Lone pounced at the Wolfkin using roughly half of his strength to test the transformed man. While revelling in his power, Lone wasn't conceited enough to underestimate a C-Ranker since the last one he fought, Eko, had beaten him to a standstill.
'I'm definitely stronger than him, but let's limit myself slightly. Maybe I'll learn a thing or two from a fellow beastkin who's a C-Ranker,' Lone thought, certain of his eventual victory.
Surprisingly, even though Lone had eventually settled on limiting his strength by roughly sixty percent, his opponent managed to dodge his tails which were being aimed at the man's arms and legs, amazing Lone.
'Mmmm, maybe I can break through the bottleneck of a D-Ranker if I keep this up. Afterall, Eolande is always telling me that 'stimulation and danger are the two best things to gain enlightenment',' Lone thought with excitement.
"You really are very fast," the leader of the Wolfkin said as he licked his lips viciously.
"Is that so?" Lone replied. He straightened his posture before he forced the bones in his hands to penetrate his skin and create a pair of multi-coloured gauntlets.
'While I might not be able to regenerate, I have more than enough mana to use my bone armour and heal any damage taken with my creation magic... shame it's not passive like my regen, but I'll have to make do with what I've got,' Lone thought while he gestured for the Wolfkin to attack him.
The crowd of beastkin and Demihumans were loving the showmanship and attitude of Lone. So much so, in fact, that most of the spectators from the other fighting rings had moved over to watch Lone's fight with the C-Ranker Wolfkin.
Just as the Wolfkin was about to pounce on Lone, he was stopped by Lone's voice. "I'm sorry. I got a bit angry so I forgot to ask for your name. I understand that you didn't mean me or my friends any harm, so, let's introduce ourselves before we beat the shit out of each other. Sound good?"
'I really should have been more polite with these guys downstairs and only resorted to violence if they insisted on not leaving. Nothing I can do now except build a bit of goodwill before I defeat him. Still, this urge to rip his throat out is fucking annoying,' Lone thought as he waiting for an answer.
The Wolfkin looked puzzled before he laughed and stood up again since he was previously on all fours to attack Lone. Much like the Foxkin, the Wolfkin found fighting on all fours the easiest method to attack when they had no weapons to aid them.
"I'm Malt Greymane. Second son of the Greymane Clan's Patriarch. Nice to meetcha," Malt proclaimed with a large grin. He then got back on all fours and patiently waited for Lone's introduction.
"Lone Immortus. Call me Lone. I'm a wanderer with no affiliation to any Clans or Kingdoms," Lone said and he then assumed a defensive stance.
A shocked looked passed through Malt's eyes. 'No affiliation? Then how is he so adept at using has he awakened six times at least? Surely it can't be natural talent, right? The secret behind safely awakening is a closely guarded secret, especially amongst the Foxkin. Hmm... he must be lying. Maybe he's from a secret Golden division of one of the Foxkin Clan's... they are a sneaky bunch, after all.'
"Here I come, Lone. Prepare yourself," Malt said before his eyes sharpened and he then muttered the words, "Haste. Fur Hardening. Minor Strength Buff."
'That's a lot of enhancing-type skills for a C-Ranker to have,' Lone observed as he carefully watched Malt's body get covered in a thin layer of green light, a normal side-effect of the Haste skill, and then a red layer of light sat atop the green one.
'I'm guessing the red is from the Strength buff. It's a weaker red compared to my battle-aura skill... hmm,' Lone pondered.
Taking advantage of Lone's habit to think and analyse while seeing something new, Malt sprung forth and successfully landed a blow on Lone's leg with his claws, forcing a nasty cut to form. Red blood trickled down Lone's leg as he exiting his daydream-like state.
Lone looked down at his injury without flinching or expressing any signs of feeling pain. "Dammit. I really need to stop thinking about stuff during battle so much. Focus first, analyse later," he mumbled under his breathe.
Malt was happy at injuring Lone, but the smile that had crept up onto his face soon crumbled when he saw Lone's cut completely vanish after the Foxkin had bent down and touched it with his hand, making it seem like it had never been there, to begin with.
"You've gotta be kidding me. You can use advanced healing magic?" Malt said with disbelieve in his tone.
'I know the Foxkin are good with magic, but come on... unless... unless this guy's actually one of those old fogies just pretending to be a youth? But that can't be! Hiding your level is illegal and punishable by death since it could be a diplomatic nightmare if all of the true powerhouses weren't kept in check,' Malt though in distress.
His feelings were more than warranted. Lone's perfect ability to heal was actually better than most high-level healers and members of the many churches. Were word to spread, Lone would undoubtedly get recruited by any one of those churches except perhaps Astera's one due to Lone's prior business concerning the Goddess of Light.
"Lone, could I make a request?" Malt suddenly asked.
Intrigued, Lone replied, "Hmm?"
"Well... would you mind not using your healing magic during our fight?" Malt asked with a shameless look on his face.
"Why?" Lone asked with suspicion lacing his tone.
"Ah, well... even though I'm a higher rank than you, if you heal every wound I give you, I'll probably exhaust myself before I can come close to beating you. And in exchange for you not healing, we'll have a fairer fight since you're practically a C-Ranker. I can feel it. You're on the cusp of breaking through, aren't you?" Malt explained.
"Yeah, I am. Very astute of you to notice," Lone said with a genuine tone of praise lacing his voice.
While it was easy to tell a person's rank, it was far harder to tell their exact level and to tell how close they were to breaking through to the next rank.
"Wolfkin have sharp noses for these things," Malt laughed. "So, what do you say? Up for limiting yourself a bit?"
'I'm already limiting myself quite a lot, to be honest, but he does make a good point,' Lone thought. "Okay, I can agree to that. No healing magic."
Malt's canines were made visible by the wide grin on his Wolf-like face before he got back on all fours and growled slightly. "Thanks. Prepare yourself, I won't be holding back," Malt said with a low voice.
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