Chapter 42 – The Rise of Zitler (part 4)
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The ghost girl moved, cried and looked alive like a normal girl, other than her hovering a few feet above the ground and being see through. While the girl on the stone slab lay motionless. It was very eye catching which is why I did not see the fat teen standing on the other side of the alter. He was not very tall, maybe 5'2" to 5'3" but he was grossly overweight for his size. He wore a loose robe and his arms never stopped moving. They would move into a position, then his fingers moved into a complex pattern, and once done, he would begin to move again.

Most of the people I have met in this world were fit. I did not realize the reason until I had to jog around the stadium. I quickly found out that our stats were made up of two types; magical and physical. The magical aspect has nothing to do with the type of body one has. An elderly grandma might be able to pull a tree from the ground and beat you with it. Of course, if one wanted to put in the effort they could exercise and increase their stats. I found this out when my stamina increased a little just from running around. I seemed to be the last one to know though.

Bella and Lilly thought I was hysterical when I was talking excitedly about it. I was going on and on about exercises we could do. Things like, setting up obstacle courses to increase our dexterity and stamina at the same time. They then poured cold water all over my excitement. I was informed, between their laughter, that the school already had extra weekend classes that catered to increasing each stat. Which was probably for the best since I did not know all that much about exercise routines. The closest I have come to the gym was driving by it. That was why it was really weird to see anybody that was so out of shape in this world. It was just not as weird as a ghost hovering above a body.

A portal was opening up in front of him as the fat teen waved his arms about. It started out small but in seconds it grew to the size of a basketball. It stabilized at that size and the ghost screamed, "No, no I will not submit!" causing me to refocus on her. She was clawing into the air as if there was something solid there that she could hold on to. It looked as if she was about to be sucked into the portal.

'Oh, that can't end well,' I thought.

I gave commands to attack the summoner. The dispatcher was the quickest to attack. I sensed it's thoughts of prey nearby, as it jumped down. It arced in the air, and a black mist surrounding it hardened into hooked blades. It froze about a foot away from the pudgy teen and began to twitch. A pale light shot out of the dispatcher and went into the portal. A look of shock flashed across the fat teens face and he stopped moving his arms. I saw a look of anger flash in his eyes before the portal quickly expanded blocking my sight.

I was blinded by white lights that flashed around the room. A lock of hair, a piece of cloth, shoes… Items that were placed in a circle around the alter were destroyed by that light. When I could see again a demoness that looked like the statue stood were the portal once was and the ghost girl was gone. The pressure I had from trying to control the dispatcher vanished and was replaced by a blinding pain. All I saw of the caster was the back of his robes fluttering as he ran into a side passage that I had not noticed before. I felt a wet tear trail down my face. What I wiped away was red. I had no time to worry about what caused these bloody tears.

The demoness warily looked around, went down onto all fours and a hiss of warning came out of her throat. The nine foot tall demoness leapt up as if to cling onto the ceiling but soon crashed back to the floor. She looked confused and began to back away into a darkened corner of the room. She was acting like the dispatcher. It was bizarre and creepy. Did the girl's spirit also get absorbed? Was this the reason that the monsters were acting more human? Did I already fail to save the girl? I felt like I had question marks floating above my head. I had never read anything related to this in all the time I spent in the library.

I was jolted out of my contemplation as the demoness rushed at my group. Unlike the golem I had just fought, this one looked fleshy. She looked crazy as she used all her limbs to 'run' at us. She did not go for her sword like the golem even though she had one. It seemed that she did not even realize that it was there. As she got closer she leapt onto the tank puppet. It was still in the forward position ever since we came down the stairs so naturally, without maneuvering, she would hit it first. Her fingers outstretched into claws but she hit his shield. There was light pink flashes wherever she made contact but, other than his arm recoiling as her massive body hit it. The gracefulness that the golem had was lacking and with a flick of his shield she flew back a foot or so,landing on her ass with a plop.

While I had the chance, I wanted to test my spells against this demoness. I cast 'Minor Healing light' onto the Succubus demon and the golden butterflies fluttered around her. As they touched her skin, they pulsed and when they moved away, bright pink blood could be seen making little trails from where they were. They lasted long enough for her to get back into her "attack position", and then they vanished with a puff and hundreds of miniscule wounds could be seen.

A dagger soon logged itself into her left thigh while giant jagged ice spikes formed up in front of us as my puppets executed my orders. The spikes jutted out from the ceiling and floor creating a blockade. It forced the succubus to keep her distance or break through the ice. Although I assumed it would not take her long, judging from the strength of her last attack,  but it would give my party time to deliver more attacks.

That opportunity was what I wanted. My tank puppet was rendered useless since it had no long ranged attacks so I just set him to guard. The rest of us unleashed another round of spells and attacks. I had them delay a few seconds and I cast 'Blessing of the Goddess' onto the demoness. A hazy gold hugged against her body like an extra layer of skin, once I finished. The spell was designed to aid in a targets defense but since healing spells became harmful I was curious about the other types of spells. I found this the perfect time to experiment since my life was not really on the line.

I watched carefully as the thief threw his dagger. She stepped back as it approached her. Her foot landed on something and slipped causing her to pitch forward just a fraction of an inch. The dagger would have barely hit her without that movement, instead it embedded itself into her left eye causing an inhuman screech to resonate from her all too human throat. The ice pellets that followed left her with new cuts and bruises but I did not see any other odd movements. The dark golden glow that surrounded her faded away. My spell could not be maintained like it normally could.

The demoness clawed at her eye causing more damage as the knife was knocked back and forth until it fell to the floor. The wound was ghastly. It looked fatal but other than a crazed look, she seemed to not even notice the gaping hole. She rushed the ice blockade in that awkward half crouched, four limbed, scuttle. She flung her arms out as she approached the spikes and a pink mist briefly formed, connected against the ice, did nothing, and then vanished. It looked like the black mist other than color. Was she learning or was it instinct?

Either way she screamed in anger that nothing happened and began to bash her way through the ice. While this resulted in more cuts she still did not slow down. Her strength as expected made short work of it and I had to have the warrior step up to block her path. His hammer smashing into her as she cleared the ice. Her left arm dangled loosely as it dislocated, with an audible pop from the hit. She looked like she crawled out of a grave by this point. Unfortunately, she still did not slow down or give up. Instead she continued to attack.

I cast 'Minor Healing' and her tiny wounds opened up even larger. Her blood loss increased and her skin became paler. The thief moved into a better position while the tank swung his hammer driving her onto her knees. It looked so painful but her hand snaked out and slapped the tank. A faint pink glow was emitted on impact and the tank dropped his hammer. The shield would have dropped as well if it was not strapped to his arm. My ice mage was still chanting for a bigger spell as I watched my warrior open his arms wide as if to hug her, leaving himself open to any attack that would come his way.

The thief threw another dagger as the demoness was busy clawing the warrior's eyes out of his head. A pink hue highlighted his face so it was easy to see. I expected screams of pain, or whatever these puppets did to show pain, but instead he wrapped his arms around her in a loving embrace. He brought his head forward and I saw her jam her thumbs into his now empty sockets. The knife the thief had thrown cut into her throat and she let out a gurgling hiss. The warrior hugged onto her even as his body twitched and writhed as her nails pierced into his brain and just like that, the warrior was dead.

Anger rushed through me. This was my second failure in this dungeon. I did not really blame myself for the first one since the doll simply stood there but this time I was at fault. They may not be real but the fact that I failed to keep this one safe struck me hard. My aura shattered into thousands of thread like filaments and shot out like lightning. I wanted this bitch dead and as the threads wrapped around her like a butterflies cocoon, I cast another 'Minor Healing'. In a blinding golden light the demon vanished.

The room swam before me. I was dizzy, my head ached and my aura snapped back into its normal state although duller than it originally was. I barely noticed the notification for the 300 XP rewarded after what the system called a minor demon.

I saw the orb that displayed my magical energy in my display was now empty. I ordered the thief and mage to grab up the girl and help me to go back through the damn nymph infested lake. I needed to leave this place quickly since I could now hear multiple people or creatures moving up the passage that Zitler had fled from. I still had a mission to complete. As far as I could tell from the girl's display she was "Alive" just unconscious.

I was a little out of it and while the nymphs swam up I barely felt their touches. My consciousness was fading in and out so it was hard to focus on anything. I kept giving orders to my puppets until we reached the room where the statue was. Under my command the remaining puppets blocked the door with crates. I needed time to recharge. Before I could even begin, the room faded away and I found myself standing in the center of the stadium.

The screens above us were each displaying a kid with his group of puppets. I even saw myself feeling up a statue before deciding to move down the hallway. Cheers and 'Ahs' could be heard as successes and tragedies befell each group.

I got to see what happened in the corridor I did not go down as well as the horrible traps in the room after the lava lake. It was interesting to watch each party. The wet corridor ended up in a room with a swamp in it. The girls in that room were "water" based. I use that term loosely since the one was an acidic slime, another looked normal but literally swallowed the boy leading his group after catching him like a fly with her tongue. Her mouth opened impossibly wide to swallow the teen. His body vanished and her belly was still as flat as ever. The last one had rough skin like a crocodile and had a fierce bite attack. Sadly, I did not get to see the whole battle since that screen faded out once the boy was killed.

I did get to see every trap the one room had as another kid ordered his dolls one after another to spring the traps that quickly dispatched them. His smug look turned into shock when the traps reset themselves by the time the last trap was sprung or perhaps they auto reset if all of them went off. Either way his screen also faded shortly after he was boiled alive, trapped in a sphere of water that encased everything except his head. I suppose that was to stop him from suffocating first. Either way it was not the way I would want to die.

Shuddering, I quickly lost interest in anybody stupid enough to not disarm the traps. A few boys never made it past the lava lake but that was by choice since they went to 'Play' with the nymphs. The screen cut to white while the sound let everybody know what they were doing. The blue or red orb, I found out could only be grabbed by the gloved hand. Anything else was instant death. The blue orb would freeze you solid if you grasped it in your unprotected hand while you combusted if you grabbed the red one. Sadly, even if you took the blue orb it did not allow you to cross the lake. Without the protection offered by the red orb anybody in the group that entered the lake died … horribly.

One group ignored the girl, rushed past the demoness while it was integrating her soul and followed Zitler into another cavern. The party was killed so quickly by everything inside that it was hard to see exactly what killed them but Zitler did the coup de grâce by ripping the boy's soul out of his body as his minions held him in place. Most of the screens were now black due to the high death rate or other activities not meant for children.

From the noise, the crowd was enjoying themselves. They grew louder with every darkened screen. Perhaps due to the show or more than likely the consumption of large quantities of alcohol. I for one was enjoying watching and gasped once or twice when the fights got intense. So I found it strange when the noises from the crowd simply stopped. Then I heard them murmuring amongst themselves. As I glanced up into the stands I saw them pointing at a bright white screen. I looked at where the screen was amongst the others and realized that it was mine.

I had not been paying too much attention to my screen. I mean, I already lived through it so it did not make too much sense to relive it via video so I had no idea when it went white. It did not stay white for a long time. By the time I figured out it was my screen, it only took another minute or so for the screen to go back to normal and I saw myself being half carried, half dragged by the thief through the lake. The last thing I saw before the screen went grey was me resting in the statue room.

Almost all the screens were now black with only two others being gray. I was guessing that black meant failure, gray was success and the white screen was censoring. Judging where the video picked up it was likely that they censored my fight with the succubus, but why?

I did not get to ponder long before we were led into a waiting room within the stadium. We were free to leave from there or if we had another event we could wait here until we were called. Since I signed up for the Healing event I chose to stay. I just hoped I had enough time to recharge my mana. I was drained and still felt dizzy by overusing my magic.

I sat on a bench and leaned my head against the wall trying to relax and think through all that happened. Somehow I split my aura into threads and I could not figure out how. I tried to do it after resting for a while but I failed to even split it into half. Try as I might all I managed to do was make my headache worse. I gave up once the pain increased to the point that I got a plus one in pain resistance. It was not like I was getting anywhere. I rested my eyes, leaned back and drifted off to sleep. I only woke up when somebody shook me awake.

It was time. A teenage boy led me back to the stadium grounds but instead of being in the center it was place along the right wall. There were over two dozen kids in various states of injury. Considering that we only started with a little over twenty people, I was not sure where all these kids came from. The school did not do much for them either. Sloppy bandages had been placed so they did not bleed out but nothing else was done. Their wounds were left for us to fix. There were only five of us to the thirty kids laying on makeshift bunks. We each had six to heal. They were placed in such a way that each of us would get a section that roughly equaled the same difficulty.

That is not to say the school was heartless for leaving them injured. They expected these kids to be tough enough to fight in any wars that happened in the future. To toughen them up they had no qualms letting their injuries persist so they got a little pain resistance beforehand. Afterwards, if we failed to heal them the school would step in.

We were assigned a section and left to heal them. Four of the kids were clerics and I heard them calling out to their deities asking for them to grace and heal the wounded. The other was a druid and used herbs and stones to heal people. I let my aura appear around me as I walked into to my section. I let the calming affect wash over them, reducing their pain.

With great hesitation, I began to rip my aura into pieces. The headache had faded but grew as my aura was torn first into two pieces then three. I had to give up trying to divide as the pain in my head became too much for me to handle. My mana was only half filled, and the more tendrils I had, the more I could heal, but I could not separate it any further. Such a pity. Three would have to do.

I looked over my group. The first one with deep lacerations running across his chest as if a claw had raked across it. One lost an arm, another's leg was at an odd angle, and so on. Each one was worse than the other. It looked like they set them up from least injured to most horrible, which was a girl that was burned all over her body. Her skin, where it remained, looked like charcoal. She was swollen and had blisters everywhere. It looked horrible but that was not all. Fist sized black rocks had melted into her flesh to the point that they were fused inside her. OK, the school was freaking heartless! I could only imagine how much pain she was in.

I could not stand it. Out of all of them it was her wide, pleading eyes that drew me to her. It was like I was her last hope which I knew I wasn't. Even so I could not let her be in pain if I could help it. I quickly walked to her bunk and looked at her wounds again trying to figure out how best to help her. I was so focused on her that I failed to notice my aura becoming brighter. The tendrils I so painstakingly formed, had reverted to the normal dome shape before it began to shrink at an ever increasing pace until it vanished completely from sight.

As if possessed I touched her. It was a gentle touch, as light as a feather, but without a sound her skin began to lighten. The dark black scorch marks and inflamed red skin reverted back to her normal skin tone. The black rocks that I thought I would have to cut out piece by piece was forced out of her skin as it moved and shifted around them. With a sigh, she closed her big bright eyes and fell asleep.

I snapped out of my thoughts on how to heal her only to see her fully healed. The school must have had to step in to save her. While it was a pity I had one less to heal I was happy that she was no longer suffering. The others were not that hard to heal. The lost limb was the hardest because my regeneration was extremely slow. By the time I was finished I was starving and covered in sweat. I made my way out of the arena with heavy footsteps in search of food glad the day was over.

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