A few days ago, I went to Renolia. Catherine and Theo were waiting for me, but something was different this time. (more after the jump)
"Welcome," said Catherine, with a strange smile on her face.
I said "What's going on?"
Theo said "Her Highness needs some experience using her magic, but the king won't let his precious daughter participate in any duels. That's where you come in."
I said "That seems a bit dangerous. Also, I've only been practicing magic for a few months. How long have you been practicing, Catherine?"
She laughed. "Since I was four."
Theo said "You'll be fine. Only one out of every three duels ends with some sort of serious injury. Even if that does happen, we can just fix you up. The rules are simple: first person to break through their opponent's barrier wins. Try not to lose too fast."
There I was, thrust into a fight against an opponent with years of experience I didn't have. I didn't even know the word to use for the barrier until I heard Catherine say "Bara!" and make hers. The barriers were interesting. Mine was barely visible to me, just turning everything a bit more green. Catherine's, on the other hand, looked almost a solid pink. I could barely see her inside of it. Speaking with them later, they explained that everyone sees through their own like I see through mine, and while the barriers are slightly more visible from the outside, having a barrier up makes it much more obvious who else is using one.
The fight began with Catherine shooting several fireballs at me. I dodged the first, but the rest hit my barrier. I could feel it weaken slightly. She said some words I didn't recognize and then looked at me slyly. She pointed up. Above me was a giant icicle falling towards me. I instinctively flinched, but the barrier took the entire force of the attack. She tried two more icicle attacks, but I was easily able to dodge them (since I knew what to listen for) so she switched to some sort of plant based attack. I'm not entirely sure what it was, but it seemed to take leaves from nearby flora, enlarge them several times, and then send them hurtling towards me. After a few of those attacks, Catherine looked a little tired. She stopped calling out attacks. I used this opportunity to say "Stalactica," sending a large, sharp chunk of rock diagonally at the princess. It pierced through her barrier and stopped about an inch from her neck.
Catherine started mumbling "What? I don't... how could... but I..."
Theo chuckled to himself and started clapping. "Good job, Tim. That's exactly what I was hoping would happen."
Catherine glared at him. "What do you mean, exactly what you hoped would happen? This was supposed to be an easy win!"
"Far from it. This was just another lesson from your one and only magic tutor. You see, Tim uses magic differently than you do. You just spam attacks constantly until something works. Tim, on the other hand, uses patience and strategy."
"Tim, I order you to tell me your strategy!"
I thought it was pretty obvious, but I explained it to her nonetheless. "It's simple. You use Helios to power your attacks, right?"
"What powers your barrier?"
"That's what I thought. By using up power to attack, you lost some of the power that was keeping your barrier up. Attacks lose energy by the time they hit what you're attacking. For instance, fireballs give off light and heat. So by attacking, you actually use up more energy than your opponent. Since you spammed so much magic so fast, all I had to do was use one powerful attack before you had a chance to recharge."
"Ridiculous. Completely, utterly, ridiculous."
Catherine stormed off. Theo said "Don't make me regret that."
I laughed. "What's there to regret? I just beat the princess of a magical kingdom in a duel. I'm on top of the world."
"Hey. Hey. Hey. That's what I mean. Right there. Don't do that."
"Don't do what?"
"You know. Get super confident and cocky. She's been sheltered her entire life and that's literally the first time she went against another person. You would lose to pretty much anyone else in Renolia."
I rolled my eyes. "Uh huh. Sure."
"Three days from now. You and me. A duel."
With that, he left. The duel is scheduled for tomorrow. I can't imagine him being much tougher than Catherine was. I mean, she learned all she knows from him. Sure, he's my teacher too, but I may or may not be prophesied to save his entire world. He's going down.