Chapter 1466 Cornered Part 2
"I need you to showcase your skills as a mage, not as a brawler, against someone who is a universally recognized paragon of skill and in front of enough witness to dispel any doubt about your ability to perform such miracles." Meron said.
"Do you want him to fight Right here and now" Jirni was flabbergasted
Not only was such a request unprecedented, but failure to comply or win would also destroy the many years of Lith's hard work.
It would potentially turn the youngest Archmage of his generation into another Nana.
'Dammit! Between my projects with Vastor, protecting my family, and my job, the lack of communication between the Ernas Arch Duchy and the Distar Marquisate allowed Deirus to beat me.
'If only Mirim was still alive, she would've taken care of this nonsense, or at least she would have warned me and I would have done the rest.
Either my network of spies has been compromised or the chaos following Mirim's death crippled it.' Jirni thought.
"Correct, Archon Ernas." The King nodded.
"Archmage Verhen, if you accept my unreasonable and untimely request, you are going to fight one of your peers, another Archmage, and you can only use magic.
"Anything that even resembles a physical attack will result in your immediate defeat.
I'm sorry and proud to say that just like people call Manohar the Never Magus, they also call you the Soldier Magus.
"It's not your physical strength we're questioning, only your magical talents."
"What if I refuse" Lith asked.
"I wouldn't be able to give you nor to any of your associates any award tonight and Archmage Kwart would receive the Royal authorization to review all of your past reports and actions while you were both a student and a Ranger." The King replied.
Jirni draw Lith close, whispering to his ear all the possible consequences that his fall from grace would cause.
'I don't give a ** about tonight's rewards, but I can't compromise everyone's career, the future Verhen Mansion, and the security of my family in one fell swoop.
On top of that, it would also affect the kids' chances of joining an academy and even Kamila!' Lith's fury rose to a point that he needed to close his eyes to conceal it.
Who do I have to fight and how"
"This is a Royal Gala, not a gladiator arena.
We are going to introduce the event as a friendly spar meant to showcase your talents." Meron said.
"Of course, no magic outside tier zero will be allowed.
It's also prohibited to hurt, cripple, or kill the opponent.
"The Kingdom can't afford to lose a single Archmage so we'll use a First Blood array and elemental blocking arrays of all elements, to avoid accidents." The King threw a mean look at Onia, who pretended not to notice.
"Archmage Verhen, know that I, Meron Griffon, have absolute faith in your talents and loyalty, yet as a King, I can't afford such a luxury.
I'm not a tyrant and I must abide by the laws of the First King like everyone else in this room."
"Thanks, Your Majesty." Lith gave him a deep bow while Jirni enjoyed the Headmistress' scowl.
Meron's words meant that he still sided with Lith and that he had no intention to implement harsh punishments.
On top of that, the King had also reminded Onia of the powers that the law bestowed upon him.
"Your opponent will be Archmage Kwart.
His achievements are undeniable and he is the youngest Chairman that the Association had in decades." Meron had been forced to pick the youngest Archmage among the Deirus's faction to clear any doubt.
Archmages were rare to start with and anyone who was considered having a good impression of Lith might have been suspected of losing on purpose.
The King had chosen Kwart for several reasons.
He was closer to Lith's age than his peers, limiting the advantage that practice and experience would have given to any other Archmage over the youth.
Also, due to the well-known animosity between them, the result of the fight would benefit Lith.
Considering how much Kwart despised Archmage Verhen, in the case of defeat people would not take it to heart and would blame the result on the age gap, limiting the damages to Lith's reputation.
If Lith won, instead, the same reasons that would alleviate the consequences of his failure would make it a crushing defeat that would force Deirus's faction to shut up once and for all.
Two birds with one stone.
Everyone followed the King while he walked back to the Dance Hall, stopping the music and drawing the lights on himself with a snap of his fingers.
"My dear subjects, I'm pleased to tell you that two of the youngest and most powerful Archmages of our generation have decided to make this night even more memorable for us." Meron said with a magically amplified voice.
"Yeah, right." Grand Duchess Kolmy whispered.
"I told you so.
Manohar must have thrown a tantrum and forced the King to set up the stage.
He wants to beat Verhen to a pulp but I bet that he will get his ass handed to him."
"Shhh!" Many said while nodding.
Manohar's talent was loved like a savior whereas his person was valued akin to a rabid dog.
A wave of Meron's hand activated both the First Blood array and the Life Preserving array while also lifting the restriction on first magic in a circle with a diameter of fifteen meters (45 feet).
The first magical formation would stop the fight the moment a single drop of blood was spilled, the second would prevent the death of either contestant in the case something unpredictable happened, while the third limited their powers to tier zero only.
"Our first contender doesn't need any introduction.
Archmage Verhen performed so many amazing feats that to list them all it would take us the whole night." Meron said while making Lith step inside the circle of light and pinning a griffon brooch to his chest.
'I've got bad news.' Solus said.
'Somehow the brooch blocks my tower half and by doing that it's also affecting me.
I can't cast spells anymore.
You are on your own.'
It must be a safety measure to keep cheaters from using artifacts.' Lith thought.
Meanwhile, the crowd exploded with cheers while Kolmy nudged to her left and right, wearing an "I told you so" smug grin.
"The second, but neither for skill or reputation, is Archmage Kwart." Meron attached another brooch to him as Lith's opponent stepped forward.
Archmage Pezkat Kwart was a man in his mid-thirties, about 1.76 meters (5'9") tall, with grey eyes and brown hair streaked blue and yellow all over.
He had reached the position of Chairman of the Association because his talent for magic was only matched by that he had for politics and by his ambition.
He came from a powerful family that had made his rise to success easier, but not because of their support so much as for the amount of training they had allowed him to undergo and for the resources they had invested in his studies.
He waved at the crowd with the bearing and the confidence of a winner, only to be welcomed by a deafening silence that only the chirping of crickets might have made worse.
"In your face! Pay up." Duke Phalmar said, realizing that the room had gone silent only when it was too late.
Kolmy, the King, and many others glared at him, but the Grand Duchess paid him nonetheless.