(Patreon) Strength Chapter 66

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The thing about tactics and planning is there is only so much that can be done in confined corridors and with a small group. Our general battle strategies would stay the same either way. We weren’t suddenly going to have Alhorn take up archery or send Kasner into melee combat. The best we could do would be to take advantage of the specific terrain we were given.

While the platform in the middle of the corridors gave an advantage to the defenders, it also meant we could approach from many angles. It would only take them a few seconds to face wherever we were… but we weren’t limited to attacking from just one side.

Halette, Socks, and I split off from the group, heading a short way around the ring. When the sound of combat rang out, I sprinted across the hallway to the next section of the ring, while Halette and Socks started an attack from the flank.

Within ten seconds I was back at the original hallway we entered through. There were no goblins in the way, so one of our potential worries was assuaged. If there had been goblins back in that section of the ring I would have returned to join Halette.

I took a deep breath and rounded the corner to see… many more goblins than I expected. Fortunately they weren’t facing me, but there were still four dozen goblins on the center platform instead of two… and more importantly a goblin mage- a boss.

Just before starting the plan we had confirmed the numbers, but goblins didn’t just appear in a group from nowhere. I didn’t have time to think about how we might have missed a second boss. Instead, I could only move forward to join the battle. I already saw the goblins attacking and heard the sounds of the others fighting.

I approached the stairs leading up to the center platform as quickly as I could. The sound of my boots was nothing compared to the combat, but one goblin was looking in my direction, and pointed me out to the boss mage. He turned around, and I prepared myself to dodge whatever he threw at me… but instead of attacking me, he cast magic at the stairs.

Destroying the stairs with magic was out of the range of even a goblin boss, but I could immediately see an icy sheen appearing as if from nowhere, outlining the shape of stairs that otherwise reflected no light.

I continued forward at a fast pace as a handful of goblins moved to the top of the stairs. Fighting on ice was difficult… and charging up icy stairs even more so- but as I ran up the steps my feet didn’t slip much at all. That was my magical boots at work.

With a single Whirlwind Attack I killed or knocked away all the goblins at the top of my side, and stepped up onto the platform. Using Martial Trance, I surveyed the situation, one image at a time. An arrow was flying from Halette’s hallway. I didn’t see Socks but there were some goblins heading down the stairs. Across from me I could just see Alhorn part way up the stairs trying not to slip on ice and Kantrilla down at the bottom behind him. I also saw a bit of lightning coming from what must have been Kasner- but his short form was hidden behind the platform from my angle. I saw the cleric boss casting buff spells on the goblins, and the mage boss… was still paying attention to me.

Having just gained footing on the top of the platform I planned to kill the mage boss first. I started to run toward him, and found myself running face-first into a wall of ice. I didn’t have a lot of momentum, but the sudden stop still wasn’t pleasant. From behind the wall of ice, the goblin mage grinned at me tauntingly.

I didn’t know that much about magic, except that it still followed some sorts of rules. More mana- and skill- and you got more powerful magic. I also recalled some things about ice from playing around with it as a kid. Ice was hard to break, seeming like a rock… until it did break and shattered into pieces.

I pulled back my heavy mace, swinging it from just over my head forward and down. I stepped into my swing, putting my full power behind it- and using mana with the skill Bash. The mage boss’ face showed a sign of surprise as my mace shattered the wall in front of me… until that very same face was hit by the follow through.

I hadn’t been entirely confident that my attack would work. My mace was a magical one, but it was ice property. Would it be weaker against a wall of ice? Actually, I still couldn’t tell. The Ice wasn’t very thick- I’d still been able to see through it fairly clearly. With the relatively little resistance I felt, maybe the mace even broke through ice better than another kind. It could also have been related to my near-600 Strength which was inappropriately high for this level of dungeon. Either way, it still had around half of the force left when it broke through… and crushed the head of the mage boss standing right behind the ice wall.

After confirming that he was dead, I readied myself to face the other goblins. After all, I was still on the platform with most of a few dozen goblins. It wasn’t safe… except the ice wall mostly remained between me and the rest of the goblins. They could only reach me in twos and threes, which was nothing I couldn’t handle.

Beyond the ice wall, arrows from Halette took out goblins one by one- and lightning from Kasner did the same. I finally saw Socks run up to the platform and tackle an archer, which presumably meant the ones that had went down toward Halette were dealt with. Alhorn got his footing on top of the platform and started chopping down goblins, deflecting blows with his shield. Without the additional boss- and having overcome the terrain disadvantage- it turned into just another boss battle like all of the others we had handled.

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