Chapter 66 — Level 4 Spells
Three pitch-black tentacles sprouted from the ground. They were each only as thick as a baby's arm, but they reached up to thirty feet long. The tentacles made of shadow energy flew toward the nearby enemies. An ogre was the first to be entangled by a tentacle; it stood still as a log immediately after the shadow tentacle came into contact with its leg.
Soran, as the caster, could directly control the tentacle with his mind. He ordered it to twine around the ogre's neck and choke it to death. The tentacle obediently strangled its prey, snapping it with great force.
"Black Tentacles (Conjuration, Level 4): This spell conjures three to six tentacles made of shadow energy within a one-hundred-foot radius. The tentacles have a maximum reach of fifty feet, and the caster can control the tentacles with his mind. Any creature touched by the tentacles will have to undergo a Fortitude roll based on Constitution; if failed, the target will be paralyzed for a duration based on the user's spellcasting score bonus. The tentacles have a base Strength of 15, and their duration is based on the caster's spellcasting score bonus. For every additional point in the caster’s spellcasting score bonus, the tentacles’ Strength will be increased by 1 up to a maximum of 25, and the duration will be increased by six seconds."
A Level 4 spell would not be so simple that it could only physically hold enemies in place. The tentacles were concentrated shadow energy with paralyzing properties that could temporary disable enemies. Although ogres had high Strength, their Constitution was not that high; they had a roughly fifty percent chance of avoiding the effect. This time, the ogre failed the roll and was immobilized, then killed.
Soran was a Level 1 wizard and had 18 Intelligence, meaning his spellcasting score bonus was 5 [Profession Level 1 + (Intelligence 18 - Threshold Value 10) ÷ 2 = 5]. This meant that the tentacles he conjured had 20 Strength and would last for thirty seconds. It was not a long duration, but it was enough to determine the outcome of the battle.
Soran did not waste any time. He ordered the other two tentacles to grasp the limbs of the giant lizard and the blighter. The giant lizard did not get paralyzed, but the tentacles still held it to the ground. The lizardman blighter's chest and neck were tightly strangled by the tentacles; it could not finish its chant to cast another spell.
Soran had a malicious expression as he ordered the tentacle to slowly tighten. Contagion had dealt significant damage and pain to him, thus he was repaying the favor by slowly killing the blighter. The lizardman struggled and shrieked in vain; the tentacle eventually snapped its spine and neck, turning the corpse into a distorted ‘Z’ shape. The tentacles’ strength overwhelmed the blighter and destroyed its body.
Fifteen seconds had passed. Before the others could react to the sudden situation, Soran was already slaughtering the lizardmen with the shadow tentacles. He flung them around like whips, sending the lizardmen flying in all directions before finishing them off. A lizardman archer tried to snipe Soran, but it was entangled and smashed to the ground by a tentacle before it could fire an arrow. It instantly turned into a lump of mushy meat paste. The tentacles, being thirty feet long, could easily reach the enemies in the rear.
"What are you guys waiting for!" Soran shouted. "Commence counterattack! Drive them out of the village!"
The black tentacles changed the tide of the battle; together they were like a tornado which shredded everything in its path. The ogres were easily killed, and the lizardmen within the tentacles' reach were annihilated. After the lizardman blighter died, the giant lizard lost its will to fight and escaped from the battlefield.
The survivors muttered in both joy and fear and started counterattacking the monsters. On the other hand, the monsters had terrified looks as they shrieked. Their morale plummeted due to the appearance of an unknown magic which decimated their allies, and the death of their leader, the lizardman blighter, made things worse. Spellcasters were nightmare for all intellectual beings; they were mysterious and powerful, and their spells could easily rob one of one's life. It was almost like an instinctual fear; the remaining lizardmen began to flee from the village.
In just thirty seconds, Soran had completely turned the tables against the invaders. He killed the ogres and the lizardman blighter, then proceeded to slaughter a dozen lizardman warriors. He instilled fear into the monsters and forced them to retreat.
"Did we win?" The militia could not believe what they had just seen. "'We've won! They're running away!"
The villagers cheered; they had somehow managed to obtain victory thanks to Soran. In fact, even Soran himself did not expect the spell to have such a dramatic effect. The lizardmen's casualty rate was twenty percent before Soran used the scroll, and it doubled to forty percent in merely thirty seconds. Soran had anticipated that some of the lizardmen would flee, but he did not think that all of them would run away into the darkness.
After the cheers died down though, sad howls and cries resounded through the village. The militia could no longer hold back their tears. Those who could walk endured their painful injuries and began shouting their family members' names, while those who could not do so laid on the ground as they moaned. Some of the guards cried as they granted their mortally wounded friends swift deaths; it was the last thing they could do for them. Making them suffer more despite knowing they would die soon anyway was crueler.
Sadness and depression flooded the villagers. Everyone had lost someone important in the battle, be it their families, neighbors, or friends. The merciless lizardmen had killed over a hundred villagers. The men were trying their best to hold back their tears, but it was impossible after looking at the corpses of those they loved. As though regretting their incompetence, they slammed their fists against the ground and howled in rage and despair.
The fire was still burning. Some of the houses were completely on fire, and there was simply no way to put out such a great fire, especially when the houses were built with wood. The survivors rushed into the burning houses in an attempt to salvage whatever supplies they could; winter was coming soon, and they needed to collect every single bit of supplies they could now that the warehouse was no more. The coming winter would be a tough one for certain.
A young man stood in front of a burning house. In his arms was the corpse of a young village girl who appeared to be sixteen or seventeen, but she might look more mature than her actual age as all villagers had to work from a young age. The young man did not yell nor cry; he only stood there, holding the girl’s dead body. Even so, everyone could feel his sorrow. He was so grief-stricken that he could not react when the house collapsed, almost burying him. The villagers pulled him out just in time to save his life, but that also pulled him back into reality; tears rolled down his cheeks as he roared his grief.
He picked up a sword from the ground and began to hack at the corpse of a lizardman. Chunks of meat and blood splattered everywhere, but no one dared to stop him.
Soran did not know who the girl was to the young man. She might have been his lover, his sister, or his dear friend. He could feel the young man's pain, but he was powerless. Soran himself had experienced plenty of such pain himself; the world was simply such a cruel place.
Soran glanced at the blighter's body, but he was not in a hurry to loot its corpse. He tore a chunk of cloth from his shirt and stuffed it in his mouth, then pulled out his curved sword. With trembling hands, Soran slowly sliced the rotten meat from his arm while biting onto the cloth. Contagion was a nasty spell which dealt continuous damage, and the only way to stop it was to remove the rotten meat physically. His entire body was shivering, and he grit his teeth as he endured the immense pain and applied ointment to the wounds.
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