It was only a second, but seconds can cost a lot in an ambush. Luckily, Randidly wasn’t an average spear user any longer. In addition, now that he could actually wear the rare belt that had been given to him, the extra concentration made itself very useful.
After that first moment of confusion, his instincts kicked in and he spun around, producing the huge obsidian spear that smashed toward Helen’s stab. As he expected, her spear seemed to blur and twist, flowing around his block and towards his exposed skin.
With glittering eyes, Randidly accepted this outcome, dropping his spear and stepping forward. Root Control produced thick, powerful roots that rushed up out of the ground and seized onto her spear, stopping it dead.
Following through with his step, Randidly reached out and grabbed her by the throat, his eyes burning, his fury hot.
To his surprise, Helen met his gaze, calmly, not a drop of fear in it. Even though they both knew that her main advantage in a fight over him was the elusiveness of her attack techniques. Once he had his hands on her, like he did now, his hand tightening around her throat… she simply didn’t have the requisite amount of stats to resist him. She was under his complete control.
And she felt no fear.
Strangely, Randidly remembered very vividly his furious anger at Tessa, and her relative terror when he unleashed Agony on her. The pain that he had caused her had been enough to knock her out completely. A part of Randidly shriveled as he remembered how wild and stupid he had been. How casually he could use his power…
As their eyes remained locked, Randidly’s fury slowly drained away. This, he knew, was her goal. It annoyed him somewhat that she had seen through his emotions through their one small verbal interaction, because she hadn’t known about it before he had left the inn. What was also annoying was how quickly she found a way to grab his attention.
Randidly wanted to berate her, telling her how dumb it had been to do that, but as the coldness in his chest drained away, he simply felt tired. Dropping his hand from her throat, he nodded his acknowledgement of her accomplishment, and asked. “Okay, what did you actually wa-”
Helen punched him in the face, her passiveness, gone, replaced by fury.
“Don’t you dare ever talk to me like that. I’ll kill you in your sleep, you little cunt.”
Then she spun on her heel and left, head held high.
After she had gone, Randidly began laughing, and couldn’t stop for a long time. This method of unraveling his tension was much more agreeable to him, because it was clear that this hadn’t been a ploy. She was genuinely furious. But why…? She swore much worse than that on a regular basis…
Well ultimately it didn’t matter. He would set aside her obvious anger for now. It wouldn’t be a good idea to chase after her, in this instance, especially while he wasn’t sure what was wrong. Better to give her time and space.
So now he had to more firmly face his options right now. His previous instinct was to stomp over to Azriel and…. Well Randidly wasn’t quite sure now. She had told him to come over, and at the moment, Randidly wanted to be around someone he could truly let loose with. At the same time, now that he had cooled somewhat, Randidly was hesitant to directly head over to her inn, mere hours after she had given the invitation.
There were definitely methods of training that he could use while training here, methods of polishing the skills he had. Randidly was especially interested in some ideas he had been toying with in regards to his Flexibility of the White Hunters Skill, as well as spending some of his time raising Grace. But Azriel would likely be difficult enough that she could spur on his growth far faster than he could on his own. But it would be hard to tell what skills he would have time to use against her, and therefore what would benefit…
Randidly had also been neglecting his spells somewhat, and some time getting in some focused work with them, even if he didn’t sharpen his images, would be a good thing…
The sound of footsteps made him look up sharply. Dian stood before him, her crimson hair framing her frowning face. Her eyes were filled with a mixture of respect and hatred, and her nose was wrinkled in distaste as she considered him.
After being ambushed earlier, Randidly’s body instantly prepared itself for battle, but Dian remained standing some distance away, her arms folded. After almost a minute of their standoff, she said. “Take me to your master. We must exchange words.”
Randidly shrugged. “He has left for now. Try again later.”
Then Randidly stepped forward, keeping his attention on her, but intending to walk past her. As he expected, her hand snaked out and grabbed his elbow, but there was no flicker of Battle Intent, so Randidly let it happen.
“Do not take me lightly. You may have come out slightly ahead in the past, but my strength grows-”
“Look, I’m not playing. He’s not here. Why do you want to speak with him anyway?” Immediately after speaking, Randidly regretted asking the question. Honestly, he would prefer not to interact with such a dangerous, attractive, woman overmuch. She set him on edge, likely because of their previous differences that had resulted in them trying to kill each other.
Dian’s hand fell away slowly, a frown on her face. She muttered a few things under her breath, and then looked up at Randidly, glaring at him. She seemed to hold him entirely responsible.
Seeing that Randidly’s mild gaze didn’t change in the face of her glare, Dian huffed, and said. “...Then the next time you see him, tell him to seek me out. We… don’t have much time.”
Then Dian turned and hurried away. Randidly almost sighed. Why the hell were so many people seeking him out right now…? Were there plots going on everywhere around him…? But then Randidly frowned and focused more directly on the problem. If Dian approached Shal, the man who killed her apparent master, then perhaps what she had to say had something to do with him.
But her words were ‘we don’t have much time’ which made it seem like her concern was an external threat. Of those, only one sprang to mind. Lucretia.
Which meant that Randidly really would say something to Shal if… when… he returned. After all, if there was one thing that made his master get serious, it was this mystery woman who had been the catalyst his father used to catapult himself into the realms of the powerful.
In a way, what she represented was very tempting, even to Randidly. But after his run in with the Creature, he was extremely wary of such things. Even now, he suspected he hadn’t evaded her machinations even slightly, but was getting pulled forward on strings towards its goal, all the while thinking he was in control….
Randidly shook his head sharply. One problem at a time. The current problem was the tournament, and how to grasp victory. And he wanted to try the avenue that Azriel offered.
Randidly proceeded to her inn and spoke to the doorman, and then to Azriel, and was promptly escorted to a very large underground arena, where Azriel immediately began stretching. He gave her a searching glance. She shrugged, and then pointed to a shelf along the side, which was covered in potions.
“If you are trying to ask what we will be doing… I don’t quite know yet. You surprised me, but that might be a one time thing. To make sure that’s not the case, we need to fight a few times. We will start with 10. Those potions will heal you almost instantly, so don’t worry about any of these injuries impacting you tomorrow.”
That was the other thing Randidly was slightly wary of, but he had trusted his own regeneration. But it seemed slightly convoluted for a person who could defeat him to invite him over at all, especially to injure him so he could lose in a different match. Much easier, and more Azriel’s style, to just attack him directly, and get it over with.
As Randidly did a few exercises to limber himself up as well, he considered the woman before him. And god damnit, but he couldn’t get over how attractive she was. Luckily Randidly was pretty good at keeping his gaze mild and on spots that were harmless, but the more time he spent with her, the more his eyes started straying…
It also made it very hard for him to develop a sense of the type of person that she was. She was definitely powerful, and anyone who is powerful worked very hard to get there. But their previous interactions made her seem more than just powerful. They showed that she was a creature of intuition. One that would someday either be lauded as a genius, or condemned as a fool.
Perhaps the perfect example of this was her strange actions in regards to him. She claimed that she wanted to be able to defeat the favorite of the tournament, and to assure herself of that, all she needed was to see him go 100% in a battle. Of all the people in the tournament, she seemed to think that Randidly was the most likely able to accomplish this, but he needed to sharpen up very quickly.
But it didn’t seem so far away that it was hopeless, just…
Randidly needed to improve enough for it to take him by surprise.
Weird, strange, oddly one minded… but also extremely decisive, and direct when she needed to be. That was Azriel.
“Okay, let’s begin.” She said, clapping her hands and turning to Randidly.