༺ Marie Dunareff (4) ༻
The Warsky Mercenaries earned money by hunting demonic beasts and ghosts, and Dorron was one of the top powerhouses of the group.
Even though there were guardians assigned to the task of dealing with demons, they were few and far between. In the distant barbaric lands that were too far for guardians to reach, Dorron had spent his life decapitating demons.
He was one of the so-called geniuses. Using his innate telekinetic ability, he floated his swords and supported them with acceleration spells that were simple yet powerful.
He was only 13 years old when he became the right-hand man of the captain of the mercenary group.
No-one in the Warsky group was stronger than Dorron as an individual, but there was a reason why he didn’t bother aiming for the position of a captain.
Fights weren’t simply decided by one’s strength. He understood through his experiences that there were more factors apart from strength.
“An owlbear approaching from the side. Use a fireball. Yuel, hold it back with tree roots. 1 second is enough.”
Using the low-grade spells of the support, he kept the beast in check. In just a matter of second with the owlbear stuck in place in a fluster, a spear accurately pierced through its neck.
Without getting greedy to end the life of the demonic beast, the man unhesitatingly retreated to his original position to protect his teammates.
There was an overwhelming number of demonic beasts. Even though none of them was over Grade 2, the sheer number of those monsters was enough to make Dorron nervous despite his experience.
Besides, he could only use two magic swords right now. His experience as a mercenary told him that this party would definitely crumble in less than 30 seconds but…
‘It’s not crumbling.’
“Jaeger, don’t go too far! You’ll be surrounded!”
It was him.
The Grade 5 nobody who gave him trouble at the forest – a strange guy whose intention was hard to see through.
In this chaotic battlefield, he was the only one that remained calm. Without being repressed by the demonic aura of a Unique Grade demi-human and as if the roars of the bellowing demonic beasts were nothing, he stayed firm like a boulder.
‘He’s just like the Captain.’
That Grade 5 Knight was the one keeping this party alive. Like the veteran captain of the mercenary group, he was controlling both this party and the battlefield.
Fighting, tactics and support… there was not a single thing he couldn’t do. Not only was he strong as an individual, but he was also like a veteran leader and a strategist.
How was that even a Grade 5 Knight? There must be something terribly wrong with this Academy’s grading test.
“Jaeger. Take 3 steps to the back.”
“Huh? I, I’m still fine!”
“There is no need to hurry. We can slowly reduce their numbers.”
Jaeger turned his gaze over to the other side of the wave of monsters. He gasped for breath as his eyes displayed the fear he had for that fallen demon.
Everyone in this place knew, that the fight would be in the favor of the enemy as soon as that unmoving demon moved itself.
That was why they were in a hurry. Their trepidation was forcing them to move their bodies, with their brains telling them that they had to get rid of as many demonic beasts before that as possible.
But the leader of the party, Korin Lork, was not swept away by it.
Don’t hurry. Calm down. Step back.
Although an attitude like that was something that every party leader needed to have, there were a bunch of them who couldn’t do anything similar to that. Despite the disadvantageous shift in the battle, he did not pant a single time nor was he devoured by the surrounding atmosphere.
“Yuel. Don’t do anything for the next 15 seconds. Otherwise, you’ll pull the aggro. The spirits can just cloud the vision of the demonic beasts.”
“Lark. Fire three magic missiles to the front. Target the small ones that are trying to sneak in.”
“Jaeger. Hold that big guy for as long as possible. Dorron. Strike that same guy on its head with the heavy iron sword while Jaeger is holding it back.”
He was the only one that wasn’t showing any regard for the Unique Grade monster.
It was as if he was certain that she wouldn’t ever attack them. His composure and that unknown confidence was what allowed him to lead the party forward.
Both Dorron and Yuel were strong yet unique people, and yet he was skilfully controlling them as if he had fought with them multiple times already.
‘Even though I only have 2 swords now.’
The three swords that served as his main weapons were already broken. Even though Dorron was a user of flying swords, right now, he only had a normal Grade 4 magic sword and the heavy iron sword which could only be used for something simple like striking down from above.
Despite that handicap, Korin was giving him appropriate orders at the right timing.
Besides, he himself wasn’t weak either.
By flexibly blocking the incoming attacks of the demonic beasts, he pierced through their weak points in an instant. All the monsters attacking Korin Lork were done in by that same pattern. That simple technique had been mastered under his hands and the beasts couldn’t do anything against him.
The intricate techniques of a martial art were there to make others powerless if they didn’t know how to deal with them, and Korin was doing a wonderful job.
On top of that, his spear was incredibly fast and heavy for a Grade 5 Knight and all the demonic beasts were oppressed under his spearmanship.
There was an enormous horde of demonic beasts under Grade 3, but it was nothing in front of a well-balanced party that was led by an experienced leader.
“That’s the last one!!”
“As I’ve said, don’t kill it!”
Jaeger dashed into the roaring owlbear and struck down with his heavy mace.
He aimed it at the knee. After having its knee crushed in the blink of an eye, the owlbear collapsed, only to have its other leg also broken very soon.
“Huhu. Is this enough, Korin?”
“You idiot. Come back.”
Dorron rebuked him, who appeared to be under the impression that everything was over already. Everyone apart from Jaeger knew that this was only the beginning.
“Agh, ahh… Ughhh……”
A beastly groan echoed across the woods. They were all familiar with the senior who used to give them baked potatoes with a bright smile.
Yuel said while gazing at Marie who appeared to be weeping in the midst of all the blood. However, Dorron was unmoved.
“That doesn’t change anything. We will subjugate the demon.”
Dorron’s telekinesis and the acceleration spell were activated in the blink of an eye.
The heavy iron sword that had been floating in the air fell towards Marie’s head with the help of the acceleration and the gravitational force.
The unfocused mage instinctively turned towards the sky, but it was too late.
Backed up with enough gravity and acceleration, the heavy iron sword was both simple yet powerful at the same time.
Although it was made with cheap ingredients, the magic sword had a tremendous weight that made up for it. A clear strike with the sword was enough to drive Grade 1 demonic beasts unconscious but it was blocked by something.
It was blocked by something that scattered blood into the surroundings as if protecting Marie.
“A f, familiar?”
The well-informed Lark was the first one to recognize it.
“What do you mean?”
“A familiar formed from the blood of a vampire! How could a newly awakened vampire already have a familiar…?!”
They were the strongest level of summonings that were formed through the blood and mana of vampires. Even the weakest of them were at the level of a medium-grade elemental.
The familiars of old vampire elders were like the materialized forms of disaster.
Considering how the creator was a Unique Grade vampire like Marie Dunareff, it was unthinkable what kind of ability that familiar would have.
“There’s no need to be scared. It’s a baby that was just born with not enough blood and mana. Without the blood supply from its mother, the best it can do is probably block.”
“That would offset the biggest weakness of a mage though? That is definitely quite scary.”
Dorron gave a realistic comment but Korin replied with a nonchalant command.
“It’s fine. Anyway, there will be a large AOE spell coming soon. Yuel, take out the thing we prepared.”
A groan reverberated across as everyone turned towards Marie. The girl drenched in blood screamed in agony while wrapping her arms around her body, before suddenly emitting an explosive burst of mana.
The mana was so heavy that it was suppressing the entire area. An unprecedented amount that should have been too enormous for an individual entity to have made the dimension wobble with its might.
Dozens of blood drops budded in the air. It was nothing but a low-grade spell, but the sheer amount of it was enough to terrify its recipient.
“I, I, I know.”
As someone who had already experienced being bombarded by Marie, Yuel gulped while requesting aid from the trees of the forest. Her mana grew the trees in the blink of an eye that formed a defensive fortress in an instant.
Added with the blessings of the forest spirits, it became tougher than the thick walls of a castle.
It was only possible because it was Yuel in the forest.
Bombs of blood were poured out on the roots that were covering the party members. Those bombs that tainted its surroundings in blood struck the old trees, with each of them resulting in thunderous thuds that echoed through the entire world.
“U, uahhk…! A, are you sure this is not going to break?”
“D, don’t jinx it, Jaeger!”
Jaeger and Lark, as well as Yuel the Druid herself were all very uneasy, but Dorron silently stared at Korin.
He was calming his breath.
Like a beast ready to pounce at its prey.
“Huuk… huuk… What is it?”
“You’re about to reach your limit, right?”
Even though she had only been using a small amount of mana until now while focusing on support, that defensive move just then had cost more than half of her entire mana pool.
Her chest, where the mana heart was located, was aching in pain. The injuries that she had gotten at the practical lesson were starting to ache again due to the excessive movement of her mana.
As a mage that needed to focus on theory and intuition, pain was a detrimental element that interfered with their casting process.
However, she still held her ground. Yuel also knew that she had to stand her ground here as much as possible.
More than anything, this boy…
“Everything’s going according to plan. The flow of the battle will be in our hands in less than 5 moves. So just hang in there for me.”
This boy had made a ridiculous promise.
“Is that really possible?”
“It is. Against the current Marie, that is. Dorron, Lark, Jaeger.”
The party members gathered together. In front of their eyes was someone who seemed unbelievably peaceful despite being in the middle of cracking roots.
The boss fight against Marie Dunareff the Vampire was divided into four phases.
Phase 1 consisted of the surrounding demonic beasts attacking the player party. After defeating all the demonic beasts, Marie would step up which marked the start of Phase 2.
We had to reach Phase 4 all the way from Phase 2 in order to reach the final mechanic of the boss. Marie would never be on the full offense until the final phase, and would not even attack a single time in Phase 1.
This was the same in both the game and the previous iteration.
“She’s coming. Lark. Fall back.”
“I, I can still fight!”
“You can only use one or two more low-grade spells, right?”
“How did you know that?”
Because I’ve been calculating it.
“You’ve been great. Yuel will join you in a while. Distance yourself as much as possible until then.”
Lark separated himself from the fortress of trees and fell back as the Blood Bombs constantly raged at the defensive tree wall.
The Blood Bombs were noisy but they weren’t anything serious. The real threats were the combination spells.
All the moisture within the layer of blood expanded and became fangs of a venomous snake that pierced through the wall. Like how waterdrops broke through a boulder after decades and centuries of repetition, the blood that seeped into the nook and cranny of those intertwined tree roots expanded all at the same time and destroyed the wall.
Needles of ice came raining at us like a rain of blood as soon as the wall was destroyed.
The sheer number of them was absurd. It was an overwhelming difference in power that made resistance seem futile and the downfall of ice rain would drown us before we could even retaliate in any way.
However, we didn’t let that happen.
“Earth, the mother of crops and trees. A heap of ashes feeding the gods, bugs and the world.”
The green-haired girl prayed. She prayed for the law of nature that stemmed from the circulation of life and death.
The Ogham alphabets responded to the Druid’s prayer.
Although I was the one that engraved them, only the pure-blooded druids were able to make them function as a miracle. That ancient alphabet, which was similar yet different from rune letters, morphed under Yuel’s prayer.
It was the strongest move of Yuel, the Druid of Avelorn, who would later become the next Sage of the forest, and was only obtainable towards the end of her storyline.
I was making use of that knowledge to make her use it ahead of time.
The ground quaked. Lands shifted themselves up and down as thick veins appeared on top. The willows that had been growing for centuries gathered into a coarse cluster before turning into a large giant.
Even the teammates were both flustered and confused.
This enormous willow giant was none other than the Wicker Man – a thousand-year long secret move of the Sages of the forest, the spokesmen of nature and the race beloved by the forest.
“It, it actually appeared…”
Even the summoner herself was perturbed by the unbelievable miracle. After swallowing the surrounding cluster of dirt and trees, the monster raised its 14-meter tall body.
As we had planned beforehand, Jaeger grabbed on the captured owlbear with handicapped legs. Using the superior physique of a Knight, Jaeger held on the unmoving legs of the beast and rotated himself in circles before throwing it at the Wicker Man.
The owlbear landed inside the Wicker Man alongside a scream. It soon became the living sacrifice supporting the Wicker Man and was scorched by the flames surging inside the giant.
Wicker Man – a large tree golem weaved from branches. It was a magic golem that could move forever until the sacrifice inside its wooden prison was completely combusted into ashes.
“Go. Wicker Man!”
Along with the agonizing screams of the demonic beast, the Wicker Man turned ablaze as it advanced onward.
A falling squall of blood rain was pouncing at the Wicker Man but breaking a real boulder was not an easy feat for mere drops of blood.
Besides, the flame burning inside the golem was setting both the Wicker Man and the rainfall ablaze.
All the attacks that attempted to stop the giant were in vain. The large giant ignored those insignificant attacks so this time, gigantic walls popped up while trying to stop the giant in its tracks.
In response, the Wicker Man raised one of its arms and struck down with its burning fist.
The ice walls were shattered into fragments. Those walls could do nothing but buy a little bit of time against the colossal giant.
But at the same time, Yuel, who was controlling the burning willow giant, had to gasp and groan in pain.
There was nothing that could be done though. The Wicker Man was supposed to be the final secret move of Yuel after she became the ‘Sage of the Forest’ near the end of her personal storyline.
The difference between a normal druid and the Sage of the forest was like that of heaven and the earth. Considering her current abilities, it was doubtful if she could maintain the Wicker Man for over a minute.
“Yuel! Don’t stop! We’ll all die if you stop now!”
“I, I know that!”
The Wicker Man advanced forward. After perhaps feeling threatened by that intimidating approach, Marie started focusing her mana.
Answering her call, the air quivered around her. No-one was able to keep their mouths closed after seeing the water droplets rising all across the forest.
It was an extremely beautiful and marvelous show of power. It was as if she was the ruler of the entire forest.
They couldn’t comprehend the scene in front of their eyes in time, and I was the only one who did, thanks to having more knowledge than others. All the moisture in the air was heeding to her call.
Bloodstained shards of ice formed with her amplified mana flared across the air and covered the ground, before speeding at the Wicker Man through the dense trees.
The fragments changed into one crimson spear of ice and pierced through the Wicker Man. However, the Wicker Man was a structure and not an organism, and thus did not falter despite the hole in its body.
Even larger flames soared out of the Wicker Man along with the piercing scream of the sacrificed beast, as it attempted to melt the ice that was restricting its movement.
It was a battle between the blood-coloured ice and a scorching blaze. Even though the victor should be obvious, the ridiculous amount of mana forced a turn of events that deviated from common sense.
Bucket-loads of water poured out from the spear of ice that was melting due to the parching flame.
Normally, the destruction of the spear of ice should have decided the victor, but Marie’s spear was still being supplied with both mana and moisture.
At last, the bucket-loads of water that was gushing out of the melting spear extinguished the flames of the Wicker Man.
Common sense was of no use.
This was the power of a Unique Grade demon. This was Marie Dunareff.
After consuming a colossal amount of mana, Yuel collapsed in pain while gripping onto her chest.
“Yuel. Fall back.”
“It’s an order as the party leader. Don’t get injured and just go back.”
“…Can you win?”
“Your presence won’t affect the result.”
Without even the power to utter another word, Yuel limped her way back. There was no need to overstrain a party member who was about to faint.
After Lark, it was Yuel, and the only remaining members were Jaeger, Dorron… and me.
“Uhh, dude… can we really do it by ourselves?”
Jaeger’s shivering voice was a lot softer than usual, but that was nothing strange considering how even the enormous Wicker Man crumbled under one spell.
“She used all of her AOE skills just then. Do you know what that means?”
“It’s DPS time.”
Ever since the previous iteration, I had always been the one at the lead. Following me from behind were Jaeger and Dorron.
Dozens of spells spread out, as sharp spears of ice rushed towards us.
Dorron and I were able to parry all of the dangerous spears but Jaeger wasn’t as experienced as us.
Although he managed to parry one spear that had been flying towards him, his swing was too wide – he wasn’t in the right posture to parry the next spear of blood ice.
Without any hesitation, I smashed the spear that was flying at Jaeger.
Because of that, however, the spears that had been flying at me dug through my thigh and my stomach.
Jaeger called my name in a fluster but I rebuked him.
“Look at the front! Focus on what’s ahead when we’re fighting!!”
Leaving behind myself, who was slowed down by the attack, Jaeger gritted his teeth and pushed forth. In response, a spell was created in the air while trying to stop our approach.
It was a Blood Bomb.
“No you don’t.”
In the middle of his sprint, Dorron controlled his magic swords and sliced through the Blood Bomb that was just about to expand, and dispelled it in an instant.
“I’m going first, slowpoke!”
Dorron jumped at the unguarded Marie but what fell before he did was the heavy iron sword.
Marie’s familiar blocked the descent of the heavy iron sword. Its protection remained firm but Dorron picked up the heavy iron sword immediately after landing on the ground.
The heavy iron sword in his hand was rapidly accelerated as it drove an enormous amount of impact at the barrier formed by the familiar.
At last, the heavy iron sword managed to slice through the barrier and traveled deeper in, but stopped right in front of Marie’s nose.
“So damn tough!”
Dorron was placed in a rough spot where he couldn’t even protect himself due to his sword being stuck in the middle of the barrier, but it was then.
Jaeger shouted out loud while swinging his mace. The barrier, however, was still standing firm.
His specialty was ❰Accumulated Destruction❱, and was a burst skill that let him immediately explode all the power that had been accumulated through his repetitive attacks.
Dorron’s direct acceleration of his heavy iron sword and Jaeger’s Accumulated Destruction – the Familiar of Blood couldn’t hold off against the combination of those two attacks and couldn’t maintain its barrier.
“Haha. We broke through…!”
“Idiot, don’t let your guard down!”
Marie grabbed onto his wrist while Jaeger was just about to scream in joy. He wasn’t expecting a mage to grab him like this.
“H, how is she so strong?!”
Despite his attempt to break free from her grip, Jaeger’s armguard was almost crushed and he was soon flung off like a pebble.
– Kwang! Kwang! Kwagwang!
Jaeger crashed into several trees in the middle of his flight, but without even sparing him a glance, Dorron directly held onto his two magic swords.
After crossing them into an ‘X’ shape, he slashed his swords down with all his might.
He tried to cut her by using his fastest move but…
He saw something grabbing onto his two swords before he could slash them down. A bead of sweat traveled down his cheek.
The Familiar of Blood growled like a beast. Immediately after that, an explosive amount of mana and blood was sent from Marie and—
We were now in the 3rd phase.
The two magic swords shattered and left behind nothing but pieces of iron, and Dorron was flung off from the aftershock.
The large-scale barrier that had been activated alongside the realm had broken his swords with just the physical impact of its activation.
With Jaeger and Dorron gone, I took a step forward with my now-recovered leg.
I was stuck in the Blood Realm. I was now locked inside the barrier that was activated as soon as the defensive spell of the Familiar of Blood had crumbled into pieces.
It was filled with a ridiculous amount of pressure inside. The Familiar had forcibly sucked her blood and mana to materialize itself to fight in the stead of Marie who was only focusing on protecting herself.
This was the 3rd phase of the final boss fight of the 1st Arc.
“Are you upset because your mother was about to get hurt? What a good boy.”
A blood-coloured dog was growling within the large barrier of blood. Its body that was 2 meters tall was standing on its two legs, and it looked more like a werewolf instead of a dog.
“Am I the only one left now?”
Yuel and Lark had to retreat due to lack of mana, while Jaeger and Dorron were incapable of fighting anymore.
The usual goal would have been to keep at least 3 members until the 3rd phase, but right now, I was all alone by myself.
However, this was not a game and it was the real world.
As long as this was the real world, anything was possible regardless of the degree of possibility.
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