Heroic Myth One-Shot: Sniper’s Duel
Author’s Note: This is a one-shot omake for the FGO x DanMachi Fanfic Heroic Myth, written with the author’s permission. It is non-canon and primarily just me trying to get back into the swing of writing.
A deep, weary sigh carried on the wind from the topmost point of Shreme Castle.
Located in plains to the southeast of Orario, the citadel was one of the four that ringed the city of Adventurers. It was the oldest of such fortifications, having been built before the Age of Heroes. They were ruins that carried the legacy of those who ventured to the Great Hole to take part in humanity’s rebellion against the fate of death.
Time had eroded most of the original stonework that had stood in silent vigilance to those events. Even with the efforts of masons and stonecutters to reconstruct it into its former glory, that history was lost to all but the very foundation that laid beneath the earth. And in its place was nothing more than walls that were only able to take part in the spectacle of faux war between Familia rather than legends in the making.
And today would be yet another spectacle due to the whims of two goddesses.
Lefiya Viridis did her best to avoid slouching over and dejectedly crying over how she got roped into this from her perch on top of the Keep. The Elven Mage of the Loki Familia stood alone within the fortress, still getting accustomed to her new equipment. She wasn’t sure how Loki had gotten Finn or the others to sign off on them to be honest.
Her normal battle clothes had been replaced for the event. The halter-dress that came down to her hips, hugging the curves of her waist all the way up to her underarms, were a teal color overall but had a black zigzagging design with golden trimming between the two colors at the side of her hips. The clothing strap that sheltered her breasts, running from the front to around the back of her neck, was a pale white color with a greyish band along the valley where three golden-hemmed emeralds were fixed.
The two articles were held together by a pair of golden clips, which bound frill-laden cloth around her upper arms. Thankfully, combined with her elbow-length fingerless gloves, they allowed her to feel a little more comfortable that not all her upper skin was exposed. Below her waist, upon which a belt securely held a little pouch, she had thigh-high stockings that were white and black with a gold streak running down the front and around the hem. They came down to a pair of greaves that were teal with the edges wrapped in elegant silver. Her hair was also bound in a ponytail via a new band that was teal with golden ends.
In her hands was a new staff. The body of it was black, roughly the length of her body short her head. The rear end of the staff had a small magic stone affixed within a golden hexagon tipped with a pointed end. The top of the staff was also golden, with a large teal magic stone cradled within a diamond-shaped head, while the neck of it had a band with an empty chamber that could be fitted with a disposable magic stone for use in casting—Loki claimed it was based off something called a cartridge system.
Under normal circumstances, Lefiya would have appreciated that Loki had gotten it for her. But she had done it for a bet, leaving the Elven Mage feeling conflicted. She didn’t even have time to really adapt to it before she had sent out to humor the divine population who sought more entertainment after the War Game.
Loki had even updated her Status to Level Four for the sake of the competition. Not that she didn’t plan to eventually do so now that she had reached S-Rank in her Magic attribute. But the fact that it was because her goddess wanted her to win a competition took the wind out of her sails.
She turned her gaze to the castle that was opposite her own, far enough away that normal siege weaponry would fail to reach. Level Four senses made the distance irrelevant as far as sight and sound went. More so considering she was an Elf and thus had a natural advantage there compared to the Human that was her opponent on the opposite Keep’s tower.
Archer—a Level One who possessed the power of some Spirit or other that allowed him to make swords and access incredible magic. To be honest, Blacksmith might be a more appropriate name under normal circumstances with how his tanned skin looked, as though it had been baked in the heat of the forges, stretched over a broad frame that came from pounding at iron and steel as he shaped it to his desire. It contrasted the snow-white hair that adorned his head and eyes that sat right between the two hues with its silver-grey tone. But considering the bow that was the color of wrought iron currently within his grasp, it seemed he was going to be living up to his moniker.
Unlike during the War Game, his visage was more… casual, she wanted to say. If there were a word for it, she would liken it to being almost wistful in the nostalgia of a time long gone that she had seen on some of the older Elves in her Forest. But he was too young to have that look… probably.
It annoyed her all the same.
Sniper’s Duel—that was a format of the War Game where two combatants would take turns attempting to target a specific object and destroy it to secure the win. However, because of their… unique skillsets, the objects they were supposed to hit were Familia Emblems affixed to their clothes. And it could only be done via long-range projectiles or spells, with neither party allowed to leave their own castle. The winner was decided when one destroyed the other’s emblem, or someone was rendered unconscious and thus unable to battle.
Loki had won the coin toss, so she would get the first shot as agreed to by the rules. That was effectively as good as a win under normal circumstances given her capabilities. There was a reason she had the moniker of Fairy Sniper before she was Thousand Elf after unlocking Elf Ring. But the slight crook in the corner of Archer’s lips revealed a hint of amusement that said he probably wouldn’t make it easy.
Lefiya stood straighter as a bell in the distance sounded to mark the start of the competition, drawing one leg back. She raised her staff forged of Seiros and gold to her chest as she aligned herself with her target. Her azure eyes fell upon the emblem pin affixed to the black vest on Archer’s chest and she began to sing.
“Unleashed beam of light, limbs of the holy tree—”
Light bloomed at her feet. Shimmering over the stone roof as if opening a gateway to an unseen realm that she had stepped into upon reaching Level Two, it wove itself into an intricate circular array. It was proof of her dedication to magic, only obtainable by taking the Mage Development Ability—a Magic Circle.
“You are the master archer.”
The Magic Circle allowed for the modification of one’s spells, even if the chant was akin to an Aria written on one’s soul itself according to Lady Riviera. Anyone fortunate enough to possess a Spell Slot could learn Spells, but only those who dedicated themselves to the path would have the right to have the Development Ability appear as a choice to be engraved into their very flesh with divine ichor. Rather than simply chanting the words and getting the same result, even if the value of one’s Magic status increased its potency, it unlocked different aspects with every rank the Development Ability gained—velocity, firing angle, output, and so on.
“Loose your arrows, fairy archers.”
Motes of light leaked from the array as she released magical energy to fuel the spell. The magic-conductive metal within her grasp drank it up and funneled it into the core magic stone that made up the staff’s heart. It resonated with her magical energy, focusing and melding it with the natural magic stored within the stone to increase the potency of her shot.
“Pierce, arrow of accuracy—Arcs Ray!”
Light lanced out from the tip with the completion of the incantation.
Arcs Ray—her first spell gifted to her by the Falna the moment she had received it when she entered the Education District. It was an exceedingly simple one that converted her magical energy into light and then fired it out in a self-contained beam. It was not weighed down by gravity like a physical projectile, but rather by the amount of magical energy that composed the spell that factored into the velocity of the shot.
The arrow of light woven by the branches of a holy tree and fired by the Fairy Sniper crossed the distance between the two castles within the span of a breath. She had adjusted the values so that the output of the spell would be minimal while leaving the velocity untouched. It would impact but not kill someone at Level One—a training shot used during evasion training among the Fairy Force.
Yet the shot passed by Archer unhindered.
His body posture had shifted in the time it took to exhale as she loosed her spell. It had been no more than a half-step. But that had been enough to let the shot harmlessly sail past his broad frame, its glare briefly illuminating his steel-toned eyes as it passed by, to the other side of the castle before it petered out.
And with that, it was his turn to send his own arrow flying forth.
His posture shifted into a firing stance of his own, left leg forward with that black bow that was easily his own height in his left grasp. An arrow appeared in his empty hand. Not one of his sword-turned-arrows, but an ordinary one. He nocked it against the bowstring, pulling it back as he leveled it toward her.
There were lots of drawbacks to using bows in the Dungeon as you went deeper and deeper. The material to work the bows and bowstrings into having greater drawing power so the shots could fly farther was expensive. Ammunition that wouldn’t shatter against the skin of a Middle Floor monster required harvesting and shaping the claws and fangs of monsters that would be most suited to doing so, counterbalancing the weight of the arrowheads with the shaft so that it wasn’t top-heavy. And then there was the fact that hitting the magic stone to eliminate a monster in a single shot required precise knowledge of where it was located and pinpoint accuracy.
Even in this case, someone would have to adjust their aim to fire a bow effectively against a target so far away. They would have to work out the trajectory based on sight alone and then perform the calculations in their head to ensure they would hit. And with how small of a target he needed to hit, it was almost unfair and one-sided to call this a match given how she could easily adjust the size of her own beams.
But she knew that Archer could easily skirt around all of that, so she didn’t really factor them in as he released his arrow.
It cut through the air… not quite as fast as her own shot, but faster than an arrow ought to considering he hadn’t even drawn his bowstring back to its fullest before he loosed it. But it was still slow enough that her heightened perception due to her Level made it seem like it was moving in slow motion. She simply tilted her upper body out of the way as the arrow came towards her emblem and let it arch over the edge of the Keep.
She caught the faint sound of glass breaking before readying her second shot.
“Unleashed beam of light.” Her Magic Circle sprang up again as she began to adjust the spell, pushing the incantation to the back part of her mind that knew it by rote memorization. A few more motes of light than before emerged as she increased the amount of magical energy and prioritized its distribution towards increasing the velocity of her shot. “—Arcs Ray!”
A warm breeze rolled past her as light lanced out at more than double the speed of the previous shot. For a Level One perceiving it would be nearly impossible simply due to the difference in their Status. The gap between Level One and Level Four was practically insurmountable. More so factoring in the fact that she had raised her Magic to S-Rank twice over now.
Yet in defiance of what should have been an absolute fact, Archer not only dodged with casual ease but drew back his bowstring in a single motion before letting an arrow fly. It was a perfect counterattack by all accounts, the arrow cutting through the air toward her far faster than the last. Even with her elongated perception, by the time she noticed it was already within range to pierce the emblem—if not her very heart over which it hung.
The Elven Mage threw herself out of the way before it could hit the mark, leaving the arrow to fly past her. She landed on the rooftop in an undignified heap, which left her flushed red in the face because she knew that all of Orario had seen her stumble over her own feet. How embarrassing….
And as for the one responsible for her embarrassment, he stood there with the same smirk on his lips. She knew that considering him a Level One was foolish. Even without the Falna, a Spirit’s power was not something to be underestimated given that heroes of old had carved themselves into legend with their aid.
Even so, she still had great pride in her abilities as a Mage. One that specialized in long-range combat, and as a member of a race that valued magic and dignity. So being made a fool so casually stung deeply.
A new resolve flared within her. Even if she was outclassed under normal circumstances, right here and now the situation was different. If all she had to do to claim victory was destroy the emblem he brandished so brazenly upon his chest, even she could manage that much.
Yes, the only way to make up for her wounded pride would be to make this Human taste defeat.
Rising back to her feet with her fighting spirit kindled, Lefiya reached into the pouch that adorned her belt. When her slender fingers withdrew from it there was a cylindrical-shaped magic stone the size of her fingernail in her grasp. She fitted it into the chamber affixed to the staff with a single motion, leveled the staff towards her opponent, and began to sing once more.
The Magic Circle sprang up at her feet once more, shining brighter than before. She would maximize the velocity of the shot and increase the width to compensate for the space available for him to move on the opposing Keep. A flurry of golden sparkles shot into the air like earthbound snow swept up by a breeze as the Elven Mage braced herself for the feedback. Then she sent a final pulse of the magical energy into the cartridge attachment, injecting the magic stone with more energy than it could fit inside.
Like a balloon filled to the point of bursting, it came undone with a blue spark and released all the magical energy that composed it into the heart of the staff. The core nestled within the golden diamond shone like a star right as she finished her incantation. “ARCS RAY!”
A torrent of light barreled forth toward the Keep that Archer had been perched on and her sharpened senses caught the explosion with as much clarity as if it had been right next to her. The stonework shattered, rubble and dust scattering from above as the highest point in the opposing castle was destroyed in a single shot. Even so, Lefiya was fairly sure that despite the increased destructive force it wouldn’t have been enough to seriously hurt him…
That was when she felt his magical energy.
For a Mage as sensitive as her it was a sensation that was second nature. Her azure eyes snapped not to the lower grounds of the castle hidden by the dust, but to the air above. There she found the sniper of the Hestia Familia reaching the apex of height possible to be reached in a single bound of his legs, bow nocked with an arrow—which had its head glowing red as he poured magical energy into it—tongues of red lightning crackling up the shaft.
Lefiya immediately threw herself off the top of the Keep. Archer might not have needed an incantation, but arrows infused with his magical energy were just as dangerous as any spell she could cast. So the moment she felt the flow of energy stopping, she knew that the shot was coming.
It proved to be the right call as the red streak cut through the air toward where she had been like a small comet. And just like a comet the moment it crashed down into the top of her Keep, it utterly wiped it out. The shockwave of the impact sent her tumbling midair over the top of the closest tower, where she came to a rough stop against the edge.
“Nnnn…” A grumble bubbled up in her throat as she used the wall to stand up properly. She looked down to make sure her emblem was unbroken, then back over to where her Keep had been, and then finally to the other castle where Archer landed far more gracefully than she had. The fact that he was wearing that damn smirk only served to further infuriate her. Okay, time to show what an actual Mage can do.
She reached for another magic stone and fitted it into the now-empty slot. Then she started using her other spell. “Proud warriors, marksmen of the forest. Take up your bows to face the marauders! Answer the call of your kin and nock your arrows!”
Her anthem brought forth a new Magic Circle at her feet. The frills around her upper arms and hair began to dance. Magical energy surged out into the world as reddish particles rose to the air like embers from a crackling flame. “Bring forth the flame, torches of the forest. Release them, flaming arrows of the fairies!”
Those ascending red embers, fire seeds that had yet to sprout, gathered as she raised her staff to the sky between the castles. They converged and clustered together, igniting as she channeled magical energy into the magic stone. Then there was an explosive flash of light and heat.
A second sun took its place in the sky between the two castles.
“Fall like rain and burn the savages to ash—” She directed her staff, its tip pointing at the roiling, pulsing mass of flames that seemed ready to burst, towards the enemy standing at the opposite tower as she declared, “FUSILLADE FALLARICA!”
Fire erupted from the singular daystar. Pieces of the sun dyed the sky itself the color of burning red as they rained down from above. Hundreds of arrows of flames descended upon the enemy castle and its sole defender.
Archer began to dart from the top of the Tower as the flaming arrows came down upon it, each one blasting away at the solid stone upon contact. He was fast on his feet for someone so talented at ranged combat, but he couldn’t escape the eyes of an Elf. As long as she could see him, Lefiya could direct the subsequent volleys until the sun burned out.
“I am the bone of my sword…” Her ears caught the incantation on his lips that shook the air itself as a new blade appeared in his right hand. It was a uniquely beautiful blade to even her eyes that were untrained in the ways of smithing, with the helix blade coiling around itself until it came to a golden guard and silver handle that were all embellished with a blue strip. It compressed itself within his grasp until it formed a suitable arrow as he somersaulted out of the way of her flaming volley, and red lightning crackled as he drew it back. “Caladbolg!”
What flew out of his bow couldn’t really be called an arrow. No, her eyes caught how it distorted the very air as the blue swirl it became pierced through the daystar and kept going. The flames that were meant to rain down were caught in its wake and dragged out like thread pulled by a needle as it passed overhead and left a flaming arch to mark the trail where a star ascended to the heavens after being called down.
Then Lefiya felt the backlash. The heat-laden whirlwind lashed out at her like a solid wall that rivaled the intensity of a Valgang Dragon, slamming into her with enough force that she was certain that a Level One Adventurer would have their body crushed by the intensity. She ended up curling her hand over the emblem and plunging the butt of her staff into the solid stone with all the Strength she just to avoid being blown away until the gale petered out.
Spirit magic is really something, isn’t it? She found herself unconsciously swallowing in the wake of that. It hadn’t even been aimed close to her, yet the sheer strength of it was something to behold. But I’m not done yet!
“I beseech the name of Wishe. Ancestors of the forest, proud brethren. Answer my call and descend upon the plains—” Her azure gaze smoldered with fiery resolve as a new Magic Circle sprang to life at the base of her feet and expanded as she pledged upon the name of her forest, her ancestors, and her home itself. It was the pride she held as an Elf woven into an Aria itself by the Falna—that which earned her the name of the Thousand Elf.
“Connecting bonds, the pledge of paradise. Turn the wheel and dance.” The intricacies of the circle grew more pronounced with every word, inscriptions and symbols decorating it with each syllable. A thread of light, a strand of rainbow made solid, emerged from the tip of her staff and followed in a graceful arch as she turned with it until it connected with itself into a ring. “Please, give me strength—”
Then she brought her staff down upon the circle and the light followed, connecting the above with the below as the amount of magical energy that it exuded billowed into the air as sparkles of prismatic light with the completion of the titular, “Elf Ring.”
Inside her mind now stretched an endless forest of great trees. It was the foundation for her mental world, accessible only by stepping through the boundary of the Elf Ring. In doing so one connected with the repository of all the spells woven by Elvenkind since the beginning of time.
There were no guideposts in the forest. Even for her, who wielded this magic, it was beyond her to freely traverse it to whatever Great Tree that housed the spell she desired. However, one could trace their way to the roots from the leaves and branches. She only needed the incantation to guide her, as they were merely the canopy that displayed what was writ beneath the Falna and onto the very soul—the very foundation of the magic itself.
“Glittering stars crossing the night sky. Hear my naïve prayer and guide these falling lights.” The aria flowed like a soft breeze, tracing along the branches until it came to a sapling within the endless forest that had just emerged from the nurturing soil. It would need tending and care and time, but it would be able to flourish to grandiose heights as daunting as even the Great Oak. And while she couldn’t reproduce the height that it would one day be reached by the neophyte upon reaching her prime, Lefiya could compensate with her own Skill and Magic to give Primo a glimpse of the future that awaited her.
“Descend o starry tears!” Her body burned as her magical energy came out in a dense fog trying to reach that potential future, a magic stone in the chamber shattering and overflowing as the heartstone shone with a celestial violet light amidst the countless motes. She was using the Mage Development Ability to refine the spell itself, increasing the nodes upon which the fires of the stars themselves could rain down. “Blast away these hapless rejects!”
Once she was done, she swung her arm to cast that light into the heavens with all her might, whereupon it scattered into dozens of twinkling stars that linger in the air above. “LUMINE PLEIADES!”
The words called for the stars to fall like raindrops. Each star diminished little by little as they shed tears upon the castle below. But they rained down in such great numbers that she was sure at least one would manage to scour his pin and then that would be the end.
Yet Archer called to his hands a beautiful pair of twin short swords, akin to the full moon and the new moon. With them, he began deflecting the beams of light as they came raining down. The spell was reduced in potency in exchange for increasing the numbers, but it still shouldn’t be deterred by mere steel. If she had to put it into words, it almost seemed like the spell itself glided off the blades like water off an oiled surface.
It was too crude to be a dance, but the way he brought them around to protect the emblem itself was still skillful. Something only possible thanks to those blades, paired with excellent reflexes and sharpened eyes—a combination of his boons from the Spirit that possessed him and his own experiences no doubt. Blades in hand, Archer managed to do the impossible and weather the star shower without a single drop of light touching him.
Then it was his turn again. The blades dissipated into the air and his bow returned. Three nondescript black arrows appeared between his right fingers and he nocked them all at once, channeling magical energy into them as he drew back the bowstring…
Lefiya’s nerves were alight as the post-magic rigor left her body feeling the strain of her previous casting. Between amplifying the spell along with the amount of magical energy it took to simply use Elf Ring in the first, she couldn’t force another spell for at least another thirty seconds. In that time Archer accrued a scary amount of magical energy within the arrowheads, distorting the air itself around them as they burned with a reddish hue.
But rather than shoot them directly toward her, he sent them streaking into the sky as three rays of light. Then the faint light spread out across the sky into dozens of pinpricks of light. And burning stars began to rain down upon her from above.
Brick and mortar scattered upon impact as the magical energy detonated with the force of a small flare stone as she jumped from the Tower to the Wall Walk. It wasn’t even a tenth of what she felt from how much he charged each arrow, but closer to a hundredth of the original power. Even so, she kept moving as the red rain descended upon her.
One after another the crimson comets fell upon the castle, the sequence irregular to her sharpened sense of hearing. Patterned. Selective. She was fairly sure that they were somehow tracking her as she moved, some falling where she would have been if she had not caught the sound of them approaching and then redirected herself with all the Agility her cumulative Levels could muster to avoid the shelling. Eventually, she was forced to throw herself off the side of the Wall Walk before catching the ledge of an inner window and pulling herself into the interior for shelter.
The layer of stone next to her immediately erupted into stone dust and pebbles, making it clear the castle walls wouldn’t hold up to this bombardment. She ran along the interior with the bunker-busting blasts following in her wake until she felt a cluster of magical energy converging and reflexively darted back in time as the stonework collapsed, sealing off her path ahead. Lefiya leaped out of the nearest window as that section of the Wall Walk began to collapse in on itself, dropping into the courtyard below.
Red shells continued to rain down.
The castle trembled under the blasts as she wove between them, one hand over her emblem nestled above her heart. But mid-step her footing slipped, or to be more accurate the ground gave out beneath her. Lacking in the stonecunning of a Dwarf, she failed to notice just how fragile stonework had become from the constant damage done until one of the crimson cannonball-like impacts had finally shaken loose the stone itself beneath her.
On reflex alone she managed to stop herself from falling face down or landing on the staff she’d been bequeathed, instead falling to her side. But then she caught sight of the crimson hue eclipsing her vision and felt the final of the stars heading towards her. With no time to escape, she curled inwards and braced for impact as she flared her own magical energy out to try and dilute the concentrated batch.
It was a rudimentary, primal Elven technique born from the time of the Age of Heroes. A waste of Mind for a lackluster defense—especially when the Magic Resistance DA passively did the same thing to a greater degree. There was a reason Mages used their foci to direct the flow of magical energy instead of their entire bodies, which she felt imminently considering her body ached on the inside now.
But if she hadn’t done it, then she would have lost as she felt the pain wash over her. Not enough to seriously wound her. But it would have been enough to end the match one way or another if she hadn’t done it.
She removed her hand from where the emblem of the Jester was pinned over her heart. It was so fragile compared to her body or even the battle clothes she’d been given, yet it carried the significance of her Familia in its presence. Had she not put forth that extra effort it would have shattered in the wake of that blast.
And to let the emblem of her Familia be shattered in defeat wasn’t a thought she could bear.
I won’t lose to him. She used her staff to help herself onto her feet as the stone dust cleared. The sound of metal clinking to the stone below could be heard as her hair band fell, wrenched loose from the pressure of the blast while the golden tips dragged it down. That left her hair to flow wildly, some of it clinging to her forehead and cheeks from the sweat of her exertion.
The Elven Mage grabbed the hairband that had fallen and tied it around her left wrist. Then she hobbled back into the interior corridor to climb back to the top with a familiar song on her breath whilst outside his view. When she finally stepped back on what remained of the Walk Wall, having been caught in the bombardment that forced her to flee below initially, she caught sight of the red-clad Archer standing on the opposite castle with his bow in hand.
Her appearance elicited no reaction from him, which was annoying in its own way considering he barely looked like he’d taken a stroll despite her best efforts. In contrast, she was covered in dirt and dust that clung to her from the sweat she’d shed to this point. Exhaustion was plain on her face. Anyone watching the match would know by now that she couldn’t hope to keep up with him, so the expected result would be that the match would end in the next exchange.
I still have a card left to play. She loaded the final magic stone into the chamber affixed to her staff and held her breath as she got into a firing stance that entrenched her into place. Then her Magic Circle sprang to life at the base of her feet and magical energy came roaring out as she issued her final challenge to her opponent in the form of a song. “Unleashed beam of light, limbs of the holy tree…”
Mid-song she noticed Archer’s posture shifting. She couldn’t tell if his instincts or intuition recognized her intentions to no longer run but instead go all out. Either way, the steel-eyed Human took up his own stance that gave the impression that he had no intention of attempting to dodge her next shot—he would block it.
Even knowing that he would, Lefiya had already resolved to give it her all as she finished her spell with a spark of magical energy igniting the magic stone within the chamber. “Pierce, arrow of accuracy—ARCS RAY!”
Golden light burst free from her staff. She had maximized the speed and destructive power, relying in the chambered magic stone and Fairy Cannon to go beyond her limits. So it looked more like an onrushing wave of light that swallowed the entirety of the ground between them as it surged towards the enemy fortification faster than the speed of sound—
—and then it met with the seven-petaled flower that bloomed from the stalk that was Archer’s bronzed arm. Its simplicity in appearance and shape belayed its defensive capabilities, the beautiful shield that seemed so fragile holding strong even as the force of the spell released a shockwave upon impact.
A bright glare robbed them of sight. The light that couldn’t push past his defenses flared up, releasing scalding heat and force that caused the air itself to howl. Even the castle Archer anchored himself to trembled as the heat sank into the mortar and loosened the bonds holding the stone itself together.
Lefiya lost count of the seconds as a fever reached her head. Her body was burning up from the inside out as a fever swept through her from channeling as much magical energy as she could into the spell to keep it going. The fields between them began to burn as the rampant heat finally ignited the grass, sending smoke billowing out as the rushing air carried it everywhere.
But the inevitable occurred sooner than later.
The rush of the magical energy slowly petered out as her Mind emptied down to the critical point. The absence left her feeling dizzy enough to be on the verge of passing out. She braced the staff to stay upright, knowing that if she fell she wouldn’t be getting back up
And as the light faded away in its entirety and the smoke slowly cleared, she could see that her assault had accomplished absolutely nothing as the petals dissipated and revealed Archer standing there unblemished.
…It was really infuriating that even at her best she couldn’t so much as burn his clothes. Then again, Lefiya knew that her spell wouldn’t be enough to overcome his defenses. His shield managed to weather the barrage of a Spirit unleashing the highest tier of magic possible, so for her it was an impenetrable shield that couldn’t be breached even if she tried her hardest.
He was getting ready to end things since she could no longer muster the strength to stand upright. All she could do as he drew back his bowstring was to extend her left hand out towards him. Then He fired a singular arrow towards her emblem to end it—
—and she unveiled her final trump card as a Magic Circle sprang to life from her wrist that was covered by the hairband.
The question of how she was going to defeat Archer had loomed in her mind since she had barely managed to protect her emblem the last time. She couldn’t use Elf Ring again. Even if she didn’t suffer from severe post-magic rigor whenever she used it, her Mind wasn’t as seemingly endless as his was.
The difference in their physical ability factored in as well. He could move a lot more freely than her, especially with her body in this state. Had he thought she could still retaliate and been light on his feet, he would likely avoid her remaining shots and would win out in a contest of endurance. Not to mention that he had his ultimate defense.
The only way she was going to win was to take advantage of the only weakness she could think of that he shared as both an archer and a mage: concentration.
Be it magic or bow, snipers devoted their all to their shots, down to their very breath. Lady Riveria had taught her that, being the foremost archer within their Familia. So, in that single moment after his shot was fired, he would be vulnerable—and thus she had a chance to win.
But she had less than the space of a second to land such a shot. While a skilled Mage could reduce the time of their chants, with Filvis being proficient enough that she could cast her Short Chant spells in less than a second, Lefiya couldn’t hope to accomplish something like that given how long her spells were. At least not without the Skill she obtained upon reaching Level Four: Double Canon.
It was a Skill that mitigated the biggest weakness she faced in how quickly her incantations were uttered by allowing her to preserve the Magic Circle and incantation, delaying the release of the spell until she used the trigger word to unleash it. That made it so that the spell itself was already loaded and formatted with the Mage Development Ability. She only needed to unleash it.
She had loaded in her first spell on her way up to the Wall Walk for the final time. Augmented to maximize the speed above all else. The only thing left was to pull the trigger with her remaining Mind. “ARCS RAY!”
A golden arrow-thin ray shot from her outstretched hand before everything faded to black…
The first thing that Lefiya felt as she slowly came back to her senses was her body being cradled by the soft embrace of a bed. She forced her eyes open after a moment and sat upright, taking in her surroundings. It was her room back in the Twilight Manor.
“Finally woke up?” The voice of her Goddess pulled her attention over to a chair where the Trickster Goddess sat with a bottle of wine in hand. “You been out all day, you know?”
“All day…” She turned her attention to the nearest window and saw that night had fallen. “What about the match?”
“Eh, it wasn’t the crushing win that I wanted, but…” Loki tossed up her own emblem with a cheeky grin. The Elven Mage grasped it gingerly as it came her way. It was scuffed, but despite everything she had managed to keep it whole. “You managed to hit shortstack’s emblem with pinpoint accuracy right as you hit the ground. So, while you didn’t win, you didn’t lose either.”
She hadn’t won. She wasn’t at the point she could compete with someone who was blessed with a Spirit’s power. She didn’t know if that day would ever come, but she would still strive for it. But she had managed to protect the symbol of her Familia despite it all.
That was more than enough for her to take pride in for now.