“This isn’t a great idea,” Rose said, for the 7th time.
Ace just sighed, shaking his finger at her. “What do you know? Let me ask you, what’s the most important thing about a battle?”
“Strategy,” Rose said, her voice low and strained, almost pleading.
“Power,” Lucifer said, looking up from his three swords. Since they had taken a break, Lucifer had rummaged through some of the rubble until he found an absolutely enormous slab of red iron, and had pounded it into something resembling a sword. Which, Randidly reflected, seemed good enough for him. But did he really need a third sword?
“Preparation,” Thea said, piping up. Alana looked at Thea and nodded approvingly, which caused the younger woman to blush.
Randidly continued mixing potions, his eyes carefully on the mixtures. Although they had prepared a lot, he would prefer not to burn through all of their supply of Mana Potions before they even began the assault. Although it had taken about a half hour, it would more than be made up for their preparation later, in the face of a possibly extended battle.
Ace threw his hands to the sky. “No! The most important thing in any confrontation, individual or group, is momentum! Therefore, you want to be in control of the momentum at all times. Which is why, the most important step, is-”
“Alright, I’m finished,” Randidly said, standing and rubbing his hands on his pants. He flashed a smile at Ace. Although their relationship had changed so much, and they were so far from where they had begun, he couldn’t deny that it was good to work together, like this, to be on the same page. “Let’s show these fools how to make an entrance.”
Ace beamed at him.
Most of the detailed calculations had been figured out by Lucretia, who was much better than him at these things, but the idea was pretty simple. It’s execution was just a little difficult, due to Mana concerns.
Closing his eyes, Randidly felt outward, familiarizing himself with the feel of the land underneath them. Now that he focused, he could feel, dozens of meters deep, where the ground ended, leading to the huge cave that the Creature had apparently dug up and hidden underneath the Cathedral. He wondered whether every Cathedral connected to this thing. It would explain why the monster hordes could spring up from nowhere, and why the Cathedrals were made on such a grand scale.
Upon investigation, it had become clear that the rubble was from a series of pulleys and infrastructure that had allowed things to be transported up and down into the underground world. Of course, the Creature wasn’t kind enough to leave that sort of thing up for convenient use.
Not that most of them needed it. Perhaps that was why Rose was in such a panic, Randidly thought, reflecting. She was the one who likely couldn’t really survive a fall from this height…
Which made him stop and ponder whether any of them could really survive a fall from this high. He almost wanted to test it out… but they already had very sturdy rides arranged, so no need to tempt fate.
Randidly gave the signal, and Death Cultists began spiraling down into the hole, gliding out of their way. A few would stay to fly the rest of them down, but first, the common soldiers would go and open up a path, if necessary.
As they were moving quickly through their lines, Randidly began making the final adjustments. Then, when he felt that most of the Death Cultists had moved out of the way and began flying down, he began.
First, he started with two, both with the Cathedral at the far edges of the area of effect. He grimaced; casting two Earthquakes at once was not only a huge drain on his Mana, but it also took a strange amount of concentration, to localize the tectonic damage in the right areas.
Which didn’t even make sense, they knew this was the roof of the cave below them they were standing on, so Earthquake couldn’t be moving tectonic plates. But that also made sense in a way, because that amount of power was far beyond what they were capable of, or should be capable of.
After downing two Mana Potions, and checking to make sure the ground underneath them was rumbling, Randidly reached out again. And, turning 90 degrees from the initial spots, he made two more, in front and behind, forming a square of Earthquakes, with them in the center.
The effect now was much more apparent, with the ground seeming to buzz, long and thin cracks forming around them.
“Fuck this, fly me down,” Rose said, crossing herself. Her Death Cultist obliged, leaning forward and speeding down past some of the slower bats, disappearing quickly beyond the scope of their vision.
As if on cue, most of the rest of the group went, led by Alana. Of them all, the only two that remained were, of course, Ace, but to Randidly’s surprise, Ptolemy also stayed with them, peering down into the hole below them, but in no hurry to jump down into it. As Randidly watched the other man, the shakes got so bad that a large chunk at the edge of the hole cracked and slid down, falling into the abyss.
Ptolemy looked up at him and seemed to instantly understand the question. He half shrugged in answer and then said. “I know it’s… hasty, what we are doing, and destructive, but… it seems like…. it’s kinda fun? Like we get to play in a sandbox, crushing tiny castles.”
“Kukuku,” Ace fake chuckled, beaming at Ptolemy. “You truly are a secret villain. The type who everyone thinks is a friend, but then pulls a great betrayal at the end! Not my particular taste, but I respect-”
Randidly closed his eyes and reached again, continuing to down Mana potions. Only after he had filled his Mana to maximum was he even close, and even then, he was short by a bit. By now, the first round of Earthquakes was reaching its pitch, and the Cathedral was beginning to fall to pieces around them, plaster and brick tumbling down.
In quick succession, Randidly shifted 45 degrees more, casting two Earthquakes, drank 3 Mana Potions, and then twisted another 90 to loose 2 more.
All in all, there were now 8 Earthquakes going, rearing up to full gear, the ground beneath them shattering and crumbling away. In spite of himself, Randidly smiled and beckoned his Grey Death Cultist, even while he drank more Mana Potions. It was likely best that they not be here when everything began to boil over.
He hopped lightly, even before the Death Cultist had grabbed him, and the creature had to scramble to catch up, looping its claws around his shoulders. Cackling madly, Ace followed, with Ptolemy bringing up the rear, peering up and around, trying to get the best view of the collapsing Cathedral.
Randidly could still sense that above, those huge pillars toppled and smashed into the ground, causing the thin cracks to grow even longer and wider. More and more ground at the edge of the hole cracked off and fell. As they descended, their Death Cultists were forced to weave their way through the debris, into the strange world below.
When they popped out of the tunnel down there, into the area below, Randidly grimaced. There was a great crystal to their left, in the roof of the cavern that burned like a sun, and cast warm light on the underground area. Randidly could also see a half dozen more, spaced out in the distance.
Because around, there were huge stone pillars that blocked his vision in some places, but otherwise it literally seemed like the entire dungeon had another world beneath it, controlled by the Creature.
His grin stretching wider and wider, Randidly turned to the nearest sun crystal and was delighted to see that it was within the zone of his Earthquakes. Above, the vibrations cracked the dense ground, and there was finally some serious damage done. But then the vibrations began to ebb, and although the ground below had slid down a few inches in some places, it wasn’t the big effect Randidly was going.
So, before the Earthquakes had run their course, Randidly reached up and found all the roots in a certain area, between the entrance hole and the sun crystal. Within a split second, he expanded them to 10 times their normal size, whipped them around, and then let them wither to nothing.
“Uh oh,” Ace said, looking upwards.
A relatively small piece of ground in the grand scheme of things, around the size of a small building, fell above them, from the spot where Randidly had expanded the roots. Very quickly, the Earthquake’s continued vibration caused cracks to spin outward. In a flash, the nearby area around that circle disintegrated, and several car-sized pieces of rock began to fall.
It only took a second, but a huge, gaping crack formed between Randidly’s small hole and the entrance hole, as the two weaknesses compounded upon each other. There was a shuddering moment of stillness then, but Randidly felt what was coming, and he smiled, looking upwards, even as the Earthquakes began to taper off.
Due to the collapsing pillars, the cathedral had lost its structural integrity and tipped over sideways. In one huge piece, the side of the roof slid down, a veritable landslide of tile and brick crashing onto the ground, with enough force to break the fragile equilibrium. The ground around the entrance hole exploded downwards, all of that weight forcing itself through. And as that section fell, more and more cascaded downwards in a huge cloud of debris and dust.