Chapter 187 – [Day 208] – “Opportunities”
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∼ Day 208 ∼

 

I drew my eyes from the unfortunate halfling who was no longer but a smear on the ground, dragging my gaze towards the direction hence the near boulder-sized rock had come tumbling from. What I saw was both not and exactly what I had been expecting at the same time.

 

It was the leader of the gorilla beastkin alright, but his presence and appearance were above and beyond my expectations. From the two-armed gorilla beastkin that were somewhat large in figure than an ordinary gorilla, to the four-armed officer who towered over his brethren more than two times the size, enough to rival even an ogre in size.

 

But the lord? He was in an entirely different league.

 

Albino fur framing a figure so massive that he could've wrestled an elephant and match it with size alone. From his sides, not two, not four, but six arms extended out which looked more like battering rams than actually arms and fists. His chest was bare with taut muscles that strained underneath his leathery skin as he lobbed car-sized rocks one after another, occasionally breaking his unending artillery hellfire to let out a thundering roar and banging his fists on his chest which sounded like massive war drums and thunder.

 

He was outfitted in partial armor, pauldrons, gauntlets, greaves, and with the crown the framed the sides and top of his head, it quickly became clear from how it rather looked like his armor was made from rough ore as opposed to shiny and polished armor, that it was of no ordinary make or quality.

 

It was as if he had simply cut ores and strapped it to his hulking figure, making him look like some king of the mountains.

 

Lastly, the sight was completed by a countenance that was marred by one ghastly scar running the length of his face from brow to chin.

 

From his appearance and figure, he radiated not just a powerful presence, but like he was force incarnate.

 

Codex of course failed to get his information against whatever superior means he has to block out divination, but to my surprise, the system itself offered me something as I merely directed my intent at him.

 

[Borsch Cragmar, Lord of Impetus]

[Heirloom of Momentum]

 

"Lord of Impetus, huh... - that makes his aura make much more sense," I thought.

 

My gaze fell to the twin gauntlets of silver encasing the beastkin's hands, my connection to the power of Sanctioned Lords and Relics instantly letting me know exactly what it was I was looking at.

 

I watched the scene of battle with pointed observation, not letting my attention slip for even the slightest of moments so that I could take everything in. I didn't need to wait long before the other person of my mindfulness made herself known. 

 

Her presence hadn't actually even occurred to me before I felt the radiating waves of magical power suddenly flow off one knew face atop the fortifications of the halfling settlement. Whether or not she had been standing there all along, or had first appeared now, I surprisingly had no idea.

 

Compared to the hulking monster of a beastkin, the halfling lacked any form of an imposing visage or awe-inspiring appearance. Instead, the short and petite woman was more modest than anything, wearing nothing more than a flowy dress that seemed more at place in a garden rather than a battlefield.

 

Red hair and a pleasant demeanor, she gave off the image of a cute and innocent young woman.

 

However, making for her lacking in the impressive department, her presence was like a blanket smothering the surrounding mountains all around. Her mind was ever-present, like an all-seeing eye, and for a moment, I worried that she might've even discovered me and my party if not for me having ramped my shadow magic up an entire notch to keep us hidden. And that was without her even consciously looking after us from this far away.

 

"A mage of the mind..." I thought to myself as ideas began spinning in my head accompanied by a scheming smile of opportunity.

 

I dared not even attempt to use Codex on her, especially because she was a being of the mind. With her Sanctioned Lady status alone, it would be most improbable that Codex of its current level would be able to break through her defenses. So include the fact that divination with a type of magic and technique adherently tied to the mind. As such, it would certainly be like painting a target on my back if I ever were to even try.

 

But at least the system was gracious enough to grant some information.

 

[Maeve Wander, Lady of Ardour]

[Heirloom of Rapture]

 

I watched as the short woman gathered her forces. From what I could see, it was obvious that she what at her last straw. Her fighting force was barely hanging on from the garage of the beastkin, and whatever retaliation they had attempted, it seemed that the gorilla men with the distance and ability to swiftly could easily avoid whatever means her troops might have. The skirmishing and guerilla tactics that the beastmen possessed were simply a hurdle they could not overcome.

 

From what I could see, it appeared that her magic and the magic of her troops were heavily based on affecting the mental state of others, as her title suggests. That's makes it easy to explain why the beastkin has her on the ropes, especially because those savage apes seemed to have some kind of enrage ability, causing them to have a perfect measure of balancing out her calming and dehabiliting mental magics. 

 

But even so, that wasn't to say that the halflings were completely powerless against their assault as even with her disadvantages she and her forces had managed to take out a good third of the beastkin's army as even the slightest of momentary lapse were enough to render the large brute completely defenseless. Their minds shattered and their bodies riddled with wounds as they hurt themselves or attacked their brethen under the influence of the diminutive people.

 

It was clear that this was her last-ditch effort, however.

 

And now it came down to the final battle where both leaders would engage.

 

For me, this was the perfect scenario.

 

***

 

The surroundings were silent, deafeningly so after the break in the constant bombardment.

 

Maeve, her face grim rather than the cheery positivity that she usually displayed, stared up at the towering ape as his hulking form could be seen radiating hostility towards her from the incline of the nearest mountain.

 

Like her, he too was flanked by officers. Although she had two captains and nearly twenty officers in her ranks compared to the brueltar's one captain and four officers, her units still didn't hold a stick to their combat power.

 

Her units had of course been a lot cheaper, but oftentimes quality meant much more than quantity.

 

"This must be fate, Maeve. Must it not?" The deep and sonorous of the brueltar sounded out as the trees parted for his passage, his large figure coming out into the open at the base of the mountain. "The Undaunted Heavens truly have a dark sense of humor, pitting you against me after what your elders did to my clan."

 

Her hand clenched tightly, the whites of her knuckle telling tales of how she felt.

 

"Let's get this over with Borsch, I have no wish to bring up old history with a mindless savage such as you." She retorted back a bit weakly, not really being able to meet his gaze.

 

Borsch's eyes glinted with cunning and mirth as he gloated at her feeble attempt at jap. Although the beastkin might've been a savage like she said, the intelligent warrior was anything but mindless and stupid. He had not been named a Lord if not he had the smarts to lead.

 

"What? Has the princess lost her sass?" He mocked, enjoying the hurt on Maeve's face that showed her guilt clearly. 

 

"Enough!" She scowled. "I cannot undo what has been done, but I will not die here tonight to some brute."

 

Her words were hollow, and she knew it. What her people had done had truly been an unspeakable act, but as a halfling of the Eternal Wanderers, it was her burden to bear the consequences of her family's actions. And even if she tried to weakly lash back with her words, she was not going to give up.

 

Borsch had been about to speak again, but Maeve used this time to launch her attack. She could not take another second talking with him as the memories that had been dug up were already enough to make her heart quake and magic waver.

 

A loud metallic clang rang out as Borsch was suddenly wearing a pained expression as he clutched his head in obvious pain, his gauntlets ringing out as they clanged against the rocky crown atop his head. He briefly fell to the ground, still clutching his head, but as his aura surged, he shook his head violently and looked at Maeve with bloodshot eyes.

 

"Fine! If that's how you want it, then I'll make sure that you feel even just a tenth of the suffering that my brethren endured - you damned ankle biters!"

 

"Fire!" He roared with a booming voice that echoed like thunder against the mountainside.

 

He turned to grab a hold of a rock to squish the little maiden, but as he realized there were none of the anticipated sounds of screams and destructions, he cast a glance at the halflings out in the open.

 

They had all adopted fighting stances and were ready to scatter, but confusion quickly trailed onto their faces as nothing really happened.

 

No flying rocks, no bombardment, death and destruction, no nothing.

 

The entire forest and mountains surrounding the weald was entirely silent for some reason or another, and as he realized the units stationed to surround the settlement were missing, a creeping dread spread up his broad back. But he could only curse as the halflings were already on the move, mind magic pulsating in the surroundings as both he and the officers as his side was assaulted by unimaginable pain caused by his mind's defense being shredded.

 

He shook off the effects only to see that the world before him was changing.

 

Dark shadows billowed out from the forest as if they had been stirred like sand in water. Borsch finally recognized what was happening what the fate of his forces must've been. But he didn't have any more time to take stock of everything as mere moments before everything was consumed in darkness, his danger sense alerted him to eminent death headed straight for him. 

 

If not for the halfling mage's magic having wreaked havoc on his the calm of his mind, he might've been able to dodge the attack in time, but as he was, he could only let out a bellow of pain as he felt something embedded itself into his chest and tore his insides asunder.

 

He gripped whatever it was that just impaled his chest with a firm grasp and found it attached to an arm of a figure in the darkness, his face slowly coming into sight as the shadow parted for their master.

 

"That one is for the wall." Xavier grinned at the growling beastkin.

 

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