Chapter 327 Worthy
The boss geist moved full speed along the red trail. Rather than floating rather slowly, it landed upon the ground and skittered forward with all the frenzy of an overloaded locomotive, its six huge legs driving up piles of dirt.
"Permission to engage the target while it is distracted?" Refraction said, having warped to Aldrich's side. They watched as the boss geist ignored them, barreling past.
"You warped her out of the forest, correct?" said Aldrich.
"Then let it go. [To the Death] can get broken by outside interference like damage," said Aldrich.
"Understood, control," said Refraction.
"In the meanwhile, we follow the geist until it's outside the forest. It hasn't triggered any of the other trees to hatch, and I intend on letting things stay that way," said Aldrich. He took to the air, Volantis's draconic wings unfurling.
Chiros used [Air Step], a common martial art skill to walk on air, to follow Aldrich. Refraction followed with his own version, walking on mirrors he generated beneath his boots.
"It seems we have a problem." Mollusk stared up at them. "I can't fly."
"Here." Aldrich reached behind his back, grasped his cloak of souls, and tossed it towards Mollusk. The cloak billowed forth, wrapping behind Mollusk and lifting him in the air.
"Cool. I can count on one hand the number of times I've flown before," said Mollusk.
"Don't get used to it," said Aldrich. "The cloak is personal property. Mostly."
"I'll take what I can get," said Mollusk.
Together, Aldrich and everyone followed close behind the boss geist, making sure that it kept following the [To the Death!] trail without disturbing other trees.
The boss geist was fast enough that it only took a few minutes for it to get out of the forest. A solid distance of thirty miles covered with the force of six raging, bloodlusted legs.
As the geist moved, its butterfly wings rapidly vibrated, flinging slime off to dry themselves. By the time the geist exited the forest, the wings would be fully functional.
"How will we keep the target grounded?" said Refraction.
"[To the Death!] will keep it fighting Valera," said Aldrich.
"Like a taunt. In a game," said Mollusk.
"Precisely that," said Aldrich.
"But you said the taunt wears off if we hit the thing, right? Doesn't that mean that we're just going to be bystanders? It'll come down literally to a 1 vs 1. And I'm not sure she can handle this from what I've seen. Don't get me wrong, she's tough, but variants like this - disaster variants - you need to deal with in groups.
Or atleast that's what the AA says."
"Right. Conventional wisdom dictates that to fight something like an A rank disaster variant, you need at least a group of ten A rank heroes. But that's primarily a judgement call based on the fact that disaster variants will have many strong powers where as a hero will only have one.
The numbers make up for that power deficit.
In our case, though, we have enough power flexibility to compensate."
"Be that as it may, but does she really have the firepower needed to take this thing down? Look at its face, Refraction reflected back its rot beam thing, but the wound's completely healed already."
"She doesn't need to kill it all by herself. We can support her, just not directly." To prove his point, Aldrich cast [Heart in My Hands], wrapping his right hand in crimson. He could not recast his Pursuer because of its long cooldown, but the boss geist would not pay him attention anyway.
He flew downwards and gently tapped the boss geist's back, initiating the curse.
[Heart in My Hands] showed a grey indicator on Aldrich's vision that meant that it did not work on the boss geist for it had no heart. However, it did not just rupture hearts, it was a flat out execute if the cursed target went below 30% max HP whether they had a heart or not.
Valera had ways to increase that threshold up to 50%.
All she had to do was solo the boss geist down to half health, at which point Aldrich could instantly end this fight.
He flew back up, the boss geist ignoring him as he had technically not done any damage to it. "As long as you don't damage it directly, the taunt still holds up."
"Got it," said Mollusk. "That means I'll be useless. I don't have any 'support' type abilities."
Chiros grunted, affirming that he too was a combatant, not a supporter.
"I can be of assistance," said Refraction.
"I know, but hold off for a while," said Aldrich. Lately, Valera had been feeling a little down here and there, believing she hadn't quite gotten a chance to prove her worth. "I want to give her a chance to show off."
Valera waited atop a hill-like formation of boulders, trembling as her bloodlust continually grew. Her shield was planted like a gravestone beside her, embedded into the rock.
[To the Death!] enforced [Berserker's Rage] on her, and that skill continually increased physical stats while providing increasing damage reduction at the cost of sanity. At the end of the rage, she also suffered a large portion of the negated damage all at once.
In Valera's case, her [Berserker] class abilities had started to merge with her emerging racial abilities. [Berserker's Rage] was now [Bloody Berserker's Rage].
The basic effects of thee rage were the same, but it had the bonus effect of continually increasing her Reversion until it hit her max of 80%, at which point she became less a knight and more a wild monster.
Valera's noble blood of Etal belonged to an ancient [True Vampire] called a [Goredrinker]. They roamed from battlefield to battlefield like forces of nature, destroying both sides equally without care to relish in the blood and gore to mature and grow stronger.
Among all noble bloodlines, the Etal were the most suited for physical combat, though that prowess came with a penchant for falling into hot-blooded passion and rage.
But Valera kept her calm, knowing that if she followed her bloody instincts now, she would disobey her master and stop the boss geist from leaving the forest.
As always, her master had a way to deal with everything. It was why she could rely upon him so. To entrust to him both her body and heart.
'Valera, incoming target.' Aldrich's voice permeated through Valera's head like cool ice, quelling her burning instincts for a second.
'Understood, master. I am ready.'
'You're going to have to solo this one for the most part. I have the heart exploding curse on the boss, so all you have to do is get it below the execution threshold. But doing that will be all you.
Can I trust you with this?'
Valera nodded vigorously. Finally! A great task worthy of her, one she could prove to show her greatness to her master. It was a dream come true. For so long, she had done administrative work, making sure the legion was stationed properly and listening to reports, but deep down, all of that bored her to no end.
She was most at home with the fight.
Aldrich felt her intent from the nods. 'Here we go.'
In the distance, from the treeline, the boss geist emerged, a thirty meter long mass of multi-legged, multi-ton fury. It split apart the dry earth outside of the forest with the sheer force of its aggressive stomps, rushing to Valera with eager intent to fight.
Valera smiled at this raw sign of aggression. This primal declaration of war, as if each crashing footstep was the beat of a war drum.
"Come!" Valera roared as she took her shield out. "Today we fight to the death!"
The boss geist spotted Valera and fully unfurled its wings, taking to the air. Its wingspan was mythical in its scale, reaching sixty meters, covering the sun and casting a great shadow upon the earth.
It reminded her of when she and her master had fought Kryos, Archdragon of Eternal Winter, how the dragon's great wings utterly covered the sun, drenching the world in darkness steeped in bitter cold.
No, this hardly measured up to that.
That was one of the greatest battles Valera had fought with her master, when they were at the peaks of their power at level 100. One of the moments she held close to her heart, when she knew she was making her summoned life matter after the failure of her original life.
But it still made her blood boil all the same.
What proper knight would not see a great beast, one that could shade the sun itself, and not see a creature to slay?
Especially a knight sworn in service to a man of her master's caliber, no less?
With a howling, alien wail, the boss geist's eye-patterned rainbow wings glowed bright. Hundreds, no, thousands of streaks of iridescent light emerged from them, soaring in the air in beautiful arcs aimed in a large-scale artillery bombardment straight at Valera's position.
Valera leaped off her hill. Black wings stretched out from her back, claws tipped at their ends. She soared in the sky, her shield held up. The rainbow light bolts crashed against her shield in an unending stream.
A heavy storm of destruction, each raindrop of light unloading high temperature explosions that scorched her skin. But she grinned wildly and just pushed forward, splitting through that unceasing rain with her shield held up high and her wings beating strong.
No less was expected of her as a guardian knight, and no less would she give.
That was her motto as she soared into the fray of light.