Chapter 14 The Fires of War Part 2:
“That… That’s not fair… “ The near deafening background noise of battle was almost lulled to silence when the demolished house’s remains started ever so slowly bulging upwards. With a near feral roar the barely intact remains of the roof was thrown away freeing the blood stained berserker none the worse for wear. Just blasting this guy with magic isn’t going to do much, besides a few observable burns on his face and some blood staining his front nothing has really broken his skin.
“I’m just gonna borrow this…” An injured bandit on the ground didn’t even complain as I reached down and pulled a slightly singed dagger from his hoof, at this point I care more about staying alive then being sanitary. Sticking the dagger into my mouth to hold I absentmindedly checked my mana and stamina, being selective with my magic payed off as I was almost full on mana besides a small slice that I was using to keep my lion summoned and my stamina was about ¾ full from [Perception] activating when the berserker appeared.
“YOUUU!!!” Oh god he spotted me! Clearing the rest of the way out of the wreckage with only a few swings of that massive girder he calls a sword, The Guts imitation made a b-line in my direction much to my rising dread and fear. Instead of bull charging like before Guts was slowly stomping his way towards me dragging his blade on the ground trailing a sizable divide in the ground. I just realized something alarming… all the fighting has really stopped, all the villagers and bandits have separated and gone to opposite ends of the village square just watching our standoff, even Morgana and David had moved to join the villagers with my lion being pulled along albeit looking very confused.
Of everything that could have happened, a one on one battle was not something I would have thought of… especially against a giant on roid rage! The area where we’re going to fight isn’t even really clear, there are bodies and weapons littering the ground… which is good for me I guess because I don’t think this dinky dagger is going to cut it (pun not intended).
The standoff didn’t last long, one moment the two of us were just standing there with death in our eyes then… both of us moved. Starting with an overhead swing that betrayed how much he trained with that massive sword, Guts aimed to take me out immediately using the length of his blade to his advantage. Too bad for him I just [Blinked] past the ground shaking blow over to his right foreleg and jamming the dagger as deep as it would go… which wasn’t far. About half of the blade entered his shoulder before something both disgusting and incredibly fascinating happened. I could visibly see the muscles under Guts’ skin contract and squirm before bunching up and sealing up the stab wound and trapping the blade inside… again I shall say.
“That just isn’t fair!” I had to roll under his barrel to avoid being bisected by Guts’ back swing that mulched a few corpses that were too close. What I wasn’t expecting was Guts spinning the rest of the way and sending a buck at me while I was still off balance. It felt like someone with a personal grudge took a brick to my side, I was sent flying back past where I first started the fight… it is starting to occur to me that I might not win this fight if I play fair. Though he isn’t exactly fighting fairly with his bullshit muscle manipulation wait… I think I can use that to my advantage.
Ignoring the not so brief flashes of panic from having all of the air knocked out of me and standing back up, I picked up a nearby weapon off the ground ( a short sword this time, about the length of my arm) my breath hitched as I agitated what felt like bruised ribs. Pushing the pain away I focused back on Guts who had restarted their stalking towards me, a mental flex of my mind brought up some nearby knives and short swords with [Levitation] and with a flick of my head I sent them hurtling at my opponent. The moment Guts brought up his blade to block the sharp projectiles and also block his sight of me I brought my plan into action. A quick [Blink] brought me to his dominant left side and with a quick whip of my neck a long shallow cut was carved into his fetlock leading up to his shoulder. Already the muscles under his skin started to squirm and constrict over the open wound though I wouldn’t see its completion as I had to avoid the retaliatory backhoof. Thankfully with having a massive sword and being so close I was able to just [Blink] under his arms and out of the way.
The spell [Blink] has a very particular mana cost, it depends completely on the distance traveled and the obstacles in the way, meaning that ‘teleporting’ small distances like this cost little to nothing in terms of mana. [Levitation] has a similar work around when it comes to mana cost, [Levitation] is exerting your will over something which means I can just order a group of thing to do one simple command instead of manually commanding countless objects at once and running out of mana like a bucket with no bottom. This fact about the spell played quite a large part in my plan… along with some interesting biological facts.
Seeing as I was no longer within striking distance Guts shook off the negligible amount of blood that had collected on his leg and turned to charge me once again… at least he was until one of the previously block daggers flew up from the ground and lodged itself in his left hoof cutting his charge short. Turning down to look at what had caused his pain I could barely see his puzzled look turn to an angry grimace as he tore the blade out with his mouth and watch the muscles squirm and contract around the wound sealing it with a knot of bulging flesh. I allowed myself to feel slightly smug at his confusion and started the next part of my plan, with a slow gait that purposely mirrored his earlier prowl towards me. I started to casually circle him as if I was the one with the giant sword and he was the one wearing the sofa chestplate, in actuality I was laying my next trap. Each discarded weapon I passed was given a delayed [Levitation] command to launch forward at my order, I had circled half way around him before I decided that was enough. I ran in instead of [Blinking] this time and led with a quick slash with the short sword at his chest which missed as he took a step back before swinging his around from my right. Dropping to the ground and rolling under it afforded me enough breathing room to score a few more cuts against his left hoof, that’s how most of this clash went. A hair's breadth away from losing my head or becoming a tripodal, but every miss was another cut or stab against my foe. That doesn’t mean he never got any hits in, a hoof to the face sending me to the ground only to scramble to dodge the follow-up attack, a sloppy slash from his blade I wasn’t expecting cutting across my chest but not biting too deep thankfully.
Finally my chance came, after Guts had scored another punch to my chest and knocked the wind out of me for the nth time today he had turned to face where I had landed and had unknowingly positioned himself perfectly. Spitting some blood out of my mouth I let the grin that I had been holding back this whole time spring forth.
“Where are you looking?” At my words Guts paused for just a moment and that moment was all that needed, all kinds of bladed objects from around the square sprang up at my command and fulfilled their purpose and launched. Guts’ left forearm and cannon already looked like a parody of its former self, the multitude of cuts and stabs centered in that area had turned the limb into a lumpy corded mess that looked more like old dried wax then an actual limb so when half of the weapons in the square suddenly launched from the ground and stabbed into his left side that was the tipping point.
Fun fact about the body, did you know that your brain is subconsciously limiting your muscles as they actually have near superhero levels of power in them, but the brain limits them constantly due to the fact that they would actually tear themselves apart if they actually used this strength so imagine if someone’s musculature allowed them enough control over this strength to seal cuts and puncture wounds. If this skill is used sparingly then there wouldn’t be any issues, but if this skill is pushed to its extreme then far past it then… POP!
With a sound similar to a soda can bursting, the mutilated leg of Guts exploded in a gory explosion of muscle, bone, and blood ripping itself apart from its own monumental tensile strength. Guts slowly turned to look at the stringy remains of his arm hanging from his shoulder then trailed his eyes to his blade which had flown a short distance away then back up towards me and for the first time sense the battle started… I saw fear in his eyes.
Now this might be the concussion or bloodloss talking but now that I know how to beat him… I want to style on him a bit. Hmm, I have more than half of my mana remaining and a few display windows behind me… I’m going to need full [Perception] for this. The feeling of being able to know and see everything that I’ve associated with my [Perception] skill quickly took over me and gave me every bit of information I would need for this to work. At this point it was like an out of body experience.
I watched my own body rise up and stomp back down as all the remaining not broken windows shattered behind me but the glass that the frame used to house never reached the ground as they were immediately caught by my [Levitation] and sent flying fast me picking up more and more glass and weapons in its storm. Guts tried to turn and run but there was no escaping the cutting cloud as it wrapped around him and trapped him in a veritable tornado of sharpness. But apparently that wasn’t it, my skills have well and truly taken control at this point as I [Blinked] to and through the cutting tornado and started what could only be called the most lethal dance I had ever seen. At all times a piece of glass was in my hooves or a blade of some kind as I dove and [Blinked] up and around Guts stabbing more and more weapons into his body. At some point his back right leg exploded just like last time and quickly following it was his front right which he was using to cover his face and eyes all while screaming bloody murder… which I guess is correct in this case.
After his last leg had finally been reduced to a fine paste, the unfeeling automaton that was me looked for something to end it with as if just killing the poor guy wasn’t enough. My question was apparently answered as at some point during the barrage Guts’ massive sword had been picked up by the pseudo gale and was floating near the top. A quick blink up into the air actually drained the rest of my mana, but it was already over. The massive blade only need to be orientated as the tornado died around us, using gravity instead of my own strength I basically rode the blade down as it fell down through the now clear air and beheaded the berserker with a brief spray of blood shooting through the air which was quickly cut short as the empty stump where his head used to be sealed itself in a last ditch attempt to save its life… it didn’t work.
Falling down to the ground leaning on the blade, I could see that the sword had actually buried itself halfway into the ground and would not be moving anytime soon. Feeling [Perception] finally switch off, it was like I was shoved into the driver's seat and I all of a sudden could feel everything I had been pushing aside. Everything both felt numb and felt like I was on fire, my vision was extremely blurry and I was pretty sure the only reason I was still standing was because something deep inside me was sure that if I dropped now I would die.
“Mar...s! S..y wi.. Us!” I barely even registered whoever was shouting until they entered my blurry field of vision and even then it took me a bit because a screen had popped up obscuring them, it took a moment for me to realize that the red blur that was yelling at me was Morgana. I felt her grab my side and rip something off of me before reaching out and touching me somewhere. I don’t know where she grabbed me but it felt like she had just poured lava on top of everything else and for a moment I thought I was just going to pass out then and there… Then all of a sudden it was like someone pressed the hard reset button on my senses and now everything was rendered in HD. I could see Morgana all of a sudden and the screen in perfect clarity, but sadly along with that clarity came the acute pain of… Holy Shit I have a goddamn hole in my chest!! … okay that was the panic talking, but I actually have a massive cut taken out of my chest and the number of different colored bruises covering me made me look like something Van Gogh would paint. Before my eyes I watched the gaping wound slowly heal and close up and some of the bruises lighten slightly, turning to my side I could see Morgana holding her glowing green hooves to my side healing me.
“Morgana! What are you doing, we need you to lead the fight! Don’t waste all your mana!” All Morgana did was send me a bemused look before chuckling slightly and lifting one hoof off of my side to turn and point at the… Bandits?
“The battle’s over! The guard arrived sometime during your duel and had surrounded the remaining bandits, we won!” It’s… it’s over? I didn’t see them at first with the screen floating in front of me obscuring most of my vision but Morgana is telling the obvious truth, the guards were milling around now arresting any bandit that surrenders and making sure the rest are really dead. I could see a few players I recognized help out and around, a few of them wearing leather armor or carrying weapons.
“Huh… what do you know?” I could see the stress leave Morgana’s shoulders as she saw I was no longer at death's door and actually joined me in sitting down for a moment and I actually sat down to read the screen I've been ignoring this whole time.
[You have defeated your first boss battle!]
[Level up x3]
[Skill Upgrade: Perception -> 6th Sense]
[Last Hit Bonus: Familiar Lantern]
[6th Sense: Passively grants the user near supernatural level senses]
[Will actively warn user of danger or of item of interest]
[The wielder will get a certain feeling about topics or people that warrant]
[Can be used in conjunction with other special skills]
[Intrinsic Skill: only you and those of your bloodline can develop this skill]
[Skill Level: Max]
[Passive/Active Cost: Non/Negligible]
[Can be boosted with mana to added cost]
[Mana Boost Cost: Medium]