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The humanoid figure continued its unsteady sway towards us. As it came within 50 meters of us, the figure finally revealed its identity. A section of the robe slid off its finger as a result of its unsteady gait, revealing a pale white bone finger.
We immediately got into formation with No.3, and Big 4 rushing in front to shield me, their bone shields raised high and ready.
Under One-eye's command, the five shieldbearers marched to the front and with as much strength as they could muster in an instant, drove their heavy shields into the ground with a loud bang. The shield wall was erected just like that, a wall reminiscent of the city walls of medieval times; sturdy and safe.
A set of orderly footsteps came up from behind as the trained saber wielders marched forth. Soon, their Mo sabres were in position atop the walls, their fangs ready to strike.
"Stranger, please be at ease."
Upon seeing our defensive formation, the robed skeleton stopped in tracks. As he looked up at us, his hood was immediately blown back by the surrounding winds, revealing his bone white skull.
His jaws chattered up and down as he spoke in a surprisingly human fashion: "Please do not attack, this old one merely wishes to greet the intelligent life forms. It's been several hundred years since this old one has had any visitors."
"Can we talk?" He asked in the devil's language. The fact that he was able to talk without any vocal cords was strange but then again, I've already reincarnated twice in this world of swords and magic; so I guess it isn't that strange after all.
"That's right, this old one desires the simple pleasure of having a conversation." As he said this, his bony white arms reached out from under his robes, revealing that he no weapons hidden underneath; this was a sign of his peaceful intent. He then continued: "Living by myself for such a long time has made me...lonely."
"Hold it right there, just stay where you are and don't come any closer!"
He seems like an amiable sort, for an undead. But is that really so? In this land of the undead, all the undead we've encountered so far possessed no intelligence of their own, at least while they were low level...wait, while they were low level?!
The skeleton halted after hearing my demand. As he stood there looking at my reaction, he stroked his chin in an inquisitive fashion: "Stranger, you seem troubled."
"Can you tell me your level?"
*gulp* This is bad...he's definitely higher level than me and I'm still unsure of his intentions. Furthermore, can an undead's words really be trusted?
"This old one's level cannot be revealed, but this old one can guarantee that you are no match for this one in a fight."
"Let's give it a try then!" One-eye's black sword was pointed at the undead in a taunting pose as he said so, his shield ready by his side to defend me. "You can look down upon us, but I definitely won't allow you to look down upon our Master! Our Master is the greatest, purest…"
Before he could continue his embarrassing string of praises, the robed skeleton's soul flames burst to life. A second later, the black sword in One-eye's hands was engulfed by a green flame and began melting from the center out.
Having lost the center of its body, the blade fell to the ground in a slightly molten pile of flames and bones. This mix of green and white flame began eating into the ground as well. In the blink of an eye, a hole the size of a fist was formed with no signs of abatement as the flames continued its ravenous rampage…
One-eye leaped back in surprise, quickly tossing away his melting sword just in case the molten liquid spreads to his body.
"This...this…" The sudden turn of events left One-eye speechless. As for his follower, Nine-finger, he was already hiding behind the heavy shields, enjoying the sense of security it gave.
No.3 and Big 4's faces weren't any better, but they maintained their position in front of me, as if to shield me from the eyes of the skeleton.
"Now, do you believe this old one?" He said in an offhand tone that was more suited to a question like [Would you like some tea?]. The soul flames in his eyes danced as if they were mocking One-eye's ignorance as he said this.
"Hmm...I got it. You guys can stay where you are while me and this...sir, have a chat." As the words left my mouth, I pushed No.3 and Big 4 aside, and under their disbelieving gaze, I was crossed over the shield wall and walked towards the skeleton.
As I stood in front of the skeleton alone, I asked in a formal and slightly humble tone: "What does sir wish to tell us, or is there some way we may be of assistance to sir? Or did we stumble into a place we shouldn't be in and ended up disturbing sir?"
"Such an understanding kid. All the kids I met with in the past either tried to flee or attack me after I displayed my powers. You are the first I've seen who managed to calm down and make a well thought-out decision." The robed skeleton gave a strange smile as he continued: "More often than not, those kids just charge at me the moment I appear."
What he said could be interpreted as praise, but this didn't make me happy at all. The reason was that he's still a potential foe whose powers were currently unknown, but were definitely higher than mine. Right now, I'm merely a defenseless sheep standing before a wolf.
Before I stepped out, I had already evaluated our situation. If he had wanted us dead, he could have used that strange flame right as he saw us. But he didn't do so! As for his intentions, whether they were friendly or taunting...This was a gamble that I had to take. Even though my luck had been bad so far…
"Don't worry, this old one isn't an unreasonable person."
"May I know of sir's motives?"
"It's because you have that in your possession, so I decided to have a chat with you." He pointed behind me with a subtle expression that looked like he had just pointed out the most obvious thing ever. At least, that's what I thought it was; having no flesh to speak of made discerning his expressions, difficult.
What did I have in my possession? There's nothing in my hands right now...Wait, if he means behind me!
I turned around and gazed at the female large imp hugging the Grimoire of the Dead...
That female imp was also the one who had carried through the entrance to this floor. From that moment on, she was always by my side like a shadow. It had gotten to the point where I had forgotten about her existence. After I found that grimoire, I decided to leave it in her care since it wasn't a weapon, and most of the time I had no use for it. More importantly, it was heavy.
Hmm, if I had to describe their gender differences, male and female large imps were pretty similar. Both had flat chests, the female imp didn't have any extra lumps of flesh on her chest. As for what's between their legs, both male and female did not have a pee pee or a little sister respectively.
However, there was a vague sense of distinction between the two that us devils were able to pick up on. In short, they judged who was a female or male by feeling. It was precisely because of this that I was often mistaken for a female…
Truth be told, males all had a pee pee, it's just that it's always hidden from plain sight.
"Book!" I took the grimoire from the female imp as she brought it over, and stared at it. Was he after this book? Or was he planning something else? Should I give it to him? If I don't, will he kill us…
"Relax, I won't snatch it from you." He said while nonchalantly waving his hands. My hesitation had clearly been seen through. He continued with his reassurance: "I've detected a hint of my race on you which means you can be considered as half an undead."
"..." Well, I'm grateful for your reassurance, but I'm not the least bit happy about it! Why should I be happy about becoming a skeleton or a zombie!
"Haha, since an interesting kid, the ripples in your soul are so fascinating."
"..." Calm down...but why does it feel like he can read whatever I'm thinking.
"Well, let's continue with our conversation." He pointed at the weapons in the devils' hands and said: "These are your creations? Fascinating designs, as toys their strength are sufficient."
"Toys…" Ah, don't use such a hurtful term to describe my babies. I expanded a lot of effort in order to create those "toys".
"Objects created by dark alchemy will follow the user's designs during the creation process, automatically shaping themselves to the design. While this might seem convenient, it comes with several issues as well...like the fact that it's a one-off process that cannot be interrupted. So you must have a clear design in mind before proceeding...The product's strength is also determined by the materials…"
As he continued explaining, his aura seemed to change. If he was in my previous world, he would probably be some kind of professor giving a lecture. Judging from his confident tone, he might just be a master dark alchemist.
"Regarding that…" Unknowingly, I had risen my hand like an elementary school kid in a classroom. "May I know why my creations are nothing more than toys?"
"Perhaps to you they seemed perfect, but to me they are merely toys."
Such a displeasing review…
"If you don't believe me, why don't we have a test?"
"It's just a normal experiment, not many people would die, don't worry." The robed skeleton suddenly stood up and gave me a strange smile. Ah, a skeleton smiling is just something you can't get used to.
Before I was able to react, he retreated back to the foot of the giant dragon where we first saw him. The soul flames in his eyes danced once more but this time his skeletal hands were covered in a dark green glow as well.
The earth began to shake, to be exact, the mountain began to shake. Outside the altar, undead began crawling out of the ground. There were skeletons, zombies and even two skeletal mages who had that same green glow on their hands!
The undead were all equipped with bone weapons and armors. As for the mages, they wore a set of tattered rags similar to robes. They had appeared in a circle around us, and while there weren't too many, each of them gave off an unexpected feeling of immense power.
"Master, please retreat." No.3 and Big 4 immediately escorted me back to the safety of the shield wall.
"Kill them!" After confirming my safety, One-eye grabbed a bone sword from one of the devils and pointed it towards the road leading down the mountain. "Clear the road for the Master! Charge! For the Master!"
"For the Master!"
With their morale raised to the limits, they roared and charged towards the path. However, before they could even take a second step, a three meter tall bone wall rose from the ground, sealing off our escape route!
"Damn it!" One-eye relentlessly struck at the bone wall but it refused to budge an inch.
Surprisingly, the undead didn't make use of this opportunity to attack us, but instead gathered together. They formed up ranks in front of the robed skeleton; with the normal melee undead in the front, the archers in the middle and the two mages right at the back.
Unlike the unorganized hordes we met in the past, this was a proper army! One that I had almost mistaken for an army of disciplined soldiers.
The reason why I was able to notice all this was because there was no bone wall between us and the robed skeleton...I guess it going to be a battle afterall…
Hmph, I don't care how strong you are, anyone who bares their claws at me will have to pay a price.
And so, our first ever fight with a proper army of undead began…
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