The exact moment that Daz appeared on the stage, he sat down and closed his eyes to focus all of his attention on his headache.
Both Pheldorapod and Daz's opponent gave him curious looks. Less than a second had passed before the alien nodded his head knowingly.
Daz's opponent, however, had understood the pained look on Daz's face very differently from how Pheldorapod had.
In regards to Daz's opponent, were he to open his eyes, he'd see a handsome young man roughly his own age. This man had dark-brown skin and a cleanly-shaven head. Held in his hands was a very intricately designed battle axe.
'I wonder what's wrong with him? Anyway, this is perfect! I can easily beat that rock monster and the other Dazes. I was worried it'd be close, but if he can't fight himself, then this should be easy.' The young man was clearly very joyful upon seeing Daz's current state.
He wasn't evil and nor did he enjoy watching others suffer, but he also wasn't a saint. He wanted the Skill Cap Upgrade Token. Pheldorapod's speech on the item's potential had sold him, hook, line, and sinker.
Pheldorapod quickly summarised Daz's achievements once again and then stated that the challenger, Adetokunbo Abara, had no achievements of note, but he did state that the African man was amongst the most accomplished Earthian testees who had yet to become a ruler or fall under one.
With all of that explained, the squishy octopus began the fight without any further delays.
Daz instantly summoned Hamson and tossed it towards Clone Two - the one who had helped develop the Basic Martial Arts skill which was promptly assimilated into the Shovel Arts skill. "Clone One, Clone Two, Rimmy, end this as fast as possible. I wanna lie down for a bit."
"I'll do so, Original."
"Of course, Original."
All three accepted their master's request.
Adetokunbo didn't appreciate Daz's confident attitude despite his seemingly miserable condition. "I only need to kill you to win!" he shouted as he threw his battle axe straight towards the actual Daz's head.
Clone two stood in the weapon's way and used Hamson's blade to deflect the battle axe, resulting in a loud noise ringing out from the two weapons.
Shockingly, the battle axe lost all of its momentum and then slammed into the ground. Looking at it, it was clear to see that it now had a massive chip in the head of the axe and its haft was heavily splintered. In fact, it was a God-given miracle that the weapon hadn't just shattered into a million pieces considering Hamson's Attack stat.
Before Adetokunbo could even respond to that, Rimmy used his Great Roll skill and pummeled the African man's body, shredding it limb from limb.
For good measure, Clone One activated his Archreaper's Aura just in case Daz's opponent had any skills similar to the one that Larry Billard had used to avoid death.
A smile wormed its way onto Clone One's face. "Found you." The Archreaper's Aura had felt some resistance coming from the far edge of the stage. "Laughing Skull," he and Clone Two both said as they looked at the area that they'd felt the resistance from.
With blood covering his body, Adetokunbo appeared out of thin air. His face was covered in a grimace as the necklace he was wearing cracked slightly. It would seem that the accessory had saved his life from the Laughing Skulls.
Raising his hand slightly, a defiant look entered the young man's eyes. "Heavenly Chop!"
His incredibly damaged battle axe rose into the air on its own and swung down in place with an unstoppable force, resulting in a massive astral axe appearing above Daz's head.
The reaper did nothing to avoid this monumental attack. His body moved on its own the second it was about to be split into two.
What was astounding was that not only did the astral axe not disappear after that initial chop, but it, in fact, pulled back for another chop.
Again, Daz did nothing. Again, the gargantuan axe missed the man and harmlessly bounced off of the indestructible stage.
Despair flashed across Adetokunbo's face. 'How many times can his halo save him like that?'
The young man would never learn the answer to his question. His bald head was roughly grabbed by Rimmy who then squished it like a watermelon.
"Ladies, gentlemen, the genderless, and everything else in between! Once again the testee Daz had graced my stage and shown us all a very marvellous victory! Congratulations, Daz!" Pheldorapod praised sincerely before he immediately returned Daz to his private suite.
Congratulations! You have won the challenge created by the golden ticket.
Your rewards: 28,000,000 merit points and a [Skill Cap Upgrade Token].
|The total balance of the host is now: 145,585,395 [+28,000,000].|
"He used a golden ticket, huh?" Daz muttered as he fumbled his back to the sofa.
Rose looked a bit upset as she watched her brother struggling so much. 'It's so bad that he didn't even look at what type of ticket was being used against him before the challenge? Awakening isn't supposed to be this painful...'
She wanted to cry and to hug him, but her stubborn nature refused to let her show how much she cared. Instead, she split her consciousness and focused two-thirds of her efforts into seeing if maybe the system had some sort of medicine that could help Daz. Of course, the other third of her consciousness was busy taking thousands of notes on the auction itself and its participants.
'Internal powers are so rare and so varied... There's only one record of a system-affiliated species having an internal power that even faintly resembles our esper powers...' The young girl bit her lip. 'Is that the only way?... But then he'll get mad at me... Fuck! This is such a tough decision to make!' Rose cursed internally.
She mulled over the topic for a long time, long enough, in fact, that by the time she had finally made a choice, Daz had already won the fourth token for free. Whoever he was bidding against had chosen not to rise to the challenge.
"Um, Daz, I think you should stop here," Rose advised cautiously.
"Why?" Daz asked as he continued to bid on the final Skill Cap Upgrade Token.
His sister frowned. "You're gonna get mad if I tell you why, and you're gonna get mad if I don't tell you why."
Daz managed a shrug. "In that case, why does it matter?" His lips twitched as he narrowed his eyes to combat the agony his head was going through right now.
"It matters because you being kinda mad is different to you being uncontrollably mad," Rose retorted sarcastically.
No one else in the room knew what was going on right now, and Rose had no intentions of elaborating on that.
"Rose, I'm almost certain that if I win the bid on this token, then someone's gonna use a ticket on me. Are you trying to say that I'll lose?" Daz managed to squeeze out in only two breathes.
Shaking her head, Rose replied. "No, that's not it. I honestly have no idea if you'll win or lose. My power isn't a glorified oracle like yours is."
"Then why the warning?" Daz asked.
"You're not going to like who's challenging you, that's all I'll say. Feel free to go for the token if you really want to though. I mean, It won't be all bad for you if you do," Rose said with a scowl on her face. "But promise me that if you do get challenged and accept it, don't shout at me for not warning you beforehand."
Daz's eyes narrowed once again, however, not in pain this time. "I see." The reaper wasn't an idiot. "It's him, isn't it?"
Rose didn't reply and just continued typing away on her laptop's keyboard.
"'Him' who?" Crusher asked as she leaned forwards. That exchange between Daz and Rose had piqued the Titan's interest.
"My father," Daz replied calmly as he scrunched up his eyebrows.
The only person in the room who didn't care about this was Han. Mu was slightly interested while both Vanessa and Crusher were dying with curiosity.
Vanessa could see how tense Daz was, Crusher, however, couldn't. Oddly enough though, she didn't inquire any further. Perhaps it was more fun for her to speculate instead of getting solid answers? Daz didn't know, but he continued to slowly bid as he fought his migraine to think.
'Should I stop bidding?' Daz asked himself in thought. 'I definitely wouldn't if it weren't for this headache, but now, I'm not so sure... Is this fear? Am I scared of that bastard? Fuck... This is a really shitty emotion...'
A new reason besides his new-found anger had sprung up for him to dislike his recently acquired emotions. He shook his head slowly as his arms trembled. 'No! What good will being afraid do me? I can't let him win, no matter what! Fuck my instincts! If he wants this token, then he's never going to fucking get it!'
With that powerful idea stuck in Daz's head, he wobbled up to his feet and forced himself over to the suite's glass. He leaned a palm against it as Rimmy hovered next to him reassuringly. 'I've got my gems, I've got Rimmy, I've got my clones, I've got Reika and Hamson... Rose still hasn't told me what Father's second esper ability is, but she didn't say that I'll lose, which obviously means that I can win!'
The reaper psyched himself up as he continued to bid. Before long, the price of the final token had skyrocketed far past the others and was all the way up to eighty-million points.
Daz's confidence was beginning to wane. 'Isn't Father's Survivor's Instinct far stronger than mine? Won't he already know if he'll win the fight or not? If he's still bidding at this point... then aren't I just throwing my points away?'
His face twitched momentarily as a particularly violent pang of pain buzzed through his mind. 'Ahhh... Fuck it! Stop thinking, Daz! Go bold or go home!'
Perhaps he would have acted differently if he wasn't suffering so much right now or if he wasn't sure that he was going to be meeting his father shortly. Perhaps he'd have been more reasonable, but for now, Daz did something insane.
"System, I bid one-hundred-and-forty-five-million merit points!" he announced.
Vanessa audibly gasped while Rose's eyes almost fell out of her head in shock.
Han choked on her drink upon hearing just how much money Daz had. Mu and Crusher, on the other hand, were both distinctly impressed, but for different reasons.
'So many points... As expected of someone who defeated me.'
'Hahahaha! Bold! Wow, he's kinda sexy right now, ain't he? Shame he's hunching over a bit. Must be a real killer of a headache for him to look so pathetic and so cool all at once.'
A rival host has used a golden ticket to challenge you.
Should you accept and win, the item [Skill Cap Upgrade Token] shall be awarded to you free of charge and the challenging host shall be forced to pay you your highest bid as compensation. Should you lose, nothing will happen.
Should you decline, you will be refunded your bid and the item will be awarded to the challenging host.
Warning: the auction master has the right to say anything about either party should a challenge take place to build up the crowd's excitement. This can be used as a good opportunity to advertise the host.
Do you accept the challenge? Y/N.
'So he really has as many points as I do... Is he the person above me in the merit rankings? He must be, right?' A shooting pain in his mind reminded him to not get distracted. 'Right, I accept the challenge, system.'
And like that, he was teleported to the stage.
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