With his timeline sped up by his opponent’s lack of charm, Randidly was forced to burn another 5% of his mana pool, smashing Drak with more attacks of Spearing Roots. It wasn’t that they weren’t effective, he was clearly feeling sore and tender in some spots from the hits. It was just that they were called Spearing Roots, not Hammering Roots, and Randidly left every trade feeling like he had spent too much for too little.
But, to be fair, that feeling might be mutual, after all of the annoying things Randidly had pulled. Well, it was the semi finals, and this was the last opponent that Randidly really planned to fight. But in his heart, he knew he could push Drak just a little further. His mouth spread wider in a grin.
Everything went into this. But Randidly needed a bit more time to do what he had planned, to shatter Drak’s confidence and force him to reveal the true trump card of his Style. The interference of the Spearing Roots was important but…
Randidly’s eyes flitted across the battlefield, even as he felt his Health, Mana, and Stamina tick slowly downward. The problem was he just didn’t have time. The strength of the image that Drak was conjuring-
Pausing, Randidly ruminated on that idea, or at least he wanted to, but he was forced to scramble backwards as Drak finished just bulldozing his way through the spells and arrived in front of Randidly. At this point, Randidly held no misunderstandings about his own ability to cope with Drak in a frontal attack. His spear skills were so far above Randidly’s that it was disgusting.
Drak practically acted as though his spear wasn’t there, and had left his initial spear broken, his arm shattered.
Dodging to the side, a realization hit Randidly, making his heart sink. In that moment, that attack that had wounded his arm… Drak probably could have ended the fight, even killed him. But he hadn’t. He had broken his weapon and main arm, then kept coming. It had been a ploy to break and hurt him, regardless of how the outcome of the fight would have gone.
Drak Wyrd hadn’t taken him seriously enough to finish when he had the chance.
All that rage and fear that Randidly could have been killed crystallized in his chest, forming an icy cold core, even while his bones began to burn, with increasing intensity and heat. Drak lashed out again, his spear a flash of light, the giant rising sun above them rumbling, forcing Randidly to use Phantom Half Step, sending himself backwards.
Grunting, this time Drak thrust, his spear becoming a burning light that left Randidly blinded.
Randidly’s breathing slowed his senses at their peak. The Aether in his body roared, swirling wildly, growing and building, seemingly furious at being cooped up so long within his body.
And Randidly felt it too, that Drak’s attack just kept extending, a thrust, targeting the fact that Phantom Half Step could only retreat in a straight line away from the force. Randidly’s body trembled as he tested it. Gritting his teeth, Randidly let his breathing slow further, smashing Drak with a directed attack of Anguish.
The spear slowed somewhat, but did not falter. But that was all the extra time that Randidly needed.
It had to be perfect timing, or-
His mana dropped precipitously low.
Ash to Ash
The spear had already drawn a drop of blood, sinking its tip into Randidly’s chest when he activated the skill, so his body immediately exploded in a cloud of hot and acrid ash. Instantly, Randidly reformed behind Drak, raising his spear.
His right arm twitched painfully, raising and gripping the shaft gingerly.
With a speed that didn’t seem fair Drak twisted around, his spear hitting the spot where Randidly had been at the waist. Luckily, Randidly was already ascending to the sky, utilizing Pierce the Skies, Shatter the Earth to move rapidly out of the way, without the predictability of Phantom Half Step.
Less than 10% mana, 19% Stamina, although that was rising rapidly with Second Wind, and only 24% Health. Really getting down to the wire.
But of course, Randidly had a 4th resource, one that he still had in a large supply.
Aether sung as he channeled it through every corner of his body, then through his body and into the spear, which began to shake, not designed to handle so much Aether at once. But as Randidly shot upwards with the skill, he raised the spear, aiming it higher, thrusting it upwards into the sun above the arena.
Then he sucked inwards, using the natural power of the spear to draw in meaning.
The sky above trembled, Drak seemed to falter, his stance shifting into something more surprised than dangerous.
Again, as Randidly reached the apex of the jump, he drew in everything he could, pressing with his will, feeding more and more Aether into the spear. The spear was humming now, the runes on it glowing brighter and brighter, the machinations of it furiously activating.
In spurts, then in larger chunks, Randidly began to feel subtle things about the world, a hint of the images. The feel of a breeze, the superheated air, the desolation that a world beneath such a sun would experience… but then he began to feel the eternal fires of the sun. Then the superhot chemical reaction that would fuel that, and the dwindling supplies of that supernova, the expiration date that would mean the end of this power.
Fire, explosive and dangerous, a draining, supreme fire, that did not burn, but simply incinerated everything.
Still Randidly drew the meaning inward, as he began to fall towards the ground. Now the spear was screaming, almost in agony.
Then it all clicked. He found an image, practically fully formed, floating in small pieces inside of him.
The sun above, Drak’s great image, shuddered and died, leaving the battlefield abruptly free of its influence. Randidly crashed to the ground, some distance away from Drak, and turned to face the man, who was totally shocked.
Maybe now they would finally have time to-
An inarticulate roar erupted from Drak’s lips, and he rushed forward towards Randidly, who could only sigh. No rest for the wicked. But now, he could do something dangerous, to meet this opponent head on. With the infinite seeming Aether swirling within him, he began to shape the image he wanted. Notifications popped up, but he ignored them, eyeing Drak.
Spearing Roots ripped forward again, smashing into Drak, but Randidly’s opponent ignored them, too furious to even stop and block them like he usually did. Grinning Randidly continued to split his attention, half on the image, the other half on his Spearing Roots. Instead of attacking Drak’s vital points, Randidly aimed elsewhere, hoping…
And his faith was rewarded when a Spearing Root ripped into Drak’s side, sinking into his body, staggering him. Instantly, every Spearing Root rushed forward to the spot, ripping the wound wider. Randidly had repeatedly hit the same spot, using his high Control stat to focus his attacks on the same points. And after wave after wave of that, he had finally punctured that strangely thick skin of Drak’s.
Drak howled, and instantly used his spear to decimate the roots. But it was not before Randidly had created more Spearing Roots from the tip of the root that had punctured his skin, using that small opening, doing an insane amount of internal damage.
There was no hesitation to it either, no fear of killing his opponent. Perhaps it was a result of all the time spent preparing for just this with Azriel, but Randidly almost felt that if his opponent couldn’t survive this, it wouldn’t be an opponent that had hung over him for so long.
Drak staggered, then advanced, even faster, barely inconvenienced by Randidly’s blows. Which was exactly what Randidly wanted.
Congratulations! You have created the Second Kata of the Ashen Spear. As this was created on a higher Cohort world than your own, all benefits have been forfeited. Please name the skill.
“As the Sun Stills.”
As the Sun Stills ® Lvl 1 has been created!