Chapter 19 Aulus vs. Darius

Ladotatus waved his sword, deflecting the blood bullets. Ladotatus sprung forward before Darius could fire again. He slashed and cut, his two swords singing through the air. Darius had enough speed to dodge the most serious strikes.

The cold steel left many gashes on Darius, but none bled. Darius found an opening and took a shot with his double barreled blood pistol. Ladotatus snapped his neck to the side, the two shots whizzing by. They left two quarter-sized holes in the ground, blood splattering in a mess on the ground.

At the same time Ladotatus sent a riposte that lanced deep into Darius’ chest. Darius stepped in and shouldered Ladotatus, who wrapped his swords around Darius, raking his back.

Ladotatus took a heavy punch to the cheek, and Darius’ pistol roared. He felt the blood-shot smash into his thigh, a spurt of blood erupting from the wound.

Ladotatus grunted, and tried cutting Darius’ weapon. His own swinging sword was blocked by Darius’ new weapon, something that grew out of blood when he said the word, ‘Belos’. It was a large curved red scimitar with a vein of blood attaching the hilt of the sword to the whole in his chest. 

Darius slapped Ladotatus’ weapons out of the way then fired his gun and slashed at the same time. Ladotatus took a step back, his wounded leg buckling. He leaned backwards, the scimitar arcing barely in front of his neck. A close call.

The gun did not miss. A new hole appeared in his shoulder. Darius went on the offensive, slashing and shooting.

Ladotatus struggled to keep up. The more he moved the more his injuries opened up. He was losing a lot of blood, whereas Darius never reacted to any wounds. The only injuries big enough to cause real damage became weapons.

The duel was nearing its end. Ladotatus failed to block more and more of the relentless strikes. His parry’s slowed, and his counters lacked force.

Darius hacked down, cutting deep into the black-garbed warrior’s already wounded shoulder, causing him to drop his sword. The blow brought him down as well. Ladotatus breathed in hard, resting on one knee, he poised his only sword in a defensive position in a weak attempt at guarding.

Darius fired, the vein leading to his pistol swelled as the bullet loaded itself into the gun and out the barrel. Ladotatus was once more able to deflect the bullet, but it left him open to another strike from Darius’ scimitar.

Using the arm with his destroyed shoulder, Ladotatus lifted it to receive the cut that threatened to remove his head. It struck him above the elbow, only reinforced steel under the padded leather kept him from losing his arm altogether.

The force knocked him to the side where he remained, too injured to rise. Darius took the opening to change targets.

He aimed his gun at the still form of the sitting Aulus. Aimed and fired. Aulus’ nose started to bleed, before the shot fired.

When it did fire the bullet bounced off of a large bronze shield.

Irokles had been summoned. Aulus was sweating and started to bleed out off the pores of his skin, his whole body bruising. The concentration required to control two warriors simultaneously must have been unimaginably painful.    

Irokles advanced, shield and spear readied in a combat stance. Darius was shocked at first, surprised by Aulus’ determination. He composed himself quickly and met Irokles head on.

The two warriors clashed, but it was nearly impossible for Darius to strike around the massive shield.

Irokles thrust his spear, gashing his opponents hip. He drew back and thrust again, delivering a stomach wound. Those were supposed to be some of the most brutal and mortal wounds, yet nothing happened to Darius, like he hadn’t been stabbed at all. Darius’ pistol proved ineffective against the full body suit of armor though, the bullets bouncing harmlessly off. The the shot clearly meant for flesh.

Darius started visibly fatiguing. Irokles was relentlessly stabbing and blocking, always at the right time. Darius could do nothing.

Until his stomach wound started to bleed and congeal.

“Baldr.” Darius hissed, clearly in pain, which seemed odd as this was the first sign that he felt the dozens of cuts he had decorating his body. The blood formed into a long organic appendage, which served as the shaft and handle of a single sided bearded ax. It was made of blood like the rest of his weapons.

The handle acted closer to an extra hand, Darius was able to move it. 

The ax savagely beat down on Irokles’ shield, causing dent after dent. With so many weapons at his disposal he was able to turn the tide back to his favor, now that he had a weapon that could counter the thick bronze shield that was causing him so much trouble.

Irokles gritted his teeth and pushed his shield into Darius’ body, pressing him tightly. Darius held his ground, refusing to move. His ax snaked around and started sawing Irokles’ bronze leg plates.

Irokles had bought enough time for Ladotatus to rise to his feet. The assassin found Darius’ back and plunged his sword deep between his shoulder blades.

“Scylla!” Darius screamed the word in agony as eight red tentacles burst from the wound in his back. The tentacles were serrated and they slashed at Irokles and Ladotatus, leaving behind plumes of blood. The fighters were quickly covered in a misty red haze as they battled on.

Ladotatus went to work severing the tentacles while Irokles kept Darius facing forward. However, scimitar and ax crashed down on Irokles’ shield, finally splitting it in two. 

Irokles discarded the broken shield, and dropped his spear as well. He drew his short sword and charged, but he was overwhelmed in an instant by the onslaught of Darius’ weapons.

Irokles fell to a gun blast that tore through his breastplate, hitting his heart. Irokles fell and disappeared completely.

Ladatotus wasn’t far behind the fallen warrior, even as a tentacle flashed across his throat he sent a final riposte that threatened to crush Darius’ spine. Only the strange biology of Darius’ body kept him from wounding.

Ladotatus disappeared under a flurry of tentacles and blood, he too was gone.

Aulus was alone against Darius, but neither warrior could make a move. Aulus passed out, unconscious.

Darius had overused his Ichor Aspect, expending too much blood, he stumbled as he tried to reach Aulus and fainted from exertion.

The referee declared the two Specters as having tied, and since both were unable to move they were promptly eliminated.

The medic team arrived a moment later and carried them out of the arena.

“So basically Darius can’t take damage normally but he needs his own blood to use his power.” Magun said while rubbing his chin, not totally sure of his observation.

“Yeah he’s a tricky one, I’m honestly surprised Aulus even held his own.” Dartan replied.

“What! Aulus is one of the strongest in our class.” Veron said, her normally husky voice going high.

“I’m not saying he’s not, but against someone like Darius he was probably the only that could force a tie.” Dartan said.

Veron doubted that and the two broke into arguments, debating who was the strongest in the class, neither of them being likely candidates. Hales found the whole thing asinine. She appreciated Veron’s wit and brutal honesty, and Dartan’s knowledge and analytical skills, but to casually accept that other Specters were stronger seemed like a folly of the most deadly kind.

This wasn’t a game, at any moment any one of them could be killed so admitting defeat before a fight was like a death wish.

Hales knew there was a difference between recognizing one’s weaknesses and accepting one’s weaknesses.

Never accept weakness. Weakness is failure.

“I’m turning into Klyle.” Hales muttered to herself with sudden realization.

“Well, wish me luck.” Jid stood up, Hales almost forgot he was here as he had stayed silent.

Hales stopped paying attention to the fights. They dragged on and on. Hales had no problem sitting in one place for hours on end, but she wasn’t exempt from boredom. Not that the fights retained no interest for her, it’s that her imagination held more.

I wonder what would happen if some psychopath invaded us in the arena. She or he would no doubt need to be strong. Against armed guards and a hundred or more Specters the attacker would have to be. Probably an impossible task. Why do they have to work solo?

A whole invasion force. Cut the next generation off, since we are all placed so conveniently in a room together. A whole lot of rich people are here too. 

All anyone would have to do is plant a bomb or too and the whole arena collapses. You wouldn’t even need a Specter to do the job, a small demolitions team would suffice.

Hales’ mind changed thought, but only slightly. She felt guilty for even having the thought, but only slightly. She entertained the idea anyways.

What if I attacked the mansion? I wouldn’t ever do that really. But for the sake of hypotheticals could I succeed?

How much firepower do I really have? I hear about asteroids all the time coming from space and wiping out the majority of life in mass extinction events millions of years ago. Could I harness that primordial power? How large can I make a meteor and how fast can I propel down. 

One option could be to launch it up in the air as high as possible and let gravity smash it down on the mansion. Could work.

Another option is making as many stars as possible and using the force to slingshot it, like my other asteroid machine gun idea, just on a much larger scale.

Burn the place down with stars and block the exits with huge boulder planets. There’s probably too many other Specters here that would easily escape. 

I think a meteor shower is the best option. Okay, that’s if I was invading from outside the mansion.

What if I had to act right now, sitting in the bleachers? I would send random barrages of planets and stars as fast as possible. That’s unrealistic though, I don’t have the stamina to send enough or make them grow fast enough. I’d be dead before I could wipe out even half the people here.

I wish there was a way to try stuff, like a simulation and as soon as it was done everything would go back to normal.

That would be a pretty sweet power. Run simulations and adjust your strategy based off the results. 

Someone asked a question, Hales thought it was directed at her so she shook her head and waved the speaker away with her hand. She felt a strange look on her. Hales didn’t care, she was having fun.

Hales loved her power, she wanted to make it the best Aspect in the world. If Talis Ranis was right, right about Aspects being an unlimited source of power then she wanted to see how powerful she could make hers.

I want to become a Master, swing lines of solar systems, unleash thousands of asteroids. I wonder if I can regain control over already thrown planets and suns. After setting its course away from myself, I can’t change its gravitational crux. My versatility would increase exponentially. Throwing out planets and controlling them like puppets, as if a string were connected to each one. 

Hales continued to fantasize, missing the next few fights. She could dissociate for hours at a time in her most dreamy states. Fortunately for her, Veron, Talayia and Magun were all calling her name and tapping her out of her daydream.

“Hales wake up! You’re about to fight!” Veron said incredulously, grabbing the girls elbow.

Hales startled as if she just woke up from sleep, reality coming back to her in an instant.

“I thought it was Jid’s round.” Hales said looking around.

“Right here.” Jid said, holding an ice pack to his head. Bruises, cuts and bandages now marked his most recent fight, marked a loss.

“Oh.” Hales said with guilt. When did that end?”

“It ended two and a half rounds ago.” Talayia said, reading her mind. Talayia was used to Hales’ random spurts of daydreaming.

“Yeah, Xander is fighting someone named Hoiden right now.” Magun pointed to the fight, redirecting everyone’s attention to the arena, now that Hales woke up.

Down in the sand of the arena, Xander engaged furiously with Hoiden, a tall girl with hair cut like a boy. Her Aspect was Tyrian, and upon her head rested a golden crown with purple velvet padding and a large brilliant cut amethyst jewel adorned the center. Flowing from her shoulders and wrapping around her arms, a thick sweeping royal purple cape dragged along the ground with her feet. Despite its proximity to the sand, which was physically touching it, the cape never dirtied, as if it were too precious an object to have its beauty marred by the ground. Around the neck of the purple cape lined golden fur. Her regal appearance was complete by a fancy silver scepter. This too had a purple gem set on the top of it. 

She looked like a king, the royal garb an obvious product of her Aspect. 

She pointed her scepter at Xander, “Hands of the king.” She called, and two huge purple hands erupted from the ground. They were each large enough to grab a whole person. 

The two hands were physical with calluses and scars and veins, fighting hands. They came at Xander from two sides, but his eyes were glowing a bright yellow-gold color. Good karma.

He dove forward, just in time to evade the two hands clapping into each other.

The force of the giant purple hands clapping triggered wind and sand to blow around them.

Xander charged Hoiden, who stood calmly, tapping her scepter as if she were bored of the whole affair, a half smile breaking on her face.

Xander found out in the next second why he never stood a chance.

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