Drake relished the chance to fight with his Bone Armor active. The preparation time was debilitative, but while he was within the exoskeleton of bone, he felt invincible, smashing and cutting his way through the Raid Bosses with relative ease.
Relative, because he had seen how Alana and the Ghosthound moved through the monsters, and they truly did part their enemies with ease. It wasn’t even fair. It seemed as though they were playing another game entirely, their physicality and spear Skills rendering their opponents fatally wounded before Drake would have even recognized what monster he was supposed to fight next.
Which, Drake supposed, was why he was merely guarding one of the larger entrances to the village, standing tall in his bone armor, swinging a huge sword of bone to decapitate a two-headed centipede. Then he decapitated the other head because the body continued to squirm in a threatening way.
That bought Drake precisely enough time to reach up and do his best to rub away sweat from his brow, but of course, both his head and arms were covered in bone armor. So it basically did nothing. Then a strange cougar with violet fur attacked him, trying to push past the door that Drake guarded, and he was forced to get back to work.
After deciding to defend, the Ghosthound had surrounded the entire village in a huge Wall of Thorns. Then he created a second wall immediately behind the first. Then he had used roots and vines to bind those two walls together and gave them a stable core to lean against, so they could withstand impacts from the monsters. However, it wasn’t a complete wall, and there were three holes in it, that monsters could use to get into the town.
Really, the wall behind them wasn’t so important, as long as it slowed any sneaky monsters down. They didn’t really have any particular point that they needed to hold, just needed to protect Aratta, who apparently caused storms…
Drake looked up at the sky and frowned. Then he finished cutting off the leg of a monster and moved to the side so Ptolemy could smash it with an Arcane Orb. They were in charge of the leftmost entrance, which was one of the two smaller ones. But the two smaller entrances were just basically a distraction, the main entrance was about 10x the size of the side ones, allowing as many monsters as they wanted to charge forward.
Which, of course, meant that the Ghosthound, Alana, Clarissa, Ace, and Lucifer were there, welcoming all comers. Yea, it made sense why monsters would come over to Drake, even if it was a bit out of the way…
Inwardly, Drake couldn’t help but admire how much he had grown in the two weeks they had been inside of the Raid Dungeon. It had made him grow at an absolutely monstrous rate. The combination of vicious monsters and spars with highly skilled individuals made it seem trivial to improve at a rapid pace. He supposed he could understand why so many people chose to go to Donnyton if this level of competition was available there.
A raptor made of bone screeched at him, bringing Drake back to the present. He saluted this fellow bone creature in a show of respect, but it used that time to dash towards him. Sneering, he swung his huge sword, activating his Dreadful Strike. Shattering its body. The direct confrontation monsters were the easiest. If they didn’t bother to dodge, Drake could crush them.
It was strange to realize, when considering how powerful each of them was, but aside from Lucifer, Drake abruptly found himself as the one with the highest striking power. Thea was strong too, but she relied on aggressiveness and savagery to smash an opponent, not raw Strength.
Well, the Ghosthound finally trumped him too, but he didn’t really count on the same scale…
Another monster came, and then another, then another.
After the 20th, Ptolemy switched in for Drake, giving him a breather.
After 5 monsters, Ptolemy needed to switch out, looking ragged. There was a moment that Drake almost was amused by how hapless the man was, but then he realized that Drake himself had been like that, if not even more so, when they entered the Raid Dungeon. And Drake had the nerve to call himself a close combat specialist.
This was their healer, who also just happened to have high enough physical Stats to kill 5 Raid Bosses in a row…. It was honestly… intimidating.
With repaired armor, Drake stepped forward, and continued to fight, falling into a sort of rhythm. However…
The rhythm didn’t end. The only difference was what monster he was fighting, and what noises there was from the central area. Sometimes there were screams from monsters, sometimes there were bolts of lightning, sometimes there was the sound of roaring flames, devouring the screams…
But the monsters didn’t end. They continued to come. So much so, that by the time dawn arrived, almost 10 hours later, with Drake still unable to wipe the sweat from his forehead, he put something in chat.
Um, guys… Drake said. Is there no end…?
No, there isn’t. But would running help? Annie’s reply came.
Drake grimaced, feeling very much the burn of fighting at his tip top condition for 10 hours. The System was amazing, but even it could only do so much to cover up exhaustion. Their bodies recovered quickly with their boosted Vitality, but there still needed to be some downtime, where they weren’t struggling, so that could happen. They couldn’t just recover mid fight.
Well, The Ghosthound might be able to, but…
We should disengage, open up some distance. They aren’t as fast as us. Ace added.
You don’t understand, the Ghosthound said. If we leave, that Judgement descends. They are a bitch to deal with. And it scales in strength based on the strength of your Level, and the Level of people helping you. The only reason I defeated one before is because I was Level 0 at the time.
Then we should leave now, before you get to Level 10. Better intervene before you Level up anymore. Ace retorted.
There was a pause, in which Drake got into a wrestling match with a giant ape, before grabbing one of the decapitated heads of the centipede he had killed earlier in the night, stabbing it into the ape’s neck. The creature screamed and flailed, but ultimately bled out with relieving quickness, giving way to a bellowing alligator.
That… actually makes a lot of sense. The Ghosthound admitted. Alright fine. Everyone, we’re are gonna fall back and burn everything to the ground behind us. Rose?
On it. Flanks, pull in. Randidly, get up to full Mana as quickly as possible. Clarissa, chug Mana potions. Let’s salt the fucking earth. Rose’s orders came, and Drake could just picture the woman’s sharp little smile.
He didn’t trust her at all. It didn’t help that she basically ran all of the Refuge, but she was entirely too self-satisfied in her position. But she knew her business well enough, he supposed…
Drake’s expression brightened. Perhaps they didn’t think of this…?
Has anyone talked with Aratta? We will have to take her away with us, right? Drake said in chat.
Again, there were several moments of silence. During that time, Ptolemy had to intervene, finishing off the alligator, because Drake was running severely low on Stamina, barely able to continue fighting. Gasping, but inwardly pleased for pointing something out that no one else had thought about, Drake dismissed the bone exoskeleton.
Most of it was almost too damaged to continue, anyway, which was why he was expending Stamina so fast. The damage to the joints made it take extra effort to move. And now that he was free, Drake relished the feel of wiping away his sweat. Truly, there was nothing better than the simple pleasures of-
Thanks for volunteering. The Ghosthound said.
Drake blinked. Then he realized what that actually meant.