“Scouting is so boring,” Leviathan complained, lazily doing cartwheels. Drake said nothing, categorically ignoring the boy while on assigned missions. It made sense to pair them, because Drake would accomplish all the normal objectives, while Leviathan would be able to detect any abnormal changes in the situation with his enhanced senses, but it was still a rather droll experience.
They were walking quietly through a copse of trees, or at least Drake was, while the boy acted like an olympic gymnast, in what would likely be another typical patrol. They only had to do this every two days, but still, Leviathan wouldn’t let it go.
“It’s just unnecessary,” He continued to mutter, even as Drake coolly dispatched a small monster wreathed in darkness. Drake would say this, of the opposing Champion; at least the creatures that she had caused to increase spawning weren’t the stuff of nightmares. It really would be rather hack to spend the rest of his time in the System killing ghouls and liches.
The patrols were important now, especially, since their team had joined up with the 2nd Legion of Bone and hit the Wild Rider’s forces, taking heavy losses, but managing to subdue and take the Wild Rider, as well as her Regalia. It was a shame, but there was no sign of Traefalgr, who was really the dangerous one of the two of them.
If that thing had time to grow… even the Skeleton Knight himself was wary of the beast. But as their host slowly moved Southeast… there was nothing. A strange quiet, which had the hairs on the back of Drake’s neck standing up.
Donnyton’s forces were what concerned him most. In terms of strategic influence, there wasn’t any single individual that could rival a disciplined group. If those forces ambushed them and recovered the Wild Rider… Drake grimaced. Sydney would be very annoyed.
When Leviathan looked up, his eyes wide, Drake almost felt a relief.
“We have to get back,” The boy sputtered. “The base-”
And so they began to race back, covering the distance at a full sprint, Leviathan slowly creating distance between the two of them. It was only after around 10 minutes of this, as Drake was nearing the limit of his Stamina, that he became aware of the noises. A low rumbling, a crash, then silence.
Then more rumbles.
After another 3 minutes, they reached the edge of their picket lines, where the 2nd Legion of Bone was stationed. The land was eerily still, but what they found there stopped Drake dead.
As Leviathan tore farther forward, moving out of sight, Drake looked slowly around. Absolutely covering the ground was a thick layer of bones, crushed and shattered. It looked like the enemy, whatever it was, simply walked up to the front lines and bulldozed their way through, while they were swarmed with skeletons.
Whatever it was, it was massively powerful.
When Drake finally proceeded deeper, he very quickly reached areas with scorch marks, and football field sized areas where there were thousands of roots sticking up from the ground, thorny and powerful, surrounded by the powdered remains of skeletons. It was an absolute slaughter.
Leviathan’s roar sounded out, snapping Drake back to the present. Had to focus on goals. He moved forward quickly, crossing the strange battle grounds to find Leviathan transforming into a strange, scaled monstrosity, rushing up the hill to the back of an individual with black hair to his shoulders, who was facing off with Iznock.
The man turned and looked over his shoulder, his eyes flashing emerald. Drake stilled. This fucker again.
Instead of moving, the man just turned back to Iznock and flicked his hand, a spear made of roots rising from the earth to his grasp, while a strange, shadowy monstrosity rose above him, glowering down at Leviathan.
Strangely, the monster reminded Drake of a monster from a game his son had loved, before the System. A giant wurm golem, made of stone, its wide open mouth lined with teeth. But upon closer inspection, it appeared to be made of bone.
Snarling, Leviathan refused to shift his path, building up momentum while he charged towards the monster. The monster just grinned, then moved so fast that it blurred, smashing like a comet down towards the approaching figure.
Swearing quietly, Drake began to sprint once more. Copper appeared next to Leviathan, gesturing wildly, curses shooting towards the monster. But although they landed, the approach of the monster didn’t slow at all. After all, at this point, it simply needed to rely on its momentum to turn them into powder and mush.
At the last moment, Leviathan screamed, not a scream of rage or hatred, as he usually did, but one of pain, and his body morphed further, growing even more monstrous. A tail appeared from his butt, and small wings emerged on his back even as he grew to the size of a small house, his eyes incoherent, more animal instinct than human.
Coppernicus began to backup, continuing to throw curses and hexes, and the two giant monsters met.
The world was briefly a rumbling numbness, as most of Drake’s senses failed, and he tumbled to the ground. It took him several seconds to reorient himself, finding all of his limbs in order and staggering to his feet.
Leviathan was on the ground, flailing, hissing in rage and pain, his right shoulder ripped to shreds, being chewed on by the monster, which seemed completely able to hold him down. Coppernicus must have righted himself almost instantly, because he was once more throwing hexes, but the monster’s tail came from nowhere as a blurr, lashing out at the skeleton mage, who barely managed to throw up a Mana Shield in time.
Even still, the shield shattered, and Copper was thrown across the battleground, rolling down the hill.
Feeling profoundly overmatched, Drake drew his sword and began to walk closer. Even if there was no hope… he was a soldier, and he had his orders.
“Where is she?” Randidly was almost surprised how delicate his voice sounded, as he faced off with a familiar skeleton with a flaming skull.
“You think I would just tell you that?” The skeleton asked, its jaw clenched together. It appeared it had witnessed Randidly and Neveah’s approach through its forces, and knew how it would end. Good. Hopefully that would make this whole process easier.
“If you don’t I will end you.” Randidly stated, eyeing the creature as he produced a root spear. Casually, Randidly glanced behind him at some people who were trying to interfere, but as an extension of his will, Neveah, baleful and hungry, rose to meet them, stopping them dead.
He turned back to the skeleton.
“An eternally bound existence is intolerable without honor,” The skeleton stated seriously, some of its fear and intimidation falling away. It took a moment for Randidly to understand this, but then he realized that the skeleton never viewed him as the threat, but Neveah.
Perhaps an obvious one, but still a mistake.
Randidly stepped forward, instantly activating Spear Phantom’s Embrace. It had been quite some time since he had really let loose with his spear skills, and it felt good, to lose himself in the feeling of the physical fighting. It was a rarely experienced treat, and Randidly intended to savor it today.
Instantly, the skeleton produced a large bone mace from the ground somehow, and moved to meet Randidly, with large swings. Comically large swings, and way too slow to have enough force to slow Randidly down.
After deflecting a swing, Randidly moved closer, but was forced to stop, as the skeleton used the deflection to increase his speed, whipping his mace around with even more force. Randidly only chuckled, and deflected, again and again and again and again. Now the skeleton was practically a cyclone, whipping around, leaving large troughs in the earth where his mace smashed.
But it was a retreating cyclone, as Randidly continued to casually advance, deflecting the increasingly powerful blows and moving forward. True, these were probably past the point where Randidly could afford to block, but if they were going to be this rough, there was no need to block them. He only had to move through them.
It seemed the skeleton sensed this, because his blows got more frantic, but also more unpredictable and sharper. Annoying, but it wouldn’t be enough.
This time, when the mace whistled towards Randidly’s face he did not dodge. He felt that force, and he followed it, allowing it to spin him around, throwing him forward.
Instantly, he had to activate Haste, Empower, and Mana Strengthening, to withstand the physical strain on his body, but he appeared behind the skeleton’s back, with the other still twisting around in the other direction, unsure of what had just happened.
Almost casually, Randidly reached out and grabbed his spine. Then he crushed it to dust.