Circle Star Adventure. The Ever Blooming Flower.

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Chapter 33. The Blood Halbert.

- Don’t think just because you’re a Bronze Rank I will go easy on you boy. – Ronald addressed me in a serious tone.

- By all means. It’d be a shame if you did. I’m looking forward to what a Conqueror can do. – I said.

- Aren’t you a little too overconfident boy?– he asked.

I didn’t say anything back. Roland held a massive, powerful sword in his hand. Meera had a shield in her left hand and a one hand sword in her right hand. Their armor and weapons weren’t the only impressive part about them. The strong, powerful auras indicated they were a real deal. I was glad I joined the tournament for this reason alone.

- Begin! – we heard the announcement.

But neither of us moved from our positions. I didn’t even take out my swords yet.

- I don’t understand one thing though. Why such a high ranked adventurer would join this tournament? – I asked.

- Huh? What?- Roland didn’t expect to hear my question.

- I mean, you’re not only strong, but also have a Three Star Gold companion. Not only she is powerful, but a real beauty as well. Why would you ditch her for someone else? – I confronted him.

Hearing my compliment Meera blushed and lowered her guard.

- That doesn’t concern you. Meera stay focused. Remember why we are here. – said Roland.

- Yes Master Roland. I apologize. – she took defensive stance.

- And why did you join the tournament boy? – he asked me.

- As you can see I’m all by myself. What other reason there would be? – I wasn’t about to tell him my real reasons.

- Another fool who thinks it will be easy to get a Five Star Gold Companion. – Roland wasn’t pleased with my response.

- Hey! What’s going on? – we heard the shouts from the seats.

- Stop wasting time! Start fighting! – yelled another spectator.

- Come on! Get on with it! – shouted yet another one.

- Oh my. Looks like we’re not putting a show for our beloved spectators. – I sarcastically emphasized the word ‘beloved’. – Who are the real fools here really?

- Hmph... enough talk. I’ll make it quick boy. – Roland raised his sword up.

He rushed at me in an instant, faster than I anticipated and swung with his weapon from above.

- ‘Swoosh!’ –

I reacted in time and jumped to the side in order to evade his attack.

- ‘Bang!’ – A hole was left in the ground after the hit.

Oops. That was close. He’s really strong. Way different than my previous opponents. Hah. This is going to be fun.

- Let’s see you prove your words. – I took out my weapons and charged at him.

- ‘Ding!’ – Meera showed up in front of me and blocked my attack.

But, differently from Robert, she held her ground and stood firm, even though I put more strength into my swing.

Wow, she’s impressive too.

- ‘Bang! Ding! Bam!’ – I kept attacking her.

Each of my swings was either blocked or parried.

- Yaaa! – Roland’s sword was closing in right at me.

- ’Ding! - I thrust my sword directly at Meera’s shield and pushed myself away from Ronald’s attack.

- ‘Swoosh!’ – he swung at me again, but I was already too far for him to reach me.

- Master Roland. – Meera hinted.

- Yes, I noticed. He hit your shield to get away from my attack. Not something an ordinary Bronze Rank adventurer might think of. – he commented.

- His strength is on a different level too. I had to really hold my ground to hold off his attacks. – she said.

- I see. – Roland looked at me.

So that’s what it is. You’ve been testing my strength here. Well I hope I lived up to your expectations. – I grinned, ready to attack them myself.

- ‘Swoosh! Bang!’ – I swung at Roland, but he blocked my attack with his massive sword.

- Don’t get ahead of yourself boy. Haa! – he swung back at me.

I held both of my swords in front of me.

- ‘Bam!’ – and blocked his swing.

However, this time the force was too strong and blew me away.

- Woah! – I slid backwards, but managed to stay on my feet. – Getting serious, are you?

- Don’t get the wrong idea. I’m far from serious boy. – stated Roland.

Pfff. Tell that to your face. – I almost laughed out loud.

- Ok then, how about we change that? – I quickly charged at Meera.

- ‘Ding!’ – she managed to block my strike just in time.

- ’Slash! Bang! Swoosh! – I kept attacking her.

- Argh... ha! – Meera blocked again and swung back at me.

I used her attack as an opening against her, leaped down and hit her from the side with my elbow.

- Aaah... – she succumbed, but didn’t fall down.

- ’Swing! Swoosh! – I jumped back to dodge Roland’s attacks.

Meera stood back up. Her face showed disbelief and a little bit of anger. My blow must’ve hurt a little, more so to her pride than to her body. It was evident they didn’t take me seriously just yet. Otherwise she would’ve easily avoided my blow. I jumped back in, but at Roland this time.

- Don’t think lightly of me boy! Haaa! – he focused his magical energy and released a powerful force wave around him.

The blast blew me away from him. Roland’s body emitted strong aura. His strength and magical energy increased tremendously.

Aha. Now that’s more like it.

- I underestimated you boy, but now it’s over. Wind Blade! – his swing created a magic blade, flying right at me.

- Shield. – ‘Bam!’ – it was a direct hit.

- Too bad for you boy. You chose your own de-

- Phew... That was close. – I shook the dust of my clothes.

- What in the world? How did you... – Roland’s face changed in disbelief.

- Master Roland he’s stronger than he looks. – Meera stood next to him.

- Hmm... It would seem so. – he fixed his poise. – No point in holding back then.

I was still dusting my clothes off when Roland raised his sword up. Despite wearing heavy armor, he dashed at me with incredible speed.

- Haaa! – his attack was even faster than before.

I ducked down to avoid being cut in half.

- You’re mine! – Roland turned around in circle, lifting his sword up.

I lifted my swords up to block.

-‘Slash!’, ‘Cling!’ – his powerful swing shattered my swords and blew me away.

- Oh wow. Now that’s an attack. – I was impressed.

Luckily I wasn’t hurt much, however, I couldn’t say the same thing about my swords.

- That’s it boy. Your swords are useless. There’s nothing you can do. Give up now, before you get hurt. – Roland warned me.

Why does he call me a ‘boy’ all the time? It’s not like I am ten years old or something.

- Yeah, well. That’s what I get for using cheap weapons against an opponent such as yourself. – I said sarcastically.

(at the seating area)

- Hmph... ya bloody fool. Ya broke damn good swords. – Sieran said unhappily.

- Too bad Madam Norel. It looks like this time you weren’t very fortunate with your bet. – Squintl was pleased with what happened.

- Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. – Madam Norel wasn’t upset at all.

- It’s a real shame. TC was holding out quite well. But what can you do? He was against a Gold Rank adventurer. – Don was a little sad about it.

- It’s not over yet. – Robert said in a serious voice.

- Huh? – everyone except Angi, Stan and Rori were surprised.

- Yeah. Sir TC hasn’t shown his true strength yet. – said Stan without taking his eyes from arena.

- Ya mean the lad has a trick up his sleeve? – Sieran was curious.

- Yes, he does. Sir TC defeated Orgob using his own weapon. – answered Robert.

- His own weapon? But he doesn’t have any more weapons on him. – Don commented.

- Go TC! – Rori jumped from her seat. – Show them what you’ve got!

(at the arena)

Huh? Wha? Hah. If it isn’t Ror. I have my own cheerleader squad. Too bad Eve isn’t here. She’d love to see what happens next.

- That’s a rather foolish encouragement. What can you do without a weapon boy? – Roland leaned his sword on a shoulder.

- Ah, who knows. – I threw away my broken swords.

- Suit yourself. If you don’t surrender, I will have to win by defeating you for real. – he charged at me.

- ‘Swoosh!’ – a big, powerful sword was closing in.

- Summon... Blood Halbert. - a red dazzling light shot out of my palm.

A magic string materialized into a hilt, then a pole and then a blade followed.

- ‘Ding!’ – I blocked the incoming attack with my polearm.

- What?! – Ronald’s face was too funny to describe.

- Hehe. – I grinned looking him straight in the eyes.

- ‘Strrr... ’ – the metal grinded against another metal. – ‘Swoosh!’ – I swung back in semi circle and pushed Roland away.

(at the seats)

Everyone, except Madam Norel were on top of their feet.

- What in a dwarven hammer is that? – Sieran was as much curious as he was surprised.

- Is this what you meant when you said ‘His own weapon’? – asked Don.

- No... I mean yes. But this one is different. – Robert was as surprised as the others.

- What’s happening? Now TC is glowing himself. What’s that red light? – added Amelia.

- I have no idea. – said Robert.

(back at the arena)

- Summon Blood Armor. – a red, dazzling light engulfed me.

The red light became magic dust, which materialized into a piece of metal. Starting from head to toes, a solid, magic armor, piece by piece, covered my entire body.

Red, as a blood itself, and imbued with magical runes, the Blood Armor was once again protecting my body. Holding Blood Halbert in my hands I was ready for a serious fight.

- I thought I will get serious as well. – I placed my polearm on my right shoulder.

Roland and Meera were speechless. They were cautious to approach me. After seeing what happened, neither of them dared to attack me recklessly.

In the meantime, little by little, the shouts from the seats became louder and louder. Every single spectator joined in until the arena erupted into one big, trembling roar.

Hah. They did want a show after all.

- What happened? You became speechless all of a sudden. – I taunted my opponents.

- Huh? – Ronald reacted to my comment. – What did you just do? What kind of magic is this? Where did all your equipment come from?

- Who knows. Maybe it was here all along. – I said.

I was beaming from excitement and tried to contain my laugh. Their faces were priceless.

- How dare you? Such insolence! – he stated angrily.

- Yeah? And? – I taunted him again.

Roland was pointing his sword in my direction, but didn’t move.

Being defensive are we? That’s exactly where I want you. Now let’s see how long you will last.

I held my weapon with both hands and was ready to attack.

- Flash Step. – I appeared in front of Meera in an instant.

- Huh? – ‘Bang!’ – she only barely managed to block my strike.

- ‘Swing! Dang! Swing!’ – she blocked again and again.

- Haa! – ‘Swish! Bam! Ding!’ – I was attacking non stop.

- Aaah! – Meera was desperately defending against my attacks.

- Haaa! – ‘Swoosh!’ – Roland swung at me from the side.

I quickly dodged and jumped back to keep my distance.

- Don’t think you can win that easy. Meera’s defenses are second to none. She’s wa-

- Master Roland... – Meera fell on one knee.

I had a helm on my head, so unfortunately nobody could see my satisfied grin.

- Wha... What’s wrong? – he realized she was in pain. – What happened? I saw you blocked every single of his attacks.

- Yes I did. At least I thought so too. But... even when I blocked... some of his attacks went through. I don’t know how... but they went right passed my shield. – she explained.

- But how? I didn’t notice anything. – her Master tried to figure out what happened.

- The strange thing is, his attacks weren’t directed at me. It was like... he intentionally was hitting my shield. – Meera added.

Roland glared at me angrily. His sword started to glow and I sensed immense magical energy gathering around him. I took a defensive stance.

- Rest for now. I will take care of him. – he stated.

- Aaaa... yaaah! – he swung at me with all of his might.

- ‘Bam!’ – I blocked his attack with my polearm.

- Haaa! – ‘Bang!’ – and again.

- ‘Swoosh! Thrust!’ – I jumped to the side and tried to stab him.

- Not so fast! – ‘Bam!’ – he blocked my attack. – Aargh...

- Yaaah! – Meera rushed at me.

- ‘Ting!’ – she hit my halbert with her sword.

It bounced away from Roland.

- Shield Bash! - ‘Boom!’ – I was blown away from the impact.

- Are you ok Master Roland? – she lifted her shield facing me.

- Yeah. It was like you said. I blocked his attack, but still felt the pain from being cut. What kind of magic is that? – he shook his hand then gripped the sword.

- Maybe his weapon is only a distraction to cast the magic in between his attacks? – Meera wondered.

Let’s not waste our precious time on guesswork here.

I gripped my weapon with both hands and rushed at Roland’s companion again.

- Shield Absorption! – ‘Bang!’ – Aaaa! – Meera slid few meters away after the hit.

- Take this! – ‘Slash!’ – Roland swung at me, but I was expecting it.

I dodged and swung back at him.

- ‘Swoosh! Ding!’ – he blocked my attack again.

- ’Swing! Slash! Thrust! – I unleashed a flurry of attacks.

Despite his fast reflexes and anticipation, he couldn’t block or parry all of my attacks. Even when he blocked, Roland’s body showed he was in pain.

- Aaaa! Haaa! – he swung in semi circle, then turned around and swung again.

It was a desperate move, more to force me get away than anything else. I knew they might figure out the secret behind my attacks sooner or later. But it was better if I could finish the fight before they did.

- Ugh... sigh... – Roland held himself up with the help of his sword.

- Master Roland! – Meera took defensive stance in front of him.

- I couldn’t see his magic. I blocked most of his attacks, but was still cut none the less. It was as if an invincible blade was slicing my body up. Who is this guy? – he slumped on one knee.

- Master... ah! – ‘Bam!’ – I attacked her again.

- ’Bang! Boom! Ding! – I didn’t want them to recover.

- Aargh... – Meera stood firm, but I knew my Blood Halbert did it’s job.

- Spinning Strike! – ’Bang! Bang! Bang! – I spun around hitting her shield.

I knew if I keep it up she will collapse eventually. The longer they stayed on defense the faster I would win.

- Aaaah! – after yet another hit, she fell on the ground.

- Why you! Haaa! – Roland was back on his feet.

- ‘Ding!’ – I blocked his attack.

- You can’t cast your magic when you’re blocking, eh? That means all I have to do is attack you non-stop! Haaa! – he shouted.

Roland attacked me relentlessly. Swing after swing, strike after strike, he pushed me back.

- ‘Swoosh! Slash!’ – his attacks didn’t stop for a second.

Woah, woah, woah. This is getting serious.

His strength didn’t surprise me and I had to give it all to stay on my feet. My Blood Halbert was excellent when it comes to attacking, but on defense it was a little bit harder without a shield.

Anyhow, even if I was on defense now, I needed only one opportunity for a counter. I knew I still had one advantage against them. They were yet to figure out the secret behind my attacks. So I was defending as best as I could, waiting for a chance.

(at the seats)

- Incredible... sir TC is incredible... – Stan was gasping as he watched the fight.

- There’s no way I could’ve won against him. Now I am certain he was going easy on me. – added Robert.

- Eve is so lucky to have him as her Master. Stan you’ll have to train ten times as hard to become as strong as TC. – stated Rori.

- Eeek... - Stan started sweating.

- Haha! You have it rough my friend. – Don laughed.

- And what about you mister mountain of muscles? – Amelia glared at him.

- Errr... but of course. I will train together with Stan. – Dan joined Stan on the sweating part.

- Hahaha! – everyone laughed.

- Bah! How come Eve isn’t here? I have so many questions to ask her. She never mentioned anything about how strong TC really is. – Rori cried out.

- That’s because you were only interested about the intimate part of their relationships. – commented Angi.

Madam Norel giggled quietly, slightly covering her mouth with one hand.

- Hihi. – Rori made a silly face.

(back at the arena)

- Wind... – Roland was preparing to launch his ‘Wind Blade’ strike.

- Not gonna happen! - I was waiting for it.

- ‘Ding!’ – I swung my halberd in semi circle to break his poise.

My attack deflected his sword and opened an opportunity to counter.

- Haaa! – I unleashed a tirade of thrusts at him.

- ‘Swish! Swish! Stab! Swish!’ –

They weren’t very strong, but way too fast for Roland to avoid or parry all of them.

- Argh! Aah! Ugh... – he was taking damage whether he blocked or not.

- Haaa! – I spun around, gripping Blood Halbert with both hands.

- ‘Slash!’ – a powerful force wave followed my swing.

- Aaaa! – he was blown away and fell on the ground.

- I don’t understand... I was sure to be wary of any magic to be cast... I couldn’t sense any... – Roland tried to lift himself up.

I started slowly walking towards him.

That’s because there wasn’t any. It’s my Blood Halbert’s ability, not mine. As long as it reaches you, it will cut you down. It doesn’t happen every time of course, but that doesn’t matter. As long as you’re on defense, you will lose sooner or later. I’m glad you didn’t figure it out in the end.

- I think it’s time to finish you off. – I raised my halberd, ready to swing.

- ‘Swoosh! Bang!’ – Meera appeared in front of Roland and blocked my attack.

- Aaarh! – she was much in pain, but stood firm, leaning on her shield. – I will protect you Master! I am your shield!

I was impressed, her resolve was incredible. Both of them were really strong and I admired their fighting spirit. But I had to win this fight.

- It’s ok. – Roland placed his hand on Meera’s shoulder. – We lost.

She slumped backwards, completely exhausted. Her Master held her from behind, so she wouldn’t fall.

- Excellent fight boy. You win. – he lifted his head and bowed slightly looking at where Vorin was.

- Roland and Meera are unable to fight anymore! Winner number sixteen! – he announced.

- Vaaaa! – the arena erupted with excitement.

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