Chapter 279 [Bonus chapter] Greater Demon
"What is that, father?" Chrysa pointed high up to the sky. The night was darker than dark, the little light of the stars suffocated under a cloud of thick smoke.
Where the moon was, there was instead a bright red V drawn in stark contrast against the smoke. A scar of infernal energy torn into the sky; a half formed gateway into Morhal where demons awaited on the other side like hungry zombies banging against a closed door. "Why is the moon so weird?"
"Not the moon. A Flame Arc. A type of dimensional doorway that demons use to enter into different dimensions," said Aldrich. It was half formed. A complete Flame Arc had another V beneath it, interlocking the letters together to create a diadem shaped portal.
Deimos, the warlock here and the main boss, was well on the way to complete a ritual that involved processing all the souls of the elves here to fuel the ritual.
Beneath the fiery V, burning light illuminated a snowfall of ash and a massive tree that towered into the sky. Indents, tunnels, houses, bridges, and pathways carved all throughout the tree indicated it had been well lived in.
This was an Arsillow, a life giving tree that elves built their settlements around.
"Oooh." Chrysa looked at the Flame Arc, the orange and red light reflected in her green eyes. "It's space-y. I thinkâ€¦I think if I touched it, I might be able to play with it!"
"Really?" Aldrich raised a brow. "Can you close it?"
"I think so!" Chrysa nodded.
"I see." Aldrich understood now the Death Lord's intentions in setting up these quest restrictions.
At first, Aldrich had thought there was no real way to complete the quest fully.
The ultimate end goal of this quest was to kill Dark Eye Deimos, the warlock responsible for trying to complete this Flame Arc. That, Aldrich could do by killing Deimos.
The other objectives, though, were much, much tougher because he had no real army to sustain through all of this. The point of the third trial quest was to test how well a necromancer could manage their existing units.
Since demons were immune to necromancy, the difficulty was in minimizing losses and making the best of every single unit in the legion. Especially since demons were on average much tougher than the normal undead.
The way Aldrich would have approached the quest normally was simple. He would have gotten to Velis Temple, guarded by demons, and freed it. There, he would have obtained an item called the Pureflame Lantern, a temporary item from Mira, a goddess of holy fire that the elves worshipped.
The item enchanted Aldrich's undead with the ability to permanently put down demons.
Then, he would have worked his way up the Arsillow tree, fighting a miniboss to obtain one of its seeds before reaching the top where he wouldm fight Deimos to seal the Flame Arc.
But that was if Aldrich had his legion.
With just Chrysa, Aldrich had expected it would have been hard just to take out Deimos.
But the Death Lord had given her tools to work around all this.
First, she had made sure to make Bors speed up the [Solar Seal]'s creation, giving Aldrich a way to kill the demons here for good.
Second was Chrysa herself. She could close the Flame Arc if she got to it. If Aldrich managed to get Chrysa up to the Flame Arc, she could close it first, preventing any demonic reinforcements from pouring in.
In addition, without a Flame Arc, demons had difficulty maintaining a physical form. They would slowly fade away until they finally died, unable to survive without some larger physical anchor giving them a presence in the realm.
Now, the issue was how to get to the top of the Arsillow fast, before demons could swarm Aldrich. And also how to avoid Deimos because he, as a level 50+ boss, could defeat Aldrich, especially under the empowering light of the Flame Arc.
Thankfully, as usual, there was a way and a plan for all of this.
"Alright, Chrysa, here's what we're going to do." Aldrich pointed down, away from the sky, down sloping hills towards the elven village. Countless houses, more like little dens made of entwined branches and glowing blue and white leaves, withered and wilted under blazing fire.
Elves, tall and fair skinned with their signature pointed ears and leaf-knit robes, shambled about like zombies, their eyes glazed over, bright red Vs scorched into their foreheads.
They were all [Possessed], a negative status effect that demonic influence could impart on mortals to slowly change them in both body and soul. Demons were inherently parasitic creatures, and nowhere was this quality more obvious than in possession.
Possession prepped beings to host demons, incarnating them. Demons sought hosts because of how unstable they were in the realm, needing a Flame Arc to manifest. However, if they could incarnate into a proper host, taking the native body over, they could stay around as long as they wanted.
However, if nothing had changed in the quest, none of the elves were fully possessed, meaning no demons piloting them. They were basically just zombies, nerfed, mindless versions of who they once were.
Several demons, at least three dozen Grinners and a hundred plus imps, crawled about.
"Do we save them?" said Chrysa, pointing to the elves.
"No." Aldrich said this without a hint of hesitation. There was no point saving the elves. Not only were they already basically dead, their souls rotted out from within, but he could not afford trying to purify them with the [Solar Seal].
It was just not worth it, and he had a finite amount of sunlight stored to use. None of the elves were strong on their own, either. At best, he could store their graves in his bell for summoning later.
Maybe it would have been interesting to hear out what the elves had to say about the trial quest, but that was a lore related luxury he could not afford.
"What we do is this." Aldrich pointed over to a particularly large cove of wood, isolated in its own space to mark its importance. A collection of branches unfurled atop the cove like the candles on a chandelier, and at their tips, tongues of white fire flickered.
A holy light emanated from the cove that prevented demons from drawing close, though there was a sort of hazy dark veil that made it clear a barrier prevented easy access into it.
This was the Velis Temple. One of the objectives Aldrich could clear.
"We go there. To that temple."
"There's a scary one in front of it." Chrysa gulped nervously.
Indeed, there was a demon noticeably different from all the others around it there. Standing right in front of the circle of white light cast from the temple was a tall, sticklike being with a body that looked like a masked pole walking on long, spindly legs. If Aldrich had to try and describe it, it looked like someone had stuck a totem atop the back of a daddy long legs spider.
This demon was much bigger than the Grinners and gave off a dangerous 'boss' like presence. The mask that comprised its face set in a bored, neutral expression with thin blank white eyes that seemed right on the verge of falling asleep.
That was a Greater Demon. Level 40. Roughly around Aldrich's own level.
"Nothing's scary if you're ready for it," said Aldrich. "We're going to take that thing down."