Chapter 326 To the Death!
The boss geist began to float into the air, and its slime covered butterfly wings tried their best to unfurl, though drenched as they were, they still could not fan out. It bat its wings towards Aldrich, sending a gust of rainbow speckled wind.
"Stand behind her," commanded Aldrich.
Valera knew what to do, even in the midst of her ever increasing bloodlust. Chiros grunted and leaped backwards, still maintaining the elegant flow of his motions while reverting. He flipped and landed behind Valera as she switched places with him at the very front.
She slammed her shield down and used an active skill called [Guardian's Veil]. A dome of shimmering red emerged all around Aldrich and the rest of his newly raised party, creating a defensive barrier.
Shielders like Valera relied mostly on physical defense to block attacks, which meant that in general, area of efffect abilities that flowed past their shields, such as energy attacks or in this case air particles, served as natural counters.
But that did not mean Shielders were entirely defenseless. They had some barrier type abilities, but they just were not as effective or sustainable as mages who were more specialized in magically constructing them.
The wall of rainbow speckled wind crashed into the barrier, but not at any speed that was particularly harmful.
"What is this?" said Refraction. "The wind velocity was enough to knock an A-class off balance, but it wasn't any real threat."
"The wind wasn't the threat," assessed Mollusk accurately.
Aldrich put his black and red armored hand out of the barrier.
[Undead Mind Control immunity activated]
"I see," said Aldrich. "These are particles that are meant to take over your mind."
"Shit, really? Guess we aren't stepping out of this barrier," said Refraction. "My mirrors can't reflect things that come from every direction like this."
"No need. As undead, we are all immune to mind control," said Aldrich. "Valera, drop the barrier. Taunt the boss while it's still distracted keeping up this useless attack."
"H-hold up-!" Refraction began.
Valera raised her shield, and the barrier faded away. She then rushed forwards, cutting through the incoming whirl of wind like a knife, rapidly getting into range to cast [To the Death!].
"See?" Aldrich said. "No effect."
"W-wow. You're right." Refraction looked at the rainbow particles glimmering against his armor. Mollusk did the same.
"Being dead is more convenient than I thought," said Mollusk.
"That, I agree with," said Aldrich. "Refraction, follow behind Valera. Get ready to warp her on my mark."
Refraction took a look at the giant boss geist's chill-incuding skeletal face and insectoid body and shivered. "Breathing techniques. Breathing techniques..." He breathed in, deep.
After exhaling, his body language changed entirely.
He became focused. Stiff. Ready. Like a panther ready to pounce upon prey.
"Mission mode: engaged," said Refraction, not a hint of panic in his voice any longer. "Supporting forward vanguard."
He sprinted forward with surprising speed, each of his strides covering huge swathes of distance. Aldrich realized then that the soles of his boots were encased in reflective gold. He was using the energy reflecting property of his mirrors to amplify his steps, boosting himself forward at superspeed.
"Hm. So he's from Ember," said Aldrich.
Ember was the same mercenary training group that Tox came from, famous for instilling in their recruits secondary personalities that were deadly efficient, focused, and ruthless.
Tox was from the very same group, though several years younger than Refraction.
"Yeah. All of them are batshit crazy. Deep down," said Mollusk, watching Refraction speed ahead, rapidly catching up with Valera. "I haven't met a single Ember that didn't give me the creeps.
Refraction's conditioning is pretty lax, but even he turns into a completely different person."
"I honestly like him better this way," commented Aldrich.
"He gets stuff done like this." Mollusk shrugged. "But it's no way to really live. You aren't yourself - the real you gets shoved and crammed away into a dark corner of your mind, and it gets really tiring to not accept who you are like that for long."
The boss geist saw Valera and Refraction approaching and stopped batting its wings, realizing its mind controlling dust or spores were not effective. Instead, it's dot-like white forehead pupil dilated, and from it, beams shot out.
Valera began to raise her shield, but Refraction was even faster. He threw out a golden mirror in front of her, and the beam hit it and reflected backwards, hitting the boss geist right in the face.
With a ghostly wail, the boss geist recoiled, its six legs writhing as it dealt with a rapidly withering chunk in its bony cheek. The ashen wood there rotted, sloughs of blackened bark flecking away.
"So its stinger injects life but its eyes take it away," said Aldrich.
"Indeed," said Volantis. "A curious creature. I am still greatly saddened that I cannot stitch the beasts and warriors of this realm into my body."
"Give Fler'Gan some time, and we'll figure that out," said Aldrich.
"[To the Death]!" Valera shouted, now within fifty meters of the boss giest. She raised her fist towards the creature, and a deep red aura raged around her.
The same aura enveloped the boss geist, indicating that the spell's conditions had been fulfilled.
With another piercing wail, the boss geist attacked Valera with much more open hostility than before, slamming its giant stinger down like a club.
"Now," Aldrich commanded Refraction.
Refraction, in one, fluid motion, sent out two mirrors from either of his hands and then clasped his palms together, slamming the mirrors against each other with Valera in between.
The mirrors disappeared, revealing that Valera was gone. The stinger crashed into where she had been, shattering the earth. A wild uprising of vines, thorns, and brightly toxic flora emerged.
Refraction dodged, air-walking away by stepping on mirrors.
However, the boss geist ignored Refraction. It ignored everyone. It instead followed a blood-red trail in thee air that unspooled far out, away from the forest, toward where Valera was.
Valera, teleported outside of the forest, shivered as she waited out in the open. She dropped her shield, and it dematerialized. She had enough presence of mind to stand still, heeding her master's orders to draw out the boss.
But when the boss came, she would unleash herself fully.
Black, bat-like wings began to sprout from her back as bloody red waves of energy swirled around her.