166 165. Cruelty towards one“s self

A Hand-Woven Universe

"Tobias!" Noone's eyes went wide and violent disbelief swept through his thoughts like a tidal wave.

Tobias's white armor suddenly cracked open and blood painted his chest-plate like a red lotus in bloom.

Because of Noone's divine sense, every angle and sight of what was happening became absorbed in his mind. It became imprinted there like a violent painting; Noone could only freeze and watch slack jaw. His heart threatened to implode as it tightened violently. Tobias's expression of pain as blood erupted from between his gritted teeth felt like a hot needle being pushed through Noone's skull.

From the moment Noone had been knocked to the floor to now, only a few seconds had passed.

A moment before, Noone had been laying where Tobias currently stood.

However… it was in that moment that Noone watched Tobias block a violent spear strike which had been meant for him. Only… the force of the strike caused Tobias's arm to give out. The large paladin grit his teeth so violently that they threatened to shatter, and he let his shield go flying.

A blood-boiling roar came from the old paladin and his next step was not a step back… instead he stepped forward into range of the drider.

With his shield arm now free, both hands gripped the silver and gold great-axe and his eyes were locked onto a spot that Noone had recently crushed open.

Tobias did not hesitate or think twice. Instead he put all of his energy into his next strike. Tobias's axe almost seemed to disappear from Noone's divine sense it moved so fast. In the span of a single blink, the axe crushed into the spider's torso. The entire head of the axe embedded itself into the spider's torso so far that only the handle was visible, sticking out from its body like an iron rod.

Because of the creature's size though… this wasn't enough to kill it immediately.

Before Tobias could back up, Noone watched as – with a blood curdling shriek – the spider's front most legs pierced forward like spears.

There was a shattering sound, followed by a heavy grunt, the sound of something being pierced, and blood bubbling to the surface.

Despite being several meters away from Tobias, he could see the scene perfectly.

The drider's front-most legs shot forward with enough force to immediately pierce through the delicately crafted and toughened white armor Tobias always wore. Like steel under tension, the armor shattered as the legs broke two fist sized holes into it.

Its legs - sharpened like the deadliest blade - easily punctured through Tobias's torso. Tobias's body went stiff as a violent shutter coursed through him. The pain was so intense that Tobias couldn't hold back a heart-rending scream.

Noone's body froze as blood boiled up from Tobias's throat, choking back the scream.


The entire scene became frozen in time.

But.

Just when it looked like the spider was about to throw Tobias, something happened which Noone would never forget.

In the moment the spider was about to shake Tobias off… two meaty hands like iron vices gripped onto the legs, palms cutting into the sharpened carapace. Noone watched in silent horror as Tobias's muscles bulged with a strength no man should possess.

Tobias's heavy form weighed down the creature forcing it to lose balance and unable to pull back. Noone watched when Tobias's whole body flexed with muscles built over decades seemed to come alive all at the same moment. Tobias's expression was cruel and wild, his eyes burned with righteous fury and Noone could feel pressure suppress the entire room.

Despite the blood – a throaty shout erupted from Tobias's chest – an aura of violence came over his entire figure and Noone watched as Tobias pushed back the drider, lifting the entire creature onto its back legs.

Several hundred pounds of Drider was now at the mercy of Tobias's quickly deteriorating form.

After lifting the front end of the creature high above his head, Tobias pulled back – hands still like vices on its legs – and a violent snap caused the spider's front most legs to be ripped from its body.

Now, along with Tobias's cry, both of its front legs were broken off.

The creature reared in violent pain, falling onto it's back and screeching viciously.

Tobias – stood like a statue for the gods – took a deep bloody breath and fell backwards, body thudding into the stone floor.

Noone finally regained himself upon seeing this. Every muscle in his body tensed up and the ground beneath his now standing form cracked as he arrived at Tobias. The drider pulled its crumbling form away by its few working legs, blood trailing behind it.

Noone immediately knelt down – ignoring the writhing creature nearby – and supported Tobias's head.

At this point Tobias's eyes were glazed over like a murky lake and his breathing was shallow and crackled with blood. All resemblance to a furious god was quickly disappearing from the old man's body.

Noone's divine sense faltered, and his eyes began to tighten as he watched each strained breath become increasingly shallow.

"No… No… No…" For the first time in a long time, Noone didn't know what to do. He had never expected things to go this way. Noone's hands gripped into tight fists, knuckles popping under the strain. As he looked at Tobias, the speed the paladin's life force was draining from his body was astounding.

Suddenly, quietly and discretely, a wave of icy energy pulsed from the pendant which hung from Noone's neck.

As this occurred, the wave of icy energy passed not just into Noone, but also into Tobias.

Tobias's eyes began to clear as another wave passed through them, washing away the paladin's aches and pains.

"Noone…" Tobias coughed. Noone's body shook. He stared into Tobias's eyes and nodded his head. But he didn't trust himself to speak. His teeth were grit shut as he tried to keep himself under control.

"You must kill it… before it recovers any strength… please… return my body…" Each word he spoke was strained as he had to fight for each breath. His throat was tensing up from the pain. "I want to go home… to my family… even if it's just my body…"

When Tobias spoke these words… Noone felt his body shudder. That's right… Tobias has a family.

Tobias was not the type to talk about his family much. Maybe it was because he would miss them too much if he talked about them all the time. But Noone had heard from Raelith that he had a wife and a son at home.

Noone was unable to hold back a flood of thoughts and bottled emotions as he thought back to his own family… He could only nod and wait. He sat there in silence, supporting Tobias's head and watch as the light in Tobias's eyes gradually faded. Another icy wave of energy pulsed through their bodies, Noone's pendant shivering slightly.

Suddenly, Noone stood and stepped to the side just in time for a sharpened quill to dart past where he had been a moment before, barely missing Tobias's large figure.

The drider was standing and shaking as it stared at Noone with intense hate. It was clear that the spider was also on the verge of death, however it seemed to have enough energy to continue fighting at least for a bit.

Noone knew what it felt like to be consumed with rage. He had experienced it when he witnessed the death of his home. It is what caused an inner devil to form and take over his body. That wasn't what he felt right now though.

He knew what sheer debilitating sadness felt like. But that wasn't what he felt right now either.

He didn't feel embittered, or distraught, or emblazoned.


Instead he just felt cold. Like being covered in a blanket of cruelty, Noone's mind settled. The turbulent ocean of his thoughts gradually settled, and stilled, until it was smooth and flat like a mirror.

When Noone had first arrived at the surface, he faced a party of five in battle.

Tobias. Raelith. Sally. Sarah. And Feylin.

He managed to cruelly injure all five, some to the point of near death, before he finally was captured thanks to the pendant which hung irremovable from his neck.

Over the past year, Noone had wondered why he was able to do that… when he could barely fight Tobias to a stand-still now. What had changed?

In truth… Noone knew the answer.

He had lost the cruelty, which had been sealed away with his inner devil. The cold calculation, and the cruelty.

For a while Noone had thought that this cruelty was a cruelty towards others… but after helping Sarah and Clayton demolish the bandit encampment, he wasn't so sure.

Noone finally realized what the difference was.

It was a cruelty towards himself.

His body would heal, no matter what he put it through, as long as he didn't die. It was this mental barrier though, that kept him from reaching the same strength despite cultivating into several higher levels by now.

When his inner devil had been sealed away, he regained the ability to have empathy for others and a recognition of innocents. But he had lost a bit of the cold calculating drive he had.

Another icy pulse pushed through him. Noone covered the pendant with his divine sense and looked inside.

The red-eyed being with the pendant was still encased in ice… and the ice hadn't melted much since the last time he checked. But on the face of his inner devil, a soft almost innocent smile could be seen. However, it only looked that way to Noone, if anyone else were to see the expression, only one word would come to mind.

Malice.

Noone's eyes went still, and his expression became neutral. He casually knelt down and picked up the iron axe he had dropped when he knelt by Tobias.

Like a hurricane in winter, Noone's divine sense exploded out covering the drider in a heavy blanket.

The drider squirmed uncomfortably but it didn't understand why it suddenly became nervous. It screeched at Noone and rushed forward in an awkward, broken run.

In the eyes of the Drider, Noone was covered in cuts, piercing wounds, and bruises. It could see the fatigue in Noone's muscles and the subtle trembles of overuse that accompanied a long battle.

It was going to die. It knew that. But it wanted nothing more than to kill this being with it to appease its anger.