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After backtracking, Inkler and I headed down the path marked with a fang. “At least we know there’s some enemies this way, eh buddy?” I asked, giving him a pet. He rubbed against my leg, and clicked his armor plates a bit in anticipation. We went down almost four stories worth of stairs, before it leveled off. A short distance away was a doorway, and a well-lit room beyond. There was an odd grating sound coming from within, causing both Inkler and I to look at each other in a confused manner. We both activated sneak skills, creeping along the outside wall and trying to stay in shadow.

The room we entered was completely circular, nearly a football field length across. Thirteen columns encircled a massive arena area, at the center of which was a truly massive creature. The foot of the creature was nearly as tall as I was. Truly, this would a siege breaker, especially if armored. The grating sounds that had put Inkler and I on our toes were its snores.

Boulder

Heroic level 95 Siege Breaker.

Altered half giant.

 

Boulder has willingly thrown his life in with that of Zandkazaar, allowing himself to become an experimental abomination for promises of power. An incredibly powerful foe, you would do well to not take a direct blow from him. His armored fists have reduced enchanted walls to rubble, and men to pulp.

 

“Don’t let him hit you. If you can, cling to his back where his hands can’t reach.” I whispered, and Inkler gave me a look as if I were an idiot. Shrugging, I summoned a shadowgheist and gave it an inferno potion. Sending it running forward, it used a shadow chain to lift itself to eye level with Boulder and throw the potion into its maw.

RRRRAAAAAAGGGGGGGHHHHH!!!” Bellowing in rage, Boulder woke up swinging. The shadowgheist managed to miss the initial blow, but he landed at the same time as Boulder’s descending fist, immediately getting killed. As Boulder smashed his fists into the ground where the shadowgheist met its end until they bled, Inkler and I sat back and debated how to attack. I had my arbalest armed, and decided to go with an armor piercing bolt. After he calmed down, I noticed that initial attack only took down ten percent of the creature’s life.

“Shit, this is going to be a grind.” I muttered, before taking aim. The giant must have heard something, for it tilted its head. Blinking, it made an easy target. Again the giant bellowed in rage, this time covering an eye. I saw Inkler had started his move as well, circling around behind the giant. I used shadow chains to shoot myself towards the ceiling. The beast tracked my movements, and as it started moving Inkler leapt from the shadows and used his reality slash to sever a tendon. The damage to its health was minimal, but a crippled giant is an easy target. Hanging from shadow chains, I reloaded another bolt. This time, I went with a corruption bolt. I didn’t really care where it hit, and ended up getting a shot in between the collar bones of the giant. Boulder ignored the arrow, but I got an annoying popup.

Boulder is immune to corruption effects

 

“Damnit!” I swore, and dropped down to the ground again. Not only had the corruption bolt not worked, but his health bar was slowly ticking upward as his giant regeneration kicked in. As the cooldown was over, I summoned another shadowgheist to act as a distraction. “[Dancing shadow steps].” I appeared behind the ear of the giant as his hand slammed down where I was just at. Grabbing some hair to steady myself, I watched as my shadowgheist met another swift end.

I opted to use some of my swiftly depleting mana, and started a chant. “Arrow of darkness, cleave your way. Beware the danger, of Arrows that pierce the day. [Dark bolt].” I fired this down the ear canal of the giant, eliciting another howl of pain. I pulled a Tarzan to swing away from the hand that slapped against the ear in reflex. Looking down, I saw Inkler making his way up to where I was. He was already at the shoulderblades, steadily climbing. I let him reach the opposite shoulder before renewing my attack. Savage slashes from my scythe on one side coupled with Inkler ripping out chunks of flesh.

Boulder started twisting his shoulders in an attempt to dislodge us. Inkler managed to stay on. I didn’t. Slamming against a wall hurt, and stunned me for ten seconds. I watched helplessly as Inkler inched his way over to the nape of the neck. Genius cat! With his overdeveloped muscles, Boulder has lost much of his flexibility! Safe from prying hands, I took the time to down a health potion. With an opponent like this, anything less than full health was folly.

“How the hell are we supposed to take him down?” I muttered. He still had 2/3 of his life, and the Achilles tendon on his foot had already healed. Looking around, the entire arena was barren. Nothing helpful there. “Slugfest it is.” I cursed.

Running in, I buried my scythe in the same location Inkler had cut earlier. The tendon severed again, dropping the giant to a knee. Men everywhere, please forgive me for what I am about to do! I yelled in my head, before slashing at the giant’s future children. It’s outraged bellow swiftly gained an octave, and Immediately stopped trying to grab Inkler. Bent over, grabbing his gianthood, Inkler did what any self-respecting adventurer would do. Severed his spine with a reality slash.

The paralyzed body flopped forward, and I made my way around to the side of the neck. Opening up the tissue, I stood back as gouts of blood gushed out. Inkler kept savaging the neck, and between us the boss only took another ten minutes to die.

“Inkler. INKLER!” I had to shout to get his attention, so focused was he on stopping that neck from regenerating. “He’s dead bud, you can relax.” Turning back to the neck, he batted it a few times with his paws before being satisfied. Sitting down, he started cleaning his paws. Cats. “Are you going to get down off of there so I can loot this thing? Or you gonna chance it and fall down when the body disappears?” Pausing to glare at me with his claws unsheathed, Inkler gave them one last lick before padding down to ground level. Looting the body, I dealt with several popups.

Level up x5!

 

You have reached the maximum level for your species. Would you like to evolve now? Y/N

 

No, I don’t want to evolve right now. Checking my logs, Inkler had reached level 80 as well. Time for some loot!

Loot

 

Worn wyvern armor

Giant abomination blood x 25

Giant skin x50

Giant mountain oyster x 2

30 platinum, 80 gold, 25 silver

Magical tablet x1 (quest item)

 

Worn wyvern armor

 

This armor has seen better days. Though made from a superior material, the ravages of time have greatly depreciated its utility.

 

Defense: 20

Durability: 48/500

 

Shrugging my shoulders, I looted everything except the ‘oysters.’ Not even going to mess with that one. “What do you say to a thirty-minute nap?” I asked Inkler, and he started purring and searching for a place to lie down.

After our rest, we continued down another flight of stairs. Hearing clanking at the bottom, we cautiously approached. The bottom of the stairwell opened up into a large chamber with another group of the scorpricalans. We opted to wait for a few minutes, as the group was perfectly still. Sure enough, five minutes later two scorpricalans came marching by. Perfect. Patrolling guards meant the drow in charge couldn’t be aware of everything at once. Summoning a shadowgheist, I gave it an inferno potion and a mission. “Thanatos, this group’s for you as well.” I said, sending forth my suicide clone.

It ran down the steps, charging in as fast as it could. The unit tightened formation, the front two lines forming a stepped wall with their tails acting as protruding pikes. Undaunted, my clone launched itself into the upper portion of the wall, throwing the inferno potion at the ground in the middle of the formation.

The results were spectacular. Bodies flying, limbs burning. The slight clustering worked against them, ensuring their destruction.

 

Thanatos finds your offering acceptable!

 

For sacrificing a group of acceptable monsters, you gain 625 favor. (25 monsters x (20 favor +5 group bonus)).

For sacrificing a group of heroic monsters, you gain 1125 favor. (25 monsters x (40 favor +5 group bonus)).

For sacrificing a monster at full health, gain 500 favor. (25 monsters x 20 favor each).

 

Total favor: 5409/5000

Champions killed: 0/10

Elites killed: 1/1

Weekly kills: 25/25

 

You have reached maximum favor!

 

To advance your rank in the church, and prevent favor loss, head to a church and initiate a rank up as soon as possible.

 

“Come on bud, let’s follow the direction of the patrols.” I said, heading to the right. We entered a corridor, and as we travelled down it started hearing metallic sounds. Rhythmic clanking. “Sounds like a smithy.” I muttered, torn. We could easily enter the area and start taking out the less martially inclined constructs, but a patrol could come up behind us and leave before we noticed them. “Alright, do we stay here for a bit and take out the next patrol? Or forge on and hope we can clear the next area before a patrol catches up to us? They’ll be on guard after seeing the empty room behind us. Aw hell, we gotta go back and go against the flow of patrols, don’t we?”

Inkler gave me a confused look through that entire little speech. “Shit, you’re right.” I convinced myself. “We don’t have time for that, and the alarm will go off when the patrols stop showing up. Speedrun it is. Leave it be unless you can kill it in one strike or it is attacking us.” He at least nodded his head at that, and we moved on with a growing sense of urgency.

Past the smithing shops where metal golems crafted shield backings. Past the armorsmith’s area. Ghastly creations with multiple insect legs ended in humanoid hands, the better to attach magic reflective plates to the shields. Past the grisly harvesting areas. Where creatures from Lovecraft’s nightmares used their dexterous limbs to harvest sinew from bodies for crafting. We caught up to the previous patrol at some point, a single reality slash cleaving their heads from their shoulders. The bodies looted on the fly, no need to see what they dropped. Into the bag it goes.

At this point, a distraction would be needed. Grabbing some torches from the walls, I threw them into rooms where spare skin was being tanned. Speeding as fast as we could in a desperate dash to stay ahead of the choking smoke. Stumbling into an open area, we found ourselves facing three equally stunned guards. Two were normal scorpricalans, but one resembled a humanoid toad.

Lieutenant Croaker

Heroic level 93 flesh golem

 

A disgusting fusion of human and desert toad, Lieutenant Croaker acts as Drul’kaath’s right hand. Whether spearheading assaults or holding the line, he is an apt disciple of war.

 

Battle. Furious battle. Deflected blow from the right. Allowed the tail to strike from the left, minimal damage. Grab and pulled the tail. Deflected another blow. [Undeath strike] to the scorpricalan whose tail I have. Critical blow from the other scorpricalan, caught me in the back. Croaker’s tongue shot out and grabbed my weapon wrist, leaving my back exposed for further attacks. Inkler saved me with a reality slash, killing the second scorpricalan. Croaker released me, inflating his lungs for unknown plan. Chantless [Dark bolt] blew a hole in his chest, soundlessly releasing the air. Not enough to kill him. Charge in, duck under the tongue as it lashed out. Attempted to hammer his leg joint, but an unexpected leap cleared Croaker of my attack. Inkler saw it coming, and used me as a launching board. Stunned from a bad landing, I can finally end the lieutenant with a hammer blow to the head. Looted all bodies and kept moving. Entered the next room, and the door slammed shut behind us. Trap!

“I must say, that was a rather hectic dash to make it here before being swarmed by my minions.” A sultry voice spoke from across the way, several sets of hands clapping. Looking up, I saw an inordinately tall drow. He had several sets of insect arms that ended in human hands, and four scorpion tails poised behind his back. A central tail hovered over his head, but I couldn’t place what the ending of the tail was.

General Drul’kaath

Drow (artificial venomnoid variant)

Heroic level 95 Hordemaster

 

General Drul’kaath. Mentioning his name strikes fear into any familiar with the history of warfare. His brilliant strategies led Lolth’s armies to many victories, until he disappeared with his entourage in a dangerous expedition. The bodies were never recovered. With an army that knows no pain, has no fear, and unflinchingly obeys orders, he is poised to take over whatever his master bids.

 

“Former general of Lolth?” I asked, panting. I needed to buy some time for my stamina to recover. “I wonder if she will reward me for bringing back your head?”

“Bah. Such a fickle goddess. In favor one minute, out of favor the next. Zandkazaar though. Now that is someone you should serve. With the focus only the undead may achieve, he will rule this world one day. Join us, adventurer. He can bestow upon you and your. Pet.” He gave a pause mid sentence, saying pet with such disdain. “The same sort of blessings I enjoy. And I didn’t have to beg and grovel at the feet of that whore of a goddess to obtain the blessings of the spider! No warrior can match me now!” By the end of his rant, he was practically screaming. “I! AM! UNSTOPPABLE!”

“Let’s just see about that, shall we?”

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About the author

Mighty Moushie

Bio: I'm a chemist that gave writing a try, and loved the results. Everything is mostly for fun right now, though I might try and get some things published eventually. Certain traits of my daughter have made it into bits of my stories, and she sometimes keeps me company when we both have trouble sleeping.

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