The Attack — Part 2
Editor(s): Speedphoenix, Joker
“Is that them?”
Ominous undead creatures came into view as Nell and Remiero made their way to the front of the pack. Her first impression was that they were rather large. Each individual stood at over two meters tall, and were muscled to the point where they seemed deformed. Their arms and legs were as thick as the trunks of trees, and their necks were so bulky that they seemed to be swollen.
Even without the information provided to her by her predecessor, she would have easily come to the conclusion that they were artificial constructs. They were far too unnatural to have once lived in their current forms.
Their proportions were simply wrong. Their extremities, their hands and feet, were far too large relative the length of their limbs. But as bizarre as the body plan seemed, Nell had to admit that it was effective. Their attacks, which made use of nothing but weight and brute force, were heavy enough to rend the earth. A single swing could take out a tree or a piece of elven architecture with no difficulty whatsoever. Even taking one such attack head on was likely to prove fatal.
With that said, their offense wasn’t the most troubling part about the creatures. That crown instead belonged to the rate at which they were capable of regenerating. No matter how deep their wounds, they were capable of fully restoring themselves in a few dozen seconds. Not even a beheading could put one of the creatures down. Removing its eyes and brain would momentarily cause it to lose its balance and fall over, but before long, its flesh would regrow, and it would stand back up.
“That reminds me a bit of the way Shii’s regeneration skill works… not that I should be comparing them. She’s adorable, but these things are just plain disgusting!” Nell shouted as she cleaved her holy sword through one of the creature’s chests.
As it was already dead, it didn’t even bleed, at least not profusely. In fact, its only reaction was to stumble a few steps backwards. Of course, Nell had expected nothing less, having seen their ability to heal, so she promptly activated Equipment Synthesis, the unique skill that Yuki had used a scroll to grant her.
It allowed her to use her mana to temporarily create a weapon or piece of armour, albeit one on a timed life cycle. The skill’s reliance on her imagination was both a blessing and a curse. She was able to create whatever came to mind, but she couldn’t come up with things the way her husband could; unlike her, he could pump out countless, unique looking weapons, one after another without delay.
But knowing that weakness allowed her to work around it. Rather than trying to come up with something new, she instead opted to think of the many weapons that she’d seen Yuki make in the past. As she sheathed Durandal, several replicas straight out of his armory appeared in her hands. He had made them just for fun, but each weapon was still incredibly powerful in its own right, and had no difficulty piercing the undead’s flesh.
And that was exactly what she did.
She slammed her creations in the still-open, regenerating wounds. And left them there.
Annoyed, the creature swept at her with one of its bulky arms, but she kicked herself off its body to evade and repositioned herself outside its range.
The result of her experiment was favourable. Its wounds were healing, but the armaments she’d left inside it remained present. As Remiero had described, the creatures were easy to incapacitate despite being difficult to outright destroy.
In any other scenario, she would have relied mainly on holy magic. Undead had the tendency to be susceptible to it, but these particular specimens had been modified in such a way that the divine element had little effect. But that wasn’t a problem.
Now that she understood the creature’s traits, she began tackling it in a much more efficient manner. Rather than creating random weapons, she chose to create rapiers. With one each hand, she closed in on the abomination, slid under a lariat, and jabbed her blades straight into its kneecaps.
Diving between its legs to evade another strike, she jumped onto its back and beheaded it. Another pair of rapiers went straight into the creature’s neck before she once again repositioned to observe the results of her assault.
It couldn’t regenerate properly because the weapons were in the way. Neither its legs nor head were operable any longer. The creature was not intelligent enough to make an effort to remove any foreign entities from its flesh, as those particular instructions were outside the set that it was given.
“Impressive. When did you learn to use creation magic?” asked Remeiro.
“I’ve been working pretty hard,” said Nell, with an ambiguous chuckle. After disabling her targets’ arms the same way she had the rest of its body, she looked towards her predecessor. “Wait, didn’t you say they were hard to outright destroy?”
The creature at the butler’s feet was no longer showing any signs of regeneration. All of the deep cuts he had left in its body stayed exactly where they were.
“As is the case with many other regenerating creatures, it’s possible to simply overwhelm it with brute force.” He made a ridiculous claim with his usual aloof demeanor. “The issue with this approach is that it consumes quite the amount of mana. Unfortunately, it’s not the best in a situation like this, where there are so many of them.”
“I’m not sure why I expected anything less from you,” she said. “Oh, uhm, and about that. I think I have something for your mana problems.”
She grabbed one of the many containers from the bag mounted on her waist and threw it in his direction.
“A high grade mana potion!? Are you sure you don’t mind?”
“I got a whole bunch of them from Y—my husband, so it’s not a problem!” she said before gesturing towards the creature she had engaged. By the time she was done, the undead was crippled, every notable joint in its oversized body now home to a rapier. “Carlotta, would you mind finishing this off?”
“Not at all!”
After confirming that Carlotta was having her unit take care of it, Nell moved onto cutting another one of the undead freakshows down to size.
All in all, the situation seemed volatile. The two sides were roughly evenly matched. The elves had lost their first line of defense, and their town had been breached. Still, their responses were swift, and the added support from the demons and humans provided the forces necessary to engage the assailants head on. But they were unable to easily repel them; the battle could easily go either way.
The biggest problem was the headcount. The individual undead creatures were slow, but their impressive defensive properties and capacity for destruction meant that a small unit had to be assigned to each and every single one. Their sheer numbers provided them with the ability to take over the battlefield the moment its tides swung in their favour.
After sensing a sudden spike in magical energy, Nell confined one of the abominations inside one of her spells, Imprisoning Barrier. A moment later, it detonated. An explosion filled her magical shield with a massive cloud of dust.
“Thank you, human, we owe you our lives!” said a demon.
“Not bad, girl! Good moves!” shouted an elf.
She raised a hand to acknowledge their thanks, then informed her allies of a change in plans.
“Remeiro, Carlotta, I think it’ll be best for us to spearhead an assault. Could you please help me with it so I can make sure I suppress all the explosions?”
“On it. My unit will handle her right side. Sir Remiero, please get her left!”
With their plan of attack solidified, the newly formed strike team charged straight into enemy lines.
“Well, Naffy, what do you say we evacuate?” asked Phynar. “As I’m sure you’ve already started to suspect, the enemies probably have space mages in their ranks. I don’t see any other way they could’ve made it so deep into your territory otherwise.”
“That is one of the possibilities We had considered,” said the Elven queen, with a stern frown and wrinkled brow. “This is likely but the first in a wave of attacks. Given the scale, I suspect some sort of ritual magic is at work.”
“It’s certainly possible. I’ve recently heard some awful news about the fiends forging a teensy little alliance with a group of demons that’s especially good at magic, so a ritual or two certainly isn’t impossible,” Phynar said, “And I agree with your other point too. They’ll probably try something else. They really love doing things in two steps. The first always involves creating confusion, while the second normally involves taking advantage of it and going straight for their intended target. Knowing that, I don’t think staying here is all that advisable. They’ll be trying to end it all in one fell swoop by getting rid of us.”
“Hmmm… We understand. Do you have any thoughts in the situation, King of Allysia?”
“I have nothing to add,” said Reiyd. “As pathetic as this is to admit, I am not responsible for military affairs. I leave them to my men, and I believe that the best option here is for you to take the lead.”
“And that We shall,” Napholahz said with a nod. “There is a Warden’s Barrier guarding an evacuation zone underneath this tree. We cannot conclude that it is truly safe, as the outermost Warden’s Barrier has already been breached, but We believe that it is at worst a superior option to remaining within Our conference hall.”
The elven soldiers nearby immediately followed through on her suggestion and prompted the three monarchs to follow them down a flight of stairs. But as soon as they moved, the trunk of the tree in which the building was situated, the divider that separated the rulers from the battlefield, was blown apart.