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Immediately, Randidly opened up his menu and looked at the details of his new Skill. Although his vision was spinning somewhat from the shifts in Aether, Randidly’s recovery ability was roaring back to the forefront. In a few seconds, he felt the last of the strange tingles departing and he could focus on the notifications in front of himself.

When a Shadow Departs, Fireflies Dance (Un): Move a short distance in any direction. At the initial point of the movement, create a burst of ash and several ember fireflies. The ember fireflies will seek out nearby enemies and deal minor damage. Damaged enemies will be marked with ash. Utilizing this Skill towards an enemy marked with ash will double the effects of the Skill but will consume the mark. Distance covered and amount of ember fireflies increases with Level. Effect on use towards marked enemies increases with Level.

All in all, Randidly was quite pleased with how the Skill shifted. He was relatively low Level in it now, but the additional damage from ember fireflies would be at least relevant against these wights. More than that, it was a Skill that worked best when it was done in a large crowd. When there was a bunch of enemies marked with ash around him, his ability to move would be unmatched.

It also seemed like the ember firefly effect would also be doubled, spreading his ability around even further. Randidly grimaced at the ceiling of the moss dome. Now he would like to see how he would fare against a Witch King. With all these assorted Skills-

“Oh no… I’ve made a terrible mistake.”

Randidly looked up sharply at the voice, conscious about how he was trembling very slightly from the remnants of the aftershocks from… whatever he had just experienced through Ashes to Ashes. Silo was standing in the dome, looking down at Randidly. It was a testament to how much the experience had interfered with Randidly that he hadn’t noticed Silo’s approach.

The air around him was roiling with that negative Aether. With a great effort, Randidly stood up and looked at Silo. “Yes? Is something-”

“I never took into consideration your abilities,” Silo said with a sad shake of his head. He glanced over at Skarch and Azriel, who were both sitting down. “The pace I set is too demanding for your bodies… Just look at yourself Randidly, your attempts to keep up with me have left you trembling with exertion.”

“...”

Randidly opened his mouth, but couldn’t think of anything to say. He was technically trembling.

“From now on,” Silo announced, putting his hand on Randidly’s shoulder. “When you are unable to keep up, say something. We are just lucky you collapsed here, and not while in battle. Otherwise… well obviously I would attempt to assist you, but-”

“Are you really going to let this farce happen?” Azriel said, looking at Randidly.

Silo took her to be addressing him and said. “No, you are correct, although I would like to move on quickly, we cannot until we are sure that everyone is fully recovered from today’s battles. To have accomplished all we did in such a short time, it is already impressive.”

“I’m fine,” Randidly said bluntly, frowning over at Azriel. She was hiding a smile behind her hand.

After shaking his head, Silo looked at Randidly with soulful eyes. His hand was still on Randidly’s shoulder. “Ah… to think our relationship had deepened to this extent… look Randidly, there is no need to sacrifice your wellbeing. Together, we can-”

“Ah shit,” Skarch said cheerfully. “It looks like we have guests.”

The attacks came from three wights who seemed to materialize above the moss dome. They smashed downwards, perhaps expecting to rip right through the strange material, but Randidly pumped the remnants of his Mana into the stuff so it thickened and hardened. It wasn’t enough to completely stop their advance, but the claws of the wights became stuck, as though they were trying to cut a thick cloth with scissors.

In an instant, Randidly produced Acri and used the Spear Advances, Ash Trails to rush forward and smash into the nearest wight that was dropping down. Screened by the moss dome, it didn’t see it coming at all and took the spear through the chest. Randidly felt the bones there shatter. Unfortunately, that breaking ripped Randidly’s spear out of the thing’s frame, and it flew backward with a howl before he could finish it off. The moss dome was quickly ripped to pieces and flapped away in the cold win.

Without the cover of the moss dome, rain crashed downward, inundating them all. But they were professionals. Silo dropped his strange empathy play and followed the wounded wight into the shallow water nearby.

Azriel hissed through her teeth. “So it was Zeitguard. And three. How… optimistic of them.”

With a huge movement, one of the Zeitguard spread its arms wide. Another pair of claws condensed, about triple the size of its true claws. With these, it slashed at Randidly. Grinning, he utilized his newly created When a Shadow Departs, Fireflies Dance. His body exploded forward, moving within the wight’s guard. Its eyes narrowed and the larger claws dematerialized even as Randidly thrust at the wight with his spear.

That energy swirled around and settled into its true claws, which it raised to meet Randidly’s attack.

As the Sun Stills.

The wight was smashed backward, its right claw shattering from the clash. But to his surprise, Randidly stumbled to a stop. His mouth twisted. He overpowered the other party, but this momentum was completely stopped. His bare feet skittered across the wet stone of the island. It only took him a split second to find a grip, but by that time the wight was back on its feet, its pale eyes filled with pain.

Its right claw was held close to its side. But before it could act, Azriel was beside it, and her spear went through its head. There was a sound like a scream, but also something like the noise a tea kettle made when the water was boiling inside of it. The body of the wight collapsed to the ground.

Randidly spun around. His Skill had only created three ember flies, and they seemed to struggle in the downpour. But two had made it over to the wight that was fighting against Skarch. She seemed to be faring relatively well, but still, Randidly used When a Shadow Departs, Fireflies Dance again to move towards the marked Wight.

This time, Randidly felt the strange boost. It felt like in addition to pushing himself towards the enemy, he could pull himself off of the mark left by the ember firefly. But just as he appeared in a shower of six more ember fireflies, the Zeitguard twisted strangely and used the strength from Skarch’s hit to move quickly away from the fight.

It shrieked as it was moving, and Randidly frowned as it avoided the Spear Roots he attempted to blindside it with. Raising its claw, it scratched at the air and ripped a hole. Within a second, it had disappeared into the other side of that portal and the rip closed behind it.

“Cheh, pretty good at running,” Skarch said with annoyance. Then she looked over at Randidly and Azriel and seemed to feel a twinge of guilt. “...sorry I couldn’t delay mine very long. Finesse isn’t my strong suit.”

Randidly and Azriel exchanged a glance. Thunder crashed above as Azriel shrugged. “...no, it is my mistake. I was well aware of Randidly’s ability to control an opponent, but I chose to go for the sure kill. Perhaps it was unnecessary, but-”

“Dammit!” Silo swore thunderously as he stomped back over to join the group. His shoulder was wounded, and he took a long swig of a health potion. “Although that one was wounded, it managed to escape with its life… still, it is an impressive accomplishment to wound one of the Zeitgard. They are notoriously slippery. Thank you for assisting me, Randidly.”

Randidly’s eyebrow twitched. What part of that was him assisting Silo…? Wasn’t the wound struck by him?

“It is enough that no one else got wounded-” Silo paused as he casually stepped around the crumpled body of the wight. Then he blinked. His jaw dropped. “Wha-... what?!?”

Azriel walked over to Randidly and patted his shoulder with a straight face. “Thank you for assisting me, Randidly.”

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