The two-star spirit guarded the flag as if it were guarding a precious treasure. It was a large bird that resembled a vulture. It had an ugly appearance accompanied by the hollow eyes that every spirit had. From time to time, it would warily gaze at its surroundings, seemingly waiting for something.
The environment was filled with jagged rocks jutting out from the ground. There were old decrepit pillars standing here and there as if this had once been an ancient building that the sands of time had weathered away. The vulture had decided to take an optimal vantage point, high atop the highest pillar it could find. The flag was planted within an old stone platform behind it.
Below was a group of wolf-like spirits. They had long, pointy teeth that glinted as they painted beneath the sun with sharp claws extended, ready to attack anything that moved. The wolves stared at their surroundings with wary eyes, occasionally growling as if to ward off an unseen enemy.
A few hundred meters away, Darius and Lara hid in the bushes. The swamp’s damp soil made it unpleasant for Lara to kneel, but beggars couldn’t be choosers. She could only make do with what she had. Darius and her lay prone on the ground, taking stock of their opponents.
“That’s a graveyard vulture. It is slow among two-star spirits of the first step, but it has an unusually acute sense of smell and an odd desire for rotting flesh. It has a large wingspan and incredible strength for its size. It always travels alone and likes to reside in places where many deaths have occurred. It has near infinite patience and only goes in for the kill when it is confident that it will succeed with a few swift, strategic strikes. It is a bit cowardly compared to most spirits, but it never strays too far away from its target, simply waiting for its prey to let its guard down. Its weakness is its incredibly slow speed. It is unnaturally slow for a flying spirit, but it is steady and patient, so a battle of attrition is not a good idea while its sense of smell once locked onto a target prevents prey from merely running away and hiding successfully.
The creatures below are Lesser Direwolves. They are like normal wolves with strengthened perceptions and power. They are pack creatures with an odd quirk: once any of their pack is killed, the others will attack the perpetrator without a single concern for their lives. Their sense of smell is impressive, but their agility is what one truly has to look out for. Their incredible attack speed makes it easier for their claws and fangs to attack at surprising angles.”
Lara paused to catch her breath, grimacing as she tried to remember the rest of her information on them. “They are well suited to group battles, often acting in concert with one other. Among the entire pack of wolves is an alpha who directs the movements of the other wolves. The best way to deal with them is to take care of the Alpha first, making their movements as a whole uncoordinated.”
Lara calmly explained the traits of the spirits in front of them. It went without saying that they would be attacked the moment they were exposed. These were, after all, spirits. Darius thought for a moment and commented, “One is a strength-based spirit that has incredible stamina and flight capabilities. The mob below is a group of coordinated agility-based spirits. This will be tricky.”
A strength-based powerhouse and a group of agility-based spirits complemented each other perfectly. Nevertheless, Darius was most wary of the wolves. Granted that the vulture was without a doubt very powerful, it was by itself. Due to its slow speed, it was not impossible to evade it. However, since it was slow, its strength would probably more than make up for it, so a head-on confrontation was completely out of the question. Darius thought harder on his plan of attack now that he had received these clues.
Darius frowned. “There is no doubt that the wolves will move in a way that will allow the slower vulture to attack from a better position. Without coming up with a plan to account for this problem, it’ll be impossible to get to the flag.”
Lara added, “Also, it’s impossible to identify the alpha without forcing the pack to enter battle, adding to the risk. I can face three or four at most. You might be able to handle three or four times that, but there are at least fifty here. The vulture is also a master opportunist, not to mention that it’s a variant, and, thus, has an ability or skill we are not aware of. This does not bode well for us.”
Lara was depressed by what she saw. The test seemed more and more impossible as time passed. She was starting to think about giving up when Darius spoke up.
“I know who the alpha is.”
“Excuse me?” Lara gasped in disbelief at Darius’s revelation.
“One of the wolves is giving off a much more dangerous vibe than the others. It’s clear that it’s the alpha.”
Seeing that Lara was still confused, Darius decided to explain.
“My senses improve under the effects of Indomitable, especially my ability to sense danger. It’s like a sixth sense. The more dangerous a creature is, the easier it is for me to detect it. It’s how I was able to sense the worm even though it was underground. I have no idea how to better explain it, but that’s how it is. Point is, I know which one is the alpha. It’s without a doubt the one giving off a different vibe from the rest.”
Lara could not help but be impressed. She had no idea that Indomitable had such a useful application.
‘This could explain quite a few things.’
It was rumored that Lady Farah had never been successfully ambushed even once during her whole life. Many assumed that it was due to a separate ability altogether, but Lara was now starting to think otherwise.
“Lara, do you trust me?” asked Darius while Lara was still deep in thought. This question gave her an uneasy feeling, but now was not the moment to hesitate. She quickly nodded her head.
“Good, I have a plan. Here’s what we’re going to do.”