Toad Lord Nirfik launched itself toward Randidly’s back in a rather refreshing manner. Such a direct advance… it was rather bold to challenge Randidly to a contest of Strength. Spinning, Randidly could barely contain his laughter. When the opponents just fought with Randidly, it simplified things immensely. There was no thinking to be found; there was only instinct and violence.
It was true that Randidly wanted to figure out the process of creating Feed that allowed the Toad Lords to dominate this world, but catching Roy was a much more pressing issue. On the balance, it was small potatoes compared to protecting Earth
Staying here to talk peacefully with Nirfik wasted too much of that time. Even if the Toad Lord was somehow willing to share the secret of the Feed, which he clearly wasn’t. And Randidly was not the type of individual who had a good track record of convincing others to help him. Most of the time he just fought things.
Which was why Randidly felt a bit… dirty at his current tactics.
Still… I can’t deny that what I’m doing right now is baiting him… Randidly thought almost sadly as the huge grey body rushed toward him. He watched with a detached fascination as Nirfik opened its mouth and launched its tongue toward Randidly with enough speed that even Randidly was impressed.
This was a dangerous attack. Nowhere near the killing potential of Aegiant’s spear, but this Toad Lord hadn’t gotten his position by skimping on the basics. Even after his poison failed, he had Skills enough to back up his attempt.
And what I’m going to do next… is kill him. His Crown flared to life, an acknowledgment of the path that Randidly had chosen.
Rather than striking at the Toad Lord physically, Randidly reached out for the bubble around them both. He touched this strange underwater building that made the Under Cities possible. Even now, he couldn’t quite figure out what the material was that formed this barrier. But one thing was for sure; a portion of it was made out of biological materials. At its base, it was a modified version of algae.
Therefore, it was a plant.
Therefore, it was Randidly’s.
Even as the tongue blurred toward Randidly, he simply smiled faintly. He was, after all, currently acting in the role of a Demon Prince. To finish it thusly would send a large message, and likely involve no one but the Toad Lord in front of him. No innocent lives would be lost. From there, he could move on South as fast as he could.
Randidly reached out to the membrane that formed this bubble and squeezed.
The membrane shattered. Before the tongue could arrive, Randidly used his impossible high Control to funnel that organic matter into a thousand spikes. Moving at a speed incomparable to the tongue that was surging toward Randidly, those spikes were yanked inwards as if they were metal dragged by a magnet.
With a soft squelching noise, the spikes of algae turned Nirfik into a honeycomb. They hit him with enough force to spray blood in every direction as they ripped the grey skin apart. Its eyes widened, trying to process what was going on. Its tongue lost its vigor and sailed harmlessly past Randidly.
Then, with a crash, the water claimed the space that had been Nirfik’s personal swamp, washing away the corpse of its one-time master.
Ed felt sweat bead and drip down his neck. In fact, he was so flustered that his illusion that hid his mustache from his face faded to nothing. He couldn’t maintain the concentration and his mustache surged back to bushy relief.
“Take a step back,” Regina barked and Ed was happy to comply, although his body was stiff and sore from the several seconds where he had been completely frozen. He stumbled over the shattered remnants of a wrought iron table that had been shattered by the obsidian man’s passage.
After all, she had just summoned a barrier to block the strange obsidian man in front of the two of them. If she had not intervened, Ed would have died. Smashed aside like a bug before a car. Like the two grotesquely twisted corpses twitching behind the obsidian man.
The obsidian man’s face twisted in an expression that was obviously amusement. He raised his hand and checked his knuckles. “Oh? To think the average Level in Donnyton had risen so high that any riff-raff off the street could stop my attack… I’m somewhat disturbed. Dear me, I’ll likely have nightmares”
“Riff raff…? No. Simply a doctor.” Regina barred her teeth in a naked show of aggression against the obsidian man before her. The two considered the other carefully. Ed glanced between them. It was clear to him, at least, that Regina was the one of the two that was much more willing to wait. The other cafe-goers had largely all fled the square, moving in hushed silence in every direction away from these attackers.
They were within Donnyton proper, after all. Help would come.
Unable to stop himself, Ed took several more steps backward away from the two of them. His breath came in pants and it seemed like not enough oxygen was being gulped down by each mouthful of air. Some part of him knew he should run, but he was also one of the leaders of Donnyton. Even if he couldn’t fight very well… he should be here.
Earlier this morning he had only been worried about the two new cafes that had sprung up in what people were not referring to affectionately as the breakfast quarter. Then, before he could even react, there was a scream and a crash. Ed had looked up from the table where he had been examining his accounting books to see a dark figure rushing toward him.
A figure with as much size and momentum as a battering ram rolling out of control down a mountain.
Ed was many things, but a man of action was not one of them. His rise in Donnyton had everything to do with the addition of modern life’s amenities to the post System world. Therefore, Ed had seen that figure and faced the truth that he was about to die. And he had been very sad about it.
At that moment, he wondered what Bekany would do without him. She was better with finances than she let on, and likely had a fair amount of money squirreled away. But if he wasn’t there to pamper her, who-
Well, it wasn’t worth thinking about now. But if Regina hadn’t stepped forward in that split second and conjured a barrier…
Even as Ed’s shocked mind was rehashing the events of the last several seconds, the obsidian figure surged into motion. Clearly, he wasn’t willing to simply wait until reinforcements came. He spun around the side of the translucent hexagonal barrier that Regina had summoned and thrust his arm forward.
Then, to Ed’s disbelief, the rest of the towering obsidian man’s form seemed to rapidly shrink while the arm extended like a drill toward Regina’s side. It hummed unpleasantly, aiming for a point high in her chest.
Faster than Ed could follow, Regina stepped to the side and let the attack slide past her. With a deft gesture, she brought her hand down in a karate chop tower the extended drill arm that the obsidian man had aimed at her. “Flawless Incision.”
There was a sharp crack and a deep gash appeared in the obsidian armor that covered the arm. Regina frowned.
The obsidian man laughed. “Oh? You’ve got teeth-”
In a quick motion, Regina hopped forward and brought her hand down against the thigh of the obsidian man. “Emergency Amputation.”
This time, the obsidian man howled in pain as his leg was hacked off. The limb just seemed to… fall to the ground, the obsidian armor on it shifting into goop and bubbling away to nothing. Unfortunately, Regina didn’t get away unscathed.
As she sidestepped to create some distance, a dozen spikes shot outward from the obsidian man’s body. Several penetrated into her shoulders and midsection. It was with a pale face and unsteady gait that she backed toward where Ed was standing.
“You fucking bitch.” The foe hissed, and as he did so, Ed realized that a giant serpent was slithering up behind the obsidian man at a rapid speed. When it arrived, it stood straighter, lifting its sinuous body off of the ground. As it did so, Ed could see two rather small pairs of wings that dotted its back.
“Don’t waste time, proceed deeper,” The serpent hissed. “If we wait in one place for too long-”
“I kill who I want to kill. That’s how this fucking thing works.” The Obsidian man glared at the serpent for a second, then spat a mouthful of blood on the ground. Slowly, he began to spread his arms. From him, several long inky black tentacles grew. “The Ghosthound is gone; what is there to fear in Donnyton?”
Regina snorted. “Ignorant fools.”
“Hah. After you are begging for mercy, I want you to think long and hard about this moment-” The obsidian monster sneered, but then he yelped and hopped hurriedly backward as a spirit roc crashed to the ground in the spot where the obsidian man had just been standing.
With one leg, he was barely able to maintain his balance. The roc stalked forward, slashing with its talons. But now, the obsidian man brought his tentacles to bear. He blocked the blow and used the tentacles like spider legs, pulling him several meters backward.
Ed gaped at the new arrival that had so intimidated the obsidian man. It was almost transparent, but also as large as a small plane. The spirit creature raised its head and shrieked, sending a blast of sound out that knocked away the nearby cafe tables that remained. The plastic and wood skittered and slid sideways, clearing an area that the roc could beat its wings.
Suddenly serious, the obsidian man and the winged serpent considered the new arrival. And then the clicking giant lobster and brontosaurus spirits walked forward to stand next to their companion.
“Good timing, Glendel,” Regina said lightly. “Sweep through them.”
The spirits roared in acknowledgment. And then they surged forward toward the two foes that stood in front of them. Quickly responding, the strange winged serpent spat out cobalt bolts from its mouth that careened toward the spirit creatures. The brontosaurus surged forward, absorbing the attacks with its body. In a small area around where the bolts hit, the brontosauruses body slowly began to freeze. But because of its sheer size, it continued rumbling forward.
With a cry, the Roc leapt up into the sky and began to circle rapidly above the winged serpent. Underneath the cover of both of its companions, the lobster skittered forward with gleaming claws.
“Shit… fucking… I can’t believe I let my guard down,” The obsidian man muttered. Then he grunted, and the obsidian around his body pulsed. Quickly, some of that black armor on his torso flowed down to form a leg. He straightened just in time to block an attack from the lobster. Then his arms shifted into ax hands.
Quickly, the participants on the battlefield spread out, giving themselves space to move. Honestly, they had to; the strength of their collisions was enough to crack the ground and knock each other back several meters. If they would stay close to each other, it would be very possible to interfere with an ally without meaning to.
The serpent held both the roc and the brontosaurus at bay with its breath attacks and quick body while the obsidian man squared off against the lobster and a very quickly recovered Regina. However, this time the obsidian man kept his arms long to make sure Regina could come close.
To Ed, it felt like he had been watching this fight for almost an hour. But when the signal flare burst above his head and the bells began to ring, he realized that it was probably more like ten seconds.
From peaceful cafe to wartorn ground, it had only taken ten seconds. And from the look of things, these battles wouldn’t end-
But just as Ed began to think that, a huge shadow surged from the ground, bounding toward the battlefield. Blinking, Ed was just able to recognize a giant wolf before it smashed into the obsidian man from the side, sending hit rolling across the plaza.
“Shit-! Lu’elleth, call for backup,” The obsidian man snarled as he tumbled and popped back onto his feet. The wolf leapt forward again, but the obsidian man cut wildly back and forth with his axes, keeping it at bay.
The serpent seemed to consider this. The roc struck to pin its tail and it wiggled effortlessly out of the way of the strike. Then the winged serpent nodded. “Understood. It appears that your warnings about this Village were well founded. Commencing teleportation…”
The spirit roc soared downward to strike again at the winged serpent, but before it could do so, there was a loud noise and a flash of light. Abruptly, the winged serpent was not where it should have been. And in its place stood a flaming skeleton, larger than any two of the spirit beasts put together. Which was impressive, because each of those was as large as a shed.
This being was the size of a house.
“Chrysanthemum…” Regina mumbled, taking a few steps back. The skeleton bear’s burning eyes slid sideways, considering Regina. Then, almost casually, its paw flashed out and cracked the spirit Roc like an egg. Spectral energies dispersed in every direction as the apparition faltered and then ceased to exist.
Silence fell over the square. Then the giant flaming bear began to walk forward.