It was the man that had almost killed Alea. The man who had left him no recourse but to either let her die or turn her into a Spirit Tool, not to mention causing the creeping death of their whole planet.
His appearance was all-too-familiar, as it was the very same one as the four ghosts he had fought back on Port Atwood. Zac had already known that the hooded beings he killed were clones or projections, as destroying the four identical copies provided no Cosmic Energy. He had also suspected him to either be the Lich King or one of his Generals, but it looked like he had his answer now.
He was accompanied by a powerful-looking female to his left, and a wretched ghost to his right. If one of the generals was occupied in the zombie horde, then these two might just be the last two generals of the Undead Incursion. The Abbot had killed two of the six when they tried to take down Mount Everlasting Peace, and Zac dealt with Mhal himself, leaving just three. A host of ghosts who hovered behind them in the air as well, perhaps there to provide the three with War Arrays.
Anger burned inside his chest, and his mind worked a mile a minute in figuring out a way to get up on that wall-walk to rip that man into pieces. However, he was surprised to sense the Demon next to him sporting a similar killing intent.
“It’s that bitch,” Ogras muttered from the side, his eyes trained at the ghastly woman standing to the side of the Lich King.
She looked almost like a pale human with long, black, flowing hair, but her hands were replaced by grisly claws with unnaturally long fingers.
“You know her too?” Kenzie asked with surprise. “She’s the one that almost killed me and Ilvere. I thought we had killed her by detonating the mecha.”
“All the more reason for me to skewer her,” the demon muttered. “That crazy banshee almost caught me inside an array when we fought last time. This time we’ll see who will be the Scuttlecreeper and who’ll be the Gwyllgi.”
A roar from behind interrupted their discussion, and Zac turned around to see that the zombies pretty much had caught up with them. There were thankfully no zombies between themselves and the wall though. Perhaps the Lich King was afraid of friendly fire.
The Undead saw zombies as something between children and potential recruits, after all. They both were and weren’t part of the Undead Empire just yet, and while they wouldn’t really mourn their true death, they also weren’t keen on killing them with their own hands.
The six Valkyries set up their war array once more, and they started a methodical slaughter of anyone that came too close under the direction of Joanna, allowing Zac and the others to focus on the castle.
“Do you people have any better ideas than charging right at them?” Zac asked.
“They are obviously prepared for a siege,” the demon said with a frown. “I can’t sense anything, but I bet this place is covered in both defensive and Offensive Arrays.”
“He’s right,” Kenzie said from the side. “The wall itself is full of array flags. Those huge towers contain offensive arrays as well.”
“We can’t dally too long,” Joanna said from the side as she looked behind then. “We will be overrun in a few minutes without assistance.”
“I can’t keep boosting you either for very long,” Emily muttered. “It drains way more energy now than it did before. Perhaps because you’re E-Grade and boost me a 100 points?”
Zac’s brows rose in confusion as he looked over. Her skill was supposed to boost his attributes by 10% after having been upgraded to High Mastery. However, a glance at his status screen confirmed that it truly only gave him 100 Strength.
Perhaps there were limits to how much the skill could provide, and 100 Points was no doubt a huge amount for most people in the F-Grade. It made sense that she couldn’t use it on a B-Grade monster and gain tens of thousands of points too, which would allow her to skip multiple grades and kill D-Grade Hegemons without much effort.
But now was not the time to experiment with the limits of Emily’s supportive capabilities.
“Let me see how the arrays look,” Zac said as he shot forward, a surge of warmth entering his back as Emily reapplied her buff.
A pillar of light rose toward the sky as a shockingly large fractal edge appeared. It glistened with sharpness as it stretched almost a hundred meters into the air, far exceeding the height of the wall. [Chop] might not be able to evolve, but just being able to cram five times more energy into the Skill Fractal before he lost control made a huge difference.
The ground cracked for dozens of meters in each direction as Zac launched himself into the sky, and the air screamed as he swung the towering fractal edge straight down toward the Lich King, seemingly intent to cut the whole fortress in two. The area heaved as a black shield materialized just before the blade would hit them, forcing Zac's edge to a stop.
The clouds of miasma churned as blade and shield met, and winds buffeted the zombies who were approaching. Zac grunted in annoyance though, as he was incapable of cutting the shield open even after having infused the skill with the Fragment of the Axe. He lost control a second later and the blade dematerialized while the barrier remained.
However, while the shield held against Zac's strike it didn't do so effortlessly. It didn't crack, but it did shudder and fluctuate a bit, and Zac noticed that a few of the core members of the Incursion took a step back or reached for their weapons upon witnessing the strike. The shield wasn't invincible after all.
It looked like the Lich King hadn't completely ruined his finances when erecting the defensive arrays around his fortress. Perhaps he had spent too much of his invasion budget on the massive fractal in the sky and thousands of Unholy Beacons. This was the only reason Zac had a chance at taking them down at all, as there were obviously way more powerful arrays than this readily available in the Undead Kingdoms.
But those were too expensive to bring, and a Kingdom would rather cut their losses than overinvest in an incursion.
“Not quite enough, Monarch-Select,” the Lich King snorted as a green fractal appeared in front of him.
He reached out a withered hand and tapped it, and a massive copy appeared above one of the Array Towers the next second. Danger screamed in Zac’s mind as the fractal started humming with power, and a torrent of what looked like radioactive toxins shot toward him while he was still mid-air.
Another fractal blade shot into the array with tremendous speed, this time forming a stab aimed right at the Lich King’s head. The Lich welcomed the strike without a care, and the shield unfortunately held against the assault once more. However, piercing the shield with a normal [Chop] had never been Zac’s intent.
He shot away from the rebound like a bullet, narrowly dodging an acid beam that would have swallowed him whole if he didn’t react in time. It was the downside of [Loamwalker]; the skill didn’t do him much good while mid-air.
However, Zac could always move around with the help of [Chop] as long as he had some fixtures to generate momentum with. He could probably even generate some push by simply swinging in the air quickly enough. He landed some distance from the wall and immediately flashed away, appearing next to his squad the next moment.
They were currently embroiled in a moving battle where they kept running back and forth while keeping a safe distance to the fortress' wall while dodging the constant blasts from the fractals in the sky.
“It’s strong,” Ogras muttered as he threw out a barrage of shadows at a clump of zombies. “But not impenetrable. What about that thing you used in Base Town?”
“It’s too soon,” Zac said with a shake of his head after sending a mental thread into his Spatial Ring. “It is still drained from the last strike. I’ll have to use [Nature’s Punishment].”
“Wait,” Kenzie said. “I still have a few ideas. We should use some treasures so you can save your strength.”
“What do you need us to do?” Zac asked, agreeing immediately.
“Can you hold their attacks off for a few seconds while stationary if we get closer?” Kenzie asked.
“Those Array Towers are pretty scary, but it shouldn’t be a problem,” Zac nodded. "Worst case I'll have to use a defensive treasure."
He was out of powerful offensive treasure from the mentalist's collection, but he still had a few defensive ones. He figured he might as well use them sooner rather than later, as they would become useless soon enough with his rapid growth in attributes.
“Good,” Kenzie said as she took out a golden eye that was a bit reminiscent of the skill that the Mentalist used to fracture his soul during the climb. “This thing should both weaken the shield and give its controller a backlash.”
“What if it fails?” Joanna asked with some worry.
“The drones are not completely restored, but they’ll be able to launch one strike,“ Kenzie slowly said before she turned to Ogras and Zac. “If that fails as well you’ll have to do the rest yourself.”
“What are you doing playing with those cursed things anyway, girl? Don’t you know you’ll draw the ire of the Heavens by getting involved with that stuff?” the demon muttered.
“It’s not like we have a lot of options right now,” Kenzie said as she put away her staff. “Oh, and this attack will cost some of the Soul Crystals.”
“That’s fine,” Zac nodded, feeling it was worth the exchange if it gave a shot at wounding the soul of the Lich King. “Ogras and I will guard Kenzie, the rest stay behind.”
The group didn’t tally any longer as they rushed toward the wall as one. A storm of attacks quickly descended from the undead elites at the wall walk, but between [Nature’s Barrier] and Ogras’ ability to slightly move the trio by holding their shoulders they reached their targeted distance without wasting too much energy.
Of course, the attacks were not the full force of the Undead Empire, as neither the Lich King nor the generals had made a move. That changed though as the Lich King swung his hand, causing a full five of the array towers to light up and form a series of different runes in the sky. Each of them contained even more power than the toxic attack from earlier, far exceeding Zac's expectations.
Zac's eyes widened as he turned to his sister who was fast at work with the golden eye.
"Ten seconds," Kenzie said as a sheen of perspiration covered her forehead, mostly from the pressure of the situation Zac guessed.
The two generals, at least Zac assumed that the unmoving ghost to the Lich King's side was general as well despite his weak energy signature, were thankfully still unmoving though. Zac still gave up any thought of defending that long with the help of [Nature's Barrier], as the arrays alone would prove too much to handle.
His defensive skill in his human class was designed to withstand many smaller hits, not to take on extremely powerful blasts like this. His Draugr side would probably be able to deal with it, but it was still too early to expose that side. He instead activated one of the rings on his finger. A golden gate appeared in front of them, each door branded with a fractal that emitted extremely dense power.
"What?!" the Lich King exclaimed, seemingly taken by surprise for the first time since they arrived.
Zac wasn't surprised, as the quality of his defensive treasures wasn't something that should exist on a newly integrated world, perhaps not in the Zecia sector at all. But it was too late to cancel the attacks as they shot toward the defensive treasure. The whole area was suffused in a storm of chaotic energies the next moment, but the divine gate held fast, protecting the trio behind it.
However, the threat wasn't over as Zac sensed something that he had been ready for the whole time. He stomped into the ground with his full force, causing a massive explosion that spread out in each direction. Rampant waves of his Dao spread through the cracks as Zac had flooded his leg with the Fragment of the Bodhi as well, and Zac felt a small of Cosmic Energy entering his body.
Kenzie hadn't been prepared for the massive shockwave, and she helplessly fell over, barely managing to hold on to the Array Breaker.
"Sorry, there are ghosts in the ground," Zac explained, and Ogras instantly disappeared.
He reappeared among Emily and the Valkyries the next moment, just in time to rip two spectral assassins to pieces with a barrage of swings. A vast sea of shadows spread out from their position the next moment, no doubt making it impossible for any more backstabs to take place. Zac had already seen this tactic being used before and he wasn't about to fall for that trick, especially not after having learned how to deal with the ghost warriors during his climb.
Kenzie shot another glare at Zac before she crammed a bunch of Soul Crystals into the eye as she realigned the pedestal that came with it. It was covered in dense inscriptions as well, and Zac felt his mind blurring a bit just from looking at them. His sister wasted no time as she adroitly activated the Array Breaker, and a gargantuan sapphire eye appeared in the sky.
The blue eye didn't launch an attack, but it rather shot straight toward the Lich King until it hit the barrier. However, no explosion wreaked havoc on the barrier. It rather looked like the eye had jumped into a pond of water as the whole barrier started to ripple like a pond as the Array Breaker entered the defensive layer itself.
It somehow seemed to have managed to brand itself on the barrier, like an enormous sticker on the shield that gazed down on the soldiers on the wall. Multiple warriors keel over from its stare and even the Lich King hunkered over from its assault.
But the shield still held true.