Polymath Redux Annex
Chapter 39 – Mission: Obtain the Crystal Flower from the Manatite Forest (9)
“Hmm, she lost… no, a draw?” Mordred commented as he gazed upon the scene with eyes filled with only apathy and scientific curiosity. It was as though he had been watching an experiment with lab mice. Now that the experiment… ‘fight’ had ended, the raging holy flames that surrounded Cecilia evaporated as she returned to normal state. All that remained was the limped body of a small Elvish girl in critical condition. The shadow monster, after receiving successive blows head on, had also temporarily been placed into an unconscious state. ‘I should at least avoid her death,’ he thought it would be infinitely more to his benefit if he kept the girl alive and studied her powers in proper detail at his own pace later.
His own injuries had already been healed through his innate regenerative properties a long time ago. With a quick ‘blink’ skill he covered the distance of several metres and appeared before the two downed fighters. “Greater Healing,” though there was no particular need to, he spoke out the name of the high-tiered cleric skill and snapped his fingers. With the sound of an angelic choir, a bright burst of light poured from the heavens and cleansed Cecilia’s body of all wounds.
Like a kitten he picked her up to examine in closer detail. “Her condition seems stable enough. Well, that should be good for now,” he placed her back down against a wall. “Still, unconscious though.”
Rather impressively, the shadow monster quickly regained its consciousness and stood back up. It hunched over with its arms hanging forward. It moved its head around with a lost expression. Possibility, due to the continuous blunt force head trauma, it had lost the memories of the last few moments and scanned the area to understand what had just happened. It finally settled its sights upon Mordred and Cecilia and jumped back up. “Finally remembered what was going on?” Mordred asked, though he knew it wouldn’t respond.
The monster summoned its signature black sword. What drove this monster was a mystery, but it suddenly became enraged. It screeched from the very depths of its blackened existence, “kaaah!” A minute detail that had been missed was a row of razor sharp teeth hiding behind that hollow mouth. It brought up its sword and began to flail it around violently. Without further delay it thrust itself towards Mordred.
The monster winded up its attack. When it got into striking distance, it lowered the edge of the black sword. However, that kind of telegraphed attack was way too predictable and all Mordred needed to do was shift his body a few centimetres to the side to completely evade the sword. “Truth Seeker,” still unnecessarily, he muttered the name of another skill. A ‘Templar’ class ability that allowed the user to hit incorporeal existences through- according to flavour text- the power of the ‘gods’.
Mordred’s hands flared up with a deep, oceanic blue aura. Like a brick wall, the monster’s fervent charge had grinded to a halt with a single hand, all inertia piling back to deal critical damage. He then grabbed the monster by its head and tossed it across the arena. The humanoid shadow flew, faster than if it I had been directly punched. It smashed one more time against the other side of the fort’s walls and fell to a limped state. “Hmm, yes,” Mordred nodded. “You have some interesting properties. I think I’ll make you into my second experimental sample. For now, you shall be designated as ‘Subject 02’.”
The monster staggered back up, though unlike before it did not have the same level of audacity. It limped forward with cautious steps. Its head tilted to the side, confused and studious. Mordred continued to observe and note. “Subject 02 shows signs of confusion. At least its caution is a sign it can learn. This means that it has sentience, as opposed to being simply an autonomous amalgamation of magical shadows,” he noted down with a pen and paper that he had extracted from his inventory.
Considering its now judicious and distant behaviour, it was likely the monster understood direct confrontation to be a bad idea. For the battle to end right there with the monster’s retreat, would’ve been the best strategy to ensure its survival. Yet, curiously it continued to contest Mordred. Glaring through those hollow eyes. There was more than enough evidence presented to it to suggest its demise if combat persisted, yet it stood determined. “Perhaps… conflict isn’t its intention?” Mordred wondered to himself.
The monster insisted on persisting with the attacks. This time it summoned several more of its iconic black swords and directed them at range all like arrows. They sliced through the air at breakneck speeds and before Mordred even knew, they were just upon him. Of course, there was no immediate danger; with a flick of his wrists, Mordred summoned black spears of his own. They burst out, erupted from the ground like magma to intercept the swords with a metallic ping echoing through the arena.
“Ranged combat? I’ll oblige,” he gave off a chilling smirk. Mordred posed his hand forward as black spears tinted by a blue light spawned mid-air. Covered by the ‘Truth seeker’ augmentation, they could also hit the shadow monster. The spears flew even faster than the opponent’s swords. The monster danced to avoid the attacks but it was clear that evasion was the one thing that it was not good at. Several spears eventually struck and pinned it across the wall. “Not surprising, considering its constitution. Subject 02’s heavy reliance on its own incorporeal constitution disincentives learning to evade attacks. Why evade when attacks would never phase it?” Mordred jotted down more notes. "More testing on its cognitive abilities required."
The battle was over. Mordred walked up to the pinned shadow and glanced down. He sighed and shook his head, “however, unfortunate; if it could be domesticated then I would’ve loved to run more trials. Alas, its feral nature makes further experimentation… troublesome.” Another black spear appeared before the shadow monster’s face, subtly glowing with a blue outline.
Yet, at that moment something miraculous happened. The monster screeched and tore through its own shadows to escape from the spear’s staple. However, it did not run nor make any hostile movements against Mordred. Instead, it knelt before him in knightly fashion. It raised its arms to present something: a black sword.
It had offered its life and servitude.
Mordred flashed a smirk, “interesting behavior.”