After killing the Graveseeker, Chéng Yáng turned to the group.
“You three will be responsible for killing the next monster that appears. As I’m sure you’ve noticed, Skills and attacks don’t lock on automatically. If you’re not confident in landing an attack, wait until its close enough that its impossible to miss! Otherwise you’re just wasting resourced. This will allow the Warriors to practice holding back monsters.”
“Rest assured Mr. Chéng.” Old Lǐ replied, “We know what we need to do. Me and Dù Chéng will stand at the front but since our damage is low we will need to rely on Féng Jié for lethality.”
As he was speaking, a Venom-Fanged Gray Wolf peaked its head around the edge of the gate. Just like the Gravedigger, it charged at the group the moment it noticed them.
“Prepare for battle!” Old Lǐ shouted.
— Fifty meters —
— Forty meters —
— Thirty meters —
— Twenty meters —
A Magic Missile flew wide, completely missing the beast.
The twenty-something Féng Jié glanced nervously at Chéng Yáng.
“No need for an explanation.” Chéng Yáng cut him off. “Just hit the next one.”
Féng Jié grit his teeth. His Skill was on cooldown but the wolf was already upon them.
Old Lǐ’s expression was ruthless as he slammed his shield into the wolf in an attempt to block its charge. The man and the wolf to engaged in a battle of strength, one the wolf won as Old Lǐ lost his footing and fell to one knee.
Seeing that Old Lǐ was in danger, Dù Chéng rushed. Noticing him, the wolf changed targets and leaped at Dù Chéng. Panicking, Dù Chéng raised his sword to meet the wolf instead of his shield, striking down on its head.
With a crisp sound Dù Chéng’s sword bounced off the wolf’s skull without leaving so much as a mark. Venom-Toothed Gray Wolves had an Innate Ability that increased the Attack Resistance of their heads by three points. Unfortunately, Dù Chéng forgot that Chéng Yáng’s warning about that from earlier.
With a disgusting squelch, the wolf bit into Dù Chéng’s shoulder, tearing through his clothes and ripping out a pound of flesh. It spat out the bloody hunk of meat, then moved to rip out his throat next.
Before it could, the wolf’s own throat exploded in a fountain of gore. Féng Jié had managed to hit the beast with a Magic Missile!
After scrambling to his feet, Dù Chéng no longer dared to act on his own. He stuck next to Old Lǐ, attacking when he attacked and retreating when he retreated. Although the wound on his shoulder was agonizing, the adrenaline from his near death experience stopped him from acknowledging it.
“Die!” In unison the two Warriors slashed out at the monster. Old Lǐ’s blade caught the wolf between its ribs, leaving a bloody streak on its flank, but Dù Chéng’s was once again blocked by the monster’s hardened skull.
Faced with the combined inertia of two attacks, the wolf was forced to the ground. Before it could get up, Féng Jié fired another Magic Missile into its head, partially crushing its jaw.
Féng Jié didn’t feel any satisfaction from hitting the wolf. If he couldn’t hit a stationary target from three meters away he may as well kill himself to save the wolf the trouble.
With the three of them working together the wolf’s Health was slowly whittled down to zero. When it finally died, light particles flew from the wolf into each of their bodies. Since they had fought it together, the Experience Fragments dropped were evenly split between them, resulting in each gaining a third of an Experience Fragment.
During the battle, more than half of the damage was dealt by Féng Jié but if Old Lǐ and Dù Chéng hadn’t blocked the wolf’s advance, he might have been killed before he had been able to land a single shot.
Compared to the six seconds Chéng Yáng needed to beat a similar enemy, the battle with the wolf had lasted a sluggish thirty seven. It allowed the group to truly grasp the difference between themselves and Chéng Yáng.
“I’ll handle the next one.” Chéng Yáng said, “Sit down over there and use your Core Skills to recover.”
While they did that, Chéng Yáng defeated another Venom-Fanged Gray Wolf. Once he was done, he passed the baton back to the others and spent a few seconds Meditating to recover his spent Mana. Like this, Chéng Yáng’s group settled into a steady rhythm.
The other groups were much the same, having a fighting team and a resting team. Although they didn’t have a powerful fighter like Chéng Yáng to keep the balance, Summoners could use Spirit Communion even if they had a wolf summoned so they never lacked a fearless meat shield.
Over time, the skill of the Players gradually increased. At first they needed four people to handle a single monster, then three, then just two. Although Chéng Yáng believed that most of them were ready to try soloing a monster, he decided against having them do so. Without his supervision an accident resulting in someone’s death might happen.
Their coordination wasn’t outstanding but there were at a level where each defending group would be able to hold their own against a dozen monsters. Not bad for the first day of the apocalypse.
Xiāngyáng was in the midst of a second disaster. Tens of thousands of monsters prowled the streets leaving corpses in their wake.
For normal people monsters were a nigh unbeatable existence. Unlike Players, humans could bleed to death, so even a glancing blow might end their life. Fighting with a monster was equivalent to suicide.
Fortunately monsters were stupid and most weren’t particularly fast. This allowed most people to escape into the rubble of collapsed buildings to lose pursuing monsters.
Since monsters could spawn anywhere at any time, people would escape one monster only to have another spawn in their new hiding spot. A vicious cycle that ate away at their stamina.
Gradually people became accustomed to hearing the sound of others collapse to the ground in agony followed by the soft, wet slurp of flesh flowing down a monster’s gullet.
Unless they saw a human, monsters that spawned within a few kilometers of a Safe Zone would be compelled to leave the area and didn’t form herds. Otherwise humanity would have be extinct by tomorrow.
The situation in Phoenix Village gradually tilted into the favor of the monsters. Although the teamwork and individual skill of each group was constantly increasing, the spawn rate had been as well. It wasn’t uncommon for a group to have to fight two or three monsters at once now.
As a result, they were starting to feel the pinch when it came to Mana usage. Even though they would only need a few dozen seconds to recover, it was getting harder to secure that much downtime
Warriors were able to fight continuously since they could negate enemy attacks if they were skilled and didn’t need Mana to fight. Even so, their damage was abysmal without the use of Energy Slash and it would take them almost a minute to kill a monster on their own.
The Rangers were the worst off. Although they had the strongest offensive power, they weren’t suited to a protracted battle. After running out of arrows they’d only be able to deal a single attack every minute! By now their presence on the battlefield was negligible.
Chéng Yáng felt envious of the situation in Xiāngyáng. If he had access to the stores in the Safe Zone they would be able to exchange their Experience Fragments for Mana and Health potions, allowing them to quickly recover. Despite that, Chéng Yáng didn’t regret coming out to Phoenix Village. Although they would be able to advance faster in the short term, waiting to claim the Territory Altar would have delayed their long term growth.
Chéng Yáng signaled for the exercise to end at dusk just as the sun dipped under the horizon. Everyone was exhausted and if they continued fighting, they would eventually be overrun. It was better to close the gates for the night and have the ranged Classes farm from the safety of the wall tomorrow morning.
Even so, the exercise had been a complete success! No one had died and everyone had gained experience, Skill proficiency, and Experience Fragments.
Chéng Yáng was able to raise his Magic Missile proficiency to fourteen percent and had eighty nine Experience Fragments. The others averaged seven percent proficiency gain and about twenty Experience Fragments.