Kayle controlled his body as well as he could, considering that cloud of dust and shattered arena that was produced by Randidly’s arrival. Yet he did not dare hesitate; Randidly had proven himself too powerful a foe to give him more than a second to prepare.
Even with the rapid advance, Kayle felt that deathly sucking gather toward Randidly once more, stealing a small fraction of Kayle’s Mana and Stamina, as well as his breath. Kayle grimaced. The actual amount stolen from me is small, but considering he is stealing from all of us… he will not run out of Attributes before we do. Combine that with the mental pressure of having your breath stolen…
Before Kayle arrived, Glendel’s two werewolf specters crashed into Randidly’s body. Bits of spectral gore flew in every direction as Acri took its due, but the specters did not have the power to resist the geass that Glendel placed upon them. They cast themselves forward, physically using their bodies to hold Randidly down for a short amount of time.
Kayle didn’t hesitate to cut through one to strike at Randidly. But as he struck, vines immediately sprung out of the ground to tangle up Kayle’s feet. Kayle grinned. Although his right arm was still hanging uselessly at his side, his left arm activated Dance of Blades instinctively. Very quickly, slashes rained outward and cleared a path through the roots that his strike could follow.
But the resistance in cutting through the roots Kayle felt set his teeth on edge. If his slashes had this much difficulty cutting through the plant matter, then some of the others…
Before Kayle could finish that thought, before he had even struck, the werewolf in front of him sighed and dissipated. There was abruptly a space where there had once been a screening body. Randidly glanced slowly to the side, his emerald gaze holding Kayle captive for a split second once they locked eyes.
Randidly’s black hair was short, but it was difficult to see where it began due to the spray of gore and dried blood across his face. No part of Randidly was unscathed after the battles he had participated in today. A trail of fresh blood dripped out of his right nostril and six large gashes stood as a testament to the many attempts to inflict a deadly blow on his neck that he had stoically endured.
He glowed slightly in three places: one of the gems on his belt was golden, the strange runes that covered his left shoulder rippled with light, and also the flaming circlet he wore around his forehead released a steady green illumination. Long, open wounds covered his arms. There were also small gashes that could be partially seen under his grey armor, but they were smaller and less serious.
He was the pillar of Donnyton, come to force them to evolve or die. He was wounded.
Kayle cut, aiming for Randidly’s throat like so many before him.
With a clap of thunder, the monstrous image that Randidly created reappeared above him and howled. Kayle could quickly feel a creeping chill spread up his limbs. Due to their close proximity, the spread of it was immediate. Worse, Kayle already only had a single limb.
Slashing its claws without a care for its life, the surviving werewolf managed to draw Randidly’s attention. It was only for a split second, but that was all Kayle needed.
Kayle blinked as his attack was stopped. Randidly’s spear had twisted mid-air like a snake and smashed away his strike. Turns out this one wouldn’t even earn a gash across his face. Then Randidly followed up with a brutal punch that was aimed at Kayle’s head.
“Curse of Weakness!”
As Mrs. Hamilton cast her spell, Randidly spun away. His body rippled to avoid the curse and his spear ripped the werewolf to shreds. Even before he set his stance, Randidly’s emerald eyes were scanning for threats.
But Donny was there immediately, aiming to hit him with a Shield Bash. Just one successful hit would give them a moment to breathe as Randidly was stunned. Yet Randidly didn’t even blink as the Skill approached. Once more, he aimed to grab the lip of Donny’s shield. At the last moment, Donny scowled disengaged the Skill and instead cast Aegis. A blast of golden light hit Randidly full in the face. But he still leaned back to avoid the blast of cold that Sam produced from his hammer.
In addition, the area around Sam exploded with sharp vines in retaliation. As Kayle was already too chilled to face Randidly directly, he moved wordlessly to Sam’s assistance. But before he could arrive, a wave of mental agony swept across the arena. Everyone rocked on their feet, struggling to remain standing. Grimacing, Kayle straightened out of the way of a root that aimed for his throat in that moment of weakness.
Seems like Randidly finally is taking off the kid gloves. Attack like this might kill. Kayle shivered as he watched a roots slice through the muscles around Sam’s knee. Breathing heavily, he continued over to Sam to try and salvage the situation.
As Donny yanked his shield backward to avoid the grab, Randidly settled on smashing Donny backward with a kick. Paolo arrived behind Donny to slap his back and disperse the momentum and then charged directly toward Randidly. From the spot that Paolo and Donny touched, a golden fire began to spread across Paolo.
Narrowing his eyes, Randidly avoided two of Annie’s arrows and raised his spear toward Paolo. Paolo grinned like a maniac and dived forward.
“From below!” Kayle yelled, but it didn’t matter. Paolo likely knew. It was because his body could be of use this way that he had thrown himself forward with Donny’s Skill blazing around him.
But like Paolo would never stop throwing himself into danger, Kayle would never stop warning him of his foolishness. That was just their way. Which was why what followed was extremely painful to watch, even for Kayle.
A dozen roots ripped upward and punctured Paolo’s stomach. Blood and stomach acid spurted out, hitting the ground with an audible cascade of thwaps. Even that tank of the man went pale. Immediately, the roots wrapped themselves around Paolo’s torso. Rather than squeezing, they simply dragged themselves across his flesh, leaving deep furrows in his muscled limbs. Paolo groaned, collapsing almost immediately and sliding along the thick roots.
“Blessing of the Wanderer: Healing!” Ptolemy yelled. A beam of light shot downward, causing a ripple to pass through the giant tree above them. When the beam hit Paolo, his flesh began to knit back together at a speed visible to the naked eye. Very soon, Paolo straightened and began to rip at the roots penetrating him.
After clearing the roots attacking Sam, Kayle drew and threw three knives in quick succession toward Randidly’s back. Before they could cross half the distance, a root slithered out of the ground and slapped them all out of the air. Grimacing, Kayle looked down at his vest.
Three knives left.
Mercilessly the roots riggled and continued their grim work before Paolo had managed to even get through half of them. They ripped Paolo’s flesh off in long strips that fell to the ground like apple shavings. Donny arrived in a concussive blast of golden power, cutting Paolo free in a single brilliant stroke. But Randidly was there as though he had been waiting for Donny to move. Quick as a flash, he used the Skill that struck out a dozen times. In order to protect Paolo, Donny had no choice but to endure the strikes with his shield and armor.
Or at least he attempted to. But Randidly’s strikes were fast and accurate.
There was a series of sparks as every edge of Donny’s armor was tested. But before Randidly’s Skill ended, there was a long moment as Donny was knocked sideways looked wonderingly toward the perpetrator.
Even if this will help us, did you need to go this far…! Kayle ground his teeth together.
A Paolo illuminated by golden fire had shoved Donny out of the way. Randidly’s spear was now in his chest, even as blood pumped out onto the ground from the deep wound in his stomach. Both of Paolo’s calloused hands wrapped around the shaft of the spear.
Annie unleashed a wall of arrows, filling the surrounding area with silent approaching death. Kayle drew a knife and stalked closer. Mrs. Hamilton’s wires circled around Randidly, then tightened toward his throat.
But Randidly leapt forward, pushing his spear deeper into Paolo and carrying his body with him. Like a ghost, the limp Paolo who was not hit by several arrows and the vicious Randidly who was ridden by that terrible monster materialized before a pale-faced Glendel. The blow was already streaking forward.
Although Glendel attempted to dodge, he was only fast enough that the trust took him in the side rather than the chest. The impact shook Paolo, and Kayle could tell that his rival was unconscious already.
Unconscious, Kayle repeated to himself.
As the golden light around Paolo broke into pieces, Randidly tossed both bodies off the stage and turned to fix his gaze on Mrs. Hamilton. But almost immediately, the line of sight was blocked by Donny.
“VENGEANCE!” Donny roared. The energy that was swirling around his sword was now pure white rather than golden, shining so brightly that it was difficult to look at the weapon directly. But even as Donny swung downward, Randidly disappeared.
In a flash, he materialized by Mrs. Hamilton and Beryl. But rather than Mrs. Hamilton, Randidly’s cherry-red spear was pointed at Beryl.
“Nothing personal, kid,” Randidly grunted, even as he thrust an attack that would likely kill a defensively weak individual like Beryl. But halfway through the strike, his spear faltered. Randidly rocked forward, vomiting a fist-sized globe of blood that splattered onto the cracked arena floor like a crimson Rorschach.
Wonderingly, Randidly brought a hand to his chest. It came away wet.
Mrs. Hamilton didn’t bother to explain. “Do it now, Beryl.”
Beryl paled but immediately began to chant. A magic circle appeared beneath him and Randidly, linking the two of them.
Vengeance, of course, was one of the few Skills Donnyton had discovered that was impossible to dodge. There were quite a few prerequisites, however. First, the light that Donny had given Paolo would only last for a few seconds. Second, the damage had to be over half of the recipient’s life. Finally, the damage could only be returned to the target who had inflicted it.
In addition, the conversion of damage wasn’t perfect. So in order to hurt Randidly, he needed to do quite a bit of damage in only a second or two so that he would be shaken when that damage was returned. It was only with the full heal provided by Ptolemy to Paolo possessed enough Health to inflict a serious blow.
And even then… the result of Paolo’s agonized few seconds was not as effective as they had hoped.
Randidly straightened. Although he was initially shocked, his blow continued forward. But then a body appeared in front of Beryl and deflected the thrust away.
“I suppose it’s finally my turn?” Annie said with a grin as she held two long arrows like daggers with the obsidian arrowheads pointing downward.
Growling, Randidly released another of his flurry attack, which Annie blurred to match. In a half-second, they crossed blows a dozen times, neither giving an inch. There was a second of silence as Randidly’s Skill ended and she was unharmed.
Annie’s expression afterward was smug. “I guess this is my-”
Punching her directly in the face, Randidly immediately silenced her. Kayle shook his head sadly. That left arm just moved too quickly to catch, if you weren’t ready for it. And based on how hard Randidly hit, that might have knocked Annie out immediately.
But Kayle and Decklan were there, striking at Randidly even as his fist was still pressed against Annie’s face.
Randidly’s spear flailed like a whip behind his back, striking at them both. Neither paid attention to the attack, going all out to inflict damage here. Lightning fast, Kayle struck three times with his left arm. Then Randidly’s blow smashed him to the ground, immediately making him groggy. On instinct, Kayle groped at his vest.
Ah… no knives… left…
But what his hands did find was a deep, wet groove that ran from his shoulder to his hip. It was really warn, even as Kayle felt abruptly cold.
I guess… that’s it for me…
Unwillingly Kayle relaxed, his vision devoured by darkness.