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A note from puddles4263

13/14

“Creeping Frost! Absolute Zero! Creeping Frost!”

“Harden! Calcify! Harden! Calcify!”

Rather than easing up after their goal had been accomplished, Clarissa and her companion only increased the speed of their Skill usage. Although they were chewing rapidly through Mana, the shield that they maintained effectively stabilized their position in the arena.

Randidly frowned the ground, as though truly surprised by this move. He saw Alana glance at him and then shake her head slightly before continuing to catch up to Helen. Without the interference of the roots, Alana would finish this quickly.

On the other side, the Squads finally had a weapon against the agile Riders. Although they were quick, Kayle danced among them like the god of death. In quick succession, he was able to cut down three and force several others away from the wounded. He also bought several seconds worth of time, so Paolo and Dozer could catch up and begin throwing blows that would shatter the rider's limbs in a single strike.

When the riders avoided those blows, neither Dozer and Paolo appeared to care. Instead, they smashed the hardened ground directly, sending reverberations through the brittle ground. Randidly had some hope that they would weaken the seal enough for him to use his Skill again, there was no weakness he felt. And it did destabilize the relatively fragile legs of the riders.

Donny, Mrs. Hamilton, and Annie slowed their attacks against Randidly, gathering their strength. It seemed that they were content to allow him to attempt to break through their defenses and strike at the mages in order to cease the bind against his Infinite Fingers of Yggdrasil.

Are they truly so confident dealing with the Chimeric Skills? Or… Randidly looked again at Donny and that strange contraption of Aether at his core. Or is this the trap?

Then, Randidly began to laugh. His annoyance passed like a cloud on a spring day. If they couldn’t find ways to slow him down, they wouldn’t have even dared to attempt this challenge. To let this little trick upset him was pointless. His Crown pulsed with power. “Fine, do you want to play with spells?”

Randidly breathed in, using Cursed Appetite of a Wraith. His body was flooded with power and he could feel the surrounding individual bristle as all of the Attributes they regenerated in that short break were stolen away.

Then twenty Eruption of the Blazing Leylines ripped upward from the ground in the area around Dozer and his group, the immense heat thawing and cracking the hard ground. A few of the surrounding riders used the distraction to form up and escape once more.

“Maintain the frost on your position!” Mrs. Hamilton barked, even as she herself approached Randidly. There was a second of strangeness that gave Randidly pause, but then he accepted that she truly was attempting to challenge him to a physical confrontation. As her daggers and wires flung outward to hem him in, Randidly snorted.

Donny charged toward Randidly’s side, beginning to glow with a golden radiance. But Randidly just spared him a sidelong glance. Gleeful at the prey, the Grim Chimera crooned happily. Then Randidly lazily spun his spear and waited for them to arrive.

“Absolute Zero! Creeping Frost!” Clarissa continued to proudly narrate her rapidly decreasing Mana. Her Skills continued to keep the area around here thoroughly frosted. With the support of the stone mage, that meant Randidly couldn’t just rip up through the barrier they created and attack them. However, they were fools.

Randidly smirked. “Fine then.No regular attacks from below. How about this?”

“Creeping-” but Clarissa blinked in surprise and fell to her knees as the ground beneath her jerked upward. The whole arena shuddered. Several of the other mages also fell, their Skills fizzling to nothing.

BOOOOOOM.

With a tearing rumble, a twenty meter in diameter section of the arena was simply lifted upward by Randidly’s Infinite Fingers of Yggdrasil. The frozen ground remained completely intact, but that chunk of land had now been removed. Densely woven vines trembled with the effort of lifting it, but they managed it.

Randidly’s flame spells had weakened a few points along the outskirts of the area enough to pierce through, and he had then used a fair bit of Mana to just pick up the offending chunk of ground that was very close to impervious to his Skills.

Then, while grinning at Mrs. Hamilton, he threw the offending chunk of ground away with a heaving explosion of power from the Infinite FIngers of Yggdrasil. “Is this all?”

****

Immediately, Alana cursed loudly as Helen avoided her sudden strike at the same moment Randidly physically overwhelmed and threw away the seal that they had so carefully planned against him. This is exactly why I should be the one pinning him down right now…! Well, change of plans anyway.

With a burst of bright light, Alana surged into motion and left Helen behind. Regardless, she could not allow that huge chunk of ground to impact the stands. Because of the slow arc of the heavy projectile, most people were already scrambling up out of the way of the area it would land; there were very few weaklings sitting in the first few rows of the stands.

Mostly, those were filled with the Squads that Randidly had previously defeated. They were prepared to retreat quickly after their loss.

But based on how large the projectile was, if it damaged any of the structural supports of the stands, it could-

Then Alana paused.

While the mages were rapidly leaping off of the chunk of land Randidly threw toward the stands and most of the people were running away, one figure appeared, grinning over at Alana. He even had the nerve to wave cheekily at her before raising his hand and smashing his fist toward the huge chunk of rock.

Ace, you fuck. What are you doing here? Alana thought grimly.

Ace’s strike smashed into the rock, shattering the front half and splitting the remainder into several large chunks. These, while dangerous to people, simply hit the carefully reinforced stands and left relatively deep cracks. There was no chance of permanent damage from the smaller stones.

For a second, Alana was frozen. She couldn’t decide whether to apprehend Ace now and beat answers about Roy out of him or to continue with the challenge.

Yet very quickly, she turned back to the arena. She had a role to play. Her first step was then toward Randidly, but then she forced herself to turn and head toward Helen, who was now speeding across the ground like a hurricane toward Clarissa and her crew.

“Finished here,” Dozer said as he arrived next to Alana. The nervous-looking Cortez siblings were with him. Behind them lay the crumpled forms of the strange summons that Randidly had produced. They had not responded well to the shaking caused by Randidly lifting the frozen ground and tossing it away. Although they were extraordinarily graceful and possessed extremely sharp weapons, they couldn’t keep up with the combat experience possessed by Dozer, Paolo, and Kayle.

“Fine,” Alana said. “Ready for this? Don’t hold back just because you traveled with her. The quicker we take her out of the fight, the quicker we can fight against Randidly directly.”

Dozer chuckled, but he didn’t say anything. Still, Alana’s face wrinkled into a frown. It seemed she hadn’t hidden her disgruntled reaction well enough. Something to work on, then.

After she finally had the chance to enjoy this fight.

BOOOM.

Behind them, a wave of force exploded outward as Glendel revealed his final card; the arena was now filled with a towering two-headed bear that was Level 70. It was only with an extraordinary amount of effort, and Alana’s Raid Squad’s assistance, that he had been able to subjugate its soul.

Now, the foolish beast roared and charged at Randidly directly. Around it, Kayle and Paolo floated like ghosts, ready to strike when Randidly revealed weakness. Annie floated above it all, her powerful and precise arrows crashing down toward Randidly.

Time and time again, he used only a single spear strike to smash the shafts of the arrows into splinters. Alana’s eyes tightened as she spared this move a long glance. After having faced Annie in multiple duels, she understood the other woman’s significant power. Yet Randidly was now making it look like child’s play to deal with her attacks.

Truly, was his improvement after his image shifted so significant…? Donny’s shield already looked badly damaged after only a few exchanges. If Alana would head over-

No, Alana was grinding her teeth as she hopped down off the arena. Her gaze was fiery and locked onto Helen’s rapidly moving back. I have a role. There is a plan. Even if it is not what I would have chosen, I have a responsibility.

Just don’t blame me for not being gentle, Alana thought bitterly. She tried her best to ignore the sounds of rustling leaves and roaring bears behind her as she hurried toward Helen.

After all, if she did not move, Clarissa and her fellow mages would be reduced to meat paste. And Helen would thrive on their spilled blood.

This was necessary.

This is necessary.

“We’re moving,” Alana growled. A chuckling Dozer and the silent Cortez siblings followed her after Helen.

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puddles4263

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