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A note from puddles4263

Just two tonight. Gotta give the Proofreader time.

There was something extremely dangerous in Azriel’s voice when she spoke. A strange wariness towards Randidly that hadn’t been there before. After a slight hesitation, Randidly shrugged and decided not to overthink it.

“I was warned to stay away from you by Deardun’s Styles. I was thinking about what to do this past day.”

Azriel snorted. “To think those old fools would even bother to follow up with you. They make something out of nothing. It is not as though my master truly wishes to change the seat of power in the North…”

Cocking his head to the side, Randidly was inwardly very glad that he didn’t plan on remaining in Shal’s world for much longer than was necessary to repay his debts. Still remaining, after he finished the tournament, would be his debt to the Willow Tree Spear Style, who gave him the Engraving books and made him promise to help seek revenge against the Engraving Guilds, but realistically, Randidly would need to come back to that. It was a goal that he could not shoulder at present.

Then Randidly blinked. Wait, female spear attendant… did Azriel mean Helen? Helen was on a DATE?!?

“Well anyway, let me assure you nothing will come of it. By the time of the next match, my master will have arrived in the Deardun, and it will be able to protect you.”

Randidly was once again jarred away from his train of thought rather abruptly. “It?”

For the first time since Randidly had seen the beautiful woman, Azriel looked uneasy. “Yes, it. Perhaps it might seem strange to you… but my master was originally a quest monster, that has gained sentience, and independence from the System, after a fashion. It has even received a class, which should assuage any worries you might have.”

Worries that he didn’t really have until Azriel acted though it was very reasonable for him to have worries. Well, it’s not as though Randidly had a particularly adverse reaction to monsters. Honestly, for the longest time, he had considered some of the residents of Shal’s world monsters, based on their colored skin, how about 1 in 10 had a third eye, and how the physical proportions of their body was far beyond what a human body would be able to equal.

Although Randidly had fought and killed the Tribulations, too, it wasn’t as though he had any particular gripe with them. They were just monsters that seemed pretty clearly out to kill him.

And anyway, the term monster-

“Again, you frown like an elderly matchmaker planning for her daughter.” Azriel announced, a small smile on her face. “You wear your emotions far too openly. Luckily your battle lust covers up most of that, but still. Something to keep in mind. Anyways, let’s begin. We can fight here.”

“Uh wait,” Randidly said, raising his hands. “Although your master is undoubtedly powerful, I don’t want to offend-”

“Nonsense, no one will even remember they bothered to say something to you after I win the tournament.” Azriel said, removing her spear from her spatial ring with a flourish. “Unless you doubt my chances?”

Randidly just shook his head. This sort of shameless, direct person was exactly the type that he had the hardest time dealing with… Annoyed that she was making the decision for him, but curious if his stat gains would make any difference, Randidly removed his spear and prepared for the battle ahead.

As a start signal, Azriel gave him an impish smile, and then disappeared.

*****

Two days later, at dawn of the day of the Top 16 matches, Randidly woke groggily. His body…

He groaned. Azriel was not only extremely powerful with her spear, but she was also extremely energetic. It made Randidly wonder what level her Vitality was at, because even boosted as he was by the Golden Roots of Yggdrasil, she was always a step ahead in terms of recovery time.

Honestly, he was beginning to suspect she had several rather rare skills, ones powerful enough to rival his own, if not in quantity, in quality. It was a frightening thought, and made Randidly even more curious about her opponent, the person who everyone considered even more powerful.

He hadn’t been there to see it, but the analysis and interviews that Claptrap had done for his impromptu talk show had overwhelmingly demonstrated that public opinion was behind Drak Wyrd every step of the way. The only real question was who would face him, and that was almost universally decided to be Azriel, although some suggested two others on her side of the bracket.

Neither of which, of course, was Randidly. But he didn’t mind being underestimated. After all, his attention was focused solely on one individual right now. Dian, the disciple of the Devourer.

Although Azriel had wanted to focus more on training up some of Randidly’s recently neglected skills, he had insisted they focus on the basics, to help out in his fight against Dian. Azriel relented partially, but due to that fact, Randidly’s skills across the board had gone through a nice little boost these past two days. His body was faster, stronger, and more controlled. With this level of strength, he had no doubts in his mind that he was able to overpower the Dian he had faced previously.

Pleased, Randidly looked at his stats.

Randidly Ghosthound

Class: ---

Level: N/A

Health(/R per hour): 1322/1473 [+118] (608 [+27])

Mana(/R per hour): 649/1506 [+5] (174.75 [+9])

Stam(/R per min): 1233/1525 (237 [+9])

Vit: 169 [+9]

End: 77

Str: 119 [+17]

Agi: 150 [+17]

Perception: 108 [+10]

Reaction: 142

Resistance: 105 [+15]

Willpower: 152 [+10]

Intelligence: 109

Wisdom: 62 [+9]

Control: 214

Focus: 165 [+4]

Equipment: Average Leather Tunic Lvl 5: (+2 Vit), Gloves of Quickness (Vit +1. Agi +3), Necklace of the Shadow Cat Lvl 20 ®: (Vitality +1, Strength +2, Agility +7) Master’s Fine Leather Belt Lvl 49 (Vit +5, Str +5, Agi +5, WP +10, Resist +15, Wis +9, Focus +4, Per +10, Health +100)

Skills (Soul Skill):  Four-Shaded Clockwork World Lvl 397

Combat: Spear Mastery Lvl 119, White Phantom’s Half-Step (Un) Lvl 49, Heavy Blow Lvl 66, Dagger Mastery Lvl 10, Iron Skin Lvl 47, Dodge Lvl 65, Fighting Proficiency Lvl 88, Block Lvl 48, Haste Lvl 76, Phantom Onslaught Lvl 43, Sweep Lvl 54, Spear Deflect Lvl 10, Empower Lvl 95, Calculated Blow Lvl 66, Roundhouse Kick Lvl 36, Flesh Eating Virus (Un) Lvl 55, Idiosyncratic Cut (Un) Lvl 65, Pierce the Skies, Shatter the Earth Lvl 39, Battle Intent Lvl 97, Struggle Lvl 71, Body Control: Freeze Lvl 17, The Golden Roots of Yggdrasil (A) Lvl 45, Stalemate Breaker Lvl 15

 

The 7 Kata of the Ashen Spear (Ru): The Spear Advances, Ash Trails Lvl 24

The 6 Signs of the Spear Phantom ®: The First Sign- The Inevitable Phantom Arrives Lvl 83 (Un), The Fifth Sign- The Spear Phantom’s Embrace ® Lvl 137

 

Spells: Spearing Roots Lvl 36, Mana Bolt Lvl 28, Mana Shield Lvl 26, Root Control Lvl 95, Arcane Orb Lvl 22, Fireball Lvl 30, Magic Missile Lvl 4, Healing Palm Lvl 12, Pollen of the Rafflesia Lvl 20, Summon Pestilence Lvl 53, Mana Strengthening Lvl 64, Wall of Thorns Lvl 17, Soul Seed ®, Agony Lvl 47, Inspiration ®, Incinerating Bolt Lvl 73, Circle of Flame Lvl 44, Plantomancy Lvl 29, The Weeping Cloud ® Lvl 64, Hammer of the Dawn Lvl 6, Burning Footsteps Lvl 10

 

Crafting: Potion Making Lvl 37, Farming Lvl 20, Plant Breeding Lvl 9, Mapmaker Lvl 7, Analyze Lvl 24, Refine Lvl 17, Extract Lvl 23, Mana Engraving Lvl 69

 

Auxiliary: Physical Fitness Lvl 83, Meditation Lvl 80, Running Lvl 39, Sprinting Lvl 19, Sneak Lvl 46, Acid Resistance Lvl 22, Poison Resistance Lvl 21, Pain Resistance Lvl 29, First Aid Lvl 16, Equip Lvl 25, Pathfinding Lvl 18, Mental Strength Lvl 17, Curse Resistance Lvl 15, Fire Resistance Lvl 14, Sewing Lvl 11, Cutting Vegetables Lvl 2, Manual Labor Lvl 6, Digging Lvl 5, Cooking Lvl 35, Grace Lvl 47, Bacterial Regeneration Lvl 90, Superiority Lvl 28, Mental Fortitude Lvl 45, Second Wind Lvl 55, Weather Affinity Lvl 43, Clockwork Mastery Lvl 16, Rejection Lvl 36, Aether Connection (A) Lvl 3, Flexibility of the White Hunters ® Lvl 22, Living Blood (Un) Lvl 13

 

Level UP: 2 stat, 1 P.Def, 1 M. Supp, +1 Control, 6 health, 7 mana, +7 Stamina (+.5 regen per level) (+1 Health and Stamina Regen per level)

 

Bonuses: +2% Concentration, +2% hearing and vision range, +1% size, Immunity +1%

Although at the same time, looking at his Status made Randidly grimace. He was only 5 PP away from finishing off the Initiate of Ash II Path. However, two things held Randidly back. First, he really was incredibly sore pushing himself to this point over the past two days. They would definitely focus more efforts on skills, should he win this match.

Second… Randidly still remembered his previous experience with the Patron of Ash. To meet that one again… Randidly believed he needed to set aside some time for that.

Then Randidly shook his head ruefully. Why did he simply assume that they would continue to train after this match? He enjoyed it, but it just still struck him as slightly odd. Azriel’s logic for why she needed to help him train made sense in one way…. But there just seemed like a dozen or so ways that she could avoid this hassle.

If nothing else, she could challenge Drak Wyrd to a streetfight. How had he really been able to escape her notice? Why hadn’t she been able to sound the depths of his power…? There was something fishy here, but Randidly was willing to look the other way while he benefitted so obviously from it. But it made him extremely wary. He knew far, far too little here, in a way that wasn’t at all like how he felt back on Earth. There were too many big, established fish for him to be comfortable.

And annoyingly, Shal continued to be absent. Divveltian was practically pulling out his hair at this point, and even Claptrap had been motivated to speaking privately with some individuals, greasing a few palms to ensure that any information in regards to Shal would make its way back to their group.

The whole situation just left Randidly feeling bitter. Why now, when he was so close? Why after two years of training? Was this really just a whim for Shal? Why had he seemed so sure of it when he had called Randidly from his own world to this one?

Almost on cue, there was the sound of footsteps below. Sighing, Randidly hopped out of the window of his room and dropped down. Dian stood there, slightly surprised. Every morning she had continued to come, demanding to speak to Shal. Each time, Randidly could only helplessly turn her away, saying he had left.

Honestly, the only real result of this was a lot of Randidly’s tension dissipated. It was hard to worry about a fight when your opponent was pestering you every day.

Hoping to get ahead of things, Randidly said, “He still hasn’t returned. You’ll have to talk after the tournament is over.”

But Dian’s expression didn’t change, she just gave Randidly a very long look. He shrugged helplessly. It wasn’t like he was lying. There was nothing that he could do for her. Shal was gone.

Something seemed to crack in Dian’s expression, and she released a long sigh. “Then… I suppose I must talk to you.”

Randidly blinked. “Uh…. excuse me?”

“The tournament is dangerous, but Deardun takes certain steps to ensure that other dangers are kept at bay. But afterwards… or should I lose…” Dian’s expression turned bitter. “I… don’t expect to live through the month. But before I die… I must perform a task.”

Her eyes flashed, as she gazed at Randidly. “And if I can’t tell my secrets to Shal… you will do as a substitute, Come.”

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