Somewhere into the void..

"Oh.. He's finally starting to unlock it.. Things will start being interesting.."


Derrick was stunned by the System's announcement. The mysterious trait he hadn't been able to unveil had requirements? It seemed that a true desire for power had fulfilled one of them.

He had also obtained it during his strange episode in the void where his brain had acted up, making it even more puzzling.

Following the prompt came a surging feeling within and his body felt light once again, neutralizing most of the suffocating aura that had previously pinned him to his spot.

[The recalculations are over. Would you like to see your current stats?]

"I don't have time for this!"

Derrick immediately shut down the window in his mind and refocused his attention on the incoming adversary. He didn't have time to carefully analyze his new-found strength as a single second of carelessness could be his downfall.

Meanwhile, the Berserker had also noticed the change. Derrick's aura, although still weaker than his, was now heavier and felt more threatening than a second ago.

Still, the Berserker felt like it had kept its edge and continued forward, albeit more carefully. Thomas, which was looking through its eyes, also felt his blood boil when he realized something had happened to his Lord, and he couldn't wait to see how he matched up against it.

"Human, something happened to you right? We both felt our bodies lighten up, and we aren't restricted anymore"

Drakos assertion was corroborated by a nod of Cernunnos, and Derrick moved his body, now freed up.

"Yeah. I don't know how strong we currently are, but I think we have a shot. Io, come out as well!"

The half-bat half-eagle creature, which was rarely used in battle, swiftly came out of his shadow and stood next to the man, awaiting further instructions.

The new appearance made the Berserker even more apprehensive, but its black eyes remained on Derrick, knowing full well that he was the party to ultimately defeat. It also helped that Thomas helped keeping its attention on the necromancer.

The stalemate continued while the distance between the two parties shrunk, to the point where only a few meters separated them.

Finally, the first one to make a move was Derrick.

He jumped on Io's back and took flight, with Drakos and Cernunnos lunging towards the Berserker. Derrick immediately took out the bow and resumed the rain of arrows. His plan, although simple, was to buy enough time for Thomas's skill to run out. If he managed to do that, it would be his win.

The strategy seemed effective at the beginning, with the Berserker taken aback by the sudden assault, but it quickly reversed the situation on the two beasts that were far from its match. No matter how much support Derrick provided with his arrows, its current state simply allowed him to dodge them.

"Hu.. Human.. This guy is way too strong.. We won't hold out for much longer.."

"Ye.. Yeah.. You need another plan.."

With punches that almost cracked the sound barrier, the Berserker pummeled their bodies and in less than a minute, both Drakos and Cernunnos were down for the count, unable to stand any longer. No amount of teamwork would be able to break through pure, brute strength like that. They were ultimately recalled in Derrick's shadow, who was still flying on Io's back. He wouldn't be able to summon them for a while, as their souls needed time to heal from their injuries.

In a situation like this, the correct strategy would be to retreat and wait it out, but this was a spar, so fleeing was unacceptable.

"System, how much time is left on its skill?"

[7 minutes 29 seconds]

The answer appalled Derrick, who didn't track time. For now, all he could do was keep sending arrows at the target, hoping to land a lucky shot.

However, while he was notching another arrow, the Berserker exploded from the ground in the direction of Io. Its speed was frightening and the beast barely managed to dodge.

"What the fuck"

Derrick had almost fallen off, but thanked Io for the quick actions. He never expected the colossus to go after him so fast. It seemed like its instincts were sharpened as well while using this skill.

The Berserker finally landed again, and its eyes narrowed on Derrick, annoyed that it hadn't managed to smack him out of the sky.

Derrick felt the intense stare, and he immediately knew that Io wouldn't be able to dodge the next move. As such, he ordered the beast to land on the ground, where he stored his bow and took out his sword again.

"Seems like I can't buy enough time.. Remember when we killed Drakos, Io? It's time to see if that new strength of mine can at least not make me lose"

The beast understood the implications, and got itself ready to act as a bait. All Derrick needed was one opening that would allow him to turn this fight around. He was a necromancer, not a front-line fighter, so his melee prowess only went so far.

The bat burst forth, followed by Derrick who exploded forward as well.

The Berserker smiled, happy that it could finally fight head-on. Thomas, still present in the consciousness, almost grinned.

"It's time to see who excels!"

The titan started running forward and first met with Io, who tried to dig its claw into its skin, but barely missed due to the counter of the Berserker who came in brazenly fast. Just before it could land, Derrick had arrived and slashed forth with all his strength, blurring the incoming blade.

The Berserker had to stop its strike and refocus itself on Derrick, as it felt danger from the strike. It took one step back, barely dodged, and swung its opposite arm in Derrick's direction, which he also barely dodged by bending his body backwards.

"This speed.. Fuck!"

The necromancer couldn't help but curse while continuing the exchange. His opponent was twice his size, making his range almost ineffective. Io tried to intervene here and there with Derrick's commands, but the Berserker kept reading the moves. Its instincts truly were in a league of its own.

But Derrick had to say he was flabbergasted by what he had unlocked. He went from not being able to move to exchanging blows with this behemoth. He was still on the losing side, but he managed to hold on. Derrick didn't hold back and used almost everything in his arsenal, except his death warriors. They were too precious to fall here, and he would need them in the coming fights.

After two minutes, the Berserker started to be annoyed. It was clearly winning and yet, it wasn't able to truly dominate its opponent. Thomas could feel its frustration, and he had to say he was impressed by how strong Derrick was. Deep down, he had expected his skill to overwhelm his leader, but he had surprisingly been able to hold on.

The strikes were becoming more and more violent, and Derrick started to lose ground faster, realizing his opponent was starting to truly go all out.

"System, how long?"

[4 minutes 2 seconds]


Even though he had been given his all, it still wasn't enough, and he knew that his defeat was assured if he didn't try something.

"Io, DIVE!"

The creature, who was circling above the fight waiting for its opportunity, immediately followed suit and transformed into a spike that tore across the sky, seemingly trying to drill to the earth's core...


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