The birdie’s tears – Part 2

The arena fell into silence while Boris collapsed on the ground, foam streaming down his lips.
A magic knight has been defeated by a demi-human.
That unacceptable truth became reality in front of everyone.
Still, the end of the first fight was fluted and time—which seemed frozen until then—started to flow again while screams of joy and bewilderment filled the air.
Karin let out a bored sigh.

“…I bet the louder ones are the slums’ guys, huh…? Should they not be at work right now? Why are they even here for?”

“This can’t be happening… A mere werebeast can’t defeat Boris…!”

“Oh, was that guy strong? Kunon squashed him in a minute.”

Castells, who didn’t even consider that outcome possible, started to rub his head, disheveling his own hair while muttering ‘this can’t be’.

“So, what will you do? If you drop out now, I will gladly spare you.”

“D-Don’t mess with me! Prideful magic knights will never flee from mere demi-humans!”

“I see. That was a suggestion, but the choice is up to you. Now that your friend has been taken out of the arena, shall we have some fun too?”

Her black hair fluttered as she got on her feet, leaving behind her the wooden box she was using as a chair.
Castells, probably finding his composure again, let out another eerie laughter.

“Hihihi…! Having some fun? Are you talking about what awaits you after your defeat?”

“…Reeeally, people always imply that. Cannot elves be something else other than prostitutes or sex slaves? Cannot you at least consider it, you smarty-pants?”

“Only a loser would consider that. Also, didn’t you choose to live like that yourselves? Hihihi! I’m interested in your body, but not in that kind of way.”

He leered at her while licking his lips.

“I still… haven’t killed any elf. Your ilk is very precious, so I only found the likes of you as playthings and never as foes… I’m looking forward to it.”

“Thanks for letting me know. Male nobles are stupid and disgusting, and so are their terrible tastes. I would gladly kick them to death.”

“Hihihi… Even if you had some notions in magic, you’d still be a toy in front of Richtert’s almighty magic. My Shadow Thorn will—wait, what are you doing?”

“Why are you even asking? The match is starting soon, so I am readying my weapon.”

She was probably already fed up with his bragging. She opened the wooden box, removed the cloth within it and took out its contents with some effort.
Along with her grumbling, the sound of something terribly heavy shook everyone’s eardrums, and when that thing was finally visible, the audience stirred again.
It was an incredibly huge bow, even bigger than Karin. If its bowstring was to come off and it returned straight, it would have looked more like a sturdy, complex bou.1

“Aaah… this is a pain to handle. But at least it is not mine, so I will just pull through for today.”

Karin took a quiver out of the wooden box and wore it on her back, then she dragged out of it what resembled a blunt weapon rather than a simple arrow and faced her opponent.

“Okay, I am ready. Shall we start?”

“…I have a silly question. Do you really want to fight with that?”

“Well, I am an elf. Now it will be clearer for everyone.”

“Hihihi! Yes, totally better! A powerless elf wouldn’t even be able to draw that b—”

“Actually, elves can use any kind of tool.”

She nocked the arrow while speaking, then whirled her body and crashed the bow on a nearby boulder which, after being damaged by the impact, allowed her to stabilize her aim before shooting in the air.

“If I use this like a crossbow, even the most powerless of elves can manage to face an opponent.”

“…I see. Still, you only have three arrows.”

“Well, I cannot bring many. They are heavy.”

As she shrugged her shoulders, the arrows in her quiver rattled, and Castells laughed eerily.

“You have no chance to win against me, girl. Let me defeat you in your game.”

The flute played loudly the moment he ended his sentence.

Castells’ shadow crawled onward while foaming. It splashed like water as its shape changed into several dark needle’s.

“You see, my ability, Shadow Thorn, makes me produce any kind of object from my shadow. As long as I’m here, I can fire endless arrows.”

He stifled his laughter while its shadow spread around him boiling.

“Do you really think you can win against me with only three of them?”

Several dozens black bubbles were popping, revealing arrow-shaped shadows ready to fly against her, who sighed lightly.

“This battle will end soon, so I won’t need any more.”

She smiled with confidence while gazing in front of her, exactly like a certain someone did.

“Where is the point of having an endless stockpile of arrows if none of them hit their target?”

She looked down on her foe and laughed at him. Given how Castells’ eyebrows twitched, her taunt was effective.

“Then I’ll just take you down!”

He lowered his hand like a commander issuing an order to his troops and black arrows started to fly in the sky.
As her field of vision was filled by a deadly rain, she nimbly extracted another metal arrow from her quiver and started to fend the incoming cluster off.
Whenever the shadows touched her arrow, a metallic sound rang loudly before they lost shape and vanished, and the same happened whenever she used her huge bow as a shield, which she waved in a sort of dance.
The next moment, there she stood pristine and calm. The ground around her was pierced by countless shadows that, losing their shape, started to vanish.

“Ohh, I did not expect this bow to be this good. I guess a sacred tree’s wood is quite hard to break, since it is still in perfect conditions… Given the crazy bird of its owner, I should not be surprised…”

She had to kick it several times to adjust its position in the previous maneuver, and seeing that it didn’t take any damage from it, she was smiling in satisfaction.

“So? Where is your endless stock of arrows? If you never hit me…”

Boom. A thunderous shock wave teared the air.

“…you will die soon.”

The metallic, heavy sound that echoed in the arena made the presents think that the arrow she’d fired had finally landed somewhere, and everyone easily imagined what would have happened if any human was to be hit by it.

“I fired that in the sky because I did not want anyone in the audience to risk their life, but if it landed on you, you would be dead by now. If it grazed you, you would be now without a limb, and if it pierced you, you would now have your body divided in half.”

“Hihihi… yeah, scary. Still, it didn’t hit.”

In front of that, Castells was calm.

“Our Archbishop gave us the best magic tools around. No matter how hard you hit me, you won’t pierce my defense.”

Indeed, Boris’s magic tool defended him thoroughly from one of Kunon’s attacks.
The bow wasn’t as strong as the Hound’s blows, but even if her kick didn’t land directly on him, his barrier activated.
Still, Karin didn’t care. She nocked the arrow, then held the bow with a single hand for a few moments.

“Well, I cannot use my nose to defeat you, neither I know where your law formula is written, so I cannot meddle with it before the activation of your magic.”

She tapped on her temple with her finger.

“Still, I can bypass your defense, since activating the magic tool is up to you.”

Magic tools activated their barriers when their user perceived an attack.
For example, it was highly improbable that one who created them took into account the very few instants before an user cast their spell. In those moments, the caster moved offensively without caring about defending, which meant that they were vulnerable for that very short period of time.

“Your comrade could defend against one of Kunon’s attacks because he was used to fight against demi-humans… but you are not. In fact, someone as depressing as you can only fight from the distance.”

“Hihihi… I hate being called that. My style is harassing my opponent from afar until it gets skewered. Nothing more.”

With a vulgar smile splitting his face, he prepared another storm of black arrows, but Karin, who was looking at him with golden eyes, nodded before speaking.

“I see. So you are not used to high-speed fights.”

She stabbed the ground with her bow, drew it and aimed directly to the man.

“If I attack you fast enough, you will not have time to defend yourself.”

“Hihihi… Who knows? Why don’t you give it a shot?”

Without enduring the tension, his body trembled as his smile disappeared from his face.
Meanwhile, Karin frowned slightly before loosing off the arrow.
The bowstring shook the arena with a thunderous sound.
Cutting through the air at an unbelievable speed, ready to impale its target, the arrow sank into a shadow wall that had formed in front of Castells in a few moments, which broke its momentum right away and made it fall on the ground with a clang.

“That was close… I was about to activate my magic tool.”

Tittering, he looked down on her.

“You obviously used some magic-like measure to fend my shadow arrows off before. I didn’t understand what it was… but it’s probably a magic tool or something that might detect my magic formula, right?”

Karin didn’t answer and nocked another arrow. She could pry into people’s thoughts, but that was just an ability, not magic. Also, she had already peeped at Castells’s law formula’s position.
Kunon already showed that once it was known, avoiding and dealing with law formulas wasn’t hard.
Moreover, if she read which arrow was going to hit her, she could fend them off easily.
Lastly, if she could see where his magic tool was, she could meddle with it before it activated… exactly like Kunon did.

“Oh, what a shame, you were aiming at my law formula. Did you think to meddle with it with your last arrow? Elves’s shallow wit is just too evident!”

Seeing him ready to fire the next wave of black arrows, she clicked her tongue in annoyance before stabbing the ground with her bow again, then fired her last arrow.

“Hihihihaha! How useless! You’re powerless in front of my magic! No matter how fast or powerful your shots are!”

As he let out a dissonant laugh, he erected another wall of shadows in front of him, and exactly like before, the arrow sank into it, then fell on the ground.

“Ihhihihi! Now that you’re out of ammo, your bow is usele—”

He was sticking out his tongue while laughing at her when his field of vision was soiled by a spray of fresh blood.

“Eh… Ah…! AAAHHH!”

He lowered his gaze while screaming, understanding that the origin of the blood and the hot feeling in his foot were related.
There, impaling his foot to the ground, was an arrow that seemed of metal.

“AAAHHH! MY FOOT! MY LEEEG!”

Twinges teared his entire leg.
He screamed loudly while twisting his body to get away from the pain, but he couldn’t escape it. That pain felt like all of his bones were fractured.

“Ohh, so this is your end? Well…”

Tears blurred his vision while a humanoid shadow approached him.

“I told you I didn’t need more arrows.”

Drawing her bow, Karin looked down on him with a triumphant smile on her face.

“How?! I’ve stopped—”

“The last arrow? Well, that would have never hit. I fired it only to let you use your wall.”

She laughed like a child whose prank succeeded.

“I never thought about how you process your magic. I only thought about lending a hit.”

She discarded the idea of dealing with magic from the start and fired an arrow in the sky, calculated its trajectory and how much time it would have taken to fall back, lead her foe where needed, acted so that he stood still, and made him erect his shadow wall to cover his own sight.
But no matter how people thought about it, the only arrow that could have done that was the first one.

“Leading is your style, right? If memory serves me right, you said ‘harassing your opponent from afar until it gets skewered’. Thank you for telling me, it spared me a lot of time.”

She was reading Castells’ thoughts since before the match had started, so she already knew how his magic worked and how he moved. Taking advantage of the doubt that Kunon instilled within people, she made her first attack remain unnoticeable until the very end.
Acting carefully brought her to that outcome.

“For your information, I could win even against Kunon in an one-on-one fight.”

With the light behind her back, her bewitching eyes glimmered like gold. Then she lowered her bow, and stopped drawing it while the man’s expression seemed to lighten at the sound of the flute.


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