The Big-arm Grizzly loosed a bellowing roar as it charged into the encampment on all fours, barreling forwards in a full ton of raging claws and jaws and fury. Ahead of it ran the Alpha Striker.
The seven trolls pointed at the grizzly and striker and grunted and roared before charging against them. The surged forwards with confidence, seeing that it was seven against two.
"Time to help your friends out." Aldrich strategically dropped the Geist in the middle of the trolls as they charged.
"Geh!" The Geist rolled up into a cannonball again to minimize damage done to itself from the fall. It smashed straight down against a troll, squashing it. Several other trolls scattered backwards, surprised from the sudden drop of a massively muscled freak of nature right into their midst.
The Geist's drop separated the trolls right down the middle, so discounting the troll that got squashed there were now three trolls facing the Geist and three facing the Big-arm Grizzly and Alpha Striker.
Aldrich did not help. He wanted to conserve his health and mana as much as possible.
The Big-arm Grizzly smashed into a troll with a mighty shoulder bash, sending the troll hurtling backwards. The Grizzly then stood up on its hind legs and wrestled another troll, savagely chomping down on the troll's head and crushing its head like a watermelon under a hydraulic press.
The Alpha Striker stood between the Grizzly and the third troll and unleashed its shockwave ability, knocking the troll back and stopping it from helping out against the Grizzly. While the troll was downed, the Alpha Striker leaped on top of it and started to tear into its throat.
"Geheheh." The Geist echoed its chattering laugh as it dodged clumsy troll club swings and claw swipes.
"Geh!" The Geist punched a troll hard into its chest, shattering his sternum and sending him flying into a campfire where he burned to death. The troll screamed as its flesh cauterized and melted at accelerated rate.
The Big-arm Grizzly saw this and used its oversized arms to carry the now headless corpse of the troll and toss it into a fire.
The Alpha Striker squealed as the troll it fought managed to grab it and tear it off from its throat.
Before the troll could crush the Striker, the Big-arm Grizzly lunged forwards and swiped at the troll's head. Its oversized arm and club-like paw smacked the troll's head and twisted it a full three hundred sixty degrees, shattering and twisting the neck twice over.
The troll let go of the Alpha Striker while it gurgled, its head slowly untwisting and regenerating.
The Big-arm Grizzly and the Alpha Striker both worked together to drag the troll by their teeth into a fire where it joined its brethren in a funeral pyre before it regenerated.
The Geist utterly decimated the remaining two trolls.
After all, it outleveled the trolls by almost two to one.
The Geist unleashed a hammer fist straight down onto a troll, sinking his head into his neck cavity before tossing the troll into fire.
The one remaining troll of the group struck at the Geist with a club, the Geist used its mini dash to appear behind the troll.
The Geist punched straight through the troll's chest and carried the flailing troll into a fire where it burned the monster into a crisp using its arm like a kebab skewer.
The Geist withdrew its own burned arm and stared at it for a few seconds. The burned flesh sloughed off, replaced with fresh white skin within seconds.
[7x Grey Troll defeated!]
[1x Grey Troll Chieftain defeated!]
[EXP Bar: 240/1200 ] 620/1200]
"Good work, everyone," said Aldrich as he had the eagle bring him down into the camp. The smell of putrid, cooked flesh filled the air. "The trolls are dead. Eat them if you want. Their meat probably tastes better cooked."
The Big-arm Grizzly, Alloywing Eagle, and the Alpha Striker all took out the burning troll corpses and started to devour them piece by piece after snuffing out the flames.
Aldrich made his way into the troll chieftain's tent with the Geist behind him. He saw the troll chieftain lying limp in the ground, his head rotted as the rogue continued to stab him in the brain over and over again while the Great Centipede kept its tight hold on the monster.
"Okay now, I know undead are tireless, but he's already dead," said Aldrich. "Get off the corpse. This one's strong enough to introduce into our fold."
The Skeleton Rogue nodded and bowed before moving away. The Great Centipede unlatched from the Variant and crawled over to the side.
"Serve," said Aldrich as he snapped his fingers.
The troll chieftian's body convulsed before getting on a knee first before standing up. It was a sizable unit, this one, slightly taller than even the 10 foot tall (3 meter) Geist.
[1 x Zombie (Grey Troll Chieftain) reanimated]
[Units Controlled: 15/18 ] 16/18]
Aldrich hoped the chieftain would have dropped a soul to perhaps craft an accessory that held its regeneration, but no luck. Seeing the loot he wanted behind the troll chieftain, though, made him feel a lot better.
Another wooden chest. Aldrich went over and opened this one and received the Body and Waist pieces of the [Grave Reaper] set.
One other thing, though - Aldrich looked at the cursed stone axe the chieftain was supposed to use. Ordinarily, the item did not drop from the troll and faded with his corpse.
Yet, there it was, just lying on the ground. It seemed that the weapons that monsters wielded did not just disappear as they did in Elden World. They were always dropped.
Aldrich tapped it with his staff and realized he could take it. The axe dissolved into green particles that flowed into his inventory.
[1 x Cursed Stone Axe obtained]
Now this was an excellent find.
Aldrich himself could not use it. He did not have the necessary strength stat requirement, but Valera could. Her offensive capabilities were limited using her [Bone Vanguard Cross-Shield], but the axe would let her spec into pure damage when she needed to.
Not to mention the axe's interesting property of inflicting a [Execution Curse] on those it struck, casting an instant death effect on those below 10% maximum health.
This instant death effect could be resisted with a high enough magic stat, but who else in the real world had magic except Aldrich?
Didn't that mean absolutely nobody was resistant to this effect?
Aldrich could now start to formulate a strategy against Seth Solar.
Aldrich's [Anti-Life Shell] reduced health by a current health percentage. After clearing the Trial Quest, the [Anti-Life Shell] would rank up as well, granting it an active usage that increased the rate of life drain.
Seth Solar was extremely durable. It was said that he could take a barrage of armor piercing artillery rounds to the face with just a slight bruise.
None of Aldrich's units could deal reliable damage to him.
But maybe, if he could stall Seth Solar somehow, let him drain his health, and then execute him with death magic, then maybe it could work.
Still an incomplete plan, though. How was Aldrich going to trap him? Or, for that matter, trap the piece of scum in such a way that he did not just kill Aldrich?
These questions, Aldrich would try to find a workaround to later. For now, thinking of Valera made him check up on her.
He started to see through her eyes -
Valera and Dynamite Girl stood outside the pitch-black, gaping entrance into a cave of dark rock.
"Let me guess, that's where the final big baddie is, huh?" said Dynamite Girl.
"Well, don't we have quite the genius on our hands," said Valera sarcastically.
"Y'know, I have a limit to my patience, too. A real low limit, too," said Dynamite Girl as sparks started to crack from her fingertips.
"You wish to fight now?" Valera readied her shield in front of her.
Dynamite Girl stared at Valera for several tense seconds before she shook her head. "No. We'll just be wastin' our damn energy. And I know why you got such an attitude towards me. You think I like the captain, huh?"
"Hmph. You think you can read my mind?" Valera crossed her arms. After an awkward pause, she added on, "Well, do you?"
Valera's hand tightened against her shield, and the strength of her grip was such that the groaning screech of metal scraping against metal echoed through the air.
"By that, I mean I like him as a captain. As a leader. Not that I know a lot about him, but I ain't got nothin' to complain about, anyhow," said Dynamite Girl.
"Nor will you complain ever. The master is perfect. He has led me through countless battles against odds and enemies the likes of which you could not comprehend. He is intelligent, strong, and his moody silence draws forth his inherent charisma so very well."
"Nevermind me. You like him, don't you. Like like him. Beyond the whole follower to leader relationships," said Dynamite Girl.
"W-what? How could you suggest that? A knight is always loyal to her master, and a relationship in such a professional relationship is forbidden!" said Valera, though she squirmed and blushed under her armor and helmet.
"Yeah, sure," said Dynamite Girl with a smile. "I'll just tell you now I won't be buttin' heads with you over him or anything like that. You got here first, after all. Gotta respect seniority and whatnot. Anyways, ain't we here to fight this slime thing?
C'mon, let's go."
"A-ahem, yes," said Valera. She took in a breath and calmed herself. "Now that I have your word you are not a threat, we can proceed. First, however, I must know your capabilities better."
"Sure thing." Dynamite Girl raised an open palm up. The pale skin of her palm started to glow orange as sparks cracked out from it. The orange glow was not limited to her palm, however. Strands of glowing orange streaked through her arm and localized around her chest where her tattered costume still retained a glowing white circle surrounded by a ring of metal.
"Is that a core of some kind?" said Valera.
"You can kind of call it that, but no, it doesn't power me. It's designed to control my powers," said Dynamite Girl. "I got a power called Dyna-Blood. My heart's like an engine and it pumps special blood that's got explosive properties when it's exposed outside my body.
This chest piece is supposed help me get my heart pumpin' and my blood flowin' better.
But I can do without it. I just got less control."
"Quite interesting," said Valera. "I have never known a spell or power like this in my world. And one that does not operate off of magic, either. The master had already told me that some humans like yourselves had unique powers but seeing it firsthand is eye opening."
"Yeah, and I'm real interested in all your powers, too. All that mana and magic crap - didn't know it even existed. Anyhows, I'll go into more detail. See here-," Dynamite Girl pointed to her arm. The strands of glowing orange energy shone through her skin in a veiny pattern. "My explosive blood travels from heart through the veins.
When I concentrate it on my palm like this, the blood, uh, what was that fancy science term again, yeah, it sublimates. Turns into gas particles that travel outta my hand and gets exposed to the air. I can control how many particles move out, so I can go from this-,"
Dynamite Girl's palm started crackle as several sparks shot out.
She raised her hand in the air, away from Valera, and created a small, fiery explosion.
"Aha," said Valera. "And you do not get harmed by this?"
"Nah," said Dynamite Girl. "My whole body's super resistant to heat and my skin's explosion proof."
"That utterly neutralizes one of your weaknesses as an undead. Fire immunity and undeath is a combination that is most rare. You will be a valuable asset to the master," said Valera.
"Don't like bein' called an asset, but guess as long as I'm useful, I ain't complainin'," said Dynamite Girl. "I have some limits, too. Like I said, my blood pumps through the heart. If I pump it too much, it really strains me.
Symptoms range all the way from feelin' light-headed to straight up havin' a heart attack.
Not to mention if the explosion's big enough, it hurts me too.
I'm heat proof, sure, and my skin can neutralize shockwave type damage, but that's only up to a point. A big enough explosion's gonna' have a a shockwave that'll knock me on my ass too.
Here's an example. I have this attack I named the Bunker Buster. It's like my total max safe output. As strong as a conventional bunker buster, around 4 tons of TNT in yield."
"TNT?" said Valera.
"Oh right, you must be from a fantasy world that don't have TNT. Well, uh, let's just say the explosion's pretty damn big," said Dynamite Girl. "But I can't use the Bunker Buster more than once, or else my heart's at risk to stop. Plus, the shockwave usually breaks whatever limb I shoot the explosion out of."
"But you are undead, no? Heart failure alone should not matter to you," said Valera. "Broken bones, too, mean little."
Dynamite Girl blinked several times. "Huh…y'know what? You're right. You're goddamn right."
All of a sudden, she smiled widely, grinning like a madman towards the cave entrance. "Y'know…I have a feeling I kept this a secret before, but don't see a point now: I really, really like blowing sh*t up.
And I got the biggest urge to do just that with what you've told me."
"Ah, the urge to cause carnage. I can very much relate. Perhaps we will get along better than I thought." Valera also smiled.