me if you already figured it out?*
Icicle: *I don’t know how to make it a skill!*
Eshel: *When you get more efficient in the way you’re doing it, that spell of yours will actually become a skill. For now, your mana usage will be higher than normal, while your damage will be as much as halved.*
Icicle: *Halved? Isn’t that too much?!*
Eshel: *Kid, you’re creating an original spell. What did you expect? It doesn’t have to be 50% of power. I said that the worst it can be is 50%. Do you get it?*
Icicle: *Yeah, no need to get so grumpy. Thanks.*
‘So that’s how it is. I may be able to create spells, but before I master them it’s like playing with fire… you never know what might happen.’
50% of the power isn’t actually that bad. I don’t have much magic damage anyways. This class isn’t suited for insta-killing people.
Ice Mage uses utility spells, that make people unable to act.
If they can’t do anything, then you can simply kill them by hitting their vital areas.
At least I think it should be used that way…
Gathering a lot of attention from the remainder of the participants, I had to use water step to dodge everything they threw at me.
Three Knights, or at least I assumed, they were Knights, thrust their spears at me, making some weird spinning movements with their spears, resembling a drill.
Feeling the force of wind behind these attacks, I immediately sidestepped.
‘The power behind that skill is ridiculous. It feels like fightning an elite monster!’
Registering in my mind, that NPCs are a lot stronger in Loiterous, than in any other game I’ve played till now, I knew that holding back, if I am to survive this round, is not the way to go.
‘I can’t use [Ice storm] and [Realm of frost]. If these people are the ones that didn’t make it, then I need to have an ace up my sleeve.’
If the knights weren’t making my life hard enough, the constant bombardment from various kind of archers was making me furious.
Casting [Pillar of Ice] I managed to pierce through 3 of the supposed longbowmen.
When the rest of the archers was retreating, I used [Water whip] to entangle the knights in front of me.
Turning the vibrating water into ice, I heard their screams, as their health started rapidly depleting from their armor and flesh shearing off.
With the situation “under control”, I became careless.
Huge fireball landed on my [Frost shield], taking at least 500 of my mana off.
In a fit of rage, I cast [Ice spear], that tore through the Fire Mage’s abdomen, as if it was made of butter.
He was immediately eliminated.
With the 3 knights finally falling down from the bleeding effect and excruciating pain from constant drilling they received, the seemingly unwinnable fight became a 20 vs 12.
My group took advantage of their knights, that were the primary tanks, leaving, obliterating half of the enemy’s backline.
It took 5 people, but they made it.
Killing these 3 longbowmen was crucial.
Without the constant barrage, 2 allied lightning mages managed to eliminate the opponent’s healer.
I’m so fucking stupid! Damn it!
I completely forgot that I can heal them!
Immediately casting [Rain of healing] on all of myallies and [Purified water] on the close to 30% hp warrior, I saw relief on their faces.
For some reason, my opponents decided to focus on me once again, giving my teammates time to kill the rest of the mages and archers.
Casting my new, upgraded multi-targeted version of [Water prison], my mana took a downfall, to a 4000 region.
Fortunately, the fight was nearing its end.
12 vs 3, this was the final result, as the remaining participants from group F surrendered.
The entire crowd that was silent, or at least I thought it was silent, because I focused on the fight way too much, erupted in cheers.
“Amazing! This brawl was simply amazing! To think it was just an elimination for the main tournament! Ahh, I can’t wait!”
“Have you seen that, dear?! You can’t complain that I dragged you to the coliseum now!”
“That guy in black coat, he’s a noble! What house is he from?”
“Huh? He really is a noble! Does anyone know him?”
I guess I really took the spotlight.
Seeing the smiling faces of my companions, I remembered that from now on, we’re probably going to become enemies.
Commentator: That was an amazing opening ceremony! Don’t you agree?!
Hearing the cheers becoming even louder, he continued as if nothing happened.
Commentaror: The MVP award definitely goes to the man in the black coat, Icicle Whitesnow!
‘Well, now I definitely took the spotlight…’
“A noble and an Ancient Mage, this youngster is too amazing! I wonder what kingdom does he want to join!”
“He’s a mage, isn’t it obvious? Kingdom of Acalen is renowned for its mages!’
As the joyous talks continued, someone in the crowd had a change of expression.
This person’s mood changed from bored to anxious…