Still slightly shellshocked, Glendel followed Lyra, who promised to take him to someone who could talk to him about getting a class.
“This the NCC village,” Lyra explained. “All the buff and glorious Classers live up there, above us, on high, in Valhalla.”
Glendel had slowly figured out that NCC was what they called people without a class, while Classers obviously had a class.
“What, uh,” Glendel stammered, slightly intimidated by how cute the teenage girl leading him was, regardless of her constant stream of sarcasm. “What’s it like, having a class?”
“Oh, I don’t have a class. I just rely on my charm to get around.” She winked slyly at him, and then continued to walk forward.
At a loss, Glendel followed. As they walked up the hill towards the fort, Glendel realized that it was a lot bigger than he had realized. And it looked like it was almost completely deserted. Lyra continued walking past the gate, and Glendel glanced curiously in before following. Although there seemed to be a small group of people at tables, it really was completely empty. Glendel hurried onward. Down the hill, and round the bend in the valley they went, until the sounds of shouting grew louder. It was only when they rounded the corner that the sea of people became obvious to Glendel.
Probably just short of 800 were around, some standing, some watching, some working. The area seemed to have been a quarry, and directly in front of them was a slope which lead downwards, before leveling off. People lined up around the outside of the quarry, cheering at the people fighting in the center. Off to Glendel’s right, there were around 50 people, some of them bandaged, others running around, cutting down trees, dragging them, and stacking them, seeming to be making a rough looking stage, surrounded by bleachers.
As Glendel watched, an old man raised an axe and cut a 10 meter tall tree in half, down the middle, with a single swing of his axe. Several men took the two halves and began assembling the seats, while several others set up another section of tree for him to cut.
“What… What is going on…?” Glendel gasped.
Lyra shrugged. “A tournament, obviously. Want to compete?”
Gritting his teeth, Randidly stepped backwards, just beyond the reach of the Sphinx’s claws. With a grin, it teleported just slightly forward, putting him back in the path of the attack, but Randidly had predicted this, stepping forward and throwing a Phantom Thrust to meet its torso, even before it had teleported, drawing a long, but shallow, scratch across its chest.
It grumbled its fury, spinning quickly. Lashing out with its hind legs. Raising his spear, Randidly dodged the left foot, and deflected the right, but was still was sent tumbling by the size of the foot.
Gritting his teeth, Randidly created a wall of thorns between them, buying him a fraction of a second. Time seemed to slow as he considered his options.
Health was still fine, but both mana and stamina were nearing dangerously levels. Mana was easier to conserve, but regenerated much more slowly. It basically wouldn’t regenerate enough to matter in the foreseeable future.
Stamina, on the other hand, would regenerate at a tick of about 1 per second, but he was constantly using it as he attacked, dodged, and blocked the fearsome attacks of the Sphinx.
Stamina it was.
As quick as possible, Randidly withdrew a stamina potion and drank it, leaping away from the wall of thorns, which went up in flames with a roar of heat. He retreated further, using the cover from the flames to run a small distance up the path away from the cave where the sphinx sat.
When the wall of thorns collapsed in a poof of char and soot, the Sphinx was sitting calmly in front of the cavern. It winked at Randidly, then padded back into the cave. Several seconds later, it returned, a half eaten cat in its mouth. It gobbled the thing down, and as Randidly watched, the sphinx’s wounds healed.
“See, See, See? Plus, you are not one of mine, so there are certain… consequences associated with killing you. So feel free to run away, away, away~”
For a second, Randidly was torn. But then he lowered his head and backed slowly away.
Only when he was out of sight did he allow himself to turn, and then only to sprint for 10 minutes, crossing the wasteland and returning to just inside the edge of the Newbie boundary. Randidly didn’t trust the creature for a minute, but he did believe that the notifications that appeared told the truth, and he would be safe within the safe zone from monsters of that level.
As Randidly sat and meditated to recover more quickly, he wondered what would have happened if he hadn’t followed that cat to find the sphinx. If in two days, that had simply shown up at Donnyton…
It would have ripped through them. Especially the NCC village below. That was free recovery for it.
Ultimately, Randidly felt like he and some of the other elites could escape, or hold it at bay, when it no longer had access to the infinite mana and stamina, but most of the village would be ripped to pieces. The farms burned. The potion brewing enterprise derailed. The Wolverine butcheries slaughtered.
All of the NCCs that worked for Sam, raising skill levels before trying to get a class, dead to the monstrously fast sphinx.
They would likely survive ultimately, but the village would be reduced to a few dozen individuals at best. The peace they currently had, holding onto the past, would be shattered.
Narrowing his eyes, Randidly smiled.
That was, of course, what would have happened if he had not discovered it early. As he had… he would murder it, ripping the creature to pieces before even the newbie barrier dropped.
Randidly removed the materials from his ring, beginning to refine and brew more potions. He was running low of almost everything, but he could gather the things he needed quickly, before returning to fight the sphinx. It would be slightly slower than just returning to the village, but Randidly feared that if he returned, Lyra would follow him. Although he had been able to scrape by and survive, her weaker physical stats and limited mana pool would spell her end rather quickly.
It might be a fun game to the sphinx, but that didn’t mean it would show mercy when there was prey right in front of it.
There was a throbbing pain in Randidly’s forehead, right behind his eyes, probably due to the extended bout that he had just fought with the sphinx. He had struggled against the thing for 5 hours, at least. The sun was beginning to set, and only now was the edge of weariness beginning to fade.
But the headache remained.
He then opened up his path menu.
Randidly had gained 1 level in Spear Mastery, 2 in Phantom Thrust, 1 in Phantom Half-Step, 2 in Iron Skin and Dodge, 3 in Block, 1 in Spear Deflect, 1 in Empower, 2 in Edge of Decay and Spearing Roots, 1 in Healing Palm, and 3 in Fire Resistance.
In addition, he had gained a level in meditation as he sat and recovered. With these PP, Randidly continued to dump them into Frontrunner, and with those stats he raised his reaction by 11. As the fight had gone on and he had gotten used to his increased speed, he realized that he wasted quite a lot of time calculating his response. His body was still fast enough to barely keep up with the sphinx, even so, but with an increased reaction, hopefully the gap between them would narrow further.
Randidly considered his status screen.
Health(/R per hour): 311/303 [+8] (155 [+12])
Mana(/R per hour): 501/512 (71.5)
Stam(/R per min): 357/357 (59 [+4])
Vit: 45 [+4]
Str: 28 [+2]
Agi: 57 [+10]
Equipment: Average Leather Tunic Lvl 5: (+2 Vit), Gloves of Quickness (Vit +1. Agi +3), Necklace of the Shadow Cat Lvl 20 ®: (Vitality +1, Strength +2, Agility +7)
Skills (Soul Skill):
Spear of Rot Mastery Lvl 228
Combat: Spear Mastery Lvl 44, Phantom Thrust Lvl 44, Spear Phantom’s Footwork Lvl 32, Eyes of the Spear Phantom Lvl 20, Phantom Half-Step Lvl 9, Heavy Blow Lvl 23, Dagger Mastery Lvl 10, Iron Skin Lvl 27, Dodge Lvl 31, Fighting Proficiency Lvl 30, Block Lvl 32, Haste Lvl 19, Phantom Onslaught Lvl 10, Sweep Lvl 16, Spear Deflect Lvl 10, Empower Lvl 21, Calculated Blow Lvl 19, Roundhouse Kick Lvl 13, Edge of Decay Lvl 11
Spells: Spearing Roots Lvl 6, Mana Bolt Lvl 28, Mana Shield Lvl 24, Root Manipulation Lvl 26, Arcane Orb Lvl 22, Fireball Lvl 22, Magic Missile Lvl 4, Healing Palm Lvl 9, Pollen of the Rafflesia Lvl 8, Summon Pestilence Lvl 15, Mana Strengthening Lvl 13, Wall of Thorns Lvl 4, Soul Seed Lvl ®,
Crafting: Potion Making Lvl 22, Farming Lvl 20, Plant Breeding Lvl 9, Mapmaker Lvl 4, Analyze Lvl 24, Refine Lvl 6
Auxiliary: Physical Fitness Lvl 29, Meditation Lvl 31, Running: Lvl 20, Sprinting Lvl 15, Sneak Lvl 22, Acid Resistance Lvl 22, Poison Resistance Lvl 16, Pain Resistance Lvl 11, First Aid Lvl 13, Equip Lvl 20, Pathfinding Lvl 16, Mental Strength Lvl 11, Curse Resistance Lvl 3, Fire Resistance Lvl 8
Spear of Rot mastery was getting close to 250 again, which was where it evolved last time, but Randidly suspected that it would wait longer on the second time around, perhaps to 500. But now that his Reaction was 41, Randidly had more confidence that he could keep up with his own Agility of 67 without making any mistakes.
He shook his head ruefully. Contrary to his plans, he was just raising everything, staying good at everything. But in this case, he had no choice. His most powerful quality, his spells, just weren’t able to cope with an enemy that could teleport freely around him. He needed to lock it down before he could smash it with the heavy hitters.
Randidly had to rely on closing the distance and attacking it to start the fight and seize the momentum. And to do that successfully, he needed physical stats.
Struck by a sudden thought, Randidly checked his pockets and found the soul seed, inspecting it again.
Soul Seed 91% Nurtured. Strongest Influences: 1. Spear Mastery; 2. Spearing Roots; 3. Empower; 4. Fire Resistance; 5. Refine.
It appeared that while he was fighting the sphinx, the seed was nearing completion. Although he had no idea what sort of result would occur because of it, he noticed that Spear Mastery and Fire Resistance became stronger influences, due to the nature of the fight.
Shrugging, Randidly stood and began walking towards the spot he had in mind to harvest energy shards for potions. The headache had faded mostly, and his heart was tingling with excitement.
It would be a long night.
But by morning, the sphinx would be dead.