As the humanoid control unit for her spell construct, Sarah couldn’t move or rest much. Though as the humans of the Realms were working differently, it wasn’t that big of an issue. Well, maybe it was a bit boring, but she was already used to waiting for results of experiments and there were some books she could look through.

So passing the days and paying limited attention to her surroundings, Sarah only noticed the attack at the last moment, however by then it was already too late. Would her being more attentive have changed anything? Probably not, but thoughts about the low range of her soul sense skill and a few curses passed through her mind in the split second between her sensing the attack and the projectiles hitting her anyway.

The souls floating around her offered little defense. In hindsight, just the souls of some low level creatures probably couldn’t stand against the attack of someone around level 100.
At least the next and last layer of her current soul defenses was somewhat more effective. With a good part of her soul orrery still stuck inside her body the souls were similarly embedded. Add to that a few of the slightly bigger souls which Sarah had managed to snatch from her party members, she managed to slow and actually stop the projective.
Unfortunately even that wasn’t quite enough.
One of the needles was stuck in her chest and had probably pierced her heart. Irrelevant, as it didn’t seem able to interact with matter. The other thin spike had however reached her soul, reducing her sanity value again, which had slowly started to recover.

There was also a weird pain, but she had survived and it was nothing compared to the headache still present and caused by whatever she had experienced before her arrival in the Realms.
Not giving the attacker any second chances with a quick thought the space around her unraveled and she as well as her sister were gone.

Having anticipated the option of a surprise attack, she had previously used the space affinity mana crystal to distort the world around them, basically creating a panic button which allowed them to instantly retreat in case of danger. It did put a certain load on the crystal, as it had to keep the distortion up, but it was neglectable compared to the cost needed to create the distortion in the first place.
Maybe she could have saved a bit of the scarce resource, if she hadn’t also included her whole spell circle, however then an escape would have stopped her spell, something she would like to prevent.

In the depths of a cave, which had been set as the first safehouse, Sarah quickly checked if any other enemies were around, though she couldn’t find or sense anyone who shouldn’t be present.
Next she went over the damage she had taken. Being down to 15 sanity and the pain was an issue, though the needles didn’t seem to cause any other problems. Regardless, the girl chose to remove them. Not necessarily a good idea with the limited knowledge she had about souls, but she deemed it better than keeping a spike of unknown hostile origin stuck in her.
She was tempted to try out her soul related spells on them or develop new ones, in case they wouldn’t work, however, as she still had to deal with the attacker, the mage simply used other souls to carefully pull the two spikes out and hold onto them for the time being. It wasn’t the most elegant solution, but after losing another two points of sanity, the girl was finally needle free.
Also it probably wasn’t good to experiment on stuff stuck in vital organs such as her soul.

Then the girl vanished again.

She didn’t like that she had to engage the attacker on her own, but it was the best course of action she could think off. Letting them get away would only force her to be on the lookout for a sniper who could use invisible likely soul related attacks and knew she could survive them.

Reappearing on the mountain-range near her initial location, she surveyed her surroundings. The predefined targets to which she could link the spatial distortion limited her movement, however it was better than being forced to stay still while the ritual was in progress or spend more mana, time and concentration to then warp to a new location.
Nonetheless, finding the assassin was no easy task. She had memorized the trajectory of the projectiles and could roughly estimate the trajectory of her target, but the seconds she had needed to assure her own safety were easily enough time for a high level assailant to disappear again.

So she wasn’t surprised as she couldn’t find anyone. Maybe it was the distance, some spell which allowed the attacker to hide or they were actually gone, thanks to space magic or something similar, but she wouldn’t give up that easily.
The enemy was too dangerous!

So focusing on one of the traps she had prepared as a last resort, in case a bigger horde of enemies were charging through the mountains, she started to pull mana back out from her ritual.
It was likely overkill to use the trap against a small group or a single enemy, who might not even be still around, but she couldn’t think of any other solution. Creating detection spells would have taken days, if not longer, as she hadn’t worked with those, and other damaging spells able to hit huge areas would only cost more mana.
She had no other choice than to smoke out her enemy using the trap. Or maybe wash out was a more fitting description.
At least that would have been her intended move, if the assassin hadn’t also acted.

Be it overconfidence or some other reason, but, before she could channel the collected mana into the trap, another needle was suddenly stuck in her stomach.
Was her enemy getting less accurate? Were they trying to lure her out for whatever reason? It didn’t matter. Sarah quickly shifted the space again before more projectiles could find their target and reappeared on top of a rock even closer to where she assumed the attack had just come from. Fortunately it was one of the locations she had marked as a potential place to relocate to in case the forest became overrun with enemies.

And this time she finally made out what she assumed was her target.
In the shadows of the bolder she was standing on, her soul sense managed to perceive something. A lucky find, as she likely still wouldn’t have detected anything, if the attacker had chosen any other rock to hide behind, but she wouldn’t complain.
So before the being had time to react, she conjured her usual wet element and quickly wrapped it around the hidden one, then froze it using spell circles she had added to her orrery.

It was an attack which would have likely killed any normal human of her old world, be it through the sudden drop in temperature or a bit later through the lack of air. Yet the resiliency of humans in the Realms was on a whole different level and the encased person seemed more or less fine. There hadn’t been a message that she killed him, his rather big soul was still tied to the flesh and even his mana seemed quite active, as far as she could tell. If the assassin didn’t have a mage-type class, she wouldn’t have been surprised, if he broke her ice with pure strength.

Anyway, the active mana was a problem, as the attacker was likely about to cast a spell, which would mean more of the nasty needles or worse. Something she would prefer if he didn’t. The attackers accuracy seemed bad, but she doubted anyone would miss from the current distance.

However going through her options, there wasn’t much she could do. Physically attacking him through her magic wasn’t possible as it would just break her own ice. Using her souls would have been a good idea against most opponents, but she would likely just waste more resources with his soul size and affinity. So she would have to deal with him like she had dealt with the first unlucky people who crossed her path.

Unwinding parts of her soul orrery she quickly covered the ice sculpture in spell circles. Then she flooded it up with her mana. Using what she had gathered over the past days, the girl basically drowned her opponent.
Willing her resources into the trapped being, there was the usual insurmountable seeming resistance. A resistance she knew she could overcome, yet with her opponent also preparing his own attack, each passing moment was filled with tension.

She already started to fear that her judgment had been wrong and throwing souls at her opponent would have been the better idea, but then finally the spell in the ice vanished and the message she had been waiting for appeared.

[You sacrificed a Human Lv 107.]

Having also drained the mana from her ice, it burst open and some wisps of black smoke disappeared. Nothing of her opponent was left, and the only remnants of their fight were the ice shards, which were quickly melting away under the normal heat of the realm.

It was a shame.
A lot of the mana she had gathered over the past days had been lost and she didn’t even get his soul. Though maybe the latter was also good. Who knew what a soul-ish affinity mage could still do even after being reduced to just his soul.
Well, she had at least collected some of the used mana and from the sacrifice generated mana.
Thanks to all the fighting her party members did, she had managed to reduce the remaining time to 23 days previously, but now the system’s estimation was back to 29.

Sarah could only hope the next assassin would use some more normal means of attacking her, so she could deal with them more efficiently. Though, maybe not a warrior, when she already needed days of preparations and a specialized skill against a single mage…

At least she had three of the weird needles which seemed very soul-like to her senses, but also weren’t a soul. Maybe she could figure something out with their help!

Though before that she had to recreate all spatial distortions. There was the possibility that someone had seen their fight or that there were more than one assailant and she had missed another one who had fled, but if that wasn’t the case, she would have given up one layer of her defenses for no reason.

[Your Searcher of ##### class has reached Lv 31.]
[Your Water affinity has reached Lv 27.]
[Your Sacrifice skill has reached Lv 3.]
[Your Soul Sense skill has reached Lv 3.]

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