The fifth match was a group fight. half a sect stood arrayed against her, exploiting every technicality in the book, and a few that they just pulled out of their asses. They were waiting for her to come out from underneath the ground, already settled in and in battle formation.
Black and orange robes flapped in the wind, young men and women glaring at her, or standing stone-faced. She had to admire their spirit, at least. They knew what they were getting into, and still decided to risk it.
Their plan might actually work too. Hit her hard while she was still recovering from burning out, and take her down. They had managed to get them all in by a quirky technicality. If a contestant was sufficiently injured, they could bring in a partner.
The matter of whether or not their injuries were sufficiently serious fell to an 'impartial' official. Judging by the shallow cuts on their bodies that were supposed to pass as 'injuries', someone would be going home with a very heavy coin pouch tonight. Or, more likely, be relieved of it on the way home. Whether or not the official made it home alive was up to chance.
All the Young Masters of the Thunderous Flame sect stood facing her, ready to launch their attacks as soon as the battle began. She could tell by their stances. They wanted a blitz. Hit her with everything they had at once, and hope to wipe the floor with her.
Slowly making her way to her former spot, she breathed in and out as she walked, grimacing as the Sol flowed thicker than usual, forcing her to concentrate more with every action. Her control flowed back into the sand, slowly digging in and retaking control.
No big techniques today. She couldn't risk it again. After yesterday, her Sol muscles, as she called them, were slightly torn. And like real muscles, they took time to heal. If she played this carefully, she could avoid permanent harm. If she just started throwing pillars around, she was going to tear something for good.
With a deep breath, she began her preparations. She was no Batman, but she prided herself in being able to set up situations in her favor. invisible Lines of sol formed around her, earth ready to spring to her command.
The signal came and went, drowned out by the storm of fire and lightning from the sect. Even as the announcer spoke, she was already moving. A dome of earth formed around her, a meter of earth hiding her from the world and offering protection from the incoming fireballs, salvos of lightning and streams of purple plasma.
As soon as the darkness was complete, and the thunder began striking her shell, she sunk the ground beneath her feet, forming a small pit. As she passed through it, the dirt around her flowed upward, resuming it's form as the floor of the dome.
In the darkness, with little air and earth pressed against her from every side, she waited. Slowly, she pushed the dirt and sand away, forming ice against her skin. She shivered as the cold seeped through her armour, caressing her skin with its icy touch. Even as her skin began to numb, she covered her body in it, following motions she had done a dozen times before. Making it flexible had been the hardest part, but a few tests stretching water had given her something to work with.
Even underneath the earth she heard, and felt the impacts from above, the thunderous barrage shaking the ground. They were pouring everything they had into it, every ranged attacker expending their full power before the close combat fighters moved in to beat her down while she was exhausted.
She could feel them walking on the ground above, circling her supposed location at a safe distance. Earth erupted as her dome was blown to pieces, followed by furrows being ripped in the earth, sand billowing everywhere, being blown in the wind. Could they even see if she was there? Probably not.
She was breathing slowly, aware of her limited air supply. She had enough for about ten minutes. Earth pressed everywhere against her body and armor, with only an air bubble around her head open. She was maybe five meters under the ground? a solid layer of sand and stone between her and the explosions above.
Every time a particularly nasty explosion threatened to thin that barrier, she carefully expended precious Sol to fill it back in.
they were running out of steam. The weaker mages fell away, their blasts ceasing. A fast, angry barrage of plasma from above stopped coming. A knife-thin stream of lightning bolts stopped tearing furrows in the ground. A steady line of flame, sweeping back and forth across the earth, sputtered and then came to a stop. More and more fell away, until soon, nothing hit the blasted crater than had been her hiding place.
Feet moved above, slowly circling towards the smoking ruin. She waited patiently, twitching hands betraying her calm mind.
Then they were above her. A burst of Sol, having slowly been built over the last few minutes, brought up two pillars under her feet that threw her upwards. The ground parted in front of her, spikes of ice tearing through whomever that didn't move fast enough. Two dull swords of solid stone were clutched in her hands. ready to attack, It took her all of a second to emerge from her hole, and lash out, commanding the armor. Arms of ice swung around, the heavy stone clubs she held connecting with the collarbones of two robed fighters, one with electricity crackling around his fists, another with flame coming from his legs and back.
With a sickening *crack*, both were sent flying. Rag dolls before her new strength. This time She took no pleasure in the action. There was no time for wasteful emotions now. There was only her and the battle.
Ignoring the roars, boos and screams of the crowd, she stood, a colossus of ice and earth. The light of the sun glinted off the ice covering her body, throwing blinding rays outwards. Earth fell from her body, a mental shove sending it all toppling away.
She had copied the same idea as a body armour suit she had once seen. Layers of ice covered her body, providing protection from outside elements. Her arms, legs and chest were covered in another thick, bulky layer. The feet and hands had the thickest layer of all, nearly a foot of solid ice forming giants hands and boots.
...The spine of ice spikes on her back way have been a wee bit much, though. The Dark Lord helm was definitely too much. Add in some glowing red eyes, and she would look the dictionary definition of an icy dark lord.
Inside the suit, her body was still, her mental commands making the ice emulate her own movements. This had taken her an entire year to master, and even now, it was still a bit clunky. There was no way her body could have supported all that ice by itself, but by remotely controlling it, she was good. It responded to her thoughts, doing her bidding. This close to her body, she could efficiently control it.
As the bodies she had just sent flying hit the sand and lay there, groaning. she raised her clubs, letting the suit sink into a battle stance.
"Fight me, bitches."