XIX. Water vs. Stone

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Lena went around the arena and headed down the steps to the pier, lined with vendors. It wasn't as busy as it was before the tournament started, but there were people strewn about.

She approached the nearest stand and asked the vendor for a bottle of water, when she noticed Jace and Janice descending the steps onto the pier.
Hastily, she turned her back to them, hoping at least Janice wouldn't notice her.
"-keep hurting my feelings by going to them when you never go to me!" Janice was saying, "I don't understand why you would do that to your girlfriend who loves you!"
Jace clenched his fists, and faced her directly.
"Janice," he said, "What's my middle name?"
Janice blinked, taken aback.
"W-What?" she stuttered.
"What is my middle name?" Jace asked again, "Also, how many siblings do I have? What is my favorite video game?"
Janice blinked again, and a nervousness welled within her.
Jace glanced to the side and spotted Lena, who had turned her head slightly to listen.

"Uh... what does that have to do-" Janice started, trying to change the subject back to the matter at hand.
"You don't know any of that, do you?" Jace said.
"Well-" Janice started.
"Yes or no, Janice," Jace demanded, raising his tone slightly.
Janice took a step back, feeling threatened by Jace's sudden rise of tone.
"No..." she uttered.
Jace scoffed.
"Goes to show how well you listen to me," he said, "It's not like I haven't tried, Janice, to be good to you. But now... now I had enough."
Jace kept going, his confidence building up.
"I never wanted to be with you, I only accepted your confession because of Hunter's advice, and I recently learned that that was a terrible mistake," he said, "I never saw you in that way, but I tried. I really tried, Janice, but you made it so hard all the time. When it wasn't about you, you didn't care! And now, you're trying to control who I can and can't talk to!"

Janice felt extremely embarrassed, for people glanced in their direction.
"Jace-" she started.
"You'll probably be upset by this, but you won't control me anymore," he said, looking at the wood of the pier they stood on, "I'm breaking up with you, Janice. I hope you find someone who actually likes you for who you are."
Jace then made his way over to Lena, leaving a speechless, tearful Janice behind.

"Wow," Lena said when he came over, sipping from her water bottle, "Good on you."
"Well," Jace sighed, "Someone once told me I should be with someone I like, so..."
Lena blushed, smiling.
Just then, Danford's voice could be heard from the arena.
"The fifteen minute break is now over! We will now reveal the first battle of the tournament!"

"Guess we better head back," Jace said.
"Yeah," Lena replied, then a thought struck her, "Uh, do you wanna join us in our dugout?"
Jace grinned, "Sure!"
The two hurried up the stairs, Janice trailing behind them, a mix of anger and sadness within her.

They hurriedly re-entered the dugout, just as Danford began announcing once more.
"As we do every year," Danford said, "The two participants have been randomly selected. Whoever is knocked to the ground for seven seconds will be out of the tournament. Remember, no purposeful fatal wounds and do not fly above the arena itself. For any injuries, we have a medical team on standby, and remember to use your Gift to heal!"
She paused impressively.
"Our first battle will be between... stone Gifted Audrey Rivera...and water Gifted Aria Draven!"

Aria blinked, surprised, as her friends cheered excitedly.
"Go on, Aria!" Kai exclaimed, "Kick her ass!"
"You got this," Raina said calmly.
Aria smiled and stood up to leave, locking eyes with Luke as she did.
"Good luck," Luke smiled.
Aria blushed, and grinned as she headed out onto the sand.

She walked all the way to the center, her opponent standing a few feet away; a brown haired girl with tan skin and was rather built.
"Hello," Aria smiled.
"'Sup," Audrey replied, "May the best girl win."
"Yeah!" Aria agreed.
"Now, you have twenty minutes," Danford announced, "Begin!"

Aria was practically caught off guard, for Audrey arose a whole line of stone pillars in front of her.
Aria leaped to the side just as the line of pillars formed where she stood.
She threw two water balls, Audrey raising a rock wall to protect herself.
The water smacked into the rock wall.
Dissipating the pillars and wall, she made a rock spear, and with a skillful spin, threw it with force.
Aria raised a water hand up from the sand that caught it mid air, and upon squeezing the fist, snapped it in half.

Audrey blinked, surprised, allowing the remains of the spear to dissipate.
"Underestimated me, didn'tcha?" Aria smiled pleasantly.
Audrey let out a pleased grunt, and made another spear out of rock in her hands.
She charged at Aria, the water Gifted turning her water hand into several floating water spears.

She fired them off, the spears soaring towards Audrey at speed.
Twirling her own spear around, she deflected each water spear with skill and precision, scattering them in several directions.
Once the spears were clear, she twirled her spear around, and was about to whack it down upon Aria's head, only for it to be caught by a water hand stemming from the water Gifted's own hand.

The two struggled against one another, briefly.
Aria made another water hand over her free hand, and raised it up, grasping Audrey's head.

Swiftly, Aria then sprouted water wings and flew upward, carrying Audrey with her. The stone Gifted had dropped her spear due to the sudden ascent.
Aria carried her up, only to spin around rapidly and let her go, letting her soar downwards.

Audrey hit the ground and tumbled for a moment, then formed rock hands and feet over her own, and skidded to a stop on all fours.
She breathed heavily, and looked up to see Aria, holding a water spear, soaring down towards her.

Dissipating the rock hands and feet, she formed a new rock spear, and parried Aria's attack once she was within range.
Aria spiraled out of control due to the brunt of the parry, and landed on her feet, stumbling.

Dissipating her water wings, she braced herself as Audrey charged towards her, and the two clashed spears.
Audrey swung at her over and over, Aria blocking most of the strikes. Aria tried to keep up with her attacks, but it was clear her opponent had more experience than she did.
Audrey swung at her legs, the tip of her spear cutting Aria's thigh.
The water Gifted grunted in pain and formed a wave in front of her that shoved Audrey away.

Not only was Audrey shoved, she was swept up by the wave, being tossed around by it. It kept going for a good few meters before finally dissipating, dropping her onto the sand, wet and dazed.

Aria's eyes glowed a deep blue, as she focused her Gift on healing her cut. She had to dissipate her spear and the wave, for when healing, Gifted cannot have constructs out.

"I liked these shorts, too," she said.
She looked over to where Audrey was, the stone Gifted slowly getting up. Once her wound was healed enough, Aria sprinted over to her opponent, formed a giant water hand over her own, and thrusted it forward.
It slammed down on top of Audrey, holding her down.

Audrey tried to fight back, but Aria kept feeding the water hand energy, the force it used to hold her down growing.
The crowd then began to count to seven slowly.

The crowd cheered, and Aria dissipated her water hand, stumbling back and sitting on the ground.
"Aria Draven wins!" Danford announced.
Audrey got up and sat on her legs, slightly bewildered.

"Good game," she said to Aria.
"You too," Aria smiled.

Lena and the others thunderously cheered from their dugout, cheering Aria's name.
Aria got up and slowly walked over to them, smiling.
"Nice to see you put our training to use," Dai grinned.
"That was awesome, yo!" Kai exclaimed.
"You did great," Lena smiled.

Aria grinned, then Luke stepped forward.
"I know I told you good luck," he said, "But... I also had the feeling you didn't need it."
Aria blushed, flattered.

"And now," Danford announced, "Our next battle!"

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