The First Lich Lord - C.177


So close, Icarus whispered in French, but it came out in English, since that was the most common language in his guild. Although, the games inbuilt translation wasnt always perfect.

Icarus smiled. He was the leader of a mercenary guild of players. They had been contracted to support the NPC army and trap the undead horde between them. The sum they had been paid was quite handsome, enough to justify the headache of getting his entire guild together and organized.

The average level of the members ranged from sixty, which was the entry requirement, to himself at a hundred and thirty. Icarus had no illusions about what would happen if the horde focused on them individually, but they hadnt. While retreating down the peninsula was not an ideal situation, an open field battle wouldve been that, it was one of the better options.

The music playing from the undead army was loud enough they could hear it over the water. It was surprisingly good. Too bad it was helping his enemies, otherwise he might enjoy it. As it was, many of his guild members were quietly singing along.

Not seeing the point in getting caught up in the slugfest meatgrinder that was taking place on the peninsula, Icarus came up with a brilliant plan. His guild had four ice mages, not water mages who could freeze things, but mages who had truly advanced and become ice mages.

The four of them were working together to freeze a pathway for his guild to follow along the lake. Not being stupid, he had ordered the illusion wizards of his guild to weave magic around them that would disguise their approach.

Illusion wizards were far better at hiding things than dark or light mages were. The magic was subtle and nearly undetectable. Icarus second-in-command had even begun down the path of psionics, weaving trace amounts of mental energy into his spells.

The ball of eldritch power at the end of the peninsula where it widened out and rose up higher was interesting. From Icarus perspective, he could see it shredding incoming projectiles. He would have to have his people take a look at that. Eldritch power was tricky, but maybe they could do something similar with a different kind of magic.

The battle raged noisily, the silence surrounding his forces out on the water was almost tranquil. They were rapidly closing in now, flanking this undead army to decimate its support. Theyd been promised large bonuses if they managed to take out the Lich or one of the juggernauts.

Then all at once, everything went wrong. The sniper with the longbow that had been picking off officer NPCs in the army suddenly turned out toward the water. A volley of black arrows dispersed over the water. They were looking for them. Icarus winced when one of the arrows hit the ice bridge a dozen meters behind his force.

The sniper picked up on that, and a moment later her arrow was accompanied by ten eldritch blasts. The illusion magic did nothing to stop the attack, its defense was not being seen. The ice bridge cracked under the barrage and the illusion failed in that area, causing the large spell to ripple.

The wizards managed to maintain it around his guild, but it came undone on the path leading to them. The ice bridge had been broken off.

Wizards, switch to defensive barriers; archers, suppressing fire, Icarus ordered. Get us moving faster. There was no point for stealth now.

The illusions came down as barriers snapped into existence around them, the clerics in his force having waited for such opportunity. With his guild on full view, the ice mages surged forward, freezing large parts of water as they rush towards land.

The juggernauts turned to meet them. A storm of magical attacks rose up and flew towards the peninsula. Whatever that defensive ritual was, it tore many of them apart, but there was too many for it to stop them all. The concentration of casters, ranged fighters, and the player army was far higher.

The defenses around the peninsula began to crack. A ball of eldritch power flew from one of the juggernauts, exploding newly formed ice. Crackling bolts of lightning hammered across the water, shattering against barriers. Behind those bolts and hammering into the weakening barriers were missiles made of necrotic power.

Icarus saw the Lich staring out at them. He had not attacked himself, not yet anyways. He suspected that was about to change as the Lich began to glow with eldritch magic.

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What the hell, Icarus heard his second-in-command say. It only took him a moment to realize what caused him to say that.

The two juggernauts without magical attacks of their own had waded out into the water until they were up to their massive chests. His forces were bombarding them with a constant stream of attacks, but none of his higher level members could do any real damage. And even then, magical barriers were forming to protect the juggernauts. But that wasnt what made his second-in-command speak. It was what the juggernauts were doing.

They had stopped moving and were now swaying back and forth in sync, gathering momentum.

Suddenly, a wind laced with necrotic power blew down. It was nothing more than a small breeze at first before it turned into a gale. The waves generated by the massive juggernauts reached the ice island, then they began to move in the opposite direction. The necrotic power in the wind was nullified by simple spells from the clerics, but Icarus was certain of two things. One, it had been group cast by a bunch of necromancers, and two, the necrotic effect wasnt the important part.

The Lich pointed his staff at them and a bolt of eldritch power shot towards them. The bolt flew in a straight line and exploded against a barrier over freshly formed ice.

The barrier held, but the ice fractured underneath, cracks spreading out and collapsing a large section of ice. It caught some of his guild members by surprise as the ice underneath them collapsed and the island staggered. They yelled out in alarm as they tumbled into the water. They were the heavily armored section as well, their heavy metal armor pulling them below the waves.

Another eldritch bolt arrived and exploded on the same barrier. The barrier didnt even waver, the island staggered. The barrier was attached to the island itself, meant to be a stationary defense. You could do mobile barriers, but they were never as good. The bolts of eldritch power arrived in time with the waves as the island began to pick up speed, being pushed away from the peninsula. fr

A minute later, the barrage ended and Icarus looked toward the peninsula. The wind had stopped as well, the waves no longer big enough to be of effect. But the island of ice they were on, big enough to hold 500 players and their gear, had built up too much momentum and was going in the wrong direction.

Already mages were on the other side of the island trying to counter the momentum, but it would take too long. The surprise was gone. If they had managed to land, the sudden addition of hostile forces in their flanks wouldve been worth the risk, now that the enemy knew they were out on the water, there was no way they would ever close. Icarus glared at the peninsula, where the Lich was waving at him.

The next song started, carrying across the waves even when the sounds of battle did not. This Maxwell character had a sense of humor as Our Last Goodbye by Disturbed echoed out across the water. The one modification he made to the song was stressing the goodbye part.


I watched the players sailing away, shaking my head as I waved. It wasnt a bad plan, and if theyd made it, it wouldve been a giant pain in my butt. But now I hope their leader was smart enough not to try that again, though I also hoped he would be stupid enough to do it.

The illusion magic they had was superb, I was a little jealous. Now that I knew they had tried it once, I was already taking precautions. Elon had tasked a dozen of her bone archers to watching the water and shooting arrows at anything that looked kind of wrong. They would go through a lot of ammunition, but it was better than being flanked.

The players would likely join the front line, which was already beginning to look bleak. Of the nearly 7,000 mindless zombies that had choked the narrow part of the peninsula, over half were down. The regeneration from the necromancers kept them going, but once a zombie or skeleton had truly been turned into pulp, there wasnt a lot that regeneration spells could do.

The sun was now fully under the horizon. The true twilight hour had begun. As the light worsened, the catapults tossed projectiles high into the air that hung in place, illuminating the battlefield with bright white light. Elon shot them down as fast as she could, the darkness was our ally.

Abimelech, order the remaining mindless horde into the water, I said. We needed a change in our defenses.

As the remaining horde of mindless zombies vacated the peninsula, I got my first good look at the army coming for me. The front line was composed of heavily armored knights and other melee-focused archetypes. Interspersed amongst them were a few paladins, battle clerics, and the rare battle mage.

The vast majority of the melee forces looked to be something similar to a man at arms. Their equipment was simple and standardized. Interestingly they held back behind the heavily armored front line, not being pushed forward like they wouldve been in armies back on Earth. Their role was support, they stabbed around their heavily armored or blocked attacks coming in from blind spots.

With the horde of zombies dispersing into the water, they tried to chase, but the zombies, not needing to breathe, disappeared beneath the surface. Amusingly, a few of the zombies floated back up a few moments later, but most stayed down. The clink of armor could be heard as the front line advanced to meet my dug-in bone guard and eldritch death knights.

A dark shape swam out of the water, and a moment later, Raven transformed back into her. Its not good. I tried to scout as much as I could, but there is another army approaching, I think its from the church.

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