Although it looked flashy, Randidly regretted using most of his Mana pool and all of the Mana from the few energy storage rings he had been able to make in the past several days. Honestly, he hadn’t given much thought to the aftermath, but without access to the Golden Roots of Yggdrasil and Meditate, his Mana Regeneration was half of what it usually was.
230 an hour was probably an amount that would make other people horrified, but to Randidly, it simply wasn’t enough. Inwardly, he made a mental note to work on freeing up a skill that cost less from the influence of the Aether Shards. Still, he had enough Mana potions to push him back to fighting strength. But he would not be doing that display again in the near future.
Thea was still giving him a strange look, which made him slightly uncomfortable. Randidly knew that it would perhaps be better to keep a low profile, avoiding the notice of the Creature for now, but it seemed Donnyton was busy dealing with their own skeleton problem. Hopefully this town was beyond its range…
But that wasn’t a real hope. Honestly, Randidly just didn’t know enough about how the Creature was acting, and what it wanted. But it hadn’t sought him out yet, and in such a state, there wasn’t much else he could do…
No, right now Randidly’s primary concern would be healing himself, and Simon’s potion was critical for that. Randidly didn’t want to be cruel, but the faster Simon grew and leveled, the more quickly he would have Mana to make more of his fluid. Also, the more valuable Randidly was to the village, and to Simon, the more likely he would receive the materials he needed to grind the healing out quickly.
So for now…
Randidly grinned. Plus this was going to be fun as fuck. He hadn’t done anything like this since Franksburg was dealing with the monster horde.
Without saying anything to the two individuals next to him, Randidly stepped forward, hopping down off the hill, sliding his way down towards the sea of skeletons. The leaders of the pack were still staggering, avoiding the flames the Hammers of the Dawn had left, but they looked up when Randidly arrived before them, their jaws clacking.
Randidly flexed his fingers, careful with what he did, trying to keep the physicality of the movements to a minimum, while relying solely on Fighting Proficiency. In spite of his efforts, the small bits of Aether lodged in his passive skills began to ache.
His hands blurred, striking out left and right, and then Randidly stepped forward, moving very quickly into the middle of another group. His hands were like iron claws, smashing the skeletons to pieces. They were almost comically slow and clumsy compared to him, and Randidly wasn’t even using his spear; he was simply relying on his superior stats and the bonuses from Fighting Proficiency.
Thea was yelling his name, and then frantically calling out orders, but Randidly just grinned. It didn’t matter if they kept shooting spells, they wouldn’t really be able to hurt them. But while his newfound silence was a heavy burden in some ways, that Randidly wanted to stay within the comfortable ambiguity, for now. Better to just remain silent and let things work themselves out.
With a slight grin, Randidly pushed deeper.
Simon was breathing heavily, carefully aiming his Bubbles and Water Jet, then using Water Manipulation to slow down skeletons and push them into damage.
Experience poured in, already raising him to Level 6, his distributable stats piling up as he didn’t dare take his attention away from the battles going on in front of him. There was just too much, going on too fast.
“Goddamnit,” Thea growled next to him. “Where the fuck is that idiot going? What if he took an arrow to the back of the head? He isn’t invulnerable…”
She turned to him then. “Is he…?”
Both looked at each other for a minute. It become abruptly apparent to Simon that Thea was much, much younger than he had initially assumed, probably for the same reason that he had at first thought she was stocky. The armor on her body was thick, worked leather, padded with what appeared to be bear fur. It gave her a burly look, but the closer you were, the less scary that was, and the more it seemed like a 6 year old wearing a coat far too puffy for their body.
Simon shook his head, focusing his attention back on his Water Manipulation. Better to stay focused. And the incredible thing was his Skill Levels were shooting up like mad. He must have gained 5 levels in the past few minutes of frantic fighting. At this rate-
Thea took his head shake as answer to her question, and sighed. “Well… I guess he will be fine. He’s deep enough now we don’t even see him… Archers! Fire at will once more!”
David’s actions were still noticeable, as the skeletons that arrived at the base of the hill were in pairs or threes, disrupted from the rest of their troop, some of them sporting missing limbs that had been smashed aside as David charged forward.
The hill defenders had done well enough thus far to keep the numbers low, but more and more were making it through, as the ones from the flanks, which David hadn’t thinned out, arrived at the front, filling in for the destroyed skeletons.
Firing frantically, the archers continued to whittle them away to almost nothing, but more and more skeletons were coming, staggering up the hill. Their strange bodies enabled them to ignore the steepness, and begin climbing directly up, without using the staircase.
The steepness then became a problem for the defenders because, pressed to the hill as they were while climbing, the target they had to attack was much smaller.
Still, there seemed to be several archers among the people of Star Crossing that were accurate enough to keep the danger to a minimum.
His chest heaving, Simon fell back on his ass. His hands were numb, his legs were trembling, his vision was blurring. He cursed himself. He had used up almost all of his Mana without even noticing. Water Manipulation became more difficult the farther away you were, leading to a rapid drain while he used it in the fight. But still…
Simon closed his eyes. Maybe he could be useful in other ways…?
Astral Projection didn’t seem to require Mana or Stamina, but just his focus and will. With his body weakened already, there really was no point to stay here and worry. Besides, he would be protected by Thea and Chrysanthemum.
It was a strange feeling, separating his consciousness from his body, but it was… freeing. Although, it did have the unfortunate side effect of forcing Simon to look at himself, but…
Quickly turning away from the sight of his own eyes rolling up into the back of his head, Simon floated forward, slowly at first, but gaining speed as his will spread outwards. There was a limit to his range, Simon knew, based on that strange feeling in the back of his head. A growing weakness that would, at some point, cut him off.
But Simon was too afraid to test the limit. After all, it was one thing if stretching that far snapped him back to his body. But if the weakness meant that the connection just was severed, and he was just a spirit, while his body wasted away…
Putting that out of his mind, Simon rushed forward. It was pretty easy to follow David’s trail. There were dozens of shattered skeletons. And then hundreds.
Honestly, Simon wasn’t sure which was more intimidating, that there were this many skeletons, or that fully ¼ of the thousands strong army appeared to have been culled by David as he passed through.
The speed was pretty scary too, but even the fastest sprinter couldn’t rival a spirit, and Simon could begin to see the signs of fighting ahead. As it seemed he still had a lot of soul tether remaining, Simon continued on.
And stopped dead, likely for the same reason that David was, hesitating slightly when faced with what he found. At the back of a large group, there was a skeleton that was clearly controlling the others, a creepy looking thing with long arms and legs, and yellow eyes. That head of its pulsed with strange power, waves spreading out from it and dissipating in the air in a strange way.
As Simon watched, the long arm thing stretched to its full height, of about 4 meters, and pointed towards David. The ground around him wriggled, and skeletons began to climb up, skeletons with weapons and darker bones than Simon had seen in the past.
Yet still David hesitated, because standing between him and the skeleton were people. People holding up pikes, warding him off, seemingly just as surprised as he was that they encountered each other. Beyond those guards were several carriages, and a larger group of people, who appeared to be non combat related, all staring at the new arrival.
David said something quietly, and Simon had to strain to catch it.
“I have to kill that.”
The man at the lead of the group of 10 guards gave his fellows a glance, then shook his head sadly. “Let it go kid, the Skeleton Knight is gonna win this war. This is just one Reanimator of many. Just pledge to-”
But David was done listening, and moved, his body blurring, reaching an even higher level of speed, slipping through the pikes, around the long shafts, knocking two guards aside, and charging forward.
It was so fast that no one could even react. This was just…
A different level.
The head guard swore. “Fucking Christ, another monster. Vandal! Slow him down.”
A slim boy, no older than Simon himself, stepped forward out from behind the Reanimator skeleton. He had pale, straw colored hair, and tiny, beady eyes. But what really drew the eyes was his mouth, which seemed to stretch far, far longer than a mouth had a right to. The ends of that mouth curled up.
As David continued to rush forward, the boy removed something from his belt and popped it into his mouth.