Chapter 284 Defense 2
"All the way over there?" Chrysa pointed to the top of the Arsellis tree that grew so high that it almost looked like it could touch the sky. "I don't know if I can go that farâ€¦"
"You can," reassured Aldrich. "I know because I'm linked to you. Believe in yourself just as much as you believe in me. Got it?"
"Got it." Chrysa nodded.
"Now then. Time to deal with some unwanted guests." Aldrich briefly looked around. Elven houses blended well into nature, consisting of caverns built up of tangled branches and leaves. Many more were built into the tops or sides of large trees.
Secret demons poked their masked faces out from the tops of the caverns or from the sides of the tree houses. As expected, they were all smaller and weaker. Hellhounds and imps. Some of the imps had wings, making them more annoying to deal with, but in general, this was all fodder.
Nothing Aldrich could not deal with.
"Father, I can take them down-," began Chrya.
"No. Save your mana. I don't know exactly how much it'll take you to get to the top of the tree, but I know it's roughly around your max. Father will be okay. Don't worry about me and focus on yourself, alright?"
The good thing about the temple area that Aldrich stood on was that it was a wide stretch of flat ground. Elves did not build houses near their temples. So, nothing to sneak up on Aldrich.
Aldrich's [Death Essence Barrier] flashed green as balls of orange fire and purple light crashed against him, fired from the hands and mouths of imps and hellhounds. These were tier 1 or 2 spells like [Firebolt] or [Demonshard] and did little to no damage against Aldrich's energy resistant barrier.
"In the past, I would have had a barrier of corpses. All flammable and easily disintegrated from demonic energy. But now, I can sit here all day without worrying about the likes of you." Aldrich stood calm and still, his scythe planted on the ground beside him. "If you want to stop the seed from blooming, you'll have to get down and do the dirty work up close."
The hellhounds hissed and the imps growled. They made their move. The hounds got to Aldrich first, their canine bodies sprinting down walls and burnt forest floor as they sprinted ahead at full speed. When they got close enough, the hellhounds leaped up, aiming to bite at Aldrich's head and throat.
Aldrich spun around with his scythe. He sliced four hounds clean in half, but there were three more that he could not cut down. No problem, though. A pale blue trail followed the scythe slash, like Aldrich was drawing with it, and then the line erupted in a burst of energy that instantly flash froze the rest of the hounds.
The frozen demons sailed past Aldrich and shattered into tiny little pieces against the ground.
"Good. Works just like how I remember it," said Aldrich.
The [Frosthallowed War Scythe] had a passive called [Frostbite Trail] that gave all of its slashes an explosive freezing aftereffect. This made it highly effective in clearing trash mobs, though the aftereffect was too weak to deal any real damage to a unit of Aldrich's equivalent level.
It did contribute to rapidly building up the [Frozen] status effect. The status effect was complete when a unit was completely encased in ice, rendered immobile, and by striking them in this state, one could shatter the unit to either one shot them or deal massive damage.
Notably, if it did not execute outright, it did percent max health damage, so Aldrich was curious whether this meant that it would take down even the toughest of supers in the real world.
Imps made their way to Aldrich now, some attacking from above, some trying to claw at him. Coupled with the hellhounds and they composed a swarming mass of demonic bodies easily numbering a hundred strong.
Aldrich performed a dance of death through the horde, slicing and slashing his way through the demons with graceful footwork that easily outpaced them. The imps were clumsy and the hellhounds moved too much on instinct.
Compared to Aldrich who had precision footwork beaten into him, the demons were easy to just dance laps around.
From above, it would have looked like Aldrich was drawing an elaborate pattern, the pale blue [Frostbite Trail] squiggling and threading through the crowd of demons. Bursts of frost energy erupted at the tail end of the trail, encasing corpses and living demons in ice.
"Father, they're at the thing!" Chrysa pointed back at the Arselis seed. Some demons had taken their attention off Aldrich, realizing he far outclassed them, and started attacking the seed. The seed was immune to projectile damage, but the demons could bite and claw at it.
"Forget about it," said Aldrich. "We're not here to protect the seed."
"Are we still going to get it?" said Chrysa. Looked like she was already developing a gamer's urge to get loot whenever possible.
"Yep. By choosing this defend the seed option, we'll get the seed guaranteed at the end of the quest, even if the demons end up breaking this one down. But you're right; if I don't defend it at all, they might get suspicious that I'm not here for it to begin with." Aldrich turned around and got to cleaning up the low-level demons around the seed.
After three minutes, the Grinners came. They came in groups of four; just the same as in the game. Later on, in the ten minute mark, they would come in waves of ten, but four was manageable solo. The Grinners came from all four cardinal directions.
Unlike the first Grinner Aldrich killed, these ones were animalistic brutes like the imps. Intelligence among demons was not guaranteed unless they were under the Greater classification or above. It was a tossup whether lesser or regular demons had intelligence, and generally, it was said that lower tier demons with intelligence had the potential to evolve higher.
[Death Bolt sealed]
The four demons closed in on Aldrich, shattering frozen chunks of their lesser comrades beneath heavy, rapid footsteps. More lesser demons closed in, though, and Aldrich sighed. It would be tough getting rid of the Grinners while trash mobs harassed Aldrich.
But Aldrich was prepared for this. And quite excited, actually. He got to use the scythe's active.
Right as the four Grinners converged on Aldrich, their burly fists cocked back, he swung his scythe in an omnidirectional sweep around him. A howling wind current raged all around Aldrich, buffeting the Grinners back. Countless little shards of ice in the wind acted like bullets, punching through all the lesser demons within.
This was called [Wailing Winds], and it effectively created a deadly combo of a small blizzard and a meat grinder of raging ice shards.
The Grinners covered their masked faces with their arms. The ice shards crashed against their skin but unlike with their weaker brethren, the shards did not break through. Instead, they spread apart on impact, rapidly building up a freezing layer that contributed to the [Frozen] status effect.
Any unit in this area was [Nearsighted] due to the foggy wind and the ice shards whirling about, but on top of that, Aldrich as the user of the scythe was actually invisible.
Abusing his invisibility, Aldrich cast [Boneripper]. Rippling black energy encased his left hand.
Wielding the scythe in his right, Aldrich got to work on the nearest Grinner. He crashed his curse wrapped hand against the demon's chest. The purple flesh shook a little, undulating like it was made of liquid before shattered rib bones burst out in a spurt of flesh and black blood.
This exposed the Grinner's beating, dark purple heart, and Aldrich stabbed into it with his scythe, instantly killing the Grinner's flesh body.
During attacks, Aldrich was still visible, so the other three Grinners rushed towards him. He slipped away, and in the wailing, raging winds, he disappeared like a phantom. He snuck right behind one of the Grinners and cast [Bonebearing Curse].
From an extended finger, an X shaped black symbol floated forward. The Grinner sensed Aldrich and whirled around, hitting him with a fist. Aldrich blocked with the light shield on his skeletal arm, though the hit was heavy enough to send him flying a few meters back.
The other two Grinners heard the impact of fist against solid, metallic light, and rushed towards Aldrich.
"Got you." Aldrich saw the [Bonebearing Curse] reach the Grinner's chest. The X marked itself on the flesh, and the Grinner seized up.
"Fight!" roared Aldrich as he leaped backwards, dodging the two Grinners as the slammed their fists down at him.
The marked Grinner charged forward, tackling one of his brethren. The [Bonebearing Curse] controlled any flesh and bone creature, and though the Grinner was technically a demon that was a spirit at base, it still inhabited a physical body that Aldrich could now manipulate.
"That leaves one." Aldrich would have to beat down the last Grinner with pure damage. No [Boneripper] curse for a cheap instant kill due to its relatively high cooldown. But if there was one thing that Aldrich knew a thing or two about, it was in giving out beatdowns.
Especially beatdowns that led to executions.
Aldrich tossed his scythe at the Grinner's head. The scythe spun rapidly before the blade dug itself right into the blank white eye of the Grinner's mask. Black blood spurted from the entry wound, and the Grinner grunted as it jolted back, grasping at the scythe to pull it out.
With [Negative Surge] buffing Aldrich's limbs, he rushed in, snapping a scything kick at the demon's knee. With a loud crack of breaking bone, the demon knelt down, one leg disabled.
Aldrich did not know how exactly a demon's vitals worked, whether they had a liver to target, so he worked with what he could directly see. He drew three fingers together and jammed them into the Grinner's other eye. His fingers broke through the mask and reached into soft, squishy flesh.
What Aldrich knew about dealing with Elden World units was that they no longer operated off of a pure HP bar. Their vitality was more like a measure of their general durability. In essence, how tough their skin, muscles, bones, and such were. But take out vital organs like the heart or brain, then they died no matter how high their vitality was.
The same principle applied to the flesh constructs that the demons used.
Aldrich gripped the Grinner's face tight, hooking his fingers jammed into its eye socket deep.
"Chrysa, get off," said Aldrich.
Chrysa floated upwards.
With her clear, Aldrich casted [Burning Agony]. His entire body burst into flames as his heartbeat pounded audibly. The flames erupted from his fingers as well, the same fingers jammed into the demon's head, and they scorched the Grinner from inside, melting away the brain within a few seconds.
The Grinner grew limp, and Aldrich pushed the demon away. The creature crashed into the frozen ground, motionless.