27 The Bet 2
The commotion escalated and now, over sixty individuals came to witness the scene. These fights happened on a daily basis in Helios. To the acolytes, knights and merchants, these fights were the entertainment required not to go crazy from the deathly boring routine of their lives.
"I challenge you to a duel", Franklin said out loud, "If I win, I earn the heavy armour set for free."
"What if you lose?", Drake said while scanning Franklin.
After a moment, he compared his attributes with that of Franklin.
[Name: Drake Moonlight. Age – 15 years. Rank: Knight, Rank 1 Acolyte
Status: Peak Condition.
Strength – 4.8 | Dexterity – 3.4 | Constitution – 3.0 | Internal Energy – 15.2
Spirit – 5.9 | Mana – 5.9/5.9
Perk: Mutated Heart (+200% base recovery rate)
Skills: Lunar Elven Sword Art (Knight level, proficiency: advanced), Moonlight Shield Mastery (knight-level, proficiency: Advanced), Moonlight Breathing Technique (Grand-Knight level, proficiency: Peak), horsemanship (proficiency: Advanced), Original Meditation Technique (Proficiency: Peak)
Knight Killing Technique: Arclight Chop (Sword speed: 200%, Damage: [Strength*3] degrees)
Enchanted Heavy Armour Set – Absorb up to 12 degrees of damage.]
[Name: Franklin. Age – 18 years. Rank: Rank 1 Acolyte
Status: Slightly Injured (Strength, Dexterity decreased by 20%), Impulsive behaviour due to over consumption of performance-enhancing drugs
Strength – 8.0 | Dexterity – 2.4 | Constitution – 7.6 |
Spirit – 6.2 | Mana – 6.2/6.2
No apparent artefacts or enchanted items found on target's body.]
As if everything became clear, Drake nodded. Toxins and strengthening drugs were not without any side effects. Some had direct consequences on health, and some had effects on hormones and brain. Franklin abused these substances, and became overly emotional and impulsive, completely harmful to his acolyte path.
Naturally, acolytes can be bold. It might even be one of their advantage, a reason why their enemies fear them. After all, if you are just another hermit seeking peace and harmony, people will take advantage of that. However, being rash was harmful. Acolytes must think first, and act later instead of rushing towards danger. Seeking knowledge and using it always remained one of their virtue.
Franklin wasn't bold. He was just impulsive and impatient.
Looking at the stats of the hostile body refinement acolyte, Drake nodded. He was indeed a strong acolyte.
Although Franklin was much stronger than he was in terms of raw attributes, his dexterity was quite lacking, mostly because he was a mass of muscles, probably weighing over two hundred pounds with little fatness.
The norm for rank 1 acolytes was to deal 10 to 20 degrees of damage. However, Franklin seemed to be slightly above average. Even if he wasn't a knight per se, his attributes were on par with half Grand Knights. He could probably deal over 20 degrees of damage with his two-handed war hammer. Hence, even if Drake possessed a heavy armour set capable of absorbing a lot of damage, he had no confidence in surviving against this human beast if he were to take a full strike.
A more pressing issue was that he had yet to master a spell whereas Franklin was already an acolyte for years. It wouldn't be surprising if he knew one or even two spells. No matter how he looked at it, his odds of winning the duel were pretty small as he was right now.
Franklin gritted his teeth, before taking a scroll out of his pouch: "This is a soul-capturing scroll I borrowed to a friend, which is worth a fortune. The scroll is incredibly restrictive. If the slave does something while knowing it is detrimental to the master, the slave will experience tremendous mental pain that will paralyse him for a while. It will provide the master with a tremendously loyal slave."
Many gasped. Everyone knew of the soul-capturing scroll. It was a very popular item yet the supply was extremely low, thus selling for around fifty magic crystals. Be it rarity or value, it indeed matched Drake's half-artefact. Many used this item to tame spiritual beasts and earned fame thanks to it. Some acquired strong mounts like that, while others relied on these beasts to fight, as they focused on support spells. The latter were called taming acolytes, as part of their spirit was assimilated in the contract.
Drake pondered for a while, before disagreeing: "Although I really enjoy this whole charade, it is not fair. I've only been an acolyte for two months, and you're someone who has been training for years. Furthermore, I have no use for this item. Even if I win, I will just sell it to the highest bidder!"
Franklin felt dispirited and handed out his most precious item, a treasure which would make any body refinement acolyte turn green in envy: "How about this?"
[Beep! Analysis in progress…88%...100%!]
[Beep! Item: [Meteorite Jatu Piece]. Found by a wandering Magus, the Jatu Meteorite was harvested by a tribe of orcs. However, thanks to exposition to the meteorite, the orcs had strength on par with Grand Knights and a rarely seen innate magical resistance to spells. After leading hundreds of acolytes to deal with the orc tribe, the wandering Magus managed to capture the Meteorite Jatu and destroyed it into pieces for marketing purposes, making a fortune. Estimated price of the rock: 60 magic crystals based on market prices, though it might be sold over 80 magic crystals in an auction with body refinement acolytes. The main issue is acquiring the Meteorite Jatu piece, since it has become a lost material, with only a handful possessing a piece.]
[Beep! Meteorite Jatu Piece can emit radiations that are beneficial to host's [Strength] and [Constitution] Attribute, and the following 22 experiments might result in host developing an innate magical resistance to spell. The following 22 experiments are-]
Drake thought for a while.
'The man is obviously driven by his greed. If I can my hands on this meteorite Jatu piece though, I will truly become stronger…However, if I fight him with my current lack of spells, I am unlikely to win.
"Alright, I shall agree to that. For the sake of fairness though, how about we postpone the duel in half a year?", Drake proposed.
Even if Drake would lose the opportunity to fight Franklin when he was injured, he would also get the time required to fully grasp and master the superior spell he had been gifted by Magus Kayle. Furthermore, he would have six months to find ways to reduce the gap in attributes between him and Franklin.
"Fine. Six months. No more, no less. I will register at the arena, and both the fight and the bet will be overseen by the authority of Helios."
The arena was a very popular place in Helios. Located in its northern outskirts, every duel was brutal and showed the fearsome powers of acolytes. Some observed those fights for the sake of expanding their fighting knowledge, while others just enjoyed the brutal violence displayed in there.
'Well…so much for staying low-key. But I guess this is an opportunity I cannot afford to lose.'
Drake pursued his original plans and entered the Sentinel Casern. A man greeted him and felt extremely apologetic upon hearing what happened:
"I am Rey. I am deeply sorry for the shameless behaviour displayed by the two guards. I can assure you they will be punished harshly."
"Do not worry about it, sir. If you truly want to help me though, I would appreciate it if I could spar in the Sentinel facilities for the next few months. It would help me improve my swordsmanship."
The captain readily answered: "Of course! Richard! Come over here and fight with this acolyte. Don't underestimate him, he has battled in a knight war just like us. I knew your name was familiar, Drake. You're the one who won the Battle of Alm, right?"
"Indeed. I didn't know the news would reach Helios, though", Drake said while feeling goosebumps at the thought of the Battle of Alm, battle in which he nearly died.
Richard was a forty-years-old knight, on par with Lewis.
[Sentinel – Human Male
Age – 40 years. Rank: Knight
Status – Healthy, Peak.
Strength – 3.0| Dexterity – 1.5 | Constitution – 2.9 | Internal Energy – 6.7
A few sentinels stopped training to see how the fight would end. However, to their greatest surprise, Drake only needed to unsheathe his elven sword, and strike thrice. Making full use of his higher speed and strength, Drake struck twice with all of his strength to push Richard into a defensive stance. Instead of striking a third time only to be parried, Drake feinted and rotated his body to slash horizontally, which hurt Richard's ribs pretty badly.
Everyone was shocked. It had taken less than a minute for Drake to overwhelm Richard, a knight with a pretty good reputation in the camp.
The Captain was under shock, but quickly called a few more…promising sentinels, if only to regain honour for his unit. Three more sentinels sparred with Drake. Unfortunately, none of them were able to match Drake and ended up moaning on the ground after receiving harsh hits in the ribs.
Drake was slightly disappointed. Although these knights were superior than average knights in terms of pure attributes, they were a bit lacking in terms of fighting proficiency. None of them were on par with Viscount Allan for instance, who was a peak knight in flesh and bones.
Well, that was Drake's assessment of the sentinels before fighting the captain.
When the man decided to spar with Drake, his attitude completely shifted. His face, apologetic, vanished and turned into a completely focused expression. Taking out a Great Sword made of black iron, which seemed to weigh over fifteen kilograms, he charged towards Drake.
It was a simple charge, yet Drake could feel that each one of his step was filled with confidence and experience. Drake felt trapped, as if he knew his opponent would be able to strike him no matter what he chose to do.
'The captain is truly on a higher level', Drake assessed.
However, upon seeing his attributes, Drake felt like there was room to overpower Rey.
[Sentinel Captain Rey – Human Male
Age – 48 years. Rank: Peak Knight
Status – Healthy
Strength – 5.0 | Dexterity – 2.5 | Constitution – 4.5 | Internal Energy – 16.0
Drake didn't move from his original spot, and decided to make use of his higher dexterity to overwhelm Rey with thrusts and dodges. Because of Rey's great sword, even if he decided to dodge or block, he would hold a disadvantage, whereas dodging provided him with enough room to counter attack.
Although he managed to dodge the incoming chop, his thrusts were not powerful enough to give Rey a hard time, as he continued to swing his great sword, with ever increasing momentum. Drake knew that if he took one of these hard strikes, he would go down and get bedridden for a while.
Furthermore, each strike complemented the precedent one, leaving less and less room for Drake to dodge. It was obviously a knight-level swordsmanship being displayed, or perhaps even a Grand-knight level technique.
After more than a dozen exchanges, Drake managed to hit Rey more than twenty times, but just as he thought that Rey would go down, he received a powerful fist which was filled with internal energy and sent him flying.
[Beep! Thirteen degrees of damage received, 9 of which have been fully absorbed by the heavy armour set. 4 degrees of damage have penetrated host's defence, due to it being of internal nature.]
Drake felt a tremendous pain all over his torso, but it must be said that the sentinel captain was not faring much better, as Drake's thrusts were backed by 4.8 points of strength, something on par with the very strongest peak knights of the casern. And he had received over 20 of them…
The both of them groaned, and shouted to intimidate each other.
However, they didn't manage to scare the other. Instead, they gave a fright to the whole crowd witnessing their duel.
Everyone looked at the duo while muttering: "monsters…"
And indeed, the two of them were monsters. Disregarding their pain, they went for another round.
In the evening, Drake was riddled with shocking wounds. And yet he was in a state of epiphany. He had earned insight in a new knight-killing technique, one that would be sufficient to surprise his future opponent Franklin!