Drak tried to quell the rising tide of blood that turned his vision red as he walked swiftly toward his opponent.
Unpredictable, adaptable, versatile… Drak had been ready for all of these things from his opponent. The other man was taller than he was, with black hair hanging around his face, framing his bright emerald eyes. Although he was passable with a spear, he was not at the level that Drak had really taken the fight seriously.
But this… destroying his image in the sky…Drak still didn’t understand how the Ghosthound had accomplished this. But he did understand how it would look to the crowd. Undoubtedly, his ancestors were rolling over in their graves, embarrassed enough to kill themselves all over again.
Drak refused to lose to this untrained fool. It was only that mediocre level of spear skill that had led Drak to strike the Ghosthound earlier, aiming to maim his right arm, rather than taking his opponent out of the fight.
Now he had a hot, acrid regret in his chest, the desire to hurt his opponent, rather than simply disabling his arm. What was more frustrating was that it appeared the Ghosthound had somehow healed his arm to some degree in the last several minutes of fight, which was absolutely ridiculous.
Time after time, this worm insisted on humiliating him…
As Drak strode closer, he examined his opponent closely. Everything the other man did spoke of a powerful devotion to spells, which was concerning. There was also something… strange about the opponent now. A difference in bearing. But his spear was inexplicably gone, which Drak wanted to be happy about, but just made him deeply suspicious.
After all, the Ghosthound had produced it so quickly, earlier in the fight…
Drak arrived, and lashed out. The Ghosthound hopped backwards, not using that strange, instantaneous skill, but moving the old fashioned way. Narrowing his eyes, Drak struck again, upping his speed.
Leaning back, the Ghosthound managed to move just beyond the range of the spear.
Growling, Drak advanced, then twisted, as the Ghosthound appeared to predict his move and rushed forward, aiming a punch for Drak’s gut.
With a powerful effort of will, Drak relaxed his gut, and smashed the butt of the spear outwards, completely willing to trade blows. Although his ancestor’s blood would curdle in their veins, what Drak needed was to wound his opponent, build momentum in his favor. Pleasing the crowd would have to wait.
But again, the Ghosthound surprised him, activating that strange Phantom move, and using the force of Drak’s blow to throw himself across the arena, but not before moving his hand from a fist to sticking a finger deep into Drak’s wound on his side, where those god forsaken roots had pierced him.
Growling again, Drak rushed towards his opponent, the light from his skill growing brighter, increasing his speed and strength. Time to crush him, then.
Drak considered activating another skill, but until he figured out how the Ghosthound had destroyed the first image he had floating above the arena, he would be cautious. This skill was his bread and butter. It simply increased his speed, coordination, and strength, all the while blinding the opponent with its light, but Drak’s high level in other skills combined with it very well, making it nigh unstoppable.
This time, when Drak attacked, it wasn’t a move aiming to gauge his opponent; it was time to finish it. To his chagrin, the Ghosthound appeared to have gathered the broken pieces of his earlier spear, holding one 1 meter piece in each hand.
Drak’s lip curled up at the same time that strange, violent mental pain struck. But of course, he was prepared, pressing through it. His spear blade disappeared, and he could tell by the Ghosthound’s lack of reaction that he couldn’t follow the movement. The speed boost, and the bright light, made it-
The Ghosthound, mirroring Drak’s own earlier move, reached out with a hand and wrapped it around the shaft of the spear, catching it.
Pupils dilating, Drak put all of his strength into throwing his opponent, but the Ghosthound had already let go. The strength with which he swung had Drak somewhat off balance, and the Ghosthound moved closer.
Hot, bloody, crimson, fury.
Waves of powerful heat exploded outwards, as the Breaking Dawn Style once more reasserted itself, as the most powerful Style. It had ruled this land, cleaned it and protected the people here, until the other 4 Styles had banded together to oust it out of fear. But even then, it did not falter. Drak refused to lose-
The Ghosthound reached out with a hand, and Drak made to take a step back, but he only ended up putting himself off balance. Eyes widening, Drak looked at the Ghosthound’s hand, where he could see that small sun, once again consumed by blackness, slowly growing more powerful, and then more dense.
There was only blood in his eyes. Drak ripped himself backwards, avoiding the stickiness, the strange draw, of that hand. Then he raised his spear and struck.
The Ghosthound’s eyes were almost mint, rather than emerald, as he shifted his hand, almost ponderously, to intercept the spear attack.
Twitching his wrist, Drak caused his spear to shift past, immediately the Ghosthound moved, and Drak almost cursed inwardly. How could this asshole somehow predict him…?
But, to Drak’s surprise, the Ghosthound stepped into the blow, and his stab raked sideways off the man’s ribs. It gave Drak a sharp flash of pleasure to see that the Ghosthound’s face twisted in discomfort from the blow, finally revealing weakness, but that emotion was short lived. Because as Drak made to pull back, the Ghosthound’s arm came down, holding Drak’s spear against his wound, driving the point deeper, even.
Still, his other hand moved forward, and Drak narrowed his eyes. He remembered the strength that skill possessed. Leaning back, Drak once more felt a flash of pleasure as the Ghosthound missed, the hand that held that skill drifting slowly past. Even with the strange gravity field around the strike, Drak was able to avoid it.
Then the blow continued on, and Drak’s eyes widened. But it was too late.
The Ghosthound struck the shaft of his spear, shattering it, much in the same way Drak had shattered the Ghosthound’s spear. The pieces of wood fell to the ground, clattering softly.
Fury was all that was in his body, and Drak could only roar, throwing a punch filled with the burning heat of his image of the sun, and backed by the power of Dawn’s Warm Glow. It was awkward, after all these years of fighting with a spear to throw a punch, but it felt good.
It struck the Ghosthound, causing the man to stagger, his shoulder caving in under the blow. Truly, while this skill was in use, he was unstoppable, no matter the opponent. He was a disciple of the Breaking Dawn Style, and the death of those who crossed him would be slow…!
Drak felt it then, not just the warmth from his skill, but the glory of victory. Although he had been pushed far by the opponent, people would forget. A victory here, would mean that when he beat Azriel, she would marry him, no questions asked. Their houses would be joined, and…
A smile tugged at the corner of Drak’s mouth. Their children would be the most powerful the Northern Region had ever seen. So much so that they would unite the Region, and jockey with Styles from the Central Region in terms of power and influence.
Taking the gift from the Eternal Witch was unfortunate, but Drak knew, just like the Ghosthound in front of him, he could overcome the Witch with strength. After the tournament, after the Inter-School competition, he could rapidly gain levels, reaching a level where he didn’t need to watch his Aether consumption. And then…
Drak raised his spear, and threw a punch. An over the shoulder, brutal, haymaker style punch that contained all of his power. Combined with his stats and the bonus from Dawn’s Warm Glow, this would probably cave the Ghosthound’s head in, rendering him brain dead at best.
Which was the best outcome. Drak hoped he would never see the visage of this sick loser ever again.
The Ghosthound, saw the oncoming punch, and smiled.
The punch hit him, or it should have hit him, but suddenly the Ghosthound was a blur, borrowing the force of the blow, twisting, spinning, and one of the Ghosthound’s legs whipped upwards, so fast that even had he had a spear, Drak probably would have been taken by surprise.
But as he did not have a spear…
His hands couldn’t move quickly enough. His defense felt full of holes. The weariness and strange Aether ate away at his awareness, dizziness slowly infecting him. Then there was an impact.
Drak’s vision went dark.