Commander Wolfhart frowned as he read a report he had just received from his contacts at the headquarters. “Apparently someone knocked out one of the younger mages of the Mystic’s guild and stole her robes. The mage is uninjured, though understandably not very pleased.” He read out to Razark.
Razark chuckled mirthfully in response. “I know. Apparently the young mage was not supposed to be near the maze, but she seems to possess a bit of a randy streak. She was out there checking out the young hunks applying to become templar and paladins. It seems the mages tend to be too scrawny for her tastes. If my sources are correct, she might have actually hoped to get attacked and ‘savaged’ by a brutish warrior type. Well she got part of her wish, though not the happy ending she hoped.”
Wolfhart shook his head. “I can never understand women and their weird desires.”
“I think it’s at least partly about losing control, but yet in a safe enough environment to not be in real danger. Such as under the watchful supervision of the familiars following the applicants. She didn’t actually want to get savaged, just the simulation of it. Anyway, as a result the mages aren’t really looking for the culprit. They just want the robes back once the attacker is done with them. They could track them magically, but they’re afraid that the attacker would notice and destroy them. Not a huge loss, but the guild does put some effort into making those robes, so…” Razark’s smirk was hidden by the mask he wore, but the mirth in his voice betrayed his amusement.
Wolfhart felt the urge to facepalm, but held back. Barely. “So, do we know what happened to the robes?” He asked rhetorically. They both knew.
“Oh I don’t think it’s too hard to figure that one out. The attack was not caught by the familiars following the applicants, and the number of applicants who have managed to lose their familiar is…still just the one. Imagine that. Wonder if this has anything to do with how Ilthuryn’s bracelet went missing?” Razark asked once again rhetorically.
“Do we have any idea where she is currently? Her familiar has been unable to find her, and I haven’t noticed anyone else running into her.” Wolfhart kept constantly changing the perspective shown to them between the different familiars.
“There’s no point in that. One familiar might have caught an accidental image of her this morning, but even I’m not sure since it happened so fast.” Razark replied.
“Well then, what do we do? It’s hard to get a good idea of her skills this way.” Wolfhart pointed out.
“This is actually perfect. It shows her ability to remain hidden despite everyone hunting her. Well, actually it seems most of the hunters have decided that she’s too hard of a nut to crack. However, you’re missing something important.” Razark pointed out. He was actually quite pleased with how things were shaping up.
“What?” Wolfhart asked confused.
“You haven’t spent enough time hunting it seems. Sometimes you have to hunt for targets that are too fast and too good at stealth to be tracked normally. In those cases there is only one option. You don’t even try to track the target, but instead go where you know they will later appear. Usually when you’re hunting beasts that means either their lair or the watering hole. In this case neither of those apply, but we do know one thing she will approach sooner or later.” Razark focused the view on a particular Lacademonian girl currently in the middle of a fight with several other applicants. “We know she will go after her prey. Meet Cynisca Helios. The third ranked applicant before this test, and the most likely target for Dee to go after next. And we aren’t the only ones who had the idea either it seems. There’s another decent hunter in the mix.”
Dee watched as the Lacademonian girl demolished the people attacking her. The poor victims had thought that ganging up on her would lead them to victory, and they could fight for her bracelet afterwards, but the result had been abysmal. The girl had an interesting ability to fire concentrated blasts of ki at her opponents with her fists, and she had devastated half of the attackers before they even got close. She wasn’t any less effective at close range either.
‘Some of them are going to require medical attention.’ Dee sent a thought to Croestia.
‘Well that’s not good for your plan.’ Croestia sent back.
‘Well it could still work. Even though I had hoped to remain undetected while I tried attacking her mind, I could probably still do it even if she’s not distracted by all those people. Provided I do it slowly enough. However, the whole plan is no longer viable.’ Dee explained.
‘What do you mean?’ Croestia asked.
‘Well, the idea was to remain unseen, but even if I do manage to freeze her, we are no longer alone.’ Despite focusing on her prey, Dee had not forgotten to keep an eye on her surroundings. While the other person could hide from most senses, and even managed to hide the ki in his body for a while, Dee still noticed a familiar presence with the Mindscape.
“Isn’t it about time you showed yourself? You’ve been skulking around long enough.” Cynisca demanded with a raised voice as soon as the last of her opponents fell in an inglorious heap at her feet.
‘Oh-oh!’ Croestia sent to Dee.
‘Relax, that wasn’t for us.’ Dee smirked. This could be an interesting development. She had no idea how the Lacademonian girl had noticed the other person though. Instinct perhaps?
Suddenly the bushes on the other side of the clearing moved as a large white wolf slowly walked out from between them. “Your senses are sharper than I thought.” Shunkaha said in praise.
“So it’s mister number two. You’re here after my bracelet I assume?” Cynisca asked, thinking she already knew the answer. She was actually eagerly expecting this fight. The others hadn’t been much as opponents.
“Mister number two? Oi-oi, that’s such low brow humor. And for the record, you’re wrong. I’m not here for you at all. I’m here for the one hunting you.” Shunkaha replied with a frown that looked slightly comical on his wolfy face.
“My hunter?” Cynisca asked confused. She hadn’t really even considered the others to be worthy of hunting her.
“Isn’t it about time you showed yourself darling? You skill at hiding is beyond even my own, but you can’t fool my nose. I can still smell you.” Shunkaha looked into the vague direction of Dee’s hiding place. He missed quite a bit, but close enough to make a point.
‘Do I really smell that much?! That’s the second time someone detects me by my smell. Bloody wolves and their sense of smell!’ Dee cursed silently, quite indignant actually. She kept herself clean! Unfortunately, fooling the sense of smell of someone like Shunkaha was too much, and it wasn’t dirt or sweat that he smelt anyway, but pheromones.
Dee had long since changed out the mage robes and shifted back to her usual form. She freely walked out from her hiding place. There was a time to impress people with your skill in stealth, but you could also make an impression with raw power as well.
Cynisca’s eye twitched as she noticed her approach, mostly because she had failed to notice her presence. “Well well. We have the top three right here. This saves time I suppose. Though I’m slightly insulted for being used as bait.”
“Well the success kinda speaks for itself, doesn’t it? Anyway, I have no need for your bracelet, so I have nothing against you. No need to fight between us.” Shunkaha pointed out the obvious.
“Unfortunately for you, I need her bracelet as well, so we’re back to a stalemate.” Cynisca pointed out. “Not to mention the fact that I want to kick your ass on pure principle.”
“Well we could save that for after we take her down.” Shunkaha pointed out again. It was fine to him either way. He knew both Dee and him were at the sixth rank, and could most likely fight rather equally, just the way he wanted it, while the Lacademonian girl was not.
“Are you two quite done with your play-acting? You’re both assuming you have choice in the matter. I’m thinking I should just kick both of you around a bit and then take your bracelets. If you want to hug it out with each other afterwards, that’s your business, but I’d feel insulted if the two of you didn’t come at me together.” Dee suddenly interrupted them. While she was feeling a little brash, she mostly wanted to stop the two from properly coordinating with each other.
The two others reacted about how Dee had imagined they would. Cynisca pulled out a pair of swords and used the basic strength buff using her holy power. Dee had almost forgotten that both of her opponents had been some of the few people with actual blessings, although they would lack proper training in using that power.
Shunkaha had shifted back to his humanoid form. The wolf form was great for speed and mobility, but not so great in single combat due to not being able to use weapons. He pulled out a weapon that seemed to be halfway between a trident, a halberd and a spear. The central spike was longer than the two others that extended on the sides as half-moon blades. A dangerous weapon, though hard to utilize correctly. He also cast a basic speed buffing spell with his holy power.
Dee was slightly surprised that the two didn’t cast more spells, but she then realized that her own point of view might be a bit skewed. She herself had horrendous amounts of holy power, so she could stack spells without worry, and both of her teachers Mazatl and Sarfina were fully trained holy power users with fully developed pools of holy power. Maybe the two in front of her didn’t have the holy power to waste on maintaining more spells?
‘Interesting. Croestia, give me full buffs on speed and strength. Let’s give the observers something to think about.’ Dee knew that Croestia’s buffs couldn’t be seen from the outside without the same type of ability to see the flow of power that she herself possessed. So to the observers it would seem like she fought without the aid of buffs, although she had the strongest buffs out of the three. Dee in general had avoided using Croestia’s abilities in combat unless it was necessary in order to develop her own strength, and had saved Croestia for emergencies. Or when she had to make and impact like now.
The two warriors in front of her had great skill, but they had never fought together so they would get in the other’s way. Especially if Dee encouraged that. Cynisca provided the opportunity immediately, as she dashed forward without any regard, and Dee moved so that the girl was between her and Shunkaha. Dee then met the first attack with her just materialized shield, which she used to parry Cynisca’s attack to the side, so that the just parried arm was blocking the swing of Cynisca’s other sword.
Dee then grabbed Cynisca’s wrist with her still open hand, and tried to drive her shield into Cynisca’s gut by diving under that now horribly overextended arm. However, Cynisca wasn’t quite simple enough to be taken down that easy. She moved back along Dee’s forward momentum, completely dulling Dee’s lunge, and then twisted her still captured arm in an attempt to free it from Dee’s grasp.
Normally this would’ve been futile, as Dee was stronger than she was, but Shunkaha wasn’t just going to watch idly by, as he drove his trident towards Dee’s exposed stomach. As a result Dee had to let go of Cynisca, as she backed off for space. She did throw a dagger at the other girl as a parting gift, but it was thrown with her shield arm so it was mostly just a distraction.
Shunkaha chased after Dee with several stabs and sweeps with his weapon. Dee was forced mostly to dodge and finally pulled out her metal saber meant for situations like this. Her saber of dark energy was just too much for the situation as it would leave wounds that didn’t heal and destroy her opponent’s equipment. Fimul had made her a metal saber, but she rarely used it and it wasn’t as high quality as her daggers. The only reason it held together under the pressure of Shunkaha’s much better spear, was because Dee used her psionic power to bolster it. The weapon wouldn’t be able to stand that abuse for too much longer though.
Dee waited for the next sweep by leaping over it by in effect making a cartwheel in the air. While in the air she tossed another throwing dagger at Cynisca just to force her to dodge, as she landed much closer to Shunkaha, well inside the effective range of his weapon. He wouldn’t be able to pull it back quickly enough and she thanked him for the opportunity by driving the pommel of her saber straight into his gut with a fair bit of force. In real combat she could’ve stabbed him with her sword, but…
As it was though, the power of her blow drove all the air out of his lungs, despite the thick protective layer of ki surrounding him. Cynisca tried to take advantage of the situation by launching a projectile of heavy ki at Dee, but it ran into a shield made of pure psionic power. The first psionic ability Dee had learned was finally at a point it was actually useful.
While Shunkaha recovered, Dee and Cynisca exchanged dozen more blows, now on much more even ground since Dee didn’t have the surprise factor on her side anymore. The Lacademonian girl was clearly skilled, and didn’t allow Dee to take control of the situation. ‘I think it’s about time to stop toying around.’ Dee thought to herself. She had lost her patience with this three sided fight and Shunkaha was about to get up again. Dee filled herself with the maximum amount of psionic power, and seemed to disappear.
With her full strength she rammed Cynisca with her shield head on, no skill or subtlety involved, and the latter shot off like an arrow from a bow, ramming straight through half a dozen trees on her way. The trees made up the walls of the maze around this area, while in other areas the walls could be bushes or rocks. Unfortunately for Cynisca, they weren’t bushes, but fortunately for her they were not rocks either.
“Oh, ouch! I might have hit her quite a bit harder than I thought.” Dee said, while making a sympathetic grimace. Her strength had vastly surprised even herself. Hopefully the girl was still in one piece.
“I’m fairly sure she’ll need some medical attention.” Shunkaha said signaling at his familiar.
Dee walked towards her, and checked her condition. ‘She’s still in one piece but barely. Better provide some first aid, while the official healers get here.’ She thought while casting some basic healing, fixing the most acute problems within Cynisca’s body. While doing that, she swiped the girl’s bracelet as well. To the victor go the spoils!
“Well then.” She said with a sigh and turned to Shunkaha.
He in turn focused his power into his legs. He planned on betting everything on his speed, trying to end it in one swift strike. Just to spoil his plans though, just as he was about to launch at Dee, a weapon made of psionic energy suddenly appeared and shot at him with enough speed to make it impossible for him to avoid it in his current position. He blocked the attack with his own ki, but got thrown back several mel, while the attack drained quite a bit of his ki. The explosion of power had been enough to crack his protections and numb his hands. As he looked back up, there were three dozen more such weapons floating in the air, ready to shoot at him.
He gave a heavy sigh. “I surrender. I know when I’m beat. Don’t think it’ll be the same the next time though.” He tossed his bracelet to Dee who smiled victoriously.
‘Good thing he did surrender. You can’t hit the broad side of a barn when using this many weapons.’ Croestia silently sent her thoughts to Dee.
‘It’s all in the appearances.’ Dee replied glibly, as she disappeared back into the maze.
“So, what do you think?” Wolfhart asked.
“Not too bad considering the limitations she was under. I could see her face twitching because she had to avoid hurting the two others too badly. I’ve always thought it’s more difficult to beat someone while not hurting them than it is to simply kill them. Especially since killing is supposed to be her forte, as is striking from the shadows with the element of surprise. Her weapons are all wrong though.” Razark analyzed with a keen eye.
“What do you mean? The saber was her choice, and the shield is standard for templar. She even uses it as a second weapon, and rather well from all I hear from Captain Sarfina. She chose the flow and control style for a reason, and that’s why you’re here.” Wolfhart asked again.
“Well, the style is good for her, I can already see that. The weapon however is not. I’m pretty sure she picked the saber when she didn’t have the strength she possesses now. In fact it seems clear she herself is unused to her own strength for some reason. Besides, she probably felt pressured to pick up the shield due to how commonplace it is for the order. I’m guessing the saber was a compromise instead of the standard long sword?” Razark asked.
Wolfhart grimaced a bit. He knew he himself and Sarfina had pushed the shield and sword style on Dee. “So what weapon would suit her? Keeping in mind the style of flow and control of course.”
“Something that allowed her to showcase her strength as well. As I said, I don’t think she had this current strength when she chose the saber. It seems her strength is growing almost exponentially. Saber is too short and flimsy for her current strength. A two handed sword maybe? That’s a little worse for the style, but she could make it work with her strength. Or maybe something like a glaive or a spear with a cutting edge? Or she could go the bare handed route even. You did mention she has the ability to use a second pair of arms, right? She didn’t use them at all in that fight, so they’re probably under-utilized. Fighting bare-handed would help in that regard. Maybe some gauntlets that leave her claws open to use? This requires some consideration. Well work it out when I start training her. She needs to learn a few other things before that anyway.” Razark already started planning things out in his head.
“So you’ll do it?” Wolfhart asked in confirmation.
“As you knew I would. The damn girl has annoyingly high potential. Even knowing the trouble that might follow, I still want to see how far she can go.” Razark replied with a faint smile. He also knew this would bring trouble to the girl. It was unlikely that some of the other Blades or chapter masters would be happy Razark gained a disciple like her. They would be even less happy if she did receive the status of a Blade one day.