“Van Cann.” William gave the slightest nod of recognition. While they might pretend to completely ignore each other when passing in hallways, they couldn’t very well do so in the duel arena.
“Rutten.” The grimace that stretched across Edgard’s face was probably the closest thing to a smile William would get from him. Not that William wanted to see him smile, since every time he saw his face he got more annoyed. It was mostly because William thought caring about the feud they had was ridiculous. William had had several lifetimes, whereas this was a young man around two dozen years old. Even so, he couldn’t help but clash with him.
At least the arena was an authorized place to have direct confrontations. William often felt better after he beat up Edgard, and there was never any serious damage. The wards here were better at preventing any serious damage than those in Ostana, and the ones in Ostana were quite functional. Here, the protections were very quick to react, and very powerful. William felt confident he could take a lightning bolt to the chest and be fine, even with a human body. The arena would make it very clear he lost in such a case, because when the defensive spells stopped lethal or similar damage, there were many visible indications. They didn’t take into account what an individual might withstand, but fighting after taking a direct hit from a spell wasn’t really practical anyway, even if one were tougher. Well, there was the Demon King, but he was a special case, and hopefully dead, and William thought a lot of it was his armor.
William focused as the battle started. Though he was confident in always beating Edgard, that was only if he set his mind to it. Edgard’s magic was powerful enough that if he let himself get hit, William knew he would probably lose. Of course, he didn’t have to let that happen. Edgard started off the battle with a classic move. A lightning bolt. Hard to dodge, powerful… there were no particular weaknesses, except it had to hit. Usually, that wasn’t a problem. Edgard even made sure it would track to William’s location instead of just moving in a straight line, which showed he had learned from previous battles. The only problem was he couldn’t hide the mana guiding it, and William could see that. On his own end, William countered by creating a stronger path for it to follow near him, which was not hard because he was closer and understood how it worked better. The lightning crackled uselessly into the ground a few meters away from William, and he could see Edgard gnashing his teeth. If Edgard wasn’t so unpleasant, William might be inclined to let him win once, or at least not go out of his way to embarrass him, but that simply wasn’t the case.
William was the next to initiate a spell, a fireball. Edgard actually dodge it, mostly, with the remnant of the energy being absorbed by his robe. He knew how to move around in combat… but he didn’t really move while casting spells. He was in the camp that detested exercise, which meant his overall stamina was lower. That was part of the reason he opened with a spell that could be counted as a finisher. William often took the time to wear him down, because Edgard was actually reasonably on guard against defeating him in a single blow. Of course, William was confident he could take care of him in a matter of seconds with a staff to the gut, but he still avoided that.
They kept exchanging spells, and William saw him starting to breathe heavily. This was a good chance. William prepared a fireball spell- actually, several fireballs, which would move independently. It was harder to control and they would be weaker, but it was much harder to dodge. With him being out of breath, William was more certain one would impact him properly. At the same moment, Edgard pulled something out of his robes. It was an orb, which he immediately tossed toward William. William didn’t know what it was, but he had a bad feeling about it. He halted his spell immediately, but fired it out instead of just stopping. Then, he prepared to dodge as fast as he could.
William found himself flying through the air. He wasn’t sure how it happened, because the orb hadn’t even crossed half the distance to him yet. It was as if the ground moved. William landed on his feet outside the arena, even after flipping through the air several times. As he landed, he looked around. Something was strange. Well, the first obvious thing was the arena. It had split open. It wasn’t cracked or broken, just split. That explained why it felt like the ground moved- it did. In fact, half of the arena was standing vertically, and that was what had flung him out of the area. William thought the other half was like that as well. The orb… he couldn’t see it, but he stayed cautious.
“Edgard Van Cann!” Headmistress Lorenz’ voice boomed throughout the area. “If you engage in such foolishness again you will be directly kicked out of the academy! This is your one warning! You are also hereby banned from sparring or using the arena for the remainder of the year.” The arena slammed back down with a thunderous boom, and William saw Edgard on the other side- except instead of standing, he was lying flat on his back. He seemed rather dizzy, and when he tried to sit up he fell onto his side.
William wasn’t sure what the orb was, but it must have been very bad. Normal infractions of the rules were met with various sorts of punishments, but more serious infractions were different. If nobody was truly harmed, the student would receive a single warning, otherwise they would be directly expelled, and perhaps prosecuted as a criminal. There hadn’t been any serious incidents in the year and several months William had attended the academy, but he’d read the rules thoroughly. William didn’t like getting in trouble, and doing so because of carelessness was sometimes worse. Besides, he liked to know what the rules covered. It wasn’t because he wanted to know what he could get away with… well, perhaps it was. William shook his head. He saw the look in Edgard’s eye- their conflict had evolved beyond whatever it was before. That was unpleasant. William wondered if he should have done things differently… but the only other option he could think of was stupid. He wasn’t going to underperform to help inflate someone’s ego. Besides, it probably wouldn’t have helped.