I can’t see anything. Everywhere I look all I see is smoke, it’s as if the entire arena has filled to the brim with a bright white fog.
I draw my sword and keep up my guard as I fish for more information.
“What’s this?! It seems that one of the competitors has filled the arena with smoke! While a smoke bomb is considered a tool, I always hate to see someone use a strategy like this. I suppose we will just have to wait until the smoke clears to see the fight unfold.” The announcer proclaims in a disappointed tone
So the crowd can’t see much either then?
While I try to think of a strategy a gash opens up on my arm.
I instantly swing in the direction the attack must have come from, but my sword finds nothing but smoke.
How can he find me in this smoke? Perhaps he memorized my location before the smoke went up. In that case, I’ll need to reposition.
With a strong backward jump I manage to make some serious distance between me and my starting location, however, as I flew backward several more gashes appeared across my body.
Can he really see me clearly in this smoke, and what’s with that ridiculous speed?! Not only did he manage to keep up with me while I repositioned, but he managed to land several attacks quickly enough that I couldn’t even see him.
In this kind of zero visibility situation, isn’t the solution usually sound?
I strain my ears to their utmost limit trying to listen for Incha.
MURMUR MURMUR MURMUR
It’s no use. Any kind of subtle sound is completely lost in the loud disgruntled murmuring of the crowd denied it’s show. Could someone really manage to hear something as subtle as the air rushing past me or even footsteps in this kind of noise?
“INCHA! Enough of your tricks! Face me!” I yell growing irritated
The gashes around me aren’t deep, but they are bad enough to slow me down. Is his intent to draw the fight out and slowly weaken me? Surely the smoke would clear before then.
“AGH!” I let out as a knife quickly flies through the smoke and buries itself in my thigh
The pain is intense, far more than a simple stab wound should be.
Poison?! Is that even allowed?!… Thinking about it, there didn’t seem to be many rules or restrictions on what kind of weapons one could use during this round. As much as it seems like a cheap cowardly dirty trick, he is simply using the rules to his advantage.
He did give me an idea, however. If throwing weapons are okay, then I have a surprise or two of my own up my sleeve.
I quickly search through my inventory for every dagger and cooking knife that I managed to filch from the castle I started in.
First I throw one in the direction the knife buried in my thigh came from, and then randomly around. With the speed and power in which I release them, they resemble an arrow or possibly even a bullet. Even if he can see me, he shouldn’t be able to avoid all of these.
“Oh dear! Knives have begun to fly out of the smoke at high speed! I encourage you all to take cover! Our medical team has already started helping those hit. What in the world could be going on in there that could explain this sudden storm of knives?!” The announcer excitedly reacts
The crowd? How could they be hitting the crowd? I’m sure I’m throwing them level to the ground… are the curving upward because I’m throwing them too hard?
Still trying to figure out the previous mystery, one of my knives fall back at my feet. Less than thrown, it seemed to be dropped. Immediately I look up, and what I see faintly in the smoke sends a chill down my spine.
A web. A faint glint reflecting off the cords shows the familiar sight of a spiders web in the smoke only a foot or two above.
Scared, I throw a knife directly at the center to cut it down, but much to my surprise the net sends it back to me like a trampoline. When I look at the tip of the knife, however, you can tell it didn’t come out unscathed. The part that impacted the web looks shredded to bits.
This is bad! That thing is centered right above me, which means he knows exactly where I am… if he manages to close those threads in around me it’s my loss for sure. What can I do to stop that though? I can’t risk using my sword against it, after all, if it gets destroyed I’ll never stand a chance in the next round. If only I could use magic this would be a breeze.
…If these things have been what’s been cutting me, then that would mean he can’t actually see me right? He must have figured out where I was when I yelled out for him, but aside from that, he must be as blind as I am… In that case, I have an idea.
“Fine, I can always just wait out the smoke!” I yell out
When I receive no response I carefully and quickly I begin digging at the ground beneath me, trying to stay quiet about it. I dig a small trench, just large enough for me to fit in lying down, and start to cover myself in the dirt directly below the center of the web. I do my best to cover my entire body, leaving a space directly above my face to see and breath. I’m sure the disguise could be easily seen through in almost any circumstance, but in this, near zero visibility arena, it just might work.
I wait… what I’m sure are minutes I feel drag by as if hours. Should my plan fail and he discovers me I would have served him victory on a silver platter. I strain my eyes to their limit to monitor the wires now far above overhead. Although entirely invisible in the smoke at this distance, the occasional glint reassures me they are there. The job of spotting them becomes easier however as time passes. The occasional glint becomes a light show not only above but all around as the wires silently become denser.
The sound that came next could come to haunt my dreams. The sound of thousands of wires as sharp as blade sliding against one another as the constricted around what was once my location. As the wires grew close enough for me to see clearly I realized the sheer scale of the trap that was set for me.
A wall resembling orderly steel wool passed over my head. The previous image in my head of being chopped to bits turns to that of being Puréed.
“KRYAAAAAAAAAAAAGHhhh-….” I channel that fear into a blood-curdling scream as the wires finish their constriction
Then again… I wait.
After several more minutes of silence pass, he finally arrives to check the scene. My previous gamble paid off, but this one is far riskier. If he manages to notice that there is no Maou-paste at the center of his web before he gets into range he will disappear back into the smoke and my trick won’t work again.
Slowly he approaches, I can see the confidence on his face, the lack of regret. Not only does he think he killed me, he is proud of his achievement. Perhaps it’s that pride that blinds him long enough for me to grab ahold of his leg as he treds next to me.
I pull his leg and knock him to the ground before springing from the dirt to mount him and keep him pinned to the ground.
“Your trap was clever, but now-” I start as I draw back a fist to smack his smug face with, however, I’m interrupted
“I SURRENDER!” Incha yells in a clear concise, and annoyingly not panicked voice
“Wha?! What do you mean?!” I nearly yell in his face
“You heard me, I surrender, you win. Good match friend?” He says as he puts out his hand to shake giving a knowing grin
“You are unbelievable!” I yell as I get up, kneeing him “accidentally” in the ribs as I do
As I get up, the smoke begins to rapidly clear, and the wires begin to move like snakes towards Incha, who has started forming an odd hand gesture. In mere moments the arena is perfectly visible, and not a wire is in sight. It happens so quickly it feels as if the entire fight from a moment ago could have just been an illusion.
I look back to Incha to see that he still has his hand outstretched.
“You are going to help me back up aren’t you?” He asks in a smug tone
In response, I take his hand as if I am, and instead pull hard enough to toss him to the ground again.
cough “So you are immune to it.” He says with a smile as he just lays there
“WELL FOLKS, IT SEEMS YOU DON’T HAVE TO SEE IT TO BELIEVE IT! It looks like Contestant number 34 Mano will be moving into the semifinal round! The mystery newbie continues to amaze, but how will she face off against her next opponent? How did she even face off against this opponent?” The announcer excitedly riffs now that he can finally see what he is talking about