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A note from puddles4263

3/14

Alana’s forehead creased with a frown. If it were really that simple to subdue Helen, we would have beaten her already… Ultimately, I misjudged her; she is not a berserker. She’s an endurance fighter.

Although at every turn Helen chose to clash head-on, she excelled at making use of the collision to steal momentum and slip out of their encirclement. Very quickly, Alana realized that Helen could use their own attacks against them. Pinning her down was almost impossible; hearing that reminder of her role from Mrs. Hamilton rankled.

But Alana accepted the necessity and moved smartly toward the elusive Helen. The blood red currents around Alana sought to bind her, but a brief explosion of her own image was enough to shove those currents away. Over the course of the fight, Alana had grown much more familiar with utilizing her mental energy in this way. It was clear why Randidly was pushing them toward this; it was undoubtedly powerful.

Even still… her improvement left Alana bitter. A small consolation prize for those who lost Randidly Ghosthound.

Unleashing three quick thrusts, Alana attempted to force Helen backward toward the Cortez siblings. Unfortunately, the other woman moved like a ghost along the unpredictable lines of the currents, avoiding all of the strikes. Both Isabella’s Shield Bash and Pan’s Unerring Thrust met only air.

Growling, Dozer swung his club from the side to cut off Helen’s path of retreat. Instantly, the crimson currents spiraled downward to condense on his limbs.

Of them all, Dozer was the one with the most difficulty handling the currents. Perhaps due to his physical size, he was pushed and pulled in multiple directions constantly, unable to exercise his complete strength. Rather than an asset, Dozer had become a liability; he simply gave Helen too much cover when she escaped behind him.

“Don’t conserve anything,” Alana said shortly. “We are finishing her now.”

Hissing, Helen lashed out at Alana, but Alana didn’t even blink. She cut downward, aiming to inflict a blow even as Helen would hit her. At this point, such a trade would be ideal. Of course, Isabella quickly inserted herself between the two women, protecting Alana.

Helen was forced to spin away, even as Dozer’s eyes took on the red hue of his berserk Skill. For the next five minutes, he would display physical stats that would make even Alana careful about challenging him to a direct fight.

With a roar, he stepped forward and forcefully ripped his way through the surrounding currents. As they were ripped in half, the Domain around them swirled without any direction. The small shackles around Alana disperse quickly In that opening, Pan appeared in a flash and thrust his rapier at Helen.

Her parry was decisive, quickly overpowering him. But before she could follow up on the strike, Alana blasted Helen in the side with a wave of fire. It wouldn’t wound her seriously, but the small strikes would begin to add up, despite how difficult to catch Helen was.

Besides, even if we haven’t finished her yet, she’s failed. Alana’s gaze flicked to the side, where Clarissa was performing some elaborate ritual. Circles of Mana appeared around her in a tight cluster, connecting her with the three other mages that stood with closed eyes around her. For now, this will need to be enough, Mrs. Hamilton. Those four certainly been dutiful about chugging Mana potions…

Then Alana’s sharp gaze turned back to Helen. But back to business.

The light coming from Clarissa’s ritual slowly grew. Around the arena, a low wind began to pull at the edges of their clothes.

*****

Randidly gritted his teeth and paused in his frantic battle, scanning around.

On the ground in front of him, the two-headed bear moaned piteously. Inwardly, Randidly wondered what sort of existence it truly was. It appeared to experience pain, even though its soul had been subdued by Glendel. Did that mean it could it experience other emotions? Could it grow?

Paolo and Kayle had backed off for the moment, while Donny supported by Mrs. Hamilton and Annie were continuing to harass him. But that bear’s beam attack needed to be stopped. Although Randidly could endure it, it forced him to set his feet and meet it each time. During the second and third attack that the bear had unleashed, Randidly had earned a deep wound on his right thigh and left calf. Mrs. Hamilton and Annie hadn’t missed a chance to pincer him between their attacks while he was defending the long-range strike.

Which meant that the small wounds on his body were slowly adding up. His Health had decreased by almost a third, and his Stamina by half. Even the enthusiastic Sulfur was starting to grow timid under the constant concentrated fire. Even if Randidly blocked, the reverberations from attacks were starting to get to him.

But Donnyton was running out of Attributes and bodies to throw at him. If he continued to thin out the nameless mobs that could endure his attacks and distract him-

Then Randidly looked sharply upward. Sighing, Randidly took the time to crack his neck. Above, the familiar swirl of black clouds was beginning to gather. It seemed that Helen had been pinned down enough that Clarissa could cast the spell.

Although Helen was my first countermeasure... don’t you think standing there without moving is rather foolish?

Infinite Fingers of Yggdrasil surged upward and encountered strong resistance, quickly revealing to Randidly that the surrounding ground had been empowered by the earth mage. But that just made Randidly grin. Although it cost him more Mana to rip up through this, stopping this annoying wind Skill was more than worth it to him.

He didn’t have time to play with the elements right now. He had an image to impress upon an entire town. And this was a perfect chance to do that.

Above, leave rustled softly. As Mana filled the roots, they rapidly expanded in size to the point that the wickedly sharp thorns that curved up from their sides were almost as long and thick as the spade of a shovel. The roots themselves were as thick as Randidly’s thigh. When they ripped upward, they punched directly through the hardened ground and slithered up toward the vulnerable mages.

On cue, Kayle, Paolo, and the ten or so remaining melee Classers from Donnyton’s Squads surged forward to strike at him. Randidly also felt a silent arrow shooting toward the back of his head. With annoying predictability, Mrs. Hamilton flung two corpses through the crowd of bodies toward him. The tumbled comically, seeming to cartwheel midair.

Do you think this is enough to stop me? The Chimera Weeps as Man Mourns.

A dozen sharp thrusts ripped in every direction, cutting into the surrounding bodies. Once more, Paolo and Kayle chose to accept the sharp attacks and intended to inflict damage as compensation. It was a bitter trade at this point, but Randidly had no choice. He had to knock away the small corpses back toward Donnyton’s troops, keeping Mrs. Hamilton from detonating them.

Those explosions were the source of most of the damage he had endured. Letting that ambient curse energy pile up around him again was not a smart idea. It seemed to leave a mark that allowed Mrs. Hamilton to use Curse of Weakness. In addition, Randidly quickly realized that dark energy decreased all of his Regenerations. Which at the moment was becoming increasingly important.

Paolo’s strike glanced off Randidly’s metallic shoulder and Kayle cut deep into his thing. Chimeric Avoidance made it so the blows were small, but he also felt the mental strain accumulate.

However, Randidly wasn’t finished yet. Chimera Weeps as Man Mourns. Chimera Weeps as Man Mourns. Chimera Weeps as Man Mourns.

It quickly burned through his remaining Stamina, but Randidly didn’t care. He struck outward again and again, against Donnyton’s Squads, and then against the shadowy figure of Decklan who appeared behind him after the first Skill had finished. But all of them were soon riddled with holes as Randidly just continued to lash out in every direction. Kayle and Paolo endured the strike and attacked again.

The Grim Chimera roared and condensed, smashing Annie’s arrow off its course. A sharp pain of metal strain made Randidly wince, but he did not let up. Across the battlefield, the roots pierced up through the assistant mages and threw their flimsy bodies to the side. But it was immediately clear that Clarissa had already absorbed their Mana and now floated ominously several feet off the ground as the wind around her intensified.

Kayle and Paolo’s blows made Randidly wince. He had absorbed Paolo’s strike directly with Sulfur, while Randidly cut sideways with Acri to deflect Kayle’s attack.

Unfortunately, Kayle’s attack was sharp enough that some part of the Skill projected forward and cut a long gash along the side of Randidly’s face. A flesh wound, but it was another sliver of Health gone. Meanwhile, his whole body trembled as Paolo hit Randidly directly in the ribs with a fist that felt like a lead brick.

Need to slow these two down. They’ve fought me for too long… they are getting good at it. Randidly thought grimly. A flick of the wrist had Acri spinning around Randidly’s arm. Instead of using the spear, Randidly simply stepped forward and reached out toward the two of them.

After tossing the bodies aside, Randidly’s roots bit toward Clarissa like a snake… and encountered a glimmering barrier that flared to life around her. Lashing out, the roots found no weakness in its defenses.

Randidly’s eyes narrowed; he had missed the notes of Aether in the air because he had simply too much to watch, but now that he knew what to look for, Randidly’s gaze jumped to a slender young man standing next to Mrs. Hamilton.

Snorting, Randidly set aside that issue for now and stepped forward. His hands were like talons, aiming for Kayle and Paolo.

Paolo took the bold approach and ignored the strike. Meanwhile, Kayle seemed to recognize the unseen threat more directly and took a step back. Rather than pulling back his knives, Kayle simply flung the two he held forward and drew two more in a glimmering arc.

Another powerful blow from Paolo struck Randidly’s ribs. Something cracked, even if it was just a fracture. That’s gonna be painful. Meanwhile, Kayle slashed at Randidly’s left wrist, his knives skittering off the extremely dense metal. The thrown knives scraped against his neck, leaving thin wounds.

Randidly’s eyes glowed. With their responses expended, the Talon Strikes smashed into them.

More than that… Randidly’s Whispersilk Gloves hit both of them. Kayle was hit in the right shoulder as Randidly’s fingers piercing as easily through his leather armor as blades would cut through the material. Immediately Kayle’s right arm trembled and then collapsed at his side as the numbing agent was injected into the surrounding muscle groups.

Paolo was struck in the face. The damage was less, but very quickly his eyelids fluttered and closed. Drool began to leak out of his mouth as his face was completely numbed.

While both were struggling to cope, Randidly’s leg flashed out and smashed them backward. Then he leapt upward, aiming for speed. In his wake, his greaves ignited and spread a wave of white blades cutting into the surrounding members of Donnyton’s Squads. They struggled and fell, unable to handle their sudden wounds.

In the sky, Randidly slowly turned and regarded the darkening clouds with a serious expression. As his headache built, he began to focus.

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