Having regrouped, the Queens Guard have positioned themselves to strike together. Weapons drawn they form a row ten across and as one stab forward with their swords. Instantly ten beams of sword light flash through the air, impacting against the mercenaries who are knocked off their feet by the impact. With the constant force of the Gravity Spear dragging at them they can't possibly brace themselves against this strike!
Three mercs slip and that's all it takes as they 'fall' towards their own leader, the enormous great sword wielding warrior.
With the front line in sudden disarray I immediately activate my infused mandibles, feeding my gravitational mana into them at a furious pace. The warriors might be struggling right now but those two mages at the back have maintained their footing, thankfully the kerfuffle at the front has pulled their eyes away from my magnificence for a moment, so I have an opening!
I don't know how these guys are able to block spells but that is something I surely want to learn! I mean, it makes sense that mages would be able to defend themselves against hostile magic, otherwise a magical battle would always be decided by whoever managed to cast first. I just hope the technique doesn't rely on their staves and is something I can achieve in my mind, perhaps the neglected external mana manipulation skill holds a clue?
With no eyes on me, I stealthily scuttle to my left, circling around the mercs whilst maintaining a twenty meter distance. Soon I reach a point where the two enemy mages are lined up, fire mage in front, wind mage behind, their elemental shields flickering with power.
The fire mage recovers from his distraction and turns back towards me, eyes flicking about until he sees my position, not to mention my brightly glowing purple mandibles! He tries to shout a warning as he thrusts his staff in my direction but it's too late!
As my mandibles flare with power the fire mage flinches instinctively, lowering his stance to a defensive posture. Very alert these guys, I have to give them credit.
His wariness does him little good when his ally slams directly into his back!
As the two shields, one of swiftly rotating air and the other of mana fuelled flame collide, the air erupts with a wave of heat as fire climbs into the sky. The two mages, caught completely by surprise don't have time to react before their elemental shields begin to shred each other, the fierce wind merging with flame and shooting out amongst their own allies.
The mercenaries, grouped together and off balance, are licked by searing tongues of flame borne on sharp winds from behind. Their voices begin to take on a note of panic as the situation begins to spiral out of their control. Sensing weakness the Guards roar as one and charge again!
Now is the time!
Leaping forth I dash towards the flailing mercs.
My XP! Come to me!
If I'm going to fight here then I'm going to get my reward for it dammit! There is no chance the Queen's Guard will leave these traitors alive, if they have to die I may as well gain something from it!
After a few seconds the mages take control of themselves and shut off their shield spells before staggering back to their feet. Just in time to see the monstrous ant rushing towards them with its jaws wide and alight with power!
CRUNCH! CRUNCH! CRUNCH!
Not willing to give them a moment of respite I snap down on them three times in rapid succession. The ethereal jaws crush the two mages together and they slump to the ground, reeling from the strike.
[Shattering Bite has reached level 3]
First on one then on the other I shower them with Piercing Chomps as they weakly try to fend me off with their staves. The traditional weakness of mages in close quarters seems to hold plenty true in this world though as their feeble efforts are unable to shake me off.
[You have slain level 36 Human Fire Mage Apprentice]
[You have slain level 34 Human Wind Mage Apprentice]
[You have gained experience]
[You have reached level 14]
Just I congratulate myself for the successful elimination of those threatening mages I notice the mercenary leader has charged towards me, massive blade poised overhead to strike!
Diamond carapace or no I do not want to take that thing head on!
The blade smashes into the stones with tremendous force, sending shards of rock flying everywhere and pinging off my carapace.
Not wanting to draw too much heat I hit the ground running and put some distance between me and the mercs as the rest of the Queens Guard close in, continuing to launch attacks as they do.
Since my business district is facing the right way anyhow…
POW! POW! POW! POW!
[Improved Acid shot has reached level 6]
Tilting my head slightly for a clear rear view I shower the enemy from behind with my restrictive acid, giving the bulky leader two shots since he seems a little too eager to move at the moment.
I stop construction on the Gravity Domain spell I'd been working on and let it dissolve within me as it doesn't look as if I'll be needing it right now. I can see ahead of me is a massive gate sitting astride the street, blocking our way through the wall and into the inner keep.
I mean, a wall doesn't do squat to keep me out but it still serves to slow down these humans.
Seeing our target up ahead I start to pull mana out of my Gravitation Mana Gland and compress it into the fearsome Gravity Bomb. It'll take a minute or two to charge up this sucker so I may as well start now.
The mercenaries have fallen into an ever more hopeless position, assaulted from the front, shot at from behind and with their two support mages dead they have no chance of fighting their way out against the furious Queens' Guard. Knowing they are dead already the mercenaries throw caution to the wind. Finally free of my Gravity spear they are able to unleash their skills to their fullest as they desperately try to take some soldiers down with them.
I figured a few would try and surrender but I guess not.
With the two sides battling to the death and pulling out all of their strength I scuttle to one side, into the shadows and look for an opportunity as I continue to charge my bomb. If I can sneak myself a little xp then I will but I've done more work than all of these soldiers combined so far, I'm not about to stick my neck out for the cause.
As they finally begin to fall a few of the mercenaries break and run, trying to dash into nearby buildings or down side streets and hopefully keep their lives. One unfortunate sap happens to flee right towards the little alley where I've tucked myself.
[You have slain level 38 Human Swordsman]
[You have gained experience]
Letting the body drop to the ground I consider the option of…. Well…. Eating him.
I mean…. I was a human before, for quite some time as well… Just. eating a human seems a little...
It's not cannibalism though, I'm not human now! Embrace the monster within, Anthony!
Checking my HP I can see that I'm not missing too much, and I still have my regeneration gland topped off and ready to go. I don't think I need to push myself too hard here.
If only there were more mercs who utilised monsters like the Sophos did. Then I'd be able to munch on that Biomass without worry.
I'd asked the Queen about how common the technique of core reconstitution was, or if it was known at all on the surface, as I'd been so impressed by Formo I'd assume everyone who could would leap at the chance to raise such powerful monsters and have them take the risks for you.
The technique is well known apparently, and not just here but all over the place. Whilst some mercenaries do take that path, some of them even going all in and taking the [Tamer] class tree, there are a few considerations that keep it from being common. Firstly, cores are money to mercs, using even one of them to turn into a monster that you then have to feed and raise before it can fight is troublesome. Then, if you want to raise it properly you need to keep feeding meat from the Dungeon, which you either have to pay for (expensive) or constantly go into the Dungeon (dangerous).
Not to mention, to ensure it evolves well, you need to feed it even more cores! Literally throwing money into its mouth!
To the surface races, who rely on cores for enchanting, it isn't worth it except for the very wealthy, or some nations who keep guardian beasts. The practice works so well for the Sophos for a few reasons, they have such powerful minds that controlling monsters is quite easy for them, they live in the Dungeon itself so access to meat isn't hard and since they don't fight themselves they have little use for enchanted equipment, thus having reduced demand for cores.
I did notice the Queen hadn't mentioned anything about core engineering, which combined with their powerful minds, is the key reason for the Sophos' grand success in this field. I didn't ask about it though, since perhaps that particular skill may not be common knowledge.
With the mercenaries finished off the Queen herself comes forward along with the villagers. The townsfolk were looking a little wild eyed at the level of devastation wrought on the nearby houses. They might have levelled up some fighting skills but seeing giant sword cuts in the faces of buildings was a little hard for them to swallow. As they catch sight of me however their eyes light up a little. Not sure exactly why but they seem to draw comfort from my presence.
And oh great. The priest is back. He rushes right up to me and begins speaking to the other villagers, no doubt extolling my mighty powers, graced upon me by the system or some such rubbish.
As the Queen draws closer, surrounded by her Guard she reaches out with the mind bridge.
[We have reached the gate but we have to get through quickly. If we delay they will have more time to gather troops from across the city! Quickly monster, do you have a way to get through the gate?!]
I check internally on my Gravity Bomb. It's cooking along nicely.
Not bothering to reply I walk slightly towards the gates and turn my mind fully to the task of compacting the mana as tightly as possible. A few seconds later the transformation occurs and the tightly backed sphere takes on the ominous black hole like appearance.
Without hesitation I open my mouth and blast out the Gravity Bomb which shrieks into life the moment it leaves me body. The piercing howl of the wind as it is sucked towards the bomb causes all of the humans nearby to cover their ears and even shatters the windows in nearby buildings.
When it impacts the gate with a sickening thud the ball expands outwards in an instant, tearing and eating away at the gate. With a deafening shriek the gates lurch on their hinges before the protesting metal finally gives way and the gates are sucked into the bomb entirely.
When the bomb flickers out of existence the one proud metal gates are no more, torn stone and an empty swinging hinge the only evidence they were there at all.
I turn back to the Queen.