Regardless of how many snide remarks I made in my mind, there was clearly no way he would have heard them. As for this talk about aid, the Warhorse obviously had something else to add onto that.
Just as I saw him nod his head, the Warhorse elder then spat out a few words that almost made me want to murder him: “The gist of it is correct but there’s just a little something you got mixed up: the ones drawing their attention is you all, we are the ones doing the rescuing. I hope you don’t get this mixed up later on.”
“…how about I just say no?” ‘Hmph, only a moron would accept that, you clearly want us to be cannon fodder!’
“How about no.”
“What if I…”
“I’m terribly sorry but we don’t have a lot of time to waste. Every second we waste here, the chances of our kin getting injured becomes higher. That’s why I hope you lot will be more cooperative lest I have to resort to force.”
By my rough calculations, the Demonic Fire Igneous Giants took roughly ten minutes to chase us up to this point. If they were to take this exact route back, the distance and time taken would probably be the same as well. However, since they weren’t chasing anyone this time around, their speed should be noticeably slower; given my recent experience with them, that should be about thirty minutes of walking.
In order for the Warhorses to return to their kin, they would have to circle around the giants undetected, meaning they would have to take a longer time than usual, bringing the approximate timing to about thirty minutes as well. In light of that, it was basically impossible for them to rescue their kin.
Naturally, there was no way the elder would accept such an outcome, especially given how much importance he placed on the lives of his fellow horses.
It was precisely because of this reason that he was wasting time on us now, forcing us to be a decoy for them. While we held the attention of the Demonic Fire Igneous Giants, the Warhorses planned on rushing back to save their injured members. While it might have sounded difficult, it was basically just a matter of time difference. We simply had to delay the giants on their way back.
“Forcing us like this…I bet you already thought of this whole plan when you were retreating…” Gritting my teeth and holding back my fury, I stared unblinkingly at the elder.
I truly wanted to give his horse face a resounding punch right now, but unfortunately I couldn’t. He was clearly stronger than us and the weak had no say in such matters. I was but a piece of meat before the cleaver that was his power; resistance was futile. ‘Looks like I really have to be a moron this time…’
“One minute, if you can’t come to a decision in one minute, I’ll kill off one of you.” Dissatisfied with our hesitance, the elder coldly eyed us all before finally stopping on Mo Na, who was still in my arms right now.
“Mama…” The pressure of a Six-stars wasn’t something an infant like Mo Na could endure right now so the moment his cruel gaze fell on her, she whimpered slightly before burying herself in me with a tighter hug, body trembling all the while. She was scared. For the first time ever, my little daredevil was scared.
“…we’ll go.” Mo Na was my weak spot, that much was certain, and that d*mned horse actually used that to force me into submission. ‘Blast it all…if only I was a little stronger…’ As those thoughts ran through my head, I forced my head down and averted my eyes. ‘Looks like there’s no escaping this fate then…’
As the saying went in this world, ‘never doubt the threats of a fiendish creature or you will not live to regret it.”
“All we need is thirty minutes.” Seeing that we finally understood our situation, the Warhorse elder instantly dropped the threatening attitude and instead put on an air of absolute generosity as he said: “If you manage to kill the Demonic Fire Igneous Giants, the rewards are all yours, we won’t try to snatch them from you.”
‘Horsepoop! What makes you think we can magically take them down after over a hundred of you failed to do so! You’re off your rocker, I swear! Even sarcasm has its limits, there’s clearly just a hole in your brain right now!’
Unfortunately for him, all that would never escape my lips, doomed to forever be buried in my heart.
In the face of an insurmountable foe, the best course of action would be to not provoke him. After all, the one who would suffer in the end would always be you.
Just like that, we were sent on our merry way back along the same route we just passed by not too long ago. Right now, we were like flies rushing towards the light: even though we knew that it would spell certain doom, there was just no resisting that urge to do so. Why? Because the Warhorse elder was tailing us like a shadow in the distance so as to prevent us from escaping.
Even if it was just him alone, there was no way we could stand up to him –he was a Six-stars after all. Moreover, splitting up wasn’t an option either as that would merely give him an opportunity to take us down separately… Compared to facing him, delaying the giants would be probably the better option.
After rushing forward for a few minutes, we finally caught sight of the Demonic Fire Igneous Giants. Naturally, the fact that we noticed them, meant that they could spot us as well. A mere moment after spotting them, they were alerted to our presence.
Turning their lumbering bodies around to look, they so happened to see us rushing right towards them like an arrow. Immediately, all three of them did a complete one eighty to face us and charged towards us.
As their figures rapidly towered over us, we began to deeply feel the tremors of the earth resonating within us. Thankfully, we didn’t have to face these goliaths head on but merely delay them; that meant just luring them away was enough.
Having successfully attracted their attention, I immediately signalled for Sinmosa to turn tail and run at full speed. As expected, the giants came chasing after us like bees to honey. However, as always, good things never lasted long. Perhaps they realized themselves that there was no way they could catch up to us with their speed, but merely five minutes later, the giants then turned around and gave up on the chase…
In their minds, we probably weren’t as attractive as those horse corpses and injured Warhorses. After all, those casualties couldn’t run.
Naturally, that Warhorse elder stalking us would have none of that. Like an evil slavedriver, he immediately barked out a few threatening commands to have us rush forward once more.
Still, with his position being clearly superior to our own, we had no choice but to listen to his bidding and rush off towards our doom once more. Initially, our back and forth worked out pretty well but as time went on, the effectiveness of this tactic took a nosedive. Soon, the giants realized that chasing us was futile so they completely lost all interest in us and merely rushed back to the battlefield, no matter how much we taunted them. Even tossing rocks at them wouldn’t force them to budge.
Compared to us pesky flies, those helpless horses were more to their liking.
Normally, this would have been great for us, but the moment those giants lost interest in us, the elder stalking us became interested instead. With no other choice in this matter, we rushed off once more, this time to engage them.
To prepare for the gruelling battle ahead, my first instinct was to summon up some expendable skeleton troops but no matter how hard I tried, the spell would always fizzle and the mana refused to flow.
“Mama, are you trying to summon skeletons?” Being extremely sensitive to Undead magicks, she soon sensed what I was up to.
“That’s right, I’m planning to send some skeletons after the giants since they no longer have an interest in running targets.” I then proceeded to voice my confusion: “But for some reason, the spell just won’t work? I know that I can cast it, I did so before, extremely smoothly in fact.”
“Mama…don’t you know…Undead magic requires a medium to work…” Mo Na gingerly said. “There’s no corpses or bones here so…”
“Undead Summoning magic requires a mediu–” The moment I voiced that thought out, I shut my mouth immediately. Was there even a need to ask such an obvious question? Of course, it did. Even back on Earth there were clear precedents for such a requirement; in all those games I’ve played, wasn’t a corpse a basic requirement for summoning undead…how did I even forget such a basic premise?!
‘Am I slowly turning stupid or something…no wait, it’s not that I forgot…it’s that the two areas I’ve been in before, the Land of the Dead and the Prison of the Dead, both had something in common, and that was that they were filled with corpses…especially the Prison which was basically made out of bones…’
It was such a convenient setting that ended up creating a misconception in me that I could cast my Undead Summons anywhere, and without restrictions…
Now that the plan was a bust, there was only option left to us…use ourselves as bait.
“No.3, Big 4, the two of you can fly so I want you both to fly around them. Be careful, don’t fly too close, just grab their attention, that’s all.” Based on my previous observations of them, I learnt that they had no effective long range attacks to speak of so having the two of them fly around should be relatively safe.
“Yes, Master.” The two took to the skies immediately upon receiving my command.
Having now had time to acclimatize to their wings, their flying skill was impeccable. The two of them would maintain a distance that was just close enough to draw the attention of the giants and yet not close enough for them to be attacked. Like a deadly dance on a razor’s edge, they would poke in and out, never once allowing themselves to be in striking range for long, in part thanks to their practised flying skill and in part thanks to the clumsiness of the giants.
‘Very good, just like that, keep stalling for time…as long as we hit the thirty minute mark, we are free to retreat..’