“And now, the final match of the quarterfinals! Due to the forfeit of the entire group, the winner of this match will move straight to the finals!”
Somewhere in the stands, Goldar and Horwitz were both kicking themselves. They had forfeited in fear of the masked fighters, who had unexpectedly been knocked out of commission.
Violet Lingonberle stepped onto the stage. The levi-board that she had used up to this point was conspicuously absent. After discovering that her next opponent’s abilities relied on the concept of electric-based magnetism, she consulted with the inventor of her magic tool.
“That ‘is’ a problem. The board itself contains metal, and according to Cl-, Chancellor Evers, that will be subject to his manipulation,” the Queen commented with an apologetic tone.
With that, her superior mobility had been stripped. She would have to rely on her own two feet.
As she stepped onto the stage, the crowd could see that her standard equipment was missing as well. Her standard armor had to be discarded to avoid the fate of Jayce’s previous opponent. Now, she was dressed only in a simple blouse and skirt, with a leather chestpiece and boots. In her hand was a wooden training sword.
Brushing her long, rose hair aside, she looked every bit like the feisty village girl with a charming but tomboyish streak. Though the accents of a maturing lady could be seen with her armor donned, they were no doubt enhanced by her current state. In fact, her new appearance had attracted quite a few admirers in the stands.
“Get him, girl! Kick that scrawny magician’s butt!!”
“I’ll cheer for the eye candy any day!”
“Are you single?! Please tell me that you are!”
Her father, Viscount Lingonberle, was in the stands shivering as those words of public approval assaulted his ears. Immediately, he looked to the side at his other daughter, Bianca, who was 2 years shy of being able to enter herself. He stared intently at her while grinding his teeth, beaming the words silently, ‘Don’t you dare compete!’
Unfortunately, when did a daughter ever do what his father desired? Especially one that lacked the will to confront them directly.
Jayce, on the other hand, could feel the lack of support for him. After all, he was just some nobody who wielded sketchy magic that surprised his previous opponent. With his abilities figured out, the proper preparation would be enough to take him down.
Or, that was exactly what he wanted them to think.
When one went through life with nothing but low expectations thrust upon them, the shock of the underdog prevailing made the story ever so grand. He fiddled with a flat object under his robe. With the girl defanged and armorless, one decisive strike was all he needed.
Life was full of surprises if one knew where to look. And for the longest time, he had been doing exactly that.
At the signal of the match start, Violet dashed forward, hoping to end it quickly. When fighting magicians with low physical prowess, a large advantage came from closing the distance and forcing them to move. Suddenly, she saw Jayce pull his hand out of his robe, and a tiny gleam of light sparkled from it.
Triggering her danger sense, Violet quickly kicked off and dove to the side, just in time for a small object to sail harmlessly past her. Though the object was miniscule in size, a trail of magic had exploded from where Jayce was standing. His robe now fluttered upwards, his hood blown off and his hair standing straight up, like he had been caught in an updraft.
Nearly at once, a loud thud sounded as the flying object struck the magic barrier behind Violet, causing a large distortion before clattering on the ground.
Violet didn’t know where to look as the intense burst of magic from Jayce worried her, but the object that collided with such force against the barrier was just as troublesome. Fortunately, she didn’t have to check the latter.
The announcer walked up to the place where it landed and examined the fallen object.
“This is… an iron coin?”
Barely after Violet had heard that, another flash hit the corner of her vision. Instinctively, she rolled away from her current spot. This time, the coin slammed into the ground where she was previously at and cracked the surface before bouncing into the barrier with another heavy impact.
Violet looked at the damage that single coin inflicted, her heart immediately racing. Without her armor, she couldn’t take a hit like that. She thought to make some distance between her and Jayce, but the speed of his attack made that nearly irrelevant.
Luckily, his intentions were obvious; he had been aiming directly at her, in which she could dodge as soon as the flash was visible. However, it would hit her eventually, since she could only guess its trajectory from an instant. To increase her chances, Violet started moving around, making abrupt changes to her speed while shifting unpredictably to and fro. Her display of swift feet was all that kept her unharmed as several more coins crashed into the ground, leaving deep fractures in the surroundings.
In between her dodging, she started casting some fire magic, an elementary spell with short visualization time – Fireball.
As the fiery spell left her hand and crashed into Jayce, it bounced off the magic barrier that he had active.
“Tch. Of course, that wouldn’t work.”
Violet had not focused on long-range powerful skills, favoring usage of magic as a compliment to her natural physical abilities. Sure, she could pull off simple magic from a distance, but the required focus to sustain its power from far away was something she lacked. Rather, she favored magic close to her body, where she had a tight rein on mana control.
With few options in her skill set, Violet was at a loss of what to do besides continue dodging and hope that her opponent would exhaust his mana.
Just then, a loud cry sounded from the audience.
“Oh dang, is that a freaking RAILGUN?!”
The emphasis on the foreign word, coupled with the enthusiasm laced in the question, had interrupted the bout. The source of that question had been Chancellor Evers, who had just returned in a clean outfit.
“A what?” Queen Katalina couldn’t help but ask. Apparently, all eyes had turned to him, briefly halting the match.
“Eh… That thing where you build up a really high electric current to create magnetism like before. But in this case, you use it as a pulse to launch an object at high speeds. Though, why couldn’t it have come from a certain scientific esp-”
“Ah… I see. Fascinating….” The Queen cut him off with eyes that suddenly looked off in the distance, as if the gears in her head started cranking while the rest of her body shifted to autopilot.
Jayce ground his teeth again.
“Bah, another one of my discoveries unmasked by him!” he grumbled under his breath.
However, it didn’t matter. It wasn’t like his opponent could do anything about her current situation once she knew. All he had to do was keep firing these coins until one of them hit. He had plenty of mana to spare by casting solely through an instantaneous burst of electricity. He was not like high-level magicians who could show off and envelop the arena with wide-range magic time and time again.
He shot off another coin, keeping a close eye on his mana in the process. This time, it ricocheted off the ground and clipped the girl in the side. Immediately, she flinched as a strong pain radiated from the impact. The bounce had lessened the power, but still, it was enough to leave her reeling.
It was only a matter of time now as his aim was improving. The hit had also caused her to slow down.
The bigger concern was his ammunition, which was the pocket money that he had saved up over time. He had already blown through the majority of his iron coins, which were the cheapest ones in circulation. Pretty soon, he’d have to move on to the next batch of pricier ones. That was something he resisted doing, since shooting them off in such a manner essentially destroyed them.
Still, Violet held on. A direct impact would likely knock her unconscious, which was increasing in likelihood the more she drew out the match.
There was no point in being careful anymore. Her intent focused on ending the match immediately. Swiftly, she dashed forward, zigging and zagging to avoid giving Jayce the chance to track her movements. After seeing several coins fly within inches from her body, she finally saw a break as it appeared that he had emptied the bag he was holding.
While he reached into his robe for another, Violet took that opportunity to rush headlong into range, her wooden sword held up high.
Would she make it in time? One strike was all that was needed. Just like the flying coins, a single blow would decide the winner of this match and move on to the finals.
As she started bringing the sword down, she saw Jayce smirk and another flash appear in his hand. With a large pulse of electricity, his robe and hair fluttered wildly upwards. Being close enough to feel the magic, a rush of static jumped straight at her, creating little pricks like needles stabbing into her skin and causing the hair to all stand up at once.
‘So, I was an instant too late, huh?’ her mind started admitting defeat as the coin was aimed squarely at her torso before it was launched.
She expected an intense feeling of pain that would send her careening to the other side of the arena. Her eyes shut tightly, hoping that she wouldn’t suffer too much damage. Her overbearing father would likely cut the man down in fury if that happened. Not to mention how Bianca would react.
However, all she felt was a gentle thud on her belly, not enough to move her at all. Her sword arm continued its trajectory downward and smashed into her opponent’s shoulder, causing him to drop his bag of coins and crumple to the ground. He emitted an incoherent gibberish of pain from the shattering of bone by the previous hit.
“What?” Violet opened her eyes. “I-I won? But what happened to?”
She looked down and spied a brownish coin on the ground, which had harmlessly bounced off and clattered to the ground. She picked it up and looked carefully. It was not the cheap iron coins that the announcer had mentioned before.
‘Why would it make a difference? It was still metal, so his magic should have worked on it.’ She thought back to the advice that she was given prior to this match.
Since the bout was over, the Queen and Chancellor Evers stepped forward, also curious at the sudden shift in the match’s outcome. As healers raced forward to treat the downed magician, Violet pondered her fortunate circumstance. The Chancellor walked up to her and plucked the coin right out of her hands, eyeing it briefly before giving a chuckle.
“Ahh, what a simple mistake. He used the wrong type of coin. Copper isn’t magnetic. At least, it’s very difficult to induce a strong enough effect. In fact, copper has the property of creating its own magnetic field to counteract magnetism when you run electricity to it. You caught a lucky break because his magic railgun hardly did anything because of it.”
“The principle of the attack is still rather impressive. For a commoner to come up with such a thing is no doubt extraordinary,” the Queen added. She looked over to the team of healers, still casting recovery spells to heal the downed magician.
After a few minutes, Jayce opened his eyes and flinched at the pain that lingered on his shoulder. Immediately, his loss was registered on his face, a perplexed look soon overtaking it. The Queen and Chancellor turned towards him, relaying how he had lost.
Jayce bit his lip, cursing that he had overlooked testing the impact of his spell on other coinage, purely because he couldn’t afford to destroy a more valuable coin.
“Life is full of failures, especially when diving into the unknown like you have done,” the Queen reassured him. “In fact, I am personally intrigued by the abilities that you have demonstrated. Magic used in such a unique way most likely comes from a creative thought process.”
Jayce’s jaw dropped. The Queen herself was personally acknowledging his efforts. Even though he lost the match, he couldn’t think of a better outcome as someone whose magic ability was overlooked previously.
“In fact, I am thinking that I should start staffing my laboratory with some people, since my duties just keep getting in the way. So how about it, would you like to be Lab Member #1, no wait… actually, you would be #3. Myself and Claude already claim number 1 and 2.” The Queen smiled and extended her hand to him.
“Hey wait! You can’t decide that ahead of time! Not until we get some made-to-order lab coats from The Spiffy Chicken! And something just won’t feel right until we invent Dr. Pepper!” barked the Chancellor.
Jayce looked between the two of them, hardly able to follow their conversation. For a commoner with little understanding of how a genius inventor and an otherworld person interacted normally, it took everything to keep up with the terminology.
However, he could feel a level of passion among their words, along with a playfulness and positive outlook. There was no way he was going to pass on this chance. If he had to play catch up for the rest of his life, then so be it.
“I accept.” He stood up and bowed to them. “Lead me into this world you know.”
The robe shrouding his body flapped in the wind and unfastened, showing off his stick-like body. He hardly even noticed. Nor did he care how others perceived his weak appearance.
Pretty soon, he would don a new mantle, white like the robes of a high-ranking priest. The only difference would be his devotion to science and learning.
He no longer had any reason to hide himself in obscurity.
If you’re wondering why copper doesn’t work here, it’s because the electrons in copper move too easily. When you charge it up with electricity, these flowing electrons induce its own magnetic field which will counteract the force from another magnet. It actually does some weird things, but regardless, it will behave completely different from other metals that stick to magnets.