The sphinx looked up at him, seemingly pleased. “Oh, oh, oh, you came back so soon. Did you miss me, me, me?”
Snorting, Randidly drew his spear. There was no point in talking with this dumb creature.
But he didn’t attack quite yet. The trick to this fight would be seeing how far he could push the sphinx with small scratches before it began to take him seriously. To slowly whittle away at its health, and then all at once drop the hammer on it. Randidly sincerely doubted that the fireball was the most powerful spell in the Sphinx’s arsenal, and if Randidly had a weakness, it was to magical attacks.
As such, once push came to shove, Randidly planned on moving fast and hitting hard. He wasn’t entirely confident that he could take it down immediately, but based on his observations about the way the sphinx thought, he could certainly do a lot of damage to it very quickly.
Damage that it wouldn’t expect.
With a smile, the sphinx teleported closer, pawing casually at Randidly. Already, he could feel the difference in Reaction making itself known, as he easily sidestepped the blow, seeing it coming several fractions of a second more than previously. His body finally felt… under control, rather than the wild, roller coaster ride it had been previously.
He stepped forward, meeting the sphinx with a Phantom Stab to its side, drawing a long scratch.
It had taken him 2 hours of bitter struggle previously to get such a blow.
Although it seemed annoyed, the Sphinx’s grin widened, and it teleported again, directly behind Randidly. But as he was spinning to face it, it teleported a second time, above him, and belched a fireball down towards him.
Rolling to the side, Randidly managed to avoid the fireball but was met by another paw strike.
He gritted his teeth and met it with a Sweep empowered and strengthened by Heavy Blow. But the Sphinx just seemed to chuckle and teleport backwards, lowering its paw and opening its mouth for a fireball.
But this time, Randidly was ready; activating Phantom Half-Step, he crossed most of the distance to the sphinx and leapt forward, a Phantom Thrust rushing forward into its mouth. The half formed fireball sparked fitfully and collapsed as the spear pressed through it, and Randidly felt the blade of his spear sink into the soft flesh of the roof of the Sphinx’s mouth.
There was a moment then, where Randidly had a second of clarity. The fireball spell backlash was disintegrating, and his spear was going to pierce through.
This… was a little bit too quickly to stick to the original plan. But Randidly did not shy away from the challenge. Instead, he firmed his resolve and through everything he had into this strike.
As the soot and flame from the failed fireball faded, Randidly could clearly see the sphinx’s eyes, as its face changed from one of confusion, to shock, to a hint of fear, and then an overwhelming, ancient anger, a willingness to slaughter.
Randidly supposed he would need to move up his timetable a bit. And he really had been hoping to inflict more draining wounds before this happened. After all, his Edge of Decay would begin to add up in a long fight, as the sphinx struggled to continue with several gashes.
Before the rage in the sphinx’s eyes could turn to action, Randidly flexed his hands, tightening his grip on the shaft of his spear, casting 4 spells at once. First he summoned Spearing Roots, ripping up from the ground into the sphinx’s stomach. Then he used Root Manipulation to create another Spearing Roots, but this time, he just pushed them up to the Sphinx’s head height, and wrapped the roots around the sphinx’s mouth, binding it closed, Randidly’s high Willpower and Control were brought to bear as he pressed with everything he had,to rapidly effectuate his will, speeding the roots movements until they blurred.
Randidly wasn’t sure if its mouth was always the source of its offensive spells, but better safe than sorry.
The third spell was Summon Pestilence, most of which Randidly used to attack the still shocked eyes of the sphinx, while several small insects were directed to land on out of the way parts of its body, burrowing into its fur. This was the most difficult, because the insects themselves were hard to direct individually, and they had very few drives other than to bite and rip flesh. But he stilled them with an effort, the immensity of which brought on the beginnings of a headache.
The final spell was mana strengthening, as Randidly then threw everything he had at the sphinx.
It reared back on its hind legs, seeking to escape from the roots spearing into its stomach and wrapping around its mouth, but Randidly rushed forward, quick as a ghost. Every step was Empowered, Haste was burning as quickly as it could, and he launched a full power Phantom Onslaught on its chest, ripping into its flesh.
Before, Randidly’s attacks would leave long, shallow scratches that annoyed the sphinx, but weren’t all that deadly. That was because none of his attacks were Empowered up until now. Although the bit of speed and strength that it adds is small, that small burst is just big enough to rip through the outer skin of the sphinx without slowing down, dealing significantly more damage as the blade cut into its body.
Furious, the sphinx tried to open its mouth to roar and ripped the roots around its mouth slightly, but Randidly’s Intelligence was high enough now that the roots were incredibly resilient. They ripped at the edges and frayed, but held.
Which was the perfect opportunity for an empowered Sweep to rip a large gash in the Sphinx’s exposed throat.
The blood spurting out of its throat likely incensed it further, and it bucked wildly, ripping the the roots out of its stomach and slashing wildly at the roots binding its mouth, ripping it to pieces. During this time Randidly brought a mana potion to his mouth and drank it quickly. By the time he had downed the thing, the Sphinx had ripped away from most of the roots.
Calling another Spearing Roots to shoot up into its flank, Randidly surged closer.
The sphinx had slightly recovered from its shock this time and twisted out of the way. Even though its body was huge, it managed to dodge and deflect most of the roots. However, though some missed, Randidly just activated Root manipulation and brought them wrapping around the sphinx’s body.
All the while, he continued to stab and slash, ripping large gashes in the skin of the sphinx.
At that moment, the sphinx threw itself backwards, ripping all the roots to bits. It then stood still for a split second, and then its eyes widened.
Grinning, Randidly activated the pestilence he had hiding on the sphinx’s body, sending it viciously biting into the open wounds of the creature. For the teleport spell to work, no foreign materials could touch the body. Luckily for Randidly, those hungry insects counted.
The split second bought by the shock of the teleportation failure allowed Randidly to drink a stamina potion and rush forward, Haste and Empower turning Footwork of the Spear Phantom into an impossibly fast and smooth movement technique.
Furious, the sphinx opened its mouth and shot a fireball at Randidly, but he simply sidestepped and kept coming, stabbing over and over as fast as he could.
Still, the sphinx was simply too big. There was no way for Randidly to inflict a deadly amount of damage in a short amount of time. But the point…
The point would be making the sphinx convinced that he could.
At that moment, Randidly saw his chance. As the sphinx stumbled backwards, swiping halfheartedly at him to keep him back, while shaking its head to rid itself of the pestilence insects, Randidly jumped forward and thrust with the spear.
Inwardly, Randidly grimaced. He had drawn a deep gash in the sphinx’s head, right above the left eye; he had been trying to blind it, but it had jerked to the side at the last second.
Still, this was apparently the last straw. With movement borne of panic, the sphinx spun around and leapt towards the cave, where Randidly assumed he had additional bodies waiting to eat, just in case.
Randidly’s grin crept higher.
As the creature rushed towards the mouth of the cave Randidly strolled after it, removing a mana potion from his bag and drinking it.
Then, just as the creature reached the mouth of the cave, Randidly spent all 500 or so of his mana on Spearing Roots.
Normally, Spearing Roots was an incredibly powerful, penetrative attack, that had a significant drawback, although it wasn’t truly a flaw. Spearing Roots could only be produced from the ground. Still, most everything remained on or near the ground, so this wasn’t an issue, it just limited the avenues of attack Randidly possessed, and on a monster with a huge body like the sphinx, limited the areas he could damage easily.
Where normally he could only produce the roots from the ground, which limited their effectiveness, a cave meant the ground was all around you. And the Sphinx ran right into the large mouth of its cave, only a meter or so of space between its head and sides and earth.
An onlooker watching could perhaps believe that the cave had been a mouth this whole time, and the viciously sharp roots were the teeth, chomping down at the creature that foolishly entered into it.
The roots caught it in its upper torso, probably only its head making it safely through to the cave proper, while wave after wave of root stabbed downward, burrowing long holes into the flesh of the Sphinx, all around its body. Although Randidly hadn’t been able to bring it to bear earlier due to the sphinx’s ability to teleport, there was no doubt that his Intelligence was of a level to inflict serious damage on an enemy, even if they were Lvl 30.
The roots were sharp, the force they contained was vicious, the wriggling movements of them, due to careful use of Root Manipulation, insidiously ripped the wounds open even wider.
That said, Randidly suspected that the Sphinx was still alive. Using another mana potion, Randidly used the roots to grind around for a bit, before throwing the sphinx back out to the ground in front of him. Then the roots twisted and settled, hardening to block the cave.
If the sphinx was still alive, it wouldn’t be stopped very long by the roots, but it was more than enough to slow it down while Randidly ripped into its back.
Mewing in agony, the thing staggered to its feet, huge holes in its back and shoulders. Even though that one portion of its body was a mess of gore, that was only about a ⅕ of its body. Its head, lower back, and both sets of legs were fine.
The wings, however, had been turned into broken, useless limbs.
As Randidly approached, a notification popped up.
Congratulations! Your soul seed has been completely nurtured. Upon being inserted into fertile soil, the seed shall grow.
One less thing he had to worry about then. Now was time to finish this.
“You….you….you….” The sphinx said, turning towards Randidly.
“Me, me, me…” Randidly said, stalking closer. This seemed to incense the creature, because it opened its mouth again, mana flowing rapidly to fill it. But instead of a fireball, the energy spread and covered a 10 meter area around the sphinx, including Randidly.
Within a second, the air began to vibrate. Then it began to twist and rip. Jarring, jagged vibrations, strange movements in the air, made it unbearable to be near that strange magic in the Sphinx’s mouth. Randidly stumbled to a stop, struggling to collect himself.
Although he had been through alot, this was the most painful experience Randidly had ever encountered. It made his bones ache and twist, his marrow roiling.
After what felt like an eternity, it stopped, and Randidly collapsed, coughing up blood. It hadn’t done much actual damage, but the pain, combined with the strangeness…
Randidly looked up just in time to see the sphinx leaping at him, mouth wide and teeth bared.