Mr. Whisker’s POV
“You’re late King, last to arrive.” I called out when I saw their group approaching.
“Eh, had a bad group for the boss we faced. Couldn’t be helped. What about losing part of the forest? What happened there?”
“Dave’s group found a boss that couldn’t be damaged while in a flammable lake, and couldn’t draw it out of the lake.”
“Unlucky.” He lamented. “So I take it burning spread to the forest?”
“Nope.” Dave said, coming over. “The lake burned, releasing miasma that drifted towards the center of the forest. Fucking moose. What did you guys face? Any sort of theme?”
“Rabid bear.” Lucy said as she strolled over. “No real pattern, except they’re all found in a forest. Plan?”
“King, Shocker, and Death will head out to scout, hopefully get back to us without being seen. That’s about all we can do without more information.”
“Sounds good to me. C’mon Death, Shocker. We got some exploring to do.” King called out, leaving with the two scouts.
“What do you think we’re going to find?” Lucy asked.
“The unexpected of course.” Dave said with a chuckle. I left them to their conversation, wanting to check in with everyone in the raid.
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
Crimson King’s POV
We weren’t too far away, so the trip to the final clearing was quick. I had sent the other two farther west, thinking that the guardian would be expecting people to come from where the last guardian fell. Sure enough, when I arrived there were three creatures facing the northeast. They immediately turned to me, then the other two in turn, nostrils flaring.
The nose flaring let me know my stealth wasn’t broken, but they had my scent. They were odd, having the heads of dogs with the bodies of humans. That is, if humans had reddish purple skin. Two had golden collars around their necks, along with leather pants and a greatsword. The one in the middle had a platinum collar, and had two metallic gloves on its hands. I started with the two who had gold collars, and my stomach dropped.
Corrupted hound archon, level 200
Once a holy guardian, Mortax was one of three high ranking volunteers to contain a portion of one of the seeds of evil. Once a renowned healer, the miasma has corrupted and inverted most of his skills, including the immunity to mundane weapons.
Corrupted hound archon, level 200
Once a holy guardian, Redguard was one of three high ranking volunteers to contain a portion of one of the seeds of evil. Wielder of a holy flame, his skills have been corrupted over centuries of influence. He longs for the day when a righteous warrior steps forward to end his cursed existence.
Corrupted hound archon, level 225
One of the highest of the archons, Orion took the largest portion of the seed of evil into himself. Confident that his skills would hold back the corruption long enough for him to find a warrior able to slay him. Though weakened by slaying the four forest guardians, a miasmatic release has returned him and his subordinates back to their full power.
I silently backed away, hoping the other two would do the same. This battle was going to be a pain.
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
Mr. Whisker’s POV
When I saw King and the others return, I knew it was going to be bad news. All of them had an ashen pallor, and King’s hand was subtly shaking. I motioned to the side with my head, getting a nod in return. He changed direction, and we met over by where Lucy and Dave were standing.
“Three corrupted hound archons. Can’t pierce stealth, but they have keen senses of smell.”
“Can’t say I’ve heard of them.” Dave replied. “Level?”
“Two at 200, one at 225. The lower level ones have greatswords, the main guy has armored claws. Looks like one will use poison, one fire, and the main guy lightning.” King answered. “How are we gonna play it?”
“Three options. Smoke the big guy first, ignore the smaller two. Smoke the smaller two and wait on the big guy, or we can bring them all down equally. I’ll say straight out, I’m not a fan of smoking the big guy first.”
“Me either.” Lucy agreed. “It often takes too long, and usually one of the smaller ones has some form of heal.”
“Ok, well that’s one situation eliminated. I vote we take them all down together. That way if the big boss decides to rage, we can take him down much quicker.” Dave spoke up.
“I’m fine with that.”
“Me too.” I said. “I’ll take the big guy’s group and monitor the life of all three. Dave takes the poison one, and Lucy can handle the fire one. Sound good?” They both readily agreed, and we set about getting a decent split for the group.
“Ok everyone, listen up. We have a three opponent boss battle coming up. Raider Dave is leading the group against what we believe to be a poisonous opponent, so his group will have two healers. SirMixALalalot, do you have any potions for resisting poison you can pass out to the group? Lucy’s group will be fighting the fire opponent, while my group will take on the highest level opponent. Listen carefully, because we are going to try and take their health down at about the same speed. If I call out to your group, slow down with the damage for a bit. Once our tanks have picked up their targets, King will use a skill to try and determine elemental weaknesses. I’ll leave battle plans to your individual leaders, my group please come over here.”
As we split up, I looked at my group. “It’s going to be a simple slugfest I think. From the name, ours probably has a lightning element. Brock, try and keep an earth blessing on the group. Blackthumb, try and keep him slowed if you have a poison for it. Everyone else, feel free to hit it as hard as you can. Any questions? If not, let’s check with the other groups and head out.”
Seeing the other groups finishing up, we headed towards the clearing. Because of their sense of smell, we didn’t bother with stealth.
“I knew those three from earlier couldn’t kill all the guardians that swiftly. Just as we hoped, they brought the rest of their group that reeks of the light.” Orion spoke as the raid entered the clearing. “Though there are some of you who are worse than others. From the looks of it, we each get our own paladin. Aren’t they considerate, brothers?”
“Hehehehe, looks like I got the lucky roll today brothers. The paladin glaring at me stinks of Pelor. Come little paladin, let the strongest of the Emberfang clan show you the joys of the darkness.”
“I thank you for your sacrifice in containing the evil, but your suffering is at an end. With Pelor’s might, and my friends at my back, we shall not fail.” Smiter retorted, getting a chuckle from the three archons. Without further ado, the three tanks charged in and shield bashed each of their targets.
“[Elemental barrage][Dark arrow][light arrow].” Splitting the barrage so that each of the lower level archons took at least one of each type of bolt, battle started. I checked the damage, and saw to no surprise that the Emberfang was taking more damage from the ice, while Deathtouch was taking more damage from fire.
“Ice against Emberfang, fire against Deathtouch.” I ordered the raid, and the specialized mages set about buffing their teammates with elemental damage. “King, focus on your group. Death, I want one of each elemental bolt against Orion.”
“[Ice arrow][fire arrow][stone arrow][gale arrow][light arrow][dark arrow].” Watching, it seemed that all of them did about the same damage, but I could tell that GoldGuard was taking some lightning damage from the claws of the creature.
“No elemental bonus on ours. Brock, give us a boosted defense against his lightning. We’ll just have to hit him faster than the others.”
“Brothers, howl with me!” Orion ordered, rearing his head back. “ahWOOOOOOOH!” The three howls combined to form a discomforting dissonance, sending shivers up all our backs. In addition, they all gained a high resistance to light attacks as well as increased damage to anything considered lawful or neutral.
“Healers, mind your tanks. They just boosted their damage.” Lucy called out. “[Summon: Winter’s heart][Summon: Armor spirit][Summon: Obsidian guard].” I smiled as I saw Lucy’s plan. Armor spirit to boost her team’s defense, Winter’s heart to boost ice damage, and an obsidian guard to give them a flame resistant off tank that could step in and help out.
“Keep those binding plants coming!” Dave yelled out as he hacked and slashed at his opponent. He was looking a little green from the light purple cloud around his enemy, but that’s why I had multiple healers on that group.
“[Keen edge][assassinate][crippling blows].” I got into the fray as well, targeting between the shoulder blades of Orion to hopefully slow down his attack speed. Dancing back, I couldn’t escape the extended range from his claws as he spun to attack both me and GoldGuard.
“[Thundering retribution].” The archon snarled, unleashing a burst of lightning that paralyzed both of us for one second, allowing a massive follow up punch to GoldGuard. “[Shocking overhand].” As GoldGuard stumbled from the blow, I had to act.
“[Hamstring].” Cutting across the back of Orion’s legs slowed him just enough that he couldn’t follow up with the uppercut he was winding up for.
“That the best you gut, mutt?” Gold taunted as Orion started to turn to me, only to freeze at the insult.
“I’ll show you a mutt.” He unleashed a series of attacks that Gold weathered, calmly deflecting each attack with an angled shield. Much to the boss’ frustrations. With everyone settling in to their attack patterns, we started wearing down the bosses as fast as we could.
“INSOLENT PESTS! FEEL MY WRATH!” I turned to look as Emberfang threw his greatsword at NurseJess, only to have it intercepted by the shield of Citadel. With a massive roar that froze all people in the near vicinity, as well as reflected away any magic attack, the archon changed into a massive dog. It’s shoulders were up to the chest of the obsidian guard, and each foot as well as its tail ended in flames. The drool from its mouth ignited on contact with metal, and instead of fur it had small spikes.
“Beware, those spikes are poisonous!” Smiter shouted.
“Lucy’s group, hold back on damage for a bit until we force these other two to change.” I called out, getting acknowledgements from everyone in their group.
“Transformation gives them an elemental aura.” LadyFisticuffs shouted, having gotten burned by the fire aura of the new dog. I noted it, and focused on taking down our target. Transformations seemed to occur at around 2/3 life, and we were falling behind at 75% health.
“Lucy, we need a boost over here! You got any summons to up the attack speed?” I called out.
“One second. [Dismiss: Winter’s heart]. Give me a minute cooldown, and I’ll get you something!” She called. Exactly a minute later, she was true to her word. “[Summon: Blitz Spirit].”
As the yellow spirit neared our group, I felt lighter. Everyone’s attack speed increased, and I heard Orion growl.
“Traitorous spirit! How dare you betray your betters! FORCES OF NATURE, OBEY MY ORDER! RAIN DOWN BLINDING VENGEANCE UPON THE TRAITOR AND HIS ALLIES! [THUNDER GOD’S WRATH]!” A massive spike of mana shot above us, turning into a roiling cloud bank. I tried to cover my eyes, as did some of the other members of the raid when they saw the enemy doing the same, but it made no difference. Blinding flashes of light struck so close together that the thunder was a continuous five second boom. I saw my health bar drop by over half, and immediately drank a health potion as I had to wait ten seconds for the blind and deafened debuffs to wear off.
When it cleared, I was glad I had a resurrection scroll in my hands and ready. All the healers, mages, and the berserkers from my group and Dave’s were dead, and Dave was barely hanging on with his paladin heals. Lucy’s group was far enough out that their berserkers survived, but NurseJess was in critical health and they had lost Ice Queen as well. One massive AoE attack had killed one shy of half the raid.
“Everyone go defensive! Keep the tanks alive! Guardians, resurrect your healers first. We can still win this. Once everyone is back to full we can start rezzing the DPS.” I shouted above the fray of battle, before resurrecting HolyDungeonDiver. The only really tough spot we ran into was with the poisoning bastard, but ShieldWall and GotYerBack rotated aggro with Dave almost perfectly. It took ten minutes with cooldowns to get the raid back on their feet, and another five minutes to get all the buffs back up and running, but we were back on track.
“My group and Dave’s group, back to max damage output. Lucy’s hold back just a bit longer.” I ordered, and we got back into the groove. Soon Mortax shifted into his canine form, releasing a draining aura to go along with his miasmatic breath.
“ShockerSnipe and LadyFisticuffs, switch over to Thunderclaw until we get him to the same health level as the others.” The extra damage was more than welcome, as we were starting to lag pretty far behind the other groups. Less than five minutes later, and I felt Thunderclaw was nearing his transformation stage.
“[Barrier].” He snarled, leaping away to get some room. Surveying the clearing, his eyes focused on me. “Leader. It’s obvious that you are the reason that my brothers and I have been pushed this far. Let’s see how they fare without you. Prepare yourself, for the [Touch of Evil]!” In a flash the boss was standing in front of me, both of his hands covered in a purpleish black aura. He pierced both of my sides before I could even think of reacting, and my vision flashed several times. When it was done, everything in the clearing was a hound archon, and my vision was tinted red.
“Bastard brought in healers?” I snarled, focusing on the nearest hound that was keeping the smaller ones alive. I ignored the barking laughter from behind, as I launched a blistering offensive. “[Keen edge][Storm of blades][Midnight’s kiss].” Unfortunately, a guardian hound interposed itself between me and my target, blocking nearly half of my attacks while returning a slow slash that was easily dodged. “[Savage counter]!” I growled, leaning back so the sword passed within a hair’s breadth of me, using my return to position and jamming one dagger into his side while the other swung towards his throat. “[Bloodletting].” Exacerbated by my skill, the hound’s lifeblood started pouring out as the healer frantically worked to save him.
“[Ice coffin]!” Before I could capitalize on the defenseless healer, someone had the audacity to freeze me! “Whiskers! What the hell’s gotten into you?” The hound shouted, but a part of me only heard a savage cackling.
“You can’t hold me. [Shadow form].” Using my ultimate assassin skill, I turned to shadow and slipped out of the ice. Enveloping the healer, the only part of me that became physical were my blades as they carved into his flesh. As it fell, my time in shadows came to an end and I appeared over the bloody body.
“Sorry. [Snipe shot].” I looked up just as someone released an arrow that took me in the eye.
You have died.
NaughtyNurseJess is attempting to revive you.
“What the hell was that?” I asked as I came to, only to find several blades poised to pierce several of my vital points.
“You went completely ape shit, attacking the raid.” A grim King replied.
“What? Nonsense. I was killing the. . . extra. . . hounds.” I slowed down as the implications sunk in. I wasn’t attacking more hound archons, they didn’t have time to summon that many. Plus the entirety of the raid had disappeared. “Damnit, that’s an intense spell. Berserks you, and covers all allies in the illusion of enemies. How many did I kill?”
“Only two before Shocker got you, though you did burn you daily skill.”
“Damnit, that hurts worse than the deaths. Where are we at with the battle?” I asked as they let me get to my feet. All the enemies had reverted to canine forms, and had closed in so that there were areas that were covered by multiple auras. Emberclaw was rapidly approaching critical health, and they had pared down the opponents on it to Smighter, NurseJess, Lucy, Ice Queen and Citadel. TisButAScratch had moved to help in the rotation against Deathtouch, while the rest had moved to Orion to bring him down as he had the largest remaining health pool.
“Alright. Let’s pile on the main guy, get him into critical as fast as we can before returning to take down the other two. Anyone hear the use of a skill called Touch of Evil, immediately waste the target. That’s what got me.”
“Already warned the raid, we just needed to wait and make sure it didn’t linger after death.” King said.
“Well quit standing around! Let’s show these hounds what the best guilds are capable of.” With renewed vigor, we threw ourselves into battle once again. Most of the melee DPS against Orion was forced to rotate in and out, waiting to heal. Its aura was a retribution one, sending a shock through any metallic weapon that struck the boss. This was fine though, as it allowed people to move into the limited space around the boss and helped keep them from dragging aggro away from our tanks.
I did feel bad for the tanks, as each of the dogs would use a savage mauling skill every five minutes, chomping down on the shoulder and shaking them like a rag doll before throwing them away. I had a feeling we would be needing a break to repair equipment after this battle judging by the dents in some of the plate.
“Everyone back to your original targets! Lucy’s group go at half speed! Dave and my group lay on the damage!” I yelled out, seeing Orion on the cusp of going into critical health. I could feel the morale of the raid rising by the second, and let myself grin as I saw the light at the end of the tunnel. Someone should have warned me about freight trains.
Just as the third boss dropped into critical health, all three hounds gave another discordant howl and an impenetrable barrier surrounded all three, forcing the raid members back. As we regrouped, the hounds closed together, and fused in a flash of light. The resulting creature was a thing of nightmares.
Three hound archons split a seed of evil to weaken it. As they were nearing death, the latent power of the seeds grew and overwhelmed the spirits of the once noble creatures. Fusing their bodies and powers, you now face the might of the seed of evil at full power. No good remains in this beast, and Gaia requests you put an end to this blight upon the world.
The central head was that of Orion, while the Deathtouch head was to the left and the Emberclaw to the right. Muscles bulging, sparks of electricity ran along the hide letting us know that touching it wasn’t advised. The paws had flames erupting from the claws and ankles, and there was one tail for each element. The worst part was the creature was back to full health, and was glaring at us with rage filled eyes.
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.