William was nervous for his first real fight. Though he’d been in plenty of arena matches, they were of course designed to be safe. Yet, the very reason that he was here was because it was unsafe. He wasn’t exactly afraid though. He had a good enough understanding of combat that he was pretty sure that he would be fine. However, since he had experienced an entire lifetime of peace, where there weren’t even any such monsters or magical beasts to be fought, he wasn’t exactly used to the idea.
Fortunately, he wasn’t going to go up against an entirely unknown enemy. The first group of enemies were dire wolves, the scouts said. While giant wolves were certainly dangerous, they weren’t exactly foreign to William. Plus, unlike the arena, he didn’t have to wait for the opponent to be ready. When the scouts reported again that they were close to the pack they were hunting, William prepared himself, and Chris too of course.
The forested area wasn’t extremely dense with trees, so it wasn’t too hard to spot the wolves from a distance. This of course worked both ways, as it was also rather hard to hide a squad of knights on horses. The wolves turned toward the knights, and were obviously not afraid as they began moving closer.
Since the trees weren’t too dense, William had a good chance to do his job. Namely, to pick off as many enemies as he could before they got to the knights. Once they were engaged with the knights, it would be harder to safely use magic. William started out with a lightning bolt, though in reality it was Chris who did the actual magic. William just pointed Chris at a wolf and chanted.
A bolt of lightning flashed through the air, hitting the wolf at the head of the pack. However, this bolt wasn’t large enough to cause any real damage to such a large wolf. These wolves were as tall as a horse, which with the build of a wolf made them much larger in actuality than a horse. Even a real bolt of lightning wouldn’t be able to defeat them in a single blow.
Except, the wolf fell, and the bolt had pierced through it to one behind it, which also fell. Though it didn’t look like much, William wasn’t really about the spectacle. In fact, the destructive power of lightning could vary significantly. Sometimes, it would be strong enough to destroy a building, or at least a large part of it, and sometimes it would strike a person and not kill them. In the case of humans, what usually killed them was not the burns from the lightning. Instead, it was the shock to their heart, which would stop it.
Here, William used the same principle. Fortunately, the spell worked properly the first time it had been used for real. William hadn’t used this even in the arena, because it would either be useless, or lethal. Neither of those were what he wanted. This “version” of the spell was intended to strike only the heart. Thus, William had Chris work on the penetrating power and accuracy of the bolt, instead of the size or total destructive force. It didn’t look impressive, leaving only a small burn mark on the chest of the wolf, but it was quite effective.
Normally, electricity would choose the path of least resistance. This meant an uncontrolled bolt would usually just directly hit the ground. However, wizards could control the bolt to go where they willed, though straight or mostly straight lines were easiest to accomplish. It wasn’t too much of a stretch to continue this control inside of a target, though it was indeed a bit harder. Controlling mana through any solid object was more difficult. This was why wizards didn’t (or couldn’t, generally) originate spells inside of things. Even the lightning bolt application was only possible because it would create a path at the same time as it followed it.
Immediately after the lightning bolt struck, the wolves picked up speed. They knew danger when they sensed it, but they were also fairly confident they could overcome it. William didn’t have time to cast more than another pair of lightning bolts, taking out another three wolves between the two. Then, the remaining five wolves reached the knights counter-charge, who took them on in pairs. Of course, William did not plan to just watch, but he also couldn’t carelessly cast spells where he might hit the knights.
The reinforced lances of Gerald and the other knight with him pierced into the wolf they were fighting, severely injuring it. They easily finished it off. The same happened with other groups, but not entirely. One wolf’s thick fur managed to deflect some less well aimed lances, and it clawed and bit at the knights there. One of them managed to block with their shield, while the other was hit by a claw and knocked back. Even some of the injured wolves managed to get in some attacks.
However, the battle was over very quickly. William hadn’t expected battles to be quite so short and deadly. In less than a minute, before he had time to find another good target for a spell, the knights had finished off the wolves, those who had quickly defeated their helping the others. The knights were all living, though not uninjured. Three had injuries of some sort, the one who took the claw attack had the worst. The claws of the wolf had been sharp enough to somewhat crush and somewhat slash his armor, leaving him in a bad state. William was glad the knights knew how to apply first aid, because he certainly didn’t know more than what an educated guess would do.
William almost felt bad that he didn’t take out more of the wolves, and just hid behind the knights. However, Gerald came up to him and congratulated him. “Good shooting there, it made it much easier for my squad to fight that pack.”
William realized that it was indeed his job to hide behind the knights, though hiding may not have been the most flattering word. Though he didn’t want to think too arrogantly about himself, there weren’t that many wizards to be had, so his safety was important. That is, Chris was important, and William held Chris. After remembering that, he definitely wouldn’t get arrogant. At least William had taught Chris how to do magic, and he was the only one he really listened to. He had that going for him. Hopefully, they would continue to perform well against the rest of the beasts, as well as the different kinds. After all, one “small” pack of wolves, even giant wolves, was not exactly worth recruiting more wizards for.