Chapter 392: The Unwelcome Guests.
“Huh? What is happening?”
“Are you awake? Good as you can see your lordship, we have a small situation here. Remember those cultists we spoke about? Yeah, they are now here.”
Roland shouted, pointing towards the group of undead monsters surging through the breach in the wall. Arthur was visibly perplexed by the situation, but Mary swiftly assisted him, simultaneously withdrawing a set of runic daggers she had concealed in her dress. Meanwhile, on the other side, the cultists had successfully breached the barrier, and their conversations became audible to everyone who was now awake.
“How can this be, how are these people awake? Did they really manage to suppress the great relic?”
“This is inconceivable…”
“We can’t allow anyone to escape, we need to capture the one responsible!”
The man at the helm of the undead horde began to shout while standing amidst the wreckage of the wall. His eyes were fixed on Aurdhan, who was locked in combat with one of their cult members. Gradually, his gaze shifted to the other individuals who were now alert. His face was mostly concealed by the hood of a dark robe, and all Roland could make out was his parched skin, along with some peculiar occult symbols adorning his chin. The necromancer seemed like he was a walking corpse that was quite animated.
Behind him, there was a gruesome display of shape-shifting as the Eldritch Warlock materialized behind the Necromancer. Earlier, one of the shoulders had swollen to form a large eyeball, and now the second one was also taking shape. It appeared that this cultist's transformation was a gradual process that probably would turn him to a true monster.
“Woah, this baldie isn’t half bad…”
“Hah, stop running you damn Wench!”
Not that far away from them the third member shouted out as if she was enjoying the wounds she had received. Aurdhan had managed to make the woman retreat back to where the gash in the wall had opened, a few nicks and bruises already visible on her armor and body.
“You can’t even take care of one of them?”
“But Mr. Necromancer, he is strong~”
As the two cult members began to bicker, the guild master spotted an opportunity he couldn't afford to miss. They were all standing in close proximity to each other, which, for a skilled warrior like him, presented the perfect chance to strike. His large form began to radiate a bright red aura as he concentrated his energy. It swiftly converged on the mithril axe gripped in his right hand, triggering his attack skill.
The axe struck the ground, releasing a burst of red aura that created a small explosion of energy. Aurdhan tightly gripped the hilt with both hands and swung his weapon toward the cultists who were observing him. A massive wave of chaotic aura energy surged forth from the ground, materializing as it advanced in their direction. Initially, it collided with the undead monsters at the front, engulfing them, and then flew in the direction of the three masterminds.
Roland, in the midst of assisting Bernir to his feet, was briefly stunned by the immense power the Guild Master unleashed. The broad red torrent extended the breach in the wall even further, encompassing the entire newly created entrance and colliding with the individuals present there. The resounding impact during the collision suggested that something had been struck, though it was difficult to discern whether the attack had managed to vanquish any of the cultists positioned in that area.
“B-boss? W-what’s happening? Why is everything shaking?”
“Good, you’re up. There is not much time so listen. The cultists are here, I need you to help bring everyone to the escape tunnel just like we discussed before!”
“The escape tunnel?”
"Yes, the escape tunnel."
Roland replied hastily. He grabbed Bernir's arm, pulling him to his feet and assisting him in regaining his balance. Even though the smoke had not cleared up yet, he did not believe that the cultists would be finished after one attack. It was best to use this moment of confusion to get everyone who had passed out to safety.
"Remember, we planned for this scenario just in case. Now, we need to get everyone to safety. Can you do it?"
Bernir's eyes widened as he finally grasped the gravity of the situation. He nodded vigorously, his expression transforming from confusion to resolute determination. Roland had anticipated that such a scenario might unfold. After the Lich's attack, the underground area had been fortified, and additional escape routes had been established to aid them. Bernir was well-versed in each of them and could guide people to safety or even assist them in reaching the panic room if the situation demanded it.
"Aye, I remember the plan. I'll gather the others and lead them to the tunnel. You can count on me, boss!"
“Good, here take this.”
“Yes, it’s a helmet. Do you see the four there, you remember them, the adventurers that traveled with me during the previous cultist incident?”
Bernir nodded, though he wasn't entirely sure of Roland's intentions. He was handed the helmet, the same one he had used to awaken others, but this detail was unknown to him at this point in time.
"Place the helmet on their heads. It should awaken them from the illusion, but it will only work on those four. Explain everything to them and get their assistance in helping the remaining guests."
"You want me to... aye, no problem, boss. I understand."
The half-dwarf nodded without further inquiry. He realized there was no need to question Roland's instructions. His trust in Roland was unwavering, and he knew that if he placed the helmet on those people's heads, they would likely awaken. During the commotion, Roland continued to analyze the situation along with trying to grasp the signal the relic was producing.
It was not quite the same one that he encountered during the village incident. Blocking or canceling the illusion for every unfamiliar person without their stored mana patterns was an impossible task. The four adventurers, Grisalde, Senna, Dalrak and Orson had been invited to today’s wedding party. He had made a few quick changes to the helmet to target their mana patterns and could also remotely access it even if he wasn’t touching it.
Bernir only needed to place the helmet on their heads for Roland to activate the runic structure. During a chaotic battle, focusing on awakening more than these four would be impractical. With their help, he was somewhat confident that the guests could escape. The number of people wasn't overwhelming, and Grisalde alone could probably carry out five people at once.
“Lord Arthur, we need to leave.”
“Mary, we need to help the guests.”
“But Lord Arthur, what if something happens to you?”
While Roland was about to leave, Arthur got into a little confrontation with his maid. He wanted to do the honorable act of helping out the affected people in this unfortunate event. She on the other hand wanted nothing more than to leave this place that was covered by a strange shroud.
“Mary, it won’t be that easy to leave this place. Do you see that dark shroud that’s around us?”
To prevent further arguments, he promptly informed the ninja maid about the wide-area spell the Necromancer had cast. This spell covered his entire home and extended beyond the walls. The dome it generated was designed not only to disrupt magical signals but also to act as a barrier, preventing unauthorized individuals from entering or leaving.
“You might be able to go outside but Arthur’s body will probably not be able to manage that amount of necrotic mana. My assistant will guide you to one of the escape tunnels, just assist him for now.”
“You heard him, Mary. Wayland is probably right, he wouldn’t lie to us.”
His statement was accurate; the shroud was indeed saturated with malevolent mana. Passing through it, anyone below tier 3 would be afflicted with curses, poison, and a range of lingering debuffing effects. Fortunately, the spell didn't extend underground, which meant that the escape tunnels remained an option.
While Roland didn't deceive them, he leveraged the concealed knowledge of the escape tunnels as his bargaining chip. Mary would prioritize her lord above all else, but now her duty extended to ensuring Bernir's safety. With her presence, more guests had a chance at safety, and Bernir's prospects for survival also improved.
Their conversation came to an end, and as the dust settled, the outcome of the Guild Master's blast became apparent. Just as Roland had anticipated, the cultists remained standing. One of them had positioned themselves at the forefront, guarding against the surging aura energy. Unsurprisingly, it was the individual with the highest level - the Eldritch Warlock.
Ozrelak, the Eldritch Warlock, appeared to have sustained minimal damage from the Guild Master's formidable attack. His body had expanded to approximately four meters in height, and it was now covered in what resembled exposed muscle tissue. His face had become submerged within this mass and seemed to reside in the chest area, while an additional set of bizarre limbs, resembling mantis blades, emerged from the back of his shoulders. It was evident that the cultist had undergone a full transformation. Whether he possessed a more extensive form remained to be seen, but even in this state, Roland was uncertain of the true strength of this enigmatic creature.
When Roland looked in Aurdhan's direction, it was evident that the man was genuinely taken aback. His usual composed and relaxed demeanor had vanished as he remained steadfast in confronting the enemy at hand. Providing assistance to this ally was the wiser course of action, for without him, this battle would not be easily won. Fortunately, it seemed that Aurdhan had no qualms about staying to fight, and perhaps Arthur's presence was one of the reasons for his commitment. In this situation, the Guild Master couldn't hide behind rules and regulations, particularly when a noble was involved, and cultists were a menace that needed to be dealt with on sight.
“Wayland, you better give me an explanation after this is over…”“Sure, but let us survive first. Can I leave the ugly one to you?”
The Guild Master's gaze remained fixed on the Warlock, whose body emitted something resembling steam. Despite the injuries inflicted by the previous attack, his body was gradually regenerating. This particular class of spellcaster was unique, as their abilities depended on the pact they had made. In this instance, it was likely that this man was bound to the very god of the Abyssal cult. He didn't appear to be a traditional spell slinger but rather utilized his mana to augment his own body, transforming it into a monstrous form.
It was likely that his monstrous form wouldn't tire or collapse until his mana was depleted. His opponent, the Guild Master, was a formidable close-range fighter, and the two shared similar domains of close-quarters combat, making them somewhat evenly matched. Roland hoped that the Guild Master's experience would prove advantageous, and the runic axe he had lent him came equipped with some additional firepower that could be employed to their advantage.
Even if Roland discounted the Eldritch Warlock and entrusted him to Aurdhan, there were still two other formidable adversaries to contend with. The woman who had plunged her cursed dagger into his shoulder years ago was present, and she proved to be nearly as powerful as the Warlock. Both she and the Necromancer formed a dangerous combination, with her engaging opponents at remarkable speeds while the magician wielded his spells and controlled swarms of minions.
To make matters worse, the three of them were not alone. There were additional robed cultists who were scaling the walls and peering in. While most of them were at tier 2, the undead creatures summoned by Kovak were akin to the black skeletons the Lich could produce in the past. Among this small army, there were tier 3 monsters scattered, making it a challenging task to clear them all out.
“I saw it, I saw that one wake up those people~”
“So he was the one!”
While the group was in a staring match the pale elf woman pointed in his direction to single him out. It seemed that when scaling the wall the first time she had seen Roland tend to Armand and Lobelia.
“Impossible, even more, are waking up… how is this possible, is it that item?”
The situation became evident when they noticed Bernir at the rear, assisting the other adventurers. He was placing the helmet Roland had provided over their heads and utilizing his runic skills to sever the relic's influence remotely. To an observer, it seemed as if the helmet was the focal point of interaction, rather than Bernir manipulating it.
The Warlock shouted in a strange fashion that caused people to recoil in pain. His large body swung itself forward in the direction that Bernir was crouching. Luckily before the monstrous man could move more than a few meters he was interrupted by an axe coming his way. It descended before him and collided with one of his large bladed hands. The ground rumbled as he was pushed into it from the impact from the Guild Master’s attack.
“Aren’t you forgetting something, occult fucker?”
Aura exploded and seared against the Warlock's exposed muscle flesh. He found himself getting pushed back, which was utterly unthinkable to him. His mantis-like arms sprang into action for retaliation, but Aurdhan was one step ahead. He managed to anticipate the swift attacks, although he still sustained a few shallow wounds on his shoulders. With a powerful kick, he sent his opponent hurtling in the opposite direction, all in just a matter of seconds. With his axe now raised and his body radiating powerful surges of aura he gave chase. Each step that he produced left the ground crumbling and quaking.
“Oh, is Mr. Warlock in trouble? I guess, I’ll go take care of it then~”
The sly woman assassin used the clash to her advantage to launch a sneak attack against the person who was freeing the sleeping victims. Her blades were drawn and she was about to go flying to get the item in question. However, to her surprise, an object clad in mana was heading her way. This to someone of her caliber was not a problem, with a little twirls to the side she expected to escape the trajectory.
As she leaped away, preparing to head towards the dwarven target, the object headed her way abruptly changed its trajectory. It ascended into the sky before diving straight for her head. It was only when she employed her daggers mid-flight to deflect the mysterious projectile that she managed to halt the attack. Upon closer examination, she discovered it was some sort of magical arrow that had been shot from a concealed location. When she looked in that direction, she noticed an archer who had not been there previously.
“Where do you think you are going, cultist bitch?”
It wasn't over yet, as the archer had already notched and fired another arrow almost instantly. To make matters worse, intense heat emanated from above. When she looked up, a massive orb of flames had been conjured by the wolven creature she had previously attempted to attack. Jezryna, the Abyssal Assassin, finally realized she was in grave danger and was compelled to activate her skill.
Her body flickered as the arrow and the ball of flames collided with her in the air simultaneously. To the astonishment of the archer and the flaming wolf above, the attacks seemed to pass right through her, as if there was nothing there, and detonated when both of their mana clashed. The pale elf, on the other hand, gracefully touched down on the ground unscathed.
“That was close~”She proclaimed in a mocking tone before slicing forward to cleave a corpse flying her way. It was an undead monster from their group that had been thrown in her direction by a third assailant, a man wearing a strange harness over his chest. His body was in a state of flexing as if he was under some type of body enhancement skill.
“I thought you never missed?”
“Shut up and focus on the fight you idiot!”
Lobelia responded to Armand, who had been fending off some of the undead monsters attempting to infiltrate the compound. Beside him, Agni landed, and both of them turned their gaze towards the elf assassin who had ceased flickering. At last, Roland stepped forward from the side, his focus shifting to the other two primary cultists. The battle had now officially commenced and he needed to pick his main target for this confrontation…