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Chapter 747: All Alive
"That guy was a real piece of work." Khag' Dhagmai praised after a while, a combative glint gleaming in his eye.
"That Player has b.a.l.l.s." Shamash smiled as he played with his dagger. The barbarian Azeus standing nearby seemed to approve.
"And he's handsome." The Ashun beauty chimed in with hearts in her eyes.
Hearing the young woman's off-topic comment, many of Lost Divinities' male Players shot her a look oscillating between resentment and despair. The demon Belakor for one, who had served as her s.h.i.+eld against Jake, suddenly felt the intense urge to squash her under his huge clawed foot, but after staring at her wickedly for half a second, he looked away with a blush...
"Ahem!" Deimos coughed to regain their attention. Seeing his apathetic face, they knew he was serious. The more flawless his poker face was, the more important what he had to say was. Those who had misinterpreted his facial expressions were no longer there to talk about it or kept traumatic memories of the events.
After restoring order, the Spartan inquired in a commanding manner without looking at anyone,
"How is Nucnar?"
A Player who looked like a huge black minotaur of 4.5 meters with a thick woolly fleece like that of a bison lumbered out of the crowd before kneeling in front of Deimos and reporting loudly,
"This humble subordinate has found leader Nucnar."
Upon this crisp statement, the minotaur held out his cupped hands, which seemed to hold something inside. When he revealed their contents, a flicker of relief lit up the Spartan's face.
"You can rise."
Exposed for all to see, a mini rock human stood haggardly in the Minotaur's palm. His appearance was juvenile and his Aetheric and spiritual fluctuations were so faint that they were even weaker than those of a normal human. From his groggy expression, he didn't look like he knew who he was and he looked about as stupid as the rock he was.
Still, he was very much alive.
Alive after Jake had disintegrated his body and mind to a subatomic level. If Jake had been present, he would have been incredibly shocked. Such a resurrection was nothing short of a miracle to him.
Even more amazing, the mini rock human was recovering quickly. In the few seconds that had pa.s.sed, he had grown almost an inch and his body shape looked less juvenile and a little better proportioned. His gaze was also a little less goofy.
With such low body, Aetheric and psychic stats, it was obviously not possible to explain this regeneration by conventional logic. This was the Lost Divinities members' secret.
Deimos then called out a series of names like a teacher calling the roll in a cla.s.sroom, and other Players introduced the revived members he had just mentioned. These were all the intrepid officers and Players that Jake had nuked with his laser beams.
Among them was the kamikaze flame bird with the bloodline of a phoenix, which now looked like a hideous, hairless duckling. A Player had found it in the middle of a heap of ashes.
The alien swordsman in kimono had regenerated his body, but his appearance was slightly translucent as if his existence had lost its tangibility. However, his presence was quickly growing stronger and it wouldn't be long before he was back to his full strength.
All of the Players that Jake had defeated and thought he had killed for good were alive, but usually in worrisome states. Although they had all somehow managed to survive, many of them, like the kimono swordsman, had a translucent appearance and all displayed varying degrees of mental confusion.
In any case, Nucnar was by far the worst off and it would certainly take him weeks, if not months, to fully recover.
Having confirmed the condition of these Players, Deimos suddenly thought back to Jake's brazen intrusion and said with a frown,
"What is the current situation with our prisoners? Has anyone tried to break into our prison in the last few minutes?"
Belakor, who was in charge of the dungeons and everything to do with the torture and interrogation of their prisoners, crumbled as he heard the Spartan's question. How could he not have thought of something so obvious? Wasn't this Player here to free his comrades?
The demon accessed his bracelet to communicate with his underlings in charge of the jails, and his face turned ugly when he received no answer. Aghast, but decisive, he ordered a battalion of unharmed Players to follow him and with a flap of his wings he flew away, generating a powerful gust of wind that kicked up a cloud of dust and rubble in the ruined fortress.
"Take Shamash and Azeus with you." Khag' Dagmai growled.
Belakor flinched, but he nodded and the two warriors blurred as they dashed after him.
"I am also coming with them." Ozo announced in his whiny voice. From the dark colors of his bubble, he was in a gloomy and vengeful mood.
Less than 45 seconds later, a terrific explosion akin to a small atomic bomb resounded a few kilometers away from them, causing another earthquake and a series of rockslides.
A few moments later, Belakor and his a.s.sistants returned with a complicated, but not totally dispirited countenance.
"They managed to rescue Aisling, but the Mutant Carmin and the other people this Player wanted to save did not manage to escape. On the other hand, someone was also captured."
Azeus nonchalantly dumped a trussed and swollen body at the feet of Deimos and Khag' Dagmai and they were slightly surprised when they recognized him.
"Grimwald Dracul... wasn't he supposed to be imprisoned?" Ashun pouted in wonder.
"He was, but obviously he's not anymore. Jake or one of his companions must have freed him. Since Cipher was killed, it's something we could have antic.i.p.ated. Until he recovers enough strength to find us, we won't know any more." The white Nosk gave the officers a disgruntled look.
"How are the jailers?" Deimos asked again, seeming more interested in the condition of his subordinates than that of the prisoner who had managed to escape.
Belakor, like any respectable demon, didn't care about the Players' lives, but he appreciated following a leader who cared about them. With a rea.s.suring smile, he replied,
"We have 17 seriously injured, but they will recover. It's a good thing our dungeons are large and maze-like, or they would have been able to free everyone and the number of casualties would have been much higher."
"What do we do now?" Ozo asked in his childish voice. "Now that they've freed Aisling we have no leverage to negotiate with Haynt and the Mutants are likely to get their courage back."
Khag' Dagmai snorted at this remark and spat murderously,
"We wanted to conquer Laudarkvik with diplomacy to make it easier for us to take over, but if they don't want our kindness then all we have left is to take the city by force. Deimos?"
The Spartan remained silent for a few moments, then nodded.
"We'll go to plan B. As soon as the wounded have recovered we'll go on the attack. Try to capture Qewie to blackmail the Were-beings. If that fails, we'll have to a.s.sa.s.sinate Kenway. If Grimwald has been freed, the Dracul clan is no longer under our control either. Warn our allies of this change. On the other hand, I have a bad feeling about this Jake Wilderth. Before he gets the urge to come back for revenge, I want us to have full control of the city. Contact Vhoshaud again and promise him what he wants in exchange for his cooperation. I'm sure he knows more about this Jake and his comrades than we do and we'll need his Undeads."
"Why so cautious?" The Nosk questioned with a puzzled look. "He's only a mortal. Even if his Oracle Rank is equal to ours, he has no chance of winning if we decide to go all out. I'm sure you could have stopped him from running away if you wanted to. We have several soul experts among us, including Shamash."
"You're wrong. Just as we don't want to use all our cards, he didn't want to either. His Oracle Rank was not above mine. I suspect he was using a level 2 or higher Oracle Cloaking, but when I activated my own Oracle Skill Promotion I was able to predict his moves again. If I had actually gone for the kill, most of us would be dead.
A s.h.i.+ver of dread shook the other Players as they were given this dire prediction. Deimos, was never wrong when it came to fighting.
After all, he was their G.o.d of War.
Hundreds of kilometers away in the Wilderness, Jake and two other people met at the base of a cliff. They hadn't set this rendezvous point before attacking the Lost Divinities' stronghold, but Wyatt had easily located Jake by following his Shadow guide.
Jake was already disappointed when he saw only two figures returning, but he was deeply surprised when he saw that the mighty Grimwald was no longer there, but that his daughter Aisling was replacing him. From Wyatt's gloomy look, he didn't need to ask any questions to know that the rescue mission had failed.
"What do we do now?" Wyatt asked with a weary face, but one that was trembling with hatred. His repeated failures to protect and rescue his comrades had affected him deeply.
His strength was not the issue. Even Jake had to scramble away with his tail between his legs. Their frustration and l.u.s.t for revenge burned with the same pa.s.sion.
Jake's composure was better, but as he sensed Wyatt's painful anger, his own rage threatened to overwhelm him. After being outnumbered 3,000 to 1, he had finally realized something crucial:
There was strength in numbers.
And numbers, he had.