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Chapter 60: Playfight

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Author: TypeAxiom Original Source: ScribbleHub

If it was Camilla and Kagriss the lich, then they could definitely make something like this, Fleur thought as she hefted her buckler. Leave it to them to make something so legitimately scary, yet simultaneously such a paper tiger. If she hadn’t known to expect an undead attack, she would have been frightened out of her wits.

She had expected it since morning when Camilla first went on ahead to scout, but each time, the attack didn’t come, until now.

At first, Fleur hadn’t been sure if the attack was really what Camilla had planned, but once she saw the actual undeads, she became more sure. She became certain when the undead didn’t attack them directly from behind, instead choosing to encircle them and make a big show of having them surrounded.

These undead put more priority on intimidation rather than combat effectiveness, something she didn’t think wild undead did.

However winnable the fight was in reality, though, she really didn’t really want the shock treatment for Anne anymore.

She had been both right and wrong about Anne. Right in that Anne truly was strong beneath that timid surface, and wrong in that she had underestimated Anne’s strength, since as it turned out, Anne didn’t really need the treatment.

If she could she would have called off the undead attack since it put Anne in unnecessary danger. What if an accident happened and Anne got hurt, or even killed? These undead were so big that if one of them accidentally fell on Anne, she might be crushed…what were Camilla and Kagriss thinking?

On the other hand, standing back to back with Anne, she couldn’t help but feel happy that she was fighting alongside a person she liked. As she charged up a Purification on her buckler while staring down the deerhead and boarhead, she leaned against Anne’s back, feeling Anne’s hard muscles.

“Anne, do you have a plan?” she asked.

“Not really,” Anne replied without turning her head. “I was hoping you have one…although, judging by their appearance and size, they might have a hard time fighting in the forest, so go in there. If we run around the trees, they’ll have a hard time getting to us.”

“Oh, that’s a good idea!” As long as they stick close to the trees, these undeads will have to make sharp turns to hit them, and with their huge quadrupedal bodies, it should be fairly difficult. “Then, on three?”

Anne nodded and together, they counted down. In the meantime, Fleur felt the holy glow of another Purification behind her. “One!”

“Two…”

“Three!” They both released their spells. Fleur was skilled and familiar enough with the spell to modify it and widen its effects thanks to her previous experience of creating Purifying Impact, so she managed to hit both monsters at once. Spreading out the spell weakened it, but the holy light should temporarily disorient them.

Meanwhile Anne only hit one.

As if enraged by the spells, the undeads charged. Still disoriented, the undead monstrosities couldn’t see where they were going very well. When Anne and Fleur ran toward the trees, there was a horrific crash as the four undeads smashed together where they had been just a second prior, collapsing in a heap on the ground. Even the wolfhead that Anne didn’t manage to hit was tangled up in the pile when it ran into the second wolfhead on its way to chase Anne.

As fast as she could manage and helped along by Anne, Fleur ran into the forest and stood by the trees, watching the undead monstrosities get up from their pile of tangled limbs. She was panting slightly from the exertion, but she soon had it under control.

“Okay, so what should we do now?” she asked, handing control over the whole thing to Anne. “Purification is off the table, but Purifying Impact is much stronger and concentrated. We should be able to hurt or even kill them that way.”

Anne fell into thought.

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The undead monstrosities are almost all up now. Unlike normal animals, they didn’t shake their head to clear their head or do anything special to regain their balance. Instead, they simply looked toward where Anne and Fleur were standing with movement as smooth as a well made golem.

“Anne?”

“Wait, wait, I got it. For now, let’s just stick to the trees, and when they come, we dodge aside at the last moment. If we charge up Impact beforehand, we can hit them then!”

“Got it. Should we stay together?”

After a moment of hesitation, Anne nodded. “Yeah. If I’m not near you, I can’t protect you.”

The words made a happy bubbly feeling rise up in Fleur’s chest before she wiped the smile off her face. The undead monstrosities had begun to move after the last of them got up. Their wounds sustained in the crash had begun to heal with black mist covering the gashes.

“They’re here!”

Fleur held up her buckler and began to create a Purifying Impact orb. The spell structure grew bigger even as the orb shrank thanks to all the power being concentrated, until the gentle holy light became a white-hot ball floating in front of her buckler. The shield blocked most of the heat.

They stood in front of a tree and readied themselves, making sure to stay out of each other’s way. With footfalls that shook the earth, the massive monstrosities charged into the forest. The one in the lead was the boarhead with the antlers, with the others spreading out behind them.

Fleur would rather them be in a close single file line, but beggars can’t be choosers. At the last moment, with the boarhead barreling down on them with an intensity like the catastrophic collapse of a mountainside, Fleur and Anne both jumped aside with time to spare letting the boarhead and its antlers smash into the tree behind them with an enormous crash.

The force was so great that Fleur thought she felt a shock wave ripple through the air. As it was, the points where the antlers of the boarhead hit the tree cracked with a spray of splinters, and a huge amount of green-yellow leaves fell above.

Fleur could no longer ignore the possibility of an accident happening. If she or Anne got hit by something like that, pulverization was the only possible result. Despite the fear she felt, the adrenaline coursing through her body helped her stay calm. If she knew the truth behind what was going on and was still scared, then what about Anne? Fleur refused to be the only coward.

Together with Anne, they each slammed their buckler into the body of the boarhead, one on each side. Two white spheres exploded from the points of contact, directly burning two holes into the boarhead’s torso.

Normally, this would have killed a lesser zombie, but the boarhead’s body was so big it was only wounded.

“Dodge!” Anne suddenly shouted.

Fleur looked up and saw two wolfheads charging toward Anne from behind as well. As she spun to see where her assailant would be coming from, she shouted toward Anne. “You too!”

There it was, the deerhead weaving through the trees, tearing through the forest with its heavy body. If the boarhead was big with a deer’s body, then the deerhead was gigantic with its body of a boar.

But in return for its huge body and without its wings to help it along in the close confines between the trees, it was slower than the others. Again waiting until the last moment and purposefully positioning herself in front of the stunned boarhead, she dodged, once more with time to spare.

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The massive deerhead smashed into side of the boarhead, its many tusks stabbing deep into the boarhead’s body and caving in that side of its ribcage.

Unfortunately just that wouldn’t be enough to kill it. Fortunately, the damage that the deerhead caused to the boarhead did create several avenues for the next Purifying Impact to directly obliterate the boarhead if Fleur aimed well.

No longer in immediate danger of being pulverized, she looked to see how Anne was doing. Unlike her, Anne had to deal with two opponents.

Anne was fighting the two wolfheads head on. In one hand, she slowly charged a Purifying Impact on her buckler. In the other, she fended off the snapping jaws of the wolves with her mace rudimentarily imbued with holy mana.

Clearly, the wolfheads didn’t appreciate it, as whenever Anna swung at them, they shrank back.

“…Aren’t they acting a bit too fake?” she muttered to herself. The wolfheads were over double Anna’s size. No way they should be scared of a mace, even if it was imbued.

But that was insight gained from the observation of a spectator. From Anne’s point of view, she was fighting a difficult battle that tested all of her senses and reflexes.

As Anne finished charging her Purifying Impact, by what Fleur was sure was total and pure coincidence, one of the wolfheads recklessly lunged forward, straight into Anne’s buckler.

The force knocked Anne back a few steps, and although she managed to keep her balance, there was an opening for the second wolfhead to attack. But the wolfhead stayed where it was, crouching menacingly.

Compared to Anne, the damage from that exchange was way more dire for the first wolfhead, as the entirety of the flesh on its snout had melted away, leaving behind scorched bone. The wounded wolfhead fell back, the second wolfhead taking its place.

The scene left Fleur speechless.

She was so absorbed in Anne’s fight that when Anne by chance looked over at her and their eyes met, she didn’t manage to react to Anne’s warning in time, when Anne’s eyes suddenly flew open in panic and shock. “Watch out!”

“Eh?”

Fleur turned, and as she did, she saw out of the corner of her eyes the telegraphed movements of the deerhead and its many tusks. But no matter how telegraphed the attack was, it didn’t matter if the person on the receiving side wasn’t paying attention.

The deerhead tossed its head in a scooping fashion like a bull about to toss a victim. Time seemed to slow down as she watched the tusks on the deerhead spear through the air toward her. Fleur raised her buckler, putting it between the tusks and her chest. That was all she could do right now.

She should have been able to dodge it, if only she had been paying attention. But she had been careless, not paying attention to her opponent in the middle of a battle—was there anything more stupid than that?

Even if the battle was not real, even if it was more for show than anything else, it still had its dangers, especially since the other actors were undead that wouldn’t hold back. Now, she was going to pay for her mistakes.

She braced herself for impact, trying to reinforce the buckler with imbuement using the fractions of a second she had remaining. And then the tusk struck, or at least seemed to.

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Instead, a frigid explosion of undead mana blasted between her buckler and the tusks, slowing down the head of the undead monstrosity and throwing Fleur back. However, even after being blasted back by that mysterious explosion, Fleur was still too slow.

The points of the tusks slammed into her buckler which miraculously held against the intense forces it was subject to. But just because the buckler didn’t break didn’t mean Fleur was completely safe.

Although she managed to escape pulverization, her arm were too weak to hold against the force of the deerhead’s toss. The handle and bottom edge of the buckler slammed into her chest, knocking the breath from her lungs.



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