We calmly observed the five C ranked monsters that gathered around us and attempted to look for openings. They had us surrounded, so we needed to remain vigilant. There was a chance that the horde, the army that had continued to advance, would disperse if we sat around for far too long, and it would be much more difficult to annihilate them if they weren’t all gathered in one spot.
And if we failed in our extermination, the many villagers, black catkin or otherwise, would be attacked. They wouldn’t be able to evacuate all the way to Greengoat.
Letting our guard down and diving right in would be an act of suicide. We wouldn’t be able to defeat the five enemies before us unless we remained calm. And so, with my mind restored to a state of serenity, I quickly devised a plan and informed Fran of its contents.
“Urushi. Can you keep the Crimson Wolf at bay?”
Kin to the God of Wolves, one of Urushi’s titles, provided him with the ability to intimidate other wolves. Thus, it seemed likely that he would have a paw up on the Crimson Wolf, even if the two were the same rank.
“Fran, focus on the demon. He’s going to be the most troublesome of the bunch. Don’t hold back if you think it’ll get you in trouble. Feel free to use Brilliant Lightning Rush at your discretion.”
I don’t really want to deal with any trickery, and its magic lets it support its allies too. Yeah, definitely bringing that thing down asap.
Fran pulled the Phantom Pyroxene Blade out from her inventory and equipped it. While the two of them were holding off their respective opponents, I would be defeating the final three.
The monsters kept us surrounded and stared in anticipation of our actions. Fran’s actions, the drawing of a brand new weapon, had caused them to raise their guard even further. It was precisely their excessive caution that allowed me to gather up enough magical power for my next action.
There was a minor bit of delay before the spell activated, in which the magical aura radiating off my body drastically beefed itself up. The monsters reacted to it and immediately launched an assault.
But they were too late.
A giant white thunderbolt larger than even the Graphite Hydra, the largest of the five, descended from the sky and swallowed the jet black snake whole. Its ability to regenerate would be far too obnoxious if left alone, so I’d slammed it with as much burst damage as I could muster. Kanna Kamui’s light soon faded. And with it went the multi headed serpent’s corpse. The attack had burnt even the very concept of the monster to dust. Not a single bone or scale remained. All that was left was a large crater situated right where it had been just moments ago.
The aftershock, a heavy burst of wind, assaulted the remaining four monsters. The force was so great that it threatened to knock each of the four massive beasts off their feet and sweep them away if they didn’t take care to keep themselves firmly planted in the dirt below. That said, all four had gone completely stiff. Seeing the instant death of their ally had frozen them solid.
Their response, or rather, their lack thereof, proved that they were still unused to combat and its intricacies. Freezing up in the middle of a battle was a huge mistake, one that proved fatal for the Steel Titan Bear that had been by the Hydra’s side.
I teleported behind the metallic ursine and drilled straight through its back with a telekinetic catapult. Its inability to react allowed me to land a critical hit; I destroyed its core with a single blow.
If it weren’t so taken aback, the bear likely would’ve been able to detect the attack and, at the very least, move to protect its vitals. But as it was now, the bear lacked the capacity to even so much as fathom that I, a sword, would be able to move on my own and reap it of all it had.
The only one of the four remaining monsters to react, the demon, had been unable to alter the bear’s fate. Fran had already engaged it in combat and locked it down.
Still, the bear’s heavy defenses were impressive. My intent had been to impale it through and through, but I was only able to barely reach its core, once again showing that it had been no small fry.
And of course, the same trick wasn’t going to work a second time. All three remaining monsters already knew that I could move on my own. The sight of me killing one of their allies had practically been seared into their minds. They weren’t going to let their guard down again.
I tried to give the monsters yet another shock by shoving the bear’s corpse into my magical inventory, but much to my dismay, they didn’t freeze up this time. Still, I didn’t particularly mind. I had done enough to better our situation. Two of our five foes were dead. Relieved at my success, I returned to Fran’s side.
“Alright, just three left. Let’s do this!”
Urushi provoked the crimson wolf with an attack before dragging it somewhere a bit further away so they could engage in a duel. The scarlet canine seemed to have been paying extra attention to Urushi, which was a given since the two were the same type of monster, so it accepted his challenge immediately.
“And now all we have to worry about is the demon and the bug.”
Fran grabbed me and got ready to fight. She made sure to keep the tip of my blade pointed at the demon in order to cut its obnoxious spells out of the equation as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, the black skinned humanoid had already retreated a fair distance away and started to throw spells at us to keep us in check.
Our explosive offenses had made the creature wary, which was unfortunate. I wanted it to draw closer so we could finish it off with a single high powered strike.
We would’ve been able to quickly eliminate the demon if we had Urushi at our side, but he was stuck in a stalemate with the other wolf.
Urushi was stronger from a magic standpoint, but the crimson canine outranked him when it came to physical prowess. All in all, the two were roughly equal. The black dog lurked about in the shadows and launched darkness magic from afar, while the red one ignored even the very concept of defense and instead focused on rushing in to deliver a single, critical blow with its flames.
It looked like their duel would continue for quite some time; we were on our own.
Both the Adamantite Beetle and demon were extremely fast, and their mobility was only further emphasized by their ability to take to the air. To make matters worse, they were working together. When we chose to attack one, the other would go on the offensive and force us off its partner.
The Adamantite Beetle’s attacks ended up being a pain in the ass to deal with despite it not having the best offensive stats. It was able to use its mana as thrusters by firing it out from behind, which in turn allowed it to gain an explosive amount of propulsion.
We couldn’t even avoid it just by keeping an eye on it. We had to carefully observe the flow of its mana and put everything into evading the incoming attack the moment it began getting ready to charge.
And of course, the demon didn’t allow us to focus as much attention on the beetle as I wanted.
It came at us with a blade the moment we looked away from it, one made from poison magic. It used that very same element to fire a spell as it closed the gap. Watching Urushi fight had allowed the demon to deduce that Fran didn’t have the best defenses against poison based attacks. The attack wasn’t too quick, so Fran dodged it and avoided damage.
Or at least that was what was supposed to happen.
The massive insect charged at Fran the moment she glanced at the demon. She realized the moment the creature began to accelerate, and readied her defenses, but they were easily broken.
It turned out that the beetle was capable of not only using its magic as a propellant, but also condensing it around its horn in order to up its damage. The force of its blow was able to tear right through the barrier she threw up.
Both her right arm and right leg ended up bent the wrong way. Her head was bleeding pretty heavily as well. But that wasn’t even the worst of it. The whole right side of her gut had been wrenched out by the beetle’s horn.
I immediately threw out a Greater Heal, but the spell wasn’t strong enough to close the wound.
“Fran! Use Instant Regeneration! Right now!”
The only response I got from her was a cough.
“Can you hear me, Fran!? You need to use Instant Regeneration!!”
My second shout got through to her, as she nodded while wincing, her face distorted in pain. Her wound then quickly began to close. Luckily, she had made it just in time.
The only problem was that Fran was a humanoid. Unlike a sword or a slime, her body wasn’t made up of a series of simple, easily definable features. To that end, the skill ended up being inefficient as far as cost went. It had ended up draining a massive portion of her mana.
“Are you okay?” I asked her as I put up a barrier.
“Nn…” She managed to squeeze out a reply between ragged breaths.
“Came out of nowhere.”
I nodded my metaphorical head in agreement. She and I had seen the same thing. The attack the beetle had launched didn’t feel like something that had caught us off guard because it came from a blind spot. It felt more like the attack had just suddenly appeared out of thin air.
For a moment, I suspected that the beetle had teleported, but it didn’t have the skills to let it do so. I was certain of it. It did have the Espionage skill, but its level was far too low to be of relevance.
“Well, that’s a high ranked monster for you. Damned thing has got a few tricks up its sleeves.”
“But will win.”
Though she had been on the verge of death only a few moments prior, Fran’s spirit had yet to wane. She was still all for going in and giving it everything she had. But that was only to be expected. Fran’s resilience had always been her most notable trait.
“Alright, let’s keep our guard all the way up and do this!”