Coughing, Randidly excited the Dungeon. He raised his hand and shaded the sun from his eyes. There was a brief moment of vertigo, but it quickly passed. A second later, Helen and Azriel came out behind him. Things had gone extremely well in the brief few weeks they had in the dungeon due to the time dilation.
After taking a couple steps forward, Randidly turned around and smiled at them with an easy grin. Then he focused his gaze on Helen.
“Thanks. Without you, I wouldn’t have progressed so quickly.”
She gave him a disgusted look and walked right past him without saying anything. Randidly chuckled. He supposed it made sense that she was somewhat miffed after losing, but he didn’t expect her to be such a bad sport about it.
He opened his mouth to say something, but Azriel prodded him in his back with her spear and shook his head. He frowned at her.
“…I supposed this is goodbye, for now.” Helen said abruptly, pulling Randidly’s attention back forward to her. “Ah… good luck. There is much danger on the front lines, but there are few as capable as you, Randidly. You’ll fuck em up- err, you will fight valiantly and such.”
Scratching his head, Randidly considered Helen’s back. She seemed to be… vibrating slightly for some reason. Was she alright? And all the while, she stared forward, refusing to look at him-
Ah, was it that?
Some of Randidly’s good cheer faded away. After scratching his neck, he said, “Hey, Helen… When we finish the tournament… Would you like to grab dinner?”
She spun around like touched with the end of a live wire and just stared at him.
Although Randidly felt extremely awkward, he pushed forward. “We… ah… shared a night of passion-”
“What the fuck does that mean?” Helen muttered. But it seemed like it was more to herself than to him, so he proceeded forward.
“…and I don’t know what that really means. But… I liked it. And I admire you. So… I think we should try seeing each other… ah… more formally?”
For exactly 13 seconds, Helen just stared at him. Then, abruptly, she nodded. Without saying anything, she then turned and walked sharply away.
Randidly felt a small warm feeling of elation in his chest before his instincts forced him to spin to the side to avoid a thrust from Azriel. Without pause, she continued to attack him several more times. He weaved his torso back and forth, avoiding the attacks. They were certainly sharp, but there was no image associated with them, so they lacked any real bite.
“What are you doing?” Randidly asked with a frown. The people standing around the Dungeon portal were watching them with something akin to amusement. Apparently, boredom was a real problem here in the Central Domain, far from the front lines.
“If you were going to ask her that, you shouldn’t have made her wait until the last moment to do it. So that… was something like feminine kinship…? Hum, how strange.”
Randidly looked at Azriel in exasperation. “Why shouldn’t I wait? Is there any need to say it earlier?”
“What if you had forgotten to do it?” Azriel said with a blithe expression on her face. Randidly threw up his hands, but honestly, he couldn’t really think of anything to say. Oftentimes, he did become overly focused on training and forget basic things. Was it really that far outside the realm of possibility that he would forget this…?
But after her brief attack, Azriel fell into step beside him and they walked towards the spot where they would meet the rest of the team. With the downtime, Randidly counted up the PP that he had gained from his travels from Niergem and the two weeks in the Dungeon. Mostly, he had gained 13 PP in Scarlet Burst and 19 in Visualization, but he had also gained large amounts in his Crown of Yggdrasil and the Kata of the Ashen Spear Skills. Beyond that, with gaining between two and three in all of his varied combat Skills…
Randidly very quickly reached the point of having just over 100 PP.
This latest boost put him over halfway through the Growth of Yggdrasil II Path, which he was very excited to finish. In addition, Randidly had sharpened his actual combat Skills backup to proper form in that period of time. Now, he had confidence facing any opponent of his Level in a one on one duel. As for opponents like the Witch King…
Now at least, Randidly knew how to fight.
When he and Azriel arrived at the meeting spot, Skarch was already there, but Silo was not. Undoubtedly he was wasting someone else’s time in front of the gate, Randidly thought with a shake of the head. And he could tell from the look that Silo had given him and Azriel that he was somewhat pissed to recognize them.
Did he expect them to help him? This wasn’t so casual a scenario that they had the leisure to take the time and determine right and wrong. At the time, they needed to arrive on time to participate in the tournament. Not that Randidly felt very guilty. Why was this guy bringing his sister to the tournament in the first place…?
If she had come in with him, would he now be arguing that she should come to the front lines with them on their mission? Surely not. So perhaps it was for the best that she didn’t come into the city.
Giving his head a firm shake to disperse the wandering thoughts, Randidly turned and looked at Skarch Top, the rather long-limbed final member of their team. She was calmly sitting in front of the large package she was carrying yesterday, slowly unwrapping it.
With nothing else to do, Randidly settled down to watch her. After a few minutes, it became clear that his suspicion was correct; what she had within was a spear. But as Randidly looked at it, his eyes widened in shock. It was an extremely long spear made out of a dark blue metal. The blade had a pure silver sheen.
And the entire thing was covered in Engravings.
Almost helplessly, Randidly leaned closer. In his mind, he had achieved some pretty substantial things in the realm of Engraving. His invention of the runic language to assist in the deployment of drones was especially challenging, and his success had come with a commiserate reward.
But now, looking at the tightly wound and organic runes on the spear, Randidly couldn’t help but feel that he had only scratched the surface. What he had accomplished was what someone could do in a few years. What Skarch was holding was a weapon that could only be made if several generations of masters spent their lives raising an individual who was a mix between a savant and a civil engineer.
Just parceling out space on the spear to the different runes alone would be an extremely exhausting task. Add that to the trouble of forging the weapon into the shape that would be able to handle the energies running through it…
Skarch smiled at him. “You like it? It is rare to find one among the Spearman School who can appreciate quality work when they see it. My family’s finest accomplishment.”
“It’s… wow.” Randidly wasn’t sure what to say. His eyes continued to trace the runes, mesmerized by their shape. It was slow going, but Randidly was content to sit and the spear. Laughing softly, Skarch pulled back the last layer of canvas over the base of the spear and smiled down at it. After glancing up at Randidly, she joined him in being lost in its bends.
Every time Randidly moved a little further down the spear, he felt shaken to his core. Although the energy demands were impossibly high… this spear contained almost a dozen different aspects. Although he couldn’t figure out exactly how each one worked, they were clearly bound together.
In addition, Randidly realized something very important about this spear; it had the capability to grow.
When he obtained the Engraving Encyclopedia from that wandering Style, he had been told that it was possible to do such a thing. But to see it with his own eyes…
Before he could wonder whether the two parties he knew of that were related to growing Engravings were related, Randidly simply looked in wonder at the masterful mechanism that allowed it to happen. Even with his own mediocre ability with Engraving, Randidly could clearly tell how invaluable such a spear would be. As far as he could tell, the main function of the spear seemed to be a Skill akin to Haste.
With a sigh, Randidly leaned back. “I don’t suppose you have the information on how to make such an Engraving?”
Abruptly, Skarch’s face turned wary. “I do not. You do well not to look to me for answers. This… is ultimately a failed product.”
As Randidly opened his mouth, Silo arrived, leading a grey-haired woman by the arm.
“Youngster, there was no need to take an old woman this far…”
“Nonsense ma’am, I was walking this way already. It’s my pleasure to escort you the rest of the way…”
“Ohoho, you certainly are a charmer, aren’t you?”
“Only if kindness is charming. I just think that some people need to take the time to slow down and appreciate their lives. If you do that, you can reach out and touch the lives of so many in a positive way… and that, more than anything, is what the world needs.”
After waving the old woman off, Silo turned to the group. “Oh, did I keep you waiting? Let’s head out. Our Sergeant is waiting at the Southpoint Beach.”
Randidly looked at Silo, rather nonplussed. Who the fuck was this weird guy? Did he have a hero complex?