Preparations and Technique (6)
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"It's starting..." Leone Hendrickson's inadvertent words made the other two around him nod. 

With glass walls separating them and the rest of the room from the training fields set up a level below the ground, Luke Reese, Leone Hendrickson, and Zachary Ainsworth watched the two siblings face each other in anticipation. Dozens of other senior students looked down at the field, surrounding the glass walls from all ends.

Though they could all see down below, no voice made its way out of the field. The two combatants exchanged words with each other, Ralph seemed averse to the fight while Rin's ice-cold visage had a strange sense of excitement on it.

Then, it began.

A cloud of dust spread outward as Rin dashed toward her brother. In the blink of an eye, she narrowed the distance between them. 

Luke Reese hissed out loud as Rin's stretched hand shot towards Ralph. Dodging it by a fraction of an inch by moving his head to the side, Ralph lowered his center of gravity and pivoted on his feet to flank her when a barrage of punches came speeding toward him.

Ralph dodged whatever he could and blocked the rest as he faced his sister head-on. Both resolved only to their physical abilities to start their battle, a show of skill, a face-off of techniques.

"He's good..." Leone said. 

Despite the stark difference in their raw capabilities and stats, Ralph still managed to stand toe against toe with the second strongest person in the second of the greatest academy in the world. He would close in and shut down her kicks, then he would weave back and dodge her punches.

A kick flew towards his side, which Ralph countered with a sweep, trying to knock her off balance. His leg crashed against her shin, but Rin was strong enough to take the attack in stride. 

Just when the others thought he would be hit, Ralph bent his knee and used his already planted leg to stop Rin from making sudden movements. He closed the distance and punched her in the stomach. She blocked. His other hand went straight toward her throat.

Rin clicked her tongue and lowered her chin, letting the punch land on her face.

The spectating students ooh'd in amazement, but before they could finish the final of their single syllable cheer, Rin twisted her body and landed a turning kick on Ralph's side, as if unfazed by the attack.

"Ralph is crazy good at martial arts..." Zachary said as he saw his friend being pushed back by the force of the kick. "But skill can't cover for the gap in stats, huh?"

"It would have, had the match-up not been this different. Senior is merely playing around for now..." Luke crossed his hands and watched them intently.

"Right..." Leone awkwardly fumbled in. "She probably wants him to get as much experience as possible." He too turned away from his friends and placed his hand on the glass wall, staring down at the battle. "I hope, no one blows up here..."


Above, left, right, below, attacks came rushing in from every direction as my sister increased the speed and force behind her moves by the second. I shuffled back till I closed up to the corner, then I rolled to my side and put in some distance between us.

Despite my best attempts, she would decrease the distance between us and bombard me with her attacks.

I tried to jump back and launch a blade of wind, but it was shunned in seconds as she countered it without breaking a sweat.

{Fuck, we can't even try to guess her stats...}

To make the most of the situation... I wanted to try to absorb the mana she used in her skills and test if the system can calculate her stats, but she firmly refused to use any skills at all, using all the mana to power up her moves instead.

A couple of minutes had passed since we started fighting and my movements grew slightly sluggish, no, her movements were now too fast to keep up with.

"What's wrong, Ralph?" Giving me a chance to breathe, this time, Rin didn't close the distance between us and spoke up in a provocative tone. "Can't keep up? Did you get rusty? Do you remember what you said the last time we fought?"

Rin smirked and slowly stepped closer.

"I'll never be able to stand up in front of you, was it?"

I blinked.

A stabbing pain landed against my chin. As if a sledgehammer was smashed against my face with the force of a hundred swings mixed into one, Rin's uppercut pushed me off my feet and launched me into the air.

Before I could even figure out when I had been attacked, another blow crashed against me. A sharp kick bulldozed into my spine, stretching my spine on both ends like a bow before sending me off again.

"Who's unable to fight now, huh?"

I fell to the ground when a chill ran down my spine. Summoning strength from all the nerves that were still intact in my spine, I propelled my body forward and rolled on the ground as shrapnels of ice left sharp, shallow cuts on my skin before invading the training field's walls.

{FUCK! Host!? Are you alright?!}

I groaned in response to the system's words. Pushing my hands against the ground, I tried to lift myself up.

"Done already? What a bore."

Another kick landed on my ribs as I fell back to the ground and rolled over again.

I could hear Rin's feet tapping against the ground. Approaching closer and closer.

{Host! Are you alive??}

Frankly, I still had enough fight in me to get beat up a couple more times. Maybe I could try to test the system again? 


No, there was no reason to elongate this fight. I had to stop right here, and losing was the best way to do so.

"Did you think I would be satisfied by beating you up a little?"

My sister's voice took a few seconds to register in my head. By then, she was already next to me.

"No way. This doesn't even compare to what I went through." She lifted my body up from the collar and plopped my feet on the ground. I set my legs upright and looked into her crazed golden eyes with a weak gaze and heavy breaths. "I will take away everything you work hard for, and only then will I be slightly satisfied, Ralph. Only then."

She placed one hand on my stomach and smirked. "I learned this spell just for you."

A large mass of mana started coalescing near her hand. My eyes widened at the sheer amount of energy she was gathering as my mind kicked into overdrive.


What kind of spell?

This amount of mana. What kind of spell could my sister, a mere beginner at magic perform at this scale?

No. I knew this. I had seen it before.

"It's over, Ralph."

Closing the distance between us to a point no one from above could see, my sister placed a finger on my stomach. A small current spread through my nerves and my hands pushed outward.

Just then, the mass of mana materialized and exploded.

A shattering boom roared into the room as the wave of energy tore us away. The air itself seemed to be slowing down as the temperature dropped down low.

My entire world had slowed down, almost to a halt. My gaze shifted away from the air around me and went down below.

There, an enormous mass of ice-attribute mana had condensed into a small beam. Inching closer and closer...

... toward my sister.

As if time moved back into motion all at once, the beam of absolute coldness shot out and hit its target. 

Rin took the hit as the ice crashed against her stomach and launched her back into the air. She would have flown away, but the ice was ruthless as it dragged her through the field and drove her into the wall, not stopping even when she couldn't be dragged further back and continuing for 30 more seconds.

At last, the onslaught of the ice beam stopped and Rin's face jerked forward while her body remained frozen to the wall behind her.

With my hands stretched out from the shockwave and my eyes and teeth widened in pain... One could only see this in one manner.

"Did that kid... just... knock the Ice Princess out?"