Thank you to Jesper, Robert, Jørn, and Anuzan for another month with us! 😀
Chapter 37: Alra
“Here should be good.”
I gave a glance around as the sound of another short clash between the keeper and rest of the AT task force rung out.
The sound of battle finished and was followed by the deathly shrieks from those who lost their lovers, friends, and now their familiars.
I could only shake my head. I tried, I really did and offered a way to have the least amount of loss. However, I understood under my plan people would die…
They would all rather passively die and have no fault than take charge and lead a fight.
[Lucid, it’s not that simple.]
Now, I was the one being petty. The failure of rallying together was getting at me.
Knowing it didn’t have to be this way. It affects me too by forcing this other plan full of more unknowns.
I’ve never used a familiar to battle or fought with a familiar alongside in team combat. I only know what I’ve been studying on familiar creation these last months and most of it was practicing finer control over the space of my internal body for the essence I bring inside.
[There is no going back now Lucid you saw how far gone their losses have been.]
The fighting potential is half what it was with a quarter of the adventurers left. Almost all of it coming from the five. Before it was half the five and a a half everyone else. At least that’s what I inferred looking at the combat data.
Well, they got what they wanted in a way. Many who lived, lived for far longer than they would have had we fought, except now their loss was assured.
Unless Eugene and I can do something.
Black smoke enveloped me the moment I had cast Demonic Hunter’s Heart.
It was instant now — Entering my internal body.
I gave a look at the dense black smoke before me filled with the elemental essence of all types, I could only imagine the price the orb would fetch for its essence alone.
There was no need to filter the physical traits of fellow humans and I had no time to filter the non-physical. I didn’t even know if I could, honestly, considering how much essence this orb contained.
With the essence made from the fallen adventurer’s, I floated before my friendly flame and the ever more realistic looking rock tortoise totem.
I pushed the smoke forward.
“No, none of this essence will be of my own. All of it shall go here.”
I pointed towards the floating and slightly aflame rock tortoise. Vocalizing my intention helped to bring the most out of my authority within this space.
With the words, the essence that had already scattered towards the outer reaches to enter my physical body returned at breakneck speed augmenting the black smoke growing it in size by more than triple.
As it coalesced, the black smoke paused confused then re-tried to follow its natural impulse of empowering my actual body once more.
“Go!” Once again, I voiced my command.
The cloud of essence, now, hundreds of times larger than me formed into a long black arrow launching itself right into the tiny totem. Piercing it yet not exiting instead it sunk in like a stage knife.
The totem was flashed dyed an iridescent black shaking as it began to lose grip on all the essence within it.
“Now, it’s your turn buddy.”
I gave a soft smile looking down at my wrist.
“Use as much as you think is necessary okay?”
As if waking from a deep slumber an orange goo slowly seeped out from under my skin. The glob of glowing liquid crystal stood upright then moved from side to side even twisting itself both ways, stretching, before snapping into a rough outline of the rock tortoise totem.
“Perfect! Now go on~”
Lightly raising my arm I nudged it towards the violently shaking rock tortoise totem.
I appeared quite calm, not wanting to destroy the work so far, but the fear of losing it all here began to bubble up.
“Don’t be scared buddy, we’ll see each other again real soon and more often!”
The tiny tortoise-shaped fiery jello tilted its small slightly translucent head left and right as if weighing the pros and cons of completing my request.
The tinge of fear was now gone replaced and overshadowed with the flood of adrenaline from a different fear.
“Take your time little guy.”
A tiny squeak left it as it gave a final nod and jumped off my arm flying towards the totem.
I wanted to celebrate the success but now wasn’t the time.
I had completed the most difficult part.
With my mastery over entering and exiting my internal body my surroundings instantly warped back showing me what I was expecting.
—ZOOM ZOOM ZOOM
White and green arcs of sword light clashed against the keeper’s blazing blade and its the floating black arm.
“Everyone go!” Runter yelled out as he, Mei, and Abigail held back the sword.
The two arcs of green light smacked against the giant greatsword and the white arc landed on the arm.
Even I was impressed by the power the attack had.
I turned my head to see the crowd running off down into another cave tunnel. Their size was even smaller now. In my view, I could already see the black bile leaking from the mouths of many that had fallen this time. I also caught a glimpse of the bodies of familiars finally summoned as a last resort.
At the tail end of the running group, I saw Alan and Chibin limping as fast as they could, ragged in breath and tattered in armor. As they ran both threw various accessories on the ground. Bracelets, rings, pedants all dull or broken now that they had been used.
I clicked my tongue.
I thought I would have been happy seeing them reduced into such a state, but the only thing I felt was pity.
“Are we just going to leave the two?” Runter yelled out.
After deflecting the attack successfully once more they ran off after the rest of the crowd to prepare for the next surprise attack from the keeper.
“Yes! Forget them! Let’s go!” Mei yelled out. Abigail nodded shrinking down her spear and running off besides Mei.
I shook my head and turned back around. This time the arm wasn’t disappearing seeing two people were still standing before it.
“Were you able to complete the familiarization?” Eugene voiced to me.
I nodded my head as I realized there was an almost clear dome barrier around the two of us.
“Then are you ready?”
Am I ready? Am I ready for the fight that will decide whether I lived or died here today? The one that will finally allow me to leave this damn fucking dungeon if I win it? The one that will grant me the greatest treasure a dungeon has to offer?
I felt my blood begin to pump and my nerves begin to steel.
I haven’t been spending all this time just dallying! I’ve been training to live!
Off in the corner of my eye, I saw Runter, Mei, and Abigail all whip their heads back to see the source of the sudden earthquake from when Alra’s gigantic feet made contact with the ground.
With this, the barrier dispelled at a chop from the giant greatsword.
[Tole Forest Dungeon Keeper — ???? (Combat Data Gathering in Progress…)
Threat Level: B – C?
Combat Data: STR: ~60000+?, AGI: ~12000+?, MGI: ???, Mana Cap.: ~NA AM
Description: Keeper of the dungeon a massive floating blade and sole left arm. Appears with a sudden non-physical attack that passes through bodies. Its attack appears to be a rapidly activating curse that causes massive aging.
Possible functions are: To drain vitality for itself, a special enchantment of the weapon it wields, or innate magic triggered on ‘contact’.
Weaknesses are unknown, however, it does not appear to be resistant to any physical or magical attacks.
Compared to previous recordings it appears the arm has grown to now include a shoulder and partial left chest.]
Eugene tossed a fist-sized crystal to the side. As the crystal fell his armor blinked into another. A tasteful mixture of misty fur and some kind of azure metal.
So that’s the spectral lion armor…
At times I could see his body become almost fully translucent.
I gave a quick read to Eurval’s speculations as I too prepared.
“Alra take the front! Focus on defense! Don’t even bother attacking!”
Alra charged galloping forward. The booms of its steps shaking my teeth. Unlike the rock tortoise I fought, Alra is in a team it didn’t need to show it’s weak points.
With its head almost fully ducked peaking only enough to see it appeared before the keeper.
The blade began to move the air aside arcing back then explosively shooting back down in a chopping motion.
As it made contact with Alra’s shell Eugene had disappeared from my side reappearing in the air above the arm. The keeper was still recovering from the feedback caused by the shell’s hardness it was unable to react to Eugene’s incredible speed.
It had been obvious the keeper couldn’t see having no eyes or head, but it was sensing instead.
“Restrain!” Eugene called out his attack while throwing one of his chained daggers forward.
The glowing blue mana chain connecting the dagger wrapped itself around the massive forearm before lodging itself into the arm’s underside.
Eugene tossed the other dagger connected by the mana chain towards the ground. A magic circle appeared on the ground scorching the rocky floor with massive amounts of sigils at its center was the second dagger.
The mana chain constricted, tightening the hold it had on the keeper. The dagger in the ground not budging an inch as the massive arm tried to move.
“It’s movements should be impeded. But there is slack as to not be instantly broken Lucid be careful.”
I could see the arm struggling to move not liking this new situation one bit as the chain was constantly fluctuating in length slowing it down.
Alra was okay its magic resisting shell acting like a shield blocking the curse from entering its body.
However, I could instinctively feel the shell was lightly damaged as if a steel shield was instantly rusted.
My wind arrow flew at high speed. My bowstring set at a much heavier draw weight than it was when I first started using it.
A chuck of arm disintegrated under the piercing force.
The illusionary arm instantly reformed where it had been damaged.
[No, it is good Lucid! Its total mass has decreased it must have used its body from other portions to repair itself.]
I wouldn’t have noticed. Knowing I’ve done damage I continued to shoot.
It dodged my arrows where it could but Eugene was also there to attack with a set of blood-red daggers.
As the fight continued something else was irking me.
“Are you just going to watch or are you going to fight!?”
I yelled at the three standing there with their mouths open as I continued to carefully aim at the keeper while Eugene was hard at work dashing and blinking around in a misty haze slashing it apart.
I didn’t care if they ran, but just watching them be there while they did nothing was pissing me off.
We were making progress, but we didn’t know if we were winning.
I felt bad for Alra being used as a giant meat shield, but I could feel its spirit was high knowing it was helping me. In terms of offense Alra was not at the level of fighting this keeper, but in terms of defense, I would say it was just at.
Still, for a keeper’s intelligence, it felt too low. It was only attacking Alra, the closest thing. Usually, hyres know to go for the backline through the front. This time it just felt as if it was only attacking Alra because it was the closest thing…
No… it is trying to kill Alra…
To absorb its vitality!
That’s what it has been doing the entire time with the adventurers it was lured in at first and now with adventurers here!
Holy shit, I bet it was supposed to use all the eggs to strengthen itself! The reason we where teleported was not because we killed what I assume was the final egg, but because it thought the final egg had finished hatching! It was supposed to teleport all the born hyres to absorb.
And now it was desperately trying to use the adventurers here. It didn’t want to really battle, it wanted to pick off the easy targets disappear then reappear to do the same.
Summarize and send my conclusion to Eugene, Eurval.
[Understood. Sending it now Lucid.]
Not wanting to waste a single arrow my concentration was at its peak.
“I will fight.” A strangers voice sounded out as an arrow left my bow.
I looked to see it had come from Abigail. I had completely forgotten about the three when I made the realization.
Her voice sounded so different from what I remembered I couldn’t tell it was her initially.
For the first time I didn’t see her as some psycho controlling freak, but instead she looked rather heroic as she regrew her spear back to its massive size.
“Me too.” Runter answered second with a voice filled with authority. He must have felt awful having to constantly run from battle.
His princely aura returning radiating through his cracked white porcelain and scuffed up emerald armor.
“Then so will I.” Finally, Mei answered.
Her many swords appearing around her generating a wind that ruffled her long dark hair standing ready like a warrior of slaughter.
With this, the battle took its second step.
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