7. Grand Demon’s Duel: Round 1.
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Steff slowly stretched, rolling her arms and loosening her muscles. Gotta get all those kinks out. Above, the roar of the crowd signalled another victory and another defeat. It would be her turn soon, and she intended to be at the very top of her game, fucking over the competition. Doggystyle.

The underground room, buried beneath the floor of the collesium, was huge, only one of many. Good old-fashioned torches flickered on the walls, their smokeless fire illuminating the ground, the benches and the people.

Guards stood at each staircase leading upward, preventing the contestants from leaving until the day was done. There were none at the corridors that lead deeper into this maze, but didn't mean anything. She, like the rest, had been told which one lead to the infirmary and other areas, the basics, really, and little else. A gap toothed old merchant stood in one corner, twirling his long, wispy beard and cackling as he sold food at extortionist prices to desperate nobles, already blubbering at not having their favourite wine for so long. Beside him stood two hulking mercenary guards, ready to dispense justice on the greedy.

As a contestant, this was her home for the next three days. The losers would be escorted out, the winners would remain.

All two hundred some warriors had been separated into two different group, and put in their respective bunkers. Well, there might have been a better term for that, but she didn't give a fuck.

Out if all the people who caught her eye, none had been in her group. And she stood near the staircase, alone as usual. The nobles despised her, refusing to look her way. Any other had either been frightened away by tales of her, or wouldn't talk to her for fear of said nobles retaliating. The 'MC', as she thought of him, his harem, the shadow girl she had seen, and another interesting fighter had all been placed in opposite blocks from her.

The last one, she had noticed earlier, sniping fighters with a hit and run tactic. He seemed to control both heat and glass, able to superheat tiny clumps of sand into glass and fire them at opponents like bullets. Someone to watch out for.

There had been a few others who seemed to have broken away from the sect's teachings and done their own, but for most part, the preening nobles dominated the attendance.

For now, she stood near the staircase, waiting impatiently. Exhausted battlers were trickling back down at a steady rate, the matchups moving fast despite only having two fights ongoing at any one time. Some required carrying, healers attending to their wounds, but most were forced to walk under their own power.

And soon enough, it was her turn.

She ascended the stairs, leaving the darkness behind and emerging into the glaring sunlight of the arena. From experience, she had already squinted her eyes beforehand, then slowly widened them open.

Bloodstained sand greeted her, a gigantic stretch of it, as large as a football field. Thousands upon thousands of bodies were crammed into the stone seats above, looking down at her. Well, not at her, but an enormous image of herself, floating about thirty feet above her.

The entire battlefield was projected into the air by a strange device, allowing everyone to see what was going on. Better than TV.

Feeling the sand and earth beneath her feet, she slowly moved forward, already weaving her control into the ground. She stood a quarter of the way into the field, her arms crossed and waiting. Looks like her opponent was going to be fashionable late. Not that she cared. Hell, that worked to her advantage.

Her power was, well, powerful, but required time to set up. By expanding Sol into the ground, she could take control of it, bending it to her will. Sure, she could use it without doing that, but the Sol cost was tremendous then.

As the preening twat stumbled out of the opposite staircase, thrown out by the guards, she was busy weaving the ground, slowly expanding her radius away from her. It didn't cost much, and exponentially lessened the amount of Sol she had to expand to actually do something.

Her opponent stumbled upright, dusting off his Warrior-Monk robes and sniffing, before stomping forward with his nose held high. No announcements were made, since the first few rounds never bothered with that, and he moved quickly, aiming to get as close to her as he legally could before attacking.

According to the rules, each contestant had to stay in their half of the arena before the match was announced, but didn't specify where. You could sit ass-against the walls if you wanted to. Afterwards, you were fair game as soon as you used a spell or crossed the borderline.

He edged as close to the middle as he could, then stepped into a low crouching stance.

Above, the commentator's voice boomed out, ringing through the stadiums. Honestly, she was sick of it after the first hour. The high, nasally tone made her wants to bitch slap him, hard.

"Treston has decided to show no mercy. He starts in the Highest stance of his sect, Crouching Tiger Seeking Prey. Famed for it's explosive speed, it will cross the distance between him and his prey in but a fleeting second, where he will then decimate her with any number of techniques. I can see this will be over in but a moment. Truly, no one can stand against such fury."

Adrenaline coursing through her, Steff's mind worked in overdrive.

Explosive movement. Linear pathway.
No control over directional movement? Ah. Gotcha.

The Emperor looked up, and signalled them to begin.

Instantly, her opponent exploded forward, picking up speed as he came in low, bounding leaps that accelerated forward until he was blurring in midair.

Steff patiently waited as he came closer and closer, picking up speed, fist drawn back to smash into her and robes flying behind him as he roared. The crowd roared and stomped, bellowing at what looked like a quick fight.

Then she threw up a meter thick wall of earth right in front of him.

He hit the rising slab of stone with an ear-splitting crunch, his own momentum sending him crashing face first into solid rock, slightly cracking it.

The crowd went dead silent, watching as he slowly slid to the ground, unconscious and probably badly injured.

Rock VS Twat.
Rock: 1, Twat: None.

"......"

Even the annoying commentator had lost his voice for once. Turning, she walked away from her defeated opponent, leaving him lying in the sand as the crowd erupted behind her.

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