458 Attack on Rylleh pt 6

Sylvin gathered his team and as the Mercenaries began to fan out from their building he kept close with the people he trusted. Ogran was a tremendous brute of a fighter who wielded a two-handed hammer in battle, perfect for shattering the carapace defence that these ants relied on. His level wasn't the highest in the group, but his physical strength certainly was. They'd need to rely on him to crack the big ants open. Yann was the scout of the group, deadly with a bow in hand or the rapier she kept at her waist, her stealth had reached a high rank, allowing her to move with almost no sound. With her shadow cloak, made from weaver spider threads farmed in the second strata, she could vanish into the shadows in an instant, a powerful ability for someone with her talents. Sylvin had been pleased when they added the mage Illianus to the group. A highly skilled Golgari merc, she was excellent with healing spells and possessed an impressive offensive repertoire to back it up.

He himself was something of an all-rounder. He'd spent a lot of time grinding away delving in the first and second strata when perhaps he could have challenged the depths. But he wasn't stupid. How many had he seen think that they'd graduated the first two strata and leave Rylleh to find opportunities somewhere deeper? Most of them were dead within the month. The shadow sea was perilous to life, but the demons of the third strata were cunning, vicious and held little love for delvers in their territory. One wrong step would see an entire party annihilated in the blink of an eye should they run across a demon hunting pack.

Dabbling in elemental magic, training his stealth, his movement skills and weapon handling, he'd never bothered to focus on only one area, rather he kept himself interested by branching out. This had earned him a reputation as the best delver in Rylleh, something he acknowledged but hardly valued.

Inhaling through his nose, Sylvin almost scent the terror in the air. He chuckled in wry amusement. Imagine, living in the Dungeon and not bothering to level up enough to feel safe. It was insane that so many of the civilians in this city were so incapable. Sure, they only lived in the first strata, a small pond, but they were so content to be the tiniest fish here.

Not him.

"Yann, get out there and find a spot high enough to give you good line of sight. You've got no chance of dealing damage with that sewing needle you call a sword."

"Get stuffed, Sylvin," she scoffed, but vanished into the gloom in a breath, already making her way higher.

"It'll be you and me on the frontline, Ogran," Sylvin turned to the brawny human, "stay nimble and don't get hit. We'll need your hammer to crack this nut."

"You got it, boss," Ogran rumbled.

A man of few words, he merely hefted his hammer kept his eyes on the surroundings, a professional.

"I suppose you want me to back you up and try and keep you safe whilst you prance around pretending you know what you're doing," Illianus drawled.

Her leader shot her a grin.

"Business as usual, eh Illi?" he said.

"That's not my name," she warned him.

"I know," he smiled, "let's get to work, they'll be here any minute."

The abandoned streets and buildings made for an eerie backdrop as the four mercs moved swiftly to prepare the perfect ambush location. Behind them, more teams were taking defensive positions, getting ready to fend off the swarm that was descending on them. Barricades were being set, obstructions made use of and chokepoints set up by those looking to profit from killing as many ants as possible. A few of the more high level groups doing just as Sylvin and his team were, getting ready to jump the big fish. The experience alone for killing these high tier monsters was almost prize enough for them, the fortune a potential rare core represented to shallow delvers like them was just the icing on the cake.

Even now they could still hear the wailing of the populace as they rioted to safety. The scent of smoke had begun to rise in the air, evidence that somewhere a fire had started. Probably some idiot looting during the chaos. Sylvin pushed it all from his mind, he needed to focus. Along with all the mercenaries around him, he settled his body, crouched behind a corner as he watched the two massive ants pick their way forward, walking over the top of buildings or just smashing through them.

He studied the creatures closely, using all of his years of experience as a delver. Both were heavily mutated, especially the smaller one, which didn't seem to make much sense. Judging by the shape of the mandibles and carapace, the offensive and defensive abilities were sure to be formidable. He felt a flicker of nerves in his heart, but he quickly quieted them. This may be a higher tier of monster than he was used to fighting, but they were just ants. He shared a glance with Ogran, who huddled next to him. The big man was as cool as ice, hands steady on the haft of his weapon. They were going to do this, they would win.

Sylvin never saw the attack coming. All of his concentration was honed to a razor's edge, focused on the two great monster's that approached, but even were he to be more generally aware, he still may not have noticed. The ants seemed to materialise from thin air, they leapt from nearby buildings, charged from the streets around them and erupted from the stones beneath their feet.

When their jaws found him, Sylvin managed to cry "they're here!", before he was pinned to the stone.

Ogran lasted a little longer, able to swing his hammer and knock aside the first attacker, but three more were on him before he could ready another strike. They bore him down, their mandibles shattering his hammer and gripping his limbs. Atop a nearby building, crouched against the slate roof, Yann saw nothing before they found her, too confident in her own Skill. Illianus, at least, knew what was coming, her finely tuned magical senses gave her the slightest glimpse of the monsters closing in, but her mind was assaulted on multiple fronts at once, battering at her mental defences until they crumbled and she fell, unconscious.

Their work complete in less than ten seconds, the twenty ants checked each other and their surrounds, making sure that their efforts had gone unnoticed by those around them. One of the ants moved from group to group with light steps as she checked on her fellows. The situation well in hand, she leant down to look at the face of Sylvin, clamped in the mandibles of her sibling.

"To think that pitiful creatures such as this, would dare to raise their hand against the Eldest," Protectant muttered.

"Do you think they noticed us?" Defendant wondered.

"I don't think so," she replied, "but we must be careful. They've already come so close to us already."

"What do you want us to do with these aggressors?" Defendant asked, her jaws squeezing tighter around the mercenaries head.

"Knock them out, quickly. Then back to the shadows. We'll have much work today, the Eldest is going to be busy," came the reply.

Sylvin heard none of this, since none of it was spoken out loud. All he knew was the fear of death and the pressure around his head, until a blow fell on his skull, and he knew nothing.

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