13: Out in the Spotlight

The announcer stood by the referee, both of them seasoned levellers, with over a hundred levels or more under their belt.


“Ladies and Gentleman we give you eighteenth match of the evening…It’s Dusk-Sea  Academy vs the Four Green Winds Sect. Innes Kaufman Vs Rusty Brilles. Both little known but what heaps of potential. It’s anyone’s game folks!”


The announcer’s voice echoed through the arena. His spiel more for the bookies than for the actual audience or the contestants. This was the eighteenth match that had taken place in this small arena. One of the six matches that were presently taking place in Free City of Bernados’ Grand Halls of Glory.


She and her opponent stood before a roaring crowd of thousands. The winners from these small matches would fight get to fight in the big arena that lay at the center of the colosseum. Fighting before millions. Standing in a grand circle of magically enhanced marble that had been set inside of a basin of warded walls.

The audience looked down on them, watching from a coliseum like open air theatre. An audience of commoners and nobles. An Audience of ordinary men and levellers. Almost of them shouting till they were red in the face. Some of them shouting names. Others amongst them shouting simple one or two word epithets like “Win!” or “Do it!” or “Kill!”.


As if they’d forgotten that they’d come here to watch “children” fight instead of the actual adult gladiators that they’d usual come here to watch struggle to the end.


Rather than be paralyzed by stagefright, as her mind, body and soul were threatening, Innes forced herself to focus on almost anything else that was happening at the moment.

Innes had learned that from her last three matches. Having been forced to beat her stage fright before she could beat her opponents on the other end of the arena.


Having fought in the small arena three times already, she liked to have imagined that she was more at ease by now, with being in the spotlight.


She wasn’t, but it helped to imagine that, that was so.

“Combatants….Fight!” called the Announcer.

The crowd went wild, but once everything started moving, Innes no longer had the time to listen to them. The entirety of her focus fell on the young man in front of her.

As the Unicorn-horned  young man ran towards her sword in hand, the young woman couldn’t help wondering just why on earth  the martial artists and wizards in this world were competing directly against each other.


In the books and games she’d read and seen, Wizards were more background fighters than foreground fighters.


If the method of testing their scheme had to be through fighting, her sense of aesthetic said that such a fight should be more of a stationary thing. With both parties hurling their best spells at each other from the other side of the arena.


Instead here “she” was a self-defined witch/mage whatever engaging in CQC with  knights, barbarians and junior kung-fu masters.

To be fair, almost all those individual had come prepared with own area-of-effect and range abilities of their own. All of them magical in nature.


But that actually just displeased the girl more. She couldn’t help feeling that the line between cultivators and mages should be more distinct and yet here she was. Deflecting the force beam coming out of the tip of the boy’s sword with a bubble of force dispersal.


She then used brute force and simple physical speed to grab the boy from the air and slam him into the ground.

The impact hard enough that she heard both the ground and a few of the boy’s bones go snap as they met.

For a full twenty seconds the audience, referee and announcer said nothing, simply staring at the small crumpled body that lay in the slowly self-repairing crater on the ground.

It was announcer who reacted first. His wide-eyed flamboyance cuing the referee in on who what he should be doing.

“And that’s it folks our Boy Rusty with the Four Greens Winds is out and down for count. All hail this rings new champion. Innes N. Kaufman. May she long taste victory!” said the announcer.


“May she long taste victory!” screamed the crowd.


As for the girl herself she was mostly just shocked that things were going as well as they seemed to be. Unsure whether she could or should keep up the winning street but aware that she wouldn’t give it up till she’d stepped foot onto the big arena.

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