Glendel and Regina stood in area with quite a clear view of the arena, and they saw the Ghosthound’s explosive initial offensive. Then as the Ghosthound turned casually, Glendel’s heart went cold. He seemed… untouchable.
But just as the Ghosthound turned, two individuals arrived at him, one with fists raised, one with knives dancing across his fingers.
“First one to touch him wins,” Paolo hissed, his eyes wide. But Glendel could tell the strain he was under. The Ghosthound was using a strange technique that made it incredibly painful to be close to him, and right now the two leaders of the squads were struggling under the oppressive weight of that spell.
Kayle simply narrowed his eyes, slashing forward with his knives. The Ghosthound easily deflected both the knives and a punch from Paolo, spinning his spear, knocking away strike after strike. But Donny had returned and he raised his shield, a golden aura spreading outwards.
Now insulated somewhat from the effects of Agony, Paolo and Kayle regained some of their usual competency, striking again as one.
But again, the Ghosthound moved with an impossible combination of strength and finesse, smashing them both backwards. Still, in that moment, three of Decklan’s squad appeared around the Ghosthound, their eyes blazing with bloodlust.
An arrow burning with a strange, dark energy shot towards his back.
With glittering eyes, the Ghosthound smiled. “Summon Pestilence.”
It must have taken quite a bit of mana, but a huge cloud of insects sprung into being around the Ghosthound, obscuring him and the nearby people. These insects flew angrily outward, finding and biting the nearest flesh. The arrow passed harmlessly through the pestilence and skittered out the other side, missing its target.
With a crash, the 3 members of Decklan’s squad were thrown out of the pestilence, as if smashed backwards. Glendel could see Donny’s frown, as he considered how to approach the situation.
But Dozer’s roar was what drew everyone’s attention, and they were shocked to find the Ghosthound standing in front of him, unleashing Phantom Onslaught after Phantom Onslaught, using pure power to push Dozer back.
Kayle arrived at almost the same time as everyone else’s gaze, demonstrating that he had followed the action much more closely than anyone else.
The Ghosthound spared him an annoyed glance, but was forced to jerk backward as an arrow shot out from beneath Dozer’s armpit.
“Pollen of the Rafflesia.” The Ghosthound spun quickly, a Phantom Thrust smashing in Kayle’s chest faster than he would have believed possible. Wincing, he stumbled back, knives raised. Paolo rushed up to assist him, but the Ghosthound had already turned and was rushing around Dozer’s side to attack Annie. She danced away and Dozer pivoted, desperately attempting to keep himself in front of the Ghosthound.
Ptolemy arrived and began healing Kayle, and Paolo rushed forward, but before he could arrive, Dozer stumbled uncharacteristically, suddenly seeming very woozy.
In that moment, the Ghosthound was past him, picking up Annie and throwing her unceremoniously out of the arena. Paolo arrived, throwing haymakers, but the Ghosthound seemed to suddenly appear several steps away from him, just outside of his range, and raised his hand.
The blast knocked Paolo back, more than a little stunned for the instantaneous heat and concussive force. But the Ghosthound didn’t stop there.
Glendel marveled at Paolo’s reactions as he managed to get his arm up in time to block the vicious blow that arced towards his temple, but there was still the audible snap of bone as Paolo’s forearm cracked.
Without even pausing, the Ghosthound rushed forward to Ptolemy, who was standing over Kayle. The surrounding members of the squad closed ranks, weapons raised, but once again, the Ghosthound simply smiled.
Roots ripped upwards out of the ground, stabbing holes into the legs and thighs of the squad members defending Ptolemy. Then the roots flexed, throwing the squad members to the side, creating a path.
Kayle rose to his feet, seemingly completely recovered, and Ptolemy raised his hand.
But the Ghosthound just smiled, surging closer. Donny burst forward, stepping in front of the two, smashing his shield with his sword.
The Ghosthound raised his spear, his shoulder flexing as he threw everything into the attack aiming towards Donny’s shield. But Donny was a veteran of being attacked, and so he threw a shield bash out at the last possible moment, aiming to completely neutralize the force of that attack by overpowering it at the point of impact.
But his shield bash met nothing. He blinked, looking uncomprehendingly as the Ghosthound just walked past him, binding Kayle with roots, and then cracking Ptolemy over the head.
Then as if this was his plan all along, the Ghosthound leapt again with that strange spear technique, crashing to the ground at his original starting place, instantly sitting down and closing his eyes.
“What….?” Glendel asked, confused.
Regina grimaced. “That punk. He’s more cruel than he looks. After taking out their long range damage dealers, he’s going to sit there recovering until the group reforms and attacks. Which should be soon.”
Donny quickly issued several orders, and the group split, a dozen or so of the squad members leaving the arena with guilty faces. The remainder began rushing towards the Ghosthound.
“What are they doing…?” Glendel asked, looking at the departing individuals.
“If I had to guess, those were the people that Donny considered to have been “killed” by the Ghosthound’s initial assault. He has his pride, that’s for sure. So the 6 mages, 14 of the squad members, Ptolemy and Annie, all eliminated. Only 1 healer remaining for 28 people.”
“Can they even win….?” Glendel whispered.
Sam, who overheard, rolled his eyes. “Look, if he could just wipe them, he would have done that immediately. It’s a powerful front, but he burned a lot of stamina and mana to do it. The counterattack begins now.”
“My case is simple. I paid the fee to enter into the seeding lottery for Guiding Spirits. I obtained a result with the top 10, which I used to reserve the first village on a specific planet; the planet judged to have the most potential out of the medium grade planets, which refers to itself as Earth. As indicated by the rules, another Village spirit cannot steal my village from me themselves, they must use forces from their own village. A village can only be taken by another village, or by the tribulation. As she is neither, she has broken the rules. I demand my village be returned, and the Aether stripped from her.”
The Rhino nodded sagely, and turned to Kimmy. “And you? Ah wait, the Conduits beckon. Yes oh esteemed Conduit, what is your question?”
Lyra yawned, looking down at the strange robot looking thing that had its hand raised. It pointed at her. “How did she become the village spirit anyway? How was she exposed to holy Aether?”
The eyeball that was Nul shrunk slightly, seeming embarrassed. “... Ah, she…. She was my chosen Sheath.”
To Lyra’s amusement, the one with the most ridiculous reaction was Kimmy. She ballooned up in size. “You designated a Blade and Sheath without informing them? You imbecile, is that why Randidly was so strong?!?”
The eyeball wiggled. “I figured they would be drawn to each other, and his eventual weakness would force the issue. They would be assets for the village. How was I supposed to predict that he would show no signs of Aether starvation? Mr. Shrike, can you tell me how that’s possible?”
Sighing, the Rhino man brought up a menu. “He does not have a class, yes….? Hum… Oh.”
He blinked. “...he seems to have spawned inside of chaotic space, and was moved through direct interference of an Overseer… but this signature….”
After several seconds, Octavius leaned back, still frowning. “...I do understand now. According to this, he was part of a party that cleared a Lvl 35 dungeon… about 9 hours after the system arrived in his world. That certainly seems like a record, but…”
The Rhino shrugged. “The reward for that was enough Aether for him to swim in it for quite a while, it is no wonder he felt no weakness-”
The land beneath them lit up in brilliant light, as the waves of colors were sucked down into the office worker people beneath them, building to a brilliant intensity. Then the floor seemed to collapse, and everything turned dark.
A voice spoke in the dark. “It is allowed. She will remain as the Guiding Spirit for this village. The rules govern only what you cannot do. Since her situation is not covered, it is not forbidden.”
Then the light faded further, and Lyra blinked, finding herself back in the main building of Donnyton.
What…. What had just happened….?
Randidly stood, sighing. It would be too much to hope for that they would allow him to recover after brutalizing them so efficiently for a minute. The Raid Team was surging forward towards him, their faces grim.
No helping it then. He absorbed stamina and mana from the rings on his fingers, 150 of the stamina, and all 300 of the mana. It would simply take too long for the mana to regenerate otherwise. Having some stamina as a buffer would be good, but it was pointless to absorb too much. After all, he wanted to be regenerating it constantly.
He had taken advantage of the fact that he had a whole list of skills that they hadn’t seen or experienced before to knock them on their back foot, and then he was able to knock out some of their more annoying members. Of course, this left the key players, who hadn’t yet played all of their cards.
Although he had enough health to tank, Dozer wasn’t good defending a single person, although he was invaluable at limiting Randidly’s movements near him.. Donny didn’t have the speed or the guile to handle an opponent who could avoid him, but when he was confronted, he was near impregnable. Decklan wasn’t willing to commit until he felt there was an opening, but when that strike descended.... And all the rest of them hadn’t yet learned how to gamble with their lives, because there was simply no other choice.
Grinning, Randidly knew that the other side was currently feeling the pressure of having only a single healer. That was the point.
The true test would be who could continue on under the weight of that pressure. And of course, the weight of facing him.
Standing slowly, Randidly once more activated Agony. Because he wasn’t using potions, he couldn’t use Agony too frequently, in case it decreased his health to the point he might actually die. That would certainly be an ironic end to this spar. But it certainly caused the assault to stall somewhat, as each individual struggled against the consciousness warping pain.
And one by one, they stepped forward, gritting their teeth. He could see it in their eyes, that they craved victory. That they craved the strength to overcome this.
Good. If they didn’t this wouldn’t be any fun at all.
Deep within his chest, that strange, frosted lava energy began to pulse, burning, freezing, and filling him with excitement.