Authors note: Edited 6/18/16
Chapter 4: Into the Woods Pt. 2
“Is that a dead Kitsune?” Asks Blake.
“Looks like something was eating her.”
“Maybe we should investigate?”
Blake turns his horse to look at you, his tone flat. “Not interested in picking through a corpse? I thought you had a habit of doing that.”
You hold up a finger. “Here now, I wasn’t thinking quite straight, and those were excellent specimens.” You reach into your bag and pull out the heart, squeezing it like a toy. Only a small amount of blood falls from it. “With a few samples here, I can improve my Plagamancy, and have a disastrous new arsenal of magic to protect us.”
“Is this about last night? You seemed a little delirious at the time Wizard.”
You wave your hand dismissively. You’re kinnnnddddd of sure you remember what you said last night. “I may have gotten a tad over enthusiastic, long day as it was, but this is very important.” You wave the heart around in your other hand. “It could very well spell the difference between life and death, since we seem to be beset by Monsters at all hours.”
Blake considers that. “You’re right… We seem to come across far more Monsters than even I would have expected, even given the locale.” He rubs his chin, “I suppose the Wights should have set off the real warning flags. You very rarely hear tell of them appearing, as they are not natural in any sense of the word. Something had to have animated them, and then something else had to have drawn them to us. Something with a fair amount of spirit ener….” He trails off.
You look at the heart closely. Geez, this thing is in pristine condition despite being torn from the chest of an undead woman. This Wight magic is some serious stuff. “Fair amount if spirit what?”
“Wizard… Do you know what fuels your powers?”
“Denial of women and sex. Upon my thirtieth year I was granted the powers of Wizardhood.” You say this proudly. He probably couldn’t understand, the poor normie.
Blake licks his lips. “You mean to say that you have never once?… Or even?..” He rubs his head. “By the Gods, you’re just a powder keg of energy, waiting to explode. I’m half surprised we haven’t been attacked more. We’re going to have to be far more vigilant so nothing like that happens again.”
You consider this for a moment. Huh. Now that he mentions it, it sounds plausible that this could be occurring like that. Maybe that’s why Selene was after you also, just fattening you up until she…
You shiver violently and look back to Blake, who is staring off into the woods beyond the dead Kitsune. You open your mouth to ask something, when he holds up a hand and gestures for silence. You look to where he’s staring and a moment later you hear a slight rustling in the bushes. A figure emerges, body low to the ground, padding forwards with wary eyes.
It’s a Wolfgirl, not wholly unlike the one you saw back in Feldergrod, but this one is far taller, much leaner, and way, way more savage looking. She’s wearing nothing but scraps of cloth tied loosely around her breasts and waist, and her hair is a matted mess of grey fur, mud, and blood. Her yellow eyes lock onto you both of you, and a slight growl passes between her lips. “This is my kill! Leave, now! Or your bodies will join hers!”
Even you can tell this is a bluff. She’s nowhere near as strong has Blake or yourself, and threatening to kill instead of rape is obviously a sign of a bluff. You look to Blake and he shrugs his shoulders. Obviously he didn’t care what happened either way. Looks like it was up to you.
You stroke your beard in contemplation. Hmmm, now what would a lone wolf girl being doing out here, without her pack, and threatening you with violence over rape? It just doesn’t add up. But hey, maybe you could get some answers about the forest from her. You sit straight in your saddle and act as smugly warm as possible.”Now now, let’s be calm here. We aren’t going to take your kill from you.”
Her ears twitch, but her posture is still very tense.”Then why are you still here? Leave!”
“Well now, just a moment. While we don’t have any intention of taking your kill, I was wondering if Perhaps you could answers a few questions for us?”
You pout for a moment. “What if I offered you something tastier than the corpse of a one tailed little Kitsune like that?”
Her tail twitches.
You smirk and pull out a heated bread pouch. Seriously you have no idea how many of these are even in here. You honestly don’t remember even packing this many, but hey, why mess with a good thing? Waving the pouch, you ask, “How about it?”
She narrows her eyes and sniffs. Her ears go straight up and her tail begins to wag back and forth. She takes a step forward and then seems to catch herself, moving back into a defensive posture. “Nuh uh.”
You roll your eyes and pull out another one. “Would you do it for two heated bread pouches?”
“Where do you keep getting those?” Asked Blake.
“Not now Hero.”
The Wolfgirl is salivating at this point, but she’s trying her best not to show it. She growls something under her breath and then, ever so slowly, edges forward, keeping her eyes fixed between you and Blake. When she reaches you, her posture is little more than a hunched crouch, and you have to lean forward in your saddle to hand her the pouches. She snatches them in the blink of an eye and jumps backward, taking a bite of the first one.
Her eyes light up and her tail wags furiously as she devours them, obviously very hungry. As she does so, you smile to yourself. Awww, she’s like a puppy! A starved, sex crazed, incredibly dangerous, puppy. While she chows down, you take the opportunity to feel out with your will towards her, performing a <Fast Scan>.
Hrm. You aren’t really a physician, but you also can’t really find anything overly out of the ordinary with her. Her humours are fairly in balance, you can tell that easy enough, and she’s malnourished, but generally she’s pretty healthy. You turn your gaze to the Kitsune and blanch.
She was only recently dead, but you could tell she wasn’t doing too hot beforehand. Her humours are actually in a fairly good way, but you can feel something akin to what you felt with the Wights. Some kind of malign energy was upon her, causing her to be easy prey to even a single wolf girl. Which begged the question, why was this wolf girl alone?
You notice she is finishing the last of the pouches and you clear your throat. “If you don’t mind, what is your name?”
She turns her head to you and considers, finishing her chewing, before she speaks slowly, “Hala.”
“That’s a wonderful name Hala, but tell me, where is the rest of your pack?”
She looks down, her ears seeming to droop. “They are… No longer present. The midnight walkers…”
You look to Blake who is now keenly interested. “You mean, the Wights? The pale undead?”
She furrows her brow and nods her head. “Yes… Them. Ever since they began to walk the forest at night, we have tried to hunt them, but they make for poor meat and… They are too deadly. My pack was killed not more than a few moons ago.”
Interesting… So the Wights aren’t just a little nuisance there to fuck you into oblivion, they were present in the forest for quite some time. You stroke your beard again, and wow, it’s pretty unruly. You should really comb it out more often, maybe when you got into town?
“What of the humans in the town through the forest? Have they been attacked?”
She growls, her ears twitching, “No, damned Varruck hasn’t been plagued by these creatures, even though it is their own dead which walk the night.” She growls even louder, “There is talk that they have a witch who controls the midnight walkers and seeks to rid us of our home.”
You look back to Blake again before grimacing. He coughs into his hand and then addresses Hala, “Well I can assure you that we are not of Varruck, we are merely passing through. But what will you do? Surely you have your kill here, but on your own you would be easy prey for the walkers or other inhabitants.”
She looks downcast for a moment. “Such is the way of the forest.”
Blake looks to you and whispers, “Perhaps it would be best to take her with us? Surely she’ll die out here, killing that Kitsune must have been luck.”
“It wasn’t luck, that Kitsune was weakened by whatever powers these Wights, and I feel for her pain, but bring her with us? Are you crazy? She’s just going to rape us when we aren’t looking!”
Blake rolls his eyes. “Wolf girls aren’t like that, they can be trained, and besides, I’ll protect you if you’re so afraid of a little T&A”
You blink as Blake calmly dismounts from his horse. Did he really just say “T&A?” It just kind of… Took you by surprise, that’s all. As Blake approaches Hala he slowly takes his sword belt off, doing his best to seem non-threatening. She pulls back slightly and growls at him, but she doesn’t bolt. He says a few, very gentle, very calm words to her and you watch as the magic of Blake’s words gently lull her into complacency. Seriously, you’re supposed to be the Wizard here.
Blake is smooth as butter, because damn, does that wolf girl look really calm. He gently soothes her down and even pats her head, to which she seems genuinely surprised before lowering her ears and looking away, tail wag betraying her true feelings on the matter. Oh Blake, what a normie.
Anyway, you suppose having a local around won’t be too bad, as long as you had some ground rules. Shifting in your saddle, you address the two. “I take it she wants to come with us?”
Blake looks to Hala, and she nods slowly. He turns back to you and grins, “Seems that way. Apparently she knows some good camping grounds also.”
“Sounds good by me, but if you travel with us, you must understand that I am a Wizard of arcane power, who can cause the very air to split forth into lightning, cause a raging tempest of fire, or even cast dominion over fecal matter!”
She blinks at you and cocks her head while Blake merely puts his palm to his. “Wi…zard? Is that some kind of sorcerer?”
“No. Not at all. Look, all I am saying is that I have some very important powers I deal with, and I do not want any foolishness of your ah…sexual attractions, do you hear me?”
She blinks and then pulls her head back a little, expression like she smelled something strange, “You have a very enticing scent, but sexual attractions? Do you take me for some common rape-starved mongrel?”
You pause for a moment. Uhhhhh, anyway, you narrow your eyes and say, “As Long as we understand each other.”
Blake sighs and stands up, “Yes well that’s all well and good, but we need to be going.” He looks to Hala and asks, “Would you like a ride upon my steed, my lady?”
She quirks her ears and looks confused. “My…lady? Ah, but no, I will walk.” She looks over at Blake’s horse who is eyeing her warily. “And I do believe your beast is afraid of me.”
Blake walks over and pats his horse, calming it down before mounting. “Very well then, let us be going, ah…” He looks at the Kitsune corpse.
Hala follows his gaze and she looks a little downcast. “I… suppose if there is food plenty with you, then I do not need to bring this with me.”
You cock your head then. “If that’s the case, may I have some of her intestines?”
Blake seems a little sick. “Wizard, what are you saying!?”
Hala merely shrugs and thrusts and arm into the belly of the dead Kitsune, pulling out a thick string of intestines before giving the grisly trophy to you. You open your [Sack of Holding +1] and flip to the pouch with the other body parts to let the intestines slop in. Mmm. Slop.
You nod your head to her and she shakes her head while Blake gives you a very “what the fuck” expression before groaning and continuing to move down the path. Hala follows in her own way, darting in between the trees and managing to keep pace with the horses, who almost seem spurred on by her presence. Only once do you have to stop your pace, and that was when Hala appeared on the road, calling a stop. Apparently there’s some Monsters nearby, and her warning saved you a heap of trouble.
Hell, she even finds a great camp site with clear access to water, a high ridge to keep your backs to, and good visibility. It’s pretty awesome actually, a shame she’s a time bomb waiting to happen, but you aren’t OVERLY scared of her. Nah, you could take her, easy peasy.
You stop a little early that day, mainly because of the good campsite, and also because you made excellent time on the trail, having avoided Monsters. The sun is still up in the sky and you stretch out across and rock, staring up into the boughs of the trees above. Ah, relaxing! But you can’t get toooo cozy, you have work to do later on, but for now, maybe you should ask Hala a few more questions? Yeah, that sounds good to you.
As you make up your mind to leave, a shadow falls over you and suddenly Hala’s face appears right above your own. You only mildly panic and your hands do this crawling, scrunching thing as they squirm together, but hey! You don’tt scream.
“Are you well, Wi…Wiz…Wizzzard?”
You blink and slowly crawl out from under her way too close proximity and turn to face her, sitting with crossed legs. She merely falls back onto her haunches and cocks her head. “Uh, ye..yeah I’m… Yeah nope, just fine!”
She looks at your obliquely. You cough into your hand. “So! Hala! Ah! How long have you lived here?”
“I was born here.”
“Ah, yes, of course, of course. Uhm… Any family?”
“My father was raped by my mother, and then died in an accident while my mother was killed savagely by the midnight walkers.”
“Oh! Uhm. Wow, I… I’m sorry? About that?”
She looks to the side, ears flattening. “….It is merely the way of nature. We kill to live, we rape to survive, the cycle continues unabated.” She shrugs at the last part. “It is what it is.”
You feel like a piece of shit here. Geez, nice going man, way to ruin the mood. Actually that’s probably a good thing now that you think about it. Despite the fact that she looks adorable so pitiful like that, you just kind of steer back on track.
“Uhm, so, what uh, what do you know about Varruck?”
She looks up at you, her ears twitching. “Not much. I have only been there once when our pack leader found some shiny stones in the forest and we went to trade with the town. It was a very odd feeling, everything so close together, but there were humans everywhere, although they seemed very shy of us, almost afraid. We were able to trade for clothing and tools, but we left as soon as we were finished.”
She looks down at the scraps she’s wearing. “This is what remains of what we traded for that day.” She shrugs. “I only continue to wear it out of pride for my mother who chose it for me. Sometimes I wonder how human women can stand this.” She picks at the cloth, causing her bust to bounce enticingly.
You cough into your hand violently and she stops, looking back at you. “Yes! Well then! Great! Uhm… Tell me, what did the people of the town seem to think of Monsters?”
“They smelled afraid. There were other Monsters there, but they were not afraid. Infact, they seemed dominant over the people. But I hear much has changed in the past cycle, much different from all those cycles before. I hear tale that the humans have begun to come into the forest more, and not just the midnight walkers. My mo…” She seems to choke up for a moment before continuing, “My mother had spoken once to the pack leader about the deaths of many Monsters at the hands of the walkers, and that the people of the town had begun to grow violent towards us. That was when the stories of the witch began, although I know not where they came from, nor if they are true.”
You consider all of this thoughtfully. Interesting, from what you knew of the place, many years ago the town was a haven between Monster and man. Then a powerful Monster came and the balance was shifted towards the Monsters, making it a dangerous place to travel, yet now with these walkers in the forest, the humans had begun to shift the balance to their side. Curiouser and curiouser….
You hear Blake call out to Hala and she rises, nodding her head to you before scampering off. You merely sit in contemplation a while longer. Hrmph, anyway, Varruck is a few days off, but you have to be prepared for anything you guess. Probably won’t be too much issue since you’re human and all, but you really don’t want to get tangled up with another spellcaster if you could help it.
But speaking of spells, it’s still sunny and you’re now alone! Time to do some magic! With that, you pull out the intestines, the heart, the hand, and the foot, setting them onto a rock before you. Yes, it’s a bloody mess but whatever. Bubs sticks his head out of your pocket and sniffs the air, scampering down your leg to snuffle at the foot before nibbling it, turning in disgust, and skittering away. You roll your eyes and concentrate, performing a <Fast scan>.
The intestines have begun to rot some already, even through your bag, and you can see the process as it occurs. With curiosity, you identify the humours which make it happen and catalogue them in your mind for later usage. Intestinal attack… Sounds good to you.
>You gain [Indigestion]
>You can cause intestinal tract disease after performing a <Fast scan>. Note that not all enemies are susceptible to this, nor are the effects always immediate or predictable.
You turn your gaze back to the Wight organs and sigh. Again, you sense the obvious disease within them, but the malign energy is keeping them from rotting like the kitsune organs . You can’t really learn much from these beyond getting a better feel from the magical signatures left upon them, which is really frustrating. At least you’re getting familiar with the malign energies, and can probably identify them easily if you have the opportunity. Might come in handy if you have to look out for, oh you don’t know, any witches controlling an undead rape army or anything.
With a sigh, you lean back, staring up at the sky. Honestly, being outdoors, while sweaty, disgusting, and gross, was starting to grow on you a little. Seriously though, what a great shade of pink the sky is, such a lovely day, you could just lay here for hours…
You jump up with a start. Oh gods, it’s almost sunset! Uhm, uhm, uhm! You hurriedly run and gather up ingredients, running past Blake and Hala who are setting up a fire, the two looking at you with odd expressions. You quickly throw together a magic circle, placing all the elements there. Okay, okay you have the cheese, the heated bread pouch, the circle, the rat….
You blink. The rat! You look around furiously for Bubs, and find him curled up under an pile of leaves. Scooping him up, you dash over back to the circle as the sky begins to grow dark. With a quick action, you pour over the book, take a drop of blood from yourself and Bubs and touch both to your magic circle.
A low hum fills the air around you, and you feel as if a great pressure is boring into your skull. It lasts only but a moment, but you stagger to your feet in aftershock. Wh..what the hell? Did… Did it backfire or something? Shouldn’t it have been some big, grand, or miraculous event?
You read through the book again and no, you did it right. So… Shouldn’t you feel something? You look at Bubs, who has huddled himself in a little ball. Gently, you scoop him up and cradle him in your arms, whispering, “Are you alright? I’m sorry, I didn’t know it would be like that.”
And then, in the back of your mind, you feel something. No, you don’t hear anything, but quite literally FEEL something squeak. You close your eyes and feel it more keenly, the sensation giving you the impression of… snideness? Was Bubs flipping you the mental bird?
You stare at him as he recovers, a multitude of little feelings of agitation and annoyance going through your mind. Finally, it calms and he looks you in the eyes before shaking his little rat head and scratching his ears with his foot, before jumping down to rummage back into his pile of debris. You feel a distinct, “Do not disturb” vibe emanate from the pile, and then it’s over. You blink a few times, then merely smile, shaking your head. Well you’ll be damned, it actually worked!
Though you want to explore this a little further, you leave Bubs be and go about your nightly chores, setting up wards and the circle, adding in a few new fulcrums of defense. Hala gives you incredulous and disgusted looks, but whatever, if she can’t appreciate your art, that’s probably better for you anyway. Soon, night falls and you all sit around the campfire, a pot of stew boiling heartily. You notice Hala salivating at the pot while Blake sits next to her, telling her some knightly tale of cooking or something.
It’s a really, really nice night out, but watches will still to be kept, and this time you have a choice of first or second watch, though Hala doesn’t get a watch, despite her protests. Blake calmly explains how she’s had a long day, and with a little coaxing she agrees.
You elect to take the first watch, to enjoy the night a little more. Blake seems pretty okay with this and he makes a nice little bedding for Hala out of his tack and other blankets. She seems to find the whole thing strange and amusing, yet when she lays on it, she quickly falls asleep. Obviously she hasn’t been sleeping much recently, and you can now see the wisdom in Blake’s words as she breathes in and out softly, her little wolf ears twitching. If only she wasn’t a female, you might even find this all adorable.
As it is, you’re once again left in the darkness of the night with your thoughts. And Bub’s thoughts, sort of, except he was kind of asleep so yeah, basically alone. It’s cool that you can instinctually tell where he is though and that he’s asleep. You sort of ponder upon this for a little bit, but then shake your head, more pressing matters on your mind than your rat familiar, namely the Wights.
There’s every chance that another one of the Monsters would manage to come by tonight and bring another horde around, but maybe you decimated their ranks with your little show last night? Speaking of which, how DID you decimate their ranks with your little show last night? All you remember was lighting them on fire, then throwing out some lightning and uh, then everything went white? And then there were body parts?
You ponder upon this fact. You’ve thrown fire and lighting together before, but it rarely did much of anything together. What made it different this time? So many of them on fire? The strength of the lightning? Guh, it’s hard to figure it out.
You rub your head in frustration. Guhhhh. Okay! No! Time to focus on something else. You could ponder the theories of all this the next time you had something to burn then electrocute, but thinking about it is going to get you nowhere. You rummage in your bag and pull out [Plagata de Roux] and the Wight heart, placing the two in front of you. By the light of the fire, you crack open the primer again and read some more.
Mainly the book speaks about things you already know,” focus on humours, manipulate them, and bring about disease.” You already had a decent grasp on this, despite the short period of time you’ve been studying it. As you flip to a new little entry, you notice with interest that it is named “Deconstructing decomposition.”
Apparently, despite humours being basically gone in dead things, there does still exist the disease and potential for it, which you can confirm quite well. Mainly this is what decomposes a body, and it can take many forms. While this is a very slow process in most cases, the practiced Plagamancer can influence the speed of rapid decomposition, and can almost instantly eat way the flesh from a corpse. This also breeds excellent disease to inoculate in others who are humour influenced.
“Note, this is EXCEEDINGLY difficult to do in a living being, as their humours oppose it quite strenuously, and to be able to influence them to become so imbalanced is beyond the scope of this book. Now to talk about….” You mutter before closing the book shut. Well! That was very interesting and relevant! You get a smug look upon your face, point your finger at the heart, <Fast scan> it, and BAM!
You scrunch your brow and try again, a little more carefully and… You can’t influence the decay. That’s just not right, it’s as if something is keeping it at bay, from getting into the…
You blink and then stare with your [Mage Sight]. It takes a few seconds, but you see the unmistakable signs of magic, the ones that you identified before, but now that you’re really looking, you can see the chains of magic that kept this heart together. They actually even look like chains, but you can tell that the influence upon them is weakening, as some of the links have begun to “rust” in a sense. With an effort of will, you strike at one of the links and it shatters, ehe entire enchantment fracturing before it vanishes, and then the heart was just that. A dead heart. You cock your head and influence what’s left if it’s humours and find that it yields to you without much trouble. It festers and decomposes, and soon is nothing more than a pile of blackened goo.
>You learn [Rapid Decomposition]!
>You may decompose corpses rapidly and harvest disease from them.
>This ability has no effect on living animals.
>Your [Dispell minor magic] has improved to [Dispell magic]
>You can Dispell more powerful magicks than before!
You lean back, incredibly satisfied, and smile a wide smile when you hear a rustling noise nearby. Your heart starts to beat faster and you turn to see Hala shifting in her makeshift bed, creating the noise. You breathe a sigh of relief and watch her. She doesn’t seem to make any moves, or even get up, and you’re reasonably certain she’s asleep. Which is good, don’t want to get jumped or anything while Blake is sleeping. But honestly, you don’t know what to do with her. She can’t really go with you to the Order stronghold, can she? Ah, who are you kidding? Blake would probably take her or something just to spite you.
You sigh and shake your head when you feel an intense little panic in the back of your mind. Bubs is awake and something has him on edge. You grit your teeth and growl, picking up your staff. Oh come on can’t you have just one night without any trouble? You scan around the area, see nothing, and then let out an exasperated breath. “Selene, please stop sneaking up on me.”
“Oh but that would be no fun, my love.”
Even though you had Bub’s warning, you still kind of freak out a little when Selene appears to you from the shadows of the night. Seriously, how in the hells is she so quiet? And how did only Bubs… You look towards Hala and see she’s totally asleep, doesn’t even twitch. Huh, that’s weird that a wolf wouldn’t sense Selene appearing, even in her sleep. Maybe she’s just so tired that she can’t tell.
You look back to Selene who seems to be pouting a little, her bottom lip out. “Oh now that’s just rude. Here I am before you and you’re looking at other women.”
“Uhm. I err… Sorry?”
She waves a hand dismissively, “I forgive you. Now then, that was an interesting piece of magic you just performed. You are so full of tricks my little Wizard!” She leans over and pinches your nose and you pull back, rubbing your nose, which prompts her to giggle in that lovely voice of hers.
“T…thanks. Oh uh, also for saving us last night.”
“Think nothing of it my dear, it wouldn’t do to have you mercilessly raped and killed by some toy.” She smiles, “But it seems you had the situation mostly under control. I have not seen that spell since the 3rd invasion.”
You blink. “W…what spell?”
“The [Plasma Blast] of course.”
You blink. She blinks back before taking in a sharp breath, her expression becoming severe. On her, it’s utterly terrifying as she begins to scold you. “You didn’t know what it was you did? Foolish Wizard, you could have killed yourself and everything in half the forest!”
“I…I…I’m s..sorry?” You stammer, trying to pull away, but she holds you in place with a powerful arm.
“You would do best to not try and recreate such an event without a further grounding in energy expansion dynamics and heat wave manipulation….” She sighs with exasperation. “Honestly, Wizards in this day and age have no concept of the finer magical theories.”
You stare at her dumbstruck. Uh…what? Did she just go into a tirade like some kind of school teacher? And 3rd invasion? That was so many years ago it boggled the mind. Just how old was Selene? Actually, you think it would not be wise to ask. Instead, you clear you throat and nod your head slowly. “Uhm…. Okay.”
She looks you in the eyes and then sighs before ruffling your hat. “I wouldn’t want to go and lose you just yet. There’s so much more growing for you to do, especially in the days ahead.”
You gulp. “Growing…. For what?”
With that, she smiles wickedly and leans forward to kiss your nose. “Till next we meet my dear, dear Wizard. Oh, and if you make eyes at that pup again, I’ll rip her head off and feed her body to the worms.” And with that, she leaps up onto the rock shelf above, scales it in a quick motion, and is gone. Bubs calms down soon after, so she’s probably gone this time.
You don’t much feel like studying anymore tonight. When your watch is relieved you very pointedly do NOT look at Hala and curl up into bed. These next days were going to be something alright…
Sunrise comes and you hit the trail again. You’re maybe 3-4 days away, depending on your pace, and so far, things look pretty good. You hear a few cries and calls in the woods, but nothing shows itself, yet, so you have some time to talk, study, explore, whatever. The sun is shining, the road is clear, your companions aren’t dead… goshes it’s looking like a good day. Wonder how long until something tries to rape/kill you?
Oh well, might as well try to do something productive in the meantime. You address Blake. “Well then sir Hero, about how much longer would you say until we reach the town?”
Blake looks over his shoulder as he answers you, still leading his horse on. “I spoke to Hala about this last evening, she believes at this current pace, probably the day after tomorrow.”
“I see, I see. And from there, how long until we reach this capital?”
Blake scratches his chin and thinks. “Well, assuming we can restock our supplies without burning down part of the town and starting a mild war…” He gives you a flat stare at that before continuing. “I’d say perhaps another five or so days through a majority of hills and plains.”
Oh so he’s still kind of bitter about the hometown thing. Well fine. “Ah, indeed. Do you believe traffic will head upstream back to Feldergrod?”
Blake shakes his head and sighs. “Yes, it is likely that the hulk has been removed by now and traffic should resume. I assume you wish to still take your glass and leave?”
Bubs mentally squeaks and you turn to your right to see Hala take pace beside your horses from her place in the trees. Mr. Ed neighs at her, and she gives a fierce grin. “Ah, you were able to see me Wizard? You have sharp senses.”
“Something like that.” You return to facing this road.
She cocks her head and shrugs, even while basically running. “What is this glass you speak of?”
“It’s a component to a magical device of utmost importance to me. It is why I am traveling with the Hero here.”
She looks at Blake, then back to you, “He tells me that there’s going to be a war. I had heard legends of such in the past, a glorious assault by some creature known as the Monster lady.” She seems to consider something. “I don’t know if I’m supposed to support that or not.”
She gives you a wolfish grin, which is easy, seeing as she’s a wolf. “Oh? But you allowed that cat into the camp yesterday.” You nearly fall off your horse at the surprise and you look at her, horrified, before quickly averting your gaze.
“Is something wrong?” She asks, some concern in her voice.
“Just… Just forget you saw anything, and do not tell Blake about her. It would be best for both of you if you pretend that she didn’t exist.”
Hala narrows her eyes and is silent for a moment before speaking again. “I couldn’t hear everything she said, but I could smell her. She smells dangerous, Wizard.”
You mutter under your breath, “Tell me about it.”
“If that’s the way you want it, I am not on your quest for this… Glass? Or Blake’s quest against this Monster Lady, but….” She seems to pause for a moment before saying. “But I would hate to see either of you hurt.” You chance a look and her face is flushed. She bows her head and then dashes into the tree line again.
“What was that about?” Asks Blake.
You put your hand to your head and groan, “Women.”
Blake quirks an eyebrow at you, when Hala darts out of the tree line again. You both exchange incredulous looks as she howls, “RUN!”
She drops to all fours and sprints away, leaving you and Blake very confused, until the source of her fear crashes through the brush behind her. Bubs squeaks in fear and hides deep in your pocket, and your mouth goes dry.
A figure standing possibly 6’9″ appears before you, a woman of such raw mass and fury that she shakes he earth around her. She’s very large, but not from fat, oh no, this is all toned muscle, keeping a strong, appealing shape with generous breasts while still rippling with muscle. Her shoulders, back, forearms, and legs are covered in a thick coat of dense, brown fur, which ripples in the afternoon breeze, and her hands and legs are massive paws, tipped with black claws. And yet her face, while very angular, yet has a definite appeal with her short, brown hair. Her yellow eyes, however are filled with a sort of fury that chills your bones.
You don’t really know the outside world too much, but you’re pretty sure this is some kind of Bear girl, and obviously she is either hungry, horny, or angry. Possibly all three! You’re definitely sure though that she takes notice of you and yours, and she roars, preparing to charge.
Hey, can’t say you didn’t call it, but looks like something is out to kill you! You should take up fortune telling.
It takes you a few moments to orient yourself to what’s happening, truth be told. Hala told you to run, big Bear girl in front of you, looks like she’s going to charge, ah okay right. You should probably do something about this. Your first instinct is to turn Mr. Ed around and run like the hells, but you’re fairly certain that might just make things worse, and besides, Blake would probably heroically stand his ground and yadda yadda. Which means, MAGIC TIME.
The Bear girl orients herself upon you, but you’ve already got your staff pointed at her, your <Fast scan> complete. Blake, like the Hero he is, places himself in such as way to intercept the Monster, his sword already in his hand. The Bear girl sees this, roars again, and then picks up speed while you mutter under your breath.”And that… Should do it.”
Like puzzle pieces sliding together, your influence finishes what you had begun and [Indigestion] is complete. At first, it appears as if nothing has happened, her charge still gaining speed. You start to sweat some, thinking, maaaaaaybe a spell to give someone cramps isn’t the best idea, when the Bear girl jerks and spasms, her charge faltering, before she falls to the ground, clutching at her abdomen.
Blake furrows his brow and dances his horse to the side, studying the Bear girl as she moans. It sort of catches you off guard when she starts to speak in a rather delicate and cultured voice. “Oh by all that is verdant, what is this pain? It feels as if my innards are trying to crawl their way out!”
Blake looks at you concerned, and you shrug, just as shocked as he was at the outcome. You look back when she moans even more pitifully, and then groans, a low noise filling the air, followed by a sharp stench. “Why would you do this to me you vile human?”
“Uhm.” You look to Blake who is holding his nose. “You know, usually Monsters don’t try to speak with us when they want to kill us.”
“Well what else can I do with this pain you fool? Oh… Oh by the… Nrrrgh.”
You wince and she doubles over again and with a gasp, she defecates. Yep, yep this was basically what you thought it would do. You honestly did not expect to see yourself making Bear girls shit in the woods a few weeks ago, but my how things change. This also answers the question of whether or not they do such things.
Well, at least you know your spell works you guesse. But uhm, perhaps you should, you know, be nice and fix her humours or something because this is just cruel. As you begin to do so, Hala appears next to you and bears her fangs. “Kill her, and we shall feast well tonight!”
The Beas girl looked up and snarls. “Disrespectful pup! Your kind are nothing but a plague to these woods and…narrghhh!”
Hala smirks, “It seems to me that you are the one who has a touch of the plague old Bear.” She looks up at you and smiles. “Would you like the honors, or should I, Wizard?”
Blake looks back and forth between you two and grimaces. “Stay yourself, we are not murdering an innocent Monster. Hala, I expected better of you, and Wizard, end whatever magic you have cast, and let her go in peace.”
Hala looks towards Blake and seems to blanch a little, but then turns to you, a glimmer of hope and some kind of feral lust in her eyes. It’s… A stark reminder that no matter the human looking face, she is not, nor cover ever be, human. She is what she is, a Monster to the core.
You lick your lips and shake your head at Hala. “I’m sorry, but I… I can’t just execute her for no reason…” You look back at the Bear girl and announce. “Do you promise to leave in peace, and not harass our party any further?”
“So long as you keep your pup on a leash, then… Grah… Yes, I do swear.”
You nod your head and undo the damage you had dealt, to which the Bear girl slumps in relief. Blake nods his head while Hala pouts and flattens her ears down, grumbling about spoiled chances. Blake trots his horse over, asking if the Bear is alright.
Bubs pops his head from your pocket and crawls down, keenly interested in the Bear feces for some reason, before he begins sniffing them and running a circle around the filth. Everyone watches in morbid amusement, even the Bear girl, but when he stops abruptly and you feel a certain stirring, you look around you, readying your staff. “Something… Is watching us.”
Blake readies his sword and Hala crouches, her ears twitching while she sniffs the air. Suddenly, her ears stand straight up and she stares at a patch of bushes nearby. A growl escapes her throat and her posture hunches as a hissing voice echoes from the foliage. “Such a shame you did not killlllll her. I have feasted quite welllll on your leavings humaaaaaans.”
The voice that echoes from the brush is like a cheese grater on sand paper and it chills your spine. You prepare yourself for another assailant to slink on through, but nothing happens for a long time. You can feel the tension still, and Bubs has crawled back into your pocket by now, clearly terrified.
You gulp and take a step forward, when without warning, a massive, chitinous black form moves from the brush quicker than you could think possible and slams into the still weakened bear, bearing her to the ground in one blow. Long segments of the creature snake around the bear and wickedly sharp legs stab into her, eliciting cries of pain. As you try to process everything appropriately, you hear a wicked, rasping laugh and you realize that what you’re looking at is the source of the voice from before.
Raised up into the air, seemingly sprouting from the segmented, many legged carapace, is a delicate humanoid torso, chitin covering her back and folding over her head, making her fully armored and hard to see from the topside. She has three bladed legs on each side sprouting from her abdomen and torso, and a pair of antennae dangling from her head. Though she has a set of human arms and breasts, they too had places of chitin covering them, running up in patches to her neck. She smiles at you wickedly with all top human teeth, stained with blood and offal, and her eyes, very black, insectoid eyes, gleam in delight.
“Oh my, this is quite the treaaaaaat. Oh, however shall I thaaaaank you?” Her smile seems to grow wider somehow. “Oh, I know, I think I’ll let you be raaaaaaped!”
Ah, now this, this is the kind of day you were expecting.
Blake already has his sword drawn, but he hasn’t charged in, clearly looking for a weakness in the armored beast with a trained eye. Theoretically it would be the squishy looking human torso, but things aren’t ever that easy, are they? Nor does the Monster give you a good chance to get ready, before she lunges forwards, her arms moving to tightly embrace you.
Before she can reach however, she pulls back violently, and you find that Blake is suddenly before you, having anticipated the attack and moving his horse in to intercept, sword drawn high. She hisses at him and recoils, her legs tightening into the bear girl to give her better purchase as the upper body adjusts.
“Damnable beast! Unhand her now and leave before I must end you!” Shouts Blake as he dances his horse between you and she. Her gaze swings to him and you take the opportunity to turn Mr. Ed (after two unsuccessful tries) and get some distance between the two of you.
The centipede girl notices you go and she hisses again, but doesn’t move to intercept, instead keeping her attention on Blake. “Oh myyyy.” She rasps, “Someone’s playing hard to geeeeeeet.” She seems to coil up. “But I’ll seeeeeetle for the strong one firrrrrrst.”
“Try me then Monster!” Screams Blake, and she obliges, lunging towardshim. Around that time you notice that Hala is not where she was before, and after a quick look, you see that she has managed to appear BEHIND the centipede-girl and as the massive creature strikes towards Blake, Hala lets out a howl and leaps onto the armored back of the Monster, her claws scrabbling to find purchase as she does her best to try and bite through the armored hide.
All it really does is seem to surprise the Centipede girl who flails backward in a sinuous motion and flings Hala clear of her body and straight into a patch of bushes, putting her out of sight. The creature then hisses loudly and snaps back to slap aside one of Blake’s sword thrusts before rearing back again, judging her next move.
Right, this seems a pretty good time to be a Wizard. Okay first things first, you’d normally light her on fire and call it a day, but with that bear there, you can’t just do so or both will cook. The thought of the dead woman from the docks fills your mind and you push it to the side. Not now!
Okay, so you can’t burn, electricity would just as bad, and you’re fairly certain disease would be ineffective against something like this, especially at your power level. So that left you with a few options, and many problems.
You can’t attack her directly as it was, so perhaps making certain she can’t attack right either would be a wise move, and you had just the ticket… With a gesture and a focus of will, you cause the air around the Centipede-girl to drop a multiple degrees with <Cold Blooded> and she seems to waver for a moment, her eyes zipping around in a mild panic. You aren’t overly concerned about the bear girl, you read somewhere they do good in cold weather.
As the Centipede shows hesitation, Blake takes the moment to charge forward and strike. Despite being cooled, the Centipede girl notices the attack and manages to turn slightly to the side, causing what would have eviscerated her to turn across the back plating and barely graze her. It was enough to cause a foul, ichorous blood to start flowing however, and she screamed, pulling backward. “What sorcery is thiiiiiis? Graaaaah, I will NOT be cowed by your little gaaaaaames!”
Well at least it’s doing something, she seems like she’s struggling a little, her movements slowed and more careful. You also notice that the bear girl has slumped some, the pressure on her body being released by the legs of the centipede girl. Either your spell had a larger effect than you thought, or she was… Wait.
“Shit! Watch yourself Hero!”
Blake reacts like a champion, dodging to the side as she swings her body to collide into him, but at the last moment, she uncoils from the bear and uses the momentum to slide past Blake, crawl to the side, and then make a play for you.
For your part, you do your best to not freak the fuck out. You fail, miserably, and fall off your horse. This probably saved your virginity and/or life, because when she fails to grab you, she swings back around and is pushed back again by Blake’s blade. She hisses and slams her tail toward his horse, but he manages to pull his mount back without it getting hurt.
You groan and rub your head. Thankfully nothing seems broken immediately, but the adrenaline in your blood sort of dulls most of your concerns. Thankfully you can feel Bub’s little tight pack of purely terrified emotions just fine, though Mr. Ed has performed a ghost impersonation by vanishing. You really hope he’s nearby though.
Anyway, no time to rest! You drag yourself back to your feet and survey the situation. The Centipede is attacking Blake and pressing him hard, apparently tired of his shit. For Blake’s part, he can’t seem to get past that armor of hers, and any blow to the torso is deflected by her mighty arms. Eventually she’d corner him and break him or his horse, and you can’t have that shit.
Your eyes snap to the Bear girl, who is groaning on the ground, and you scan to see, ah, yes, the pile of fresh feces. You take a deep breath and grit your teeth. Okay, this is going to be crazy, but it has to be done. You dash towards the combat, drawing the shit towards you and forming it into a long shaft. Then, in a modified [Defense of Defecation] you freeze it, creating a dense coating of ice, the tip of the shaft forming into a sharpened stake. You grab the now formed spear as you run and you scream at the beast.
She whips around and howls, throwing a surprise blow that tosses Blake from his horse with her tail, and she lunges at you. Right onto your spear.
The reinforced shitsicle pierces her torso and it explodes out her back carapace, tossing a spew of chitin and ichor into the air. Your arms struggle to keep the spear from over balancing, and you dig into the earth, forcing her onto it further. She screams and struggles, pulling herself off the spear, but you’ve already caused the tip to freeze over, and she can crawl nowhere but toward you. Which, in hindsight, you should have thought of.
As you desperately keep the spear in her guts, she claws herself toward you, spitting curses and thick secretions from her mouth. Slowly, she inches forward, and you shake with the effort, unable to force yourself to cast anything else, whether due to effort, or sheer terror, you did not know. Her outstretched arm is about three inches from your face, her bulging bug eyes trying to bore into your soul, when she jerks backward, straight off your spear, and with a mighty, ursine cry, the Bear girl rips her in half, straight through the segmented lower body.
The lower half squirmed and thrashed, dying fitfully as the upper half choked out blood and gore from her mouth, abdominal wound, and the new tear. She trashes, screaming and cursing her eyes searching wildly in panic before slowing down, giving one last cough of blood, and then her torso slumped, her eyes devoid of light.
Panting, you hadn’t moved the entire time this occurred, and you just stare at the grotesque sight before you. It takes you a moment to adjust to the fact that the upper half is being held up in the air by the Bear-girl, her eyes gleaming with a savage fury as her body wept from multiple wounds. Apparently even in the state she was, she still has the strength to rip apart even such a creature as the Centipede girl. She lets out one more cry of rage and tosses the torso into the still twitching lower body, then collapses once more, breathing heavily.
A still sort of silence fills the air and you slump to your knees, dropping the shit spear and staring. It had all happened in the span of maybe a couple minutes, but to you, it felt like an eternity. You wipe sweat from your brow and find it stained with ichor from the Centipede. You mutely blink and then wipe it away before looking at Blake who had managed to pull himself up, and was calming down his horse. Hala reappears from the brush, her body cut and scraped in a multitude of places, her “clothing” barely still attached.
You let out a sigh of relief and wonder where Mr. Ed had gotten to when Bubs squeaks and jumps from your pocket, scurrying down the road, and you can feel that he knows where to find the creature. You’ll follow as soon as you can stand, probably. But for now, you and your compatriots are alive, and you have a bisected Centipede girl and an unconscious bear girl before you.
What a day indeed.
You shake your head and pick yourself up, dusting off and honestly just managing to make a mess of yourself with ichor. Rolling your eyes, you flick your wrist, and the gore gathers off you into a ball, which you drop to the ground before heading toward the downed bear girl.
Blake had managed to calm his horse and had hitched it to a tree, already looking over the unconscious Bear girl. Hala stood off the side next to him, her expression mildly annoyed, seemingly oblivious to her multitudes of little cuts and wounds. As you approach, her ears twitch and she turns toward you, giving a wan smile, her tail wagging slightly. “Quite the show Wizard.”
“I didn’t know you were quite so strong…”
“Yep…” You bend down and look over the bear girl. You honestly aren’t paying much attention to Hala right now, you’re just really tired all of a sudden and you have things to do. Rubbing your hand over your face you do a <Fast scan> of the bear girl and find that the wounds from the bladed legs aren’t necessarily deep, although that isn’t really what you were looking for. What you focus on instead are the inky black clouds that seem to be coursing through her humours.
You sigh and shake your head, concentrating. Blake kneels down next to you and asks, “What is it?”
You hold up a hand and strain your will, taking hold of the humours and fighting to wrest control from the blackness within. It’s actually rather difficult to do, this stuff must be incredibly potent, but with some time you manage to break the hold. Withdrawing your hand back in a swift motion, you draw forth tendrils of blackness from the wounds, which form into a small ball that slowly rotates over your palm.
“By the Gods… What is that?” Asks Blake, his face blanching a little.
“Venom, I’m sure.” You cock your head and look it over. “I suppose the Centipede girl had it on her legs.”
Blake looks at you flatly, “I could have told you that… But at least it’s removed. Her condition still looks fairly poor however…” He feels her neck and shakes his head. “Her pulse is faint and her breathing shallow. I’m afraid she might not last from the wounds alone.”
Hala bends down and cocks her head at the Bear girl. “She fought well, despite her injuries, but such is the way of nature.” She shrugs and raises a paw, nails gleaming. You quickly put your free hand over hers and look at her sternly. She blinks and falters, her hand sinking down under your pressure. “I…sorry.”
You look back to Blake and pull out the [Healing potion] from your [Sack of holding +1]. You look at the vial and shake it, the contents sloshing about. “I suppose this healing potion might do for her, but… I was saving it in case we needed it.”
Blake snatches it out of your hand and forces the stopper off, then drains it down the Bear girl’s throat faster than you can say, “Huh wha where?”
Nothing seems to happen for a moment, and Blake looks at the vial, then at you, and you shrug. There was no guarantee this would even do anything at all, and you’re about to mention this, when the bear girl shudders and shakes violently. Blake throws his body on her to keep her down, but she bucks him off without much effort, and you both watch as her eyes fly open and the wounds on her body start to smoke, close, and then seem to vanish all together. She spasms and then goes still, her breathing slowing and her eyes fluttering closed.
Blake, Hala, and yourself all look at each other, then the vial, and then back to you. You shake your head, “That was the only one.”
Hala tsks and Blake looks a little disappointed. That was pretty awesome actually, but that was also the only one you had. Ah, oh well, at least you have a free vial, which you pluck from Blake’s hand and send the venom into. This should be useful.
>[Centipede venom] obtained
As you place the venom into your sack, the bear girl begins to stir and she groans, rolling onto her side before letting out a long yawn. Blake helps her sit up and she stretches her shoulders, blinking. “Hmm? I’m… alive?” She looks around at the three of you and then the centipede-girl’s corpse before giving a toothy grin.
“Serves the bitch right, those legs hurt something fierce.” She then seems to remember something and looks down at her body, blinking in amazement. “The wounds they… They are healed! But how?” She looks around the group and Blake nods to you. She smiles and then reaches over and pulls you in for a tight hug faster than you can react.
Despite her strength, her hug feels warm and inviting, her breasts squeezing into you as two cushions that seem to make the experience enjoyable, despite those bothersome popping noises in the background. Probably your spine or something, whatever. You kind of feel light headed as the bear hug continues, but then you feel yourself being torn away as Hala growls, “That’s enough of that.”
You blink in surprise as you’re pulled back and you shake your head to get your bearings. Right, right, bear hug, and uhm… Geez. Hala looks at the Bear with a scowl, her tail standing up. For her part, the Bear girl merely smiles and then winks at you, and your bruised body shivers. Women… MONSTER women especially!
Blake appears before the two women and separates them, his voice rising, “Ladies, we just survived a fight, no reason to start a new one.”
“That’s right…” You say, getting your feet back under you. “Hala, go release some of that anger by gathering some of the beast’s legs, and uhhhh.” You gesture towards the bear girl.
“Yeah, okay, Gelphie, uh… I guess, just do what you normally do? Without the trying to murder us I guess?”
She holds up a massive paw and shakes her head. “I have learned my lesson sir… Wizard, was it?” She looks around and then leans in close, which kind of makes you really nervous, “I think that your little pup there has a flame for you. You would best keep watch for when she goes into heat, although I’m certain she will make it known.”
“Uhm. Yeah I’ll…” You cough and frown towards Hala who tears off a leg from the centipede with a swift motion, examining it before tossing it into a pile. “Thanks for the… warning.”
Gelphie blinks and then gives a great big belly laugh, slapping her stomach with a large paw. “Hahahaha! If you say so! Very well then, if you happen to come by these woods again, do not be surprised were I to find you!”
She smirks and then stretches before yelling to Hala, “You keep yourself from causing trouble in these woods, you hear?”
Hala responds by growling and tearing a leg off the centipede girl.
Gelphie narrows her eyes and then lopes off into the woods again, leaving you and your party alone once more. Blake walks over to you and shakes his head. “What a curious series of events seems to surround you, Wizard.”
“I’d like it if they’d stop.” You grumble, shaking your head.
He shakes his head and then looks down the road, “Your horse missing is quite the detriment however, we will lose much time tracking him down.”
You wave a hand, “He’s back the way we came about half a mile away, Bubs is watching him.”
Blake blinks and looks back down the road. He looks like he’s about to say something before shaking his head and saddling up. “I’ll be back then.” He rides off, leaving you with Hala who has ripped about eight legs off so far.
As you walk up she looks at you and is about to tear off another when you signal her to stop. She shrugs and lets the leg drop, walking over to you as you concentrate on the corpse, using your <Fast scan>. She’s obviously dead, and your original assessment that Plagamancy would be ineffective on her was sound. She’s teeming with disease, and her humours are so off, it isn’t even funny. What’s even worse, was that you have a sneaking suspicion that this is totally normal for her kind. Still, something is a little off…
You concentrate a little harder and activate your [Magic Sight]. Yep, there it is. She has, especially concentrated in her digestive tract, bits of the same Wight corruption you saw in the Kitsune. Obviously eating that Kitsune, and many other weak Monsters had built it up in her, and you’re mildly concerned that she could have been much more ferocious had she not had this concentrated power in her. It didn’t seem to have affected her nearly as much as it would getting a direct dose of the magic, but you made a mental note not to eat anything around here without checking it first.
Hala looks at you funny and the kicks the body, disturbing your concentration. You blink and shake your head before rising. She looks back at the body and asks, “Well, what do we do with it?”
You wave a hand and active [Rapid Decomposition]. The the body festers and rips itself apart as it blooms with death and liquefies into a sludge, leaving only a small pile of bones where the torso once lay.
Hala leaps back and bares her fangs at the sight and you inwardly laugh. Silly wolf girl, it’s the way of nature! She notices you shaking, apparently you didn’t fully conceal your laughter, and she pouts, kicking the skull away. “Wizards and their…magic….”
“Yes, it’s all very nice and mystical.” You rub your head and sigh. Hala is going to be an issue going forward, isn’t she? But you could stop being a nice person, so you ask, “Are you alright?”
She looks at you curiously and then to herself, “Oh, these? They are nothing, I’ll be fine.” She seems to blush a little, “Thank you for asking though.”
You sigh and shrug, then look back down the road to find Blake leading Mr. Ed and Bubs on your horse’s back, legs raised, little ratty nose sniffing the air. Ah the gang’s all here. You gather up the [Centipede Legs] and store them before readying the group to leave back on the road…
>[Centipede Legs] obtained!
>You reach Level 5!
>Your Wizard power level grows to 82% as temptation stirs around you.
>Your skill in manipulating humours has increased, and you gain <Bio availability>
>You may identify and extract poisons, venoms, and other tainted samples from animals and animal Monsters.
It’s a few more hours before nightfall hits and Hala finds another good spot to make camp. Despite your detour, you STILL covered good ground, and you’re actually on pace for maybe two more days of this bullshit until you reach Varruck. Hala warns you that things may be more dangerous the closer you get to the town and you believe her. The woods just don’t… feel right to you. Still, you set up camp the same as before, and soon enough, it’s time to determine watch.
You shrug. Honestly you don’t really care which watch you ended up with tonight, it doesn’t really make that much of a difference. You pull the [Gold Coin] out of your bag an show it to Blake. He raises an eyebrow at such a large piece of currency,
“Heads I take first watch, tails you take second?”
“Works for me,” you say, and then flip the coin. It tumbles end over end in the air and you move to catch it, but it gets tangled in your fingers and clatters to the ground. Blake shakes his head and Hala snickers at you. Jerks, the whole lot of them.
You grumble and look at the coin which is head up. “Guess you’re up Hero.”
Blake stretches and cinches on his sword belt before looking around your warded perimeter. He sighs and then rubs an eye before grumbling, “Do you really have to make the ward of yours out of feces? I’m sad to say that I’m starting to get used to the reek.”
You smirk, “It works, doesn’t it? So why are you complaining?”
Blake shakes his head and you get ready to catch some sleep, which shouldn’t be too hard seeing as you’re pretty damn tired. You gesture over to Bubs who scrambles over and hides in your bedroll, a sense of contentment on his face. As you settle in, you notice out of the corner of your eye Hala stretching out her long, lithe body, and she gives you a very knowing smile.
You really don’t want to wake up with another head in your bedroll, you just… Just REALLY did not. As you lay there, you groan and then speak up,
“Hero, be very vigilant. I have a feeling that there is something out there is evening, and that it is VERY interested in visiting harm upon anyone around ME.”
You catch Hala’s confused gaze in your periphery and you grit your teeth before rolling over in your bedroll. It’s probably best not to tell them that there’s an ancient Lieutenant to the Monster Lady stalking you in the woods with an overly protective streak who could rip bodies to pieces with little effort. Might scare them or something, you know?
With that thought, sleep is kind of rough in coming, but you manage it, your eyes closing gently, the sweet embrace of darkness giving you blissful comfort to…
Something shakes you awake and you open your eyes groggily. “Hrn? Ruagaha? Ruhr?”
Blake smirks, “Yes, good morning to you as well, however it is your appointed shift.”
“I just got to sleep…”
“It’s been a few hours.”
You groan and sit up, a feeling of discontent in your mind, as well as a smaller one in the corner of your head from Bubs who also did not appreciate being woken up like this. With effort, you crawl out of your bedroll and yawn. Blake nods towards you and gets ready to settle down into sleep.
You sit upon the ground nearby and take a look around the camp. A whole lot of nothing is seen and you roll your eyes. Selene is probably around here somewhere but far be it from you to go and actually find the crazy bitch. If she wants something, she’ll come and find you. For now, let’s see if something constructive can’t be done.
You place out before you the [Centipede legs] you had Hala collect earlier and study them. They’re each about three feet long from the sections that Hala ripped apart and they’re wickedly sharp. Like, you’re surprised Hala didn’t cut herself open on these, because you probably would have. You feel inside them with your senses but don’t find any venom or anything else useful, finding them to be dry as a bone.
So, it seems that now you have these really sharp legs which have injection ports in them. They’re poorly shaped to be used as much of anything in their current form however and you puzzle over what use they might be. You really just wanted them earlier because they seemed sharp and it would shut Hala up for a bit, but now you’re kind of interested in making something out of these. You hadn’t practiced your hobby of making enchanted items in ages and these might be good implements if you could figure out what to do with them.
A sword? Nah, they didn’t have that kind of durability length. An attachment to your staff to make a spear? Ehhh, probably not the best idea, you’d probably kill yourself, and this was better for slashing rather than stabbing anyway. A knife then? That seems much more feasible.
You nod your head in contemplation. Yeah that sounds pretty good, but what would it do? You think about what you have available and what you need now. A weapon to fight the Wights, of course, because you’re certain you haven’t seen the last of them. You yourself are fairly okay if you have the time to [Dispell] their bindings, but Blake? He can’t take that raw strength and durability… but could you fashion something to help him?
You pull the Wight foot and hand from your bag and stare at them. They pulse faintly with dissipating magical energies and you wonder… Hmmm. Taking one of the legs, you slice off a finger from the Wight hand and begin to trim off the flesh, leaving only the bone beneath. You feel through it with your magical senses and find that it’s still fairly conductive to magical energies, that sickly sense of magic a little more potent than in the flesh for some reason. You grimace and find a rock to mash the bone into powder, then take out a tin cup and put it inside. You then take the [Centipede venom] and mix a few drops into the cup. As soon as it hits the bone powder, it hisses and sizzles, and you pull your head back as a noxious cloud of fumes appears from the mass. You cover your nose until the worst of it passes, and you find that there is a disturbing mass in the cup, congealed bone paste still faintly warm. With curiosity, you look at it with your magical sight and see…
You’re not even certain what you’re seeing here. It’s like the venom bound the Wight bone and… Magnified itself somehow? Like, you just made MAGIC poison or something. Your hands shaking, you careful try to contain your excitement, and put the slushy paste to the side, but in your trembling, some of it splashes out of the cup and onto the Wight foot nearby.
As soon as it touches the foot, it immediately seems to crack, as black lines spread from the drop, and it takes you a second to realize that its veins are becoming necrotic and sloughing off. In moments, a massive section of the foot is just… gone.
You look in horror at what you created. This… This is terrifying stuff! You put another drop carefully on the foot an watch it working, and you’re mildly interested to see that it ONLY works on the Wight flesh. Apparently it just… breaks down the chains that bind the Wight flesh? Man magic is really stupid sometimes. Probably why the centipede girl wasn’t overly concerned after eating multiple Wight corpses then, she broke them down really well.
Well, you had what was essentially Wight-killer venom, but now you need a delivery mechanism. You look at the [Centipede legs]. With a smirk, you pull out your [Crushed Wizard’s chalk] as well as some more venom, and create a very thick, very viscous paste out of what you already made. With very, VERY, careful movements, you break down one of the centipede legs into about an eight inch section, and clean out the groove on the inside very well. Then, with deliberate care, you force the necro-paste inside. You lean back and smirk, letting your work speak for itself.
“What are you making?” A feminine voice asks from behind you.
“Oh, see, I’m infusing this leg with a magical foci using imbued chalk to bind the energies of the magic in the bone powder to the venom, forcing it to become a thick core that can then be transfused to radiate out a sort of ‘Wight bane’ through the blade, making it able to become a useful weapon against such creatures.”
“So it’s a magic dagger?”
“Yes, a magic…” You blink and look behind you, to see Hala staring over your shoulder, and very, very close to you. Your heart starts beating very fast and you stumble over your words. “Uhm, yeah and it uh, well, it needs to dry but it will, see you… With Blake and…”
Hala puts a finger to your lips. “Be quiet Wizard.”
You become quiet.
Hala looks at you, searching your eyes as she quietly says, “Wizard… I saw how you fought today. It was magnificent, and the way you became so authoritative afterwards…” She shivers and starts to breathe a little heavier. “I think that I’m feeling a little light headed thinking about it.” She leans very close to you, holding you firm with her strong paws, her supple breasts caressing your shoulder as she whispers in your ear, “The Hero is sound asleep you know.”
You’re internally screaming at the moment, for multiple reasons, the least being that Bubs has apparently noticed something in the woods. It’s a little ways out, but he’s really fucking concerned, because he’s damn certain that it’s Selene again, and if she sees this, there might be two heads in your bedroll tonight.
You start to sweat profusely. This is probably a worst case scenario here, what with a Wolf girl pressed in on you with those perky breasts and hungry eyes, and a psychopathic Cat o’Nine Tails coming through the woods ready to rend everything in a five mile radius to splinters.
Yeah, not too great for you.
You have to act quickly and forcefully, but Hala nibbling on your ear is really, really distracting. You can still make out Bub’s warnings, which are getting a liiittttle more frantic now, and you gulp, trying to get your head back in order. “Hala, stop.”
“Mmm what was that Wizard? More? Well…” She grabs you by the shoulders and pushes you down onto the ground, straddling you.
Oh see, now that’s the opposite of what you asked of her. She bites her lip and moves her hand toward you waist, which is really tight at the moment, despite your internal insistence otherwise, and Hala gives a little moan of delight and anticipation.
Bubs starts squealing audibly and you know you’ve about run out of time. You take in a deep breath and say, “Hala, please, bend down, I need to say something.”
She grins widely and lowers her furry ears to your mouth and you have a moment of pity for what’s about to happen here. With your breath tickling her fur, you open your mouth wide and begin the [Irate frog song]
Hala flips off you backward, as if being slugged in the jaw by a Minotaur girl and lands in a heap a few paces away, holding her ears and whining like a beaten dog. You keep up the noise and stand to your feet, coming closer to her. Through Bubs you can sense that Selene is coming closer, you amplify your sound to the fallen wolf girl before cutting off, taking a deep breath, and shouting,
“Is your brain empty or do you have a death wish? The powers that you are tampering can cost your head little girl! I suggest you satisfy yourself with something else before you lose something much more than your hymen!”
By this point, Blake has bolted up, has his sword in his hands, and has rolled to a fighting position, scanning around the camp. His eyes lock upon you and Hala, and his expression becomes grave. “What in the name of the gods is going on?!”
Hala merely whimpers and covers her ears, her body in a fetal position, and Blake runs over to her, doing his best to soothe her. He looks back and you and scowls, “WIZARD! What could have possessed you do that to her?”
You grit your teeth and point a finger at her, “It had to be done, for her own good.”
“What the hells does that mean?”
You do your best to stay authoritative, despite the shivers running down your spine. Selene is watching, listening. “There are affairs of Wizards in which other should not interfere. I do not take pleasure in what just happened, but she needs to learn her place!”
Blake sets his jaw and narrows his eyes, “I thought better of you Wizard.”
You look to the side and then turn around, making a small disgusted noise. Damnit, he can’t know that you might have just saved their lives. Why did this shit have to happen to you? As you look up, you catch a glint of movement in the trees above and you see the reflection of light off a pair of eyes, looking at you as if to bore down into your soul. Then, with the same level of stealth with which they came, they had vanished.
You confirm with Bubs, but yeah, she’s gone, for now. Blake manages to calm down Hala, and is stroking her head while she sobs pitifully. You chance a look back at them and he just shakes his head and glared at you. You sigh and gather back your tools you worked with beforehand, and set them in a place to dry for the rest of the night, putting the others away. You aren’t going to finish this anytime soon anyway, and frankly, you just want tonight to be over.
The next day you break camp without any words being said at all. Hala slept in Blake’s bedroll, although you are certain nothing untoward happened, since you were kind of on watch duty. She does her best to avoid your direct gaze since they awoke, although you catch her stealing glances every now and then. Blake just grunts at you whenever you hand something to him, and vise versa.
At least there’s some comfort in today being that nothing attacked you all day. It was a very boring, very… Silent day, and by the time you camped for the night, everyone’s mood is a little dour. You had made extremely good progress today, and you should be able to reach Varruck proper by tomorrow evening if you had similar luck. Which is great! You guess.
As it stands, things are not great though. As you sit around the cook fire, Blake stirs the cookpot, sitting between you and Hala. Nervous glances are traded here and there, but generally the entire atmosphere can be described as awkward and horribly uncomfortable. This is what you get for being a good person huh? Man, fuck this, this was why you didn’t go outside in the first place.
You sigh and look up at the stars. Almost out of this damn forest huh? Well, just had to make it through one more night you guess, but was it alright to leave things like this? You could just keep the silence, but it was just so awkward!
The three of you ate in silence, cleaned dishes in silence, then sat there in silence again. After what seems like an hour, you honestly can’t take anymore and you stand sharply, look at Blake, grunt, and then waltz over to a good vantage rock and sait there, staring out past the camp, your back towards the two of them.
Hala and Blake shuffle behind you before the sounds of them setting about to make ready for sleep ring out behind you. It just isn’t worth talking to them about why you acted the way you did, and to be fair, you’re not exactly in the mood to speak about important things without spilling sauce covered noodles everywhere or something. So, you do what you always do when you get mad, you work.
You pull out the knife from last night and look it over. The paste you had settled in the grooves of the leg had dried, forming a hardened core. A quick sweep with your magical senses shows that it is a pretty dense, pretty dangerous, magical foci, but at the moment, it’s merely contained inside the vessel without any real means to do anything. Which is fine, it’s what you assumed would happen by this point. Sanctifrond wasn’t built in a day and all.
You look over your shoulder and find that Blake and Hala have settled down to sleep, however tonight Hala is in her own little bed thing instead of Blake’s. Your eye twitches for a moment and you shake your head before looking back to the tool. Whatever, at least you have quiet now. You make a mental check with Bubs who seems pretty content at the moment, and make certain he’s on the lookout while you do this, since it’s going to take some time to do properly.
You take a deep breath, put your hands over the blade, and infuse your will. See, enchanting items comes in a multitude of forms, but there’s some simple elements to it.
- You need an object to enchant, something inherently similar to what you’re trying to make helps. In this case, the bladed leg of a predator works perfectly for a knife.
- You need a magical foci to store and disperse the energies. Magicked bone paste is perfect for conducting something like this.
- ??????? Probably luck or something.
- Will. Will and thought to make the foci act upon the object and create what you need. Before now all you could make was some dinky trinkets, the staff and [Pocket dimension] being and exception which took weeks to do and some damn good materials and tools.
As it stands, you’re in the middle of a forest with nothing but your wits, so that would have to do. You force your will into the knife, sinking down into the core, and you PUSH. The knife vibrates in your hands gently under your influence and you grit your teeth, concentrating on suffusing the core to radiate outward, to put its foul touch upon the blade, to make it rip and tear and destroy that which it was meant to stay dead.
You have no idea how long you were at that, hours, certainly, before you feel a familiar sense of nervousness begin to boil in your mind. Bubs noticed Selene then did he? You would wonder how he has that talent while Hala apparently doesn’t, but maybe it was part of your familiar bond or something. Whatever, she’ll do what she would, but you need to concentrate, you’re almost done.
That being said, you shuddered horrifically when you felt the soft touch of fur caress your shoulder and hear Selene whisper, “Ara ara, what an interesting little toy you have their, my dear.”
You grit your teeth and try to drown her out. You can faintly hear her giggling softly and she takes the opportunity to draw lazily on your back with one of her fingers as she nibbles on your ear. Seriously that’s really, really distracting, and you’re at a very crucial step in the process, and this is not helping matters at all! Damnit, now she’s licking your ears, aww Gods damnit.
Okay, okay, take a deep breath annnnnd, there! The focus is nearly interlaced in the structure of the knife, it just, needs, one, little…. Aha! With a silent snap, the enchantment locks into place, and the whole knife seems to light up to your eyes, and you blink, half pushing aside Selene, half trying to clear your vision. When you can see again, Selene is holding your new blade in front of her, looking it over with a keen eye.
“Not bad, not bad my love. A little crude, but it should serve the purpose you need. Using the venom of a centipede as a counterfocus/coagulation agent! What will they think of next?”
She smiles at you and then licks the blade, which you find horrifically unsanitary. She seems to mull something over, as if tasting your handiwork, before nodding her head.
“I think it should suffice to what lurks here. Although, let me give it a small personal touch.” She looks around and picks up a length of wood with one of her tails, eyeing it carefully before nodding again. Suddenly, the rest of her tails move in a blur, and before you know it, the bladed edges of her tails have carved a master worked hilt of wood, with runic words carved into the very grain, creating the shape of an all around stylized…. Werecat. Of course she would.
She attaches the knife blade to the hilt as if it was made specifically for it, and tightens it together, before handing it back to you, hilt first. You just stare at it. There’s nothing she really even did to change the blade, not really, but that damn, lovingly carved hilt with its intricate reminder of her just… Well, with the way you’ve been feeling, it really sends you over the edge.
“You know what Selene, I just don’t get it. You go on about love this, love that, blah blah, why don’t you just get it over with? Just take me back to your magical Temple Guardian palace, and make me into some kind of normie rape slave? It would just save all of us the time and effort. Hell, I could just go and offer myself to Hala there, and deny you the fun. It would be eaaassssssy just to drop all my Wizard powers and have sex with anything! Hell, maybe then you’d leave me alone!”
You look at the ground, terrified that you even thought about talking so lightly about such a thing, yet you were just mad. This being of unimaginable power is just fucking messing with you and you just can’t deal with that threat looming over your head for the rest of your life. You feel sick to your stomach and you look up, shreds of resolution in your eyes as you meet Selene’s gaze.
She has a mask of neutrality on her face and you both just stare into each other’s eyes amidst the firelight for a long moment. Selene is the first to break the gaze, rolling her eyes and making some sort of throne out of her tails to sit upon, leaning on her elbow as she begins to speak. “Is it so hard a concept to believe that a Monster could love a man?”
“Is it so hard a concept to believe that a man does not want to be loved?”
“Why? Because you’ll lose your power? True, it makes you interesting, it’s worth watching you grow and deriving the pleasure in seeing you evade certain doom with your raw wits and will, but is that all you are? Just a Wizard?”
You’re silent at that, thinking. You had spent most of your life on the path of the Wizard, and you were never so happen as when you reached thirty and gained the power of magic through your efforts. You had spurned all else in this pursuit, and anything you had learned or done was merely a means to an end to gain this goal. You were a Wizard, and that’s all you were. You had no desire to be anything else, and as that thought sinks in, you feel very, very tired.
“Yes…” You whisper, and Selene goes rigid at the word. You look to the side, eyes heavy, then back up to her.
“I’ll ask again, why me? I’m just some shut-in Wizard who never would have gone outside had not a bumbling Hero destroyed my Communion Glass. Why would someone like you even be out in the middle of nowhere like that anyway?”
She stays silent, staring at you. You grind your teeth and throw your hands up in the air, exasperated. You can feel Bubs growing very uneasy and he scrabbles under some debris, shaking from the tension emanating from Selene. She licks her lips very carefully and then two of her tails shoot out. One wraps around your waist, drawing you into her, and one gags your mouth and wraps around your head, forcing your face before hers.
You start to sweat as you see the anger flaring in her eyes. Oh boy, you went and did it now. You don’t even try to struggle, it would be useless to do something like that anyway, so you stare into her burning eyes as she speaks in a low voice.
“You want to know why I was there? Because I couldn’t stand that prissy little bitch of a Lady anymore, because I wanted to explore the world as it is now, and because maybe, MAYBE, I wanted to have a little fun for once in my Gods damned life.”
She draws you closer and bares her teeth, “And would you believe the luck when I find an interesting Wizard, a Wizard of all the things in this day and age! Not since Victor did…” Her words trail off and she shakes her head. “And lo and behold does this Wizard have talent, and he’s interesting! I even find your adorable reluctance to enhance your charm!”
Tears begin to form in her eyes, “Oh but no, no, you can’t just play along, just let me have a little fun? It’s all about being raped here, or being raped there!” She looks away and wipes at her eyes. “Can’t I just dote on you? And can’t you see me as anything other than some… Monster?”
You feel the tails around you slacken and you drop back to the ground, taking a few steps backwards as you stabilize yourself. Selene furiously wipes tears from her eyes which are now red and puffy, making her seem years (Perhaps centuries) younger. You want to say something but what do you even say here? You’re just a… Wizard. All you can think to say is, “Sorry…”
Selene looks up and sniffs, then shakes her head ruefully. “Sorry he says… Hah. And look at me, second in command of all Monsters, bawling like a kitten.” She wipes at her eyes one last time and then smiles at you. “Do you know what it’s like to be truly alone?”
You nod at her slowly. She takes a deep breath and composes herself. “I see… Well I’m truly embarrassed to have shown that side of me, my love, but I can be a touch emotional at times. I think it’s best we forget about that touchy subject of raping for now. Don’t get me wrong, I’m certain it would be enjoyable for both of us, but don’t… Don’t become focused on that.”
She waves a tail at you, the one with the hook. “And don’t you go letting yourself get raped either, especially not to that upstart little pup. She gets to live for now, but one such as her doesn’t give up that easily, trust me.”
She scowls at Hala and then one of her tails shoots out and grabs you again, this time, pulling you close enough that she can wrap her arms around you and give you deep kiss on the lips. You struggle vainly under the pressure of her soft lips, and as the kiss goes on, you go limp, your head starting to become light. Before you can think any untoward thoughts, she breaks off the kiss, touches your lips gently, and then jumps up into a tree, leaving you standing there like an idiot.
You blink and look down at your hands, realizing that you somehow were holding that knife the whole time. You could have struck her down at her at anytime, but you didn’t. You couldn’t, what with everything just happened so fast, and the part about being alone…
You put a hand to your head and squeeze your eyes closed as you try to concentrate. Damnit, damnit, DAMNIT, why did she have to do that now of all times? Fill your head with these confusing thoughts and say that kind of bullshit to you? You’re just bursting inside, and your stiff member doesn’t make things any less confusing. With a roar of pure frustration, you pointed at a tree in the distance and fire off a lance of lightning, scoring a massive hole in the trunk, and scorching it horrifically.
As you stand there panting in frustration from the events of the evening, you begin to hear something vaguely familiar echo out through the forest. A chill goes down your spine and penis at the sound. You don’t need Bubs to say a damned thing in your mind, as you know exactly what’s going on here. You turned around to a dazed looking Blake and Hala, who appear to have been awakened by the wails and scream, “WIGHTS!”
You aren’t even certain how the Wights got so close without Bubs noticing, but it probably had to do with him flipping his shit over Selene. Regardless, that’s neither here nor there, and you could easily tell that the screams of the undead were magnified much more than last time. You may be looking at more this time, so much for decimating them. As far as you could see however, there are only seven, which is still plenty, thank you very much, in sight, but it sounds as if more are coming.
Mr. Ed tosses back his head and neighs in panic, pulling at his reins fruitlessly. You run past him to Blake, who is surveying the situation and Hala, who’s standing in a fighting crouch, her ears twitching all around.
“Thirty… There are thirty of the midnight walkers.” She says shaking visibly. “It only took eight to kill my entire pack.”
Blake sets his jaw and puts a reassuring hand on Hala’s shoulder. “It’s fine, we have survived them before, we shall do again.”
Hala looks taken aback for a moment, but then nods her head toward Blake, her spine stiffening. You look back and forth between the two of and rub at your head, too pained to think about anything but the Wights. Damn screaming, gah.
“Look, we need to get packed and ready to go. If there are really that many, they’ll breach the wards, despite the reinforcements I’ve made.”
Blake grimaces and nodded his head. “Do you think you can do whatever that was you did last time?”
“Not reliably, no.” You look at the dagger in your hand for a moment. There’s no way you can use this appropriately, you just aren’t trained to use a blade in any way shape or form, but Blake is. You’re a little loath to let him use the blade which has the gift from Selene, but it’s better to let Blake have it rather than being murder-raped by a pack of busty undead beauties.
You hold the knife out to Blake, handle first. “Take this. It’s something I’ve been working on that should be effective at destroying the Wights.”
Blake looks down at the hand, his brow furrowing, and he gently takes it, looking it up and down, and giving a few test strokes. He nods and looks back up to you. “Why does the handle have the words Passion, Love, and… I think it says Adoration? And why is written in ancient Dargotian?”
You stare at Blake blankly. What the fuck is Dargotian and how the hell did he even? Nevermind, this wasn’t the time or place for this bullshit.
“Uh, don’t worry about it.”
Blake eyes you skeptically and then puts the knife away in easy reach before snapping orders to you and Hala. You race to pack things and Hala keeps an eye out on the numbers of Wights. About twenty have appeared by now and the closest is about fifty feet away from the wards when you finish loading things up on Mr. Ed.
“Blake! Wizard! The Wights are encircling us!” You both whip your heads around to see that, once again, the Wights have formed some sort of noose around your camp, tightening in and cutting you off from escape. Damn, you hoped it would be easier than this.
You look up to Blake and call, “I can disable some of them, but I would need to lower the wards to do so.”
Blake curses and looks around and pointing at an area of wights clustered together. “Damnit, fine, do it before we have no where left to make a break. Hit that section, if your blade here is true, I can widen the hole.”
You nod and take a deep breath before cutting off the wards. They flicker out and the full force of the magical barrage of sound hits you. You stagger for a moment from the concussion of it, and you see Hala nearby holding her ears in pain. Damn things are just perfect at killing Monsters apparently.
Gritting your teeth, you look at the patch that Blake had specified. Five of them made a neat pack and you tighten your hand on your staff. Alright, here we go. With an effort of will, you <Fast scan> and then strike at the first Wight, entering her humours and locating the chains you had seen on your scan. You’re dismayed at how long it takes to find a weakness, but find one you do, near her left knee, and you dispell the magic at that point.
The Wight shudders and then drops to the ground, her knee giving out completely as she falls. She scrabbles around for a moment, and tries to crawl forward, but the damage was done. With concentrated effort, you force upon the flesh a surge of [Rapid decomposition] and from the leg, the corpse begins to melt as deathly flesh was eaten away, her hair falling out as her eyes turn into sludge, tongue dissolving. Soon enough, her screams fade to a gurgle, leaving nothing but a skeleton and residue where once it stood.
One down, four to go. You work as fast as you could, and bring down two more in a similar fashion, before Blake grips your shoulder. “Wizard, this is taking too long.” You finish the spell to drop the fourth, and you nod to Blake, panting.
“The enchantment is much stronger in the full creature, I underestimated…”
“There’s no time! Saddle up Wizard, and take Hala with you, or the ones behind us…” he points at a pack of twenty slowly shuffling towards you from behind, which are EXTREMELY CLOSE, “Will catch up.”
You look at the pack before you and see that three more had joined in, filling the gap you had made. Damnit all to hell. You ask Blake in a worried tone, “What are you going to do?”
Blake draws the knife and takes up a stance which suggests that he knows exactly how to use it in a real fight. “I’m going to test out your toy. Now quickly, go!”
You lick your lips and then rush to Hala as Blake charges the three blocking your escape. You find the poor Wolfgirl sobbing in a ball, her eyes wide as she recites gibberish, but you can make out the words, “Mommy, mommy, oh by the Gods, mommy mommy.” You shake her a few times, to no effect, and then, with a groan, you slap her across the face hard enough to make her head turn.
She blinks, and her eyes seem to come into focus on your face. “Wi…Wizard?”
“Damnit, no time for this! Get your fluffy ass up and on the horse, now!”
You slap her again for good measure, and she cries out, holding her cheek. “NOW DAMNIT!”
She struggles to her feet and you push her towards Mr. Ed. You untie him and Blake’s horse, mounting up without much trouble, and then hold a hand for Hala. Mr. Ed likes this not one bit, but you give him the ol’ death stare and he doesn’t buck you. Hala looks at your hand and then grabs it, and you help her up into the saddle behind you. She grabs onto your waist, and you can feel her warm body shaking behind you, even through your robes. Whatever, this is not the time to worry about such things.
When you look up, you see a damn impressive sight. Two of the Wights are on the ground, their bodies looking like multiple burn victims, and they grunt pitifully as the blackness spreads through them. You watch in fascination as Blake dodges a swing of the arm by a Wight, which is much faster than you would have expected, and then came in, slashing the thing across the chest with the blade before jumping back.
Where the knife stuck, the skin instantly turned black, and lines of darkness spread out on the alabaster skin, forming trails of pure venom. The Wight’s scream turned from a boner inducing monotone to one of pure agony, which was genuinely surprising, and it shook violently. Blake moved in slashed the thing across the legs in two quick motions and then spun around and slammed a kick into its chest, sending it flying backward. He whips to you, his eyes wide with the adrenaline of combat and screams, “What in the Gods are you doing? They’re right behind you! Go go go!”
You look behind you to see a Wight not even five feet behind you, and you panic, slamming your heels into Mr. Ed’s flank, and he takes off like a bolt. Your barely able to keep hold of Blake’s horse as it too flies forward, Hala holding into your waist for dear life as she screams. You close the distance between yourself and Blake in a heartbeat, and Blake nods at you as you pass before turning about to strike down another Wight.
And then the scene is gone. The Wight’s howls echo in the woods behind you still, but they begin to diminish and soon you, Hala, and the horses are all panting in a clearing near the road. Only the occasional scream still meets your ears, but beyond your panting, it’s deathly silent. You look down in your pocket and see that Bub has found his way in during the commotion. He trembles, looking up at you. You take a deep breath and say to him, “I need you to go back and find Blake.”
He shakes his head and you can feel his reluctance.
“Would you do it for a Bubby snack?”
He hesitates. He really, really likes heated bread pouches, and you don’t always give him one, but he really deserves it.
“Okay, okay, two Bubby snacks?”
You can feel an eagerness in his emotions and he crawls out of your pocket to race into the forest. You feel as he leaves and then you sigh, looking down, to still find that Hala has a vice grip on your waist. “You can uh, you can let go now.”
Hala doesn’t move and you feel really uncomfortable. “They’re behind us now, Blake was taking care of…”
“He’s dead too, isn’t he?”
Your spine stiffens and you twist your head to look at Hala, who sits miserably behind you, your head pressed into the small of your back. “He’s gone and died, just like mother, the pack leader, and all the others.” She starts to shake, and you can hear her sniffing as she begins to cry. “You’re all I have left Wizard, I can’t bear to lose you too.”
Awww hell s naw, you really, really don’t need this right now. But fucking hells, what are you going to do, just tell her to fuck off? This is seriously not a good time for any of this. “I… Uh, I’m sure Blake is fine, he just…err, look he knows how to handle himself in a fight, and Bubs is going to find him, so…”
She tightens her grip somehow and you cut off talking as she whispers, “Do you hate me Wizard?”
Why. Why is she doing this to you? You internally groan in mild alarm as you struggle to answer. “N…no, I, well that is, no, I don’t hate you, I just… Look it’s complicated, it’s a Wizard thing.”
“So I’m not good enough for you?”
“That’s not… Damnit Hala, look, I can’t have sex or I’ll lose my Gods damned magic, okay?”
Everything goes very, very still for a long while. Then, very slowly, Hala withdraws her arms from your waist, and you turn to look her in the eyes. Her face is puffy from crying, and on her it merely magnifies her lean attractiveness, giving her a girlish look at isn’t at all unattractive. Her lip seem to quirk for a moment, and then she shudder, once, then twice, and before long, she’s snickering.
You look at her flatly, “I’m serious, it’s how this works.” Hala just keeps snickering, which turns to full out laughter, and she covers her mouth in a furry paw, tears streaming fresh from her eyes. Your eye twitches as you watch the show and Hala gasps out,
“Oh, oh gods, that’s why? You, hahaha, oh, oh, I thought you hated, hahaha.” She carries on his like for a few more seconds, before taking a deep breath, snickering one or two more times, and then exhaling deeply. “Oh, oh Wizard, I’m sorry, it’s just so pathetic and funny.” She leans her head against your back and she sighs out, “Besides, I don’t care of you have magic or not.”
Your eyes go wide and you start internally screaming, managing to outwardly say, “Don’t you even dare…” Before you cut off, feeling something from Bubs. It’s an intense emotion of panic, and you can feel him moving towards you at speeds that seemed a little off for him. With a start, you realize he must have found Blake, and is riding on his shoulder or something, which is great! However why was he so panicked? You try to delve for more information, but you came up with nothing but furious squeaks, forcing you to grit your teeth.
“Damnit, Blake is in trouble, we need to go. I know he said not to but… gah, we need him.”
Hala nods her head and holds on to you waist, and you spur the horses into motion. You can feel Bubs getting closer and closer, and then, with an abruptness, Bubs stop and his terror rises, which sets you off. Oh Gods, one of them must have gotten to him, oh shit, oh hells.
You race forward on your horse, and at some point, you realize that the tie to Blake’s horse skipped your hand and the horse managed to get away from you. Well fuck, you hope he doesn’t get eaten or anything, but you have more important things to worry about as you turn around a copse of trees and come to where you feel Bubs, and your stomach turns at the sight before you.
Blake’s there, alive, but not in great shape. He has a long gash across his cheek which was swelling up, presumably where a Wight got him with her nails, and his armor is dented in multiple places, his clothing torn around it. He’s still holding the dagger in one hand, but you aren’t over concerned with that. What you are concerned with was the fact that he’s pressed up against a tree by a very large Monster that’s doing her best to tear off Blake’s pants with a large, spiked, stinger-tail, cursing the whole time.
Hala snarls and leaps off Mr. Ed, charging towards the Monster, and it backs away, yelling at Hala as she swings her claws at it, protecting Blake, who sagged to the ground, his head listing to the side as he falls unconscious.
For your part, you draw your staff, and light the runes at the end with your will, and a wan red light illuminates the scene before you, causing the Monster to back up further, her eight legs scuttling back as she shields her eyes from the sudden light. You grit your teeth. Great, Blake must have upset some kind of nocturnal Scorpion girl or something who found the tired Hero easy prey. Oh, and now that you think about prey, the sound of the Wight’s howls seem to be drawing closer again.
Oh for fucks sake. You throw your hands up in the air like you just don’t care, but in actuality you’re about to have an aneurysm. You concentrate and send a ball of fire, which takes far more effort than it should have, into a patch of brush, lighting it ablaze and drawing every eye to you as you point your staff at the Scorpion girl.
“Okay listen up, you little shit. You are clearly not very bright since you did not see anything wrong with a battered Hero running through a pitch-black forest at night in a panic, and instead of asking what’s going on, you immediately proceed with rape. So let me enlighten you: there is a honest to Gods damned fucking army of Wights right behind us. Since you live here I can at least hope that even with your undeveloped inferior insect brain you understand what that fucking means. So I am going to take my meatshield and go. Have a good fucking night. Try not to become undead lunch.”
The Scorpion, whom you could clearly see in the firelight now, takes a few scuttles back from you, her tail hanging menacingly in the air. She’s about feet tall from her head to her oversized scorpion legs, her chitin made of an onyx black material that glints dully in the firelight. Her human features, just a torso to be sure, are sleek and delicate. She holds her arms under her firm breasts as she sizes you up, keeping a pair of black, insectoid eyes upon your entire group.
“This is my prey! I care not what caused him to be like this, he is mine! I shall mate with him and my children shall destroy this rabble of undead, and we will show the humans that we are not subject to them!”
You stare at her blankly and say, “I don’t care.”
She seems to falter for a moment, “W…what?”
“No, seriously, I don’t care. Just turn around and go, or I’m going to electrocute you so badly that you’ll be unable to scream as you’re torn to death by the pack of Wights headed this direction as we speak.”
She looks around nervously. “Surely you do not possess such power. A trick! I call it a..!”
You electrocute a nearby tree, and wow, you really feel tired. Obviously dropping those Wights took much more out of you than you expected. Anyway, the effect is obvious and the Scorpion girl starts sweating, which you wonder if that’s physically possible, but then stop that line of thinking. You can ponder Monster biology later or something. “Any further questions?”
She narrows her eyes and grumbles something under her breath, before looking over her shoulder in the direction of the Wights, the cursing. “Fine, take him, but know this: you humans may have killed Chakrandas, but you’ll never rule the forest!” She backs away, jabs her tail into the air, and then blurs into the darkness of the trees, fast as can be, leaving you alone again in the light of the flaming debris.
You turn to Hala, “Bring him over and help get him up onto Mr. Ed.” She complies, and you both manage to sling him over the back of your horse, who seems to be getting really sick of this whole situation. Such was the life of a horse, however. You stroke his neck for reassurance, and then <Fast scan> Blake. Thankfully, he didn’t get any venom or anything from the Scorpion girl, he just has multiple bruises from the blows to his armor, and the strike at his face must have been what allowed the Scorpion to grab him so easily. Peering at that wound, you see some kind of…psychic residue around the cut, and it feels faintly like the energy sustaining the Wights. When you go to manipulate it, it just… vanishes. Like it was never meant to be there or something, and was clinging there by happenstance.
Well he seems fine now and you sigh in relief, despite the background noise of howling Wights. Gently, you pry the dagger from his hands, and you store it carefully. Wouldn’t do to break Selene’s little… Gift. When that’s put away, you search your mind and locate Bubs, who’s watching everything from a safe vantage point. You will him out, and he reluctantly comes forward.
“Alright little guy, I need you find Blake’s horse.”
Squeaking ensues, followed by running in a circle, then flopping on his back.
“Come on, I already promised two, now get going.”
Bubs rolls back over slowly and then glares at you mentally before dashing off. Familiars, right? Anyway, with that settled, you look back to Hala, and she nods to you. Right, better be off before the Wights get here. You all set off in a hurry, glad you don’t have to fight the Scorpion girl, not that it would have been much of a fight, you don’t think… Although your magic doesn’t respond quite how you thought it should for some reason. Hrm.
You make it back to the road before long, the midnight moon hanging far overhead, giving you decent light, and you feel a pulse of excitement from Bubs. He found the horse without much effort, and you sigh in relief. Only a quick detour, and you have it back under control, slinging Blake over the back and having Hala lead the mount (against its best wishes) as you continue forward into the night, staying wary for any other signs of Wights.
You don’t see any, not really, but every now and again, you hear a howl followed by a female scream of pain, which quickly subsides. About the third time this happens, Hala grinds her teeth and grips the reins of Blake’s horse hard, visibly upset. You’re shaken up as well, but what are you going to do? Go out and save the Monsters from an indeterminate number of the walking dead from a spooky forest? Oh hells no, you’re going to stay on the road and just keep moving until daylight.
A few hours into your trip, you hear another one of the sickeningly familiar cries of pain, and Bubs goes rigid, forcing you to stare into the bushes. Hala guards Blake and you raise your staff, casting light before you as you wait for whatever is crashing through the brush. Not long in waiting, the form of a Deer girl comes out from the trees. It’s obvious that she’s mortally wounded, her right arm torn clean off, hind quarters torn ragged from multiple hands. When she sees your group, she comes to a shaky stop, and then sinks to the ground. She meets your gaze, eyes full of terror and pain as she whispers, “Why? Why did you set these horrors upon us?” She coughs up a modicum of blood and then collapses, her eyes going unfocused, and the light within them fades away.
You and Hala trade uneasy looks. “Why did she say that?”
Hala shakes her head, clearly not knowing the answer, and so you keep going, your mind working furiously, but coming up with no good answers. It seems that the closer you get to the town, the more Wights there are, but they’ve kept off the road so far, which seems the prime place to pick up victims. It doesn’t make any sense to you.
As you ponder this, Blake awakens groggily, and you stop to help him right himself on his horse before catching him up to speed. He nods drunkenly, and Hala continues to grip his arm for awhile, helping stabilize him as he rides. He doesn’t say much, though you don’t try to talk much either, too exhausted to even try. It’s been a long night, but by the time the sky lightens, you find a massive stone slab sitting beside the road, carved to say “Welcome to Varruck: Where Man and Monster are in Harmony with Nature.” The last part is scratched out by what looked like sharp nails, and scrawled over it in a red liquid, probably blood, says: “LIES.”
All three of you trade puzzled looks, and you gulp, continuing forward. Soon enough though, you reach the edge of the trees, and for the first time in a long while, you can see the full horizon stretched out before you, the sun’s rays pouring over you in a wash of golden brilliance. Your party basks in the light, even yourself, and you thank the Gods for allowing you to survive this madness. Surely, things would be downhill from here.