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A note from puddles4263

14/14

Randidly’s eyes burned emerald in the darkening night. Around him, the battle settled into two main theaters: around him and around Helen. Around him, there was a slight lull as Donnyton’s forces moved into position. Around Helen...

Seems like Helen will be able to stabilize now that there is enough blood in the air. Randidly reflected as Helen rushed toward Clarissa and her mages. Behind Helen, Alana, Dozer, and the Cortez siblings were rapidly gaining ground. Even if Helen was likely faster in a direct sprint, she had much more going against her.

Luckily, Helen’s speed had risen to the point that the Skills thrown out by Clarissa’s assistant mages weren’t enough to slow her. Only the doubly large and powerful Skills cast by Clarissa herself were enough to give her pause. Even with the assistance of her Domain, the Skills affected such a large area that it didn’t matter how much care Helen took; she couldn’t avoid them completely without being caught by Alana and her crew.

So Helen forcefully withstood the Skills and rushed forward to try and eliminate the five mages before her pursuers could catch up.

Randidly studied the situation carefully. Based on their relative speeds, it seemed like Helen wouldn’t be able to do it cleanly. Clarissa could delay until Helen’s pursuers caught up. But at the very least, it would mean that Clarissa would be forced out of the fight against him for a while.

And who knows, Helen might surprise me and finish them all.

Randidly’s gaze shifted to the dozens of individuals that now circled around him like vultures. He grinned. It seemed that the initial overtures were over. It was time to fight with blades barred.

Not that he had truly sought to prevent it, but now the forces of Donnyton had crossed the sixty or so meters that separated them to begin the match. With the remnants of frost and strengthening in the ground, Randidly’s Infinite Fingers of Yggdrasil were still weakened in the area surrounding him. If he wanted to thin their ranks, he would need to use other avenues.

The next phase then… let’s see how far you can go Donnyton, Randidly thought as his Crown began to brighten. Above him, the image of Yggdrasil became even more distinct. A powerful wind swirled around the tree; its branches were alive with malice toward these transgressors. I’ve harried you with Skills, but now you need to truly face the might of two images. Are you prepared?

Like physical weight, Randidly released the last vestiges of restraint he kept over Yggdrasil’s aura. The golden letter brightened and the power it released began to climb upward. Seeing some of the weaker individuals who remained pale, Randidly knew that this would give them a reason to pause their rapid advance.

Of the initial fifty or so individuals that had joined the fight against Randidly, sixteen had been eliminated. With nine moving to handle Helen, that meant there were a little less than thirty people gathering around Randidly.

Before Yggdrasil, that seemed like an incredibly small number.

GRAAAAAAAWWWWHHH!

Chuckling, Randidly considered the two-headed bear that was bounding toward him. Alright fine, thirty people and a bear. A bear that doesn’t know when it is far beyond its depth. Tragic creature, allow me to teach you fear.

But the bear’s charge seemed to be a signal. Donny moved forward, his armor glowing with warm energy. In their wake, the rest of Donnyton’s forces spun closer. Most simply threw ranged Skills at Randidly to distract him, but they were steadily increasing the pressure on him. Mrs. Hamilton and Sam moved forward, aiming for Randidly’s back while he was forced to face the freight train of a monster that was charging toward his front.

Truly, all of Donnyton’s strength was gathered here, and they moved like a well-oiled ballista to strike Randidly down out of the sky.

Above his head, the Grim Chimera clicked its tongue; it had received this sort of reaction for its entire existence. This level of rejection could not shake its foundations. To live as the Chimera is to be persecuted. It would have been more surprising if they had not moved to kill him and revealing his identity.

Baring his teeth, Randidly shifted his emphasis from Yggdrasil to the Grim Chimera. Using the World Tree let him weaken the projectiles, but for what came next he would need the more offensive image. Yes, this is exactly right. Struggle. Exhaust yourselves. I am no longer your hero; my existence has become your Tribulation. Despair Donnyton, because I do not need blades to strike you down.

As the attacks neared Randidly, he slowly blinked. His heart began to once more pump loudly in his chest. The Chimera’s grey body twitched and twisted. Along its strange limbs, the bones popped and fractured. Its muscles were flooded with blood and mucus as it shifted, morphing into something else. The process was painful. But since the Chimera was born, every breath had been painful to the point that living was a slog through the grey and bleak agony. That was the price of its power.

Yet despite that grim price, the Chimera paid it. Because no joy was more intoxicating than the truth of existence. To simply revel in the moment was a victory against countless foes that beggared themselves to end the Chimera. To spite them all, Chimera would continue to savor the sweet nectar of life that it possessed.

In the surrounding air, grey blades of malice and rejection formed. They seemed to absorb the surrounding light, able to be seen only in the absence of existence that could be witnessed against the backdrop of the surrounding battle.

A thought from Randidly sent them spiraling outward toward the surrounding elites of Donnyton. Perhaps due to their darkness, some people didn’t even notice their approach. Very quickly, those blades ripped through the best armor that Donnyton could forge and brought the victims to a dead stop.

For a second, no one seemed to have understood what had happened. Well, no one who had fallen prey to the blades. Then, Ptolemy hurried forward, but too many were hit too quickly. Blood sprayed out of a dozen life-threatening wounds, collapsing the advance toward Randidly.

Curse your Fates, because I do not need shields to defeat your feeble attacks.

There was a sharp uptick in the volume of Randidly’s heartbeat, and the spasms racking the Chimera’s body increased. But around it, bleak darkness slowly gathered. In it were all the frigid images of ash that Randidly had worked so tirelessly to form so he might find balance.

At a speed visible to the naked eye, thin tendrils of the mist snaked outward. Toward the many Skills that were shooting toward Randidly, these tendrils seemed disdainful. They reared upward and forcefully smashed that attacks to nothing. A shower of bright sparks was the only gravestone to the defeated volley.

Fall silent, because your champions will be slaughtered.

The Chimera’s terrible mouth opened, revealing a dark funnel to a perpetually empty stomach. Randidly’s gaze was locked upon the two-headed bear.

Man is Proud, but the Chimera Takes.

Randidly’s body blurred forward, shooting toward the spectral creature summoned by Glendel. As Randidly raised his spear, all the terrible fury he held in his chest spiraled toward the tip of Acri. That horrible darkness condensed into an infinitely small and sharp point with an intensity that set the air humming as he thrust forward.

BOOOOOOM.

Its eyes dazed, the two-headed bear staggered backward two steps. The flesh of its shoulder was mangled, with a hole in its side that seemed to indicate that the bear had been struck by a howitzer rather than a spear.

With glowing eyes, Randidly set his feet and thrust Acri quickly upward toward the bear’s face. Around him, those struck by his grim blades hadn’t even hit the ground yet. Their bodies were still buckling under the force of the attack. Those that threw projectiles watched, wide-eyed as their attacks were dissipated and Randidly teleported to rip a hole through the two-headed bear.

As one, the arena held its breath.

The Grim Chimera raised its open mouth to heaven and cackled. Without an image, Randidly was completely unmatched as he romped among them. After he struck down this bear-

“Aegis!”

Donny, wielding a golden shield that illuminated the surrounding twenty meters with light, interposed himself between Randidly and the bear. Very quickly, Randidly switched his target and slammed his spear against Donny’s shield, knocking the man backward.

But that second of stillness was enough for Donnyton to make its decision; it would fight. Around Randidly, the elite of Donnyton struck. Randidly couldn’t help but grin. If you hadn’t chosen this, I would have been disappointed.

Sam reached Randidly first. His azure hammer smashed toward Randidly’s back. But rather than the blow, the real damage came in the form of the aura of cold that blasted outward. Very quickly, Randidly could see that this weapon of Sam’s was extremely powerful. Although the materials probably weren’t superior to Randidly’s new items, this was the true masterwork of Sam. This was what he had poured himself into.

And yet…

Chimeric Avoidance.

In the area around the freezing aura, Randidly’s body… simply shifted. Like a ghost, he floated through the area affected by the aura without being afflicted by its chilling cold. Slowly, Randidly’s grin widened. So it really could be used like this too…

Molten Fang of the Pariah ripped forward in a counter, forcing Sam to bring his buckler shield around to deflect Randidly’s attack. But Sam wasn't prepared for close combat. It had been too long since he practiced against real enemies with any consistency. With brutal efficiency, Randidly adjusted the trajectory of his thrust. The blow skittered upward across the shield and laid open Sam’s forearm, the burning heat cauterizing the wound painfully just as quickly as the gash had been opened.

Cursing, Sam stumbled backward and almost lost his grip on his hammer. But before Randidly could follow up, Paolo and Kayle struck, one high and one low.

Snorting, Randidly activated Reaper’s Mantle of Catastrophe’s. The dark grey aura blasted outward, hitting both Paolo, Kayle, and the surrounding people who moved in to follow up while Randidly was distracted. Adding to that, Randidly pressed his Willpower against the image, rapidly raising the efficacy of the restrictive effect the Skill possessed.

The air chilled as an effect much more poignant and immediate than the cold provided by Sam’s hammer gathered. More than that, the real advantage that Randidly’s Skill possessed was that the cold wasn’t strictly spiritual; it would also directly affect an individual’s ability to use Skills. Such was the chilling despair that Randidly wielded.

He felt both Paolo and Kayle’s nascent images struggle to resist the frigid touch, but soon Randidly’s gaze filled with emerald fire. This isn’t nearly enough. The Chimera Weeps as Man Mourns.

Dozens of blows shot outward, inflicting several deep wounds on both Paolo and Kayle. But neither flinched; in fact, both pressed forward. With a flick of the wrist, Acri smashed outward. Both men were sent tumbling away.

“Curse of Weakness!” Mrs. Hamilton shouted. There was a stinging on Randidly’s right arm, and he looked down to see a tattoo slowly spreading outward. Immediately, he felt Stamina begin to drain away.

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