Randidly was quite pleased with the way things had turned out with his stand. Although business was slow at first, after that rabbit had come through, everyone had wandered over. And once that group of people had tasted his food, word of mouth spread news of it even faster.
Soon, dozens of people were swarming around his stall, and his Cooking Skill could be displayed to the fullest. It was a very satisfying night, and exactly what he needed to get his mind off of the nonsense of Paths and Skills.
He had even gained a few Skill Levels in his Chef’s Palette and Cooking Skills, as well as one in the Yyrwood Flesh of Yggdrasil. Every little bit helped, now that he was much lower on Skills.
Afterwards, most people were pulled away towards the Tactics Assessment, to watch, but after reading Daniel and Mrs. Hamilton’s rules for the competition, Randidly knew that it wouldn’t be a very interesting game to watch. More interesting to just wait, and see who would emerge as the victor. For the person who was the winner of the Tactics, well the highest NCC at the Assessment, would be a person that Randidly had to make a decision over.
At the very least, Randidly would establish an Aether connection with the individual who won, but also… he might very well use that person as an experiment to see how creating a Class would work…
An image of Nathan’s determined face flashed before Randidly, who could only shake his head. That… that was not a possibility. Although the boy had a firm resolve that reminded Randidly of himself, he was…9….? 8….? The fact that Randidly didn’t even know reaffirmed in his mind that it wasn’t possible to use the boy as a test dummy. He would simply need to accept whoever won the Tactics portion, provided Mrs. Hamilton could assure their quality of character.
Randidly wasn’t currently very confident about his Class creation experience, if he was being honest with himself. They had a little over two weeks remaining in their month time frame, and the effects of the Aether being cut off was becoming increasingly apparent. Although crop yields were still high, the produce harvested was empty, compared to the previous crops. The same vital energy wasn’t present.
For the first time since the System arrived, most people were finding that they needed to sleep, at least for a few hours, each night. The Assessment was acting as a good excuse, as everyone could tell themselves that they were just tired from the excitement, but the truth was their Zone was being starved of Aether. It was not how Randidly wanted Donnyton to end.
In his heart, he suddenly felt a lot of guilt over all of the activities that he had spent time doing this past week that were not related to Aether. His eyes hardened. That stopped now. He had enough of a break.
Sighing, Randidly removed his sunglasses and mask, and left his stall. He stopped a Squad Member of Donnyton, and sent a message to Daniel to send for him when the Tactics Assessment concluded. Until then, he would be studying Aether. And more than that, working with Lucretia and Neveah to improve his ability to shape it…
It wasn’t simply knowledge that he lacked currently; it was also a soft touch to weave the Aether together.
As Randidly found a quiet spot by his cabin and sank into his inner world, he found Lucretia creating a strange weave of Aether. “Welcome back. Good, try this, we likely need to be able to do this in real time during the Class creation, so practice hard.”
In another corner of his mind, he could feel Neveah pouring over the list of runes they had gathered, tinkering with them, making them in 3D models of woven Aether threads that made Randidly’s head spin. He shook those doubts clear. Only one struggle at a time.
Then he got to work.
Kayle cracked his knuckles sitting down for the finals of the Tactics competition. To his surprise, Kayle had enjoyed the concept of the game immensely. He had faced a dozen opponents to get here, and each one had made relatively unique choices in how they arranged their units and what units they chose.
It was just they behaved rather similarly on first contact, which let them play right into Kayle’s hands. Most people would simply bring their other forces around to attack units they found, happy to have encountered an enemy at all. The fact that you couldn’t see anything, and all information was fed through notes made a lot of people nervous.
Meanwhile, Kayle felt that his own patience and imagination was exactly what was needed to persist in the competition. You could not let the lack of information influence your decisions. On the battlefield, an imperturbable attitude was key. Without it, you would swiftly make a mistake.
His opponent, a man named Stan, didn’t seem particularly intelligent or savvy, but he did seem extremely good natured and calm. This put Kayle on edge for some reason. Also because the man he was up against had won his games either very quickly, or after a very long time. That showed that this man was not one who got into messy scraps and skirmishes. He controlled the battlefield, and attacked at all the right points.
Hum… this was an opponent who valued flexibility, so…
For his starting units, Kayle chose the Raid Boss, Mages, and Rogues. He had been very impressed with the Raid Boss as an unit so far, and the other two were designed to counter the hard counter to the Raid Boss, the Knights.
One of the great things about the Raid Boss, and the weakness, Kayle supposed, is that when its health was 15 or above, it recovered one health every turn. However, below 15, it lost health every turn. With this recovery, combined with its taunt, it was difficult for any significant damage to be dealt to it without a Knight’s charge.
The selected map made Kayle grimace. The ravine map. A double edged sword for a Raid Boss, but it definitely meant a lot that he had a singular powerful piece. When the battle began, Kayle spread his forces out, sending the Rogues further afield to scout. Almost instantly, a paper was returned to him. Kayle raised his eyebrows. It seemed the other played fast.
Nothing to report. So Kayle moved his Rogues farther forward, while keeping the other two back.
Again, the note came almost instantly in response. Nothing to report.
After a hesitation, Kayle had his units sit and wait. One more turn. If the other hadn’t appeared by then… he didn’t want to commit his Raid Boss without finding the enemy first…
Again, the response was instantaneous. The content of the note made Kayle frown. Werewolves were scything through his Rogues. It was annoying but for the best that the opponent had chosen Werewolves, but he would sustain losses to make the opponent bleed.
While having his Rogues engage, Kayle moved his Raid Boss to provide support, and his Mages to stay close on its back, protecting it from ambush. Which was why the next note made Kayle’s jaw drop.
Ultimately… his Rogues had repelled the Werewolves, as only half the pack was there…? He had lost 6 Rogues, but his opponent had lost 8 Werewolves. Meanwhile… the other 10 Werewolves and a group of 20 Workers had hit his Mages?!!? How had the other-
No, now wasn’t the time for that. Shaking his head, Kayle ordered his Rogues to pursue the remaining 2 Werewolves. Better to flush out a ambush with the wounded Rogues. Meanwhile, he ordered his Mages to engage, and moved his Raid Boss to cut off the other Werewolf group’s retreat. Truly, his opponent had been lucky with the Werewolf choice. The ability to split them into groups made them dangerous, especially when most of the “soft” classes were weak to physical combat. And their speed…
When the note returned, Kayle wanted to tear out his hair.
His opponent had immediately disengaged as well, and then moved towards the center of the arena, aiming for the chasing Rogues. However, the Werewolves and Workers had encountered the Raid Boss instead.
They had all been slaughtered by the Raid Boss’s powerful taunt, but not before lowering its Health to 13. Kayle crushed the note in his hands. In slightly better news, his Rogues had chased down the escaping Werewolves, killing them, and had also discovered something strange. A wall built at the edge of the deepest ravine.
So Kayle had a bleeding Raid Boss, 14, Rogues, and 12 Mages remaining, and all he knew from his opponent was that he had lost both Werewolves and a Worker. That was 4 points worth of units, leaving him with 3 remaining…
This time, Kayle took his time thinking. Immediately, he dismissed the idea that the opponent had bought a 3 cost unit. After all, that unit was stuck behind a wall. If his opponent hadn’t run into the Raid Boss and lowered his health below 15, he would have been screwed, keeping that much fire power behind the wall he had built. No, more than likely, what was behind the wall was either a Worker unit, or a ranged one, Archers or Mages.
If a Worker was behind the wall, it would be filled with a trap, which would do significant damage. If it was an enemy, they would likely try to keep their distance, and damage those that came into the ravine… Although the best case was to send the Rogues out and search for who was hiding outside of the wall, taking the time to do so would let the Raid Boss slowly bleed out. And if BOTH the unit and the Worker was out around that wall, and they had made a hiding place…
So, better to just bust down the door…? There was also the chance that the opponent had Rogues hidden in the surroundings, and would ambush…
Kayle ordered his units to gather in a tight clump, keeping a lookout at the surrounding area, and moving towards the erected wall.
The paper came back: they arrived at the wall uncontested.
“Fine then…” Kayle muttered. He launched a full scale assault at the wall.
The paper came back. After reading it, Kayle began to laugh, slapping his knees and pushing himself back out of his chair.
“Truly… I guess that’s one way to lose.”