236. Interlude - Edithe's Evolution Part 3
The Sword of Alexander.
It was one of the greatest treasures in the world. A blade used by the [Hero] Alexander— the Immortal King who united the Human lands when calamity threatened Humankind. Kobolds, Elves, Demons. He fought to repel them all. And for a thousand years, he ruled. For a thousand years, he was victorious.
But eventually, he was slain. At the hands of his own blade. A tragic end for one as great as he was. However, it also displayed just the might and terror of his sword.
It is said that a single swing from the Sword of Alexander could’ve sheared off a mountaintop. That it could tear valleys asunder. That it wrought hurricanes and tore apart tsunamis. A Mythical Grade artifact that only the strongest could wield.
One that could forever scar the landscape with its power.
Edithe Dawnrise couldn’t lie and say she never once imagined wielding such a weapon in the grip of her hand. Even though she was a [Mage]— and had been a [Summoner]— she wondered what it’d be like to hold and control such a powerful force. No enemies could ever dare challenge her.
Now, it was no longer a dream. It was something that could be a reality. But only if Baris listened.
Another battle was being fought. This time, Edithe didn’t take part. Not in a way she hoped to.
After the victory at the Millcliff Iron Mines, the Valiant Dreamers had been quickly encroaching on the Iron Champions Company. For their part, the Iron Champions didn’t try to resist, which eased the Valiant Dreamers’ advancement. Unfortunately, that retreat had been a tactical one, because now they were fighting back.
It had been nighttime when the Valiant Dreamers’ camp was assaulted. There were many noncombatants present— they’d surely get caught in the battle. And because of her Skills and magic, she’d been asked to stay behind to protect them. She could only watch from afar as the Valiant Dreamers sallied forth without her.
Sure, she managed to cast the occasional [Storm of Ice and Fire] and [Arrow of the Flame Elemental]. But fighting from afar was different from fighting in the frontlines. She couldn’t act to save her friends if they were in danger.
She tightly gripped her Primordial Staff. Her eyes darted around the fighting happening afar. Adventurers and assassins and mercenaries that fought in the trees and in the valleys. Lightning thundered down from above as flames spewed out of the earth. Stone pillar spiked up, and glowing arrows zipped across the battlefield.
Shadowed figures flew above with wings or riding on staffs. They cast earth-shaking spells and created bright explosions that lit up the night. Each blast shook the earth and the noncombatants behind Edithe. Men and women cowered behind her. [Bakers], [Cooks], [Alchemists], [Healing Mages], and others without a combat Class hid in their tents as the battle raged on.
Edithe pursed her lips.
“Again… even now, why must I just watch?”
“Because the Iron Champions Company are bastards.”
A voice replied. Derrill sauntered up to her. He was a Platinum Rank [Rogue]— a member of the Dusk Horns Company. One of the allies of the Valiant Dreamers. He shook his head.
“If we left the encampment alone, they’d surely send assassins to slaughter everyone here. Destroy our supplies. Slow us down any way they can.”
Edithe clenched her fist. She knew he was right. But that still didn’t sit right with her. She glanced over at the fighting, creating a [Lightning Orb] and hurling it at a group of lower-leveled [Archers]. They scattered when they saw the impending attack. It tore apart the earth, sending debris into the sky.
“Still, they need my help. What if there’s someone I could save if I followed? What if… what if one of my friends died out there while I’m here unable to stop it?”
“And what if you went out there, and someone here died? That’s just how war is.”
Derrill shrugged. Edithe scowled.
“I know, I know. It’s just… fucking stupid.”
“Whew, I didn't know the great Edithe Dawnrise had such a potty mouth.”
He grinned, and she glared at him.
“Now’s not really the time to crack jokes.”
Her eyes flickered. She saw shadows moving ahead, creeping closer.
Derrill raised a brow.
“I don’t see—”
And from the darkness, a heavy figure leapt out of the trees. A giant greatsword crashed down at Derrill before he could react. Edithe raised her staff, creating a powerful ice barrier.
“[Shield of the Misty Lord]!”
A powerful attack clashed with the barrier. Derrill stumbled back just from the impact alone. A crater was formed around the [Shield of the Misty Lord] as the attacker drew back. Edithe narrowed her eyes.
“Orbur Vale. Why are you here?”
One of the champions of the Iron Champions Company. Edithe had clashed with him twice before. Or rather, she was saved by Hadrian the first time around, and saved by Ismail the second time around. Here he was, again, confronting her for the third time.
Except, this time, Edithe had only leveled once since their last fight.
“Edithe Dawnrise. I was so entranced by you in our previous encounter, that I couldn’t just get you out of my head.”
He dragged his giant greatsword behind him, scarring the earth with each step.
“So, I came here to do exactly that: get you out of my head.”
A sinister smile spread across his face as Edithe backed up. She took in a shaky breath, glancing down at Derrill who just picked himself up.
“Go and get help. Hadrian. Ismail. Gabriel— anyone.”
Derrill stumbled to his feet and activated his speed Skills. She gritted her teeth as she watched him go. Orbur tried to stop him, but an [Arrow of the Flame Elemental] interrupted his attack.
The champion brought his blade down striking the arrow midair. There was a blast— a bright flash of light that lasted a few seconds. Until finally, the light dissipated, and Orbur lowered his greatsword. Smoke sizzled out of its side as a scorch mark was left behind where the spell struck.
Edithe shook her head.
“Are you seriously just here to kill me?”
“Of course. You’ve made a fool of me, and I will not simply allow that to pass.”
“In the middle of a war? That’s petty, even for someone like you.”
Orbur slowly stalked around her [Shield of the Misty Lord], eyeing the cracks that were formed on it from his previous attack. He was definitely trying to figure out a way to tear it down as quickly as possible. Or even wait it out. But that wasted time was precious time which Edithe needed.
“Well, considering I’m going to die regardless of how this war turns out… yes. I will carry out every petty act I want.”
Her eyes narrowed.
“What are you talking about? Why would you die? What is going on?”
She felt her magic beginning to weaken. The Skill didn’t run on unlimited time, but Edithe could allay its end by supplying it with mana. Orbur fixed her with a dark gaze.
“It’s none of your concern. The only thing that matters here is whether you live or die. And I’d rather it’d be the latter.”
Finally, he raised his greatsword. He struck once, and the ice cracked again. He struck twice, sending chinks and shards out into the air. Again and again and again. Edithe grunted as she watched the spiderweb creep across her barrier’s surface.
And it shattered.
The barrier failed as she was knocked back by the impact of the attack. She stumbled to her feet just in time to see Orbur closing the distance and bringing his greatsword into the air. It quadrupled in size, and she sent a chilly wind to slow his approach.
The [Warrior] stepped through the gale slowly, even as frost built up at his feet. He broke through the ice forming over his body, before the wind changed in temperature, becoming an inferno instead. He growled and sliced it in half, ending the spell.
His gaze snapped around the area, but Edithe was gone. He squinted and turned to the encampment.
“Come out, Edithe Dawnrise. Face me and suffer. Even if I were to perish here, I shall be known for slaying the Liberator of the Plaguelands. I won’t die quietly like that fool, Bulan Dishar.”
She didn’t respond. He sighed.
“Fine. If you won’t show yourself, then I’ll force you out.”
Orbur took a heavy step towards the camp, and a voice called out.
He spun around, smirking.
And he paused. Another flaming arrow shot out, too fast for him to dodge. He reached out to block it, but it struck him on the chest. His armor couldn’t hold up to the attack as he was engulfed by a looming blast of flames.
[Restore Skill: Arrow of the Flame Element]. Edithe panted. Then she looked down at her staff. It wasn’t the Primordial Staff she’d been given. It was something else. A gray stick, about a quarter the size of her staff.
[Cane of Retribution: Medium Grade Weapon - Significantly enhances the effects of a spell. Can be used three times a day.]
It was one of the few treasures she kept from her time in the Plaguelands. Edithe had stolen it off the corpse of a Kobold [Cultist]. It boosted her attack enough to actually break through Orbur’s defenses and his armor.
His breastplate was a mess— it was torn inward, the enchantment gone. Blood leaked out of Orbur’s mouth as he stood up, chuckling.
“That was good. That was really good.”
Edithe threw a [Lightning Orb] at him, and he didn’t even bother to block it. It caused him to stagger, nothing more.
“But did you really think that was enough to finish me off?”
He ran forward as Edithe led him away from the encampment. She barraged him with ice and fire and lightning and any spell she could conjure up. It didn’t matter. He never lost his balance, not even when she used a tree root to grab him by the ankle. Orbur continued his charge, uprooting the tree instead and tearing the wooden stems.
A single jump closed the distance between him and the red-haired woman. She used a strong blast of wind to knock herself out of the way, and Orbur descended like a meteor. He left another large crater where he landed, snapping his gaze instantly back to Edithe even through the dust.
“Are you going to try this again? Come on, at least call for your friends’ help. Show them where you are. Let them come here, and let my men slaughter the rest of the Valiant Dreamers while they’re distracted.”
Edithe didn’t respond. Orbur was only partially right. Sure, she didn’t want to draw too many of her companions away from the battlefield and to her, hence why she hadn’t activated [Beacon of Guardians]. But also, its effects wouldn’t reach those fighting from afar.
And what was the point then? Her Skill had a limited range, and those who weren’t in its area of effect when the spell was cast wouldn’t receive its boon. It’d just be a bright light, no different than the flames she spewed at Orbur.
The champion continued his assault. Each swing felled a tree, even if it didn’t come into contact with the wooden trunks. Each strike tore apart the earth. Try as she might, Edithe could barely harm him, leaving only small scratches for each terrible attack he unleashed.
A swing of his sword nearly hit her. But at the last second, Edithe raised the Cane of Retribution, creating another [Lightning Orb]. The two attacks collided, exploding and sending Edithe flying back. Orbur stood at ground zero of the explosion, more of his armor crippled, but his skin was left mostly unscathed.
Edithe took in a deep breath as she got back up.
“Why the fuck can’t I hurt you?”
“See, that’s the difference between you and me. I have decades of experience. Decades of fighting and training, gaining Skills to make myself as strong as possible. I think you’ll find it harder to pierce my skin than it is to pierce my armor.”
I sure hope not. Edithe clutched at something in her belt pouch. Then her eyes flickered as Orbur stepped forth.
“Now, you die!”
A glowing aura overcame his blade as he struck down, vaporizing everything in a cone in front of him. Edithe watched as the attack came— and something grabbed her.
She found herself standing a dozen feet away from the blast as Derrill dusted his hands off. Edithe blinked.
“I’m back. And I brought help.”
“Help? Is it Hadrian—”
The red-haired woman’s eyes lit up, only to pause.She instead saw a tall woman leaping at the perplexed Orbur from behind. The man slowly spun around, but was caught by the attack.
A woman swung a longsword at his chest. Celine, the Platinum Rank [Warrior], and one of Edithe’s closest friends, snuck up on Orbur from behind. Her blade cut through his skin… and wedged itself on his collar bone.
“How in the Nexeus—”
Celine tried to pull her weapon back, but it was stuck in his bone. Orbur scowled.
He backhanded Celine, knocking her away, through a thicket and into a small crater.
Edithe yelled, getting back up.
“A mere Platinum Rank dares attack me?”
Orbur pulls the sword out of his chest, placing a hand on the wound. Blood dripped slowly from it, far less than should be pouring out from a wound like that. He closed in on Celine’s injured form.
She forced herself up, even with a broken arm.
“Is that all the mighty Orbur Vale has got? Come on!”
Celine raised a single fist, and he shook his head.
He tossed aside her weapon, readying to use his own to finish her off. Edithe turned hurriedly to Derrill as Celine threw a punch.
“Derrill, I need you to distract Orbur for as long as you can.”
Celine’s fist smashed against Orbur’s cheeks. He grinned and kneed her. He drew his blade close to her neck, and Edithe shouted.
Derrill dashed forward, tossing his throwing knives at Orbur’s back. The daggers bounced off the champion’s armor— it was only broken at the front, still intact from the back.
He gave Derrill a pitying stare.
“You’re even weaker than her.”
Orbur sliced out at Derrill, and an aura blade shot out. It sheared a copse of trees as Derrill barely ducked out of the way. Grinning, he turned to Orbur.
“Well, but I’m faster.”
The champion gritted his teeth, bringing his sword back up. But he paused as soon as Edithe grabbed Celine. His head snapped to face them.
“Don’t think you’ll be getting away so easily—”
“[Rain of Daggers]!”
Derrill threw a single knife into the air, and it glowed. It multiplied midair before dropping far faster than it should descend. Orbur frowned and raised his greatsword, using it like an umbrella. The falling knives actually scratched his armor and his weapon, leaving marks where they struck.
“Hurry up, idiots!”
Edithe helped Celine stumble towards the [Rogue] as the attack temporarily halted Orbur in his tracks. But the champion only grew even more enraged.
He slammed the flat end of his broadsword to the earth, and a white shockwave flatted the landscape. Every tree in hundreds of feet was flattened by the single attack. Edithe was certain she’d be lying dead on the ground if Celine hadn’t managed to grunt a single Skill before the attack reached them.
It was like Edithe, Celine, and Derrill had temporarily been granted an aura of protection. But Orbur’s shockwave still managed to break through it, knocking Edithe back.
The red-haired woman got back to her feet as Celine coughed out blood. Even as injured as she was, Celine didn’t stay down. Not until Edithe placed a hand on her shoulder.
“It’s fine, Celine. I can handle this.”
“Edithe, what are you doing, you damned moron?”
Celine raised a hand to stop Edithe, but the red-haired woman simply started past Celine and Derrill to face down Orbur alone. The champion cocked an amused brow.
“Sacrificing yourself to save your friends, are you? I’ll tell you right now, I’ll make sure they won’t die painless deaths once I’m finished with you.”
“I’m not sacrificing myself. Not anymore.”
Edithe tossed aside her Primordial Staff. She held only the Cane of Retribution in one hand, with the other reaching for her belt pouch.
“Then what’s your play here? Waiting for someone to save you?”
Orbur glanced over at the fighting in the distance, uncaring.
“Because I don’t think anyone else is going to show up. Which doesn’t surprise me. I’m not the only Diamond Rank here from our side. All the other remaining champions are on the battlefield. And I’m sure your friends are preoccupied. At least, the ones that matter.”
“All the other champions are here?”
Edithe creased her forehead.
“What happens if you lose? This is incredibly reckless. If all of you die, the Iron Champions Company will be without leadership.”
“Do you seriously still think we’re in charge, woman? As if we’d ever be foolish enough to start this war.”
He laughed bitterly as he hefted his greatsword onto his left shoulder. Not his right shoulder. His right collar bone had been cut by Celine. And while he initially shrugged it off, it looked like it genuinely hurt him.
“Well, maybe we’d have sent assassins to kill Baris regardless. But… no. Not start this war. No one gains anything from this war. No one except for them.”
Edithe’s eyes widened as she realized what Orbur meant. But she never expected him to say it outright.
The champion grinned as he spoke. Celine and Derrill exchanged a glance.
“That doesn’t matter. Not right now.”
Edithe cut them off. She raised her Cane of Retribution, speaking in a determined voice.
“What matters is stopping you, here and now.”
“And what are you going to do about it?”
Orbur taunted her. And she smiled.
“Return what you’ve dealt to us. [Fiery Riposte]!”
Orbur looked at her in horror before he’s overcome with the most ferocious flames Edithe had ever seen. She didn’t stop there, however. She dashed forward, pulling the other weapon she held out of her pouch.
The champion screamed as the blaze continued to eat at him. He tried to break free from it, but the fire followed him wherever he went. His blade dropped as he clasped at his face. Edithe closed in on him as the flames finally vanished, and he met her gaze, roaring.
“Do you think this will kill—”
She dug the dagger deep into his collar bone. Where Celine had struck him and drew blood. Edithe leapt back, dodging just as he swung at her. He missed, stumbling forward as he pulled out the weapon.
Orbur reached for his greatsword. But his right arm simply dangled from his side. He glanced down to his side as his hand dropped from his body. A brown aura seemed to eat away at his right shoulder. He stared at it.
“W-what is this?”
“Corrosion magic. A [Necromancer]’s magic. But woven into a blade.”
Edithe raised the dagger. The Fangs of the Devouring Deep.
“A weapon that had even hurt the Lich of the Plaguelands.”
He blinked. And both Celine and Derrill gaped.
“It could hurt the Lich?”
“It must be a High Grade artifact. Maybe even Epic Grade.”
Edithe glanced over at them, shaking her head. It was only Medium Grade. The only reason it had affected the Lich was because its bones were as brittle as regular bones.
If the weapon was either of those, it’d have probably eaten away at Orbur’s skin without cutting into it. Maybe even killing him entirely with a single stab. As it was now, the Fangs of the Devouring Deep only ate away at his shoulder. And since Orbur’s skin was charred and burnt by her [Fiery Riposte], his arm fell.
The champion stared at Edithe, grasping at his shoulder with his remaining arm. Edithe picked up her Primordial Staff as Celine and Derrill rushed to his side. The red-haired woman spoke simply.
“You lose, Orbur Vale. Do you really think you can beat us with one arm?”
“I do, Edithe Dawnrise.”
Orbur gave her a wicked smile, and she hesitated. Then he shook his head, dropping to his knees.
“But I don’t think I’ll be able to beat you before your friends arrive.”
He gestured past her, and Edithe turned around. She looked at the battlefield, seeing… the fighting slowly coming to a close. The Valiant Dreamers were winning. And Orbur Vale surrendered.
“I lose, Liberator of the Plaguelands. I… yield.”
Edithe blinked. She looked over at Celine. The other woman was also confused.
“Don’t look at me, I didn’t expect this either.”
The Valiant Dreamers won.
Class [Risen Elemental Spellcaster] Level Up!
[Risen Elemental Spellcaster - Lvl. 99] -> [Risen Elemental Spellcaster - Lvl. 100]!
Gained 5 Stat Points and 3 Skill Points!
Class [Risen Elemental Spellcaster] Level Up!
[Risen Elemental Spellcaster - Lvl. 100] -> [Risen Elemental Spellcaster - Lvl. 101]!
Gained 5 Stat Points and 3 Skill Points!