TL: Edited 30/05/2017.
Ch 8 – The bloody forest
The young members of the militia roared in fury as their eyes bore at the traitor before them.
The young man who was controlled by the necromancer paled even further with a shudder, his shame and fear made him bow his head deeply.
He had no choice because he did not want to die—
Freya felt her heart nearly stopping. She reached for her sword subconsciously, but the necromancer immediately dismissed her notion to draw it. The green lights in its eye sockets flared up, and the young man’s arm exploded like a smashed egg. Blood and flesh sprayed everywhere, and he screamed loudly, falling down and curling into a heap.
“Gaaahhh! Please save me, Captain Freya!!!”
The bloody Jonathon rolled on the ground, shrieking in horror.
This frightening scene made a few people turned away and threw up. Freya turned white and stumbled backward, her legs trembling and unsteady.
“Little human girl, it is best that you do not move rashly.” The necromancer warned her with a shrill voice, its terrifying gaze sweeping across everyone who was there.
But it soon discovered there was only militia here, maggots that were not worth mentioning.
The green lights in the necromancer’s eye sockets dimmed with disappointment. It had received orders to pursue and kill the human scout, and not to squabble over these maggots.
Freya’s mind was a complete blank, but she tried to shake off the waves of dizziness that were assailing her and tried her best to mull over the ways to escape from the situation. She still remembered she was the leader of the militia and could not show her weak side.
Sophie supported Freya from behind to prevent her from sinking to the ground, but she surprised him with her determination to stand on her own.
The girl beside had Romaine had already fainted after she saw Jonathon’s plight. It was fortunate that the merchant girl was there to hold her.
Sophie felt one of Romaine’s hand grabbing on to his sleeve tightly. It was a sign that she trusted and depended on him.
But he knew that the militia needed some assurance at this time or they might break down mentally. They were living in a generation where Madara had not invaded yet and would find it difficult to endure a cruel scene like this. It was perhaps fortunate the young men and women were trained as militia and prepared for wars to break out; Aouine was a country that was stricken with the ravages of war after all.
“Freya.” Sophie whispered weakly.
The young girl paused for a short moment and immediately woke up from her stupor. She breathed deeply and calmed down bit by bit under Sophie’s presence. He nodded in admiration when her fingers on her sword’s hilt relaxed.
[Good. Few people would be able to calm down when they are facing a life and death situation, although the same could be said for me.]
His heart was as serene as it could possibly be. Perhaps the shock from traveling to a parallel world and his supposed death had allowed him to be numb to the threatening situation in front of him.
Regardless, it was definitely a good thing.
He continued to whisper: “Do you remember what I said earlier about planning for the worst?”
Freya froze for a moment and nodded slightly.
“Do you have the strength to fight?”
It was a reply which almost could not be heard.
Sophie’s heart was relieved.
He rubbed against the Ring of the Wind Empress with his thumb, and the sensation he felt told him it was half recharged.
[It seems a few hours have passed since I fainted. It only takes ten minutes to receive a full charge in the game. It’s not going to be able to create a Wind Bullet, but a powerful whirlwind is possible.]
He prepared himself for the worst outcome. Even if there was an army of skeletons behind the necromancer, he would not flinch or panic.
At the same time, the necromancer was finally convinced there was no ambush here. It did not even bother to look at the pitiful figure that was crying beside its feet, and raised its skeletal arm:
“My soldiers, slay everyone here!”
The dry ear-piercing voice screeched out from the necromancer, and there were four skeleton soldiers wearing dark heavy chain armor and wielded sharp swords that rushed out from the forest. Their bodies made clacking noises as they moved through the swirling mist, approaching closer to the militia with every step.
If it was a little earlier the militia might still have the courage to resist the undead soldiers, but it was different now. The confidence they had earlier was shattered by the necromancer’s terrifying power, and the remaining bravery they had were crushed by the approaching soldiers. They were in no condition to fight back as they trembled before death.
They could only retreat backward in terror. Some drew out their swords shakily from an instinctive will to survive, but there was no certainty as to how much they could defend themselves.
There were only quickened breaths echoing throughout the forest and the rustling of dead leaves as death snaked towards its preys.
The necromancer crackled in laughter as it watched them. The green lights in its eye sockets danced wildly as if they were savoring the fear.
Fear was human’s greatest weakness. Their emotions could easily be made use of. In comparison, the undead naturally overcame this weakness. Every one of them could be considered as the finest soldier, especially the lower ranked undead which did not even need to think and simply obeyed their orders.
Even veteran soldiers could be as helpless as children in a battlefield. The Madara’s undead hated weak creatures and sought to eradicate them.
The necromancer felt only hatred for them.
Madara’s victory was certainly assured—
But at this moment it heard a faint whisper:
“Then I’ll leave it to you.” A calm youthful voice said, brimming with confidence.
The necromancer felt its Soul Fire jumped a little. It was a bad omen, and the necromancer turned its head warily.
A shining ring entered into its line of sight.
The ring was worn on that heavily injured militia’s thumb. It had not taken notice of this human who was half dead because there was nothing to note of.
A human could pretend to be heavily injured and possibly fool people, but they would not be able to deceive an undead. These cold unfeeling creatures which climbed out from graves were able to perceive the Flames of Life directly, and there was no mistaking Sophie’s faint flames.
He was definitely heavily injured.
The true threat came from the magic ring on his thumb. The green lights in the necromancer’s eye sockets suddenly dimmed, as it could suddenly feel a dangerous aura gathering in the air.
The necromancer came into contact with fake replicas of powerful artifacts when its master had taught it black magic. From that aura emitted in the air, it judged the ring to be at least twenty OZ.
[Why would such an artifact of a true wizard appear in the hands of a normal human?!]
The necromancer showed an expression that was full of surprise and greed.
“My undead soldiers, pry the ring off his finger and give it to me!” It raised its bone staff and screamed.
But Sophie raised his right hand and spat out the word with all his strength as if to expel all the air in his lungs. The youth took a step back and his head was full of cold perspiration.
The space between them expanded visibly before it violently contracted.
The distortion in the air rapidly reverted back to normalcy with a sudden explosion, and the blast of frenzied wind roared with a thunderous boom. The wind was like a tempest of sharpened arrows piercing through the necromancer and the skeleton soldiers. They tried raising their arms to protect themselves, but the rampaging whirlwind made them stagger to their sides.
There was no damage done, but the impeding effect was easily visible.
“Now, Freya!” Sophie shouted.
The girl’s long sword sang in response as she drew it out, her long ponytail dancing behind her figure.
What amazed Sophie was how the inexperienced girl acted next. She did not rush in rashly, but turned her head and yelled at the rest of the militia: “Mackie, Irene! What the hell are you waiting for!? The third squadron, soldiers of Bucce, follow me into battle!!!”
The burst of courage was like a signal; simple words in a battle between life and death could become a suggestion which brought about limitless strength.
But this needed one condition, and that was composure.
A single person’s composure could affect others, and Freya’s reminder startled them to come back to their senses. They immediately recognized this was the final chance of surviving this encounter.
The raging winds continued to force the enemies back helplessly.
When the young militia discovered this, they quickly regained their mettle and the sounds of swords being drawn out reverberated in the forest. It was as if their discipline learned from the days spent in training returned to their bodies.
“Mackie, cover me.”
“You fucking monsters, it’s time for your turn……”
“Kill that foul witch first!”
“That’s a necromancer.”
“Little Fenris, you’re behind me.”
Sophie looked worriedly at the chaotic battlefield. He was afraid of someone acting rashly and ruining the situation, and he yelled out at them: “Everyone, remember what you learned in training! You can only fight well if you remain cool-headed!”
In the online game ‘The Amber Sword’, he had seen many hot-blooded newbies acting the same way like the youths here.
It was good to be heated but losing their rationality was not allowed.
He recited the militia’s combat rules. It was something everyone here had recited before, but there were not many who could keep these tedious but valuable rules in mind during a battle.
[This Brendel is really something.]
Sophie played back Brendel’s final battle in his mind. As a new soldier, Brendel’s performance could not have been more perfect; he recited the combat rules when he fought against the skeleton and he had some considerable talent in wielding a sword as a militia. Unfortunately, he was in the wrong place and at the wrong time.
The young militia soldiers who heard Sophie’s reminder made them levelheaded. But it was not sufficient, as Sophie knew they needed more confidence instilled in them, or else their regained morale would plummet back to nothing.
The wind started to weaken.
The skeleton soldiers shook their rattling armor and tried to find their balance, preparing to fight back, but Sophie’s voice already instructed the militia to change their tactics.
“Listen well. These low ranked Madara’s soldiers lack intelligence and move slowly. Their greatest weakness presents itself when they turn their body. Do your utmost to follow their sword hand and move towards the left. They have a blind spot there and you can attack safely……
Mackie, partner up with Irene and attack from both sides. Do you know how to cover her? Good, attract the attention of that skeleton, keep up that pace.”
Sophie laid half of his body onto a boulder, staring closely at the battlefield’s situation and instructed them on their next move. It was almost as if his words carried a magic, bringing strength, composure, and calmness to the young militia soldiers.
They were quickly rewarded. Erik broke a skeleton’s thigh bone from slashing its leg from Sophie’s directions, and his partner, Fenris pierced through the skeleton’s skull as a follow-up.
The instant the sword pierce through the skull, the undead creature seemed to let out a gasping sound, the Soul’s Fire in its eye sockets flickered and quickly died.
Sophie’s eyes caught a gold light flying into his chest from the skeleton.
Sophie stared at his chest for a moment. It was different from the previous time, he clearly felt the experience points clearly. But he did not have time to relish that fact as he heard the excited yells from the militia’s victory.
“Heavens, I did it!” Erik could not believe it and yelled as he held his bleeding wounds firmly: “Brendel, how the hell do you know about these things?”
Brendel gave a small smile. His experience came from within the game where he analyzed the enemies with his allies. Even knowing their smallest habits came from harsh lessons; knowledge attained from thousands of battles and deaths in the game.
Bucce’s militia also learned something similar from their training, but they were merely superficial in Sophie’s eyes. If Bucce’s training raised his prowess against the skeleton soldiers by 10%, then his own knowledge would raise beyond 50%.
From the 375th year until the end of the 2nd era, the frequent battles against Madara had made Sophie completely familiar with their lowest ranked skeleton soldiers, to the highest ranked demonic wizards, vampire lords, and even bone dragons.
There was no one in Aouine who understood the undead kingdom more than him, perhaps even the entire continent. After all, the kingdoms in this continent, prior to the first War of the Black Rose, did not have as many intense conflicts with Madara as compared to the future.
The experience that Sophie had in this world was one of his proudest accomplishments in the game. He relied heavily on his knowledge, and it was the only reason that he had the confidence to win this battle.
But he had to finish this task at hand quickly to be safe. The violent whirlwind might have attracted unwanted attention.
His eyes fell upon the necromancer as he contemplated.
This was a difficult enemy.