Circle Star Adventure. The Ever Blooming Flower.

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Chapter 36. The Name Behind The Scenes.

- ... versus number nine, Dirk and Randy! – Vorin finished the announcement.

What? Seriously... – I was gutted after hearing who my opponents are. - Four Gold Rank participants and I get to fight the Potion users?

I wasn’t happy at all. My excitement evaporated like a water in a desert.

- You don’t look too happy about the fight TC. – Roland commented.

- Is it that evident? – I blurted.

But pairings are pairings. I couldn’t do much about it. I picked up Robert’s blade and shield and made my way to the arena.

- Master TC! – I heard someone shout.

- Eve? – I walked closer. – Luna? And Grog too? What are you doing here?

- Well... with the a tournament in a full swing, my diner became almost empty. And after Rori told us about your fight, I couldn’t miss the opportunity to see you in action. – Grog grinned.

- Serves you right doubling your prices. – I commented.

- Haha. – he laughed.

- Master TC congratulations on your first win. I knew you could do it. – Eve was happy.

- Thanks. Your face brightened my mood. – I felt a little better seeing them here.

- Hey, don’t ignore us! Or are you too chicken to face us? – Dirk shouted.

- Meh, whatever. – I wasn’t impressed. – Excuse me for a moment. I have a fight to win.

- Dirk and Randy used the resources available to them strategically and won their first match. And TC, despite being a Bronze Rank adventurer, surprised us with his unique magic! – Vorin started the introductions. – Let’s see who comes out victorious this time!

Spectators roared with excitement. But I walked to the middle of the arena looking totally bored and not even trying to hide it.

- Begin! – Vorin gave the signal.

- What’s with the act? Are you looking down on us? – Randy was angry.

Yes. I actually do.

- Well? Aren’t you gonna use your potions? I’ll wait. – I wasn’t motivated to fight them.

- You damn fool! We’re gonna beat you to a pulp! – they shouted back.

- Yeah, yeah. Just get over it already. – I didn’t move from my spot.

Both of them took out a potion each and drank it.

A speed boost or a strength boost?

Randy stepped to the side, then sprinted at me in a blink of an eye.

A speed boost then, eh. Whatever...

- ‘Ding!’ – I blocked his slash.

- Haaa! – ’Bang! Swoosh! – he attacked me again, but I blocked and dodged his following attacks.

Dirk jumped from the other side with his mace up in the air.

- ‘Bang! Thrust!’ – I turned and blocked Randy’s attack with the shield and thrust my sword at Dirk before he was able to swing at me.

- ‘Swoosh! Slash!’ – I spun around.

That forced my opponents to jump away from me.

- Is that all you can do? – I smirked.

- How is he so fast? We used the Speed Boost Potions. – Randy was surprised.

- Don’t forget he beat Roland and Meera on his own. We’ll have to use ‘that’ as well. – said Dirk.

- Whatever you’ll do, do it quick. I’m getting bored here. – I didn’t show any intention to attack them.

They became irritated by my comment and their faces showed it. Both of them quickly reached for another potion and drank it.

Strength Boost Potion this time I suppose? – I waited for what will come next.

- Haaa! – Dirk raised his mace.

- ‘Boom!’ – he smashed it into the ground, sending huge Shock Wave at me.

- Shield. – I stood there waiting for the impact.

- ‘Bam!’ – it was a direct hit.

However, it wasn’t strong enough to blast me off my feet. Or to blow away my protective shield for that matter.

- You’re mine! – shouted Randy from behind me.

- ‘Thrust!’ – he tried to stab me, but my Shield Spell was still protecting me.

- Huh? What? – he didn’t understand why his blade didn’t reach me.

- Is that all you can do? Huh? – I realized I asked the same question again. – Meh, that’s so uncool. Anyway...

- How dare yo-

- ‘Thrust!’ – I stabbed Randy in the shoulder.

- Aargh! – he jumped back. – How? I didn’t see anything.

- What the hell happened? How did you get wounded? – asked Dirk.

- I don’t know. I felt sharp pain right before I was about to cut him down. – said Randy.

You were about to cut me down? Oh please...

- Use Healing Potion, quick! – Dirk took defensive stance.

A Healing Potion? – I didn’t expect them to have Healing Potions as well.

- For a Silver Rank, you’re quite resourceful. And where did you get your potions? – I was intrigued.

- That’s none of your business! – Randy retorted after healing his wound.

That made me curious. Having few potions is not a big deal. But those two didn’t strike me as people who can stack up on potion, let alone make them. Even Gold Rank participants haven’t used any potions so far. And from my few travels around the place, I learned Healing Potions were quite a rare luxury.

But if Dirk and Randy had Healing Potions, that means Knight Gorren could’ve been healed as well. Then why wasn’t he? I suspected these two knew something other people didn’t.

- Yaaa! – Randy charged at me again.

- ‘Ding!’ – my shield took the hit.

- ‘Swoosh!’ – I evaded Dirk’s mace.

- ‘Slash! Swish!’ – I took my time to drag the fight out.

- How is he dodging our attacks? Did Rafnadar give us fake Speed Boost Potions? – Randy blurted without thinking.

- Shut up idiot! – Dirk shouted.

- Eeek... – Randy realized he said too much.

- Aha. So that’s how it is. I knew there’s no way such numbskulls as yourselves can make potions on your own. Now who is this Rafnadar guy? And what does he have to do with this tournament? – I wanted more information.

- As if we tell you. But now that you know too much, we’ll just have to kill you. – Randy grinned like a real thug.

- Naah, I don’t think so. You see, the potions you are using are rather weak. – I grinned.

- What do you know? – Dirk was about to attack me, but my comment made him curious.

- I’ll show you. – I threw an empty potion flask next to his feet.

- What? – Randy’s face changed. - You have potions too? I’ll ge-

- Who are you talking to? – I asked, standing behind him.

- Huh? Ho-

- ‘Slash!’ –I cut him before he had a chance to turn around.

- Aaaa! – he fell down on the ground.

The wound wasn’t lethal, but I made sure he won’t be able to stand.

- Wait? How? – Dirk was shocked at what happened.

- Simple. Your potions are awesome. They do increase your movement speed, but that’s about it. They don’t improve your other senses. Like... – I instantly appeared behind Dirk. – your eye sight for example.

- Aargh... – he jumped away startled. – No way! This can’t be! He said there won’t be anyone else who has potions...

- Now, now. Why don’t you tell me more about this Rafnadar guy? And better hurry, you don’t want your friend here bleed to death, do you? – I tried to intimidate him.

- No! I... I can’t. He will kill me... – Dirk started to panic.

- Or I can kill you instead, if you don’t speak right now. – I glared at him.

- No... I... I surrender! – he shouted.

Tsk... That’s no fun. And here I started getting into it. – I dropped my act.

- Winner number sixteen, TC! – announced Vorin.

People rushed in to help Randy. I put away my sword and made my way to the lounge. Dirk was still shaking. That Rafnadar person won’t be happy about them losing the fight.

- Congratulations Master TC! – Eve waved.

Aren’t you cute? – I waved back.

Still, my suspicions were correct. Someone is using this tournament for their own good behind the scenes. Fighting Dirk and Randy proved useful after all. Although I feel bad I had to waste such a valuable potion. I could’ve used the Flash Move instead.

I’m such an idiot, doh.

- That was an excellent performance. – Roland congratulated me.

- Oh? Thanks. Ahem. – I stopped sulking about what happened.

For whatever reason, Roland was interested in me. During our fight Roland didn’t disclose the reasons why he joined the tournament. And the bond between him and Meera seemed strong. I couldn’t imagine him wanting to dump her.

- Next match! Number three, Rial and Elnara, versus number twelve, Uegi and Sanli! – the next fight was about to begin.

A Gold Rank versus a Gold Rank. And both of their companions were Gold Stars as well. This could be an exciting match to watch. Especially a fight between the archer and the sorceress.

I saw what Rial, with his Fiery Axe, can do. And Elnara showed a little of her skill as well, both with a bow and with a sword. But Uegi and Sanli barely fought at all. They were up against a Bronze Rank and the fight ended in seconds.

I thought this fight could benefit both Angi and Eve actually. It might be good learning experience. Even if Angi is a Bronze Star, I believed everyone can become stronger. And Eve was an excellent example of that.

- We have an exciting match coming up next! – Vorin started introductions. – The participants are well known Gold Rank adventurers with strong, beautiful companions...

I’m glad you didn’t miss the ‘beautiful’ part. - I smirked to myself.

Gold Star companions definitely stood out. It was hard to express it, but they did have a unique sparkle around them. The first time I saw Vorin’s companion, Naomi, she made an impression right away. Each Gold Star companion in the tournament was beautiful in her own way, not to mention the strength they possessed.

But no Gold Star could match the entrancing beauty of my first encounter in the forest. And it wasn’t her ears that stood out the most. I felt my face went red, imagining me meeting the dark skinned, blond haired elf again.

But then I remembered Eve and became even more embarrassed. I laughed quietly to myself. Eve had something no other girl had. She managed to get me into situations where I was forced to plunge my head into the cold water, or else I would end up a real toast. Even now, when I think about her, I can’t shake the thought how childishly cute and attractive she is.

I looked around to see if I they had any drinks around for participants. There weren’t any.

- Hey, can you get me some water to drink? – I asked one of the assistants.

- Oh, sure sir. Right away. – he rushed off.

Guess they haven’t thought of everything, eh?

Vorin was almost done with his speech to hype up the spectators. Most of them were on their feet as soon as the names were announced. I didn’t see any need for extra credits so to speak. In the end, it’s your results that matter.

- Here is your drink sir. – the assistant came back with a mug of cold water.

- Thank you. – gulp. – Ah, that hits the spot.

- Now let the fight begin! – Vorin ended with the signal to start.

As soon as Vorin gave the signal, Elnara pulled her bow and released an arrow right at Uegi. It shot through arena, leaving a wind trail behind it. There was little to no time for Uegi to dodge. Surprisingly, he didn’t even try to.

- ‘Ping!’ – the arrow bounced off of him.

I didn’t notice if it actually reached Uegi. But it didn’t look anything like my Shield Spell. I looked around the lounge. Even other Gold Rank participants were surprised seeing what happened. All of their faces told me they had no idea why the arrow bounced off. My body got excited to see what will happen next.

Elnara shook of her surprise and released another shot at Uegi. This time, however, the arrow didn’t even reach him.

- Flame Arrow! – Sanli cast a spell.

It blasted through Elnara’s arrow, burning it to crisps.

Talk about hot intervention. – I was impressed.

Rial didn’t wait for another shot. He charged at Uegi with his Fiery Axe in hands. His swing was about to reach Uegi, when...

- Flame Wall! – Sanli cast another spell.

The ground melted at Rial’s feet and a huge flame pillar burst out from bellow. Rial barely managed to stop his attack and jump back. The burning wall of fire stood between two Gold Rank adventurers. Rial hesitated to attack and waited for the flame to settle.

On the other hand, Uegi didn’t. He dashed at Rial through burning flames.

- ‘Swoosh! Ding!’ – but Rial managed to block his attack.

And it seemed Uegi expected it.

- Trembling Thunder Strike! – he swung with his huge sword.

The sword cut through the ground from bellow, leaving a burned trail where it touched. From the bottom up, Uegi swung at Rial, bouncing the Fiery Axe up in the air, which forced Rial to lift his hands up as well. A swift thundering slash followed, cutting down like a flash of thunder.

- Aaaa! – Rial wasn’t only cut, but blasted with a thunder at the same time.

His body slumped down and he fell on the ground.

Woah. Such difference in power. Uegi is not messing around. Rial was just another Bronze Rank to him.

With Rial out cold, Elnara was left alone on the field against two powerful opponents. But she didn’t surrender. She fixed her stance and prepared to shoot her bow.

Calmly, she pulled the string of the bow and the nip of the arrow started to glow a blue glancing light. Sanli was readying another spell and Uegi took defensive stance. With the powerful magical energy focusing at the arrow’s tip, I doubted the arrow would bounce off Uegi like before.

To his surprise, Elnara didn’t aim at any of them. She raised her bow up in the air and aimed at the sky. The string was so tense, it was about to snap.

- Flame... – Sanli was about to cast another spell.

- Piercing Rain! – she released the arrow into the sky and the string of her bow snapped.

The arrow shot in the air, leaving a blue flashing trail. Then suddenly the sky darkened above the arena. The shadow became a cloud and was closing in.

- Sanli get down! – Uegi rushed to cover his companion.

A rain of piercing arrows fell down from the sky. Like unexpected snow hail in the summer, the arrows shot down one after another, hitting the area where Uegi and Sanli were standing.

The Piercing Rain of arrows probably lasted for a few seconds from the spectators point of view. But for anyone caught in it, every second must’ve felt like eternity.

The area was covered with innumerable arrows and the arena looked like a battlefield after gruesome war. After everything settled, everyone saw Uegi leaning on the ground, covering Sanli with his body. He was full of arrows on his back. Uegi didn’t move for a while and people feared the worst.

But he didn’t fall down. Instead, using his left hand, Uegi pushed himself to the side, letting Sanli get up on her feet. She stood up and pointed her staff at Elnara, almost unharmed.

Seeing her opponents undefeated, Elnara threw the broken bow to the side, took out her sword and dashed forward to finish them off.

- Fire Blast! – unfortunately Sanli’s spell stopped Elnara in her tracks.

Elnara was fast, but not fast enough to evade the spell.

- Aaaa! – she was blown away before even reaching Sanli.

Not wanting to give up, Elnara tried to stand up again. But Sanli was ready to cast another spell, with her staff pointing at the archer. Elnara had no choice, but to surrender.

- Team number three surrendered! Winner - number twelve! – the announcement was followed by the loud cheers from the spectators.

That was an awesome fight. Uegi’s Trembling Thunder Strike was something else and Sanli showed she is an awesome fire caster.

But Elnara was amazing as well. That Piercing Rain totally made an impression. I doubted Uegi came out of it without a scratch. I was wondering if he is able to heal his wounds before their next match? Apart from Dirk and Randy, I didn’t see anyone else having Healing Potions. And since they won, I doubted Guild’s Healers will be allowed to help.

Assistants helped Rial to get back on his feet. All arrows, that covered the arena were gone since those were magic arrows. Angi’s Infinite Arrows didn’t even compare to Elnara Piercing Rain. I could imagine her face, and her resolve, to achieve something similar in the future.

- The next match is about to begin. Number five, Alaran and Vallery, versus number thirteen, Mordan and Htilil! – from people’s reaction, they were looking forward to it.

Contrary to spectators, I was a little worried and not for the team number thirteen.

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