With the malacrum dagger in my hand, I didn’t immediately join the attack. Instead, I waited for the right moment. As I did so, I activated my dungeon points and rearranged my skills once again. I warned the girls that the knife in his hand wouldn’t kill them, allowing them to act more boldly. The message quickly spread to the girls on Deedee’s side as well.
While I was setting us up for victory, Deedee had finally made her move. With the sword in her hands, Demon Lord Aberis had become much more interested in her presence. His eyes were focused on her, an insolent grin on his face. To her credit, Deedee kept a calm demeanor that seemed unaffected by his dark gaze. She threw back her glare and gazed at him defiantly. It looked rather cool. I wish I knew how she did that.
Aberis attacked, and the two exchanged several blows. With the pressure and restraint of the other girls though, his movements were limited, and she was able to keep up with him. That momentum could change in an instant. They were just feeling each other out again. Once skills started flying, it was anyone’s guess where things would go. The entire battle could flip in an instant. We had already lost three girls. Celeste and Shao were dead, while Lydia was out of commission.
I touched her and used spatial magic to send her a distance away, where Raissa was. We didn’t allow Raissa to be in the battle. She was pregnant with my kid, after all. While the Tibults ran the army, Raissa’s job was corpse collection. She had plenty of sneaking skills. She was no assassin like Shao, but she was a survivor. She went out where the fighting had ended and fetched back people, who could then be resurrected.
Although a resurrected person couldn’t rejoin the fight immediately as Calypso had managed with her dungeon, they could rest behind the walls of Chalm, and if push came to shove, add to the defense of the city. If, for example, we managed to kill Aberis, but his army survived, those extra reinforcements could give the city time to hold out. It was just one of the many possibilities we had to prepare for. Either way, we had learned from Calypso as well as overseas that the potential to resurrect allies was a powerful gift in winning a war, and I intended to use that gift to its fullest.
Deedee finally pulled out her ultimate weapon. I finished up with what I was doing and then prepared to lend my aid. We also sent Slave Communications, letting the other girls know what was coming next. The truth was that we weren’t certain what was about to happen. It was another untested attack with an unknown result. It could kill Deedee. It might even destroy her soul.
It had been some time since I had last played with combination skills. Any skill you currently had could be mixed with external mana, and it’d cause it to form a new skill. Any individual only had the power to do this once per mana type. However, the girls had discovered that if you used multiple external mana sources, then you can create still other skills. We had access to spirit fire, miasma, fairy dust, and Gaia. There might be other sources, but I hadn’t discovered them yet.
For the strongest ability, one could combine all four. That’s what Deedee pulled out right then. It was a set of all four mana sources which were gathered prior. She broke open the containers and immediately pooled the mana into her strike. That strike was Final Blow. There was no saying what Final Blow, one of the most sacrificing attacks of the True Hero, would do when supported by four different mana sources.
“Death Strike!” Deedee cried out as she gave her attack.
Although combination skills were powerful, and a helpful skill when necessary, I hadn’t bothered to develop them. It made more sense to gain power by spending our time leveling. Any interesting thing we unlocked using combination was a thing of pure luck. I didn’t like having fights depend on luck. One might ask why I didn’t have every girl use every mana source and unlock every skill, and the answer to that was simple. How could I predict which skill would be useful? Even if I did come up with a more powerful attack, I could get those just as easily levelling up. Who says a more powerful attack would even be useful in a future desperate situation?
Besides, if a level 30 skill developed a powerful combination skill, then wouldn’t a level 90 skill develop an even more powerful combination skill? By wasting all of our skill slots, I’d be restricting everyone’s abilities. Thus, I had to leave it to situations like this, where the result of combining the skills could only be guessed, and not certain. Naturally, we hadn’t planned to get to this point, but fighting Aberis truly had been more difficult than I had ever thought possible.
Although Deedee’s attack was what we were hedging our bets on, the other girls attacked as well to increase the likelihood of it succeeding. They each used their strongest attack, and I was no different. When we all attacked, Lord Aberis had some kind of repelling shield. He launched it now, but this time our attacks were far more brutal. We were going to force our way through his defenses.
“You’re all going to die!” He screamed as a half dozen attacks landed on him.
Only two weapons managed to slice through his shield. The first was Deedee’s sword, supported by her death strike. The second was me, using the malacrum dagger and the same skill Shao liked to use, Backstab. I never used Backstab before. It wasn’t my style. I also didn’t use daggers normally. However, it felt like a suiting attack for the situation. It came from Demon Knight’s level 15. That didn’t seem like a knightly ability… but they were demons after all.
I didn’t power it with external mana though. There was no saying what the attack would turn into. It really was a gamble Deedee took. It was one that could easily kill her. We both couldn’t afford to die to take this gamble, so she took on the burden while I supported her. In the end, it was an ability called Death Strike. Neither of us knew exactly what it meant until it landed on him.
To make it land, my attack struck first. His eyes popped open in shock as her sword sliced through his defensive shield. He was so focused on her, that my Backstab worked. He let out a shriek as he was stabbed in the back with a malacrum dagger. It would have done a lot more damage if it had been Shao doing this, but there was no use crying over that now.
The distraction was just enough, and the sword struck as well. With the malacrum striking his back, and the silvthril in the front, it was truly a brutal hit. Which was why we were shocked when a force field seemed to strike us. Everyone was thrown back by a massive wave. It felt like getting struck by a bus, and I had to heal myself before I was able to stand again. For Deedee, the attack was far more damaging.
“You… are going to regret that.” A voice came from the epicenter.
We all stare in disbelief as a disheveled demon lord stood there. His eyes had turned black, and his skin looked charred black. He looked more dead than alive.
“How can you still be alive?” Terra shouted out.
“Heh, you think I’d seek out silvthril and malacrum weapons if I’d be vulnerable to them?” He sneered, his skin hissing like it was burning. “Then again… I didn’t expect that Death Strike. To think you would use a death curse on me. That’s a very high-level skill. It seems you have more secrets up your sleeves. When I win, I will make you all my slaves and learn all of your secrets!”
“Death curse? S-so you’re dying?”
“Hehe… true… eh…” He grabbed his stomach for a second and then righted himself.
The black burning seemed to resonate from where Deedee had struck. It had grown to cover most of his chest and reach his neck, but there it had stopped. It seemed to undulate like it was being healed as quickly as it was progressing. He looked to be in a lot of pain. We all started to feel some hope. That’s when he exploded into motion once again. His target was extremely obvious. He was going for Miki. If he succeeded in killing her, there is no saying where his soul would go. He’d be able to resurrect himself again, even with the dungeon covering him.
“You won’t!” Salicia attacked.
He caught her sword with the palm of his hand. It caught in, but he headbutted her. Then spun her over. He took the sword from her hand and then slammed it into her abdomen. She let out a cry as she was pinned to the ground.
“Back off!” Carmine bashed her shield into him, preventing him from doing a killing blow on her sister.
He slugged her shield so hard his hand dislocated. Her shield cracked and then exploded. She stumbled back over a black goo that had appeared under her. Tendrils shot out and grabbed her. She tried to wrestle them, but they quickly bound her. With her heavy armor, she couldn’t fight them off as they dragged her down. The Demon Lord Aberis had already moved on.
“Deek…” Deedee called to me.
She was on her feet with healing, but her expression was gaunt and it was clear her body couldn’t handle much more. She had a look in her eye. I gave a slight nod. I began casting a spell. She tossed me the sword before turning to Aberis. As for her, she attacked Aberis, but she had no weapon on her at all.
“I’ll enjoy eating your soul!” Aberis grabbed Deedee by the neck as she raced at him and picked her up.
He began to use Absorb on her, sucking up her life force. At this point, he had stopped holding back. He was no longer trying to protect his body. We had reached the end. It was do or die. As for him, he was going to kill Miki no matter what it took. As for Deedee, she was just an appetizer.
“I’m going to torture them all,” Aberis whispered in Deedee’s ear.
A small smile formed on Deedee’s face. It was only at that moment that Aberis, in his rage, had realized she had run at him with no attack and no weapon.
“Self-destruct,” She yelled.
He tried to throw her, but just at that moment, Terra in her golem wrapped her arms around them both, holding them together. There was an explosion. Deedee’s final attack was a sacrifice. She burned her life to destroy him. It’d cause damage to her soul and it obliterated her body. This kind of attack permanently weakened someone.
Even if she could be resurrected, she’d never be as strong as she once was. It was that kind of attack. It wasn’t even at a level of regaining experience. She had burned away a piece of herself, and that power would never return. Her levels wouldn’t drop, but her status would. From then on, Deek would be much stronger than her. She had sacrificed that edge.
As the blast which shook the battlefield cleared. Terra had been thrown back. Her armor fell away in pieces, but the girl herself managed to stumble out, still alive. Terra’s defensive ability couldn’t be ignored. Deedee was no longer there. Aberis was gone as well.
I let out a breath of relief as I finished my task. Then, a hand erupted from the ground. Aberis climbed out of the dirt. His hair had been burnt off, and he looked like a skeleton, with most of his flesh desiccated or withered. As soon as he ripped free of the earth he had buried himself in, he began to stumble toward Miki.
“He-he’s still alive!” Miki cried out.
The battle wasn’t over.