Chapter 2 Part 3
“Let’s start with a quick test, Merlin-san ── Level 6: Flame Array’s Zenith, Flare Burst!”
Merlin smiled bitterly.
Well, that would happen if a child right after entering a Magic Academy could handle Level 6 Magic as a quick test.
Even I’d be surprised by this.
“I see ── so that’s your so-called quick test, huh!? Fuhaha! You’re good! Level 7: Absolute Durability, Perfect Wall!”
‘Absolute Durability, [Perfect Wall]’ defended from the blaze of ‘Flame Array’s Zenith, [Flare Burst]’.
After blocking my magic, Merlin grinned.
“Level 6 Magic, this level of proficiency at your age…huh? I can’t help but shudder and be amazed, too! Fufu, that person…Ephthal-sama has been doing all sorts of mean things to surprise me since his death, hasn’t he…!?”
“Mean? What kind of mean things did the ancestor do to you?”
Right then and there, Merlin’s face turned red and shook her head from side to side.
“…A lot of things. That person really gave me a ‘mean’ education…. I’ve been embarrassed more than once or twice later because of that education”
I mean…I’ve spouted a lot of ridiculous and stupid things other than the ‘kissing could make a child’ spiel.
Well, as for Merlin…I may have teased her a little too much.
I had a lot of fun spouting those lies because she firmly believed them and when she had a ponytail hairstyle, I would often playfully pull her hair.
Yeah, to put it mildly, I love you, Merlin.
Dear me, I’m really starting to miss a lot of things.
Merlin shook her head again from side to side to calm her body down from trembling.
“But I can’t lose to you, at least not at your current age. No, I absolutely can’t lose to you! I also have some pride in myself, Ephthal-kun! You may be the thirteenth generation of the family, but I am the first favorite apprentice of Ephthal-sama! I’m proud to say that I’m the original who has received Ephthal-sama’s magic in person!”
Merlin was tiny and cute at the time.
Now she’s a sexy, dynamite sister…. Since I’m kind of like a foster father of hers, so I’m really emotional about a lot of things.
And as I was thinking that, Merlin’s expression changed to a Rakshasa.
“You’re dealing with me now…why are you grinning at me!?”
…It’s exactly as she said.
I can’t deny that I was a bit too carefree, remembering the past.
On another note, I’ve never seen Merlin with this expression before. I need to brace myself a bit, or she might pull the rug out from under me.
“Then allow me to return the favor. I’ve judged that it’s unnecessary to go easy on you. Don’t let me down by getting hurt! Level 6: Flame Array’s Zenith, Flare Burst!”
I see. She has returned my ‘Flame Array’s Zenith, [Flare Burst]’ with another ‘Flame Array’s Zenith, [Flare Burst]’ of her own.
It seems that she has always had an unquenchable desire to compete, or rather, hate to lose, just as in the past.
“In that case, I’ll also return with an Absolute Durability, Perfect Wall!”
Once again, ‘Absolute Durability, [Perfect Wall]’, defended from the blaze of ‘Flame Array’s Zenith, [Flare Burst]’.
Normally, it would take time to transmute mana into high-ranking magic again. Therefore, with that in mind, battles are built on the assumption that there will be a pause until the next magic.
But I know. No, we both know.
── That we could barrage each other with magic without a moment’s pause.
For we are kin who have inherited the same craft.
That’s right, if one mastered the craft of the Ephthal School, which I developed, you can perform high-level magic without chanting and consecutive magic attacks.
Originally, I was even worse at handling super high-level magic compared to the other three Emperors.
No, to be precise, when I was using Level 10 Magic, the cast time was too long compared to the three of them due to my magic aptitude.
To make up for the disadvantage, I established a strategy of consecutive attacks using Level 7 ~ 8 Magic, and of course, Merlin inherited the trump card that I established.
“With this, it seems like you won’t be injured even if I go up a level, right!? Level 7: Absolute Freeze, Cocytus!”
“…I knew you could do it in no time…but you’re constructing your magic formula just way too fast, you know!?”
“You’ll get hurt if you talk too much!”
“Huh!? Me getting hurt? Just who do you think you’re talking to…you greenhorn!? Level 7: Absolute Durability, Perfect Wall”
“The magic formula is insufficient. Even though they are the same level, that won’t stop my Absolute Freeze, Cocytus!”
“Guu…such proficiency in the magic formula…eeii! Level 7: Absolute Durability, Perfect Wall ── Parallel Activation!”
My ‘Absolute Freeze, [Cocytus]’ completely fended off by the two large magic walls.
And there, due to the adverse effects of magic intoxication from having two high-ranking magic activated at the same time with Parallel Activation, Merlin seems to have suffered a mild concussion.
Yeah, it’s exactly as I thought…she’s losing consciousness. I can tell by her complexion that she is pale.
Merlin staggers and her eyes which are watching my movements become hazy for a moment.
“When using Parallel Activation, you could lose your consciousness to the magic formula construction! Didn’t the ancestor teach you ── never take your eyes off your opponent? Level 6: Degraded Thunder God, Lesser Ephthal!”
“Evasion…is impossible! Eeii! Level 8: Spatial Transfer, Teleport!”
Merlin appears behind me, and I also activate Level 8: Spatial Transfer, Teleport.
I did that because I was sure that I would be attacked from behind with a series of consecutive attacks.
“Level 6: Flame Array’s Zenith, Flare Burst!”
As expected, the space where I was located just a few moments ago had been burnt by Level 6 Fire Magic.
Speaking of me, I appeared five meters beside her, and Merlin immediately turned towards me.
“What’s the matter, Merlin-san? Why are you smiling…?”
Merlin placed her hand over her mouth and made a surprised expression.
“You’re right, I’m smiling…”
Merlin shrugged as if she had given up on something, and then gave a little nod.
“Ephthal-kun, I apologize for my rudeness”
“I looked down on you since you’re just a child. But without a doubt, you’re quicker to construct magic formulas and also have more proficiency in magic than me. I was only able to counter you with Parallel Activation during the Level 7 Magic clash”
Merlin again nodded at my silence.
“Would you care to join me for a little old tale?”
“…An old tale, huh?”
“My Master was trying to be the strongest”
“Yes, I know”
After all, I’m still aiming for it.
“And I, too, was chasing what my Master aimed for, these two words, ‘The Strongest’. Every single day for the last 400 years, every single day of my life, foolishly. No, to be precise…that’s what I thought earlier till just now”
“Thought, as in the past…?”
“Earlier…I smiled in the middle of a battle in which I was at a disadvantage. Why do you think I smiled?”
“…I don’t know”
“I felt a sense of vexation that the skills of my Master that I had been honing for 400 years…were being beaten by you who was handling the same skills”
“Well, I suppose it’s natural that you would have such a feeling”
“And I…had a feeling of nostalgia and delight in seeing you handle your skills, exactly like my Master”
With an indescribable expression on her face, Merlin shrugged again as if she was in over her head.
“Then as my emotions and feelings conflicted, I smiled. As I look at you, who is exactly like my Master…rather than regret…I remembered the old days…and I smiled. It reminded me of those evenings when I played the game of magic with my Master, long, long ago…I was happy…and now it just feels nostalgic…”
Merlin looks like she’s about to start crying any moment now.
“I wasn’t trying to be the strongest. I just cherished and treasured the toy called magic that my Master had left behind for me, the toy I used to play with him…the toy he gave me as a gift. I understood that as I saw you”
“It felt really strange to me, too. Why do I have these strange feelings about you? Even though you’re no doubt the descendant of my Master…but you’re not my Master…you’re not Ephthal-sama”
Um…yeah, thank you.
Merlin loved me that much.
How should I put it…yeah, I’m really glad to see her again. Aren’t I getting a bit teary here?
“With that said, I still have my pride after all. Now, Ephthal-kun? Can you take it? The next secret technique I will unleash is my trump card. If you can overcome this…I’ll admit defeat”
Merlin was cladded in the Ephthal School’s forte, Lightning Qi.
“Level 8…Thunder God’s Strike, Thor’s Hammer, huh? Do you think that would work on me with the exchanges we’ve had so far?”
“Yeah, it probably won’t, right? That’s why I said ── it’s a secret technique”
Now, what should I do?
After all, Merlin is my favorite apprentice. 400 years have passed since then, and she developed a so-called secret technique….
With the utmost caution, I build up my magic power so that I can construct the magic formula as fast as possible.
“I see. So you haven’t given up on the game?”
“It looks like you’re ready to return the favor on your side. Then let’s do this, Ephthal-kun”
“Yeah, no problem”
Merlin shot out lightning from her raised right palm.
“Level 8: Thunder God’s Strike, Thor’s Hammer!”
After confirming that I was about to cast a Level 7 Defense Magic, Merlin raised her left palm.
“Parallel Activation! Level 8: Thunder God’s Strike, Thor’s Hammer!”
Parallel Activation, huh? I’ll also have to construct my magic formula as soon as possible, otherwise ──
And that’s where I felt a cold sweat run down my spine for the first time today.
“Three…Parallel Activations in a row?”
Merlin raises her right leg high ── high above her head as if a hammer was ready to be swung down.
“Parallel Activation! Level 8: Thunder God’s Strike, Thor’s Hammer!”
This isn’t good.
I’ll also have to use Parallel Activation on my Defense Magic, otherwise…and that’s where I, no…I….
I couldn’t help but burst out laughing in spite of myself.
Next is ── her left leg.
Again, Merlin raised her left leg high above her head as if a hammer was ready to be swung down.
“Four Parallel Activations?”
“Parallel Activation! Level 8: Thunder God’s Strike, Thor’s Hammer!”
As expected…that seems to be the end of it.
The recklessness of using four Parallel Activations ── Merlin, who should have been suffering from severe nausea due to the effects of overworking her brain, fell to her knees on the spot with a pale complexion on her face.
I mean, even back in my era, there was no such thing as four Parallel Activations of Level 8 Magic.
“I see. That’s one amazing feat. As expected of my favorite apprentice, Merlin. It would be too much for a little Ephthal boy to handle. In that case, I’ll give it my all!”
This secret technique of hers is exclusively Merlin’s own original magic.
In that case, I’ll return the favor by revealing my original magic as the Emperor of the Thunder God.
Otherwise, it would be too rude to this child’s 400 years of effort.
“Well, it’s not bad to see my apprentice grow up, isn’t it? Not bad at all!”
I raise my hand above my head. And ──
“── Level 10: Emperor of the Thunder God, Ephthal!”
Thunder reverberated with a thunderous roar.
“Haha…hahaha…I see…so this is…an illegitimate child…with the power of the original bloodline…”
Merlin could only laugh weakly at the sight before her.
It’s like all she can do is laugh in dismay. Well, as it should be.
After all, the four Lightning Qi that Merlin cast were instantly swallowed by the extreme Lightning Qi from my Level 10 Magic.
And so, in the next moment, I canceled my magic formula construction before the Level 10 Magic could cause any damage to the surroundings.
This isn’t just an ordinary Level 10 Magic after all. It is a Level 10 Magic where the precision of manipulating magic power was handled at its peak.
In other words, after absorbing the Level 8 Lightning Qis, I canceled the magic formula construction at that very moment, and safely dispersed the electricity into the air.
Whether or not Merlin can manipulate magic in the same realm as me, the answer to that is ‘yes’.
── However, as long as the magic is of Level 5 or so difficulty….
And that’s when I noticed Merlin’s expression had changed.
It’s the same gentle smile that she once directed at me when she was a child…a little spoiled Merlin as she was back in those innocent days….
“Well, you noticed, haven’t you?”
In the first place, it was Merlin who mentioned reincarnation.
Moreover, the current Level 10 Magic can only be used by those who have constructed the magic formula from the very first conception of the theory such as at the level of a classroom lecture, that is.
My own original magic, Level 10: Emperor of the Thunder God, Ephthal. If it wasn’t someone who knew everything about it…my performance earlier would not be possible.
In other words, there is no one else in this era who can handle ‘Emperor of the Thunder God, [Ephthal]’ magic other than me.
“I didn’t actually intend to reveal myself here, but…”
I smile and walk towards Merlin.
“I’m sorry for being so mean and lied to you, Merlin. Those words that you asked me…if I knew about reincarnation…?”
“It can’t be…Ephthal-kun…you’re…”
“Yeah, it’s me. Looking at the ‘Emperor of the Thunder God, [Ephthal]’ magic just now, you should know that it can only be handled by none other than the original. Me, right?”
“A-A…Are you really…the reincarnation of…Ephthal-sama?”
“You know best, Merlin, that there is no other explanation for it, don’t you? Also…looks like you haven’t been slacking off. That was splendid all right. You surprised me”
“I’m just a superficial imitation of Ephthal-sama…who even after 400 years, has yet to reach your back”
“That’s not true, you’re the real deal. Even I don’t know if I could cast four Parallel Activations of Level 8 Magic at the same time. You’ve done well, Merlin. I’m very proud of you, my apprentice”
I turned to Merlin who was on her knees ── grabbed her head in an eagle grip, and stroked her head intimately as I used to do in the past.
“With those words…I…my…my four hundred years have been rewarded”
“Don’t cry. What are you, a child?”
Before I knew it, tears started to well up in Merlin’s eyes and she almost collapsed to the ground from her kneeling position on the spot ──
“I’m sorry. But it seems that in front of Ephthal-sama…I’ll always be a child”
── And so I supported Merlin who had broken down crying and gently hugged her.