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A note from puddles4263

3/3

Black Spear sneered at Azriel. “Hmph, get the fuck out of my way, or die just the same. It makes no difference to me. Hehehe, in what sort of world would one of the Great Pillars listen to some uppity bitch from the trashy North? Do you know who you are fucking with?”

Azriel leveled her spear. “Oh no, you are right. Now that I’ve thought about the consequences… I’m feeling slightly overwhelmed.”

Randidly sighed and readied his own stance. He had long grow used to Azriel’s extremely dry sarcasm. It would not win her any hearts, but it at least made her next move predictable. She blurred, rushing toward Black Spear. Randidly activated Phantom’s Embrace and followed. It would be preferable if he could stay in the back and use spells to support her, but…

Inspiration had left his mana pool as dry as a mummy’s throat. Or as Azriel’s humor.

Brown Spear seemed the more capable of the remaining two, so Randidly moved to superimpose himself between him and Azriel. Black Spear met Azriel with a roar, raising his spear and flourishing it.

Brown Spear moved more slowly, but his spear strokes were oddly misleading, and it was extremely difficult to get a good sense of his tempo. Against Randidly’s better judgement, once, twice, three times clashed, all three times Randidly had his teeth jarred and was pushed back. But strangely, the spear in Randidly’s had possessed a strange resiliency and strength that enabled him to just barely hold out. Apparently this spear core wasn’t so bad as a spear by itself.

But the difference in technique was swiftly showing itself. Randidly would conservatively estimate that all of Brown Spear’s skills were at the 150 Level, which was a daunting fact. His stats were probably high for his level too, but were perhaps only a bit above Randidly’s, which seemed to leave Brown Spear Puzzled, as Randidly managed to resist his strikes time and time again, if just barely.

While they were fighting, Randidly spared a glance for Golden Spear, but that man seemed to have taken a lot of damage when Circle of Flame had hit him and used him as a wrecking ball on a nearby house. He could barely stand, and was just watching the other fight.

Randidly snapped back to focus, chiding himself for getting distracted during a fight, but Brown Spear just lowered his spear slowly and stared towards the other fight as well. After backing off a few steps to make Randidly feel better, he turned and looked over towards Black Spear and Azriel.

Azriel stood, arms crossed. Black spear was on his knees, a hole in his neck, struggling to speak.

Azriel just shook her head sadly. “I watched for a bit, while Randidly fought against you. If I already knew all the moves you would use… what hope do you have against me? Blame your own hubris. Don’t toy with your food, you might choke.”

The Black Spear user swayed, then fell forwards, barely catching himself at the last moment with his hands. A glob of blood splashed onto the ground as his spear fell over and clanged against the stone. Then he collapsed.

Azriel walked towards Randidly. “Come, we are done here. You two, feel free to take the body.”

Gold Spear looked shocked. Brown Spear did as well, but he seemed to maintain some semblance of speaking ability. “No, he would prefer to be left on the battlefield where he died… but… he… he was the son of-”

“He raised his spear to kill.” Azriel said, leading Randidly away. “He determined his own ending.”

Then the two left, and after a few seconds, the two spear users fled as well, heading in a very different direction.

****

Ciel frowned as she looked towards the noises a short distance to the east. “What’s going on…? Why hasn’t anyone stopped the fighting?”

The strange friend of the Ghosthound, who had led her towards the inn at which they were staying, simply waved his hand airily. “Likely some youngins who were excited by the tournament! Ah, the exuberance of youth, aye?”

“How old even are you…?” Ciel wondered aloud, but the man didn’t answer as he led them finally into a rather cheap looking inn. Ciel’s eyebrows knit together as her nerves surfaced. Did the Ghosthound even remember the bet she had made…? She just… she just wanted to feel in charge of her own life, and had put her hand in marriage on the line.

She didn’t know what would be the worse outcome: that he had heard, and wasn’t interest, or that he hadn’t heard and would just be confused by the whole thing. And honestly, Ciel was a little confused and scared herself. It had been… an impulsive decision, a childish struggle against the influence of her parents in her life.

Ciel raised her hands and began rubbing them wildly through her hair, messing it up as much as possible. What the fuck was she even doing….!

She hurriedly fixed her hair as they approached the door. An old man looked up as they entered, “Oh boy. Are you two… ah…. going upstairs for… activities…? Try and keep the noise level down, Shal’s still resting. Claptrap is up there visiting him too.”

Ciel’s guide nodded seriously and Ciel could only flush. They weren’t doing the kind of activities that the old man was suggesting-!

“We are gonna need the Ghosthound there too,” The guide said seriously, “Is he around?”

The old man’s eyebrows rose. Ciel wanted to die. Hopefully crushed to death by the huge weight of irony hanging over the situation. Let she be squished so tightly that nothing remained, so her father could just mourn her peacefully without knowing about the absolutely abhorrent situation that she was currently in…

“No….” The old man seemed to be struggling with something, then he sighed. “He went to train with that Azriel character. He had a lot of aggression to work out. But… be careful. I don’t think… Helen will approve of your activities, if she finds out.”

For the first time, Ciel saw her guide visibly flinch and wilt at the mention of Helen. “Yea, let’s… make sure she doesn’t find out. Is she… here…?”

“No, she’s with her cousin.” The old man said, and her guide let out a huge sigh and ushered Ciel back out into the street, where he began looking around, then began to walk directly towards the sounds of the fighting.

“Is that a good idea…?” Ciel asked skeptically. The last thing that she needed right now was to get involved in something that was political enough for none of the protectors of Deardun to interfere. Her father had a lot of clout, but the leader of the Steel Feather Style was something of a hardass, and if there were consequences, her father would not be able to protect her from a very large punishment.

Unswayed, her guide continued forward, leading her in a beeline for the increasingly loud clashes.

“Um, oh, what’s your name?” Ciel asked curiously. “I don’t even know who you are. No one… ever seems to say your name.”

The man turned, grinning widely. “Oh, I’m the most talented of Mr. Randidly Ghosthound’s spear attendants, Roge-”

A huge wave of heat and flame smashed outward, and even though there were buildings in between them and the source, it hit the two of them and sent them tumbling to the ground. After the wave of force had passed, they picked themselves up, exchanged a glance, and then rushed towards the source.

****

Turn, Ikaas, and Helen stood, hiding behind what used to be spear seller’s store, which had its front caved in by the force of the spell, and watched as Azriel walked out, dueled the strange ambusher for several seconds, and ripped a hole in his throat.

“Amazing…I want to be just like her.” Ikaas whispered with bright eyes. Helen was slightly affronted that her cousin had chosen this strange woman as her role model, especially when Helen, who had been protecting Ikaas for years, was standing right next to her. But she didn’t say anything; Azriel was powerful and capable in a way that made Helen extremely intimidated as well.

That was true strength. The power to seize control of your life. To escape the chains of your past.

They watched Azriel and the Ghosthound depart, and then the two surviving assailants retreat as will, without moving to stop either of the groups. Helen felt a deep, deep sourness in her chest. After all… she just didn’t feel qualified to step out into that battlefield. Those people were on a level far above her.

So they turned and left, only to find the male spear attendant and Ciel, the Ghosthound’s opponent from earlier, sneaking up behind them, curious about the commotion. When Helen explained curtly what happened, carefully examining the body language between the two new arrivals, they both seemed genuinely shocked.

Inwardly, Helen nodded. Good for him. He certainly had appealing qualities, although they were really hard to see under his large, glaring deficiencies. Mostly his ability to handle abuse.

The pair of them had apparently been heading to talk to the Ghosthound for some reason, but Turn advised against it. “Those two… they seem to have their own business. Perhaps it is better to give them some space for now. Azriel’s… strong opinions are very well acknowledged in Deardun.”

So the group left, cautiously probing the others whether they would like to grab a drink. It seemed nobody was really against it, so while Turn and Ciel seriously discussed who could have caused this attack to happen in hushed tones, and the male spear attendant interjected useless nonsense, Helen and Ikaas brought up the rear.

Her cousin spared one last glance for the body just left there, in the middle of the street, and frowned. “Helen… where did the body go?

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puddles4263

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