22 How about a head-on battle?
Lideon Sepher is watching me. It must be his doing. Technically, my turn should be last because of my performance in the first round. Kyo's turn should be first. I have no complaints. If I go first, Kyo can get ideas on how to defeat a spirit.
"Are you prepared?" The official asks with some concern.
"Yes." Even if I am not, it's not like I can say so.
"Do you have any weapon?"
"No." It's against to rule to carry one to the competition areas. A cage is carried to the arena. Inside the cage, there are white butterflies fluttering around randomly. I have to fight butterflies? I give a questioning look to the official.
"Rank 1, Tier 1." The official declares to the crowd. "Name of this spirit is 'Rancorous Petals'. This spirit was captured near the outskirts of Belan."
Belan? I have been there once. It wasn't a good experience. I wonder if anything good can come out of that forest. Rancorous petals have a nice ring to it.
"Rancorous Petals is the only spirit from the other realm entrusted for this competition by Master Sepher."
I should have known. It is that old man's doing. I must have wronged him in my past life. Never mind! I am sure that I didn't meet him in my past life. He is just doing it because he resents my name.
"It takes precise three hundred years for a poison weed called Dhath to become a spirit plant. When the spirit plant reaches the third transformative stage, the petals of its flowers crumble and takes this form. The spirit plant dies after this. These rancorous petals have a beautiful appearance, but they carry the poison of Dhath. If anyone is touched by these petals once, they will be poisoned."
The crowd becomes quiet. I have never heard of the poison of Dhath, but I can guess from their reactions that it is not anything good. Aish! The freaking butterflies are poisonous. What rank 1? They should be rank 3.
The rank of the spirits isn't decided by its rarity or origin. It is decided by its strength. These flying might be poisonous, but they might be easy to defeat.
"Wait!" This time, it is Teacher Shyl who roars. "This spirit's rank isn't 1. This spirit is from Belan. The criteria for the spirits of the lower realm and the spirits of Belan is not the same. A rank 1 spirit from Belan is at least a rank 3 in the lower realm in terms of strength."
The official rigidly peers up at Lideon Sepher. From his looks, I can tell that Teacher Shyl is right.
"The higher realm estimates this spirit to be a rank 1 of tier 1." Lideon Sepher glimpses at me. "There hasn't been enough studies to officially infer that a low-rank spirit of the higher realm is stronger than a low-rank spirit of lower realm."
Teacher Shyl looks at the butterflies with a colourless face. "Poison of Dhath..."
"If you are worried, you can ask your candidate to quit." Lideon Sepher's tone leaves no room for any argument.
"Kresi, you should quit." Teacher Shyl bites his lips. Teacher Hohan gives me a solemn nod.
"If she quits, it will the next candidate who will fight with spirit." Lideon Sepher's voice rings in the arena. I look at him. He must have something against me. If I don't fight, it will be Kyo who has to fight this thing. He planned this carefully.
Kyo is ready to burst into the arena. If he does that, he will be disqualified. I give him a reassuring smile. "Kyo, believe in your sister. I will take care of these rancorous butterflies." I add, "I mean, petals."
"Boy, come back. She will be fine." Mogrok is the only one who isn't worried. "She can defeat that thing. Calm down and believe in her."
Kyo doesn't sit down. His eyes are fixed on me. I have to do well for him. I won't be a good example to him if I didn't do well. I smirk at Lideon Sepher. "I will fight."
"Are you ready then?" The official asks me.
"3. 2. 1" The rancorous petals are released from the cage. It flies skyward until it hits the roof. Instead of butterflies, it looks like a swarm of bees. It goes right and left to escape from the arena. The floating giant stopwatch is running. I can't waste time.
"Hey, Rancorous Petals!" I scream at them to attract their attention. I can't help but feel stupid. But, the butterflies stop flying around. It stops in the middle of the arena and seems to be regarding me. So, it has some intelligence. It doesn't attack until it is provoked. "You can't escape until you defeat me."
The rancorous petals separate in all directions. They fly around me. Not a single one tries to touch me. They are measuring me up.
The spells I have memorized and practised have a low range of effect. The target has to be close. I can feel the ehr throbbing through my veins and waiting to be called. "[Fire]"
Rings of fire appear around me and spreads outward. It burns some of the butterflies into ashes. I hear them flapping away from me. I have killed one-fourth of the total butterflies. I use the ehr for the next spell. "[Tornado]"
Biting cold winds rotate fiercly, cutting through the butterflies. These butterflies are fragile and easily killed. I call for the second tornado and secretly transfers more ehr in the spell. The intense winds penetrate through the most butterflies.
Five butterflies are left. They are moving further away from me. I look at the stopwatch. Only nine minutes are left.
"Come now~" Four butterflies are flying away toward four corners. The fifth one is directly flying above my head. My spell range is not that high. I have to attract them to me.
Seven minutes are left.
"Aren't you vengeful?" I put my hands on my waist. "Want revenge? How about a head-on battle? There are five of you against me."
Five minutes are left.
Is this even a battle? It is to easy to kill them. The five butterflies gather above my head. The distance is still long. My spell won't reach them. They must have figured this out.
"Want to attack?"
Suddenly, I feel a sting on my arm. I pull up my sleeve and find a sixth butterfly biting my arm. I kill it with a slap. It disintegrates into nothing.
Two minutes are left.
I hear the sound of flappings. The other five butterflies fly down in my direction rapidly. They are directed toward my face. I raise my good arm toward the butterflies.
The floating stopwatch ceases.
"Kresi Dunebard has won this round." Lideon Sepher stands up and announces with a radiant smile on his face.
"That was a good match."
"Did you see how she casts the spells?"
"I have never seen a beginner use these spells with such proficiency."
"I thought that she got into the competition through unfair means. Now, I am not sure."
"She defeated those poisonous butterflies."
People are loud. In the first round, they have said things against me. Now, they are praising me. To change public opinion, one must be ready to get poisoned. I can't feel my arm. It spreads to my right leg. Someone holds me before I fall. My vision is blurry, but I can tell that it is Kyo.
"Sister..." He tears my sleeves. His fingers touch the bitten parts.
"Her skin is turning blue." It is Teacher Hohan. "Find a healer."
"Send a healer. She is poisoned," Teacher Shyl yells loudly.
"Sister, don't sleep."
I do that exactly.