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A note from puddles4263

8/14

The second time the Red Death Cultists decided to challenge Randidly, they brought numbers. 12 of the fuckers swarmed out of holes that emerged from both above and below Randidly, sneaking through his blind spots created by the cloth walls to strike at him. But honestly, Randidly wasn’t sure why they even bothered.

“Circle of Flame.”

The fire, once again, smashed outwards, causing the attackers to screech in agony. In addition, the ground around Randidly ignited, adding to the slowly growing conflagration of the Eyrie around him. In the wake of the explosion, Randidly moved swiftly, approaching the downed enemies and striking them, ripping huge chunks of their bodies off with his swings.

Even though he could penetrate their leathery natural armor, it wasn’t easy. And slashes were quite a bit less effective than simply stabbing them. They jabbered and waved their arms in anger, glaring at him, but Randidly just looked back at them impassively, cleanly dispatching them.

A notification that he reached Level 13 popped up, and Randidly grinned. The one good thing about fighting these Death Cultists was that they gave a pretty huge amount of experience per kill. Which made sense, because they were far and above the most powerful enemies that Randidly had faced in the Raid Dungeon thus far. Of course, hopefully, the difficulty had another tier above that…

“It’s been a while since I have felt some real struggle,” Randidly whispered to the ash-filled air, his eyes glowing. “Can you satisfy me, White Death Cultist?”

Waving his spear, Randidly ripped a hole in the roof and went upwards, moving onto the next level. He was taking his time moving upwards, for the express purpose of finding all of the lurking enemies and milking them for experience. Mostly, because Randidly was slightly frustrated by how long it was taking for him to Level.

He had quietly asked around and found out that his Class appeared to take almost 4 times as much experience to Level as the other Classes on record. Mrs. Hamilton had warned him that there were slight variations in experience requirements for each Class, but the highest they had noticed was 1.2 times. Randidly hadn’t thought to really check his when he obtained it, but now it was becoming frustratingly clear that his path to 50 would be extremely difficult.

More than that, he had such a smaller share of the experience than everything else, that they gained Levels basically at a speed only half as fast as he did. And because there were 9 of them, that meant that 4 of them would Level every time he did. Their Levels would count towards the Level total of the group, and four of them would get a slightly larger share, which meant that his increase in proportion was effectively wiped out. An exercise in futility, if he had ever encountered one.

What was so frustrating was how easily this could have been avoided if he had taken the time to Level a bit in one of Donnyton’s kept Dungeons, which both Donny and Sam had advised him, but Randidly had been too focused on the task at hand to heed their words.

As such…

When a Red Death Cultist lashed out with its arm towards his chest, Randidly swayed to the side, letting it rip past. Then Randidly stepped forward and activated the Inevitable Phantom Arrives, a ghastly apparition appearing behind him. Although Randidly hadn’t used the Skill in a while, its application and image were still very familiar to him, like the embrace of a mother.

Randidly’s lip curled upward, and he felt the skeletal image of his mother mirror his smile.

The attack ripped directly through the shoulder of the bat, its flesh forcefully smashed backward by the power of the attack. By the time it opened its mouth to scream its hate and rage, Randidly’s second attack had slashed downwards through its neck. Blood spattered down Randidly’s front and onto the ground.

Shaking his head, Randidly stepped over the body and continued on, his footsteps echoing on the wooden floors. It was so strange how easily Randidly could kill now, at least in terms of unintelligent monsters. It came naturally to him. It was almost… tragic, how the System had changed him. But…

It’s not like there was anything he could do about it. And Randidly would choose becoming a monster over letting his friends and family die a thousand times. Although this path was littered with carnage, he did not regret stepping onto it.

The heat in the Eyrie was rapidly rising, as more and more of the bottom levels were engulfed in flame. Plus, the heat was rising, and very rapidly the fire was catching up to Randidly in his advance. Grinning, Randidly leaped up another level, punching through the wood of the floor and lifting himself up into a large room.

Jackpot.

Rather than the strange, flat areas with cloth walls, this was a large egg-shaped room with a spiral staircase at the center. At the base of the staircase, about 40 Death Cultists were standing, whispering to each other.

Or at least they had been before Randidly had punched up through the floor. His eyes sharpened as they all turned to face him, looking at the two figures in the center. There were two Death Cultists standing there. One was a deep, rich grey, and the other… was a much lighter grey, but still obviously grey.

Randidly tsk’d audibly. Not yet, huh?

Upon seeing Randidly, the lighter bat turned and began climbing the spiral stairs with its long arms, choosing to just reach up and pull himself to the next level rather than walking around in a circle. Randidly didn’t blame it; he would likely do something similar when he ascended the stairs.

The other 39 Death Cultists, 10 normal foot soldiers, 28 Red Death Cultists, and the Grey Death Cultist began rushing towards him. Their arms were raised, and these even had a strange metal shoulder pads on, that stretched the length of their arms. Eyeing it, Randidly realized that this was likely their version of weapons. Luckily, he hadn’t seen any of those who had flown out of the Eyrie already with them, or else his companions might be in trouble…

Watching the Grey Death Cultist climbing up towards an upper chamber, he growled, “Out of my way,” and activated Cruel Indignation of Yggdrasil and Indomitable Will of Yggdrasil. It was… a dangerous combination at the best of times, but when there was such a structure underneath him…

The spatial distortions rippled around him, curving the way light moved towards him. Although he hadn’t gained very many Skill Levels in the Skill since he had learned it, his usage had sharpened to a large degree. Not in a useful sense, not in a way that would actually improve the Skill. But his familiarity made it increasingly fatal for those around him to be near him.

His head throbbed with a mirrored pain, but his eyes gleamed with a verdant mania. There were few foes that had the Willpower to go toe to toe with him-

From the back, he saw the Grey Death Cultist make a gesture, and Randidly suddenly felt… weighed down immensely. Blinking, he very easily felt how he was… slowed. The Death Cultists seemed to speed up in equal measure to the slow, which made sense because it was only his perspective that was shifted.

Roaring, Randidly stepped forward, and he sensed the strange limiter on his speed shudder under his raw, physical strength. The pain and the slow together merged and spiraled upwards, driving Randidly’s rage to new heights, but as he opened his mouth to end the dozen or so Death Cultists that had arrived in front of him, the Grey Death Cultist’s second spell arrived, and nothing came out of his mouth.

A chill went through Randidly as he realized his Yggdrasil actives had disappeared. A silence.

The passive side of Yyrwood Flesh of Yggdrasil, Emerald Sap of Yggdrasil, and Golden Roots of Yggdrasil combined for an explosion of physical force that easily ripped apart the remnants of the slow that had stayed after the Grey Death Cultist had shifted his focus. The world’s speed snapped back to normal, and Randidly could see through the press of bodies that the Grey Death Cultist was manipulating a rune, standing very still in a circle of energy.

Randidly’s eyes glowed as he smashed his Willpower against the prohibition against using active Skills, feeling it shake. But the Grey Death Cultist had set the base for this Skill much more carefully, and it resisted him.

By that time, the Death Cultists had arrived, and Randidly’s fury was palpable as his spear swept sideways, bisecting 10 of them at the waist, their bodies falling to the ground with a clatter. The other two continued onward, heedless of their comrades’ death, their hands stabbing towards Randidly’s torso.

Snorting, Randidly’s spear came back, a glinting messenger of death, destroying both of their skulls, annihilating their brains in flashes of solar power. By that time, the Red Death Cultists had positioned themselves around Randidly, and rushed him all at once.

Randidly narrowed his eyes. Although he didn’t like to admit it, this would be much more challenging. The Red Death Cultists’ skin was thick enough that it wasn’t an easy thing to cut through multiple at once. And in their eyes, Randidly saw that they would not stop from fear or persuasion. Only death would still their wild hatred.

Grinning at their guttural cries, Randidly raised his spear and prepared to receive them.

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