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A note from Belgianfri

Want a cool soundtrack to listen to while reading this battle? 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=acITJV6VHBE&list=PL89gkc3ubpLpFaRq4SctfKPjWCHbKhA9y&index=87

 

I charged at the necromancer, stomping down to launch myself at him, cracking the stone floor in the process. I held back from using my [Shadow apparation], because my dark alignment was a trump card that could win me this battle instantly. Before I did that though, I wanted to figure out what kind of defensive measures he had. If he had another shield, my apparation would just be another wasted opportunity, after all.

The necromancer countered my charge by finishing his spell. The tome in his hands covered the room in darkness as the fool shouted something at the top of his lungs.

[MASS RAISE UNDEAD]!

I startled as the ground around me started to rumble, skeletal limbs breaking through looser patched of dirt around the chamber. A moment later a group of around fifty undead dug themselves out of the earth around the chamber. They were wearing an assortment of items, most just being tier-less. I did a quick check and found two skeletons that had enchanted equipment. One was wearing a red, torn rag and wielding a wizard's staff that glowed red, the other had no equipment at all, save for a great sword that looked far too expensive to be your standard run of the mill weapon. It didn't have any clear indication of an enchantment, but I kept an eye on it all the same.

"How do you like that? Quantity is a quality all its own!" the necromancer cackled.

Quickly, I found myself surrounded by a swarm of mindless undead. I deliberated wasting my element of surprise to attack the necromancer again, but decided to hold off until the situation became dire. Revan took advantage of the chaos to sneak up behind the demon baby. The demon was flying near the necromancer, only to be bowled out of the sky by a very hungry bone crocodile. Revan and the demon started screeching and clawing at each other while rolling on the ground. It reminded me of a cat fight.

"Yeaaach! Let me go, you overgrown dinosaur! I, the great Rickardo, am a cherub demon of immense status! You will obey..."

His cry was interrupted by Revan biting down on his arm and making a turning motion. It would have been enough to tear the limb off normally, but demons had a frighteningly strong constitution.

Soon, the necromancer would notice that Revan was an undead, that fought as my familiar. The figurative cat would be out of the bag when he realised that I also had a dark affinity, so if I still wanted to surprise my opponent, now was the time. I used my apparation to appear above the necromancer, thrusting down in a movement that was starting to feel familiar at this point. No one ever bothered looking up, after all.

Still, it seemed like I was destined to fail every time I tried that tactic, because right as my sword pierced him, his body turned hazy. It turned into a black smoke, not dissimilar to my own apparation skill. Yet, while it did allow him to dodge my strike, he only recovered a few paces away, signifying that it was a defensive skill, rather than a mobility based one like mine.

"What! [Shadow apparation]? Did that bitch send you to kill me? She was never going to pay up in the first place, was she..? Of course not. Why would she offer her staff for some poison? What a fool I was to believe her!"

I didn't let him finish his monologue, because a second later I was on top of him, charging up my augment at full blast.

My core drew in mana from the surrounding area, slowly increasing the amount of mana that it pumped out. My [Battle meditation] fed it more and more mana, while my [Mana physique] further amplified the incoming amount. My sword became pitch black as it was covered in black mana. I could feel power return to my muscles, giving me at least twice as much strength as usual. Dark mana started to swirl around me in a cone, rushing past my skin like wind.

I wasn't going to overload quite yet, but I was ready to do so if I found a weakness in the alchemist's defence.

When I reached him, I swung for his tome, which he countered by sending a ball of grey smoke at me. I was forced to block his magic, and deflected it into the crowd of skeletons that was desperately trying to reach me before I apparated away. It hit one of them, which turned him into ashes almost instantly. Even parts of his bones that hadn't been hit directly crumbled and lost their structure, turning to dust.

"How do you like my [Death magic], false hunter? It took me quite some time to reach these heights of power! Death magic works just as well against a fellow dark affinity user. Among tier 3 warriors, no one can defeat me anymore, not even you!"

I attempted to shut him up with a strike, but was again faced with a barrage of grey orbs, forcing me to deflect each one. I wasn't confident enough in my healing capabilities to tank them. Thankfully, a few deflected orbs hit his own servants instead, thinning out the squadron of skeletons a bit.

Apparently one of the two aberrant skeletons found this to be the perfect opportunity to show their hand, since I was kept in place by the necromancer's spells. The wizard skeleton lifted his staff and summoned a giant ball of fire, which kept growing. I looked for the swordsman, but that skeleton was just sitting down casually on top of a rock a small distance away. I decided to focus on the skeleton caster first.

I apparated next to it and killed it with a charged up swing, decapitating it in one blow, but not before it released its fireball. Luckily, the giant fireball was incredibly slow, for some reason only traveling at the speed of a normal person's walking speed. I dodged it easily and diverted my attention to the necromancer, hoping he would run out of mana soon. Sadly, I had no such luck, because even when I got close to him, my attacks would just phase through his smoky body.

It was then that I felt heat on my back. When I turned around, I could see the giant ball of fire approaching me again. It was following me! Even if it did travel slowly, the fact that it followed me personally made it impossible to dodge fully. It would serve to limit my movement and force me to keep changing positions, limiting my offensive options. I had to get rid of it as soon as possible.

I looked over at Revan, who was still struggling with the demon. They were both looking very beat up at this point, neither having any defensive skills. Thinking quickly, I came up with a tactic. I apparated near the angelic baby, and stabbed it through the skull with an empowered strike. It died instantly, freeing up Revan's attention. Mentally, I commanded Revan to jump into the fireball at my command.

"Rickardo! NO! Do you even understand how difficult it is to force a demon into a contract, you damn peasant? Repay me with your death!"

The necromancer lost his calm and started siphoning more and more mana into his tome, sending grey constructs of all kinds at me. Orbs, illusory swords and axes, even spears and bolts were sent out. I dodged most of his badly aimed attacks and deflected the rest, leaving about thirty-five skeletons. I apparated around the room, slowly guiding the homing fireball and stupid skeletons into the same spot. I told Revan to detonate it right as it was near the middle of the group. The moment Revan touched the ball, it expanded and blew up, covering a large part of the chamber and making the cave shake.

I apparated to keep my distance, but was still thrown to the floor from the blast. When everything calmed down again, there were only a few skeletons left. I stood up and sent myself into a flurry of apparations and thrusts to destroy the remaining ones. After I finished the last skeleton, I noticed that my mana output had been higher than my input for a while now. I still had about a third left in my core, which was at the very least a huge improvement compared to my tier 1 core, considering that I had kept my augment active at full blast the entire battle. To be fair, I was surrounded by an ocean of dark mana, which made my mana input much higher. Evidently, the necromancer was not happy with the way the battle was going either.

"Damn Helios! You come here with the intent to kill me and steal my product! You kill my demon and destroy the skeletons I farmed? Do you think any of that matters in the end? I cultivated this cave to be the perfect environment. Your death is nigh!"

Another swarm of projectiles was sent at me, as the mana in the air rushed into the tome. I apparated around the room, slowly approaching the necromancer. Each time I got close, I would slash, stab and even kick him, sending out waves of mana into our surroundings, however none of my attacks connected. My attacks became faster and faster as the fight dragged on because of [Berserker Swordsmanship], but even that didn't seem to make a difference. The necromancer squealed in glee at my frustrated expression.

"[Shadow cloak] makes me invulnerable, fool! As long as I have mana, I am immortal!"

Mana, huh. He was a tier 3, so he had quite a bit of it, but he should have run out by now. Invulnerability skills sucked up mana like sponges after all... Was that tome of his supplying him with more, similar to my battle meditation? Problem was, the tome was also invulnerable as long as he had mana...

"That tome is providing you with a near infinite amount of mana, right?"

"Hah! Just because you realised that, it doesn't mean anything will change!"

"What a cheat. Thing is...I cheat, too."

"What are you talking about..?"

Before he could finish his sentence, his eyes went wide. I came at him hands first. Right as he was about to turn into smoke, I grabbed onto his tome, sucking up the mana he was using to cast his spells before it could turn him intangible. I was starting to spin my core faster and faster, absorbing more mana than I could process, expelling it just as quickly. After a few seconds I had revved up enough to force my overload to snowball into becoming larger and larger, absorbing even more mana in the process.

As long as the necromancer had mana, I couldn't do a thing. If I sucked up all of that mana myself, however...

The necromancer tried to gather more and more mana into the tome, only for it to be sucked up by me right after. From the snarl the necromancer gave me, I could tell he intended to draw in more mana than I could take. I suppose we would see what would give out first. My ability, or the mana in the cave.

Like that, we struggled back and forth, him supplying more mana and me expelling it.

"Why won't you die already! This much mana should have destroyed you already!"

He wasn't wrong. My veins were turning black again, my overloading scars similarly lighting up with a black glow. Despite my upgraded core, I was nearing my limit. So was the tome, though. Its mana gathering abilities were starting to malfunction, because the edges of its pages were fraying, its cover drying out. Any time now it would destroy itself.

It did, a moment later. The tome sputtered out, blowing up with a wave of dark mana right after. The explosion knocked us both back, completely incinerating my hand in the process.

I lifted myself up from the ground slowly. I couldn't feel the pain of losing a hand, so I was ready to finish off the necromancer right then. As I stood up, my charred forearm started writhing, slowly regenerating my hand by using the immense amount of dark mana coursing through my body. I expelled most of the rest, which left my core near empty again. I hadn't had a choice, really. The large amount of mana would either need to be expelled or it would destroy my organs. I didn't heal fast enough to counteract that kind of damage yet, so entering the overloading state was something I could only do temporarily. Overloading on mana actually tired out your core a lot, limiting the amount of mana you could store there for a while, as well. All of those limitations made overloading a very unreliable and situational strategy. It didn't help that you needed a large amount of a very specific element of mana to do it either, which is why it was considered an unusable strategy by most.

Still, it had saved me from an unwinnable fight this time, showing how lucky I was.

With the dust settled, I could see the necromancer laying down. He had propped himself up against a rock with his remaining arm, having lost the other one. When he saw me approach, he smiled.

"Happy now? A priceless artefact, reduced to dust."

"If you cared as much about people as you do about artefacts, maybe you wouldn't be in this situation."

"You are... a peculiar one. I've never heard of a sorcerer that uses a sword and no spells...and that core of yours... a work of art..."

"How did you become like this?"

"Like what?"

"A criminal? A psychopath."

"Don't tell me... you're still resisting your curse? Incredible... I gave up almost instantly."

My curiosity was piqued by now. The curse? Was he talking about the mental skills that made dark casters go insane?

"Tell me about your curse."

"Well, why not. I'm dying anyway, I don't have resistance to overload like you, so it was all for naught in the end. I was the son of an artefact dealer, something I quickly gained a passion for as well. I wanted to succeed my father in the business, but it was not to be. When I awakened, I received the class [Novice necromancer] and with it, the skill [Fixated insanity]. From then on, I started my true journey to greatness! My hunt for artefacts of all kinds! It eventually led me to find my grimoire in a tomb somewhere. I could have been great, if it weren't for you."

"So [Fixated insanity] forced you to disregard everything and everyone, focusing only on your fixation on artefacts."

"Bah, chicken or egg, egg or chicken, it makes no difference. The system assigns us a class, forcing us down a certain path regardless, whether that's insanity or not."

 

At this point, the necromancer was bleeding out. His voice was becoming strained and occasionally he coughed up blood. He was nearing his end.

 

"The system decides our fate. No matter what, we can't escape from it. Trying is pointless torture... Remember this, false hunter. You are just as cursed as I, and you will never break your chains... No one ever has, except for Helios. And even he only traded his chains for a gilded cage. You'll come to agree with me in time..."

As the alchemist breathed his last, I lopped off his head, finally finishing him.

"Break my chains, huh? We'll see about that, old man. We'll see about that."

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A note from Belgianfri

Don't worry about the sword wielding skeleton, he'll be mentioned next chapter.

Discord: https://discord.gg/SYmvVrssyT

Fact: I mentioned 'mana' 36 times this chapter. Tired of reading that word yet? :) 

 


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Belgianfri

  • Your holiness

Bio: I like fries. The belgian kind.

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