Daz stood on the platform and silently asked his instincts which direction would be the best to fly in. No matter which way he faced, his instincts didn't react and his head ached lightly.
"Huh." Ignoring the odd headache that quickly passed, he held his chin as he thought out loud. "So the trial gets progressively harder the exact same amount in every single direction? Oh well. I was kinda hoping for an easier route for maximum points."
He summoned Hamson, and - with the help of his Agility stat - stood atop the blood-red tool. "Rimmy, I'll be counting on you to counter anything that tries to stop me like those lava balls in the recording of that robot-suit girl, 'kay?"
"Rimmy!" His transparent cyan friend replied as it happily floated next to him.
Daz smiled and controlled Hamson to move forwards.
Daz's wisdom told him that he'd just crossed the ten-thousand-meter mark when he started getting hit by a fierce wind. He simply inclined Hamson and hooked his frontwards foot into Hamson's handle to prevent himself from falling.
'Interesting. So the first test was one of natural endurance? Basically, if you can't fly this far by yourself without any obstacles, then you're not worthy of the real test. That makes sense, but still, this is really easy. I wonder at what stage do the lava balls appear?' he thought to himself as he pushed through the gales with ease.
Daz glanced over at Rimmy momentarily and was proud to see his best friend moving like the wind wasn't even there in the first place. 'I wonder... just how far can Rimmy and I get before one of us fails? If Rimmy fails, I can keep on going, but if I fail, it's game over. Well then, I'd better not let Rimmy down, huh?'
Several hours ticked on by in Daz's flying trial room.
Currently, he was at the one-hundred-and-ninety-nine-thousand-meter mark.
He and Rimmy had been met with flying rocks, anti-gravity fields, endless rows of mountains where you had to carve out a path to fly through, the promised lava balls, and many more obstacles that were simply trivial in the face of Hamson and Rimmy's quick movements and the reflexes of the golem and its master.
Daz skillfully used his Survivor's Instinct to dodge an invisible blade which was aimed for his neck as he passed the two-hundred-thousand-meter mark.
Immediately after that, he felt his breath disappear as his surroundings turned pitch black save for a few dots in the distance.
He frowned deeply. 'Space? I'm meant to fly through space? How the fuck does space work? Well, it's not hot nor cold, but it feels... strange. Is there some pressure? I don't think that's normal... An alien space? Regardless, I guess my Constitution is earning its keep since I'm not dead yet, but yeah, I can't breathe at all...'
Daz knew his time was limited in this area. He turned around and used his skill, Death Beam, to propel himself in conjunction with his mental movements of Hamson to fly as quickly as he possibly could through this inhospitable place.
Alas, even with the help of his halo restoring his lifeforce, after twenty-two-thousand-meters in space, he had breathed his last breath.
Congratulations! You successfully flew 222,032 meters.
Your reward: 2,220,320 merit points.
|The total merit balance of the host is now: 31,730,365 [+2,220,320].|
"Huh. Not bad," Daz said to himself as he regained his bearings.
Dying via asphyxiation in space was certainly a new and strange experience for the reaper. He was glad to see that Rimmy was still fine and dandy right next to him.
Rimmy shook his head sadly. "Rimmy."
Daz opened his eyes wide. "Damn, you're right. You totally could have made a jewelled wall cube around me in the section before the space bit to give me a limited supply of oxygen. I bet we could have gone much further with that... Sorry for rushing ahead so stupidly. I didn't even think of that, so my instincts never told me that was a good idea and my Wisdom never once told me that it would be wise to pause and think."
Rimmy bobbed his head up and down slowly before he patted Daz on the shoulder. "Rimmy."
"Yeah, I know. It was already too late when I'd entered the space section since I couldn't hear you there... Oh well, now we have that tactic if we're ever about to enter space without a suit, I guess, huh?" Daz asked optimistically.
His golem friend happily nodded in response.
"Daz!" Madison rushed towards him and wrapped her arms around his neck despite the numerous bystanders watching them.
Her body was trembling like a leaf, which worried him greatly. "What's wrong, Maddy?"
"Daz, died... Sad," she explained with a whisper into his ear.
Daz felt his heart melt. He looked up at one of the display screens - one which was recapping his attempt at the trial - and it was currently at the point that he'd stopped moving and the life in his eyes drained, signalling his death.
The next moment, he glanced at another screen and saw Madison run out of divine power, so she couldn't keep her angel wings out anymore, resulting in her falling to her death. She had made it to the fifty-thousand-meter mark, but it still left a sour taste in his mouth watching her fall like that.
"It's okay. I'm here now, aren't I?" Daz softly said to comfort the girl he loved. "Do you wanna go to a restaurant room for some ice-cream to cheer you up, or do you wanna go to the sword mastery challenge room first?"
"Ice-cream," Madison immediately replied as she stared at Daz's face with a deadly-serious look in her eyes.
A warm smile wormed its way onto the reaper's lips in response.
Madison licked her honeycomb-flavoured treat as she and Daz entered the sword mastery challenge room.
"Hello, Sir, Madam. Welcome to the sword mastery challenge. Are you here to participate, or perhaps to spectate?" an android asked them immediately.
"She's here to participate," Daz said as he gestured to the adorable creature next to him before he added, "and I'm here to watch her."
"Of course. When Madam is ready, please enter any of the doors behind me. You shall be pitted against an enemy with an ascending mastery over the way of the sword. Each version of this enemy that you defeat is worth a credit. Credits can be exchanged for many things such as merit points, Limited Item Upgrade Tokens, swords and sword sheathes, sword skills, and many other things. I do have to note that you can only injure the generated opponents via a sword. Only skills which enhance the power or utility of your sword, or ones that require a sword to be launched, are usable, and all other skills shall be sealed during the challenge," the android merrily explained.
Madison nodded to express her understanding.
"Excellent. As an aside, none of the opponents are real. They are all artificially generated by the system, so please feel no remorse nor mercy when you face them." With that said, the robot bowed its head and floated off.
Daz pulled Madison in for a hug and kissed her lightly. He made sure to not accidentally bump her ice-cream cone out of her hand since he knew that would upset her a bit. Teasing her was fun, making her sad was not.
"Good luck, and take as much time as you need. The time dilation in this room is twenty-four to one, so don't worry about taking too long," Daz said.
Madison bobbed her head up and down. "Will, do, good. Impress, you."
Daz chuckled softly as he rested his forehead against hers. "You impress me every day. From the day that we first met fourteen years ago 'till now, you've done nothing but impress me."
Madison's cheeks flushed red. "Flirt..."
She gave him a quick kiss and then handed him her ice-cream. "For, you." After saying that, she entered the challenge room.
There weren't many survivors in this room since using a sword was very specific, but people had followed Daz and Madison in here after seeing them in the hallway, so those people were happily gossiping about Daz and Madison's clear display of mutual affection.
The reaper paid no heed to this and found a quiet corner to lean against the wall and lick on his newly gifted ice-cream. He activated his Archreaper's Aura to keep himself from being pestered as he watched Madison's fights.
Madison's first opponent was a small boy in rags who was holding a chipped wooden sword that wasn't even the length of his own arms.
She loved children, but she loved making Daz proud of her even more. Besides, the android had told her that none of the opponents were real, so she didn't hesitate.
With a single motion, the boy's head was separated from his shoulders. He turned into millions of pixels and scattered into nothingness. The next moment, he was replaced by a teenaged version of himself with a more regular-sized wooden sword - this one was free of chips and damage.
The gaze in the teen's eyes was almost feral as he lunged for Madison.
She parried him with ease and ran her blade through his heart, ending his life. Like the child, the teen dissipated into millions of pixels before being replaced with an older version of himself.
This third version of the man was now in his early twenties and his sword was made of cheap iron. He was also now wearing very rough-looking and uncomfortable leather armour.
His footwork was miles better than his teenaged self, but he still fell short of Madison's talents and skill-level. Once again, after parrying his weak attack, she slew the man.
Now in his mid-twenties, the man was dressed in slightly better quality gambeson than the leather armour from before. His sword was still the same iron one, but it had clearly been repaired and looked quite useful now. He had a small scar on his left cheek as well, which was quite telling of his experiences since his early twenties.
It took Madison two moves to kill this version of the man instead of one. Clearly, he was improving as the years passed.
The fifth variation of the man was now in his early thirties. His iron sword was gone and had been replaced with a steel one. His hair had been neatly tied into a ponytail and his armour had also been upgraded to higher quality gambeson with an underlayer of chainmail.
It took Madison a total of five moves to slay this man. Clearly, from his mid-twenties to his early thirties, he had improved an incredible amount in both footwork and swordplay.
The next version had greying hair and his left eye was missing, but his sword was now made of a dark-steel that felt alien to Madison. His gambeson had been swapped out for half-decent plated-armour which only covered his shoulders, knees and chest. The rest of his body was protected by chainmail.
Madison struggled a lot with this one. Eventually, she was forced into using her skill, Divine Cross. Only then, did the man die.
The next version's sword had runes covering it. His hair was entirely white now, but his face still maintaining some signs of the youth it once possessed. He was also covered head to toe in reinforced plate-armour.
Madison was barely able to beat this one. Somehow, he was able to parry her Divine Crosses with his sword alone. This skill was unblockable, but the man was able to redirect it elsewhere, forcing it to avoid him entirely. Madison had to resort to tiring the man out and winning via raw endurance.
The last version that Madison was able to see, was far older than the previous one. he looked to be maybe seventy or eighty. His armour was gone, replaced with a loose robe. His hair flowed freely and his expression was serene, but his sword still remained at his hip.
The second Madison made a move, she found herself to be back in the challenge area with many eyes looking at her. She ignored them and walked towards Daz who had rescinded his Archreaper's Aura upon her failure.
Congratulations! You defeated 7/10 of Sword King Falwon's aspects.
Your reward: 7 [Sword Credits].
'I wonder if Daz is proud of me? Did I do well? I tried my best...' Madison thought to herself as she shyly stood in front of him hoping and waiting to be praised.
Daz smiled softly. "You did amazing, Maddy. You've improved a lot with the sword, huh? I didn't even know."
Madison's eyes lit up like a Christmas tree. "Mmm. Try, hard."
"I'm sure you did. I'm very proud," he replied as he hugged her tightly.
Support "Shovels In Spades"
- The Scottish Slothy Sloth
Bio: Hey there, nice to see you. I'm just an ordinary man who enjoys writing, which is great since it's my full-time job now thanks to the support from you guys over on Patreon! I hope you enjoy my novels if you read them, and if not, I hope you enjoy looking at my profile.