Chapter 136 - The Goal is the Port (2)
However, on the first night of his departure from Sipoto, Theodore had no choice but to admit his prediction was wrong.
The first one to recognize the presence wasn't the almost master level swordsman, Randolph or the 6th Circle magician, Theodore. On the roof of the carriage, the crow, Hugin, cried out as it discovered something strange on the horizon.
Thanks to the summoning magic, the image which Hugin saw was burned onto Theodore's retina. Simultaneously, Theodore closed the book he was reading and shouted at Randolph who was in the driver's seat, "Randolph, stop the carriage!"
Randolph sensed Theo's urgency and tugged at the reins. Thanks to the well-trained horses, the speed of the carriage reduced without any impact, and it stopped 30 meters from the point where it had first started to decelerate.
Randolph tried to ask about the sudden order, but there was no need as immediately after that, the ground near the back axis of the carriage began to shake.
Ku ku ku kung...!
"W-What, this feeling?!"
Unlike the confused Randolph, Theodore had a helper who could let him know the underground situation. The little girl appeared at Theodore's feet and asked, [Deo, you caw?]
'Yes. I'm sorry, but can go you straight into the ground? I need to know what is going on.'
[Yes! I noe!] As always, the girl replied with short words before diving into the ground with her distinctive hoing.
'...Okay, there are two of them.'
As Mitra dug into the ground, the presence of two beings entered Theodore's mind. One was 'Hugin's eyes,' watching something on the horizon. The other was 'Mitra's vision' which had just entered the ground.
His mind was confused by the two scenes, but Theo kept his composure. It was thanks to his mental training to handle Umbra. Eventually, the source of the shaking ground was revealed.
"No way. Sand worms?!" The name emerged from the lips of Theodore, who was in shock.
Sand worms were a type of insect monster which lived mainly in the desert. Their bodies were several dozen meters long and were capable of quick movements because their weight didn't match their bodies. However, their skin was soft, so they couldn't move in places where there was hard ground. The ones Mitra was showing Theodore, ignored these constraints.
The sand worms continued advancing despite the rocks, gravel, soil, and sand rubbing against their skin. They didn't care about the blood which poured down occasionally or their internal organs which sometimes fell out from scratches on their body. It was a wound which living sand worms wouldn't have been able to endure.
"Undead. Using zombie sand worms as a means of transportation... Isn't this quite creative?"
It was as he said. A zombie sand worm could move anywhere under the surface of the ground, no matter how painful the journey was. According to some researchers, a sand worm could move at a speed which was equal to 60km/h. Furthermore, it could run without feeling any fatigue because it was an undead.
This way, it wasn't unreasonable that the followers had caught up with Theodore. As they arrived at a point just ahead of the party's carriage, the movement of the sand worms caused a tremor which was close to a small earthquake.
The sand worms broke through the surface of the ground, causing blood to soar and splatter.
It was a frightening roar. Of course, Theodore and Randolph weren't scared of sand worms, but they couldn't prevent their expressions from changing into shocked expressions after seeing the sand worms' appearance.
This was because undead started pouring out of the body of the sand worms.
Contaminated with black magic power, the bodies were already closer to metal than biotissue. This was the intermediate-ranked undead which could reproduce some of their original physical abilities and skills. They mumbled, so that meant there was some intelligence remaining.
Which kingdom had they been soldiers of when they were alive...?
In their formation, the skeleton soldiers, armed with armor and spears or swords, started advancing toward Theodore. This wasn't the chaotic assault of a corrupt group but a corps with proper tactics, and there was someone controlling them from behind.
"Sheesh, this type of offensive is annoying," Randolph grumbled as he moved forward.
"Then I'll increase the number of allies."
Theodore tapped his index finger instead of answering.
Clack! There was a sharp sound as the bracelet around his wrist sparkled. The bracelet was the artifact created by the Yellow Tower Master and borrowed from Kurt III. Six living armors suddenly appeared around Randolph, who laughed and twisted his double swords as he felt their incredible presence.
"Ohh, then this is a different story."
Going from one to seven, the total sum of combat power itself hadn't changed much, but the advantage wasn't light as it reduced the pressure of being surrounded.
Randolph's role was to act as Theodore's escort. It was the magician, not the swordsman, who played the protagonist in these types of battlefields. The essence of Theodore's ability as a magician was to dominate the battlefield with overwhelming magic power.
"Please escort me well, Captain Randolph."
Theodore pulled out his staff, which he had never used before.
* * *
With an eerie sound, the neck bone of five skeletons were severed. They were reinforced with black magic, but they still couldn't endure Randolph's aura.
He wielded his two falchions like he was jumping into a flock of sheep. Any shield or armor hit by his weapons were broken and scattered into pieces. It was impossible for intermediate-level undead to resist Randolph's aura.
As a result, over 100 skeleton skeletons were turned into grey ash.
However, that wasn't all. The six living armors Theodore had summoned were quite successful. The poison infesting the skeleton soldiers' weapons were made of black magic and only affected the living, so the living armour blocked the undead army from reaching Theodore by becoming a steel wall.
"...Isn't this flowing along easier than I thought it would?" Theodore muttered as he raised his staff.
'Memorize. All Slots Open. Fire Ball Sixfold.' The magic was invoked without speaking. If another magician was here, they would be foaming at the mouth.
Theodore's fire magic, enhanced by his high sensitivity and max fire attribute affinity, was already beyond the standard of the circles. There were six fireballs, each one having the power of a 4th or higher level circle. Additionally, he received the assistance of a staff which he didn't normally use.
The undead fell apart under the catastrophic bombardment.
In a second, charred bones became ashes, and those in the center of the explosion were destroyed by the fire. It was the result of pure destructive power. There were only six rounds, but the scale was enough to shake the entire battlefield. If it were ordinary 3rd Circle magic, a skeleton soldier would be able to endure half a dozen of them.
However, Theodore's eyebrows twitched when he saw the result.
'What the hell are these guys? Why are they so weak?'
If the warlock in the distance heard Theo's mumbles, he would be shaking in shock. The skeleton soldiers the warlock led were the remains of the elite army of an old kingdom. It was an army strong enough to compete with senior undead such as the death knight or dullahan.
This was a force much stronger and more capable than the corpses Theo had previously encountered at the Miller Barony.
'No, is it just my perspective that is different?'
After all, Theodore was 10 times stronger than he had been at that time.
Kwaang! Kwang! Kwaang!
He simply shot fireballs at 10 second intervals, but the number of undead was rapidly declining. The sight of the skeleton soldiers collapsing like scarecrows in the rice fields must be a nightmare for the maker.
The stalemate was increasingly pushed as gaps appeared between the countless soldiers. The headcount might seem unlimited, but in the end, all warlocks had a limit.
Not long after that, Randolph had nothing to do.
"Ah, Young Master is still absurd."
The skeleton soldiers were destroyed faster than those emerging from the sand worms. Thus, the front line was pushed back, and the need to protect the front of Theodore disappeared. Randolph just watched mournfully as fireballs shot at the enemy constantly.
However, it was at this moment that...
Ku ku ku kung...!
Another sand worm suddenly soared up behind Theodore. It was different from the other sand worms; this one was meant to be a 'ghoul' instead of a 'zombie.'
Therefore, the reactions of Randolph and the living armour were late. The speed of the ghoul worm, which was better than its physical capability in life, was comparable to a killer whale in the ocean.
The snout of the worm opened, and a warlock in black robes popped out. "-Kuhuhu! You weren't alert, you fools!"
Randolph was able to realize it right away that the warlock standing in the distance was a fake, while the real one had hidden in order to catch Theodore unaware. He stepped forward, but the black magic spell was completed several beats faster.
"Evil spirits from the abyss, slay him...!"
The black magic curse, Doom Wight, summoned wraiths which couldn't even be compared to specters or banshees. The warlock had formed the curse by gathering at least 10,000 spirits. This was a mass of malice which could kill any living creature just by touching it. The most frightening thing about it was that defense magic or physical resistance was no use against it.
The fatal drawback was that despite such a high cost, it was a disposable thing which could only be used once.
The moment that the reddish black magic power sprang up like lightning, a drop of sweat rolled down Randolph's neck.
'...That son of a bitch was watching Young Master's abilities.'
Theodore had torn apart the undead army with fireballs and showed no signs of fatigue despite the constant bombardment. The warlock had seen this and didn't hesitate to ambush Theodore. He then prepared a spell dangerous enough that he was certain he could kill Theodore. Was it possible for Theodore to survive this surprise attack?
Of course, it was.
"Was this why you wanted me to wait?" Theo muttered.
Had Theo gone crazy after seeing the impending death before his eyes? The warlock scoffed when he heard Theodore muttering to himself.
-That's right. I was waiting for this.
However, Theodore was talking to someone else. With Alfred's sensory perception and Mitra's detection ability, very few things could surprise him. Nevertheless, there was a reason why he had waited for the warlock to reveal himself and allowed the warlock to complete the spell-Doom Wight, a black magic spell composed of 'evil spirits.'
It meant this was Gluttony's prey.