Malt launched himself at Lone, fully intent on using his claws to once more, cut him open.
Lone moved just as Malt had reached him, seemingly avoiding the attack. 'Fuck. It's hard to dodge a C-ranker when I'm limiting myself so much,' Lone thought as he held his left arm.
Malt lightly licked his claw, savouring the taste of Lone's fresh blood. He had managed to give Lone a very deep gash on his arm, essentially crippling it during this fight.
"Impressive. It's my turn now," Lone whispered, and like a flash of lightning, he disappeared and reappeared next to Malt.
'TELEPORTATION?! NO! THIS IS HIS RAW, PHYSICAL SPEED!' Just before Malt could evade, two of Lone's tails stabbed him in his side.
Malt leapt to the other side of the ring and held his injuries before coughing up a mouthful of blood. The crowd roared in excitement. 'Damn it... he punctured a lung... I'm definitely going to lose!'
Malt wobbled a little bit as blood kept spilling out of his side, and before he could say anything, Lone was upon him again. Either out of instincts or pure luck, just before Lone could land a solid hit on him, Malt clawing the Foxkin's chest, tearing his clothes apart and cutting his muscles rather deeply.
Lone slashed Malt's face with a tail before grabbing him and throwing him across the ring. 'This is it! More! This feeling! The adrenaline! I can feel the bottleneck loosening!'
Lone wasted no time, and ignoring his injuries, he once again ran towards Malt. It only took a few seconds, but the fight quickly became a defensive one for Malt. As the seconds ticked by, both Lone and Malt were sustaining more and more injuries.
Both of them were covered in blood and the crowd had long since started betting seriously on who would win since the fight seemed to be very even despite how serious Malt's injuries were.
However, after a few more minutes of heated exchanges, Lone was the victor. It was a surprisingly close fight though since Lone was limiting himself so much. Despite how close the match was, Malt eventually ran out of stamina and could no longer sustain his wolf transformation, so he chose to forfeit before any serious damage was done to himself.
"You really are one hell of a healer," Malt exclaimed as he stared at Lone carefully healing each of his own wounds as he struggled to breathe. Normally, he would be dead, but being a Beastman and a C-ranker, he was able to survive if only by a thread with what little energy he had left.
"Yeah, I suppose I am. Healing is one of my many talents," Lone replied with a grin as he made a vicious claw mark on his cheek disappear with a light touch of his hand.
Malt looked down at his, and his companion's wounds before a somewhat shameless expression took a hold of his face. "Em, Lone. Do ya think I could ask a favour... keh..from you?" he said with while he coughed up another mouthful of blood.
"Hmm?" Lone replied as he stretched his back and stood up.
Currently, they were all sitting in a resting room of sorts that was connecting to the fighting hall. It was surprisingly luxurious and had its own mini-bar. Malt was lying down on a sofa and he had been lightly treated by a healer before they came here, but he was still very injured.
"Well," Matt said with an embarrassed tone as he looked at Lone with a strange glint in his eyes, "Do you think you could heal me and my companions? I can hardly move, but we were in the middle of a transport quest, so being like..keh... this is kind of..." he trailed off, implying that he and his companions weren't in the best of conditions to accomplish the task of their quest.
Lone grimaced. He looked torn emotionally. 'Should I help them? I wanna, but I also wanna snap their necks... besides, my mana is only five-thousand points away from hitting rock bottom... ah, fuck it. I'll heal them.'
"Come here and be fast about it. I wanna get back to my friends as soon as possible," Lone stated passively.
Malt looked surprised and quite pleased before he nodded his head and got his companions to line up in an orderly fashion. Lone then healed each one of their wounds as quickly as he could before he walked over to Malt and used ninety percent of his remaining mana to heal the Wolfkin's most critical injuries.
Thankfully for Lone, only Malt had serious injuries. The rest of his fellow Adventurers only had shallow cuts or light bruises since Lone had ended his fights with them as soon as he could.
"I really appreciate this, Lone. I might experience a breakthrough soon. The fight was enlightening," Malt said with a toothy and childish grin, unbecoming of his age.
"Sure. I gained a lot too, so don't worry about it," Lone shrugged in response.
"I noticed," Malt said with a knowing smile.
"Well, catch ya later. Maybe we'll meet again in the future?" Lone said with a dismissive wave while he walked away, all the while, trying his best to ignore his urges to attack the group again.
"I hope so," Malt replied with a light tone.
When he had made it back to the table that he had left Eolande, Breena and Swind at, Lone was stumped speechless by what he was seeing.
"Damn it! I refuse to believe I lost! You cheated!" a Dwarf with a rough face and a scruffy beard shouted across the table while he slammed down the cards he was previously holding.
Eolande, who was sat opposite to him, smiled while she looked at the royal flush she had laid out in front of her. "The cards don't lie, Mister. Now, your gold?"
"I-I don't have any," he claimed with a stutter. The Dwarf then stood up and tried to leave.
Mere seconds later, he found himself on the floor with a small Foxkin straddling his back. She was holding a fat pouch that rattled with the sound of metal.
"My money! You dirty thief! Get off of me!" the Dwarf screeched.
The Foxkin, who was obviously Breena, smacked the man on the side of his head with the butt of one of her daggers, knocking him out. She then got up and returned to Eolande before dumping the pouch of coins into a pile of similar pouches, all full of coins or jewels.
"Thank you, Breena. As I've said before, all of this wealth is up for grabs if any of you can beat me at a card game of your choice. However, you have to pay up if you lose," Eolande stated while she shuffled the deck of cards.
The nearby crowd of people that had obviously been attracted by the money, gulped. This wasn't the first person that had tried to leave without paying up, but no one could blame the Dwarf. Afterall, the price to play was one-hundred gold and the prize was nearing ten-thousand.
"It's crazy that she hasn't lost once. That's the ninety-fifth person she's defeated in a row," an onlooker said.
"Right? She has to be cheating. Either that or she's the luckiest person alive," another agreed.
Lone approached Eolande who was carefully sipping a glass of wine now. "What the hell is going on?"
"Hmm? Ah! Husband, welcome back!" Eolande exclaimed before she flew up and hugged Lone's chest faster than he could dodge her.
All of the onlookers, whether female or male, regardless of race, looked at Lone hatefully.
"Tch, so she's married?" one muttered.
"Even though he's quite good-looking, she deserves better," another grumbled.
Clearly, Eolande was quite popular amongst the tavern-goers even if they doubted that she was playing fairly. Her charm was simply too high coupled with her beauty, it made looking at her in a bad light a very difficult thing to do.
Lone's eyes started shaking with anger. Clearly, he was upset at Eolande. He pried her off of him and shooed the crowd away by saying that the games were over and that his group were retiring for the night. The crowd unwillingly dispersed with mild grumblings.
Lone then returned to his room with his three companions and sat on the sofa. He took one of the bags of gems that Eolande had earned earlier out from his inventory where he had stored them and inspected the jewels.
"Heh, some of these are types of jewels I've never seen before. Good job getting them, Eolande. But did you earn them fairly? I'm curious," Lone asked as he fiddled with his glasses, making a magnification lens pop out to help him.
"Of course I did, Husband. I'm a sub-species Fairy so I'm naturally lucky. You shouldn't have stopped me. I would have earned even more money. Plus, you've seen my status screen. My luck is really high," Eolande replied with a pout as she hovered around Lone.
"We don't need money. I can just create more. Sorry to spoil your fun, but I need you to do something for me," Lone said with a light shrug.
Her eyes them regained some focus. Clearly, she had somehow negated the effects of her prior tipsy state. "Let's forget about what I've been doing in the past hour though. I'm far more interested in how you managed to break through the D-rank barrier to become a C-Ranker. Did you fight with those wolves?"
"Well..." Lone then went on to explain what has happened with Malt, including his unexplainable anger at the Wolfkin to Eolande, Swind and Breena. After telling his story, he once again told Eolande that he wanted her to do something.
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- The Scottish Slothy Sloth
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