“Now that everyone has calmed down!” Prince shot me a look.
I looked down sheepishly. I was repenting, honestly. Lydia snorted, still asleep after Miki had knocked her out. Curiously, I had checked Lydia’s status and she had unlocked a new job, Dancer. The conditions were probably something like dance on stage at a level that makes someone want to give you money or something like that. I didn’t know how much it would help in the future, but at least it was something.
“It is clear that Deek’s party won the first event.” The Prince continued. “It’s time we move on to part two. This one will be a lot more familiar to all of you, as the theme of this one is strength! Slaves must be powerful and capable of defending their Master. Therefore, the slaves shall commence in one-on-one combat, with the team that wins two out of three bouts the winner of this event!”
The previously depressed Lord Tibult began to smirk. After the previous failure, it was clear he felt like he couldn’t lose in these matches. As for me, I felt a bit of worry. Carmine and Salicia were both powerful women. Either one would be an even match against my girls. Then there was the unknown challenger, Shao, who was a complete mystery. She had to be powerful, or Lord Tibult wouldn’t have wasted the money and time to acquire her.
“I want you to play it safe,” I explained to the girls softly. “We have already won one event. I don’t want you killing yourselves to win the second one. Terra, are you ready?”
Terra nodded. “I will fight for Master!”
Since Lydia was unconscious, Terra was my second-best fighter. Her focus was defense, after all. After her, Celeste would be the next most useful, but given that she was a long-distance fighter, the constrained arena wasn’t her best environment. After what happened with the house cleaning, I decided to leave her to last. If luck was on my side, Terra would win the next match, and then I could wake Lydia up for the 2nd match.
We waited on the Slave Master working for Lord Tibult. After seeing who I picked, he put a wicked smirk on his face and then gestured for Carmine. This immediately caused a commotion across the crowds as people muttered in confusion. I didn’t understand what was going on. It was Miki who explained it.
“Carmine is a Paladin, Master. This is considered a defensive class. Since she can heal herself, and she has strong armor abilities, she is exceptionally durable. However, it is known that Terra, as an Earth Golem, is also defensive, and her regenerative abilities and strong armor techniques leave the audience confused about how this match will continue.
“Usually, he would have chosen Salicia, who can deal heavy damage with her dark magic to counter Terra’s high defenses. There is a saying. ‘When two people of the same class meet, skills no longer matter.’ It means that when two people have a similar layout of skills and abilities, it becomes a pure numbers game. At best, it will be a fight of attrition. Terra will struggle to win because Carmine is a higher level and thus has more stamina and trump cards, plain and simple. He’s playing a dirty trick on us!”
Just as I was processing what Miki was telling me with a frown, it was already too late to say anything. The prince stepped out with his arms wide.
“Carmine the paladin against Terra the Golem. Begin!”
Rather than suddenly attacking each other, each began casting a spell. In a flash, Carmine was covered with silver Paladin armor. The summoning of it went straight on her body. It was a spell of some sort, so casting it before the battle might have been a rule violation. She held a massive shield, and a sword besides.
As for Terra, she grew covered in a rocky exterior. Her hands were completely surrounded by large balls of metal, making them appear like maces. Her shoulders and various other vital places were covered in layers of earth. Between the two of them, though, Terra’s protection looked a lot freer, giving her mobility. Meanwhile, Carmine’s armor looked absolutely impenetrable.
“I must admit something.” Terra said, “Although Master uses me to defend, I am an Earth Manipulator! My attacks are also powerful!”
Carmine put on a malicious grin. “Paladin’s must smite demons every day. Anyone who thinks we’re all defense has never fought us!”
The two women finally attack. Terra used her canon ball hands while Carmine swung her large sword. The two clashed, creating a massive bomb that filled the arena. The noise was enough that Lydia awoke with a start. She had her sword drawn looking for danger before Miki and Celeste were able to calm her back down.
As for me, my eyes didn’t leave the arena as the two women fought aggressively against each other. Terra was fighting more desperately than I had ever seen her, and I had healing spells ready if I needed them. I wouldn’t hesitate to throw the match if she was in danger. Yet, as the two girls fought, I found that my worries were unfounded. Remarkably, Terra was starting to gain an edge.
Each time they landed a hit, their respective armors were damaged. However, where Terra’s regenerated instantaneously, Carmine’s did not. She may be able to heal her body, but her armor steadily accumulated more and more damage. Perhaps she might have been able to cast repair, but she wasn’t given the time to. Terra’s repair was a passive effect, where Carmine would have to depend on a lengthy spell.
Terra continued to launch Earth attack after Earth Attack. Spike shot up out of the ground. Some trying to impale Carmine while others were tossed at her like massive spears. Most of them bounced off of her shield, but a few manage to slip past her defenses, causing damage to the handful of open places. On the other side, Terra was hit a lot more, but her entire body had a massive defense beyond the armor. The wound created began to heal almost as soon as they were made.
Earth Manipulator was simply too strange and unconventional of a job, and an Earth Golem couldn’t be compared to a human. The human couldn’t compete with a magical vessel full of mana!
“The fight is mine!” Terra’s body glowed as suddenly hundreds of spike flew out and attacked Carmine.
The intent wasn’t to kill her but to push her off of the stage, which would cause her loss. She was using the pure weight of the Earth to push the other woman off. Carmine slammed her shield into the ground. She glowed as well, and suddenly she was encased in a barrier. No matter what Terra threw at the barrier it no longer budged in the slightest.
“This barrier will last for ten minutes.” Carmine panted, “It is impenetrable to the likes of you!”
“I… won’t accept it!” She lifted up her hand, and suddenly dust and dirt started to accumulate.
It grew larger and larger and started spinning. The action caused the wind to start spiraling around it, causing hats to fly off and clothing to flap in the wind.
“Terra is a wind mage too!” Celeste clapped happily.
I decided to ignore her as I watched the spinning boulder grow larger and larger. Carmine’s eyes started to widen, shock and fear forming in them.
“How… did you get all of this power?” Carmine demanded.
“If I want to stand by Master, I must win!” Terra declared. “I am strong because I must be strong to stand by him!”
She chucked the massive ball, still spinning, across the arena. It slammed into the shield, making a horrific booming sound that shook the entire arena. Everyone in the audience was completely shocked, never having seen such a powerful fight before. This was already exceeding what they had expected to see during the gladiatorial matches this was replacing.
There were a few moments where the spinning ball stopped, unable to move forward as it pressed against the impenetrable shield. The roaring sound continued until a distinct crack could be heard. The cracking sound started to spread more and more, until visual cracks formed across Carmine’s shield. Her face turned white as her body flashed the color of various buffs. Just as the shield was about to break, she launched out with a massive wave of her sword, striking the spinning ball of earth.
The ball exploded just as the shield shattered into pieces. A massive blast of air spun out as the arena was instantly turned into a crater.
On one side of the concaved arena was standing Terra, who was panting hard. On the other side was Carmine. Her shield had shattered, and there were numerous holes in her armor. Her face was white, and it was clear she had various wounds. If it was a question on who was in a better condition, the answer was clear.
“I can’t… continue on…” Carmine said bitterly.
Terra nodded as if this outcome was inevitable. “Only when you have a Master worth fighting for, can you bring out your true strength.”
The scene was just about to end amicably when a sudden cynical and dark laughter broke through the silence. The one who was laughing was the Slave Master who was currently controlling Carmine’s leash.
“A Master worth fighting for? Slaves are tools! You have no value! You don’t fight for me! I use you like I use any weapon!”
“Slave, I order you, defeat her!” The Slave Master hissed.
Carmine shot him a hateful look. “I c-can’t… I have no… ahhhhh!”
She suddenly fell to her knees and grabbed her head. She started screaming. I had seen this happen once before when I had used the Slave Order on Celeste. I had promised myself I’d never use that order on my slaves again unless it was life and death.
“Stop it! You’re hurting her!” The princess had run up to the stage and yelled.
“I am a Slave Master, my slave refused orders! She’s only hurting herself!”
“Ahhhhh… I can’t win!” She screamed.
“Stop hurting my sister!” Salicia went to grab him.
“You defy me as well? Punish Slave!”
She let out an even more horrifying scream, crashing to the ground and curling up into a ball.
“Terra!” I called out, “Knock her out of the ring so we can stop this!”
Terra nodded and stepped forward. However, a sudden smirk on the Slave Master’s face suddenly unnerved me.
A sudden power exploded out from Carmine. She suddenly raced at Terra. Her body was glowing red. She began to slice her sword at Terra, again and again. Terra hadn’t been prepared for her sudden ferocity, and she immediately had to lose ground.
“Die! Die! Die!” She screamed, slamming her sword against Terra’s rocky arms, causing Earth to break off with each strike.
The cost on herself was even greater, as her sword slowly broke and the pieces of her armor fell away. Terra was able to attack her, but the attacks were shallow. Blood dripped from all over Carmine’s body, but she didn’t slow her attacks at all. It was as if she had gone completely berserk, ignoring the damage being done to her.
“Master… I can’t stop her without killing her!” Terra said, feeling afraid for the first time since she went on the stage.
That was the truth of it. Carmine was wide open for a killing blow, but Terra just couldn’t deliver it. She was someone she knew… and someone who was being forced to do it. She might be willing to kill a Bandit who was trying to kill her, but this was outside of her realm.
“Divine Retribution!” Carmine screamed.
“No!” Salicia shouted.
A white light exploded out. Terra was struck and her body broke apart as she was flung from the stage. She didn’t even hit the ground before I was casting spells. Create Cushion. Heal Slave. Heal Moderate. Light Repair. I tossed everything at her as I ran to grab her.
“M-master… I lost…” Terra responded weakly.
Her legs half her body was gone, and half of her face looked like sand, rather than skin. She could barely hold herself together.
“No… it’s okay…” I said, continuing to heal her, even if it cost me every last piece of mana.
“That’s the power of a proper Slave Master.” The man on the other side snorted.
Lying on the stage was Carmine. It was difficult to say whether she was alive or dead. Her armor and even her clothing had been destroyed. It wasn’t sexy though. There wasn’t a single patch of skin that wasn’t covered in blood. She had innumerable cuts. Her sword had melted to the hilt.
“You… bastard…” I shot him a look.
“Next match.” The Slave Master grinned.