The attack had been ruthless, quick, and carefully planned. The barrage of attacks had thrown Lith out of balance, while the spirit magic throw exploited the momentum of his own dodge to slam him against the nearest wall.
The impact sucked the air out of Lith's lungs, making him lose focus at the same time. Solus had been helpless against the ambush. The attacks had come out from the occupants of the rooms they always passed by on their way back.
She had no reason to be vigilant of them. Solus would rather focus on those hiding behind corners or pillars, but the coast was clear. Or so she believed until the attack came.
Lith was about to lose consciousness, but thanks to the prompt use of fusion magic and the Skinwalker armor, he managed to heal himself at the last moment. Lith stood his ground, assessing his predicament.
Mana sense and Life Vision both told him the situation was desperate. He was surrounded by all sides with no way out. The students weren't a problem, but the person in front of him was.
Professor Valesa Nalear had already weaved several spells while he was still trying to get up.
"Dodging was dumb of you." A cruel smile distorted her usually kind features.
"Buying that armor was dumb of you. Thanks for making everything easier for me." Her voice was carefree like they were playing a game.
Several fireballs appeared around him, exploding at the same time.
"I really like this spell of yours. I hope you don't mind I copied it."
Lith took out the Gatekeeper sword from his pocket dimension, imbuing it with enough water magic to instantly conjure an ice coffin around himself while using air magic to protect his ears from the explosions.
'What the heck is she saying? I'm making her job easier? At least she's dumb enough to use one of my spells. I know exactly how to counter it.' He thought.
Alas, Nalear wasn't stupid. As soon as the coffin formed, she unleashed a river of lightning that used Lith's own barrier to bypass the armor's protection.
"Another dumb move. Should I think you still have a crush on me?" Her laughter was cruel, oozing mockery.
Lith inwardly cursed at himself. He could only endure the spells by using earth fusion. He was taking damage after damage. Up to that point, he was stuck on the receiving end of the battle.
'Damn, she has silenced the whole area. No matter how much noise she does, no one will hear a thing.' Solus thought, racking her brain for a solution.
'I think I know why she said you are making her job easier. She can't kill you because of the academy's arrays. If she attempts to, they will protect you and send a distress signal!'
Lith had almost forgotten about the academy's protection, he never needed them. Wind blades shattered the ice coffin. He was tempted to offer them no resistance to activate the protective arrays, but he felt something was wrong.
Nalear was taunting him, she was likely to have taken precautions. Lith parried them with the blade, discovering he was right. They were too weak to inflict him a serious injury, she was aiming to make him faint.
"You know, I can't believe it took me so long to realize we are cut out of the same mold. Two Awakened ones." Lith ignored her words, distraction tactics were one of his specialties too.
"How you survived the Talons, helped find a cure for the parasites, or saving the life of that Deirus idiot. Everyone believes you are the next Manohar, but I knew it couldn't be the case. You are too normal, too sane to be a genius."
Lith moved his hand behind his back, taking the Ballot out of the pocket dimension, only for it to be ripped away from his fingers by Nalear's spirit magic.
"That was rude. Time to finish this." He ignored her words again, pretending just for a second to be willing to fight for the Ballot in a spirit magic tug of war before jumping towards the nearest student.
'The arrays work for everyone. It means if I strike one of them down it will activate anyway!' Lith thought.
The student was startled. Lith moved too fast for her eyes. Yet before his sword could reach the girl, he felt an agonizing pain from his back. Several knives stabbed him. Their enchantment was strong enough to piece his armor while their blades were too short to do serious damage.
Nalear pulled out the blades with her spirit magic, activating their second spell. Healing magic from the knives closed all of Lith's wound, completely restoring his body. At the same time, the healing weakened him even more, sapping his strength.
"I call them the 'anti-academy' weapons. Strong enough to knock you out, but not enough to trigger the arrays. You have no idea how much trial and error I had my little lambs go through before Wanemyre perfected them.
So many of them got reprimanded or expelled for hurting their own friends." She chuckled.
"Sacrifices must be made sometimes. Right, little lambs?" The students' faces were like stone, yet their eyes were crying in fear.
She struck Lith's temple with an enchanted leather club, making him lose consciousness.
'He fell for my trap, just like I expected. The students weren't here to trap him, they only served as bait. Now that he's out of the picture, I'm not going to let him ruin my plan. An Awakened one is an unpredictable wild card. I have no intention to discover if a slave collar works on us or not.
'If not for these damned arrays I would kill him right now.' Nalear sighed.
She brought Lith in her apartments, bringing along a few students. During the winter break, she had everything prepared in advance. It was impossible to have a secret compartment made without the power core of the academy detecting it.
Yet she could easily turn one of her closets into an excellent prison. Short chains were hanging from the wall, blocking Lith's neck, waist, legs, and arms. Then, Nalear proceeded removing all of his enchanted items.
The dimensional amulet, the magic storing rings (AN: rings that store spells), and lastly his Skinwalker armor, leaving Lith naked while his possessions were stored inside her dimensional amulet.
"It makes you wonder how pretty would I have become if I Awakened earlier." She sighed, looking at his broad shoulders and chiseled body.
Nalear attempted to remove Solus's ring with spirit magic but to no avail.
"Want to play hard to get? Fine by me. Cutting a finger or two makes no difference." A jagged blade appeared in her hand, making Solus desperate.
She had been fuming with rage from the beginning of the fight, hoping Nalear would come close enough for a sneak attack. Yet the Professor had Lith always moved by the students or with spirit magic, she never came close enough.
Wishing she could use Lith's mana when he was unconscious or at least move his body, Solus's only real option was to perform an all out attack.
As soon as the blade cut the skin, Solus shapeshifted from ring to a stone scorpion attacking Nalear physically and magically at the same time.