Coughing blood through his speech, Gawn tried to figure out what I had done to him.
"How? What did you do?" He reiterated, clinging to life stubbornly even as his heart had been pierced through.
"I'm a mage, remember? You didn't think I was only going to fight with a sword, did you?" If only he knew how few 'spells' I actually had, pining wistfully for some other kind of mage class. [Sword edge] looked like magic and it even took mana so it might as well be magic, but in the end it was still technically a sword skill.
"GET. AWAY. FROM. HIM." Hearing an enraged Marcella cry out from behind, followed up by a barrage of rapid explosions against my back.
Ah... I suppose the fights not over just quite yet. A little annoying, but nothing more. Given that I could probably stop a hammer with my bare hands now, a few small explosions were like a nice massage.
Sweeping my blade through Gawn's neck as he stared vacantly before turning to face the now hysterical Marcella.
"Don't you have anything to say to me?" I asked somewhat rhetorically, knowing I wouldn't be hearing an apology.
"YOU KILLED HIM!"
"Well, that part is obvious." Looking back to his head as it lay facedown in the rain and mud. She really seemed upset about that, huh?
Beginning to approach her at a calm pace, ignoring the bombs that were too weak to cause any real damage. We were far too close for her to charge them with any real power, sealing her only real weapon against me. Even if she tried to take the both of us out together, I had enough confidence in my own ability to survive.
"Just give up Marcella, turn yourself in and I'll show some leniency."
"WHY DO YOU HAVE TO RUIN MY LIFE?" She shouted in response, airing her grievances while tears were already streaming down her face.
Summoning an array of her glowing ghost-like bombs, all of them charging up to a decent size before shooting like arrows towards me. Exploding one after another in a rapid chain, kicking up a constant stream of dirt and steam around me as the explosions settled.
Guess that's how it's going to be then.
Bursting through the screen of steam her explosions had created as I decided to rush the remaining distance. Planning to restrain her, seeing as she didn't have any proper weapons aside from her own magic.
Grabbing one of her wrists with my right while I tried to wrestle for her other, but she was obstinately keeping it near her waist, almost like she was trying to grasp something. Her righthand gripped around the air like it was a solid handle, pointing it at me. Not even a second later the air grew hot, motes of fires swirling towards the center of her hand as it formed a solid mass. A blade of molten fire materializing in her hand with me directly in its path.
"Since when did she have that?" I could only think before it was too late.
Feeling warmth in my stomach and back for the briefest of moments, before that warmth turned to pain. Searing pain shot through me as my body burned as one. Feeling the sword take shape within me, crying out in an inhumanly cry of anguish as I burned from within.
A sickening pop filling my jaw as my spine gave way. Falling to the ground while acutely aware that I was no longer connected from the waist down, my legs standing on their own in front me while I dropped.
Marcella laughing and crying at the same time as she averted her eyes, seeming in shock at what she had just done. Looking between me and Gawn with aimless eyes as her entire world crumbled around her. "What have I done..." I heard her mumble as she stumbled away dizzily, half from personal loss, half from mana exhaustion.
You fucking cut me in half! I thought angrily. Honestly half in shock that I was still alive. I knew this kind of thing was possible from the talks I had with System, but living it was an entirely separate experience. My body shivering from experiencing first-hand such an obviously fatal wound. And while I honestly felt like vomiting, I didn't feel like I was actually dying.
Feeling around in the dirt after a few moments passed, my concentration only interrupted after I heard a charging cat-like screech.
Hearing a charging cat-like screech, wailing in anger and anguish in a voice that I could instantly place as Belle's. My anxiety stepping up a notch as the sound of a tussle ensued. Meowling, scratching, biting, and fighting.
The sound of an explosion cutting through the night, filling me with dread. And anger. She couldn't have. My mind instantly going to the darkest possibilities as my anxiety for Belle soared.
Only the ringing of a bell, the bell around Belle's collar, and the sound of Tammy's voice soothed my sudden anxiety.
"Belle! Please, stop it! You're hurt..." Tammy choked out through tears.
"Let go! Belle avenge master! Let Belle go!" Belle flailed as Tammy clung on, unwilling to let Belle go to her death, even through the scratches.
Propping myself up enough to see that Marcella had disappeared into the night, probably headed in the direction of the horses. Most of whom I imagined were long gone by now.
Deciding I needed to announce myself to prevent Belle from doing anything further.
"Belle!" I tried to shout, but it was actually quite diffuclt without a diaphragm. My voice much quieter than I intended.
Even so, her ears twitched and pacified herself for a moment, no longer struggling so fiercely.
"Belle, I'm alive. Come help me."
Her tail shooting straight up as her body twisted one-eighty degrees, staring straight at my direction. Noticing that I was alive and... well... alive.
Struggling like I had never seen her do before as she broke free from Tammy's grasp, nearly pulling her over in the process as she rushed to my side.
Hovering over, only an inch away from my face as she stared intently.
"Yes, Belle. I'm alive."
"Master not dead?"
"As you can see."
Belle looking between me and my pair of legs lying a few feet away, contemplating something deeply.
"Well... if master say so."
"Could you bring my legs over here?"
Noticing her arm's awful state as she busily worked to pull my legs over. Her poor arm bleeding and clearly broken.
Tammy coming up behind me, nearly tackling me as she bawled, cradling my head in her non-existant bosom.
"Please don't dieee!" She wailed, seeing me cut in half must have been quite the shock.
Noticing the scratches on her arm from holding back Belle, who by the way was similarly unaware of her own injuries as she pulled my lower half over and lined it up with my own.
Sighing as I took out my mirror, angling it to catch some light from the nearby fires so I could see properly. Looking at the status points I had so diligently saved up to this day.
Twenty-five points. I was hoping I could use them in something that would be more generally useful, but with the state I currently found myself there was no helping it. Moving each point over to the constitution attribute individually until they were all there, hovering my finger over the confirmation button.
"Uh... Tammy, Belle, I know this already looks pretty weird, but it's going to get a whole lot weirder soon. Just... don't freak out, okay?"
Pressing confirm as twenty-five points of pure vital essence coursed through my veins, each point more potent than the last. Feeling almost like my entire body was being swept away and carried by the tidal force of life energy. My cells drinking to the point of bursting, the energy reinvigorating and changing each as they took more.
Gritting my teeth from the overwhelming feeling of life exuding from within, doing my best not to pass out.
My severed midsection itching to the extreme almost like millions of invisible worms were weaving their way through my flesh, extending out as they searched for the lost flesh which they soon found. Two halves becoming whole as new life essence flowed once more through the damaged portions.
My whole body beating now like a heart, each pump delivering fresh essence that constantly circulated and reinvigorated the old. I thought this was an effect from the initial investment of points, but seconds turned to minutes, and the effect was still there. Realizing that the reverberations were not exactly coming my body, they were not physical reverberations at all really, but rather something that came directly from my very soul.
I did hear System say the body housed the soul, while the soul shaped and nourished the body. But this was something else. Right now, I could actually feel my soul. Vaguely, but it was there. Constantly providing life essence to me in an unending stream.
Sitting up unsteadily, unused to the new sensations of life that I was feeling throughout. Examining the unblemished skin that poked through the melted scraps of armor around my middle.
"Master amazing! Powerful master!" Belle cheered, clinging to me and licking my face, sandwiching me between her and Tammy as she single-mindedly demonstrated her renewed affections. Smiling wryly that Belle at least was so easily swept onboard the new reality, if only Tammy would be so understanding. Seeing the slight look of fear in her eyes.
"Keaton... I... how? Keaton, are you human?"
"I suppose there is no use hiding it at this point, you are aware that Bael is acting on behalf of the church? There is a reason they are interested in me, and it isn't my 'space' magic. I'll explain in more detail, but there are some there who have extraordinary powers."
She just nodded, seeing the love of her life cut in half before her eyes then proceed to piece himself back together wasn't the easiest thing in the world to accept.
For her own safety, I couldn't very well expose everything, like the inner workings of my system, but I at least owed it to her to explain myself in a way she could accept. The church, an entity she was taught to trust, served that purpose rather well. Somewhat thankful for my connection to them at the moment.
Turning my attention back to Belle, who for the moment was still acting oblivious to her own injuries. Her arm making me wince. Even so, I needed her assistance right now.
"Belle are you feeling alright?"
To which she just nodded inquisitively.
"Can you tell where Marcella went?"
Her eyes gleaming in the night, as she nodded. Somehow understanding my intentions.
Well, then. Lead the way, my dear hunting cat.