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Chapter 27: A Mysterious Acquaintance

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Author: TypeAxiom Original Source: ScribbleHub

Blood dripped from the thorns onto the floor, splattering onto the ground.

Fleur covered her mouth, unable to breathe, unable to say anything. The thorns and the spear disappeared into wisps of smoke. The body fell forward onto the puddle of blood on the floor, splashing drops of blood on her shoes.

Deep holes riddled every inch of the body.

Sour liquid rose up in her throat and she pitched forward. The vomit spilled from her mouth. “H—ha…no…why? You…”

Her legs felt boneless. She fell to the ground on her knees, blood soaking into her robes. Tears spilling from her eyes carved trails down her face. “Because of me…”

She hardly noticed when Anne pulled her into her arms until her friend shouted into her ear. “Fleur, calm down!”

“But he died,” Fleur said. “I didn’t even know him and he didn’t even know me. Why did he save me? He knew what was going to happen!” She buried her face into Anne’s chest. “Why…I should have been me!”

Her shoulder shook as she sobbed. It was comforting in Anne’s embrace. If only she could stay there forever in that darkness, not seeing anything, ignoring everything. “Uahhh…”

As her cry leaked from her throat, Anne pushed her away, yanking her out of that comforting darkness and thrown back into that reality filled with blinding lights and death. She blinked, confused. Anne took her head in both of her hands and forced her to look at her. “Stop crying! Stop crying and live on for him!”

“But—”

Anne cut her off. “You can’t change the past, only the future. Can you imagine if he looks back on his journey to the Gods and he sees you? What will he say if he sees how pathetic you look right now? Stand!”

Her friend pulled her to her feet. Fleur rose unsteadily, her legs still weak. Her form swayed back and forth.

“Stand, Fleur. Look around you, do you think you’re the only one who’s alive because of someone else? Everyone else is fighting!”

Still holding onto her shoulders, Anne spun her around, forcing her to look around her. Dead bodies—torn apart, desiccated, or dead in other manners—were on the ground everywhere she looked. Despite all that death, Anne was right.

Everyone dressed like in the robes of a cleric, armed with bucklers and maces, fought with no less bravery than the knights.

Although there were even some zombies in padded white robes, forced to fight against their former allies, the clerics never faltered. It was against those zombies that they fought the hardest, to free their comrades’ bodies from the undeads’ hold for just a while longer.

She alone was lacking.

After Fleur took in the sight, she felt Anne’s hot breath on her ear, and she heard Anne’s soft voice as Anne hugged her from behind. “Don’t give up.”

Fleur nodded and sniffed, wiping her eyes on her sleeve. “I’ll try…”

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She glared at the skull lich, who was no longer looking at her. Instead, it was busy casting spells to help the knight-class skeletons against their Cloud Knight opponents.

Together with Anne, Fleur marched toward the edge of the cleric formation, stepping around corpses and trying to ignore whatever it was that squelched beneath her feet.

As acolytes, they were supposed to be in the center where they are protected by the more experienced clerics, but there was no point to being protected if their side was going to collapse any minute.

She had to put the precious mana that Anne gave her to good use.

Going up to a zombie that was trying to break into the cleric lines, Fleur knocked it down with a bash of her buckler across the face. When light began to glow from next to her from Anne casting a spell, she quickly stepped in front of Anne to block her way. “Wait…I want to try doing it my way, if possible…”

The light faded.

With Anne’s silent approval, Fleur held her buckler up and pointed the dome in the center of the small shield at the zombie on the ground. “Purification…um, Purifying Impact!”

The spell she constructed drew on her mana, creating a ball of holy light. She watched it intently, focusing the ball smaller and smaller. She saw a zombie move toward her, but Anne whacked it away before continuing to watch her.

When the ball of holy mana was prepared to her liking, Fleur slammed her buckler as well as the ball into the zombie’s back. The ball exploded on contact with the zombie. The mana contained in that ball had been so concentrated, and the spell so well crafted that the originally gentle and soothing Purification became a scorching hot explosion. The heat splashed against Fleur, but she was protected by the buckler.

By the time the light faded, there was a large charred hole in the back of the zombie and it had stopped moving after just one Purification.

When Fleur stood up again, Anne clapped, tapping her mace against her buckler. “That was cool. I’ve never seen Purification used that way, since…we’re supposed to stay away from our enemies.”

“I don’t think that has ever stopped you,” Fleur muttered, looking at how Anne waved her mace.

“You’re probably right. Still, what’s with that name? Is it for killing zombies specifically?” Anne asked.

“T—that’s a secret. I learned it from an acquaintance and the name is from her too!” Fleur said. “Anyways, let’s do the next one together. Feel how I’m casting the spell and then copy me.”

“I can’t do that. Not everyone is like you, being able to learn a spell by looking at it,” Anne protested. Still, she knocked over a zombie before crushing its arms so it couldn’t crawl or get up. After she put the gory mace away on her belt, Anne grabbed her wrist.

Fleur pointed the buckler toward the zombie and began to cast the spell. The first part of the spell was simple, constructing a basic Purification that gathered holy mana. “That’s not too hard,” Anne said.

“Shhh!”

The part following after was much more complicated and Anne frowned as she concentrated. The mana followed along threads, being transformed and their properties changed before flowing from the outside toward the inside of the ball. Although more and more mana filled the innermost parts of the ball, it did not grow bigger. Instead, the ball of holy light actually shrank.

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The ball became more and more concentrated, heat radiating from it. It could no longer be fired into a ray.

Together with an awed Anne, she slammed the buckler into the zombie and once more destroyed it.

“Amazing! It’s the same amount of mana, but you changed it. It’s not too hard either! Your acquaintance is so good at magic!” Anne said, still holding onto her wrist.

Fleur blushed and pulled away. “She’s okay. She said she came up with it when…when someone was teaching her how to hurt a powerful undead…”

But Anne was no longer listening. She was already charging up a Purifying Impact on her buckler. First she cracked a zombie on the head with her mace and as the zombie fell, she pushed forward her buckler. Light burst out from the back of the zombie and it died.

Anne took a deep breath. Even she could help if she did her best.

Even with the mana that Anne gave her, she didn’t have much left. Here in this necropolis, it was much harder to recover her mana. The neutral mana in the air was too sparse, and most of it had already become converted into undead by the curse here.

It—

Fleur smacked her face. “Stop. Just focus on what you can do right now!”

Suddenly, the ground trembled. She looked around in time to see one of the huge knight-class skeletons running by, with vice captain Sir Barsig hot on its heels.

“Stop running, damn it!” Sir Barsig shouted. He was faster than the knight-class, but fodder kept getting in his way. The clerics weren’t of any help either.

Ropes of light flew out from behind Fleur, seeking to grab and entangle the skeleton, but when the light touched it, the ropes decayed and faded away. The skull lich did its job making the clerics’ lives hell, preventing them from offering their support to the Cloud Knights.

As the skeleton charged passed, the huge skeleton swung its axe, chopping a cleric cleanly in half before retreating back into the masses of undead where Barsig couldn’t reach him.

The cleric fell, the two halves landed a ways from each other. Blood spilled out, dying the ground between the two halves red. Fleur looked away, squeezing her eyes shut. “Don’t think about it don’t think about it. Just think about what you can do. Ha…ha…”

A buckler bumped on her chest and she opened her eyes, meeting Anne’s gaze. She did her best to force on a smile, but even she could feel how forced it was. Luckily, Anne accepted her attempt and went back off to killing zombies, although she never went far.

Fleur joined her, but she couldn’t help but feel that their resistance was futile. She had almost no mana left, yet there was no end to the undead in sight. Even the ones they killed will eventually rise again—she saw it happen when her own eyes.

How could Anne still be so optimistic? How does she keep her hope alive? If it wasn’t for Anne, she would have given up long ago.

While all they had to do was to wait until reinforcements came, or until the Cloud Knights managed to defeat the knight-class skeletons that prevented them from leaving, both prospects seemed too far away.

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Merely four—now three knight-class undead kept them rooted in place, unable to progress another step for so long. Although the knights managed to kill one, a zombie knight, it had been the weakest one of the bunch by far.

The other three were much more troublesome and elusive, especially that accursed skull lich that killed so many of the people around her and helped the other two skeletons escape from the Cloud Knights time and time again.

Its very presence seemed to empower the entire horde of lesser undead.

Fleur kicked down another zombie, jumping away before it could grab her, and killed it with another Purifying Impact. Wiping away the sweat that formed on her brows despite the icy crystal in her padded robes, and she looked around her to see how many people remained.

Less than half of the clerics remained.

Nearly a hundred clerics joined the team, and less than half of them still stood. War clerics and priests died equally before the undead’s slaughter. Having served in the same outpost for so long, and without rules against fraternization for the war clerics, there were doubtlessly pairs that were torn apart today.

As she watched, a female cleric dragged another cleric out from the clutching masses of undead. The female cleric pulled him back behind the lines of clerics to safety.

Fleur was about to go help, but stopped as a zombie lunged toward her. By the time she killed the zombie and turned back, the female cleric was draped over the other cleric’s body, and Fleur knew that the male cleric was dead.

“Was he her lover?” she murmured. Watching the pair, sadness welled up along with hopelessness she felt. The male cleric’s face, although torn up, still carried a hint of youth, and the female cleric looked even younger from behind.

Even though there was still a battle raging, the cleric didn’t move from her dead lover’s side. By the time Fleur killed another zombie and looked again, she was still there.

Unable to watch the cleric wallow in sorrow anymore, Fleur wondered if she should go talk to her like Anna managed to help her regain some semblance of hope.

“Where are you going?” Anne asked.

“I’m going to go talk to that woman,” Fleur said, pointing with her buckler.

“…Do you want me to come?”

“I can manage…probably. Besides, I’m tired, so it will be a good chance to take a breath and recover some mana.” Fleur smiled at Anne, who seemed to relax. Anne nodded.

“Okay. Don’t push yourself, and if you need me…”

“I will. Thanks, Anne. I’ll be right back.” Fleur waved and headed toward the cleric. But as she got closer, she saw that the cleric’s head was ever so slightly bobbing up and down, as was her shoulders. It wasn’t sobbing—it was almost like…swallowing.

Fleur’s blood froze and she stopped, unable to take another step.

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