The Attack — Part 3
Editor(s): Speedphoenix, Joker
“Is everyone okay!?”
One of the elven soldiers leading the group down the stairs shouted a query after successfully resisting the impact of the blast. Like many of his peers, he had managed to erect a barrier to defend against the explosion. Or at least a part of it. The many burns covering his body served to evidence that he hadn’t come out of the attack entirely unharmed. His barrier had come slightly too late; he’d taken the brunt of the initial blast head on.
The first to rise amidst the smoke was the Allysian king.
“I am unharmed,” he said between dry coughs. “King Phynar, Queen Napholahz, are either of you injured?”
“I’m doing just fine, thanks,” said the demon realm’s king.
“We remain unscathed,” agreed the elven queen.
Everyone rejoiced that all three of the monarchs were unharmed. Except for the attacker, of course.
“Unfortunate.” A cocky masculine voice came from beyond the smoke. “I expected more, having caught you off guard, but this will have to do.”
As the debris cleared, the assailant, a towering warrior with fiery red locks, was revealed to the triple alliance. Gojim, chief of the fiends.
“Oh my. I wasn’t expecting you of all people to come in person, Gojim.”
“Hello, Phynar,” he said. “I’ve been rather lacking in entertainment lately. This seemed like a nice opportunity to get some fresh air.”
The warrior shrugged off the king’s glare with a quiet but confident reply.
What concerned Phynar wasn’t the sudden advent of his personal antagonist, but rather, said antagonist’s appearance. There was a greatsword the size of a person latched onto the fiend’s arm. Every few moments, a pulse would travel from its hilt down its blade, whose surface was covered with crimson, vein-like lines.
It was like the weapon was feeding on him, a suspicion only furthered by the blood that occasionally dribbled from where the two were attached. Gojim was otherwise unharmed, after all. It was clear from his appearance that he had yet to engage in any other battles.
“I’ve only seen it twice, but I’m convinced. That sword is cursed…”
“You’re sharp as ever. This is why you can’t be underestimated. And why I will personally ensure that today is the day you die!”
Several demonborn guards rushed straight at the fiend. But they could do nothing. With a single swing of his oversized blade, the redhead delivered a heavy, vertical blow.
It ate through the elven barrier like a hot knife through butter and quite literally dismantled the floor. Though it hit no one, the force of strike blew everything in his vicinity away, sending all members of the triple alliance tumbling to the basement that was supposed to have served as their safehouse.
“A pointless display before Us!”
The elven monarch cast a spell before she hit the ground. Her wind-based hex had two purposes. The first was to cushion her allies and ease the damage caused by their freefall. And the second was to attack the demon with a violent tempest. But a grunt and a swing later, her attack was gone, neutralized by brute force right as the combatants hit the floor.
“I expected more from elven magic,” he said. “It appears my memory hasn’t served me as well as I thought.”
“That was no powerful spell, child. It was merely Our way of greeting you.”
She glanced around the room. The soldiers’ efforts meant that both kings were unharmed. But the same could not be said for the security detail itself, many of them wounded after shielding their monarchs with their own bodies. There were no deaths yet, but they were all wounded to some extent, in part due to the fall, and in part a result of the collateral damage wrought by Gojim’s raw violence.
Only sixty percent remained capable of engaging the enemy.,
A whole two fifths of their forces had been crippled even though there had yet to be a single upfront exchange of blows.
That, in and of itself, was not a problem. Others were sure to notice the commotion and rush over. It was likely that they had already begun doing just that. The issue was that it would take their forces several minutes to arrive. Most combat-capable individuals had been sent to deal with the undead abominations.
If Napholahz refrained from engaging, then he would likely kill everyone else present before the few minutes that they needed were up, especially if he was as powerful as Phynar’s intel suggested.
Now that the two were face to face, the elven queen found herself believing the demonic ruler’s claims. The raw pressure Gojim radiated was not the sort that could come from a pushover.
Her only choice was to engage him, even if it meant that she would no longer be able to concern herself with the safety of the others. She would just have to pray that the guards were capable of fulfilling their duties. Because Napholahz was the single most powerful elf. And even she would fail to be his match if she didn’t go all out.
“We do not appreciate you invading our domain and enacting wanton destruction. The consequences of your transgressions against Us shall be dire!”
“How comical. It seems that you’re blissfully unaware of the ways of war. Aren’t you supposed to be a queen?”
After scoffing at her, the fiendish chieftain initiated his assault.
Napholahz’s reaction to the sudden movement was slow. Too slow. The heavy weapon was driven straight through her.
But right as it looked like she realized she had been run through, her body distorted, flickered, and vanished.
“What?” He narrowed his eyes.
“You have failed to track Us.”
The voice was accompanied by a spray of blood. The fiend had only caught the slightest glimpse of her throwing a dagger at him before the weapon, which had seemingly come out of nowhere, found its way into his shoulder.
He swung his greatsword at her newfound location. But despite the outstanding speed with which he reacted, he was unable to catch her. Once again, the queen had distorted and disappeared.
This time, he spotted her attack before it hit him, so he twisted his upper body and evaded the icy spear to avoid being damaged.
Only to be caught in a trap.
She suddenly appeared right in front of him and cut into his thighs as she passed him by, after which she spun around in midair and threw her dagger at the back of his neck.
With another ground-targeted smash, he stopped the weapon from reaching him. Destroying the flooring a second time wasn’t as devastating, as there wasn’t another story underneath, but it was capable of disrupting her. The shockwave caused her to stumble, which in turn cancelled her magic and led her to appear a short distance away.
“Your illusory spells defy logic. You shouldn’t be able to use any magic in my vicinity.”
“Who do you think We are?” The queen scoffed at the arrogant child. “We have come to suspect that your cursed blade is consuming the magical particles that inhabit this space. And Our deduction allows Us to cope.”
“Not well enough. Your magic lacks variety, elf. If you were really able to deal with Ruin’s effect, then you’d be using more spells.”
“That is not any of your concern. You will be perishing at Our hands soon regardless.”
It was a front. Napholahz was nowhere near as confident as she seemed. The redheaded warrior was right. His blade was stopping her from accessing most of her repertoire. She was known as a deadly fighter because she was capable of creating dozens of illusions at once, all while firing an incredibly large number of highly varied spells. But as things stood, the best she could do was produce a single copy whilst magically concealing her presence.
The biggest problem was her inability to properly channel her magical energies. Each spell carried much more waste than it would have under any other circumstance, and she felt as if she had to force the casting process to completion every single time.
The fiend’s weapon was incredibly powerful. Nothing normal would have been able to create such an impactful effect in such a short period of time. Even a quick glance at the weapon left her uncomfortable and disgusted. An unnatural, hair-raising sort of magical energy gathered around it, as was par for the course when it came to any sort of cursed equipment.
Though she was the leading elven expert on magic, she struggled to cast even a few single spells. There was no doubt in her mind that none of the others would be able to cast any sort of magic at all.
But that didn’t mean they were incapable of contributing to the fiend’s defeat.
After waiting for the perfect moment to strike, elves and demons alike released the arrows they had nocked and ready. A storm of projectiles soared towards the warrior. But he wasn’t the slightest bit concerned.
His weapon’s blade split open as would a pair of jaws on a hungry beast. It moved by itself, seeking and consuming the arrows before any could reach its wielder.
“What the hell was that!?”
The commander that had ordered the well-timed strike was left baffled by the absurd aftermath of the sword-turned-maw’s actions. Their efforts had been in vain.
“My ability to use this weapon has improved drastically as of late. And it can do much more than just consume!”
The blade doubled in length as he swung it, causing the queen, who had been utterly dumbfounded by the bizarre scenario, to miss time her dodge. The blade’s maw caught one of her arms and tore it off with its fangs.
“My lady!?” Several guards hurriedly began rushing across the room in an attempt to reach her, but it was clear as day that they wouldn’t make it in time for the next clash.
“It’s time for you to die, elf.”
Napholahz readied herself to intercept, but she doubted that she could do much with just one arm. The living weapon’s jaws approached, open and ready to consume her lifeblood.
But it was deflected before it could do any harm.
And not by her.
Durandal’s wielder darted between the two and deflected the demonic sword with her holy relic. Nell had come running the moment she heard the explosion. And she had made it just in the nick of time.
“So you’re the hero that I’ve been hearing so many reports about,” said Gojim. “Tell me, girl, how is that masked demon friend of yours doing?”
“He’s doing just fine.” She closed the distance between them and began slashing at him to prevent the red-head from getting off the back foot. “He’s been really looking forward to kicking your butt!”
The slashes were near countless. Rapid strikes came from all sorts of different angles, but Gojim managed to not only deflect each, but even throw in an occasional counter or two of his own.
He was in the midst of a fierce duel that could very well cost him his life. But even so, Gojim was able to calmly assess the situation, determine that it wasn’t in his favour, and realize that it was only going to get worse. The elven soldiers that the abominations had pulled away were now returning. Many were already present, positioned with their weapons drawn such that they could jump into the fray to help the human at a moment’s notice.
Gojim had bought too much time. His undead lure had expired, and he was likely to do the same if he remained any longer. The only purpose staying would serve would be to put him in needless danger.
Knowing that, he opened up some distance by delivering an obvious, heavy, wide-ranging slash that forced the hero to temporarily retreat. But rather than pursuing as he had the previous times he employed such a tactic, the fiend instead leapt backwards.
“That will have to be all for today. It was fun, girl.”
He reached inside his pocket and grabbed a magical device, one that looked a little bit too similar to the teleportation devices that Yuki had given to Nell and many of her associates.
“Oh no you don’t!”
The hero channeled over half her mana into the blade in preparation for a spellblade strike. Her recent developments with regards to her precise control of magic allowed her to channel her energies with ease, but for some odd reason, she wasn’t fully in control even in spite of all her progress. She had no choice but to not only turn the area attack into a more focused one in order to avoid hurting her allies, but also fire it prematurely else risk a magical explosion.
A beam of light fired from the tip of her blade as she brought it down and, much to Gojim’s surprise, hit him dead on. But even though he was sent flying, he managed to activate his item and teleport away.
And that wasn’t the only mishap. Even with her efforts focused on control, Nell was unable to stop herself from making a conspicuously large cut in the floor.
“That uhm… totally went all according to plan!” She said, her voice filled with a clear lack of confidence.
Though everyone present was aware that she was bullshitting, none chose to call her out.
Gojim’s momentum carried through, even after his teleport. He was sent crashing through a wide variety of enchanted items before finally colliding with a wall.
“What an absurd amount of power…” He smiled to himself as he rose from the rubble, blood dripping from his head.
“C-chief!? Are you okay!?”
A panicked subordinate ran up to him as the fiend put his weapon away, storing it within a large crack in the fabric of space itself.
“I’m fine,” he replied in his usual tone, one so quiet and serious it bordered on solemn. “Where’s Delvis?”
“Right here, chief,” said another subordinate.
“I succeeded. Is everything on your end proceeding as planned?”
“Yes sir. The distraction you created allowed us to go unnoticed.”
“Then we’ve finally managed to pull one over even Phynar’s head,” he said. “Continue with the preparations. And make sure you focus on getting them done as quickly as possible. Time is of the essence. Knowing Phynar, he’s bound to realize that something is wrong before long.”
“Of course, Chief,” responded Delvis. “And I believe that while you may have said you’re fine, I know that you are not. You clearly have several broken bones, and if you don’t get the arm that you’ve been letting Tortund Ruin consume treated soon, you may wind up having to amputate it.”
“…I know. I know.”
With an unamused snort, the chief of the fiends sought out the department responsible for administering medical care.