Liz was getting in position on the stairs as the gross feel of mana surging through her body started to build up again. Their ambush was taking some time to prepare and without the constant use of her abilities the pressure was becoming unbearable. As she prepared a powershot just to dissipate the accumulating energy a sudden cool wave flowed through her. She glanced over to the new notifications that just appeared, but something odd happened as the last message was coming through. Almost as quickly as the letters appeared they began to fade and ended in a truly bizarre message.
Mana Stabilization System online. Out of scope spawns curtailed. Excess mana bleed stabilized. Bleed-off routines started.
Automatic Upgrade Sequence initiated.
We have enabled some systems to help deal with the mana wave. Upgrades will be a one time event and not impact Advancement Systems when they become available. Hopefully this will help. Administrators still working to get all the system functional, plea fe we fkof ij…$RequestError(43) failed to execute;
She looked around to see if it was just her but Dad was likewise wearing a look of confusion.
“Okay then. Well, not much to do about that now. On the plus side I don’t feel like puking anymore. Let’s finish setting up here and we’ll figure it out later.”
Dad went back to loading up a line of shotguns. Liz did a few quick checks and decided she would check on Elly in the garage. On the way down she nodded grimly at the trap they were preparing. Most of the time you wouldn’t want to invite a horde of magical wolves into your house but Liz was all too aware about how the Randalls were different. The main entry hall was designed as a kill zone, complete with murder holes and a trapped staircase. It was always incredibly awkward when friends first came over and she had to explain the strange construction, but as the wolves continued to try and ram their way into the house she appreciated the architectural touches. Sometimes it wasn’t a bad thing to have a paranoid survivalist Dad.
She opened the heavy metal door leading to the garage. “Everyone holding up okay in here? We’re going to spring the trap soon!” The crashes against the garage were gaining in frequency and the doors had started to visibly deform under the constant assault. Sam and Bob had come upstairs to help Elly keep the horses calm and also provide cover in a worst case scenario so they would have time to escape downstairs into the bunker.
“We’re good! As long as the doors hold, at least. We’ll be fine in here. Be careful Liz, you have the harder job.” Elly shouted back as she continued to hold her glowing hands in the air.
“K, we’re going to get started here in a few minutes then! Remember, if they somehow break through sooner head to the bunker.”
“Not a problem. I even worked out how to get Biscuit down there too.”
“How are you going to get him down the ladder?”
“Biscuit follow Liz by hop! Biscuit loves to hop” whinnied the colt.
“Uh, well, that’s cool we’ll give the signal when we’re about to start then.”
Liz wasn’t sure how the excitable unicorn was going to use a ladder, but she had faith in her friend. She’d have to pump her for more details later. Unicorn antics aside, the glowing around her hands had gotten brighter as the night continued and she wondered what abilities she had managed to unlock. That was something for a time when there were less wolves trying to kill them though.
She walked back into the hallway and secured the heavy steel door behind her. Two quick knocks indicated they had bolted it behind her and were ready for the plan to start. She looked straight up and waved to Matt and Mom.
“Garage is locked down, they’re ready to go in there.”
From the trapdoor above she saw them put a large bucket into position. It was filled with oil and was the first line of the many nasty surprises they were getting ready for their guests.
“We’re ready here.” Mom gave her a thumbs up and Liz nodded.
“Dad! We’re clear on garage and the drop! How are you and Mark doing?”
“I got all my Charms set! They’re ready to blow whenever! Oh yeah, and since that weird message I can prime a few more to explode! Totally have more mana to blow stuff up now! I’ll be right down.”
Mark did his stupid jump thing and popped right next to Liz before she could even react. The look on his face clearly revealed the fact he was just doing it to show off. She knew that stupid grin anywhere.
“Yes Mark, we know, you can jump around now. Don’t waste mana though, it’s not regenerating as fast anymore.”
“Ugh, I guess I can move really slow like you, but then the wolves might get me.”
Liz took a calming breath and pictured the ways she would totally one up him after this. Movement powers didn’t seem likely with her current skillset, but she had an eye on her Animal Taming ability and figured she’d come up with something impressive soon enough. She was patient though, and when she came up with something it would be totally awesome.
Walking up to the top of the stairs Liz setup next to Dad. He had a series of rifles and shotguns lined up next to him and pair of .45s at his hips in addition to the glock that was now in a shoulder holster. He posed a rather intimidating figure except the goofy looking shooting glasses he was wearing. She raised an eyebrow questioningly as he pointed to her own eyes and held up another pair of the things.
“There’s never a bad time for eye protection sweetie. With the powder and explosions, why risk something screwing up your vision?”
Liz just shook her head and took the glasses. It wasn’t that he was wrong, but seriously, who worries about eye safety when giant ice wolves are trying to tear down your house? Jason Randall, King of Apocalypses, that’s who. She closed her eyes and refocused on the task at hand. She pictured a zig-zag path through the door and started powering up one of her arrows. She was as ready as she was going to be.
“Mark, we’re set up here. Signal and open in ten!”
“Operation Big Bad Wolf starting in 10! 9! 8! 7! 6! 5! 4! 3! 2! 1!”
On concluding his countdown Mark opened the front door to reveal a surprised looking ice wolf. Before the beast could react Mark had Falling Stepped back to the top of the stairs. The creature and the humans above him locked eyes for a moment before it processed the situation. The wolf let out a quick howl and the rest of the pack headed towards him. With errie patience, the scout wolf waited as packmates rallied to the opened door. Not until they were all together did the first wolf cross the threshold. It creeps slowly in as another ten wolves and they lined behind it ready to rush up the stairs to the waiting humans.
Before it could take another step, five gallons of oil collapsed down onto it. The thing looked pretty funny as it struggled to find purchase on the slippery tiles while covered in oil, but Liz’s mirth quickly evaporated as it let out an evil sounding growl and was pushed forward by its packmates. It apparently didn’t think it was that funny. Liz waited for a few more wolves to come into the jam at the front door before releasing her arrow. The fully empowered shot tore through the six wolves that had made their way in, but the bodies now blocked the front door. They were now committed. The wolves would need to all be eliminated or they wouldn’t be able to close their front door.
Liz started another draw for her shot but she was staggering under the loss of mana. She felt like she tore through almost half of her mana and the press of mana into her body wasn’t restoring her. She hadn’t realized she could draw that much power and she was now paying the price. The general fatigue of the day on top of the drop made her realize she didn’t have many shots left.
“I can store up one more shot just in case, but you’re up next Mark!”
Mark grinned at the news and held his hand on the lever at the top of the stairs. Dad had spared no expense in configuring an entryway that would be absolutely disastrous if anyone wanted to assault the house. Mark waited for more of the wolves outside to enter the house before he started his next plan.
Growling as they observed the bodies of their comrades, the recently arrived wolves gathered right outside the front door. Liz wasn’t sure how smart normal wolves were, but these things had a lot more going on than what she would of expected. Most of the wolves that had previously been around the house were now clustered around the front door. At least the part of the plan where they rounded up all the remaining monsters seemed to be working.
She saw the muzzles of the closest wolves dodge back and she wondered what they were planning. Only one wolf could fit through the doorway at a time, so she just carefully nocked an arrow and waited in case the next part of the defense failed. Almost without warning a line of wolves dashed inside. Apparently the wolves had decided that rushing the steps was a good plan and had gotten a running start into the house.
Liz had to hand it to them, it wasn’t a half bad idea, and in a flash six more wolves entered the house. While there was still a decent amount of oil on the ground the wolves were able to use the bodies of their fallen packmates to get good footing and before she had a chance to breath the wolves were halfway up the stairs. Another couple had just entered when Mark pulled the lever as Dad poured another bucket of oil down.
The look on the wolves faces would have been comical if they didn’t have quite so many teeth, but the surprise was apparent. The stairs had gone flat, creating a slippery ramp where a staircase used to be. Liz remembered Mom complaining to Dad for months while the builders carefully constructed the expensive and overly complicated staircase, but in the end it was totally worth it.
As the wolves slid to the bottom of the ramp Mark raised his hand to his face with two fingers extended in a gesture that she recognized from animes they had watched.
What followed was a series of explosions that tore into the tightly packed group of wolves and set their oily corpses on fire. The hallway was designed to handle such abuse but Liz couldn’t help but be impressed on how effective this was all going. Only one thing troubled her.
“Boop. Really. You’re going to do something like that and the sound effect you go for is ‘Boop’?”
“Gimmie a break! I hadn’t planned on anything and I just couldn’t think of anything better right then. I’ll work on something for next time.”
“Kids, please. Focus on the killer magic wolves for now and we can worry about what sound effects to apply to our new found abilities later, okay?”
Liz turned back to the wolves and did a quick body count to try and figure out how many remained. She pegged it at no more than a dozen as long as no more had come in to reinforce the remaining ones. The few left at the front of the house were very leery of entering the room that was now piled high with assorted wolf parts. Clearly they were smart wolves. The few that poked their noses in were quickly met with an arrow or bullet and soon they stopped trying completely. Abandoning the room of death, the wolves resumed their assault on the garage door.
“Mary, how many left out there?”
“I see six, two are right outside the front door keeping watch and the other four are taking turns charging the garage.”
“Ok then. Plan C. Liz, you’re up top. Mark, you’re with me. We’ll take out the two near the door and get it shut. Liz, take care of the rest.”
“Sure, make me take care of twice as many by myself.”
“But you can do it, can’t you?”
Liz looked down at her bow and took a deep breath. Sarcasm aside, she probably had the highest kill count for the night by far. There was no doubt that she was the best chance at eliminating the remaining wolves with minimal before they had a chance to react.
“Yeah. I got this.”
Liz went to hit the lever but Mark quickly moved over and returned the stairs to a usable state. Liz grinned at his antics and got into position. After an incident involving Dad and a bag full of eggs Mark had been forbidden from touching the lever ever again. Apparently apocalypses allowed for a reset and he was now making up for lost time.
Steeling herself at the window she nodded Matt and Mom aside. She took a position that lined up well with the wolves and a quick whistle later informed Mark and Dad that she was ready. She heard them head downstairs and waited for the two gunshots she knew were coming. She started calculating a path that would intersect all four wolves below and started charging up an arrow.
The silvery path formed as her focused mind predicted the likely paths. A wolf was just getting ready to charge, and she knew the best moment would arrive soon and was relieved when she heard the two shots and the sound of the front door slamming. That was her cue.
The wolves turned to the sound and all stopped to look in the direction for a second, and that was all the delay Liz needed. She pushed the window open and released her shot in a smooth and practiced motion. It slammed through the four monsters in a heartbeat with an unstoppable force. The creatures had confused looks on their faces as they collapsed, not knowing what had even killed them. Liz exhaled and fell flat on her butt. She was physically exhausted and a helpful notification informed her she was also critically low on mana. She was thankful the waves had stopped because she had no idea what they would have done without that mana boost if more wolves were out there.
Dad and Mark came upstairs after retrieving the group that had gone to the shelter. Mark walked over and helped Liz up who took gladly took the offered hand.
“Damn fine shooting sis.”
Liz didn’t even have the energy to speak and just nodded. Dad had just finished a walk around and called an all clear. She glanced outside and saw the auroras beginning to fade.
Mana Storm (Class X) Completed. Be wary of extra spawns for the next few hours. Stay sheltered if possible.
Liz sighed in relief with everyone else in the room. She didn’t know what time it was, but it had to be close to 2:00 AM. She was so very done. Her hands and fingers were raw from the constant working of her bow and her shoulders ached from the strain. She didn’t know how Mark had any energy left, but somehow he managed an excited jump to his feet, fist pumping in the air.
“And now naptime” Liz concluded, as she promptly collapsed onto the couch and fell asleep.