\'Dammit, I just wanted to buy enough time to study the memory crystals inside the golems, not to become their main target.
If I Blink away, everything I\'ve done so far will be for naught but if I stay here, I\'ll die.
\'Whatever I do, I\'m screwed!\' Lith thought while Aylen\'s constructs swarmed him.
At least until a ferocious roar coming from his back reminded everyone that he wasn\'t alone.
Xenagrosh stood in front of Lith, hurling a jet steam of bright violet Origin Flames that engulfed the incoming wave of flying golems, turning them into a mix of ashes and molten metal.
The claws of her Orichalcum glove, Sky Piercer, extended towards the constructs on the ground and released her tier five Chaos spells, Flames of Absolution, at point-blank.
Xenagrosh had created it before the Master\'s experiments had given her back her Dragon form, in the attempt to imitate Origin Flames.
The black fire infused with Chaos magic filled the area inside the five silvery pillars, corrupting the enchantments that animated the golems and even disrupting the flow of world energy that they needed to cast their spells.
Flames of Absolution\'s destructive power was inferior to Origin Flames and they had no purifying ability.
Yet not only did the Chaos allow them to tamper with the elemental balance, they also put no strain on the Shadow Dragon\'s life force.
On top of that, they gave Lith insight into both his Tiamat and Voidfeather Dragon form.
\'The black flames of her spell are similar to those of my Origin Demons, which means that both involve Chaos.\' He thought.
\'Then why even though we both have the life force of an Abomination do we breathe regular Origin Flames\'
His train of thought was interrupted by Xenagrosh\'s tail that moved like a whip and hit like a Orichalcum train whatever dared to come close to Lith.
\'Solus, is there any polite way to tell bis sis Zoreth to curb her enthusiasm I\'m grateful for her protection, but at this rate, she\'ll wipe out all of our precious specimens.\' He thought.
\'On your six!\' She replied
A few flying skeletal constructs had exploited the fog of war to snuck past the Shadow Dragon and remove the annoying Tiamat from the chessboard.
The Origin Demons kept messing with the mining process and as long as Lith was free to use Abyssal Gaze, they would regenerate.
\'The good news is that their power cores are nearly depleted, the bad news is that the altered crystals are overloading themselves with world energy.
The bastards want to blow themselves up and bring us with them!\' Solus said.
Lith cursed his bad luck and had Solus take the form of the Hands of Menadion, even though they barely covered the claw of his index.
He had already discovered that artifacts with a power core were immune from Solus\'s ability to manipulate the world energy, but in the case of Aylen\'s golems, the mana crystals weren\'t just an energy source, they were also their brains.
Lith only needed to disrupt the elemental flow that surrounded the memory crystals to dispel the world energy they had accumulated before it could explode and to depower the weakened constructs, making them drop like flies.
\'This is bad.\' Lith and Aylen thought in unison.
\'As I expected, the memory function of an altered crystal works akin to an artificial willpower that shields them from external influences like Domination.
\'At the same time, putting a power core inside a white crystal makes it vulnerable to any ability that affects the world energy.
Unlike a common artifact where runes, crystals, and the power core are separate, a golem has them all in the same place.\'
\'This is bad news.\' Lith thought.
\'To craft a superior version of these golems, not only do I need the Earth Root to make the corpses into decent mana conductors and a Spirit Crystal to use my bloodline abilities, but I also need to find a way to stabilize the flow of world energy!\'
\'This is great news.\' Aylen thought.
\'I learned everything I needed to craft a superior version of my golems and spotted a critical flaw that would have crippled my work if discovered too late.
\'On top of that, I\'ve put Sinmara\'s new combat skill to the test and discovered a lot of interesting things about how Origin Flames and the cursed elements interact.
It will take a lot of work to reproduce them with my bloodline abilities, but time is the only thing I don\'t lac-.\'
Sinmara exploited Aylen\'s distraction to conjure six shadow copies of herself thanks to the Echo of Darkness ability and cast the tier five Spirit Array, Silverwing\'s Annihilation.
The seven Phoenixes of Darkness emitted seven differently colored rays of light that shattered the equipment of the Lich Magus, cutting her short and forcing Aylen to protect her phylactery with her own body.
She survived by emitting a burst of Origin Flames enhanced by what little Life Maelstrom she had left, consuming the last remnants of the crystallized life force she had fed upon.
To make matters worse, even though the Davross regenerated immediately with its enchantments intact, its durability was now inferior to Orichalcum and Sinmara had already conjured six more shadows.
Thanks for the fun, old girl.
See you next time! The Devourer Lich touched one of the gems on her breastplate that gave her spatial awareness of all her pets and remaining golems.
They weren\'t of much use anymore but Aylen wasn\'t willing to leave her secrets laying around for other Forgemasters to study.
Also, she could use them as test subjects and search for more flaws that had escaped her notice.
Then, she Blinked them away and kept doing it until they were far away enough to safely open a Warp Steps back to her lair.
The Devourer Lich had failed to get all the materials she needed but in exchange, she had learned much more than she had hoped for.
In her eyes, it was a fair trade.
Also, Aylen could always take what she still lacked from any of the neighboring countries.
It would piss off the Awakened Council big time, but being used to mess with Salaark, Aylen paid them no heed.
\'Fuck me sideways! Solus, what\'s the status of the scan\' Lith asked.
\'I didn\'t learn a single one of Aylen\'s enchantments nor did I understand her crafting method.\' She replied, making him punch his own forehead in frustration.
\'But thanks to that last few golems coming too close for comfort, I managed to finish scanning the spell that she used to trigger the crystal\'s memory function.\'
\'Excellent news.\' Lith said as his telepathic frown turned upside-down.
\'Did you discover anything about Xenagrosh or her equipment\'
Her equipment\'s cloaking system is excellent.
I could only skim the surface and get a rough estimate of its power.
Whoever crafted her stuff is as skilled as Sinmara, if not even better.
\'I exploited our trip on Xenagrosh\'s back to use Abyssal Gaze on her equipment, but the skill gap between us and her Forgemaster is too big.
As for the Eyes, I focused them on her too briefly to obtain useful data.\'
\'Can you give it another go now that the battle is over\' He asked.
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