To a newbie like me, the ecosystem of the Prison of the Dead was a complicated question. I knew that the undead here had a habit of wandering around so encountering them was merely a coincidence.
The hellhounds were circling around the bone mountain and so my devils ended up being the first line of defense. Judging from the clattering of the bones, they should be relatively close to us.
“Get ready for battle!”
It was a simple command but One-eye should be able to handle the rest.
The thirty strong shieldbearer squad formed up near the entrance and put up their shield wall as always. Behind them, the Mo sabre wielders took up position as well. At the sides were 60 guardsmen who defended the flanks.
Just as we finished setting up our standard formation, the enemy arrived.
They were a bunch of skeletons, numbering around 80 and were all clad in a light set of bone armor with a pair of bull horns sticking out of their helmet. Judging from their appearance alone, these weren’t the same trash tier armor the undead wore in the land of dead.
As if to confirm this fact, each of them carried a set of bone weaponry that were anything but simple. There were swords, shields, hammers, long spears and even javelins. Right at the very back of the army were about eight to nine javelineers.
These javelineers were at the level of one to two-star and wore a set of light armor that looked a lot sturdier than the others. Looks like they were the elites of this army.
Upon noticing us, the melee skeletons immediately charged at us. Leading the charge were the agile skeleton warriors who wielded a sword and shield. They were the first to collide with our shield wall.
Needless to say, our heavy shields withstood the brunt of this charge without any losses. The sturdiness of these shields and their bearers were proven time and time again in my battles.
Not to mention that strength was never the forte of these frail looking skeletons. Being unable to break through the shield wall, all that awaited them was a swift counterattack.
The deadly Mo Sabres pierced through the air as always but this time, they were foiled by the bone shields of the warriors. Before the Sabre wielders had the time take in this fact, their Sabres were swiftly shoved aside by the shields, beneath them, the bone swords of the warriors had already shot out in another attack at the shield wall.
These skeletons were fast! Unfortunately for them, speed alone wasn’t enough to bring down my heavy shields. Without the required strength backing up these stabs, they deflected harmlessly off the shield wall.
Seeing an opening once more, one of the sabre wielders tried to stab at the warrior but was instantly halted by an unexpected javelin to his heart.
With their precise throwing skills, these javelineers were able to easily bypass the shield wall. Backed by the momentum of their running charge, the javelins whistled through the air in a parabolic arc and landed right atop the defenseless Mo sabre wielders.
With the loss of their supporting sabre wielders, a number of the shieldbearers were put in the disadvantaged position of only being unable to counterattack. Thankfully, not every javelin was an instant death for us and for those that were, a reserve was ready to pick up the slack right away. And so, this disadvantage was only short lived.
By now, the rest of the melee skeletons had caught up as well.
The hammar skeletons were substantially stronger than the warriors. Each swing of their hammers would cause the shield wall to vibrate slightly but fortunately, that was all.
Such strength was still bearable for the shieldbearers. Furthermore, without a shield of their own, these skeletons were easy prey for the Mo sabres who swiftly claimed their first victims.
Each javelineer had a total of three javelins on their backs. If we allowed them to freely throw all these…it would be disastrous for the current members of the Mo sabre squad.
Thankfully, the hellhounds joined at this moment. With their superior mobility, they bravely leaped over the shield wall and agilely weaved around the undead.
They performed quick hit and run strikes on the undead where every hound would quickly lunge at their target’s weak points and move on whether or not the bite hit landed successfully.
With their support, One-eye finally had the space needed to attack the javelineers. He dispatched Nine-finger along with his 30 guardsmen to wipe out the javelineers.
As they circled around the clashing melee forces, they came upon 20 long spear skeletons who acted as the guards for the javelineers.
These spears had a longer range than the bone broadswords and so what greeted the guardsmen as they charged in was a wave of spear thrusts. However, these imps weren’t any old imps. They were seasoned veterans who had undergone numerous battles with me.
With a casual raise of their bone shields, they harmlessly deflected the incoming spears with their trusty bone shields. The first wave of thrusts ended with only minor injuries inflicted on the bone shields and now they were completely open to our counter attack.
As my bone swords hacked down upon them, their razor sharpness shone through once more. These were swords that had undergone my refinement process and would not lose out to any sword used by human armies. With just one swing of this sword, the skull of the skeletal spearmen were swiftly cleaved in two.
Ten of these spearmen fell in the first wave of counter attack. The rest who survived were those that reacted fast enough and managed to dodge that fatal swing.
The bone javelins descended from the sky once more. Their target, the guardsmen. Having just counter attacked, the guardsmen were unable to raise their shield in time to block the javelins and Nine-finger ended up losing four of his guardsmen in that sneak attack alone.
Seeing so many of his subordinates die in one go, angered him greatly. With a thunderous bellow, he broke into a unstoppable charge. With every step he took, he would wildly wave his spiked mace around.
His first victim was a spearman who tried to halt his charge head on with his spear. Nine-finger’s spike mace crashed through the slender spear and sent the skeleton flying, spear and all. He then shifted his round shield to the front and took off once more, his head lowered and his body crouched slightly behind the gigantic shield.
A couple of spearman tried to stop him but he continued charging at them with reckless abandon.
Their spears collided with the rounded shield but the sheer force of Nine-finger’s charge sent a shockwave right back at the spearmen. In the face of such force, their bony fingers buckled under the impact and ended up letting go of their spears instead.
Without anything left to stop him, Nine-finger easily rammed through the two skeletons, scattering their bones.
Unfortunately for him, his brainless charge didn’t work out in the end. The javelineers upon seeing him charge at them, cleverly split into two separate groups and distanced themselves in two different directions.
With their last javelin in hand, they broke into a running charge once more and tossed it at Nine-finger from both his flanks.
I had to admit, these skeletons were surprisingly smart. Since he had only one shield, this two-pronged attack couldn’t be completely blocked.
Nine-finger knew this as well and with a grit of his teeth, he made his decision. He chose to block one of the javelineer groups’ attack while charging at them. As for the other, he planned to take the hits head on.
With that settled, he charged without any hesitation at the nearest group, 20 meters away, his back completely exposed to the other group as he did so.
Nine-finger roared as he continued with his suicidal charge, fully aware that this could be his last.
All this time, I had been monitoring the battlefield from the sides. Upon discovering that Nine-finger had been given a solo mission, I immediately turned my attention to him.
This potato was someone who messed up on a regular basis and so I wasn’t too comfortable with leaving things to him. As expected, just two minutes after he got his solo mission, he got himself into trouble.
Luckily for him, I began casting my fireball upon noticing his little bout of madness. The moment he made that inane decision to leave his back exposed, my fireball had already flown out.
I targeted the other javelineers with my gaze and with a forceful push of palms, shot out the one meter wide ball of flames. As it hurtled through the air, it reminded me of a meteor with its beautiful stream of fire trailing behind the sphere.
The giant fireball landed right in the middle of the javelineer group and exploded upon impact, killing the four javelineers in dazzling but deadly display of pyrotechnics.
The sheer force of the impact caused their bones to fly into the air before falling to the ground once more in a rain of blackened bone fragments.
Hearing the loud explosion behind him, he gave his back a quick glance and saw the raining bone fragments land right in front of his eyes. He finally understood what happened. His ugly mug scrunched up into what looked like a chrysanthemum and shouted while waving his hands at me, “Thank you Master!!! Ouch…”
This potato…couldn’t he have waited till after the battle to thank me! He’s lucky those javelins didn’t skewer him for his stupidity.
In a strange stroke of luck, those javelins ended up missing their targets because he suddenly halted his charge. Only one of the five javelins missed their intended destination and ended up scratching him on the back.
This idiot was lucky he didn’t die then…
In the meantime, the guardsmen under Nine-finger had managed to kill the remaining spearmen and had used this distraction to completely encircle the remaining javelineers. With their last round of javelins spent, they turned into long spearmen.
However, the numerical advantage was too much for them and they were swiftly hacked to pieces by the guardsmen.
And so, this battle was basically over. The undead army that attacked weren’t that big to begin with. Furthermore, the sound of battle attracted more and more hellhounds and they were soon severely outnumbered.
With the aid of these brave dogs, the shieldbearers were able to swiftly corner the melee skeletons allowing the Mo sabres to tear through the trapped undead. After approximately ten minutes, the battle ended with the skeletons being wiped out.
The casualties were quickly tallied up and the count was: 10 dead large imps. As for the hellhounds, they merely suffered minor injuries as they only joined in midway. We managed to kill a total of 82 skeletons with every one of their soul flames being significantly richer than the ones we harvested previously.
They must’ve at least been one to two-star and were probably the kind that could advance at any time.
With the battle over, Violet Snow carefully dragged the canine skull which was roughly as big as her, down the bone mountain. She brought it to me and with her tiny little paws pushed it towards me and murmured: “Help me make something.”
At that moment, I was in the midst of tallying up the loot. Vick the freeloader chose to float in at this time and attempted to freeload once more. He stretched out his incorporeal hands and attempted to grab a soul flame for himself.
Seeing this, I angrily tossed the Grimoire of the Dead at him but ended up missing. This vigilant fellow immediately noticed the book and fleeted away before it even got close to him. At least it stopped him from stealing the soul flames…
“Hey, I said, help me make something.” Having been ignored, Violet Snow unhappily repeated her words once more, impatience dripping from every word.
Having just chased away Vick, I finally noticed the little puppy standing beside my legs. Judging by her unnatural pose as she looked up at me, she probably wanted me to craft something with my dark alchemy.
[Little doggie, looks like it’s finally time for you to beg me.]
And so, I disrespectfully pointed at the skull between us with and said: “Using this thing?”
“Watch your tone!”
Out of a sudden, she leaped into the air and smacked away my finger. Startled, I immediately withdrew my hands. As I turned to look at her once more, I saw the tears rolling down her eyes as she stared back at me with a pitiful expression on her face. S***, I overdid it this time…
Despite not knowing her for long, this sudden 180 in attitude caught me off guard.
“Alright, alright, it’s my fault okay?” I bent down and with my other free hand, consoled her in the same manner as you would a small animal.
Initially, she showed signs of rejection but later on, she just stood there quietly and let me pet her head.
This was the first time I had ever touched her fur and it felt really good. It had a feel superior to the even the best silks in the world. This was especially so when I lightly brushed against it with my palm…that soft yet slightly cool feel was just so addictive.
It’s so comfortable…I might just get hooked on this, especially that faint fragrance coming off her, it’s faint but it’s still soothing to the soul.
As expected of a little princess of who only eats souls, her aura is totally different from those guys who reeked of blood.
“Are you done touching me?”
As I opened my eyes, my eyes stared directly into an impatient and extremely unhappy set of eyes. I jumped back in fright and instinctively withdrew my hands. The expression she had on right now was just so terrifying…
“…Ah, sorry about that. It just felt too good so I ended up touching your fur a few more times.”
I guess this counts as a compliment of sorts.
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.