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A note from puddles4263

4/14

Randidly’s exhausted Willpower let go of the image of the Grim Chimera for the moment. The release was immediately and long overdue. Maintaining both images at a level where they could affect the battle was a chore. It was a relief to focus instead on only one image: Yggdrasil.

Annie fired some arrows upward during his ascent, but Randidly was moving too quickly. Most of Donnyton’s elites below could only look up helplessly as he shot upward. In the sky, no one could touch him.

As Randidly streaked up to the cloud cover, the many branches of Yggdrasil seethed and flowed inward to fill the air around him, as though a tide had come in and blown an endless sea of foliage toward Donnyton. As more and more branches came, the rustling of leaves grew louder. And although it was quite dim, the golden lettering that spiraled across every branch and leaf added to a constant wave of light that spread forward to embrace Randidly like a long lost child.

That light stood in stark contrast to the dark clouds that had gathered above Clarissa. The howling wind was already becoming audible. Soon, she would create another wind creature.

Don’t want to drag this out… Randidly released a breath. Deific Mien of Yggdrasil.

That golden light that was surging abruptly shifted in tone. While it remained the same base color, all the warmth was instantly sucked away. The golden light became cold and austere. Under those rays of light, the crowd paled and murmured almost unwillingly to each other. That light was not something that most people could endure stoically.

Deific Mien of Yggdrasil as a Skill was strange. It was an aura, but it didn’t have any real offensive or defensive capabilities. It caused others to respect him more, to give his words more credence, but it wasn’t a charm based Skill; it worked more on respect. It didn’t attempt to compel anyone to act, it only forced people to acknowledge him.

For the longest time, Randidly didn't really understand the usage of such a Skill. But now that he had spent so much time enriching his own images, Randidly realized the true purpose of such an aura: it could be used to forcefully heighten the weight of the image to others.

As Randidly spent more and more of his remaining mental strength, that light that forced others to acknowledge his image grew increasingly bright and demanding. And as it did so, Randidly raised his right hand into a jagged claw.

Once more, his mind split into two. In his right hand, all of the vicious indignation that he felt for being forced to this point gathered. His eyes were wide open as he crammed more and more Cruel Indignation of Yggdrasil into the tight space of his grip. All the suffering he wished upon Stan became a ticking bomb in his white-knuckled hand.

Below, roots smashed again and again against the barrier that surrounded the Mana flooded Clarissa. Even with the deadly thorns, Randidly wasn’t able to make a dent. He could feel a large flood of Mana ripped out of the slender young man to maintain the barrier, but it didn’t seem like it would fall quickly. The young man continued to chug Mana potions.

Randidly could have struck at him, but he couldn’t help but notice how tight Mrs. Hamilton had layered her wires around the kid. Of all the people right now, the most dangerous to attack would by this barrier mage. Plus, Randidly had an idea.

As the air around Randidly’s right hand continued to warp and ripple underneath the reality-bending agony of Cruel Indignation of Yggdrasil, Randidly pointed with his left hand toward Clarissa. Time to open up the path.

Three Wishes number two. Reach of the Jade Slag.

All the Hardens in the world couldn’t stop the twenty-meter jade claw that ripped out of the ground behind Clarissa. Veins of gold traced thick, pulsing lines across the claw. An aura of power swept outward, followed by a wave of heat. As soon as it appeared, Randidly felt Mrs. Hamilton rapidly passing Mana potions to the man next to her.

Randidly’s emerald eyes measured them all. Then the claw smashed downward on the barrier.

Instantly the ground shook all across the arena. The force of the claw smashing down into the ground around Clarissa split the nearby earth into large, shuddering shards. Those cracks quickly spread outward as the blow skittered off the barrier and impacted the ground.

Randidly supposed that it was his fault. Those cracks quickly spread outward. Infinite Fingers of Yggdrasil had riddled the ground with holes. No longer could the quarry withstand the continued structural damage that he inflicted. If he wasn’t careful, the whole thing might just collapse into the surrounding water.

The arena at the center of the water-filled quarry was large, but Randidly could now sense hair-thin cracks running across the whole of it.

But what surprised Randidly most of all was that Clarissa managed to endure the attack. Although the black clouds had shrunk to only half of their previous size, the barrier had held long enough for her to summon the being of wind directly on top of her position. Wind blasted outward from her, forcefully resisting the huge jade claw that attempted to crush her. Rings of wind whirled at a speed so fast that even the heat was dispersed.

But the barrier had broken. All that she had now was wind.

Randidly reached the apex of his leap and brought his hand holding the Cruel Indignation of Yggdrasil forward. The headache in his temples was building. It was one thing to use Deific Mien of Yggdrasil to enhance his image, but it was another to condense all of the Cruel Indignation of Yggdrasil that he could into his hand. Even worse, Randidly forced his will into it, enduring the agony and insisting that it travel along a straight line.

His Willpower became a barrel, his Indignation the bullet.

As a trail of blood came out of his nose, Randidly unleashed the blast. There was no nose. But before anyone could react, it had devoured the distance to Clarissa and hit the side of her head. Immediately her gaze became glazed. The wind around her became sluggish and then dissipated.

Without the wind, Clarissa collapsed. Then the heavy jade claw fell downward, losing its power and simply becoming solid rock.

But the attack didn’t end there. From Clarissa, a wave of condensed Cruel Indignation of Yggdrasil spread outward. Because they had interposed themselves between Helen and Clarissa, Alana’s group was hit hardest of all. The two Cortez siblings were blasted away by ragdolls, unconscious. And while Helen used their larger bodies as a screen, Alana and Dozer both were hit with the abrupt mental damage, stalling them for a split second.

In that opening, Helen inflicted a deep gash on Dozer’s chest and then struck at Alana. Unfortunately, Alana recovered in time to block. And then Alana unleashed a blistering counterattack that had Helen scrambling backward.

But as Randidly began to fall downward, he was satisfied with this much. The whole reason that he had accepted the significant extra mental strain was to strike a surprise blow at Alana’s group. Even Randidly was taken by surprise by the difficulty of controlling so many image intensive Skills at once, but if Helen was liberated by it, it would be worth it.

Once more, Randidly looked at Donnyton’s forces. With the last few attacks, the number of enemies he had to deal with had fallen to ten.

Mrs. Hamilton, Annie, Donny, Sam, Paolo, Kayle, and Glendel glared up at him. Ptolemy was still active too, healing the slender young man next to Mrs. Hamilton. Decklan was nowhere to be found, but Randidly didn’t doubt he was still active, licking his wounds.

Randidly grinned unexpectedly. Hopefully, your own blood is a little less spicy than mine, eh Decklan?

With the addition of Alana and Dozer, there were only twelve people remaining who could stand against Randidly. And those that remained were not well off. Everyone was sweating and wounded. Yet Randidly was as well.

Randidly marshaled the remainder of his strength as he descended. Time to finish things.

*****

Mrs. Hamilton looked at Beryl. “That’s too long. We won’t be able to keep him still for a full second.”

Beryl paused in his rapid chugging of Mana Potions to glare at Mrs. Hamilton. From his trembling hands, she could see how far beyond his comfort zone Beryl was. “Well, then I can’t help. It’s going to take a full second. That’s the reality of my Skill Level.”

Over the past sixth months, Beryl had risen through the ranks to become her right-hand man. Like the Cortez siblings, Mrs. Hamilton was grooming him to be the next generation of leaders in Donnyton. Unlike the Cortez siblings, however, Mrs. Hamilton made Beryl aware of the full suite of activities she took on Donnyton’s behalf.

It was a calculated bet to exposure him to the cruelty of reality because Beryl was a relatively timid person despite his brash manner of speech. Hopefully, he could learn when to use the soft approach and when to simply roll up his sleeves and eliminate a dangerous threat.

But that was for later. For now, Beryl’s ability to create various barriers and arrays was one of their trump cards. Mrs. Hamilton looked across to the people gathered around. “How much gas do we have left?”

“Plenty,” Annie said brightly. But everyone else was too dirty and tired to answer.

Mrs. Hamilton nodded sharply. “Glendel, we need some bodies. Donny? There isn’t any choice. Can you tell her to get ready?”

Glendel nodded with an expression of exhaustion and produced two spectral werewolves. They were Level 62 and stood at almost three meters. Donny shook his head, but Mrs. Hamilton knew he would do as he was told. He understood why this was so important.

“He’s wounded,” Kayle said lightly as he looked up toward Randidly’s rapidly approaching form. “He’s weaker than before. There’s a light at the end of the tunnel.”

“My blows broke his ribs.” Paolo bragged shamelessly. “Twisting his torso should be agony for him right now. But I suppose you served as a fitting distraction.”

“How many times would you have died without me taking the brunt of the focus?” Kayle said dryly.

“How dim would you be without my comparative brilliance?” Paolo replied easily.

Kayle rolled his eyes, likely knowing it was pointless that being next to something bright would, in fact, make him seem dim. Also, Kayle knew that Paolo knew that and was just trying to draw a response out of him. The two quickly settled into their old habit, as if they weren’t in the most precarious fight Donnyton had ever found itself.

Mrs. Hamilton would rather they breathe and spend these few seconds recovering than bantering, but she knew it was a losing battle. Besides, their light back and forth brought determination back into everyone’s eyes.

“Did no one hear me? I have plenty of gas.” Annie said sourly. Then she threw up her hands. “Dozer would have laughed.”

Then Randidly hit the ground like a comet, and everyone pounced forward.

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puddles4263

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