Beneath the Dragoneye Moons

by

Selkie

Chapter 146.7 – Major Interlude – Iona – The 300.

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The sun rose on thirty left. Barely a speedbump at this point. Goblins swarming around them, after better, easier, more plentiful prey.

Sorok had died, brought low by powerful skills and rocks slick with blood, crushing a number beneath him as he fell. The drums, silenced at last.

The Valkyries drums. The goblins had their own sick beat, their own tempo they moved to.

“Where. Are. They!?” Alruna yelled at Sigrun.

“Why the fuck do you think I know?!” Sigrun yelled back. “They should’ve been here yesterday!”

Iona had kept a small spark of hope alive. It died at that.

The rider had seen them. Had signaled to them.

The sun was setting on thirteen of them left. No reinforcements had come yet.

Companions included.

The Swift was no longer around, her and her griffin brought low by a trap. It had required goblins to sacrifice themselves, but when had they not?

The Voracious had died, goblins willing to die to land a blow. Her build didn’t matter in the face of suicidal foes, of accumulated harm.

There was now a great stampede around the Valkyries, goblins climbing over the bodies of their fallen dead to reach the plains below. The Valkyries could barely slow them down at this point, forcing those nearby to reckon with them, not nearly enough of a presence to force a large number to stop, to significantly slow the horde.

Tens of thousands of goblins had started off in the horde, closing in on one hundred thousand.

The Valkyries, the measly 300 of them, had slaughtered tens of thousands of them, gotten their bodies stacked so high that the size of the pass had shrunk, forcing the goblins to constantly contend with them. That is – if they could properly turn dead goblins into building material. If goblins had any problem at all over walking over their own dead.

Iona shuddered at a goblin casually reaching down and ripping off the arm of a dead goblin, and starting to happily chow down on it, barely giving the Valkyries a glance as he strolled down the pass.

Barely caring as his fellows died to the Valkyries.

Others took to the high ground made by the bodies. Pelting them with slings and primitive arrows.

Throwing skills at them. Mages and skills weren’t restricted to humans, and with The Swift no longer assassinating powerful goblin mages, with the high ground, with the ability to reach out and kill goblins from a distance all but gone, more and more mages were coming out of hiding.

Not just mages had skills.

There was no such thing as a primitive arrow shot, not when skills were involved.

And then there was 12.

And then there was 11.

And then…

The goblins…

Stopped.

They stopped trying to run around. They stopped trying to kill the Valkyries.

They did keep climbing up the bodies though. Over and through, down the pass.

Through the crowd, a particularly large goblin emerged.

In a broken language spoken by the Valkyries, he spoke.

“Surrender. Or. Die.” He croaked out, clearly unused to the tongue.

Sigrun held up her hand, reminding everyone that she was the boss.

“We’ll discuss it.” She said.

Shocked and betrayed looks from half the survivors.

The other half knew it was a ploy to stall for time, to stall for some mythical reinforcements.

“Short time only.” The goblin said, before vanishing into the crowd.

“We’re not-“ Iona started to say, before Alruna covered her mouth.

“Shhh. Dunno if they can hear us. Drink.” She ordered.

Iona brought her waterskin to her mouth, hoping against hope that she’d gotten another miracle and the waterskin had been magically refilled since the last time she checked.

Nothing.

The world was still blurry around her.

The last Water mage squire had died yesterday.

Sigrun took a moment.

“All of you here, present now.” She said to the three remaining squires. “Can call yourselves Valkyries.”

[*ding!* Congratulations! [Squire’s Steadfastness] has evolved into [Valkyrie’s Valor]!]

Iona smiled, happiness blooming in her heart, even through the terrible conditions. She’d spent more than half her life working towards this goal, waiting to hear those magical words from Sigrun’s mouth.

The situation could be slightly better though. Like seeing the next sunrise. Being able to tell someone about her promotion.

“You decide now.” The grouchy goblin was back.

Sigrun looked at the Valkyries. Looked at the goblin, head held high, back straight, sword and shield relaxed by her side.

“No.” She declared.

Sigrun had a slim chance of getting out of this alive. She could blitz down the pass, fight and escape out on her own with sheer power, speed, and skills.

She might be able to bring one person with her.

Iona suspected that once it was just Sigrun, or just Sigrun and one other person, that they might just leave. Why fight to the death for nothing?

The goblin grunted, and Iona realized she understood him.

“Fire.” Was what he said, and the goblins that had been climbing up the mountain of bodies unleashed all manner of stones, arrows, skills, javelins, and more, down upon the hapless Valkyries.

The Valkyries interlocked shields and huddled under it, Serratrix curling up intelligently, creating a massive Spinosaurus-size bulwark.

“We are so dead.” Alruna said.

“You don’t say.” Iona retorted, all fear of retribution gone, an exhilarated thrill running through her as she broke the rules.

What was Alruna going to do, kill her?

Somehow, that broke the tension, and the Valkyries laughed.

What else was there to do, when death was rattling on their shields? Heating up their shields, so hot they’d need to drop them, open a hole in their wall, rain arrows in through it. Kill more. Cascade harder.

Rain started, a pitter-patter, rapidly becoming a downpour.

Cooling off their shields.

But – hang on. Iona frowned. There wasn’t the distinct sound of water hitting metal that she’d expect to hear from rainfall. Instead, screaming, high pitched cries of agony that twisted the knife right in her ears.

Slowly, one at a time, the Valkyries peeked over and through their shields, to see what was happening.

Green rain was pouring from the skies, leaving a neat circle around the Valkyries untouched. As each droplet touched goblin flesh, smoking, sizzling holes were left behind.

The screaming was stuff of nightmares.

Iona looked up.

High in the sky, a figure floated, wearing the customary gold and crimson robes of a level 2000+ member of the School of Sorcery and Spellcraft.


“The rat-faced BASTARDS.” Sigrun yelled from on top of Serratrix. All the Valkyries were on Serratrix – he was the only surviving companion, although his glorious sail was shredded and torn, and he was barely limping along. The Order of the Red Lion had “patched him up the best they could”, which was a bald-faced lie.

The Valkyries had waited until the acid rain had ceased, then needed to wait even longer before the pass was safe enough to walk down; that they wouldn’t dissolve in puddles of deadly acid left over. The fumes though – all of them needed serious attention from healers after what the acidic fumes had done to all of them.

The Order of the Red Lion, the kingdom’s army, headed by the 2nd prince, and the Righteous Divine Fist Sect had met them halfway down, taken care of them, and helped them retrieve what little was left of the bodies of their fallen, including wrapping up most of the weapons and armors for easier transportation. At which point, the Valkyries promptly left, not wanting to be gawked at. Wanting to lick their wounds at home.

“What happened?” Alruna asked. They were finally far away enough from the other forces to have half a conversation.

“They set up a second defensive line further back, and left us all to fucking die. I know the Orders don’t get along, but trying to wipe us out?!” Sigrun yelled. “The only reason any of us are alive is the fucking School of Sorcery and Spellcraft had a bored Classer wanting to take a look! The Orders wanted to loot our dead fucking bodies! Even as-is, we don’t have a fraction of the bodies or armor we should have, and I fucking know the goblins didn’t take them all!”

Sigrun wasn’t quite making sense – being up for that many days in a row, with that much of an emotional rollercoaster would do that to anyone – but the point was there.

Iona didn’t quite agree with Sigrun’s ranting and raving. By the time the scout had flown overhead, the horde was pouring around them. Any defensive line constructed would’ve needed to be much, much larger, and much longer. They couldn’t let goblins escape anymore than the Valkyries could, for much the same reason.

And pushing back against an unending horde, when disadvantaged and on the back foot? Sending in a strike team to retrieve them? Iona didn’t think it would be a wise move. It was unfortunate, but between the risk of losing their own line, and letting the horde break out, versus saving some powerful warriors who signed up for it?

Enough knights in the Red Lions had [Oath]s that demanded they act honorably. That would’ve frowned upon deliberately leaving a nominal ally to die when there was any other choice.

And there were literal mountains of dead bodies. Finding all the fallen Valkyries and their gear, especially when some had been stripped and carried away mid-battle, was impossible given that Sigrun had them moving out in less than a day.

It didn’t stop Sigrun from being pissed as hell, and blaming the Order and Sect for the massive losses the Valkyries had taken.

“But we survived.” Iona pointed out, feeling a lot more confident, a lot more at ease. Blessing every breath of air, every blade of grass, every caress of the wind, the setting sun, the twinkle of the night stars.

“We did. It was a pyrrhic victory though. They won. The Valkyries have been destroyed.” Sigrun said bitterly. “After we saved their kingdom and lands to boot. They were all ‘oh, it’s such a shame your numbers have been reduced so far. We’re going to take over managing Soria town.’ And the worst part is I can’t even say they’re wrong! We can’t manage Soria town anymore, or almost any of the others.”

“We’re as good as dead.” Sigrun finished.

Iona took a moment to look at her level-ups. “Epic” didn’t begin to cover it.

[*Ding!* Congratulations! [Constellation of the Warrior] has leveled up to level 256! +2 Free Stats, +15 Strength, +15 Dexterity, +15 Vitality, +15 Speed, +9 Mana Regen, +2 Magic power, +2 Magic Control from your Class! +1 Free Stat for being Human! +1 Mana, +1 Mana Regen from your Element!]

All of her skills had also capped out at 256 – except her Water archery skills, which were all capped at 32. Iona had no doubt it’d shoot up massively once she classed it up.

“Sigrun. Permission to advance my class again?” Iona asked.

“Yeah, fine, whatever. I don’t care. We’ll just say it was needed in the heat of battle. Nobody’s going to give us any grief, not when we’ve been practically wiped out. You can all advance.” Sigrun said bitterly. “Might as well do it before we’re given the official notice that the number of Classers we can have is being reduced.”

There was no joy in Iona. Not with the loss. Not with all her friends dead.

 

A pause passed, before Shiva spoke up.

“Gotta title the new Valkyries.” She said.

“Ah right. You.” Sigrun said, pointing to the first of the three newly promoted Valkyries. “Errr. Goblin Slayer.”

The Goblin Slayer took her new title with a neutral expression. It wasn’t the best, but it spoke of an epic feat, and expectations to come.

“You.” Sigrun said, pointing to the next one, pausing a moment, straining hard to think of something, coming up basically blank. Letting her terrible naming sense take over. “Goblin Smasher.”

Everyone winced at that one. Sigrun pointed to Iona last.

“You.” She said, and everyone waited for the hammer of terrible names to swing and smite Iona. If it was bad enough, nobody would ever call Iona by her name ever again.

“I have a Celestial element!” Iona said, thinking fast, hoping to derail Sigrun into a different thread, a different terrible naming sense. Anything to not be “The Goblin Musher”

Sigrun looked around briefly, at the twinkle of the new stars, the last rays of the sun vanishing over the horizon, at the rising of the moons, and named Iona.

“The Dusk.”

[Name: Iona]

[Race: Human]

[Age: 16]

[Mana: 2520/2520]

[Mana Regen: 152256]

Stats

[Free Stats: 378]

[Strength: 2309]

[Dexterity: 2310]

[Vitality: 2579]

[Speed: 2579]

[Mana: 252]

[Mana Regeneration: 1946]

[Magic Power: 462]

[Magic Control: 462]

[Class 1: [Constellation of the Warrior - Celestial: Lv 256]]

[Celestial Affinity: 256]

[Combat Instincts: 256]

[Weapon Mastery: 256]

[Strength from the Stars: 256]

[Blade of the Crescent Moon: 256]

[Moon's Descent: 256]

[Stellar Body: 256]

[Gaze of the Stars: 256]

[Class 2: [Smooth Shot Archer - Water: Lv 32]]

[Water Affinity: 32]

[Archery: 32]

[Smooth Draw: 32]

[Still Water: 32]

[Blind Shot: 32]

[: ]

[: ]

[: ]

[Class 3: Locked]

General Skills

[Analyze: 180]

[Valkyries Valor: 256]

[Dodging: 256]

[Footwork: 256]

[Vow of Iona to Lux: 256]

[Charming: 169]

[Education: 222]

[Dinosaur Husbandry: 234]

Other

Blessing of Selene and Lunaris

 

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And that's it. The end of book 3! See you all Monday for the start of book 4!

 


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