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Chapter 26: Sword of Damocles

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Author: TypeAxiom Original Source: ScribbleHub

While Carmen took on the two knight-class skeletons on her own, the forces from the Church were not doing so well.

Having multiple people, they simply couldn’t find a guerilla war like Carmen, retreating when the situation turned unfavorable. Instead, they had to stand up to the might of three knight-class skeletons frontally, no matter how hard the fight was.

“Ah!” Fleur yelped as a howling rotten corpse lunged toward her. She swung her buckler, managing to catch the zombie on the side of its head, knocking it onto the ground. She backed away from its grasping arms. “P—purification!”

Unlike the clumsy zombies she had encountered in the mine, these were much stronger and more agile. It hasn’t always been like this, but ever since that skeleton mage arrived, everything became much harder. Even the zombies and skeleton that she used to be able to purify in one shot now required two or even three casts of Purification.

Their progress in retreating had all but stalled as endless waves of empowered blocked their path back to the gate. Although the vice captain said that he had called for reinforcements, Fleur knew that it would be awhile before any came. When it finally did, how many of them will be left?

After casting the ray of golden light onto the zombie, its movements grew duller. But, as Fleur prepared a second cast, she spotted from the corner of her eyes a second zombie that managed to split through the defenses of the Cloud Knights and clerics.

Fleur had never hated the loss of her arm now more than today. It was one thing to be inconvenienced in daily life, but another to be helpless in a life and death situation. She used to use her hands as a focus to help channel her magic. Missing an arm and a focus, she couldn’t both cast and fend off a zombie with her buckler at once.

After a moment of hesitation, she called on her friend for help for what seemed like the hundredth time of the day. Strangely, Anne never seemed to mind. “Anne!”


Anne bashed the head of the skeleton she was currently scuffling with. The solid hit from her mace sent it flying away. If there was one thing good about fighting skeletons over zombies, it was that they were a bit more vulnerable to blunt hits that simply snapped off their bones.

Having lost its head and eyes, the skeleton began to swing its arms randomly until Anne kicked it back out of the defenses. “Hang on, I’m coming to help now!”

Hearing Anne’s reply, Fleur turned the target of her Purification from the zombie staggering toward her. “Purification!”

Under the bright holy light, the zombie howled and scratched its chest that took the full brunt of the spell, its movements becoming slower. As Fleur sustained her Purification spell, rooted to her current position, her heart pounded in fear as the zombie on the ground started to crawl toward her.

Just as it was about to reach her, a beam of light engulfed the zombie’s head, causing it to writhe. The beam traveled down the length of its body, purifying the darkness within its body and completely annihilating its existence that was already weakening by Fleur.

The spell continued and swung up until the light was shining up the zombie Fleur was currently purifying. Under the scorching light of two Purification rays, the zombie’s ferocious howl turned into a pitiful groan and fell onto its face, unmoving.

With the immediate threat gone, Fleur released the breath she had been holding in. “Thank you again, Anne.”

Anne patted her on the back. “Don’t mention it!” she said.

“No, really.” Fleur took a deep breath and looked toward the outer edges of their defense lines, marked with a dim golden barrier that purified the corrupting miasma that permeated the air. The battle near or outside of the barrier was grueling.

Although the Cloud Knights did their best to keep the knight-class skeletons from getting near the clerics, the skeletons were too fast, too strong. Again and again, they broke past the Cloud Knights, managing to kill a cleric or two before retreating.

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Slowly, the clerics’ numbers were worn down, until they didn’t have enough people to form an airtight defense against the regular undead. Where they had enough firepower to annihilate anything that drew near, undead now regularly came into melee range.

A skeleton ran out through the wall of golden light, already smoking. Its fingertips were sharpened into claws. Its glowing eyes locked onto Fleur and it charged over, arms outstretched.

Together, Fleur and Anne managed to kill it, but not before it almost reached her. The tip of its outstretched hands as it fell was less than half a meter from Fleur’s feet. She stared at it, already numb to the countless undeath she had helped kill. Yet, their enemies’ numbers seemed endless while their own dwindled.

Even Anne was exhausted. Although she put up a strong and cheerful front before Fleur, the smile quickly became strained or outright disappeared when she thought Fleur wasn’t looking.

“Anne, do you think we’ll make it out?” she asked.

“Of course we will.” Anne looked surprised at the question, and then she smiled. “It doesn’t look like it, but our knights are reliable. They’ll get us out of here somehow. We just have to hang on until then.”

She tugged on Fleur’s empty sleeves, pointing with her mace. “Let’s go help over there.”

Although Anne changed the subject on her own, Fleur didn’t mind. She didn’t want to think about the alternatives.

After a few more rounds of casting, her mana reserves felt like she was already scraping the bottom of the barrel.

Anne still seemed fine, but that was because Anne had her mace. Fleur didn’t have one, so she could only use magic to help. Over the course of the battle, she had already broken past her limits many times, summoning up holy magic when she thought that she wouldn’t be able to any more.

Finally, as Fleur gathered mana for a Purification spell, the flow of mana within her finally stopped. The growing of her sphere stalled, and when she finished the spell, only a short pulse of light came out that staggered the zombie, but no more.

“Anne, leave me and go help someone else. I can’t do it anymore…I think I’m really out of mana this time.”

“What are you saying? We’re both going to get out together! Don’t say things like that,” Anne growled. “I already promised to keep you safe! I’ll try to pass you some of my mana.”

Fleur shook her head immediately. Transferring mana was inefficient. “You can’t!”

“Shut up and take it!”

Anne grabbed her hand. A warm feeling soaked into Fleur’s fingers and her body hungrily drank up the mana despite her trying to reject it. She couldn’t break free from Anne’s grip. Thanks to her rejection, much of the mana faded leaked out into the air and disappeared.

Her heart ached at the waste, so she opened her heart and accepted Anne’s mana.

“That’s enough now!” she said, after a moment. “Let go!”

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“Wait! Just a bit more…”

Fleur shook her head at her friend’s stubbornness. Even if she was better at controlling mana than Anne, it didn’t make up for the difference. Why was Anne so adamant about this?

As she waited for Anne to stop on her own, her scalp tingled as the flow of mana in the air changed. The holy barrier trembled and all of the undead mana in the air seemed to be heading toward one direction.

“What’s happening? Is it that lich again?” Fleur asked, looking around for the cause. She looked toward the direction the mana was flowing towards, but all she saw were the row of houses nearby. “Was it something further beyond?”

“Fleur! The lich is casting a spell again! Watch out!”

Anne’s urgent shout grabbed Fleur’s attention back and she looked over at the skull lich standing on top of a chimney, overlooking them all. Although countless rays of light fired toward it, they seemed to do nothing.

However, each of its spells, while few and far between, signaled death for someone in the hunting team.

A dozen black spears materialized high up in the sky, growing longer and longer.

However, instead of falling, it remained hovering, a sword of Damocles over their heads, about to descend at any moment to reap a life.

Several clerics already threw up shields, wasting precious mana for every moment the spears did not fall. “That jerk!” Anne growled, stomping the ground.

Suddenly, the ground quaked, a powerful shockwave rippling through the stone beneath them. Everyone felt it, and it originated from behind those rows of houses. What exactly was happening?

Although Fleur was curious, she couldn’t afford to split her attention right now. She stared up at the spears in the sky. One of them looked awfully small, a mere dot in the sky. “W—wait, Anne, doesn’t that one look like it’s pointing at us?”

Her friend gasped. “Shield! As strong as you can make it!”

Fleur immediately threw up a shield as Anne stuck close to her. “Shield!” A golden undulating umbrella formed above them both, covering them in its shade. Anne grabbed her shoulder, and Fleur felt the same warmth as before as Anne poured her mana into her. She didn’t even complain. Instead, she took all of that mana and channeled it all into the shield until it became a shield as thick has her hand.

Their shield drew the attention of a cleric, who was nearby. He looked up. “You fools! You can’t block something like that!”

“Then help us!” Anne shouted.

The cleric looked like he was about to argue, but seemed to think better of it. He huddled up with them under the shield and casted his own spell. A complex shield five layer thick formed right underneath Fleur’s shield. “Five Shelled Barrier. I don’t trust your shield to hold, so I’ll be the backup.”

Anne hmphed and looked away, continuing to stare up at the spears in the sky. After what seemed like an eternity of waiting, long after a mysterious dark pillar rose into the sky, the spears finally began to fall.

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By then, they were already each longer than a person. At first, they fell slowly, but then they accelerated until they were faster than arrows. They were not all the same speed. They were staggered and imperfect. The people marked for death were meant to watch others like them, witnessing what was to come.

A cleric abandoned her shield and ran, but one of the spears turned to follow her movements.

The sight chilled everyones’ hearts. It was either block or death—no escape.

The first falling spear crashed into the shields that a cleric created. However, with the sound of shattering glass, the shield broke on contact. The spear impaled the cleric from head to toe. A hundred thorns sprouted from her body.



Gritting her teeth, Fleur maintained the shield. Who would die next?

Five clerics have died. Not a single one managed to survive. It was a cruel game that the skull lich played. Hot tears burned her eyes, but she refused to let them fall.

Finally, it was their turn. The spear descended, heading straight for her and Anne. Like a dying star falling from the night canvas, a tail trailed behind the spear until it crashed into the shield she created and Anne. The shield trembled, and the spear stalled, but Fleur was not fooled.

It was but another one of the skull lich’s tricks.

Sure enough, in the next instant, the spear shattered the shield before it crashed into the barrier that the cleric next to them created. There, it stopped—for one moment, then another.

The cleric grinned at her. “See? Nothing to worry about.”

“Ha ha…” Fleur laughed. Could it really be this easy?

The cleric laughed along with her until his face paled. The first shell of the barrier shattered and the spear crashed into the second, where it once again stopped. Fleur looked over to where the skull lich was to find it staring back at her. Its right hand was raised high in the air, the ghostly white bones of its fingers clearly visible.

Its finger twitched and the sound of shattering glass reached her from above.

Her heart fell. It was another one of the skull lich’s games.

Third. Fourth. Finally, only the last shield remained, forcibly holding under the white-faced cleric’s efforts. The spear was right on top of them.

“Anne…run. The spear is after me, so…” She couldn’t stop her tears anymore. Hot droplets ran down her face while Anne stood frozen beside her. “Anne!”

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She heard the sound of a soft cackle in her ears and her heart nearly stopped. However, the sound of shattering glass never came. Instead, a strong pair of hands pushed her aside, sending her crashing into Anne.

There was a flash of black and a thicket of dark, bloody thorns shot forward her face, scoring a deep wound on her cheek as she fell onto the floor. Wincing, she sat up with Anne’s help, but her eyes widened in disbelief at what she saw.

Deep in the thicket of thorns was the cleric who had helped them, his hands still outstretched from when he shoved her.


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