282 Lone, Ranger Part One
Tycondrius identified six male individuals in the dark, their outlines illuminated by the nighttime street lamps. They watched with great interest, quietly drawing sword and dagger, not knowing that all three of their marks could see as well in lamplight as in sunlight. Tycon pulled Sasha closer-- he'd be able to defend her better, in the case the enemies had crossbows.
His System designated the first man and his surrounding allies as possible enemies. However, the first human was Bronze-Rank and had a low-tier class... and the others were Unranked, save one other Bronze. With their numbers, they weren't a real threat to anyone but Sasha.
It was somewhat of a waste of mana to deal with them... but that was fine.
Though Tycon and his friends were hungry after their journey, a pre-meal exercise would be fantastic for whetting their appetites. As a bonus, he'd be able to see how Sasha's martial abilities had progressed, as well as give Isidor some much-needed practice in controlling his rarely used humanoid-form.
All this, he could get for the low price of a mere seven counts of murder.
Tycon grinned wide, allowing his golden eyes to glow with mana underneath his hood, "Now that we're here, how about we give you gentlemen our own lesson of... 'life advice.'"
In order to continue living, don't cross guild Sol Invictus.
"Hold it!!" A sharp command cut through the quiet night. The voice's owner turned around a building corner, yet another cloaked figure... yet this one looked like he had some self-respect.
Barza Keith, the Lone Shadowdark, swept his hood back, "No one f*cks with my friends."
Tycon crossed his arms. That was a surprise. His old ally had come to their aid.
...That was fine, too.
Barza Keith, the Lone Shadowdark... was a human with unfriendly eyes and medium-short, dark hair. He wore a scruffy beard that Tycon insisted the young man shave clean each morning, though it would regrow to a dark shadow by evening. His skin had bronzed from constant suns outside, and he had a tired, weathered look about him, most notably in the dark spots underneath his eyes.
A cut across his nose had scarred over his wide face, an injury from long ago, marking him as no stranger to close combat, and he'd a broad, armored chest that revealed the well-developed muscles of his arms. They'd thinned slightly since last he remembered, growing more compact with function rather than bloated in size.
"And who in the hells are you?" The knife-wielding human groaned.
"I am the grilled cheese sandwich of your deaths," Lone grinned, his eyes widening to reveal his bloodlust. "Now, which of you arseholes wants a bite?"
Tycon had met the young man during his adventures in the Kingdom to the west and immediately bullied him into service.
And then he broke him.
He was weak. Sol Invictus trained him.
When he made a mistake, his punishment was more training. When his performance was deemed lacking by even one of their number, he was punished with training. When Tycon was bored... he trained alongside him.
Tycon, Lone, and the members of Sol Invictus... they trained together, ate together, bled together.
Lone was made to hate his training-- to hate his failures, to hate his own weaknesses. He grew reckless, seeking perfection of the art of war... anything he could do to make the training stop. His first instincts were not to run or cower in fear, it was to close with the enemy and eliminate each and every one of the bastards in close combat.
Tycon took that hate, he took that recklessness, and he cultivated it into a perfect combatant-- a machine trained to war... and one better than any creation made by mad Wizards.
He instilled in him instant and willing obedience to orders.
He instilled in him the arrogance that only belonged to the victors of war and battle.
The training was no longer to defeat a specific enemy... It was to overcome his own flaws, to defeat the unseen enemy that would come to take his life and everything he held dear.
But tonight... that undefeatable monster, the bringer of hope and despair, the life-reaping sandwich... was Barza Keith, the Lone gods-damned Shadowdark.
Tycon pointed at the ruffian with the knife. He gave Lone a single word.
"DEATHHHH!!!" Lone screamed. He tossed off his cloak, grabbing a Dark Iron hammer and unsheathing a magical longsword from his waist.
"TO THE ENEMIES!!!!" He sprinted forward, leaping up-- crossing near 30 fulms before anyone could move.
The Bronze-Rank Thug had no chance. Lone's hammer swing struck the side of the man's temple, denting his skull in. He stabbed his sword into the man's abdomen, then tore it to the side, eviscerating him. Blood and guts spilled onto the floor.
Tycon snapped his finger.
⟬ Commander's Strike activated. ⟭
It was Tycon's strongest and most useful skill. A surge of rage and battle-lust would affect his target, sharpening their senses and increasing their speed. Lone would push the limits of his body and execute an empowered attack, made accurate by the guiding mana, empowered by the flowing hate.
"RrrrrrrrraaaaAAAAAHHHH!" Lone's growl crescendoed into a roar. He dropped his weapons-- an interesting choice, and one that he would be punished for... if not for the longbow he grabbed in one hand and the two arrows in the other.
"⌈Whirl Shot!!⌋" He fired a mana-powered arrow, which found its way to the center of a man's chest, then spun around, dropping to a knee. Tilting his bow, he fired a second shot, the glowing arrow striking the center of another man's kneecap.
Hohhhh... A skill... The young Lone had improved with his solo training... and by mana-powered leaps and bounds.
"Taste the power of an Iron-Rank death-sandwich," Lone spat. "⌈Whirl Shot.⌋"
Another two fell.
An Iron-Rank, huh?
Tycon smirked. It was wonderful news. Sol Invictus grew stronger, each and every sun. He shut his eyes, pleasantly surprised.
"S-stay away!!" One of the humans called out from behind him, "Or-- or your friend GETS IT!!"
Tycon furrowed his brows... No, they couldn't be so stupid. Opening his eyes, he tilted his head down at his side. Sasha's doe eyes looked back up at him.
He looked back to where the polymorphed Titan Snake would have been...
The humans had captured Isidor.