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Bloodbane gave the order, and the large Bloodbane statue plowed forward, lwading the way out of the courtyard where General Nightingale’s attack was obliterated. With the statue leading the way, soldiers felt empowered and didn’t hesitate to race forward, blowing through any number of enemies with vigor. However, even if I could have managed this level of channeling permanently, the statue was never meant to be moved in such a manner.
Chunks of the statue were always falling away, bearing the scaffolding underneath. Another step and the foot shattered. The statue stumbled but managed to catch itself by grabbing the roof of a nearby house. Shingles fell off as the roof was crushed under the weight of the goliath. When Lady Kait managed to make it to Bloodbane’s side, she could see Andromeda also by him, instead of racing ahead into the killing field.
Bloodbane’s face was covered in sweat, and the clothing underneath his armor was matted to his skin. He was also only able to move slowly, his eyes concentrating on the statue. Various monsters shot at the statue, but he ignore them all. His goal was fairly specific. He aimed to reach the gateway. Every step was more difficult than the last, and he felt the pressure of holding up a mountain. Yet, he knew that their best chance of getting that gate closed was to use the power of this statue. After the gate was shut, then the reclamation of the inner city was all but assured.
The girls grabbed either of Bloodbane’s sides, holding him up and walking forward as he continued to move step after step forward. Half of the statue’s face had fallen off, giving it a ghastly and horrifying appearance that only served to startle the monsters into a panic even more. It was stepping on the leg, a lopsided walk that took out more leg with every step, causing it to tilt more and more. It was almost a blessing with the other foot finally shattered, leveling it out a bit.
The statue and the army came out before the final courtyard that overlooked the gate. This last stretch of path wasn’t just guarded by a massive group of monsters, but there were no houses to grab onto to keep the statue steady as it continued forward. Seeing the inner city gate, their ultimate goal, the soldiers let out a roar of defiance, racing forward into the courtyard and plunging headfirst into the army of monsters and undead.
They had learned from their previous encounters at this point, and whenever an enemy fell, they made sure to destroy the head before they managed to resurrect as an undead. As the fighting heated up, Bloodbane tried to steady the statue the best he could. He was already bonedry exhausted, but he wouldn’t let such an opportunity pass him by. Conjuring all of the strength he could manage, he sent the statue moving forward into the courtyard.
The statue managed a few dozen meters, but the enemies had seemingly prepared, sending spells at the statue’s legs. The already shattered and unstable legs quickly broke apart, and the statue fell onto its broken knees and hands. Bloodbane still wasn’t done yet though. Raising his hand, he beckoned the statue to continue to move forward, crawling across the ground and more and more stone from its once majestic visage had turned it into a twisted construct of stone and metal.
Many of the magic circles had already collapsed, and it was quickly growing harder and harder to control. However, Bloodbane could see the end, and his stubborn personality was unwilling to submit in the hopes of some other method coming.
The inner gateway was still completely intact. Just like with the outer city, the inner city had likely been breached by traitors. However, it was never made abundantly clear that this happened. If there was such a traitor, the hope was that they had already died a miserable death and didn’t remain among what was left. However, even if there had been no traitor, the inner city would have been easy to breach anyway.
The way this gateway was designed wasn’t defensive at all. It had a drawbridge, but that drawbridge fell inward into the inner city. The reason it was like this was that this particular section of wall was extremely old, and dated from when the city was closer to the village. The out city also had another name, oldtown. It was the oldest and least grand. The capital had seemingly sprung up around it, and the pieces of the original city wall that could be repurposed were.
Rather than deal with the complications of fixing the drawbridge that was never pulled up anyway, and later became a novelty unnecessary thanks to an outer gate, it was only a month ago that such a worry had come to light. Ultimately, Bloodbane’s other self had not chosen to fix the gate, but instead spend his ability fortifying the outer wall, which he had considered impregnable until his betrayal. This is also why the army’s of dead were stopped longer at the palace gates than the otter city. This was a weak point of defense, but Bloodbane had no choice.
The crawling statue finally made its way to the edge of the door. Reach under it, he began to pull it up, causing any monsters and undead who happened to be on it at the time to fall off. As he began pulling up and pushing against the wall, the monsters became more fervent, many of them abandoning their enemies to try to swarm it. Still, the statue moved forward. The door reached over halfway. Just as it looked like it was going to force the door closed, a massive strike hit from the other side.
The door was forced open and down like a giant boulder was dropped on it. The statue was immediately crushed, and a massive eruption exploded out, stone dust flying out in a way. The makeshift golem statue was pulverized, and Bloodbane let out a roar of pain as his connection and magic were severed. He collapsed to his knees, his body completely devoid of any additional strength. Mana channeling used a great deal of stamina, and such a strenuous spell pushed Bloodbane far past his limits. No one would have been surprised if he had fallen unconscious and slept for a week, but Bloodbane just barely managed to keep conscious, looking up to see what had ultimately stopped his work.
Standing right in the middle of the doorway at the epicenter of the chaos was a man in black armor. He would have looked handsome except that his eyes were solid black, and his skin was ashen white. He looked across the battlefield with seeming disdain. That disdain didn’t just fall on the enemy, but his side as well. It was clear that he cared nothing for the troops under him, and was happy to toss them away.
“General Nightingale!” The two women stood back up after making sure Bloodbane was okay, and then immediately drew their weapons.
General Nightingale’s eyes finally landed on the pair, and he let out a laugh. “Bloodbane… your defeated look on the floor. I’m delighted you went to such great effort to come here and show me such a weak display before you welcome death.”
“You bastard!” Lady Kait cried out, not able to stop herself from racing forward.
Andromeda looked back at Bloodbane, but as he seemed unresponsive, she followed Lady Kait to face Nightingale. This man was currently Bloodbane’s greatest threat, and if they could defeat him, then her master would be deeply pleased.
This might have been the reason Andromeda told herself she wanted to face Nightingale, but the second reason was a deep-rooted shame. Many times, she had watched as this man slipped into her Master’s quarters and did his wife on their marriage bed. She had smirked and only griped that she had to clean up the sheets after.
Andromeda despised that woman she had been. That woman had deserved every bad thing that had ever happened to her. That woman deserved the rape and the brutality. That woman was dead. In her place, Bloodbane had raised the current Andromeda and gave her a new chance at life. Yet still, deep down, she wanted to kill Nightingale to redeem the foolish maidservant.
Lady Kait’s desires were far more obvious. This man had led her sister down a dark path of betrayal. Lady Kait didn’t want her deceased sister’s name to be besmirched anymore, and as long as this man lived, that would continue. Of course, there was another reason.
“Oh, Lady Kait. It’s been a while.” General Nightingale glanced at Kait, greeting her warmly like a brother-n-law might.
It made her skin crawl. “I am sorry for what has befallen the pair of you. I will free you from this half-life.”
“You know, you’re as beautiful as your sister.” He grinned, completely unimpressed by her threats. “You know, it was you I had always desired back then. Don’t you remember how we used to train together? After seeing your delicious body covered in sweat after a long day of hard work, I wanted to push you down and have my way with you every night. However, you always gave me the cold shoulder, and even turned away my advances.”
Of course, this demon wouldn’t let the past be and immediately drudged up the past just as her sister had to try to get in her mind. It was true that they had trained together, and someone who didn’t know them personally might have even said they were close. Nightingale had desired her, and Lady Kait had known it. She had suffered many leers from him over the years. As his rank grew, he became more blatant in chasing her, even going so far as to scare away potential love interests, assuring that she remained untouched as a woman.
When he finally reached general, his strength and pull in the city were great. Lady Kait had been fearful that he’d use his power to eventually force her to be his. There were many ways to do it. A few well-placed words and an arranged marriage could occur. Although, at least once, she believed she had been drugged. One of his men had tried to drag her to an unknown location, which was likely a rendezvous with the general. She had managed to keep enough of her wits that she struck him and ran back to her room.
It was the day after that she had confided in her sister. She had never asked Leah for a single thing despite her being the Queen. However, she asked at that point, rather, she begged her sister to help keep General Nightingale away. A few days later, all of his advances stopped, and Lady Kait had finally relaxed, believing her wonderful sister Leah had taken care of it.
Then, last night, she learned the truth of things from Leah’s lips herself. Leah had begun an affair with General Nightingale. He had taken a married woman who looked like Lady Kait. Had she given herself to him, would her sister have remained faithful? She had to believe that he had seduced her. He had forced himself on her. This evil man had defiled her sister, and the only one Lady Kait could blame was herself. That was why she wanted him dead.
“You are a foul demon, and you will die here!” Lady Kait prepared to attack.
General Nightingale let out another laugh. “I gave your sister such pleasure. It was things that her cuck of a husband couldn’t give her. It was fun playing with her body, although I always wished it was you. Now, when I finally kill you, I can have both of you. That will truly be a wonderful thing. I can doddle you each on one knee.”
Lady Kait kept her mouth shut, not willing to engage with him and allow him to get what he wanted from her. Meanwhile, Andromeda was shifting to the side, trying to get a better vantage point. However, her foot cracked on some fallen stone, and his eyes darted to her. As soon as his eyes shifted, Lady Kait took the moment to lunge forward. Her sword glowed with fire as she infused it with sunlight.
In the sun, she was at her strongest. This was truly juxtaposed to Nightingale. His name matched his talent nicely. Even before becoming undead, he had been a creature of darkness. He was actually at his most vulnerable at that moment. Before his death, the pair had been mostly matched. However, where she was strong in the sunlight and weak in the dark, he was strongest in the dark. The difference that set them apart was that he didn’t have a weakness.
It was true that he was stronger in the dark, but unlike Kait, he was merely strong in daylight. All of the matches that showed them to be even were done during the sunlight. That was ultimately why he became the general, and why she had feared his advance once the sunset. Thankfully, the sun was high overhead, and Kait was at her full strength. Yet, when their blades met, shadows erupted out from him, and an invisible force tossed her back.
She flew back with a cry and saw Andromeda doing the same, although what attack she had attempted wasn’t caught by Kait. Even though she should have been his equal, that was before the necromancer had gotten to him. Just like with Leah, through the act of becoming undead, his magic had seemingly grown more powerful. He was now able to fight at a level that Lady Kait didn’t seem to be able to match.
More so, the battle was starting to wane. The destruction of the statue had harmed the morale of their troops, and with endless hordes of monsters piling in from the gate, as well as the monsters left in the inner city starting to surround them and even cut off their escape, the men were starting to panic. As their chances of getting back to the palace waned, desperation was setting in. They were all trapped at the gate, surrounded by enemies from every side.
General Nightingale didn’t even need to do anything. He looked at the two women in from of him with a mocking smile.
“Now that I think about it, I may just enjoy you while you’re still alive. After I’ve had my fill, you can enjoy the same fate your sister did. That way, the pair of you will truly be two of a kind.”
“Go… to hell…” She spat out blood as she used her sword to stand back up.
“I’ve already been there.” He grinned. “Won’t you join me?”
“The lady said…” A voice suddenly came out, causing him to look up. “GO TO HELL!”
Bloodbane was touching the ground, and a long line of mana ran from his hand to under the door. It had connected with the smashed statue. Nightingale didn’t even have time to react, as the stone exploded up. It was a mass of stone that didn’t even remotely look like the original statue. If it resembled anything, it looked like a massive hand erupting out of the ground. It pushed the door up and slammed it shut in a single motion, sending the man standing on it flying off into the old town.
A torrent of rock erupted up like a wave, more and more of it slamming into the door, creating a barrier of rock that couldn’t just be moved aside. Some of the rock even seemed to glow red, merging into the side of the door, making the blockade indistinguishable from the walls. It lasted only for about fifteen seconds, and then Bloodbane collapsed once again.
The door had been closed, but the army was still surrounded against a wall. Even as their morale surged, it appeared like they were outnumbered two to one against the undead. They were tired, beaten, and it was only upon seeing their victory so close that they kept holding one, second after second. A building exploded out as a giant slammed through it, creating a new path for more undead that had been caught up somewhere.
Its eyes scanned around until they landed on the unmoving Bloodbane. Whether it knew who he was or merely saw an opportunity to easily squash something under its foot, a wicked smile formed on its face and it started to walk toward him. Bloodbane was only just keeping awake. He forced his head up, unwilling to not meet an enemy face forward.
Andromeda only realized what was happening a moment too late. She was racing back to protect him. Bloodbane had been safe between the front line and the backline, and no one had expected a giant to suddenly create a new path through. As the giant lifted his foot, a young woman stepped in front of him. She appeared to be wearing the ragged clothing of a commoner. She threw out her arms to either side like she would block the giant with her body.
The giant’s foot slammed down and then struck some kind of invisible layer. The woman flinched like she had been struck, but then she stood back up. The perplexed giant lifted its club and then slammed it down. Once again, it seemed to strike a barrier that wasn’t there. A trickle of blood fell down the woman’s nose, but she remained holding on.
Another woman came up next to her. She held up her hand toward the giant.
“Serve me!” She ordered.
The giant gave a laugh, but the laugh suddenly stopped, and it shook its head as if confused.
“I said… serve me!” She yelled again.
It took a step back, its hand loosening on the club. At that moment, Andromeda reached. She sliced the ankle as she passed, causing the giant to fall to one knee. She then jumped up the side of a build, pushed off of it, and slammed her blade into the giant’s throat.
As bloodshot up like a fountain, raining down on Bloodbane and the two mysterious women who had saved him, Bloodbane saw more people appearing. It was like they were all appearing from nowhere. These were citizens. These were the ones hiding in the inner city, waiting for a chance to strike back. With the door closed, the chance had come, and every person had come from their hidden chambers and basements in full force. A horn blew, and suddenly a ragged group of soldiers who had held out since two days prior charged into the enemy.
As the undead and monsters were routed, Bloodbane finally gave in to his exhaustion, passing out unconscious.