As Randidly grinned at his opponent, the thing grasped with its cold hands. Above him, a vicious claw condensed at such a speed that Randidly only had time to swear and throw himself backward before it crushed the spot where he was previously standing. The air shuddered and cracked with the force of the spell and the keening wail of the Witch King sent a tremor through Randidly’s crown.
It followed up with an equally quick thrust with its actual hand, and this proved much more difficult to deal with. Even as he shrugged to the side, a chunk of Randidly’s shoulder was ripped out by pearly claws. It wasn’t even the speed of the attack; what Randidly couldn’t catch was the movements of the creature underneath its diaphanous cloak
When a person attacked, that force came through the shoulders and elbow and finally the hands to thrust the weapon. With the Witch King, none of the joint movements prior to the final attack were visible. Randidly needed to react solely to the attack itself, without any forewarning.
And the Witch King was faster than he was.
To add insult to injury, just as Randidly was regaining his balance, one of the men under him rushed forward and physically body checked the Witch King. Or tried to. The Witch King slashed with its pearly claws and the shield and man behind it were split like butter. Then it raised its head and screamed.
A wave of Psychic Poison exploded outward and knocked Randidly and a few other spear-users nearby were knocked backward. With the cleared out area, more and more Wights landed and began to run forward to flank the other defenders on the wall while their compatriots continued to bombard from above.
Scanning the broken remnants of the defenders, the Witch King hummed in contentment. His gaze lingered on Randidly for a split second, but then it turned away and began to float upwards.
Even as Randidly’s body hit the ground and he felt the wooden battlements beneath him crack, he snarled and pointed. From the wooden base beneath them, dozens of spikes shot upward, impaling the newly arrived attackers. They screamed in agony, and Randidly blazed in denial with his Crown of Upheaval and Silence.
But then he faltered, as something strange began to grow in his chest. It was self-doubt and existential dread, it was the pain of constant struggle to survive in a world that didn’t care about you. It was the surety that there would always be someone stronger, someone more capable, and the people that had chosen Randidly as their defender would die disappointed.
It was, a part of him whispered, the Psychic Poison. His skin began to twitch, and then boil as the whispers grew more and more insistent. But as his body almost mechanically got Randidly back to his feet, his eyes blazed emerald.
“You will be silent,” Randidly hissed, and the voices cracked and were broken. Then burning along his skin continued, but he ignored that as he doubled down on the slaughter of the invading Wights. Barely five seconds had passed since the Witch King descended upon this portion of the defenses, but Randidly’ squad was completely scattered and isolated. A few struggled valiantly to both defend against those attacks from above and the harrying blows from the Wights that had landed on the wall. But he watched three fall as he straightened.
The vines were more than enough to break the bodies of the Wights that were pouncing downwards. Although their attacks were sharp, their bodies were brittle and broke easily. Those spear users that were still upright quickly spotted what was going on and moved to surround Randidly. But with a sharp gesture, he sent them back to man the wall.
Because 20 meters away, the Witch King removed his claw from the chest of the salt-and-pepper hair man who had brought the reinforcements and turned to glare at Randidly. There were dozens of Wights screeching and flying in between the two, but their gazes locked.
Just to see what happened, Randidly shot an Incinerating Bolt at the Witch King’s face. It waved its hand and shattered the magical bolt.
Well, it was worth a try.
Just as Randidly’s Perception was slowly starting to spread outward and account for a larger portion of the battlefield, the Witch King charged at him and once more his entire focus narrowed. This opponent was stronger than him, and not just a little. If he hadn’t had a move like Ashes to Ashes to avoid that first blow…
This time, the Witch King flicked its claw and Randidly felt the space around him condense and then wrench him. There was a force there, and once more Randidly found himself thrown backward with nothing he could do. One of his ribs popped painfully and the force of the strange Skill threw him off of the edge of the battlements.
As he was falling towards the city below, Randidly winced. Although it was relatively weak compared to the Witch King’s other physical attacks… how the fuck was a Skill like that fair? Hopefully, it had a high Mana cost, because Randidly wasn’t sure he could dodge it and it had instantly taken out 1/10th of his Health.
Using Phantom Half Step on a Wight high in the air, Randidly rapidly landed back on top of the wall and saw the Witch King use its claw to catch Azriel’s needle-like spear. This seemed to be incredibly shocking to her because she didn’t have any follow up as she stared at the thing.
As it made to step forward and rip her in half, Randidly used Plant Dominance to wrap up its legs and slow its step. It was enough, but barely. The attack ripped her from shoulder to opposite hip. With his Perception tied to plants, Randidly could feel every drop of blood that exploded outward and soaked into the wooden battlements.
After firing off a half dozen Incinerating Bolts to eliminate the Wights that dropped from the sky to capitalize on Azriel’s weakness, Randidly turned and slashed with Acri to meet the Witch King’s blow. At the last second, he used Idiosyncratic Cut to strike a sliver of time before the Witch King’s attack hit him. The blow staggered the opponent, but Randidly didn’t dare trade honestly.
His body dissolved into ash and formed back up 5 meters away, only to be hit by a rapid flick of the Witch King’s claws. This time, his popping rib broke truly, and the sharp pain in his side made him gasp.
The thing was moving to follow up with the attack when it made a strange ticking noise and turned to once more catch Azriel’s spear as it raced towards the back of its head. Blood spurted outwards as her body was jolted to a stop so abruptly. But this time, Azriel twisted her spear to loosen the grip and then spun it expertly out of the Witch King’s grasp. Her second thrust caught the thing in its chest.
Above them, the sky darkened and a golden hand appeared. It hovered above them and its fingers flexed. The Witch King ignored it and reached towards Azriel with the strange, snake-like abruptness it possessed.
A voice overhead rumbled over them. “Your life… is mine.”
At first, Randidly believed the Witch King to be speaking. But there was a split second where the Witch King paused after the voice boomed outward that convinced Randidly that this wasn’t the case. The speaker… was someone else.
But as the floating hand shot downward towards the Witch King, Randidly eyes witnessed one unavoidable conclusion: the Witch King was a bit faster than the golden hand. It would kill Azriel before the blow from above landed. It might even have enough time to dodge.
Still… it might not. So Randidly seemed to be frozen as the two attacks rushed closer towards their target. His Crown burned with a blacklight glow.
This strike could kill the Witch King. The battle would be won and a great blow would be struck against the Wight armies.
...the people who have chosen me as their defender would be disappointed…
But honestly, how much did Randidly care about this war? What he cared about was that Azriel had attacked the Witch King and distracted it twice while it was moving to attack Randidly. That was something he would not soon forget.
Exhaling slowly, Randidly planted his feet and examined the Witch King as closely as he could. The strange cloak kept most of the body parts hidden, but Randidly could see its face and hands…
“The Spear Advances, Ash Trails.” He said softly. His body blurred as he shot forward as if shot out of a cannon. He raised his spear and narrowed his eyes as space was rapidly devoured between himself and the Witch King.