King Of The Pond
I should probably try each of my new spells out before I go and try to kill the King of the pond. I use Elemental Shaping and create some new targets. This time I make five wooden dummies and five earth dummies. Hmm, they look a bit cruder than what I get just from plant shaping. I guess that is from this being a new spell with no levels in it. I quickly place the targets in various positions around my practice area. This is going to be fun.
I concentrate on the first target and try out an Improved Exploding Elemental Spike and mentally select the fire element. It looks the same as before, maybe I should dual cast like I have been lately. I call up a second fire spike in the other hand and then send both towards the chest area of the first wooden target. I quickly noticed that the spikes sunk much further into the wood target. They looked like they almost made it through. That is a good 30cm thick of wood. The penetration has definitely improved. As I am thinking this the 1 second delay is reached and suddenly there is fire and smoke and debris, but no more target. That was awesome!
Alright calm down Mark. There is definitely an improvement in the explosive damage of the spell. At least twice as strong and probably closer to three times. That means I should be able to use this spell on much more armored targets and kill things with less mana as I will need fewer spikes. It used to take between five and six fire spikes to destroy a target. It only took two this time, and I might have destroyed it with just one. Ok this is going to take some more testing than I thought.
I run down and replace the target I just destroyed and place a new target next to each of the ten I already set up. Now I have ten pairs of targets, each with one wooden humanoid target and one hardened earth humanoid target. Now to try a single spike on each target. First up is fire again, but this time only a single spike. I launch a single spike at each target. The wooden target is burned horribly and a significant chunk of it splintered off from the explosion. The hardened earth target has significant damage also. It has blackened areas around where the spike hit and a rather large divot has been blasted out of it. I would say it is at least 10 centimeters deep and around 20 centimeters in diameter. That would definitely kill an ordinary animal and do significant damage to something with armor.
The next few minutes I spend checking each of the spike spells. The area they each affect is very similar. Metal Spikes penetrate the best and have good explosive qualities, they will probably be my break through armor go to spell. Fire, Ice, and Lightning spikes all explode well and have medium penetration. Poison has a weak penetration ability, but if it gets inside something I assume it will cause a lot of damage. Annihilation spikes are once again just creepy. They don’t penetrate, but dissolve their way into a target and then explode leaving an area that just disappears. It seems very effective and will definitely eat its way through armor. However, since there is no penetration just dissolving it seems like the damage would be better if paired with another element.
That actually seems like a good strategy. Something that is heavily armored I send an Annihilation spike at it followed by another element right behind it. I can materialize two spikes now one in each hand, so I just have to send the non-dissolving one a little over a second behind and target the same area. That should be a one two punch that is difficult to overcome. Now I have five groups of targets left, I need to try out my area of Elemental Splash spells.
The first up again is the fire element to test. I form a single fire elemental splash orb in my hand and send it in between the two targets. I want to know not only how much damage it does, but the size of the area affected and how long it lasts. Since I did not try anything fancy it hit right where I aimed and sort of splooshed out. I know that is not a very good description, how about it broke and scattered like a water balloon. That’s better, it does resemble a water balloon splashing about. This is a sticky fire kind of like napalm though.
After the fire stops burning I head down to check out the damage. The fire splash covered about 2 meters square in area and lasted about 5 seconds. Everything it touched is burned deeply or charred black in the case of the earth target. So two of these, one from each hand, would cover an area that would have 3-5 people standing in it. Not bad for a starting point. The damage would hurt and distract, but probably not kill something unless it is weak. Damage does add up over time though, and something weak against fire would definitely not like it. It seems to cost the same amount of mana as a spike, which means it probably does about the same amount of damage, just spread out and over time.
Next up is the ice splash. I form a single ice orb and toss it in between the next two targets. It explodes nicely in between the targets but does not seem to do much damage. However, wherever a chunk of ice from the explosion hit a zone of frost is formed. It seems that each chunk can freeze an area around 10 centimeters bigger than its diameter. This will probably be used more for crowd control and special situations rather than damage to large areas. Now to try stone. One orb of stone later I have two targets that have multiple holes in them. The only way to explain this one is grenade. The orb of stone exploded like a grenade and sent chunks of stone into everything within 2-3 meters. It had decent penetration also. It seems like this will be my go to spell for unarmored opponents in a group.
Lightning is next, form an orb toss it out and WHAT??? That is lightning napalm! How is that even possible. There are purple chunks of sparking goo it looks like stuck to the targets and anything else close to where the orb exploded. I expected more of a flash bang and got this beauty instead. It was like electric jelly stuck all over and just shocking the heck out of everything. It was AWESOME! I have a new favorite spell. I don’t know how useful it will be, but I definitely can think of several scenarios where it can be useful. The final orb, poison splash, was underwhelming. It just looked like a green water balloon exploded. No real damage to the targets, but then they were not living so I guess I cannot expect them to suffer from poison. This will probably be a good DOT spell though against living organisms. I could even use it to poison supplies or water sources.
So spikes are high damage single target spells, and splashes are low damage multi-target spells. They function just as I imagined them. Alright with everything tested out I think it is time to go and teach whatever ate me just who is stronger now. I need to be smart about this though. I have not seen anything actually in the pond over the last few days I have lived in the area. That means it either usually comes out at night, does not have to hunt that often, or only attacks things next to the pond. How am I going to draw it out? I definitely am not going to use myself as bait. I cannot really use bait of any kind as I do not know how close I can get and still be safe. So I guess I can do a couple of different things.
- Make it mad enough to come out and fight.
- Give it no choice but to come out and fight.
- Take away its cover.
The first two kind of go together, but I can approach them from different ways. I think that a few lightning orbs to shock it and make it upset will work. If not, I can try launching several poison orbs until I poison enough of the pond it has to come out. I would rather avoid that as I do not want to destroy the local habitat. I mean I may need to come back to the old tree house some day and use it as a base, so poisoning a large area around it is kind of counterproductive. For idea three I would just use my new elemental shaping powers and dig several ditches that would drain the pond faster than it can fill up and wait for the water level to lower enough that I can see what I am fighting.
I think I will try the lightning first, then the ditches if necessary, and only resort to poison if nothing else works. Satisfied with my plan I look around for a good vantage point to attack from. All of the trees are pretty far away from the pond so that won’t work. If only I had some sort of fortification, I could attack from. Duh, Mark you have magic. I can just use my elemental shaping to create what I need. Yep that is the new plan, make a primitive earth fort close to the pond, then shoot lightning until monster arrives and kill it.
I make my way towards the pond and stop about 30 meters from the edge. This should be more than close enough. I have about a 50-75 meters range with the orbs so I should be able to reach a good portion of the pond with my lightning orbs from here, especially if I am up high in a fort. I spend the next 2 hours raising the ground in a 5 X 5 meter area 4 meters high. I create a nice smooth ramp down the back side for quick entrance and exit. I raise another earthen lip about 1 meter high around the edge just in case I need to duck anything.
I mean for all I know it could spit acid, fire, or some other substance that I do not want to hit me. I was just about to throw my first orb when I realized I was thinking small again. Why finish with just this crude fort? I throw the lightning orb behind me so as not to disturb my prey earlier and get back to work. I gather up lots of wood and vines and first make a little ditch around my fort. Nothing much jus a nice 2 meter wide 1 meter deep trench. However, I did line it with very sharp wooden stakes that I also shaped. Now I should be ready.
I climb back to the top of my makeshift fort and start launching lightning orbs into the water. I pause about four to five seconds between each throw so the next one starts just as the last one is finishing up. After about the 5th lightning orb something came up from the pond and started towards me.
Greater Tiger Salamander Level 42 Magic: Unknown
Level 42, no wonder this thing made such an easy snack out of me before. Nothing else in the area really gets past level 20 to 25. It must have just sat in the pond and ate and ate, until it was so high level and large that nothing could challenge it. Today unfortunately is its unlucky day. I am both high enough level and angry enough that it ate me before that I am going to take this sucker down. It is not very fast so I can plan a tiny bit now that I know what I am dealing with.
What do I know about salamanders? Smooth skin, semi aquatic, toxic, carnivores, and that is about it. Ok so smooth skin means limited armor, semi aquatic means it is probably weak to fire, toxic means do not touch unless I have too, wait a minute I am immune to poison so ignore that one, and carnivore does not help me. Quick plan, wait for it to get closer so it cannot run away back into the pond. Hit it with multiple spikes, two fire spikes, one fire orb, two metal spikes, one lightning orb, two lightning spikes, and then one lightning or fire orb dependent on which one caused it more damage. That sounds like a plan.
I wait until the Salamander is right next to my little fort made of earth. As soon as I see it step into the ditch with the spikes I hit it with two Improved Elemental Exploding Spikes (fire) and try to hit it in the eyes. Luck is on my side, and I hit the salamander in both eyes causing it to go blind instantly. It also was helpful that its head is almost 2 meters across with eyes that are huge targets. This is probably the first time in a long time that this guy has had to fight, or has even been challenged. This means it came in fat and stupid allowing me to attack it without any trouble at all.
The salamanders 15 meter long body starts thrashing as soon as I blind it. It is actually causing the ground to quake. I need to hurry this up or it could accidentally kill me in its blind rage. I toss a flaming orb and the two metal spikes. Each time it is hit, the salamander thrashes even more. I am having to target the body now as the head is shaking side to side so violently there is no way I could hit it. The metal spikes when they exploded created huge cavities in the body of the salamander. Its thrashing around is doing more damage than I am. Each time it violently moves it rips its wounds open a little more causing it to bleed out faster. I am starting to feel sorry for this thing.
I hit it with a lightning orb next which actually causes it to stop thrashing. It actually is bent in a U shape. I get it, the lightning is so effective it has caused its muscles to tighten up. Well since it worked so well let’s follow up with two lightning spikes. When these two spells penetrate the skin of the salamander and explode it just starts to twitch uncontrollably and bleed even more. I would normally go down and just try and cut its throat to put it out of its misery. I realize that it cannot poison me, but I am afraid if it twitches wrong it could still squash me. So I need to stay out of the danger zone until I am sure it is dead.
Since it has almost stopped moving I cast two more metal spikes and carefully aim for its exposed throat. If I cannot cut its throat, then I should at least try to open its jugular with spells to help it die quicker. Two spikes later and several gallons of blood the salamander stops moving completely. It looks like I have killed it, better make sure. Inspect.
Carcass of Greater Tiger Salamander Level 42 Magic: Unknown
I guess I am now the undisputed king of the pond.