The power of a two-star head imp combined with the newly refined weapons was apparent for all to see. With a simple shift of their arms, the colossal shields immediately covered the bulk of No.3 and Big 4’s body.
They lowered their bodies slightly as they stuck out their shields, and with a massive kick of their legs the pair of imp tanks rammed their way through the battlefield with the 22 guardsmen following closely behind. In a few seconds, the gap between the two armies was closed.
As they cleared a path through the skeletons, their shields perfectly deflected all of the incoming attacks as if the weapons in the every skeletons’ hands were nothing but harmless toothpicks. In contrast, mere contact with the massive tank-combination of bone and imp sent the skeletons flying. Behind them, the guardsmen rushed forward to clean up the skeletons that were knocked down.
Naturally the skeleton archers tried to stop these approaching imps, but compared to the refined round shields their arrows might as well have been toys. Merely crafting one of these shields cost me more than half of my mana and used up 25 sets of bones. The resulting shield wasn’t something any old skeleton could break through.
No.3 was the first of the pair to break into the archer squad. As his spiked mace swung through the air, any bones that stood in its way broke apart from the sheer force of the impact in an explosion of bone fragments and dust.
Soon, Big 4 joined in the massacre and within a few seconds, half of the 20 skeleton archers were reduced to a pile of bone shards.
Meanwhile the guardsmen were in charge of the cleaning up the other undead. Thanks to the considerable advantage of their refined equipment, they could easily dispatch any ordinary undead. Even the undead wearing armor were chopped apart like vegetables. Within those same few seconds, the melee undead were reduced to half as well.
With that unfair advantage in strength and equipment, No.3 decimated the opposition. He was clearing enjoying this, judging from his slightly arrogant laughter. Even his battle stance had become more careless. He began casually swinging his spiked mace without any regard to defense, confident in the fact that his attacks would definitely destroy the opponent.
This was the attitude he began showing towards the one-star archers as well; and this came back to bite him. Instead of the usual denseness showed by its fellow comrades, one archer decisively chose to abandon its short bow and swiftly back stepped, dodging the incoming mace.
As its skeletal body leaped backwards, both of its arms reached to the back of its leather armor and drew out a pair of 33cm long daggers.
Now that its uniqueness had been exposed, the fact that its bones were skinnier than all the other undead became obvious as well. Without even steadying itself, it immediately launched into an attack. It was now time for No.3 to pay for his bout of arrogant carelessness. Not even in his wildest dreams would he imagine that an archer would suddenly change into a nimble melee assassin!
In a flash of white, it dodged No.3’s mace once more, and in that brief window where he couldn’t move, the assassin sprinted past him. A brief flash of metal, that was all he could see before he felt a sharp pain on his right arm!
Thankfully, his hide was too tough for the tiny daggers. All the attack did was barely break through his hide, leaving a thin line of red. There was some bleeding, but not much. Given his regenerative capabilities it would only take a few seconds for this to close up.
Seeing his bosom buddy No.3 get hurt, Big 4 immediately focused his attention onto the assassin. With a furious roar, he swung at the assassin’s back with a clear intent to kill.
“Stand aside, don’t interfere with this fight. This guy belongs to me.”
No.3 shouted amid his ragged breathing. This assassin had clearly incensed him and the only way to wash away this humiliation was to defeat it in a solo battle.
“…” Big 4 threw him a exasperated look before turning around to handle the other skeletons.
“Now, there’s only the two of us.” No.3 gave a cursory glance at his now healed wound before smacking his bone shield with his mace in a taunting gesture. Without even caring if the assassin understood him, he proceeded: “Let’s have a fair fight.”
The skeletal assassin turned to survey the battlefield. Right now, the skeleton army was on the verge of being wiped out. There were only slightly over ten one-star skeleton soldiers holding on. Without Big 4, they would probably be able to hold on for another few minutes; but with Big 4, this boss level mob, a few minutes was clearly not possible.
It turned back to face No.3 who was still standing there quietly awaiting its response. He wanted a fair fight and for devils of his age and tier, this was likely to be true. Most of the devils at this level were still innocent potatoes, so a fair fight really meant a fair fight; at least in No.3’s case.
With a casual flip of its dagger, it adopted a battle ready stance; wielding a reversed dagger in one hand and a normal dagger in the other. If it had been the initial No.3, he would’ve probably charged at it by now, but having been injured by the assassin, No.3 was aware of his opponent’s skill and didn’t dare to be conceited.
What else did this assassin have up its sleeves?
The two stood there silent in a tense face off, neither side moved an inch as they glared at each other. *crack* As Big 4’s spiked mace descended once more onto another skeleton, a loud crack echoed through the air, signifying the end of the skeleton army. All that was left was the assassin.
As if on cue, the assassin burst into action. All that remained where it once stood was a bone-white afterimage, the stillness now replaced by a speed that could only be achieved by one unbound from the limits of flesh.
With a graceful bound of its skeletal feet, it nimbly dodged the mass of spikes crashing down upon its head, landing softly upon the giant round shield that covered the span of No.3’s body.
Did it plan on taking No.3 head on? However, in a logic-defying feat of acrobatics, it somersaulted over No.3, using his shield as a springboard!
This unexpected move shocked and mesmerized everyone present, including me. With its feet on solid ground once more, it took off in a straight line. Perhaps it was merely coincidence but the path it took led straight towards Big 4 and several other guardsmen.
“Haha, that’s more like it!”
From the way it ran after passing No.3, it was likely trying to escape. While it’s unthinkable for a low level undead to ever consider running away, this was the only logical explanation for its actions. Since it planned on escaping, if Big 4 interfered now it couldn’t be counted as offending No.3. After all, his inability to defeat the skeleton meant that the skeleton was now up for grabs.
He readied his shield in a charging stance as he prepared to ram the incoming assassin. This might seem like an illogical move against the nimble skeleton, given the precedent of No.3; and you might even think that Big 4 was a moron for doing so; but you would be making a big mistake by assuming that.
Upon seeing the round shield charge towards it, the assassin employed its mesmerizing acrobatics once more. It dove at the shield, and with what could only be described as godlike reflexes, reached out with its bony arms momentarily grabbing the shield before launching itself into the air with a mighty push of its palm.
However, this was exactly what Big 4 was waiting for. He was naturally a part of the audience and witnessed the assassin’s previous display of acrobatics; so this leap was well within his expectations. As the skeleton began its somersault, he raised his spiked mace high into the air, right into the path of the assassin’s leap. Unless it changed course mid-air, there was no was escape for the assassin.
Unfortunately for Big 4, the skeleton did just that. Having seen through his tricks, the skeleton forcefully changed its course with a fierce twist of its wrist. With its center of gravity shifted, the skeleton fell awkwardly to the ground beside Big 4, narrowly dodging the mace.
That dazzling display ended with the skeleton disappearing from Big 4’s line of sight before he could even react. Big 4 continued his charge for several steps before braking suddenly, a look of confusion appeared on his face as he swivelled around looking for the missing skeleton. By now, all that remained was the shadow of a skeleton leaving.
Ahhh, what’re you doing! You’re even dumber than No.3 by a mile!
This was the last straw for me. I abandoned my passive role as an observer and with a wave of my arm, cast a bone wall in front of the assassin. However, the assassin had already retreated a step as if it had predicted my move, completely avoiding the wall.
With its 1.6m stature, leaping over the 3 meter tall bone wall was definitely possible, but that would take time and this wasn’t what the skeleton wanted. It tried to circle around the bone wall but before it could even take two steps to the side, another bone wall was erected in front of it, blocking its route.
The soul flames within its eyes flickered as it threw me a glance, after which it immediately gave up the idea of circling around the wall. However, instead of charging at me in anger, it chose to climb over the bone wall. I was well aware of this possibility beforehand so I had already prepared a darkness arrow.
This was my only long range attack, and while it didn’t have much offensive power, it could still be used to harass an enemy.
By the time it reached the top of the wall, the darkness arrow had almost reached it as well. Facing the incoming arrow, the assassin was left with only two options, leap into the air or give up on climbing the wall. If it leaped into the air, my arrow would definitely hit it. Given its undefended state, the damage would definitely be severe.
If it chose to give up on climbing the wall, the next bone wall would be ready and waiting, along with another darkness arrow. Checkmate, or so I thought, as the skeleton chose not to abandon climbing the wall. Instead of colliding with the arrow as expected, it backflipped with one hand on the wall. With the other hand, it took out its dagger and threw it!
As the dagger careened through the air, it landed squarely in the center of the incoming arrow, blocking it.
With my arrow successfully blocked, there was nothing stopping it from escaping. However, instead of jumping down the wall immediately, it straddled the wall and gazed at me, its intentions unknown. After that gaze, it leaped over the wall and made its escape…
Casting magic usually required vision of the target, if one couldn’t see or sense the target, casting most spells was impossible. Bone wall was one such spell where line of sight was important. As such, I wasn’t able to hinder the assassin’s escape once it leaped over the wall and left my line of sight. By the time I thought to cancel the wall…it was too late…
…I guess even I had occasional bouts of stupidity…
That skeleton must’ve at least been a two-star undead, from its agile and unpredictable movements, one could tell that it must’ve been a powerful expert in life.
Synopsis: Somewhere in the universe, there was an altar. On it, laid a bloody eye as big as the sun itself. It burst with light and bathed the entire star system in red.
"The aura of an ancestral artifact!" Someone's voice rose in surprise.
The Great Galactic Era had begun.