Aldrich stood atop the back of his giant eagle and watched with a hand to his chin as he observed the Geist.
The Geist ploughed up a geyser of muddy swamp water when it landed in the swamp, and almost immediately, the six giant mud crabs became active. They were easily the size of a large hovercar with pincers large enough to slap a fully gown adult man into pulp wholesale.
A flurry of angry pincer jabs and smacks assaulted the Geist. All things considered , the Geist did not take that much damage.
After all, among the units Aldrich had, the Geist was at the top considering raw physical stats, even beating out Valera overall when considering agility.
Pincer jabs tore out chunks of flesh while clubbing blows smacked against the Geist's pale flesh with impact that broke the skin, but any damage it took, it smoothed over with its super regeneration.
In the meanwhile, the crabs started to attack the Geist slower and slower as the neurotoxin infiltrated their bodies, stiffening them up and paralyzing their muscles.
It was then that the Geist followed its instincts to kill. It used its high-speed mini dash to escape from the ring of crabs, positioning itself behind one.
"Geh!" The Geist hammer fisted down on a mud crab's head, completely caving it in with a cracking, shattering impact. It then leaped on top of the crab's body and used it as a stepping stone to get to another crab.
For this one, the Geist grabbed the crab's eye stalks and ripped them out before eating them. One by one, the Geist hopped around the paralyzed and poisoned crabs, smashing their heads or ripping out their eyes until it was done slaughtering all six of them.
[6x Giant Mudcrab defeated]
[EXP Bar: 240/1200]
"Gehgehgeh." The Geist stared up at Aldrich with its constant, eyeless smile.
"Good job," said Aldrich. He snapped his fingers, and the eagle brought him down to where it was now safe. "Now go dive in there where you see light shining. You should find a treasure chest. Bring it up for me and your job here is done."
The Geist nodded and dove right into the single clear patch of water in the swamp. A few moments later, and it emerged with a wooden chest slung over its broad shoulder. Aldrich used his staff to tap the chest, and it opened up, revealing two orbs with the arms and leg pieces of the [Grave Reaper] item set.
Aldrich absorbed them into his being.
[Grave Reaper Bracers obtained]
[Grave Reaper Base obtained]
Aldrich then looked over to the dead crabs and chanted, "Serve."
He waved his green energy wrapped hand, and one of the crabs reanimated. He waited the cooldown for [Raise Undead] and casted the spell again, raising another crab.
[Mana: 90/90 ] 80/90]
[2x Zombie (Giant Mudcrab) Lvl 8 reanimated]
[Units Controlled: 13/18 ] 15/18]
Aldrich commanded the crabs to hold their position here because if they tried to swim out, they would just get swarmed by the other crabs lying dormant throughout the swamp. When he left the Trial Quest, any summons he had would just come back with him anyway.
He raised the crabs because they had the ability to easily travel through water, and he did not raise more of them as he wanted to raise other monsters from this area.
"Alright, get back on," said Aldrich as he waved the Geist forward. The Geist shuddered and shook, flinging mud off of itself like a dog shaking to clean itself. It latched onto the Aldrich's eagle mount's talons and with that, they were off in the air again, the eagle once more squawking in protest at the Geist's heavy weight.
"Geh…(Am I that fat?)" mumbled the Geist as they flew off.
Aldrich soared over to the western edges of the forest where the troll encampment stood within a large clearing in the forest. It was marked out by smoke trails from various fires as well as roughly made tents anchored into place with stakes of large bones adorned with skulls.
Around the fires sat seven trolls. They were large humanoid creatures with pot bellies but thickly muscled arms, legs, and shoulders, looking like strongmen whose bodies were built for power, padded equally in insulating fat and powerful muscle. Each of them stood at around seven feet tall (2.1 meters) and wielded either large wooden clubs or just their bare claws and jutting tusks.
Their skin was grey and riddled with warts, scars, and the occasional tumorous mass, and these imperfections liberally dotted their face, making them horrendously ugly in a conventional human sense.
These were Grey Trolls.
Trolls were a highly adaptable species on account of their regenerative ability, and so they could over quick periods of time and generations attain attributes suited for their environments such as fur for the cold and fire resistant skin for volcanic areas.
However, these adaptations came at the cost of heavily reducing their regeneration, and so Fire Trolls and Ice Trolls did not have a strong healing factor.
Grey Trolls, however, were the 'baseline' troll whose regenerative abilities were top notch to the point where to try and kill them without some form of negating their healing was a waste of time.
Hence why there were large fires around.
By game design, the player was meant to use them against the trolls, lighting their weapons on flame or driving the trolls into them.
These trolls would not be much of an issue.
Aldrich had more than enough undead to just dunk the trolls forcibly into their fires. The only issue was the presence of a troll chieftain.
It was level 14 and located within a large tent at the edge of the camp. It was sleeping by default but fighting too close beside its tent would draw its aggro. It was significantly stronger than the other trolls and had multiple troublesome skills to deal with.
The point of this encampment was not to storm it and kill everyone. It was a test of stealth. The sleeping troll chieftain's tent held the treasure chest holding the [Grave Reaper] set pieces, and the player was supposed to use a skeleton rogue to carry it out without drawing much attention.
But Aldrich and his undead army were strong enough to defeat everyone here for experience.
Normally, the player's undead army did not generally exceed level 12 and they did not have access to minions with fire at this point in the game.
However, with the Geist and Dynamite Girl, Aldrich was over leveled for this.
The only real challenge was the chieftain.
Aldrich put a hand to his head and focused, sensing that all of his Variant and skeleton undead were hidden in the edges of this clearing, awaiting his order to pounce in and strike.
Aldrich mentally communicated his plan.
*There are seven trolls there, each of them level 8. There is one level 14 troll chieftain lying asleep in the largest tent. Take out the chieftain first, and the rest of the trolls should be easy pickings. Here's how this will get done -
The Great Centipede will bury underground and ambush the troll chieftain along with the Skeleton Rogue. Poison does not negate troll regeneration, but it does slow it down some.
The Great Centipede has a power to harden and strengthen its muscles and carapace when it wraps around prey, and with that, the troll chieftain should be immobilized.
The rogue will then assassinate it with a stab to its brain.
Once the chieftain is dead, everyone else can swarm in and overpower the rest of the trolls with force. I will drop the Geist at this moment, and its poison will again slow the trolls' regeneration, but I advise you all to try and shove the trolls into fire.
Take care, though, as zombies, you are also vulnerable to fire."
Aldrich felt a wave of understanding coming from all of his units. He nodded to himself. He knew that most natural variants were surprisingly intelligent.
Experiments with tamed natural variants like Strikers showed that they were capable of registering emotions, self-awareness, long term memory, and understanding orders with layers of complexity.
This was one of the reasons why there were multiple variant awareness groups that sought to end the practice of indiscriminately hunting down variants, but that was a long shot considering how much damage variants had done, their often unpredictable wild instinct to murder humans, and how lucrative a business it was to hunt them for their parts.
Aldrich watched through the Skeleton Rogue's eyes as it evaded the trolls lounging around their campfires with [Shadow Walk] and headed down to the chieftain's tent. Under it, the Great Centipede tunneled underground, synchronizing their ambush together.
The Skeleton Rogue used its thin, skeletal body to slide underneath a tiny gap in the tent's entrance flap so as not to draw more attention. Inside the round tent, it spied the troll chieftain snoring and unconsciously scratching its belly.
A large axe of roughly hewn cursed rock lay beside it, though if things went right, the chieftain would never even have the chance to use it.
The rogue tiptoed behind the chieftain; its curved daggers upraised.
*Kill him* Aldrich set his plan in motion.
The Great Centipede emerged from the ground in a burst of cracked earth and dirt. It immediately wrapped its armored, serpentine body around the troll chieftain with frightening efficiency. All of its many golden legs sank into the troll's body like hooks, goring into its skin and tightening the hold to near inescapable status.
"Guuh!" the Troll Chieftain loosed a battle roar of pain as the great centipede sunk its mandibles into its throat, injecting its potent flesh melting toxin.
The roar reverberated around the camp, alerting every single troll.
Before the troll could say any more, the skeleton rogue stabbed its two curved daggers into the troll's eyes. The daggers were coated in purple necrotic energy, and when they sank through the soft eyes and into the beast's brain.
The necrotic energy rotted the brain out entirely, incapacitating the troll and soon killing it.
In Elden World, the combat system did factor in vital strikes.
An attack struck directly through the head or critical weak points such as cores were instant kills or in the case of regenerating monsters, a completely incapacitating blow until it was healed.
Of course, if a blow that negated regeneration was struck into a vital area, then it was an instant kill regardless of how powerful the target's healing was.
*Everyone else, attack* Aldrich clapped his hands, and from the clearing, his zoo of undead variants emerged to attack the trolls before they could help their chieftain.