(Author’s note: Heya! A quick note before we get to the good stuff, sorry, but you’ll all wanna see this. The arc is not even CLOSE to being over, but I figured it might be fun to allow YOU ALL to decide what the big bad boss of the chapter is going to be! All you gotta do is go to this poll https://www.strawpoll.me/17001212. Vote for whatever you want to see them fight! Don’t worry about the story, just pick the one you wanna see the most. I only gave options that I can forsee writing into the story without causing any issues. Secondly, My webtoon artist friend is drawing up some fan art of Rox. Honestly I can’t wait to see it, and I plan to share it with all of you when she finishes lol. But you guys should check her out on Webtoon, her comic is called “Aitai” and I highly recommend it. The art is top notch and the story is hilarious. LASTly… Everyone send some love to our editor, PlasticSaint, who edited this on his sickbed. Whattaboss. Alright, Now let’s get to what we all want, right?)
After Rox was taken away by the guard, Kara quickly set about searching the restricted area of the library. Gathering every book on the subject of sealing, as well as the Aetherous, that she could find. She spent as much time as necessary to fully comprehend each subject. Using her intelligence ability to enhance herself; she only needed an hour to get through the parts of the books that she wanted to read, and by the end of it she had a stack of books next to her along with an abundance of new knowledge on seals. As luck would have it, she even managed to learn a few things about the mysterious Aetherous race, although not very much.
Regarding the Aetherous, she had learned only a few scraps of new information. First was that the Aetherous were not so much a race, as they were a select group of individuals. There were seven of them, to be precise, and they were not born in the same way as the rest of the races. They were beings formed from the same substance their world was, aether, having obtained both sentience and a physical body. Due to this, they were quite powerful, possibly as powerful as the mediator gods that every chalice-born being worshiped as they protected the world from the pettiness of the other gods. This was all that she could learn from the restricted section, however.
On the subject of seals, she had learned quite a bit more. Possibly the most important thing she had learned was that something cannot be sealed with two different spells that would seal away different things. For example, it would be impossible to seal someone’s physical body into a location while using a separate seal on the same person to lock away their magic power. However, you can put multiple layers of seals that accomplish the same task, such as putting seven layers of a seal to keep someone locked in a location. The reason one would have for doing this would be to seal away an extremely powerful being for a long time, for example, a powerful monster that the current population would never be able to defeat with their own power.
She also learned that seals, unless made with a specific amount of time in mind, are potentially eternal. Once placed, the seal draws in magic power from the world around it in the same way as mages when gathering magic power for a spell; it is also able to store an infinite amount of mana. However, they can only draw in a specific amount at a constant rate, if the sealed person or object is able to deplete the magic stores faster than it can be replenished, the seal will break. This is one reason for putting multiple layers on something, so that all layers can work towards replenishing the depleted mana much more quickly than a single layer would be able to. It is said that the more layers something is sealed with, the more dangerous it is. Since the lock draws in magic from the world, it seems to be impossible to create a seal from a physical magic attribute, such as strength, since to use those abilities someone must use magic from within themselves rather than the world.
Furthermore, she learned that a seal always has a written manifestation similar to barrier line writing. The language it is written in changes depending on the number of different elements that were involved while the sealing ritual was taken place. This language that the seals use is commonly referred to as “runic.” If a seal was made with fire as well as water, then the runic writing would be entirely different than if it had been made using fire and lightning. If one can decipher the language of the seal, then they can easily destroy the lock and dispel it by commanding it to do so by writing somewhere on the seal in their own blood using the same runic language.
After mentally organizing the information she had obtained, Kara deactivated her intelligence ability and sighed. Crossing her arms and laying her head on the desk she had been using. Mentally fatigued from absorbing so much knowledge in such a short period of time. A few moments passed while she had her head down before she began to wonder why Rox had not returned, or why guards had not come to inform her of what happened to him. While gathering her books to return them, she decided to check the nearest guard post for the information about Rox’s fate. As she was placing them back on their individual shelves, she heard excited voices through the window.
“Look! Something is going on at the arena!” A young boy said.
“Yeah, I heard some purple-haired idiot picked a fight with Jeerae Fira. Let’s go see!” Another boy said.
She heard their footsteps as they ran by, more than likely headed to the arena. While wondering what kind of person would be foolish enough to challenge someone in the Fira family, she finished putting her books away, it was only then that something they said registered. “A purple-haired idiot?” She said out loud, only one person coming to mind when she heard the description. “Oh no.”
– – – –
Rox and Jeerae entered the arena’s lobby area. There were many people crowding the area. However, once they saw Jeerae enter they cleared a path. His confident smirk only grew wider. He was very well known here. Through a combination of hard work, talent, and years worth of arena experience he had reached the astounding level of six in fire. His other skills were no higher than two or three, but it was unusual for members of the seven families to devote their time to raising a skill they did not have a natural affinity for. In the Fira family, they were quite lucky, due to the fact that the fire magic they were blessed with was primarily a combat-oriented magic. It was not uncommon for their talented members to reach level six by the end of their lives, and they also had two different cities being protected by barrier mages of the Fira family.
Jeerae approached a large group of people he seemed to be familiar with and spoke with them in hushed voices. Rox was only able to hear a few words, but it seemed to be something along the lines of ‘go get my fiancee and my father.’ After that, he left the group to do as he ordered and led the way to a door.
As soon as the two of them entered into a designated room, that allowed them to go into a planned match with each other, the onlookers immediately started bustling with talk. Some mentioned that whoever went into the room with Jeerae must be new to the area, others saying they felt pity for the purple-haired individual, and many of the rest flowing out of the arena to go tell everyone they knew. Within minutes, people from outside were flooding into the arena’s spectator seats; among the spectators was a very concerned Kara. It was to such an extent that the arena managers decided to close down the spectator seats for the room they had entered and begin charging a small fee to enter, and people paid it happily.
Inside the room, Jeerae spoke to Rox, “I’ll try to not go too hard on you, this is just practice after all. Even if we do revive after death in this place, we still feel pain, so if it comes to that point I’ll make sure there is none.” He was no longer keeping as tight of a leash on his arrogance, now that they were queued up for a room there was no more going back after all.
Rox turned to him after checking his equipment and smiled. This time, however, his smile did not reach his eyes. Even to someone who did not know him, it was quite unsettling. He spoke with his same cheerful voice, “That’s very kind of you, I’d expect no less from a member of the Fira family.”
“Of course. We are the pillars of society, after all. I’ll see you on the battlefield.” Jeerae replied, not noticing Rox’s chilling smile at all. He then stepped onto a small circle located on the west side of the room, signifying that fighter number one was ready.
“Good luck.” Rox said to the boy, stepping onto his own space on the east side of the room. Under his breath, so that only he would be able to hear, he whispered while channeling magic energy, “Et oblinito me iubes, shatter tempus.”
In a flash, the two of them were transported to a simulated battlefield. When the two of them showed up, the spectators began to murmur in excitement to one another. The seats for viewing the fight were in a separate dimension using high-level space magic, assuring the safety of onlookers. Unfortunately, the battlefield seemed to be perfect for the level six fire wielder since there would be no cover for Rox to hide behind. It was a wide, barren plain with nearly nothing in sight except for a few hills in the distance. There were a few divots in the ground, but none of them were deep enough to hide from fire magic.
Now completely assured of his victory, Jeerae smiled and showed his true colors. “Wow, the gods must really hate you. That, or you’re just a complete fool for picking a fight with me in the first place. I want you to know, there are probably hundreds, possibly thousands of people watching this fight. No, they’re watching this slaughter, because they know that I like to toy with people to practice my magic.” He paused so that Rox could process what he said, and his smile grew wider. “I’m not going to let you die for a while, so try to put up a fight while I practice, alright?”
Rox, standing roughly five hundred meters from where Jeerae was, dropped his respectful act. “You know, I really did not want to show off, but whenever people act like this it just makes me so angry that I can’t control myself.”
Most of Rox’s body is normally hidden by his cloak, however anyone watching could see something black crawling up the skin on his neck. Everyone in the spectator room attempted to use magic to enhance their vision so that they could make out what was on him. However, only four people recognized what was on his skin. Kara, Jeerae, and the two people that Jeerae had called to the arena. It was runic writing.
“I can’t even believe I’m going to do this in public, I had planned to save this for if things went awry in the forest. However, I simply can’t hold back when I’m disciplining moronic children like you, who don’t know that there’s always someone stronger than they are. It’s why only a few of my disciples have made it through basic training.” Rox was only half speaking to Jeerae at this point, he seemed to just be ranting. Despite his apparent anger, his voice was like the calm before the storm. “Boy, I’ll throw your words back at you. Try to hold on while I let off some steam.” Once the runic had climbed its way to the top of his head. The writing stopped writhing and a moment later seemed to explode. The runic letters seemed to fly outward, away from his body, while a sound like that of shattered glass was heard as well.
Jeerae did not see a noticeable difference, so he dismissed it simply as theatrics. He gathered up a small amount of energy and shot a fist-sized fireball to test the waters. However, Rox simply batted it to the side, seemingly with his bare hand. This frustrated him, so he gathered up a bit more magic power and threw a horse-sized fire cluster at him. Normally, this would kill someone on impact. Even if it did not, it would explode on impact, becoming several smaller explosive fireballs. However, it was once again batted to the side where it flew for several hundred meters before exploding as it should have when it was hit. Clearly, Rox was using some kind of magical protection.
Jeerae was now seething with anger at the deviation in his plans, as well as the embarrassment of failing twice in front of his father and betrothed. In his anger, he gathered up the largest quantity of magic power that he could and launched a giant moving wall made of fire at him. The wall was absurdly large, however, being kilometers tall and wide. There was no way this would be swatted aside. It traveled very slowly, its surface was incredibly hot, so hot that it turned the ground it passed over into glass. However, even though it would have been easy to dodge due to its slow speed, Rox stood his ground.
Without a word or worry, Rox strolled up to the fire-wall. The residual heat not affecting him whatsoever, he reached out to touch it with a small black dot that had appeared on the tip of his finger. The moment he did, the entirety of it disappeared instantly. It was sucked into the small dot so quickly that, to those without an eyesight ability, it looked as if it had vanished into thin air.
“Disappointing.” Rox said simply to Jeerae, who then collapsed to his knees in disbelief.
The youth turned pale, fear showed clearly in his eyes. He tried to speak, but his mouth had become dry. He swallowed once, twice, and after three times he was able to croak out a question. “Who are you?”
“Didn’t you hear me before?” Rox said in a tone that showed he considered the boy no better than an insect, “I’m Rox Nihil.”
Jeerae was silent, as were the spectators, who could only watch in disbelief. No one could believe what was happening. A member of the Fira family, who was a student of a talented barrier mage, who had destroyed every opponent he had come up against as if they were a joke, was now on his knees and barely able to speak out of fear. Kara herself could hardly believe her eyes. What Rox had just used was clearly void magic. However, she had seen his ratings, he had level zero in all attributes. He should be unable to use any kind of magic, let alone something of such catastrophic power. In Kara’s eyes, Rox was currently sitting just under barrier mage level with his void ability, the Virrat he was tested with must have malfunctioned.
A moment of recognition flashed in her eyes. The runic writing she had seen on his skin, Rox must have a seal placed on him. However she did not recognize the writing, so it must have been more than a two-element combination. Worse still, he seemed to be able to break it at will, so why did he not do so sooner? Question after question raced through her mind as she tried to understand this man, a man who she had originally intended to teach magic. However, now she wondered if she should ask him to teach her instead.