Looking around, there seemed to be only one way out of this cavern, and that was the way we came in. Yet just as we were about to evacuate via that exit, we discovered, to our surprise, that the green fog had already blanketed our escape route.
Within that strange fog, I could vaguely make out a bunch of unknown silhouettes crawling out from beneath the bony grounds of the Prison of the Dead. These unknown entities didn’t seem all that sturdy and would stagger with each step they took. As they did so, an audible click echoed across the vast cavern, it was a click that resembled the sound of bones colliding with each other… ‘undead!’
This place was actually summoning undead! However, they didn’t seem all that strong.
‘So that sinister looking ritual was to summon the undead, in that case, this must’ve been a trap prepared for us beforehand.’
“Charge through them!” Manasha was the first one to break the silence with her rousing yell. Even though the number of undead skeletons were still unknown, that didn’t deter her one bit as she fearlessly charged into the unknown.
As she closed in on one of the skeletons, she swung her powerful snake tail and with a resounding crack, scattered the bony bodies of three nearby skeletons into the air.
To a four-star like Manasha, these newly summoned skeletons clearly weren’t even a threat to her. Thus, it didn’t take long before she managed to cleave a path to the exit point.
However, the moment she tried to charge out of the exit point, her body was abruptly repelled backwards as if she had collided with some kind of sturdy wall.
“Are you alright?” I asked as I rushed up to break her fall. At the same time, I turned my gaze to investigate what it was that repelled her. Strangely, I found nothing there. Other than that obviously non-solid mist, there was nothing but empty space.
“There’s no need to keep looking, the exit has already been sealed. If we aren’t able to defeat the guardian army of the Door of the Dead…” Manasha left her sentence hanging there, though it wasn’t hard to guess what came next. Only an idiot couldn’t guess that unless we defeated these undead, we were stuck here.
With the exit merely a few paces away from us, how could I be satisfied with just giving up like that? The answer was a definite no. I disbelievingly reached out to touch the exit point and as I did so, I gave the air in front of me a slight shove. To my dismay, I wasn’t able to push past that point.
It was as if there was an invisible magical force separating the cavern ,where the Door of the Dead resided, from the Prison of the Dead.
“Sh*t, what should we do now?” With no way to escape and our location still a giant unknown, my mind was thrown into disarray. With hardly any time to digest what was happening to us, it truly felt like we were grasping at straws.
Beside me, Manasha had a visible look of displeasure on her face as she shook her head and said, “I should listened to you just now and been more careful, we wouldn’t have ended up in this situation then…”
“Well, there’s no use saying that now. We need to think of a plan quick. Exactly how are we going to overcome this dangerous situation?” Even while we were panicking, the number of undead continued to steadily rise. Weslin was already in midst of repelling the skeletons with her lizardkin.
In the midst of all that, No.3 and Big 4 swiftly rushed to my side while the other guardsmen sortied to reinforce the medusas’ position. Because these were undead they were dealing with, the medusas were at a slight disadvantage. Given that their toxins were ineffective against the dead, they were forced them to engage in melee instead.
Regret was pointless. That was something Manasha knew very well. Still, that didn’t prevent her from feeling extremely frustrated at the fact that she had just been tricked by a bunch of rats. It didn’t take long before that anger got to her head after which she promptly snapped.
“What else can we do, we fight!” Nose flaring as she yelled.
By now, the coverage of that green fog had widened significantly and with that, the number of undead rising had increased as well. The undead that rose were merely skeletons; there were no wraiths of zombies in sight.
Being skeletons, they were naturally just a bunch of weaklings. Yet, even for skeletons, they seemed weak. Their bodies would shake with every step they took as if they were on the verge of falling apart. Not only that, they were all unarmed. No shields, no weapons, nothing; not even clothing.
One thing that caught my eye was the variety of skeletons attacking us. There were skeletons with horns on their heads –most likely devils –, stubbier skeletons belonging to the dogmen, ratlike ones, reptilian ones, orcish ones and even centaur skeletons. However, there weren’t just complete skeletons, there were skeletons that lacked arms and legs…while not having arms was still fine, not having legs meant that these skeletons were slowly crawling towards us…either way, there was a whole gamut of skeleton types heading towards us.
Standing in front of us was our end goal, the legendary Door of the Dead. Yet without making ample preparations, entering was definitely out of the question.
‘What about retreating then…not an option as well…that invisible wall is still there blocking our escape route.’ Since a mighty four-star like Manasha wasn’t able to break down that wall, the thought of breaching that wall had never even crossed my mind.
The only option left open to us was to advance and kill every thing that tried to kill us, that was the only route to survival. Thus, without even needing me to give out the command, Weslin knew to buckle down and focus on the fighting. After all, griping about how careless we were wasn’t going to change a thing.
With every wave of her spear, Weslin managed to sweep aside one skeleton at the very least. Armed with the shield I gave her, there was basically no chance of getting harmed either. In fact, it even functioned as a lethal weapon with the way she violently smashed a couple of skeletons that tried to approach her with a prompt shield bash. Though this was her first time wielding a shield, I had to admit, she wielded it well.
Once more, the physical prowess of the lizardmen stole the limelight in this battle. While they had no magical talents to speak of, that deficiency was more than compensated by their excellent power, speed and constitution. As expected of the mighty draconic race.
With all that said, it was worth noting once more how weak these skeletons were. I bet they weren’t even a one-star mob, a gale could probably blow them away if the Prison of the Dead had winds.
Naturally, these weaklings weren’t a match for my army of 600 medusas, 2000 lizardmen and 300-odd guardsmen. The hellhound riders weren’t suited for such close quarter combat so I left them outside with the harpies. It wasn’t a large army per say but that was precisely why I took pains to choose the elites before rushing into the cave. Against these zero-star trash, they were clearly overqualified.
Of the three races, only the medusas had one-stars amongst them. Even so, these one-stars weren’t a hindrance to others in spite of the undead’s resistance to toxins. They still had their frightening tails to aid them so all in all, their melee strength wasn’t that bad either.
While all that was happening, the mysterious green fog continued expanding as usual. Yet it seemed to avoid any living creature as if there was some kind of will guiding it to do so.
Thanks to that, the rate of undead spawning had picked up as well. Thankfully, we still killed them at a faster rate than they spawned. With a mighty of sweep of her tail, the boss-class medusa, Manasha, easily took out a large swathe of skeletons.
Nearby, Harlow’s own impressive performance showed once more why the demonic werewolves were a fearsome combat race. With his razor sharp claws, he tore through the skeletons as if they were a bunch of tofu.
However, the battle situation didn’t seem to be changing despite our overwhelming kill ratio. With that in mind, I had no choice but to allow Mimiya to join the fray as well. With her dimensional magic talents, she pulled out a giant black scythe that was even taller than her from god knows where.
Flapping her devil wings, she took to the air and begun spinning around wildly while she swung the terrifying scythe in what looked like a frenzied reaper’s dance. The moment a skeleton approached her, it was promptly sliced apart before it could take another step further.
As the little she-devil continued decimating the skeletons, another strange sight caught my eyes. Vick, the wraith whom I had pegged as an advocate of peace because he rarely attack anyone, actually joined the battle alongside Mimiya as a trusty sidekick should. With his incorporeal nature, he was able to freely float up to a skeleton and extend his ghostly hands right into their skulls in order to harvest the soul flames within.
As he did that to one of the skeletons, that poor undead promptly collapsed to the ground leaving behind a soul flame floating on the palms of Vick.
Speaking of which, that reaper’s scythe was actually something I made for Mimiya. It had the soul pearl of a three-star wraith infused within it and thus possessed a frightening level of lethality. It even possessed a gruesome ability to cause bleeding to whatever it struck and had the ability to cast a random curse as well.
With regards to the origins of that scythe, there was one thing I had to say now: while Mimiya looked rather adorable, her personality wasn’t the least bit adorable at all…
Back when she first laid eyes on Numila’s Flametail, she fell in love with such weapons and clamored for her own epic-grade weapon as well. However, I only had a Shadowfang on hand so there was no way I would give her one.
I brushed her off by saying that I would find one later but who knew that she would end up losing her patience anyway. She said that it didn’t matter if the weapon wasn’t an epic weapon, just give her one for now so that she could play with it. Back then I was still busy with other matters so I rejected her. However, after being hounded by her for several days, I finally gave in and rushed out that black scythe for her.
I doubt anyone wouldn’t do the same if they were in my shoes…after all, who would want a little devil flying around their heads throughout the day…
“Yo, Violet Snow, aren’t you going to fight?”
‘Even Mimiya had entered the battle so what was Violet Snow still doing here?’
“Don’t talk about me, aren’t you here as well?” As she said that, Violet Snow rolled her eyes at me as if to say, one who ran fifty paces shouldn’t laugh at one who ran a hundred. Yet the moment she turned around to look at me, her head froze. That was because she finally understood that I hadn’t actually been lazing around at all.
(TL: One who ran fifty steps shouldn’t laugh at one who ran a hundred:
According to the Chinese wiki, this saying originated from the Era of Warring States. Mencius was having a chat with King Hui and he brought up this analogy,
“Once there were two defeated soldiers fleeing from the frontlines. One of them ran away for fifty paces while the other ran a hundred. The one who ran fifty paces ended up calling the other soldier useless for fleeing so far even though, at the end of the day, they were both useless. The only difference was how far they ran.”
Essentially, “pot calling the kettle black”. End of story time.)
Sometimes I had to admit, the Shadow Guardian was truly a useful spell to have. It could be activated stealthily and once it was activated, its shadow could extend itself to bind an opponent. That was precisely what I was doing right at this very moment: using my shadow to aid our side.
“Your shadow magic is really convenient huh…” As she said that, she couldn’t help but feel that her words had come back to bite her in her fluffy white tail.
Truth be told, I couldn’t blame her for not attacking. While her attacks were powerful, she didn’t have much of a mana pool to back them up. In a long drawn-out battle like this, she couldn’t sustain her attacks for long so it was only natural that she held herself back for crucial moments.
Now was clearly not a crucial moment. Our side had an overwhelming advantage in terms of strength and while their numbers were a concern, they were still zero-star trash mobs. I bet some random muscle man could defeat these skeletons just by wielding a stick let alone my battle-hardened warriors.
Yet even though that was the case, I could vaguely sense the falseness behind this security. Manasha probably felt the same as well otherwise she wouldn’t have tried to escape in such a hurry.
As if to prove my point, what I feared finally happened. After ten minutes of slaughtering these skeletons, the bony ground finally produced the first ever one-star skeleton. If this was anything to go by, there might just be two-stars as well in the not too distant future…
With the appearance of that skeleton, the newly risen skeletons all had some form of basic weaponry and armor. While they weren’t all that impressive to look at, their effectiveness wasn’t anything to scoff at.
At least that would have been the case if they were facing off against another army. To us, the only difference between a one-star and zero-star was that one required a smidge more force to break…