Norman Stone cursed his luck to have met such barbarians out here. He thought he could pilfer and trick the rebels who will be desperate for the supplies he was delivering and force them to concede to the full payment despite only delivering half of the agreed amount of supplies.

If it wasn't for those strangely dressed barbarians with black grey war paint's interference, he would have succeeded. Norman leaned over to his chief guard and spoke in a low voice, "Can your men take them out?"

The grizzled looking old war veteran, shooked his head slightly and replied back in a low voice, "They got us surrounded, if you look closely at the trees around us, you can catch a glimpse of them following us."

Norman jerked his head around in surprise, and stared intently at the surrounding trees, trying to spot the barbarians following them.

"Save your effort, they are very hard to spot," The chief guard said, "those damn leaves, twigs and strange clothing makes them almost invisible in the forest. Even the war paint serves to hide them."

"If word got out to the boss that we ripped his clients off..." Norman twisted his coat tail nervously. "We are in big trouble..."

His chief guard just gave a shrug, "Well, think of how to survive this first before thinking of tomorrow!"

The wagons creaked as they followed the direction given by the three Marines, following a freshly cleared trail around the massive tree roots and towards the distant towering mountain peaks. The moving was slow, as the caravans had to maneuver around the trees despite a trail clearly marked and cleared by the Marines days before. So far, the caravan managed to avoid most of the weaker and lower willed monsters with the usage of the monster repellant, but on the third day of travel, they have gotten a close encounter.


Private Lenn walking point cocked his head to the side as he thought he heard something. He paused and raised his left hand up in a fist, signaling his section mates to halt and take a kneeling position. He crouched low and slowly and steadily crept forward to observe the terrain in front of him. Once in the cover of a tree root, he slowly removed his motion detector and scanned his surroundings, but there were no return signals on his scanners except for the convoy's movement at the rear.

He paused, his sixth sense was telling him something is wrong ahead, the forest was too quiet like it was holding its breath, waiting for something. That was when he heard a soft hissing from the trees. He froze and only moving his eyes upwards and saw a large coiled shape in the trees, several meters away.

The dark bronze scales blend the giant serpent almost perfectly against the tree trunks, the only give away is the hissing the snake made as it tasted the air with its tongue. The creaking and squeaking of the wagons grew louder, as Pvt Lenn stared at the side of the snake. He did not dare to look directly at the eyes as it might sense him, so he used the corner of his eyes to carefully observe it. A trickle of sweat slowly rolled down his eye and he ignored the stinging sensation of his eye and very softly, he touched his mike key and radioed his sergeant. "Contact, big snake on a tree ahead, over!" He whispered softly.

A second later, two burst of static replied him, indicating the message was received. Pvt Lynn slowly readied his shotgun as he waited for orders to come and kept watch on the snake. Suddenly the creaking and squeaking sounds from the wheels of the wagon at the rear stopped, and the giant snake jerked its massive diamond shaped head up and gave a low hiss.

"Oh, shit," Pvt Lynn cursed softly, as he calmed his beating heart, "here it comes!"


"What? A Giant Bronze Boa is ahead?" Norman nearly yelled out as he heard the news from the dirty looking barbarians. "Are you sure? You can sense it from here?" He looked at his chief guard in disbelief at the words of the barbarians.

"Stop the wagons," Sergeant Eunos repeated tiredly, finding that dealing with this merchant was harder than killing goblins and imperials. "Get you people prepared and ready for an attack now!"

"I simply can't believe it!" Norman folded his arms, "We have not been attacked for the past three days! Why would there be any monsters now?"

SGT Eunos rolled his eyes and thought inside, its because we were protecting you, you farking dumb ass! He gave up trying to reason with Norman and looked at the chief guard next to him instead. "Come on, it's the bloody Uncharted Forest, there are monsters everywhere."

The chief guard looked at Eunos and pondered before he said to Norman, "I think we should take up defensive positions, to be safe."

Norman looked at his guard with a red face and nodded angrily, "Fine! Fine! If we are late to return, there will be a fine to pay!" He waved for the drivers driving the wagons to stop and they reined in the land dragons who, honked and rumbled as the iron straps dug into their fleshy necks, making them stop.

Suddenly several loud thunder cracks were heard, and then the whole forest erupted into chaos.


Pvt Lenn watched the Giant Bronze Boa slithered its way down the tree majestically and crawled its way towards the convoy. He hugged himself against the tree roots and prayed that the snake did not detect him as it passed by his way. The Bronze Boa's tongue flicked in and out as it tasted the air and it suddenly froze, before whipping its head directly at Pvt Lenn's position.

"Ah fark this!" Pvt Lenn cursed out loud as the large glassy eyes of the Bronze Boa stared at him, its jaws slowly stretching out and exposing fangs the size of his arms. He aimed his shotgun directly at the mouth of the Bronze Boa and said, "Say hello to my little friend!" and held down the trigger while furiously pumping away at the pump action slide.

Blasts of 12 gauge, 00 buckshot fanned out into the head of the giant reptile, stinging and hurting it. Its soft meaty mouth ruptured with dark red blood as shot torn into its opened mouth. The Bronze Boa jerked its head back in pain and surprise, an angry bubbling hiss came from its bloodied mouth and it wrapped its rear body around the tree which Pvt Lenn was sheltering at.

"Ahh!" Pvt Lenn yelled in terror as the lower half of the tree was crushed into two, showers of wood bark and splinters rained down all over him as he ran half crouched away from the destruction caused by the thrashing snake.

Gunfire popped in front of him as his section mates opened fire with their Magelocks, clouds of smelly and dirty grey smoke shrouding the undergrowth. Pvt Lenn leaped over another tree root and slid to rest against the tree, and dug into his ammo pouches and started to reload his shotgun with shaky hands. "That was farking scary!"

"Go, go, go! Spread out!" Someone yelled as the gunfire intensified, causing the roosting wyverns in the trees and other small animals to scramble or fly away in fright at the sudden loud thundering roars. "Use the RPG!"

The Bronze Boa rampaged as bullets slammed into its body, most were deflected off by the tough bronze scales while some managed to penetrate into its body, the soft lead bullets ballooning inside the flesh of the snake, tearing muscles and severing nerve endings. It swung its massive body towards the creatures that stung and hurt it but the tightly packed trees blocked its attacks.

The Boa decided to run as no matter where it tried to attack the strange creatures, more appeared and stung it with their loud weapons. It turned tail and tried to slither its way away from the stings when suddenly a loud crash threw it against a massive tree trunk and breaking it. It wiggled its body feebly, trying to escape but its back was broken and it felt the lure of sleep calling it into its embrace and gently it surrendered to the darkness.


The RPG-1 team hoisting the smoking bazooka had fired at the back of the retreating giant snake, the rocket-propelled grenade took less than two seconds to impact against the back of the snake, where it punched through the bronze scales and dumped all its explosive warhead into the snake, ripping out a huge chunk of flesh and the force of the explosive slammed the snake into a tree and breaking both the tree and snake into two.

The stench of blood and cooked meat rosed from the aftermath of the one-sided battle and other then a few scratches and torn skin, the Marines suffered no other injuries. SGT Eunos received the all clear from the forward team and he invited both Norman and his chief guard over to take a look at the dead giant snake.

Norman stiffened when he saw and smelled the gory scene and quickly covered his nose with a scented napkin while his chief guard's eye glinted with excitement. He stood over the dead carcass of the snake and peered at the damage of its body. "Magic?"

SGT Eunos nodded, not wanting to disclose their strength yet. "We will need some of your people's help in dismantling the meat, bones, and skin of the Bronze Boa." He said instead, "And fast, this amount of blood is going to bring a lot more trouble."

The guard stood up and turned to Norman with a questioning look, who agreed and nodded, the merchant inside him seeing the value of the skin despite it being damaged. "I get my people on it quick!" and with that said, he turned and hurried off back to the safety of his caravans.

"Very powerful," The chief guard praised SGT Eunos, "Your warriors are very strong to defeat a Bronze Boa, that monster should be at Level 4 or at the peak of Level 3. It would take over a hundred warriors to fight and take it down, and at least half or two third will die fighting it." He spoke in a respectful manner. "Many must have died to fight that monster and I give my regards for their sacrifice."

SGT Eunos nodded and did not share that there virtually were zero casualties at all. Nevertheless, he thanked the guard and watched as the caravaners appeared nervously and started to butcher the Bronze Boa up, skillfully separating the meat from the skin and bones out.

In a span of the turn of two-hour glasses, the giant snake was cut up and quartered and carried back to the caravan. The men were in high spirits as the meat will be a vast improvement over their current travel rations.

As they left the area, snarls and cries were heard as lesser monsters and creatures fought over the scraps left behind.


Camp Alpha, Recruit Barrack 'C'

Recruit Onetooth aka Slow was on his knees scrubbing the white urinal with a toothbrush that looked like a tiny toy in his ham-sized fists. He sighed as he carefully scrubbed with the toothbrush, as he had already broken several by using too much force, earning him extra toilet cleaning duties.

It will be almost time for the final Crucible test and he has to pass the inspection of the toilet first before he could join in as punishment for fighting among themselves. If he failed this inspection, he will have to retake the whole course again!

He frowned when the doors burst open and his platoon soft skins and orcs entered laughing and joking there watching him clean the toilets. "Come on Slow! You can't be that slow!"

Onetooth sighed inwardly and forced down the rage boiling inside him. He kept quiet and focused on moving the brush up and down, the wooden brush creaking as his grip tightened.

"Hahaha," His platoon mates laughed and to his surprise, they crouched down next to him and brought out brushes and started to scrub the toilets along with him. "Come on, you can't be slow for the inspection!"

"Whaa-what?" Onetooth looked around and found everyone in his platoon here, helping to clean the toilet. "wh-why?"

"Come on, we are all one big family!" One of the elves said as he bent over the sink with a brush. "Yeah, we do this together!" Another spoke up.

Onetooth sniffed and quickly rubbed away a tear forming in his beady eyes. "Oh, is our poor orc boy crying?" The platoon laughed.

"Not crying!" He hid his face away from his teasing mates.


A note from neo Koh

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