014 – Node base 4/4
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Antonia and Marceline just finished off the locusts in the room, but the jester and the songstress can still fight.

Any doubt that these people weren’t sent by the Walkman expanse is dead forever, buried deep underground never to be seen again.

The songstress used the <Walkman anthem>, that’s THE spell that allowed them to become as big as they were, giving quantity quality, but only a number of select people are allowed to learn it, there’s no way a common bandit could know it. 

Antonia and Marceline attack the jester, but he jumps backwards and dodges both of them by a hair.

Encircle Oh Fatherland!, your temples with olives…” The songstress continues singing the <Walkman anthem>, every time she finishes a verse the jester will become stronger, I can’t allow that!

I shoot a <Bubble> at the songstress instead, but the jester jumps in front of it.

Dammit, it takes me too long to cast the damn thing!

I don’t really have any other options…

But that guy is still blocking me, I can only wait for an opportunity to shoot the songstress.

Antonia tries to punch him while Marceline slashes his side, but he bends backwards and avoids both attacks, then he takes a sharp breath and claps, a strong force comes from his hands that pushes both Antonia and Marceline back and into the wall.

The jester then takes another sharp breath, and lightning forms on his hand. 

It’s nowhere near as oppressive as Makoto’s lightning though.

The lighting transforms into some sort of rope, and he uses it to pull Marceline towards him, then he kicks her in the stomach.

“Kh!” Marceline coughs some blood and falls to the ground. 

When she tries to get up the jester stomps on her, and she’s knocked out.

I hope.

This damn jester!

I shoot him with <Bubble>, but he doesn’t even react to it.

Goddammit!

How frustrating.

“The divine archangel of Peace…” The songstress continues singing, her eyes are bloodshot and she’s drenched in sweat, this spell must be putting a great burden on her body.

Antonia stands up and kicks the jester, but he blocks it, only being pushed back slightly.

“Weak weak weak! This feels amazing, I’ve never felt so good!” The jester laughs madly. “I love this feeling! So please don’t die too quickly, I want to enjoy this feeling as much as I can!” After saying that he punches Antonia.

“Kh!” She barely manages to dodge it, and then she kicks the jester on the ribs.

He stumbles a few steps back, but he seems unharmed. “Weak weak weak!”

I take a deep breath.

Antonia jumps at him and tries to kick him again, but he blocks her foot. “Is that all you got?” The jester laughs smugly.

I shoot the songstress!

The jester is busy with Antonia, and can’t block the bubble, so it hits the songstress in the forehead and she hits her head against the wall, painting it red.

“You!” The jester turns toward me, but Antonia doesn’t let him go and continues to pressure him. 

I hide behind the wall!

I can’t fight him like this!

Ok, ok, what can I do here?!

Antonia is certainly stronger than I thought she was, being able to keep up with the jester under the influence of the <Walkman anthem>, but his strength is still a small realm larger than either of us, she won’t be able to hold on forever.

So I have to hurry and think of something fast!

At least I dealt with the songstress, so the jester is not going to get any stronger.

If I can repeat what I did with the swordsman and use <Flame bolt> on his neck I can probably kill him, but I only have one shot, my good arm is in very rough shape after all, I’ll have to pay a great price if I want to use it again.

Not only that, but last time was a very risky gamble that only worked because I got lucky and we weren’t fighting. 

I can’t pull it off here.

<Body of steel>? No way, I only have one arm and it’s not in great condition, if I try to fight like that I’ll only get in the way, hell, even if I was in peak condition I might still get in the way.

I have no idea how to fight in close quarters beyond that I have to hit the other dude and not me.

So is that it?

I can only wait and hope Antonia pulls off some kind of miracle?

I refuse.

I desperately look around the hallway, but there’s absolutely nothing I can use to my advantage.

It’s just an empty hallway, there’s a bunch of tiny grasshoppers on the floor, feasting on the remains of the ones we’ve stepped on so far, and gray brick walls.

Wait.

The walls!

This is a node base, the bricks are made out of ashen concrete!

If I can somehow push the jester towards a wall, there’s a chance the effect of the <Walkman anthem> might fade!

I’m the smartest person ever!

You could put all the brightest minds in the world and they wouldn’t be my equal!

They simply can’t compare!

I’m gambling with my life, and who knows what my odds actually are.

But not doing anything is much worse.

What’s life worth if I don’t use it?

I rush into the room, Antonia and the jester are still exchanging blows. 

The jester clearly has the advantage, but it’s not big enough to completely overwhelm Antonia.

I take a deep breath, I only have one chance here.

Antonia notices I’m trying to do something, but she’s being pressured by the Jester.

She takes a punch to her gut, but grabs his arm so he can’t escape.

I lunge at the jester and hit him with my open palm.

<Flame bolt>!

*Crack!* 

Ah, my arm broke.

I’m seeing white from the pain.

But I can’t waste any time!

The jester is unhurt, but loses his footing for a moment, and I push him with all my weight into the nearest wall!

There!

He punches me repeatedly, but each strike is weaker than the last, it’s working!

“You bastard!” He elbows me in the back and I fall to the floor. “I’m going to kill you!”

This is it...

However, nothing happens to me as Antonia kicks the jester away from me. 

“Die!” The jester barks madly as lightning begins to form on his hand.

Antonia moves quickly and kicks his arm, the jester is no longer empowered by the <Walkman anthem> and can’t dodge or block her attacks anymore, the kick hits him in the middle of his spell and his arm makes a loud cracking sound.

His spell was interrupted and he suffered the backlash.

“You!” The jester barks even louder as he grabs his arm, he tries to back away from Antonia, but I kick him in the shin, tripping him!

Hah!

Foolish bastard, did you really think that just because I’m on the floor and can’t use my arms I wouldn’t do anything else?!

I did everything I could, so I can only bet on Antonia now.

I lay on my back, I fell on top of my arm and now it’s bending in a way it really shouldn’t!

Now I’m going to pass out, I can only grit my teeth from so much pain.

Goodnight!

 

***<Antonia PoV>***

 

Octavius kicked the clown in the shin and he fell to the ground!

I lunge over the masked man and take a sharp breath.

<Basic kick no.5>!

“Take this for Marceline!” I kick the clown in the chest before he can do anything.

This whole day has been a slap in the face!

<Basic kick no.5>!

“Take this for Octavius!” I kick him in the chest again.

Everyone got hurt!

<Basic kick no.5>!

“Take this for capturing us!” I kick him in the chest again and the clown starts vomiting blood.

I’m seeing red right now, I’ve never been so mad!

<Basic kick no.3>!

<Basic kick no.3>!

<Basic kick no.3>!

“Take this! Take this! Take this!” I keep kicking his concave chest!

I hate you!

I hate you so much!

“Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta!” I keep kicking him until I run out of elemental energy, and then I keep going!

*Stomp!*

?

What was that sound? It didn’t sound like meat.

I look at the masked man, his chest has been so thoroughly pulped that I’m no longer kicking any meat and I’m kicking the floor instead.

I’m completely drenched in blood…

How long did I do this for?

Oh god, what did I do?

I lean into a wall, and my lunch leaves my body.

Oh no, the turtle meat!

It was so good, but now I wasted it!

I’m all filthy too!

I’ve killed before, and I’ve also been in danger before…

Monsters and bandits are common in this country after all.

But it was never like this!

I almost died for real!

I look at Octavius, he’s passed out on the floor, but he’s still breathing, same with Marceline.

I almost sold him out back in Paprika, but without his help I really don’t know what would’ve happened.

I don’t think I could’ve beaten the clown without him, or even escaped from the cell.

His body is in shambles, his left arm is flattened and it has some horrible bite marks on it, while his right forearm is bent in a nightmarish angle, he’s also drenched in blood and some other liquids.

But right now, he has a dumb smile on his face.

How weird.

This is the first time I’ve seen him have any expression at all.

I think my heart is going to jump out of my chest any moment now.

I really, really thought I was going to die today.

What would’ve happened if I died?

Marceline and Octavius are still alive, but the clown would finish the job, he clearly didn’t plan on keeping prisoners anymore.

Dad would be next, Timotei wouldn’t be able to escape in those chains, and I don’t even want to think about what this guy could do to a helpless girl like Makina.

Maybe Makoto could’ve stopped him?

Probably not, he could, but I don’t think he would. 

Everyone would die.

I wouldn’t be able to find mom either…

But that didn’t happen.

I’m feeling weird, it’s a feeling I can’t explain.

It’s really weird, but in a good way, I like this feeling.

I like it a lot actually.

I feel alive.

I’m alive!

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