At least those crazy malformed humans were good for experience. Whatever the Legion did to turn them into… what they were, they certainly seemed to lack the finely tuned discipline of their more regular compatriots. After I'd demonstrated the ability to rip into them using my Doom Chomp, cutting down several at a time, they continued to come, almost ant-like in their eagerness to sacrifice themselves for their allies. If they'd just fought defensively, been a bit more cagey in front of me, then I wouldn't have been able to hit their numbers even half as hard as I did in the end. I've not been paying attention to the notifications that Gandalf has been whispering into my ear, but I'm sure I must have racked up three levels from these clowns by now. If they want to throw experience at me, I'm more than happy to take it!
Although I'm a little tired from having to use the draining Doom Chomp so many times, which was possibly their aim.
It doesn't look like I'm going to get time to rest, either. When the bizarre creatures pull back from the ant line, they slide expertly through the perfectly aligned ranks of heavy armored Legion soldiers waiting behind them. The moment the way is clear, the ranks reform into a solid wall of shields and blades that begin to close with us at speed.
"Bring up the humans!" comes the call from the generals huddled close to the front. The words are repeated all the way up and down the line before being passed through mages to the human antmancers dotted throughout the battlefield.
With an enthusiastic roar, the first real sound from our side of the field, the human volunteers and the robed figures of Beyn and his true believers take their places in our formation. A half-second before the two forces collide I feel the rush and surge throughout my body as the potent buff rolls through me from the nearest Antmancer. I see every ant around me stand a little taller, a little firmer, as their stats get a healthy bump from the aura effect. It's needed too, without it, most soldiers simply aren't able to stay in front of the more powerful Legionary soldiers for long. For me? It makes me a real pain in their backside.
The nice thing about the aura provided by the antmancers, is that it doesn't cancel the benefits we gain from the generals, so that's nice, but also that the stat boost they give affects all stats. Which means my brains get that little edge they need to be able to handle the construct I have spinning without me having to interfere with the main mind nearly as much. Gweheheheh. It might not be much, but I'll take every advantage I can get in this contest for the survival of my family.
The two lines smash together as carapace and mandibles contest against stone and steel. A shield is thrust in my face and a short sword flickers like a snake tongue, seeking my eyes. Always the eyes with these people! Is my diamond carapace so damn impressive that you've just given up on ever breaking through. With my antennae still functioning and my reflexes primed and ready I'm able to make small adjustments of my legs, shifting my head by a few centimeters in order to deflect each attempt.
Get out of here punk!
Firing my legs in a Dash, I surge forward with my head tilted to one side, using my 'shoulder' to smash into the braced shields. The new muscle augmentation isn't just useful for my mandibles. I've found that if I set my legs before a dash I can snap out with more power and acceleration than before. Which is certainly handy! Faced with my bulk, the soldier in front of me has little choice but to give ground as I crunch him back into the ranks lined up behind him. They brace together to absorb the impact, but I've gotten the little bit of breathing space that I wanted.
I blast all of them in the face with a searing wave of steam as I wind my mandibles back and unleash a mighty Doom Chomp!
I feel my mandibles pierce and crunch but the lack of notifications tells me my attempt hasn't been as successful as it was with the previous wave of foes. These armored guys are hard nuts to crack! Especially when the ranks are packed together like this. The extended mandibles of dark light that manifest when I use the skill help to extend my reach, certainly, but they also spread the impact out across a half dozen Legionaries. When they all work together to absorb the blow, it becomes even harder to break through their defense.
I throw away the residual fire and water mana so I can start cooking up the lava mana again combined with a little earth mana. Hopefully I can make something good happen with this combo, I have a few good ideas.
The colossus of metal and muscle that is Tiny continues to be a pain for the Legion as he sends his devastating fists over the heads of the Colony members in front, smacking them in the face over and over again with his electrified punches. Crinis has retreated to the shadows once more now that she isn't needed to shore up that faltering section of the line, but I get a feeling we're going to need her again fairly soon. With the two forces confronting each other at this range, I know Invidia is working double time on the defensive end. I can feel the spells flying over my head with my mana sense, an endless flurry of magic that could cause incalculable damage to either side should one group of mages get on top. Even with all our numbers, the Colony is being suppressed in this area as more and more of the Legion mages find their range and pile on the offense. With Invidia throwing his enormous ability behind the mage-ants, the line is holding for the time being.
All I can do is keep battling away here in the front lines, using my body to protect my family as best I can.
Once the lines hit, the battle devolves into an endless tug of war as the two fronts smack into each other endlessly, shoving, stabbing and biting in an attempt to break the other. I continue to use every trick I have in the book, charging, biting, blasting with acid and lava as the fatigue starts to set in, even for me, but it never ends. The effort is unrelenting and neither side is prepared to back down. As the minutes grind past though, it starts to become clear that the Colony is being pushed back. The line is just too wide and I can't cover the whole thing at once. Wherever I and my pets aren't, the Legion pushes forward, wounding our soldiers, cutting them down and advancing one step at a time. Even deploying Crinis isn't enough to stem the tide.
Can that wave start already?!