A pair of hungry eyes watches from the shadows between two buildings. A group of four strolls out of the tavern. It’s target is amongst them. It watches with a mild hint of irritation and impatience as the girl is moving away from him, increasing the distance, slipping away from him.
Not for long though, not for long. I missed my chance with you, but we won’t let you slip through our fingers again. He licks his lips thinking about the moment he will have her, oooooh the taste, it will feel so good. He is certain, no conquest can be sweeter than the one that got away.
He beckons to the others in the shadows with him, come, lets go. The man to his right scoffs, “We would of had her if you weren’t such a chicken.” He simply glares at the man and then carries on retreating into the shadows.
We exit the forest. It was not a very big one, we had only been walking for about three hours since we accepted the quest. At any rate, I assume it’s about three hours, it’s not like I have any accurate way to tell time over here. It’s a bright and sunny day with a light breeze. Or at least it was a light breeze, it seems to be getting a bit more windy as time wears on, but either way it feels pleasant.
The biggest concern was apparently wild animals attacking us, especially the monster variety of them. Monster seems to be a generic catch all phrase for anything ranging from demons to dragons, humanoids and even a cute furry little creature called a scubble? That last one is apparently especially dangerous. Compared to a dragon in the same sentence, seriously? Apparently, generally speaking, any creature that wasn’t around before the war gets labelled monster, so it pretty much means unnatural creature I guess.
There’s clearly a lot to learn in this world, I could really use a wiki right about now. Hardoen seemed to be especially concerned about something called a rabid squirrel. But honestly going on the name alone, they don’t sound all that bad. Fortunately while we saw one or two different types of passive mobs on the way here, nothing actually attacked us.
If I didn’t know why we were here, I’d say we were on a leisurely hiking trail in the warm afternoon sun. Jessica also seems to be in high spirits. Maybe the calm before the storm, who knows. We have already made our way across an open field and started approaching the foot of the mountain.
The area over here turns from flat grassy plain into a rocky mountain side almost instantly, but this only goes on about a kilometer in either direction. To the North side of the mountain, it curves around a bit and meets the forest, with trees starting to climb up the side as the mountain seems to lessen in slope as it goes on. To the South side it retreats away from the forest line a bit and also lessens in slope.
The directions Hardoen got for the quest must have been spot on, as I can clearly see a cave entrance near the base of the mountain side just up ahead. Everyone starts slowing down their former brisk hiking-pace.
As we get closer to the cave entrance, I can’t help but have a sense of foreboding, I can see Jessica also seems to be stiffening up quite a bit. The cave is really dark, I can’t see into it at all. We did not bring any light sources with, as Sarah assured us that she can easily create fire sprites as a light source. They are apparently small little pets made of fire and while they have absolutely zero attack power can be useful as a light source, seeing as how they will follow the caster around.
Hardoen breaks the silence, “Alright this is it, I guess.”
Wait ‘I guess?’! He did not sound confident at all, I seriously had him pegged for a more senior adventurer, level two or not. Fuck, we’ve come this far I can’t afford to get cold feet now, so I steel my resolve and remember what I’m fighting for.
Just then Sarah starts throwing a few loud whistling noises out in rapid succession, like she’s calling a fucking bird or something. I have to immediately quell the urge to punch her, what the fuck is she doing. No, wait a second. I think I’m the one that’s way too nervous here, she seems quite calm and composed. Isn’t luring the monsters out if you can the smart thing to do? As opposed to jumping into the dark with them, which now by contrast, seems utterly moronic. I have to wonder at this point, if I'm actually an idiot.
Calm down Michael, seriously, calm the fuck down.
My thoughts are interrupted by a sound of something softly grinding against the dirt, like the kind of sound you would hear if you were riding a bicycle tyre against soft dirt. And then it appears. A gelatinous blob comes crawling out, or is it rolling? I can’t quite tell.
This creature, a slime, looks like a giant blob of jelly about the size of a basketball. Its body is majorically transparent in a murky water kind of way and it is a purplish-grey color. There are no other discernible features, it is quite simply, just ‘a slime’.
Upon closer inspection this thing is quite slow moving and does not seem like a threat at all. Sure there are now several slimes emerging from the cave and joining their friend as it rolls, no crawls, no. Fuck it, as it crolls across the ground towards us.
Jess apparently felt like show time was over, as in that moment, she released a crossbow bolt straight into the nearest one. It seemed to stop it in its tracks.
I had asked Jess earlier on whether or not she could even figure out how to use the damn thing, as I had already sold her to the group as the ‘ranged attacker’ and as such, this was a massive oversight on my part. But she assured me that she could, and loaded a bolt from her quiver into the crossbow right in front of my eyes, in a matter of seconds. It would seem that the skills and characteristics of our assigned classes become inherent knowledge. Would certainly explain why I was able to hold my own against that man with the dagger and why I didn’t die outright.
The slime with the arrow planted firmly in it, started moving again. Now the arrow was bobbing around in weird directions as it carried on crolling towards me. I could hear Hardoen performing a small chant somewhere behind me, probably some kind of a buff. At that moment I felt a strange sensation flow through me, my body felt lighter, but at the same time stronger and my sword and shield had a faint shimmer too them.
Jessica released another arrow at the ‘injured?’ slime. This time the bolt passed right through it and buried itself in the sand. The slime just carried on like nothing even happened. It would seem that the strengthening buff just made Jessica’s crossbow even more useless against these things.
Well, I guess I’m up. I walk up to the clearly not injured slime and take a nice big swing at it with my sword. I manage to bury my sword deep in it, albeit a little off center and it causes a spray of blood, no more like just droplets of the slime to fly out in all directions. The slime itself cries out in pain with a sound reminiscent of a squealing pig crossed with a dying bat or something. Wait do slimes even have voice boxes in the first place?
This thought is interrupted by an intense burning sensation on my left cheek, I can’t help but groan out loud in pain and wince away. It would seem like a drop of the slime landed there and that they are apparently made out of fucking jello-acid, good to know. I glance back over to the slime I chopped in two, only to find that it has been freed from the crossbow bolt that was stuck inside it and now instead, it is two smaller blobs that are each crolling forward all willy-nilly without a care in the fucking world.
I groan to myself subconsciously. I am officially upgrading these fuckers to a medium threat level, it’s going on my wiki page I tell you! I heal my cheek quickly, raise my shield to try and prevent any more ‘splash damage’ and start hacking away at the little vermin until it’s julienned into nice and tiny little pieces. It seems if the pieces get to about an eighth of their original size they become ‘dumb’ and can’t really move around, any smaller than that and they appear to just ‘die?’ Fuck this is gonna be a long day.
I hear Hardoen chanting another spell and wait for him to finish before I go after another slime, they are still appearing from the cave by the way, there are at least a dozen of them now.
“I buffed all our weapons ‘holy wrath’, they should deal some holy-magic damage now.”
Another slime has crolled close to me so I try the new buff out and take a swing at it. There is less ‘splash’ this time and more ooomph. The slime cries out in pain and ripples like jelly that has been hit by a powerful blunt force. In addition to this the area around the spot where I hit it starts dissolving into, well, nothing. I smile, this will do nicely.
With that Hardoen also comes to the front and takes a whack at a slime with a very similar result. It’s a lot safer to do now, with the reduced splash. Even more slimes are still pouring out of the cave, just how many of these things are there?
Jess starts approaching as well, but I quickly signal her to stay back, she only has a dagger after all, even with the buff the weapons range is too short, it would be too dangerous for her.
I get ready to go after the next slime, but as I approach it, it seems to be trying to back off. Or more like it’s failing to do even that and sort of just scrunching up into a tighter ball. It gives the impression it’s cowering in fear. Aaah. What’s the matter, slimy wimy afwaid. Well eat shit and die.
I raise my sword to dispose of the nuisance in front of me, but that’s when it happened.
The slime all of a sudden shot towards my face like a bullet, I was so surprised that I fell over backwards landing on my ass. As a result I got to watch the slime shoot through the air over my head and land some twenty meters behind me. SERIOUSLY! I mean SERIOUSLY! Fuck this game.
I turn towards the mass of slimes approaching and sure enough several of them have tightened themselves into tight little balls. I shout out “Incoming!”
And just like that several more start flying through the air. Jessica shrieks as one whizzes past her shoulder, Hardoen hisses as one grazes by the outer side of his left thigh, singeing his pants and I assume his leg a little.
“Kill them quickly!” I’m not even sure who said that, but I had already tried to start killing as many as I can, as quickly as I can. I hack at each one two or three times as hard as I can, leaving them in pieces just small enough that they can’t move around too well and pose a minimal threat, then I move onto the next one as quickly as I can. It’s a race against time here as more of the things keep coming out of the cave and sooner or later someone's gonna get seriously injured, probably sooner than later mind you.
I keep hacking away, so does Hardoen and Sarah. Wait why is Sarah hitting them with her staff? I mean I get that it’s buffed with magic damage, but she’s a spell caster right, shouldn’t she, I don’t know, cast some fucking spells! Unfortunately I am in no position to ask her right now. Jessica is also firing crossbow bolts one after the other, but even with the magic damage buff, they still aren’t doing much against the slimes other than dissolving a tiny portion of them as they pass through them, for the most part, harmlessly.
A slime comes flying at me, but I manage to get my shield up in time and it splatters against it, the impact of which causes me to take a step or two backwards to keep from falling over. Aaargh, shit. My foot feels like it’s on fire, I stepped on a piece of slime and it started burning through my sandal.
Now that I look around there are pieces of hacked up slime everywhere, this place has become a minefield. Just then I hear a sharp blood curdling scream of pain. I turn to face Jessica as she stumbles backwards.
My blood freezes. A slime has struck her squarely in the left side of her abdomen. It is dripping or kind of rolling down her, as gravity goes to work on it, eventually plopping to the ground, but not before searing a large portion of her lower body. Jessica is still screaming in pain and she stumbles backwards a bit more before landing on her ass a little bit away from the slime on the ground.
I have already started running towards her but a slime comes hurtling towards me and crashes against my shield mid-stride, causing me to completely fly off balance and fall to the ground. I quickly look up and see that Hardoen is already by Jessica’s side, he swings his short staff with one hand like a golf club and strikes the slime squarely, sending it hurtling away like a golf ball.
He kneels down by Jessica and starts healing her. She is sobbing profusely and I can smell the smell of her burnt flesh all the way from over here. Fuck. I get to my feet and look around again. We are all covered in various burns from all the flying bits and pieces of the slimes, but only Jessica has taken a life threatening hit like that so far.
Not only that but we are completely surrounded on all sides, the little fuckers have been jumping all over the place, it’s a miracle we haven't all been melted away already. What’s worse there are still more coming out of that damn cave. There must be at least a hundred slimes that’s come out of there already, most of which are still alive and kicking I might add.
Sarah has finally started using magic and is busy hurling some fireballs around, but they look seriously weak. Some of the slimes are evading them and the ones that get hit only take a little bit of damage. I take a swing out a nearby slime that clearly wants to ‘jump’ me and cause it to reconsider its purpose in life, even if just for a moment.
Jessica seems to be healed, but she is still sitting on the ground sobbing. The left side of her pants is in tatters and her crotch is practically hanging out. I glare at Hardoen instinctively, but it’s for no practical reason in particular, as it seems he hasn’t even noticed and already rushed off to carry on slime-bashing.
Not a moment later and Hardoen’s been floored be a slime that took a decidedly unhealthy looking bite out of his right foot and another has collided with my shield arm, oh god it hurts. My arm, shield still attached is dangling, it must of burned away the tendons or something.
Fuck, fuck. We are going to die here, there’s no way we live through this. I muster all my strength and shout, “SARAH, DO SOMETHING!” Sarah looks at me with a nervous look on her face. I’m busy applying some healing to my arm but its not as effective as a priests healing spells, Hardoen seems to have already finished healing his foot, which at the time looked to be in way worse shape than my arm, and he is busy standing up.
I glance angrily at Sarah again “NOW, ALREADY!”
Sarah seems to find her resolve or something and starts chanting a spell. Another slime comes flying past my face, singing my eyebrow. “--alyeoht,” Sarah seems to have finished her chant and fire starts flowing from her staff in all kinds of waving patterns fanning out in all directions. She appears to be using her free hand to try and control it, or direct it. The ‘living flames’ keep expanding in all directions and keep changing color from its initial red, to yellow and now even a bright white color.
The heat is incredible, I can feel it all the way from over here, the air in the area is shimmering violently. Actually I’m a bit worried about where this is going. I notice the slimes have already started retreating in all directions. Is it that bad hey? I call out to Sarah, “That’s enough they’re on the run,” but she can’t seem to hear me. She seems to be muttering something.
“Shit. No. no nonono, come on. Fuck,” she turns towards us and shouts, “LOOK OUT!”
The brilliant white flames start running wild in all directions, completely out of control, like wild galloping stallions arching through the air. One such blade of fire sweeps through the air and curves downwards heading straight for me. I dive out the way and roll across the grass, it passes by me, the heat is indescribable, it feels like my skin is on fire.
It arched through the ground where I was standing and right back up into the air. Only, there isn’t ground there anymore, just a empty crevice in its wake, surrounded by blackened, scarred and molten earth! If that had hit me, there wouldn’t even be dust left of me.
Most of the dancing ‘fire blades?’ are concentrated in one or two directions, I take off to where Jessica and Hardoen are, that directions seems to be safest. Sarah seems to also have realised this and is running towards the same spot.
I get there first, Jessica looks up to me with tears still in her eyes, then her eyes go wide, “Your hand!”
I look down at my hand, only its missing three fingers! Holy shit! Instead there are three blackened stumps where they used to be. I didn’t even feel a thing. I guess I zigged when I should have zagged.
“I got it,” Hardoen immediately starts healing my hand and the fingers start regenerating. A priests healing spells really are on a different level, but just as I’m thinking that, he adds, “I don’t think I have enough energy for any more spells after this, I’ve used too much already.”
Sarah catches up to us, but just as she does we hear the squealing of numerous slimes. I look up and the fire blades have made their way over to a large group of the running or should I say hopping away slimes and are proceeding to summarily incinerate them.
There are fewer blades now, they seem to be whittling down. Each time one of them comes into contact with a slime though, the shear heat causes the slime to explode into a cloud of purple hazy gas. It really is a bizarre sight to watch them go poof each time. The four of us just sit, all battered, bruised and charred, gawking at the bizarre sight. Poof. Poof. Poof.
Sarah starts coughing and soon all we start coughing. Only now do I realize the wind has picked up considerably and has carried a quite a lot of the purple clouds across the field in various directions.
“Shit, we need to get out of here, this is bad,” even as Hardoen exclaims that my vision is already a bit foggy, the clouds must be toxic. By the sounds of the ‘poofing’ still happening in the distance, the fire blades are still hard at work.
I help Jessica up, but just as I do two of the fire blades come careening across the battlefield apparently seeking out the slimes still running way on the opposite end. All four of us have to ‘hit the deck’ or jump out of the way to avoid them as they fly by to the other side.
Helping each other up again, the fog has gotten even thicker and the fire blades have gotten to working on their new targets. My vision is getting even hazier and I’m having a hard time breathing.
“This way,” I hear someone call out, “we have to get downwind.” I don’t know who said it, at this point all I can hear is a mix of people coughing and wheezing as they gasp for air. Nonetheless, I fumble for Jessica’s hand and lead her, stumbling forward, in what I think is the direction of the voice. The purple fog is so think at this point that I can’t see more than five meters in front of me. I no longer hear poofing sounds, the fire blades must all have died out by now.
“Come on, *cough*, hurry.”
I can’t see straight my vision is fucked, Jessica keeps stumbling and I have to keep pulling her up and along. But it seems to be paying off, the fog seems to be clearing, or are we leaving it? We are already back in the forest, the mountain to our right.
Jessica is passed out completely now and I’m currently dragging her I think, my chest is on fire, I can’t seem to get air into it anymore. I spot Sarah and Hardoen up ahead, Sarah seems to be unconscious on the ground and Hardoen has fallen to his knees and is busy collapsing next to her.
I’m getting closer to them, but I don’t have the strength to lift my feet any more. I’m on the ground and Jessica is face down in the dirt, did we trip and fall? I see more purple clouds approaching from the mountain. No those aren’t clouds, they are more slimes! Was there more entrances to their cave, oh fuck.
I lay there motionless, my vision spinning out of control, as the darkness threatens to take me. I look over to Hardoen and notice Sarah is now standing up, no, that can’t be she’s lying down right? Finally my body gives out and the world fades to black.