Annie blinked her eyes prettily, pretending to just wake up as Dozer leaned forward, holding his forehead. Although Dozer had started to fall asleep quite earlier the pervious night, mostly due to Annie’s… intimate ministrations, he still found getting up so early for the beast horde to be difficult.
But still he stood, strapping on his leather and furs, lowering his necklace of teeth over his head.
This is how Annie liked her men. Big, brooding, and direct. She admitted to herself this made them quite a bit easier to control, but, that wasn’t the reason she liked men with those certain traits…
Although it was a nice side effect...
Yawning for effect, she allowed part of the blanket to slide off, her left nipple poking out from behind the blanket. She liked the way his eyes followed it for several seconds, before grunting and turning away, scratching his groin and reaching for the huge club he had found within the dungeon.
Not that she would have let him take her, right before he needed to fight against the horde. But she liked to make him want it.
“Stay here.” He intoned seriously, giving her a look over his shoulder as he left. “Wait for me.”
Annie nodded, her eyes bright.
As soon as he left, she snorted, kicking off the blankets and finding some of the spandex she had scrounged up since the system came. Not that furs weren’t great for the whole tribal vibe, but she felt next to naked without her leggings.
Tying her hair up in a practical ponytail, Annie walked out of the hut and around to the small space in the walls, where she had stored her bow. She didn’t like to brag, but she was probably, obviously, the best archer in the village right now. Sometimes other people got lucky and hit the target, but she could loose an arrow and hit a target at…
She scratched her head, then shrugged. Basically further than anyone else.
She had even started getting skills for it. Archery Mastery, Hawkeye, Snipe, Power Shot…
For now though, she hurried out and towards the wall; she had somewhere to be. As if she would just stay in and let her Dozer handle a problem himself.
And after several awkward bouts of flirting with Daniel, he had finally succumbed and allowed her to be up on the new ramparts, shooting arrows. She was the best archer, after all. They just both mutually agreed not to tell Dozer. He was surprisingly sensitive about some things.
Annie arrived at the area near the gate, where groups of Classers stood, faces grim.
Sam was shouting around, passing out new shields that he had managed to make from the giant bug the Ghosthound had brought back. It was honestly kinda cute, the way so many crowded around and jostled to get a piece of dead bug skin.
Largely ignored in the milling crowd of warriors, Annie gathered some arrows from Sam’s people and then climbed up the side of the ramparts by the gate, lifting herself up onto the vantage point. To her surprise, there was already someone up there.
It was the older magician lady who had gone into the Dungeon with Dozer and his men. Annie smiled sweetly at her, but said nothing. Clarissa just nodded at her, then turned back to look out over the valley. In the NCC village below, the fires and lights were being snuffed out, one by one, so as not to attract the monster’s attention.
“Alright! First Squad to the front. Second Squad ready to switch.” Donny shoulded, sporting a new, shiny black bug shield and a mean looking iron sword that he probably got from the new weapon shop. Then he turned to the milling group behind those first 10 squads. “The rest of you, listen to Daniel. He will set you up in squads. We will do one full rotation with the regulars, then work in the fresh meat every other squad, alright?”
Daniel nodded, and Donny turned back to the front squads grinning. Most people had to stand on tiptoes, straining to see his gangly teenage form. But then he lifted the huge shield almost 3/4th of the size of a door like it was nothing, revealing his power.
“So now…” He drawled slowly, walking to the front. “You regulars. The final count is 260 classers here. Honestly… we might have bad news for the fresh blood. Who knows if there is even going to be any monsters left by the time we get through a full rotation, right boys?”
They all howled and hooted, men and women, young and old, pounding their chests. Even Dozer, his adorable smile stretching wide as he pounded the ground with his club.
Annie shook her head slightly. If he had enough ambition, Dozer could be double the leader that the little dweeb Donny was. But honestly, he was happy now, so it was fine. And if they ever wanted to take out Donny…
Narrowing her eyes, Annie could just make out a figure strolling up from the NCC village, his spear spinning, as relaxed and casual as can be. The Ghosthound. To her surprise, he kept to the shadows, walking calmly up. If someone didn’t have a vision skill like Annie had…
Then she blinked, shocked. Suddenly there was another person with him, a lithe girl, her blonde hair pulled up into a bun. The Ghosthound gave her a look, but just turned back.
The two were quick too. Within 10 seconds, they had crossed the distance from the village to the wall, and scaled it silently, hopping up onto the area further down the ramparts from where Annie and Clarissa stood. Calmly, the Ghosthound walked over, his eyes flicking past Annie and Clarissa and scanning the waiting classers.
As they walked closer, the noise attracted Clarissa’s attention, and she turned and hopped slightly, shocked by the two individual’s sudden appearance.
“Ah- oh, it’s you. You… You’re the Ghosthound, right?” Clarissa said nervously, fear and wonder and excitement warring across her face. “I’m uh, Clarissa. The Weather Witch.”
She extended her hand, but the blonde girl stepped in front of the Ghosthound, taking it for him.
“Can’t you see he’s in prime brooding mode? Let’s wait until he acknowledges us before we get too friendly, shall we?.” The girl said brightly, flashing a cheeky smile.
This was the first time Annie had seen the Ghosthound up close. He was tall, but not too much so. He obviously was athletic, but was not overly muscular.. But there was… something. She could feel it. Maybe it was the way his eyes swept over her, registering her and then dismissing her instantly. Maybe it was the unnatural stillness about him, like he was asleep or dead, until he moved with an unnatural speed.
Maybe it was the piercing green of his eyes. Like they could rip through your soul and rifle through your thoughts at will. When the Ghosthound finally turned away from her, Annie released a breath she hadn’t realized she had been holding. The blonde girl gave her a knowing smile.
“All I’m saying is, if you are going to ask me for mana potions all night, just take them now.” The Ghosthound said, his voice amused, looking at the blonde girl.
She shook her head vehemently. “But where would be the fun in that? Imagine how epic a moment it would be, for you to pass me the mana potion right when I need it, and then I cast the best spell ever and save the world. Try and think a little bit about someone other than yourself, Doggy.”
“Besides,” The blonde girl added, her smile turning wicked. “I obviously have mana potions of my own. I’m not an idiot. I’m just giving you the chance to feel involved in my life. Aren’t I generous?”
This time, Annie was the one to flash the blonde girl a knowing smile, and for a second their eyes met.
This girl talked a big game, and played the part of arrogant princess pretty well, but Annie could tell rather easily how much she wanted the Ghosthound’s attention. No matter how skilled an actor or whatever she was, she was still young.
Scratching his head, The Ghosthound nodded to Clarissa, to acknowledge that he heard her, but then stepped forward, to the edge of the ramparts.
“Donny, Daniel. Dozer.” It was in his voice too, a low baritone that resonated in your chest. The crowd fell silent, looking up at the figure who appeared above them, holding a plain looking spear and looking down towards them with serious eyes.
The three men walked forward, frowning.
“Randidly,” Daniel said. “Are you fighting…?”
“Just as artillery,” The Ghosthound replied with a smirk. Annie blinked. It was the first time that she had heard his real name. She should have known Ghosthound was fake but…
It just fit him.
“No, but there’s something else. The enemy is bringing air support… I suspect we won’t be able to keep them outside the wall as much as we have previously. Handle it.”
Daniel’s eyes went wide, his panic clear, but the Ghosthound had already turned away, and Donny and Dozer were both nodding, their eyes firm.
What Annie didn’t expect was that Randidly would immediately turn and look her straight in the eyes. “You are an archer?”
A little nervous, Annie nodded. “I… don’t have a class, but…”
He just shrugged, his emerald gaze turning back towards the darkness. “That’s fine. But when I point it out, I’d like you to make the shots. Prepare your bow.”
He glanced at her, and then added. “They are coming.”
Sure enough, when Annie looked out, a veritable sea of monsters were rushing forward. And above them, smaller, swooping forms could be seen, and larger, colossal shadows.
“Those…” Annie muttered.
“Looks like giant condors, right? They are pretty tough too. Doggy’s Mana Bolts don’t take them down in one shot, and those things have some juice.” The blonde girl said enthusiastically.
The Ghosthound was already looking at Clarissa. “Use your mana sparingly on the ground, the warriors below can handle it. Take out the air support. If you need more mana, let me know.”
And then the Ghosthound pointed, a bright flash of fire shooting forward to the approaching mob. When it hit the monster’s line, it exploded outwards in a blast of flame, knocking everything in a 3 meter area, the monsters in the epicenter burnt to a crisp.
It really looked like artillery had struck.
Then he pointed again, and again, and again, and the front line charging towards them was ragged and scattered. Donny sighed theatrically. “Welp, let’s pack up boys, looks like this is going to be an easy one.”
There were a few chuckles, and the tension was largely out of the first few squads, but they weren’t relaxed. They were stretching muscles and tightening shield straps, squeezing the shafts of their axes and adjusting their fur and snakeskin armor. These were the men that had survived at least two nights.
Although they hadn’t been at this for long, they knew their business. If they didn’t, they would be dead already.
The front runners of the monsters had slowed, scared, but the second wave surged forward, running past, screaming their fury. Again and again the Ghosthound pointed, his finger the harbinger of death.
But there was a 3rd wave of monsters, and a 4th, and 5th, and the Ghosthound drank a mana potion and broke them all.
10 more surged forward. Grim eyed, he reached up and cracked his neck. Above, a bird screeched, and a strange winged creature with a woman’s head and torso dove towards them, talons flashing.
“Oh doggy,” The blonde girl interrupted, batting her eyelashes. “How about you let me go first?”
A strange, glowing hawk condensed on the girl’s outstretched arm, and threw itself up, wings beating. Then it streaked upwards, meeting the harpy creature midair. The screeching was abruptly cut off, and the harpy fell down in two pieces. The hawk swooped around, ripping through some of the approaching harpies, but there were dozens.
The Ghosthound rolled his eyes, looking surprisingly human as he grinned at the blonde girl. “If that’s all, Clarissa-”
“Would it be that uncomfortable to give a compliment every once and awhile? The stoic type is cool and attractive, but a lot of people are drawn to the gap, too.” The blonde girl muttered. But then she stamped her foot and waved her arms, and suddenly a crow, a hummingbird, a goldfinch, and an eagle sprung into existence, all made of that strange glowing energy, and flew up, joining the hawk.
Each of them seemed to be more weapon than natural creature, ripping holes through the harpies just by flying into them. Harpy bodies fell like rain. The bird bodies sizzled and flickered, but they silently screamed their fury and slaughtered their way through the harpies.
But as soon as they appeared, they faded, the blonde girl collapsing in a sweating heap.
“I suppose that’s my cue,” Clarissa said, stepping forward and summoning icicles, which she began to throw, expertly spearing a flying harpy.
“You too,” The Ghosthound rumbled, and Annie started. Her…?
He wanted her to hit wildly flying birds….?
At night…? While they swooped down and tried to kill her?!?
Admittedly, the Ghosthound shot any down that came too near, all the while throwing fireballs at the ground army, leaving wide gaps in the flood of monsters.
Gritting her teeth, Annie knocked an arrow and raised her bow, taking aim. But as she tried to track the Harpies, her vision just blurred, their movements too confusing.
So she just closed her eyes and loosed, hoping for the best.
She was rewarded with a screech. She opened her eyes, shocked to find an arrow through the eye of a harpy, the body crumpling and falling to the ground. She gained a level in Archery Mastery.
Feeling giddy, she quickly knocked another arrow and shot it. That one ripped the throat out of one harpy and ricocheted away, taking another in the chest.
She gained another level in Archery Mastery.
The Ghosthound gave her a long look.
But then he was turning away, glaring towards the sky. “Still too far away…” He muttered.
“Aegis!” The call came, a golden light suffusing the first squad as they ripped easily through the first wave of enemies, and then the second. But as more came, they came more thickly, Wolverines and Lizards and Imps.
At this point, the people in the first squad were all above level 10, and could take several of each enemy on at once. But if there were 100?
They weapons slashed forward in short, brutal strikes. Admittedly they were still pretty clumsy, but they were getting the hang of roman legion style fighting.
Annie killed another harpy and shook her head sadly. That was another reason why her Dozer wasn’t in charge; his fighting style didn’t match the strategy.
“Finally,” the Ghosthound said, looking up towards the sky. “ Here they come.”