A note from puddles4263

Picking finalists has been harder than I thought. Should have my favorite 6 up with tomorrows chapter for a vote.

Randidly grimaced. He fucking hated the cold. And this was not the invigorating cold of Aether, this was a restrictive, controlling cold that tried to devour him, frost beginning to form in restrictive waves on his body.

As it did so, it became harder to move, but then a skill deep within him pulsed, coming alive, refusing to be tied down by the ice. The effect eased somewhat, enough for Randidly to move and remove some potions and drink them. It was the Rejection skill that he had obtained with Oathbreaker Path. It was interesting that it could be used in this way, but Randidly didn’t have much time to be thankful, because another blast of cold surged outward, even more powerful than the first descent. The cool mist billowed outward, pressing him towards the edge of the tower, and Randidly dropped down onto his stomach to keep his purchase on the durable, but not very friction causing, material.

A strange, low horn sounded, and Randidly rolled his eyes and stood, pulling the giant obsidian spear out of his ring, and several mana potions. After a brief grimace in the face of the swirling wind, he put two of those back and removed a few stamina potions. After all, he still had a few hundred of both mana and stamina in his storage rings. Now that he had been here for two years, his store of materials was running low.

Better to save potions where he could. Although he wouldn’t hesitate to burn them if it was necessary to escape, it was hard to tell if that would be possible yet. Better to save his cards for a more important moment.

The bitingly cold wind was still carried an edge of frost, and there was a definite effect on his movement, but Randidly was still able to lower himself into a stance, the passive version of the Golden Roots of Yggdrasil engaging to boost his mana and health regeneration. Out of the swirling mist, several tiny yetis hopped forward, their furry bodies covered in a thick layer of crystal clear ice armor.

Snorting, Randidly used Ghastly Slash to rip through the armor and their bodies beneath it, but not before one of them was able to shriek. Immediately, clicks and whistles filled the dense air, and Randidly began to glide to the right. Until he saw what he was up against…

But very quickly, he encountered another, larger group of little yetis, waving axes and greatswords of ice. Randidly quickly cut down those enemies too, but not before cursing coming to this world. Not for any grand reason, but just that he had become incredibly used to fighting against enemies who used spears.

He had lost a bit of his edge against monsters from constantly fighting against people these past two years. It was an annoying reminder about the limits of training with Shal. At the same time…

Randidly’s feet blurred as he pushed Spear Phantom’s Footwork to its limit, almost seeming to teleport a meter to the left and right as he continued to rush through the mist. The clicking gathered behind him, and he felt confident that he escaped the encircling yetis. His speed wasn’t something they were prepared for.

Shal was very good at one area, and Randidly had progressed tremendously under him in that area. For now, that was more than enough, even though the time sink was quite something. Without the light of the real world, Randidly was secretly very worried that his sense of humor had died. Withered and wizened, it now was a corpse of its past self-

Randidly stepped on something and froze, his move instantly doused in frozen water. The mustached man was beneath him, covered in a slowly growing layer of snow, the right side of his body crushed, by what must have been a giant hammer. His face was already blue, and not the blue of Shal’s dyed skin, but the blue of frostbite.

A chill that had little to do with the descent of the Judgement ripped through him.

Although they could simulate it as well as possible, Shal and Marco could not give him this strange feeling. The fluttering heartbeat, the quickened breath. The strange thrill that you could only experience if your life is on the line. Dancing on a knife’s edge, over the precipice of failure.

“Foolish warrior, you have allowed me to return.” A low, familiar voice rumbled, and Randidly looked up to find the Yeti’s huge, hulking form above him, looming out of the snow covered wind. This time, he was already covered in his ice armor, holding two hammers of ice. “For now I will end your sacrilege. Your sins will bind you to the ground like chains.”

As the Yeti raised its hammers, Randidly hopped backwards, skidding slightly over the icy ground. He winced; not this shit again. He briefly considered using Circle of Flame to melt the nearby ice, but based upon the continual dropping of the temperature, that wouldn’t be much help. Randidly couldn’t imagine it would continue forever, but…

Even this much was enough to significantly impact his movements in a fight.

Surging forward the Yeti swung with his right hammer, which glowed with a strange golden swirl of energy that Randidly vaguely recognized: it was an Engraving. Randidly didn’t want to find out what sort of effect it had, but his extremities were already numb, and his rapid mental calculations made him feel like there was a small chance to dodge, but a much better chance to block the power of the block. Even if the Yeti’s power had doubled or tripled since their last meeting…

Yet Randidly still hesitated, until it was basically too late to dodge, and then raised the spear to block with a frown. There was something he didn’t like about that Engraving. But finding out sooner was better than waiting until he had to experience it a time that might cost him his life, so…

The weapon of ice met the weapon of obsidian, and both screamed their displeasure as the materials clashed. Luckily, this didn’t last very long, as Randidly was thrown backwards, smashed away by the weight and force.

Such was the power of the blow that the wind was knocked out of Randidly, and he struggled to find his breath as he slid over the iced ground of the tower towards… well, what he thought was the edge. The wind was still so thick with snow it was hard to be sure. Luckily, Randidly crashed into a group of mini yetis, who were knocked aside like bowling pins.

Randidly stood and rubbed his head. The power had definitely gone up, probably by a factor of 5x. But there didn’t really seem to be any strange effects from the golden Engraving, unless power was the effect…?

Rolling to the side, Randidly lost his train of thought as the Yeti appeared behind him and smashed downward with a ice hammer. After gaining his feet once more, Randidly watched as the Yeti faded back into the blurry snow.

“This is my realm. Here, you cannot win. And I will slowly strip from you your stolen gifts.”

Randidly twisted and slashed with his spear, using Haste, Empower, Mana Strengthening, and the Active of the Golden Roots of Yggdrasil. Still, the clash sent Randidly stumbling, which was profoundly annoying. Randidly much preferred when he possessed the superior strength in the fight.

But, that wasn’t how he had spent the last two years training.

As the Yeti came to follow up with another attack with his other hammer, Randidly used Spear Phantom’s Footwork and moved a meter to the left, his spear Sweeping towards the Yeti’s leg. It was annoying, but the strange creature had more than enough time to see it, based upon Randidly’s slow movements. The cold and ice were very restrictive.

Suddenly he regretted spending so much time on the Carnage path that netted him so little. He probably would have put some PP into the Initiate of Ash Path. Maybe there was an ability there that would help resist all this fucking frostbite.

As it was, the Yeti dropped both his hammers, which crashed to the ground, and knocked the Sweep upwards with one hand, while striking Randidly’s chest with the other. Again, as he struck, the Yeti’s hands glowed with that golden engraving. So it wasn’t a thing on his weapon, but a larger engraving on his person…?

Again, the attack was strong, and Randidly stumbled backwards, his bones definitely fractured, but he had experienced much worse in his time with Shal in even the lightest spars. But the Yeti seemed very pleased.

“Perhaps you finally see it. Each of my strikes… severs one life you devoured to become a Heretic. Do you feel your hope slipping away? I will grind-”

Randidly lashed outward, almost fully recovered through the Yeti’s strange monologue, his balance regained. Unfortunately, although it penetrated deeply through the ice armor and scratched the Yeti, the wound was a shallow one, and this action seemed to incense it further.

The Yeti bellowed and charged towards him, unleashing a flurry of blows.

Randidly’s eyes narrowed. He had grown up a lot since his last fight with the Judgement. He also didn’t really expect to be able to compete with it in strength, but some stubborn part of him wanted to try. However, now that that bit of stupidity was out of the way, and the Yeti was talking about a weird effect of its attacks, Randidly didn’t plan on taking many more.

He was trained to be a successor to the Spear Phantom. So it was time that he began acting like one. His steps quickened, and more and more he shifted slightly to the side, effortlessly leaning out of the way of attacks. Ghastly Slash was his quickest attack, and he used that time and time again to harass and wear down the ice armor.

But this didn’t even seem to matter to the Yeti. After all, all of the wounds were only small surface cuts, and his ice armor reformed very quickly in this swirling snow storm. They were at a strange impasse, albeit one where Randidly was slowly being pushed back.

And that slowly was becoming increasingly quick as the coldness seeped into his bones. His fingers were tired and numb, and the Yeti’s implacable gaze remained locked on him.


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