The wolves continued to circle Merlin, waiting for an opportunity to strike. Merlin made sure to keep his guard up while thinking of a way to break the encirclement. If he could distract one, handling two at once wouldn't be impossible.
Merlin transferred his gladius to his offhand and held the goblin's shield in his main hand. The wolves noticed this change, and one of them believing it could take advantage of the situation broke away from their formation, dashing towards Merlin's blind spot.
Merlin adjusted his footing and twisted his body, building up as much momentum within his arm as he could within a short span of time. Merlin released the goblin's buckler, throwing it like a discus at the rogue wolf.
Having little room to dodge, the buckler made contact with the wolf's head, dealing significant damage and causing the wolf to lose its footing. The wolf had tripped but its momentum carried it across the grassy field, the wolf's white fur being stained green by the chlorophyll in the grass.
Eventually the wolf came to a stop, roughly a metre away from Merlin. The two other wolves began rushing forward, realising something bad was going to happen.
Merlin took the opportunity given to him, he ran toward the wolf that was still laying on its side, stunned. As he drew near, he raised the gladius above his head and thrust it down into the wolf's neck, the creature was not yet dead, although he had dealt it a critical hit. Before the other two wolves could pounce on him, he repeated his actions, finishing off the wolf.
As Merlin dealt the wolf a killing blow, one of the wolves pounced him, biting down on his hind leg. Merlin kicked it off and entered a defensive stance, but as he did so the wolf that had circled behind him pounced towards him.
Merlin quickly pivoted his good leg and twisted his torso, the wolf's toothy maw was inching closer by the second. Merlin wouldn't have had enough time to swing his blade, so instead he decided to forcibly shove his fist, or more specifically the shield strapped to his arm, into the wolf's mouth.
The wolf clamped its jaw down on the shield, preventing Merlin from using the arm or moving. The other wolf pounced Merlin from behind. The wolf was attacking from an odd angle, he couldn't comfortably rotate his body due to his arm being held by the other wolf.
Merlin thrust his sword into the neck of the wolf holding his shield arm, using it as leverage to rip his shield from the wolf's mouth. With a burst of strength, he finally managed to free his shield from the wolf's grasp, shattering the wolf's teeth in the process.
Barely making it in time, Merlin whacked the wolf pouncing him with his shield, knocking it away. His sword was still inside the wolf with the shattered teeth, who took its chance to limp away as Merlin was contesting the wolf's teammate.
Noticing its prey was left without a weapon, the unharmed wolf started acting more aggressively, pouncing at Merlin once more. Merlin raised his shield to block it, but the wolf dug its claws into the wooden shield and climbed over it. The wolf attempted to sink its teeth into Merlin's neck, but to its surprise it was met with a the sharp edge of a mangled dagger.
Merlin sunk the dagger into the wolf's eye socket and tackled it to the ground, pinning to the floor with his shield. He ripped the dagger out and began repeatedly stabbing the creature, the dagger didn't deal as much damage as his gladius, so it took several attacks to finish the beast.
When the wolf had died, he stood up once more and walked over to the last wolf who was attempting to escape, limping away from the fight. Merlin eventually caught up with the creature, finishing it off and reclaiming his sword.
"You've a very resourceful one I see, merciless as well." Gaia's voice appeared once more, complimenting Merlin for his actions, "This is the last wave, good luck."
Not even giving Merlin a chance to heal, the third wave had begun. Or so Merlin thought, but for the next few moments nothing had happened.
It was only when Merlin had let down his guard that he could hear faint clinking sounds echoing throughout the wind. As he turned to face the direction the sound was coming from, he noticed an assortment of bones arranging themselves within the air. It seemed his last challenge was a skeletal creature, not the best match up for someone with two slashing weapons, especially someone who had been relying on staggering up until now.
Undead creatures couldn't feel pain, so trying to stun or stagger them by inflicting pain didn't work. As as for dealing damage it was inefficient to try and cut bone with bladed weapons. Not to mention, following the trend the previous waves followed, this monster was at least three levels higher than him.
The creature had finished forming, it turned out to be a level three skeleton, an undead humanoid comprised entirely of bone and held together through some form of magic. This skeleton in particular was equipped with exact replicas of Merlin's equipment, the shield and the gladius.
The skeleton released a haunting battle cry before charging towards Merlin, sword drawn, Merlin followed suit. Eventually the two met in the middle as their swords clashed, sending sparks into the air. The skeleton's face got really close to Merlin's, he could somehow smell the scent of death emanating from the skeleton's mouth.
"You need a mint." Merlin retorted, swinging his shield at the skeleton, to which it broke away from the stalemate by dodging his attack, the skeleton's bones rattling as it moved.
Merlin stepped back into combat range, swinging the gladius at the skeleton once more. The skeleton swung back, locking the two in yet another stalemate. A few moments later, the skeleton swung its shield at Merlin, mimicking the move it witnessed earlier. Fortunately Merlin saw this coming and ducked out of the way in time.
Merlin was at a loss of what to do, the skeleton was equipped with his equipment, but was several levels higher than him, so he couldn't overpower it.
Merlin rushed the skeleton once more, getting locked into yet another stalemate, however this time he swiftly unsheathed the dagger and thrust it at the skeleton's skull, wedging it into the skeleton's eye socket.
It did an almost negligible amount of damage, and it didn't seem to have any adverse effect on the skeleton. If anybody was watching right now, they'd have the impression that it was overall a pointless action.
Merlin pulled away from the stalemate once more, Merlin took a few steps back and quickly scanned his surroundings, his eyes narrowing in on a group of goblin corpses. Merlin ran away from the skeleton in the direction of the goblin corpses.
Merlin swapped his sword to his offhand and quickly bent down to pick up one of the clubs. Bludgeoning damage was the way to go in regards to skeletal creatures. It dealt massive damage due to its raw destructive power not being absorbed by muscle fibres and skin.
The skeleton was running towards Merlin, the monster's pace was slightly faster than his own, so the monster was within combat distance by the time Merlin stood up and faced towards it.
The skeleton slashed down at Merlin with an overhead swing. Merlin easily dodged it by stepping to the side and responded by attempting to whack the skeleton's sword arm.
The skeleton barely managed to force the shield in the club's path, but the force of the blow sent it staggering for a moment, long enough for Merlin to strike the skeleton once more, this time targeting the shoulder connecting the skeleton's shield arm to the rest of the body.
The club connected and the shoulder shattered into tiny fragments of bone. The skeleton's shield, and the arm attached to it, fell to the ground with a thud. Seemingly offended by this action, the skeleton released another harrowing battle cry before taking another slash at Merlin.
Merlin parried the blade with the gladius in his offhand, and swung his club at the skeleton's face.
The club made contact with the mangled blade's handle, sending it further into the skeleton's skull, cracks formed on the blade, it seemed the durability for such an unloved weapon was coming to an end.
The sound of metal shattering echoed within the hollow skull, followed by the sight of cracks forming on the skull itself as the handle was pushed in further.
The club's blow had sent the skeleton tumbling back, Merlin rushed towards it, bashing it with his shield and knocking it prone. The skeleton attempted to swing its blade at Merlin in a futile attempt to defend itself, but its blade was knocked away with ease.
Merlin stood over the skeleton, he brought the club down on its skull, sending more cracks through it. Although the skeleton was still alive and helplessly struggling, Merlin spent the next few moments continuously smashing this skeleton's skull with the crude club until it was a pile of bone fragments.
Eventually the skeleton stopped moving, and a mechanical jingle played as a notification box appeared within his vision.
ãCongratulations, you are now level 1.ã