The morning sun is baking down on us, It’s clearly gonna be a really hot day. We are once again heading for the Eastern mountains, this region seems to have become our de facto hunting grounds, or it could just be that it’s the only area all four of us are familiar with, at least now anyway.
We’ve already left the forest and entered the plains just before the mountain range. We are headed for Sarah’s mountain pass, with the goal of scouting some more goblin camps and if the opportunity presents itself, attacking one. All the goblin camps on this side of the mountain range have already been cleared out, not just by us of course, we only took down that one camp yesterday.
I glance over to Jessica and she catches my gaze and smiles at me, she seems to have a ‘spring’ in her step. She inches closer to me while we walk and whispers, “Hey, you should get your mind out of the gutter, we’re in enemy territory here,” she says with a wily smile.
“My mind actually wasn’t in the gutter, until you mentioned it,” I jab back at her, “Now I can’t help it.”
She gives a soft chuckle. Hardoen is giving us a rather exasperated look, clearly not a fan of having his fellow party members openly flirting and Sarah is just smiling at us. Come to think of it, she’s been smiling at us most of the morning, as if she knows more than she’s letting on. A lot more!
I’ve heard that girls ‘talk’, did Jessica and Sarah chat about last night? Last night was rather extreme. The Jessica I know wouldn’t have the nerve to talk to a friend about something like that. Then again, the Jessica I know wouldn’t be able to participate in something like that. Crap, now I can’t make eye contact with Sarah.
Before I knew it, I was holding hands with Jess, while we all stroll along towards the mountain pass. She seems to be really happy. And I don’t think it’s from just a good fuck. Well I suppose we have come along way, since we first started out in this world. We slowly but surely moved up the ranks from ‘homeless’ to ‘labourers’, to ‘slime food’ and now finally ‘goblin slayers’. Actually I no longer feel all that proud of these ‘accomplishments’.
I sigh. A long way to go I guess. For that matter, where are we going? What are we heading towards? I haven't given any thought to this in a while, but how are we getting back home? I must admit I would not mind spending the rest of my life here with Jess, well, if it wasn’t for the dead-end career path.
Even I’m not so naive as to believe we can live like this forever. Eventually, some monster somewhere is going to kill us. If not, then some fucking person, begger or bandit. This is a medieval-ish setting after all and a rather unforgivingly realistic one at that. I make a mental note to myself, to start trying to investigate more of this world whenever we’re at home, I mean, in town.
Maybe I can unlock some clue on how to get back home, or maybe this ‘game’ has some kind of victory condition or an ending.
“Eeeaarrrgh!” What the fuck?
There’s someone running out of the forest, screaming like a madman. We all stop to watch, we are almost by the mountain range ourselves, so he is quite a distance away. He appears to be a ranged type fighter, equipped with a lightweight chainmail, a metal helmet and a bow. His equipment is clearly not cheap, he can’t be a low level fighter, so what the hell is he running from?
I don’t have to wait very long for this question to be answered. “Roooooaaarrr!” A giant ogre bursts from the forests treeline and sends one or two trees scattering in different directions. It’s roar is ferocious. The ogre is giving chase to the fleeing man.
“Should we try and help him, he’s going to die,” Sarah asks.
“Leave him,” Jessica coldly answers. I look at her with a dumb expression on my face, she just condemned him to death so easily.
Hardoen picks up on the atmosphere and defends Jessica’s decision, “Only an attack from Sarah could stop something like that and any spell powerful enough to kill it would no doubt also kill that man as well.”
“Hey, shouldn’t we at least try?” I plead.
But Sarah herself buts in, “And what happens if my spell doesn’t kill the ogre, do you think it will just let us leave after attacking it?”
I have no recourse for this and can only watch helplessly as the ogre catches up to the man. It raises its giant club and with just one fearsome swing the man is gone. There isn’t a trace of him left, least none that can be seen from this distance.
“Hey, Hardoen. Didn’t you say that another party killed that thing?”
“No. I said that a couple of days ago I overheard a party that was talking about tracking down and killing that thing. And from the looks of how pissed off that ogre was, I’d say they managed to track it down in the end, but the idiots were clearly underestimating their quarry.”
I heard from Hardoen, who apparently had studied up on ogre’s after our first encounter with one, that aside from hunting wildlife for food, they are relatively passive mobs. Likely the only reason this one is chasing down humans was because it was attacked by them.
“Hey guys, I think that thing is looking this way.”
Jessica’s right, the ogre is staring right at us. And then, without warning, it breaks into a run, heading straight for us.
“Run!” Hardoen screams. “Too the slime cave, it can’t fit in there!”
We all start running as fast as we can. It was a good idea, the entrance to the slime cave, or at least the one that we know of is close by. The slimes have already been eradicated a while ago by another party, based on the fact that the guild removed its quest from the notice board.
I chance a glance over my shoulder, as I can hear the ogre’s footsteps clearly now. What!. He’s almost on top of us, and so fucking quickly. How fast can this thing run! We are not going to make it the cave in time, no chance.
“We won’t make it! Sarah attack it!” I shout after her.
“Forget it,” Hardoen shouts back, “It takes too long to charge a powerful spell, we’ll be dead before then.”
We are still running as fast as our legs will carry us, but I can already feel the ogre’s presence behind us. I feel the air shifting behind me. I know this feeling, we are dead. Hardoen glances back over his shoulder and his eyes go wide.
“Respite!” I hear a crashing sound and turn back in time to see the ogre’s club crashing up against respites barrier. The club does not shatter this time. The ogre probably didn’t strike it as hard as last time, owed to the fact that he was swinging it while chasing us.
Of course none of us stopped running for a second, even while the ogre was busy regaining his balance. Only Hardoen stumbled momentarily after casting Respite while running. No doubt the sudden loss of most of his energy, mid stride made him lose balance a bit.
My lungs are on fire, I can’t breath. I’ve never run this hard before. I glance to Jessica who seems to be no better off, even though here equipment is lighter than mine. I can feel the ogre on top of us again, but the cave is still a little way off. Dammit! We were so close.
There’s no way Hardoen can use respite a second time in a row and if we don’t do something right now, we’re done for. No choice but to try it. I feel the air pressure change again, no doubt the ogre’s raised his club, ready for another swing. If I don’t do something right now we will all die, Jessica included.
I dig my right foot into the ground and bring myself to a stop. As I hold my shield out firmly in front of me, I hear Jessica shout back at me, “Mich-”, followed by a groan of pain. Silly girl, I smile to myself, don’t use my real name.
I brace myself for the impact from the incoming club and then, “Unwavering stance!”
The club collides with my shield. Wind tears past my face on either side, bruising my cheeks and drowning out the sound of my surroundings completely. Bits of grass and dirt are flying up all around in a cloud of sand, but it doesn’t move me an inch, I stand firm.
The power behind that blow, my god! It sent a shockwave throughout my entire body. I can’t feel a thing, everything is numb and lifeless. My vision is fading. I’m pretty sure the impact from that blow has shattered every nerve and bone in my body.
I am so out of breath. On my hands and knees I pant aimlessly. It is dark, I can’t see a damn thing. Fuck! This is bad. I call out, “Is everyone alright?” It is getting brighter all of a sudden, Sarah has cast some kind of spell. I can see a bit better now.
I seek out Misty, she is sitting nearby with her knees bent and hands folded around her legs, rocking herself back and forward in a soothing motion.
We ran deep into the caves, falling over ourselves while we ran inside the pitch black darkness of the caves, to get a safe distance away from the ogre. I’m pretty sure I bumped my head into a stalactite, it really hurts and feels warm, it’s probably bleeding. Actually everything hurts, I’m completely drained.
After ‘Unwavering stance’ was used, I grabbed Misty and pulled her along to the cave, she appeared to be in a great deal of pain. Luckily that last move bought us the time we needed to get there. Unfortunately I don’t know what happens after this. The ogre is still hanging around the cave entrance, clearly upset that his prey got away.
I feel nauseous, that blow was too much, even I couldn’t handle that. Misty appears to be in shock, she isn’t moving an inch, other than rocking herself back and forward soothingly.
After ‘Unwavering stance’ was used, not only did Aluarc stand his ground, but the ogre had a lot of trouble trying to pick him up. We used the chance to escape. Sarah and I dragged Misty, kicking and screaming, into the cave.
There was no point in trying to attack the ogre and rescue Aluarc, he was motionless and I don’t mean from the effects of ‘Unwavering stance’ either, he was probably dead on impact.
Just before we entered the cave, the three of us were treated to the wonderful sight of the effects of ‘Unwavering stance’ wearing off. The ogre was finally able to pick Aluarc up and eat him.