Thomas let out a mental sigh since he didn't have access to a physical body right now. He looked at the countdown timer to his resurrection and sighed again. This was just depressing. He'd hoped he could have at least put up a better fight but he felt like he'd just been a puppet dancing for the audience the entire time. It was very clear that Jeko had been much stronger than he was and could have easily beaten him without even trying. The worst part though was having to apologize to Brao when he woke up in a couple of minutes. He didn't really feel like he'd done something to upset Brao this much.
It didn't matter though. When he woke up he would apologize to Brao and get it over with. There was still the reward from the quest to look forward to, after all. It would make sense that the reward for losing would be lesser than the reward for winning but beggars couldn't be choosers. It'd been a while since he'd completed a quest and he was looking forward to it. As he was contemplating the possibilities he glanced at the timer for his resurrection and frowned.
|System Notice: You will be revived in 8:43...|
The timer had just increased by a whole five minutes! What the hell was going on? He stared at the timer and a short time later it jumped up by another five minutes. It was now sitting at a little over twelve minutes before he would revive. He wanted to scream and tell whoever was doing whatever to stop! Five minutes of staring at a timer ticking down was bad enough but now it was a total of fifteen minutes he'd be stuck! He wanted to scream as he saw the timer jump up by another ten minutes.
If he had hair at the moment he would be tearing at it. Whatever was going on was going to make this simple defeat into a whole ordeal for him. He stared at the countdown timer as it jumped up another thirty minutes on him. Whatever was happening was getting worse! There was nothing he could do as he watched the countdown timer continue to increase. Though it finally stopped increasing after a massive jump of an hour.
|System Notice: You will be revived in 5:47:38...|
Thomas sighed deeply and grumbled to himself. A simple five-minute defeat had been increased to a total of six hours. He was stuck in this black abyss for six more hours and there was nothing he could do to speed it up at all. He looked at the timer and contemplated what he could do with the time. He could log out for a little over an hour or he could try to take a nap and let the time just pass by.
He spent a few minutes trying to decide what to do when the timer suddenly dropped by five minutes. Surprised he stared at it for a little longer and noticed when it dropped by another ten minutes. He let out a cheer! Whatever was going on someone was finally helping him out instead of punishing him! He watched as the timer decreased in chunks as it had increased previously. As before the final decrease was a solid hour decrease leaving just a few seconds until he revived!
Going back in time a little...
Selena watched, horrified, as Jeko slammed the jagged spike of ice into Thomas's chest. The spike pierced through is leather armor like it was paper and completely through his body. The tip of the spike stuck out of Thomas's black and glittered red with his blood. Jeko yanked his arm back and ripped the spike out of Thomas's chest leaving a large gaping hole where his heart used to be. Blood barely dripped from the wound as the coldness of the ice had frozen the blood vessels closed.
Selena dashed onto the ring as Thomas's limp body collapsed awkwardly to the floor, his feet still frozen in place from Jeko's earlier spell. Selena crouched down next to him and did her best to ignore the gaping hole where his heart used to be. She reached down and placed her fingers at his neck to check for a pulse, something rather odd to do considering there was no heart left to produce a heartbeat. In a panic, she looked over to Dean Zorzic, "I think he's really dead!"
Zorzic looked stunned for a moment before exclaiming, "That should be impossible!"
He quickly made his way over to Thomas's body and looked at the damage that had been done. It was a gruesome sight, but he'd seen worse on the dueling rings and everyone had easily recovered from the wounds very rapidly. The dueling rings had been very carefully designed and enchanted to prevent anyone from dying inside of them. They required enormous amounts of mana to function, but that was why it was always a member of the faculty powering them!
Zorzic knelt down next to Thomas and held his hand over the young man's body. His hand began to glow with divine white light as he held it in place and concentrated. A moment later he let out a sigh of relief, "He's not dead. His soul is still within his body."
Selena also let out a deep sigh of relief. If something were to happen to Thomas there would be nothing that could ever convince Hekrin to return to the kingdom and resume his work. She still had hopes that if Thomas had a positive impression of the capital he might be able to convince Hekrin to return.
Zorzic looked over the damage done to Thomas's chest and sighed. Thomas's heart had been completely obliterated, there were only signs of ragged pieces of it here and there. He turned and waved his hand over the ice still binding Thomas's feet to the dueling ring and let the young man's body lay flat on the ground, "Maybe it has something to do with him being an otherworlder. I've heard the rumors that they are immortal and always come back from death, no matter how gruesome that death may have been."
Selena looked at Zorzic and said, "But nothing is happening."
Zorzic stroked his beard before saying, "Perhaps he needs some help?"
Zorzic held his hand over Thomas's ruined chest and it once again began to glow with divine white light. As Zorzic channeled his Holy magic the wound on Thomas's chest slightly closed. Zorzic removed his hand after the minor healing spell and smiled, "Ah, excellent! If he was truly dead no amount of Holy magic could heal his wounds. Perhaps if we help the wounds heal he will wake up."
Zorzic held his hand over Thomas's chest and began casting spells once again. He started with weaker spells and slowly ramped up to stronger spells. Holy mana radiated heavily inside of the dueling ring causing everything nearby to glow with a subtle radiance. As his prodigious mana pool was getting low, he had cast the most powerful and highest tier healing spell he knew, Greater Restoration. The wound on Thomas's chest had long since been closed but there were no other changes to his condition even after the Greater Restoration spell settled into his body. Zorzic and Selena watched for a minute as nothing changed. Zorzic frowned, "He should be awake by now."
Selena looked down at Thomas's unconscious body and sighed. Even though his heart had been completely restored there was still no heartbeat from him, yet he wasn't dead either. It was a really strange situation that she'd never heard of before. Zorzic thought for a moment before nodding to himself when he came to a conclusion, "We'll take him to the infirmary for now. Perhaps he will wake up in time."
Zorzic turned to look at Brao and company, "Due to unforeseen circumstances I am officially declaring this duel as inconclusive. There is no winner."
As he started to turn back Brao bristled and yelled, "You can't do that! Jeko clearly won!"
Zorzic turned back to glare at Brao as he bellowed, "You dare challenge my authority on this matter?! For all I know, Jeko did something that caused this situation! If that's the case Jeko could potentially be charged with attempting to kill a student of the academy!"
Jeko immediately paled and said weakly, "I swear on my honor that I did nothing to cause this situation."
Zorzic glanced at Jeko for a brief moment before turning his ire back towards Brao, "My word on this matter is final! If you wish to challenge Thomas again after he has recovered you may do so, after I've had a word with the King about this entire incident."
Zorzic's gaze turned to Jerendalv, "I should also have a meeting with the entire staff about showing favoritism towards family members."
Zorzic turned his back on the group of three and cast a quick spell to gently levitate Thomas's body into the air. He looked at Selena, "I'm sorry about this, but as his witness you must stay around until he either revives or passes away."
Selena nodded her head with a serious look. She wasn't going to let Thomas out of her sight, she couldn't risk something else happening and souring relations with Hekrin even further. Together Selena and Zorzic made their way to the infirmary while Thomas quietly floated next to them. When they arrived Zorzic explained the situation to the healer on duty and had Thomas placed inside of a private room.
After setting Thomas down carefully on the bed in the room, Zorzic turned to Selena, "If there is any change let the healer know and they will fetch me right away."
Selena nodded and then made herself comfortable in one of the chairs inside the room. Zorzic quietly closed the door to the room as he left. He needed to request a meeting with the King right away. A noble abusing his right to have a champion fight for him over such a petty matter was a disgrace and not something that should be allowed in his academy. He was going to make sure such a despicable method could never be used again. Fortunately, there had never been someone so dishonorable in the past so this particular loophole had never been exploited in the past. Perhaps he should suggest that the king look into the Dueldrid family while he was at it. For them to raise such a despicable son, something must be going on there. Jerendalv needed to be dealt with as well. For a teacher to take sides like that was something that couldn't be allowed again.
After Zozic left, Selena sat comfortably in the chair for a few minutes. Once she was certain enough time had passed she got to work. She pulled white candles out of her inventory and set them in the four corners of the room. With a whisper, she ignited the wicks of all four candles at the same time. The lit candles caused a thin shimmering membrane to appear inside of the room effectively sealing it off from the outside world.
She let out a sigh of relief and stepped over to Thomas's body. She looked down at him and held her hand over his chest. Her hand began to glow with an unholy black light and emit similarly colored tendrils of magic that seeped into his body. She spent a moment searching and sighed, "Your soul is definitely there though it seems far away, but your body is dead. Are you an undead?"
The tendrils left Thomas's body as Selena began to cast another unholy spell on him. Black smoke-like energy emitted from her palm and sank into his body as she cast a minor enervating spell that would heal the undead and hurt the living. After she cast the spell she carefully checked over his body and saw no damage to it. She smiled and used the tendrils of darkness to probe his body to check his soul once again. She felt like his soul had come closer giving her the false impression that she had been correct in her assumption.
Selena began repeatedly casting Unholy magic on Thomas's body, driving negative energies into it to counteract the positive energies that Zorzic had used to heal him. Despite being a student in the same semester as Thomas, it was very apparent that not only was her mana pool a match for the dean but so was the rank of her unholy magic. Vile black energy permeated the room making it darker than it should have been as Unholy mana heavily permeated everything in the room. The barrier she set up worked overtime as it absorbed and cleansed the traces of the unholy mana within the room. There were no outward signs of anything changing, but when she probed him she could feel his soul coming closer and closer. If she was right one more big push and he would be revived!
Selena held her hand over his chest and gathered her mana while converting it into Unholy black energy. She gathered almost every last drop of her mana before casting her spell on Thomas. As the pitch black energy sank into his body it gave a jerk as his heart started back up. Elated, and slightly panicky, Selena waved her hand to extinguish and collect her candles while she made her way over to the chair and sat down. The candles had done their job well and left no trace of her Unholy magic within the room. She wanted to appear like she'd done nothing when Thomas awoke.