This wasn’t speed, Dinesh realized as the man disappeared, he was clearly using a Skill. One that got him close, but not close enough to instantly overtake Dinesh. There was a moment when the other man had to reorient himself where Dinesh could act-
A hand closed on his arm. Both of Dinesh’s hands flexed.
Arcane Orbs shot in both directions, as Dinesh was unsure of where the opponent was located as his senses scrambled to catch up. There was a grunt to his left, and Dinesh cast Frost Nova, a bloom of cold spreading out around him. With more instinct than finesse, he brought up his other hand to deflect the palm thrust at him by his opponent, the stabbed his hand towards the other’s neck.
His hand hit, but immediately, the momentum of it died, and not the slightest depression in the other’s skin could be seen. Although there was some frost condensed on his face and torso, he was otherwise unharmed, and his grip pulled Dinesh closer. Meanwhile, Dinesh could feel a strange weakness from the other’s grip.
Some sort of draining touch Skill? Along with a controlled gap closer…? Well fuck.
“Thunder Palm.” Dinesh whispered, casting one the old fashioned way, and using one of his free uses for the other one, so both hands crackled with energy. Both slammed into the opponent’s body, or Dinesh tried to, but that ability to dissipate kinetic energy appeared again. Luckily, the electricity from both discharged, snaking across the opponent’s body, making him stagger.
In that opening, Dinesh pulled away, opening some space, his eyes glowing. Most of his nervousness fell away as the adrenaline of a fight flooded his veins. This was not an opponent that Dinesh could beat alone, that was immediately clear. In terms of Health and Stamina, the other would outpace him. Dinesh focused his Spells on utility, which helped his team, but wouldn’t win a direct confrontation, for all that he had managed to inflict damage on the other. So for now…
As the guard reset his stance and began to walk slowly towards Dinesh, Dinesh’s eyes were scanning the battlefield around him. The helmented man, Dauntless, and Tykes had already clashed several times, Tykes coming out the winner of each, but not enough to make the trades worth it.
And while Tykes wielded the large iron ball savagely, Dauntless only used his hands, and was able to dodge around and land some small jabs in the opening between attacks. If this continued, Tykes would probably be worn down too.
“I was mistaken,” The young woman said, looking at her clipboard. “It isn’t a holster, it’s just a cache of free spells. Uncommon Rating only? There must be some sort of limit-”
The man in front of Dinesh disappeared, and Dinesh rolled forward, reaching with Mage Hand. Tykes charged at Dauntless. Behind Dinesh’s head, he could feel the grasping fingers swing by, barely missing him, and his Mage Hand landed on the woman’s clipboard.
With a tug, he ripped the papers free, and threw them in the air, pulling them towards the man, obscuring his vision, giving Dinesh a brief respite. Then, with Mage Hand still, Dinesh reached up and grabbed the front ankle of Dauntless, who was preparing to meet Tyke’s charge. Then, burning the rest of his Mana, Dinesh pulled.
Instantly, he felt his opponent moving through the papers, heading for him, so Dinesh cursed and rolled out of the way. His move against Dauntless worked, and the man trembled and fell to the side. Very quickly he recovered his stance, but that split second of loss of balance had cost him. He was leaning to the side, and had no way of straightening and resetting himself before the metal ball arrived.
As if by magic, Dinesh felt the burning weight of Dauntless’ gaze, even through the visor, for several fractions of a second that seemed to stretch out, filling the air. But then the moment passed, and instead of straightening, Dauntless leaned further to the side, until he was being in an arc, twisting out of the way of the ball, which sailed harmlessly by.
Tykes was close behind, and his eyes narrowed, focusing on the opponent that had dodged his attack. After a quick pull on the chain, bringing the ball back, he dropped his grip and moved into close combat with Dauntless.
Cursing quietly, Dinesh scrambled backwards, his focus on his own very dangerous predicament. His opponent was wary of his spells now, but seemed to sense that he held the advantage, despite Dinesh’s earlier actions. Then again, perhaps he was just reacting to Dinesh’s very passive stance…
Sometimes being overly aware of oneself was-
There was a crash, and Dinesh froze, because his opponents attention turned away from him, and towards the fight between Dauntless and Tykes. It seemed that after bending to the side, Dauntless had recovered enough to knock out Tykes in several short blows. But before he had been knocked out, Tykes had brought the ball back, and it had hit the back of Dauntless’ helmet, knocking the man out.
Now, both of the other fighters had collapsed, knocked out, lying together on the ground in a heap of cracked stone.
Dinesh glanced at his opponent, who shrugged and straightened. Then he turned to the young woman, who was glaring at him. With a gesture, Dinesh gathered each and every piece of paper back together, and handed it to the woman, who accepted it with a huff.
There was a cough behind Dinesh.
“What happened here?” Sam said gruffly, stepping forward. At his shoulder was the Ghosthound, looking at the three new arrivals with cool eyes.
“Draw.” Neveah said. Paolo and Kayle nodded in agreement.
After taking away Ace and Tykes, and sending the other two towards Mrs. Hamilton, Randidly followed Sam around to the back of the production compound. It was impressive how much the area had been built up in 6 months of Earth time, until it was seriously a whole little town in its own right, where hundreds of people lived and worked, constantly producing and refining the process of producing equipment in a System based world.
“If you see anything you like, just let me know,” Sam grunted, as they walked past several display cases, that were full of different armors. Randidly nodded, but wasn’t sure whether he would actually do that. He didn’t want to just… take armor he needed.
And honestly, he had gotten quite used to fighting with very little armor. Some accessories would be nice, but above all, Randidly didn’t want anything that would be too constricting. His mobility was something that he had gotten used to in his time in Shal’s world. Randidly was confident in his own strength, but he wasn’t sure how easy he could adapt to fighting while weighed down by armor. Better to stick with what he could do.
And god forbid if Sam had made him boots… But based upon other people’s attitude, it was clear that they understood that he wanted to have his bare feet on the ground. While that was true before, it was almost necessary now that he had earned himself the Yggdrasil Skills. Barefoot was his new most powerful style.
Eventually, they crossed a half mile of brick buildings, and arrived at an open area. There, a group of young men and women were clustered around a stone table, talking quietly. Their bodies kept Randidly from seeing what was there, but it was likely that this was what Sam had prepared for him.
“There was a problem with making equipment for you…” Sam said slowly. “Part of it was me; I’m just getting too good, too fast. Halfway through each project I feel myself inundated with better ways of forging things, so I didn’t want to make a spear too early, and then regret not making you the best I could. So I’ll finish that tonight. But I want you to put the other equipment on now, and then show me some of what you can do. Knowing your flavor… will help me make a better spear.”
“But for now,” Sam continued, shoo-ing the milling people out of the way, “These are the base of what I want to give to you. You remember them, right?”
The first object on the table were a familiar set of leather armors. It was the winner of the Production Assessment. To re-familiarize himself, Randidly scanned its status.
Tough Leather Armor (Un) Lvl 41: A very durable and sturdy leather armor. Protects the wearer from damage, and the spirit of the animal it is made from infects the user with a bit of ferocity. Bloody Embroidered Stallion II. Blood Soaked IV. Health +200, Endurance +20, Reaction +5.
Bloody Embroidered Stallion II: Embroidery in the shape of a Stallion dances across the armor. The golden thread to make it has been soaked in the blood of a powerful Monster. Strength +7, Agility +9, while moving gain momentum more easily.
Blood Soaked IV: The leather was produced by long periods of soaking in monster blood. The process was devised by a prodigy in the art of leatherworking. Health Regeneration +100 per hour. Stamina Regeneration +30 per minute. User gains 5% Lifesteal.
Randidly slowly breathed out a long breath. When he had first seen these leathers, and imagined them on powerful fighter, he had been impressed. But imagining them on himself… 200 bonus Health, plus 41 useful Stats, topped off with huge bonuses to Health and Stamina Regeneration per hour. And above all else, that 5% Lifesteal…
Randidly felt a small thrill of excitement at the thought of fighting with these on. But then he came back to himself, and turned to Sam with a questioning expression. “Is it really alright for me to wear these? At least let me pay-”
“Oh, we did,” Sam said, his face twisted and narrow. “What pisses me off more than the amount is that every dollar of it was worth it. This armor is the best, and it suits you. You use mobility and flexibility to overwhelm your opponents; harder and sturdier armors don’t suit you. Plus, with the Regeneration bonuses… as long as you have this, it will be very, very hard to kill you, even if you get caught.”
Nodding slowly, Randidly slid the armor over him, tightening the straps, covering his chest, arms, hips, and upper legs. It was pretty extensive, with defenses in key areas without being bulky. It was slightly strange to wear it, but not overly uncomfortable. After some time spent wearing it, Randidly had no doubt that he would be used to it.
Then he turned back to Sam, who had a sly grin on his face.
“Now… let me show you what I have made for you.”