Panic spread like wildfire in the main hall.
The convened nobles screamed in terror at the sight of their peers, people that they had known for a lifetime, turning into hideous creatures.
The bodies of the meat puppets\' carriers burst through their clothes like inflated balloons.
A single touch was all that it took them to assimilate those too close or too terrified to dodge their deformed limbs.
Tista and Dorian had tried to destroy the creatures before they could become more than an overgrown lump of flesh.
Unfortunately, when the nobles saw the bloated monsters rearrange their organs and muscles, terror turned into horror.
Some fainted or remained frozen in place, but most of them ran away disregarding anyone\'s safety but their own. The frenzied crowd almost trampled the two mages and managed to slow down Lith\'s and Jirni\'s reaction.
Lith had no idea what had gone wrong.
He, Manohar, and Jirni had spent a long time preparing their plan, divulging information only on a need to know basis.
Mynna and Hessie only knew about the room, not what would take place there once the events were set in motion, and so did the guards from the Association.
Since it was a critical point of their plan and its only known weakness, Lith and Manohar had swept the office several times to make sure that no one would tamper with it.
There no way someone took down Manohar in a direct confrontation.
This must be an inside job. Jirni snarled while she stepped sideways to avoid being trampled by the runaway mob.
Come to me. Lith said as spirit magic brought him the Gatekeeper sword from under the sofa where he had hidden it right before the gala started.
After sheathing his blade, his hands quickly formed seals until he was enveloped by a thin layer of darkness.
Is this spell as good as Manohar\'s I\'d be really impressed if you successfully imitated a tier five spell after seeing it once only a few days ago. She said with a surprised tone.
Not even close. He shook his head.
It should still protect me from those things, and if they try to gobble me up, they are in for a nasty surprise. He replied.
Their situation would have been much easier if not for the city array blocking dimensional items.
They could only use what they had on them, and there was only so much normal pockets could store.
Jirni\'s needles weren\'t an issue, but wands, blades, and all kinds of magical tools couldn\'t be carried around without other people noticing them.
The good news is that those guys are weak. Lith said while assessing their opponents with spirit magic and Solus\' mana sense.
None of them is marked as a remarkable mage.
They should be magicos tops.
The bad news is that we don\'t know what the heck is happening in the office nor we can leave our back exposed.
That\'s why I ordered to leave the Association\'s squads outside and let only the army in.
We can\'t risk our mages getting assimilated and turned against us. Jirni replied.
The Carpenters had yet to finish their transformation when four five-man units of the army\'s elite squads burst through the windows and doors, unleashing a barrage of spells from their wands and staves.
Being assaulted from every side, the creatures were immediately pushed on their back foot.
The reason why each Carpenter had assimilated only one guest was to be able to cast spells and attack at the same time without being burdened by dead weight.
The bodies of the nobles were only trained to indulge in hedonistic pleasures.
They had no value as mages or fighters.
Forming a Carpenter posed a heavy burden that those flaccid bodies were unable to sustain without constantly assimilating world energy.
A third body would make them weaker rather than stronger.
It would increase the energy expenditure without giving the creature any advantage.
To sort out the best parts it would take time and time was of the essence.
All that mana flying through the room forced the puppeteer who was controlling the creatures to stop the vortexes, to prevent their creatures from self destructing.
\'Well, well, well.
This time not only do I have to use half baked pawns, but they are also made of trash materials.
This should make things interesting.\' The puppeteer was actually grateful for Jirni\'s tactical choice.
Secrecy made things go much smoother, but after kidnapping Manohar, finesse was a waste of time.
They could finally have some fun after months of boredom.
The soldiers were all veterans who had been debriefed about all the enemy\'s known weaknesses and abilities.
They kept their distance while using water spells to freeze and slow down their enemies.
Without the vortex and with their spells constantly interrupted the Carpenters had only two choices: to stop and fight or keep marching forward and be decimated.
Faced with an impossible choice, the puppeteer had the creatures closer to the soldiers activate their vortex.
It poisoned them, but at the same time, it jammed all the nearby magical tools and allowed the other creatures to safely assimilate world energy and regain their vigor.
Three Carpenters fell to the ground as their first mana core collapsed due to mana poisoning.
Thanks to their sacrifice, the remaining nine reached as many soldiers and ripped them to shreds with the giant talons on their deformed limbs.
Jirni immediately understood that the enemy was turning the tables.
The creatures on the front line were now jamming again the alchemical tools while the three fallen Carpenters stood up the moment their second mana core activated and used the dying soldiers to replace the lost one.
It took just over a second to switch from one core to the other, but on the battlefield, it was half a second too much.
As soon as three more creatures collapsed after having lost their core, Tista struck them with a volley of Plague Arrows.
Darkness magic was slow, but fast enough to hit the creatures before they recovered.
With the crowd gone, she was finally able to take action while Dorian got those who were still paralyzed by fear to safety.
Her spell ate through their flesh and corrupted the energies that kept their makeshift bodies together.
Three Carpenters were down due to mana poisoning, while three more were helpless because of the Plague Arrows.
With their numbers reduced to half, the rhythm of the enemy\'s attack was disrupted long enough to allow the soldiers to retreat and regroup.
Lith exploited the temporary ceasefire to jump in the middle of the creatures\' formation and activate the Death Call spell he had cast earlier.
Fire couldn\'t be used in such an enclosed space, there was no earth to manipulate, and water magic had proved to be ineffective.
Tista\'s darkness spell, instead, worked like a charm, making Lith doubt again about what kind of magic could give life to the Carpenters.
\'Are they a cross between undead and flesh or is just darkness magic being that good\' He thought.
After his fight with the orcs, Lith had modified the spell to make it more effective in close range.
Instead of tentacles, the layer of darkness surrounding his body took the form of four arms that clawed at the nearby monsters like ravenous beasts.