The Only Thing I Can Upgrade is Strength Chapter 314

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It seemed like just Lionel Tenford was left… but if anyone thought our advantage of numbers would matter, they were wrong. In fact, he was getting stronger while we all got weaker. A handful of people were already working on the core of the magic circle, trying to dismantle it, but they were also weakened physically and mentally.

I wasn’t doing that well myself, and I just barely managed to block a swing by Lionel… and I had to let it push me away or risk breaking something- like my whole body. At least I didn’t fly all the way to the wall, instead skidding to a stop along the floor… but I could barely even sit up.

Lionel Tenford couldn’t be invincible… but he looked that way. When Sage Norwood covered him with a fire spell, he simply waved a hand and brushed it away, sending it back at all of those around him with more power behind it. He had stopped relying on just his sword, and he wasn’t focused on draining attributes from any one person. That left him free to use magic… and the only thing that gave anyone a chance was the fact that he had to attack in all directions. 

Sheets of fire and lightning flew out from him in a circle, scorching and stunning those around. Those who were still in melee with him found themselves barely able to defend themselves against his sword. Many of them went down with wounds that bled profusely. I wanted to help, but I could barely even stand. I definitely couldn’t get close, through all that magic. 

Alhorn caught Lionel’s eye- literally- focusing most of his remaining mana into a beam of light. I couldn’t tell if it actually damaged Lionel, and if it did it wouldn’t be lasting. The man had so much Toughness that the extremely rare attack that connected didn’t seem to have any effect. Lionel extended his arm towards Alhorn, gathering power for a moment. A concentrated bolt of lightning tore through the air, knocking away anyone along the path and then Alhorn himself was thrown backwards off his feet.

Arrows and spells flew towards Lionel, some deflected by a magical barrier he halfheartedly put up, but mostly unable to hit him. What an insane amount of Luck. Even spells and attacks that could turn somehow overcorrected or collided with another attack. 

Nobody could even approach now, with the constant waves of fire and lightning. But I saw someone trying anyway. Several familiar someones. For some reason, Kasner had been lifted on top of Socks, and Kantrilla climbed on her back as well. Before I could say anything, they were charging closer. Even if I objected… they probably couldn’t hear me. Besides… was I allowed to risk myself and not the rest of us? 

I didn’t even have the Strength to lift my arm… but I couldn’t do nothing. I reached down to my waist, grabbing my adamantine throwing dagger. I could barely grip it, but I had a bit of mana left. Enough to bring my arm up, at the ready.

The strange mounted group actually was quite suited for charging towards Lionel Tenford. Kantrilla provided barriers, and Socks took the brunt of the waves of fire. Kasner redirected the lightning around them… or even back towards Lionel. It only took a few seconds for them to approach… and my arm threw.

All of my remaining mana- which I had to admit wasn’t much- went into that throw. Spiraling waves of twisting air came off of the attack as it flew towards Lionel Tenford. Of course, he noticed the attack. Even among the various things targeting him, it was the most showy. He took just a tiny step back and to the side, completely avoiding it. Or at least, that would have been the case if it didn’t fall out of the air before it reached him. I had no arm Strength to propel it, and my mana was all used up making it obvious. I wasn’t sure how much it would help but… I did what I could. Then I fell to my knees.

Socks leaped towards Lionel. He stepped further to the side, swinging his sword across her chest as he did so. However, Socks was low enough for Kantrilla to lean down and swing her warhammer… like polo. Except with heads and a wolf instead of a ball and a horse. At least, I thought polo was something like that.

Sadly, unlike a ball in polo, Lionel’s head didn’t go flying. In fact, though the attack connected quite solidly, it merely snapped his head to the side. Socks landed in a heap on the floor, and Kantrilla tumbled off of her as they landed.

Lionel focused his eyes on her. “A lucky strike.” He took a step towards her. A dozen attacks came at him from behind, but somehow they all missed. “I remember you being a target at one point. I guess they chose well.”

He stretched out his hand towards her, and though I couldn’t see much, I knew he was draining her Luck. That was it, then? He would just take even more Luck from Kantrilla, my lovely wife… and then kill all of us. I couldn’t do anything about it. I could barely even crawl. 

Kasner fired a series of small lightning bolts… not because they were better that way, but because that was all he could do. As Lionel stepped forward, Kantrilla took a defensive stance. How brave… but she wasn’t a warrior, despite her recent training. She was competent enough, but not enough to make up the gap of a thousand or more Strength. I couldn’t even guess what Lionel’s attributes were like anymore, with all of these adventurers and maybe even the rest of the Ekralas funneling into him. 

A lazy swing of his sword cut through her shield, and she barely ducked out of the way to keep her head. As she counterattacked, stepping forward, she slipped on a bit of Socks’ blood. Her attack went wide.

Lionel stopped draining her luck long enough to fling a few spells behind him at some of the more persistent adventurers. Sage Norwood wasn’t even on his feet, but he kept flinging tiny motes of magic at Lionel. 

Kantrilla kept swinging at Lionel, but he didn’t even bother to block or dodge except with the most basic movements. His Luck was so high that she would always miss. His face was distorted in the most unpleasant mockery of a smile I had ever seen. I would have loved to strangle him, if I could reach him… or move my fingers… or hold my head up. I lay on my side, watching as he slashed at Kantrilla. He obviously didn’t intend to kill her right away, just drawing marks along her arms and face. He was once again taking Luck from her, a trickle of faint ethereal stuff flowing out of her into him. Then it stopped.

Lionel looked down at his hand and nodded. “All out then?” He swung down his sword with a force that could easily chop her in half. It was so fast she had no way to dodge it, powered by insane numbers of Strength and Dexterity. I couldn’t look away… I didn’t even have the ability to choose if I opened or closed my eyes.

There was a strange crack. Lionel’s shoulder twisted the wrong way. That was the first sign of something strange. The sword didn’t swing straight down, instead just barely missing Kantrilla. Lionel Tenford slipped… on the same puddle of Socks’ blood that Kantrilla had moments before. He fell forward… straight into Kantrilla’s warhammer. She was swinging with her one vaguely working arm, and the spike end of the warhammer found its way straight into his eye. At the same time, a three arrows pierced into his back, his magic shield having been forgotten sometime in his changing between types of magic. A few scraps of magic hit him, catching his clothes on fire, and someone had flung a sword at him which he fell onto.

Kantrilla stood over him, looking down. “Never rely on… stolen Attributes…” she fell to one knee. “And especially not… stolen Luck…”

—–

I wasn’t sure if I passed out before or after she did. I only heard about what happened from the few people who remained conscious… and alive. As Lionel Tenford died, his body collapsed and then exploded. The magical formation cracked and a shockwave spread out over the area. However, instead of being deadly… it replenished people. Maybe not their fatigue, but all of the stolen attributes and the large amount of experience from the deaths filled up the area. Nobody recovered their attributes in full… in fact, they didn’t seek out their previous owners, just settling more or less randomly in whoever was about. It was much like the stolen Luck. The Attributes stolen further in the past didn’t still seem to be in their gassy-liquid states, or at least the total amounts were lower than perhaps expected… but nobody really cared.

While we were down below, in the base attached to the dungeon, more heretical attributists had been outside in Ekralas, attacking the adventurers guild itself as well as the tower of sages and other important landmarks. That was where many of the other adventurers were occupied, stopping them from taking over. They were just a distraction from the real thing, but something that had to be dealt with. What resulted couldn’t be called a great victory… but at least it was a disaster averted. Ekralas would need a lot of help recovering after that… but I didn’t mind that so much. Rebuilding was an important part of improving ourselves and the world… even if it was a depressing one.

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