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Defense Specialization and Shields

Payne, Sally, and Kasumi dashed on the streets towards Velvet.

As the lightning strikes grew more intense and ransacked the surrounding buildings, the three of them rushed towards the [Thunderstorm].

Despite knowing the danger, that was the only way to defeat Velvet.

“[Purple Lightning]!”

Electric shock erupted from Velvet’s extended fist, running towards the members of [Congregation of the Holy Swords].

“—As if I’ll let you! Necro, [Strong Armor]!”

Fearlessly, Chrome stood in the way of the lightning and bravely blocked it with his tower shield, nullifying the attack.

“Hey, you three, help me out! If it’s just some electric shock, I can protect you!”

“Let me help!”

The three also regained their composure, each attacking with magic and resuming the enemy search.

“—There are no enemy reactions around!”

“Alright, then let’s focus on what’s in front of us!”

Chrome repositioned his shield and fixed his gaze on Velvet and Hinata. If he stayed firm, other players should come through. Due to the strength of Velvet and Hinata, who specialized in one-VS-many situations, it’d be a tough battle.

“I can’t keep up with those three!”

Ahead, the three rushed towards Velvet’s thunderstorm.

“[Eight of the Sword: Gale]!”

“[Holy Blade of Protection]!”

In exchange of a lowered [STR] and [INT], Kasumi accelerated towards the thunderstorm. Payne, on the other hand, sacrificed his damage for protection and used a bunch of passive skills to raise his stats. Sally broke through the fierce storm with her sheer evasiveness.

“Amazing—! …Hinata!”

“…[Chain of Stars]!” Google search 𝐟𝓇ℯe𝒘𝘦𝒃𝑛𝒐ѵe𝙡. 𝑐𝗼𝓂

“[Holy Blade of Exterminating Evil]!”

Since Payne made no attempt to dodge, the chain that extended from the ground swiftly restrained him. However, in the next moment, his holy sword severed the chain and immediately cancelled the effect.

At the same time, Velvet took that opportunity to distance herself.

“You have to take it seriously, don't you?”

“Yes, that’s right…”

Targeted restraint was a strong counter for Sally—Hinata was aware of that, too.

Furthermore, Hinata had fully grasped Sally’s range. As such, she could always aim for Sally while reserving said skill. The pressure from the two wasn't small.

“Payne!”

“I know!”

Kasumi called out to Payne and the two rushed towards the duo at the same time. It was necessary to block Hinata’s skills and let Sally participate in the battle in earnest.

“Then I’m going, too! [Super Acceleration]! [Dash]!”

As Kasumi started running, Velvet made Hinata wait behind her as she accelerated forward.

“[Mind’s Eye]!”

Once Kasumi figured out where the thunder was going to strike, she countered it in an efficient manner.

“[Delicate Ice Sculpture]! [Crack in Gravity]!”

Hinata used a skill that lowered her defense, but Kasumi didn’t care and slashed at Velvet.

“[Sixth of the Swords: Blaze]!”

“[Parry] [All-Out Attack]!”

“If it’s only that—!”

Velvet swung her right hand. Using [Mind’s Eye] to evade the blow, Kasumi raised her sword and swung it down at Velvet.

“—Great!”

As damage effects appeared on Velvet, Payne closed in. Regaining her stance, Velvet looked forward.

“Now!”

Chrome’s voice echoed. Along with that, there was a burst of magic.

“[Ice Wall] [Icicle]!”

Hinata immediately raised some defense. However, despite managing to block the magic, she couldn’t stop Payne.

“Ray, [Torrent of Light]!”

“[Aurora]!”

Seeing Payne’s holy sword shining brilliantly, Velvet wrapped herself in thunder to intercept his blow. A white pillar of lightning rose from the ground and pierced the sky.

“Do you think that’ll stop me!?”

“Huh!?”

“[Holy Dragon’s Light Sword]!”

Seared by the rain of thunder, Payne swung down his holy sword while enduring the damage. A blinding torrent of light cut through the lightning pillar and approached Velvet.

“[Super Acceleration]! [Electromagnetic Leap]!”

—Nevertheless…

Velvet pressed on. By accelerating and stepping forward, she passed Payne’s blow while also erasing their distance.

“[Flash Flood]!”

“S-Sally!”

Apparently, Sally had expected that.

Before she could leap, Velvet was hit by the stream of water, which toppled her over. The thunderstorm remained, but it barely did any damage to Payne and Sally.

““[Super Acceleration]!””

Payne and Sally accelerated to catch up with Velvet.

They were equal in terms of speed. Despite having distanced herself, Velvet didn’t have enough time to fix her stance.

Sally and Payne had an unspoken agreement.

—Come on, use it.

“[Cocytus]!”

A gust of white mist. The intense cold froze its surroundings. Seeing that, Payne and Sally immediately distanced themselves. Velvet straightened herself and sighed briefly.

Although she managed to keep them away, Hinata made a bitter face due to having to use that skill.

“It’s alright, Hinata, you saved me!”

Velvet smiled in reassurance.

However, the area soon grew noisy with resounding footsteps, signaling that the situation had changed completely.

They’d fought fiercely. It was only natural for the surrounding players to catch on and join the fray.

“Surround them!”

“Understood!”

“Of course!”

Along with Payne and the players who’d joined the fight, Chrome also repositioned himself and advanced.

Since the number of players had increased so much, he had to take care of the rear guard.

“I’ll protect you. Focus on the offense!”

One by one. Even if there were some sacrifices, as long as they could defeat those two, it’d be no problem. Such was the consensus of the players that gathered there.

“We’re surrounded…”

“Ahaha, we are! But that’s exactly what I’m waiting for!”

After declaring so, Velvet smiled and took a stance.

“[Overcharge]!”

Fierce lightning. Immediately after, the spark that ran through the ground knocked the approaching players.

Velvet called out to Hinata, who was floating using gravity control.

“Watch my back!”

“Leave it to me.”

“[Roar of Thunder]!”

Along with Velvet’s declaration, the enhanced light pillar spread, scorching both the players and the houses.

Payne and the other avoided it, but the intense thunderstorm grew stronger as if to fend off any players.

“[Gravity Enhancement] [Gravity Cage]!”

Hinata scattered powerful movement speed debuffs over a wide area, while Velvet rushed towards Payne and the others at once.

“[Revitalize] [Guard Aura]! Necro [Weight of Death]!”

“[Chain Thunder Attack]!”

Chrome stepped forward and held up his shield while slowing Velvet’s movement speed.

He mustn’t let Velvet approach Sally at all cost!

When Velvet pummeled the shield from the front, a fierce spark scattered, and Chrome was mercilessly struck by thunder.

“Guh… It’s because of Hinata!”

The damage was beyond imagination. The cold air that filled the area was causing a debuff that not even Chrome’s defensive power could withstand.

“Chrome!”

Sally tied Chrome using her string and pulled him back, before conjuring a pillar of ice to stop Velvet in her tracks.

“You saved me, Sally!”

“Chrome, what about [Indomitable Guardian]?”

“It’s just been cut down, but I’m still fine!”

“Let’s give up on that place. In the meantime, we wait until her skill wears off…”

“Otherwise, she’d have used that skill from the beginning. It’s probably similar to Frederica’s [Ocean of Mana].”

Once [Overcharge] was gone, Velvet should be vulnerable to attack.

“I won’t let you escape!”

Defying gravity, Velvet leaped over the ice pillars. To eliminate Payne and the others. However, as soon as her figure emerged—

“—Now!”

““[Flame Cannon]!””

““Don’t hold back!””

“Velvet, get away…!”

A long-range attack that solely targeted Velvet. Even if Velvet wanted to chase after Payne and the others, she couldn’t. Attacks from the surrounding players reminded Velvet where exactly she stood.

“As expected, this is hard!”

As lightning poured down, Velvet defeated other players.

Still, the difference in number remained. After all, those who joined the battlefields still had their invincibility skills, making them sustain less damage. Sensing this, Velvet called out to Hinata.

“Hinata, please.”

“…Understood.”

Velvet stopped defeating the other players and ran towards the outer wall. Was she retreating? Those who sensed it chased after her.

“Don’t let her escape.”

“I won’t!”

“I’m going to the outer wall!”

“They’re unlikely to assault the throne!”

Luckily, Velvet was too flashy for them to lose sight of. Surely, they’d be able to catch up—

“—[Ice Castle]!”

Even so, a wall of ice stood in the way as if to hinder the crowds.

However, multiple attacks brought it down, but it didn’t matter to Velvet.

“Good job!”

She had managed to buy some time.

Velvet raised her arms and a tremendous lightning illuminated the sky. The clamoring roar told them of what was about to happen. But of course, they weren’t going to wait for [Thor’s Hammer] to descend and wipe them out.

“Shoot her down! Quick, before she can cast it!”

“I won’t let you…! [Melting Wings]! [Frozen Earth]!”

Payne and the others tried to close in on Velvet, only to be frozen to the ground. Time was running time. It’d take some time to close the distance that’d opened by [Ice Castle].

However, before the thunder could cascade down the sky, there was a booming sound in front of the castle.

Sally and the others recognized the sound. Enveloped in scorching blaze, the figure with sprouting angelic wings was none other than Maple herself.

A sudden reinforcement.

Velvet and the others immediately noticed it.

“Maple…”

“I’ve been waiting for you.”

She finally came.

Velvet muttered with a tired expression.

Above the sky.

Wilbert and Lily, clad in black cloaks that concealed their presences, waited patiently on top of the flying machine.

“Will, don’t miss.”

“I won’t.”

Wilbert drew his bow. In truth, Velvet couldn’t cast [Thor’s Hammer]. In other words, it was just a feint.

“As expected, she’s that kind of player.”

She’d rush in when her allies were in danger. Even if they barely knew each other, Lily could sense Maple’s loyalty towards her allies.

As such, she’d probably come charging in.

And when she arrived, they’d shoot her.

From the beginning, their plan was to lure Maple out of the royal castle.

“It’d be difficult to hold up a shield with that mechanical arm of hers.”

In the night sky, Maple’s blazing figure burned bright. As soon as she was within range, Wilbert let go of his bowstring.

“[Long Range] [Arrow of Annihilation]”

A high-speed arrow flew. There was no [Indomitable Guardian] to stop it. Maple also didn’t have the skill to foresee an attack.

As of the present, she wasn’t even holding any shield.

An approaching red flash. When Maple noticed it, it was already too late.

“Wha—!”

Realizing that there was nothing she could do, Maple closed her eyes.

There was a clunking sound.

“I won’t let you…”

“…Sally!”

There was no mistaking it—the blue muffled flapping in front of her.

Sally shielded Maple and took refuge in the shadows to avoid pursuers.

“Lily!”

“Retrieve those two!”

“What…”

Wilbert saw everything.

The moment when Maple flew into the sky—only Sally ran towards her.

Not in response to the arrow, of course. She shouldn’t have been able to predict it.

Yet, her single move was brimming with resolution.

They’d forgotten—Maple did have a shield.

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