The Golem was not a difficult mini-boss to beat because it had a myriad of abilities that it relied on. It didn’t heal itself when it reached 50% health. It didn’t call in reinforcements when it felt like it was going to lose and it didn’t have a special ability that it used every other minute to stun the entire party. No, the Golem was difficult to defeat because it was enraged and blind. It was also rather huge and made out of dense rock. All of that made for a deadly combination. The Golem whirled around the room, smashing into walls, swinging it’s large rock-chain arms around haphazardly, and generally just trying to smash anything animate and inanimate alike.
James dodged a large foot that descended upon him with a leap to his side. He rolled and got back up to his feet just in time to dodge a falling boulder. James did his best to run to an area that was currently free of the Golem’s destructive flailing and gave a quick glance to his party member icons.
James – Level 29 Embrant
Health - 100 of 300
Energy - 39 of 110
Mana - 0 of 340
Patrick - Level 26 Warrior Stoneworker
Health - 280 of 510
Energy - 22 of 200
Alex - Level 17 Metalworker
Health - 40 of 320
Energy - 115 of 220
Damnit, we need a healer, James thought as he realized his party might escape the cavern alive. He couldn’t help but feel like a small doomed blueberry inside a giant blender, destined to get smashed and cut up into smaller pieces by the Golem.
Alex appeared next to James suddenly and placed a hand on his shoulder as he caught his breath, “Patrick said he is getting tired and he won’t be able to run much longer. We need to finish this.”
James nodded, already aware that the redhead’s endurance points were approaching zero. So far the party had only managed to take off a third of the Golem’s massive pool of hit points and the majority of that damage came from when James stabbed out the creature's eyes. The Golem only seemed to have a small resistance to flame, but James had already used up all of his mana anyway, so the option to stay back and cast spells was out. The problem with getting in close to strike the rock beast was that it was never in the same spot for more than a second. Its blind rage caused it to thrash about everywhere. Whenever the party got close, nine times out of ten they would just be kicked or smashed away. James dodged another giant foot and managed to squeeze a plan out of his brain as he did.
“I have enough energy left for another Jump Strike or two. I will hop on the thing and try and distract it. Blink to Patrick and tell him to take his pickaxes out. I want you guys to detach his legs, and then hopefully his arms,” James said as his legs curled beneath him. Alex nodded in acknowledgment and James jumped into the air, propelled by the inhuman strength his ability gave him. The Golem collided into a wall but didn’t stay there punching it like James had hoped. Instead, it pushed itself away and barreled into the opposite wall, thrashing at everything and nothing along the way. James crashed into the wall next to where the Golem was just moments before.
Crap, he thought as he watched his health fall another ten points. He dusted himself off and caught a glimpse of Alex and Patrick running after the Golem with their pickaxes held high. Patrick’s uncommon pickaxe gave off a soft green glow that reflected off the thin plume of dust that hung to the floor and was never given the chance to fully settle. James hoped that the mining speed increase would give Patrick the edge that they needed. He wasn’t entirely sure that the Golem could be taken apart like an actual rock, but it was the only option they had.
James waited patiently, mapping out the erratic movements of the tremendous hulk of boulders and trying to predict where it would go next. He spotted his opportunity and used the last of his endurance points to leap into the air. He smashed into the Golem’s chest, digging his short swords into the rock as he went. He fell for a foot or two, but eventually, his Legion Commander’s short sword found purchase. James gave out an involuntary sigh of relief as he swung from the rampaging Golem, hanging from one arm. Looking down, James saw his companions still chasing after the creature.
Just got to distract it now buddy, James told himself as he slammed his Martyr Skinning Knife into rock. The action wasn’t as easy as it was with his legendary sword, but the trusty skinning knife came through for James as usual. Little by little, James climbed the pile of animated rock until he reached its mouth. James climbed inside the cave. James fell against a jagged mass of mineral that must have served as some sort of molar as the creature headbutted a wall. His health fell another twenty points as his back came alive with pain. Everything was sharp in the mouth of the Golem, but thankfully, James didn’t see a tongue or any other device that could push James into the gaping darkness that was the creature's throat. James found a secluded spot in between the serrated teeth and activated Martyr’s Rage. He didn’t have much health to fuel his ability, but hopefully, he could cause the creature a serious toothache while he was alive. James felt the familiar measured fury course through his body as the skin of his back split. Without wasting a second, James became the worst, and probably first, dentist the Golem had ever been visited by.
A few destruction filled seconds later, the cave James was working in finally stopped swaying and large oblong rocks came to investigate the source of their owner's toothache. Martyr’s Rage deactivated as James’s health reached one point and he swiped at the Golem’s prodding finger, causing it to flee, but only momentarily. Another curious prodding, and another swipe. The Golem’s third and final investigation into its own mouth wasn’t as deliberate as the first two. Three oblong rocks were shoved in after James, smashing him unceremoniously against the mouth wall, stealing away James's final hit point.
James fizzled into existence and opened his eyes. The stone walls he was surrounded by moments before were replaced with wooden ones, decorated with tribal paint, horns, and various herbs.
James heard Torunn speak, “No, if we deprive the Tok’nua of growing into the Eastern hemisphere it will upset the migration of the Blue Nifrits,”
Another Martyr's voice grumbled its disagreement, “We can migrate the Blue Nifrits the manual way. It will be well worth the time investment in the long run.”
“And risk an attack by an Abominar or worse?” Torunn replied harshly, “No, it will cause more trouble than it is worth. We will be turning a floral issue into a beastly one. It is a shortcut and one that is clearly not worth the risk. I forbid it.”
If the second Martyr had a logical counter-argument to the Tok’nua issue, James didn’t have time to hear it. He hopped out of his respawn point behind Torunn’s throne, causing the discussion to halt. Torunn pressed himself into his glowing throne in surprise and showed his teeth with a deep growl.
James waved, “it’s only me, just passing through, sorry!”
Torunn composed himself and tried to inquire about something. James figured he was curious as to why James was behind his throne and not inside the dungeon, or how long James was behind the throne for, or how he got there, but he cut his game brother off with another apology and ran out of the hut. The sun was just starting to send scouting tentacles of light over the Great Savanna as James ran up the Tower of Stairs to get back to the portal. James's muscles ached, as did his bones, his skin, his hairs, his brain, and probably his soul as well. He was exhausted but fueled by determination. The effects of Torunn’s newest chewy poultice had mostly worn off, and the lack of its effects left James’s feeling even more worn out than before. Still, he ran on, pushing through the lactic acid that threatened to seize up his motor function. A notification invited itself into James’s vision.
Congratulations! Your Will has increased by 1!
James reluctantly smiled at his accomplishment and waved the intrusive prompt away. He rounded the corner of the Cabin on the Cliff and let his hand brush against it lovingly as he went.
"Soon, I will be inside you," James whispered to the hut as he daydreamt of pouring himself a mug of ale before curling up inside a warm pile of furs.
James entered the cave Patrick had created for the portal to the Lich King’s dungeon and ran into the portal without slowing. His momentum was unwillingly slowed though, and quite suddenly at that.
“Whyyy,” James complained as he clutched his nose in pain. He looked up to the portal that was unwilling to port anything at the current moment in confusion. The dark purple swirls that once tricked James into thinking Torunn killed Michael seemed to be frozen in time. Against his better judgment, James attempted to send his hand through the portal once again. It wasn’t sent to another dimension like James had cautiously hoped, and instead crumpled and curled into itself as it collided with the impenetrable surface.
What the hell, James thought as he tried to recall everything he knew about portals. It turned out to be very little. James couldn’t recall Salmaana saying anything about entry requirements or really any pertinent information that would explain why the portal was suddenly shut off. James was left with only the lingering memory of Abaddon’s words to rely on. The Lich King either found a way to close the portal completely, or there was some entry requirement that he wasn’t aware of. Defeated, James looked around the shallow cave for inspiration. None came, so he sat patiently, waiting for something to happen. He considered going back to Torunn’s throne to wait and see if Patrick and Alex would be sent for respawn, but sleep greedily took him instead.
“Get up,” A voice intruded into James’s fleeting dreamscape. A boot followed the voice, cementing James emergence into reality. “Give me a hand,” Patrick said as he handed James a barely conscious, skeleton of a body.
Any traces of James’s sleepiness were washed away like a fire hose directed at cobwebs. He spurred into action and grabbed the malnourished prisoner. Patrick went back through the portal. Good, they managed to defeat the Golem and rescue some prisoners. The Lich King didn’t shut off the portal. Where the hell is Torunn, James thought frantically before yelling for help. Dreng’s Rest was already beginning to come alive with the soft whispers of neighbors greeting each other, builders gathering their tools, and the occasional call of an Ingo mount. James’s pleas served as caffeine to increase the speed at which the sleepy village came alive. Martyrs and humans alike started picking up and echoing James calls that spilled over the top of the cliff. Soon enough, James found himself looking at a confused and alarmed Torunn.
James set the prisoner down in front of the Cabin, “Do what you can to heal him, I think there is more coming.” Torunn nodded gravely, already pulling out various herbs and potions from the sacks tied to his belt. James ran back to the portal, its dark purple and black swirls swirling once again. He stepped through.