Chapter 218: Battle to the Death
"Gods, no!" Scarlett and Balkor screamed in unison, watching the scene unfold.
Everything had happened in just a few seconds from the moment the array had been destroyed, not leaving the Scorpicore the time to even think about sending reinforcements.
Losing Kalla was a huge blow for Scarlett's army.
Despite the fact that she had only recently evolved, she was still the most talented Necromancer they had at hand.
Balkor had the advantage of experience and careful preparation.
Their best counter was true magic's surprise effect and the versatility Kalla's true Necromancy had displayed earlier.
She had been able to reinforce her troops and change strategy according to the situation, while Balkor's thralls, without their master supervision, could only follow a script.
The presence of greater undead had completely upset the balance.
"Damn you and your information, Linjos.
The Valors weren't supposed to come out until the last day!" Scarlett roared.
"She has only recently evolved and close combat has never been her specialty.
I only let her go alone because you guaranteed us that tonight we would face those black things again!"
"How I was supposed to know that Balkor would change his plans so much" Linjos tried to defend himself.
"Look on the bright side, it means he is desperate.
By butchering all of his Tox Spitters during the first day, you must have forced his hand.
The Valors are his trump card.
If we defeat them, the battle should be over.
He shouldn't have stronger troops."
"What if he does What if…" Scarlett stopped herself halfway.
There was no time for recriminations.
"We can't afford to keep our cards hidden anymore.
We can only go all out and pray that you are right."
Unbeknownst to Scarlett, Balkor's situation was even worse.
Kalla's final move had been devastating to his plans.
The massive release of darkness magic had destroyed all the Spitters attacking the north side along with the two Valors.
Unlike the lesser undead that required only a small spark of his life force, each Valor was empowered by a huge amount of it.
It was a double-edged sword.
On one hand, it allowed Balkor to share their senses and directly control them telepathically despite the distance.
On the other one, he would feel their lives slowly slipping away like they were his own.
The sudden disappearance of so much of his life force further damaged his already compromised body.
Balkor fell to the ground, convulsing and spitting blood non-stop.
With their mind link temporarily broken, the Valors were unaware of the huge blow their army had sustained.
They continued to follow the original plan, going deeper and deeper into the enemy lines until retreating became almost impossible.
The same thing was happening on all four academy battlefields.
The invaders were getting bolder, mistaking Balkor's sudden silence for approval.
Despite their high intelligence and extensive combat expertise derived from the memory crystals, the Valors were still newborns.
By giving them his memories, Balkor had also infected them with his rage, a feeling they were incapable of controlling without their master's supervision.
Trasque, Nalear, Ironhelm, Linjos, and all the Professors with the richest combat experience finally came out of the headquarters, aiding the royal army and the magical beasts in holding their ground against the swarming enemies.
Only eight Valors remained, but each had strength on par with Protector, making them extremely dangerous.
They looked exactly like Balkor did the day his family died.
Red-haired youths, barely sixteen years old with a naïve visage.
They were about 1.67 meters (5'6") high with a skeletal build like they had long suffered from malnutrition.
The red light burning inside their eyes and their savage visage revealed their true nature though.
"Thank the gods that Wraith warned us, otherwise I would be dead already." Professor Trasque had barely dodged the darkness bullet that the Valor had conjured at point-blank range.
Greater undead were naturally attuned with darkness magic, allowing them to use its true magic form even without being Awakened ones.
"That Wraith had a name! Couldn't you at least respect Kalla's memory, you oaf" Ironhelm scolded him.
He had always considered magical beasts as inferior beings, but after witnessing their bravery and willingness to sacrifice themselves in a battle that wasn't their own, he now harbored a deep respect for them.
"If you have the strength to quarrel like an old couple, use it to destroy that thing!" Nalear scolded them both.
They were three against one and under the effect of the best potions the White Griffon's Alchemists could provide.
Yet they were still on the back foot.
The Valor displayed all the swordplay he had inherited thanks to the memory crystal, using dozens of techniques with such mastery that it was like he had practiced them for years.
To make things worse, he was still faster and stronger than them.
He was capable of shooting rays of darkness from his free hand, eyes, and mouth with barely a split second notice, easily interrupting their casting whenever they attempted a spell.
The only reason they were still alive was because of their teamwork.
"Resistance is futile, humans.
Surrender and die!"
The Valor spread the fingers of his free hand, which turned into a mass of tendrils that whipped towards the trio to immobilize them.
Nalear preferred to dodge, while Ironhelm and Trasque cut them down with their weapons.
Each amputated tendril emitted a shrill sound, like it was alive, spurting a purple liquid with a pungent smell.
Ironhelm managed to block the liquid with his shield, but Trasque wasn't so lucky.
He was wielding dual sabers, so part of the liquid reached his face, turning out to be a powerful acid.
Trasque screamed in pain, suddenly full of openings that the Valor didn't miss, focusing all the tendrils on him and piercing his lungs, heart, and stomach in multiple points.
"Vastor, where are you We need help! Man down!" Nalear yelled into her communication earpiece, making Vastor Blink to the rescue and bringing what was left of Trasque to safety.
Without Trasque, their formation collapsed quickly, to the point that their efforts barely slowed the Valor from reaching the students.
"Where are the reinforcements" Ironhelm yelled in his earpiece, his body covered in wounds.
"Sorry for the delay, folks." Protector swooped down from the sky, hitting the Valor with his full weight.
Protector was engulfed by flames, his body infused with enough air magic to turn him into a living meteor.
The hit was supposed to blow the undead away, maybe even injure it.
Yet the frost aura the Valor had conjured to weaken his human enemies easily snuffed out the flames.
The Valor didn't even attempt to dodge, the strike was too fast for him.
The impact only managed to push the creature several meters away, leaving deep furrows in the ground.
Protector felt the opponent's bones cracking and reforming almost at the same time.
The regeneration speed of the enemy was so fast it was hard to believe.
"Filthy beast!" The Valor struck Protector with a fist, making his head turn abruptly to the side with a cracking noise.
"Damn, I should have really paid attention to Scarlett when she tried to teach me how to Blink." Protector realized in hindsight.
"If that isn't our cue, I don't know what it is." First Kalla had disappeared, then Professor Trasque had been severely wounded, and now a creature the size of the Skoll was faltering after a single punch.
Friya had every reason to be scared and so did her group.
She focused on the place where she wanted to go, bending space to her will and materializing a Warp Steps.
"Quick, get in! I have to go last or the gate will close behind me."
The group nodded, but before they could start moving, another Valor reached the town square.
"There is no escape for you, vermin!" He unleashed several streams of lightning from his hand that struck everyone but Lith, who managed to dodge thanks to his enhanced reflexes.
With Friya convulsing on the ground, the Warp Steps quickly disappeared, destroying their hope for survival.
"Relinquish your useless lives and join us.
At least your death will be meaningful." The undead's voice was oozing spite.
Lith could see, thanks to Life Vision, that darkness magic was focusing on his fingertips.
"Thanks, but no thanks!" He yelled, trying to draw the Valor's attention on himself.
Lith took his shotel out of his pocket dimension, going all out right off the bat to cut down the Valor's extended arm.
The undead reacted quickly, but not quickly enough.
Infused to the brim with air magic, Lith managed to cleave the arm a few centimeters below the elbow.
The limb fell to the ground, while the accumulated darkness magic faded away.
"How did you do that" The Valor raised an eyebrow, curious rather than worried.
Despite Lith's slash having been infused with darkness magic, black tendrils came out of the amputated limb, reattaching itself as if nothing had happened.
"That hurt, I'll kill you first then." The Valor promised, rushing for the kill.
Lith soon found himself in the opposite situation compared to his Professors.
The skill gap in swordplay between them was enormous, making him consider for dropping the shotel and fighting barehanded.
Thanks to fusion magic, the Valor was slower than him, making him vulnerable to the martial arts that Lith had learned on Earth.
According to Life Vision and mana sense, the Valor's blade glowed like a Christmas tree though.
That and the purple liquid dripping from the undead's fingers, made Lith realize that such plan was beyond stupid.
- "That thing is almost as fast and strong as me under the effects of fusion magic." Lith thought.
"I can't allow myself to get tired, get hit, or get poisoned.
I need a distraction to…"–
His planning was interrupted by the terrified screams of the students that were scattering in all directions to get as far as possible from the undead monster.
"I said there is no escape!" Seeing his prey getting away filled the Valor with rage, to the point of ignoring Lith to shoot them in the back.
Lith inwardly smiled, grateful for their stupid sacrifice.
He exploited that moment to Blink right behind the creature, cutting off his head and piercing his heart.
Before Lith could completely engulf the corpse in darkness magic, the Valor kicked violently towards his head, forcing him to block and cracking both of his arms.
The pain was nothing compared to his surprise.
Despite the amount of darkness magic he had infused in his sword, the hole in the chest was already closed, the head was taking its sweet time to reattach itself still showing a wolfish smile.
"What are you exactly" For the first time in his life, the undead experienced the feeling of amusement.
Protector's fight wasn't going much better either.
Even with Nalear's and Ironhelm's help, they were barely on equal footing.
Protector was unable to use dimensional magic and his favorite elements, fire and air, were almost useless against the undead.
The initial advantage due to fusion magic combined with his superior physical prowess had been quickly countered by the Valor's acid blood that returned each wound Protector inflicted twofold.
Several of his teeth had melted and his paws were bleeding profusely.
Nalear and Ironhelm Blinked around, searching for an opening to unleash their spells, but somehow the Valor always knew where they would appear.
He didn't react fast enough to counterattack, but enough to move out of their line of fire in time.
"How the heck can he know our every move" Nalear cursed, getting away from the undead and hoping to lure him away from the town square.
Alas, the Valor wasn't interested in fighting the Professors, his only aim was the students a few hundred meters behind them.
As soon as Nalear's position was left open, the Valor rushed forward, ignoring both Protector and Ironhelm, releasing a barrage of darkness projectiles from his fingers aimed toward the youths amassed in front of him like lambs waiting for the slaughter.
While the duo bombarded the undead with their best spells, Nalear cursed again.
She Blinked in front of the death wave and using one of her artifacts to block most of the attacks.
"Coward! Stop using children as a shield and fight us!" She yelled despite the ragged breath caused by the massive mana consumption from the artifact.
"In battle, there is no bravery or cowardice." The Valor mocked her.
"Only victory and defeat.
Stop me if you can!"
He had already been hit by over a hundred of spells during the fight, but taken separately, they were barely able to make him falter.
Thanks to his Abomination powers, the Valor would take little damage from all elements except darkness, but such spells were too slow and the creature would dodge them every time with ease.
Physical attacks and spells had proven to be useless, any damage sustained would regenerate so fast that the undead was able to keep his full mobility.
Protector cursed at himself for his stupidity, not studying the books Lith had left for him and spending most of his time nurturing his newfound family life with Selia.
His only remaining option was to use his physical prowess to block the Valor in place long enough for the Professors to strike him down with darkness magic.
However, the undead was well aware of their plan, so he employed a vicious hit and run tactic that the Crawlers had learned from Ironhelm himself during the first day to wear out the Skoll.
Protector's fur was already covered in cuts, some shallow, some deep.
He had suffered most of the hits while trying to defend the students and the Professors behind him.
The Valor had exploited his good heart to poison him multiple times and was now waiting for the inevitable to happen.