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Episode 102 – Simpleton
The day of the practical exams is finally here and Kiel is inside a large arena created by the Replica Dungeon. Kiel and Nelaira manage to defeat their opponents. Rhur uses Razorblood petals to slice the neck of his opponent open. Kiel and Rhur decide to each take one opponent, however, they can’t agree on which opponent to pick. They end up bickering, neither one wanting to fight Deora.
Kiel stared at Rhur speechlessly trying to stop himself from shooting out a sarcastic remark. “Older brother… your worry is unnecessary. Let’s be logical here. The ginger should be a perfect fit for your abilities. If you use your Sparkbloom petals he’d be easily dealt with.”
Other than the Razorblood petals Rhur had used earlier, he often used another variety of petals that was even more dangerous – the Sparkb(l)oom petals.
Sparkb(l)oom was a rare flower similar in appearance to a chrysanthemum, discovered (and named) by Alann Farhice, which grew underwater in poisonous swamps. As one might guess by its name, its petals were highly flammable and quite explosive.
“Ah, that’s true.” Rhur sighed sadly. “However, I am out of Sparkbloom flowers. You should know how expensive and difficult to find they are. I can’t always have them just because I want to.”
Kiel’s eyebrow twitched again. “What do you mean expensive?! Don’t they grow in the poisonous bog our family owns?”
“Yes, under the Shield our little bog is the only one with an environment in which Sparkbloom flowers can grow. And since it is such a small bog, the number of flowers is very limited. Most of Sparkbloom flowers I use come from the Forbidden Zone, and such merchandise is hard to come by.” Rhur explained.
Kiel frowned, cursing inwardly. “Don’t tell me that you are not confident in beating such a small fry? I always thought that my older brother was really an amazing fighter. Have I overestimated your abilities?”
Rhur’s eyes chilled. “Of course, that’s not the case. I can easily beat both of them, little brother. But there is no glory in defeating an elibu female, so I decided to let you take the glory of beating the ginger.”
“You are the future head of the family, it is in the family’s interest for you to have as much of the glory as possible. Therefore, I shall take it upon myself to do such an arduous and unrewarding task and let you handle the ginger.”
“How about this, little brother? I’ll take down the girl, and then I’ll join you in fighting the ginger. It shouldn’t take long for me to dispose of the girl and then we can join hands for the glory of the Rroda family.”
From the corner of his eye, Kiel noticed that Nelaira had approached Deora and they seemed to be conversing. He had no time to argue with Rhur further. Otherwise, Nelaira and Deora might decide to team up, and the battle would turn into two vs. two, instead of two battles of one vs. one.
Kiel’s face stiffened, and he gruffly whispered under his breath. “Dear brother, have you forgotten my dislike for fire?”
Rhur chuckled huskily. “It’s not a dislike, little brother, it’s more of a fear. You need to learn how to deal with your fears. Therefore, this opponent is perfect for you.”
Kiel’s pupils shrunk and a string of curses almost erupted from his mouth.
He finally realized the truth of the matter.
It wasn’t that Rhur wanted to fight Nelaira, rather, he wanted Kiel to fight Deora!
He was aware that Kiel hated fire!
* * *
While the two Rroda brothers were bickering, Nelaira was frowning. She wasn’t stupid. Even before the two started talking she had realized that they knew each other. Let alone when they actually started planning how to team up against her.
She looked towards Deora, who was standing calmly with a lofty air, seemingly not concerned about the conversation of the two Rroda brothers.
Nelaira sighed softly, but in the end, decided to approach Deora. If the other two wanted to team up, the only choice left was for her and Deora to team up as well.
Deora looked at her approach but didn’t attack. Nelaira stopped a fair distance away and spoke up. “Those two are plotting how to deal with us.” She tilted her head towards Kiel and Rhur. “We better take them down first, before they manage to come up with a plan.”
Deora snorted. “Let them come. I am not afraid of anyone.”
Nelaira frowned. “Don’t underestimate Rrodas. They might not have a signature magic of their own, but they are rich. Who knows what kind of dangerous items they are hiding inside their pouches.”
Deora looked at her condescendingly. Nelaira stared back at him speechlessly. After waiting for a few moments for his response, Nelaira couldn’t wait anymore. “Uh… how about this, I’ll take the right one, and you take the left one?”
Deora’s only response was to look at her with even more scorn.
Nelaira’s expression froze and, suddenly, a thought hit her… This guy… could he be… an idiot…?!
As soon as her mind reached that conclusion, her eyes widened, but then they flashed with a crafty light. “…fine… don’t tell anyone I told you this, but I heard those two talking trash about you earlier.”
As expected, Deora’s scorn was replaced with fury. “They did what!?!”
Nelaira smiled internally. “They called you flamebrains and said you’d be easy to deal with.” To be even more convincing, she pointed to her long elibu ears and explained: “They might be able to hide it from your short ears but not mine.”
Deora gaped, and his entire body erupted into flames. “Those b.a.s.t.a.r.ds!!! How dare they?! I’m going to turn them into ash!!!” He bellowed and without further delay Accelerated towards the two Rroda brothers.
Nelaira barely managed to restrain herself from chuckling. Moron… her eyes squinted into a crescent shape. But still, that naivety is… kinda cute.
* * *
Kiel and Rhur were just about to continue bickering when they noticed a furious looking Deora charging their way with his body covered in flames. To make matters worse, not only was he furiously charging towards them but he also started throwing large fireb.a.l.l.s their way.
Kiel who already knew what Deora’s specialty was, quickly turned tail and ran.
Rhur, who wasn’t as informed, was caught by surprise. His pupils narrowed, and his jaw stiffened, however, he wasn’t considered as a great warlock for nothing – his instincts quickly kicked in, and he managed to evade as well.
As Rhur ran, his mind reeled. Fireb.a.l.l.s?! The heck?! He is an argel!
One could increase the temperature of a material, but that didn’t necessarily mean that the material would spontaneously combust. Not all materials were flammable.
Rhur had noticed that Deora had set his own hair on fire, but he thought that he was probably using it as a way to intimidate others, burning his own hair gel or hair spray. It was one thing to set something flammable on fire, and completely another to conjure fire out of nothing. Conjuring was the specialty of Trans.m.u.tation magic of elibu. It wasn’t something augmentation magic could do.
Deora’s casting was fast so others couldn’t see clearly what kind of spell he was using, but even a brief glance was enough for everyone to realize that he was indeed using Augmentation magic. Augmentation and Trans.m.u.tation spell patterns had distinct, very different styles and one could tell them apart with a glance.
The two Rroda brothers darted in the opposite directions, forcing Deora to pick which one to follow. For a moment he was indecisive, looking left and right trying to decide which Rroda to pursue. Rhur was elegantly retreating with a stiff smile on his face, while Kiel was accelerating with a slight frown and tightly pressed lips.
Deora looked at Rhur and his amiable demeanor. That one looks friendly. A good guy.
Then he looked at Kiel whose eyes were completely solemn. This one looks like a spiteful sarcastic type! He must be the bad one!
And thus, Deora changed his direction and Accelerated towards Kiel.
Seeing a furious ginger charging his way, Kiel felt like crying, but no tears would come. If he knew the thought process which resulted in Deora picking him, he might have stumbled in his step and ended up incinerated. He’d probably be forced to bite his lips to prevent himself from yelling out: “How am I the bad guy?!? How can you judge that with a glance?!? Are you a moron?!”
Luckily, Deora’s unique thought process remained a mystery and didn’t interrupt Kiel’s state of mind.
Seeing Deora concentrating his barrage on Kiel, Nelaira didn’t stay idle either. She sent her mana Rhur’s way and made her move.
* * *
Fireb.a.l.l.s obscured the sky as they rained down on Kiel whose mind was preoccupied with preventing the sense of dread and panic brewing deep inside of him from coming to the surface.
He hated fire. He really hated fire.
If Deora could turn everything into ice sculptures, shattering them into dust, that would be fine. If Deora wielded lightning that could cause unbelievable agony to its targets before burning them into a crisp, it would be alright as well. At this point, he wouldn’t even mind if Deora was as inconceivable as Zor Arite. Everything and anything was fine. Just not fire.
Kiel’s mind felt incredibly sluggish, he was trying to remember the tips for dealing with Deora, but besides the word Firecracker, nothing else came back to him. It was as if all memorized tips evaporated as soon as he saw the endless rain of fire descend upon him.
The fireb.a.l.l.s didn’t just come from behind him. Mana could travel faster than he could Accelerate, making it so that no matter which direction he ran towards, fireb.a.l.l.s would appear there before him. From all directions they honed in on Kiel, whenever he turned, they would turn as well, sometimes barely missing him.
Even though Kiel couldn’t feel the scorching air they left behind because he had cast a temperature isolation magic on himself, his clothes still got drenched in sweat and were sticking to his body closely.
Temperature isolation was a variant of the Temperature spell whose purpose was to retain the temperature of the target preventing it from both increasing and decreasing. As long as Deora’s fireb.a.l.l.s didn’t directly hit him, causing a head-on clash between spells, he would not get burned by their remnants.
Actually, even if he did get hit by a fireball, there was a chance that he wouldn’t get burned. There was a chance that his temperature isolation spell might withstand the fireball, or at least minimize its effects before breaking. However, Kiel had no intention to risk it by getting hit by a fireball.
After all, Deora’s specialty was fire magic. He was so good at it that he eventually got recruited into Muni. Kiel didn’t think that his temperature isolation was powerful enough to resist an onslaught from a fire demon such as Deora Thayn.
Luckily, Deora’s limit was controlling less than 40 head-sized fireb.a.l.l.s at once. So, no matter how many fireb.a.l.l.s he created only 40 would be seeking Kiel at any given time.
However, those 40 were enough to pressure Kiel to the point of not giving him time to retaliate. He continued to dodge, hoping that after a while of mad chasing, Deora would get tired or calm down.
Yet, each time Kiel looked back at Deora, he looked more and more fired up, to the point at which Kiel couldn’t help but wonder: What the..?? Do you have something against me?! Did I kill your parents?! What’s with this hate??
* * *
In the VIP lodge, the examiners were calmly observing the proceedings and commenting on it.
Seeing Kiel retreat, the green haired man smiled approvingly. “Creating some distance between himself and Nelaira and Rhur is a clever thing to do. It would be quite chaotic and easy to get hit by a stray attack if he stayed near their battle. Rhur Rroda is not a team player. He probably wouldn’t mind if he hit him with a stray attack.”
“Hmm, prolonging the fight until Deora tires out isn’t a bad plan. Deora is spending mana at an astonishing rate, he will inevitably run out of mana before the end of the exam.” The only female of the four mused. “His strategical conserving of mana is quite fine as well. He is using just enough mana to avoid the fireb.a.l.l.s and not a speck more. Such a fine mana conservation is quite admirable.”
“He is quite adept at hiding his strength. Does he intend to lull Deora into a false sense of security and then catch him off guard with a sudden attack?” The green haired man cupped his chin in thought.
Fun fact. Sparkbloom is officially spelled as “Sparkb(l)oom”. Curtesy of Alann Farhice. It is listed that way in the official books. Alann insisted that it is supposed to be spelled that way. :D It is read Sparkbloom though.
Off topic: I should really find some time to continue DOAF. I’ve got a whole notebook filled with funny things Alann did in his time coupled with unfortunate funny accidents caused by his band of misfits. There is so much to write that I won’t be running out of inspiration for a long, long time. But unfortunately, I can’t find enough time to write the main story of Aethernea, let alone DOAF. >
Coming up in the next episode:
“Should we call Deora over to watch this fight? He is not supervising any of the exams right now, is he? I’d love to see his face when his Replica is beaten down!”
The female’s smirk only grew. “To be caught off guard by a youngster who isn’t even a warlock. Disgraceful…”
“He has reached his limit.”
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