The teddy bear turned golem's level 2 brain was still woefully underprepared for, well, everything. But at intelligence 6, it had finally evolved to the point where it could tell when it was in danger.
And right now, every instinct was screaming at it to run away.
The bear turned tail and fled, just as Pulsivar pounced! But the bear was a few seconds too late, and the heavy cat's paws collided with the golem, knocking it sprawling across the floor, and into a set of bookshelves across the way. The triple-stacked shelves wobbled, the book and just as Pulsivar skittered across the tile, and tried to follow up his pounce with a proper mauling.
Books rained down from above, falling from their piles, and the Bear watched with its button eyes as the largest of them wobbled...
...slipped over the edge...
...and fell right toward him.
...Missing him by a hair, as he twisted to the side.
Pulsivar, twisting desperately to avoid the rain of books, whirled as his claws slipped on the slick floor, and tumbled in a heap into the bear, knocking him over and against the wall. A forlorn red 1 floated up from the Teddy Bear as he was smushed between the cat's butt and the hard wood. Pulsivar escaped any real damage, due to the fluffy bear's padding.
The cat's growl rang in the bear's ears again, nibbling at his sanity. A green 4 floated up, and suddenly his thoughts were a lot more scattered. For the first time, he knew fear.
So he grabbed for the nearest thing, which turned out to be Pulsivar's tail.
And caught it.
The cat yowled in rage, and churned its back legs, trying to push away from the wall, trying to get its tail free from whatever had it. But the frightened teddy bear clung on like grim death, as the cat went lurching and skidding across the floor, slamming itself and the plush toy into the legs of the table, knocking over chairs, sending glass bottles and dirty dishes crashing to the ground in a rain of cacophonous destruction!
But the golem hung on.
Your actions have unlocked the generic skill: Ride
Your Ride Skill is now level 1
Finally Pulsivar, using most of his remaining stamina, did a damned half-somersault and managed to get himself on his back, and the golem onto his belly. Laying in with his claws in a scratching, spitting fury, the big black cat ripped and tore with wanton abandon.
21 hit points later, the teddy bear's grip finally slackened, as he was hurled away to skid across the floor, through the glass and pottery shards, before slamming into the already-battered table leg—
—and breaking it loose from the table entirely.
The leg hit a wall, rebounded, and shattered an urn next to the window. Ashes puffed out.
The table, down to two legs, promptly fell edge-first toward the prone teddy bear, who rolled as best he could-
-but not far enough. A big fat number ten drifted up into the air, as the table slammed into his midsection, trapping him under it. It would have crushed all the stuffing out of him, if his body hadn't been toughened by the ritual that had made him what he was.
Your Golem Body Skill is now level 3!
The teddy bear lay there for a second, taking stock.
Pulsivar, thoroughly spooked by all the loud noises and breaking objects, relocated to a corner to lick his wounds. He stared at the teddy bear for a long moment, then slurped his paw and smoothed his fur back into place, activating his "Grooming" skill and healing the few scratches he'd sustained during his horrifying ordeal.
Then a scritching caught his ear.
The teddy bear was still moving.
Long rents in its fur, stitches cut, half of its stuffing on the outside, one ear gone, the bear was slowly rocking, trying to wobble the table edge free.
Pulsivar stared. He tried to groom himself again, but his paw was shaking, ever so slightly, and he botched the skill.
Finally the bear gave a mighty heave and a twist, and the round table rolled free.
And against the odds, with damage crippling him and every atom of him aching, the bear. Stood. Up.
Pulsivar growled again, but he was rapidly running out of Moxie.
And the bear didn't seem phased by it. The bear was beyond fear.
The words obscuring its sight were impossible to manage now, but the teddy bear was pretty damned sure that big growling thing in the corner was his enemy.
He was also sure that he was thoroughly dead, if his enemy came for him one more time.
The teddy bear looked around for something to help him out, and saw a possibility.
It half-slumped, half-marched its way over to the fallen table leg.
Pulsivar, spooked now, but knowing that it was either him or the bear, puffed himself up and stalked closer, step by step, waiting for the moment of weakness, psyching himself up for one last pounce.
The teddy bear grabbed the table leg, wrapped its arms around it, and lifted. Stitches popping, one button eye half-off, legs flailing to keep upright on the tile, the bear managed to get the makeshift club upright.
And then he brought it down toward the growling mass of cat.
At least, that was the plan.
What actually happened, when the teddy bear tried to swing the table leg, was that his plush feet slid on the smooth tile floor, he fell backward, and the table leg shattered the window.
And that was enough for Pulsivar, thank you very much! His nerves were shot, his foe was supposed to be dead, and it had been a thoroughly crappy day. Nope, nope, no thank you, and now there was a way out, wasn't there?
Two mighty bounds took Pulsivar up to the shelves near the window, and a third took the scaredy-cat out the window.
"Pulsivar! Bad kitty!" A strange voice shouted from outside. Anything more intelligent than the teddy bear could have told you that it was a female voice, a young one.
The teddy bear, on its last hit point, sat up.
Outside, the cat yowled in despair. "Oh good grief! What on earth possessed you... cat..." the old man's words tumbled to a stop as he opened the door, and beheld the destruction of his workshop. He entered slowly, eyes passing right over the bear... until they fell on the broken urn, and the ashes dusted around it. "Amelia," the old man whispered, gathering up the fragments of the urn with shaking hands. "Oh. Oh no."
"Dad? Is everything okay?" The strange voice asked from the doorway.
"Ah." The man took a breath, then tucked the fragments into an apron pocket. "Yes. Everything's fine, dear." But he kept his face turned away from her, and mopped the tears from his eyes so she wouldn't see.
"Oh you bad kitty. Look what you did!"
A red-headed girl, hair frizzy and tied back in a fiery poof, stepped into the room. She held the limp form of Pulsivar up to survey it, arms straining to heft the twenty-five pound cat by the scruff of his flabby neck. The cat stared mournfully at the mess that someone had made. Certainly not him. Couldn't have been.
The teddy bear clambered to his feet.
And the girl squealed in joy. Immediately, she dropped Pulsivar who fled for dear life, ran over, and scooped the battered golem up in her hands. "Oh! Oh daddy, thank you!"
Your Adorable Skill is now level 2!
"For the toy golem! Oh you finally made me one and Pulsivar ripped it up! What a bad kitty! I can fix his booboos, it's okay right Dad?"
Her father cleared his throat, and scrubbed his face harder. "Er, give me a second..."
Excited, the girl started shouting one of her few spells.
You heal 15 points!
You heal 8 points!
You Heal 10 points!
You are fully healed!
The teddy bear still couldn't read worth a damn, but something had picked him up, and all of a sudden he felt much better. He turned his head around until he could make out a freckled, grinning face sitting under a massive pile of red hair.
"I can have him now, right? I mean you were probably saving him for a surprise or whatever, but I'm just glad we got here in time before Pulsivar wrecked him completely."
"What?" The old man finally found his composure and turned, goggling at the sight of the teddy bear golem in his daughter's arms. "Ah... technically he's..."
"Mine, right daddy?" Celia's eyes almost seemed to double in size, and quiver with unshed tears.
The old man sighed. "Are you sure you want that one? He's... threadbare."
"Threadbear? That's an awesome name!"
"No, no, T-h-r-e-a-d-b-a-r-e"
"Okay, that's a dumb name. You didn't name him did you? Because whoever misspelled his name like that was pretty stupid."
"That's not exactly what I-"
"Well, okay. I can work with it. So your name's Threadbare, huh? Sweet!" Celia hugged the little bear close.
And the bear, healed, feeling much better, safe from the horrible black growlmonster, hugged her back. It felt... right.
"All right. Well, take him back to the house then, dear, just keep an eye on him. Let me know if he starts acting funny." The old man shrugged. Every golem he'd tried a greater animation on had been useless. The ritual was flawed somehow, or there was some important thing he was missing, and he had no damned idea what it could be. But none of the golems had been dangerous, just clumsy and stupid. They hadn't even been able to join his party, so he couldn't apply his creator-specific buffs to them, to get them to the point where they were useful. He hadn't ever run into this problem with lesser golems, so he had no frame of reference as to why it would be an issue with greaters, who should be superior by default.
So what harm could it possibly cause if his daughter played with the bear for a while? Less than that obstinate cat, he thought, looking around at the wreckage of his workshop.
Then he thought of the shattered urn, and a lump rose in his throat. "Go on and play dear," he choked. "I'll clean up here."
Celia ran out the door, hugging Threadbare to her shoulder.
But from the shadow of the large pine tree across the yard, Pulsivar the cat watched with yellow eyes gleaming.
Some things could be tolerated. Some could not.
He would have its vengeance upon that infernal toy.
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