In Another World With Just Monika Chapter 75
The [Boom Tube] brought us to a clearing near the old capital. And then we were almost immediately attacked by a pack of Long-horned Wolves.
"Dang it Monika!"
/"Hey, I don't have any control over what's on the other side of the [Boom Tube] when I'm firing blindly, okay? There's no GPS on this world, I'm making exit points by triangulating off known landmarks."/
Monika had very precise directions towards the Ortlinde mansion from the Silver Moon Inn in Reflet, and our flight plan towards it allowed her to gauge the straight line distance. From there, she using that distance as a base unit, she could create an acute triangular grid to cover the known kingdom map. Then subdividing those triangles into more accurate exit points.
/"Although it's not really much of a problem, is it?"/ she added, as Elze and Yae surged into action and basically just ripped through the monster beasts. /"At what point do you feel like being useful again, Player?"/
And then that's when the Night Baron, a massive black-armored spectral knight ambushed us from behind. My [Air Sense] gave me just enough warning to keep from being bisected through the hips. I lunged at Linze and brought her down to the ground. Clutching her in my arms, I rolled us through the grass and out from stabbing range.
"DANG IT, MONIKA!" I screamed out as I helped Linze back up to her feet. Elze had to leave Yae to fend off all those other wolves on her own to stand between us and the enemy.
/" I have no excuse."/
Even though Long-horned Wolves were not normally a threat anymore to Linze and Elze, and much less to Yae's lethally precise sword, their presence along with the Night Baron tremendously complicated the issue. Any of them knocking us down or grabbing a limb at the wrong time would allow the Night Baron the opening to just chop us in two with the massive broadsword it was swing as if weightless.
/"No, this is probably YOUR fault, Player."/ Monika said idly as I dodged. /"Monsters apparently are attracted to areas of high magical concentrations. They are not, however, mindless so they stay away from walled towns and cities well enough. But looking at you is like a buffet of magical power that will enable them to grow much much stronger."/
"I'm not even sure that's actually a thing," I replied as I stabbed a Long-horned Wolf in the throat. Standing behind me, back to back, Linze slammed a fire bolt into another monster wolf. "Linze, is that a thing?"
"I'm not sure, Mister Zah. Although a lot of monster meat is inedible or even poisonous to humans, they don't have a problem eating each other."
Yae and Elze slammed into the Night Baron from opposite directions. Elze's fist smashed against its shield while Yae's sword met its blade. A small impact shockwave of air erupted around them.
The Night Baron didn't even budge. It was a massive empty suit of armor, but it moved with strange agility and solidity as if it had weight and balance conferred by a master warrior inside. Since it lacked a head, it was a Dullahan.
A headless horseman or a knight that carried its head in its arms, looking for a suitable neck for itself. Harbingers of death, or so the legend goes. But this one didn't have a head yet clearly was able to perceive and attack things just fine.
Elze and Yae disengaged as it swept around itself with a blade about as long as a normal human was tall.
And then Linze and I switched places, still back to back. "[Aqua Cutter!]"
An explosive flame shot rocked the Night Baron back, while the follow-up huge ice blade finished knocked it off its feet. The mystic armor wobbled ready to tumble back, but then steadied itself, with one forceful foot back. Again we felt the sound and weight of it, and the air quivered with the impression of tightly constrained potential energy.
"This thing is even magic resistant!" I cried out.
Meanwhile the Long-horned Wolves continued to circle around to cut off our retreat. I scowled. Tactics. These monster wolves were behaving far too intelligently.
"Monika, I know you didn't plan this. But how would this thing know where we would appear?"
/"It didn't. It's a monster that exists where it is needed. Everyone who has to make an expedition to the Old Capital has to deal with the Night Baron, and no matter how many times it is defeated it always comes back. It's a *ghost*, Player. One that refuses exorcism."/
"I see." I licked my lips. The course was clear, then.
I slapped an open palm towards the Night Baron "[Air Wall]!" knocking it back. Then I turned around, grabbed Linze in a bridal carry, and shouted "EVERYONE, BREAK THROUGH! INTO THE CITY!"
"Mister Zah!" she eeped.
A single step had me bursting through the clearing. Long-horned Wolves howled and pounced to meet us, their jaws wide open.
To the left. To the right. They died. As Elze and Yae swiftly matched pace to protect us squishy mages in the party.
And quickly we were in sight of the old capital. There were more wolves in front of us. THAT was the reason we were ambushed, monsters had already moved in to make this place their own. No matter where we would go, we would have faced them.
I gestured with my chin to a tall free-standing rampart and tower. "There!"
The pack Long-horned Wolves howled, following at full speed behind us. But compared to the open clearing, the confines of the city would mean we could face them in smaller numbers. The cramped streets technically would also inhibit our own movement, but that only applied for adventurers who couldn't kick-jump off walls.
Elze and Yae were agile and physically powerful enough for that. Meanwhile, I [Jet Bootsu!]'ed right up to the top floor with Linze still in my arms.
Linze had no hesitation either as soon as I set her down. She pointed her wand down at the city edges and cast [Flame Wall]. The Long-horned Wolves howled in pain, and others tried to circle around looking for the edge. But the [Flame Wall], unlike [Ice Wall], was a mobile barrier.
The Night Baron simple ran through, completely unintimidated by fire, and a deep echoing roar issued forth from inside its empty helm.
"[Aqua Cutter BLADE TORNADO!]" I yelled out.
Countless sickle-shaped blades of ice erupted from my palms, growing larger over the distance, creating a perfect conical killing zone through which nothing could survive.
The Night Baron simply swung its sword, again and again, and just smashed through the barrage. It was never really alive in the first place.
"Bullhockies," I breathed.
Undead that could feel no pain, knows no fear, would never get tired, and could cleave through whole infantry formations with every swing. One that would never truly be defeated. I could see now why no one felt it was worth it for the kingdom to send expeditions into their old capital. This thing would laugh at armies, if it could exhibit humor.
Soldiers were too valuable to waste on trinkets. Adventurers knew what they were getting into. Regular subjugation of the ruins were necessary to keep monsters from taking root and multiplying. But as long as it existed, no one could ever try to resettle this place and cut the problem off at the root. A thousand years despite everyone's best efforts and all the [Light] magic that they knew, they could never permanently remove it.
"Is it some form of curse?" I wondered. "Did the old capital fall to war and then they, in spitefulness, decided to deny this place to the enemy? Maybe civil war?"
"Foul Necromancy," Linze whispered with a cute scowl. "Doesn't make it right at all."
Elze and Yae yelled back and charged to meet the Night Baron, and from our elevated position now Linze and I could bombard the Long-horned Wolves with impunity to keep them from interfering.
Yae's sword, when reinforced by her spirit, could split boulders without damaging its own edge. Her strikes failed to do anything to the Night Baron's armor. Elze's punch could go through thick tree trunks. Her blows completely failed to make the Night Baron's shield shake.
But at least both were mobile enough to keep from suffering any injury. If it had simply been any normal enemy, Elze could have destroyed and then Yae finished it off with a stab through the eyes. But there was nothing inside to stab!
We would have to destroy the armor itself to destroy the coherence of this abiding warrior's grudge.
/"Should I ramp up Elze's [Boost]?"/ Monika asked.
"That would mean Elze would have to stop attacking for a while to repeatedly stack her [Null] ability. Yae would get overwhelmed." I took out my sword. "I'll have to do down there. Cover me."
"Mister Zah, wouldn't it be best if we killed off all the Long-horned Wolves first?"
"Good point." I put a finger to the side of my headphones. "Elze, can you hold on for a little longer?"
"We can handle it!" she shouted back.
"Linze, wall off the left side please," I ordered. Linze nodded and set up an [Ice Wall] so she could focus on defending the right side.
Then I touched the rim of my VR headset with the tips of my fingers and Monika and I shouted together "[MONIKA BEAM! - PULSE MODE!]"
Rapid fire lasers burst out from the middle of my brows. Each shot burned through a Long-horned Wolf's skull. Through my HUD I could see each wolf marked with a red targeting triangle. I only had to glance at it, and then it would fall and the target marker turned gray.
As I cast my gaze towards the right side of the battlefield like an angry god, a thin violet beam brushed past the Night Baron. The laser, being mainly heat, did nothing to the spectral armor.
And then, with Linze's help, the remaining wolves on the right were even more swiftly taken down. We had to kill at around forty of them. My vision returned to normal.
I looked down towards Elze and Yae. Their shoulders were heaving a little more visibly, taking deep breaths to stave off battle fatigue. But the Night Baron didn't give them any respite. Unlike a human, which would normally pause for a little while and adjust to the battle tempo, it was always attacking something.
A single hit would mean death. There was no blocking or parrying that massive broadsword. Yae ducked and weaved away from its slashes as Elze tried to strike at its unprotected back.
Her fist smashed against it and left a dent. All it did was to force the Night Baron forward, its sword tip pushing unexpectedly far and grazing at Yae's face. A part of her side hair fringes were cut off that sword was also impossibly sharp taking the little white bow with it and leaving a thin red line on her cheek.
"Oh crap! Yae! Sorry!" Elze gasped from her perch clinging onto the Night Baron's back, her hands on the rim of its headless neck opening.
"I am fine, Elze-dono! Please continue!"
She ducked and rolled away. Elze began hammering away at the back of the Night Baron, trying to sever its arms from its shoulders via blunt force trauma not very successfully, but possible eventually. It roared in frustration.
It reached up to swat at its own back, and if Elze was caught in between she would splatter from its monstrous strength. Elze dropped down, kicked at the back of its knees and with a move she learned from Yae, threw it down to the ground.
"Well done, Elze-dono!"
Then in a move reminiscent of breakdancing, the Night Baron stabbed its fingers onto the ground and kicked out at the same time, pushing its whole body off the ground. The toecap of its boots caught Elze in the midsection, driving the air from her with a pained "Oof!" and flinging her away.
And then lightning crashed down from a clear sky.