Chapter 61: The Hunter becomes the Prey
Mel's group is not suited for fighting Paladins directly.
Most of his group is made up of Skeleton Marksmen. Whose specialty is to hit and run.
Their only viable course of action is to escape.
Paladin: "As I've said earlier, where are you going, monsters?"
We froze for a few seconds. The menacing figure of the Paladins surprised us.
We did not expect to appear from behind us.
I threw smoke grenades on the ground. Our dwarven smiths made them for these kinds of situations.
Paladin: "(Cough) Find them! Don't let anyone escape!"
We ran in different directions to maximize our chances of survival.
Paladin: "Spread out! Surround the area, and don't let a single undead through!"
They're going to surround us at this rate.
Mag: "There's no other choice."
Mag stopped in his tracks.
He always had a plan in mind, but this time. I was worried.
Mag: "I'll hold them off with a Fantastic! display of magic."
Mel: "You, idiot! You wouldn't last a minute against them.
Mag: "Even if its a few seconds is lovely! You'll be able to witness my magnificent form as I make one last stand for our comrades."
As the smoke dissipates, we got spotted.
Paladin: "Hey! They're here!"
Six paladins were now running to us.
Mel: "Let's move now! They'll surround us if you don't move right now!"
Mag: "I'm sorry, Mel. You won't have a fantastic mage by your side when you get home."
This situation doesn't feel right! It's just stupid.
Mel: "To hell with it! I'll stand with you. I hope that at least one of us escapes."
We have vital information in regards to the enemy army's numbers and army composition.
This information would prove useful to the plans of Lord Idmon, and his orders were for us to go back together.
This stupid last stand will ruin his plan, but I can't leave Mag alone.
Mag: "Magnificent! Wonderful!"
Mel: "I never wanted to run anyway. It just that I didn't want to disobey Lord Idmon's orders.
His face almost looked like he was mocking me, then I remembered that skeletons couldn't make expressions.
Mag: "I know that, and that's what I like about you. However, you could have escaped if you wanted."
Mel: "Shut up, idiot. They're here."
Six paladins are in front of us, ready for battle.
Paladin: "You, idiot! You think your comrades have a chance of escaping?"
Mel: "I came here for a fight, not a discussion. You better give me a proper one!"
I initiated the battle by charging at them.
Paladin: "Form up!"
Just as they were getting closer to form up, Mag released an area of effect spell to counter them.
Paladin 1: "AHHHHH!"
Paladin 2: "Fuc-!"
Paladin 3: "What the- bzzt. Hell!"
While they were still hurting and disoriented, I crashed into their formation and knocked them all down.
I planted my sword into one of the knocked down Paladins, and smashed the head of another with my shield.
Paladin 3: "You'll pay for that!"
They already got back their composure, and all four of them are going for me now.
Mag: "Not so fast, boys."
Two of them dodged the spell.
Even though the other two got hit, it did not impale them.
Their Paladin equipment must have elemental resistances. The lightning spell from Mag earlier would turn regular soldiers into ashes.
Paladin 3: "Take this!"
Paladin 4: "Die!"
I smashed my tower shield into the ground. It produced a negative energy shockwave.
Once again, their armor protected them, but they got pushed back.
I used that time to cut off the head of the other paladin while Mag took out the other one using a lightning spell.
Now the last two would be the ones who got knocked down by the Ice Spikes.
Paladin 5: "Shit, we need more reinforcements."
Paladin 6: "These guys must be their squad leader. The warrior skeleton looks like a Dread Knight."
Mel: "It's a Dread Knight Captain. And I'm sorry you won't be seeing your reinforcements yet."
Paladin 5: "Hmmph! Don't underestimate us!"
A blast of holy energies assaulted me, but the good thing is we already made countermeasures.
Mel: "You see, my enchanted armor has Holy element resistance."
Paladin 5: "I don't care! In the name of the light, perish!"
The two of them made a desperate charge towards me.
Mag knocked them up in the air with his ice pillars, and I cut them in half.
We were about to arrive, but we didn't realize they got us surrounded.
Paladin Lord Harb: "Don't think you'll be able to escape now that I am here.
A paladin lord equipped with fist weapons and shield spoke up. Around 20 paladins are with him, encircling us.
Mel: "Where's your army going?"
I noticed that his army was still marching while all of this is happening.
Paladin Lord Harb: "I won't need the entire army to stop a group of weaklings. Your aim of disrupting our operation has failed. They will make a fort deep inside the region, and that will be our main base."
Mel: "You're a fool if you think that our Lord Idmon will let you do that without any resistance."
Mag: "A fool an and ugly bastard too."
Paladin Lord Harb: "Hahaha! Do you think we see you guys as a threat? You are but bugs to us. I take precautions not because I believe you can fight back, but because I want to minimize losses."
He readies his fists.
Paladin Lord Harb: "Time's up. The army needs my leadership, so I'll finish this quickly."
Mel: "I dare you. Do it."
The Un Deth relief force made up of volunteer adventurers and soldiers has almost arrived on the borders.
They are resting in a camp waiting for orders from Lord Mel. He is the one in charge of the squad harassing the enemy.
Skeleton Champion: "Alright, guys, prepare yourselves. Once we get a report from Lord Mel's group, we will move ou-"
Few Skeleton Marksmen appeared at the camp running at full speed.
Skeleton Marksman: "They found us! Hurry, we saw Lord Mel and Lord Mag fighting off the Paladins. Also, please someone deliver this message to Lord Idmon as soon as possible."
It handed a scroll to a Skeleton Scout, whose job is to deliver messages.
Skeleton Marksman: "I'll lead you guys; let's go!"
Skeleton Captain: "Alright! Move out!"
Our group of around two hundred followed the Skeleton Marksman.
If Lord Mel and Mag are fighting Paladins on their own, then we need to rescue them as soon as possible.
I've only heard of these "Paladins." However, Lord Idmon emphasized on one of his speeches that they are our greatest enemies.
We cannot underestimate them.
Beko: "You all right, Tob?"
Tob: "I'm fine. Just a little worried."
We stayed close to each other since we don't have a specific squad.
Claire: "Don't worry! We'll take them out and be doing our quest in no time!"
Still, it was Claire with her carefree smile. I don't hate her attitude, but sometimes I worry that she'll be surprised how harsh the world can be.
Although I only learned about it from my mom, so I still think she was right, and we cannot afford to be happy and easygoing at all times.
Skeleton Marksman: "We're near. There they are."
We can see them fighting from our position.
Around 20 or 30, Paladins surrounded Mel and Mag.
Skeleton Marksman: "Attack them from behind; we'll cover you."
They commanded the ranged soldiers from our force and will be providing cover fire.
Skeleton Captain: "Attack."
Silently, we charged out to attack the Paladins.
Paladin 1: "What the?"
Paladin 2: "Some undead are coming from the woods!"
The surprise attack killed five paladins with our charge and the covering fire from the Skeleton Marksmen.
This attack broke the encirclement of Lord Mel and Lord Mag.
Skeleton Captain: "Let's go!"
Beko: "Let's give them a beating!"
Ten Paladins went to oppose us, but we were overwhelming them.
We can do it!
However, I only thought that for a moment.
Twenty more Paladins appeared from the sky. They were landing with alongside their holy beams.
It killed a lot of our undead comrades.
Tob: "Damn it; they're too strong."
We were now with Lord Mel and Lord Mag; however, our group was once more, surrounded.
We hoped that we could rescue them, but instead, we got trapped with them.
Mel: "Don't falter men! Let's kick their asses and get back home safely."
Paladin Lord Harb: "Big words, now die!"
<Fist of the Burning Sun>
The Paladin Lord that was fighting Lord Mel earlier flew high above us and sent a flame shockwave with his fist to attack us.
It was so large and powerful; it would burn us into ashes. Fire is the 2nd most harmful element to the undead, the first being the Holy element.
Lord Mag made dome out of ice to receive the shockwave, and it saved us.
I think we just made their jobs harder. We can't do anything against that monster of a Paladin.
Mel: "Don't worry about him! We'll handle the big boss, so take care of the other Paladins."
Skeleton Champion: "Got it! Men focus on attacking the Paladins!"
We followed our leader and went to work.
Still, will we be able to survive this fight?
Idmon's main army numbering around 12,000, along with 2,000 dwarven allies, are on their way to the borders.
They have just left Un Deth and are marching now.
A Skeleton Scout arrives and tells Lord Idmon about the urgent news of what happened to Mel's group.
Skeleton Scout: "Lord Mel's group was detected, and they are now locked in a fierce battle with the Paladins."
Idmon: "(t) I see."
This is bad. Mel is the strongest among them, and even he can only take on a Paladin Captain in a one on one fight.
From the reports that we have, it seems that they are fighting Paladin Lord Harb. The Knuckles and Shield Paladin Lord.
They don't stand a chance.
Idmon: "(t) We'll move out! Faster, men!"
This is not enough; we need to get there faster.
Idmon: "(t) Bon, do you have any way to get us to the borders faster?"
Bon: "No, Milord. I can teleport some soldiers, but not all of them. A small elite group, perhaps?
My army won't be there, but I think it's enough.
Idmon: "(t) Send us there. Souta's group, you, Lina, and me."
Bon: "Got it. It'll take some time; I'll have to use searching spells first to find the location of Mel.
Idmon: "(t) Alright. Please hurry."
I ordered the army to regroup at the fort near the borders. They would likely build a fort to be their main base and rallying point.
If they aim to exterminate us, then that would be their first action.
They don't know how long it would take after all.
The Searcher: "Wouldn't it be best if we scout the area first before teleporting?"
Idmon: "(t) Bon can do that with magic, but I can't risk taking too long to help them. The Paladins are strong. You know that."
The Searcher: "You have to trust them. We might be teleporting into an ambush, and if we don't scout ahead, it would be disastrous.
Idmon: "(t) Hmm... Alright."
It's a hard decision. Mel, Mag, and Ran are powerful generals of mine.
They've been with me since the beginning. I can't just remake then if Mel's group is gone.
Souta and his group are waiting together with me.
Souta: "Lord Idmon, don't worry. I know Mel and the others are reliable, they won't lose so easily. Also, and a relief force went ahead of use to help them."
Idmon: "(t) Got it. I'll wait."
They're too much.
They reduced our numbers from 200 to just 40.
We've only taken out ten paladins, but 20 more came to help them.
Both Lord Mel and Mag are too busy fighting the Paladin Lord to help us.
Beko took a hit from a Paladin, and his arm broke off.
Claire spell pushed back the Paladin, and Beko followed it up by smashing the Paladin hit his other arm.
It sent the Paladin flying.
Tob: "Take care. Don't let you guard down!"
Beko: "Sorry, let's go!"
A few more minutes and only 20 of us were left.
I could see from afar that Lord Mag has already fallen to the ground while Lord Mel was protecting him.
They brought the Paladin Lord far from us, but if they get beaten, he can go here quickly and finish us off.
Dark Lord. I need your help now.
Dark Lord: "It's been a long time."
<Fists of the Dark Lord>.
Tob: "Don't worry, I got this. Arghhhhh!"
I thought I can handle it now, but the force was overwhelming.
It covered my fists weapons with black flames, and I have the <Dark Lord's Cloak>
A protective cloak made up of the Dark Lord's energies.
Tob: "Hahh. Hahh."
A few more seconds... There. I stabilized the energies.
Tob: "Let's go!"
The Paladin in front of me now was the one who injured Beko earlier.
Paladin: "Don't get cocky! I'll take you do- Ooooghhhhh!"
I punched him in the stomach, and he collapsed. The part of his armor where I hit was nothing but a gaping hole now.
My fist burns through armor, body, and soul.
Tob: "I'll kill you all."
Three, four, five.
The surviving members of the relief force and my group was standing back now.
My attacks were so powerful that if they came close, they might get crushed.
It was going well until-
Paladin Lord Harb: "You sneaky little shit, I thought those guys are the strongest here, but it was you all along."
The Paladin Lord came. I looked at the place where Lord Mel was supposed to be fighting them.
He was there lying on the ground with a broken jaw.
Tob: "You-! I'll make you pay for that!"
Paladin Lord Harb: "Upstart!"
I dashed towards him to attack, but before I could get to him, he was already behind me and smashed my face into the ground.
The Dark Lord's Cloak must have cushioned the fall since I was still conscious.
That hit was so powerful I thought it would flatten my skull.
Paladin Lord Harb: "Still alive? Now take this!"
He was about to smash my head to the ground again, but I won't let him.
I tried to punch him with my empowered fists, but I was shocked.
Paladin Lord Harb: "Your energy is great, but that you don't know how to handle it."
He blocked my punch with his shield. Then he kicked me away so far I thought I would end up in another region.
Tob: "What the hell is this?"
Hah. This guy is too much.
Paladin Lord Harb: "Where are your friends?"
He seems to be annoyed now. What do you mean, where are my friends?
I looked around then I saw no one? What the-
Paladin Lord Harb: "What kind of trick are you playing?"
He punched me again. Then an uppercut, and then another kick.
I'm running out of energy now. The Dark Lord's power is the only thing the keeps me going.
Dark Lord: (t) Fight back, kid! Don't waste your powers!
I used a skill that I read in a manual. I trained so much at home to perfect this skill.
It covers the vision of the enemy with an illusion of darkness while I combo him with non-stop blows.
Paladin Lord Harb: "Hmmph. Petty trick."
Just when I thought he couldn't see me anymore, I started my combo, but he was able to block it all.
Paladin Lord Harb: "I have an amulet that grants me protection from these illusions. It's over now."
He just picked me up by grabbing my skull. He's trying to crush it with sheer gripping power.
Tob: "Ahhhhhhh! No!"
I could hear my skull cracking from the pressure.
This can't be the end! No!
???: "(t) Hey, can you please put my soldier down?"
Paladin Lord Harb: "Who is it now?"
???: "(t) It's your death, delivered with malicious intent."
Hah. I'm losing it again. My spirit is trying to drift away. I used too much negative energy.
Who is that person? Could it be!?
I was about to see the face of my savior, but then someone took me away from the battlefield.