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Marcello dropped his plank shield and grabbed his longsword, brandishing it with both hands as he knocked back the great wolf. He slashed his sword across the gray dire wolf’s face with enough force that it knocked him back a couple of meters.

“That's all you got?” he taunted, as this lean level 23 wolf had run quite a bit faster than the rest of his pack and was now facing Marcello alone.

The other wolves were much slower, and Marcello noticed that there were clear signs of decay on them. Matted fur at some parts, with rotting and flaying flesh at other parts. Only the level 23 wolf was untouched thus far. The black magic creature had gotten to the rest of them, he thought to himself. Either way, this was good because he could pick the wolves off at a bit more manageable of a pace.

The wolf stumbled, but shook itself back to its feet and snarled. It charged Marcello again, taking a vicious bite. Marcello defended himself again, ducking and spinning in a clumsy circle to avoid the wolf’s huge teeth. With a high, loud cry, he slashed with his longsword, the blade of which clashed with the wolf’s shoulder. The wolf yelped in pain and it dropped to the ground. Marcello ran at it and brought his longsword down again, managing to open up a deep gash across the back of the wolf. Marcello held his sword aloft, the wolf’s blood dripping onto the ground, and he grunted in triumph.

The second wolf came at him from the side. Marcello side-stepped, the wolf raising its paws in a defensive stance, and he drove the tip of his blade across the wolf’s stomach. The animal cried out in pain and it too fell to the ground.

Marcello backed away, sword still raised in the air. “Come on! I’m not that easy to kill!”

As if on cue, the third, fourth, and fifth wolves bounded at him, tearing at the flesh of his legs. He slashed at one but his sword missed its target and landed in a tree trunk. The animal pounced, flailing and biting, its sharp fangs tearing at his armor. Marcello jerked his sword from the trunk of the tree and it flipped to the ground, still spitting and snarling. Marcello twisted and slashed at it again, stabbing upwards into its belly, into the innards.

The wolf fell to the ground, gasping. It twitched for a moment and then went still. Marcello began to move slowly backwards.

The large white wolf finally arrived at last, trotted over to the wounded wolf, sniffing at it. It growled angrily, with the two remaining gray wolves by its side. Suddenly, it leapt at the knight. He barely managed to roll aside and avoid its attack. He grabbed his longsword and brandished it again, almost clobbering the wolf with the blade. It growled at him and came at him again, its fangs bared. Marcello tried to deflect the blow, but it slashed at his sword arm with its claws. The white wolf was very strong, and He dropped his sword and backed away, but the wolf wasn’t done with him. It leaped at him, jaws wide, howling as it clamped down on Marcello’s leg.

He groaned in pain, realizing that he had gotten himself into a fight that he might not be able to win.

But still, he had a trump card up his sleeve.

Marcello rolled forward and grabbed his sword, then activated the ability with a shout.

[King Jaeger’s Giant Transformation (legendary)]

The tall human knight began to grow at an exceptional rate, his suit of armor expanding into an intimidating iron giant the height of a barn house, even as the powerful white wolf clamped its jaw on his plateleg, denting the armor.

Constitution has increased.

Passive health regeneration has increased.

Agility has been halved.

Tree branches and leaves crashed into his helmet as the giant bulky knight regained his bearings, his longsword in hand. He pushed away the branches impeding his movement with one hand, and kicked away at the white wolf still clinging onto him.

He had grown nearly three times as large as before, and although he was not nearly as giant as the King Jaeger itself, he was now as tall as a cyclops, at roughly fifteen to twenty feet tall. As he gained proficiency in the skill, his size and constitution bonus would only increase accordingly.

Marcello swung down with his cursed longsword, the blade slicing through the fog as it crashed on the ground below. The white wolf had sidestepped the blow, and the other two gray wolves were now nipping at his calves.

Marcello performed a wide swing of his blade, sweeping the ground, but the white wolf shot backwards with a powerful backwards jump. One of the gray wolves was not so lucky though, and received a debilitating gash in its side from the large longsword edge, leaving an axe cleave sized wound that went straight into its ribcage. But the wolf was not dead.

With a downwards jab, Marcello plunged his fat longsword into the injured gray wolf’s body, nearly segmenting into two and killing it, but the white wolf gnawed again on his calf armor from the side while this happened, damaging him quite a lot, as that plateleg armor was already mangled from earlier. The white wolf’s jaw strength was very formidable, and easily capable of crushing and piercing through his leg armor. Marcello sank to one knee unbidden, from the crushing pain.

His enlarged health pool was taken down by a tenth from that attack, and was slowly falling from the bleed effect and mangled wound on his calf.

Thankfully, his transformation gave him a decent amount of extra resistances and increased his health pool, and bathing his enlarged longsword in the blood of the gray wolf gave him a source of health restoration through the lifesteal effect, even without a healer nearby.

As Marcello got back up cumbersomely in his giant form while the gray wolf harassed him, the large white dire wolf leapt backwards again and howled, a faint glow of mana surrounding it.

He didn’t want to know what kind of spell it was channeling, as it could only be bad news for him. The wolf’s fangs seemed to be getting larger by the second as well.

Luckily, Giant’s Roar just came back off cooldown during the extended chase and fight. Marcello wasn’t sure if it would work against a higher level enemy, but it was worth a try.

GRAHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!

A low, bellowing roar that made the earth shake beneath and the pebbles on the ground rumble in place echoed through the forest.

This giant’s roar was far different from the kind that he used during his human form. As an actual giant now, the ancient magic of the giants seemed to resonate and amplify in magnitude, creating an earth-shaking effect that would cause lesser mortals and lesser creatures to fall to their knees.

The gray wolf beneath him shook its head furiously, feeling the full effect of the sound waves shake the core of its being, its legs trembling impetuously.

In front of him, the oversized white dire wolf’s channeling ability was forcibly silenced by the giant’s roar, despite it being higher level than him. As giant’s roar had been amplified by the increased constitution and presence of Marcello’s giant form, as well as by a hidden resonance effect, the ability managed to overpower the level forty white dire wolf’s spell channel.

The roar was terrifying and far-reaching, and if one listened hard enough, even in the camps of Eric and Michael a bystander could hear the faintest echoes of the giant knight’s roar.

With both remaining dire wolves momentarily shaken by his ability, Marcello lunged forward with another wide sweep with his longsword, aiming to cleave as much ground as possible to minimize any ability to dodge. But the white wolf kicked its feet back just in time, barely dodging the swing.

Marcello felt like he was the boss monster in a game, using powerful but telegraphed motions for attacks while its smaller and slightly more nimble adversary ducked and weaved through, then tried to wear him down with weaker blows.

Honestly, if you really thought about it, the boss won the fight far more often than the nimble adversary, Marcello mused. For every one time a more nimble fighter beat a boss, they were killed by the boss seven or eight times before that.

That was due to the nature of learning. The natural enemy of any slow and powerful boss character was having their attack pattern figured through many rounds of trial and error.

But this was not a video game, and there were no reloads for this white dire wolf to learn all of his attack patterns. And not only that, he was not a giant mindless drone that repeated the same attacks over and over again. He was a human being, and he could vary his attack patterns at whim.

In a situation like this, the boss was actually favored. He just needed to land one hit. One screw up, and this white dire wolf would end up with steel in its ribs, just like that dead gray wolf at his feet.

Marcello swung down, this time sweeping from the left rather than from the right. This change caught the last remaining level 22 gray dire wolf by surprise, as Luden’s Cursed Blade dug into the wolf’s neck, decapitating it in one heavy blow as the gray wolf’s head rolled to the ground in a gruesome display.

Although the white dire wolf did not take a direct hit like the gray wolf, it was clipped at the ankle from the sudden change in angle, and it backed far out of range of the giant knight, retreating more than twenty yard’s away. The wolf’s cautious positioning pointed out another stark difference from Marcello’s boss fight experience from games. Unlike a boss fight in a game, the battleground was not fixed here and the exits were not blocked, and the white wolf had every luxury of retreating to a distance far out of reach of his sword swings.

Marcello lumbered forward with his longsword in hand towards the bleeding white wolf who was now hiding behind a tree, leaving large heavy footsteps on the dirt beneath him as he advanced into the fog. But before he could go any further, he felt an overwhelming sense of nausea and full body aches, and realized in horror that his body was beginning to shrink out of its giant form.

A bit similar to how his ice elemental giant Frosty’s summon duration would be depleted through strenuous activity, Marcello’s use of giant’s roar, multiple attacks, and health pool usage all added up. He still did not have very good proficiency on his King Jaeger conquest transformation ability yet, and now he was realizing that his transformation duration was quite short when put under stress.

The six foot four knight lurched forward panting and sweating, experiencing the full recoil of the transformation ability.

Thankfully, the transformation had done quite some work. He had killed five gray wolves now, but the most dangerous one was still alive. The white dire moved closer, losing its initial hesitancy from respect for the knight’s deadly sword range in its giant form.

Marcello looked up through his slit visor helmet and watched the white dire wolf approach him through the misty fog, noticing that it was limping slightly on one ankle, where he had sliced it in giant form.

He summoned his archeios javelin and drew his arm back, his hands shaky as a thin film of sweat covered his forehead. He felt like he just had a fever, and was a lot weaker at the moment.

With as much torque as he could muster at the moment, the knight in battered plate armor flung his javelin at the white wolf, and the speartip of the javelin grazed the wolf’s side flank, dealing a bit of damage. The level forty white dire wolf was injured, and not nearly as fast as before.

“Retrieve javelin!” Marcello cried, as he utilized his completely full mana bar to retrieve the javelin. It was quite a mana cost at this distance, but frankly he had no other abilities competing for his mana right now.

Hoisting the javelin up again, Marcello faked a throw, as the white dire wolf lurched to the side feebly. Then, he actually threw the javelin. This time, it hit the wolf on the paw, as it yelped in pain and drew its paw back.

The white wolf suddenly began backtracking, realizing that it was going to get punctured to death at this rate through ranged attacks, while trying to advance on the weakened knight.

“Shit,” Marcello cursed upon seeing the white dire wolf turn tail and begin limping away. He stumbled forward, his balance still thrown off by the strain of a forcibly cancelled giant transformation, but he pursued nonetheless.

There was no way he would go through this much effort just to let his precious experience and loot walk away like that.

He began limping forward, chasing the white wolf that was limping away. Using the remaining amount of his mana, he retrieved his archeios javelin and threw it once more, clipping the retreating white wolf in the flank this time. Blood stained its white fur, and the fog continued to thicken as the two injured combatants continued northward into the forest, with one injured knight desperately trying to kill an injured wolf before it could slip away into that black magic creature’s domain.

---------

Nolan returned to camp, disheveled and panting. He had just come back from checking tabs on Eric’s negotiation party.

He ran past the ranger traps that he and a few other archers and thieves had set up across the perimeter of the camp, and headed straight for the campfire that Michael was currently sitting at. The mage with thick rim glasses looked at him and narrowed his eyes, perhaps seeing the distressed look on Nolan’s face.

“They’re coming,” Nolan said quickly after catching his breath. “But the lead party isn’t all of them. I looped around Eric’s lead party and saw several dozen more fighters trailing behind them, most of them promoted classes and armed to the teeth. We’re in trouble, Michael.”

Michael frowned, absorbing the gravity of the information. “You mean they’re going to attack us?”

The short man with two severed fingers nodded quickly. “Yes, from what I saw, Eric’s party is about to attack us with more than two dozen post-promotes in twenty minutes.”

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HereBeTreasure

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