Tom instantly started all of the mental enhancement spells he had at his disposal, realizing he could no longer take this fight leisurely.
Especially since he could not use the mana gems he created that would give him the edge in the available amount of magical energy. The entire arena was full of wards and on the sidelines were experienced magicians observing the fight to make sure neither participant would die.
They would not stop Tom from getting crippled but they would not let him die. His death would stop the alchemical circles supposed to enhance the taste of the fruits and food products they were selling so they would at the very least safeguard his life.
But their presence was also a massive hindrance because Tom didn't want... no, he couldn't let them witness the mana gems he created. Just the prospect of having a device working like a secondary mana source a magician could use whenever he wanted would start a lot of excitement and madness in the community.
Tom saw the reactions to his taste-enhancing alchemical circles. He didn't want to see how the magicians would react to something that would actually help their ability to cast magic and indirectly increase their power. Tom was not stupid enough to think he would like the outcome.
Hence, he had to fully rely on his own meager mana reserves for this fight which was bothersome as hell.
Tom's perception slowed down now that the mind-enhancing magic was in full throttle. He noticed Nicholas was once again gathering mana under the soles of his feet and realized he was basically using it to quickly accelerate in a straight line.
Tom knew he only had less than a second but before Nicholas was finished, an alchemical circle appeared on the ground between them courtesy of Tom, and with a few sparks of electricity, the ground transmuted, rising and creating a wall between the two.
When he noticed, Nicholas could no longer stop himself and his body slammed straight into the wall. That didn't stop him, though.
In fact, it barely proved an obstacle as Nicholas's enhanced body barreled through the wall, ferociously wanting to get Tom into his grasp. The wall, however, interrupted his acceleration magic and as he momentarily stopped due to that, he raised his head with the intention to once again use the acceleration to quickly get to Tom...
Only to come face to face with another, bigger alchemical circle just as his eyes met Tom's.
It was vertically positioned in front of Tom who had an outstretched hand almost touching the circle with it. Tom snapped his fingers and Nicholas recognized it even before the spell was fully formed. It was the basic fire-spark spell that every kid learns, and Nicholas had no idea what...
The small spark from Tom's fingers flew forward, straight into the alchemical circle. The very same circle whose only function was to generate pressurized oxygen flowing in one direction the second it comes in contact with some sort of fire.
Nicholas's eyes barely widened and he instinctually raised his arms in front of his face as he was engulfed in a stream of searing hot fire.
Tom watched as the figure of his opponent caught on fire, the flames he created desperately holding onto his clothes even after the stream of fire dissipated.
He didn't dilly-dally, though. Tom was walking around, circling the burning Nicholas... and placing more unactivated alchemical circles around.
The fight was far from over and Tom knew it. This was barely a distraction for his opponent.
Nicholas was glaring murder at Tom, unbothered by the flames licking his form. A spell to protect oneself against flames was a very basic thing. Especially after the 'witch-trials' done by the Church. They rarely caught a magician but those stories of witches escaping while being burned alive? Those rare few were mostly magicians. Every kid knew a variant of that spell.
What maddened Nicholas was the fact he almost burned alive! Tom's magic was so fast that he almost didn't get time to cast even a basic protection spell!
Fortunately, Tom's flames were not very intense. They lacked mana since they were made by a chemical reaction rather than magic. But the speed...
Nicholas shuddered in rage as he felt the sting on his skin from the heat that hit him before the stream of flames engulfed him.
'That was close. Too close.' He gravely thought as he extinguished the flames on his body and clothes with yet another basic spell even kindergarteners knew in ranked magical families.
His shirt was destroyed by the flames and instantly fell apart, revealing his toned and bulging body with a bit redder skin than normal. Fortunately, his pants were of higher quality, and Tom was saved from emotional damage.
Battle junkie or not, Nicholas was almost cooked alive and that made him very angry but also wary of Tom. This weak whelp had a lot of dangerous tricks, it seemed.
Knowing that being overly cautious would be to his detriment as it would only give Tom time to prepare more of his circles and traps, Nicholas leaped forward, straight at Tom, no longer utilizing his acceleration since he was afraid of Tom using the fact he could not change the direction of his leap once he accelerated.
Nicholas was still faster than Tom by a lot and he caught up to him quite quickly, going for a right hook, only for a small alchemical circle, barely covering his fist, once again to block his blow and completely negate the force behind it.
Unlike previously, Nicholas now knew what to expect and he furiously pulsed his magic into his arm as he pushed his muscles and pressed even more force onto the circle, directly shattering it.
The backlash sent a very small shockwave around but Nicholas didn't care and tanked it with his body...
While Tom used it to get pushed back and get away from Nicholas's melee range as his feet slid on the ground, making him stop only five meters away from Nicholas.
Nicholas registered what happened and scowled...
Much too late he realized that Tom left a gift under him. An alchemical circle formed under Nicholas's feet, transmuting the ground into a blunt spike and quickly pushing it up.
Nicholas's eyes widened and he tried to jump back, but he noticed the circle too late and the spike still glanced his... groin.
His eyes widened and then narrowed as the pain jolted through him as he landed a few feet back from the spot where he was standing, his body instantly slouching a bit due to it and his hands involuntarily going to rub his member to soothe it.
As someone who was trained in hand-to-hand combat, Nicholas had his fair share of low blows but they never stopped hurting like a bitch. As grateful as he was that Tom used a blunt spike instead of a sharp one that would act like a pike to his sausage, he was furious at the low blow.
Nicholas was the only child of his parents. The only one who could carry on the line. He was thirty already but he spent most of his time training his body and researching how to improve body-enhancing magic... which was frankly shit compared to the other body-enhancing means in the world. But it was what he loved.
He was putting breeding on hold for his work as a magician and now, he almost lost the ability to sire children! His family would have been finished.
Nicholas didn't need to be a genius to know his father would not let him continue his research and body improvement activities until he impregnated at least two women after this close call.
Glaring at Tom, Nicholas snarled, angry beyond reason. "I am going to enjoy breaking your bones for that."
He was going to pay for fucking with his magical studies!
Tom only gave him a friendly forthcoming smile and said, "If I were you, I'd take care where I am standing first."
Nicholas blinked... before his body was uncontrollably launched upward and he was left flailing his arms and feet as he flew through the air before he impacted the ceiling...
And created web-like cracks there before his body fell down to the floor, once again creating cracks due to the momentum of his free fall, albeit smaller ones.
Watching it, Tom happily mused, 'Oh, so that's what happens when you stack alchemical circles for Gravity Inversion and Gravity Increase. Good to know.' He sagely nodded.