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It had been a long time since Professor Yondra had felt so alive. Her situation was dire, but her rejuvenated body had yet to feel the fatigue from the fight.
‘Once we get out of here, I need to have my husband rejuvenated too and thank Lith properly. A couple of artifacts should suffice.’ She thought while unleas.h.i.+ng her tier five spell, Burial Grounds.
It allowed her to seize control of the ground around them while imbuing it with darkness magic at the same time. Golems were darkness’ bane since it dealt them little to no damage, but in a battle of wills, even a small chip could make the difference between victory and defeat.
Countless black tendrils erupted from the ground, restricting the injured Golem while trying to rip it apart limb from limb, to expose its power core. Yet the construct was capable of using earth magic just as well as Yondra.
It first turned the surrounding ground in its docile servant and then conjured tendrils of its own. The Golems natural affinity with the earth element allowed it to stop Yondra’s spell and to strike at the defensive arrays with enough power to almost made them crumble.
Yondra knew that no human could compete with a Golem’s willpower and strength, at least not in the short run. Constructs were single-minded creatures that followed their orders to the letter without hesitation.
Their power cores provided them with plenty of mana and their bodies were built to handle the burden that such power implied. Unlike humans, they were unrelenting and devoid of fear. It was their strength but also their weakness.
“Thanks for the idea, kid.” Yondra said as she stopped her spell from defending the barrier and focused solely on the Golem. “Let’s see which one lasts longer. My array or your core.”
Darkness magic couldn’t harm the construct, but it could wear down the mana that the Golem used to sustain its spell and existence. The two colliding spells were similar, but unlike her opponent, Yondra could blend together different elements.
Darkness magic didn’t make her Burial Grounds stronger, it made other spells weaker. As Yondra’s tendrils enveloped its body, the Golem’s mana expenditure skyrocketed and its healing speed plummeted.
It took it only a split second to conjure even more tendrils and get rid of that disturbance. At the same time, the Golem unleashed a bolt of purple lightning to destroy the barrier that prevented it from achieving its goal.
Yondra waved her hand, making the stone wall that she had kept at the ready until that moment emerge from the ground and block the lightning.
“Sorry, kid. You’re not the only one who’s able to multi-task. Do you know what I really like about tier five spells? Sure, they consume a lot of mana and require a lot of focus, but once they’re cast, you have your hands free.”
Yondra took out of her pockets a small crystal sphere and threw it in a lob shot above the maze of living earth between them, aiming for the construct. The Golem used earth magic to manipulate the enchanted sand and block the unknown menace.
Unluckily, it was exactly what Yondra wanted. The sand was just pulverized parts of the Golem’s body that they used as a means of both attack and defense, so when the sphere released the Clean Slate spell it held, it counted as a direct hit.
Golems were animated lumps of earth, imbued with too much mana and too many arrays for a simple tier four spell to deactivate them, but it was enough to make the construct’s AI stutter for a split second and lose control of its spells.
Yondra exploited that moment to overpower her opponent and sink the Golem under multiple layers of Burial Grounds. Its body was st.u.r.dy and its power core had still quite some power, but there were just too many things to defend against at once.
Burial Grounds was crus.h.i.+ng the Golem like a vise, the darkness energy weakened all its attempts to get free, and Yondra was using the smaller tendrils to dig out its power core. The Golem was unable to cope with its many conflicting protocols and in the attempt to perform them all at once exhausted its power.
‘What would I give to keep the power core intact.’ Yondra thought while crus.h.i.+ng the Golem’s very heart. ‘Yet it would expose us to countless risks. Not having enough juice to move a construct doesn’t mean that it can’t pull some underhanded trick.
‘Purple crystals recharge d.a.m.n fast and even a small explosion could consume the little oxygen we have left.’
On the other side of the cave, Professor Neshal was grinning from ear to ear. Only two Golems were left, but not for long. She was a Master Warden inside a set of arrays that she had set up, even upgrading them to military-grade after the Teks’ sneak attack.
While Gaakhu kept the constructs busy, Neshal was finally able to stabilize the arrays, making them recover from the damage they had sustained and that had almost compromised their integrity.
Now that they were back at full power, the arrays’ power nodes lit up one after another as she activated their offensive abilities.
Neshal channeled her spell through her Crown Staff, which amplified her magical force before injecting it into the arrays that further enhanced it tenfold. The ground under the Golems darted upwards like an elevator gone haywire while a portion of the ceiling several meters thick came cras.h.i.+ng down like a meteor.
The constructs tried to jump off, but the earth under their feet had turned into quicksand, making them unable to move. They used earth magic to try and free themselves, but Neshal’s boosted t.i.tan Crusher was immune to their magic.
When the two slabs of rock collided for the first time, the Golems’ bodies cracked. Yet it was far from over, the tier four spell simply pulled them away before slamming the two flat surfaces again and again.
The second impact cracked the constructs open, the third shattered their power cores and by the time the spell was over, nothing but dust remained.
“How did you do it?” Gaakhu was flabbergasted. “I had to resort using artifacts because the air is so thin that I might have fainted at the slightest effort and such a combined spell is quite the feat.”
“Didn’t you notice?” Neshal said. “At some point, the air got much better and that allowed me to go all out.”
Now that they could finally relax, Gaakhu noticed that she could breathe even better than when they had first arrived at the cave.
“Is it over?” Jerth, one of Phloria’s soldiers asked. When the Professors nodded, she yelled:
“You can stop now, we are safe!”
Quylla and the others had used light magic and some food from their dimensional items to stimulate the growth of the underground moss. By enhancing its metabolism and even giving it some life force when necessary, they had turned a whole patch of the cave green.
“Help me spread the moss near Kulah, otherwise it will take too long to make the air breathable again.” Quylla said.
The Golem Lith and Morok had fought had destroyed most of the moss inside the cave, so once they stopped feeding the patch with light magic, the oxygen it produced wasn’t going to be enough to supply such a wide s.p.a.ce.
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