Dreamweaver Chapter 207
Not long after killing that Catgirl Secretary in daemonized form, the dimension pocket melted and I found myself delivered with some vertigo feeling back in the fae prison fortress town or whatever it was called. When I got out of the dimension pocket battle space, to my relief there wasn’t another daemon combatant to fight. At least not now; I think they had fled.
But there are other problems.
What the frick! But already it’s scary. Something bad is happening. And it’s happening right now.
The sky is dark, like night but I know it’s not night. This is probably a global enchantment of some kind. It might even have some debuffs in it but I’m having trouble analyzing it. It resists my efforts to try to see what the night enchantment’s debuffs are.
The fortress right now is being sacked! Invaded!
There also is fire and roiling coils of smoke going up everywhere on the tower tops and buildings and molten rock slag dripping down into the streets from heavy magic fire or magic artillery or something, broken buildings, smashed roofs, and the whole town is pretty much on fire. The rubble around me isn’t too much different from Earth bombs though these were probably mana explosions. There are still places where I can stand and go. The fire and molten slag isn’t covering everything yet. It seems that it got here by somehow some type of magic mortar shells being shot off, so even though the fire is bad and there is a lot of heat you can still avoid suffocating and burning.
I’m fortunate the smoke isn’t too bad yet, because I’ve spotted another weakness to deal with. My runic shielding spell doesn’t have a smoke or air insurance plug in. That’s something I need to deal with too.
I can even walk around if I want to though still if I’m careful but it would be similar to dodging rusty cars in a zombie wasteland except instead of rusty cars there are globs of hot lava, but just not everywhere. It’s basically hard to move around but the lava slag or whatever it is can be avoided mostly because its slow and too thick to run but not eating everything up in the street yet; nor is it exactly in the street. Somehow it’d been tailor made to stick to buildings.
I wrapped some cloth scrap around my face to cover my nose and mouth.
“This is definitely weird,” I noted.
I coughed to avoid breathing in the hot ash and wind that carries it. I’m coughing some more as I covered my mouth.
I had desummoned Sylvie earlier because the ‘good allies’ may have an unknown or negative reaction to a feral foxkin like Sylvie. And I’m still not sure how far I can trust them. Half of them would want to enslave and steal her, and the other half would think she’s one of the daemon soldiers.
And as I understand it, there really are daemonized foxkin that look like feral foxkins too among their troops sometimes that they’ve fought against in the past even though its rare. This is the heart of the problem, even though daemonized foxkin and feral foxkin aren’t the same. Ferals can occur naturally without any daemon taint influence either, with the effect happening from over mana exposure too.
“Soldier citizen Shun, where are you?” I heard a voice in my head. It’s some kind of magic communication pinging in my head loudly. It sounds annoyed.
“Soldier citizen Shun, do you copy?” the feminine voice repeated.
“Huh? Who is this?” I said back but it was like it was telepathic almost.
“This is the strategic coordinator 379-B1 of the Fae Allied forces. Where have you been?! Report!” she practically screeched at me.
She’s not in front of me but communicating with me via magic. I have no idea where she is. There’s no one friendly or enemy near me.
“Err…well I’m confused about what’s going on. I was sucked into a duel portal of some kind by an enemy. When I got out, I suddenly find this whole place is wrecked and heated up, but I can’t see the enemy either,” I said.
“Uh huh, let me check that…standby soldier. I’ll verify it and confirm your new orders,” she ordered.
Ahh, this is the part I don’t like. In terms of living in the fae stronghold town, I am obligated to support it as long as its reasonable. I am not obligated to die for them though but that’s tricky when your life is on the line.
While waiting for orders I hid behind some nearby rubble. The enemy has to be here too. I haven’t seen them yet, but they must be.
Then a few seconds later she almost sounds disappointed. “Well, part of your story checks out. But I doubt you can really take on an enemy solo, nor should you. Stay in groups and rendezvous with other forces for support and survival. If you don’t you won’t make it. I suggest you find others near you to help each other and to stay alive. This is a serious matter Shun. Stay on your guard. The enemy is near your position also. They will try to search out mana targets and strong allies to slay. I’m looking at a topography view and can see your platoon isn’t too far from your position. I need you to try to reach them and lend support,” the woman’s tough voice said.
“Got it. Are many of them dead? Is anyone alive? I only see bodies in this area from towns people, but no one alive,” I wondered aloud.
Yeah, lots of bodies…
The response didn’t come back right away. Perhaps they were afraid to tell me the truth or scare me.
I actually didn’t know them well. But I do remember them a bit. They were led by Lars the half-ogre; he’d met me on my first day that I was aware. But mostly we’d trained separately because they are melee types and I’m a ‘support class caster’, which they thought was funny until I ended up on the leader boards.
“You are lucky to be alive. A target that can put you in a duel pocket isn’t an enemy that just anyone can handle. You should avoid those and only have your team engage them,” the support woman said.
“Actually how did you survive?” she inquired in a very suspicious way.
“The enemy lost its head,… literally,” I said not trying to make a pun.
What else am I supposed to say without revealing my secrets you know?
“What?! How? A support class caster? And you beat a daemonized cat beastkin girl?! Those take a full veteran platoon to kill. Taking credit from others is the worst. I’ll find out later if you are lying,” she said in disbelief.
“We can talk about it later. How do I get to the others?” I asked.
“You are a support class caster. I think you are lying and the others just didn’t survive and you got lucky with the last hit,” she said venomously.
I didn’t say anything back. I didn’t care because I had nothing to prove. I don’t care what she thinks.
I can hear background noise. It sounds like she’s in a command center with others, coordinating other defensive positions too.
…I waited patiently. Finally she’s ready to talk again.
“I’ll light up some waypoints in your mind through your vision to help get you to the other group. Only you can see them but enemies are closing on your position. I suggest you move fast,” she said.
Crap, she’s right. I can hear something like monsters coming close. I can already hear it. It’s like almost like the sounds of massive hounds of some kind all over the city. They sound like they are literally all over the place. But the closest group concerned me the most.
And they are almost upon me. I’m not going to make it getting to that other position. I’ll have to face them here.
I slammed my huge hammer into another enemy so hard his lungs popped and his ribcage totally caved in with gore blowback splattering a nearby building and half the side of my face too got splashed. Even with half-ogre strength and vitality I’m really getting pushed to try hold myself together.
“Forward!” I barked while coughing up ash.
The men struggle to follow my orders, but they can see I’m keeping them alive. For now.
My team 1 is screaming in reply as they charged the enemy. Some of them fell and are getting eaten by the hell hounds.
Through the fae team enchant, which is basically the same thing as an adventurer job’s party system I can communicate with my team of 20 and I can see health bars for all of them pulsing with their heartbeats as they are all working together. Just now two people are being eaten alive and we can’t rescue them.
My team was one of the first responders but we still took heavy hits. I’ve already got 18 out of 20 people left for team 1, which is the one I’m in personally. I expect that I’m going to lose a few guys in a minute to the daemon summoned creatures that we’re fighting.
This isn’t my only team though, since I’m like a mini boss commander but still a small fry. I also have a measly 2 soldiers left out of 20 on team 2. Team 2 has already gone through the meat grinder, and what’s left are some interesting classes of Heavy Armor Knight, and a Ranger sniper; both of which are some serious heavy hitters. It surprised me that the rangers would last this long, but the heavy armor knights living this long I kind of expected; though they have mobility issues. The rangers seem to have held out by sheer grit and cutting things down before it can get close to them but that can’t last forever. Eventually their luck will wear out.
I feel bad about the losses but those 2 alone are all I need for team 2. Their teamwork between them is crazy strong too. I think…well hope really, that team 2 will live even though they are totally depleted because that Heavy Armor Knight, and the Ranger units have seen some tough shit before this and lived through it.
Team 3 well…they are in some serious shit. Team 3 is separated from us by a half a mile of tunnels still and they are pinned down with 6 out of 20 remaining. They aren’t expected to live another hour, and are completely surrounded. Even though they currently have more units than the others they are basically fucked and they know it. They can’t get out from being surrounded and enemies keep increasing faster than they can cut them down. I have no options to be able even get to them or try anything. The sub lieutenant in that group didn’t listen to me when I told them to not get separated before this all started to go down like this. I can hear their cries of despair and they had too many proud rookies that wouldn’t let me coach them in training. That and not having prestige classes like knights and rangers has hurt them; so this is an expected result.
I muted the despaired cries of team 3 because it will only mess with me. I don’t like it, but they could mess up the rest of the team since this fae party system lets us hear everyone. I can only allow disciplined talk on the telepathic voice wave projection.
Around us all kinds of critters have been put together in the enemy’s form and assault us. There are things like skeletons, shades made entirely out of shadow mana in man shape, and hell hounds. But by far the most numerous group are the hellhounds by probably ten to one.
Boy are there a lot of hell hounds! You wouldn’t believe it!
Screams of injured and dying are all around me. Some of those are civilian shopkeepers, family of soldiers in the fortress and so on. The anguish is that I can’t defend them when I’m having trouble defending myself. Many of the civilians are going down faster than I can blink. Others got unlucky by being in this city at this time.
This enemy is terrible!
I can see the health bars in my team enchant depleting like they are butter being thrown in a fire. In reality this means the hell hounds are already chewing on their arms and legs with them screaming horrifically. I had expected losses but not this bad. The enemy has really made hell for us.
“Lars…” I heard the magic comm. ping.
“Yes?” I keep fighting while I talk and listen.
“This is command. We have found your stray support mage. He’s not far from your position,” the woman’s voice said.
“Well, what the hell happened?! He didn’t answer summons,” I swore in frustration.
“It seems he dueled a daemon solo in a pocket of sub space, but I don’t know if that’s true. That’s what he claims,” she said.
“Sounds like a lie. There’s no way someone could do that without a full team. Even then it’d be a shit ton of losses,” I said.
“Can you pick him up?” she asked.
“That’s a no go. We’re already engaged and hanging on for bare life. I’ll be lucky if my squad team 1 survives the skirmish I’m already in,” I said.
“Well I kind of figured but it was my job to try,” she said.
I related to her my third team is basically done for, but she had no options for me. Then she reverted to talking about that support mage again.
“This seems like a good asset to keep. Are you sure you can’t pick him up? Someone up the chain thinks he’s valuable for some reason but I don’t know how or why,” the woman’s voice said.
“I don’t have a choice; I’m already down to 16/20 on team 1. 2 more will die within the hour, and the enemy outnumbers us 4 to 1, with more on the way. I might not make it out myself,” I said.
“Copy that. I’ll check if there’s a nearby team to assist,” she said her voice pinged out. She didn’t sound hopeful though.
While talking to her I’ve been using my heavy hammer to both block and hit hell hounds away from me. My men rally around me as the shield but even I get overwhelmed sometimes. I can’t always one hit kill them. I’m trying to keep a wall.
“Andrus! No!” I screamed.
Andrus just has his throat and jugulars torn out by a hell hound. Holy shit he was doing so well and then that happened before I can even blink. Those freaking hell hounds…
Andrus was a veteran. But he had too many on himself to manage blocking their bites properly. Hell hound bites are nasty. They have these wicked sharp black teeth and you get burned just by their mouths touching you. These things are dangerous as hell. The shades are stronger though not as fast but can be avoided; hell hounds are actually pretty damn fast by almost twice their speed. That gets complicated really fast when there’s a like two or three on each man.
Another member of my platoon died just now right after Andrus.
They are going down too fast.
“Lars, this is control,” the coordinator reached me by communication magic again.
“Copy. Any good news?” I asked while smashing another hell hound so hard I made its guts explode. I keep trying to avoid letting them hit my vitals or face. Hell hounds love to do jump springing attacks at your face I’ve learned. Andrus should have known that.
“Negative. The Asgys Squad is not far from you, a few streets over. But he’s taking heavy fire too. All of our other squads are also pinned down. If he can survive I’ll send him your way to lend support but I won’t know if we have anything left for another half hour probably,” she said.
Asgys is pretty reliable. They were right to make him a team lead. The last battle on this fortress he boosted the survival rate of the men quite a bit. Perhaps beastmen are good at this sort of thing? He leads a lot of things and is pretty strong but without his strength going to his head too much. I think he’s half human, half beastkin so he has a lot of strength advantages that humans don’t have and that had catapulted him into leadership early on after coming here. But to think that he’d be under heavy fire is unthinkable. He’s supposed to be usually the one giving heavy fire.
Also I think he had some heavy metal nun buffer with him that was popular recently.
“Damn it,” I swore.
The magic communication link died and I know I’m alone.
Defending the fae fortress is scary stuff. And we all know there are some really terrific battles.
A lot of my rookies are taking this the hard way.
Two more hell hounds die in the next five minutes but I had to stop and block something like ten hits in a row targeting me and the two guys next to me first. And it’s hard to block their hits because you have to think so quickly, respond and react fast, but also have enough weight in the block because they are using their full body weight when they try to bite you.
The party system registers 14/20 remaining and 2 of those are maimed. One of them has a stump where his foot used to be that’s bleeding badly and the other one had his arm ripped off at the elbow from a massive hell hound bite. I admire them from not giving in and losing their cool just from pain alone. Somehow they’d gotten back up while they’d been chewed on and fought them off.
“Hey boss, I’m getting some weird readings,” my magic detector said. This guy is kind of a magic swordsman but he doesn’t use offensive magic but rather tracks enemy and ally mage positions and types for me. A magic motion detector class with weak output basically but high in usefulness. He’s not really great in battle but is hugely powerful in terms of intelligence gathering.
“Stuff it. I’m trying to not die!” I shouted.
My hammer pops another hell hound. It helped briefly and then died.
Fuck yeah, bitch.
I spat on the fuckers corpse and then began swinging at the next closest one.
“Stupid hell hounds,” my assistant Brent said. He yanked his sword out of one. He’s breathing hard but not scratched up too badly since he can block just about anything out there. His specialization is blocking and nullifying enemy attacks. He’s one of my best soldiers at the moment. I don’t know if even he get through this though.
“What kind of weird readings?” Brent asked the Detector, who is another guy on our team. I nick named him that. It’s easier not to know their names since most of them die in their first three battles. So unless they prove themselves it’s less harmful mentally if you don’t know them well.
“Protection magic, and I’ve seen protection magic before but... This is…I can’t believe it! This is a freaking high class buff!” Detector exclaimed.
“Pff…a couple of defense buffs don’t make you high class,” Brent argued while I almost ignored both of their chatter. I would have laughed except I can’t have my concentration off right now.
I blocked two more hell hounds that tried to get past my guard working in tandem. Then a third was part of their ambush too, coming from the side flank that the other two had tried to lure my attention into. Like this I have to block several attacks in row typically before I can attack them back; even though just one of my attacks can fuck them up. These things are smart; they aren’t like normal animals at all. And they smell like hot ash rather than dogs or wolves too.
“No this isn’t a defense only buff…I mean I’ve never seen this. I’ve studied all the buffs from rank F to rank S. But I don’t recognize these,” he said.
“I thought you knew your stuff,” I complained while blocking a hell hound from tearing my arm off. Then I had to block two more.
Do I need a new detector? Is he slipping, I wondered briefly.
The hell hounds then began circling us to let us wear ourselves down while they look for openings.
“I don’t know this stuff is weird. It’s like an old spell of some kind,” he said.
“Which spell? Maybe I’ve heard of it?” I said.
“No…this is…I mean it’s not like in the fae database that we’ve studied. And I’ve gone deeper in their database than the others. I think it’s an area effect team defense buff, and it’s centered on that guy. But he has a few other defense buffs up too. And fuck….he just set up a barrier spell?! What the hell?!” Detector is swearing.
Barrier? No he must be reading it wrong. Dumbass…was he sipping wine before the fight again?
“We don’t have time to worry about that. Even if he’s good, he can’t solo dozens of hell hounds at once,” I said.
I probably shouldn’t have said that while we’re being circled by dozens of those same hell hounds. The others might react in fear to that kind of wording. But oh well.
“But its barrier boss…” he said again.
“B-barrier? I thought that thing ate your mana in one shot?” Brent said.
“It does. That’s why nobody uses it. It’s game over by mana depletion usually. But it’s the most useful spell for defensive fortifications and survival scenarios if you can get past that; but nobody can ever get past that it uses everything in one go,” I said.
“Yeah I had a friend who can cast it. It’s a useless gimped spell because while the protection has a 100% absorption rate it cleans out your mana tank in like one spell just like you said,” Detector said.
“That idiot that casted it is going to get himself killed. Poor little fucker,” Brent said.
“Let’s worry about ourselves. Stay sharp, those hell hounds are looking for openings,” I said. We can’t worry about a losing scenario right now.
“It’s sad to lose our people!” I heard the Heavy Knight from team 2 finally reply.
“Where the hell are you team 2? I’ve been trying to reach you,” I barked into the magic com.
“Well I can’t answer your chatter when I’m splashing fire pups,” he said.
“Can you reach us? We’re taking some heavy fire. And this spot we’re at is key for holding the fortress,” I said.
“Hmmm well we can try but it may take us awhile,” the heavy armor team 2 leader said.
The men cheered. But I don’t want to get their hopes up.
Tch…I hate when that guy takes all the glory. I’m as good as they are but this is some bad enemy fire. I have a whole pile of hell hound bodies just from my own kills near us that are slowly turning into ash.
A half hour passes…some of the men get dragged away from our hedge formation into the snarling animals. That’s their new tactic, circle and then pick one off that’s not as close as the others and then drag him into a mess of dogs. Sometimes they’ll circle while building up numbers just out of close combat range. And my current team is low on arrows.
11/20 men remaining…
Somehow we got a barricade up. This barricade is made from shop and building parts from wrecked shops on the street that Detector and one of the wounded guys setup while we were fighting using their blood, sweat, and tears.
I’m breathing hard but my stamina is holding.
Still, there’s like no end to all the hell hounds.
How can there be this many hell hounds?! I swear I’ve killed dozens of them just by myself. And they are in other parts of the city. Sometimes we see packs of them fighting over human limbs that they’ve torn off from fights and ambushes elsewhere.
“Um sir, this is weird…” Detector sounds confused.
“What?” Brent answered for me since I’m annoyed and trying to concentrate. Ahh good Brent’s paying attention to the magic communication network that the fae have for us too.
“Boss this is weird. That mage from earlier is still alive and if I’m not mistaken I think the mana ping I’m getting suggests he’ NOT out of mana,” he said.
“Wait…it’s been like a half hour. How could he do that?” someone asked.
“I don’t know. But there were weird fluctuations in the signals in the barrier so I’m not sure what happened. It’s hard enough getting any signals through a barrier like that. It’s also naturally harder to read mana and life signs inside barriers,” Detector said.
“What?!” Brent, Heavy Armor Team 2 leader, and I said at the same time.
“That’s not possible,” Team 2’s sniper said. He’s usually quiet but this sounds impossible.
“It’s true. For the past hour, he’s got that barrier thing up. The guy isn’t even wounded, how can that be?” Detector said.
“How did he even make the barrier last this long anyway?” Brent asked.
Uhm, that’s strange huh? Wouldn’t barrier be limited and melt pretty fast once your mana crashes?
That’s totally a lie. Even I’m wounded, and I’ve killed tons of them.
“What?!” Brent swore a few times right after, chewing him out to get his readings right.
“I…don’t get it. How can 1 guy just block off that whole street by himself?” he said.
“What? There’s someone that can do that? Why aren’t we with him instead?” one of my men blurted out.
Uh…that’s an idea but it’s such a long shot. What if we go there and he dies right then? Or what if the intel I was given is wrong?