“Sooo…. I what are the forerunner’s thoughts on giant boss battle arenas?” Said Gardenia looking over the large platform in the center of the room.
“Yeah, that is definitely a boss arena. The forerunners were very big on improving yourself via combat. One of the forerunners was said to be a summoner, they crafting a bunch of summoning devices all across the zones as tests for those who see to improve themselves. This might be one of those devices.”
“Do you think we will be able to beat it?”
“No. I expect that both of us are going to die.”
“How reassuring…” Said Gardenia.
She took steps closer to the platform. Anticipating a fight she had already pulled off her shield from her back and had a hand tightly gripped on her sheathed sword. The drew closer to the platform and the door but it wasn’t until they stepped onto the platform that something happened.
“Those seeking Spokog, to enter your might must be testing. Only those who are worthy may pass.” Came a voice ringing out from the halls. It was a feminine voice but beyond that nothing could be told.
From behind the statues came two people. They were wearing very light clothing despite the bitter cold that still permeated the cavern. It was a man and a woman but both of them looked very similar. It wasn’t family resemblance however, it was the fact that they both had shaved heads and wore extremely plain loose fitting clothing. Beyond that they had nothing, no weapons of any sort.
It looked like there wasn’t going to be any monster summoning this time however Gardenia was even more uncertain because of that. At least against a monster she had some experience fighting. She had done no PvP so she was inexperienced fighting against human enemies, although these two were almost certainly NPCs.
They weren’t monsters though, that was for certain. Gardenia wasn’t getting any response from her monster identification skill so she would have no idea about how much hp these two would lose.
Gardenia drew her sword as those two stepped onto the platform with her and Oblivion Shadow. “Are there any rules?”
It was the woman who spoke and it was the same as the voice that spoke previously, “The worthy shall pass, the worthy shall survive. The worthy may spare the unworthy if they desire.”
“That is clear enough to me. Do you want to signal beginning or should I just start?”
They no longer spoke but just took fighting stances like a martial artist.
Gardenia spoke in a softer voice, “Oblivion, I will try to keep them off you as much as possible, you just do as much as you can. I’m counting on you.”
“I’ll see you at the revival pillar.” Was his incredibly encouraging response. However he did begin his chant.
Not wanting to give them more time Gardenia began running toward the two martial artists with her shield raised. Fighting two would be quite the troublesome encounter, however she could feel herself smiling. In the moments before she reached them she finished casting “Physical Reinforcement”.
The two martial artist didn’t not seem to be worrying. They wore light clothing instead of armor so it was easier for them to begin to flank Gardenia. It would be a problem if they passed by her to get to Oblivion Shadow so she activated one of her trump cards. One of the beginning sword arts that she had learned, ⎡Aggression Blade⎦.
She struck quickly with it twice at the two on either side of her before they flanked her completely. The man deflected it to one side and the woman dodges out of the way. This let Gardenia turn to face the woman, since she had dodged she was the most dangerous threat to Oblivion.
⎡Aggression Blade⎦ was an attack meant to draw aggro but it had a secondary effect. Those who were struck by it, even if they deflected it were afflicted by a movement debuff. Not only that the effect of the debuff was stronger the farther way from the user you were.
This let Gardenia keep control of the two NPCs. While normal monsters could be handled with normal aggro skills, NPCs like these needed more encouragement to attack specific targets. These skills also had great application in PvP.
Now Gardenia just had to survive against two combatants. Since the woman hadn’t been affected Gardenia focused on her. Moving in closer and attempting to strike with her sword. Gardenia wanted to keep as much mp as possible for when she had a better grasp of her foe.
The woman kept dodging the attack and staying just far enough outside of Gardenia’s reach that Gardenia had to keep moving forward to make more attacks. Still it was keeping the woman busy and Gardenia hoped that she had the upper hand.
At least until the woman called out “Ice Needles”. A spell quickly cast without any focus, internal Gardenia cursed for not expecting this. After all this was the very reason she had come to this location.
Shards of sharp ice began to form in the air and rain down on Gardenia. It was certainly an intermediate spell with the amount of needles and the area they covered. She brought up her shield to block which protected her from most of them however she could feel the chilly pain in her undefended legs as they stabbed into her.
This was dangerous she could not properly defend against that spell. Even so she was lucky. The fire spell she was protected against raised her ice resistance which also reduced the damage of the spell.
Knowing that she wouldn’t be able to win at this rate she began to trigger ⎡Flicker Strike⎦ to attack. She was able to draw close and then activate the art. Since it was a quick strike the attack was much harder for the woman to dodge than Gardenia’s normal attacks. While she still managed to dodge a few of the attacks cuts were beginning to appear on her arms and legs.
⎡Ice Wall⎦ called out the woman and in moments a wall of ice crystalized in front of Gardenia and blocked her forward charge against the woman. Gardenia turned her momentum as best she could to move around the side of the wall. In the spare seconds before she rounded the wall she managed to cast a healing spell on herself.
Once she had reached around the other side she realized that it was a mistake.
Wisps of air swirled around the woman and Gardenia could feel the cold emanating off her. She was clearly preparing a powerful spell. Gardenia had two choices in front of her. She could either escape to find a place to block and guard or charge the woman and hope to disrupt the spell before it was completed.
She chose the latter, how could she not. The cold was even chillier the closer she ran toward the woman. It was only a short run but she had at most seconds to disrupt the spell. She could hear the woman begin to say ⎡Avalanche…⎦ and knew that there was mere moments before the spell finished. The woman only needed to finished the incantation and the spell would happen and no amount of interruption would stop it.
Gardenia couldn’t even use a sword art to interrupt it since that too required a vocal trigger and she would end saying it long before the woman finished the spell. All Gardenia could do was thrust her sword at the woman and hope it connected.
⎡… Collapse⎦ And Gardenia was too late. The spell had started. Despite that fact that her sword was beginning to pierce the woman she spell had finished and all Gardenia would do was hope that she had enough cold resistance and hp remaining to survive. With that plan in mind she could only push forward with her plan and finished impaling the woman.
Ice forced in the air and struck Gardenia like a hammer. Even with minimal pain she could feel it and the intense cold. She could only grit her teeth as the chill settled deep into her bones. When the crashing of the ice finally subsided she found that she had somehow survived.
Her hp was even higher than she expected, a full 20% remained. To make matters stranger she was standing over the bleeding figure of the woman. The force of the avalanche had caused a simple thrust to turn into a potentially deadly injury but despite that the woman was trying to stagger to her feet.
Gardenia gave the woman the time but that was because she was using the time to cast healing spells on herself. When the woman had gotten to her feet and regained her pose Gardenia was back to mostly full health. Then facing each other Gardenia said, “Yield.”
There was a long drawn out silence as the woman looked to one side. After that she raised her hands and said, “I yield. You have beaten me.”
With that Gardenia let out a sigh of relief and turned to look where the woman was looking. There was a black human shaped ball laying on the ground. Above the ball was Oblivion Shadow. He looked as calm and normal however he had his staff pointed at the woman.
It was then that Gardenia noticed that she had received the effects of a buff spell, one that raised her magical defense. She didn’t think that was curse spell but it explained why she had survived the powerful magical onslaught.
“Well done. Not only did you manage to beat us but you avoided having to kill either of us.” Spoke the woman. “You are worth to enter Spokog. Beyond that door you will find rest.”
At that Gardenia finally sheathed her sword. She looked over at the black wrapped body of the man on the floor before she said, “You are sure that he is alive?”
Oblivion Shadow nodded, “Yes, this is a containment spell. It drains the opponent’s mana and if they run out completely incapacitates them. Since you delayed him I had enough time to cast my spells against him. Once he was restrained it was easy to beat him.”
Gardenia made a soft laugh before saying, “It looks like I got lucky in hitting him. Had it been the woman who got hit then she might have been able to win with her spells.”
The woman said, “Luck is a part of victory but it is our mistake as well. Had we ganged up on you instead of trying to take down the other then we might have won. However might is not did and you did win.”
She moved over toward the large doors and stopped in front of them. “It is the victors right to open the doors. If you would.”
Gardenia moved up toward the doors and Oblivion Shadow walked up next to her. As he went away from the man the black bindings around him began to unravel and he could begin to stand up.
The doors were large and imposing and Gardenia worried that she might not be able to pushed them open. However the doors moved quite easily and despite their size she was able push them aside. As she did she could feel an almost warm breeze drift into the chamber.
The man and the woman waited for the two of them to enter before following after and closing the doors behind them. Beyond the doors was a bunch of hallways made of stone brick. While the temperature couldn’t be called warm, it was certainly much warmer than it had been outside.
The woman said, “Please follow me. I will lead you to the master.”
The two of them followed the woman. As they passed through the structure Gardenia asked, “Is this part of the large monastery that we could see from the pass?”
“Yes, although this part is underground. Most of the structure is sealed off to keep the warmth in. Because of that you will not find any windows here and all of the doors to the outside are large sealing doors like the ones you came through.”