A massive wave of electricity slammed into Zac’s shield as he imbued himself with the Dao of Hardness. The ball had been something similar to his own [Thunder Punishment], though the energies were far more concentrated. It gave up the massive area of [Thunder Punishment] but instead gained a far greater intensity.
A scream from behind told Zac that his shield wasn't' able to properly block out the energies as it was, and he tried imbuing [Immutable Bulwark] with the Dao of Sanctuary to see if it would change anything. The shield quickly started transforming, turning into something that looked like a wall that circled his group.
The Dao imbuement apparently changed the way the shield worked, where it gave up some of its strength to instead be able to protect from all directions. Luckily the durability of the shield was still enough even though it was spread out over a wider area. The problem was that the Miasmic consumption drastically increased, though he would be able to keep it up for some time before he started to run out of energy.
But Zac didn’t want to wait for his attacker to tire himself or herself out, and he looked in all directions for the source of the attack. But it was impossible to see a thing through the storm of lightning outside the protective shield, and he could only growl in frustration. Joanna meanwhile looked ready to rip the Dragonwing manager into pieces as she threw him down on the ground and pointed her spear at him.
“What’s going on?” she spat out through grit teeth. “Who’s attacking us?”
“I swear I do not know! We have had some friction with the Union lately, perhaps it’s them?” the manager frantically said, trying to keep his head as far away from the spearhead as possible.
Soon enough the lightning storm abated, but Zac barely had time to glance around before a dozen more spheres flew toward them, releasing an inferno of flames that tried to eat through his protective layers.
Zac sighed as he realized that whoever was attacking them was unwittingly a pretty good counter to his undead class. He had activated [Deathwish] the moment he realized they were under attack, but he sensed that it hadn’t been used even once. It meant the skill didn’t work against treasures, allowing their attacker to go on as he pleased without receiving any retribution.
“Do you want me to help out?” Verana suddenly asked from behind, not sounding alarmed in the slightest even though flames raged all around them.
“No need,” Zac said after a brief pause. “Protect the others while I deal with this.”
Verana would likely not have too much trouble dealing with this attacker, but Zac wanted to gain some experience in fighting in his undead form. He had only fought dumb animals when using Undying Bulwark, most of them turned even more rabid and irrational from the Darkness in the caverns beneath the Eastern Trigram Sect. Fighting a person in disadvantageous conditions felt like a pretty good way to find the limitations and strengths of his current class.
Finally, Zac managed to spot a hooded figure in the distance, and he immediately activated [Inquisitive Eye] to get some idea about their attacker. But either the man possessed tremendous Intelligence, or more likely he owned a protective treasure because Zac could not even get the man’s name from the skill.
The limits of the ocular skill were once shining through, and Zac was starting to wonder if it was even worth that he relearned and evolved the skill for his undead form. But he was still unable to get his hands on a better option, as the only ancillary skill that the lowest floor of his Dao Repository contained was [Thousand Faces]. Hopefully, there would be some more options for supportive skills on the next floor, as those were the only skills that seemed to work for both his classes.
It looked like the man in the distance was imbuing yet another ball with Cosmic Energy, though this one shuddered with another type of energy than electricity. Zac didn’t want to give him time to lob yet another of those things at him and slammed his shield into the ground with a roar.
A huge shockwave of spikes ripped out of the ground and pushed toward the masked man with great speed, destroying anything in its path. It was the attack engraved into the shield itself, and its effect was even better than Zac had expected. The attacker looked up in alarm, but before he could move the wave of spikes was upon him.
A green shimmer appeared around the masked attacker, and the spikes immediately turned into a murky liquid formed a corrosive pool on the ground. Zac tsk’ed in annoyance and pushed forward, inwardly annoyed with the lack of movement options in his undead class.
But he was still extraordinarily fast due to his massive pool of Dexterity, and Zac was upon the man before he could finish fueling the next offensive array. But the masked attacker seemed to possess an almost endless bag of tricks, and two of his rings lit up when Zac swung his sword down with furious momentum.
The man disappeared in the blink of an eye, replaced with a large head of a humanoid skeleton that radiated extremely sinister energies. Zac’s brows rose in surprise, but before he had time to create any distance the skeleton spewed out a large gust of a grey haze, covering every inch of his body.
Zac froze for a second, but he soon realized the odd attack simply had no effect on him. He once again thanked the cheat-like constitution of a Draugr, realizing that the mist was likely some poison his undead body was immune to. He swung his huge tower shield with a grunt, creating a gust that blew the mists away, and he immediately spotted the man in the distance.
“Smaug?” Zac ventured, and the man stopped moving before once again starting to prepare for his next wave of assaults, pretty much confirming his hunch. “Why are you attacking us? Port Atwood and The Super Brother-Man has no enmity with you or your faction.”
“It does not matter,” Smaug answered with a flat voice, taking out a smaller crystal this time. “Sometimes we’re just leaves drifting in the wind.”
The crystal released a shockwave before a blue fractal appeared in the sky above him. Zac wouldn’t have been alarmed if that was all it did, but he looked on in trepidation as another fractal hundreds of meters across also appeared in the air above the lake.
Strong winds that had no place in the Underworld buffeted the whole cave as waves rose over ten meters in the air from the disturbance caused by the huge fractal. Zac was even having some trouble keeping his footing from the torrential winds, and he finally punched the shield into the ground to get a proper footing.
Zac was unsure what to do as five enormous streams rose from the lake, causing dozens of fishing vessels to capsize. The streams melded together into an enormous leviathan that reached the ceiling of the cave before falling toward him. He wasn’t sure if Verana could handle an attack of this magnitude, but she gave a signal that they were fine when he looked back at them.
The others had moved far away from the battle, and a sturdy-looking red barrier shone around them. It gave Zac some confidence as he turned back to face the incoming attack of the array. His muscles swelled to almost ridiculous proportions as he empowered his arms with [Unholy Strike].
The last moment before the humongous water creature slammed into the ground he infused his shield with the Dao of Heaviness and Swung it forward with a punching motion. Between his massive pool of Strength and the multiplicative boost of [Unholy Strike], the shield contained terrifying force and the moment it hit the water creature they both froze for a fraction of a second.
The next moment a massive shockwave exploded from the point of impact, shooting water and hurricane-like gusts across half the cave. The massive energies ripped the whole complex of Dragonwing Enterprises to pieces, and quite a few of the surrounding structures were toppled even though they were made from stone and metal.
One small relief was that he got no streams of energy from any kills, meaning that people in the vicinity had managed to evacuate in time before the battle reached a crescendo. It had been a worry in the back of his head since the battle started. He didn't want any innocent bystanders to lose their lives due to Smaug's crazed assault.
Zac’s whole body hurt from being right next to the impact, but he ignored the pain as he looked around with wild eyes. He was tired of all the nasty things Smaug seemed to have up in his sleeves, and he wanted to end this now. He quickly spotted a bedraggled Smaug currently scrambling to his feet, his clothes ripped and in disarray. He hadn’t been unscathed from the shockwave either, and blood was running down his forehead.
The true appearance of the wealthiest man of the Underworld was finally exposed, and it was not what Zac expected. He was a young man that might be from India or the Middle East, with a pair of emerald green eyes. He had olive-colored skin and short black hair, and pretty fine features. Zac would guess he was around 20 if he went by the standards of the Old world.
Smaug’s eyes widened in alarm when he noted Zac’s glare, and he quickly took out a heavily inscribed rapier as Zac barreled toward him like an angry bull. The rapier slightly reminded Zac of the terrible array that Hannah stabbed him with once upon a time, and rage flared up in his heart when remembering the betrayal.
Zac pushed his speed to his limit as he swung [Hunger] with ferocious force straight at Smaug himself. The man desperately tried to defend with his weapon, but a snap could be heard as soon as the two weapons collided. It was Smaug’s wrist not being able to withstand the power in Zac’s swings, immediately shattering from the force.
Smaug wailed in pain, but the scream was quickly cut short as Zac’s boot slammed into his chest with the force of a truck, launching him like a ragdoll into the ruins of what might once have been an office building. Zac was right behind him and before he could get up Smaug found [Hunger] against his throat, the sword actually shivering with excitement.
Zac’s boot was firmly pressed on the man’s chest, and his shield was slammed into the ground right next to Smaug's head. His eyes were red and he breathed heavily even though there was no need for it in his current body. Bloodlust had almost completely clouded his mind when he saw the rapier, but he finally managed to calm down before he killed his captive in a fit of rage.
“Why?” was all Zac said through grit teeth as he looked down at the man who had attacked them with a storm of treasures.
The man didn't answer, instead looking back and forth to the sides with some panic. Zac frowned and looked around, but they were in the middle of a pile of rubble and sight was obscured in every direction. A thought struck Zac and he took out one of the mobile array disks with his free hand and threw it down on the ground next to them. It quickly shuddered before a small shield encapsulated the two.
“This area has been obscured by an array,” Zac said with a frosty voice, his foot still on Smaug's chest. “Now tell me what the fuck is going on or I'll skewer you."
“Please, save my sister,” Smaug coughed out with a pitiful voice, his demeanor completely changed. “I was forced to attack you by those bastards of the Union. Why the hell would I want to attack monsters like you people, only to drag your boss here on the off-chance I survived?”