The crowd stared, dead silence reigning over the stands as the looked upon what Steff had wrought. A literal mountain of ice lay in the arena, dominating the battlefield, disrupting the video stream they had been watching.
In one corner sat Steff, ass on the ground and panting, drawing in as much Sol as she humanely could without self-immolating. She had dealt a harsh blow to her opponent, but had no delusions about having won the battle. Main Characters always had fucking cheats shoved up their asses, or had somehow survived with only minor wounds. She gripped the sand beneath her hands, the pain of pulling and expanding so much Sol at once wanting to make her curl up and cry.
She could still sense him, below the ice. Where he touched the ground, her control died. He was moving slowly, faltering as he slowly advanced out from beneath a mountain that would have crushed anyone else. Part of wanted to scream at the unfairness, but only a small part.
The rest of her, now cold and calculating, told that to go shut up and sit in the corner, or else. This was one fight she couldn't afford to lose, at any costs. If she was ever dragged into a Main Character's personal circle, she would never be her own woman again. She would either slowly come to worship him, die in one of his battles, or die betraying him. So, her only option remained, to crush him completely. She wasn't allowed to kill, but she would break him, here and now.
By focusing on the ground and ice, she could feel what he was doing. He was focusing his power in a directional sphere, dissapating the ice in front of him. No, wait, he was shifting it upwards. No, that wasn't right either, it wasn't impacting the ice above, it was melding with it, then moving further up.
....Was the motherfucker TURNING BACK TIME?
The more she looked at it, the more the horrible realization struck her. Yes, he was. She was playing out a classic story right now. Uber powerful, overconfident foreign mage defeated by a handsome warrior through the clever use of an exotic power.
Fuck that. She was going to fight hard if the little bitch wanted it. She could run rings around him in versatility and deceit.
Griitng her teeth, she drove her power beneath the ground, under his feet and sphere of influence, diving into the soil itself. She hit twenty feet, then spread out, taking control of the tightly condensed earth.
At the same time, she seized the iceberg and began returning the ice to water, letting it flood the arena, turning sand to mud. With a vicious twist, she broke the crown of it into gigantic, bus sized slivers of ice, humongous daggers that she guided to the ground, positioning them to face where she estimated he would emerge.
"And the Demon is preparing yet another vicious attack on the Young Dragon, intent on striking him as soon as he emerges. Truly, such a cowardly tactic. Does her mind know no shame as to stoop this far?"
As the crowd booed, her fingers itched, just WANTING to throw an ice boulder at whereever the voice was coming from, but she wasn't going to waste precious time and energy on that asshats opinion.
Almost to the surface of the iceberg, Lyssen's pace had slowed to a crawl, becoming slower and slower with each passing moment. So, the more time had elapsed, the harder it was to turn back? A ray of hope shone through her mind, letting her know that his powers weren't completely broken after all.
Her power went deeper and deeper. Deeper. Farther into the dark, cold earth. She hit fifty feet, then sixty. Slowly, straining, she formed an area, twenry feet in diameter around where she guessed he would emerge, and began compacting the dirt outwards, hollowing it away.
She knelt down, closing her eyes and bracing herself. Even if it worked, the backlash from this would be tremendous, almost knocking her unconcious.
He burst from the ice, flourishing his sword in a grand sweep as shards if ice rained down around him. Robes untouched, not a scratch on him. Hell, he didn't even look tired from all the Sol he had just spent.
"He has emerged! The Young Dragon had escaped the Demon's trap unscathed. Truly, alegend among men, to achieve such a glorious feat. His master would be proud, to see the member of an ancient and nobles sect triumph against such odds-"
He didn't get to finish the sentace. Gripping the half dozen daggers, well, bus-sized daggers of ice she had prepared, she hurled them one after the other, keeping her mental grip on them at the rear, out of his area of effect.
They flew in a salvo, one after another, bearing down on him. Shimmering, they closed in...Then shifted back to where they were before. No resistance, just shifted.
Gritting her teeth, she kept up the barrage, forcing them forward over and over.
"Behold, the Invincible Dragon. Bravely, he advances in the face of the Demon's barrage, undetered by her foul power. Such mastery at such a young age. Such talent. Every woman in the city will be swooning over him, come tonight."
Slowly, he moved forward, forcing her projectiles back thrpugh time as he came, his arms folded in front of him, the picture of handsome serenity, even as his feet stomped through the muddy, squelching ground. No matter what she threw at him, nothing touched him. So, she did what she did best. Hit him from behind. A baseball sized lump of ice expoded from the iceberg she had had left standing, striking him in the back of the head harder and faster than any pitching machine in the world.
Just for a second, his concentration wavered as he fell forward, and she struck. The quagmire around his ankles froze, solid blocks of earth keeping him rooted in place. At the same time, the ground beneath him gave way, the sinkhole Steff had made opening it's earthy maw. He was left standing in empty air, with concrete blocks on his feet and a surprised look on his face.
And then, gravity, the spiteful bitch that she was, was on the job. He did what any other man in his situation would do. He fell. Straight down.
Stegf surged to her feet, blood flowing freely from her nose, and arms raised. No mercy. Not now.
She hurled mud and quagmire down the hole, both packing it full atop him and and flooding it. Time to make him pull that last trump card from his ass.
With another twist, she froze the whole mess, filling in her own sinkhole nicely.
As the sun glared down and the crowd gaped, her arms fell to her sides and her eyes closed. She was finished. If she had to expand another ounce of Sol today, she would damage herself permanently.
"..Is it...over? NO. It cannot be. The Young Dragon would not fall to such treachery. He would never."
Then, it happened.
The ground burst upwards, all the actions she had just taken reversing themselves before her eyes. Water and sand flowed back out, resuming their former positions. Earth flew upwards, landing where it been before and returning to it's former shape. The ice burst out, and he fell upwards, back to where he had been before Steff megaton dropped him.
A smirk on his face, he dusted himself off, noting her exhausted state. She was standing, swaying on the spot, her shoulders drooping and eyes closed.
"I congratulate you. You have made me reveal my ultimate technique. A worthy addition to my harem indeed. Tonight will be the sweetest of many nights for weeks to come."
He strode towards her, flourishing his sword. Confident in his victory. And why wouldn't he be? He outclassed her in a magical duel in every way. She had versatality, raw power, applicabilty. But he fucked all that sideways by just plain cheating.
Stopping before her, he lifted his sword, brandsihing it above his head, savoring the sight of her, defeated.
"I have defeated you, Demon. Surrender with gra- Awrk"
Stegf, being a sore loser, did something that so far, had proven effective against every man she had ever fought. She kicked him in the nuts. Hard. With a pointed steel boot. He responded like every memeber of the male race did to having an invasive creature in the most precious part of their body. Widened eyes, mouth turning o-shaped, eyes going wide and doubling over. So, she kicked him once more.
Then did it again. And again as he fell to the floor. Then a few more times. When his eyes were rolling in the back of his head, foam was coming from his mouth and she was sure she had killed all his future children, she stopped.
For a second, she looked down at the quivering wreck of a man before her, tears leaking from his eyes and blood coming from his crotch. Then she straightened, shrugging off the faked tiredness and waved to the crowd. Before kicking him viciously in the side and walking away.
Behind her, the crowd erupted in boos. Although, she might have heard a few cheers in there. Well, time to see what the asshat had decided her prize was.
"Told you not to fuck with Winter, bitch."