She didn't get to see the rest of the matches. Tournament rules forbade competitors from spying on their opponents, among other things.
Now, she sat on the stone bench, relaxed and slowly drawing in Sol to refill the small amount she had spent during her last fight. Which was forbidden. And enforced. There were three watchers in the room, turned to face all angles and keeping an eye out for anyone trying to enter a meditation pose. It might have worked too, if Steff hadn't realized long ago that you didn't need that pose to take it in. They weren't even trained to detect Sol movement, just to keep an eye out.
She was, again, waiting her turn. For the third duel. Honestly, her second had been laughably easy, facing off against the son of some rich noble who had brought his way into the tournament and paid his first opponent to forfeit. A minor earth mage, like herself.
Only, he was weak, pathetically so. She had to admit, she had taken a little pleasure in playing him along, moving the ground in his favor and making him think he was the one doing it. The look on his face when she had turned a dozen pillars of earth on him had been hilarious.
A hand on her shoulder brought her out of her thoughts.
"Your turn. Move it."
Nodding to the guard, she climbed to her feet and got going.
All the damage she had done earlier had already been repaired, she noted as she emerged back into the open sunlight. The warm caress of the sun hit her skin, followed by the roar of the bloodthirst crowd. They wanted entertainment, and she was giving it to them.
The floor of the arena was cleared, the sand smoothed back over, perfectly level once more. Any scorch marks, mudspots or uneven depressions were smoothed out, with only the blood left behind.
Her Sol impression was still in the ground, making reassuming control easier than before.
By the time she had reached her spot, she had full control of the ground once more. She stood, arms folded and confident.
That changed as soon as her opponent stepped out. The MC. Her blood ran cold as she took in what was happening. Wherever he stepped, her control...died. It withered in a circular area around him, fading and vanishing. Try as she might, she couldn't re-establish any control in the area around him, her grip growing weaker the closer it got to him.
He was walking through the sand, slowly, deliberately, taunting her with a mocking grin on his face and hands folded behind him, perfect brown hair hanging over closed eyes. Hiss sword was at his waist, undrawn, and his loose clothes seemed to sweep the floor, brushing away his footprints behind him.
"And, the soon to be champion has appeared once more. A true rising dragon, he came out of nowhere, defeating two of the tournament's strongest contenders in moments. Will he triumph once more against the demon from another world? Indeed."
He was going to try something. She was sure of it.
And sure enough, her money was right on.
Coming to a stop at the center line, his eyes snapped open and he shouted: "I declare a Demon's Duel!"
Steff stared, stupefied. This twat just came out of nowhere and declared a mortal battle with her? With the highest possible stakes in the tournament? Was he insane?
Probably. Didn't protagonist s always do insanely risky things and get paid off for them?
"Amazing, folks. He had just declared the highest form of duel allowed in the tournament, permissible only by the Emperor himself. Will this be the end of the Demon? We all hope so."
She didn't waste time trying to complain. Anyone could deare one, as long as they were willing to pay the price. Whether or not it actually got through was completely up to the Emperor, though.
Her mind went into overdrive. She couldn't use Earth effectively here. He canceled anything in a ten meter radius of him. She needed something else. Ice. Trickier to use. And she had to Expand her Sol into the air.
She prayed the Emperor was too busy getting sucked off to be in any hurry to think it over as she wove Sol into the air, creating a path straight up.
"Oh, huh. That. I will think it over."
As his voice muttered and grumbled, she hit seventy feet, then, with sweat running down her back, created a flat, circular surface above her, keeping it within the confines of the arena, and expanding it forward.
"Sure. Go ahead. Ahem, I mean, I permit it."
The crowd erupted on a roar, cheering the impending slavery of one of the two contestants.
"As Steffany seems to have no servants with her, she must bargain herself. Young Dragon Lyssen may select one of his two female companions as his own bargaining chip."
What the hell? He didn't even have to bargain himself, he could use someone with him? That was fucking favoritism.
He lazily made his choice, smiling as he signed a woman up to be a slave. Everything about him made her want to strangle something..He played so casually with other lives, uncaring for his consequences, assured of his victory. Well, fuck that. She was going to show this little motherfucker not to fuck with her.
"You are going to be in my bed tonight."
He smirked as he said, already having delegated her to the role of another member of his harem, an unimportant background character for the rest of her days.
"Ohhhh, a bold declaration from Young Dragon Lyssen. It is all but assured anyway. Cheer for him there folks."
She didn't dignify it with a response, finishing with the sky, she enforced her control in a giant circle in the ground around him, making sure to steer well clear of his area of effect.
There, done. She held her magic in the air, forming the structure, ready to make it reality it at a moment's notice
She held both tightly, waiting for him to cross the center line and start the match. He did so, lazily strolling across, feet sinking into the sand. His sword waved at his side, drawing lazy arcs in the air as he walked. Then, he stepped beneath her trap.
And she went all out. He was the Main Character of this story. She wasn't pulling any punches.
A giant ring of stone erupted around him, forty feet across and smooth as marble, rocketing into the sky, as the rest of the arena sank down to provide the materials. She could feel where he stepped, running toward the the wall.
Then, she turned to sky. And dropped a fucking mountain of solid ice on him.
Right down the tube the stone had formed. Tonnes of ice formed and fell out of thin air, the sheer cold of so much ice condensing hitting everyone in the stands like a hammer blow, almost sending her reeling from the backlash. It fell from the sky, the sheer enormity of it shoving the air downward in a shockwave and darkening the sky, a meteor of ice that struck the cage she had built and flattened it with a collosal, thundering boom that shook her body and sent her stumbling, breaking her concentration.
With a satisfied grin, she gazed upon what she had created and smiled.
"You're playing with WINTER now, mothafucker.