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Chapter 29: Hope in the Form of a Hammer

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Author: TypeAxiom Original Source: ScribbleHub

Horror filled Fleur’s eyes as one of their pillars, their lifeline, was killed without fanfare just like that with a stroke of a sword.

She had watched it all happen. When the skull lich first attacked Sir Barsig while he was focused on the axe skeleton, Sir Barsig managed to block it. However, hidden behind the attack was a second seed-like object that broke apart and scattered around Sir Barsig like a cloud.

Although many people, including her, tried to warn him, it was too late. No matter how much they shouted, Sir Barsig did not pay them any attention. With Sir Barsig out of the picture, the skull lich and the knight skeleton worked together to trap and corner a Cloud Knight, killing him before all of their eyes.

Although there was now someone keeping an eye on the skull lich and Sir Barsig is personally taking on that knight skeleton, it didn’t change the fact they lost a precious Cloud Knight.

“Kukuh…you humans are a far cry from your leader. The two of you can’t compare with one of him!” The axe skeleton swung its axe around, scattering the knights. The skeleton’s strength was just too freakish.

Even though both Asmund and Gornum were both heavily armored and powerful vanguards, the skeleton easily knocked them around unless they used defensive spells. Of them, only Bulwark could completely stop and overpower the skeleton.

Although the Cloud Knights did their best to tie the axe skeleton down, the two vanguards lacked the skeleton’s agility. Taking advantage of its speed, the skeleton constantly tried to break into the cleric lines.

Without the skull lich’s help, it rarely succeeded when the three Cloud Knights responsible for clearing the lesser zombies interfered, but it only took one mistake from the Cloud Knights before more people died.

While the two vanguards fought against the axe skeleton, Iruma and Vesia chased after the skull lich. Both were armored rather lightly for holy knights. Iruma wielded a short spear, while Vesia held a blade in each hand—a short sword in her dominant right hand and a parrying dagger in her left.

Both made it their mission to make sure the lich could not cast another spell. Instead of killing the lesser undead on their way like they were used to, they simply dodged around them.

“Right!”

“Got it. Heavenly Road!”

The lich watched impassively as the two of them charged through the air on paths created from light. When they were almost on top of it, thrusting their weapons with all their might. The lich raised its mist-covered hands and caught both weapons.

A sizzling sound came when the light covered weapons came into contact with the mist covered bones, but in the end, the two knights could not advance another step. But they didn’t give up there.

With her more solid hold on the spear, Iruma forcibly wrenched her weapon with the help of some leverage while a glowing arming dagger struck at the skull lich’s other hand, forcing it to pull away.

Under the combined assault of Iruma and Vesia, the skull lich was forced to dodge. Black mist rose from its feet and carried it away while Iruma and Vesia chased after, hot on its heels. With nimble footwork and with help from their spells, they dodged or destroyed everything that the skull lich launched at them.

Despite their persistence, they could not stop the skull lich from casting the occasional spell that continuously pulled the two other knight-class skeletons from the brink of defeat.

The battle fell once again stalled, although the axe skeleton continued to prune away at the clerics. Once targeted by the skeleton, clerics were too slow to run away.

As the axe skeleton circled around the Cloud Knights for another go, its eyes glowed as it received a request. It began to laugh again. “Kukuh…understood. I will clean up your mess.”

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It abandoned its original target, a cleric that was rather isolated on the edges of the cleric lines. Instead, it set its sights on a one-armed female cleric who was bashing undead in the face with the buckler on her remaining arm.

“Is it her? The one you failed to kill.”

Once again dodging around Cloud Knights vanguards who were too slow to intercept it, the skeleton charged toward the clerics. As the other three Cloud Knights converged toward it, the skeleton simply knocked them out of the way with its raw strength and the weight of its weapon.

The female cleric seemed to notice it then and turned around, freezing like a small animal in the face of a snake. But she needn’t worry.

The skull lich had suggested that it make her suffer as much despair as possible. After grinning at the female cleric, the axe skeleton aimed at the red haired cleric that stood next to the girl.

A heart-wrenching scream escaped from the one-armed cleric. “Anne!”

The axe skeleton didn’t even bother to reinforce the imbuement on its axe. For such a soft target, it didn’t need to waste that mana.

Just as it began to swing his axe, a huge hammer spun out of the sky, slamming the axe into the ground before bouncing away. The impact threw up a cloud of dust that swept over the pair of clerics.

The axe skeleton recognized the hammer. “Maelplos? No, you are…” It pulled back its axe.

The figure of a person landed next to the hammer. As the dust cleared, a girl with long golden hair appeared next to the huge weapon. The head of the hammer was almost as big around as her torso—it was meant for someone as least twice as large as she was.

Oversized was the only way to describe it.

“Maelplos died. Gulthra said he lost contact with him and Saevar, did you…?”

The girl dragged the hammer as she walked forward. The Cloud Knights finally caught up with the axe skeleton. They spread out, surrounding him, with the girl completing the encirclement.

The girl pushed some of her long hair behind her ears. “So what if I did? You’ll be joining them soon.”

Carmen’s heart pounded as she tried to keep a straight face. That was such a close call; she had not expected Fleur to get into trouble so soon since she was such a low value target for the enemy. If she hadn’t come back in time, or she hadn’t been paying attention…

After drinking enough blood to last her for a while by picking out clerics whose bodies were still fresh, she had gone looking for a sword, since she accidentally broke it when she blew Saevar up. However, by the time she gave up and settled for Maelplos’s hammer, she returned to find a Cloud Knight dead and the whole battle a chaos.

Luckily, Barsig managed to stabilize the situation so she returned to trying to perfect her imbuement, this time with her holy magic. It was difficult. Although people were dying below her, she had no choice but to hide herself. She didn’t want to reveal herself before she managed to have an effective way to damage knight-class skeletons that didn’t involve blowing off her hand and exposing herself.

Converting her mana to holy mana was effective, but risky, not to mention dangerous. As it’s a delicate process, she could only convert small amounts of it at a time. If she wanted more, she had to concentrate, which left her open.

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Carmen was originally planning on hiding until she finished, but that damned axe skeleton tossed all of her plans into the garbage when it—he attacked Fleur. None of the Cloud Knights were close enough to help so she could only interfere.

When she thought about how that skeleton ruined her plans, she felt the urge to bare her teeth, though she suppressed the urge and instead kept on an amicable smile.

As the battle between the Cloud Knights and the axe skeleton resumed, one of the Cloud Knight vanguards came up to her.

He looked cautiously at her and her hammer. “Pardon me, miss, but who are you? We saw an undead pass by here earlier, and it seemed to be holding the same hammer as you are now…”

Carmen turned her smile on the vanguard, who shrank back. “What a coincidence. I’m also just passing by. There was a skeleton irritating me, so I killed it. I happened to lack a weapon, so I took its hammer.”

“I—I see, in that case, will you work together with us? We’re having a bit of trouble pinning down that skeleton. You seem to be quite skilled, so we would appreciate your help.” Although the man’s eyes were filled with doubt, Carmen didn’t mind.

She was the poster child for suspicion right now. For all the Cloud Knight knew, she was a zombie knight disguised as a human. After all, what human girl appeared here? She was a zombie knight though…

To allay the templar’s suspicions, she briefly concentrated. Undead mana, barely detectable, flowed beneath the surface of the hammer. There, it changed to blood mana, which finally turned into holy mana.

The holy mana rose to the surface of the hammer, faintly glowing.

“If you insist, I suppose it’s not out of the question for me to assist you a little,” she purred, raising the hammer in an informal salute of agreement.

At the sight of the holy mana, the templar’s eyes softened and the suspicion disappeared, although his confusion remained. Nodding his head in thanks, he turned and charged back into battle.

Before she headed after him, Carmen turned and looked at the stunned Fleur. She had a lot of things to say, but now wasn’t the time. Settling with a wink and a smile, she followed after the Cloud Knight, leaving behind an even more befuddled Fleur.

After the golden haired girl left, Anne tapped her on the shoulder. Fleur turned.

“Who was she? Do you know her? Why did she just wink at you?” Anne asked.

Fleur stared at her friend, who looked completely unperturbed by the fact she almost died. Anne blinked innocently back.

“I don’t know. I’ve never seen her before,” Fleur said. “Or rather, are you okay? You almost died, you know? Why are you so calm?” With her one hand, she shook Anne back and forth, trying to see if she could snap her friend out of her stupor if she was in one.

“Wait, stop. I’m fine! Really,” Anne said after letting Fleur shake her for a bit. “The prospect of dying never really scared me. The only time I’m worried is when you’re hurt. Are you hurt anywhere?”

Fleur felt like the world had gone wrong. Why was Anne suddenly fussing over her?

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She wasn’t the one targeted by a giant skeleton. Anne was.

“I told you I’m fine, so stop worrying,” Fleur said, pushing Anne’s probing hands off of her. Sighing as she gathered her wits, she looked toward where that girl was fighting the axe skeleton with the Cloud Knights.

With her massive strength that was somehow hidden in her small body, she managed to stalemate most of the axe skeleton’s attacks. Through those openings, the two vanguards helping her began to wear the skeleton down.

Fleur jumped when a gloved hand poke the back of her neck. “Anne! You scared me!”

When she looked at her friend, she found her frowning. “Do you really not know her? You keep looking at her.”

“I don’t. I’m just curious about who she is,” Fleir said.

“Why does it matter? Isn’t it fine as long as we all get out of this?”

“I guess…”

There was a hint of truth in what Anne was saying. If the Cloud Knights accepted the girl’s non-answer, then what business did she have in worrying? Pushing the worries out of her mind, Fleur began to cast Purifying Impact as she headed toward a zombie.

Ever since the skull lich stopped empowering the lesser undead in favor of aiding the knight-class undead, the undead horde has become much easier to deal with, even with the diminished numbers on their side.

As Fleur bashed at a skeleton with her buckler, she felt an itch in her throat and lungs, mostly on the right side of the body. But as she was about to cast Cleansing Light on herself, a warm light fell over her, originating from Anne’s hands.

Their eyes met and Anne smiled brightly at her.



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