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I stare into the bottom of my empty mug, where the last of my mead used to be. This is tough. Just the thought of going out there again, scares the shit out of me. But I know that I currently have no other means of a livelihood. I know it must be done.

It goes without saying that I will double down on my efforts to find an alternative means of earning a living. Who knows how much longer I can last like this.

Also from now on I need to work even harder to gather information on my surrounding, people, quests, monsters and their weaknesses and behaviour patterns. I thought I was doing really well with this up till now, but clearly there’s room for improvement.

Sarah comes down the stairs and approaches my table.

“How is she?”

Sarah shakes her head. “As ‘bout as well as can be expected. She’s awake but, she won’t come out of her room. I had to practically force feed her.”

Aluarc died three days ago. We waited until nightfall that day, before we worked up the courage to leave that cave, even though the ogre had grown bored and left after the first hour already. Misty’s been holed up in her room ever since.

“Things can’t stay like this. We need to join another party.”

“What! She just watched her boyfriend get eaten and you’re already abandoning her!” Sarah practically snarled the words at me through her teeth.

“I didn’t say we should abandon her. Don’t put words in my mouth. But, we need to work, we need money to survive. I’m sure you have some savings, you’ve been at this a while, but I’m running out. I need to get back at it.”

Sarah glares at me with a fiery gaze, “You go work then! If Misty runs out of money, she can just move in with me.” Her fiery gaze cools down and is replaced with one of cold disgust. She turns on her heel and walks away, back upstairs. She turns left at the top of the stairs, no doubt heading back to her own room as Misty’s room is the second on the right.

I sigh. My words maybe cold and my motives impure, but it doesn’t mean they aren’t true. Survival isn’t such a kind thing as to step aside and leave room for compassion. I have a feeling I now have no choice but to find a different party, but that’s problematic in its own way.

I get up and start walking towards the stairs. It’s worth a shot to take one more crack at Misty before enacting such a measure. Let’s see if I can raise her from the dead. I climb the stairs and turn right. Maybe I can use a motive of revenge or something like that, after all she has gotten quite blood thirsty these days.

I knock on the door. “It’s me Hardoen.” There is no answer. “I’m coming in.” I slowly open the door and enter the room.

Misty is lying on her bed, facing the wall, in a fetal position. She is motionless, clutching a dagger in her hands. Normally I would be concerned about suicidal tendencies, but Sarah had already told me about the dagger that she had received as a gift from Aluarc.

I close the door behind me and stand there staring at Misty. Actually I have no fucking idea what to say. Was this a bad idea? I mean honestly, I am not a peoples person, I don’t even have any friends.

Fuck it I’ve come this far. I walk over to the bedside and prepare myself to play the tough love card.

There is a thunderous crashing sound. My mind doesn’t have time to even process what is happening. The roof is falling in. The floor is splitting and rending. Myself, the bed, the cupboard are all being flung towards the window-side wall.

Arrgh. The pain. Everything hurts. I can feel the warmth of blood all around me, probably my own. And I definitely have more than a few broken bones. “Heal!” I begin self healing.

While my magic is doing it’s work I try to get my bearings. I’m on the ground, dirt ground. There is also debri on top of me. I can see faint light slipping through the cracks of the debri, very faint. I have no choice but to wait until my healing is finished.

As soon as the healing is finished and I confirm full control of my motor functions, I begin pushing through the debri that is on top of me. It was not that much luckily, just a bunch of wood and stuff.

It’s dark outside, have I been lying here the entire day? No, that’s not quite right, it doesn’t seem so much like there is not light, but rather that it is being blocked out. There is a thick black fog hanging in the air, limiting visibility to little more than twenty meters I’d say.

I take in my surroundings, what little of it I can see. I spot Misty lying on the ground nearby, there is debri all around her. She is wrapped up in her bedding, with the mattress she was resting on covering her.

I quickly rush to her side and start healing her. She doesn’t seem to have sustained any major injuries, probably protected by the bedding and shielded by the matress. Okay, healings almost done, she’s waking up.

I look around once more. This wreckage seems to be what’s left of O’Brians tavern, which is too say, not much. “Sarah!” “Sarah!”

I try calling out for her a few times, but I don’t know if she’s even here. I don’t know if she’s alive or dead, or how much time has passed since whatever the hell happened here.

“Hardoen.” Misty is slowly getting up, “What happened here?” Her eyes go wide, “Is this the inn? Where’s Sarah!”

“I have no idea. I woke up to this mess.” Parts of the wreckage are on fire, there is a very thick and strangling smell of smoke and ash present in the air.

“Saraaaah!” Misty starts screaming hysterically while clawing away at the rubble. I consider helping her, but my thoughts are cut short by an unbelievably loud crashing sound. A shockwave ripples through the ground, it’s so intense that Misty and I are thrown to the ground and some if the debri even goes flying into the air.

“What the fuck!”

Flat on my back I can see the sky, or at least the black murkiness, where the sky should have been. A faint light catches my eye. I squint to try and make out more detail, but instead notice that there are several faint lights. They are getting closer and larger by the second.

Wait a second, I have seen something very similar to this before! I jump to my feet and grab Misty’s arm, “We have to go, now!”

“No, what? We have to find Sarah!”

“There’s no time,” I use all my strength to rip her away from the debri and not a second too late. I giant fireball comes crashing down nearby, into the debri. It explodes with tremendous force and bits of debri and shrapnel fly outwards from the impact.

“Respite!” We watch in horror as all manner of shrapnel, stones, wood and fire spews against respites invisible barrier. That was close. A moment later and we both would of been shredded to pieces.

“Let’s go, there’s more where that came from!” I jerk Misty along by her hand and we start running. Fireballs start raining down all around us, with deafening explosions and intense heat. Shit if one of those things lands even close to us, we’re done for.

“Protection!” I cast one of my buff spells while we run. It should protect us from some physical damage and offer a little bit of magic resistance, just a little mind you. We are forced to turn left as the road ahead is blocked off by a literal ‘wall of fire’.

We carry on running down the path. I can hear many fireballs crashing to the earth in the distance. The air is filled with the smell of soot and the sound of people screaming. We pass one or two burnt corpses and parts of bodies. A lot of the buildings have already been reduced to piles of fire and rubble, with debri scattered about all over. The debri is making it very hard to run.

A fireball comes crashing down on a still intact house to our left. It explodes and as the house caves in, wood and stone are sent flying in all directions. Some of the rubble and bits of flame hits us, knocking us over. But thanks to the buff, this much isn’t enough to cause serious injury.

I quickly help Misty to her feet and we carry on running. “Where are we going?”

“Out of town. Anywhere but here!”

I lead Misty onto a stone bridge, that crosses the main stream that runs through the town. We pause momentarily to catch our breath and I try to again survey our surroundings. The fog is a little bit lighter here. Does that mean it has an epicenter. The location of whoever or whatever is attacking this town?

An impossibly large stream of fire comes sailing through the air a ways off, to the right hand side of the bridge (eastwards). It causes a new ‘wall of fire’ that reaches high into the air. This stream of flames running from south to north starts inching its way towards our position at the bridge, the heat is so intense if feels like my skin is going to be fried right off my bones, even though the firestream is still some fifteen meters away.

It starts moving towards us really quickly all of a sudden! I only have a second or two to act, before we are incinerated. I dive-tackle Misty, off of the opposite side of the bridge and we plummet into the ravine below.

I look up from under the water of the ravine. The surface is glowing an intense yellow-white. Misty is struggling in my arms, thrashing around wildly, trying to swim upwards. I had to move quickly, I didn’t have a chance to tell her to hold her breath. I tighten my grip on her and pull her back down, even though I know she is busy drowning. I’m sorry Misty, but drowning is the better option at this moment, the surface of the water is still glowing yellow, the fire hasn’t passed yet.

Another thirty seconds passes before the fire goes out. The water is so hot at this point I am at risk of getting burns. I quickly drag Misty to the surface, and onto the embankment. She has already lost consciousness.

“Heal!” No that doesn’t seem to do anything, time to kick it old school. I begin performing CPR on her. A little while later she finally coughs up the water on her lungs. While she’s coughing profusely, I perform a little healing magic on her, it seems to help this time.

“Are you alright?”

“You tried to fucking drown me!” I flinch back a little bit as I realise she is still clutching her dagger. I can’t believe she held onto it, even while she was drowning! Actually It’s a good thing she didn’t stab me with it back there.

“Look around you, it was necessary!” I respond assertively.

Misty looks around and her eyes go wide. The world is on fire. There is nothing but fire and rubble in every direction. There are more surfaces on fire than those that are not. This is hell on earth. If hell was an actual place I’d imagine that this is what it would actually look like.

“We have to leave, now! Can you move?”

Misty nods and gets up, seemingly fine.

I lead the way and Misty follows. I have been trying to head in a northerly direction, at least where I assume north to be. It’s not exactly easy to tell amidst all of this. We climb up the embankment and start weaving between buildings that are on fire.

“Eeeaarrrgh!” A screaming person runs by in front of us, he is covered in a large blanket of flames. It’s a child. Misty gasps at the sight, and starts moving to chase after him, but I grab onto her arm and pull her away. She turns to glare at me, but I ignore her.

We don’t have the luxury of saving other people right now and what would she even do if she chased him down. I forcefully pull her along and after a little while she stops resisting.

A large crashing sound comes from my left. Something fell down. We pause for a moment to wait for the dust to settle. It’s some kind of monster, a long and humongous snake-like monster. I can’t see either end of the thing and it’s diameter is about the size of a tavern or an inn.

The snake like thing starts moving towards us at an alarming rate. “Run,” I lead Misty in the opposite direction. Is it rolling towards us, it’s moving sideways, sweeping up people and entire buildings as it goes. I notice that there is a gap below the snake-like thing, there definitely wasn’t one before.

It’s about to strike us. I quickly pull Misty to the ground with me. The snake thing lifts up and flys just over our heads, raining bits of debri on top of us as it passes by. It continues swinging itself into the air, into the darkness and out of sight.

“What the fuck was that?” Misty practically screams at me.

I help her to her feet and we carry on running ‘north-ish’. “I think it was a tail!” There are bits of people, blood and guts smeared all along the path that the tail moved through. I feel like I’m gonna be sick. Misty also looks really pale.

Woah. I stop dead in my tracks and Misty crashes into me from behind, but I don’t care. I had to get out the way of a galloping horse that was passing by. The horse itself was on fire, a true visage of the apocalypse if ever I’ve seen one.

I feel a sharp pain in my chest. There’s a sword sticking out of it! The man that put it there shoves me out of the way forcing me to the ground. Aaah fuck, it hurts. The man then grabs onto Misty and tries to pull her with him. What he’s trying to kidnap her in the middle of all this!

I mean she’s gorgeous, but come on, how about a little self preservation instinct first! I use all of strength to pull the sword from my chest, god it hurts. And start applying healing magic. I look up at Misty and the man still trying to grab onto her.

“Don’t fucking touch me!” She growls at him and pushes her dagger so hard into his stomach that she ends up driving him right up against the side of a burning building. She retracts the blade and stabs him in the gut twice in rapid succession, while grunting at him ferociously through her teeth.

She then pulls her dagger out of his gut sharply, leaving a trail of blood. She instantly twirls the dagger around in her fingers and seizes the handle in a reverse-grip. She slashes upward with a long stroke in a lightning fast move, slashing the man all the way across his body, chest and through his throat.

The man loses all strength and slides down the wall gurgling on his own blood. Misty is panting heavily. She looks to me sharply with a fire in her eyes. I can’t help flinch for a moment, before I realise that she’s actually on my side. I think.

My healing is done and she helps me to my feet. We carry on running and pass a couple of children sitting on the ground crying next to someones corpse, probably their mother. Misty spots the sight and I increase my grip on her hand, without slowing down at all. Misty doesn’t offer any resistance this time, but instead looks away from them in a very forced manner. I can see by the look in her eyes, her heart is breaking.

We jump over the wall that surrounds the town and carry on running through an open field. I can see more fireballs raining down in the distance to either side of us. The fog is much lighter now, however we don’t stop for a second.

We reach the edge of the northern forest and carry on running. The ground turns into a steep upward slope, but we don’t slow down at all and keep running / climbing as bushes and branches scrape away at us.

We pass into a large clearing in the forest as the we continue climbing the hill. Just before we exit the clearing and head back into forest, I pause and turn back to face the town.

From here we have a pretty good view of the entire town in the distance and I am shocked by what I see. The entire town is covered in a black smog, with only the taller bonfires and piles of rubble sticking out and being visible. The smog is mostly lying low above the town and does not reach up very high.

The real issue is the thing that’s towering above the smog. An impossibly large black beast. It’s so black it almost can’t be made out against the night sky. The beast has two heads and a long tail, it is so large that the span of its body cover most of the town and if it were to stand on its hind legs I am confident its heads would touch the clouds.

One of the heads is currently busy spewing a massive stream of fire at the town that is barely hidden in the smog. Misty is also staring at the spectacle with a mixture of awe and horror. What the fuck is an end game level boss doing wiping out a beginner's town! What the fuck is with the game balance here!

“Come on, we’re getting the fuck out of here!” I declare as I lead Misty back into the forest.

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About the author

devblazer

  • South Africa

Bio: I am a Javascript developer and shut-in with a tinge of chuuni. I write for my own personal enjoyment and don't give a 'frell' beyond that

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