William wasn’t sure if he was making a good choice or not. He thought he would be fine, but he wasn’t exactly sure. More importantly, as he’d previously noticed, his thought patterns hadn’t been exactly stable lately. Thus, he wasn’t sure if his current confidence was just overconfidence or stupidity.
Well, it was rather late to back out now. He was already standing in the arena. William clutched his staff nervously. It made him feel more secure, even though it was just a cheap staff. Quite honestly, it was worthless for a wizard. Its wood was no good for amplifying magic, and it didn’t have a gem or even any kind of stone for amplifying magic. Since it was made of oak, it was also more cumbersome than most staves a wizard would use. That said, William didn’t choose this staff because it was cheap. He chose it because, quite frankly, the advantages that it lacked weren’t relevant since he couldn’t do magic, and its disadvantage of weight was really just a tradeoff.
William understood that wizard staves weren’t used to hit people. That didn’t mean that they couldn’t be, though. Specifically, he remembered at least one movie series that had a white wizard who didn’t seem to mind using a sword and hitting people with a staff in his other hand. It had worked surprisingly well. That said, movie wizards were somewhat unreliable as a reference.
Many thoughts passed through William’s head in a short time. While relevant, they weren’t important. He really needed to pay attention to the student across the arena from him. The one chanting a lightning bolt spell. Loudly. Not that it bothered William. It just made his job easier. William approached him, swiftly walking at a measured pace. His opponent continued his chant in a very consistent manner as well. When William was about a third of the way across the 30 meter arena, the lightning bolt spell finished and shot straight through him.
Well, where he had been. William tried to not let his anxiety show on his face. He’d known when the spell would complete, and had thus dodged with timing he had practiced before. However, he still couldn’t get over the fact that if he hadn’t dodged slightly before the spell went off, it would inevitably hit him. After all, lightning doesn’t move at a speed that people can react to. Unless they were no longer where it was targeted, as was the case with William.
Immediately, he sprinted forward. His opponent started on a fireball spell, this time aiming at William’s feet. That was actually a surprisingly good tactic. Even if William took a quick step to dodge, he’d still be somewhat affected. Of course, that was only relevant if the spell finished before William got next to him. In that case, his choice of spell would be poor, and he’d either have to take some damage himself, or redirect the fireball elsewhere.
An olympic level sprinter could cover twenty meters in about two seconds, maybe a fraction more with the acceleration times involved. Of course, the olympics didn’t exist in this world, and William wasn’t anywhere near that fast. William wasn’t sure exactly how fast he was, because there weren’t any stopwatches, or magical equivalents, in this world. However, less than four seconds was good enough, and he was at least much better than half the speed of an olympic athlete.
Thus, William’s opponent wasn’t finished with his spell when William arrived in front of him, and drove his staff into his stomach. A heavy, oak staff. If it weren’t for the fact that William held back somewhat, the student could have been severely injured. Well, except for the magical wards. That lessened William’s attack to a level that wasn’t even that painful. At least, relatively. It was, however, plenty to disrupt his casting, both from the shock and the slight loss of breath.
William was really, really glad for the magical wards, because he didn’t particularly enjoy the look of magical feedback from up close. Not that magical feedback and proper damage from a spell were much different. In this case, it was only to the point of scorching the student’s face and clothes, and with proper treatment nobody would be able to tell within a week.
His opponent, not quite incapacitated, looked around shocked for a moment, then immediately surrendered. Well, it wasn’t surprising that he was confused. After all, duels in the wizard arena rarely devolved into melee duels. Specifically, there was only one recorded instance, in which all the mana had been drained from the area by the opponents, and they disliked each other enough to start pummeling their opponents with their staves.
William was aware that the duels were supposed to be magical in nature. However, what was intended wasn’t necessarily a restriction. He’d checked very carefully, and while attacks with a staff were discouraged, they were explicitly allowed in the rules. Maybe not on purpose though, but the rules stated the following:
“Any form of attack that the wizard and his staff shall engender shall be allowed, so long as permanent harm is avoided.”
Theoretically, that meant that he could kick people too. Not that he would, because an attack with his staff was better. He also couldn’t cause any harm besides bruising, an occasional broken bone, or the effects of magical backlash. The last was a point he would bring up if there were any complaints. Technically, even if one were to experience great pain, a wizard could complete their spell with sufficient concentration. Thus, magical backlash was just a lack of skill. William also had other excuses, though they were actually quite legitimate.
He was declared the victor, though most of those watching were confused, and some of them looked annoyed. William was ready for any complaints that would be raised, now or in the future. He was sure there would be complaints.
Marius had been watching. He was not the most magically talented student in the school, but he was smart. He’d read the advice from the letters William had delivered. Since it had been useful, he’d implemented it. Then, he’d attempted to look for the mysterious professor who came up with the advice. However, nobody had the right expertise to give that advice. Perhaps there were some who could, but it wasn’t their specialty. Then, there was the fact that the letters always came from William. He’d managed to get an assignment of William’s from one of his teachers to look at, and the handwriting had matched. For a noble, Marius wasn’t very arrogant, but it still irked him to get advice from someone five years younger than himself. It was still solid advice, though. Today, he’d come to watch William see if he could implement his own advice. Though the match was very short, and he only saw William dodge one move, he was convinced. Somehow, this kid had figured out most of the weaknesses that wizards had, years before. Then, he’d taken them into account so well that he didn’t even have to use magic himself to defeat his opponent. Actually, he didn’t know that William couldn’t use magic. Everyone just assumed that he didn’t use it in public, for some reason.
Lila came up to talk to William. “That was pretty good, but if you’d tried it against me I would have just smacked you on the head with my staff when you charged straight on like that.”
William rubbed his head, remembering. “Yes, you already did that. That’s why I wouldn’t do that against you.”
Lila grinned. “That’s right! Remember which one of us is stronger!”
“Don’t forget which one of us taught the other almost everything she knows.”
“Weeelll… that’s true but… I woulda figured it out on my own… eventually.” Lila said somewhat disappointedly.
William agreed inside that she probably would have. Although he would figure things out before her, there wasn’t anything she couldn’t do, and she was clever enough to learn things on her own, just slightly slower than if William taught her. William couldn’t help being a little jealous. Mostly because he couldn’t make fireballs.