Somnus walked down the open terrain as the report of guns echoed from behind him. The Deathbringers knew not to shoot anywhere close to Somnus—if anything, that was probably the only thing of value they learned. After all, against an enemy who faced magic in combat every day, guns were not as scary. Explosions, loud sounds, projectiles, these were all things soldiers and adventurers faced on a daily basis. Perhaps the only advantage guns had in this world was the range, the ease of use and the bodycount.
Indeed, in the beginning, the enemy archers held their lines, morale soaring high and determination rock solid. But even that crumbled when they realized that their enemy does not have to get any closer to effortlessly mow them down. If they continued standing there, they would all die. Behind them stood ranks of front-line infantry, and in front stood the ranks of avatars of mayhem.
It was an easy choice for the archers.
Panic and chaos ensued in the enemy lines when the archers literally climbed over the front-line infantry in an attempt to get away from the reach of the rifles. It was of no help. No matter where they ran, bullets whizzed over their heads or went through the chainmail and plate armor of those that stood next to them.
To them, it felt like there was nowhere to go—nowhere to hide from that sound. The sound that so mechanical and metallic, and yet still an explosion. That deep tone with high overtones. The echo as the sound bounced off the mountains and hit their eardrums, like the heartbeat of a dying man.
The enemy commander perhaps thought that he could help if he sent the front-line infantry forward, towards Somnus. Surely, he must’ve thought, tower shields would help.
But they didn’t. The infantry advanced, but men fell one after another, shields riddled full of bullet holes. Still, the infantry marched to meet their maker, fearless and devoted to the honor of their guild. Somnus could respect that decision. He thought it was stupid, but still, he respected it. Somnus, however, was a creature that did not know mercy. Respect was not a currency someone could use to buy mercy from Somnus.
When it looked like the battle was going to end in a clear defeat for the Sylv’alf, a translucent, cyan dome came into existence in front of the advanced infantry. Bullets struck that barrier and harmlessly bounced off after sending a ripple through the magical shield.
Somnus stopped advancing, a mere one hundred meters away from the infantry. Of course, that was the other problem with rifles. Against magic that nullifies physical attacks, there really was not much the Deathbringers could do. Perhaps if they could use the AP setting, it might have a considerable effect, but they couldn’t. Not yet.
After a few bursts, the Deathbringers realized this too and they stopped firing, taking this opportunity to advance forwards. Somnus taught them to always advance in a wedge formation, but he thought that in this situation staying as a line would be fine. Well, he thought they should retreat, not advance, but there was no time for that now. What is done is done.
In the first place, he never expected that he would actually fight the enemy in the open like this. It was the best possible scenario for his Deathbringers. He knew the Ord Pass was open fields, but he didn’t think it would be this open.
“Photon. Baryon.” Somnus glanced behind him and indeed, the two mechanical spiders were right behind him. They always followed Somnus. They never spoke or gave any indication that they could understand what was being said. Yet, uncannily, they obeyed every order to the letter. That was the true bearing of a warrior. Of a machine even.
The two mechanized monsters launched themselves forwards, their limbs beginning to glow with a pale blue light as their mana reactors channeled the mana into their battle arrays. They crossed the hundred or so remaining meters in a few seconds. Despite their sleek but metallic form, they were extremely nimble. They possessed quite a few of Somnus’s skills, and as Abhorrent Weapons they had skills of their own.
Baryon leapt at the barrier and slashed at it with its front leg. The moment the scythe-like leg touched the barrier, it carved it open like a tin can. Photon attacked it next, throwing its entire body against the barrier, and crashing through with a sound that was like that of glass breaking. Glittering motes of crystallizing mana fell from the pieces of the destroyed patch of barrier.
[Threat level updated. Designation Baryon. Threat level: 7]
[Threat level updated. Designation Photon. Threat level: 7]
In Somnus’s world, a threat level that high belonged to space-faring Destroyers and Cruisers. Having a system well-adjusted to the potential power of magic was a good thing. Aeon did not waste time in this world. Still, it felt strange to be half-machine and half-human. How did that even work? Somnus could not get his head around the concept. It was as if his machine body, Aeon, was in another dimension, while his fleshy body was in this one. What he would give to switch those two.
As Photon landed in the ranks of the enemy infantry, chaos once more broke loose and severed limbs and broken bodies flew into the air.
Somnus noticed a section of enemy mages launching a spell at Photon and their own, friendly, infantry. Magical circles appeared in the air and a barrier deployed around the place where Photon should be. It was hard to see Photon in that sea of infantry, as the spider was surrounded on all sides.
A massive fireball bombardment was launched from the ranks of the mages and they all struck the barrier that Photon deployed, unable to penetrate past it.
Another magical circle appeared in the air, and then was joined by another one. This was another one of Photon’s spells. It was a wide-area bombardment type spell. The moment the magical circles Realized, they unleashed a sea of fire on the enemy troops. This was not ordinary fire. It was green and it stuck to a person when it touched them. It would burn until there was nothing left to burn.
Sylv’alf screamed the same way humans scream when they’re immolated. There really was no difference between elves and humans when it came right down to it. Carbon will always be carbon.
In the meantime, Baryon had also penetrated the barrier and its target was the enemy mages that maintained the barrier. It quickly entered their ranks, and with glowing, scythe-like legs cut them to shreds.
It took all of thirty seconds to dismantle the barrier, and a large chunk of the enemy’s vanguard.
At this point, Somnus turned back and looked for Duke Peron. He found him. He was standing in front of a few hundred men who seemed to be completely shrouded by floating particles of ash. The last time Somnus saw them, there were only a few ash particles.
Somnus stared at Peron until Peron seemed to understand the message. The Commander pointed at the enemy and barked out his orders. The Ashborn moved.
They dashed forward at full sprint, bounding steps covering dozens of meters. They seemed to devour the distance with ease, aided by the physical-power enhancing skills of their Herald grandmaster. Somnus was not sure what those skills were, but they didn’t seem to possess any actual movement-related skills, like Somnus’s [Gale Steps]. But then again, maybe they simply didn’t show them off yet.
They passed Somnus in short order and flung themselves at the enemy lines. The vanguard was broken by the mecha spiders, but that was not the entire might of the enemy. They had fifteen thousand soldiers after all. Somnus had not even put a dent into their army yet.