TNG Vol. 18 Chapter 4 Part 1
The following day, Shin’s party moved out again at dawn. They were not attacked during the night and they could confirm that the Red Core Pillar they defeated the previous day had not reformed.
The enemy either wanted to observe their movements or, as Shibaid suspected, focused on bolstering their defenses. They did not know which it was, but could only advance.
The party expected the Red Core Pillars’ level to rise as they approached the Sacred Place, their attacks and tactics to change, but nothing of the sort happened: they defeated the monsters in the same way as before.
Shin’s party advanced too smoothly even — until they came upon six Red Core Pillars, arranged in a trench-like formation.
When they attacked the Red Core Pillar in front of them, the ones next to it — though they were quite a distance away — shot their heat beams too.
They knew something like that was coming sooner or later: Shin and Schnee promptly parried the beams, which targeted Sety and Milt.
“Their range finally started to overlap. I’d have preferred getting closer while it was still easy, though.”
“It was a matter of time, nothing we can do about it.”
Milt replied to Shin’s complaint while recalling her Water Spirit next to her.
The Red Core Pillars were spread in a radial pattern, with the Sacred Place at the center: the farther they were from the Sacred Place, the greater the distance between them.
In other words, near the Sacred Place they were set closer together. Once the party arrived in front of the Sacred Place, they would surely be greeted by the concentrated fire of multiple Red Core Pillars.
“Looks like they aren’t targeting Gelganger, though.”
“It’s getting closer, just like us, but I guess they can’t reach that high.”
A copy of Gelganger was with the party, but its main body was flying in the sky.
They could see its icon on the map, even if the clouds hid its actual figure.
It was unknown if the Red Core Pillars could detect its presence or not, but they never attempted to shoot outside their range: it did not matter if the target was on land or in the sky.
“We could get to the Sacred Place a lot quicker if we flew…”
“The moment we land, they’re all going to fire at us though.”
The party had not reached the area with the highest density of Red Core Pillars, so there was still some time between each encounter.
While munching on a snack, to replenish water and energy, Sety wistfully looked up at the sky.
The only monsters on the way to the Sacred Place were the Red Core Pillars, so at this point the “sky path” was completely clear.
Even if they didn’t fly as high as Gelganger, as long as they could go higher than the Red Core Pillars’ range they could definitely reach Number 43’s Sacred Place in less than a day.
As Filma said, however, the landing would be a whole different issue.
If they traveled on land, they could ignore the Red Core Pillars too far away to target them.
Things would be different in the sky though: they would come under fire from all directions while they descended to the ground.
Shin and Filma could move relatively freely in midair, so they would probably be able to dodge, but not the other members.
The magic power expulsion function attached to Filma’s 『Magic Armor of Hollow Lacquer』 was very tricky to use: even if Shin attached to the others’ equipment, it would take time before they learned to use it well.
If the enemy fire concentrated on the less agile members, they would be helplessly under fire.
It was simply too risky; magic boost also required a considerable amount of MP, so they might run out before they even entered the Sacred Place.
“Hmm…if me, Shin, and big sis Schnee used concealing skills, maybe…”
“I know what you want to say, believe me.”
Shin had also considered flying through the sky and staging a surprise attack.
The problem was that if they were found they would have no escape route. If the enemy detected them before they landed, they wouldn’t let them do so safely.
He didn’t want to attempt something so risky; even if they used a decoy, the enemy would probably find out.
The enemy boss here was someone capable of pretending to be another Guardian, after all. The sky could have been left unguarded on purpose.
“Well, we’ve come this far already anyway. Might as well go on like this.”
“Aw, don’t say that…”
Filma had a point: they had already started breaking through the enemy lines on land, after all.
Sety wasn’t seriously complaining either. Even if she was pouting, she never missed the perfect timing to switch from attacking to replenishing her resources, and vice versa. It was just lighthearted banter, in order to keep up her concentration.
“We should be about one kemel away.”
A few hours later, Schnee announced the remaining distance to the Sacred Place.
The Red Core Pillars surrounded the party in all directions at this point. All shooting their beams, naturally.
Shibaid was in the lead, Schnee and Milt on the sides, while Shin held up the rear, protecting the party from the beams.
They had all switched to shields capable of projecting barriers with the same size of Shibaid’s 『Great Shell Shield of Collision』.
From inside the formation, Tiera targeted the Red Mounds and Sety the Red Core Pillars, with arrows and magic spells respectively.
“If we defeat them all we’ll never get there: just focus on keeping the Red Core Pillars at bay and the Red Mounds on our path. We’ll pass them so they can’t attack.”
They were not threatening alone, but they weren’t so weak that they could take them down in one shot.
They could see that the Sacred Place’s outer walls were still up, so once they got inside they would be safe from the attacks from enemies outside: the party thus prioritized the speed of their movement above all else.
Defending against multiple beams from the Red Core Pillars would take its toll, so Sety focused her spells on the closest ones, to prevent them from firing and use them as walls.
Sety’s spells could not completely stop them from firing, but the burden on the party’s defenders was lighter nonetheless.
“(I can’t see the entrance yet, what should we do?)”
“(We’ll tear down the walls and force our way in. We can’t circle the walls hoping to find a door, there might be no entrance in the first place anyway.)”
A silent voice reached Shin’s ears. They set the Mind Chat to automatically reach the whole part, so not only Sety, but Schnee and the others nodded too.
They switched to talking via Mind Chat because the deflected beams of the Red Core Pillars caused explosions when they struck the ground,
This meant a never-ending series of explosions; there was no way to hold a normal conversation. The inability to communicate could prove fatal in battle, so they decided to talk via Mind Chat only until they entered the Sacred Place.
“Okay then, time to barge in.”
While defending against the barrage of beams, Shin materialized a weapon.
Though it was classified as a lance, its 20 cemel handle showed no decoration other than the pommel: all it had was a spiral-shaped blade.
It was clearly something that could only exist in a fantasy setting, a weapon that gained piercing power through rotation.
It was the Ancient grade javelin 『Euradol』, affectionately called 『Drill Spear』 by players.
The blade portion, about 1.5 mel long, started spinning once the weapon was thrown; it could pierce through people, monsters and even solid rock.
Its sole focus was piercing power: it was commonly used to break through monsters with very high defense or that could use multiple barriers.
『Euradol』 was often used as a joke weapon, but some players had found out where it could really shine.
And that was in case of a siege or assault on a castle or other heavily fortified buildings. 『Euradol』 — though it was also possible with other weapons — could be equipped with self-detonating function before being thrown.
The strategy was to throw multiple 『Euradol』 at the walls and have them explode. It had become standard practice during siege battles.
“(I’ll throw now! Yuzuha, cover me!)”
In order to defend himself against any unexpected enemy attacks, Shin handed his shield to Yuzuha, who was not actively participating in the fight yet.
Even if she was in human form, her stats matched her monster form. She could repel the Red Core Pillars’ beams without flinching.
Shin thus left the defense to Yuzuha and prepared to throw the 『Euradol』.
He hadn’t thrown a spear while running in a good while, but his body still remembered the motions. Shin felt he could target with confidence.
The only concern was that the spear could be intercepted by a beam, as it happened to Sety’s spells.
Shin thought that would work out, however. In the game era, the defending parties had tried to do the same.
After it became a trending weapon, 『Euradol』 was improved in all sorts of variations.
Blacksmiths crafted various types of 『Euradol』, vying to create the one that could bring the greatest results.
Thanks to this experience, Shin was now wielding the latest edition of 『Euradol』.
“(Here it goes!)”
Shin gave the signal and stomped the ground. As he leaped over Shibaid, the party’s lead, he propelled the lance forward.
Shin didn’t know how sturdy the walls of Number 43’s Sacred Place would be, so he threw the lance at full power, 【Limiter】 fully removed. 『Euradol』 flew straight and true towards its target.
The Red Core Pillar density was at its highest close to the walls, but there were a few routes leading to the outer walls void of any obstacles. Shin had picked one of them for the throw’s trajectory.
It was also the direction Shin’s party was advancing: thus, in order to shoot down the『Euradol』, the Red Core Pillars would have to snipe it down if they could see it flying between their “brethren”, hitting each other in the worst-case scenario. In any case, it worked to Shin’s advantage.
In order to strike the outer walls, Shin could have also thrown the lance over the Red Core Pillars, but it flew while drawing an arc and there were no obstacles in the air. The flight time would increase too, making it easier to counter.
The chance of the enemy shooting it down also increased, so Shin opted for a long-distance low altitude throw.
“(The beams can’t even get close…)”
“(Not only speed and piercing power, it’s made with defense in mind too. There were whole platoons dedicated to throwing it in the game era…I remember walls turned into rubble in seconds. It must have been a nightmare for the other side, though.)”
Shin replied to Sety’s incredulous comment by recalling an episode from the game.
The blade’s spiral served not only to drill into the target, but also let it accelerate during the flight.
『Euradol』 was also buffed with a Wind magic enchantment that boosted its rotation speed and created a kind of protective barrier around it.
It was not as resilient as a barrier created by a Skill, but coupled to its rotation power it could deflect incoming attacks to an extent.
In the game era it could dodge arrows and other light projectiles, as well as magic spells that relied on quantity.
The 『Euradol』 Shin threw had been modified by himself too.
Its flying power was overwhelmingly higher than others: the Red Core Pillars’ barrage of beams could barely hit the streak it left in the air. They clearly couldn’t keep up with the lance’s speed.
As the enemy barrage relied on quantity more than quality at its point, a few of them happened on a collision path with 『Euradol』.
As Sety said, however, they bent away before they could hit it, flying off into the sky or crashing in the ground or against other pillars.
“So, how’s it going to be?”
『Euradol』 safely passed the barrage and planted itself in the outer walls. As Shin whispered to himself, a flash of light burst from the lance.
Shin and the others looked away before the light blinded them, and the sound of an explosion reached their ears. Shortly followed by crumbling sounds.
The cloud of dust and smoke made it impossible to see the results immediately. Shin tried using 【Through Sight】, but from beyond the walls flowed something like molten lava.