Nine Paths Of Asura Chapter 58


58 Caged City
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"Fiends...to arms!"

"Man the gates!"

"Summon the Holy Order!"

Across the walls, the rallying cries of commanding officers mixed with the wary cries of stalwart soldiers. Lineir ascended the last step of the stairs to the top of the ramparts and stared over the edge. The sight at first confused him. He saw some undead. Indeed, a lesser city or town might find such a threat menacing simply due to the strangeness of such an occurrence. It was quite unusual for such a large group of undead to come at once. Lineir was reminded of home in Brackenrock City.

There, he had accidentally brought a small group of undead crashing against the walls of the city. It had taken a large number of guards and cultivators alike to slay the threat that time. However, Brackenrock City could not be compared to Lightholme. This city was many times the size of a backwater like Brackenrock, To be fair, Brackenrock shouldn't even be called a city, if it was located anywhere else, it would merely be a large town with high walls. Furthermore, Lightholme was a holy city, a bastion of paladins skilled in the sword and priests skilled in supplementary magic. All of these cultivators used the holy element so it was fair to say that should a group of undead like the one which had attacked Brackenrock appeared at Lightholme's gates, the alarms would barely have had time to sound before the undead would be eliminated, blasted away by light elemental defenses.

"Master, where are the undead, I see a few on the plains ahead, but such a small number, Lightholme should hardly flinch at that right?" Lineir mused aloud. Mei however warned him to be on guard,

"Kiddo, you have a real knack for finding fate changing events, wherever you tread, destiny is broken! I'm sensing a thick line of undead approaching, and that's just the frontline, behind those trees there, there is an army of undead large enough to bury this city in sheer death many times over! Careful! Anyone left in this city after this assault will have to choose between drowning in the ocean or a sea of corpses!" Immediately after Mei's warning, sergeant Narfiz responded as well,

"Lord Light, you are right, such a small number of undead would hardly rouse Lightholme's men so. Beyond the plains, in that forest, our scouts report undead of all sorts. A bloody scourge is sweeping that land... such blasphemy... cannot be allowed to stand...! I hope the cities gates are opened so that the holy order might finally get off their ***** and enter into open battle! I've seen too many die to these things, it's time to show them that we are Lightholme, God's will on earth!" His eye's were shining fervently, surrounded by high walls, and seeing such few undead in front, morale was running high. Soon, along the wall, a man dressed in shining white armor plate etched with runic crosses on every inch addressed the men, his voice booming across the wall.


"Paladins! Priests! Men! This city is God's will on earth! The walls stand tall, Lightholme will never fall!" Soon the chant was echoing across the city.

"THE WALLS STAND TALL, LIGHTHOLME WILL NEVER FALL!" As the soldiers chanted, a massive white light seemed to gleam as their Qi contributed to a massive shining holy incantation which the priests were laying. From behind, the priests joined in the chant, and every man on the wall was imbued with a portion of raging holy energy. Sergeant Narfiz stopped chanting for a second and then alone, yelled out his own words,

"Open the gates!" At first, he was alone, but soon the soldiers of his squad took notice and joined him.

"Open the gates!" Then the whole platoon.

"Open the gates!" Then the whole left side of the walls.

"Open the GATES!" Then the entire fortress.

"OPEN THE GATES!"

"Stop them!!!" Mei screamed in Lineir's ear. Lineir confused asked,

"Why? They have to fight eventually mmm?"

"No kiddo! I can sense a presence drawing near... someone powerful, at least as powerful as the one locked in the city, perhaps even more so! The number of undead must be because of this presence, there are too many, this cities' only hope is to hide behind the walls and defend the siege from the ramparts, opening the gates and engaging on the plains would simply be inviting an unstoppable tide of undead in! You must stop them to buy time, and then flee, find a way out of this city, perhaps a boat or some other way out, this city is already damned!!!" Mei was incomparably frantic, normally she would sound slightly tired, or bored, as if this world was mundane, but clearly the threat this time was outside of her expectations and had shocked her greatly.

"But how... Nobody will hear a thing, maybe I can convince sergeant Narfiz to help." He turned to the sergeant who's eyes had turned red as the huge gleaming white gates adorned with thousands of lanterns began to creak open.

"Sergeant, I can sense an incomparably large number of undead coming. You must close the gates, there are far too many!" However, Narfiz didn't even change expression, he seemed lost in some sort of bloodlust.

"**** I knew it, none of them will listen. That gate is huge, there's no way I can stop it from opening. Perhaps I should simply flee and make way for the ocean now?" Lineir panickedly thought as the walls yawned ever wider. Soon, they would be halfway open, and already soldiers were gathering below, preparing to exit enmasse once the gates were completely open.

"Too late! Kiddo, these guys are all linked by a holy spell, nothing you say will affect them, they will march to their doom, it's time to go!" Mei advised Lineir to flee, but then a strange thing happened.

"Shut the gates. Man the walls, fighting on the plains is prohibited by order of Lightholme!" The words echoed directly into the minds of everyone in the city, Lineir included. Suddenly, the gates began to close and slammed shut, the men came back to their senses and returned to their posts on the wall, and order was restored. Not a moment too soon, across the plains, great swarms of undead appeared, enough to blacken the fields and make it seem as if ghastly night had come early as a dark fog rose in their wake. This was... an undead legion!

Skeletal soldiers with rotten bones and smiles dripping unknown black liquids hefted all manner of worn weapons in defiance of death. Towering above them, constructs similar to the massive heavy sword wielding skeleton trudged, each step sinking several centimeters into dirt. Behind, shaman skeletons dressed in primitive animal furs hefted staves and maces casting unholy necromancy, death Qi pouring out in pulsating waves. All frequently pointed their fingers forward toward the fortress ahead.

At the walls, every soldier felt a chill run across their spines as thousands of skeletons seemed to point directly at them. Then, the sound came... A horrible moan seemed to seep in through their ears, insinuating itself into their minds. The dying screams of the damned! Lungless, the last words of the undead still managed to cross the distance in the form of a mental whisper.

"Come.. Kill. Come. Kill..Come. Kill..Come... Live not... Join US!!!

Lineir grimaced as the death Qi imbued message reached him. Truly something which would terrify any army, the combined screams seemed to echo endlessly, an undying threat to all things living. The commander, seeing that his soldiers were losing morale, judged it time to begin the battle.

"Archers, fire at will! Priests, imbue holy arrows! Paladins, begin preparing to use judgement! Soldiers, prepare to engage traps!"

Shua Shua Shua Shua

Across the wall, a gleaming storm of silver arrows caressed the sky in such numbers that streams of arrows appeared as thick as bolts of lightning, arcing across the planes to smite the undead. Normally, in human combat, archers would fire in waves, hoping to inspire mass chaos amongst the ranks and demoralize the enemy. However.. the undead cared little for psychological tactics. Thus each archer would simply try to fire as many arrows as possible, there was no point to firing together. Naturally, as soldiers of a holy city, they understood this and whipped out arrows until their fingers bled and the skin tore ragged. From behind, the priests casted spells for mental acuity and focus, and farsight, and the arrows launched began to glow with holy Qi.

Hiss... Hiss... Hiss.. Hiss..

Wherever the arrows hit, it was as if acid rain had struck. Rotten bones gave way under masses of holy silver, and flesh boiled into charred fluttering strips of ash. Sergeant Narfiz and the other soldiers cheered, each undead down would be one less to climb the walls and fight them in the bloodbath to come. Even a few of the larger heavy weapon wielding undead went down under the hail of hundreds of arrows. They would crash down like silver porcupines and crush the smaller skeletons below.

"Paladins Judgement!"

Across the plains, silver arrays formed, complex inscriptions of light intertwining as the paladins raised runic weapons to the sky and chanted. Together, they pointed their weapons at the battlefield and beams of light blasted out, smiting the undead who made through the hail of blessed arrows. Not a single undead from that wave made it to the walls, only black craters were left on the ground. Cheering rang out across the battlements once again as the might of Lightholme seemed to burn away the dark.

"Hmph, whoever commanded these fools to shut the gates knows what their doing. It must be the one caged in this city... I wonder what connection that one has with this city to bother dealing with the affairs of mortals. Regardless, that presence was powerful, even restrained. You've been given a chance now, you should try to flee." Mei seemed very interested in the identity of this presence, but stressed that fleeing was the first priority.

"Very well, I'll ask about ways out of the city." Lineir turned to the sergeant.

"Sergeant Narfiz, do you think there's any way out of the city, perhaps some boats left?" Narfiz frowned, turning away from the battle where he had been cheering at the sight of the burning undead.

"Lord Light, you desire to leave?" He wasn't happy that an expert such as Lineir wanted to leave, but he realized that Lineir had no stake in this battle. He could hardly request his assistance much as he might wish to.

"Well... while I believe this battle is in our favor, if you want to leave, the docks are in the opposite direction, you can't miss them. However... I fear that the last ship carrying our young and women left half an hour ago. Last I heard, every boat has been requisitioned for their evacuation, and there are still many civilians who were unable to find a way out at the docks. I'm sorry, I wish you didn't have to be engaged in Lightholme's conflict, but the undead are everyones problem, so I can only say, the walls stand tall, Lightholme will never fall."

"Kiddo... don't be fooled. This city will fall unless that caged presence intervenes, and then there is the matter of the equally powerful presence outside the city behind this undead army. Mortals fool themselves into believing that their creations are forever, but in reality, things built by mortals can only fade to dust as their makers do. I'm afraid finding a way out is not an option now however, your only hope is that that caged presence is willing to help out!" Lineir felt his heart tremble a little as he understood his situation. He had wandered into a cage from which the front door was barred by undead, and the back by the unyielding ocean. He sighed. Across the wall, a ripple of fear seemed to eat into the ranks.

"How... how many are there!"
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