"Gorok-Kant (What do you wish from me?)" stated Merman as he put three of his hands to his chest to gesture to himself.
"What you've been doing all night," said Aldrich. He pointed to the seven sea anemone variants. Without the water of the mermen to nourish them on land, they had lost their usual brilliant purple shine. Before, they had looked like living gems with their strong glimmer radiating throughout their bodies, but now they were shriveling up, deflating like balloons as their tentacled tops started to thin and wilt.
"Power those again," said Aldrich.
"Hiras (I fall under the tide's will)" said Merman as clasped his three pairs of arms together. When he did so, the blue crystalline organ at his chest started to shine strongly. Blue light glinted between his palms, and when he separated them, water flowed between them.
Merman cast his many arms forward, and from his hands, the water flowed out like snaking tethers, attaching to each of the seven sea anemones. The water infused into the anemones and rapidly reversed their shriveling, giving them back their bright purple shine.
Merman then placed his hands on his chest organ, attaching all his water tethers to it.
"I see," said Aldrich as he put a hand to his chin, analyzing Merman's powers. Unlike with Elden World summons, he could not just look into a direct status sheet, but he could more or less get an instinctive 'feel' for how variant or alter undead powers worked.
This 'feel' was not nearly as accurate as an actual status screen, but it was good enough to get a strong sense of what the undead were capable of. "You can generate and crystallize water like the rest of your kind, though at a much higher scale.
On top of that, you can store specific 'techniques' using your water manipulation in that organ of yours which also acts as an amplifier, giving you several trump card moves to use. One of them being this tethering ability, though considering you could not counter my lightning, you are limited to having just one technique active at a time."
"Kal (Correct)" said Merman. "Khos-Gent (The Ocean King is perceptive, as expected)."
"I like to know what my subordinates can do. Now then, ready those to fire," said Aldrich. "Their cooldown should be refreshed by now. Let's see if they'll be just as devastating to the variants as they were to the humans."
"Hiras (I fall under the tide's will)" Merman raised his hands into the air, and the tethers of water attached to his crystal organ began to shine.
The sea anemones started to power up, their top tentacles crackling and glowing bright blue as they channeled up hydroplasma through their bodies.
"Khos-Kath (Ready to strike at the will of the Ocean King)" said Merman.
"Hold," said Aldrich. He put a finger to the side of his helm, wanting to check up on Valera to see whether she had dealt with Crab or needed some assistance. If she did need help, Aldrich would aim the sea anemone cannons at Crab, if not, he would direct it to clearing out the variants.
Aldrich focused, closing his eyes and linking with Valera's sight. He wondered what plans she had made to take down Crab or whether she needed his help. He would not mind either way.
This was more a test for him to gauge how self-sufficient and capable Valera was as his second in command because in the game, he had no real way to interact with her.
Yes, there were dialogue options that gave insight into her lore and background, but of this truly affected combat.
During combat gameplay, Aldrich controlled everything she did or he relied on her A.I. when he micromanaged other units.
As for what her game lore knew from her lore that she came from a long military background, but she had been trained as a Shielder, a guardian knight that protected others, specifically single targets, though later in her life she had also become a Berserker.
Regardless, both combat art types were not suited for commanding masses of troops.
So far, Valera had proven herself quite capable in defending the Red Circle and mobilizing Aldrich's units, but that was while Aldrich was away. He had yet to see in person her capabilities.
Yet, when Aldrich fully linked with Valera's sight, he could not help but smile.
"I will rid the master of this shelled brute!" shouted Valera as she stared at the center of the battlefield. There, the huge, shelled monstrosity had pushed back the zombie giant with a mighty swipe of its claws aimed at the giant's head.
The blow had blown off a chunk of the giant's skull, collapsing him to one knee, but the master's Mist gradually began to heal the wound up.
"Yeah? I'd like to see you try!" Stella landed beside Valera from the air, throwing out an explosive punch that shot forth a cone of ignited air that blew apart several approaching fishmen. "By the way, that's like, my ten thousandth kill, y'know?"
"Ten thousand!? You think you can lie to me so easily!?" Valera let a large green fishman tackle into her, and the fishman staggered backwards with a solid impact while Valera did not even budge a single inch. It was like the fishman had ran full force into an immovable wall.
In response, Valera stepped forwards and punched the fishman's chest. The force of her blow was so extreme that it caused the fishman's chest not only to cave in, but to literally explode from the force shockwave, its spine and internal organs blowing out through its back in a shower of blood.
"Okay, I might have been exaggerating a little." Stella stared at Valera in awe, witnessing Valera one punch her way through the variants. "Damn, how tough are you? You have a good amount of muscle on your build, but under all that armor, you must feel like a literal rock!"
"Q-quiet!" said Valera. "I can be soft and ladylike when I wish to be!"
"Heh, I'm not insulting you." Stella smiled at Valera before swiping forward at the air rapidly, throwing out clouds of her explosive blood. The condensed droplets shone bright orange as they gathered around a group of incoming fishmen before detonating like countless little grenades. "And honestly, you should be proud of how tough you are. It's totally badass. And I hear guys like girls that fight!"
"Really?" said Valera timidly as she absent-mindedly grabbed a crabman's head and crushed it to a pulp between her hands.
"Yeah. Or at least, I sure as hell wouldn't be into a guy that didn't know how to kick ass," said Stella.
"Do you think that…maybe the master prefers strong women too? I-I have to confess, I have very little experience in the ways of men…," said Valera. She looked at Stella hopefully while casually holding back a crowd of ten fishmen trying to overpower her with one arm.
"Him? I dunno. He's a mystery. But what I do know is that he appreciates you as you are now. And in the end, that matters a hell of a lot more than how much of a 'lady' you are, doesn't it?" said Stella. "There's a saying around this world: if it ain't broke, don't fix it. Think that applies to you."
"Hmm…" Valera unleashed a powerful right hook into the crowd of fishmen struggling against her. Her fist this time was wreathed in a spiral pattern of blood, and when her fist impacted, it created a shockwave of bloody force that broke apart the variants into chunks.
Appreciation for who she was. That brought her to memories of faraway times, before meeting her current master. A lifetime of betrayal and hurt and abandonment -
"Anyways, what was your plan to take down that big ass crab?" said Stella as she squinted her eyes, staring several hundreds of meters ahead at the giant crab variant.
"Right," said Valera. She shook her head, returning to the present. She looked towards Crab as it started to enclose its huge pincers around the zombie giant's neck. In response, the zombie giant grabbed Crab's pincers and exerted force trying to stop them from getting too close. "Stella, take me into the air!"
"Got you-," Stella grabbed Valera under her arm before lifting off with a continued explosion under her feet, basically creating miniature thrusters to generate lift. Hordes of fishmen rushed into the empty spot where the two had been, looking up at them as they flew in the air.
A few of the blue fishmen fired pressurized water, but all of it deflected off of Valera's blood barrier.
In this high vantage point, Valera closed her eyes and started to channel a mental link with the appropriate undead she needed. She used as few undead as possible, recognizing that she could not divert too many forces and potentially allow the fishmen to swarm through the sinkhole.
Valera was not an incredible expert at war games or commanding armies. When she still lived in a palace and had a tutor, she learned a few things here and there, but all that had been taken from her far before she could become a master in anything.
All she relied on was her basic combat instincts and experience with fighting - two things she had in vast spades - to guide her thinking.