With my better weapon disposed of me she began to move closer. She was keeping her distance, trying to size me up while I was doing the same to her.
She was the one to finally break the silence pushing in. She used one of her hands to attack while keeping the other one to defend with. My hands were no where near the lethal weapons that hers were but I was about to parry and make attacks because of my slightly superior speed.
Her hands were tougher than I had expected able to block my knife almost completely. In fact she was slowly pushing me back because I was lacking my weapon with superior reach. Unlike most of the other opponents that I had faced she had skills and she knew how to use them.
I used flash step to get behind her however she had access to that skill too. We danced around the battlefield basically ignoring the other opponents. To use they might as well not have existed. Only the two of us were worthy of each other’s attention.
Flash Step, Rank 6 was what I estimated the skill to be at.
Previously I had viewed my Battle Analysis skill would only mildly useful but now against an opponent like me, one that focused on skills, it was able to give me accurate inside into how good they actually were.
Danger Sense, Rank 4. I allowed her to notice previously unnoticed threats even when they would be outside her normal senses. This let her avoid the other demon effortlessly while we traveled the arena.
That was a skill that I did not possess, instead my Gladiator job gave me Battlefield Awareness which made it easy to keep track of all the opponents even in the heat of battle.
Her Combos skill (Rank 9) allowed her to keep up the assault for extended periods of time, moving from one set of moves into another, barely letting me get any headway. Fortunately I was able to counter her combos with my Dirty Tricks. Sand in the eyes, breaking line of sight, improved feinting. They were all techniques that she had very little experience in countering.
She had a large repertoire of different combat techniques. Her job must have given her access to quite a number, almost as many as my job which specialized in diversity of techniques.
However it wasn’t really a tied battle. She was missing an important element that I had and she did not. I had thought she might have had it since her form was more like mine but she did not have it. She must been a genuine humanoid demon.
None of the skills that she had used exceeded rank 12. Mine however were mostly in the 30s. My flash step actived and hers did was well but then there was a look of surprise on her face when I was behind her. My knife cut a small line before she escaped.
But she could not escape me. I tracked her every moment and once we engaged in melee once more I began to use my true skills. A knife may look like a knife but in the hands of a Gladiator is can function was the most dangerous of weapons.
Her blood began to flow but my attacks were mostly aimed at her hands, wearing down her endurance. After all I didn’t want to kill her. She was beginning to realize that she was outmatched and I could tell that she was panicking.
She began drawing me toward one other demon after another. However they were just backdrops. From the beginning I could have killed all of them even if they worked together to fight me. They will all missing what I had.
It was my special unique job. The one that let me keep winning. Hero.
I had retrieved the broken shaft of my spear. Even just the bone that I had used to make the shaft was a dangerous weapon in my hands and one that it was better suited toward not killing her.
She was back into a corner. The other demons were all dead. There was only me and her now. In threat of lose she actived a skill she had previously kept as a trump card. Berserk. She charged me using overwhelming strength, enough to fight even the larger demons here.
It was not enough. My bone staff struck true three times and she was down. Another good hit to ensure that she was unconscious before I finally let my guard down.
From up in the box I heard the voice of the Master call, “It left that one alive.”
“She is mine.” Was all I said in response.
The Master only laughed. Apparently it had approved my claim because the portcullis to my cell began to open. I was the victor one more. I gathered some more demon parts before grabbing the woman and bringing her into my cell with me.
She woke later in my cell to the smell. Seven battles ago I had fought some demon capable of breathing fire. I had taken its dead body back to my sell and had harvested the oil that is produced to break the fire. That had provided me the first cooked food that I had eaten here.
As she regained consciousness she immediately went on the defensive. Pulling back and hiding in the corner.
“Relax.” I said, “You are mine now so I won’t hurt you. You can talk right?”
Her eyes darted around the small cell before she finally said, “Yes, I can talk. You did not kill me.” It was a statement of fact but also a question about why this was true.
“Because I want you.”
She looked down at her form and then back at me but I shook my head and said, “No idiot, not for that reason. I need you to fight with me. All the other demons that I have fought so far were basically mindless brutes. Little more than animals. But you… With you we can win.”
“You are strong. You do not need me.”
“You might be right but you also might be wrong. I do not know the true strength of my enemy.
“The Master. I intend to kill him.”
Her eyes widened, “Kill the Master? Is that even possible.”
“Not yet but I believe that it will be. Have you wondered why he is making us fight each other?”
She didn’t response but I am sure that she had though about it a lot. I certain had. Finally I said, “He is creating a weapon. We are going to be that weapon. And when he says that we are ready to be used. That is when we will kill him.”
She stared at me for a long time before she finally said, “Very well. You were the victor so I will obey you.”
“Good. My name is Jack. What is your name?”
“I do not have one.” She said.
“How about Alice? Alice is a good name.”
“Understood. I am now Alice.”
I pulled the meat off the oil fire. It was dark and crispy. Demon meat did not cook well. I picked up a pinch of ground mushroom seasonings and scattered it across the meat. Then I handed it to her. “Take it. Tonight we celebrate our allegiance.”
She took the meat suspiciously and glared at it with her deep crimson eyes. “What is this?”
“Cooking. Eat it.”
She took a bite of the meat and there was a look of surprise. “This… this is….”
“Terrible. But much better then anything they offer us.” Although she wasn’t listening to me anymore. She was stuffing the meat down her mouth as fast as she could. For the second time today I smiled.
For me getting the cook job had been more of a disappointment then anything else. I was able to make the horrible food marginally edible but my memories of much better food tainted the experience. I could only curse my lack of ability. But for her you probably had no reference what I was giving her was better than anything she had experienced.
“Just you wait.” I said. “Once we get out of here there will be much better foods awaiting us.”
“Lanette, to your left.” I called out and she jumped to one side narrowly avoiding the attack from the giant ogre. It was the second one. However that wouldn’t be a big deal.
“Hold them off while I finish my chant.” I called out while I began my chant.
While I had a skill that let my short cut the longer casting time Elementalist spells that I knew that make it take large amounts of mana. It was far more efficient for me to actually finish the chant. I trusted that Lanette would be able to hold them off long enough.
She fought while I chanted. Her parry skill had gotten quite high and she was able to effortlessly parry the blows of the two giant ogres that she was fighting in single combat. There was yet another reason that I continued to use the long casting time versions of the spells. Low intelligence enemies such as ogres rarely noticed my spellcasting until I began shooting them. If I cast too early then Lanette would have trouble keeping aggro.
Defending against such powerful attacks however was quite draining and she could only keep it up for so long. But she had more than enough energy to last until I have finished my chant.
“Twin Fire Lance” I called out the name of the modified spell and flung it at the ogres. It wasn’t as strong as it could have been if I didn’t twin the spell but this way a large lance of fire flew at both of the ogres, piercing them and causing them to fall, now mostly ash.
With that the battle was over. Lanette sunk to the ground to rest while giving me a thumbs up, a gesture that I had taught her. Then she jumped immediately back up to her feet, “I got it.”
I smiled back at her, I had noticed. The number next to her name now read 20. “Congratulations. Now we can finally start taking advanced quests.” I did a small clap to show my support.
I was still level 18 although I was close to 19. Lanette’s higher level when we had met was still there but the distance had closed. Thankfully the adventurer’s guild only required one member of your team to be level 20 before talking advanced quests.
Lanette had sunk back down to the ground to continue to rest, “You’re pretty close to getting a level yourself right?” She said. “Do you think we should stick it out a little bit longer?”
I did some mental math with my mp before coming to a conclusion, “No, we had better not. I wouldn’t want to risk an expensive potion of mana just to make sure I got my level today. We can leave it for a our next expedition.”
She nodded understanding. Normal adventurer pay was good but not good enough to continuously buy things like potions of mana. The potions were for emergencies like getting ambushed on the way back to Dungeoncity. We had already had one such experience and we had spent the next week scrimping and saving to afford another mana potion.
As Lanette rested I approached her and called upon the Life Magic that I had so earnestly worked toward learning. Her wounds disappeared rapidly as I used my most mana efficient spell to heal her. While I was no where near as good at Life magic as I was at Elemental Magic it was very good in situations like this.
I cut off the ears of the ogres to be able to confirm the kills with the Adventurer’s guild. Ogres could be dangerous opponents for unprepared and lower leveled parties.