Trio's Counterattack #2 (End of Book 2)
The combination of three people, also known as a three-man cell, was really effective in small-scale engagements.
In Meltor Kingdom, the tactics of two magicians and one warrior or two warriors and one magician had been established. There were numerous proven combinations, so nobody doubted its utility.
Theodore's group agreed with this theory.
At the front of the party, there was flashes of light as Randolph's two swords moved. He used aura as well while his blades moved through the ghouls. The two blades swung about like whips and mercilessly destroyed five orc ghouls. Before Randolph could be hit by the undead, magic was used.
Theo's resistance spell protected Randolph from Sylvia's wave of cold air.
All living creatures and the undead froze from the cold, but Randolph had the cold resistance, so he quickly shattered the frozen undead without a moment of delay. The intermediate ranked undead ghouls were washed away like garbage.
Randolph clicked his tongue in admiration as he felt like he was hitting scarecrows. 'Wow, amazing. My employer and the girl are linking their magics in accordance with my movements. I guess he isn't just talk. This is why he planned the counterattack.'
Even if the combination of three people was excellent, it was useless if the hands and feet of the members didn't fit together. Bad teamwork could interfere with the movements of their allies and in the worst case, even help the enemy kill each other.
Therefore, Randolph had to appreciate the work of this three-man combination.
He followed the sudden command without any panic.
Simultaneously, a wind blade appeared underneath Randolph's shoes as he jumped. It was several times faster than an ordinary Wind Cutter but just as sharp! A ghoul's ankles were severed, causing it to fall, and Randolph's sword finished them off.
As the unstoppable linked movements of the three flowed, the passage was filled with the wreckage of the undead.
"Hoooo... Let me breathe for a moment." Theodore caught his breath after the third battle and looked at Randolph.
Despite the fact that Randolph had to swing his two falchions continuously, his breathing was still calm. It was evidence that he still had a lot of energy to spare.
'It is reassuring having someone as powerful as Randolph here.'
Just as Randolph admired Theodore's skills, Theodore was also amazed at Randolph. Randolph's sword skill which didn't retreat at all was truly ruthless. Even the orc ghoul couldn't withstand the two whirling swords.
Theo was relieved that he was an ally, but he also felt the need to improve in close combat. If Theodore had to fight Randolph now, he would only last 10 seconds. There were fighting tactics which used magic as well as close combat martial arts like the ones Blundell used. Once Theo finished this job, he was going to find one.
Theo finished arranging his thoughts and looked around him. "Sylvia, how is your magic power?"
"Around 80%? There is still a lot."
"I'm the same. I can keep fighting at this pace."
Theodore confirmed their statuses and looked at the path covered in darkness again. After three attacks and as many as 100 ghouls, only silence was remaining in the darkness. Was he imagining it? If he didn't hurry, it seemed like there would be an uncontrollable situation in the darkness.
"...Then let's move on."
As the two light spells led the way, Theodore once again began to advance into the darkness.
How long did they move through the darkness?
Theodore felt a sense of incongruity and paused for a moment. According to what he'd read in the report, the depth of the cave was only a few hundred meters, so they should've reached the end by now.
However, they path hadn't ended, and the room containing artifacts was nowhere to be seen. One possible hypothesis popped up into Theo's head.
"Carve the cave wall with your sword. If you can afford it, please use aura."
"...I will try it once." Randolph was confused but complied with Theo's order without questioning it.
It was due to his previous experience with Theo that he knew Theo wouldn't speak for no reason. So, Randolph placed his hand on the hilt of his left sword and held it at an angle while concentrating.
One strike lashed out. A blue flash emerged, and the wall cracked. The ordinary wall couldn't stop the aura blade. However, Randolph's eyes soon widened. "No...?"
The cracked wall was closing up again right before his eyes!
As a swordsman since birth, Randolph didn't know what it was, but Theodore's and Sylvia's faces became serious as they understood the situation. Severely dark mana leaked from the wall, like guts emerging from a living creature. The two people muttered almost simultaneously as they were reminded of a magic.
It was a powerful 6th Circle black magic spell which turned an area of a certain range into the user's domain.
The time and resources consumed were huge, but if the magic was completed, the power of the dungeon master would increase significantly. Whether it was due to the grimoire or the warlock already reaching this level, this was absolutely not a good situation.
The warlock had turned this cave into a dungeon and could freely shape the structure. At that moment, a creepy noise started to ring in their ears.
Chills ran down Theodore's spine. The physiological aversion was three or four times more powerful due to the sound waves echoing in the cave. The group automatically activated their aura and magic power as the source of the chill emerged. They were translucent shapes floating in the air.
"Damn, I don't have any holy water...!"
The group frowned at the specters. Unlike the undead, specters didn't have physical shapes and were collections of grudges which united together. They attacked by stealing a living body or draining vitality from it.
Since they existed as spiritual bodies, physical attacks were ineffective, and divine magic was essential. Cutting them with a sword was like throwing a duck into the frying pan. For Randolph, they were tricky opponents because he didn't have any holy water.
Shortly after that, the specters discovered the living beings and ran forward aggressively.
"It can't be helped, let's try it first!"
Although it was unfavourable, the two magicians would be in danger if Randolph stepped back here. Being in the vanguard meant blocking the enemy's attack first and then becoming a wall. Therefore, aura sprang up fiercely around Randolph's blades. He would stop the specters even if he had to overuse his aura.
However, he then received an order he hadn't considered.
"Randolph, fall behind me!"
It was confusing, but Theo didn't disappoint him. Despite delaying by half a beat, Randolph stepped behind in accordance with the order. As soon as he backed away, Theodore stepped forward without any fear.
Why didn't Theo feel afraid of them? The specters laughed wildly and flew at them. It was a charge which intended to suck out every bit of vitality from Theo's body.
As Sylvia and Randolph watched in preparation to jump in, the specters reached Theo.
This wasn't his voice. It was the instinct of Gluttony sleeping in his left hand. The unknown hunger was why Theodore was laughing at the specters and why he went forward without hesitation.
He felt Gluttony's tongue emerging from the hole in his left palm. There was a saying which went like this, 'There is no predator that is afraid of its food.'
Then the eating began.
In the face of the original predator, the specters lost their madness. Even though all the grudges and despair tried to escape, Gluttony had already caught them. The cries filled with pain, horror, and fear were heard as the ghosts were sucked into his palm. They were different from the undead like ghouls and zombies. Specters were born with black magic and were made of magic themselves, so they met the conditions for what Gluttony perceived as 'food.'
[The ghost of the goblin shaman has been consumed.]
[The ghost of the orc warrior has been consumed.]
[The ghost of a foolish troll has been consumed.]
[The user still hasn't unlocked the function yet.]
Theodore's consumption of the specters caused an unknown feeling to fill up his body. It was different from eating artifacts or magic books. This was an abstract representation, but Theo felt like his 'bowl' was full.
Theo opened his eyes as he enjoyed the sense of fulfillment. By then all the specters filling the corridor were gone. They had all been eaten, or perhaps the rest had run away. Either way, his original goal of stopping the specters was achieved.
However, the other two people were another story.
"What happened just now? You raised your left hand, and the specters were sucked into it..."
"Theo, teach me that! What did you do? Is it from the drain system? Or a modified version of sealing magic?"
Fortunately, Sylvia and Randolph had been behind him. The hole in his hand and the tongue moving were at an angle which they couldn't see. This was enough for Theo to evade it vaguely. He was planning to make an excuse by saying it was the ability of a pendant he'd pulled out.
However, the surrounding space began to shake before he could say anything.
"Wah! What is going on?"
"It is getting wider...?"
This was Dimension Expansion!
Suddenly, the area where the three people were standing widened into a dome. Theo went from standing in a narrow corridor to a huge room, but he quickly regained his composure. Only the warlock could do something like this inside the dungeon.
Unsurprisingly, there was an ornately decorated door.
As the doorknob turned by itself, the door opened, and someone in black robes emerged. Instead of walking out like a person, he slowly appeared in midair.
Then a sound was heard from inside the black robes, [Well...you broke my creations.]
It was a loud and terrible voice which resonated through the cave. The physique inside the robes didn't seem strong, but the three people could see the eerie and enormous flow of power enveloping him.
A darkness, which couldn't be seen through, surrounded the robe, and the evil voice resonated like it was singing.
[You can kill my creatures, but you can't kill me. If you were here a day, no half a day earlier, you would have stopped me from completing it. But now, the destiny you will suffer is death!]
The magic power expanded as the voice became louder. The black robes flapped. Unable to withstand the pressure anymore, the robes burst like a popped bubble. The two magicians turned pale at the nightmare which was revealed amidst the torn cloth.
[Look, the image of death itself! The greatness of the one who is beyond the bounds of a lowly mortal!]
It was a skull without any flesh left, and blue light appeared in the hollow holes where the eyes should be. The black magic gathered there so deeply that even people who weren't magicians would be able to see it circling around like a fog, while the soil which the death magic touched became rotten, and bodies sleeping in the ground raised themselves.
This was a top level undead made by a corrupted magician. Even the magic towers would be stunned. Its name was Elder Lich.
Unlike a lich which evaded death by keeping its soul bound, a magician had to extract their own soul from their body and seal it. The elder lich would be immortal unless the Life Vessel was destroyed.
A monster which the magic tower would designate with a level 3 difficulty had appeared before Theodore's party.
The bones floated naturally in the air. [At first, I wanted to kill all of you and turn your bodies into my servants, but...]
In front of the three nervous people, the elder lich raised its bony index finger. Then he pointed to Theo in the middle of the party.
[Your body will be an interesting experiment. I will take you alive.]