Silo glanced sideways at Randidly, who stood at the bow of the boat with a dreadful look of concentration on his face. A thin bead of sweat formed at his temple and fell down to quiver on his jaw.
Although Silo wasn’t sure what he was doing, he could tell the other man was stabilizing their boat somehow. Despite the fact that waves were rising, the boat was steadier than ever, sitting heavily on top of the water. But he tore his gaze away and looked for the telltale bubbles associated with an attack.
There were thousands of the tiny things, emerging from the depths.
A flash of movement caught Silo’s eye and he looked up. Randidly’s face had twisted into a wide grin.
Then the entire boat… hopped. There was no other word for it. Abruptly, it popped upwards away from the water as if slammed from below by a giant fish. That was, in fact, exactly what Silo believed to have happened in the aftermath, as flotsam and froth exploded outwards from beneath their boat. But with a slap of wood on water, they dropped back into the sea.
For several seconds there were no further attacks, so Silo opened his mouth to ask what happened. Then the Murlocs leaped out of the water.
The Murloc tribes were one of the most dangerous monster groups that one could encounter on this stretch of water. In a way, it was good news, because it meant they had passed over the endless trench without incident. Monsters that dwelled there were occasionally above Level 50, although only rarely would they molest small vessels.
But they were the most powerful force in the area, and they avenged their dead.
Likely, they would need to fight these tribes for the remainder of their voyage.
The first two Murlocs were scarcely out of the water before the woman Azriel moved in front of them and dispatched them dispassionately with three quick thrusts of her needle spear. Despite how eccentric both Randidly and Skarch were turning out to be, Azriel was the one that caught Silo’s eye the most.
She was good with a spear. She was more than good. She was impossibly quick and accurate. Plus, with the ease that she kicked Murlocs back over the edge into the water, she was no slouch when it came to Strength, either. Of all the enemies that Silo had seen, even in the Central Domain, she gave him the most wariness.
But his thoughts were washed away by six more Murloc bodies clamoring to take up the deck of the ship. Randidly seemed to be lost in his concentrations, but the strange, living spear he possessed moved around him like a snake, slashing at any who came near. Skarch moved now two, utilizing wide sweeps with her spear that cleared two in a single go, opening up more space for them to move.
The real danger was the boat sinking or flipping, either from damage below or above. It was somewhat strange to Silo because when some of the Murlocs landed on the boat they went to hack at it from the inside. If they wanted to do so, why not just stay below?
But he wasn’t going to let them live long enough to chit-chat.
His Brilliant Advanced smashed one back into the water, and then Silo quickly wounded the arm of the other adversary. It took three more blows to disarm it, and then strike a deadly blow, but by that time, another half dozen were clamoring onto the boat. Then another, then-
Again, the boat hopped up in the air. For sure, there was something striking from below. But it seemed that whatever Randidly was doing was protecting them well enough. Silo had heard a rumor that the man was a Spellspear, and largely thought it was just another fanciful Class. But it seemed that such a character had his uses, although he certainly hadn’t done as much work with his spear as had the rest of them.
Slash, cut, stab, block, spin… the world began to blur slightly as Silo lost himself in the rushed melee with the Murlocs that clambered onto the ship. His spear was a brilliant light in the dark, banishing them back to the hole they crawled out from. Inwardly, Silo was extremely pleased that this attack came.
This gave him the perfect chance to refine his image once more to a usable state. It was difficult to do so without using the Skills, and this gave him the perfect excuse. But still, he didn’t try and extend his fights any longer than necessary; doing so would be near suicidal.
After thrusting a spear into a Murloc’s oversized head, Silo glanced around. For all that they didn’t know him, he was now on a team. He would give his all to protect those who relied on him. But to his surprise, they didn’t seem to need any help at all.
Silo blinked. A strange, luminescent Murloc that was Level 46 was currently engaged in a high-speed duel with Azriel. Their blows and counters were preternaturally quick, while both somehow managed to maintain perfect footing on the rocking boat.
Using pure force, Silo smashed a Murloc back into the water, and stepped forward, thinking he could find some way to help. But he stepped on a strange glob of slime that had landed on the deck and slipped. He fell hard, jarring his head against the deck. Almost instantly he recovered, but two freshly arrived Murlocs leaped at him, stabbing down at him.
With a grimace, he dodged, but one of the daggers drew a long line across the side of his ribs. Growling, he straightened and cut through their legs. Their flailing bodies fell to the ground and he pressed them with the butt of his spear, sliding them across the deck and smashing into the back of an unsuspecting Murloc that was approaching Skarch. The thing tripped and fell on the ground with a gurgle of surprise.
Satisfied, Silo turned and looked at Azriel.
But before he could ascertain her situation, another of the pale luminescent Murlocs arrived on the deck, its pale eyes locked onto Silo. The mouth opened, revealing dozens of small, sharp teeth. Silo moved first, but the Murloc was faster, cutting at his wrists with a purple dagger. Staying defensive, Silo took a step back and struck again, this time with a thrust.
The Murloc took a small wound to its shoulder and began to advance. Behind it, more Murlocs climbed up.
Dazzling Cut smashed into a dagger that the Murloc raised to block the attack, and still had enough force to push the other back. The Murlocs behind it hesitated, unwilling to grab their superior. Taking advantage of the moments of indecision, Silo used Dazzling Cut three more times. Each time, it cost a little more Stamina but was increasingly effective as the image was cleared of the strange darkness that was haunting it.
The strike was short and brutal, and the Murloc had no answer to it.
As it was pushed back until its feet were on the edge of the deck, the Murloc seemed to shift into another gear. It ducked down under Silo’s stab and rushed for him. But as it did so, the butt of Silo’s spear smashed upwards, stunning it slightly. It twisted away, but Silo was waiting when it did, slashing his spear against its wounded shoulder.
The wound was deepened, but only slightly. Silo frowned. Although he knew the strange skin of these things was strong, the fact that this spear wouldn’t cut… It truly was a spear that he had inherited from his grandfather. It was a distinctly Spear School type of process, Silo knew. But the blood binding had been a source of pride for him his whole life. He wasn’t willing to give up this spear.
Now to find it was nearing the point where it would no longer be effective-
The boat hopped again, this time almost double as high as it had previously. Silo heard the sound of snapping timbers. The force of the acceleration knocked him off his feet and onto the ground of the deck. Meanwhile, the luminescent green Mleaped leapt slightly and was thrown several meters into the air. But it floated down with a grin.
Still, Silo only shook his head. Because the Murloc had made a grave mistake.
“Eternal Flame!” Silo said, and he felt a wonderful sense of joy as the Skill exploded into effect. Because this was not a Skill he could utilize unless his images were at their most perfect form. Although he was on the ground and the Murloc was several meters above him, Silo thrust upwards and a bright light shot forward from the tip of his spear.
Twisting, the Murloc dodged a portion of it, but the light still ripped into its thigh. When it hit the deck, it immediately stumbled, giving Silo time to stand up and prepare. By the time it looked up, his spear had ripped into its torse. With a kick, the Murloc was knocked off the boat.
Worried about how the others faired, Silo spun around. But the deck was empty. Both Azriel and Skarch were covered with slime and blood. Had they already finished…? Wasn’t Azriel also fighting one of those stronger Murlocs?
Silo glanced at Randidly. At the moment, the other man was staring very carefully at his hands, which was fingers splayed, but slightly curved at the tips of the fingers. Then, slowly, he began to clench his fists. The process took almost 20 seconds, and the final 5 seconds seemed extremely difficult. His arms trembled with the effort.
As he did so, the air around him seemed to quiver. Silo frowned. Yes, there was definitely some distortions in the air above Randidly’s head. What could it mean? Was it a side effect of being a Spell Spear?
Then, with a sign, Randidly’s hand closed completely. A tremor went through the boat, seeming to come from the ocean below. And indeed, Silo seemed to hear some high pitched noise. Then Randidly dropped his fists to the side and relaxed somewhat. The boat rocked back and forth, but it quickly stilled.
Silo clicked his tongue. “Seemed like we made it through that alright. Honestly… great job everyone. I’m impressed.”
He gave Randidly a sidelong glance and then decided not to say anything. By unspoken agreement, the group cleaned off the deck and made for the distant, but visible, shoreline.