Lucy dropped the head of her hammer to the ground with more force than was strictly necessary, and held it upright with one hand while she whipped open her interface with the other and fired off a dueling challenge to Ray. He accepted it with a scowl and a sneer and pulled out a pair of swords. Dual-wielding, eh? Cough—duffle bag—cough.
Not that a flimsy pair of swords was likely to do much against Lucy's hammer. Now, let's see. The honorable thing would be to sit back and let Lucy duke it out with Ray on an even playing field.
But flick no, I wasn't doing that! What a total waste that would be. I flew over and lit behind Lucy so that I could position myself where I could mess with Ray without distracting her.
A golden-tinged bubble sprang into being, demarcating the approved area where the duel would take place, and giant numbers popped into being in the sky to count down the seconds until the match started. Aw man, this really took me back. As a predominantly cooperative player-versus-environment game, the BAO developers hadn't put all that much effort into the PvP duels, and it appeared that the virtual world implementation was identical to the computer game. I'd played a fair bit of duels for a couple runs back in the day, since they gave decently good experience for the time commitment, but eventually stopped because the skills that really shone in PvP weren't particularly applicable for conquering the end game content so although I hit max level faster, I ironically ended up progressing less quickly.
In any case, I was kind of surprised that Lucy even knew about duels. I couldn't recall seeing one occur since I'd cracked open my egg, but maybe she watched an online stream or something that mentioned them. Though given her shocking level of ignorance when it came to stats and skills, that was kind of hard to believe, too. Perhaps Ray told her about them back before she acquired me; he did strike me as the sort to explain every last piece of the interface instead of providing an overview of the important bits and getting into the fun faster.
I took a quick look round, and determined I was in as good a spot as any. Ray and Lucy were both standing tense and ready, and the countdown only had a few seconds left. The last few seconds were accompanied by a chiming sound, followed by a really cheesy airhorn. Hoo boy, everyone hated that airhorn sound. Probably one of the reasons so few people actually used duels in the first place, even though it was theoretically a core feature of the game.
Ray exploded into motion, whipping towards Lucy, and juking sideways as he came into range of her hammer.
She didn't even bother trying to hit him, though. Instead, she just swung her hammer overhand into the ground directly in front of herself, triggering Icy Grip at the last moment.
Ice exploded out from the impact, sending Ray stumbling as he was pelted with frozen shrapnel and the chilled debuff kicked in. I caught a brief glimpse of a look of utter confusion on his face before Lucy's hammer whipped around and impacted him dead center on his chest, lifting his light Nix-born body into the air and sending him sailing away to slam into the golden bubble and fall to his knees.
That. Was. Glorious! Lucy didn't have a chance to capitalize on the moment, though, because despite being chilled he still recovered from the hit fast enough to scramble to his feet and slowly jog around the periphery further out of her range. But who cared? What a great opener, Lucy!
Ray was giving Lucy a serious stink-eye. He'd even put one of his swords away, so maybe he was thinking of getting seri—wait a flicking minute, that snazzhat was drinking a potion! What a duffle! Who downed potions in duels?!
Okay, I was already planning to try and mess with Ray, but now the gloves were coming off! I waddled after Lucy as she sauntered Ray's direction, hammer up on her shoulder.
"Well, Ray?" she said.
He finished his potion, and tossed the empty bottle over his shoulder in a way that he probably thought looked cool, but actually just looked stupid. "So you got a lucky hit in. Won't happen again."
Unfortunately, judging by the way his skin was fast losing its blue tint, it looked like the chilled effect had worn off. I never thought I'd say it, but Lucy needed to improve her Icy Grip skill. That scribble was gold.
Before Lucy completely closed the distance and boxed him in, Ray advanced forward. He wasn't sprinting all-out like before, though; he'd evidently learned a little bit of caution from his disastrous initial dash. Lucy gamely took a swing at him, but he ducked out of the way and slashed her across the side as he slipped right past before pivoting around to attack her exposed back—and tripping over me as I smoothly danced backward right under his feet.
"The flick?!" swore Ray, desperately trying to keep his feet and not impale himself on his own sword, but by then I'd already sashayed my way behind him. His foot impacting me hadn't even interrupted my dance animation.
And didn't that provide some food for thought?
Lucy thankfully capitalized on Ray's stumble and as he looked up from regaining his footing all he must have seen was the head of her hammer on a trajectory terminating with his face.
Ouch, that must have hurt! The hit sent him spinning away, while behind him Lucy executed a perfect follow-through before bringing her hammer back around as she stepped into a secondary hit that laid him out flat on the ground.
By pure coincidence, Ray's head hit the dirt directly next to where I'd exited my backwards walk. On instinct, I reached out both arms like I was trying to grab the sides of his face and made a pulling motion towards myself. Nice, apparently I had a pelvic thrust dance move! Wasn't quite sure how that worked, given my utter lack of a pelvis, but whatever! Can't argue with results!
Ray spluttered, swore, and shoved me away as he tried to push himself to his feet. Good thing he still hadn't had a chance to get out his second sword, or he might have stabbed me. I was reasonably certain at this point it wouldn't have done any damage, but Lucy didn't really need any additional reasons to be pissed off.
He made it to his knees before the hammer descended, and a full power, overhand Icy Grip sent him straight back into the ground.
If the cascade of ice and debris hadn't pushed me back, I'd have humped his face again. Oh well. Next time!
Oooh, and "humped" wasn't blocked by the profanity filter! Today was just a day of happy discoveries all around.
At least for me. Not so much for Ray, as the duel ended with a ding ding ding sound reminiscent of a boxing bell, signifying that one of the fighters had taken lethal damage.
Lucy stepped back and shouldered her hammer. She had a big smile on her face. That might have been even more cathartic for her than it was for me. And pelvic thrusting into Ray's stupid face was pretty flicking cathartic.
Ray slowly pushed himself up off the ground. He looked like he'd swallowed a lemon whole, and then followed it up with a big ol' gulp of fresh-squeezed lemon juice as a chaser.
Lucy didn't say a thing, just stood there with her hammer on her shoulder and that scribble-eating grin all over her face. I surreptitiously edged out of Ray's line of sight, on the off chance he decided he wanted immediate vengeance for the face-humping.
Ray stared at Lucy for a few moments before throwing his hands in the air. "Fine! You're dishing out plenty of damage with that diddle hammer! Flick!"
"Hooray!" shouted Lucy, ditched her hammer to her inventory, and ran to hug Ray. Ugh. I'd forgotten that those two were technically an item. Or maybe just repressed it. Don't hug the dude, Lucy, you had to literally beat him into the ground to get him to even agree to think about letting you play the way you want to play.
Well, whatever. Ray was still in a pretty scribble mood, so Lucy only kept the hug up for a little bit before letting go and stepping back. Hugging someone who refuses to hug you back is awwwwkward.
"So what should we do now?" Boy, Lucy was amped up. She was practically bouncing in place.
"Flick if I know," muttered Ray.
"Well, do you want to come along on the story quest I'm working on for now while you think about where you'd like to play next? I don't think the gribblin dungeons will really be worth visiting anymore."
"Fine, whatever. Let's go."
Oh great, we were walking all the way back to where we started? I forward flipped my way into the air and flew over to perch on Lucy's shoulder. Ray gave me a massive stink-eye as he stalked by and took the lead as we walked back toward Fountain Town.
I was sorely tempted to perform my pelvic thrust just to piss him off, but I was pretty sure I'd fall off Lucy's shoulder if I tried that. Ah well. Next time.
Ray wasn't much for conversation as we back-tracked along Lucy's path, but Lucy happily chatted away about plorgs and the story behind the quest she was currently on. Evidently, she didn't really care that he was poking around in his interface pretty much the entire time, and clearly not listening to her.
Dude might have finally acknowledged Lucy's playstyle, but he was still a duffle-bag.