After taking a moment to review the manifestation's proper execution and ensuring he was positioned directly in front of a nearby tree, Troy refocused his attention on the recovering Chort. He watched as the massive beast turned to face him, stabilized its footing, and began another headlong charge.
Just as it passed the halfway point, Troy traced the Yrden sign and six light purple glowing hourglass shaped runes appeared on the ground around him. A second later, he swiftly dodged to the side and recovered himself.
He heard more than witnessed the deafening explosion of wood chips and earth that occurred, upon the Chort's impact with the tree. The tree's base had a massive chunk blown out of it and it was slowly falling over and away from the two of them.
The Chort, however, wasn't moving as vigorously as it had before. Its impact with the tree had forced it to a stop directly in the center of the six Yrden runes Troy had placed there. The Chort was now wrapped in the same light purplish glow that had shown from the runes.
Troy instantly recognized the rune's effectiveness but had no time to celebrate. He also noticed that its effectiveness seemed to be waning right before his eyes. Knowing that the sign's effects would soon wear off, he took advantage of the Chort's temporarily disabled state and hurriedly cast Moranise (Poison) and a spray of blackish green poison gas spewed forth from his palm.
Just as he was about to back up and put some distance between the cloud of poisonous gas, that was slowly being dispersed by a crisp mountain breeze, and himself he heard the ominous sound of those all too familiar heavy pounding hoof beats galloping towards his direction.
'What the..' Troy thought a fraction of a second too late.
Between the recent explosion and his intense focus on producing and maintaining his sign, he hadn't noticed the threat running up behind him, until it was too late.
As Troy attempted to dodge out of the way, he felt his Quen shield being broken along with his left shoulder blade and a massive and unrelenting force lifting him off of the ground. Troy's body was sent flying at a terrifying speed as he was sent flying like a bullet straight into another tree.
Noticing how little time he had before impact, he knew there was little he could do other than cross his arms and attempt to activate the Heliotrope sign. Even this, however, wasn't fast enough, since he still collided with the tree at full force, causing him to cough up a mouth full of blood. His Heliotrope did activate but it only protected him from the subsequent impacts with the lower branches and eventually the ground.
Once Troy finally felt solid earth under his feet again, he attempted, through his blood spitting and intense pain, to regain his composure. He languidly got to his feet and hobbled over to the otherside of the tree to sit down.
For now, he couldn't hear any thundering hoof beats but he could still distinctly make out the sound of two Chorts walking around next to the tree that had previously exploded. Taking a moment to quickly enter his calm, he focused his Chaos around his injuries and made sure his internal bleeding wouldn't affect his ability to continue the fight.
Although he was currently experiencing excruciating levels of pain, this pain was nothing compared to what he had been through during his first two trials. Once he finished stemming his bleeding, he gritted his teeth, stood up, walked around the tree, and took a look in the direction from which he had flown.
It seemed like his situation was more or less the same. He was still in a life and death battle with a single Chort. It seemed as though the second Chort had impaled the first one, whenever its reckless charge caused it to collide with the first one.
The first one apparently had gotten up and stumbled around for a few seconds, before finally slumping lifelessly to the ground. The second Chort had blood on one of its horns and was running around wildly looking for Troy. Having breathed in a bit of the poison gas surrounding its partner, its instincts were telling it that it was still under threat even though it couldn't locate its enemy.
'Dammit! Just my luck! Two freaking Chorts right off the bat!? What the hell kind of shit luck is that? I don't recall seeing this other one, while the wards were still up! Where the shit did it come from?!
'Well… whatever, I was hoping to limit myself to only basic witcher signs and abilities to push myself further but these damned Chorts are no joke. I'll need to continue to rely on Moranise, since we're not allowed potions during the trial and it's the closest thing to a Puffball Bomb that I have.'
Troy stepped out from behind his tree, spotted a larger tree nearby, and began walking towards it. He was only a couple of steps away from where he landed, when the remaining Chort noticed his presence and let out a bellowing roar.
Troy quickly positioned himself in front of the larger tree and watched as the Chort, who was stomping his hooves into the ground, finally found the purchase he was looking for and launched himself towards Troy.
Troy stuck to the last tactic he had used against the other Chort. Calculating just the right moment to act, he threw down his Yrden tertiary manifestation, swiftly rolled out of the way, and immediately repositioned himself to cast Moranise.
Yrden's tertiary manifestation was basically a combination of its two previous manifestations. It placed down six secondary manifestation runes but in the circular pattern of the first. Instead of attacking the one trapped inside, the energy it released created a type of gooey energy membrane that surrounded and drastically slowed the target's movements.
Of course, given Troy's attainments in the wielding of signs, it would normally hold an enemy for much longer but Chorts were just absurdly strong. As such, Troy estimated, based off of his previous attempt, that it would probably not even last for five seconds.
As soon as he was once again facing the Chort, who had just felled another tree, he released another stream of poison gas from his palm. He tried his best to divide his attention between focusing on his environment and maintaining the sign, so as to not end up flying into another tree.
He only maintained Moranise for three seconds, before holding his breath, taking a stab at the monster's neck, and then quickly retreating.
The Chort was vigorously fighting the purplish goo it had been wrapped in and was, by this time, thoroughly enraged. The fact that it had just been stabbed in the neck and was breathing even more poison only served to enrage it even further.
As soon as it was free from Yrden's grasp, it immediately swung around and swiped at the retreating Troy. Troy, however, was already out of its range and was looking for another tree to position himself near.
When the Chort realized it had missed its target and that very same target was now getting away, it didn't waste another second in charging once again in Troy's direction. Grass, dirt, and rocks were being slung violently into the air, by its powerful hooves galloping across the rocky terrain.
Troy could only dodge this time. He needed to find another suitably large tree. Once he saw one that seemed sturdy enough, he rushed over towards it and didn't have to wait long for the Chort's next attempt at Troy murder.
He was still in grave pain and was having to constantly monitor his internal injuries the best he could, while fighting. The Chort, however, wasn't about to take it easy on him and so he had no choice but to get rid of the beast, before focusing on his recovery.
As the Chort began its next charge, Troy decided that he'd had enough of this nonsense and was going to end it with his next attack. After casting Quen and throwing down another Yrden tertiary manifestation, he quickly found himself, once more, looking at the enraged Chort trapped in that purplish energy.
This time, instead of immediately switching to Moranise, he jumped onto its back and began using all of his strength to slash away at the back of the beast's neck. He was able to open up a rather large wound in its neck and then cast Moranise, with his left hand. Stuffing his open palm into the open wound, he sent the stream of poison gas directly into the Chort's bloodstream.
Troy then noticed the Chort was nearly free from its binding and, using his right hand, quickly stabbed his sword as deep into the open wound as possible beside his left hand.
The Chort was now beyond enraged. It was completely consumed by one obsessive thought and one thought only. 'Kill the stabby, spewy, jumpy thing.' It lived only for this one purpose and it would allow nothing to prevent it from doing so.
However, it began to feel as if it continued to have less and less energy to carry out this task. Its eyesight was no longer as clear as it used to be and its once powerful and vigorous body began to feel sluggish and weak. Of course, the 'stabby, spewy, jumpy thing' slashing away at its neck certainly didn't help the situation.
Ever since Troy had started slashing at the Chort's neck, it had begun to unleash terrifyingly woeful screams and roars. It continued to do so even after it was released from Yrden and began swinging its head around violently.
Troy held tightly onto his sword embedded deep into the beast's neck and also maintained his Moranise, as the Chort tried desperately to shake him off of its back. This final act of desperation didn't increase in intensity, as it couldn't even maintain its intensity. The Chort's efforts to dislodge the 'stabby, spewy, jumpy thing' continued to become weaker and in shorter spurts.
The monster was finally succumbing to the overwhelming amount of poison coursing through its system and, after a couple of minutes of desperate flailing, it finally breathed its last foggy breath and fell limply to the ground.
Troy breathed a sigh of relief, once both Chorts had met their ends. He was still critically injured and, if he didn't tend to his injuries soon, he might very well end up joining them in their eternal sleep.
In the same way that he hadn't wanted to use any of his advanced witcher techniques, he had also wanted to avoid using his Chaos but sadly he hadn't been alert enough or quick enough during his fight and now he was in this pitiful state.
With his head filled with admonishing thoughts and with perfect hindsight beginning to paint a depressing picture of how miserably he had failed, Troy dragged his sorry self back to his campsite and began utilizing his Chaos to heal his injuries.
[===== Three Days Later =====]
Before being sent out into the mountains, each of the three trainees were responsible for putting their own supplies into their packs. Bed Rolls, Tent Rolls, Sweet Rolls...wait, no that's from something else. Any ways, all the stuff they needed they had to procure for themselves.
During this preparatory phase, Troy had slipped a little something extra into his pack. It was a box filled with fifty identical iron razor blades and fifty identical iron spheres. The razor blades were shaped like thin flat elongated diamonds. They were each two inches long and thin as a credit card.
The iron spheres, on the other hand, were all about an inch and a half in diameter and perfectly round.
They were all packed away neatly inside the same plain and simple wooden box and it was this box that now laid in Troy's lap.
After studying enchanting for a year, Troy had requested to learn the basics and materials required for portal magic. He also requested to begin learning conjuration.
Nazad had, of course, consented. He could never be sure what Troy's reasoning was behind his seemingly random requests to learn certain magics but he knew that these requests were almost always part of some scheme by Troy to enhance his power or control over his power.
Being the benevolent Master that he was, he wanted nothing but the best for his disciple and so usually took advantage of such requests to further probe Troy's true potential. Although, his capitulation was usually accompanied by several well rehearsed lectures about avoiding emotional and physiological pitfalls.
The past year of his magical training, Troy had not only familiarized himself with portal magic and its fundamentals and materials but also a basic proficiency in conjuration.
Much like enchanting, conjuration required a thorough knowledge of an object's natural frequency. Only instead of causing your magic to mimic the object's frequency, one had to actively generate that frequency using Chaos and, using a specific skill called Chaos Molding, one needed to force their Chaos out of their body, into the target location, and compel those generated frequencies to take on the desired shape.
Ever since he had first mastered the levitation spell 'Zaeliel Aep,' he had been practicing it repeatedly every day to some extent or another. He was even able to cast it without the incantation well before Nazad ever brought it up in his lessons.
Troy was well aware of the importance of fundamentals in any art or science, as demonstrated by his dedicated sign training. Thus, he had made it a point to establish Zaeliel Aep as a spell which flowed from his intentions as naturally as a river flows to the sea. He continued to practice it without the incantation, until it was as natural as breathing, and then belabored that breathing, by increasing the complexity of its implementation until that breathing no longer seemed belabored.
He always kept at least some object somewhere on his person under the control of this spell that he kept continuously active, until all his Chaos was consumed. This, of course, culminated in an astonishingly useful means of self defense that he felt could provide seemingly endless attack and defense capabilities.
He currently had to struggle to keep three individual objects under control of the spell at the same time. This, however, only applied if he was attempting to move them independently in different directions and patterns. He had managed to find something of a loophole that would allow him to move dozens of objects simultaneously with relative ease.
This loophole was to simply spread the control of the spell over all of the targeted objects and simply pull them along in a kind of magical train or magical rope. With the effects of the spell focused on mobilizing the Chaos itself and then the objects in contact with the Chaos as a natural result, as long as he moved the objects in a uniform or 'follow the leader' type fashion, he could easily mobilize dozens of smaller objects.
Of course, this hadn't led him to give up on controlling multiple objects individually. He simply knew a useful tool whenever he saw one and planned to make full use of this one in particular.
Once he had learned how to conjure reliably, he began conjuring iron and stashing it away for future use. About a month before being sent to the mountain, he had spent several nights shaping all of his iron into razors and spheres.
The purpose of the razors was pretty obvious considering the spell he was making the centerpiece of his future arsenal. The spheres, however, would serve much the same purpose but their true utility would only become apparent once he had progressed much further in his conjuring practice.
After three days of monitoring his injuries and resting, he was finally ready to head to one of the nearby shear mountain peaks. He had no intention of fighting his way through the beasts that lived there, which is why he would start his climb in the early evening and hopefully be done by morning. He did, however, have use of an incredibly remote location that was not only hard to reach but also dangerously well guarded.
He needed a place, a sort of miniature psuedo-base, to store all of his various weapons and eventual currency. Troy could think of no better place than tucked safely away inside of a monster ridden mountain peak in the ranges surrounding Kaer Morhen.
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