The Conquest’s Finale — Part 1
Editor(s): Speedphoenix, Joker
“Block! Attack! Retreat!”
As Carlotta’s instructions rang throughout the battlefield, her troops moved almost as would a single organism. The shieldbearers would step up to defend incoming blows from the worm’s tail, which was quite literally flailing about randomly, while the individuals behind them would use the opportunity created to launch and attack, after which the whole unit would take a step back until they found an opportunity to repeat the process.
It was certainly a reliable method of dealing damage, but not one that provided us with the throughput we needed. Not that they have any other choice. Can’t put out deeps if the damned thing isn’t being held in place. I should probably do something about that, huh?
As the battle raged on, the adventurers, who had openly been complaining about my antics at the start, had eventually settled down and started to show off their stuff. Griffa was at the front with his shield held high and Reyus was using his bow to keep any other monsters away from the party while Lurolle dished out damage. In other words, she had more or less swapped roles with Reyus following the return of the frontliner. Still, even with their firepower in the mix, there just wasn’t enough damage coming out.
Because the worm was undead. All undead creatures had empty health bars. They could continue to move around and act as they normally did even though the resource was completely drained, as to them, it was completely irrelevant. They did not care for life force. Members of the undying were born either by pure coincidence, or by the intentional melding of magic and powerful grudges, not of the energy that allowed the natural to persist. Though I’m not sure if the same applies to dungeon-spawned monsters.
My counter example took the form of a wraith girl, or three, to be exact. Wraiths were supposed to be born from especially powerful grudges and regrets, but the girls held literally no malice. They clearly stood opposed to the manner in which this dungeon’s life-detesting wraiths conducted themselves.
Whatever the case, dungeon-spawned undead were still very much like all other types of undead in the sense that their health stat was fixed at zero. As they were not living things, they could continue to soldier on forever so long as the magical energy within them continued to persist.
Rendering an undead creature incapable of combat required either messing up said creature’s body to the point where it was literally not capable of moving, or overwriting their magics with one’s own. The latter of the two options seemed too tedious for me to even want to attempt it, given the creature’s size and mana pool, so I immediately decided on the first instead.
“Nell, do me a favour and help the earth dragon keep the stupid bug still for a second!” I shouted as loud as I could, such that my voice was able to overpower all the roaring and crashing about that resulted from the dragon keeping the worm under control. “I’m going to set it up so we can hit it hard!”
“Okay!” she shouted back.
She demonstrated her heroic agility by dashing around the worm whilst delivering a series of lightning fast slashes. Her movements were so erratic that I was tempted to suspect that she was wearing a three dimensional maneuver gear, and using its tethers and engines to alter her momentum. But in reality, she was not equipped with such a device. The seemingly unnatural changes in her velocity stemmed from liberal use of the rubble flying around and both the earth dragon’s and worm’s bodies.
Her holy sword appeared to have been once again enchanted with some sort of spell, as it was glowing in much the same manner as it had been when she cut down the wraiths. Trails of light followed every movement of her blade. Now that, that is fucking awesome. Nell = cool + cute. Cool + cute = perfect. Therefore, Nell = perfect. Q.E.D.
“Carlotta, Griffa, you guys heard me, right? I’m going to beat this thing down in a sec, get ready to go all out!”
“We’ll be ready on your signal!” replied Carlotta.
“Y’all just let us know when!” said Griffa. “Just make it soon!”
The first of the two replies was fairly calm, while the second seemed much more desperate.
“Well then… Sounds to me like you guys have more than enough energy to spare.” A huge grin spread across my face as I turned to Griffa. “Why don’t we have Griffa’s team take the spotlight?”
“Goddammit it, Reyus! Just how much of a sadist is this grandmaster of yours!? He be laughing while we’re fighting for our lives! Can’t y’all do something about him!?”
“Sorry boss, but I’m thinking that his wife is probably going to be the only one he’s even going to try lending an ear to. As far as the rest of us go, our words’ll go in one his ears and straight out the other.”
Hey, someone understands! Anyway, that’s enough kidding around. I should probably actually get down to business.
I looked at the worm, which continued to flail about whilst making a series of unintelligible, enraged cries. The creature opened its jaws wide and sank its disgusting, half-rotten fangs on the earth dragon’s neck immediately afterwards. The blow would’ve inflicted critical damage on anything that actually happened to have vitals, but fortunately my artificial construct did not. Like the not-so-living creature it was tangling with, the dragon required an excess of effort to disable.
The dragon obeyed the order by allowing its head to crumble, letting go of the worm, and taking a step back. The sudden vanishing of its target’s head confused the worm and led it to lose track of the construct assailing it for a brief moment. And that was all I needed.
I had the dragon form another head and use its freshly compacted jaws to grab onto the top of the worm’s body, then smash the undead critter into the ground. Again, the worm flailed. But this time, I had a set of countermeasures ready and waiting.
Two additional earth dragons, albeit ones on a smaller scale, joined the fray. The first bit down on the worm’s midsection, while the second bit its tail. And together with the first born, they held it down and fully restrained it by transforming from drakes to chains made of hardened soil.
“Well, ladies and gentlemen, the moment you’ve all been waiting for is finally here,” I said. “Let’s turn this piece of shit back into a corpse!”
Everyone that was standing by immediately moved to attack, starting with Nell, who let loose a warcry as she leapt off the ground with her divine blade held high. The weapon flashed with the brightest light yet as she landed right in front of its torso and delivered a powerful, magic-infused strike.
Flesh flew everywhere. Literally. The massive gaping wound was accompanied by burnt, scattered flesh, as it would have had the unholy creature been hit by an explosion.
Second to the plate was me. I activated both of EoD’s enchantments and pounded the creature with all the force I could muster. While Nell’s case almost seemed like an explosion, mine had quite literally led to an explosion, one that left a charred crater in the undead worm’s body.
Next came Carlotta. She wasn’t able to dish out as much power per hit as Nell or I, but she was capable of unleashing a countless number of slashes in the blink of an eye, each of which worsened one of the two existing wounds and gouged even more out of the creature’s body.
Once she was done, the floodgates opened. Knights and adventurers alike focused down the already open wounds, and through the powers of friendship and cooperation, were able to bore through its body even in spite of their relatively low firepower. As the worm lay helpless, the storm continued. We wailed on it over and over whilst it was forced to do nothing but attempt to endure.
“Y’all really be puttin me through the wringer there.” Griffa panted heavily with his hands resting on his knees and his back bent forwards in exhaustion. “I’m getting too old for this…” Coincidentally, he did seem rather old compared to everyone else present, and was likely in his late twenties or early thirties.
Beside him lay the thousand chunks of flesh that once made up the worm. It was still now, but it’d been twisting and squirming up until just a few moments prior, in spite of the fact that it looked about as incapable of movement as incapable could be. Ugh… this whole experience was gross as shit. There’s rotting flesh literally everywhere. Man, fuck the undead. They’re such a pain to deal with. Like, come on, if you’re dead, then stay dead. Don’t get the fuck back up, goddammit.
“Beating the floor master is great and all, but now we gots to worry about finding the exit,” said the adventurer.
“You mean that?” I pointed at a door. The details of its design were a bit different from the door that led to my true throne room, but the overall shape and size were more or less identical. Which is to say it probably leads exactly where I think it does.
“Woowee. That’s it, that’s the door we was looking for,” he said. “We was using it last time to get straight to the demon lord.”
“If we’ve reached our destination, then I suppose a short break is in order,” said Carlotta.
“In the middle of a graveyard?” I cocked a brow.
“It’s quite the charming place.” She grinned. “Both well decorated and in good taste, if you ask me.”
The paladin clearly did not believe in her own words, but she was going ahead and nonchalantly making the claim nonetheless, all for the sake of putting everyone else at ease. Talk about reliable.
“Charming? Please, there are literally chunks of rotting flesh rolling around,” I said. “Charming is the last thing I’d call this place.”
“Then we’ll have to agree to disagree.”
“Sure, whatever,” I said. “Oh yeah, so about the whole demon lord thing. I’ve got a favour to ask.”
“A favour?” She cocked a brow. “What kind of favour?”
“Let Nell and I handle it. By ourselves.”