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Chapter 38: He Was Sulking At That Time So He Didn’t Hear It
Alra’s stomping shook the dark cavern dimly only by the Keeper’s flaming sword and my familiar’s glowing multi-colored engravings its shell.
The weighty steps kicked up the sharp scent of metallic dirt and blood.
Abigail, Runter and Mei stood beside me waiting for my approval to join.
[They understand that it is you and Eugene leading this battle, Lucid.]
That’s good, but I’m sure they also want the protection from Alra that Eugene has.
My beautiful creation, Alra, wasn’t just sitting and taking blows, it was proactively moving to cover for me and especially Eugene at the front line.
Alra swung its massive shell, the tonnage of mass and inertia that came with it made contact with the large flaming sword of the Keeper. I’m sure the reaction from hitting something so far hard returned a painful feedback.
Although it looked like Alra moved slowly the distance it covered due to its sheer size was nothing to scoff at.
I turned back to look at the three.
“Fine two of you share the load with my familiar. That should give Eugene space to be less defensive about his positioning and focus on damage. The one with the strongest ranged attacks stay to attack with me and provide cover.”
“Your familiar!” Mei was the most shocked that she voiced out her surprise, but the three were taken aback hearing confirmation that Alra was under me.
That’s the last thing you need to be worried about right now!
“Go!” I barked at them to make their choices.
The three jumped back at my words then nodded at each other. Abigail and Mei shot a few hundred meters to the front of the battle.
Runter stayed and stood beside me. I wasn’t surprised in the least that he was the one with the best-ranged attacks.
I prepared another arrow as I watched how the addition of the two changed the front line.
Arriving, Mei took part of the blow of the hammering greatsword meant for Alra with the round shield made of her swords.
Alra share the defense with them. Keep them safe but have Eugene as your priority.
Connected to my familiar I could communicate directly so long as we were relatively near without the need of a MAGI.
Alra replied with a roar.
I haven’t forgotten how easily they abandoned the two of us, but right now the addition of fighting strength will only help us win. It wouldn’t have made sense to have shooed them away.
Seeing the Keeper’s movements even further restrained. I packed my next arrow with more mana.
A crying vortex caused by my wind arrow flew past me a moment after the arrow left Eurval. Flying beside my arrow were Runter’s screaming barrage of white and green sword light.
The Keeper’s following swing was staggered by our joint attack.
With this I had confirmation,
With three people buzzing around the Keeper my hit rate improved drastically allowing me to put forth more mana into each arrow.
“Your bow art is good… Lucid.” Runter spoke to me as I summoned a fiery bolt into my hand.
I’m sure he noticed our attacks were of similar strength. Roughly, I could tell three of his ranged attacks were equal to one of my arrows.
Both of us were using our most mana efficient attack.
I took the compliment, however, in close combat I was sure Runter could do much more.
Still, I haven’t shown all my cards either.
My eyes widened at a familiar feeling.
“Dodge!” I yelled as quickly as I could.
The white mana of my already charged movement spell launched me to my right. Runter dashed to the left. The Keeper a couple hundred meters in front of me had completely disappear.
The next moment the massive sword from the Keeper cleaved the ground where I had been standing leaving a massive gash. Glowing from within the deep cut I could see it had become molten.
I dug my armored feet into the rocky ground skidding a little and kicking a few dead adventurers laying on the ground in the process of slowing down as I analyzed the results.
[That isn’t a pool of magma, Lucid. The Keeper’s weapon completely melted the rocks with the edge of the blade. It’s no longer just an attack to apply it’s curse be careful.]
“It moved instantly!?” We were all surprised.
The Keeper had taken minutes to reappear after disappearing before when it was culling the adventurers.
“It sees us a threat. Be on guard there will probably be more and trust Lucid’s warnings.” Eugene voiced out calming our surprise.
Like Eugene can do for short distances the keeper had blinked a much greater area to me in a split second.
The combination of my newly gained speed, prediction, and the restraining chain that had followed with the Keeper through its teleportation helped me avoid any injury.
Runter relied mostly on his speed as I was already moving when I sent the warning.
Runter and I ran on the opposite sides of the cavern to be behind Alra and the furthest from the Keeper as the back line.
“Keep going! We must be winning if it’s this scared.” I yelled seeing everyone but Alra and Eugene standing in a daze processing the new ability.
I wonder if their freight is because they don’t have much experience fighting powerful hyres without expensive protective treasures. I was sure they had already used most, if not all, of them earlier.
The clutter of broken gems and jewelry scattered everywhere glittered on the ground from the flashes of lights of our magic.
At my words the fight restarted.
A wind and fire arrow flew in the air.
I had hit, but the Keeper closed the wounds almost instantly. However, knowing it meant it was depleting its strength to heal itself caused me to smile.
I don’t think it will be running away. It would mean we too would go and recover which would result in the same outcome. Especially, now that we would no longer allow it to easily obtain vitality from the adventurers.
It had to double down now while they’re still spent from the earlier scuffles. This also meant we couldn’t run either. It would be inexcusable to give it a chance to recover when we’re winning right now.
I wasn’t sure if the keeper planned this far ahead consciously, but this is what I felt was happening. It could also just be angry being shot at by Runter and me from afar.
My mind snapped back to the battle.
Mei’s swords spun like the teeth of a chainsaw, mawed at keeper’s sword horrendous high-pitched screech.
Eugene took that opportunity to blink near the black arm and cut into deep into it. The blood-red daggers flickering an ominous crimson every time it made contact, like a beating heart. Not liking the daggers the greatsword changed directions towards Eugene.
In an instant, he turned into a fine grey mist completely nullifying the attack.
I could only sigh at the power of the spectral lion armor. However, it seemed like he couldn’t use it very often.
Abigail took the opportunity Eugene created, transforming into a ray of golden light headed by her spear. Zigzagging through the air clashing with the massive black arm. Using the counter force from delivering the blows she used it to stay in the air above the giant arm. Every time she would begin to drop a thundering blow was delivered to keep her up longer. The spear tip leaving a golden trail depicting the path it had followed.
To have that level of fine spatial awareness at such a high speed I was amazed. Coming from a point of view of recently becoming good controlling my own movement spell and I was many times slower.
I continued to shoot in the meantime as I got a feel for their attacks to better mold my pattern for the party.
Mei too awed, her level of authority over her own affliction field was high enough to freely move each sword was already an incredible feat. Combined with her relentless attack style she was ferocious to let go unanswered.
I had already seen Runter fight before, but now I was beginning to understand how massive his mana pool must be.
As I followed up their attacks with my own a feeling attacked me.
“Care!” My heart rate spiked.
At my words, Mei quickly returned her swords turning them into a shield. Eugene and Abigail took positions by Alra to dodge, if they could, or take cover.
The massive arm threw the similarly massive greatsword straight up.
“It to disappeared?” Abigail spoke out.
Into thin air, the greatsword was gone.
“COVER!” I yelled.
Tiny red dots appeared suspended in the air above us hugging the cavern’s ceiling.
The massive arm waved downwards as if slamming the air. Seeing this Eugene and Abigail moved under Alra.
At the signal little by little the dots grew becoming showing themselves as smaller blazing greatswords. Propelled by magic all of them were thrust down.
Runter and I at the edge of the cavern where safe…
Alra yelled preparing to take on the attack.
I couldn’t allow this attack to land.
In terms of the battle, Alra taking this would ruin our current attack arrangement and possibly lead us to a slow loss.
I also didn’t want to see my child hurt!
A concentrated arrow of pure white appeared in my hand drawn, nocked, and then fired in a flash. The instant the arrow left my bow it too disappeared.
Tiny arcs of white appeared in the area above Alra’s body. The air was charged with my magic, electrified.
The cluster of greatswords neared the space I had readied falling like sword-shaped meteors.
“Now!” I yelled commanding its release.
A chain of explosions rang out as my rain of lighting arrows shot upwards colliding with the blazing swords destroying each other in the process.
I stood behind Runter as he blocked the shrapnel made of rocks and waves of fire caused by the annihilation of the area I didn’t cover — Which was most of the cavern floor.
The space was quickly turned into a sea of craters, flowing with molten rock caused by the absurd short flashes of heat the swords generated.
I let out a breath.
My single attack drained a quarter of my total mana. Paired with the load of using the spreadshot combined with the inefficiencies of my lightning arrow it brought on a wave of fatigue.
Shooting another right after would be impossible, but a few moments even during battle would be enough for me. A far cry from the literal near-death it used to cause me.
I know, I know.
I replied to the thanks Alra roared. Alra understood how much pain it would suffer had it received that attack.
“Lucid…” I heard Runter speak out.
Like my eyes had been on Mei and Abigail their eyes were now on me. I wondered if they saw me more of an equal now.
“The attack will definitely happen again. Remember that!” I called out readying an arrow.
The sword reappeared in the hands of the Keeper but it was clear the brightness from the flames it exuded had been lessened. That attack came at a cost like mine did, however, it meant that it could do it again as I could.
The explosion had managed to destroy Eugene’s restraining dagger. I couldn’t make out where it had gone among the rubble and uplifted rocks from the explosive forces
“I won’t be able to use that magic again. These daggers aren’t made for it.” Eugene spoke out.
The restraining magic chain and dagger Eugene had used survived the force of teleportation. The falling swords must have been the last straw or just disgustingly powerful.
We all nodded our heads continuing the battle as we had before, adjusting for the increased mobility the Keeper could now have.
A battle that we are winning.
Screams from extreme wind and waves of heat washed over me as I dashed and jumped around while shooting my bow.
No longer slowed down, the Keeper had turned berserk waving, swinging, cleaving at all of us with no pause. Included in its attack were random, to us, teleportations.
I did my best using my augmented movements and reflexes pairing it with the premonitions to kite the onslaught whenever it would be my turn to be focused on.
My mana costs were higher now having to continually recharge the movement spell. I no longer need a permanent front line in a party.
Of course, fighting the Keeper alone would be impossible even with my slippery positioning I would run out of mana before the Keeper and be quickly killed.
However, in a group?
I could hold my own now until the real front-line caught up.
Another arrow and sword light landed.
“Good! Just a little more!” The arm had deflated in size down to just a pitch black hand and forearm.
At some point, the Keeper had stopped shrinking and instead become more and more translucent.
The efficiency and power my regular arrows provided allowed me to continue to battle even with half my mana gone.
I had to stay in this battle.
Every bit of our collective strength was needed to keep our upper hand, we had to finish it off soon or risk entering the area of a coin flip. I could see from the less fluid movements in Abigail’s attacks and in the mistakes in the coordination of Mei’s swords that we too were reaching our ends.
But as of now, the result was on our side.
Looking back if it had just been Alra, Eugene, and me this battle wouldn’t be as clean as it is now. I felt our win was possible, but Alra would have sustained major damage, Eugene would have probably needed to take a blow or two for me, and I would have reached the tip of my mana, boarding on overreaching, using it to dodge the many more attacks from having a smaller party.
Eurval was right, it is stupid to act as if the win is secured.
“Cover!” Once more the chill caused by the coming downpour of swords stuck me.
At my words, Runter and I dashed towards the edge of the cavern, as it was closest to us, and the three took cover under Alra.
An electrified arrow of white left Eurval, disappearing, transferring its power into the area above my familiar.
I waited for the swords to enter Eurval’s recommended range.
The buzzing booms from the clash of our magic once again sent waves of rock-turned-shrapnel towards me. The shrapnel was stopped by Runter and his two swords.
The Keeper’s attack was thwarted, again.
Wasting no time I shot a wind arrow at the shadowing outline of the arm I could make out with the help of Eurval. The vortex cleared the air of dust forcing it to settle and caught the Keeper by surprise taking the impact squarely.
I could see the shockwaves of the connection in the dusty air move until it could no longer be made out.
The Keeper still stood, but…
Its sword never returned!
I saw Runter’s eyes light up noticing it too. The other tree must have felt the same.
The arm floated in the air. Drooped over, its wrist completely limp. The dark hand illuminated from the lava on the ground.
Did I break it?
A wave of thoughts crashed into me.
One more final attack and it would finally be the end? The conquest of the dungeon is ours? The release of all of us trapped here in the maze of passages and dungeon floors is over?
I felt time slow.
In my peripheral, I could see a ray of green and white light form dashing towards the Keeper moving at a sickening speed.
My words moved too slow, Runter was too fast and too far. The instinctual fear had arrived too late this time.
No, it had come on time if we all had maintained our positions.
Runter’s white and green swords sunk into the black hand.
At the trigger from the attack, the limp hand opened up showing us its black wrinkleless palm. On it was a terribly red eye opened up at the center.
What did they teach us on the first damn day Runter!
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