Randidly emerged from his Soulskill with a curse. As he had suspected, he only had to wander the streets within his Soulskill for a second to hear that a great portion of the mist nearby in his Soulskill had been cleared.
And within that new open space, there were cities. Filled with people. With economies and connections to each other, as they hadn’t just emerged from the mist. An entire continent, with political factions and armies and individuals who would be frankly shocked to be told that they were currently existing within another entities Soulskill.
Randidly had rapidly gone to investigate, only to confirm that these strangers had never encountered the System before, although he did learn that the Class giving Lighthouses had appeared across the land.
What was slightly amusing was that these people treated the original denizens of Randidly’s Soulskill as the weird ones because their land appeared out of nowhere next to this fully fleshed out world. Basically, the mist to the South and West was completely gone, replaced by this world.
A world that had the legends and history referenced in the armor Sam had given Randidly.
How did it happen? I couldn’t detect any of the System Aether, so these places really were already there, although they were dormant until now. Could so much information really have been stored in those Blessings…?
Yet Randidly didn’t have any real way of investigating what was occurring in his Soulskill. For now, he simply allowed his people to intermingle with the beings that had appeared in his world and hoped for the best. He urged caution from the Monster Prince and Allica.
And he promised that when they had more information, Randidly would return and investigate as best as he could.
Sighing, Randidly looked up at the moon. It was midnight and Randidly had a little over 32 hours before his challenge against all of Donnyton. And there were still so many things to do.
After slapping his arms to get some blood flowing through his body, Randidly returned to the open training ground and reached with Grasp of the World Seed. The ground rumbled and six root avatars straightened out of the soil and looked to Randidly for guidance.
With half-closed eyes, he considered his creations. After the exhaustive practice the previous day, Randidly had a few ideas for how the Styles could be functionally merged into one. It was a matter of maintaining momentum.
The Spear Phantom controlled and borrowed momentum. The Ashen Kata possessed and created unstoppable momentum. If those two powers could be united by focusing on a Style that was completely about momentum and maintaining that power through some very abrupt and sudden movements…
But ironing out the details would take some time. So Randidly planned on lowering the number of duels going on at once to three so he could give each one a larger portion of his focus. With a thought, he created a soft disc of grass for himself and sat down cross-legged. Then his Mana began to burn through the root avatars and push them toward one another to fight.
With dispassionate violence, battle between the different avatars was joined. They struck with brutal efficiency, aiming to cut each other down immediately.
Something like mixing Wild Phantom’s Embrace with Frigid Ash, Extinguishing Storm is actually quite simple…
...then Spear Advances, Ash Trails would likely go to the Inevitable Phantom Arrives…
A root avatar was split in half and then healed to full within a single second. Without missing a beat, that avatar leapt forward and sought to avenge its previous loss. The bodies blurred together, united in a deadly waltz.
….hum, I wonder if As the Sun Stills could become part of Breath of the Spear Phantom…?
Well, then most of the offensive power of as the Sun Stills would be lost…
The ground where the duels were occurring slowly began more ripped up and muddy. Powerful spear blows left long scars in the earth. With the empowerment of Randidly’s Mana, these root avatars had enough Strength that the stone and dirt couldn’t keep up with them. And as the ground gave out, their individual spear moves needed to be sharpened further so they would not slip.
A constant refining process. Only then could Randidly find the answer he was seeking.
Pressing his eyes together, Randidly slowly brought his will to bear on the root avatars. With Grasp of the World Seed, he could sense every inch of their bodies. He could control every single twitch. They were extensions of his will.
As much as possible, Randidly kept the root avatars moving in a manner that was similar to humanity. There was an increasing sense of unity between the two styles of spear-use. But that just meant that he found a shape that seemed to fit. What became more important from there was to determine whether that shape fucking worked.
The main problem with maintaining momentum through such violent movements was that the human body was limited by what it could withstand. The System raises those limits, but Randidly carefully monitored the body of the root avatars as they experimented with these movements.
It couldn’t just be good enough. Otherwise, Randidly would just consider this a failure and toss the experiment aside. No, Randidly wanted to create a new Style for himself that he could perfect as he grew even more powerful...
Time lost meaning to Randidly as he allowed the root avatars to strike at each other and counter, over and over again. It had been a long time since he had thrown himself so wholeheartedly into the spear, and so there was a bit of time where Randidly struggled to remain focused.
But eventually, that overwhelming one-mindedness that carried Randidly through his brutal time in the prison with Shal once more reared its head. His attention narrowed to a point. The moves began to blend together, as the strange momentum focused style of fighting took shape. Always moving. Always seeking more speed.
And from speed, power.
While one root avatar in the duel continued to use the hybrid of the moveset, Randidly began to fight with the original movesets with the other avatar. Relying on images, Randidly was able to reproduce some of the effectiveness of his Skills in the root avatars. Most of the time, the original movesets dominated. But Randidly didn’t give up hope.
The stars slid across the horizon, and after a long night of rest, the sun yawned and strolled upward into the sky.
Sighing, Randidly leaned back and cracked his neck. There was progress, but it wasn’t enough. The combined style was too flawed. It certainly combined the offensive power of both Styles, but it lost a lot of the defensive capability from both of the originals. Although Randidly could still borrow the momentum in a capacity with the new Style, it wasn’t as complete of a feat. He could not always avoid harm.
Now, at this point, Randidly had quite a bit of Health, so he could create a Style that relied heavily on his high Attributes, but…
Randidly looked up sharply to see someone was walking up the path toward his hut. The figure was cloaked in a heavy coat that seemed to ignore the warm rays of the sun, but it only took a small sample of the other’s Aether for Randidly to sense who it was: Helen.
Then his eyebrows rose. Holy hell, Helen pushed all the way to Level 50 since we’ve arrived in Donnyton?!? And she-
There was a clear flavor in the air. A Fate hung over Helen. Randidly’s focus rapidly shifted to the woman slowly walking up the path toward him.
This one, quite like the one that Alana possessed, was formed totally out of energy that she had taken from him. And unlike the Fates given by the System, it did not bind her Aether in a way that made it entirely unrecognizable to Randidly.
Randidly remained silent as Helen moved quickly up the path. She clearly had something to say, because she trudged up the hill with her head down. An aura of contemplation filled the air around her, urging silence of the surroundings.
When she arrived she looked sharply up at Randidly and spoke. “Randidly. Back from your vacation?”
Likely Helen had meant that comment as a jovial way to break the ice, but her clearly anxious mood made the comment sound extremely scathing. But despite that, Randidly laughed. “Ha! Yea, I’m back. I assume I know why you are here.”
Baring her teeth, Helen nodded. “The challenge. Fighting against all of Donnyton. I want to be part of it.”
Helen blinked. It seemed she had expected Randidly to reject her out of hand, so his casual question appeared to have thrown her for a loop. She blinked several more times as her mind scrambled to find an answer.
Obviously, Helen’s immediate response was something like ‘it seems like fun to fight so many strong people’. For all that the final image Shal used to ascend wasn’t focused around chaos and death, it did glorify violence. And Helen was born and bred on that wartorn planet of the spear.
But Helen was also sharp enough to know that such an answer wouldn’t be enough to sway Randidly if he really didn’t want her to fight.
As Helen struggled with her own thoughts, Randidly settled his.
Some part of Randidly’s pride didn’t want to allow Helen to participate, but she had clearly exhausted herself in an endeavor to power up enough to participate. Due to her actions, both her own Level and the Skill Level of Randidly’s Domain had moved steadily upward. Those actions alone earned her merit enough that Randidly was willing to consider her participation.
Yet there was another motivation factor: Helen also had a powerful image.
It was one thing for Randidly to demonstrate his personal strength in this challenge. But what he wanted to impress upon Donnyton was how influential images were. It was possible that his ability to suppress them might be written off simply as his own overwhelming strength, but both of them acting in tandem would prove to Donnyton how important images are.
Or at least, that was the hope.
...Even though it seems like Sam has already picked up what images can do. Randidly thought with a grimace. What would the older man say if he found out that his items had created a whole new continent in Randidly’s Soulskill…?
But there were two prerequisites for Helen participating in the Donnyton challenge. The first was sheer power. Randidly would need to make sure she had the oomph necessary to fight by his side against Donnyton. A weak image would just muddle his message.
Not that he believed Helen’s image was weak. But it might still be overly restricted by the bindings of his Domain.
And the second reason…
Finally, Helen seemed to come to a decision. After releasing a breath, she looked Randidly directly in the eyes and said, “Because I’m your knight. If you fight, then it is my duty to fight as well.”
Randidly’s eyes flashed. Exactly. You need to be strong to fight at my side. But for this fight… we also need to be connected by a concrete image.
“Fine,” Randidly said lightly.
If Randidly thought that Helen was blinking before, this flutterstorm of eyelashes put her previous shock to shame. “Uh…. what….?”
“You can fight,” Randidly said again with a nod. “...provided you can help me with something important.”
Behind Randidly, the root avatars tightened their grip on their spears. Randidly had pushed the solo training as far as it could go in a short amount of time. It was time to test out the merged styles on a real opponent.