Shadow Slave - Chapter 928
[You have slain an Awakened Beast, Brood of the Devouring Cloud… ]
The road sloped down, soon reaching the bottom of a deep gorge and continuing forward along its twists and turns. Not afraid of sliding into the abyss anymore, the convoy received some breathing room and accelerated even more.
However, despite that, their situation only worsened.
By now, the distant mountains had already disappeared, swallowed entirely by the veil of the approaching swarm. Only a few nearest peaks remained visible, but even they were already turning hazy.
More and more flying abominations that had traveled ahead of the horde were diving at the convoy, their fleshy circular maws opening wide to bite at the speeding transports and the soldiers operating the turrets.
At first, they came one after another. Then, a few appeared at the same time. At some point, the rumble of the firing turrets turned into one continuous, rolling cannonade.
The soldiers fought with desperate determination, relying on their spotters to find the targets in time. The murderous darkness of the polar night was cut and torn by the stark beams of powerful spotlights, and tracer bullets painted it with red streaks.
High above, the ghostly aurora glimmered among the stars, slowly turning crimson.
Sunny was cursing the world.
Tired of waiting powerlessly inside the Rhino, he climbed to its roof though the upper hatch and swayed as a furious wind assaulted him with cutting cold. A few steps away, Saint was standing straight, sending one arrow after another into the dark sky. Each arrow reaped a life, and the bodies of abhorrent creatures were raining down on the snow behind the convoy.
In a gun nest on the roof of one of the civilian transports, Samara was discharging her rifle time after time, and somewhere high above, bloody explosions of charged essence bloomed with each shot.
The other Awakened were assisting the soldiers, as well. However, even though each possessed a Memory capable of dealing damage at range, they were less proficient with them. The Sleeper, ironically, was the closest the convoy had to a marksman after Saint and Samara. His quiver was full of poisoned arrows.
…In an infuriating turn of events, Sunny was the only one without a suitable weapon. He only had one bow, and that one was currently being used by his Shadow.
The Undying Chain was already encasing his body, and the Dying Wish was calling out to the Nightmare Creatures, compelling the nearest ones to aim at him, and him alone. That made the pattern of their attacks a little bit more predictable, causing more bullets to hit their mark. He did not know what else to do…
All of it was meaningless, anyway.
The convoy could kill a thousand of these flying monstrosities, and it would still be no more than a drop in the ocean. With each minute, the number of attacking abominations was mounting, and with each second, the Devouring Cloud was drawing closer.
Soon, it would envelop the gorge completely, and then, all their efforts would end in a gruesome and bloody finale. Sunny did not think for a second that the convoy would be able to fight through countless thousands of the flying abominations.
“Why did I not account for it… fool, damned fool!”
It was not as though he had not fought swarms of flying Nightmare Creatures before. And yet, Sunny had never considered a situation like this one seriously enough to come up with effective countermeasures.
What countermeasures were there, though? What was one supposed to do if the sky itself decided to devour them?
He gritted his teeth.
There was no way out, as far as Sunny could tell. They had already failed to escape from the path of the harrowing horde, and had not found a shelter to weather the heavenly plague.
The soldiers continued to fire their turrets, hurriedly swinging the steaming barrels around to catch the Brood beasts before they crashed into the transports. Saint and Samara continued their slaughter.
But there was no point.
Feeling a bitter taste in his mouth, Sunny looked up.
The mountains had disappeared completely, swallowed by the seething haze of the Devouring Cloud. Numerous abominations blotted out the sky, making it seem as though the crimson lights of the aurora itself were spawning the all-consuming deluge of them. A minute or two later, the horde would flood the gorge and descend upon the convoy…
His only solace was that not even a fraction of the Nightmare Creatures would be able to satiate themselves with human flesh. There were too few humans in the convoy to fill their stomachs.
‘Starve, the rest of you, bastards…
Lacking a suitable weapon, Sunny could not even help his people in their last stand.
But… that was not his job. His most important job as a leader was to think, and yet, Sunny could not think of anything, either. The image of the map was still flashing in his mind, almost burned into it. All the potential campsites and shelters he had marked in advance were too far away, and all the convenient roads he had scouted were useless.
Saint suddenly stepped back, and in the next moment, a corpse of one of the Brood beasts crashed into the roof of the Rhino. The APC shuddered, but continued to speed forward. A drop of fetid blood hit the visor of Sunny’s helmet.
He inhaled deeply and stared at the ugly maw of the dead abomination, numb to its repulsive appearance.
Maw… these ghastly, hungry maws would soon be feasting on the flesh of his people.
A hungry maw…
Suddenly, a grim expression appeared on his face, hidden by the helmet.
Turning around, Sunny dove back into the hatch, noiselessly landed on the floor of the APC’s floor, and dashed toward Luster.
‘Where is it… where is it…’
Soon, one of his shadows noticed an old, almost entirely crumbled road that forked away from the main one a hundred or so meters ahead. The Rhino was just about to reach it…
Luster’s hands reacted faster than his mind, sending the Rhino into a sharp turn. The vehicles trembled as its wheels left the somewhat intact surface of the better preserved road and entered the more dilapidated one.
The young man spared a glance at his captain.
“Sir? Where are we going?”
Sunny paled a little.
“…Into a hungry maw.”
He did not need to explain further, really. Now that they had entered the derelict road, there was only one way – forward.
And there, ahead of them, waited something that he had hoped to avoid at all costs.
The dark portal of an old, abandoned tunnel.
Not too long ago, Sunny had sworn that he would never enter one.
But now, he could only pray that they would reach it…