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The Oracle Paths - Chapter 703: Despair
Chapter 703: Despair
At the sight of reinforcements, the Lich, who was surrounded, halted the march of its Undead army. That alone should have tipped them off. Flames of gloating and derision blazed inside its empty eye sockets, but the humans and Wengols in front of it saw nothing but provocation.
“DIE!” Urzul, the human commander, and the old blacksmith threw themselves furiously at the hooded Lich.
“WAIT!” Jake yelled, firing air bullets past them to stop them, but he was too far away.
The old blacksmith was the only one who was not a fighter, so the supersonic compressed air bullet successfully managed to shock him out of his wits. He was so startled that he rolled backwards, only catching himself by bouncing back nearly twenty meters.
But this was far from enough to make the two veteran warriors relent. The hatred burning in Urzul’s heart had long since passed the threshold of what was bearable, while the badly wounded human commander knew he didn’t have long to live, and was desperate to get this Lich’s head to clear his honor.
Urzul ignored the bullet, letting it rip a hole in his shoulder, while the commander managed to sidestep it with a marvelous and unfathomable movement technique. For a fleeting moment, his body seemed to duplicate itself, and even the rocky obstacles that Jake conjured up in a hurry afterwards were not enough to stall him.
“Damn it!” Jake cursed. Didn’t they realize he was trying to save their lives?
How could a Lich who could place 60,000 Death Marks in their bodies behind their backs be weak? The two terrifying Players accompanying it had left it alone without the slightest hesitation, and Jake wasn’t so naive as to believe that it was because fear had forced them to flee in a rush.
Pragmatic, Jake stopped hindering them in vain and telepathically ordered all his companions, “Flight formation!”
Ruby, Carmin, Lily, Bhammod, Elduin, Trash and Jeanie immediately understood his intent. Upon discovering Jake and Ruby’s telekinetic abilities, Norton had never suggested this formation or joining the refugee convoy would have been much easier and they wouldn’t have had to split up like this.
Of course, Jake and Ruby could have suggested this option and made it clear what they were capable of, but they still didn’t trust Norton enough to reveal all their trump cards to him.
In any case, it wasn’t as if the Mutant in question was willing to let himself be carted around in the sky at several thousand meters above sea level. When one reached Norton’s status, one had long since stopped trusting anyone, and that was the first lesson he had made a point of instilling in them from the start.
That’s why Jake had only informed his companions in case of a mishap and not his superior. One had to wonder why Jake would resort to this escape plan now, but it wasn’t out of cowardice. If they could get rid of the Lich, they would. But, this position was too unfavorable.
They were surrounded by a huge army, reinforcements charging straight at them, not the Lich or the Undeads, and not even the human refugees, with a baffling decisiveness… It was not an ideal posture to carry off such a disadvantageous battle, and his comrades understood this very well.
Letting Jake fly at full speed over to them and envelop them with his telekinesis one after another, they let him drag them along as he pleased to demonstrate to the refugees that they had nothing to fear. Having a good feeling about the two Mutants, the few survivors, especially the children in the heart of the convoy who had escaped the barbarian’s lightning bolts broke down in tears as they watched him take to the skies.
“What about the refugees?” Trash panicked as he saw the ground moving away from him.
Jake shook his head apologetically as he continued to pick up speed.
“Look ahead.” Elduin winced bitterly as he notched one of the few remaining arrows he had left. He had picked them up after each skirmish, but most of them had broken after being shot repeatedly.
Following the elf’s advice, Bhammod, Trash and Jeanie saw several winged figures flapping their wings above them. Seen from the ground, they seemed no larger than a swallow, but as they got closer, these flying creatures quickly exceeded the wingspan of the largest bird they had ever seen, even in pictures.
The largest, at the very center of their aerial formation had a fairly humanoid morphology, like an athlete covered in dark brown plumage. In addition to its two large colored wings, it also had a pair of muscular arms ending in two dark talons. Very vaguely, this creature could evoke some depictions of the Egyptian god Horus.
“An Avian!” Bhammod snarled as he resolutely swung his battle axe. “And a very strong one! If it’s not a Daemon or a Spirit Beast, it should be a Were Golden Eagle.”
“That means the Werebeings are also involved in the operation. Looks like the Mutants were the only ones in the dark.” Ruby sighed, lamenting inwardly that this was the worst Ordeal start she’d experienced since she entered the Mirror Universe.
“We’ll worry about that later.” Jake chided her in annoyance as he raised his saber as well.
Preparing for the impending impact, they could no longer worry about either the refugees or the Lich. The Alpha Avian leading the flock of birds screeched loudly and huge birds of prey of various shapes and forms swooped down on them in a flock with breathtaking speed and accuracy.
Simultaneously on the ground, Urzul’s solid gold trident came within an inch of the Lich’s heart, preparing to impale it without mercy. The human commander had shifted to his back with his ethereal step, and his sword wrapped in a shrill blur of energy pierced forward with a firm resolve to drill a hole in its skull.
At that moment, time seemed to stop around the Lich. Urzul, who was about to impale it, froze in place, skewered by a sharp, half-bony, half-metallic stalactite that sprang from the Lich’s chest. The more agile human commander fared better, but a deep wound under his throat added to the damage. When he reappeared ten meters away, he slumped in his own blood unable to stand.
“Tsktsktsk… Poor souls. I don’t know what fly bit you to think you had any chance.” The Lich sneered grimly. “But you’re lucky, I’m in a merciful mood and I’m willing to grant you a second chance.”
Casually waving a shimmering metallic hand, the stalactites retracted into his body, ending his urchin-like guise. At the same time, the Wengol general’s giant body withered, as if it had just aged a century in a split second. Except, unlike Carmin’s method of execution, this was not due to dehydration.
The human commander who barely escaped this fate, died as a result of his heavy blood loss. But their final fate was exactly the same. Less than three seconds later, they rose to their feet, joining the ranks of the other 60,000 Undeads.
The chilling scene amplified the despair of the few remaining survivors, but with the Mutants gone, they could only await their end. The Lich, swept over the sobbing, kneeling crowd with a disinterested, dull gaze, but its sadism was awakened when it heard suspicious moans from one of the carriages.
Against all odds, there were humans dense enough to continue fornicating under such circumstances? Really… This race deserved to be enslaved. Laughing ominously, the Lich walked over to the vehicle in question, whistling to itself.
This aristocrat, nephew of the Commander-in-Chief of the Imperial Guards, may have been the scum of the earth, but unknowingly, by his outrageous behavior, he had just done a good deed. His future death in excruciating pain had offered a respite to the few survivors.
Several thousand meters above, the clash had begun. Jake and Ruby were the only ones who could really fly, so it was a hopeless battle. Unless they abandoned their comrades, they were in for a rough time.
Jake retrieved a handful of the sharpened scrap metal in his Space Storage and used it as ammunition to fire a barrage of telekinetically propelled bullets at the cluster of Avians. Ruby, who no longer had her sniper artifact, snatched a few projectiles from Jake and used them to supplement his first salvo.
Swooping in at full speed, a third of the Avians were riddled with bullets before they could react, their bodies instantly ripped to shreds. Feathers, guts and blood rained down on them. The remaining two-thirds were more alert or lucky and managed to twist around in time.
At this terrific speed, with each group hurtling toward the other, there was no time for a second burst. The two squads met just after, colliding with a deafening BANG. Heartbreaking shrieks of pain echoed just after.
To protect Trash, Bhammod in the vanguard was rammed into by a harpy as big as a dinosaur and was catapulted well out of Jake’s zone of control. In return, the bird that attacked him was smacked by a monstrous axe pommel strike that blew his brains out.
Trash was protected just in time by Jake with a barrier, but the shockwave wrecked his insides. His skull caved in, as did his torso, and like Bhammod, the teenager was thrown out of reach.
Carmin used her whip to tie herself to her sister Lily, but the two women were swarmed by seven particularly cunning and ferocious humanoid horned crows. They too were thrown out of the formation.
Elduin, showing his virtuoso arching skills, ran out of arrows just before impact. More fragile than Bhammod, but much more nimble, he managed to mount the bird trying to peck him with its beak, but he too was separated from the group.
Jeanie, being hidden in Jake’s pocket, was soon left with only him and Ruby to face the remaining Avians alone.
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