Harold broke into a grin, pulling out his blade.
“Well, well, if it isn’t the little-“
Harold’s presumably menacing trash talk was interrupted by the Combat Pea Mk. 30.
The old bastard’s eye followed the trajectory of the pea, his body tensing as he put his sword between himself and the little orange bead, not sure what to expect. When the vine erupted from the ground, it wrapped wrist thick cords around the man’s sword, and halfway up his wrist.
“Wait!” Sandi shouted.
Garth took another three peas out of his pocket and threw them in the general direction of the man’s cronies. A breath later, they were restrained, cursing and struggling impotently.
“Sit this one out, Wilson,” Garth said, holding out his hand to a table so the lizard could get down. Wilson climbed down onto the table and turned back to give an imperial thumbs down – end him.
No time like the present. Garth thought, charging forward. He picked up an oversized alien chair on the way by, swinging it up and aiming it at the old man’s regulation hairstyle with every fiber of muscle he could spare.
Harold’s eye widened, and he let go of his trapped sword, yanking his hand free from the clinging vines in time to block the blow with his forearm.
Garth’s speed and power were like they had been in the prime of his life, shattering the chair against the old marine’s body. Hopefully he’d knocked through the guy’s arm and rattled his brain enough to put him out of the fight. He’d settle for major damage to Harold’s arm.
Garth’s hopes were dashed when a meaty arm plowed through the splinters of chair and caught him on the jaw, propelling him across the guildhall and slamming him against the floor. The impact took the fight out of him. Okay, maybe not. Better part of valor and all. Let’s get out of here, Wilson.
“Ugh,” Garth’s jaw was numb and his sight was covered with white, barely able to make out the Guildhall around him. Despite shaking fingers, he was able to reach into his bandolier and pull out an acorn. I wanted a pea so I can get away! Garth lamented with his addled thoughts. What the hell was he supposed to do with an oak?
Harold had retrieved his sword in the meantime, and rather than help cut his lackeys free, he charged Garth, wrist thick sword high.
“Stop it!” Garth barely could hear the sound of Sandi’s voice as he lamely threw the acorn at Harold’s feet with his shaking fingers.
Wise to Garth’s tricks, Harold brought his sword down and batted aside the acorn, sending it off course. Harold brought the sword back up, ready to bring it down.
Garth threw his Status Band in front of him, praying it would make a difference, when the violently expanding oak tree caught Harold in the neck, flinging him through the hall, crashing through two tables and sending his sword sailing out the window.
Garth pushed himself to his feet with a groan, trying to blink the white out of his eyes and navigate to the exit. Harold was stronger than the last time they’d met. Stronger by a lot. He had to get out of here.
Garth reached into his bandolier for another pea as he limped away. One hit – through a chair – and he felt like he tried to kiss the express train. He could use the pea to slow down pursuit and find a place to lay low until his ears stopped ringing. A double fertilize would seal off the entrance of the guild long enough for his to get away.
Garth heard creaking wood and breaking glass behind him and glanced over his shoulder.
There was Harold, unscathed, hurtling forward like a Garth-seeking rocket.
The muscles in Garth’s waist cried out in pain as he tried to execute a ninety degree turn, get out of the marine’s way and toss a pea at him at the same time.
Garth was just too slow. The pea was slapped out of his hand, detonating on some hapless bystanders as Harold lunged forward, catching Garth by his neck and slamming him up against the wall, adding another concussion to his growing list of head trauma.
“Hi there, purple fella. Looks like you picked up some new tricks while I hadn’t seen ya.” He said, his fingers tightening around Garth’s neck, making it impossible to breath.
Garth punched Harold in the jaw and nearly broke his wrist. The old man’s sadistic smile grew even wider. As Garth wheezed, trying to breath in, he noticed that Harold didn’t have a single scratch apart from a tiny scrape on his cheek where the oak had launched him across the room.
Garth’s vision was dimming as he raised his hand, channeling the mana in the Guildhall into the oak. The squiggly lines of mana marched into the tree, arranging themselves according to the spell, and the oak began to shift.
Garth was feeling his eyes begin to press against his eyelids as he raised his hand, bringing it down to Harold’s head in a chopping motion. His weak hand bounced off the man’s skin to no effect.
Harold scoffed. “You can’t even-“ The oak’s branch swept down and caught the ex-marine in the temple, tracing Garth’s gesture. The heavy wood bent his head to the side, delivering a blow like it was going for a home run.
Control Plants proficiency has reached 30%!
Harold was knocked five feet away, but rather than go limp, he brought Garth with him. Garth was dragged through the Guildhall, crashing to the ground before Harold mounted him, refusing to let go of Garth’s neck, tenacious as a pitbull.
The interruption gave Garth a chance to catch a little breath before the pressure on his neck mounted again, slowly increasing over time; Harold’s way of saying ‘I’ve been going easy on you.’
“You’re a tricky little shit!” Harold shouted into his face. “You got anything else?”
As a matter of fact, he didn’t have anything else. Garth’s view of the old man’s snarling face and the unpainted ceiling of the guildhall here narrowing, turning dark.
Oh well, I’m gonna go fuck Beladia for a couple hundred year while you’re busy wiping your ass with old magazines, dickweed.
Garth tried to express this sentiment via a single middle finger, raised between them.
The pressure on his neck redoubled.
Garth’s vision went black.
“Gah! what the hell?”
The pressure on Garth’s neck dropped away, and he sucked in a lungful of sweet air. The light of the Guild’s lamps worked their way back into his eyes as the room came back into focus.
Harold stood above him, clawing futilely at Wilson. The psychic construct was attached to the old man’s face and savaging his remaining eye. Garth was stunned by the implications.
Holy crap, Wilson can touch things. Holy crap, that mean I can move things with my mind! Garth would’ve cheered at the fulfillment of one of a nerd’s most basic desires if not for the broken jaw and swimming head. Instead, he thought now was as good a time as any to live to fight another day.
He leaned over and put his relatively unwounded hand beneath him and tried to push himself to his feet, which set him perfectly for a field goal kick from the ex-marine.
Garth felt something pop in his chest before he was flung across the room, impacting against a table, his recently regained breath knocked out of him again. Garth lay where he landed, too hurt to even groan. His own stillness and the silence of the room gave him plenty of time to think.
I got THRASHED. This highlights a glaring problem with my plan going forward, assuming I survive. I really need a bodyguard, someone who can go toe to toe with a guy like Harold while I do the wizard thing.
Garth stared at Harold, who sauntered over to one of his friends and casually retrieved the bound man’s sword. His face was covered in tiny scratches, but Wilson was nowhere to be seen. Garth sincerely hoped Wilson was all right.
“It was nice knowing ya, kid. You certainly put up a more interesting fight than I’ve ever been in, but I guess that’s just gonna be par for the course from here on out.”
Harold swung the sword up. Garth was too beaten to even raise his arms.
Whatever happened was too fast for Garth to process. Harold disappeared in an explosion, and Garth heard the splintering of wood.
Above him, Sandi peered down into his eyes, worry etched on her face.
“Are you okay?” She asked, wiping a bit of blood from her fingertips onto her shirt.
“Ugh.” Garth groaned between breaths as he tried to sit up, experiencing the worst migraine of his life. “I think I’m gonna live.”
“Oh, thank Sorenya,” she breathed, leaning forward and wrapping Garth in a hug that, while somewhat restrictive, was good for his bloodflow.
“You bitch,” Garth heard Harold’s voice through Sandi’s homemade earmuffs. He leaned to the side, looking around the omnipresent breasts.
Harold was climbing out of a hole in the wall, a deep gash down the side of his inhumanly tough face and a large, teardrop shaped puncture wound in his breastplate. Red blood oozed out of the man’s armor.
“After I’m done killing him, I’m gonna cut off all your legs and fuck your tight little pussy until-“
“ENOUGH!” Came a roar from deeper in the guild, capturing the attention off everyone, spectator and participant alike. An Orc with grey hair and a massive build stepped out into the main hall, with Dr. Kine beside him.
“Guildmaster?” Sandi said as she spotted the aged orc.
“You!” he shouted, pointing at the ex-marine. “Stand down and let Dr. Kine close your wound, or leave now and bleed to death in the street! I don’t care which you do as long as you do it NOW! If you take one step closer to my receptionist, I’ll tear your fucking head off!”
Harold stood up straight, ignoring the hole in his stomach as he relaxed his shoulders and took in the situation. He scanned the chaos, broken tables, holes in the walls, and a massive oak that’d turn up the floorboards in the center of the room.
He glanced over at his cronies, who’s just begun to fight their way free of their entanglement, then back to Dr. Kine. The severe look on the doctor’s face was easy to read.
“Yeah, okay.” Harold strolled over to the blue-skinned doctor, sending Garth a smile.
“Catch you later.” He said before he disappeared down the hall to the infirmary.
“And you!” The Guildmaster shouted, pointing at Garth. “You get your purple ass out of here! I’ve got no tolerance for a man that tries to kill a fellow guildmember and destroys the guild in the process!”
Garth glanced around at the destruction he’d wreaked on the guildhall. He supposed he should feel somewhat affronted that he was being treated more severely than Harold, but he was still euphoric to be breathing. Nearly being smothered by Sandi’s breasts was the icing on the not-dying cake.
“Alright.” He climbed to his feet, standing foot and a half shorter than the snarling Guildmaster. He was a big guy.
“Wait. He was trying to kill Garth!” Sandi protested. The old orc seemed immune to her pleas as he completely ignored her, watching Garth leave with his eyes narrowed.
“For the damage.” Garth said, pulling out what little money he had on him, Dropping it on the floor and limping out. His jaw hurt. His ribs hurt. His neck hurt. His spine hurt. Everything hurt.
“You and I are going to have a talk.” Garth heard the Guildmaster say to Sandi as he left the hall, letting the door swing closed behind him.
His day had been going pretty good, but life always had a way of bringing you back down to Earth.