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A note from puddles4263

2/3

Lucretia’s voice was warm like rotting milk, and it felt just as greasy and unwelcome as it dripped over his skin.

What was worse was that it set off a huge surge of emotions inside Randidly, causing the image of Phantom’s Embrace to waiver. Only earlier that day had Lucretia appeared, and Randidly had been too nervous to bargain much, and it had likely cost Shal. The fact that she dared show up now, offering help....

It showed how much Randidly had let her get away with. She was cocky.

And it really, really pissed him off.

With his will, Randidly reached, creating a firmer mental connection than she dared. “Anguish.”

A familiar pain crashed into him, along with a heavy weight of mental buzzing, that ground away at the edges of Randidly’s consciousness. Immediately, he could feel Lucretia’s shock, and she attempted to recoil, but he held fast, mentally gripping her, bringing her into his misery. Actually….

Randidly activated Torment then too, and thousands upon thousands of whispers sprang up around him. It was… disconcerting to say the least. This level of action from Torment was far beyond what he was used to, but he supposed it triggers for the individual. Since he had a mental connection with Lucretia at the moment, the skill affected her as well, and some of her deepest phantoms made their way to the surface.

“You are worthless, unwanted.” They said, hundreds at a time, their whispers twisting and merging into a droning buzz. “You will die. You cannot escape it. Give up.”

Lucretia’s mental struggles began to grow, but although he could feel the power of her Battle Intent, because this was a connection based on an Aether Tether, she could bring none of that to bare. She flared wildly, just aiming to crush him back with her superior Willpower. Although it definitely seemed she was much, much stronger than him, he did have some levels in the Mental Strength and Mental Fortitude Skills, and was able to endure, just barely.

Also, as she resisted him, he gained several levels in each, which was a nice bonus.

But this internal struggle was just a distraction, and Randidly quickly put his vindictive strike back at Lucretia on the backburner. Although it was incredibly insidious at weakening his will, Randidly left Torment active, at least as long as he could.

Although Torment didn’t reach the three assailants, Anguish certainly did, and they all were approaching more hesitantly, unable to understand the waves of agony that were caused by Randidly’s energy. Randidly’s mouth quirked up in a wry smile. He supposed they could just wait him out, after all, Anguish still ran off of health. He would drain himself dry like this, eventually.

At the same time, all three assailants burst back into motion, blurring to a speed even greater than their previous advance. It seemed the strange skills were increasing their sense of urgency. Which was annoying, because Randidly had to believe something would change if he bought himself enough time.

Activating Burning Footsteps, Randidly continued to flee backwards, farther down the road, towards the edge of the city. It would be better to move deeper, rather than farther out, but that would mean somehow breaking through the web of the assailants. Randidly thought he could manage it, but until he ran out of options he wouldn’t want to expend all of that Stamina.

The flames were rather weak, due to the low Burning Footsteps skill level, but Randidly had put a lot of points into Intelligence, which upped the damage and pain they inflicted. Although these three seemed to have enough Health to just charge through the fire, hopefully the continued burns would lead to a mistake.

Which they actually didn’t, in terms of giving the spear users any sort of hesitation. They stepped right onto them, stomping with such force that a shockwave blasted outwards, putting out most of the flames. Spearing Roots shot out again, but they weaved through them. A raven condensed above the head of Black Spear as he thrust forward.

Randidly threw himself to the side, cursing himself, letting Anguish and Torment drop.

“Let this be a lesson to you…” Randidly whispered mentally to Lucretia, as he loosened his grip and let her go. He could feel her fury and embarrassment, but although it was a short term feeling, it filled him with vindictive joy. Serves her right.

Unfortunately, as Randidly got himself back in fighting position, it placed him right in front of Brown Spear, who lashed out with a speed so fast that Randidly could just block and hope for the best.

With a sickening crack, the head of Randidly’s obsidian spear shattered, and Randidly was thrown backwards, where he crashed into a building. The wall cracked and caved in slightly, and Randidly’s spine groaned painfully. Little needles of numbness ran through his arms and legs, especially present in his extremities.

“Holy fuck,” Randidly swore, a real fear rising in him. Already, he could feel his regeneration kicking in, trying to fix the problem, but a spine injury… he had healed through a lot since the System arrived, so he had considered himself largely invulnerable. But paralysis…. Could that be healed through? He hadn’t seen any real handicapped people in Shal’s world, aside from those people missing limbs…

The three assailants approached, spears raised. Randidly’s hands tightened to fists, and although the spear had shattered, Randidly was surprised to find that he was still holding something. It was still a spear, likely the “spine” of the obsidian spear that Randidly had been using previously.

They were taking their sweet time now that they had hit him and seen his weapon break, sidling forward, so Randidly shifted his grip, brushing away the broken obsidian shards, which glowed with a strange strength. Spine was an appropriate term for this spear, because it was long, yellowed with age, and made of smooth bone. Swirls of Engravings covered its surface, and for several long seconds Randidly got lost in the craft of it. The mastery in the strokes… the subtleties of the mana application…

Black Spear raised his namesake and pointed it at Randidly. “Die.”

“Inspiration. Circle of Flame.”

The world turned into an explosive inferno. The destructive force was compounded by the fact that directly behind him was the resilient stone home, so most of the powerful flames rebounded and went forward, left, right, or up. All of these directions being the standing locations of the assailants.

All three were sent flying, the heat and sudden explosive power burning away their robes and flinging their bodies back. As all the mana drained out of Randidly, he sighed, feeling profoundly tired. No rest for the wicked. And there was no telling whether that would be a finishing blow, even though they all seemed to have low Resistance, so it was probably better to run-

“You fucking bug.”

Black Spear staggered forward, his cloak burnt away, revealing a surprisingly young man with short, orange hair. Most of his leather armor had been charred and blackened, and to Randidly’s amusement, his boots had been burnt to ash, leaving only bare feet behind. But… it was also extremely discouraging, because several of the nearby houses had collapsed backwards from the force of the explosion. It looked like Black Spear’s armor had quite a few intricate Engravings that he could no longer make use of, but otherwise…

He had survived, his battle strength intact. The other two also staggered upwards from piles of rubble, but seemed largely weakened and winded, unable to participate as directly as they had previously. Both of these two had orange hair of varying lengths as well. It seemed like they were family members.

“I’ll squish you and grind your bones into flour, bake you, and have your loved ones use your remains to break their fast.” Black Spear said through gritted teeth. Randidly wished him luck in that endeavor, almost bitterly. He would be hard pressed to find someone who could be considered a “loved one”. Although he was close with Shal, they had been estranged, especially recently. Divvet was like a kindly uncle.

Marco Polo… Randidly frowned. Honestly, Marco Polo had disappeared while they were heading to Deardun, and he hadn’t ever given it a thought. Hadn’t he stayed after the others left…?

But Randidly was forced back into the moment at hand as Black Spear began to stomp forward, his eyes bulging with fury. Randidly looked at the pure, slender bone spear in his hands, checking the balance of it. Honestly… it felt perfect. Better by far than the bulky obsidian spear, although a lot of the power and weight had gone. It just… felt like…

It would be the type of spear used by a Phantom. There was a jet black stone set right below the blade that drew the eye, and was the only blemish on the bone surface. Randidly’s mouth twitched. When he returned to Donnyton, how would Sam react to seeing a bone spear done so well.

“Don’t you fucking ignore-” Black Spear began, but he was interrupted.

“Randidly, you are late. How long were you going to make me wait?” A voice asked, and Azriel strolled forward out from behind a ruined building, spinning her needle idly. “If trash like this push you hard, well…. Maybe my hopes in you are misplaced.”

Randidly winced. “It’s been a long day, alright? Just give me a hand.”

“You need not ask; these are foreigners.” Azriel said crisply. “And they will be delivered back to the Central Region with our condolences.”

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