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Chapter 28: Barsig’s Folly

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Author: TypeAxiom Original Source: ScribbleHub

As if she felt eyes on her, the female cleric turned around, locking eyes with Fleur. The sudden eye contact snapped Fleur out of her trance.

“You—what are you doing?” Fleur asked. The cleric looked young, perhaps even younger than her. She was a girl, one that Fleur didn’t remember ever seeing.

The girl’s eyes widened. “Fleur? Why are you here? What happened to your arm?”

Fleur took a step back from the strange girl, clutching her empty sleeve. “Who are you? Why do you know my name?”

“Why, because you told me. I’d love to stay and talk, but unfortunately, I have to go. Rest assured, now that I know you’re here, I will make sure you stay alive. Until next time, little Fleur.”

Without even letting her get a word in, the girl smiled at her, waved, and then disappeared into the crowd of clerics.

“Wait!” Fleur said, but the girl was already gone. Confused, she looked at the corpse of the cleric for clues, but she saw nothing. What had that girl been swallowing? The corpse looked untouched—no fingers missing, nothing to indicate that the girl had been eating.

Fleur’s head spun from the conflicting information.

Nothing that the girl did made sense, but that girl also seemed to know her. “Is she trustworthy? Just who is she?”

Fleur wondered if it would be fine to not tell anyone what she saw. No one would believe her anyways, and even if Anne believed her, Anne only had her words to go off of. Whether she told anyone wouldn’t make a difference, except perhaps make Anne worry.

“Fleur, are you done yet? Some help please!” Anne called. Fleur turned around to see Anne locked in combat with a zombie, but two more were heading toward her.

If it was Anne, she should easily win that, especially since the Purifying Impact spell was so effective. If Anne was calling for her, then…

Fleur smiled to herself and ran over, already charging a Purifying Impact in front of her shield. When she reached Anne, she bashed the zombie that Anne was holding down, blowing a hole into its chest. Two more Purifying Impacts later, all three zombies were down. If only the knight-class skeletons were so easy.

“So what happened?” Anne asked as she caught her breath. When Fleur looked at her questioningly, she raised her eyebrows. “You know, that cleric. I don’t see her anymore.”

“Oh! Oh, um, yeah, she rejoined the battle,” Fleur said, “she just needed a moment; she’s fine now.” And now she’s gone and lied to Anne. Although on second thought, she might not be wrong.

“Good job!”

Fleur looked away, blushing. “Thanks.”

After that, she concentrated on fighting the undead. Once while she’s resting, she caught sight of that girl again just as the girl was ducking back into the crowd of clerics. The girl had met her eyes, waved, and disappeared, leaving her confused and with more questions than answers.

The way the girl carried herself, how confident and cocky she acted, reminded Fleur of someone, but she couldn’t quite place who.

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For a moment, the situation on the battlefield steadied, but things began to change again as the skull lich once again stopped its support and channeled its magic for an offensive spell. This time, it was an arm of mist that swept through the crowd of clerics.

Most people managed to shield themselves from it, including Fleur and Anne, but some did not and dropped dead as the mist passed. As if this wave of death was a signal for something, the two knight-class skeletons suddenly went on the offensive. Instead of running in and out of battle harassing the clerics, they turned round and charged into the teams of Cloud Knights.

Of the nine Cloud Knights, two faced the knight-class skeleton warrior that wielded a giant axe, and four faced the skeleton that was armed with a large shield and sword. The last remaining three continued to clear the lesser undead, mowing through their ranks like a scythe through wheat only for more to take the place of the fallen.

Under the influence of the skull lich’s magic, the two already large skeleton warriors swelled in size until they were twice as large as any man present.

A single cleave of the axe skeleton’s axe created a deep fissure in the ground. While the knight skeleton did not have as much destructive power, its shield made it much harder to hurt.

Having been chased and harried for much of the battle while mostly not striking back, the skeleton warriors fought with gusto. They flew into a frenzy as soon as their counterattack began, black mist surging out from their bodies.

“Humans! Since you want a fight so much, you’ll have one!” the axe skeleton roared. The knight skeleton said nothing, but echoed a roar in response. Their voices spread far and wide and everyone present could hear them, fear touching their hearts.

The scale of that battle was far beyond Fleur’s capabilities to influence. She could only watch as the two sides clashed in a titanic struggle.

“First is you.” The axe skeleton turned its gaze toward Barsig, one of the only two knights that marked it. “You have been quite irritating, but it all ends now.”

The skeleton raised its axe high and swung downwards, right at Barsig. Instead of raising his weapon to block, the vice captain merely looked at the skeleton with a disgusted look on his face. Right as the axe was about to cleave him in half, a huge shield suddenly appeared, imposing itself between the axe and Barsig.

“Art! Bulwark!”

The axe crashed into the shimmering shield with a loud clank of metal against metal. With the strength that the skeleton now wielded, it seemed inevitable that the shield be sundered, but instead, the axe bounced off and the skeleton stumped back.

Barsig did not waste the opening and ran forward, his large heater shield held up in front of him just in case the skeleton had any tricks it had hidden. When it became clear that the skeleton was all empty boasts, Barsig lowered his shield and swung his sword, the edge glowing a brilliant glow.

“First, your legs, so you can not run away again,” he growled.

Just when his swing was about to connect, he heard a warning cry from behind him. “Vice captain, watch out!”

Without thinking, Barsig aborted his attack and turned around, raising his shield. “Minor Bulwark!”

Something black splashed against the glowing surface of his shield, melting away in the light so fast he couldn’t see what it was. Barsig turned again—just in time to block a heavy axe blow from the huge skeleton.

The attack shattered the glowing light on Barsig’s shield but did nothing apart from that. Barsig still held firm and quickly resumed his offense, piercing at the skeleton with his sword. This time, the skeleton was prepared and knocked the sword aside with its axe.

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The sword vibrated, the shockwave traveling down Barsig’s arm. Despite how the sword threatened to jump out of his hands, Barsig kept a firm grip on his weapon and pushed forward with his shield in a vicious bash. The skeleton jumped nimbly backwards despite its burly armor and huge shape, landed just out of Barsig’s reach.

Before the skeleton could do anything else, a golden ram rushed past Barsig, slamming into the skeleton, sending it crashing back onto the ground. The golden ram exploded in scorching light, leaving the front of the skeleton’s armor dented and blackened.

Golden lightning danced over the heavy armor of the knight that appeared from beneath the golden ram’s vanished form.

As the skeleton began to rise, the heavy knight slammed the bottom of his shield onto the skeleton’s chest, knocking it back down.

“Good work, Gornum.” Barsig walked up beside the holy knight, staring down at the knight-class skeleton lying helplessly on the ground. He raised his sword. “Any last words?”

The skeleton’s eyes glowed through the slits of its visor.

“Kuh…kuh…kuh…kukuh…” First came a low, humorless laugh that sent chills down Barsig’s spine. Despite the utter lack of emotion behind it, the very fact that it still laughed while in this kind of situation was unsettling.

“Enough.” He raised his sword higher. “Holy Knight Art. Light Beyond the Horizon.”

A bright point appeared at the tip of his sword. Brilliant blue and golden flames burst to life, covering the length of the sword.

“Wait.” When it finally spoke, its voice was undistorted by its helmet. Barsig stopped.

“Don’t listen to it, Captain,” Gornum said. “There is nothing it can say that can be possibly worth listening to.”

“Yeah…you’re right.” Barsig pushed his flaming sword down toward the huge skeleton’s chest. However, he couldn’t move his body. Barsig looked down to see black arms and hands wrapped around him, holding him still. “Was this what you’re waiting for? Boring.”

With a quick pulse of holy mana, the black binds disappeared.

The skeleton laughed again. “Kukuh. Human, you may think it’s boring, but what about the other humans who are weaker than you? Have you noticed something?”

“Notice what?” Barsig looked around, but nothing was out of place. Nothing except how strangely dull all the sounds were. As soon as he registered that abnormality, the sound returned.

“Commander! Help!” “Barsig!”

Cries for help reached his ears and he turned toward the source to see a massive black barrier around the tall skeleton.

“Sandor’s dying!” someone shouted. It was one of the Cloud Knights, slashing at the barrier with her sword but was completely unable to break through. Although she managed to wear parts of it away, the barrier merely repaired itself between her strikes.

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“What do you mean?”

“We’ve been trying to call you, but you didn’t notice!” the Cloud Knight said. “Sandor’s trapped in that barrier!”

He didn’t notice? But he’s always been attentive, so there was no way he’d not notice one of his subordinates calling for him. Unless, there was a spell cast on him, or around him, and he somehow didn’t notice. That had to be it.

Barsig took a closer look at the barrier and spotted Sandor fighting against the knight skeleton.

In such a small space, Sandor was at a severe disadvantage without any room to maneuver his greatsword. Meanwhile, the skeleton used its shield to suffocate anything Sandor tried, pushing him back over and over until Sandor was cornered against the edges of the barrier, barely able to defend himself by using his greatsword as a shield.

The knight drew back its sword.

Sandor stared defiantly back at the skeleton, his own weapon raised as well.

“Help us save him, captain!”

“Sandor!” Barsig jumped off the skeleton and ran toward the barrier, cutting down the undead in his path. The low laugh of the axe skeleton grew louder and louder behind him. The sound of a mace bouncing off of armor rang out—Gornum had failed to finish the skeleton, but he couldn’t afford to turn back now.

He reached the barrier and slashed through it with his flaming sword, just as the skeleton thrusted its sword through Sandor’s chest and then ripped upwards with its blade. If he had just been a second sooner…

“Get away from him!”

The skeleton held up its shield as Barsig slashed at him. The flaming sword scored a deep groove into the shield, but it held. Even so, the flames spread over the shield, threatening to burn the whole thing to cinders, only for a black mist to float over it and put out the fire.

It was the skull lich.

It met Barsig’s glare evenly, its bare skull grinning beneath its ragged hood.

Sandor was dead. All the rage in the world won’t change that. If only the skull lich wasn’t here, things wouldn’t have become like this. He’d rather face two more knight-class skeleton warriors than a single skull lich.

“At least, you must die!” he howled. “Iruma, Vesia, go and try to distract the skull lich again, but don’t push yourself. Asmund, go help Gornum. I’ll take this one by myself. I’ll make him pay.”

Although they had just lost a precious comrade, they couldn’t falter, especially him—it was his harebrained idea to come out. Sandor’s death was completely his fault. But in the end, they were a part of a Templar Order—they’d never know who would make it back and who wouldn’t. All they could do was forge on ahead and hope that less people die each time.

The flames on Barsig’s sword burned brighter until the intense heat distorted the air above it. The giant skeleton knight placed its shield between them and raised its sword, seemingly without a care in the world.

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