After four hours, Helen regarded the three root avatars in front of her with a furious glare. This turned out to be her limit. Three of the puppets that Randidly controlled. And even this was taxing upon her.
Immediately, Helen activated the Tides of Blood Domain. A thick wave of crimson spread across the arena, moving with the soft eddies of the air currents that Helen controlled. In response, two of the avatars rushed toward Helen. The last one straightened and held its vine spear aloft. Slowly, energy seemed to gather at the tip of its spear.
Helen’s mouth twisted into a snarl. This was the first fucking problem. These strange root people looked humanoid enough, but they simply weren’t humans. Their bodies only mimicked human movement, not actually followed it. As such, they were a hair faster than Helen expected. It was aggravating how quickly they responded.
The second problem was that they possessed images. Not full strength Skills, thank god, but close enough to be a hassle to deal with en mass.
And the third problem…
The two front avatars dashed toward her with obvious intent to block her. But the Bloodfin Reaper in her blood seemed to cackle with glee as she easily cut between them toward the third. They had prepared well, and both of the front two released the freezing, immobilizing storm move that Randidly had used to beat her in their match. But Helen had improved much since then and forced herself through.
...just in time for an overwhelming image of Sharpness to burst from the last of the three avatars as it cut across the entire arena, severing her Tides of Blood Domain. Helen’s eyes narrowed into slits.
“IT FUCKING BOOSTS MY LEARNING SPEED YOU PRICK!” Helen bellowed. But of course, there was no answer.
Immediately much of Helen’s grace and quickness was lost, but she still unleashed a vicious series of thrusts at the third avatar. As it was rather unprepared after the severing of her Domain, it to sever deep hits to the body. Which it ignored, as it wasn’t a person. Instead, it counter-attacked directly.
“That would have gutted Skarch,” Helen grumbled, but her spear slashed sideways and knocked the counter-attack out of the way. Then she followed up with a few powerful thrusts that ripped away portions of the avatar’s body, leaving the thing largely helpless before her.
But then the other two avatars arrived.
With its spear rushing forward, Helen just managed to twist out of the way of the Inevitable Phantom Arrives. The air hummed with the image’s passage. Helen’s expression was grim. How the fuck had Randidly’s images become so powerful in only a month…?
The second avatar rushed in with an overhand smashing blow, but Helen casually twisted and swatted the spear off its trajectory. Although she was no within her Domain, she was still stronger and faster than these. Or she had meant to. What she hadn’t expected was the avatar to drop its spear and rush at her with hands wreathed in emerald flame.
“SHE WON’T BE FUCKING USING SPELLS!” Helen roared. But there was nothing to do but sweep her spear back downward and hack off one of the avatar’s arms.
As if suspecting that very move, the fuckwit root sidestepped and clapped its hands together. A bolt of emerald fire flew forward and slammed Helen in the chest. All it did was knock the wind out of her, but that was more than enough for the second avatar to land a few brutal spear blows on her arm.
Growling, Helen rolled backward and looked up to find that the avatar she had brutalized earlier had rapidly regenerated its body. An Idiosyncratic Cut smashed into Helen’s temple and sent her reeling. The other two swiftly gathered around and began to slash and bludgeon her. There were a few seconds where Helen expected the blows to stop until she had a chance to recover, but they didn’t.
The avatars kept hitting her.
“RANDIDLY!!!!” Helen exploded upward with sparks flying from her eyes. Her spear cut left and right, drawing long currents of air the pushed two of the avatars backward. The third rushed forward, but Helen’s TIdes of Blood Domain descended once more in that small opening.
With infuriating predictability, the avatar in front of her shifted to a defensive posture while the two that were farther back both prepared to sever her domain.
What is he THINKING, Helen fumed. I need these Skill Levels. My domain boosts how fast I gain them. If you cut the Domain again, I will fucking kill you.
Maw of the Hellfin was a Skill that borrowed from Helen’s exposure to Randidly. Although it wasn’t a Mana based spell, it looked a lot like one. It drew from Helen’s Health and Stamina and produced a huge crimson monster that rushed toward the target and took a huge bite. When it struck the vine avatar, fueled by Helen’s furious image, it treated the think like a ragdoll. The avatar in the defensive posture was thrown helplessly into one of the back two which were preparing to sever her domain.
With blazing eyes, Helen charged the final avatar. It raised its spear. An ominous weight seemed to settle on its shoulders. Eyes widening, Helen pulled up short and spun to the side.
That wasn’t Sharpness, that was-
The mental agony exploded outward as the powerful image of Indignation flashed into existence above the avatar. Hissing, Helen righted herself and did her best to focus on the source of a pounding headache. With swimming vision, she lowered her spear and activated Feeding Frenzy. With the bonus from the Domain and this Skill combined, she was simply a blur before she ripped apart the offending avatar.
She spun around with malicious intent to do the same to the other avatars just in time to see one cut apart her Domain. Feeding Frenzy faltered and then failed without the support of the Domain.
“LOWER THIS CAGE!” Helen had screamed herself hoarse at this point, but she couldn't say anything else as the two remaining avatars rushed toward her once more. Behind her, she sensed the third was rapidly regenerating. She could only shriek and focus her red-eyed gaze on the foes in front of her.
Randidly would pay for this, Helen vowed to herself. A fingernail-sized black flame in her heart wiggled gleefully at the thought. Despite the fact that Randidly repeated told her to visualize her rage during their fight, Helen had refused adamantly to do so for several hours. Because acknowledging that Randidly had said that would mean acknowledging that he was purposefully antagonizing her.
Which was doubly infuriating. Not the least because Helen couldn’t for the life of her fathom why Randidly was so focused on making sure she was infuriated rather than prepared for the fucking match she was worrying herself sick over.
So when the black flame appeared, Helen had been doubly pissed. Which of course, only caused it to grow faster. But Helen swore to herself that she would feed every one of these leafy fucks to it, given the chance.
And Randidly too, even if only for a few seconds to teach him a lesson.
Randidly left without speaking lowering his vine cage after announcing the cessation of the day’s training. Partially because he was mentally exhausted from controlling three root avatars at once while splitting his will into three to use images with them, but also because Helen had stopped talking about hour seven of the training session and just started breathing heavily to communicate her feelings. And from the way her breath was flung out of her, she did not feel very generous with her praise toward her new teacher.
Which was fine. Randidly followed his instincts because they hadn’t led him astray thus far. And he knew that resolve was the most important trait an individual could have. It was only due to the resolve that Shal had beat into him that he had managed as well as he did on Earth originally, and it was only because he was called to Tellus and forged that he could clash with the Creature and come out ahead.
It was a short time frame, but Randidly could definitely put Helen through hell for this amount of time and see if that gave her the spark she needed.
Randidly’s expression turned fierce. It would work. It had better fucking work if he got a headache from doing it for less than a day.
Sighing, Randidly walked toward his room. At least in that respect, it would not be a waste of his time. Randidly’s activities during the day had earned him quite a few Levels in different Skills he used. In addition, Visualization continued to improve as it pervaded every aspect of what he was doing.
Still, it was draining on his will in a way that he had never felt before. This, then, was likely the line between Pontiff and Master. Pontiffs could accomplish this feat, but Masters had reached the point where a fraction of their will could become an entity unto itself. Randidly wasn’t sure whether there was some conceptual thing or a Skill that enabled it, but either way, he was far from that threshold.
As Randidly opened the door to his room, he immediately stiffened. The room smelled like blood and-
Someone was snoring.
Randidly walked silently forward until he stood over his bed. It was covered in gore and the twisted semblance of a body which was sleeping with a blissful expression on his face. Recognizing the fool he had sent on ahead of him, Randidly felt abruptly bitter for bringing the man along.
In addition… his sheets were ruined. Randidly shook his head sorrowfully. It wasn’t like he was going to sleep, but it would have still been nice to use an actual bed to rest in after a month in prison.