Overlord: The Exiled

Chapter 41: War of the Dragon Kingdom 4

The Scarlet Hill Pt. 2

Notes and Disclaimer: Overlord is Kugane Maruyama's and is Licensed by YenPress. Yes, I understand this isn't the final chapter of The Scarlet Hill, but after reading through what I had done . . . I cringed hard and said go about it in a different way. Apologies.

The Lair

Fourth Floor of The Lair: [The Seraphic Gates]

"Rraaah! HA!"

The sound of a blade cutting the air could be heard even by those not terribly keen of ear. Not that there was anyone nearby. The floor looked like something out of children's tales. The skies were not blue and cloud filled. Nay, they were star filled and twisted and warped about in odd locations and in random intervals. The floors were structures of giant slabs that mindlessly floated in this seeming abyss of celestial lights and nebular clashes.

Railing either did not exist at all or were mere golden picket fences hardly fit to stop anything from crashing through them and falling over the edge to an untimely . . . never ending fall. Only those with natural or magical flight could spare themselves the tumble.

The few guards on duty that could hear the sounds were nervous and wary. A small squad of them upon one of the many secure bridged pathways on the floor whispered to each other.

"Lord Draconis seems furious. Did you see his eyes?" One man asked, his ears flicked back and forth full of tense nerves. He was a druid with a wolf totem that changed his racial type to something akin to, but not literally a lycanthrope. At the moment he wished he could turn off his powers, but alas, fate was not that merciful. His senses could pick up everything their liege was doing.

"I did notice that. Scaa~ary. The last time I saw our liege so furious was shortly before the final battle of the [Dragonsong War]."

The others nodded in agreement with the statement from their peer. Another one of their number spoke up.

"Aye, his eyes glowed scarlet like his hair. I can see why he would come down to our sector to vent via training. Little to no collateral to be had within the [Seraphic Gates]."

An explosion made them all wince and glance in the direction their liege lord had gone off to. One of the healers of their group swallowed in apprehension.

"Does anyone know why he has become so furious? Normally our liege is a True Dragon of his caliber. Patient and compassionate. True he is strict and expects nothing less than the best of our efforts, but rarely infuriated."

The leader of their group shook his head, surprising them all. He was a dragonoid, and as such could feel the anger and emotions of their leader better than the rest of them due to his blood heritage. Dragon kind could feel more keenly the emotions and call of others like them.

"That may be the case most of the time dear healer, but dragon kind hold extraordinary grudges and we never, ever forget any slight that comes our way to us or our loved ones. Yesterday's transgressions stay that way for decades, centuries even. True, Lord Draconis is normally patient, and tries to see it from the angle of others, but even he is not a saint." The dragonoid looked toward the platform where flashes of steel could be seen. The scent of sweat, and raging emotions carried all the way to his nostrils and he shuddered visibly. "Do not forget that our liege frequently laid waste to companies of foes during the Guild Wars in his assistance of our friends in Avalon. And that against killers who did it for thrills, he was always merciless . . . brutal even."

They nodded as another crash of power sent shockwaves their way.

Draconis growled loudly in frustration and anger. A niggling sensation at the back of his mind set off warnings.

Warning . . . Karma Levels for the following powers too low for activation . . . Warning! Warning! . . . Karma Levels for the following powers too low for activations . . .

"Grah, I KNOW!"

He slammed the sword in his hands down into the training dummy. The target cracked and splintered but did not shatter. The sword he was wielding was a simple beginner bastard sword back from level 5. Virtually indestructible in its Durability Score as a Low Rank weapon, he still did maximum damage allowed by the restrictions to the dummy.

Said dummy was magically enchanted to reset instantly the moment it hit "0" Hit Points . . .

Draconis found it oddly appropriate as of this moment. He wore none of his armor, though [The Finery of Valhalla] remained on. Not that he could take it off . . . he had tried that long ago before The Transfer. It was permanently affixed to every Accessory Equipment Slot except for his wedding band ring slot for the [Ring of Everlasting Affection].

Dressed in a simple tunic and breeches with knee high leather boots, he was covered in sweat from his exertions yet did not feel tired yet. Dragon stamina was to blame in his book.

Initially coming down to merely vent his stress, he unintentionally found himself discovering more and more about the changes The Transfer had done to him above just the meta-status of attribute numbers and class powers.

His endurance was beyond anything he could imagine now. Glancing at the magical clock he had activated, he had been at this for more than four hours straight and did not truly feel at all winded or sore. Honestly most of his issues was that he was still frustrated and annoyed.

"Tch! The First Sire's little 'gift' really has made my old emotions and grudges resurface in spectacular fashion. My Karma Score is astoundingly low now after making use of [Freya's Embrace]. Normally I received at least a chunk of positive Karma gain bringing back the killed and healing the injured . . . was it because of my inadvertent assistance of those lizardmen's deaths of Ainz's actions? Possibly . . ."

Picking up where he left off, he set his stance in front of the dummy.

The Transfer altered more than I first realized. I guess coming down here to vent a bit has helped me notice it before real trouble comes demanding my blood. Skills seem easier to execute and chain together unlike the old game. No lag time at all . . . almost instinctual now.

Dashing in with a lunge, he stabbed at the dummy, shifting into a spinning slash. The impacts shook the air around him with their force. Smashing into the dummy's "gut" with his off hand, he dug into the dummy with his sprouted claws, the need to make use of his Dragon Race natural attacks in the form of claws that could split adamantite with ease due to his Dragon Age Category was . . . cathartic in a way. Part of him was fairly certain he could rake with claws on his feet if he wanted to . . . but the boots prevented that. He was sure that his tail swipe and even bite if he chose too were now magical on the tier level of Legendary. They did not deal as much damage as his sword and weaponskills, but the sheer terror of being rent apart and slammed; or ripped to shreds by fangs was enough for most players back in the golden days of YGGDRASIL.

Ripping his claws out of the dummy, he brought the sword back around in a reverse grip across the "head" of the target. Stepping back a moment, he flexed his clawed hand several times as he stared at them with a frown. Golden in coloration with flashes of pearl white that almost blinded with bright light shining directly upon them. Five inches long looking more like talons rather than claws like the beastman he had killed weeks ago upon their first foray into the New World to help those who could not help themselves.

They returned to normal human like fingertips as he clenched a fist.

Like a cat that retracts its claws when not needed, he sighed.

"Damnation. I can't access or activate my [Heavenly Bladeworks] much less many of my other skills and powers with my Karma so low. Below even a positive 100 eh? And hexed on top of that? Damn it. I let the blood get to my head with Ainz. Still, I should be all but shy of immune to Energy Drain class attacks and spells, much less Level Drain powers. How did he get through my resistances even with my Karma so low?"

Draconis hummed to himself in thought as he reflected on the colossal goof that had been getting the younger Player riled. Now that he thought about it, the two of them never had such a heated argument even back then. Was it their races predispositions getting the better of them? He grit his teeth and spat a curse before glaring a the dummy again.

"This is growing out of hand too quickly for no decent reasons . . . hm . . . spell list. Might as well refresh myself."

Putting some distance between himself and the dummy again, Draconis mentally cycled through his spell list. Something he was rather proud of despite its small pool. At least small compared to full casters.

"Hmm . . . all 80 spells accounted for. With this whole Transfer debacle, I wish I could go back and relearn a few things and replace old spells with different ones, but beggars cannot be choosers."

With the total number of his spells being mainly due to his Racial Levels combined with special classes, most of his class spells stopped at Tier VI. His Dragon Race and its two special Rare Classes provided the rest. Two special quests he had gone with Archmage Merlin on as his guard had rendered two Super Tier spells available to him at Merlin's advice. The Archmage truly was terrifying with his magic knowledge of rare quests with extraordinary rewards.

Draconis held a precious 5 spells known of Tier VII. 5 of Tier VIII, 3 at Tier IX, and 3 at Tier X. Of all of those Tier levels of VII and higher, only three of them were Evocation Attack spells. Many of his spells were not combat oriented, instead Role Play oriented. Like Tier V [Tongues] which allowed the speaker to speak in every language in existence accurately as if fluent and let those hearing him to understand in their most familiar language. Lasting a certain amount of time, his capped out at six hours. Merlin's version of it capped out at a full 24 hours.

Hah! Merlin must be rolling in laughter at me for needing to do this recap of my own spells list. I capped at 67 spells with my build. Had to buy the remaining 13 spells. Damn buy per single spell Cash Shop! Too expensive . . .

Artorias had beat him in the back of the head back in real life for the money he had paid out for those extra spells. He couldn't imagine the price full build casters like Ainz paid for so many extra spells! Granted, full magic caster accounts got a surprisingly generous discount to do so . . . Shitty devs . . .

Not that he had not pinched her ears almost off at some of the spending she did on the guild in general . . .

They had some serious talks about the game spending budget afterwards for both of them as a couple. That hadn't been pleasant, but it had been needed.

Not that any of their friends online hadn't immediately set about jabbing them in the ribs and joking about the "Royal Budget Argument" as it had become. He sighed heavily, a small gout of dragon's fire escaped his lips and he hissed in mild surprise.

Oof, didn't mean to breath fire . . . Hmm . . . I wonder how my breath weapon has changed?

Calling up several training dummies in formations, he walked to the other end of the platform, roughly 80 feet away. In the old world he knew his breath weapon had a range of 140 feet in a straight, 10 foot wide line; or changed to a 70 foot long, high, and wide cone effect. Certain Racial bonuses and chosen abilities allowed him other various effects in the form of the [Meta-Breath Weapon] series of milestones.

Breath weapons were fearsome things, but restricted by a re-cast delay running anywhere between 6 to 24 seconds, yet even if they recharged faster than 24 seconds, they could still only breath once every 6 to 16 seconds max determined entirely at random. An [Extraordinary] power, they could use it within [Anti-Magic] fields, making them ultra dangerous threats.

This randomness of rate of fire combined with its medium range and various other effects made predicting a breath weapon a matter of paying attention to the telegraphs in dragons. Glowing throats, the smell of sulfur for fire element dragons. Or some other body language. But for Draconis and any dragon Player with a human form ability, predicting it was almost impossible.

Sure you could dodge out of the way, but you would still suffer half the damage inflicted unless you were a rogue class with the special [Evasion] power.

Focusing his dragon energies to his lips, he breathed . . .

Across the floor, every guard in the nearby area turned and stood stunned when the flare of dragon fire erupted from the platform. The blastwave of residual heat made some sweat and other choked a bit on the aftermath of the smoke that wafted their way like a rush of fury. The floor of the platform he was on was charred white from the attack in a broad cone, the dummies roasted like charcoal.

At the source Draconis stood tall with a mild look of surprise and satisfaction. Like he had learned something new for those who were eagle eyed enough to tell. Their liege huffed a bit before gathering up his scattered equipment and warping off of the grounds. Probably back to his chambers to wash and refresh.

"That was our liege's dragon breath weapon?! First I've ever seen of it." One of the guards approached the platform just vacated by Draconis. He glanced about the white charred platform as it slowly began to repair itself.

One of his fellow squadmates gingerly ran an index finger along the charred surface. "No heat despite the intensity just a few seconds ago. Dragon fire is really mysterious isn't it?"

Their squad captain nodded, his eyes resting on the burnt dummy targets. "Yes . . . yes it can be indeed." His voice wandered as he worried about the emotional health of their liege.

Draconis arrived on one of the observing decks of The Lair that gave an outside view of the environment. The mountain ranges they found themselves in were honestly a beautiful sight to behold. Sighing heavily, he looked up into a star filled sky. Something he never really beheld back on Earth. Not anymore.

"Something on your mind my Liege?"

Cecilia von Houten approached with a quiet patience in her expression. Draconis nodded quietly, quelling his growing aggravations.

"Concern at how power can chain a person down in more ways than liberating him."

Cecilia gazed up into the sky with him. "Ah, you speak of Luserina's predicament. I can tell from Samael and Chronos's recent report to me that you are itching to merely swoop in and pull her and her subordinates out of their peril. But for the sake of the others, you don't risk diving into a situation blind."

"A Commander who reveals themselves on the field of battle too often exponentially increases the odds of someone or something of equal power and skill appearing at ill opportune moments. Nevermind the level of power I possess would . . . I fear . . . generate the mistaken belief that I am some god made flesh."

Cecilia nodded her understanding. "A valid concern My Lord. What with the information that Lord Chronos has found with the Slane Theocracy and the supposed Six Great Gods. I am thankful that you and Her Majesty never have laid claim to such a thing as divinity. The concern of being seen as such a thing if you take to the field with all your might does worry me and a few of the others as well."

"Not just myself Cecilia. But you as well. Todd and Samael too. Luserina . . . is not a commander I am afraid. I fear she may have hampered herself without realizing it by being worried about how her own powers could affect the people's mindset. Especially of elf kind."

Cecilia did remember the pair of elf children that her peer had returned to The Lair with. Their ears clipped and bruised apalled her. The first things they did other than getting them washed and filled with a warm meal and drink was to restore their ruined ears with high Tier healing. The many faye and other nature loving magical beings of The Lair had welcomed the two younglings warmly, astounding the children with the many co-existing races.

The near awe-inspired setting on a pedestal that they had done of Luserina had humbled the elf Guardian, but also sent her into a very concerned mindset of how much her powers could upset the balance of their new home of theirs.

Part of Cecilia wondered if she was taking that too harshly . . .

"Perhaps you are right Lord Draconis."


Hillside Forest; Bastogne

The night watch of Luserina's forces consisted of herself and a rotating guard of 10 Rangers. After shifting through the carnage of their lines and speaking with healers and officers, the tally was telling.

Of her force of 500 troops, 5 riflemen were dead and 2 wounded. 37 troops killed in action in actual combat. 24 dead from bombardments. 34 wounded enough to take them completely out of combat.

All total, a full Fifth of her fighting force was down. 100 troops out of combat. As she breathed the night air, it was stale and putrid with death brought in by the wind from all around them. She coughed harshly at the revulsion she felt.

The few beastmen that they had captured were being detained in bindings. A contingent was set up to guard them, with one medical soldier to treat their wounds. Once the wounded and dead were all accounted for as best as they could in the failing daylight, they set up picket guard posts at the cardinal directions and in between.

An owl's whistle call was the signal at regular intervals that nothing was wrong. A hawk's cry was the signal that something was spotted and that everyone needed to be rallied. Luserina looked out among the glints in the distance of what looked to be fires burning here and there.

Silently she wondered how Lord Draconis was reacting to their disappearance. Probably not well . . . if his changed state of mental health was at the hands of The First Sire was any indication.

Beastmen Campsite


Silverwind shook her head and could not bring herself to eat her fish. Seared over coals and a "hotplate" as the human cook from a village she had her people take over due to its prime location at a river. It was easily her favorite meal. Her many clansmen and women agreeing with her tastes after trying it themselves. What was more, it wasn't anywhere near as dangerous as running into humans who did have the ability to fight back.

"Khan Silverwind . . . what troubles you?"

She turned to see one of her clan elders giving her a concerned look. She ruffled her feathers in annoyance. Though she did not chastise him for pointing out her frustration.

"It's these fighters. Never have we seen so many humans fight with such tenacity and power, skill and ferocity in equal measure. They have weaponry that far outclasses these pathetic humans we've fought so far. The warnings of Khan Ziang Lu Quan were right. These are no cowards nor suckling babes to a fight. These are hardened warriors. What few could catch a glimpse of their backline saw what seemed to be magic casters assisting their healers."

The elder had heard the reports as well. The artifact given to them canceled magic in a large area, but it was part of a large set. Yet even one being destroyed would end the effect. Such a powerful tool did not stop these men and women from fighting with all the fury of a storm. The thought of them having access to whatever magic their could muster as well made him shiver down to his soul.

"How many of our own have died?"

"Too many and this was only the first battle." Silverwind had gotten the body count of the wounded and dead. Of her clan alone, they had suffered 160 wounded and 243 dead. Losing more than 400 members able to fight the next day in mere hours chilled her. Her mind was already beginning to go into a dark place in terms of survival.

Losing almost a tenth of her her entire clan in a single engagement and they were with the advantage!

"How many of the siege weapons were lost?" Her question made the elder ruffle his own feathers. He knew what she was asking. He too had seen the silvery spectral trails that smashed into their siege weapon crews and decimated them.

After that first attack, five more had been unleashed in different sections from that hilly forest. They had been given 20 siege engines. Only 12 remained working. For all their power, no one knew how to repair one, much less gather the needed materials to even attempt it.

"Khan Silverwind. Let us see how the next day favors us and then adjust accordingly. We have our nocturnal members still at full strength."

Silverwind nodded remorsefully. "Very well. You make valid points."

Rotfang's Camp

"What do you mean we did not take any of them back?!"

The beastman reporting to their khan grimaced as he answered.

"They were fierce in keeping their own among their number. Anyone trying to grab their melee fighters and drag them away were shot dead by arrows, or killed by the sword or spear. It seems like they have fought against opponents that have done such a thing in the past and learned from it."

What Rotfang and his clansmen did not realize was that during the Guild Wars of YGGDRASIL, one particular guild had a wicked tactic that captures PoPs units and converted them to their side via transmutation spells or mind controlling spells. It had earned that guild some real hatred during each Season of War. Avalon had taken great strides to prevent unit loss via capture or brainwashing.

"What of that thunderoussssss magic they can still casssssst?!" The roar of thunder followed immediately by the splattering of even their mightiest defenders and largest brutes with ease with little to no sign of effects had chilled more of his clan than anything else they had faced. He glared into the distance at the location of one of the artifacts given to them to cancel magic casters in their tracks.

"Perhaps it is not magic?" Rotfang glared at his subordinate in indignation.

"Preposssssteroussssss! What elssssssse could it be BUT magic?! Enough, we prepare for attack before dawn. No feeding tonight, let the hunger drive you."

Rotfang boiled. 87 wounded and 291 dead of his own clan. It was mind numbing!

The beastman nodded ruefully and slinked off to relay the news, it would not be received well by anyone. Lucky humans . . .

Morning the Following Day

"Ma'am. They're beginning to move again."

Luserina grit her teeth and stretched in her spot in the tree she perched in. She had only four hours of sleep.

"Understood. Instruct all riflemen and women to prioritize their siege engines the moment the foe begins attacking again. I don't need anymore losses to those damnable things."

Her troops nodded and began to take up positions. The Knight Commander under her remained with a concerned expression. Noticing his tense nature, she nodded at him.

"What is it? Speak your mind."

"My apologies Lady Luserina, but we may need your direct support. I understand your abilities might attract stronger opponents, but the numbers are against us."

Luserina did realize what it was he was asking and it made sense. Even at the risk of attracting the attention of more powerful opponents, she would have to actively engage in combat this time. Weapon Skills were not stopped by this [Anti-Magic Field].

Drawing her two of her pistols, she frowned. Her [Puff Adders] set of firearms were heavily magic dependent, so she went to her reserve armaments.

A Relic Tier weapon from the [Fall of Valkyria] patch. [Raffica 93 Special] modified by Merlin and Tristan.

She remembered that the weapons were jokingly referred to by Merlin and Tristan as the "Murphy Special", for reasons she had no idea as to why.

Adjusting the rifle on her shoulder, it too was not her standard due to its heavily magical nature.

An interesting weapon as firearms went as a lever action, box magazine fed rifle instead of the usual tube magazine. It was a relatively difficult weapon to wield, but it was far faster on the reload than the tube magazine rifles.

She counted up the ammunition she had on her person. Normally, [Endless Bandolier] and [Infinity Haversack] kept her provided with more than enough ammunition, but within the effect range of an [Anti-Magic Field], they were sealed away. Inaccessible until out of the area of effect, she and her other gunners were restricted to the limited number of cartridges already in play on their persons.

Normally most firearms held effects like [Infinite Ammo] or [Replenishing Munitions] to prevent utterly losing their ability to fight in a pinch. Not within the field of anti-magic though.

"Agreed. Let us be about it then." She half cocked her sidearms and chamber checked her rifle before locking the lever and bolt in place. Placing a special set of plugs into her ears to protect herself from the inevitable moment she would have to fire her own weapons, she jumped up into the nearest tree to begin to find a vantage point.

The beastmen began to rush forward again, the siege engines unleashing their payloads as they charged. Rangers of Luserina's forces punished them for it with volleys of fire that decimated teams or equipment in equal measure.

The fighting descended swiftly into frenzied melee. The beastmen were noticeably more aggressive than the previous day, taking more dangerous risks.

"Get him back to the medics!"

"He's eating the chunk he took out of my arm! Sick fuck!"

"Show them no mercy!"

Blood flowed and curses rang out through the air even as gunfire roared, killing whoever rested in the sights of the Rangers.

The air grew hot and heavy. Salt and grit saturated the lips of all fighting in the air all around the hillside as violence reigned supreme yet again.

Mud turned to bloody, pungent filth.

Trees splintered with sword and axe gouges.

Grass was fed with blood and innards.

Madness . . .

Luserina reorganized her troops to create a latticework of defense that gradually focused defensive power North, Southeast, and east. This left a token force to keep the western line with her heading its defense.

Leaping into the air from the top branches, her form drew the attention of every beastman in the air and on the ground who could see her. Her cloak billowed like a pair of bat's wings, spread wide and vicious.

Leveling her rifle, she swept the sights over all of the siege engines on her self appointed flank before squeezing the trigger slow. Ever so slow . . . time seemed to stop for her senses as the hammer struck the firing pin.

She knew the chain reaction of death that squeezing the trigger would create. The primer igniting, sending its salamander's kiss through the magically charged powders that exceeded anything mankind would ever have thought possible through conventional warfare.

The fiery conflagration howling to be set loose, forcing their way from the casing like demons ripping open the gates of hell, pushing the projectile of [Gemstone Steel] forward like a breath exhaled from dragons. Racing down the barrel and letting the death rider loose to the feast.

The shot roared like thunder, its report more than anything her Rangers let loose upon the enemy. A six foot flame left the barrel; roasting the one bird like beastman to try and get close to her alive. His charred corpse fell like a sack into the dark forest below.

Halfway to its mark it flew like lightning before exploding into shards of fire like tendrils searching for food, each one landing on its mark before erupting into a pyroclastic spire into the skies, vaporizing her foes and their engines all in a single strike.

Four down. More to go . . .

Racking the lever to eject the casing, she fell back to the ground with a flip, landing among the branches again in cover.

[Pyroclastic Eruption] was a large scale Area of Effect shot that could be used twice a day for one shot cost. Extremely potent and one of her higher scaled attacks. Something told her she'd be using the higher class shots due to her ammunition supply.

Drawing her elven saber, she rushed out of the treeline into full view, slaying a group of beastmen with a single broad stroke. Their heads flew and rolled. A ranged combatant she may be, but even she knew the value of melee skill when the bullets ran low.

The soldiers to her left and right of her formed defensive formations. She frowned. It did not appear that either leader of the enemy was on this front. Drawing a bow she picked up from one of her fallen soldiers, she ran trained fingers over the tips of the fetching of arrows in her quiver.

Twenty arrows. More are back in the forest. Make them count.

Pulling three arrows from the quiver, she readied them on the string. Aiming into the skies she pulled back as the arrows began to glow with another Weapon Skill. Her mind's eye reflected the area around her, calculating the location and the greatest density of enemies facing them. The Knight Commander with her saw what she was doing and stepped in front of her. Raising his shield and sword he bellowed to all their troops surrounding them.

"Guard the Commander with everything you've got! Let nothing through!"

The men and women roared and rallied around Luserina, making a bastion of defense. Beastmen on their side of the conflict noticed the steadily golden glow that grew brighter around her arrows. The inherent instincts of flight or fight reared their heads as many began to flee in fear of whatever this she-elf was about to unleash despite assurances that magic was negated . . .

What golden glow so bright could be anything BUT magic?!

Others charged ruthlessly to her location in spite of the bristling swords, spears, shields, and other arrows readied and arrayed against their assault to try and interrupt this woman's attack. Not even just a killing blow, but something . . . anything . . . to prevent her from loosing the arrows upon her bow!

The clash was visceral, with the defenders fending off multiple groups. A single arrow slipped by, grazing Luserina's cheek. The protections of magic gone, it left a single line on her face that seeped blood. A trifling thing, but she grit her teeth at the slight sting.

She released her attack; the three arrows launched into the air like golden needles . . .

Meanwhile on the Eastern Front

Silverwind shuddered as the figure appeared in the air by an impossible leap. The cloak the figure wore looked like demon wings from campfire tales of her clan. The roar of her "staff" was more than anything previously seen. Then the flames . . . oh gods and ancestors! The pillars of fire that roared skyward. She knew they had awakened a demon.

Was this a person like the report Lu Quan had given about the woman that tore Terramist apart with magical blades of wind like wheat before the threshing scythe?

"Blades of wind and now pillars of fire! This monster commanding these soldiers knows warriors who can command the elements themselves! And this one can do it even within the traps of the magic suppression crystals!"

She shrieked loudly and raised her hand aloft to call off her clansmen. This was getting suicidal!

As they turned to retreat for the second day in a row, the skies opened up and golden death rained from above like bright spears from the heavens . . . clouds of them. The roar of arrows whistling en mass consumed the area and then fell silent. Silverwind dreaded thinking on how many just died.

Meanwhile Rotfang cursed under his breath as he witnessed Silverwind pull her clan back after the pillars of fire erupted from the far side of the hill. Then the golden glow that proceeded to rain countless arrows down had followed and even he had to admit that something was wrong.

"Check the [Anti-Magic Field Crystalsssssss]! Make sssssssure they are not damaged."

As one of his attendants left to do just that, Rotfang hissed in annoyance. If magic was interrupted as they said, then what were these attacks!? Were these Martial Arts?

"If these are Martial Artsssssss, then what caliber of fightersssssssss are there? Not a damned human ssssssssteak that's for certain!"

Rotfang slinked back and forth in utter fury. What the hells was this?

It wasn't even yet midday . . .

Rotfang reluctantly slithered back to his base camp.

"Get me a group of headhuntersssss. Keep watch and immediately let me know if they try to esssscape!"

Several of his clansmen nodded and rushed about to gather up the necessary manpower.

Base of the Hillside

Luserina witnessed the retreating the forms of their foes and sighed as she wiped the blood from her cheek.

"Come, back to the cover of the forests. Send word around to gather our wounded and dead and we're going to try to get out of this hillside killzone."

The troops with her roared their acknowledgement of orders and rushed back towards the treeline. She gazed south, toward the remains of the village. Part of her did not want to move into more open territory, but she could not keep her wounded in such conditions. If even just one building was large enough and still held its integrity, they could be treated far more effectively than in the dirt and outdoors.

As she reached the treeline a single ranger met her there.

"Lady Luserina." He spoke firmly. His eyes were still clear and sharp despite the bloodshed and chaos. He was covered in dirt and a fair amount of blood, though none of it looked to be his own. His shortsword and dagger held firmly in their scabbards by his side as he held his rifle.

"Yes ranger? Speak."

"If we are to move locations with our wounded Ma'am, we need more than just this opportunity. I request permission to scout ahead for patrols and possible traps. Maybe even find the source of the [Anti-Magic Field] and neutralize it to give our forces a needed boost."

Luserina clenched her jaw. It was true she needed more intel. Yet one man alone . . .

"Denied. Not alone. Take at least two more with you."

The ranger frowned a bit. He nodded after another moment of thought. "Yes Ma'am. I'll be taking two more rangers with your permission."

"You have it. Godspeed. Leave markers for clear routes and warnings. Keep in mind . . . if you are compromised . . ." Her voice died.

"We won't receive reinforcements and are likely deadmen walking. Those I take with me will understand that risk as much as I do Ma'am."

He huffed it back into the treeline to find two others who would join him. Luserina trembled.

Am I doing this right? Am I making the right call? She stared into the skies above. This is the feeling Lord Draconis feels every time we go to battle . . . how does he not break under the pressure?

She entered into the treeline, disappearing from anyone who could see her upon the foothills.

The ranger made his way through the men and women he called brothers and sisters in arms. Eventually finding the two he was looking for. Waving at them to get their attention, he huffed as he can in earshot.

"Bannockburn, Oakly, I need your help."

The two rangers looked at him in curiosity despite their situation. "What is it Sharpes? You normally don't ask for favors."

The female of the two tilted her head to the side in mild curiosity as she asked her fellow ranger what he needed. Her hair was done up in a bun under her broad shade hat. Her cloak was covered in mud and leaves to help her blend in. The man with her frowned slightly.

"It must be serious if you of all of us are asking favors. What's the objective?" Oakly spoke softly. He was a quiet one.

"I've gotten permission from the Commander. We're going scouting beyond the hill and securing a route out. Maybe even finding that damned artifact jamming our magic and enchantments."

Both rangers perked at the assignment. "Only three of us? Not a Striker Team?"

Sharpes shook his head seriously. "Too many for stealth given the circumstances. Also, we're going to have to . . . take a more serious effort to conceal ourselves. These beastmen probably have greater senses of smell, so . . ."

Bannockburn and Oakly shuddered a bit but nodded at the implications. Trudging down towards the frontal battle line, they passed a fellow ranger.

"Give us all some privacy?"

"What's wrong?"

"We need to better hide our scents for a scouting run."

The rifleman nodded as a grim expression came across his face. "Taking a mud bath eh? Don't envy you for that."

Despite the cover he tried to give her . . . as Bannockburn began to remove her outer coat, someone farther back whistled wolfishly. It was followed by a few catcalls from various troops who looked over to see what the commotion was about. No one had bathed much less eaten since the whole debacle. So seeing anyone undressing was an event.

Nevermind that all of them were trying to get their minds off of their predicament however they could. Which was why some of the more pious, or modest members did not say anything, merely shaking their heads at the jeering.

She smirked and scooped up a chunk of fouled earth and chucked it at the whistler, managing to smack him straight in the face. His sputtering and mild cursing drew a collection of laughs at his expense.

Though the laughing ceased as she dove into the dirt and mud and began to roll and slosh in it. Oakly did the same not much farther from her as Sharpe jumped into another softer section of ruined earth and debris.

"Ugh . . . what the hell you three?!"

"Oh gross . . . c'mon, seriously?"

Bannockburn rubbing clods of it into her hair before stuffing her hat back on and redressing. The clothing now itched something fierce and she was fighting to keep her gag reflex from working overtime. Above them, the clouds thundered and the sky darkened.

"A storm? Now? Damn the odds."

Sharpe mentally nodded at this development. The storm would be a boon to hide their movements from daylight.

"Oakly, Bannockburn, no scopes this time. No glint. Irons only."

The two rangers nodded and began to detach their optics. Stowing them in secure pouches, they went over their gear as a group. Another pair of rangers came to them as they were checking equipment.

"Hey, we got the word from Lady Luserina. Take some of our ammunition. You're going to need it until you get out of the [Anti-Magic Field] or destroy whatever is making it." The three rangers nodded in acceptance and took several extra stripper clips of cartridges for their [Mad Minute]s.

Draconis as a soldier himself during the Arcology War wrote in extensive training and proven combat situations with those that he entrusted with firearms for his troops. Granted, their physical strength easily exceeded most human beings who were in shape and could lift and carry a fair amount. But combat was exponentially fatiguing.

A healer came to them with a pair of wrapped packages. "Here, eat before you go. I know it isn't a proper meal, and this morning's attacks haven't give us time to even open cold rations, but departing on an empty stomach isn't wise."

They opened the delicate packages to reveal a small stack of edible tack. They each took a piece and bit into them, the small loafs filled them like a meal.

"Ah, [Leembas Bread]. Thanks. This will help a great deal." The three wrapped the remaining loaf slices and departed. The rest of their allies sending good wishes and regards.

Before they could reach the southern tree line in sight of the broken and battered village in the distance, Luserina meet them with a solemn expression.

"You three, hold one moment."

All three of them stopped before their superior. They spoke nothing, only nodding to her in respect.

"I fear that my recent actions may end up attracting greater forces. Stay wary."

"I hope that isn't the case Ma'am, but we'll keep that warning close." Sharpe spoke for them. Luserina nodded at his words. She produced a small, pocket sized derringer shaped pistol.

"If you find the edge of the [Anti-Magic Field], fire this into the skies. It may give away your position, but we'll see it and know full well the distance keeping our powers hampered. At least then we'll know how far and where we need to move to escape and regain full fighting power. I will be moving our troops south, into the village to try and find better shelter for our wounded so the healers can properly work. I will make our move close to nightfall. Make sure no beastmen are there, and if there are survivors . . . warn them of our coming so they do not panic."

They all nodded.

"Spirits watch over these three in their tasks. Gods cast blessings over these three in their endeavors. Earth guide their steps. Godspeed."

The High Elvish blessing made them bow their heads as she recited them. The magic did not take hold, but Luserina spoke them regardless. She hugged each of them, regardless of their dirty forms.

"I fear I send you to your deaths. Pray prove me wrong."

They nodded in unison at her voiced desire to be proven that her fears would not be affirmed. Moving past her, they took low stances and crept into the tall grasses before slowly making their way towards a large set of shrubs and hedgerows in the distance.

The rains began to pour like cats and dogs. Visibility began to drop substantially in the downpour. The roar of the falling waters drowned out normal speech volume after a few feet at most.

Mere yards into the thick, tall grasses, Sharpe motioned for a halt. Gesturing to his cloak and rigged camouflage, he began to gently shed parts of it that did not match up with the grasses they were in before replacing them with the grasses around them and what underbrush he could. Taking his visual cue, they did so as well. Slowing, meticulously shedding their forested appearance to adjust for the new environment.

"What I wouldn't give for even a Tier I or Tier II Illusion." Bannonckburn grumbled softly. Oakly smiled and nodded quietly in agreement. Sharpe grunted as he wrestled some fresh grass into his headgear and collar before moving to the cloak he had removed.

"I agree Bannockburn, but we've got no choice here."

"Bannock. Just Bannock. My full surname is too long for this." Both men nodded in acceptance as they spent more time preparing themselves again.

An Avalonian adage: "Magic and Technology is nice . . . train like you never will have it."

The slogan rang in their minds as they methodically worked to change their covers to match the surrounding plantlife. So much training was done without magic and other life enhancements. It made them appreciate it all the more.

After meeting each other's inspections of their newly modified covers, they began to creep forward towards the burnt village in the distance.

Wow . . . it's been a while.

Glances about for Covid . . . sees other issues . . . greeeaaaaaat . . .

A bit shorter than usual, but if I continued it'd be blown WAY out of proportion.

For all of you faithful followers, here was the next installment of The Exiled. Finally.

This one has been brewing and stewing in my brain even when I've been dreaming, but between work and . . . work, I have had so little energy and motivation.

I am also in the process of moving to a new place to call home in the next few months.

Now, a few things I want to address before moving on . . . and it's story related.

A) If it isn't rather obvious. Certain events of the Overlord canon of the Light Novels will be getting a different spin with what is in the works. Don't worry about me "turning Ainz into a goodie two shoes". He's gonna still be evil. Just far less . . . wishy washy to put it mildly.

B) With said move to new roof over my head in pending/progress, the updates on the next few chapters will vary in timing contrary to how I wanted things to pan out by summer this year.

C) A few Side Chapters may appear as a separate "Fic" titled: "Overlord: Snippets". Essentially ideas for background information or events of the past during their YGGDRASIL days as not to extend the chapter count of The Exiled beyond the main story needlessly. This will be a side thing that will see updates based on any "brainfarts" I have on any given day or week as I work on The Exiled proper.

Now, with those notes out of the way, something that hasn't been seen in a while.

Review Response

To Everyone Wishing me Well amid Covid concerns: Thank you so much! I pray you all stay healthy and safe from this thing as well. Lord knows it was NOT pleasant, and I was in good health with no real pre-existing conditions.

Zzasicker: Writing Fluff DOES help. Immensely. You all may see some more in the side installements yet to be posted. Thanks for the review!

Dimension Distorter: "Grand Pumba" dragon . . . pfft! Don't know how the First Sire would react to that nickname . . . probably with annoyance like no other . . . And thank you for the support. I hope you are doing well yourself with everything going on.

Phobrouis1: Thank you for the review. I hope to keep this up to it's final conclusion, regardless of the time taken.

Dariory: Thanks for the cybercookies and shout out. Hope to see you reading more of The Exiled when you can!

G77471164: Alive? Very much so! Thanks for the support!

The Man Sitting Under a Tree: I know . . . it IS a . . . LOT. Kinda slapping myself for the pacing a bit.

JamesFreki: Oof! Yeah . . . the Chekhov's Gun . . . I know exactly what you're saying there. And yes, I do acknowledge some of my puncutation could use work. English: the hardest language in the world ladies and gentlemen! I do have plans with [The Finery of Valhalla]. Oh do I have PLANS. Just triggering it isn't there quite yet . . . thanks for reading.

Generation Zero: Been a minute since I've seen you around. Thank you for dropping a line!

Zandaino Nova Ari: Yes, Draconis is most assuredly not an armchair general, but a field commander type. He knows the importance of the paperwork and logistics, but he's a lot more comfortable on the field rather than watching his men do it for him.