Of course, my silly jokes wouldn’t reach them all the way there, and so, the commentary carried on. 

『Well, since this is the first duel of the year, I would like to take this chance to explain the rules of the duel to our freshmen. Now then, please activate the [Barrier]. 』

With that signal, lights started emitting from the circular shaped fighting ring in the middle of the arena stage. In a matter of seconds, the entire stage was surrounded by a highly permeable semicircle [Barrier].

『The duel will take place on the arena stage and there’ll be a barrier covering the stage from within. There are 3 ways to determine the winner. First, if one party either concedes, or is incapacitated. Second, if one party is pushed out of the barrier. And finally, there are rare occasions when the teachers will forcibly bring the match to a close. But not to worry, since this isn’t a typical occurrence that happens in every other duel. 』

Zest had already informed me of all the details up to that point. But this is as far as my knowledge of it went, whatever that’ll be explained from here on out is also new to me. The headmaster did say back then that everything would be explained during the duel itself but—.

『It’s not an exaggeration to say that the main highlight of the duel is this stage itself. This stage is, in fact, a huge magic tool. And the barrier that was just deployed is also a part of it. 』

Instinctively, I dropped my gaze down to my feet. This… is a magic tool?

『To be more precise, the key unit of this formation is the core that’s embedded underneath the stage. This barrier is called the [Phantom Barrier]. The [Phantom Barrier] has a unique ability. It can transform all the physical phenomena that occur within its specified range into an ‘illusion’. Do our new students understand what that means? 』

Illusion formation—Obaa-san had taught me about this before. If I were to apply that knowledge into this current situation…

『So, you mean, everything that happens within the stage barrier can be ‘undone’? 』

『That’s correct, Alfie-san! 』

If everything becomes undone— then it would become an illusion.

I see now, this certainly is the perfect stage for a duel.

『I can’t explain all the details behind this theory but, if I were to put it in a way that’s easier to understand; so long as you’re inside the phantom barrier, whatever happens inside can be reverted back to normal. Whether it’s a hole in the stomach or an arm being blown off, or even in the worst-case scenario where the entire body is so broken to the point where you would doubt if they’re still alive… All of these can be restored back to their original state once the barrier is removed. 』 

The explanation was a bit over the top but I got the main point… I guess?

『In other words, even if a life threateningly dangerous spell was casted, it wouldn’t be a problem so long as it’s within the barrier. Oh, and also, the stage will repair itself as long as the core is intact. So, you don’t need to worry about breaking things inside. Please feel free to break anything. 』

Simply put, it means that I can give it my all without thinking about the consequences. I’m really thankful to have a chance to fight without worrying about causing injuries.

As the commentary went on, the headmaster made his appearance. He got on the stage and stepped inside the barrier. 

『The headmaster is here! It looks like the first duel of the year will be personally supervised by the headmaster himself to raise the spirits of the audience. Aaah~ to be fighting alongside one of the top three magicians of the kingdom, I’m so envious and nervous at the same time. 』

Really? If I were to choose, I’d say fighting in front of this many people is way more nerve wracking.

“…  Seems like you’re taking it easy. You’re not possibly thinking of throwing the match, are you?”

Suddenly, Blue Hair’s voice rang out from the other side.

“I don’t plan on doing anything like that. Even if I look like this, I’m quite fired up on the inside.”

“Hmph, is that so?”

It looks like he didn’t appreciate my response very much as Blue Hair snorted in displeasure. 

“This duel will be personally supervised by the headmaster. Don’t think you can slide a win by cheating like the entrance exam! I’ll expose you for once and for all!”

Well, I’m sorry to burst your bubble, but the headmaster was there for the practical exam too.

『Looks like the tension in the arena is rising up! Then let’s not dally any longer and get this duel on the way! Then, I will leave the rest to the headmaster! 』

The headmaster who stood a little further from both me and Blue Hair, slowly raised his hand at the signal.

“I hope both of you will fight fairly.” 

“ “……………………” ” 

We both silently nodded in unison.

After a few seconds passed in silence—

“Then— please begin!!”

The curtain was raised for the battle between the magicians.

Latos took the initiative to start off the duel with his water magic.

“[Water Barrage]!!”

Compressed water bullets continuously shot out from the projected magic circle.


Reese collectively casted his magic in return. Just like what had occurred during the cafeteria incident before, the water projectiles collided against the translucent​ barrier, scattering the water contained within.

『Oh, I’ve heard about it before, but it seems like Duelist Reese really does use defense magic. 』

『Rather, that guy can only use defense magic. 』

『… Is that really true? I mean, he’s the top scorer, isn’t he? 』

As expected, even the commentator felt rather skeptical about the fact that the top scorer among the new students was someone who could only use elementary grade defense magic. So, she questioned Alfie in a rather doubtful voice. Alfie on the other hand—

『Once you see it, you’ll understand. 』

— Just answered with a curt reply.

Latos grit his teeth as he realized that his water barrage had no effect. Although he already had a hunch that it wouldn’t work since it had failed once before, being proven wrong once more did nothing but add to his growing frustration.

However, this was all still within his expectations.  

“Then how about this! [Water Blast]!” 

He started casting another spell while nailing his opponent in place with his magic barrage. It was the compressed mana that gave the water bullets their explosive properties, and the amount of mana used in this spell was far superior to that of a water bullet. 

On the other hand, Reese calmly casted another barrier.

A projectile which seemed similar in size to a water bullet flew into the barrier. It caused a spectacular explosion as it clashed against the barrier. However, Reese, who was standing behind the translucent barrier, was completely unharmed. 

『… If my memory serves me right, there’s no defense barrier in existence that’s capable of completely blocking a highly explosive projectile like that? 』

The common flaw of defense magic in general was the inefficiency of its mana consumption. In theory, if one block of mana was used to cast a single spell, then three or four blocks of mana would be needed to ward it off using defense magic. 

Thus, it would be more rewarding to focus on offensive-type magic, rather than exhausting one’s mana on inefficient methods such as defense magic.

“…Wha? How did you block that? Fine. But let me tell you this, if you thought I was just using random magic without a plan, then you’re sorely mistaken.”

Whether he was actually aware of what he said or not, Latos immediately stepped up with his next move. A large magic circle formed at his feet, followed by numerous puddles of water appearing everywhere on stage, especially concentrated around where Reese stood.

『Ooh, Duelist Latos just pulled out a big move right from the get-go!?』

『It seems that he made many puddles around Reese, assuming that he could only use defense magic within a limited range. 』

Latos released the mana he had been compressing since the start of the duel and poured it into the magic circle all at once.

“I’m finishing this off with one move! Let’s go!”

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