“Alright bud, time’s up.” I told Inkler as I hauled myself to my feet. The rest was nice, but I was honestly getting a bit bored at the end of it. Ten seconds later, and there were several summoning circles appearing on the opposite side of the arena. Four divine goblins, each at level ten appeared alongside a level 12 divine hobgoblin group leader. Two of the goblins were armed with spears, two had bows, and the hobgoblin had a vicious looking axe.
“Archers are yours.” I muttered just loud enough for Inkler to hear, and I saw his paw prints appear out of the corner of my eye. I resisted the urge to look at him, knowing that it would give away his position. Instead I decided to open the fight. “Hey fugly, I’m gonna take you down with one shot! [Oblivion sphere].” I launched the skill at the hobgoblin, trusting that he would try and smash my attack aside with his axe. Sure enough, my taunt got rid of most of his sense. I laughed when the explosion shattered the haft of his axe, dropping the smoking head of it on the ground.
“GGGRRRAAAAAA!!” The hobgoblin screamed, charging ahead after drawing a dagger. The spear goblins tried to follow, but their short legs couldn’t propel them through the sand as fast as their leader.
“[Reality slash].” I used a horizontal cut once the hobgoblin got close enough to start his attack. With the dagger raised over his head, he really had no defense against the blade of darkness that split his stomach. As he bent over in pain, my hammer smashed him in the face with a massive uppercut. Stunned from the blow, he staggered back. I slashed at his throat without using any skills, as his health was low enough from the exchange that it would just be overkill.
Several things happened at once right after that. The body toppled backwards, right as the two archers let loose in my direction. I ducked to avoid the arrows, causing the goblin spearmen to smile, thinking they had me trapped. Inkler appeared right behind one of the archers, the crush of his jaws swift enough that the creature never even got a chance to scream. His partner noticed though, shrieking in terror.
As the spearmen stopped to turn and look at the commotion behind them, I charged forward to take advantage of their moment of distraction. “[Keen edge].” I targeted the base of the skull, remembering my time as a kobold dissecting a goblin. Their neck only contained one vertebrae, and I didn’t want to test my luck in cutting through it. I hit the joint with enough force to decapitate the spearman, using a backhanded swing to deflect the hurried thrust of the remaining spear user as he realized that danger was much closer than the giant cat that just crushed his buddy’s skull. A quick left handed jab to the face brought tears to his oversized eyes, and I gave a home run swing with my hammer to end his life. Turning, I saw Inkler savaging the body of the remaining archer, a single broken arrow in the sand the only evidence that the goblin had managed any form of attack. “Excellent job Inkler.” I said, patting his head as I went around looting the bodies. Each one dropped a handful of coins, nothing more than a silver, and some crude weapons that I accepted only because of the abundance of room in my inventory.
Rounds 12 through 14 followed the same pattern, slightly increasing in level but differing in weapon varieties. I was forced to bring out my arbalest to open the fights, but kept to ordinary bolts. Level 15 was a major pain. The enemies had dropped to three, but they were much higher quality than the previous waves. Two level 18 hobgoblin soldiers were decked out in iron armor that did a decent job of covering their weaknesses. They each carried a sword and wooden buckler, moving in step as they slowly maneuvered closer to me. Behind them was a level 20 hobgoblin shaman, already starting to cast dark magics at me. To make things even worse for me, the soldiers knew what spells were being chanted and would widen the gap between them to allow the spell to pass through, closing it immediately afterward to prevent me from countering.
“Annoying bastards, working together in a team.” I snarled, annoyed that I had taken a bit of damage from a weird bolt of darkness that had writhing tendrils trailing after it. Just as I was about to target the shaman, Inkler appeared and crushed his leg before yanking on it hard enough to topple the shrieking bastard. As the soldiers whirled to see what the issue was, I took one of them in the back of the head with a bolt from the arbalest. “Try your teamwork now you bastards. [Dark bolt].” I was running toward the last soldier, pausing to fire off my spell as he whirled around to face me. He raised his shield to block the attack, but it wasn’t up to the task and shattered.
“Go ahead and finish him Inkler, I got this guy.” I yelled, reminding the soldier that his shaman was pinned beneath a cat that had bitten down with crushing force on the hobgoblin’s head. Pained and panicked screams ensued, again causing hesitation in the soldier, just enough for me smash him in the chest with the scythe portion of my weapon. It took out a good chunk of his life, but wasn’t enough to kill him.
“Graaaa!” It yelled in my face, spittle flying as it started swinging his sword wildly at me. I gave ground, not wanting to meet his ferocity head on. Its swings were wild and uncontrolled, and I flashed back to something I had read in a book a long time ago. If someone is swinging a weapon, it takes twice the amount of energy to swing and miss as it does to have the blow blocked or parried. I was content to wait him out, or wait until Inkler could get a clear shot at his back. Either way I would come out on top.
After nearly thirty seconds of kiting him around the arena, he slowed down and glared at me. He wasn’t totally drained of stamina, but he was hurting as his nostrils flared with each inhale. I smiled and made a ‘come here’ motion with my free hand, sending him back into a rage. One he was incapable of capitalizing on. Right as he was starting to move forward, Inkler landed on his back and shredded him with a reality slash.
“God I’m glad they give us the experience after every ten levels.” I said to Inkler as I plopped down onto the sand for a five-minute breather. “Even if it was only 3 levels, that still made this fight a good bit easier. Between that and an awesome stealth cat that knows how to take down mages, I’m just a distraction.” Inkler started purring at the praise and dropped his head in my lap for scratches. I indulged him for a few minutes, then went and looted the bodies. A handful of silver coins, poor quality iron armor, and a deer horn headdress. Probably worth a few coppers.
Once again Inkler and I started in on the grind for rounds 16 through 19. My opening gambit for each round was to send a bolt into the face of the hobgoblin soldier that came with each round. It didn’t always kill them, but seeing your strongest warrior lose the majority of his life before you can even find out where the enemy is attacking from is terrible on morale. Then the leader gets mauled just as he orders a charge, and the goblins that accompanied the hobgoblins didn’t last long. Even if there were five enemies instead of four, we pretty well steamrolled the floors.
“Get ready bud, boss fight incoming.” I said as we were waiting for round 20 to begin.
This boss round will be fought in two waves. You have five minutes to clear the first wave before the second wave is summoned. Good luck!
“Two waves on this one buddy, we gotta clear this first one fast.” As I was speaking, four summoning circles appeared and identical hobgoblins emerged. Their armor was uniform, and they all had tower shields. The most worrisome part was their coordinated movements, immediately forming a shield wall facing me with blades that resembled a Roman gladius in their hands.
Hobgoblin royal guard
Each generation of royal guards is split into units of four, and raised together. A lifetime of training and living together have forged them into a terrifyingly competent unit, instinctively covering each other’s actions.
Shit, four competent enemies that have a decent set of armor and a five-minute time limit. “[Dark bolt].” I calmly fired at the face of the one to the right of center, despite the nervousness I was feeling. As I hoped, it simply raised a shield to protect its face, letting my arbalest bolt pierce the shin guard and hobble the creature. The two to its sides immediately stepped forward to protect it, letting Inkler get a free shot at the one on the far left. “[Lance of light].” I fired off another attack that got past the shields, but only dealt a glancing blow to the shoulder of one of the uninjured guards. The two that were still standing decided that I was the more dangerous opponent, and that they couldn’t sit back and defend their fallen friends.
Roaring in unison, they both charged at me, hunkered behind their shields. They really didn’t leave me much in the way of openings, forcing me to make my own. “[Dancing shadow steps].” I teleported to the shield side of the right hand guard, dropping into a crouch as I let loose a haymaker shot with my hammer to his knee.
“AAAIIIEEEYYYY!” The hobgoblin screamed in agony as the force nearly tore the weapon out of my hand. His partner skidded to a stop and tried to get around to attack me, but his crippled friend was in the way. The one on the ground tried to slash at me, but his attack had no power. I finished him with a dark bolt to the face, as I stood up to face the last of the uninjured creatures. I slowly backed away, looking for an opening as he kept the majority of his body behind that massive slab of metal. The original one that had been injured tried to scream a warning, but it was far too late as Inkler materialized behind the guard and pounced on him. The force knocked him on his stomach and I smashed his head with my hammer to end his participation. Once that was done, Inkler and I headed over and harried the injured one, that had managed to regain his feet. After a few feints, I battered away his feeble swing as the hatred in his eyes turned to surprise. The backhanded swing of my scythe tore open his throat, killing him.
“I guess we don’t get a rest, boss incoming in three seconds.” I warned Inkler, having gotten a notification about wave two beginning soon. Teleporting in was an absolutely massive hobgoblin. Slightly taller than me, his biceps were larger around than my thighs. He easily twirled around the twin axes that he was carrying, taking in the carnage left behind from his guards.
Thankfully rare, hobgoblin kings are dangerous opponents. With strength comparable to an orc berserker, and a savageness in battle that is unmatched, few are crazy enough to go toe to toe with these monsters.
“So. Were you the one to kill my guards?”
“Alone? Impressive.” He said with a grin. “I do hope you live long enough to be entertaining.” As I watched, his spinning axes got faster as a red glow started emanating from his body. His eyes dilated until they seemed to be entirely pupil, and I instinctively reacted as he dashed forward.
“[Magelight]!” I sent a flash of light right into his face. He wailed in pain, charge faltering as he crashed into the sands. I was having the same problem with my earth magic as I was having in the desert, and was forced to subdue him with [Binding shadow chains].
“Cheating bastard! I’ll rip you limb from limb!” He screamed, arms bulging as he tried to brute force his way out from my binding.
“I’m sure you would. [Keen edge].” My attack decapitated him, much to my relief. “Let the looting begin.” I chuckled, glad I had avoided a tough fight. “Decent loot at last, it’s about time.” I muttered as I collected items from the bodies. Each of the royal guard gave me a piece of their armor set. It wasn’t a true set, giving bonuses and the like, simply a superior version of steel armor. I collected two shields, a chest plate, and a set of greaves from them as well as a handful of silver coins per monster. The king actually had enchanted gear, and was rather generous with his drops. Five gold for coins, along with both axes that came as an actual set as well as his belt.
Berserk King’s Savage Left
Set item (1 of 2)
Created for the Hobgoblin King, this is one of a pair of war axes whose sight imbues fear into whoever sees it.
+5 to strength
Fear aura: Creatures lower level than the wielder will be inflicted with fear. Ability can be toggled.
When paired with Berserk King’s Wrath:
Attack speed increased by 35%
Berserk King’s Wrath
Set item (1 of 2)
The favored weapon of the Hobgoblin King, this weapon is made for damage.
+5 to dexterity
Searing wrath: Adds 15% of damage taken as fire damage
When paired with Berserk King’s Savage Left:
Damage increased by 35%
You have defeated the second floor guardian! You may advance to the next set of floors or wait a half hour to recover. If you advance now, half of all your resource bars will be filled.
For defeating a boss level, you have earned the total experience of your previous fights.
Level up x 8!
You and your pet are now level 21.
“Hey bud, what do you think? Go ahead and advance to the next round?” Inkler simply looked at me, then went back to whatever he was doing. Apparently he was knocking around one of the helmets from the dead guards, using it as a macabre ball. Oh, from the looks of it, there’s still a head inside. Time to move on. Hitting the button, I started the next set of challenges.
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.