"Gather into ring formation now!"
(ED: See Igel (hedgehog) formation.)
After hearing the multiple roars, Rhode immediately tensed up.
"Anne, take the left side! Extend your shield and hold your ground! Marlene, support the right with your level 5 Ice Shield now! Sereck, the rear is yours. No matter what, you cannot let them pass through!"
"Clerics, prepare to cast Guardian Shield — I want four charges in three seconds! Lize you are to cast Divine Brilliance in the center of the formation and Old Walker, you are responsible for filling in the gaps if there are any."
Everyone responded in unison after receiving their orders.
Anne took two steps forward and released her the latch on her shield. A crisp sound echoed, and the boss that covered the exterior of her shield slid down, revealing a sharp, metal drill. The heavy shield then smashed into the ground, producing a muffled impact and causing Anne's body to crouch. She pulled a short metal handle within the concave side of the shield and suddenly, multiple razor-sharp spikes shot out from the shield's exterior. Now the entire surface appeared like a hedgehog.
On the opposite side of Anne, Marlene was equally serious. She lifted her wand in an unfamiliar way and chanted. A thick ice wall emerged and stacked over each other layer by layer. Then, as if the spell reached its climax, Marlene chanted louder, causing sharp icicles to protrude from the ground towards the front like spears.
Celia spread her wings and flew towards Rhode. It was unknown when, but now she wielded a sword in both hands. Her face was chilly, and her pupils shone even more brilliantly than before.
Sereck didn't appear as tense as Anne and Marlene. After hearing Rhode's command, he didn't move at all, but if one carefully observed his expression, it was clear that he was dead serious. He narrowed his eyes at the monsters, and the hand that was holding the hilt of his sword began to slowly move...
A splendorous golden light flashed.
Meanwhile, the Clerics eventually finished casting Guardian Shield and a circular holy barrier wrapped the four of them. Lize also began casting while focusing her attention on the man before her.
The low roars were getting louder and nearer.
"We cannot afford to fail. No matter what you see, don't panic! You absolutely cannot fall out of formation!"
At this point in time, all Rhode could do was to remind them. This place was the most troublesome area of Silent Plateau, and frankly, newbies shouldn't be here. If it wasn't because of their inexperience, perhaps this place could still prove to be suitable for training, but anyway, he couldn't expect a group of preschoolers to take a postgraduate examination, right?
The huge shadowy figures were getting closer. Their appearances were slightly similar to the Giant Dead Baby from before, but their movement was much quicker than its predecessor. Soon, they appeared from in between the dead trees. Marlene clutched her wand tightly and didn't dare to breathe. Their disgusting rotting skin filled the cold air with a foul stench which made the group gag... it was indeed a brutal punishment.
"Ignore them, don't track their movements."
Rhode didn't need to look back to know that the group was trying to study the monsters' movements.
"Just focus what's in front of you. Our area of exposure is minimal so they don't have many opportunities to engage us. Don't lose your focus; just deal with anything in front of you and leave the rest to the others. Mr. Sereck, I will need you to support both sides because we don't have enough people. I believe that wouldn't be too much of a problem for you."
"I'll try my best."
The sword of light appeared once more and shone magnificently in the darkness.
The shadows were getting increasingly faster — it was almost impossible to predict their movement now. However, everyone still focused on their immediate front, including the four Clerics. Rhode had already instructed them to cast Guardian Shield whenever necessary.
Followed by a heavy breathing sound, the huge shadowy figures vanished.
A sudden silence fell upon the group. In a blink of an eye, the creepy sounds disappeared as though nothing was there in the first place. However, the prevailing rotten stench still lingered in the air, albeit getting stronger every second.
"Ten, nine, eight, seven..."
Rhode was counting in his mind. He lifted his sword and stared intently at the empty space before him.
"Three, two, one... Lize, cast Divine Brilliance now!!"
Upon receiving his command, Lize quickly raised her arm. She immediately cast the spell that she had prepared beforehand. The Holy Element burst out into a bright light, enveloping everyone inside. A warm aura dispersed the eerieness from before. And at this moment, a pleasant sensation filled all of their five senses.
The black shadows suddenly rushed out.
As anticipated, when the shadows rushed towards them, Lize's Divine Brilliance had already covered everyone inside and at the same time illuminated the surroundings. When the shadows touched the light, the Holy Element caused them to suffer.
They still tried their best to break in, but it can be seen that they were struggling against their greatest weakness.
While it was insufficient to kill them, the group felt that it was enough.
Sereck snorted and waved his sword, summoning a rain of swords which pierced through the darkness. The 'light show' was as dazzling as lightning. His swordsmanship had always been like this — flashy. Regardless of its damage, Sereck's skills were always pleasing to the eye.
One of the Giant Dead Baby closed its fist and threw a punch the spiky shield.
If it was a living creature, perhaps the pain would've caused it to retreat. But as an undead, it could not feel pain and thus, it wasn't much of an obstacle. The Giant Dead Baby shook its body and raised its right fist once again.
But this time, Anne stretched her feet and kicked the bottom of the shield with full force.
The part of the shield which was buried in the ground flipped upwards. At the same time, sand and dirt flew up into the air, temporarily creating a mini smokescreen. Because of that, the Giant Dead Baby's sight was blocked. Then, taking advantage of its momentary blindness, Anne pressed the switch on her shield again.
A violent surge of air swirled at the edge of the shield. The thick, metal drill flew into the air and pierced the Giant Dead Baby's head.
Boom!! The headless monster finally lost its strength. Its body swayed to the left and fell to the ground, never to move again.
Marlene raised the wand in her hand.
Like a river flowing forward, a thick layer of ice quickly spread outwards from her feet. A weakened Giant Dead Baby who was already under the effects of Divine Brilliance stepped onto the cold, slippery ice and fell to the ground.
The layer of ice broke and turned into many sharp icicles which pierced the Giant Dead Baby's body. Before the monster could touch Marlene, its whole body had already been riddled with countless holes which had sapped its remaining life. Its blank face stared at the girl, unknown whether it was smiling or angry. Facing this terrifyingly gruesome monster, Marlene had a calm expression on her face unlike before. She lifted her wand and cast a spell that was condensed at the center of the ruby.
A flame enveloped the Giant Dead Baby's body, swallowing its lamenting wail and everything else with it.
As the black shadow fell from the sky, Celia was already prepared as she raised her sword.
This time, she didn't get blown away like before; instead, a sacred symbol formed into a shield which blocked every attack the enemy made. The Giant Dead Baby that fell from the sky pounded on the shield but wasn't able to penetrate her defense no matter how hard it tried.
Rhode took out his sword and swiped his left palm on the blade of his sword.
Once it absorbed his blood, a red light glowed brilliantly and the smell of blood made the undead go crazy. They roared again and increased the intensity of their attacks. Even the Guardian Shield could no longer maintain its form and began to distort.
Celia withdrew her barrier and retreated. It wasn't because that she couldn't hold on, rather...
Blade of Destruction shot out from Celia's side and collided with the undead. The powerful impact caused them to back off. While their disgusting skin appeared tattered and torn with blood and scars, to the undead, it wasn't a big deal. It rolled its eyes and issued an evil snicker.
But then it suddenly froze.
A silver moon-shaped arc slashed through its neck and disappeared in the darkness.
In the sky, the angel was holding her sword, her expression devoid of any emotions.
Everything went back to silence.
"They've temporarily retreated."
Rhode recovered his sword and wiped the blood on his hand. Rhode expression didn't change for the better.
"Continue moving forward. Hopefully we can find those idiots before we encounter another one of their surprise attacks."