14 Preliminary Battles
The day of the single battles finally came. After days of grueling training, the base levels of the Noctis Noir members were now as follows: Astrid level 95, Ayunluna level 70, Lyria Wolff level 64, Amelie Chrosse level 51. The total number of guilds participating was 312.
Because the matches totaled 156 a day and there was only one huge oval amphitheatre for the venue, the battles were to be settled within five minutes. Otherwise, both participants would score no points for their guild.
"This is it, ladies!" Lyria pressed her hands together.
The girls were outside the amphitheater, walking towards the entrance. They followed the garden path leading to large stone building. The amphitheater was actually an area filled with level 75 monsters. The monsters that used to inhabit the arena were temporarily removed so the area could be used for the venue of the single battles.
"Oh yeah! This is going to be exciting!" Luna grinned.
Astrid stayed silent. She appeared calm on the outside, but her heart was racing. She had a match that day. Amelie moved behind her and gave a back massage.
"You can do it, Astrid!" Amelie said.
"Today's matches should be posted on the announcement page," said Lyria as she summoned her menu tablet. "Let's see... Astrid's opponent is... Gaylord!?" Her expression turned sour from seeing the crazed Pio fan's name.
"What's with Gaylord?" Astrid was curious about Lyria's sudden negative reaction.
Lyria placed a hand on the guildmaster's shoulder. "Do me a favor and destroy him."
The guildmaster was surprised by her choice of words. "That sounds serious."
"That knight must be taken down!" Lyria clenched her fist.
"A knight, huh?" Astrid nodded. "Excuse me, I'll be right back." She walked off to a certain direction while being deep in thought.
"Where is she going?" Amelie asked.
"Toilet maybe?" Luna guessed.
A dark aura was still surrounding Lyria. "Gaylord... You will be defeated..."
Once Astrid returned, they all looked for a place to sit inside the amphitheatre. They found a good spot right at the front.
"Oh yeah! Front seats!" Amelie and Luna cheered.
Lyria looked around. "This is amazing. I wish this place was always free of monsters. It's such a great place for pictures."
"Let's take a photo later," Astrid suggested.
Lyria was delighted. "Let's do it!"
Astrid scanned the area. She spotted Potato first, who was seated with her guild Hot Spicy Crabs. Behind them were the mages of Jupiter. She continued surveying the area. It wasn't long before she noticed the Knights Alliance sitting nearby.
Her eyes started hurting from searching the large crowd for familiar faces. She stopped to rub her eye. Once her eyes flicked open, she saw Garth and the other Black Rose members from right across the arena. Sed and Jasmine appeared to be arguing while Yaya was giggling. Pio was nowhere to be found. Garth looked straight at her and smiled. This made her heart skip a beat. She waved back.
Robot maids suddenly spawned around the audience area and offered food for sale. One robot maid moved towards the girls of Noctis Noir and asked, "Would you like some sweet rolls and scones?"
Lyria purchased a few of each. After giving her the food, the robot maid moved elsewhere to sell.
"I hope these aren't too sweet. I'm not very fond of sweets." Lyria gave her guildmates some of the food she bought.
Luna happily ate a sweet roll. "Delicious!"
Suddenly, there was a sound of a trumpet. The clouds above them parted and a valkyrie descended from the sky under the light from the heavens. Feathers also rained down from above, giving players a temporary movement speed bonus.
Valkyries were NPCs programmed to patrol the world of Aries for any hackers or rule breakers. For the event, they served as the referees, while the moderators all sat to watch from the high tower outside of the arena. The battles were also broadcast all over the world of Aries for everyone to see. Players could either view it from televisions or on their menu tablet screen.
The valkyrie spoke: "The rules of the battle are as follows: Using potions, food, and buff spells from other players or items are not allowed in the arena. Debuff spells are allowed. Healing is only allowed if the player possesses the skill. Be aware that in this arena, area of effect healing or buff spells will also affect your opponent. Any intervention by those who are not the two players having the match will result in either a disqualification or a rematch. If caught hacking or cheating, the guild will be disqualified from the competition. The player whose health drops to one first loses the match."
The valkyrie paused. A golden scroll materialized on her hand. She opened it.
"And now the first match will begin. Astrid of Noctis Noir and Gaylord of Hot Spicy Crabs."
Astrid sighed. "Why is my match the very first?"
"Break a leg, Astrid!" Luna gave the guildmaster a push on the back.
Astrid and Gaylord walked down to the center of the arena. Gaylord even brought a basket of rose petals so he could shower himself with it during his grand entrance. His opponent merely raised a brow at his audacious display.
Jasmine and Sed flanked Garth and nudged him. "Bet we know who you're cheering for."
Garth remained calm and composed, saying nothing in reply.
"Humph. I got all of Astrid's information right here." Sphinx took out his notebook and showed it to the guildmembers.
"You stalker," Jasmine frowned at him.
Sphinx folded his arms. "Hey. It's my job to gather information about our opponents so we can win!"
"Pio, my love! Are you watching?" Gaylord turned to the side of the arena where the Black Rose members were seated. He gave a flying kiss, which disgusted Pio to the core.
"Go beat him up, Astrid!" Pio shouted from her seat.
Astrid nodded. "Gotcha."
Gaylord was appalled. "What betrayal!"
The trumpets resounded once more, which silenced the murmurs and loud chatter of the audience. "Commence battle!" The valkyrie's voice filled the entire arena.