Chapter 572 - The Golden Training Puppets
"Hm? The timer paused." Niflheim noted as the time displayed for the challenge stopped at nine minutes and thirty seconds. The golden bronze training puppets also stood motionless after exiting the north gate.
"So? How was it? Did you enjoy yourselves? You'll have to forgive my brother; he's a bit shy and not very good with words. Though if you've made it this far, you can color me impressed. But, don't think it's over just yet. You still have to survive against our golden puppets." Resseki's voice echoed.
'Is it changing again? No—it's reverting to its previous state.'
As Resseki spoke, Izroth witnessed the battlefield began to return to its initial state. The liquid and grass patches slowly sunk into the earth before altogether vanishing.
"You may have already realized it at a glance, but these golden puppets are unique compared to the others you've faced up to this point. You see, these particular puppets have written into them some of the experiences of my brother and me. In other words, they not only have our skills ingrained into them but many years of combat experience as well. Ah, I should also add that they have been analyzing your fighting styles since the challenge began. Doesn't sound too fair, right?" Resseki explained.
"Brother, the recording... Hurry up and finish it so that we can leave." Kiren's voice sounded in a calm yet impatient tone.
Resseki cleared his throat and continued, "Alright, alright, I got it. As you can see, my brother is somewhat impatient. Anyways, these puppets have been designed to grow stronger the longer they stay in battle and are virtually indestructible. So, don't worry about breaking them, heh. Their power output starts at 1% and steadily increases the longer they stay in battle. Of course, if you decide to give up and run away with your prizes after surviving these next thirty seconds, then you will have nothing to fear. But, should you stay, I must warn you—my brother and I, we're really strong, you know? That's why, as a parting gift, to keep things fair, I will remove a couple of restrictions. This way, should you be defeated, it can be with full peace of mind."
After that, the recording came to an end as the golden puppets' eyes lit up white, and an intense flood of magic energy filled the room.
Izroth, as well as Niflheim, received alerts from the system.
〈System Alert: Skill restrictions have been lifted!〉
〈System Alert: Combat restrictions have been lifted! Both participants are now allowed to attack and defend!〉
'A welcomed change.'
Izroth used his Energy Vision Sense to inspect the golden puppets; however, he had to deactivate it near instantly!
'I've never seen a concentration of pure magic energy this high—it's extraordinary. My Energy Vision Sense was immediately overwhelmed by it. Still, I did manage to catch a glimpse. But, to think such valuable items are being used as mere batteries for some puppets... These brothers must have had gold running through their veins in place of their blood.'
What Izroth observed with his Energy Vision Sense was a gigantic white blob of flames that covered every corner of the room and overloaded his Energy Vision Sense.
Izroth was reminded of the Mana Force costs on his Blood Moon magical item that generated Magic Cores. While the gap between each Magic Core was immense in its own way, nothing could compare to the vast expanse that was the Heart of Magic.
To put it into perspective, the lowest Magic Core, the Infant Magic Core, needed a mere 200 Mana Force to be created. While the second most powerful Magic Core, the Exceptional Magic Core, required 10,000 Mana Force for the Blood Moon to produce one—that was 50 times more than the cost of an Infant Magic Core. However, this was laughable when held next to the Heart of Magic.
The Heart of Magic required a ridiculous 15,000,000 Mana Force! That was 1,500 times more than the second-highest Exceptional Magic Core and a staggering 75,000 times more than an Infant Magic Core!
Izroth was confident that the source of power within the golden puppets was the Heart of Magic, and since there were two puppets, this meant that not one but two Heart of Magics had found its way before Izroth! However, if what Resseki said about them being virtually indestructible was true, then...
'I would like to get my hands on the Heart of Magics, but getting to them may not be possible with this steel sword alone. What a waste.'
Izroth could only inwardly sigh. Two legendary treasures were right in front of his eyes, yet out of his present reach.
"They're starting to move," Niflheim warned as he adjusted his defensive stance.
〈System Alert: Resseki Puppet and Kiren Puppet current state [Power: 1%]!〉
〈System Alert: Time resumed! [9 minute(s) 31 second(s)]!〉
The Kiren Puppet, who held the turquoise metal shield, immediately charged at unbelievable speeds. However, it was not towards Izroth, but surprisingly, Niflheim!
"That's...! Unimpeded Rush?!" Niflheim exclaimed. He recognized that form of charging anywhere. Without a doubt, it was one of the warrior class's trademark skills, Unimpeded Rush. Not only that, but it appeared to be a fully maxed out Unimpeded Rush! Even though it was only B-ranked, it was one of the most powerful skills of its rank in the entire game.
However, Niflheim did not expect the Kiren Puppet to open up the fight with such a strong movement skill. Nor did he expect to be the Kiren Puppet's primary target.
Nevertheless, Niflheim reacted right away, using his own Unimpeded Rush to clash with the Kiren Puppet midway through its charge.
Niflheim's shield collided with the Kiren's Puppet shield and created a loud noise of metal scraping against one another. In the end, the two attacks canceled each other out.
Also, since Unimpeded Rush temporarily made the user immune to crowd control effects, neither was affected by its stun.
Meanwhile, the Resseki Puppet took a few steps forward before disappearing into thin air. At the same time, Izroth's Soul Sense sounded alarm bells in his mind. Without hesitating, Izroth shifted his left foot forward as he slid his right foot back while swiftly rotating his body in one smooth motion. Simultaneously, he flicked his wrist on his sword-wielding arm and turned the sword, holding its handle in a reverse grip.
Zeeeut! Woosh! Ding!
Izroth narrowed his eyes as his steel sword intercepted a cerulean blade. The Resseki Puppet that was just more than ten meters away from him had suddenly appeared at his back.
Having failed its surprise attack, the Resseki Puppet vanished and tried attacking at a different angle. However, Izroth read its movements as his sword was already waiting for the Resseki Puppet when it reappeared!
There was no delay between Izroth's parry and his sword strike thanks to his skill, Flash Counter, which granted his next attack the ability to ignore attack speed restrictions after a successful parry. With only a twenty-second cooldown, it was an ideal skill to use in order to catch one's opponent off guard.
After being struck by Izroth's Flash Counter, the Resseki Puppet's movements ceased as its white eyes dimmed and it powered down. Just to be safe, Izroth attempted to attack it again; however, there was no response or damage. Just as Resseki mentioned, these puppets were tough. Even though his attack managed to deactivate it, there were no signs of damage to its exterior.
'Instantaneous Movement. Not the normal skill, but my enhanced version of it. It can already use it to that extent at 1% of its power?'
The Kiren Puppet slammed into the ground as it was pummeled by Niflheim's Shield Slam, and just like the Resseki Puppet, it shut down.
"It feels nice being able to attack again. That was a little too easy, though considering it was only 1%, this may be tougher than I imagined." Niflheim stated.
"If you want to back out, it's not too late," Izroth said nonchalantly.
"What? And let you have all the fun alone? I'm fine where I am." Niflheim replied.
When the system alert that allowed Izroth and Niflheim to leave the challenge appeared, both declined without regret.
〈System Alert: Survivor Mode has been initiated!〉
"Then, you should prepare yourself well. Because from this moment onward, it's an entirely different battle." As Izroth spoke, the eyes of the golden puppets lit up once again as they stood straight.
〈System Alert: Resseki Puppet and Kiren Puppet current state [Power: 2%]! Power will now increase by 0.25% every 30 seconds or after every defeat of both puppets [MAX: 100%]!〉
〈System Alert: Your life count has been set to 100! Survive as long as possible! [Current Lives Remaining: 100/100]!〉