Chapter 25 Woman and Monster
Dale smiled, obviously amused at the turn of events. ‘This is already the most interesting day in a week…,’ Dale thought as he motioned to Gary. “Gary you’ll face her for your royal offense. See what the Queen can do. And don’t hold back, she can heal herself…,” He smiled at her as he joined the other spectators.
‘She’s leveled up insanely fast. If she’s just a healer she’ll still get messed up by Gary but something tells me this isn’t quite what will happen…,’
Gary the level 43 warrior unsheathed his sword and stiffly bowed to her. His eyes turned from embarrassed to focused. Dale was proud that even in a situation like this, his men turned serious and professional when asked to do so. Ilea also got into a fighting stance.
‘Hand to hand? Hmm… even more interesting.’ he thought. The blue aura she had quickly used before wasn’t present now, yet her eyes were focused as well. A grin was spreading on her face. ‘She’s changed more than just in levels, hasn’t she?’
Gary wasn’t bothered by the lack of a weapon and assumed she was a mage. Raising his shield a bit more and ready to dodge a ranged attack, he waited for Dale’s signal.
“Go!” Dale shouted and both of them sprang into action ‘She’s graceful… high Dexterity… and fast. Her Strength must be high as well. Why would a healer level those that high?’ Dale thought as the two advanced on each other, Ilea with aggressive abandon and Gary in a careful defensive fashion.
They came together and Gary slashed at her horizontally. Ilea dodged the blow and closed the distance on the side. Her punch was blocked by his shield as he skidded back two meters from the impact.
‘So it is hand to hand. A powerful strike but nothing special for someone her level. Being able to heal oneself though…,’ Dale mused about the possibilities but came to the conclusion that using a sword and being able to heal would still be better. ‘It’s certainly a surprise… especially with her Healer class.’
He analyzed the fight as three more blows were blocked by Gary, now fully on the defense. He slashed at her from above to which Ilea simply caught his sword. “What…,” A guard next to Dale exclaimed.
Turning the blade aside, Ilea smiled at Gary and punched him, sending the man to the ground three meters away. ‘She caught the sword? What are you doing girl?’ Some of the men clapped as Ilea helped Gary back up.
“So whacha think?” She asked Dale.
Ilea held back all of her skills. Not a single point of mana was used in the fight against the guard. She thought she did an alright job but Dale’s gaze didn’t seem to confirm that.
“You’re very graceful and strong. Your movements are… well how should I say it… they seem exaggerated. The first blow you dodged from Gary for example. It was executed well but you moved too far, losing the opening it would’ve given you.”
‘I’m starting to feel like coming here was a brilliant idea…,’ She thought, as she listened intently to what the experienced warrior had to tell her.
“You have a skill for moving, for fighting with your body? Or am I wrong?” He asked and she just nodded. “Well then you should use it. Either the skill isn’t high leveled enough or you’re disregarding parts of what it’s telling you.”
‘Of what it’s telling me? It’s not talking to me…,’
“I’m not sure what you mean Dale. I don’t think the level of the skill is the problem though.” He grunted affirmatively to her reply.
“How should I say it… all fighting classes or skills will let you instinctively move in the right way. You have to trust them, even if your mind is telling you that that sword will hit you. If you trust the skill and its level is high enough, you’ll be fine.”
The way she looked at him made him continue “I know it might sound stupid. Compare it to an ice mage knowing instinctively how to control or create the element with his mana. That comes from a passive skill the class grants him. A comparable passive skill for a warrior is Battle Sense or Swordsmanship.”
“As soon as the skills reach a higher level, you know instinctively how to get better at it. Continuous training will let you level up the skill and the skill will help you move into the right direction. In a fight you have to be able to trust your instincts, your mind will often be too slow to react.”
‘Insightful… it sounds like something that would be said in a samurai movie… the comparison with the ice manipulation makes sense to me… my fire manipulation works similar and when I try to consciously control it with my mind it’s much harder than just feeling it out…,’ She thought and went back to where she had stood at the start of the fight.
“Thank you for the guidance. Gary was it? Another round?” The man was standing again as well, listening to Dale. He nodded to her and got back into a fighting stance.
‘Body of Azarinth, Azarinth Perception and most importantly Azarinth Fighting. Two of them in the second tier already. Let’s see what I can do… what do they say in the movies? Don’t think so much.’
Dale watched as Ilea closed her eyes. ‘Let’s see if that helped…,’ He thought.
“GO!” He shouted and Gary immediately advanced on her. Knowing that she was a hand to hand fighter, he was less defensive about spells anymore. He reached her in three seconds, slashing at her from the side.
In the last moment Ilea took a small step backwards, the sword passing centimeters before her. Gary followed up with a twirl of his body and a shield bash with his left arm. Ilea still with her eyes closed crouched and turned with him, dodging the shield entirely. Her movement more akin to a dance than to fighting.
Turning around, Gary slashed from above. A small sidestep by her and his sword passed harmlessly by her side, the flat part of his weapon briefly touching her scale bracer.
Ilea opened her eyes as Gary thrust his sword directly at her. A ring sounded out when she deflected it with her left arm and bracer.
A grin growing on Ilea’s face, she got into a fighting stance “Let’s begin then. You have thirty seconds.”
Gary didn’t let himself be taunted and unleashed a flurry of sword slashes and thrusts at her interspersed by a couple of shield thrusts, kicks and even punches. All of them were swiftly dodged or deflected at the last moment with incredible ease.
The onlookers were speechless as they couldn’t believe the girl was the same person they had seen fighting just a moment before.
‘His time is up.’ Dale thought as a sudden punch landed on Gary’s stomach after a fluid and seemingly close dodge of his sword. He let out all the air in his lungs and buckled, the sword falling to his side.
Ilea caught him and propped him back up. “Thank you for the fight.” she said but Gary just bowed to her.
“Thank you for the demonstration. I’ll work harder to improve. Next time we meet I won’t be bested that easily.” He said but Dale knows that what the girl just demonstrated was not something Gary would reach in the near future, if ever.
The onlookers clapped, some with impressed looks on their faces. They’ve all seen good fighters before so this wasn’t something completely mind blowing. They were a little jealous as well as they must’ve attributed her skills to being born talented or into privilege. Most of them however were happy to have another healer on Elos especially one that could defend herself.
“Well that was quite a demonstration. I don’t think I could beat you with skill alone but I’ll definitely give it my best shot.” Dale said from the side as he prepared his gear. Getting on his helmet and shield, he walked to where Gary had stood before.
Facing the girl he had seen in her first real fight, he was proud in a way to see her reach this level. Dale cared a lot for the people he trained and fought with and he counted strays like her just as much as his own men. She had listened to his advice even though she had seemed cocky at first.
On the other hand he was excited to fight her, hopefully teach her a lesson or two. He was her senior after all and his experience vastly outclassed hers.
“Are you ready?” He called out and the girl changed into her fighting stance. “Yes sir!” She shouted which put a smile on his face. ‘Maybe we can recruit her after all…,’
Activating his aura skill that strengthened his muscles and heightened his reactions, he crouched down low and readied his shield. ‘I’ll end this one quickly, don’t want it to turn out like with Gary…,’ using his skill Dash, he closed the distance in a blur, following up with Shield Bash. The skill released a burst of kinetic force much greater than the shield itself could ever produce.
A shock wave ran through his left arm as he was stopped in his tracks. Locking eyes with Ilea, she grinned. The shield bash had only pushed her back half a meter, blocking the force with her arms crossed.
‘Stronger than I thought…,’ he thought. Gary would be transported into the wall behind him if Dale would use that technique on him.
Following up with a sword strike, she dodged them seemingly just as easily as the slashed from Gary. He confirmed this by having one of his kicks and two more slashes dodged just as easily. Immediately stepping back to make some distance, Dale wanted to prevent her using an opening by dodging his swings.
‘Let her come then…,’ he thought and raised his shield. His sword poised for a quick jab. Ilea quickly approached. His sword lashed out like a cobra striking its prey. And passed harmlessly by the girls side as she dodged with the smallest of movements. Cognitive Burst, a trump skill of Dale’s activated as his perception and speed immediately accelerated.
Predicting her attack, the world slowed down to a crawl for him as he redirected his sword jab with unnatural force towards her again. ‘Got you now.’ He thought as their eyes lock and he saw the grin still on her face.
A sudden blue glow shined from a row of runic tattoos on Ilea’s body, barely noticeable in the sun. His strike found its target but only air was there to greet it as a sudden impact to his side behind his shield rocked through him. The world spun and a sudden impact on his back pushed the last remains of air out of his lungs.
His ears rang as he heard muffled shouting from around him. He fell but was caught, blood filling his mouth. ‘Teach her a lesson… heh…,’ was all he could think before unconsciousness took him.
“Oh fuck fuck sorry sorry sorry! I overdid it!” Ilea shouted as she was the first one to arrive at Dale’s side the man half embedded in one of the building’s walls. Falling down, she caught him and immediately started to heal his injuries.
Realizing that he was not in any life threatening danger, she released a strained breath while continuing to heal. The other guards started moving as well and closed in on her, unsure on how to act. She was a healer but she did just injure one of theirs.
Not able to do anything else reasonable, they went to call for a healer while a couple of them stayed there to survey the situation.
Six minutes later two guards came back, a man in leather armor in their tow. He breathed heavily as he knelt down next to Ilea and checked on Dale.
“He’s fine. Why did you call me you idiots! You said he was heavily injured!” Noticing the smell, Ilea looked at the man and realized that he was in his underwear.
“They didn’t trust me. It’s fine if you go back and clean up though.” she smiled at the man as she identified him.
[Healer – lvl 53]
His face turned a bit red. “Apologies. I do have to take these claims seriously though. You guys owe me!” He shouted at the two guards who winced at his rage as he walked back the way he came, a brown stain clearly visible on his undergarments.
Shortly after Dale woke up, coughing a couple times while getting his bearings. “I passed out.” He said quietly and rested his head back on the ground.
“Healer my ass…,” He said as he closes his eyes and smiled.
“You might’ve won were it not for your advice before…,” She said to which he didn’t answer. ‘Likely not’ they both thought at the same time.
Excusing himself to the other guards five minutes later, Dale lead Ilea to his office. “You were holding back the whole time weren’t you?”
“I was, only body enhancing spells though. My first fight with Gary wasn’t me playing around.” She said. “Thank you again for the advice, I will take it to heart. Anything else you noticed?” Ilea asked him.
“I should be asking you instead… your technique is more refined than mine and your speed faster than even my best skill…,” ‘second best’ he thought but using a fatal skill in a training match would be beyond unreasonable. ‘… and who says that was her full power too…,’
His questions were well founded as Ilea didn’t even use Destruction in any of her punches. Body of Flame wasn’t used either, nor Azarinth Sphere. She had however used the Sphere against Gary when her eyes were closed.
“I don’t have anything for you either. That last skill was impressive, had you known about my abilities it might’ve even worked.”
Seeing that this didn’t improve his mood, Ilea started talking about her exploits in the past couple weeks, not mentioning the Alpha hound or the necromancers.
“A Fire Enhancer, quite impressive…,” Dale said as the picture of this innocent healer changed in his mind to a bloodthirsty fighter demon ‘She got the class in mere weeks… I don’t want to know what she had to do for that…,’
“Stalker Hounds… above level 90 you say…,” The bloodthirsty fighter demon was growing horns in his mind.
“Oh and you were there alone? That’s quite something.” His complexion was turning a little paler as the conversation went on ‘She could’ve killed me in that spar…,’ he thought as Ilea asked him a question.
“...Oh what?” he said.
“I asked how you’ve been doing. After the Elven attack a month ago. I’m sure there was a lot going on. The city seems mostly fine now though…,”
A bit of color coming back to his face, he focused on the question at hand. “A lot of people left the city. We helped rebuild and patrolled the surrounding areas. The Elves haven’t shown themselves since. It’s easier for people to ignore it you know… the constant danger.”
“Even though their house was burned down a month ago, it’s rebuilt again and they’re alive. Hating and blaming the Elves is easy. This attack didn’t change how anybody feels about them.” He continued.
“We’ve increased our training and patrols heavily though. Next week we’ll start going into nearby Dungeons and dangerous areas to make ourselves stronger. I can’t say we’ve always been as vigilant and disciplined as we should have been but starting now again is the best we can do.” He said thoughtfully.
“I just don’t get it you know…,” Ilea started and then trails off. She looked at the wall behind him as he waited for her to continue.
“You… we... have the opportunity to strengthen ourselves. To work hard and fight back. One person’s efforts alone can save a whole city…,” She thought back at the shields Esteban had raised above the arena to protect the people inside. He might not have saved the city but certainly hundreds of lives.
“I know what you mean Ilea. Most feel content to be protected by the strong though. They live their daily lives, not dreaming of improvement and adventure but the next arena fights or show at the tavern. Not realizing that they could be that same person fighting or performing.” He got up and came back with a bottle and two glasses.
“I hope juice is fine, I’m on duty.” he said and poured two glasses at her nod. “And you’ve been out there. I remember how you looked next to the burning caravan and the dead adventurers.”
“Not everyone can face that, can overcome it and become stronger through it. I’m not ashamed to say that I wouldn’t go into a Dungeon by myself either although I know it would be the fastest and best way to improve my own strength. And the ability to protect those I love.”
She drank some of the juice as he leaned back. “It’s just so much more graspable than…,” She trailed off again ‘… than on Earth. Where superpowers only existed in fiction. A bullet to the head means you’re dead most of the time and a fatal wound would kill no matter how skilled the surgeon was.’
“… to be able to stand when someone threatens you or someone you hold dear. To be able to save those injured with fatal wounds. What other choice do you have but to fight?” She said, feeling a bit ashamed at knowing how scared she had been when coming to this world and how much she actually enjoyed fighting, and winning.
The killing was a price she was willing to pay for the thrill, the power and the ability to protect and save. Or to just smash a Demon to pieces that your erotica novel loving friend tried to summon for sex.
“… I know I’m being unfair. I love fighting. The thrill… the power. It’s just a bit confusing to me that not more people chose a similar way of going about it…,” She finished.
“I understand. Many still do chose your way. Many of those again die, leaving behind grieving parents or lovers.” Dale told her and then opened and closed his mouth.
“What?” She asked, a smile coming to her face.
“You… well.” he started.
“I’m quite a maniac, I’m aware of that.” she said as he mirrored her smile.
“You sure are… fucking fire enhancer in less than a month…,” He answered, mumbling the latter half of the sentence.
“What level were you when you fought the Stalker hounds at first?” She was beginning to answer but he stopped her “No, thinking about it again, I don’t want to know.”
Dale then lifted his glass to her “To protecting our loved ones then.” he declared.
“To killing monsters.” she said as their glasses clinked.