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A note from Selkie

Part 2 of 2.

 

Read part 1 first.

Holy shit, was that-

A man bounded out of the North Gate, with an almost completely bare torso, filled with rippling muscles. His right arm was bare, except for a sword in his hand. His left arm was armored from the shoulder down, ending with a rope net, small metal balls woven throughout. A vambrace with five gems protected his forearm, two of them glowing.

And his face –

His face was all too familiar, but no longer fat and pudgy. He’d burned the fat off in the arena, but I could remember all too vividly the last time I’d seen him, the fear and revulsion I’d felt, later morphed into an icy hatred after he’d sent adventurers after me.

“Kerberos.” I practically spat out, and did spit after saying it, trying to wash my mouth of the foul word.

A quick [Identify] gave me [Warrior]. Somewhere around 145 or so. I had a large advantage in terms of stats and levels, and he probably didn’t know about me being a mage. I probably looked like a tasty sacrifice.

Thinking quickly on it – his class was probably some sort of [Gladiator] with the way he’d been introduced. He was specialized for this sort of work, while I was a generalist. Maximus’s lesson on how specialists could punch way above their weight class when in the right situation came back to me, and I resolved to be extra-careful, regardless of the level and stat disparity.

He wasn’t wearing a helmet, and I saw his eyes widen.

“Elaine.” He said as venomously as a viper.

He started to walk a slow circle around me, oh-so-slowly getting closer.

[Announcer]! Amplify me!” Kerberos shouted up.

“Ladies and Gentlemen! Citizens and Freemen! It looks and sounds like there’s more to this fight than what it seems! Direct from the Demon of the Pit himself, let’s hear it from Kerberos!”

That announcement got a lot more cheering than anything earlier – seemed like people liked a grudge match. I could see what Kerberos was doing, having seen it in a dozen duels I’d been on overwatch for – he was trying to slowly close the distance on me without me noticing, confusing me with his shifting, ever-changing steps.

I took a large step backwards, adjusting. Yeah, I wasn’t going to let someone that close to me, not that easily. Probably gave away that I had some idea what I was doing though.

“This bitch here’s supposed to be my wife!” Kerberos said, and the crowd fucking loved that. A grudge match between almost-spouses?

“She ran away from home, and when I sent some people to make sure she was safe, and bring her back home, instead she framed me! Framed my family, for a heinous crime! We were forced to pay tens of thousands of rods, and I got sent here!”

Lots of boos in my direction. [Vigilant] pinged, and I neatly sidestepped some rotten cabbage thrown my way. I threw a dirty look at one of the vendors selling rotten food.

“But now! All will be right! The gods have seen fit to throw this cunt in the arena against me, a tasty, high-level healer for me to level on! I’m going to beat her, fuck her, then force her to crawl, begging forgiveness!”

A sickening roar of approval went up from the crowd, and I felt my stomach drop out at that.

However, he was still an idiot. With that last sentence, I wasn’t bound anymore.

“I’m going to make her suck-“

I used Artemis’s trick, imbuing my voice with power, with fire.

Also, Artemis’s trick of not fighting fair. I wasn’t going to announce what I was doing; I wasn’t going to be sporting. I wasn’t here for that.

[Fireball].” I intoned, a massive ball erupting from my fingertip, racing off to Kerberos. His eyes widened, his speech interrupted in the middle, as the [Fireball] directly landed on him and exploded, as hot and powerful as I could manage. There was no warming up, there was no playing around. No declaring that the fight began, no trash-talking back, no pandering to the audience.

As Night said – and I was completely onboard with him now – this was an execution, one that I was all too happy to participate in. Arranged by Night, not as a favor, but as a way to get rid of someone Rangers hated the most – someone who’d attacked a Ranger, and had somewhat gotten away with it. By sheer virtue of still being alive. I’d said I’d take care of it all those years ago, and, well, now I was taking care of it.

The announcer was screaming, the crowd was going nuts. I tuned them out, they didn’t matter. [Veil] hid me as I moved through the sand, repositioning myself.

I dropped [Veil], only to see Kerberos looking off to my right, horrible burns on his skin starting to slowly reform.

I had a small hope that a single, well-placed [Fireball] would end the fight, would be enough to kill him in a single go. I could usually kill a Formorian with a direct hit like that, but no such luck. Either his stats were heavy in vitality, or he had some skill to help him survive. Probably the latter. Damn specialization.

I didn’t say anything this time. I just threw another [Fireball], the shout from the crowd his only warning. To his credit, he threw himself out of the way, only getting nicked by the edge of the explosion. It still caused his leg to eat it. I’d evaluate the damage later.

The follow-up [Fireball] landed directly on him, and he barely managed to roll out of the way of the third one, jumping back to his feet.

He was panting, coated in burns, patches of his skin peeling off. He looked at me, with hate and venom in his eyes, only one light on his vambrace remaining.

Bastard was blatantly cheating, bringing gemstones in to heal him, and nobody was calling him on it.

He started to charge me head-on, and [Fireball] seemed to be working, so I threw another one at him, eyes widening in surprise as a shimmering barrier snapped around him, the last light on his vambrace going dark.

Fucking rich pricks and their gemstones.

[Rapidash] helped me get distance again – I had to be slightly careful, as I was unbalanced again, my stats not quite properly aligned, but I was just getting distance, I wasn’t trying to do anything fancy, not going at full power- and I threw another [Fireball] at him, taking a moment to check my mana.

18344/35460

I’d gotten a little too used to having endless mana to throw skills around with, and I decided to bide my time for his shield to go down – it couldn’t last long, not with how gemstones worked.

I let him get closer and closer each time before blowing [Rapidash] to regain distance, wanting to draw out how long this took. He was hurt. He was slowing down. Time was usually against the mage in a mage vs physical confrontation, but not this time. I’d hurt him, and hurt him badly, and I wanted to draw it out. Mostly from a logical perspective, he was hurting, and drawing the fight out was to my advantage. A small part of me was happy he was suffering. Thank goodness he wasn’t that high level – well, relatively speaking. Nor was he a speedster.

As I let him get closer for the 3rd time, keeping a wary eye on his net, I fucked up. He had something, some sort of gap-closing skill, had been faking how badly he was hurt to get closer, and he blurred as he moved fast, suddenly getting within range, throwing his net at me.

However, his shield went down for that, and I blasted flames at the net, [Burn Brightly] incinerating the ropes. I got peppered with incinerating hot little metal pieces from the net, but I wasn’t trapped. It wasn’t going to slow me down. I’d done worse to myself.

Kerberos’s right arm drew back, then started to stab forward, trying to impale me, cripple my leg. I threw a [Veil] in the way, in the awkward spot on his elbow, arresting his momentum in a way that was exceedingly mana-efficient.

He snarled at me, so close I could smell his breath, spitting on me. Getting close to a powerful Classer, one with mana, one trying to kill you, was always a terrible idea. It was going to be me or him in just a few seconds.

At this range, I could use [Fire Conjuration] and [Fire Manipulation], and I wasn’t limited to just using them. I shot two hot, narrow jets of flame, one at his groin, one at his chest, making it hard to block and defend against both. They had potential to do damage, but they weren’t my main attack. I could use more than one skill at a time.

I reached up with my right hand, grabbed his face, and from point-blank range –

“[Fireball].”

It blew his head clean off his shoulders, exploding into a hot, charred mess. It was blessedly hot enough that there was no spray of blood, just burning chunks of human flesh gently raining down around me, smelling sickeningly of pork.

[*Ding!* You have slain a [Retiarius] (Water, lv 145)// [Thraex] (Fire, lv 140)

 

I swore off pork then and there. I was never eating it again. The rest of the world came into focus, as the sound of the crowd and the announcer came back to me.

“Citizens and Freemen! There we have it! In a surprise twist of events, Healer Elaine has reversed the tables on Kerberos, and blown his head clean off! Is this the start of a new legend?”

I unsteadily got to my feet. Right, the Ranger’s Eagle. I pointed up, and threw it up, made out of flames, as strong as I could make it.

The announcer’s voice cut out. Superimposed over my Eagle was a second, giant one, as large as the arena. The light from the sun was cut out, as some skill killed the lighting. From all around, loud enough for everyone to hear, soft enough that it seemed like it was a whisper in your ear, came a voice.

“This is what happens to those who attempt to arrange an attack on a Ranger.”

With that, the illusion, and the voice, faded.

The crowd exploded, and even the announcer was at loss for words for a moment.

I didn’t care. I had already walked out.

[*Ding!* Congratulations! [Ranger’s Lore] has reached level 183!]

[*Ding!* Congratulations! [Ranger’s Lore] has reached level 190!]

[Name: Elaine]

[Race: Human]

[Age: 18]

[Mana: 35460/35460]

[Mana Regen: 36219]

Stats

[Free Stats: 1032]

[Strength: 184]

[Dexterity: 210]

[Vitality: 297]

[Speed: 220]

[Mana: 3546]

[Mana Regeneration: 3967]

[Magic Power: 3079]

[Magic Control: 3406]

[Class 1: [Constellation of the Healer - Celestial: Lv 240]]

[Celestial Affinity: 240]

[Warmth of the Sun: 198]

[Medicine: 202]

[Center of the Galaxy: 233]

[Phases of the Moon: 240]

[Moonlight: 240]

[Veil of the Aurora: 212]

[Vastness of the Stars: 139]

[Class 2: [Pyromancer - Fire: Lv 128]+]

[Fire Affinity: 128]

[Fire Resistance: 128]

[Fire Conjuration: 128]

[Fire Manipulation: 128]

[Fuel for the Fire: 128]

[Burn Brightly: 128]

[Rapidash: 128]

[Fireball: 128]

[Class 3: Locked]

General Skills

[Identify: 136]

[Recollection of a Distant Life: 159]

[Pretty: 132]

[Vigilant: 195]

[Oath of Elaine to Lyra: 200]

[Ranger's Lore: 190]

[Training: 160]

[Learning: 212]

 

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A note from Selkie

To all of you wondering where Kerberos has been this whole time, and wildly speculating - he was sent off to the colleseum as punishment. 

 


If you could give me an advanced review, that'd be great. They're weighted more heavily than anything else, and I've been looking carefully at trending - it's clear that the rating the novel has is super important. Hence, advanced reviews help me go up in the trending list. They help more people see it, which gets more people rating and following it, which has a synergistic effect that hopefully turns into a runaway effect, which gets enough people interested that I get to do this full-time. Seriously, it matters, and it helps.

BTDEM is bog standard in many ways. However, I'm willing to do things that turn some readers off - and so far, more of my reviews have been from people that I make mad more than people who are happy. Just how the internet works. I'm hoping some of you that are enjoying things are willing to leave reviews or advanced reviews. They matter. You matter.

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Selkie

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