Ten Wolves Enter – Chapter 72
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Not only a new month but a new year as well. Going to thank everyone on my Patreon because work decided I didn't need to be scheduled all that much and you all got me enough to pay rent. Anyway if you want to check out my Patreon you can read ahead even if you don't want to sub as there are two free chapters there. Beyond that a dollar gets you two more chapters beyond that and five or more goes all the way to chapter 104.

Morning dawns bright and early, not a cloud in the sky. Ever since Jan and the others had left Ace and the others had been putting the finishing touches on their defense. The walls went higher and the moats lower. The only way into the dungeon now was through a straight corridor about the size of a two-lane road that faced the forest. They didn’t want to take the chance that the wolves would choose to flank them.

Besides that, everyone had been spending as much time as possible within the final circle to take advantage of the power regen. It wasn’t much, but all of them had raised their active skills a level or two. Some of the people had even gotten enough to finish out some paths. Now though, it was just a matter of waiting.

Ace has gathered everyone about halfway to the entrance. Today is the day and by Jim’s calculations the wolves would be here around noon. A little odd that they would attack by day. His best guess is this is to help the lesser shadow wolf.

While a shadow creature attacking in the middle of the day might seem odd, his skills all tell him that is actually the best time for them. As the saying goes, the brightest light casts the darkest shadows. Now if it had been a darkness wolf or some such, it would be different. But for now, everyone is just thankful that they don’t need to light the entire area.

The sun climbs higher in the sky until it reaches the peak. As if this was a signal, numerous wolves flow out of the forest. At the front though not for long are some wolves with large slabs of stone covering their weak points. Right behind them and quickly overtaking the stone wolves are the much smaller wind wolves. They are being led by the largest wolf, the pack’s father. Despite being a wind wolf like the others his size far outclasses even the next type people notice, the dire wolves. The magical extension of a normal wolf, the dire wolves are all chest high behemoths and yet still looking well proportioned. They guard the last member of the pack. A normal enough looking wolf if it wasn’t for the shadows wafting off her and fur, which is a shifting shade of black and gray.

From the back row of the defenders a girl armed with a bow yells out, “50 wind wolves, 38 stone wolves, 7 dire wolves, and 1 lesser shadow wolf for a total of 96 wolves!” 

Ace nods, “Thanks, Annie. Now you all heard her, Jim’s count was right, so we are in for a tough fight! Since Annie’s skill has confirmed this I want everyone to stick to the primary plan. Doctor and Kellinger, you both retreat to the side wall now. The rest of you remember their position and if any of you get hurt badly or feel unwell retreat to them! You’ve all been sworn in, so I don’t want to lose a single soul here.”

Kellinger grumbled about being on the sideline but had to agree with Ace’s decision. With his ability to shape the earth he would be able to save more people by lifting them out of harm’s way and up to Doctor so he can heal them.

When they get to the wall, he can’t help but take a moment to admire his work. For the rest of the walls everyone had done some work, but the corridor was all him. Three days of nonstop work and the use of the only mana regen potion anyone had found yet to make it. Two walls made of stone and silky smooth, they are masterful examples of what magic can do even at lower levels. He had even made them bigger at the top by a slight amount, so the walls had a slight overhang to them. If the wolves couldn’t jump over it in one go, they just weren’t getting over it.

Back with the others, the first barrage of ranged attacks goes out. Arrows carved by the last remaining carpenter fly out. Though while Jimmy’s work was decent, wooden arrows aren’t all that effective against stone and the smaller wind wolves are more than able to dodge. A few of the people do have skills to boost their accuracy or damage, but for now they hold off. Better to save their resources for defense.

The wolves get closer and a second wave of arrows falls upon them. This time the wolves are close enough for passive skills to really show their stuff. Arrows under the correction of skills are shifted slightly before release. Almost like magic they find gaps in the stone wolves defense or land right where a wind wolf dodges. Still not enough to bring any of the wolves down, but in a battle of attrition every little bit counts.

At this point Ace gives an order and allows the archers to fire freely. Some of the more skilled can now really let go, creating a rain of arrows, though these have little effect. On the other end is Jim. He is standing back with bow drawn, just waiting for the right moment. Then it comes and with the slightest movement of his fingers releases the bowstring. The arrow, made through the cooperation of Kellinger and Jimmy with a stone tip shaped right into the shaft, streaks out. With an almost imperceptible whisper it flies past the frontline and sinks into the eye of one of the closest stone wolves, dropping it dead.

With the first wolf dead they all howl out and the rest of the stone wolves pick up the pace. Now in a full out charge, they close in on the frontline when a field of thorny vines springs up around them. The stone wolves pure mass allows them to continue on but they can’t help but be slowed down by this. Especially when a few of them have the thorns wiggle in between their rock defenses.

At the front-line, ten people brace their wooden tower shields. While there isn’t much technique put into their construction, the door-like planks of wood are able to hold against the collision. A couple of the originals creaked and showed signs of cracking, but Ace had positioned them between the later models and so held up.

To the sides ten of the wind wolves ignore the frontline and attempt to flank. With the assistance from their wind magic they easily scale the outer walls but are stymied by Kellinger’s stone fortifications. Unable to make a quick flanking attack, they continue along the outside of the corridor and make it into the inner ring.

Back at the battle, the father wolf howls at them to attack, but they hesitate. When they were with the rest of the pack it was easy to do what was needed, but this close to the portal? It called to some primal instinct, the desire to advance and grow. Maybe if they had been born in a world of magic, the wolves would have been able to resist, but that just isn’t happening here. They take one final glance back at the pack and then run into the dungeon’s portal.

Once through, they are greeted by a pair of goats. Not much of a challenge for ten magical wolves, in fact it only takes a handful of wind blades to bring the two down. The wolves now inside are no longer drawn to advance deeper quite as strongly, and so they settle in to feast.

Of course being in a dungeon they don’t have much of a chance to take a bite before the goats fade away, leaving only a single portion of meat. This angers them and they let out a savage howl and the oldest in the group eats the piece in one bite.

Now pulled by their anger at whatever has taken their prey, the wind wolves charge through the corridors, wiping out the next room of four goats. Once again the goats fade away and a couple more wolves get a bite to eat, but this doesn’t quench their rage.

Into the vine room and for the first time since entering, the wolves face a challenge. From the underbrush the kobolds dash out and jump on the backs of two wolves. With a death grip on their daggers, the two start to saw away at their unwilling mount’s necks. The other wind wolves are quick to respond, but not before the two that got ambushed had died. Then there were only seven wolves left.

Seven wolves? They looked around. Where was the other? Then they look up. Above them, the assassin vine had grabbed the frontmost wolf while the others had gotten distracted by the kobolds.

Now noticed it reaches down with a few more vines to grab some more snacks. Now alert to the danger, only one more wolf falls to the monster. Freaked out by the plant, the six remaining wolves hug the walls to get past it and run deeper into the dungeon.

Over the next four rooms, they regain some of their confidence as the small groupings of goats are still no threat to them. In the next room they no longer outnumber them. Not worrying about this the wolves stream into the big goat room and attack.

With all the noise they had been making, the goats knew something was coming and were ready. One comes in from the side and rams into the last wolf through the entrance and keeps on going until it slams into the wall. The other five wind wolves don’t notice this though and continue their attack on the rest of the goats. Air blades whipping out ahead of them as they close in to finish their targets with their teeth and claws.

The five goats have a hard time fighting this combo, but they hold out long enough. The sixth wolf is now dead against the side wall. Angered even more by this the wolves soon kill that last goat but the damage is done. There are only five wolves left in the group.

A little skittish now but still angry, they move into the next room. Seeing it empty, they take a moment to nip a few berries before they continue. Though as they enter the kobold room, a trap goes off. It wasn’t exactly well hidden, but the wolves didn’t know to look for traps in the first place.

From up on the ceiling, a small log swings down and knocks over the first two wolves. If they had been humans, the log would have likely kept going but with the size difference the wolves instead take a direct hit to the chest, stopping it.

Then, as the rest cautiously enter the room, a storm of hail pelts down on them. From the back of the room, the ice mage kobold and healer kobold have cast a spell together under the orders of the leader. Whereas before the ice mage could only manage some icicles, she is able to create a much more impressive spell with a mana infusion from the healer.

The three wolves still on their feet decide this would be a good time to leave. Sadly, that option is taken away from them as they stumble over the hail on the floor. With the wolves controlled, the leader orders the goats and melee forward.

With a charge, the five goats take on the two wolves that had fallen for the trap while the melee goes at the other three. There isn’t much suspense to the fight though, as with magical support the poor wind wolves don’t stand a chance. The kobolds all cheer with the defeat of the wolves as Doyle watches on.

Though once the fight is finished, he turns his attention to something else. With a command, the system throws up a couple blue screens for his perusal.

{Wind Wolf (lv4) pattern acquired at lv4}

{Wind Wolf (lv4)

S[6] A[15] C[3] I[3] W[5] P[10]

Skills: Teamwork lv5, Bite lv3, Wind Blade lv1

Cost: World Energy[75]}

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