Chapter 238: Outmatched (2)
While Thunderbolts quickly rained down from the sky one after the other, a spellcasting speed race for survival was taking place on the ground.
The evolved Clackers were trying to keep their defenses in place, while Lith was putting just as much effort to make them crumble.
Despite Lith being alone, the fight was on equal footing.
Lightning wasn't the only threat, there was also the shockwaves it produced.
The Praetorians were now blind, deaf, and badly injured.
Unlike their queen, they were unable to use light magic to heal themselves.
Also, by following their instinct, they shielded her to the best of their abilities.
Lith exploited the situation, focusing on one of them at the time, leaving a different enemy unprotected each time a bolt of lightning struck.
The cloud Lith had conjured was small, it managed to produce only a dozen lightning bolts before returning to normal.
Yet its effects were devastating.
One of the Praetorians was dead, another was in agony, and the last one was severely injured.
Exploiting their blind loyalty, Lith had also exterminated the Hatchling Clackers that answered their queen's call by throwing them in the eye of the storm.
Once the lightning bolts stopped, Lith jumped out of the pit, rushing at full speed toward his enemies.
His body was infused with air magic, making him appear like a blur.
The magic crystals embedded into the bastard sword harnessed part of the spell, making a small vortex cracking with lightning envelope the blade.
The Brood Mother was triggered by the noise, summoning an earth shield all around her.
The Clackers' sensory organs were still muddled by the thunderstorm, their reaction was disorganized.
When the last Praetorian still standing understood what was happening, Lith had already chopped off the head of his agonizing teammate, to prevent the Brood Mother from rejuvenating it.
The Praetorian screeched for help, fighting with all the strength it could muster.
All the rocks and debris that had been created by keeping the thunderstorm at bay, flew against Lith following his every movement.
Lith was starting to run out of steam.
His muscles were sore from the continuous bursts and his mind was losing focus.
Using so many high level spells at the same time had taken quite a toll on him.
To make things worse, the closer he got to the Praetorian, the more accurate its control over the debris became, making it impossible for Lith to dodge all the incoming attacks.
He could only deflect those aimed at his vitals and tank the others.
He used earth fusion to limit the injuries and light fusion to start regenerating them as soon as they opened.
When Lith was close enough, the Clacker interrupted the spell releasing a second one.
Eight giant spider legs made of rock erupted from the ground, attacked him from all directions.
Each one ended with a spike and was aimed at his heart to impale him.
'Damn my stupidity! I should have known the previous spell was just a diversion.
I've no time to Blink.' Lith infused himself and the sword with air magic, charging against the incoming spike in front of him.
He slashed horizontally, aiming to use the force of the impact to alter his course at the last second and avoid being turned into a shish kebab.
Much to his surprise, the sword didn't bounce off the spike, it cut through the stone like it was paper instead.
The Praetorian was suddenly as scared as Lith was jubilant.
'This isn't a sword.
This is a masterpiece!' Lith rejoiced from the sudden turn of the events.
The Clacker was defenseless.
Weaving and controlling his spell with such precision had required all of its focus, leaving it no time for a contingency plan.
With one last burst of speed, Lith arrived in front of the Praetorian, performing a series of quick slashes.
The first cut off the front legs that were trying to protect the Praetorian's head.
The second and the third split the head in two and removed it from the body respectively.
Lith kept dashing forward, putting some distance between him and the Brood Mother, activating Invigoration as soon as he stopped.
It took only a couple of seconds for the Brood Mother to realize there were no more lightning bolts incoming, but when she lowered her barrier everything was already over.
She used Invigoration to heal her many wounds and replenish her mana.
Once she spotted him, the Brood Mother was ready to counter any attack the human could be plotting.
Yet Lith remained still, his grin grew wider by the second.
"You really are dumb." He laughed at her with a cruel voice.
"Absorbing the world energy is a great idea.
Too bad it's a game that two can play and I started before you."
The Brood Mother cursed at her own stupidity, it was her first time facing an Awakened one.
Through Life Vision, she checked that Lith had told the truth.
He was recovering faster than she was capable of.
The head start he got would allow Lith to attack before she was back at her peak condition.
"Great idea!" He kept mocking her after noticing her glowing eyes.
Words didn't waste mana, so they were the only attack he could perform without hindering his recovery.
"I'm sure that wasting mana non stop will not slow you down even more."
The Brood Mother was outraged by Lith's defiant attitude, but she was even more scared of what could happen if she stopped watching his every movement.
Unlike him, she wasn't able to Blink.
She also had noticed how the piece of metal in his hands could easily cut apart even her strongest minion.
She only needed one strike to cut him down, but Lith was capable of doing the same.
The Brood Mother rushed forward, forcing him to stop using Invigoration too and playing straight into his hand.
Life Vision gave her only a vague idea of Lith's core power.
After all, he had almost killed her multiple times.
The Brood Mother was certain that he had to be at least as strong as her.
Thanks to Solus's mana sense, Lith knew that she was stronger than him even at his peak condition, something that was still lost to him.
His body had yet to recover from the attempt to save Protector's life.
Lith had manipulated her fears so that she would start recovering later than him and stop before him, forcing her to fight on equal footing.
The Brood Mother was physically superior, but Lith was much more experienced in using all the elements.
Her front legs clashed many times with his sword, keeping it at bay.
Their strength, speed, and stamina were on the same level since the Brood Mother was too scared to stop using Life Vision.
Yet Lith was forced to play on the defensive.
While his opponent could block with the front legs and attack with her claws, he had only one sword.
His daggers had a smaller range than her fingers.
Also, he needed both hands to stop her heavy blows.
They were too close to use spells.
If one of them stopped even for a second, the other would have the time to strike at least three times.
Soon Lith was covered by shallow wounds on the head, shoulders, and arms.
The Brood Mother was starting to get used to his poor swordsmanship, attacking with her claws every time her front legs clashed with the sword.
The impact would stun him just for a split second, but it was enough for her.
Lith changed his strategy, infusing the bastard sword with darkness magic instead of air.
The blade turned pitch black and small vortexes appeared on its surface.
Lith didn't need to use Life Vision to know that Orion's masterpiece was sapping his enemy's strength by the second.
He only needed to watch at her terrified expression.
Every time the dark blade clashed with the Brood Mother's stone like legs, they would crack and a bit of her life force would be transferred to Lith.
The tables were now slowly getting turned.
She knew that the longer it lasted, the weaker she would get.
She went into a frenzy, attacking faster and faster, hoping he would make a mistake not being able to keep up the pace with her many limbs.
Lith was soon forced to focus only on the defense again, the Brood Mother's attacks were too fast and well coordinated for his skill level.
New and deeper cuts appeared on his flesh, but he couldn't stop grinning.
"Not even a monstrosity like you could laugh at his own death!" During the fight, the queen of the Clackers had noticed Lith's unusual smell.
It was part human, part beast, part Abomination and completely unnatural.
'I'm laughing at yours!' He inwardly replied before releasing all the nine spells stored inside his rings.
Fireballs, lightning bolts, Plague Arrows, and a fully charged Checkmate Spears were fired against her at point blank range while she was lunging her left arm toward Lith's right one.
The thunderbolts stunned her while the darkness missiles drained her lifeforce and the icicles ravaged her body.
The explosions from the fireballs pushed her away, but not before her claws severed Lith's dominant arm at the shoulder.
The Brood Mother was severely injured but not dead.
Now that Lith had lost the sword she was certain she would get the upper hand as soon as her body started to move again.
Then she saw it.
Together with spurts of red blood, black tendrils came out of Lith's severed arm and from his shoulder, pulling it back into place.
The flesh merged like the wound had never existed.
Lith was shocked as much as the Brood Mother.
He had already seen Balkor's Valors reattach their limbs in a very similar manner.
Unlike them, he needed light fusion to close the wound and stop the bleeding.
The arm was in place, but it was useless.
The bones, nerves, and blood vessels were still repairing themselves.
Lith had no sensibility whatsoever, his arm was no more than dead weight.
The Brood Mother didn't know it and hope abandoned her.
It was only then that she realized that her body was already beyond saving.
The electricity from the lightning bolts ha temporarily stunned her, but not prevented her from moving.
Otherwise the previous thunderstorm would have managed to kill her.
The numbing effect had simply prevented her from noticing that several spears of ice had pierced both her human and spider body, puncturing her lungs and several organs.
She started coughing blood, while her life was slowly slipping away.
"Please, have mercy." She pleaded him, shedding tears from all her eight eyes.
"You are a powerful magician.
You can heal me.
You know how rare we Awakened are, we shouldn't kill each other."
Lith clicked his tongue in disgust, moving the sword from the right to the left hand.
The Brood Mother recognized him as someone similar to her.
He didn't want allies, only servants.
"If you spare my life, I swear to devote all my life to you.
I can take on any form you want, be every day the woman of your dreams.
I'll be your lover, your slave, whatever you want.
Just don't kill me!"
Lith plunged the sword into her head, using darkness magic to destroy the last spark of life force she had left.
'I can't believe she had the gall to ask me to spare her life.
Slave my a*s, she would have killed me as soon as she recovered her strength.' Lith thought, storing the corpse in the pocket dimension.
'What are you planning to do with her remains' Solus asked.
'Use them as ingredients, sell it, or reanimate it as a greater undead.
I have yet to decide.'
Professor Farg had witnessed the whole fight from the beginning.
The resourcefulness of both sides had left her speechless more than once.
'By the gods, even with all my equipment, I don't know if I could defeat either of them without reinforcements.
The Brood Mother was cunning and the four Praetorians covered her blind spots, leaving no openings.
'Lith's swordsmanship is amateurish at best, but he is a vicious, scheming opportunist.
He clearly has a lot of experience using true magic, that trick with the thundercloud isn't something you can improvise.
'Once again, Lady Tyris was right.
Lith from Lutia isn't human.
I must show her the fight, especially the part where the arm reattached itself.
His existence goes beyond my understanding.'
Lith used Invigoration again, checking his surrounding from time to time.
The few Clackers that had survived were all Hatchlings and with their queen dead, they had lost the will to fight.
He collected the corpses of the Praetorians too, hoping they were still worth something as trophies or ingredients.
Then, he returned to the pit.
The flames had destroyed everything, leaving behind only ashes.
Lith wasn't a believer, but he silently prayed for his lost friend.
He couldn't avenge Protector's death nor could he bring him back to life.
The feeling of helplessness heavily weighted on his heart.
"Goodbye, old friend.
Thank you for everything you did for me and for all you taught me.
I promise I will take care of your family like it's my own."
"Well, well, well.
Look who's here.
I should feel offended.
I heard from more than one reliable source that you shed a lot of tears for Protector, but none for me."
Lith turned around, welcoming Kalla with a warm smile.