Wizardquest Chapter 3: Into the Woods pt.1

Authors note: Edited 5/25/16

As night begins to rear its ugly head, you and Blake manage to make some headway into the forest. It’s hard to really tell distances in such similar looking terrain, but at least the road is still usable and mostly free of hazard. Honestly though, nothing seems out of place here except the trees themselves, which as you ride further into the forest, start to have more and more brown leaves and sickly looking bark.

It’s a little unsettling, to be sure, but at least it isn’t too thick to see the sky by, and sun starts to seeit’s way off past the horizon, Blake directs you down a side path, carefully navigating it until you manage to find something akin to a clearing. It’s a rough little patch, but it will serve for the night.

You both dismount, tie up your horses, and break to make camp as you had before. Your meal is nothing very memorable, although you do find a fantastic selection of cheese in your pack. You feed some to Bubs, who scurries around the ground happily before nestling in a pile of twigs and leaves, only his sniffling little nose poking out as he prepares for the night.  You set the hexagrammic wards around the camp, hiding them in some refuse and other debris, forming a much larger protective barrier. This should serve as excellent protection for the night. You know, unless someone knocks out a ward, in which case… uhhhh, hmm.

With that thought, you lean back on a stump and extend your senses. Aye, there it is. Something DOES live in these woods it seems, based on the fact that feces were present, and you use your power to draw it in and form the [Circle of Shit]. Blake gives you an oblique look and sighs. “You can’t seriously be doing this.”

“I believe I seriously am.” As the power snaps into place, you stare up into the sky, questions roiling in your head now that you had time to sit and rest. You speak one, almost unbidden. “Blake, why did you say you wanted me again?”

He shrugs and shakes his head. “Why? Because, the Order needs capable warriors for the fight against the Monster Lady, I told you this.”

You put a hand to your head and sigh. “Come on, I know you aren’t exactly in the best spirits, but you said that you would be straight with me.”

Blake is silent before kicking a rock and grumbling, “I said something last night then?”

“Aye”

He considers for a moment, then shakes his head, giving an exasperated sigh before speaking. “Fine, so be it. I was ordered by the Order of the Heroic Brotherhood to find a Wizard in order to add their magical talents and expertise to the fight against the new Monster Lady incursion. That was no lie, there is an Invasion brewing, and she is leading it, but the danger is farther away than expected.”

He gives you a wry smile. “You know, I thought that finding a Wizard would be easy. Hell, I knew some sorcerers even growing up in that relatively small town. But a Wizard? Oh no, you and yours are very, very difficult to find.” He shrugs. “I suppose that’s intentional though?”

You smirk absently, but say nothing.

“Well, color me surprised when, after spending months looking, I hear rumors that there is a Wizard right near my hometown! I dashed off to find you, and saw, well…”  He gestures towards you.

“Oh, no, no offense taken at all, sure.” You say scornfully.

“Oh come now Wizard, I’ve seen your magic. It’s powerful, sure, but it’s base and crude, nothing like what stories of Wizards say.”He frowns. “Not that there are very many Wizard stories these days. But even still, I had to find a Wizard, or I couldn’t return to the Capital, not without shame so deep, I’d be never be allowed to rise in the ranks.”

“Why do you even care about the Order? Misha seemed to think it was a fool’s game, and everyone knows their power is waning.”

He looks up at the darkening sky and the anger seems to leave his voice, leaving only the sound of a tired man. “Because someone has to stand against the darkness. Not all Monsters are evil, I know better than most, but those who are… Just wish to hurt people, or enslave them as little more than sex farms.”

Blake turns to you and looks you straight in the eyes, a certain level of determination shining within. “I think Monsters and humans can live in peace, but it takes a strong hand to keep that peace in line. I want to be one of those who fights the dark, so the peace can blossom.”

Oh for fucks sake. You had your suspicions, but you never really voiced your concerns. You had feared that you had been roped in by a Paladin and instead you get a… a….Well, Hero. That’s the most accurate description for him. Sadly, Heroes don’t last very long in this world, their ideals are realized in some places, but even in the supposed peace, the baser sides of Monsters and men still lurk.

For example, Feldergrod. All it took was one idiot sorcerer and one shit slinging Wizard to ruin everything. But hey, that’s none of your business. You shake your head and return his gaze. “Tell me, and tell me true. Is Galmathoria lost to the Monsters?”

“Aye, last I checked with the Order, it is.”

“And does the Order capital have the Galmathorian glass?”

Blake pauses for a moment to consider. You don’t like that. “Why…. Is it so important that you merely return to your home and sit at your desk all day? Why do you let that define your life when you could truly do so much more?”

“No, seriously, do they have the glass?”

He just kind of… Stares through you. Not really at you, but like, his eyes just go right on past you to the stump you’re sitting on.  “It has only been a few days, yet you honestly can say that you’d just rather go home?”

You spy Bubs, his head cocked and peaking out of the refuse, little eyes intent on you. You feel a small twinge in your heart before replying, “Nope, I’m just here for the glass. If someone hadn’t have fallen on my Communion glass, I wouldn’t be here.”

Bubs squeaks out something and scurries down deeper into the hiding hole, obscuring him from sight. Awww. He… He’ll get over it.

“I…see. Well they do. You’ll have it, and I’ll have brought a Wizard. They said nothing about him staying.” Blake says, before returning to setting up his bedroll. He tests his sword in its sheath and looks around the camp.

“We’ll need to set a watch out while we’re here. It’s not so bad this close to the edge of the woods, but I wouldn’t know. These trees could hide anything.”

Looks like your little heart to heart was over. You shrug and pull a book out of your new pouch. [Plagata de Roux: A Translated Primer], the little book on plagues. You turn it over in your hands before saying, “I’ll take first watch.”

Blake eyes you and then shrugs. “Fine then. Awaken me if there is trouble.”

“Mhm” you say, opening the guide.

You begin to read a poorly translated guide on the medicine. You wonder if this book has anything to do with magic at all, until you start to notice some subtle mentions to aetheric manipulation and crafting of energies.

Apparently, the basis of Plagamancy is the manipulation of humors within the body. With careful direction of magic, you could unbalance these humors, and cause a disease or, as a footnote seems to say, you could cure it. The trouble was, identifying these humors in any given person or Monster, it most certainly says Monster, could take time, and large scale Plagamancy was not something for amateurs. While it was possible to create disease and spread it from nothing, it was far easier to disrupt the humors in one person, generally without their knowledge, and allow time to take them.

You consider the reading thus far, with no specifics in the spell work and wonder if by altering the humors in something, and then directly inoculating with something…. You consider this and your brain manages to piece together a rather vulgar, yet possibly effective spell.

>You learn [Miasma]!

>By altering the humors of a given victim, you can inoculate them with vaporized feces, causing a nigh instant pneumonia.

Of course, you’d have to try it out, and you’d need some materials to work with, but you might be able to pull this off. The whole concept fascinated you, and you’re eager to try this out on something as you learned about the discipline.

Sadly this does not take much time, and you put the primer away to draw upon the [Defensive Magic: Volume 1]. As you crack the spine, you notice that this book is fairly new. Which is good! Probably. You think.

Sadly, as you begin to read you realize that the first chapters are all about self defense, such as what to do if assaulted, etc etc. It’s dreadfully tedious, and you about fall asleep. By the time you make it through that section of the book, and onto “Magic circles and you,” you can’t read anymore. You just can’t. But at least you’re at a good stopping point, probably.

Sighing, you look around for Bubs, but he’s still hiding in his leaves. Actually that’s kind of odd you think. Certainly, you barely knew the little bugger, but come now, that’s just rude of him. It takes you a moment of searching, but you eventually find a vibrating pile of leaves and you strain to listen, hearing a frenzied little chorus of squeaks. Well that’s weird, the last time Bubs freaked out like this was when Misha…

Oh by the Gods, it’s her.

You turn around and see nothing, but when you turn back, in front of the campfire crouches a tall, Goddess of a woman, who gently puts a furry fingertip to your lips and makes a motion of silence while looking gesturing over to Blake.

You gulp as you finally behold your stalker in her full form and find her beautiful beyond words. You aren’t the best judge of these things, but from an academic sense, she’s gorgeous. Her skin is tanned a rich bronze that appears to be smoother than silk while her hair trails down the back of her neck, the strands a rich scarlet color, that goes well with the pitch black of her delicate feline paws and feet. Her ears are most assuredly that of a cat’s and they tWitch in what you assume is amusement.

Oddly enough, she’s clothed in a rich tunic of black velvet, which hugs her extremely well portioned curves tightly, while still showing adequate cleavage. It’s quite striking, but what you find most alluring is her face, and her rich, almond shaped eyes. They’re a bright, almost unsettling shade of green, which glow unnaturally in the night.

And as you watch, a smile forms on her delicate lips as her tail, which seemed fairly boring before, unwinds, and splits into nine separate tails, each sporting some form of which blade, which seems wholly at odds with their fluffiness.

You try very hard not to hyperventilate, and fortunately, you succeed. You finally get a look at your stalker, a Monster who has harried you for the past few days and whose power is so immense, that she is considered one of the Monster Lady’s personal lieutenants, a Temple Guardian. You manage to keep from hyperventilating again at that thought, and slowly take in a shuddering breath, managing to remain quiet throughout.

She looks at you with her deep green eyes and smirks before casually kneeling on the ground, her tails making lazy arcs in the night sky, silent as leaves drifting in the wind. She smiles again and cocks her head to take a better look at you, which you find wholly unnerving. “Oh my, you’ve grown a little since we last encountered each other.”

Her honeyed voice carries lightly on the wind, and even though it was given as a whisper, you can still feel its caress upon ears, and your spine tingles in a not wholly unpleasant feeling. With a shudder, you try to whisper back. “Ah… Ah.. Th…thanks.”

Her grin widens, and her eyes sparkle with laughter, although none comes from her mouth.  “I wish I could have visited you yesterday, but that mean old snake would have made things quite annoying for us. Oh how happy it has made me to see you come out to a much more…” She licks her lips, “Romantic venue.”

You tWitch at that last part and try, desperately, to keep from  letting out a high pitched squeal, not unlike that of a pig. You never had any doubts that she was uhm, enamored with you, but it still doesn’t make it easy to hear that. You need to do something to keep her from ah… Getting romantic. It’s going to be difficult, considering who she is, but you have to try to do something. Maybe now’s your chance to try out the new spell? You focus inward as you stall for time by asking, “W…who are you?”

She considers this for a moment before speaking.  “Most know me as Selene, I suppose. Legends would have me be called the ‘Third Guardian’ or ‘The Packmaster.’ I’ve also been known to go by Arianna, Fulsgrofa, and ‘She Who Hunts’.”  She smiles. “I personally like the last one, but it’s quite a mouthful.”

Okay, you think you know what you need to do now. Let’s just open up that [Magic Sight] aaaaaand…

You shut it off. Dear Gods you shut it off FAST. It’s like opening the curtain in a dark room to have the sun waiting outside with two scoops of pain. Her magic aura is so intense that it’s physically painful to look at. Guess you’ll have to do this the hard way.

You rub at your eyes and shake your head. “Ah, ahem, erm, bug in my ah, an…anyway. S… So you’re a Kitsune.”

She seems to pout a little at this, but instead of seeming petulant, on her it looks almost sexy. You’d guess. Probably. Wizard here.

“Well, I suppose that you would come of that conclusion on account of my tails and the magical talent I possess.” As she says this, she smiles knowingly and caresses a tail against her cheek. You can quite clearly see however that the tip you saw before was not metal, but instead serrated bone. Some of the blades came in different patterns too, one even looking like a hook.

“And while they are quite fluffy, I have no relation to those incessant foxes. I am more in line with the Catgirls.”

You blink your eyes. Huh? You’ve perhaps heard of two tailed cats, but nine? That’s just… ludicrous. Such things did not exist!

“I see you’re a little perplexed? Oh my that expression is just so wonderful upon your face. Oh, if only I could squeal in joy at having seen it!” She closes her eyes and shudders.

Okay, okay, okay. You uh, you needed to focus again on what you were doing, despite those tiny little moans she was making. Okay, so you need to focus quietly on her and her uh… Heaving… Chest… Would she stop doing that? Anyway, you focus upon her and as stealthily as you can, probe out with your magic, trying to slip in and find these “humours.”

When your senses reach her you feel, well, nothing. As in, no resistance at all. You just kind of slip in. She doesn’t even seem to notice! Okay, time to keep up the distractions while you get searching.  “I…yes, I am a little confused I suppose. I didn’t know that Catgirls uhm… Came in your ah… variety?”

She opens one eye and smirks, “Most do not. Infact, my breed is all but extinct. I am the last of my kind, a Cat o’Nine tails.”

What a fucking retarded name. Couldn’t have been like, inventive at all, could they? Although honestly, it fits very well with the current usage of the term, as a weapon of torture. You note that her tails match perfectly with the common types of implements found on one of the whips, perhaps that’s where the tool came from?

“Oh, w…well then. Uhm. Okay, I have to know, why are you following me?”

She closes her eyes and takes in a deep breath before speaking. “Love at first sight my little Wizard. Since I first saw you with that vile moth, I knew I had to have you. I was content to merely watch you grow, but now, I think I enjoy our little talks, though this being but the second.”

You gulp and she slides a hand along one of her tails. Keep it cool, keep it cool, let’s just keep working the… Oh, now what’s this? You think you feel something like these “humours.” Let’s just examine this for a moment. “Wh…why haven’t you just uh, well… Gone ahead and done it?”

“Would you like to touch one of my tails?”

You almost lose your concentration at the question. “Uhm, wha?”

She extends one of her tails toward you, the one with the hook, and slides if gently in front of your face, waving the soft part before you. It’s very distracting because it’s just… Just so fluffy and… And… With trembling hands, you reach up and touch…

A Gods damned cloud. There’s no good way to describe the feeling of this tail; it’s quite possibly the softest thing you’ve ever felt. Somewhere within you, you can feel the boney ridges of her caudal vertebrate, but holy hell, the hair is like jumping into a bag of silk and rolling around in it while someone pours spun cotton all over your face and tells you that you’re a pretty man.

And then, it’s over. You slowly come back into focus, and see Selene’s face mere inches from yours. Oh dear, her eyes are very green, and slit like a cat’s, a fact you can appreciate that now. Not that you’d want to, because you’re basically screaming internally. You would scream externally, but she put that finger to your mouth again.

“Oh my love, how it fills me with joy to be caressed by your hand as such, and to know that you tried to go even deeper still.” She licks her lips. “But we can’t have that just yet. However the fact that you even thought you could twist my immune system me has made my heart nearly burst!”

Oh okay. So she knew you were using magic the whole time. That’s neat you guess. You’re going to be raped at her leisure aren’t you? Welp, that’s fate for you.

She looks over her shoulder and scowls, muttering under her breath. “It appears our third wheel is stirring. A shame, but it’s too soon to collect you, and I’d rather not make a mess of him yet. Oh but do be a good boy and try to get some sleep. It wouldn’t do to have your face marred by dark eyes.”

She leans forward and kisses you on the cheek before pulling back and jumping up into a tree, using one of her tails to wrap around a branch, and propel herself into the forest. Just, you know, ignoring your wards again.

A few moments later, Blake awakens, looking about while strapping on his sword belt.  “Any problems on watch?”

“Problems? Of course not, no problems, not at all, went perfectly, nothing happened, that’s not fur on my sleeve!”

Blake cocks his head at you. “Are you… Feeling hale Wizard?”

“Yep, fine and dandy, just tired, you know, long day.”

Blake blinks and then shrugs before stretching out and taking a seat on a nearby rock. He looks around the encampment, then shakes his head at your wards before picking up a nearby branch and whittling with a small knife he produced from his pocket.  “Very well then. Go to sleep, you’ll need your wits about you in the morn.”

You stare flatly. Not like your wits really helped you all that much beforehand with Selene, but for now you think you’re safe. For now anyway, but that’s something to think about for another time, best try to sleep now. You get into your bed roll and try to calm down. You dimly notice as Bubs scurries forth and snuggles into your bedroll between your feet, but it’s a comfortable feeling.

As the soothing sounds of whittling fills your head, you ask, perhaps a little too quietly, “Blake, have you ever heard of a Monster know as, ‘She Who Hunts’?”

Blake stops whittling abruptly and goes very silent. The silence seems to stretch for quite some time before he licks his lips and then answers,

“That is rumored to be the name of she who destroyed Fellreach 8 centuries ago. She was said to have been one of the Temple Guardians, but if she was real, she should have died with most of the twisted race she was said to be of.” He starts to whittle again, “Where did you hear that name by the way?”

“O…oh, just in one of these tomes somewhere… Books can be very old and such you know, saying all sorts of uhm… Things.”

“Go to sleep Wizard.”

You nod your head and close your eyes. It takes you some time, but you do manage to sleep, however you’re fairly fitful, and the first rays of the sun come far sooner than you expected. Grumbling, you awaken and look to Blake, who seems to have made a flute while you slept. Either he’s a really good whittler, or you actually got more sleep than you felt.

Breaking camp was a fairly trifling affair, and you notice in disdain that the horses are no worse for wear. Apparently they didn’t notice Selene,  just didn’t care enough to cause a fuss, or some kind of magic was used. Honestly it was probably all three, but whatever, horses are horses, and you saddle up with slightly more dignity and saddle sore than yesterday before getting back to the main trail. Only about six more days until you reach Varruck proper, eh? Gods have mercy.

——————————————————

So, walking is boring, but did you know that horseback riding is boring too? You certainly didn’t notice yesterday due to the panic to get out and all those other… Lesser emotions, but yeah, it really is boring. You groan and lean forward on your reins, to which your horse, which you have named Mr. Ed snorts but doesn’t seem to mind terribly much. Horses, eh?

Bubs crawls out of your pocket and scurries up your robes to sit on your hat. You smiled at the little guy and sigh. If only you could read while riding, but chances are that’s a great way to fall off a horse and die. You assume anyway, not being an expert equestrian, or else everyone would do it, right? As you consider the notion of mounted Wizards, you look over towards Blake, who has produced the flute from his pocket, eyeing it. He gives a look around the forest, and then, with expert horsemanship, lets go of his reins and puts the flute to his mouth. Closing his eyes, he starts to play a tune.

You feel a deep sense of longing and sorrow in the music, something akin to a dirge or a mourning. It should rattle your bones, but for some reason, it just magnifies the environment, makes it feel more… solid, more real. It’s like the music, the trees, and you all belong here together in some kind of depressing harmony. But you don’t feel sad, you just feel… Aware.

When the song ends, you look to Blake and open your mouth, but before you can speak, another melodious sound echoes in the trees.  Both of you rein in your horses immediately, and look around the environment warily, Blake drawing his sword, and you drawing your staff. Well, draw is a very subjective term for how hard you struggled to get that damn thing out of the straps you applied to keep it to the saddlebags, but you free it eventually.

As soon as you do, you look up and notice… Nothing. At all.  

An eerie silence permeates the forest around you and you nearly hold your breath as you try to pinpoint where that sound came from. Blake narrows his eyes and pulls out the flute once more, blowing a short note. The sound echoes all around you, and you strain to listen. Ah, there it is, a few moments later a return song comes from the trees, this time louder and more complex. You didn’t realize it before, but it sounds like a birdsong of some sort.

You exhale your pent up anxiety and slump in your saddle. Just a bird, phew you thought it was a Monster. Of course, Blake doesn’t seem to think he same. He gives one more return tweet of his flute and again it’s answered, this time sounding incredibly close.  

Blake swears and stows the flute, readying one hand on his sword, the other on the horse’s reins, and you barely have time to register what’s going on before you hear a crash of leaves and out from the tree tops bursts a winged creature who dives straight for Blake, a shrill cry issuing from their mouth!

He nimbly dodges by side stepping his horse and tries to give a return swing, but it’s just too fast. You barely get sight of slightly blue wings and scaled legs before it’s gone, swooping back into the tree line. You hear a faint birdsong again and turn your horse desperately around.  “Hero, what in the hells is that?”

He grunts, and readies his blade. “Harpy, Wizard. It appears our first inhabitant wants to try and play.”

You don’t have the heart to play banter with him about how this is not playing. But what you do have the heart for is thinking, and you think quickly as the sounds of rustling leaves come to you again. You whirl around, trying to intercept the attack, and from the trees bursts the Harpy, coming for you this time. You snap fire a quick <Tazer> but the shot goes wide and the harpy spins mid-air and flies past you, the wind of her passing throwing your robes into disarray and sending Bubs squealing down into your pocket before she vanishes again.

“Hero! What should we do?”

Blake looks about nervously and then sets his jaw, his nerves settling back in. “Summon forth your lighting, Wizard, and I’ll point you in the direction of the Monster.”

You nod, and concentrate, building forth your will. Bubs squeaks in your pocket, and Mr. Ed steps nervously to the side as you wait. You pull the horse in slightly to keep him from dancing and whisper soothing words to him.

Blake’s head whips up and he points towards the northwest. “There Wizard! Now!”

You snap forward your arm and point with your staff, crying out, “Tweet tweet Muthafucka!”

You send a steam of electricity forth, and as it reaches the tree line, the Harpy bursts out, intercepting the stream of energy. She gives a sharp, very high pitched scream, and crashes into the dirt of the road, throwing up a cloud of gravel and dust as she slides about 15 feet through the rough earth.

Blake spurs his mount into motion and rushes forwards, bringing his sword in for a low arc. Just as he’s about to connect however, the harpy pushes forwards with her wings and gets her legs beneath her,  using them to propel herself into a jump, which quickly becomes a mid-air hover. Blake stays his sword and reins in his horse, the gelding stepping back and forth and neighing as his charge was arrested. The Hero stares up at the Harpy and scowls as she flaps her wings in place.

With her in the air like this, you finally get a good look at her. She’s  fairly short, maybe 4’8″ if that, and she has hair the pink color of healthy gums. Her body is lithe, and fairly lacking in curves of any sort, although there is a decidedly feminine gesture to it, despite the multitude of lacerations and abrasions that covered her from the crash. You notice also that her legs terminate into scaly talons, which gleam wickedly in sunlight, and you’re glad she missed you with those, because damn, that would have hurt.

The last feature of hers, perhaps the most striking, are the wings and feathers. She has a tail of feathers which forms from a ring around her waist, but where her forearms should be, large, very powerful wings flap to keep her aloft in the air. Her feathers are a rich blue with a stripe of black and white and you distinctly get the impression of a giant blue jay. Still, her wings are bruised and a few feathers are torn, however this is apparently not enough to keep her from flying.

“Raaaaa! Damnable humans! You would dare attack your better? You will submit to me now, or face my wrath!”

Her high pitched voice rings in your ears and you have to squint at the slight pain it elicited. You have a feeling that if you had tried to [Irate frog song] she might have thought you were flirting with her. Blake nudges his horse forwards, despite it’s rather… strong…  protests to the contrary. You obviously were not given warhorses, but at least it hasn’t bucked Blake off yet, so either he was a master of horsemanship or his mount had one hell of a spine.

Blake growls, “Leave us be or feel the bite of my blade, Monster!”

You can tell he’s hesitating slightly, but it seems to do the trick. Not the one where the Harpy left, but the one which made her very angry. A such, the Harpy screamed in rage. “I will rip you from your steed and rape you until I have sucked the last drop of sperm from your corpse!” And with that, she charged Blake in a furious dive, her talons flashing.

Blake tightens the grip on his sword and spurs his horse into a dash, raising the blade while uttering a battle cry. The two meet with blurring speed and you can see Blake swing his sword while the harpy extends forth her talons. And then they were past each other. Blake wheels his horse around, and it neighs in a mix of terror and adrenaline, while he surveys his opponent, looking none the worse for the exchange

The harpy lays on the earth, opposite from Blake, a pool of blood slowly forming around her body. You notice with grim objectivity that the blade had managed to sever one of her legs, and she cries in pain and she desperately tries to staunch the bleeding, but fails miserably due to her wings. “Crrreeaaaahhhh! What have you done? It…it hurts! It hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts!” She flails like this for a few moments, then becomes very quiet, and falls over into a pool of her own blood.

By this point, Blake had already flown forward and is about to leap from his horse, when Mr. Ed gives out a terrified scream, almost bucking you off. The ground rumbles, and a massive, chitinous form with many, many legs dashes from one side of the forest, slams into the unconscious Harpy, and then continues forwards into the brush on the other side, taking the Monster girl with it.

You stare in mute horror at the speed of what just occurred and you look to Blake who is equally as shocked as you. All that’s left of the Harpy is a pool of blood, a severed leg, a trail of many bloody footprints. You shake your head and ease yourself down from Mr. Ed, your legs totally not shaking as you hit the dirt. Slowly, you walk over to the leg and, hesitantly, pick it up, finding it to still be warm. Blake trots his horse up to you and shakes his head, “Leave it Wizard, that thing is likely eating her right now.”

You blanch a little. Okay, maybe it’s in poor taste to pick up, but it seems right at the time. Still… The thought of that psychopathic, homicidal, rape machine being eaten alive is slightly nauseating. You shake your head, trying to think of something  else as you mount Mr. Ed. “Changing the subject, was that thing? It was quite large!”

“Probably some kind of Centipede Girl. They live out in forests like these, but to run up against one so soon…” He shakes his head. “Perhaps it was a mercy that there was an easier meal closer by.” Blake starts to ride at the pace you were going before, but he decides to slow down after a moment of thought, which you and Mr. Ed are quite grateful for. Bubs climbs back out from your pocket and squeaks towards you. You gently pat his little ratty head before asking,

“Can we expect this kind of treatment the entire way through the forest?”

“Almost certainly. At least that Harpy had the decency to make itself known before striking.”

You ponder this for a moment and then growl something about heated bread pouches and comfortable slippers.

——————————————-

After a short while, you stop the horses near an open spot close to the road and stretch out. Despite the relative gloom of the forest around you, this little clearing is actually kind of pretty. There are even some very sweet smelling flowers blooming here! Blake begins to rub down his horse while you take a seat on a stump overlooking the field. You stare at the leg of Harpy you took from the road and wave it toward Bubs. He follows it with his eyes but doesn’t make a move for it, so you toss it into the bed of flowers and gesture to Bubs to go and grab it. He does not, and in fact, he barely seems to move at all, just staring at the leg in some sort of mute, ratty horror.

You quirk and eyebrow and say out loud, “Hero… Are there any plant-type Monsters in this forest?”

“Yes, it’s highly likely. They usually stay in glades or areas with lots of flowers like….here..”

You both look up abruptly and then jump back, just as a series of vine-like tendrils lash towards you and a very feminine giggle fills the air, along with the cloying scent of flowers in bloom. You struggle to rise and ready yourself to flee, but with a start you realize that didn’t actually escape the vine-tendrils. One had your leg in a tight wrap, and it begins to drag you toward the flower patch.

Desperately, you look towards Blake and utter a cry of help, but it’s cut short by a strangled choking noise. Blake stands there, unmolested by the vines, but slack-jawed and in a stupor, right when you needed him to get you the hell out of here. Heroes, Geez. Well, it’s up to you until something snaps him out of it, oh and to save yourself.

By the Gods though, your head hurt. There must be something in the air that’s messing with your head, but at least you’re not put into a stupor like Blake is. Instead it’s more of a pounding migraine. Yay Wizard powers…woohoo…

But enough belly aching, the vines are drawing you in and you notice as one coils its way up Blake’s body. He just stands there, now sporting a goofy smile as it worms its way up him. You growl and look down at the vine, then summon your will, holding on with one hand and pointing at the vine with the other one. With a yell, you cast [Ice] and the vine quickly becomes incased in a sheet of reflective frost. With another cry, you bring your hand down on the now frozen vine, and it shatters into many pieces, releasing your now very chilly foot.

The vine whips backwards, and you hear a startled cry of agony fill the air. You take the chance to dive backwards, screaming at Blake to snap out of it. He does not. In fact, he still has that stupid fucking grin on his face, as if he’s enjoying be dragged to his certain doom.  You look towards the flower patch and consider burning it all down to the ground , but at the moment, that would incinerate Blake, which would be bad because then you couldn’t get your Galmathorian glass. Also you’d probably die out here, that too.

Soooo, you grit your teeth,  summon the tempest within you, and fire a [Lightning Bolt] at the vine connected to Blake. Normally, this would be kind of silly to do, but the plant itself isn’t your target. The electricity courses through the vine and into Blake, shocking him. His eyes go wide open and he yells in pain, his hands clenching and unclenching in spasms. The vine around him seems o droop and it drops him, allowing Blake to collapse to the ground, panting. “Wh..what in the name of the Gods?”

“Plant Monster, get your head back in the game Hero!”

Blake looks around drunkenly for a moment before his gaze snaps back into focus, and he stares down the vine, which had stopped its little spasms. It darts back for Blake, and he swiftly pulls out his sword, severing the vine midair. Another shriek of pain fills the air, and the ground rumbles around you. You struggle to keep your balance, and manage to do so with some effort, staring at your legs to help see where they are. When you looked back up however, you now see the form of the Monster attacking you.

She is a very shapely, very green woman, with swirling red marks that you would swear are tattoos if you didn’t know better, flowing in strange patterns all over her body. Her hair is also a shade of pale green, like fresh leaves, and despite the obvious pain she’s in, her face is serene and beautiful. Her legs uh… Well, she doesn’t have any. In fact, her lower body appears to be submerged into the flower patch, and you could only now appreciate the petals of a large flower hidden among the other colorful dainties. This is obviously her main body, and from it sprouted now multiple vines, including two very large ones which were tipped with some kind of pod that leaked a viscous fluid. You had a baaaad feeling about those.

Yeah, you know what, you’re just going to burn this whole place down to the ground.  “Hero! Keep her off me for a moment while I gather my concentration!”

Blake looks towards you and nods, gripping his sword firmly and dashing in front of you. He takes up a defensive stance before the Monster, which you’re fairly certain is called an “Alarune” or something. You close your eyes and hold out your hand, gathering your rage into a ball that slowly forms and spins in your palm.

The Alarune cocks her head, asking in a tone of curiosity. “You do not like my sweet scents? No man has resisted them before… Come, let me caress you with my vines and show you the pleasures you could have should you merely but lay down your arms.”

With that, a vine whips toward Blake, and he parries it with his sword before it zips back. Two more come to replace it, and he fends them off as well, nicking one and drawing green blood and a choked cry. You can feel the fight around you, but you needed to concentrate on powering this creation. Just a little longer…

One of the larger vines snakes behind both of you, and Blake on just manages to intercept it before it hits you. In doing so however, another vine wraps around his ankle and lifts him up into the air, flinging him about. “Damnit! Wizard, be quick!”

Thankfully though, you’re finished. With determination, you raise the swirling ball of flame in your palm and stare the Alarune in the eyes. She smirks and sends her vines forth to ensnare you. With a grunt of effort, you toss the orb towards her and jump backward, landing in a heap, but managing to clear the vines. Blake also gets himself free by severing the vine with his sword. He groans as he picks himself up and you yell at him to run. He gathers himself quickly and you turn to go as you feel Bubs scurry up into your pocket, squeaking furiously.

Both of you flee toward your horses, who are honestly tired of being terrified, just as you hear the Alarune say, “Hmm? Why is this….”

Then you feel a force of air blast you and Blake forward onto your faces in the dirt and you feel awash in sudden heat. You flip around quickly and shield your eyes to witness the results of your [Fire bomb]. Your aim was obviously true, because about half the Alarune’s human torso is just missing, and the other half is on fire. You could see the greenish organs that make up the interior of her body, and a portion of her human looking brain as it’s consumed in flames. From the half of her face that’s in the process of being burned, you saw tears roll and turn into steam, locked in a set of pure terror and agony, a rasping cry coming from a half destroyed trachea. The flowers all over her body are also on fire, and her vines flail about randomly, smashing into the ground, other flowers, and generally everything, further spreading the flames that herald her imminent doom.

You take a step back and feel your stomach roil. It was necessary, but oh Gods, this is just brutal. You suddenly understand why even Monsters fear the touch of fire as her choking screams echo in your ears. Once more, you see the devastation that you can deal, and part of you recoils at it. The other part is just thankful to be alive. For now, the part of self-preservation is the loudest, thankfully.

You slowly step backwards as the flames become so hot that you cannot bear to look at it anymore, and you make to quickly climb into Mr. Ed’s saddle. The horse whimpers and you pat him on the neck before looking about for Bubs. Thankfully he’s no worse for wear, and you sigh while Blake rides up next to you. “Let us go Wizard, the fire will attract unsavory attention.”

You nod and the two of you go forth, not stopping until the sky darkens and you find a place, which you think is Monster free, to rest the night.

After brushing down Mr. Ed and feeding Bubs, you lay back against a rock and think about the evening. Watch needs  to be picked and wards need to be placed, but all you can think about is the death you saw today.

 And of Selene.

Gods, your head is still pounding. It’s been hours, but hell, it’s like something is trying to tear its way out of your head. You rub you temples and look over at Blake who seems perfectly fine. Damn Heroes and their… Something something derogatory.  You groan and lean back against your rock. Okay, okay. Time to get the wards up. It wouldn’t do to get raped or anything with a headache, because it would be so much worse than just normal rape. So, with some effort, you drag yourself about and set up the hexagrammic barrier, then set down the [Circle of Shit], once again to Blake’s annoyance.

As you collapse back onto the rock again, you start to breathe a little heavy. Damn, your head really, really hurt. You pant for a moment before looking over to Blake, who had taken off his armor and was cleaning it with a gentle cloth. His rough hewn muscles kind of remind you of that severed harpy leg. Ah, had it not been lost, oh the things you would have done to it magically.

Without thinking, you say out loud, “We may need another severed leg.”

Blake pauses and looks over to you, confused, “I’m sorry, what was that Wizard?”

You murmur something as you examine his legs, then raise your voice to say, “As I was saying, we cannot properly experiment in adjusting the humours without still-living tissue to work with.” You examine his legs expectantly.

“Wizard? What are these humors you speak of and why are you… Are you feeling well?”

You giggle a little, your head feels kind of weird now, but at least it’s not painful. “I am merely in pursuit of perfection you see, for wars are won with disease just as surely as with arms.” You intensify your stare at his legs and his arms. Your vision swims a little at doing so, but you burble out, not even thinking before speaking anymore. You start to feel a little warm actually. “Disease is a product of a change in the humours, dear boy.”

“I don’t understand?” Blake says, growing concerned.

“Make the right adjustment in the humours of a man and they will change the humours of all others whom his life-force comes in contact with, and so on and so on until an entire nation is brought to its knees.” You are distantly aware that Bubs is trying to nibble on your ear insistently. Silly rat, ears are for kids.

“I’m afraid I still don’t… Are you quite well?”

“A normal disease imbalances the humours, and eventually they balance back, if not in a person, then in the world as a whole, like a vibrating string coming to rest. But a perfect disease is not an imbalance in the humours, not at all.”

“Did you inhale some pollen? Is that Alarune’s influence upon you? Wizard, perhaps you should lie down.”

You stand up on wobbling legs, feeling very warm now as words tumble straight from your mouth.”No, a perfect disease is a NEW balance in the humours, and because it is balanced, it remains steady, forever. A bone, if broken, heals as it is set, not as it once was, as it comes into whatever balance is closest. So a perfect disease, for the Monster at least, would not kill, as then it could not spread. It would throw itself against the humoural balance of the whole of their nation, until it reaches a true balance.”

“You’re speaking gibberish now, I can barely understand what you’re…”

You throw your arms up to the sky, speaking as if a conduit to some other being. “But to rebalance the humours of a Monster into a new stability, in which a Monster is as weak as a human, and a Wizard can walk home in peace with no threat to his mana? That would be the perfect plague, because it can endure, forever. And isn’t that what you really want, Hero? For men and Monsters to walk together as equals, no longer as strong and weak, predator and prey? A world not ruled by rape, where a warrior trained for his entire life would not stand as helpless as a child before the charge of a hormonal Minotaur?”

Blake scratches at his face. “I… certainly that does sound like a noble goal, but from such a despicable means as..”

“Surely equality is worth the price of a piece of Galthamorean glass, a few insults to the dignity of a reticent Hero, and a few moments of disgust with the living tissues of some  Monsters you have already killed?”

“…. Wizard, are you asking me to bring you Monsters to experiment upon?”

You giggle, “Maybe!”

Blake becomes very silent for a moment, and then takes a deep breath before walking over to you and gently moving you to your bedroll. You struggle some, but can’t quite muster the strength to fight him off. Damn him, standing in the way of progress…. And.. Gah, your head started hurting again!

“Sleep Wizard, you have obviously overtaxed yourself this day. When you awaken, we can speak about these… Things.”

As you eyes grow heavy, you murmur, “I am the chosen of Nerg… Son of the plague…” And with that, you’re asleep.

——————————-

A few hours later, you awaken to darkness, with only the sound of a crackling fire next to you. You groan and stir to lift yourself out of your bedroll. Ungh, why do you feel so tired and sweaty? You distantly remember talking to Blake about… legs? And plagues? Ah, it’ll come back to you. You push aside your bed roll, and Bubs crawls up your shoulder, squeaking in your ear. You turn to him and pet him on the head, to which he snuggles you hand before crawling back down and running in a circle.

“Feeling hale, Wizard?”

You look up to see Blake, sitting upon your rock, watching you. He seems a little wary of you as he watches. What did you say to him? You rub your head and then yawn. “Yes, yes I feel fine. Is it my turn for watch?”

“Perhaps you should rest more for the evening. You did not seem well through the day.”

Oh yeah, now you remember that your head really hurt earlier. It’s fine now, but yeah you do recall that. “Well, after being attacked twice in one day, it isn’t exactly uncommon to feel out of sorts. It amazes me that anyone would choose to live so close to such creatures.”

Blake sighs and rubs his head. “To hear it true, this place was not always as feral as it is now. There are stories which speak of it being a beautiful place, where humans and Monsters of the forest lived in a true harmony. As far as I know, this ended maybe sixty years ago, although I do not know why. It is not as though Varruck doesn’t allow travelers, but as you have seen…” He waves his hand. “It is not very amenable to them.”

“Why did we take this path again?”

“Because you detonated a petty sorcerer and started a war in my hometown.”

“Oh yes. Right.” Things get really quiet. And awkward. “I uhm. I’ll just take my turn on watch.”

“You do that.”

Blake stretches and makes to get ready for sleep. You take up your staff and take his spot, which he warmed for you very nicely indeed, before rummaging in your [Sack of Holding +1]. You pull out the defensive magic book and sigh before opening it up and continuing where you left off.

The next part is much better than the beginning section, but you know most of the basics here about how to form a circle and infuse it with your will. The material used to create the circle generally doesn’t matter, but in some cases it could increase the strength of the circle. Of the listed materials, shit was not mentioned. A shame. Drawing diagrams into the circle can increase its power against certain creatures, and you take particular note about how an inverted star (which you are fairly certain is a normal star) pattern could increase the effectiveness against Monsters.

Adding in junction sites with items specific to whatever you want to keep out would also improve effectiveness. Things such as blood, hair, body parts, etc. These would have to be specific for the entity you wished to keep out, and the book doesn’t go much into detail on this point, since it’s a generalized sort of thing. The nest chapter goes into shielding magic, but you need a change of pace because this is soooo dry.

>Your [Circle of Shit] has improved!

>By drawing in symbols of power, you can increase the effectiveness of the barrier against Monsters!

>Oh, and you gained a level today, you were so tired you didn’t even notice until now.

>You gained level  5!

>Your Wizard power level has not improved.

>Your control over fire has improved, [Fire bomb] can now be specifically timed to explode within 2 minutes of planting it.

You ponder upon this and wonder about improving your circle now, but well, Blake is in the middle of where the focal line would go, and you’re fairly certain it wouldn’t end well if you placed your materials upon him. Again. You consider what you could possibly do with your [Crushed Wizard’s chalk] when you hear the soft sound of a twig snapping.

You sigh and put your book back into your bag, pulling out the one on familiars, speaking without turning about. “You’re losing your edge Selene.”

There is no reply. You furrow your brow and look up towards the sound, and you flail backwards in surprise at what you see, falling off your rock onto the ground. You scrabble back up, and wonder how the hell Blake didn’t hear that, before staring at what you see.

Outside the hexagrammic circle stands an almost luminescent woman, her skin and hair a pale white so pure that it vaguely glows in the moonlight. She’s stark naked, yet on her she wore it so well, that it doesn’t seem to bother you as much as it should. Her expression is muted, yet her large, glowing red eyes watch you intensely. She takes a step forward, her gaze locked onto yours, and she slams into the wards, which flared to life, forcing her shapely figure to press up against the invisible barrier. She blinks and slowly pulls herself away from before putting a hand to the wall and staring at it, then to you.

You stare back.

She stares harder.

Okay this is getting creepy as fuck, but she doesn’tseem to be able to get past your first line of defense. “Piss off” you say as you nonchalantly ignore her. Yeah, you totally showed her! Anyway, she didn’t seem to be a threat and it was nothing to wake Blake up over, so you sit back down on your rock and open the tome before you: [Familiarity with Your Familiar: A guide to Companion Magic].

You ponder for a moment why a Monster Witch would even have a book like this. It’s obviously written for humans, with a jovial attitude that seemed to connect the author to the reader. Hell, even in the first sentence it mentioned humans and brotherly love. You think back to the skulls that line the shop and shudder. Perhaps you don’t need to know where her stock came from.

Okie dokie, so let’s read. Boring introduction, poor humor, animal lives, usefulness of familiars, yadda yadda, okay here we go. You find a chapter called, “What can your familiar do for you?” Good question, good question.

“Familiars are animals or spirits which act as assistants, companions, or tools for the workings of magicks. Often times restricted to sorcerers and occasionally Monster Witches, a familiar can be a powerful tool for the right practitioner. The first question is, what can be a familiar? In this regard, anything with a semblance of intelligence can work, however animals often make the best familiars, because they have a spark of life unknown to constructs or spirits. Though any creature can be bound to become a familiar, those with strong bonds with the practitioner are the most useful. That being said, a human or Monster could become a familiar, but they are often referred to as ‘thralls’ and in the process of binding often lose part of what made them useful in the first place. For this reason they are outlawed in the entire realms of man. This book will speak no further on the subject.

Once bonded, a familiar will be able to accept commands from the practitioner via telepathic link, which often works in two ways, however until a deeper connection is made over time, very rarely are the thoughts of the familiar understood by the practitioner. In this early state, a familiar can understand, apply, and think about commands given, assuming they have the capacity. In fact, there are cases of some familiars increasing in intelligence over the course of their bond.

After some time working together, the practitioner and the familiar will be able to find each other anywhere via this link and communicate over long distances. Depending on the familiar, the practitioner can arc spells though them! As this tome will describe, there are many other uses for familiars in improving a practitioners power.

As a final note however, should a familiar or practitioner die, the other will experience a psychic backlash that can often debilitate the other, or in some instances incapacitate them for some time. Deaths have been known to occur from this backlash as well, however the familiar is often the one which suffers this way.”

Well! That certainly was interesting indeed. You look at Bubs who is currently sleeping in a little ball, totally unconcerned by the thing that is… You look up at the barrier. Yep, still standing there, staring at you.

Yeah still creepy. Still. Really. Creepy.

Let’s uhm. Back to the book. The next chapter describes the bonding ritual, which requires a circle of chalk,

Check.

Drop of blood from the practitioner and the familiar, or if they don’t have blood, part of their essence,

Check.

The last dying rays of sunset,

Ch…oh. Well, it will happen tomorrow.

An item or food which is beloved by each,

Check and check. Heated bread pouches and cheese, great.

You smile. Okay! Time to do this tomorrow! You close the book and smile at Bubs. Such a cutie. Then you look back at the… yep, it’s still staring alright. Okay, was this just going to keep happening? Like, would sunrise occur and you’ll be forced to kill this thing because hell, this is getting really, really annoying. You stretch and put your book away before walking over to the wards where she stands. You quite deliberately do NOT cross the circle, and maintain distance from her.

You rub your chin while pacing back and forth. She follows you with her eyes though her body does not move. You watch her for a moment, and not because of her obviously lovely nudity. It doesn’t even phase you. Much.

You sigh and stretch. Yeah might as well wait for Blake in the morning before killing her. Who the hell even knows what she is, but she obviously isn’t human. Anymore anyway, she could be some strange “turned” Monster, the kind you hear about in hushed whispers or in spooky matrices, but you figured most were just rumors.

You shrug and undo your pants. Eh fuck it, she wanted to sit there, fine whatever, but you really need to take a piss. You whip it out start to release your urine when the creature snaps its head towards your cock and its eyes grow very wide before glowing far brighter than before. It opens its mouth, far past that of what a human should be able to, and it lets out a bone chilling scream.

Did you say bone chilling? Actually, it was more like bone hardening, because you realize with mute terror that you’re now fully erect. Which… Wasn’t right at all. You have no reason to be like this, unless that sound somehow…

Your eyes grow wide this time, and you quickly dress, for the creature begins pounding at your wards. Her blows are ineffective, but she keeps doing it, over and over, her perfect arms becoming bruised, but never slowing. It’s at this time that you notice she isn’t breathing. At all. Another sound fills the forest and you realize that it’s more of the same screams. Your groin throbs in pain at the sound, which is now very, very uncomfortable.

You turn to toward Blake to rouse him, but he’s already up, armor donned and sword drawn. “Wizard! What is happening?”

“I uh, I think I made this thing horny.”

Blake gives you a very incredulous look and you both stare in horror was more of these things shamble forth from the brush, each a delicate shade of alabaster, their eyes glowing bright red as they scream. They all converge upon your barrier and began beating upon it. There’s no way your wards can survive this for long.

“Wights…” Blake growls, tightening the grip on his sword, “Damnit, they must have sensed us in the forest. If we can hold out until sunrise, it will scatter them.”

Well, at least you know what these were, but sunrise had to have been at least one or two hours away, and you don’t know if you have a chance to survive if they manage to get past your wards and circle. As you think this, more pour from the forest, and the cacophony grows all the louder.

Okay, things aren’t looking too good. There are dozens of raving, dick hungry undead around you, your wards are about to be torn apart, oh and your dick is harder than diamonds. Neat.

You close your eyes and take a deep breath. You just have to survive until sunrise, but if those wards fall, all you’ll have is be your circle, and it’s honestly quite untested. Well, except for Selene, but she doesn’t count because she just bypasses everything like the queen bitch she is. You concentrate. Alright, alright, you need to take out a large number of these things at once. Maybe now was the time to try that [Miasma], since you obviously could take your time to figure it out on them.

You raise your hands and concentrate on a Wight before you. Alright, let’s just slide our will on in… And huh, no resistance. Must not have much willpower or defense, what with being undead and all. At least you’re fairly certain Wights are undead. The name sounds undead, but that’s beside the point. You concentrate and look for humours to screw with.

And of course, you find none that AREN’T already fucked with. Being that the Monster is undead, she can’t be infected by anything that isn’t flesh eating. Hell, you might have even found something there you think might actually BE flesh-eating, but it doesn’t seem to really even bother them. Their skin is still smooth and delicate, like porcelain dolls or something. Obviously whatever fell magic animated them also gave them this innate resistance to the powers of decay, and you just aren’t strong enough to tamper with that.

>You’ve learned <Fast Scan>

>Your ability to scan to humors has improved. You may also perform rudimentary diagnoses of current illnesses present in the subject.

“Wizard… Do you hear that noise?”

Your eyes come back into focus, and you look at Blake. “What noi…” Then you hear it. A low cracking sound, like glass being fractured.

“Well shit.”

The hexagrammic wards overload and the invisible barrier shatters as the projectors fizzle out and fall to the ground, lifeless. The horde falls inwards, and you tentatively take a step back as they swarm towards your circle. When they reach it, a bright light flashes and an ungodly smell fills the air, like feces in a volcano.

Blake looks like he’s about to retch at the smell, but you just take a deep breath with your mouth. Just gotta get used to it for a second, gotta keep from vomiting, but holy hell, that’s rank. It’s working though, you can feel the power in the circle holding them off. But you can also feel it starting to wane, slowly but surely. It would not last until sunrise on its own.

“Twenty-Seven, there are Twenty-Seven of them.” Blake says, panting mildly. “Though I could kill a few, I do not believe I could slay them all Wizard.”

You nod your head, looks like the only thing for it is to make a new defensive line and step back. You’re loath to do it, but what else can you? Oh wait a moment, you can do [Fireball]!

You rummage through your bag and hand Blake another set of wards, telling him to set them up inside the circle. He does so quickly, keeping an eye on the screaming Monsters. As he comes close to one near the edge of the circle, he winces and rubs at his ears, looking at something, then shaking his head and continuing the process.  Once he finishes, he comes back to you, panting. “I.. It’s done, but will this work until sunrise?”

You shrug, “Probably not, but it wasn’t meant for that, it was meant for this. Oh, and I’d duck if I were you.”

You take a deep breath and gather your will, then drop the circle of shit. The horde falls in again, but before they can take a step, you unleash a torrent of [Fireballs] from both hands, twirling to spray in a circle, Blake ducking quite swiftly. The majority alight immediately, only a few spared, but you can smell the burning flesh as it reaches your nose, and you smile in delight, activating the next set of wards. They flare to life and another invisible barrier separates you from the now burning terrors.

You stand there, looking smug as hell. Aww yeah, they’re going to feel this one and uh… Why are they still attacking your barrier? And why are they still screaming in the same tone? You look closely and see that they did not give one fuck about being on fire. As their flesh is consumed, they continue forwards, some becoming eyeless as their globes sizzle and melt down their faces, others having their flesh be consumed to the bone, their skeletal forms pounding on your newly activated wards until they can pound no more.

Maybe a few actually burned something vital and can’t continue the assault, but the majority are now undead, on fire, and still want to rape you. You only have two sets of [Hexagrammic wards] left, but your horses are still tied to a tree just within the new wards, so setting up new ones would risk them being swarmed by the horde. Although hey, your current shield is failing, and fast.

There’s just nothing for it. You have no choice any longer, you have to force a breakthrough. As you look over to Blake, he nods his head in agreement. Certainly, you could continue to box yourself in, but it would fail just as surely as it’s failing now, and soon you won’t have room for the horses, who would likely be set ablaze and die. Which would not be good.

Speaking of blazes, you realize that you’re sweating profusely. All the heat being generated by the burning Wights is being concentrated, and you’re slowly being cooked in an oven of your own design. Fire…what the hell were you thinking?

You quickly move to gather your things, wincing in pain as the screams still pound your brain. It doesn’t take terribly long to scoop things together and tie them haphazardly to Mr. Ed, who honestly is standing still in terror. You’re quite amazed he hasn’t keeled over from all his excitement in the forest, but good for him. Blake’s steed is in a similar situation, dancing nervously at the flames. It’s going to be one hell of a time getting a good path out, but what else can you do? You’d have to drop your wards to send any real magic out anyway, you might as well just do your best to get the fuck out of dodge.

You haul yourself into the saddle and nod to Blake. Bubs is cowering in your pocket, but at least he’s safe. Patting your robes and wiping your forehead, you nod and look at the wards. One, rather skeletal, but functioning, Wight has her hands on one of the ward stabilizers, and with a sickening crunch, it snaps.

The whole field seems to flicker before you, then vanish. And then flaming horde descends. Blake screams and throws his horse forwards, his sword flashing high as he moves to plow through the Wights. With two quick blows he parts the heads of two flaming creatures, but is forced to rein his horse backwards as another pair fall in, panicking his horse. It takes him precious moments to get his beast in line, moments you did not have.

With a groan, you look around and snap fire [Ice] to trap three of the Wights, looking for a way through. Sadly, the heat makes the [Ice] rather unreliable, and they break through it unnervingly quickly, their eyeless forms aimlessly shambling towards you, although with much less fire now.

Mr. Ed gives out a loud neigh and rears backwards, trying to throw you. He’s almost at his limit, and these things are closing in fast. Shit, shit shit, it isn’t supposed to end this way! You aren’t supposed to die being cooked alive by undead monstrosities that want to rape your burning corpse. It just isn’t fair! And the worst part is, you were still really fucking aroused! Gods! Damnit!

You grit your teeth in rage and scream out the [Irate Frog Song], to no effect but to add more discord to the cacophony all around you. Blake winces, but looks ready to charge again, even though he knows it would spell his doom. It just… It just wasn’t fair!

Without even consciously knowing it, you forge the tempest within you into the concentrated power of a [Lightning Bolt] and fling it forward to unleash that which had built up inside you. You know it won’t matter, but you don’t care.

Then, there’s a blinding light. You close your eyes reflexively, and shield your vision, but even with your eyes closed, you can still see the white light before you. Then, a moment later, the sound of a thunder crack hit you full force, deafening you, and nearly sending you tumbling from your incredibly panicked mount.

The world became  a silent, white mess for what seems an eternity, until you blink your eyes open and look about, color beginning to return to the world. You hear the screams about you in muted tones, and you shake your head, trying to figure out what’s going on. Blearily you look about and see Blake, pointing towards something and… Shouting? Who is he shouting at though? The only person around is… oh, right, you.

You blink and look to where he is pointing, and it takes a moment to realize that it was where you fired the [Lightning Bolt]. Only pieces of maybe fifteen of the Wights remained, their bodies horrifically fused and melted by something, chunks still on fire as they lay strewn across the ground. You’re not certain what even happened there but.. But it’s a way out!

Your heart begins to beat very quickly and you shake your head, things coming into focus. Yes… Yes okay, you need to go! Now! You kick Mr. Ed in the ribs and he rockets forwards without any hesitation. Blake has already gotten his horse out, and is on his way back to the road. The remaining Wights mill about in aimless confusion as their bodies bur, not seeming to care that their corporeal forms are being torn asunder.

Maybe your aen’t thinking clearly, or maybe you just have some kind of dementia, but before the scene was out of sight, you tear yourself from Mr. Ed’s saddle and run over to the pile of body parts. You can dimly hear Blake calling you a damned fool, but you don’t really care. You root through the more intact bits and grab a foot, a heart, and a hand, shoving them into your [Sack of holding +1].

As you stand to go, Bubs squeals in your pocket and trashes violently. You blink and turn around to find one of the flaming Wights behind you, her eyeless gaze locked onto your body. Her mandible wis exposed to the bone, barely held together by straps of burning muscle. She raises a beautifully sculpted arm, her lusciously burning hips swaying as she tries to embrace you. You stand in horror, seemingly unable to move as she draws near, the sounds of her wail coming out as a sick gurgle. Oh… Oh Gods, why did you have to gather body parts? You were home free, you could have escaped, you should have escaped, why would you do this, no, no no!

You start to mentally break down as the heat and horror comes for you, but before the hand could reach you, it was suddenly jerks back. The Wight tried desperately to pull towards you, but couldn’t. You looked up, shaking, and see the back of the thing’s head impaled by a spike attached to a long, black, fluffy tail.

Selene waves a finger from her perch in a tree in front of you, and makes a silent, “tsk tsk” before retracting her tail, the Wight included, and then savagely tearing its head off. The body collapses to the ground, but the flaming head merely continues to try and scream. Selene scrunches up her nose and with a delicate effort, crushes the head in her paws, seemingly unfazed by the fire. With a shrug, she tosses it away until the night.

You blink and shake your head. Wh..what? Selene smiles and mouths something slowly. “Good show.” Before she bounds away back into the forest. You stare after her for a moment, then stagger to your feet, taking stock of the other Wights. As you do, Blake rides up, Mr. Ed’s rein’s in his hands. “What the hells is wrong with you? Damnit, get mounted and ride Wizard!”

You do that. You do that real fucking quick. Without further preamble, you leave the charnel house of flaming horrors and get back onto the road. It isn’t much longer until sunrise casts its first rays upon the forest, and you blearily blink away the terrors of the night. You manage to survive, although you aren’t even certain what had happened with that blast. Maybe Selene had saved you with some kind of magic, or maybe your electricity had done something, you just didn’t know. You’re too tired to care really…

All you know is that you had four to five days left of travel and you really, really hoped nothing will fuck with you today.  Of course, when you find the corpse of a half-eaten, feral-looking Kitsune on the side of the road around high noon, you can’t help but feel that you’re under some divine punishment. Oh well, such is your Gods damned life you guess.

 

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