Chapter 219: Battle to the Death (2)
"You are too fast to be human." The Valor said to Lith, using a childish voice that matched his face for the first time.
Lith let him blabber on, using the idiotic bad guy monologue to activate Invigoration to mend his wounds and replenish his strength.
"You don't care for the young ones." The Valor shot another student in the back, pleasantly surprised to see that Lith didn't even flinch.
"Do you care for the older ones" By using their hive mind, the Valor didn't even need to turn around to shoot Nalear in the back.
What any Valor saw, every Valor knew.
That was the reason why Blink had been of no use to the Professors so far.
Thanks to the hive mind, by watching each other's backs, the undead had no blind spots.
The darkness bullet was deflected by Nalear's armor, but still managed to pierce her shoulder, making her yell in pain and surprise.
Their already weakened formation fell apart.
"No, you don't." The Valor nodded.
"Do you care for those ones" He pointed his fingers to the four youths still laying on the ground, finally obtaining a reaction.
Lith stopped using Invigoration, dashing forward to intercept the spell and deflect it with his blade.
"This is going to be fun!" The Valor laughed heartily.
"Not for you though." Lith replied with a wolfish smile.
He Blinked in front of the enemy and activated Death Zone and Death Call at the same time.
Several tentacles erupted from Lith's body, while a dense fog surrounded both him and the Valor.
Lith had used that time to also cast his two most powerful darkness spells.
The dark tentacles wrapped themselves around the Valor's limbs, draining his strength and making it impossible for him to run away.
Meanwhile, the highly concentrated darkness magic summoned by Death Zone was eating away the Valor's lifespan like a starving man at an all you can eat buffet.
"No, you can't do it! I'm not allowed to die!" Balkor's orders were absolute.
The Valor struggled with all his might, trying to get away like his master had instructed him to do in case of danger.
Lith was done talking.
He only focused on dodging and parrying the enemy's attacks while the undead withered more with every passing second.
Soon the physical gap between the two was so wide that Lith could afford to go on the offensive, slashing the Valor's body over and over with his darkness infused blade.
Despite being an undead, the Valor experienced blinding pain and desperation.
Each hit would eat away a good chunk of his master's lifeforce, making the Abomination inside him go wild and inflicting on him an agony that every Valor would share.
Back in his lab, Balkor's convulsions rose in intensity until he bled from his ears, eyes, and mouth.
Feeling their companion's imminent death sent the other Valors into a frenzy.
Because of the hive mind, they shared more than just their senses.
They also shared their rage, joy, and fear.
Protector exploited the enemy's sudden madness to bite the Valor's chest hard and pin him to the ground, trapping the Valor's sword and tendrils inside his own body.
"Quick, finish him!" He yelled to Ironhelm.
His eyes were sad, but unwavering.
Ironhelm understood his intentions, casting his strongest darkness spell, Dark Star.
Ironhelm wanted to cry, but his voice remained steady and his hands firm for all the duration of the spell.
Dark Star generated a pillar of darkness with a radius of ten meters (33 feet) that engulfed both the warriors until the Valor was no more.
Protector remained true to his name until the end, standing proud even in defeat.
Meanwhile, Linjos and Rudd were mercilessly taking down two Valors at once.
Linjos was the strongest Archmage of his academy.
His personal spells were fast and deadly, there was only so much the undeads' magical registance could do against them.
To make things worse for the undead, although Rudd lacked his firepower, he had plenty of ingenuity and talent for dimensional magic.
Whenever one of Linjos's spells were about to miss, a Warp Steps would open, redirecting it right into the back of a Valor.
Even trying to escape was useless, Rudd would simply Switch their positions with his own and Linjos's, who always took care to leave them a darkness based nasty surprise.
"Come on, that's all you can do" Rudd sneered, opening many Warps Steps at a time, making the new barrage of Linjos's spells appear and disappear from thin air.
When the Valors tried to escape in different directions, Linjos Switched their position, making them clash one against the other.
Rudd exploited that moment to redirect the spells, which hit the Valors all at once and turned them to dust.
"Excellent work, Rudd." Linjos said.
"I'm glad to have you on my side."
"Two down, still six to go." The two Archmages Warped to the rescue of their colleagues, hoping the battle could be still won.
As soon as she came out of the headquarters, Scarlett hunted down the Valors one by one. Even with the hive mind supporting them, the other undead weren't much of a threat.
She hadn't missed how the destruction of the two Valors by the hand of Kalla had made the lesser undead revert to their frenzied fighting style and lose any semblance of order or discipline.
Of the eight remaining greater undead, two were keeping themselves at the outskirts of the mining town.
Scarlett suspected that their refusal to budge even after losing two of their generals could depend on their role in keeping the hive mind active.
She Blinked behind their backs, infusing her roar with air magic, making them tumble on the ground like rag dolls.
- "If I'm right, they will attempt to run rather than fight.
I must keep them away from their escape route and kill them as fast as I can."– Scarlett thought.
As she had predicted, the two attempted to cast a flying spell to get away from the Scorpicore, but she only needed another roar to send them tumbling again and interrupting their cast.
"Filthy beast, your time has come!" Said the first Valor unsheathing his sword.
"Filthy beast, your time is n…"
"Shut your trap." Scarlett cut the second Valor short, ripping the creature's head off with her claws.
Her rage peaked when she heard those words again.
She wasn't sure if Kalla was dead or alive, only that if she had lost an Awakened because of humans squabbling between themselves, she would never forgive herself. A sudden sharp pain forced her to focus back on her enemies.
A big chunk of her paw was now missing, her flesh and bones melted by the powerful acid that ran inside the Valors' bodies instead of blood.
"Nice trick." She said, watching the bits of the undead's head reassemble themselves until no injury remained.
"Want to see a better one" Her paw exuded a white brilliance and in less than a second, she was healed too.
"As for my final act…" Scarlett weaved the Blink spell, but instead of Blinking herself she forced one of the Valors to appear right in front of her. Her paw pinned him down, while she used Invigoration to find the blood core and flood it with darkness magic.
It was something that only her overwhelming strength and over three hundred years of experience in manipulating cores allowed her to do.
The undead experienced pain as if its very soul was being ripped to shreds, pulverized, turned into a bucket someone used as a chamber pot, and then turned to shreds again.
Its agony spread to all the remaining Valors, making them easy targets.
While the first one was still turning to ashes, Scarlett repeated the procedure on the second one, making Balkor's mind fall into a coma to escape from that torture.
"Damn you! Damn you all! For Balkor!"
Lith didn't know why the Valor had started convulsing, nor did he care.
What worried him was that now the creature was willingly burning his life force to break free from the restraints.
Lith focused even more, increasing the density of darkness magic surrounding them to put an end to the fight.
He didn't know how long he could still hold the Valor in place.
Keeping both the spells active while trading blows with the undead was quickly draining his strength.
The Valor shot several rays of darkness from his eyes until he slowly turned to smoke and ashes.
"At least I will not die alo…"
Lith didn't stop the attack until the Valor's blood core was no more.
He never trusted monsters to stay dead, so besides confirming it with Life Vision, he also asked Solus to double check with mana sense.
- "By my maker! Lith, behind you!"– Despite being on the verge of exhaustion, Lith followed Solus's instructions, ready to fight with the last bits of power he had.
He only then realized that what Solus was referring to wasn't an enemy, but the members of his group.
They had yet to wake up from the lightning bolts, so unlike the other students, they had remained on the attack site.
Suddenly the Valor's words made sense.
They could be the only reason why the undead had wasted his life force to cast spells that he knew Lith could dodge with his eyes closed.
After a quick inspection, he discovered that only Yurial and Phloria had been hit.
The creature had shot blind, so most of the rays had just hit the ground.
Yurial had been grazed on a leg while Phloria on a shoulder.
The wounds were superficial, barely bleeding, but the flesh surrounding them was turning blue and the veins were bulging out.
Lith used Invigoration to understand what was happening.
A mass made of darkness magic was ravaging their bodies while advancing towards their mana cores.
- "Damn b*stard!" Lith thought.
"He invaded them with his life force.
If I don't stop it immediately, they are either going to die or turn into undead."–
Lith saw several students, that had been killed earlier by the Valor, groggily stand up with their eyes shining with the red light of undeath.
"Damn! I hate always being right!" Lith opened a Warp Steps, but he was too weak to go far from the battlefield.
His destination was their room in the mining town.
He threw Friya and Quylla inside and on to their beds, more or less.
Then, he picked Phloria and Yurial up and ran away from the undead mob that was chasing them, closing the gate right behind him.
The monsters were fast enough to compete with Lith in his exhausted state while burdened by his companions.
Some of them were already crossing the gate when it disappeared.
A few heads and limbs fell on the floor, emitting a screeching sound before turning into black smoke and ashes.
"Just Balkor's style.
He sacrifices undeath's eternal life in exchange for explosive power.
The fallen students turning so fast can only be a bad omen."
Lith lay Phloria and Yurial on the floor, discovering that the black matter was already halfway towards their cores.
The corruption was spreading at an alarming rate.
Almost half of their bodies had turned blue, with black veins bulging all over them.
Cursing Balkor's name, Lith had no choice but to activate Invigoration and wait until he had regained enough strength to make his blurred eyesight return to normal before attempting a treatment.
He used that time to call for help with his communication amulet.
This wasn't the academy's healers first rodeo.
The light magic department was bound to know a cure for their affliction, after ten years of fighting the same kind of undead.
Alas, the amulet was once again offline.
"F*ck Linjos and his idiotic plan! F*ck Manohar! He's nowhere to be found when you really need him!" Lith's rage was almost out of control.
In that moment, he hated everyone.
The academy for failing to protect them, the nobles and the Crown for having caused the crisis, and Balkor for messing with his turf.
- "Calm down, Lith" Solus did her best, using their symbiotic bond to quell his anger.
"Healing is a delicate process, you can't brute force your way to save someone.
Letting yourself go can only do more harm to your friends."–
Lith still rejected that word, 'friends'.
Yet denying his attachment to them was hypocritical, especially his fondness towards Phloria.
Aside from Solus, no one outside of his family had ever made him feel so special since his rebirth in the new world.
Lith swallowed his anger, studying the black matter only to discover it was some kind of darkness magic he had never met before.
Light magic would be useless, while Invigoration wasn't able to purge it because of its immaterial nature.
- "Solus, please help me!" What can I do"– Their bodies kept turning, their breathing had almost stopped.
"You can only brute force your way." Solus sighed.
It was a gamble, but also the only thing she could improvise with so little time at hand.
"Use your own darkness magic to stall and destroy the Valor's one while using light magic to immediately heal the damages the conflicting energies will cause.
That kind of power isn't made to last, if you resist long enough it should self destruct."–
Lith commenced the procedure even before Solus had finished her explanation, he had already understood her idea from the first sentence.
First, he attacked the black veins, preventing the affliction from spreading further, then he focused on the black mass.