Aldrich waited for a solid thirty minutes in his underground grave.
This was an empty safe space he had memorized and marked out the first time he had ported into this quest exactly for this moment.
Here, no zombies or skeletons spawned, making it the perfect hiding spot. He had marked out similar safe spots like this across all the floors he had traveled through in his first attempt at this quest, giving him a way to hide while the villains ahead cleared everything for him.
Meanwhile, he kept a group of three Grave Wards prepared to track Seth Solar and the Blackwater A class, the Butcher, and the low tier villains. Only one of these Grave Wards was technically a new creation. The others were Evil Eyes that he had destroyed and replaced with their upgraded versions.
After thirty minutes, Aldrich saw an opportunity and re-activated his [Phantasmal Mask] to get out of his grave and shift through a massive crowd of zombies and skeletons.
He looked up to see a platform of ice hovering above the masses of growling and chattering undead, and on top of it, only ten villains remained, desperately crouching on this ice platform to avoid the infinite masses of undead below.
The original thirty or so villains left behind here had fought admirably, beating back undead from every direction with their powers, but eventually, they began to grow tired. Individually, all of them were considerably stronger than the average skeleton or zombie, but the numbers of the lesser undead were unending.
Where the undead never tired and never feared, the villains ran out of stamina, and as they felt their energy and powers slipping from them, they felt fear.
As soon as a few of them, especially the ones with area of effect abilities, fell to the undead horde, the entire group started to fall apart and get swarmed.
Now, the last ten were reduced to relying on a Creator class Alter that could form ice constructs. Normally, this individual could not generate ice constructs above their own body mass, but with the help of an Editor class alter that boosted his power, their floating ice platform managed to comfortably carry all ten remaining, beaten and battered villains over the undead below.
Of course, this did not guarantee their safety. The zombies and skeletons piled on top of each other, generating ramps of sheer packed bodies to reach the platform, but from a high vantage point, the villains could defend themselves against fewer targets more efficiently, staving off their inevitable doom for just a while longer.
Aldrich was after the Editor, the prime sample for Fler'Gan. He casted [Negative Surge] on himself, boosting his stats before jumping straight up, phasing through the ice platform.
[Mana: 183/183 ] 168/183]
Aldrich unphased and became visible as he landed on the ice platform. His suit was now gone, replaced with his freshly materialized Grave Reaper equipment.
"Somebody fuck him up!"
Aldrich immediately heard cries of panic and calls for violence against him. In response, he activated his [Spinal Bracers of the Grave Reaper], crashing the spine shaped golden ornaments on his wrists together.
All around him, wailing, ghostly green skull spirits spread out in a circle. The villains cried out in surprise as the skulls crashed into them, sapping them of their life force and, for the extreme unlucky ones, instantly killing them.
The attack was not meant to kill them, it was mostly meant for Aldrich to make space while he handled the ice generating Alter and Editor at the center of the platform. Once those two were gone, the undead below would take care of everyone else.
Some of the villains, their nerves already on edge from facing a supernatural zombie and skeleton horde attack, screamed in terror at the approaching skulls, losing their balance and slipping off the ledge the ice platform, falling into their deaths below.
The other villains that managed to stay rooted to the platform focused entirely on dodging the threatening cursed skulls, their selfish, uncoordinated minds not at all primed to help the Creator that held up the very lifeboat of ice they relied upon.
This left Aldrich entirely alone with his designated targets.
The ice generator was preoccupied maintaining the platform, kneeling in the center of the platform with both his hands planted down, sweat dripping from his pale forehead. The Editor stood right behind the platform generator. A thread of red energy connected the ice alter's back to the Editor's fingertips.
Both of them stared at Aldrich helplessly as they saw that all of their supposed allied villains - the ones who could fight back - were either dead, too busy with Aldrich's skull attack, or simply too scared to approach.
Aldrich worked quickly and efficiently. Before the ice generator could divert his power from the platform to Aldrich, Aldrich rushed in with superhuman speed and landed a spinning heel kick right into the ice Alter's jaw, knocking him out and breaking his jaw.
The platform of ice remained intact for just a few more seconds after the Alter went unconscious, and Aldrich used this time to slam a punch into the Editor's stomach, keeling him over.
Then, Aldrich casted [Horror Warp], wrapping his hand in a malevolent aura of cloudy darkness dotted with gleaming red eyes. He smothered the Editor's face with the cloud of dark, immediately sinking him into a nightmare from which there was no easy or quick waking.
The Editor fell down face first, unconscious, and Aldrich grabbed him by his collar before tapping his Phylactery and calling out to his Chrysalis. The purple orb in his chest glowed and crackled before a tear of space appeared in front of it, forming into a vantablack orb from which several hooked tendrils of darkness burst out, abducting the Editor and sucking him into the dimension of the Chrysalis.
[Portal Usages: 3 ] 2]
So far, the Chrysalis could maintain about 3 portal openings into its dimension over the course of a single day before it had to enter a charging dormant period. This included portals for both taking things in and taking things out, so these were precious few charges to work with.
Hopefully, when Aldrich became a proper lich, this would change. Fler'Gan theorized that once Aldrich became a lich and fully placed his soul into the phylactery, the Chrysalis would react with it and become massively stronger, binding directly with Aldrich's soul to become a part of him.
Aldrich then jumped off the platform as it broke apart, leaving the rest of the villains to die against the swarm of undead below.
"No! No! No!"
"Stop! Help us!"
Screams of terror echoed for a brief few seconds before they were choked out by a tidal wave of hungry undead.
Aldrich survived by using his lantern's active skill, casting a disintegrating ray down at his landing zone that turned a small crowd of skeletons and zombies into dust. He then kept his lantern active as long as possible and ran straight forwards, not sparing even a single moment to stop as the moment he did, he would get swarmed
Granted, Aldrich could probably break free from a swarm through sheer physical stats alone, but he did not want to deal with the inconvenience.
When Aldrich's [Phantasmal Mask] came off cooldown the moment his lantern's active disintegrating ray faded away, he used the mask again, turning invisible and shifting through the enormous throng of walking corpses and bones.
From his first attempt at this quest, he had memorized exactly where to go to leave the crypt level, and with phasing, he could just move through terrain like pillars and walls.
The only things he could not phase through were ceilings and walls leading out of the Necropolis - these seemed to be indestructible and unpassable.
At the end of the crypt, Aldrich jumped atop a staircase leading straight up into a ghostly green fog door. Here, he sat on the stairs, watching as a crowd of zombies and skeletons started to growl and groan as they piled at the bottom.
They could not scale up the stairs. It was not in their 'coded' behavior.
Aldrich sat on a stair and put his lantern down by the side, lighting up the masses of undead trying to reach out to him from below. He looked at them but did not focus on them, his fingers interlocked together in calm thought as his sight instead focused on observing his targets.
He kept tabs on Seth Solar, Blackwater's A-class, and the Butcher in the meanwhile. The Grave Wards were far, far slower than them, but the villains reliably cleared out threats that could take out the Grave Wards.
And once Aldrich's targets reached higher floors, the villains would slow down their rate of progress tremendously as they started to fight stronger and stronger threats, at which point the Grave Wards could keep a much closer eye on them.
Aldrich would tail them from behind, and when their numbers grew small, when all that was left was the Butcher and Seth Solar - the two strongest of them all and the ones he needed alive the most - he would strike.