"Is this city our responsibility, though?" said Spybird. "We can always run. Set up base elsewhere. The lives here, are they worth so much we lay down ours for them?"
"That calculus is always in my head. If this city is too hard to defend, then I have no qualms leaving it. But so far, I don't have enough information to make that judgement call, and, to be honest, I'm still itching for a fight," said Aldrich simply. "I still haven't tested the full extent of my powers."
He put a clawed metal hand to the pointed chin of his metal helm. "But how should I approach this battle, hm. Haven is still large enough where I don't have nearly enough forces to cover all of it.
That means I should target the main variant leading this on the ground, but if it gets constant air support from this storm, then it'll be next to impossible fighting it while worrying about an endless rain of lightning.
Which means I should break this storm formation, but at the same time, I don't want to go around individually Death Bolting every single jellyfish.
I don't have the mana nor the time for that."
"My analysis is complete," said Volantis suddenly.
"What?" said Aldrich.
"When you utilized the [Eye of Farsight], I analyzed what you observed. I have thoroughly seen the flow of energy from these creatures and determined that it follows a spiraling pattern leading to an anchoring force at the center of this storm.
Eliminate the center, then the entire formation breaks apart. "
"And you managed to figure that out with a single look?" said Aldrich.
"Among Demonkind, Living Armor were forged to be the ultimate battle companions to the highest of Battle Demons, often Battle Demon Princes, and their fondness for direct battle," said Volantis. "Thus, each and every one of us forged with the highest level of Truesight.
Granted, I have never found anyone worthy of donning me, and so my Truesight is rather lacking in practice, but it is more than enough to perceive this level of energy flow."
"So that's how it is," said Aldrich.
He knew from Elden World that Living Armor were, as Volantis said, supposed to be the demonic equipment of a specific type of demon called a Battle Demon.
Battle Demons were fanatical devotees to the Demon God of War Carnasus, and they had a special racial ability where if they fought head on with pure martial honor with no sneak attacks or ambushes or even much of a plan other than a desire to do battle, then they received damage buffs, immunity to psychic damage, strong regenerative capability, and damage reduction.
Consequently, this way of straightforward, smash everything on sight battle also made them highly susceptible to sneak attacks, ambushes, and traps.
Battle Demons thus absolutely hated being the subject of such tricks, believing them incredible insults to their very way of existence.
Thus, they forged demonic constructs called Living Armor that had something called Truesight which let them perceive hidden units.
Living Armor and Battle Demons therefore had a symbiotic relationships. Where battle demons were the aggressive muscle and brawn, living armor were calmer, made better decisions, and had higher observational ability.
In the lore, Truesight was said to be sight capable of reading the flow of all energies so well that nothing was ever hidden to it, though functionally it just revealed invisible units in the game.
Truesight was not limited to Living Armor, nor did Living Armor have the best Truesight out there, but there was no other class or monster that could have Truesight active permanently like Living Armor did.
Aldrich was conditioned to think of Truesight as just something that revealed invisible units and traps, so he was temporarily surprised to see that it had much more applications in the real world, allowing Volantis to read the flow of energy in living creatures exceptionally well, even those he should not have had any familiarity with.
"Well then, looks like I have a plan," said Aldrich. He looked back to Spybird. "You're no longer needed here. Staying here will just make you a hindrance to me. I'll have Crow take you back to the mega complex while I settle this storm."
"And you? How will you manage in the air?" said Spybird.
"[Stitching: Blood Dragon Wings]" said Volantis.
The back of Aldrich's black armor shuddered and shook before bursting into a pair of fully grown draconic wings. The wings were bony white with gleaming red flaps, clawed at their tips in the case they needed to be used for offense.
"Ah, I see, you can do that too. Why am I even surprised at this point? You know, I see your powers and I mostly keep quiet, but it does make wonder where they begin and end. How many do you have? How do you have so many?" said Spybird.
"A discussion for another time." Aldrich hopped off of Crow, floating in the air as Volantis operated his wings. "Now go."
"Woaaaah!" Crow's six yellow eyes blinked before he shot away in a rush of wind, disappearing into a black blur as Spybird held on for dear life.
"Was it a wise decision to leave your mount?" said Volantis. "It seemed to me a formidable creature."
"Crow has no barrier to fend against lightning," said Aldrich. "And my barrier mostly covers myself. I cannot extend its protection reliably over him. He would eventually suffer too much damage if he tried a frontal assault with me.
Plus, I needed to get Spybird out. After all, I promised Casimir that no more of his men would fall."
"Understood," said Volantis.
"Lead me to the center of this energy swirl," said Aldrich.
"Directing…," said Volantis as he maneuvered Aldrich's wings.
Aldrich flew through the dark night, and as he neared back down to the storm, the single crimson circle in his helm gleaming as he scanned the clouds below. He was high up enough where he could perceive the jellyfish glowing through the dark clouds but not close enough where they saw him as a target. His vision zoomed in on the mass formation of glowing blue jellyfish as Volantis's voice reverberated through his mind.
"I have mapped a course through your vision," said Volantis.
Aldrich saw a glowing red trail circle through the jellyfish-storm formation and he flew through the air, maintaining his distance from the jellyfish swarm to try and get a visual identification of the centerpoint first before thinking about trying anything.
Soon enough, Aldrich saw the center: floating amidst a throng of shining blue jellyfish was a giant flying anglerfish.
Its flesh was a slimy, scaled black with an oversized, gaping, permanently open mouth filled with dagger-like teeth. Its beady eyes glowed a bright white, channeling crackling energy from the teardrop shaped lure jutting out from its head.
A mass amount of jellyfish were gathered around the anglerfish, their translucent blue tentacles all wrapped around it, merging with it to symbiotically feed off its energy. The hundreds of jellyfish formed a giant spherical cocoon of translucent blue flesh around the anglerfish, and together, they formed the heart of the storm, the engine that kept it going and rumbling.
The lure from the anglerfish shone bright blue, and from it, waves of visible blue energy permeated outwards, fueling the jellyfish. Each jellyfish acted like a conductor, taking in some of the energy, amplifying it, then spreading it out to its brethren, and like this, it created an enormous bio-generator of massive proportion to fuel a storm as strong as this.
"Hm," said Aldrich. "Approaching that will be difficult."
At the center of the storm, around the anglerfish, the jellyfish concentrated in the strongest numbers. If they all tried channeling lightning against Aldrich, the damage would be immediate, massive, and in such a large scale that dodging would be nigh impossible.
"The energy there is at its peak," said Volantis. "Any resistance you face here will be the mightiest this formation of creatures may muster."
"I know. There's easily enough there to overwhelm my Death Essence Barrier. I need to scatter them somehow," said Aldrich. "Without triggering their aggro, too, because the moment they perceive me, they will all be on alert."
"If I replace the current Blood Dragon Wing stitching, I may instead bestow you with a Plague Toad's Acid Bomb Spitter."
"No, I need these wings for maneuverability," said Aldrich. "And acid bombs from Plague Toads are relatively slow moving. They'll notice and shoot it down. Afterwards, they'll all be on alert.
I have an alternative solution."
Aldrich put a hand in front of him. "[Create Greater Undead: 1st Ring]
Green dots of energy materialized in front of Aldrich, filling into the purple robed, tattered hooded form of a Skeleton Assassin. Aldrich held the skeleton up in the air by its arm, and it dangled loosely while staring at Aldrich with its eye sockets for instruction.
"Your service to me will be short but worthy," said Aldrich. With his other hand, he put a finger on the skeleton's forehead, casting [Corpse Nova: Delayed].
A glowing red sigil appeared on the skeleton assassin's forehead.
[Corpse Nova] was a powerful sixth circle spell that was among the most devastating in terms of area of effect damage in a Necromancer's arsenal.
Easily strong enough to blow apart the throng of jellyfish surrounding the anglerfish below to disrupt the storm at its very heart.
[Coprse Nova] was also unique in that it could be [Delayed], allowing Aldrich to remotely cast the detonation at any given time, though there was a ten minute time limit before the [Corpse Nova] sigil faded away.
The biggest weakness of [Corpse Nova] was that because it was so strong, it could only be marked on a single target at once, with this limit increasing at higher levels up to a max of 3. There was also the issue that the red sigil was highly visible, though stealth effects did hide it.
"I'm going to throw you down there," said Aldrich as he nodded down towards the thick network of jellyfish wrapped around the giant anglerfish. "You will cast your [Shadow Walk] so that nothing detects you.
When you get close enough, I will detonate you."
The skeleton assassin chattered its teeth and gave Aldrich a cheerful thumbs up.
"Your sacrifice will be remembered, warrior of worthy bone," said Volantis.
Aldrich then aimed, made sure the trajectory of his throw was right, then flung the skeleton assassin down to the anglerfish. The skeleton assassin rolled up into a ball to prevent itself from getting buffeted by winds before turning invisible, entering into its [Shadow Walk].
Aldrich watched intently as the skeleton assassin fell rapidly down below. It sunk into the thick cover of storm clouds, then sunk deeper until it crashed into the giant ball of jellyfish clung around the anglerfish.
The moment its invisible body made contact, the jellyfish around it glowed an angry red, preparing for a threat.
But far too late at that point.
The skeleton assassin withdrew its serrated dirk from a sheath at its hip and stabbed it into a jellyfish to get one kill for itself before bowing its head, accepting its end.