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Godaki Forest South, 3:11 am, Kousei Gunnar vs Cerbant, then Greatwolf

The darkness in the Godaki forest at this hour was almost absolute. Most creatures without extremely good night vision or spirit sense would be sleeping right now. This was the time that Kousei Gunnar decided to explore the forest, normally. The quiet and darkness suited the Lycan, and, he believed, honed his sense of hearing.

Now, whether that were true or not, the grunts of a Cerbant got his attention in the darkness. Kousei stood perfectly still now, listening carefully, making no sound of his own, even as he unclasped his large butterfly axe from his back and slowly moved it around to where he could grasp it in the way he had been trained.

The sound of the Cerbant's movement and its grunting moved closer. Kousei turned slowly in its direction until he was sure where it was. His eyes had long since adjusted to the darkness, but he was about to give them at least some light to see by. Once he was sure of his potential opponent's approach, he let out a howl that caused the Cerbant to freeze in its tracks.

A ball of flame now flew through the brush, igniting a few leaves, but mostly striking the hair on the wild boar. It immediately ignited its own aura, making its location, and the area around it, visible to Kousei. Kousei smirked and did the same, illuminating the area around himself too. Then, gripping his axe, he charged at the boar.

The Cerbant hesitated. Even a creature of that strength could be intimidated by the sight of a flame-glowing Lycan warrior charging it. However, surely enough, as is their nature, the Cerbant pawed the ground with one 'hoof' and prepared to charge also. At this point Kousei let out another chilling howl, causing the boar to hesitate yet again.

In the moment of its charge, it met with Kousei's Ignus Ghal, and despite its own flaming aura, the superheated earth caused the creature to react, veering off its course. A bit moreso than Kousei had calculated, actually, but his axe still met its side. The boar absorbed the force of the blow, then charged directly into Kousei, whose body did the same, though far less effectively overall.

The Lycan twisted his body, maneuvering himself to get in another good strike with his axe before the boar again managed to charge into him, wounding his leg just below the knee, with a tusk. Kousei let his weight drop, and the handle of his axe was brought down hard against the back of the Cerbant's head. His enhanced strength made this impact meaningful even to the resilient boar.

The Lycan and the boar struggled for nearly another minute, tusk and strong body against axe and strong body, both throwing themselves against the other's flaming aura, but in the end, Kousei's ability to induce exhaustion in his opponent won out, and the Cerbant crashed to the forest floor, the flaming aura dying away.

"Not bad, not bad..." Kousei said to himself, brushing off. He had traveled without some of his armor for the day, but overall it had not been too detrimental. He decided not to tire himself out further by trying to carry the boar back to barracks, and so now was about to move on when a growl behind him alerted him to more company.

In this case, that growl was shortly followed by a rush of powerful wind. So powerful in fact that it lifted even Kousei off his feet and slammed him hard into a nearby tree. A lesser man might even have been knocked unconscious immediately, but Kousei's body was tough, and so used to such impacts that he merely dropped, kneeled, and got a firm grip on his axe again.

"Heh. Well then..." he smirked, barely able to make out the shape of the creature that had done it, in the distance. He formed a sphere of fire in his hands and flung it at the Greatwolf, but the creature seemed to have better than normal reflexes, allowing it to leap to the side and evade his attack.

Kousei frowned. Formal training covered most creatures in Hanjia and how to deal with them. It also explained that there was no concrete way to deal with a Greatwolf, as they varied almost as much as people. This one, Kousei guessed, was of the Wind element. At best, that meant that he did not need to worry about it overpowering him directly.

Given this, he took a simple approach, simply charging directly at it with his own threatening howl. The Greatwolf responded similarly, but its Sheir Lence again tossed Kousei back against the tree. Now, it bounded in and leapt at him...

The Greatwolf was not prepared for the Lycan's enhanced strength. Kousei swatted the canid away with a mighty swing of the flat of his axe, at the very least bruising, if not breaking, one of its ribs, in the process. He watched as the Greatwolf's aura glowed with the distinctive light of Aesl energy.

"And it can heal itself too... great..."

Now, the leaves and dust around Kousei swirled up around him, the rustling noises masking the sounds of the wolf's movement, and making it slightly harder to see its approach, even with his acclimatized eyes. Kousei grounded himself firmly, solidifying himself to meet any strike of the wolf, even if it were another Sheir Lence. He barely picked up on the sound of paws moving over ground as it leapt for him again. This time, his axe only caught its rear left flank, in his swing, and the Greatwolf hit him with almost full force, its snapping jaws only barely missing his neck.

Teeth met shoulder, and sank deep into the flesh there, twisting painfully as both Kousei and his aggressor went down hard. Immediately, the Lycan's aura again heated up, as he wrestled the creature off him. With a mighty heave of his strengthened arms, Kousei tossed the Greatwolf against the same tree which it had slammed him into twice, and fumbled in the dim light provided by his own aura, to regain his axe which he had lost grip on.

The Greatwolf seemed to have recovered already, and was bounding at him as if his blow had barely stunned it. Kousei swung his axe up from where it had fallen, smacking the flat of the weapon against the jaws as they closed in on him. The Greatwolf staggered away, stunned by the blow, but as Kousei rose to his feet, he found himself again trapped in a dust storm. He stamped one foot on the ground, channeling his spirit through it to cause his Ignus Ghal to erupt around the wolf's footing.

He heard its yelp above the sound of the rustling leaves, and immediately charged. The first and second swings of his axe hit nothing. The third grazed the wolf as it bit into his thigh. His fourth swing again reached no flesh nor bone, as the wolf's reflexes allowed it to bound quickly out of the way. He flung another Pyrosphere at it, mostly as distraction, but it took the flame hit and simply bounded at him again, dodging yet another axe swing. Kousei spun on his heel, swinging his weapon in a huge arc, and struck solidly despite his adversary's efforts to evade it.

Even in the darkness, Kousei was sure that he had struck a shoulder. The sound of impact and the half-howl yelp of his target were unmistakable. Another Ignus Ghal followed, causing the Greatwolf to leap away from the heat yet again, and in the direction Kousei had hoped as well. He charged, swinging his axe in an upward arcing movement, meant to catch the Greatwolf in the ribs if it decided to attack him, or could not move fast enough.

Evasive though it was, the toll the damage took on the creature's body was very real, and Kousei's axe struck true yet again, lodging itself momentarily in the Greatwolf's sternum. It blasted him off with another powerful wind shear, then moved in swiftly and delivered another body blow before Kousei could position himself for another strike. The Lycan's physique again took the hit without much complaint, but the teeth of the wolf bruised his side even through the tough leather portion of his armor.

Again, Kousei struck his adversary with the handle of his weapon, but this time the Greatwolf was not so easily deterred, and it twisted itself, closing its jaws on Kousei's elbow, even as the glow of Aesl again healed its body a bit. Kousei generated another ball of flame in his other hand and delivered it to the side of the Greatwolf's head in a punch that dislodged its jaw grip. His axe swing that followed lodged the weapon into the wolf's neck, and it now stumbled away from him, apparently gasping for breath.

Now, Kousei was also gasping for breath, but not because of any injury. The conflict, though not particularly extended, had still taxed him, and he now found himself seriously hoping that it was over. The Greatwolf was struggling to heal itself now, but its efforts seemed to avail it little. With the last of its strength, a final Sheir Lence sent Kousei tumbling through the underbrush, but the Greatwolf's attempt to escape did not end in that way. It simply managed to stagger a few more steps away before collapsing.

Kousei recovered, and soon located his fallen enemy, ending it with an axe strike to the back of the neck, before hefting the Greatwolf's corpse onto his shoulders and setting off back toward Nouve.

Outcome: Kousei Gunnar has defeated the Cerbant and Greatwolf (taken 77% damage)
Info Alert: Kousei Gunnar gained 5 DSP exp.
Info Alert: Kousei Gunnar gained 9 DEX exp.
Info Alert: Kousei Gunnar gained 24 STR exp.
Info Alert: Kousei Gunnar gained 20 RES exp.
Info Alert: Kousei Gunnar gained 12 FCS exp.
Info Alert: Kousei Gunnar gained 8 RSN exp.
Info Alert: Kousei Gunnar gained 8 RFL exp.

Verpett Plains, 3:51 am, Xlan Raglade & Sauslecht vs Raven Conspiracy

Again, the hours of morning darkness found Xlan Raglade venturing into the Verpett Plains in search of specimens. This time, he came across something a bit out of the ordinary. Mime Ravens were normally mostly diurnal creatures, but this Conspiracy seemed to be 'up early', enjoying a meal of carrion from some other, larger creature's kill. They were enjoying it so much, in fact, that they were making quite the cacaphony, and ignoring the approach of the Daemon and his Greatwolf 'brother'.

When one of them finally did notice, and sound the 'alarm', twelve pairs of dark eyes fixated on the approaching shady pair. Xlan noticed, and waved Sauslecht off, hoping to get to observe their behaviours, and if possible, 'capture' the group of Ravens in his own special way.

The Ravens had other plans. Taking off from the carcass in a group, they circled him erratically, their number appearing to double in the moonlight. Despite Xlan's good eyesight, he could not distinguish the true Ravens from the illusions, but he had no intention of doing so. The bombardment of spherical energy attacks began seconds later, and unfortunately for Xlan, unlike most other Aeslmancers, his ability to deflect such attacks was limited, as was his ability to dodge them. What made this worse was the teamwork of the Conspiracy, at times even sending illusory attacks at him.

Sauslecht was not inclined to let this continue, but in this case, unfortunately, it seemed that both 'elder' and 'younger brother' were forced to learn the limits of their capacity against flying creatures. Sauslecht fared little better against their energy attacks, except for being a bit more capable of evading them.

Eventually, with no serious retaliation, the birds would become bolder, occasionally diving for a strike to see if they could successfully make one, in the darkness. Quickly establishing that the Daemon and Greatwolf, though dangerous, were not overwhelmingly so, they descended, finally giving Xlan his chance. Focusing Martyr's Blood to the point where even his nose began to bleed, he then shunted all that energy into Corse Weaver, turning the flesh from his own neck into a mass of spiky vines, that spread out, upward, from his shoulders, descending upon the Ravens.

The group panicked instantly, pecking at him furiously in order to escape, but although this damaged Xlan, it was no use overall. He hiccuped slightly, and his flesh morphed again, allowing his thorny epidermal net to become a delivery system for the toxin from his throat. A quick Regenera to flood that net of his, and the Ravens soon moved no more, their bodies mutated too far to put up any further fight, or even remain alive.

Xlan fell to his knees now, the pain from using his Martyr's Blood essence now resonating into his mind, from every receptor in his body. First, there was the issue of dealing with the spiky net that most of his neck and shoulders had become. After that... collecting Raven corpses. At least, that was what he thought of doing. Now, he realized that his body was not inclined to cooperate. He had pushed himself too hard.

He turned slightly on his side, before collapsing into unconsciousness.

Outcome: Xlan Raglade has defeated the Raven Conspiracy (taken 47% damage)
Info Alert: Xlan Raglade gained 10 DSP exp.
Info Alert: Xlan Raglade gained 7 RES exp.
Info Alert: Xlan Raglade gained 16 FCS exp.
Info Alert: Xlan Raglade gained 2 PCN exp.
Info Alert: Xlan Raglade gained 4 RFL exp.

Verpett Plains, 5:19 am, Xlan Raglade & Sauslecht vs Wild Bison

Xlan had awoken an hour after his exhausted collapse, and wandered about for another half hour collecting the items he found in the pre-dawn light. The Greatwolf he saw, he and Sauslecht had fled from. Moreso Sauslecht grabbing him by the collar and dragging him away, when the other wolf's attention turned to something else.

Together, they returned to the outskirts of Ossilica, heading towards their home, in order to get some proper rest. Unfortunately, between them and their destination, a lone Wild Bison stood grazing on the dewed grass. It seemed distracted, and so, the Aeslmancer and Greatwolf merely ignored it, but in the shimmering light of dawn, somehow it seemed that the Bison came under the impression that these two were targets.

Sauslecht immediately grabbed Xlan by the scruff of his coat yet again, literally dragging him along while Xlan again drew power from his cell structure to augment what he intended to actually do. He kept this going for quite some time, building up a great reserve of energy in his body, at the cost of his physical form. Finally, he managed to convince his 'brother' to turn back toward the charging creature, and give him the chance to release that power.

Sauslecht would normally have hesitated, but he had already realized that Xlan had greatly weakened his own body for whatever was intended. No point in not finishing the process. At just the right moment, Xlan rolled from his 'brother's' grasp, and released the energy built up in his form, into the earth, through his Corse Weaver essence. His sacrifice had made it powerful enough to affect the plants and roots in the ground, causing them to shoot up as sharp, strong spikes, directly into the Bison's path.

The creature crashed directly into them, letting out a deep sound of pain as it did so, and slowing to a stop merely a few bounds from Xlan. Xlan's attempt was not yet complete, and he shifted his energies again, weaving the spikes now into sharp vines. This was less effective, since the Bison's body had hardened in response to the spikes, but it still did not seem inclined to move forward. Instead, Xlan was tossed to the ground when the Bison stomped it, causing a strong localized tremor to crack and shift the earth beneath the Daemon's feet.

In this moment, Sauslecht attacked, getting a firm hold on the Bison's neck. It could not easily toss him off, nor run, allowing him to eventually overpower it and drag it down. Xlan rose, slowly, feeling the effects of spiritual exhaustion along with his already tired mind and body. Considering the options, he was forced to leave this carcass where it fell, and, with Sauslecht's support, stumble into the town, towards home.

Outcome: Xlan Raglade has defeated the Wild Bison (taken 31% damage)
Info Alert: Xlan Raglade gained 6 DSP exp.
Info Alert: Xlan Raglade gained 2 RES exp.
Info Alert: Xlan Raglade gained 10 FCS exp.

Verpett Plains, 9:20 pm, Xlan Raglade & Sauslecht vs Raven Conspiracy

Xlan found himself again wandering the Verpett Plains under cover of darkness. This time, the darkness of night. It again surprising to find that another group of Mime Ravens was also up at this hour. The creatures apparently had rather strange habits in that respect.

Xlan and Sauslecht had just dispatched a Kivlit, and the slight commotion had attracted their attention. In the darkness, it was almost impossible to discern how many of them were in this group, even with Xlan's eyesight. Still, they were circling, cawing and making other strange noises. Plotting. Probably plotting how to take the Kivlit carcass from him. Xlan decided that his success that morning was one that could be repeated. All he had to do was find a way to stop them from doing the annoying elemental attacking part.

Unfortunately there was no way to stop this. His only fortune lay in the fact that this group was bolder. Though their intent was the same, to drive him away from a carcass, in this case they were being more 'invasive' than territorial. They would come closer, trying to get at the fallen Kivlit. This group, unlike the first, were not satiated by meat. This group, was hungry.

Sauslecht got a much better chance at getting the Ravens between jaws, due to this, but teamwork amongst such a group was still enough to make things difficult. While one tried to get close enough to get a taste of the Kivlit, another two would 'cover it' from the air, sending spheres of fire, lightning, wind or ice at the Greatwolf. Sauslecht mostly did not bother to dodge the attacks, instead focusing on the Ravens, but their skill with their elemental energy was high, and they always managed to help the third raven escape his jaws.

Xlan was having better luck. Even in the darkness he could reach his mark with his throwing knives, and at least three of the birds had already suffered wounds from such, and were succumbing to the toxin. There was a good chance that he would not need to strain his body further by using Martyr's Blood three times in one day.

By now, it was clear that this Conspiracy consisted of thirteen ravens. This left ten of them still able to attack at full strength. They did not waste time doing so, largely to assist the other three in their attempts to get out of range of Sauslecht's jaws. Again, the bombardment of elements, now with a few Cosmosphere included amongst the other four.

Xlan could only do his best to strain his concentration, risking the throwing of knives at the birds when their elemental energies illuminated their positions better against the night sky. This was largely successful, and so, after realizing this, he also directed Sauslecht to finish off the fallen birds and retrieve the knives, lest he fall short of having enough to finish them off.

The battle continued in this manner until the last Raven, after singeing him with another Pyrosphere, abandoned the effort and flew off, making mournful loud sounds as it flapped off through the night sky.

Outcome: Xlan Raglade has defeated the Raven Conspiracy (taken 27% damage)
Info Alert: Xlan Raglade gained 4 DSP exp.
Info Alert: Xlan Raglade gained 4 FCS exp.
Info Alert: Xlan Raglade gained 16 PCN exp.
Info Alert: Xlan Raglade gained 4 RFL exp.