"Wan Yi just bought it. He's off to respawn" Valentine shouted.
"Stupid effing shite!" cursed Warlord.
A Guildmaster and holder of an S-class Legacy dying at any time was no small thing, let alone during a multi-guild raid. That it was 'permanent' and happened for no good reason made it all the worse.
Even in large, well planned and organized raids players were sent to respawn in great numbers, often multiple times. But Guildmasters had a responsibility to preserve their own lives for the sake of morale and the continuity of command. Like the king piece in chess.
"Zhang Shi, we need reinforcements on the frontline!" Warlord shouted.
"I don't have anyone to send to you Warlord. I've committed all our reserves to keep the undead pinned down in the towers. You really don't want them coming up behind you, do you?" His reply was overly sincere and concerned, smug.
"Shit, we're on our own," said Warlord.
Valentine sent Warlord a private message.
"It's pointless to ask him for more troops, Warlord. He's devious and opportunistic. He's taking advantage of the situation to exhaust our manpower."
"Why would he risk losing the quest?"
"With Wan Yi out, Heaven's Dawn is basically leaderless. The guild second, Cao Cui is capable but his power and authority are severely limited without the Guildmaster's presence.
Zhang Shi's Blood Ragers are in a safer area, fighting the archers in the towers, with minimal losses. When it is time for the last push his guild will have greater numbers."
"Damn, he wants more of the 'pie.' OUR pie!"
Valentine interrupted the conversation to yell "BUGGER OFF!" at the undead trying to claw his guts out. After he knocked the attacker away into the magma below, he resumed the discussion in his calm conversational tone.
"There's no more time to dick around. We have to 'force the Boss.' I have a plan for afterwards, when the Ragers tip their hand."
"How many minutes left on your Legacy timer?" asked Warlord
"We transformed the same time, so we both have around 57 minutes left."
"That's enough time for us to take down the boss. Then we mop up all the small fry and 'take the flag.' As far as I'm concerned, after Wan Yi's stupidity and Zhang Shi's bullshit schemes, the prize is all ours. Fuck 'em."
"Agreed. Let's do it," said Valentine
Delvina monitored the battle at the bridge, sending reinforcements into the melee as needed. Blocks of Undead charged in to saturate the battleground with more fresh blood.
The contrast between the two sides was obvious not just from their different appearances.
The Undead fought silently except for an occasional growl rumbling from deep in their chests. Aside from that the clash of weapons and the 'thunk' of a blade sinking through armor and into flesh were the only sounds they made.
Players are a noisy lot on the other hand. They scream, howl, and curse; and of course they chant or shout Words of Power to activate Skills.
Using Dave's tactic of ranged attacks on the healers significantly increased the rate and number of Adventurer deaths. Delvina slowly gained the advantage thanks to Dave hampering the healers and started pushing the adventurers back.
After Wan Yi's death, Heaven's Dawn was performing poorly, their death rate was the highest amongst the three guilds, and without effective communication or leadership their front-liners were becoming more and more disorganized and ineffectual.
The Devastators tanks and damagers that had retreated across the bridge earlier had regrouped into an armored wedge formation. Under Valentine and Warlord's direct command the formation began to sing a sonorous battle hymn as they set off in lockstep, quick-marching back onto the bridge toward Delvina. Accelerating constantly, their boots soon thundered against the stonework as they reached maximum speed, a unified living armored battering-ram.
The Heaven's Dawn troops on the bridge, directionless and unorganized, gave way or were forcefully thrown aside by the Devastators' charge, some falling over the side and into the magma flow.
"What the Hell are you doing Devastators!" A player shouted at them after his buddy was shoved over the edge.
None of the Devastators replied.
Chanting loudly, eyes focused, they charged full-force toward Delvina, interguild coordination and cooperation discarded.
"Hmmm. It might work," Dave muttered to himself.
Lone Arrow appeared with a popping sound next to Dave, a [Blink] assisted retreat.
"What the hell is happening!" she said
"Wan Yi bit the dust. Now the Devastators are charging Delvina."
"They're trying to 'force the Boss,', that's stupid. They'll lose most of their people."
"True, but it's good for us. I'll send my Death Knights to assist Delvina and help whittle the Devastators down.
"I'm going to get back in there. And Lone. Stay here until your [Blink] is off cooldown."
Lone pouted, "Yeah, yeah. I'll stay up here while you have all the fun."
The Death Knights under Dave's command were still in good shape. But they weren't enough to stop the adventurer's formation in a head-on battle.
Dave wanted to take advantage of Delvina's rampage to engage the adventurers from a more favorable position.
Delvina looked calculatingly at the charging adventurers, then waved a hand signal for her Undead to reposition themselves in front of her, grouped into tight square-formations.
The front lines of Undead presented a wall of linked tower-shields, quilled with bitter-cruel points of long pikes. The second and third ranks in the squares braced the Undead in front of them, shoulders, core, and feet, to receive the heavy charge.
Screaming their final verse, the Devastators wedge crashed into the Undead pike-line in a cacophony of screeching metal, booming impacts, and battle-chants. Bodies went flying from the impact, some lucky adventurers fell over the edge into the magma flow dying instantly. The unlucky ones were sent flying all the way into the forces of the undead,only to be killed, being speared, gnawed at, or brutally massacred by the undead.
The confusion of the savage melee at the collision point of the charge, combined with the 'Fear' effect update and the increased pain-setting, all unfolding at the center of a bridge high above a flow of glowing molten stone created a truly hellish scenario.
The Devastators charge was an impressive display of combined power, and cooperative battle tactics. But the Undead line held,, and the Devastators were now being pushed back by the Undead. The points of their pikes ravaging the player lines, and the tower shields presented a hitherto unbreakable wall of solid-steel advancing forward over the fallen.
Delvina cracked her razored scourge in a continuous staccato rhythm at the adventurers. Every stroke of the nine-tailed weapon slashed four or five players, tearing away chunks of HP and afflicting them with [Grievous wounds], a debuff that reduced any healing they received by 50%. Her Death Knights attacked the unfortunate 'bleeding' adventurers immediately, savagely, killing them before they could be Cleansed and healed.
Suddenly a bright aura surged out across the ranks of the Devastators, and Warlord's Legacy Avatar rose up and up, a titanic figure standing protectively over the Guildmaster, howling like a mad god of war. This was the revelation of the full power of an S-class Legacy summoned into play.
Warlord thundered out the words, "God Fist!" and struck down at the ground with his armored fists.
A large rift formed over Delvina's forces, from it emerged a gauntleted fist as wide as the bridge itself. The golden gauntlet was completely covered in intricate inlays of mandalas and God-runes.
"Holy shit!" Dave watched the manifestation of the S-class Legacy in fascinated awe.
The god-gauntlet crashed down on the undead formations, the spreading shockwave blasting hundreds of undead away to fall into the magma.
With the use of a single Skill, Warlord had breached the Undead shield line, killed dozens of Death Knights, and staggered Delvina, and her entire army.
"KILLLLL!" roared Warlord.
The Devastators charged through the opening in droves.
Shit, that Skill is so broken. I have to help Delvina or we are screwed.
Delvina placed herself in the center of the bridge, a true Boss monster, blocking the Devastators advance, stopping them cold and enduring the focused fire from hundreds of players.
Dave ordered his Death Knights range on the Devastators healers at the rear of their forces.Then he put a hand to his beard, calming his mind, and tried to think of a way to save the situation and complete the S level quest.
Valentine noticed the odd behavior of a small group of Undead, Death Knights targeting his backline healers.
"Whoo-Kungson! You and the Heavy-Hitters leapfrog over this mess and take out that group of Death Knights attacking out healers. Double-quick, go, go, go!"
Dave noticed the pink armored guardian giving orders, and he smiled.
A shiver ran down Valentine's spine as he used his shield to ward off attacks from two Death knights. Driving his foes back with a shield-bash Skill, he used the momentary respite to look around. His gaze was drawn to a certain draugr that stood out from the rest.
Generally, Valentine didn't lack for confidence and his icy demeanor under pressure was legendary. But something about this specific Undead disturbed him deep down, like a premonition that he wasn't quite aware of yet. The draugr wore elegantly chased black armor which, while still battered and worn, was several grades above the usual rusted plate armor worn by 'normal' undead.
What was even more unsettling was that this particular draugr was looking directly back at him, smirking as he stroked his bearded chin.
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