Both Fran and Amanda began giving off an aura of battlelust as they stared each other down.
I appraised Amanda and reaffirmed that she was a versatile fighter capable of adapting to any sort of situation. She totally trumped us in terms of how experienced she was, but our weapon-related skills were at a higher level than hers, so it wasn’t like we were at a complete disadvantage. I was confident we’d be able to use our Sword Lord Arts to find an opening we could make use of.
Class: Celestial Whipmaster 
Status Level: 71
Intimidation: Lv 7
Chant Shortening: Lv 6
Espionage: Lv 8
Dismantling: Lv 8
Flame Resistance: Lv 6
Bare Handed Combat Techniques: Lv 4
Bare Handed Combat Arts: Lv 7
Wind Magic: MAX
Crisis Perception: Lv 9
Presence Detection: Lv 8
Herculean Strength: Lv 5
Mining: Lv 7
Harvesting: Lv 8
Blink Step: Lv 7
Drowsiness Resistance: Lv 6
Elemental Blade: Lv 7
Throwing: Lv 8
Poison Resistance: Lv 6
Ice/Snow Resistance: Lv 5
Whip Techniques: MAX
Divine Whip Techniques: Lv 4
Whip Arts: MAX
Divine Whip Arts: Lv 6
Storm Magic: Lv 5
Paralysis Resistance: Lv 8
Magic Perception: Lv 5
Lightning Resistance: Lv 7
Greater Agility Boost
Storm Element Reinforcement
Heavenly Whip Techniques
One Who Protects Children
One who is Like a Storm
User of Wind
Magic Beast Annihilator
A Ranked Adventurer
Heavenly Dragon’s Beard Whip
Ancient Multi Headed Snake’s Leather Armour
Magic Poisonous Lizard’s Mantle
Magic Eyed Monarch Cow’s Boots
Heavenly Wheel of Substitution 
Lightning Bird’s Decorative Feathers
Magic Numbing Owl’s Feather Shuriken x 24
Amanda had gone through a few changes. Her class had switched from Stormfighter to Celestial Whipmaster, and her whip-related skills were now a bit higher leveled than they were before. She had also gotten her hands on an interesting looking innate skill.
I couldn’t help but feel like she’d gone out of her way to switch classes and better herself just so she could improve her chances at winning the tournament.
Heavenly Whip Techniques: Increases the speed of one’s whip techniques in exchange for increased resource expenditure.
I couldn’t really tell just how fast her new class and its accompanying skill made her. But either way, it seemed like an extremely powerful one given the way its name was phrased. However, its increased resource consumption implied that it couldn’t be used multiple times in rapid succession, which in turn meant it would leave her with openings we could use against her.
The caster responded to the two combatants pulling out their weapons by signaling for them to continue.
We immediately fired off several different spells the moment the match began.
We used two kinds of spells, with each playing its own unique function. Our lightning based spells were used to stun Amanda herself; we wanted to afflict her with paralysis so we could restrict her movements. The wind-based spells, on the other hand, were meant to restrict her whip and make it more difficult for her to react to our movements.
Rumina had explained to us that the Black Heavenly Tigerkin was in fact a specialized race, one that was best able to demonstrate its prowess in battle by casting Lightning Magic mid combat. Learning that caused me immediately choose to max the skill out, which in turn allowed me to get my hands on the Lightning enhancement skill as a bit of an added bonus.
One of the more spammable and easier to use skills we’d gotten our hands on was Thunderbolt. It was quick to cast, and would continue to zap any it hit even after its initial shock. You could actually say it was basically an upgraded version of Stun Bolt. The other skill we’d cast, Thunder Chain, was a skill with relatively low firepower, but served to provide decent function by restraining its target it with chains of lightning.
Amanda’s unique skill, Spirit’s Grace, was effectively one of the best defensive mechanisms one could possibly have. It would automatically activate and completely negate a single attack should it land. Hence, I didn’t expect or even hope for the attacks we’d launched at Amanda to win the match for us. I was more so hoping that the spells would be able to pop her passive. We needed to break past her absolute defenses if we wanted to get anywhere at all.
The only other reason we’d fired the spells at her was because we wanted to slow her down and buy us some time. Our goal was to stall long enough for us to activate Brilliant Lightning Flash. Stalling and burning through both time and our limited resources was just a dumb waste of time. There was no point to it. Attempting to end the match as soon as possible was the better choice to make. Fran was much more agile than Amanda, so I was 100% sure that we’d have the advantage in close quarters combat.
Whips were weapons that had the tendency to focus on repeated hits, but Amanda’s style in particular was one that focused more on single, powerful strikes. We decided to take advantage of that and immediately return fire after soaking up one of her hits. To that end, I had Physical Damage Nullification slotted in and ready to go.
Fran began concentrating her magical energy immediately after unleashing her first spell.
『Alright Fran, let’s go!』
「Call of the End — Vaisravana’s Downfall!」
Amanda chanted a slew of power filled words the moment the smaller girl activated her innate skill.
The spells we fired were totally blown away immediately as Amanda activated her skill. We were suddenly exposed to attacks on all sides. The whip came at us nonstop, shredded our surroundings, and turned them to dust. It was like we’d suddenly been engulfed in powerful windstorm.
The vicious strikes came at us so quickly that I couldn’t even keep track of them after using Space/Time Magic and speeding up my ability to perceive. Physical Damage Nullification kept popping non-stop. Every single attack that landed was rather high damage, so our mana ended up draining really quickly.
Dodging Amanda’s attack was simply out of the question. There wasn’t enough space for us to get out of its range; her skill filled the entire barrier. Moreover, each swing of her whip unleashed a number of powerful but invisible shockwaves, ones that assaulted us as would the fangs of a serpent. To be more exact, the shockwaves were in fact sonic booms created by the whip breaking the sound barrier. I couldn’t even begin to imagine exactly how quickly the whip was actually moving. All I knew was that it was being propelled by magical energy.
Brilliant Lightning Rush had restored our mana, but a huge chunk of it had already once again been drained away.
Fran commanded me to warp us the moment she concluded that teleporting would consume fewer resources than sitting around and soaking up Amanda’s attacks.
We were supposed to have teleported right behind Amanda, but she had moved over to the stage’s other side before we rematerialized.
Our ability to teleport had already long been exposed. We’d used it a whole bunch, so I wasn’t surprised that Amanda knew about it. Given that, it was to no surprise that she was able to use the bit of lag time before when we vanished and when we reappeared to avoid us so long as she was able to read our movements.
The exchange had caused Fran to realize that her opponent was far too powerful for her to take down if she relied on teleportation alone, so she instead used a flame spell to accelerate herself in the older woman’s direction. We had to get a hit in if we wanted to pop her passive. Shooting black lightning at her probably wouldn’t cut it given how far apart we were, so we honestly had very little other choice but to charge at her
Fran charged straight through the windstorm caused by Amanda’s whip and attacked her. The half-elf didn’t seem to have expected Fran to suddenly pick up so much speed, as she wasn’t able to dodge the incoming slash.
We finally reached her. The strike was replled, but we at least managed to pop her passive.
Fran took the chance presented to her, twisted my blade, and immediately followed up with a second strike.
Here we go!
Amanda’s eyes opened wide in shock as I flew straight towards her.
But our slash never reached her.
Amanda’s continued attacks had caused our mana to basically run dry.
We no longer had enough to activate Physical Damage Nullification. Likewise, we also lacked the mana to create barriers.
Half my blade turned to dust and crumbled as Fran and I were both sent flying into the barrier set up to protect the audience.
I almost instinctively began regenerating my blade, but immediately stopped as I realized that Fran needed my attention.
A warm liquid, Fran’s blood, flowed down my blade. Its source was Fran, or more specifically, the wounds that covered her from head to toe.
I needed to tend to her right away. There was still a chance for us to pull something off so long as Fran managed to steer clear of instantly dying.
My hopes remained unanswered; Fran’s body was enveloped in light as the Cradle of Time activated and restored her to her prior state.
「It’s already over! The match only lasted a total of 10 seconds! What the hell just happened!? I could’ve sworn I saw something blow away the spells Fran had fired, but that was it! Everything that happened after was just way too quick for me to make out!」
I was confident that we would’ve won if we’d just managed to land that one hit, but unfortunately, we weren’t. Amanda’s whip had both far swifter and more powerful than I’d been expecting it to be.
「But you can still tell just how intense their duel was from the state the stadium’s in! They only fought for 10 seconds, but the entire stage’s been totally destroyed! You can’t even tell what shape it started off with anymore!」
The caster’s words were spot on. Over half the stage had been shredded to bits. Even the few parts that remained were barely recognizable given how busted up they were. Amanda’s technique, the ability that’d caused all this destruction, was truly one to be feared.
Fran rose to her feet as she picked me up. The fact that she was unable to really fight back or accomplish much had made it so she was still in a bit of a state of confusion.
Amanda ran up to Fran as the smaller girl stared out into space.
「Are you okay Fran!?」
The half-elf seemed to be completely out of breath. Using just that one move had totally exhausted her and eaten through half her mana pool. She eventually managed to recover her breath, but as one could expect, her mana showed no signs of rejuvenating.
Despite that, she remained completely unconcerned with her own state of well being. She didn’t bother to check how she was doing, as she was instead patting Fran all over while asking her if she was hurt in any which way.
Amanda really loved children. Killing Fran once the way she did had really pained her, as evidenced by the look on her face.
She wasn’t able to calm down until after Fran demonstrated that she was alright by working through a few morning exercise-like motions.
「You’ve grown quite strong, Fran! You really had me feeling the pressure even though you’ve yet to catch up to me.」
「However, it seems that the same can’t be said for my whip.」
The move Amanda used had been so powerful that it’d caused her whip to end up getting torn accross its midsection. We weren’t just talking about any other whip either. Amanda’s whip was one becoming of her rank and power.
Thinking about it, it was kinda a given. I’m pretty sure my durability would plummet if Fran ended up using Amanda’s technique. Every single one of those strikes of hers had enough power to totally wreck the arena, after all.
To me, her whip looked like it was flat out beyond repair. She had thought so much of Fran’s strength that she’d been willing destroy her weapon in order to pull out a win.
「I saw your semifinal match. You’ve already surpassed me in how well you handle your weapon. You’re also really fast, and you can deal an incredible amount of damage with each hit. I didn’t think that it would be a good idea for me to fight you using conventional means.」
It seemed like watching just that one battle had allowed Amanda to see right through us.
「I also noticed that you had either Physical Damage Nullification or something similar to it.」
「Don’t worry, I’m not going to force you to tell me what it is. What I wanted to say is that my realization allowed me to understand why you had fought Colbert the way you had, and that I knew the ability weakness. Physical Damage Nullification is incredible, but it consumes a lot of magical energy. Using it non-stop will eventually run your mana dry.」
Amanda had literally figured out everything we had. She had us dancing in the palm of her hand from the very start; she’d long known that all she needed to do was kite us while waiting for us to run out of mana.
Well, I guess it couldn’t really be helped. I shouldn’t have expected anything else from an experienced A ranker like her.
「It’s okay Fran… Chin up, alright?」
「Didn’t train enough.」
Amanda started to get a bit flustered as she watched Fran squeeze my handle with a downcast gaze. She seemed to have misunderstood Fran’s actions as one’s meant to express her disappointment.
But she was wrong.
Fran wasn’t nearly that soft.
「Will definitely win next round and take third place!」
There was no denying that Fran was feeling a bit vexed that she’d lost, but she’d already moved. In fact, she’d already started reflecting on the mistakes she’d made so she could win the next battle.
Fran was positive, she always looked ahead as opposed to lamenting over the past. In that sense, one could say that her personality made her rather suited for combat.
That wasn’t all there was to it either. Fran had also, in a way, derived a sort of pleasure from the duel she’d just experienced. Though she didn’t think of Amanda as her master or teacher, she did at least think of her as a veritable, experienced adventurer. She was glad to know that Amanda was still stronger than her, and that she still had a cliff to surmount. And honestly, I kind of felt the same. It was nice to know that we hadn’t made a mistake in viewing Amanda as a sort of target, as an incredibly strong entity we someday wanted to overcome.
「Do your best!」
「Amanda too. Win.」
「Okay! It’s a promise!」
Though we’d suffered quite a bit of mental exhaustion, we decided to do the usual and watch the day’s second match regardless so we could learn a bit more about whoever we’d end up fighting for third place. Unlike usual, however, we ended up finding ourselves inside of a gaudy looking private room that overlooked the arena.
It was something the tournament’s managers chose to provide for us the moment we asked if there were still any seats available. Amanda had wanted to join us, but she’d been dragged off to a meeting for the sake of the final round that she’d soon be participating in.
Both Fran and I waited excitedly for the match to begin, as it was going to be one between two strong championship contenders.
Forrund and Fermus both were rather popular, but it seemed that Forrund had a bit of an advantage in that regard because he was still in active duty.
Their match, unlike ours, actually ended up dragging on for a decent chunk of time.
Fermus evaded Forrund’s strikes by dodging the blades that flew at him, whereas Forrund nulled Fermus’ threads by shredding them to pieces.
It looked like Fermus had the advantage, and that the he had control over the fight’s momentum, but he wasn’t able to bring the battle to a close.
The sword user ended up turning everything around at what seemed like the 11th hour by suddenly summoning 100 different magic swords simultaneously. He independently controlled each and every single blade and had them chase Fermus down, an action that ultimately forced the retired adventurer to yield.
『Looks like we’re going to be up against Fermus.』
A wave of relief washed through me, not because I felt that we would have a better chance against Fermus, but because I was worried about Forrund’s ability to copy any magic sword he touched. Specifically, I was kinda terrified of finding out what would happen if he ended up duping me.
『Our next match is going to be another tough one.』
『Yeah. Alright, how about we make use of all the stuff we learned today so we can win tomorrow’s match?』
 Minor update to the way this class’ name is phrased. The term “divine,” was confusing given “Divine X Arts/Techniques,” so I rephrased it to make sure it wasn’t as confusing. The literal is Godly, so I used Celestial which can mean the same thing, but sounds better in a game-like fantasy setting.
 I don’t actually know what the fuck this is. It’s supposed to be a “Sky Ring,” or “Heaven Ring,” or something. Apparently Erza had an armour named after it, and they TL’d it as Heaven’s Wheel in her case, so I’mma just use that. Googling it in Japanese didn’t help either, cause it just gave me ferris wheels because the kanji is just 1 character off from how you write ferris wheel in traditional Chinese…