Improvisation

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“Haaa!”

 

As soon as the duel began, an enraged Marlon charged forward. He ran as fast as he could while pointing the tip of the long sword he held with both his hands at Herbert.

At first glance, this would seem like reckless move. However, Marlon was not your average fighter. And because Herbert has been forewarned about this, he was able to notice the calm warrior beneath the rage.

 

“Flame Lance!”

 

Herbert launched a Flame Lance, an intermediate-level fire spell, toward Marlon.

The speed at which he casted the magic attack was unbelievable, at least for someone who was still a student.

The spear of fire flew in a straight line—similar to Marlon—and also parallel to the ground.

 

Marlon was surprised by the sudden appearance of the Flame Lance, but he was still able to avoid it thanks to his reflexes. All the Flame Lance managed to do was singe some part of Marlon’s uniform and produce some shrieks from the surroundings.

 

In order to make it seem he was being driven into a corner though, Herbert purposely clicked his tongue loudly. In response, the people who disliked him raised some cheers. And even though there wasn’t any change in Marlon’s facial expression, there was no doubt Herbert’s tongue-clicking worked.

 

<<The first thing I did in the duel was cast Flame Lance. Marlon avoided that easily. I fired a second and third spell, but those were avoided just as easily. With his feints and irregular movements, I, who has never fought seriously, was led by the nose.>>

 

At his current skill level, Herbert couldn’t overcome Marlon’s athletic abilities and reflexes.

As such, long-range magic attacks would never be able to hit their mark. So, if there was a magic attack that could hit and decide the fight, it needed to be one released from point-blank range where even Marlon wouldn’t be able to react fast enough.

 

“FIREBALL!—create field, delay—FLAME LANCE! Air cutter, wind shot”

 

Following the events outlined in the letter, Herbert fired his 2nd and 3rd spells.

But also just like what his future self told him, Marlon avoided those while also weaving in feints and light attacks.

 

That wasn’t a problem at all.

In between the fire magic attacks, Herbert made a sphere of mana and invoked the beginner-level spacetime spell Delay. He then embedded some basic wind magic attacks in there. Like that, the wind spells became much slower than usual.

He even invoked the wind spells in a whisper just so he wouldn’t be heard. Fortunately, thanks in part to the loud cheers, Marlon didn’t hear him.

 

Alright, everything’s going so well! I even embedded two wind spells!

 

Embedding a wind spell while also casting fire spells was the hard-fought result of yesterday’s training against Rodeo, someone who moved much faster than Marlon.

This time though, he even managed to embed two spells in the sphere.

 

As for why he chose wind magic, it was so that Marlon wouldn’t notice the spells being delayed.

The sphere of mana itself might not be visible, but the slowly advancing spells embedded within would be. Wind spells were weaker in power compared to spells of other elements, but they had things that more than made up for it. One such advantage was that they were much harder to notice.

 

At the moment, Herbert was beside the sphere of mana. He could control it to some extent through his empty right hand as long as he doesn’t get too far from it.

 

“—Hii?!”

 

Herbert kept the sphere close by as he acted all frightened by Marlon’s approach.

He even made his body tremble a little, making the flesh below his chin wobble. Upon that sight, some people in the audience laughed loudly.

 

Yes, laugh all you want at my sorry sight. What do I care, as long as I win?

 

The more he acted like a fool, the more he would be underestimated.

Throwing away his feelings of shame, he acted like this all so that he could win.

 

As Marlon got closer, Herbert nervously readied his sword.

According to the events in the letter, he and Marlon would clash swords twice. And then, due to his impatience, Herbert tried to do a heavy attack but got countered instead. That decided the fight right there.

And so, Herbert would now be deviating from that course of events.

 

Their swords clashed for the first time. When their training weapons clashed against one another, they produced a duller sound than what real weapons would have.

Marlon held his sword with both his hands while Herbert only used one, so the difference in power was wide. Naturally, this made Herbert be the one to step back.

 

While assuming a horrible stance, Herbert swung his sword sideways. Marlon responded to that with downward swing of his own.

That was the second time their swords clashed.

 

From this moment on, it was all improvisation for Herbert.

 

Instead of a slash, Herbert decided to go with a thrust that focused on speed.

After Marlon confirmed that the thrust was aimed at his thigh, he forced himself to stop and then twisted his body to evade.

In accordance to what Herbert heard, Marlon truly possessed absurd physical capabilities.

 

That said, the position Marlon found himself in after dodging wasn’t so great, so he refrained from unleashing a counterattack.

Similarly, Herbert decided not to push his luck and took a few steps back instead. Herbert was well aware that he couldn’t win through his swordsmanship. It was going to be with his magic. All he was doing now was buying time. Buying time so that his trick, his delayed magic, would work.

 

Just 13…12 more seconds

 

Thanks to his repeated practice until well into the morning, Herbert was now able to accurately gauge the time remaining before the spells exited the sphere almost like it was part of his biological clock’s schedule.

 

After seeing Marlon also take a huge step back, Herbert began making calculations while keeping the remaining time in mind.

 

Because he was outmatched in their sword clashes so far, one would think he would focus on keeping Marlon far away and employ a hit-and-run tactic. And given how he looked so desperate in their exchange of blows, no one should suspect that he was merely buying time.

 

The time it took for a spell to exit the area of effect of Delay and return to its original speed was about 20 seconds.

In order for Herbert to win, he must find a way to hit Marlon with magic at that timing. To that end, Marlon’s attention must remain on him. After all, if Marlon could tell a spell was coming, Herbert has become convinced that his opponent would be able to dodge it easily.

 

Come on, body, remember your training with Rodeo! Just a few more seconds!

 

Herbert forced his already complaining body to move, and stepped forward.

 

Time remaining until the wind spells leave the Delay’s area of effect: 10 seconds.


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