chapter 155: for this is war

When I returned later to Cau Buhnga, I learned from Emona that the copper I took wasn’t completely without cost. Since I asked for enough to make a pair of weapons for myself, the city lord had used that as a mild bit of leverage to ask something else of Emona. While he didn’t ask for any of the items we got from the dungeon, because to do so would be completely ludicrous. Who would trade an item on the level of a national treasure for a few lumps of copper ore?

Instead, he had asked Emona to request the crew to aid with the city’s defense. Not specifically for the coming war, because he still did not know about the invasion. No, the population of Cau Buhnga had declined to the extent where monsters were becoming an issue. There weren’t enough people in the city for the wards to charge in time to deter monsters, so it was up to the city guards like the old days.

In the lord’s eyes, two hundred pinnacle class warriors were nearly the equivalent of an entire kingdom’s standing army. And given that twelve among them were druids, they likely wouldn’t lose to a real army of thousands of lower quality troops.

Only allowed on

Given my previous warning to Emona, it seemed the she readily agreed to aid in the protection of the town. At least, that’s how she explained it when she came back to my place later.

“I figure, we can show our stuff in this fight.” Emona nodded as she leaned against the wall. “Repelling an enemy force would draw us the attention of the higher ups in their kingdom. Could see ourselves using this chance to barter for land of our own, in exchange for an alliance with the kingdom.”

I shook my head slightly, setting the two swords down against the wall. At a glance, they seemed to be normal copper blades, their handles bound in leather straps. Only if someone able to use ki were to inspect them would they discover their abilities. “And what are we going to do if the western kingdom wants to ‘hire’ us, instead?”

“Aye.” Emona grinned, chuckling to herself. Her eyes practically glowed in the darkness. “We canna’ bite the hand that fed us. As long as this kingdom does no wrong by us, I’ll not be having my crew do wrong by them. And Tebor, after this fight, can I have you be taking the captains to another island for a bit?”

When I glanced at her quizzically, she simply laughed. “The Kraken not be meant to fight on land. I reckon that I’ll be needing to make a new aeon for us to hold our own. And with the lessons I learned from the big lass upstairs, I believe I be knowing just what to make next.”

My answer was just a small shrug. “There’s no harm in taking you, I guess. How long will it take to make a new aeon?”

As I asked that, Emona’s smile turned a bit more awkward. “Well… you see, about that… I’m not rightly sure. The Kraken took three days and nights, but it was the first large aeon that I made. I know what I’m doing now, even if it was just by watching her. It shouldn’t take longer than two… I hope?”

That brought a groan from me, and I shook my head. “Okay, okay. I’ll take you there and watch over you while you make your new Aeon.” And by that, I meant Tebor would take her and watch over her. I was just about done with this life, and ready to return to greener pastures, or better yet no pastures at all.

Emona nodded in satisfaction, and then glanced to the two swords. “So, what did you do with those? Don’t try to tell me that you just made a pair of normal blades. You could have just bought them if that was the case.”

I shook my head without answering, and motioned for her to try them. She looked at me curiously, before stepping over and grabbing the hilt of the extending sword. As soon as she did, she could feel the ki pathways inside of it, though likely didn’t know what they were for. “I see…” She grinned, and poured a small amount of ki into the weapon. The blade grew by a small two inches before retreating back to its normal form. “Aye, that’ll be useful. The other one the same?”

“No. The other one gets sharper. One to deal with armored enemies, and one to deal with people that won’t let me close in on them.”

Emona gave another brief nod as she heard that. “I see. Well, I best be heading back now. If what you said is true, I’ll be needing a good rest.”

After Emona left, I decided to get some rest as well, since the battle tomorrow would be my first chaotic melee. I had acted in the massacre of a swarm of halflings back during the war between them and the centaurs, but that was a far more distant struggle. Although their screams were still heart-rending, it was not as bad as I imagine a melee fight to be.

So I slept. And the next day, I stood on the walls of the city with the two swords on my back. Since most of the monsters that typically attacked the city were weaker, but large in number, it was the druids that had been tasked with defending the walls on the first day. This was perhaps a blessing to us.

When the horns of war sounded, I was casually entombing a charging boar, the loud noise catching my ear. Yes, this was a literal horn of war… but it wasn’t blown by the elves. In the distance, near the center of the city, I saw Soru standing atop one of the houses, a large horn in his hand.

Beneath him, the streets were suddenly swarming with armored soldiers, all pouring forth from a series of portals that had sprung forth through fire, fire that covered the base of the city lord’s ‘palace’. The fire became a door that allowed the invading force to appear directly in the center of the town. Not a bad idea…

After filing away that little piece of information, I drew the ‘sharp’ sword from my back and jumped down from the walls. As I fell, I could hear Leowynn’s excited voice. I manifest the Patient Monk!

Leowynn’s spiritual energy could be felt flowing along my arms, forming the familiar gauntlets on each hand. This time, the star pattern appeared to form a man sitting with his legs crossed. When I hit the ground, I used a burst of ki to propel myself forward, towards the armored troops. It was here that I learned one of the special skills of the Scout class…

Anyone who I had seen before as a friendly was mentally marked as a ‘blue’ target. However, the invading forces were instead marked as ‘red’ targets. While this would not help you root out spies, in a large scale battle like this, it helped greatly to be able to differentiate friendly units. Of course, there were bound to be guards that I simply never saw because of limited time and scheduling, but for the most part it helped me narrow down who to slice.

Especially when the first red target noticed me, and my lycan characteristics. “Monster!” He cried out in the elven tongue, pointing at me to draw the attention of his allies. They were all fairly weak, mostly less than one hundred, but there were at least a dozen of them that charged towards me with swords and spears.

“Cut them.” I muttered quietly, and I could feel ki being pushed into the blade of the sword. This was the Patient Monk, Leowynn’s ability to convert her own spiritual energy into ki. Although it was a bad conversion rate, it wasn’t nearly as bad as trying to do so normally.

From this group of twelve, I couldn’t feel any particularly powerful ki or mana, so they were likely mostly warriors. As I lifted the handle of the sword, the blade cleanly split apart one of the weapons that had been aiming towards me. However, a moment later I simply vanished, appearing behind them.

Fighting one against many is a foolish idea, even when you have an advantage in strength. So, I had begun to scatter chakra threads as soon as I began my charge, using the Thousand Arms, Ten Thousand Threads ability to appear in their blindspot after delivering my first strike. With another burst of ki, I split the bodies of two of them from behind.

Although the sword swept through them as if there were no resistance, the sight of their blood and guts spilling out as they fell to the floor was almost nauseating. Jumping backwards, I created a fireball above my head and threw it down at the remaining warriors. I had to turn my head away as they screamed in pain, none of them having a technique to quickly put out the fires.

However, that display also caught someone’s attention. I felt a presence lock onto me, and traveled along one of my threads without hesitation. At the spot where I had been standing, a spear of ice penetrated into the ground from above. Glancing around, I found a ‘red’ target on a nearby building, this one a level two hundred and fifty target.

Mage, or elementalist? The mana that I had felt was strong, but I couldn’t rule out the possibility of an advanced class. The enemy sneered at me, raising his hand and creating ten sets of spell diagrams in the air. Okay, definitely a mage!

While an elementalist could do this as well, it would be easier for them to create a powerful effect with a single spell. But a person specializing in the mage class would also unlock more powerful spells through the system, such as the ice spears that were flying right now.

Father, should I– Leowynn started to suggest something, before I once again moved into action. My mana was not particularly high right now, so I could not control my chakra threads for long. Instead, I made a pillar of earth rise beneath me, shooting me into the air above where the ten ice spears were launched.

Switching the ‘sharp’ sword to my left hand, I pulled the extendable blade out with my right. “Pierce.” I spoke as I was launched through the air, several meters above the enemy mage. Leowynn seemed to understand my intention, and poured ki into the blade. Unlike when Emona tried it, the blade of the sword grew explosively, instantly crossing the meters of distance to stab into the shoulder of the mage.

His health bar appeared above him, showing that I had taken off a solid chunk of it, and his second volley of casting was interrupted by the pain. I smiled, twisting the blade slightly to increase the pain he was experiencing while also having Leowynn return the blade to its normal size. Since it was lodged inside the body of the mage, that pulled me rapidly closer to it.

“Cut.” I called out again, just as I saw the mage’s eyes widen in horror. As soon as I descended on him, the sharp sword cleaved his body in half. His health bar didn’t decline, it simply disappeared. Without the ability to focus on a defensive spell, a mage is no harder to kill than a low level warrior.

One down. Leowynn called out, clearly much more excited about this than I was. I looked down at my two bloodstained swords, and took several deep breaths, my vision seeming to distort momentarily. However, soon I felt another presence lock onto me, and acted on reflex, stepping through another thread.

There was a low tsk from another building, just barely audible over the screams of fighting below. When I turned to look, an archer stood there, in his hands a bow as large as his body. At his side was a quiver full of large arrows, one of which had just pierced the air where I was standing. Like the mage, this was another of the ten pinnacle soldiers, this one an archer.

“The hunter…” I called out quietly, putting the swords back in their straps on my back as I kept an eye on the archer in front of me. The gauntlets immediately disappeared from my hands as the enemy pulled another arrow.

I manifest the Hunter! Leowynn called out, but this time much more reluctantly. This wasn’t a power that she liked to use very much, but it was the only one likely to reach this enemy. By now, the other eight pinnacle soldiers should be fighting against the rest of Emona’s crew, so as long as I took care of this one, it would just be a matter of sweeping the rest away.

What formed in my hands this time wasn’t a pair of gauntlets, but a longbow, as well as a single arrow. This made the archer’s eyes widen slightly, and he quickly released the arrow he had been holding. I stepped through another thread, and nocked my own arrow, firing it at the enemy archer.

Naturally, if I could dodge his arrow, he could dodge mine as well. But, that is why I chose to have Leowynn manifest the hunter, and not the archer. Although I only get one arrow with the hunter… it is a tracking arrow. Guided by Leowynn’s spiritual energy, it turned around in midair, flying towards the enemy archer from behind just as he landed back on his feet.

I winced at the loud sound of the arrow piercing flesh, and even Leowynn let out a small whimper as she felt the soul of the struck victim being drained into the arrow. It was not an instant kill, so the archer let out a roar of pain, reaching back to snap the arrow in half. However, this only made the tip of the arrowhead burrow more deeply into his skin.

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Without the ability to remove the arrowhead, his health bar constantly drained down, his screams becoming more and more painful to hear. Until finally, the last drop of his soul had been sucked into Leowynn’s arrow, and he fell to the ground dead. At that moment, Leowynn returned to my spiritual realm, and I could tell that she didn’t want to be disturbed right now.

I’ll be here when you want to talk… I sent my thoughts to her quietly, and she visibly flinched in response, as if the slightest sound was enough to startle her now. Taking a deep breath, I looked around the rest of the city. The red targets were disappearing rapidly, each one being found and taken out by either a local guard or a member of the beastkin crew. Seeing that, there was no reason for me to stay anymore, and I silently returned to the Admin Room.

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