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Devan and Alana had enough able bodied people to protect the convoy, even though they were extremely numerous, at least until they left the Newbie Zone around Franksburg, so Randidly turned back towards the horde of monsters that was gathering for another monster horde in Franksburg.

His hands itched, his eyes were red. Ever since he had lost his control with Tessa, he had felt… different.

More volatile, less calm. Suddenly it was abundantly clear how much he was wasting his time. Why had he even come here? Sure, finding Ace and Sydney would be nice, but what would it really accomplish. It was pointless. All of it was pointless.

They were likely dead, and he was chasing ghosts.

How well could they really have survived if half of their building was ripped off in the middle of the night? If they were teleported hundreds of miles away? How could they not have-

A notification popped up, distracting him from his train of thought.

Congratulations! Your Thorn Lvl 5 is ready to level up. After slurping many similar enemies, Thorn wonders if it should be one of many, or the One.

Frowning, Randidly selected the One. There was only one path to a good life in this world now, and it was through power. With it, you could take the things you crave. Without it…

Thorn is now Lvl 6. Survivability has increased by 5. Physicality has increased by 2. Particularity has increased by 3. Thorn has learned the skill Piercing Thorns.

Randidly didn’t know what he was expecting, but it was oddly disappointing. Everything felt that way right now, all of it. He wished-

Randidly’s sprear flicked out, smashing apart a skeleton that had wandered too close to where he was fuming. And like a keg of gunpowder, that spark set Randidly off.

Roaring, he charged among the skeletons, his huge bone spear sweeping back and forth, reaping them cleanly. In addition, he activated Agony, the grating, vicious pain oddly soothing. It narrowed his focus, drove away the incessant, negative thoughts that had sprung up for the first time today. The guilt, the helplessness, the confusion, the lack of direction…. They were wiped clean, leaving only a growing rage, and a constant pain.

Maybe it was because he had for so long struggled to survive, and then he came back on earth, much more powerful the the local monsters. Lost, and unsure of what he should be doing, he had latched onto the survivors, slowly teaching them to become strong, in the same way that he had learned to become strong; by throwing them into the fire.

At the very least, Randidly informing them that they were about to be cast into the fire helped them, and increased their survival chances far above what they would have been.

For a while he had gone with that, slowly establishing a base, teaching them what he had known, defeating any enemies too strong for them to handle….

And then what? And now what?

What was he fucking doing?!?!

Randidly’s eyes glowed pale green in the darkness, his spear smashing agonized monsters to pieces. Although he couldn’t use mana for 24 hours, due to the use of Inspiration, that didn’t make him any less a death sentence for monsters of this level, regardless of their number. Unless he was deliberately trying to do so, he would not run out of stamina. He was just a constant blur of death.

Even as a notification popped up, indicating that his health had reached 20%, Randidly’s smile didn’t waver. He downed two health potions and continued, barely slowly his vicious assault, refusing to shut off Agony.

Although it slowly wore his own health down, it did worse things to those enemies around him.

Especially now, where a growing corner of his heart trembled with fear, guilt, anger, confusion, and frustration. And that part of him wanted to hurt something.

Heeding his will, Agony rolled out in malicious waves, larger and more powerful than it had ever been before. Green eyes glowing, Randidly continued, ripping the enemies around him to pieces.

The system was responding to his desire, not just with levels, but with effectiveness. Agony even seemed stronger. But Randidly supposed that it wasn’t really the system that had changed, but himself. Where before he wore Agony like a blanket, dragging it around behind him, now he actively reached out with it, smothering those enemies unfortunate enough to surround him.

But even the pain was only doing so much; he couldn’t cover up the question that drove him insane. What was he supposed to be doing…?

Grinding his teeth, Randidly threw himself into the violence, drowning out his helpless doubts.

The sky darkened, and a low drizzle began to fall. Randidly ignored it, as it made no difference to him; where he once fought in puddles of blood, now it was slightly watered down blood. What did it matter?

Tirelessly his spear swept back and forth, bodies falling to pieces around him.But as he did so, Randidly noticed something extremely strange. Rather than having a goal, he was now just killing for the sake of killing. He was protecting the town, he supposed, but that had fallen away, lost in the revelry of blood.

He simply cut and slashed, feeling through the huge spear of bone the small tremors of a body breaking. With an undivided attention, Randidly experimented with where and how he could strike, how he could cut, how he could slaughter.

Slowly, all of his disparate spear moves began to flow, moving cleanly from one to the other. Previously, he used each when he needed them. Phantom Thrust for speed and accuracy, Sweep for a large group, Phantom Onslaught to overwhelm a single target.

But now Randidly slowly started to see the use of swinging the butt of the spear around for a staggering blow, intermixing Roundhouse Kicks to throw the opponent off. Slowly at first, but with greater surety, Footwork of the Spear Phantom guided him easily from one enemy to the other, the deaths continuing unabated.

It was likely aided by Grace, which almost inexplicably streamlined his movements, just a hair, but enough to notice during particularly complicated portions of his fighting style.

That was, Randidly realized, what he was doing. He was discovering his fighting style.

Almost immediately he stopped using Agony, although it was incredibly effective. It left the monsters around him almost helpless, barely a challenge at all. But as he let the spell fall around him, the monsters staggered, then peered at him with hateful eyes.

As rapidly as their low leveled bodies could manage, they threw themselves at him, hissing and spitting and clacking. Randidly grinned, his spear moving to meet them.

It was, Randidly realized, a great weapon. Before it, the monsters were nothing. He had never really gotten into Shal’s fanatical pursuit of the godhood that was becoming a true spearman, but Randidly couldn’t help but marvel at the utility a spear provided to him. Thus far he had relied on Shal’s moves, but in his moment, Randidly was starting to see…

The spear was designed perfectly as a killing tool. Oppressively powerful. Quick and graceful. Vicious and deadly. The question was never whether the spear was enough, but only whether the person wielding it could bring to bear its true, oppressive power. Seeking that goal, of becoming an individual who could wield even but a fraction of the spear’s power, Shal dedicated his life.

Inexplicably, a month after Shal had he had parted, Randidly was beginning to see it, that path. As his spear blurred and gore coated him, he saw it, the point, the motivation. The path to strength. The goal.

The Spearman.

Slowly, but with increasing confidence, Randidly began to use his skills more rapidly and efficiently, becoming an absolute storm of deadly bone, swirling around a man, dancing in his hand. Heedless to the Skill Levels he gained, his eyes slowly unfocused, until there was only action and reaction, the spear and himself.

The enemies fell away, lost in the backdrop of other. Into the spear ‘Randidly’s focus turned, towards the spear. If he could wield it perfectly…

Unbeknownst to him, as he lost himself in the killing, glowing lines began to form on his throat, drawing out esoteric runes. His eyes, always brightly, began to glow faintly, lending a green cast to  the slaughter.

But all Randidly did was grin, his spear splitting open the skull of a nearby skeleton and then ripping his spear out and spinning, slashing several of its compatriots to pieces.

‘This…’ Randidly thought. ‘Is fun.’

***

Lyra sourly gazed at their surroundings. The area around Turtle Town was still deserted, a silent, rotting graveyard. The piles and piles of bodies were a testament to the town’s continued ability to defend itself, but it didn’t make it anymore cheery.

Walking quickly, Lyra led the way to one of the partially destroyed buildings that marked the edge of the “inhabited” zone of Turtle Town, by blinking forward, teleporting short distances. Kim-Lath, still wearing the appearance of Randidly, flowed behind her, its body turning into a liquid and running up the wall, only to reform next to Lyra up above.

“So?” It asked, smiling a wide smile at Lyra. The kind of bland, empty thing that Randidly would never actually bother with. The kind of smile that hid cruel intentions.

Ignoring it, Lyra moved forward, running across rooftops, avoiding the subdued people that walked around the interior, ignoring the patrols of guards decked out in police riot gear. Instead, she ran towards a gaudy hotel that rose above the nearby buildings. If she were a dumb king, she would probably choose that spot for his hideout.

‘Still,’ Lyra thought, looking dubiously up at the buildings in front of her. ‘I won’t be able to manage this with normal methods…’

“Now what?” The fake-Randidly/real-Tribulation asked, still smiling. Lyra stopped and turned and looked at his face, even worn by another. Inwardly, she felt something give.

She had sworn she would stop doing this, but…

There it was within her, the elusive, violet mercury energy that she held within her chest. That everyone held.  Ice cold and earth’s core hot, it pulsed in time with her heart. She touched it, and her whole existence burned, lighting up like a visual representation of computer’s orgasm, all bright lights and sizzling plastic. Then she moved.

Within the next second, she was standing atop the large, gaudy hotel, having teleported 100 meters upwards. She swayed unsteadily, wincing. It would take days for her to replace the energy she had lost there. And even then, Lyra worried that her levels had been reduced too much, past the point where it was harmless to use.

Still, Lyra thought, her mouth quirking up. It was worth it, if just for the rush.

Her careful senses caught the mana fluctuation as the Randidly illusion appeared next to her, a long thin tendril, running from this spot, off into the distance…

‘That was powerful, you certainly are an extraordinary mage,” The projection said, its tone humble. But Lyra ignored it, staring off into the distance, as if she was lost in thought.

After a few seconds, her eyes snapped back into focus, her gaze amused. The trail had gone cold. She needed a few more data points.

“Now we break in and say hello.”

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