A note from puddles4263

Triple chapter!

Oh, and I want to announce this now: I will be on vacation from August 17- August 20, so there will be no chapters during that time. I will post 5 chapters on the 21, or maybe like 3 that day, and 2 the next.

Also, I haven't forgotten about you character creation contest winners; this week was extremely busy, and its not going to get much better. But! I have a good buffer of chapters.

For a long time Randidly looked at the body hanging there. It was frustrating in a way. Shal claimed to be able to differentiate when or when not it was “necessary” to kill. And in his heart, he admitted that this was possible to an extent, and perhaps Shal was even more skilled at it than he. Most likely more skilled, even, Randidly admitted to himself.

But now… This man would make trouble for them. Randidly knew that the man this Jacktat worked for had a deep feud with Claptrap. He was also arrogant and petty, and the reason that he had allowed Randidly to inflict so many wounds on him, utilizing Edge of Decay to slowly weaken him, was that Jacktat couldn’t see past the fact that he was not an Artisan.

He was just a young disciple. And perhaps Jacktat hadn’t even bothered to learn that. This was just another mission for Jacktat. A routine job of intimidation and retribution.

This brought up another reason; Jacktat was not a good person. It was perhaps a flimsy reason, but it was a reason still.

He would make trouble in the future, he threatened their lives and livelihoods, he was not a good person…

Was this enough…?

Was this motivation enough to take a life?

Shal remained silent below, remaining stuck in training of some sort. Or, as Randidly actually suspected, dealing with the Aether Starvation that he had mentioned earlier. If even Shal was reduced to this sort of state by this… perhaps it was more troublesome than Randidly had feared.

Divvet glanced at the long sleeved woman across from him, who winked and flounced away, leaving them in peace. Then he sighed and turned to Randidly.

“Congratulations. It was a well fought match. That is the level of those I expect to be the contenders in the regional tournament. Although this man was beyond level 25, that is the type of opponent you will face. Are you prepared?”

Randidly nodded, trying his best not to stare at the corpse that remained on the boat, bleeding out. Divvit followed his gaze and sighed sorrowfully. Then he walked over to Randidly and clapped him on the back.

“Shal will be training for the next few days. We will need to leave in a week if we are to arrive in Deardun in time. You have already trained long hours in the Prison: why not take a break? Find your center. The Regional Tournament is long. Prepare yourself.”

Then Divvet turned away and glared at the male spear attendant, who was struggling to his feet. “Oy, foolish training dummy, clean up this mess. And stop making such an aggrieved face; you may have outlasted your opponents in perversion, but that does not make your performance satisfactory in my mind. Not at all.”

Randidly glanced around. Both Teliph and Helen were sitting with their spears beside them, breathing slowly. After a moment of hesitation, Randidly walked to the far end of the ship and took all the extra mana from his rings so he could summon a Weeping Cloud.

It was nice, for a while. To just enjoy the cool feeling of rain. Relieving, too, after all of the pointless drama of the past half hour. This was just a random flailing of the merchant that had tried to take over their boat. Randidly’s mouth tightened at the thought of a serious organization moving against them while Shal was occupied like this. Divvet was strong, but it was clear that one person alone was enough to deal with him.

That, or that mysterious woman was very, very strong.

But Randidly supposed that Divvet already knew about Shal’s condition, and wasn’t willing to risk a full on confrontation while Shal was recuperating. Randidly grimaced. It just demonstrated how weak he was, that his fight didn’t matter. There were much larger fish to fry than him.

On the other hand, he had done it. Held his own against an Artisan. Although washed up and idiotic as he was, it was an accomplishment. What chilled Randidly’s heart was that Divvet seemed to think that level was what the Regional Tournament would be at. If Jacktat had been a little more intelligent with his moves, or responsive to Randidly’s strategy…

But no, it wouldn’t do to think overmuch on it. What happened had happened. Randidly had taken the man’s life.

Something inside of Randidly was on fire, consuming his emotions and creating a surging heat that acted like an emotional smog, blinding him to the consequences. But for now, Randidly wasn’t willing to take the time to parse it apart. It was enough that he was somehow invigorated, furious, and numb.

Randidly looked up, surprised to find the male spear attendant had approached him.

“Here. His Tassle was with him, so…”

Randidly blinked. It was a soft yellow. Like honey mustard. Randidly took it in his hands and felt the rich material. He smiled bitterly; perhaps the better comparison for the color would be the gold of merchants. But it was a much cheaper and shallow color than that.

“You rip off a strip.” The male spear attendant said helpfully, his bruised and swollen face turning into a dreamy smile. “You can tie them to the pole that holds your Tassle. Someday, it will be like a rising sun, or a rainbow, or-”

Randidly ripped off a strip and silently handed it all back to the man, then turned away, his mood somehow turning even more sour. As the male spear attendant drifted away, Randidly brought up his status screen. It was still blurry, because it had been less than 24 hours since he had taken the potion, but as he focused and concentrated, it slowly slid back into a more legible form.

This part was sort of disturbing about the potion. Why did it also influence his status screen, and why did focusing on it help alleviate the effects….?

Either way, Randidly had gained 1 Skill Level in Spear Mastery, 3 in Spear Phantom’s Footwork, 2 in Eyes of the Spear Phantom and Phantom Half-Step, 1 in Fighting Proficiency, Block, and Haste, 2 in Empower, 7 in Edge of Decay, 2 in Idiosyncratic Cut, 3 in Struggle, 2 in Spearing Roots and Root Control, 4 in Bacterial Regeneration, 1 in Superiority, and 3 in Second Wind.

Randidly hesitated for a while, but it was better to do it now, than wait until he had more PP built up. He put the PP into his Weeping Cloud path, earning himself some more Resistance and Willpower, and also some stats and chest pain from his Soulskill.

The addition again caused the rotation speed to increase to a level that was physically painful, and it took around 10 minutes for that to subside. Then Randidly sighed, and closed his eyes, drifting closer to the Soul Skill, seeking his visualization of it.

There it was, a barren plain now, as the grass was devoured by the strange emerald crystals, glowing with eerie power. The rot and ash came and went, but did nothing but strengthen and refine that strange substance further, coating the ground and thin layer of crystal that was constantly growing. The world inside of himself, Randidly realized, had died. Why, he wasn’t really sure, but it was no longer the robust, changing world it had been previously.

Opening his eyes, Randidly considered his next steps. He had several days off. Well, that was nice, but…

He smiled sardonically. He was very bad at taking a day off. It wasn’t in his blood, at least not anymore. The question was just… how to spend this time. Some of it would be spent Engraving, which was a mana consuming activity, and therefore useful, but that wouldn’t be all that he did. Other than that…

There was also the diary left by the Spear Phantom. What was that strange face underneath the cloak? Was there a secret hidden inside those final two moves of the Spear Phantom that Shal was unable to master?

Learning a story, and a distant one like they received from Artisan Dwei, from people who weren’t involved with the situation, was kinda off putting in a way. After hearing it, Randidly had quite a few questions for Shal. How much time did he spend with his father? Was the man really that bad? Although he had been away from Shal most of Shal’s life, Randidly had also experienced that. His father was rarely around. And he didn’t have the strange anger that Shal carried everywhere with him.

Plus, Randidly knew that if he went to Shal and asked, he would be met with some dumb answer like, “If you know so much about it, why have me tell you more? Get to training.” Or “If a wise and learned disciple like you thinks so, who am I to disagree? Why do you even need a teacher, when you are so wise. You may as well train on your own.”

All in all, questions would only lead to training. Perhaps he should ask Divvit then…? But after glancing at Divvet, and seeing the strange way he was moving his fingers, Randidly had the strangest sensation that asking him now would end poorly for him. There was a danger to those finger movements.

Besides, he still had time. Randidly would ask later then. For now, work on his three goals. Engraving, perceiving the words in the diary, and….

Randidly grinned. He might as well indulge in one rest like activity. His third activity would be Cooking.


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