"Looks like my micro is as sharp as it ever was," said Aldrich as he looked down at the battle, or, rather, one sided beatdown occurring between Shrimp against Valera, the Deathwheel, Chiros, the Antlion, and, occasionally, when Shrimp wanted to ever jump out of the way and into the sky, Ace.
No matter where Shrimp went, no matter who he attacked, no matter how he guarded - he ate hit after hit after hit. Cracks now lined the entirety of his rainbow shelled body.
Chiros's Crystal Blood Venom had spread to a larger extent through Shrimp's body, imprinting its purple floral pattern little patches around the variant's neck, arms, legs and chest - wherever Chiros managed to slash.
However, it was easy to tell that this was not going to be a fight where an easy instant kill would work. Chiros's Crystal Blood Venom spread slower the higher the vitality of the affected unit, and Shrimp was essentially at the pinnacle of vitality out of all the units Aldrich had seen so far.
Aldrich had to commend Shrimp for his sheer durability. He was taking continued blows left, right, and above, but he still managed to hold on.
As if reading Aldrich's mind, Seismic commented. "Loci that possess the Antaeic Factor are harder to put down. Something about that energy makes them tougher. Makes strong bastards into even worse problems."
'This true sight of mine sees that this energy, this 'Antaeic Factor' that this mortal speaks of, is of an origin separate from the creature,' said Volantis. 'Yet the nature of its origins, I cannot fathom. Even this honed, crafted sight that I hold proud cannot trace the flow of this energy to its beginnings.'
"Hm. How much do you know about this 'Antaeic Factor?'" said Aldrich to Seismic. "Anything that can change the tides of this fight? Because the way I see it going, eventually, the Locus will die."
Seismic shook his head. "If you want details about theories on the origin of the factor. Where the energy comes from. How it is made.
I don't know.
I never paid attention to research. I only know that this factor and energy does in terms of how it can change a fight, nothing more.
But even knowing just that, I can tell that this fight will be over. It is only a matter of time.
Your allies fight with remarkable coordination. It matches or even outclasses the first-rate hero teams.
A single variant, especially a humanoid type like that, stands no chance against an onslaught like this. Especially not when its large-scale attacks need time to wind up.
Time it isn't getting."
"Time it will never get," corrected Aldrich. He nodded in satisfaction at the way this fight was going.
Even an A ranker like Seismic could recognize that the coordination that Aldrich's unit had was utterly top class.
Aldrich's micro was good, excellent, even, but that was not all of it.
This was not just the game where his units were just, well, units. They had their own minds and ways of doing things.
And his units did not know each other. They had not trained together. They had not taken the time to learn each other's attack patterns and timings.
Normally, this would be a hindrance. But Aldrich used this to his strengths.
Aldrich could act as a middleman to make all of the coordination happen, the equivalent of years and years of training for a regular hero team, with just his mind.
At the speed of thought, he could input soft commands to his units.
These did not completely override their free will and turn them into robots that performed his order, but rather, once he inputted his command, his units used all their free will, all their combat experience and technique and everything that made them individuals in their own right, to perform his command to the absolute best of their own unique ways.
Like this, Aldrich could control many units at a much higher efficiency rate than he did in the game, as in a way, it was like he was controlling an army of units with advanced A.I.s.
Once he gave the command, his units could adjust and adapt on the fly to make his orders happen.
It made Aldrich far more versatile and granted him much more safety, as if he made a mistake with his commands, his units could adjust for it on their own.
Seismic leered down at Shrimp. "I would've liked to crush that thing myself. But if you don't need me, then I'm fine standing watch. As a contingency. That is what I am, aren't I?"
"Yes," said Aldrich. "But I wouldn't take that as an insult. The only thing more important than a well thought out plan is a well-placed contingency. That is what you are."
"No offense taken," said Seismic. "Just a little odd. I've never been in a backup role. My powers make me a siege breaker. Not the type that waits for the end."
"Consider it a well-deserved rest for everything else you did tonight, old man," said Aldrich.
"…I'm not that old," grumbled Seismic as he focused on the fight again.
Aldrich was amused at Seismic's reaction. He had thought the man the perfect example of stoicism, but it looked like even the seasoned and serious Seismic had a soft spot after all. But then again, at the end of the day, he was human.
Or rather, had been.
That was when Aldrich felt a strange sensation of lightness well up within him, deep inside his core. It was not from the Chrystalis - that was still incubating inside of him, still feeding on his energy - but it came from a similar place within his soul.
Crackles of green energy began to surge out of Aldrich's body, but he did not keep his attention on his units away even with this strange new development, constantly giving them soft commands when he could so that their coordination did not break down.
[New Quest: Fell the Great Enemy obtained]
Aldrich saw text pop up in the periphery of his vision. Text in glowing green font. This was not the usual text of his system. He immediately opened the quest details. When he opened the quest and read its details, he heard a voice ringing through his head.
A familiar voice. A dignified and refined voice that held a strangely sultry, nearly seductive undertone to it.
The voice of the Death Lord. It read out the text of the quest.
[Quest: Fell the Great Enemy
Testing…testing…yes, if you are hearing this, then then Ritual of Transferal has begun.
My power shall soon be yours.
That is, if you are capable of taking it. Excuse my dramatics, of course you are capable. You need only to grow your strength.
And this awful system of yours, using incomplete shades of that filthy goddess Amara and her little blacksmith pet? I cannot have my protégé associate with women like that who hold innocent smiles that hide dark hearts.
No, that simply cannot be.
Plus, who has ever heard of a Lich that served the goddess Amara? The Lifelight who recoils at the very sight of undead?
Whom only begrudgingly accepted the aid of you mortal necromancers when she saw my own dark power rising with no idea how to seal it?
Too much bad taste to stomach, even for one such as myself who lurks in the shadows of rot, cold, and bone.
So, I have taken the liberty to take this incomplete system of yours and fashion it into something worthy of you.
Worthy of our Ritual of Transferal.
I have very much made improvements to it that far suit your being as a Lich. Return to the Nexus again, and you will come to know the full extent of them.
For now, here is my first quest to you.
If you are hearing this, then it is likely that you have encountered a Great Enemy.
Fell it, and these rewards shall be yours to claim:
-1x Trove of Dark Wisdom (30 Levels)
Through Dark Wisdom, a Lich may ascend the undead underneath them into greater heights of strength.
By granting Dark Wisdom to your undead, you may grant them additional levels, though there is a limit to the levels you can grant your undead, and none of your undead may exceed your own strength aside from your Chosen.
The traditional process to obtain Dark Wisdom is one that is long and tedious, requiring arcane insight, the crystallization of extracted essence, ensuring its compatibility with others, and so on and so forth.
All too boring and time consuming. So, I have streamlined the process.
Simply complete my quests, and you shall receive Dark Wisdom.
With that wisdom, ascend your Legion. Nurture it. Let it become as great and feared as my hundred Immortalis Legions. No, let it become greater even than that.
1x Frosthallowed War Scythe
An old war piece of mine. One that served me loyally by my side through my early days as the First Lich, when I still clung to my frost dragon magics. Before they began to call me the Old Abomination, the Origin of Sin, the Dark Winter, whatever it is that the followers of the Lifelight called me.
I treasured it dearly, but it has spent centuries gathering dust, and I cannot bear that its ever hungry reaping blade no longer feeds upon lives.
Thus, I shall entrust it to you, my dearest Usurper.
Treat it well, and your enemies shall know how truly cold the touch of death can be.]
Aldrich registered the details of the quest and accepted it. Before he could, a warning message popped up in front of him, and the Death Lord's voice echoed in his mind again.
[Warning: You must be the one to land the killing blow on the Great Enemy. Will you still take this quest, Necromancer, no, Lich of the Legion?]
'I was always going to kill Shrimp with my own two hands,' thought Aldrich as he accepted the quest. Optimally, Aldrich wanted to be the one to end Shrimp's life personally. That way, he could have the lion's share of glory for this battle, not Seismic.
And that glory, he would need as leverage after this battle done.
[Quest Accepted. Though, I assume, knowing how you are, you always did want to kill the Great Enemy yourself, heh. I shall see you soon, Usurper.]
With that, the quest messages faded away and automatically closed.