“What’s wrong, boss?” Gangdor asked.
Richard blinked open his eyes, replying, “Get ready, we’re going into battle! And it could be a bitter one this time.”
Gangdor was stunned for a moment, but then he burst out into a wide grin, “That’s great!”
Waterflower gently pursed her lips together, but her eyes lit up as well. Most of the rest were equally pumped up upon hearing the news— they’d been walking through this dreary forest for too long, and it would be good to have some action to revive their drooping spirits.
Once he’d figured out the broodmother’s whereabouts, Richard rushed towards the battleground. The ground terrain shifted to a downwards slope in a few kilometres, before a swamp shrouded in grey fog came into view.
The broodmother’s huge body was hard to spot in the thick fog, occasionally flitting out of sight. Everyone who saw it was taken aback for a moment, and even the ogre brothers stopped abruptly in their tracks at the sight of the two metre tall and six metre long creature. Medium Rare scratched his head in astonishment, unable to believe his eyes.
The broodmother was in the midst of battle, screeching continuously as it slowly moved its bulky body, spraying acid in all directions. Its large, sunken belly expanded and contracted regularly, sending greenish-yellow liquid spurting out from all its folds. The rancid odour could be smelt from miles away, and even the ogres who were resistant to corrosive damage wouldn’t dare rush into this mist that was as strong as a grade 6 spell.
Richard squinted. Even though the fog and acid spray made for poor visibility, he could see that the broodmother was fighting over a hundred undead creatures. And to add to that, an uncountable number of undead were crawling out of the fog without end.
Around it were many wounded raptors fighting a significant number of the undead for their very lives. Even though these creatures were only low-level skeletons and zombies, no matter how hard the raptors bit or how fast they threw themselves at these opponents it was impossible to have them back down. Breaking an arm or leg would hardly affect these creatures, the only way to victory being destroying them to bits.
Worse still, the acid fog from the broodmother had limited effect on undead. Although it caused the bones to decay and break, it took some time for these creatures to stop moving from just that. It was actually easier for the raptors to rip them to shreds with their bladed limbs.
The battle was taking place on the edge of the swamp, and there was mud everywhere. These conditions made it difficult for the raptors to exercise their superior agility, and the zombies and skeletons poured forth relentlessly. The raptors were almost all out of energy, and it seemed like they were about to be overpowered. Waves of about ten skeletons and zombies surged forth without end, completely cornering them and pressuring them deeper into the sludge.
There were many skeletons and zombies crawling all over the broodmother’s body, with hundreds more nearby. However, the limited offensive power of these creatures left their damage to it insignificant, unable to breach the outer shell.
Where had all these undead come from?
“Broodmother, stop the acid fog!” Richard realised that the acid wasn’t doing much to the opponents, instead only causing his own army to be afraid of approaching.
At that very moment, however, strong mana emanated from the swamp and attacked the broodmother. Its actions immediately grew sluggish, and it let out a shrill cry. Being one with the broodmother in soul, Richard felt his consciousness being penetrated by a needle, as if a ray of light had swept across his brain and blanked it out. This was only momentary, however, as the remaining contracts lit up and divided the damage. He regained consciousness just as suddenly as he had lost it, with a throbbing pain to remind him that it wasn’t just a fantasy.
This was a soul spell, Mind Flay!
Even as the broodmother’s consciousness blanked out, another wave of mana emanated from the swamp. This time, it caused the broodmother to lose control of its body, and even if it only took a split second to recover that control Richard could feel the substantial effects of that second wave.
Mind Control! Many skilled mages believed this spell to be the first step to controlling a magical creature, cast just before Enslave.
Richard and the broodmother were connected via soul, and there was a soul contract between him and Waterflower as well. There were four other members of the party contracted to him on top of that. If this opponent wanted to exert control over the broodmother, they would have to do the same to everyone else he was linked to. How could that be possible? Richard, Gangdor, the two ogres, and Olar all had steadfast determination.
However, the most unexpected member of this battle was Waterflower. The young lady’s thoughts had always been pure and simple, her soul as clear as a glass of water. Once she grew aware of the attempt at control, she erupted with power.
The short self-cut hair on her head stood up, as she opened her mouth with a sharp hiss. She let loose a burst of unadulterated killer instinct, countering the source of the attack. Despite his initial surprise, Richard didn’t hesitate to channel his own mental power over, stoking that desire to kill even more.
An indistinct roar sounded from the centre of the swamp, and all the undead stilled for a moment before moving again. Now, however, it was evident that they were sluggish, disorderly, and chaotic, unlike the originally ordered swarm.
Richard gritted his teeth with a cold glint in his eyes, “There should be a necromancer somewhere here. To think he has the guts to try and control my broodmother, what guts! This fellow really has an appetite!”
He stretched out his right hand, shouting loudly, “Sword!”
An armed knight passed Richard his unnamed sword, and Flowsand silently walked over before reaching out to touch it. The tip of the sword instantly lit up with sacred fire.
Waterflower’s eyes lit up, and she quietly placed the Shepherd of Eternal Rest before Flowsand. The cleric lifted her gaze to eye the girl, before reaching her hand out to the cloth sheath of the sword.
“This is great!” Gangdor exclaimed loudly, daringly extending his axe over as well. Every weapon was burning with sacred flames not long after, and according to Flowsand it would last nine minutes corresponding to her level.
The broodmother followed Richard’s orders to climb out of the swamp, slowly approaching the army. The curtain of acid fog was left behind, while the ten surviving raptors managed to extricate themselves from the weak undead and began drawing closer to Richard. As for the rest, Richard could see their corpses sink into the mud.
He took large strides to the edge of the swamp, lightly waving his sword to slice two skeletons in half. He then followed up with a slash to a zombie’s stomach.
“Whoever is inside, listen up. I’m giving you one chance— SURRENDER IMMEDIATELY!” Boosted by mana, his voice echoed throughout the swamp.
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