“Garth, you need to wake up!”
An impact rocked Garth’s head to the side, and his eyes flew open. The first thing he noticed was how bright it was. Did he sleep all the way through until noon? The oak spider’s leaves were glowing with reflected light.
The second thing he noticed was Sandi kneeling over him, her features drawn with worry. when he looked up at her, she held his gaze for a moment before looking back up at the sky.
Why was she- Garth’s jaw dropped at the incomprehensible sight above him. The sky was filled, horizon to horizon, with shooting stars, making the night brighter than the day.
“The Mythic cores are coming down!” Sandi said, looking up at the incredible vista above them.
Crap, this is a lot earlier than I was hoping. Garth sat up on the platform as the spider mindlessly continued to carry them to the west. From their perch on the side of a mountain, they could see everything.
A streak of light preceded a distant flash followed by a rumbling explosion to the west. Then another, and another and another. Even more fell to the East, north and south, creating a long rumbling that sounded like the very bones of the earth were shifting.
“Maybe we should seek shelter?” Garth asked, raising his voice over the cacophony.
“Why? This is beautiful!”
“I don’t think-“ Garth’s words were cut off when a white hot line was drawn across his vision, leading to a detonation at the base of the mountain they rested on, the heat of the blast lighting the surrounding forest on fire and kicking up a wave of dust. The entire earth shook, rocking their spider back and forth as wind buffeted them.
“I think we should get somewhere safe!” Sandi shouted, shielding her eyes from the dust and light as she looked at him.
“…” Garth just stared at her a moment before nodding his head, popping open his bandolier full of charged acorns. They were on the side of a bald hill with no shelter in sight, but making a foxhole was no problem.
He threw an acorn down, and the massive oak’s roots bit into the stone mountainside, shattering rock and creating a massive hole. Sorry Beladia. At least he’d used one of his pre-charged seeds, and hadn’t actually burdened her right now.
Just like at the lumberyard, the tree pulled its roots out, but this time it tore as much stone as it could on the way out, excavating a deep ditch for them to hide in.
Garth slid off the spider, dropping to the ground, his eyes nearly shut against the heat and dirt, blindly groping his way to the foxhole. After a moment of desperate scrabbling, he tumbled into the ditch, a fairly deep hole in the stone about big enough for three people laying down.
“It’s not big enough for me!” Sandi shouted, her Lure leaning over the edge of the hole. Of course it wasn’t big enough. It was easy to forget her true size.
“Fit everything you can, I’ll do the rest!” Garth shouted, channeling mana from the environment. His mana sight showed the squiggles marching to his tune, aligning themselves just so in the oak, and causing the log laying on its side to bend around them, forming a low wall around the ditch, effectively adding another two feet to the depth.
For good measure, Garth threw two more acorns out, bending the resulting trees low and creating a dense canopy around them to ward off the flying chunks of earth and stone that were thrown around as the assault continued.
Garth and Sandi spent a tense three hours listening to rocks bouncing off their makeshift shelter, along with explosions that seemed to come from everywhere, but never any that came as close as the one at the base of the mountain.
After going through this much shit, you can bet your ass I got dibs on that one. He thought silently as he quietly prayed for the shelter to hold.
By morning, the explosions had settled down and head sized chunks of rock no longer came knocking on the thick canopy of trees. Between the branches, Garth could make out the light of dawn. He’d only gotten a couple hours of sleep, but there was no way he felt like sleeping.
Garth had the oaks bend away from them with a wave of his hand, returning to their natural positions. Sandi crawled out of the foxhole first, her invisible body unwinding from around Garth. She got to the lip of the hole and stretched, arching her back and throwing her hands above her in a way that was most pleasing to the eye. Goddamn the thong caught my attention again. I guess that’s what it’s there for.
“That was awful! It was so cramped, I don’t think my spine will ever recover.”
“I dunno, I go to cop a feel of something, so I had a pretty good time.” Garth said as he climbed out of the hole. The terrain below them was covered in burned dots as far as the eye could see, with about five to ten miles between each of them.
Sandi blushed. “That was my elbow.”
Garth’s hyperawareness of Sandi’s body flared somewhat, telling him that she was taken off guard somewhat by his statement. Looks like you can dish it out, but you can’t take it. He thought, suppressing a grin. Garth made a note to practice his ingenious method of messing with her.
“Seemed pretty soft for an elbow, but if you insist.” Garth pointed at the black circle of burned trees at the base of the mountain. “That’s ours.”
The walker was halfway down the mountain, its high center and wind-catching platform allowing the explosions to do some real damage to it, carrying it off the side of the mountain. Just beyond the shattered vehicle was the resting place of their first Mythic core.
“Race you!” Sandi said, bounding down the side of the mountain in a feat of inhuman speed. She seemed peppy. Wonder if it’s the promise of wealth, or the sexual harassment. Need to control my variables and figure out- oh shit, she’s getting really far ahead!
“Damnit!” Garth cursed, applying Forestwalk to himself before taking off after her. Sandi gained a lot of ground in the beginning, where they were running across bare stone. Her hourglass figure shrinking into the distance. Once his feet touched moss, though, Garth felt like he was running on trampoline springs, getting an extra kick out of every step. Sandi started getting closer.
When the moss changed into the low shrubs and forest, he started gaining. As it turned out, Forestwalk didn’t just push up from his feet, it also bent the shrubs and trees out of his way before they pushed on his back, hurtling him down the mountain at an uncomfortable speed.
I like this spell! Garth thought as the wind blew tears out of his eyes and Wilson held on for dear life. He felt a bit like an ice skater going down a frozen mountain at breakneck speeds.
Sandi on the other hand, with her large size, was forced to leap over shrubs and weave around trees, delaying her just long enough for Garth to catch up, delivering a solid smack on her ass on the way by.
“Hey!” Sandi shouted after him as he approached the circle of charred woods. Only a few dozen feet to go now. Garth glanced over his shoulder to watch Sandi’s pathetic attempt to catch up to him foiled by a stand of trees he’d glided through easily. Garth was starting to get an idea on how to handle the succubus.
“Hah!” Garth called over his shoulder, before his toe caught something that was definitely not a plant. Garth careened headfirst into the underbrush, Wilson flew out in front of him, limbs splayed and eyes wide in terror. Garth slammed into the ground, driving all the air out of his lungs a few feet shy of the goal.
“Uuugh.” As stars clouded his vision, Forestwalk dragged his face through the mud, the surrounding shrubs pushing him the last few feet into the circle of blackened nature.
“Garth, are you okay!?” Sandi asked, coming to stand above him.
How many times was this situation going to repeat himself, with him hurt from being stupid, staring up at Sandi? He was supposed to be the smart one, but Sandi just made him dumb and impulsive, and he loved every second of it. Garth lifted a trembling hand and motioned for Sandi to come closer. She leaned over him, bringing her ear closer as she gave Garth an excellent view down her black tank top.
“I won,” Garth whispered.
“Jerk.” She shook her head and stood up as he pushed himself to his feet. He had surprisingly few scratches as Forestwalk had bent the underbrush out of the way. It looked like the spell had its own protection against collisions, as long at whatever he was running into had some plant in it.
He cast his gaze around the artificial clearing. Trees had been burned black from the heat of the Mythic Core’s entry, and the smaller brush had been vaporized, leaving nothing but grey ash sprinked around the charred clearing.
The Forest walk spring was still unwinding, but the charred ground gave him no boost to his speed as they approached the center. At the very center of the clearing was a single golden orb, about the size of a golf ball.
“Is that it?”
“Yep, that’s a Mythic Core,” she said breathily. “I never thought I’d see one.”
You went to a planet you knew was about to be filled with them, and never thought you’d see a single one? Competition must be fierce.
“Let’s get out of here quick,” Garth said, holding a hand over the orb to see if it was hot. He couldn’t feel any heat radiating off of it, but there was a certain…thickness to the air around it. Garth stopped and paid close attention to the mana in the area.
The little squiggles were being drawn inward, condensing around the Mythic Core and creating an atmosphere so rich in mana that Garth could feel it.
“What are you waiting for?” Sandi asked, looking over his shoulder at the little sphere.
“I’m not sure it’s safe to touch.” Garth said, glancing around. He stood up and in a matter of minutes found a dragonfly outside the range of the devastation and pressed it against the sphere. Animal testing, not PETA friendly.
The dragonfly seemed a pretty offput at being held and placed on top of the core, but it didn’t fry, or explode, or anything else for that matter. When Garth let go, it sat still in confusion for a moment, then flew off to the northeast, never to be seen again.
“Seems alright.” Garth said, watching the dragonfly leave.
And that was the first time Garth met Carnifax, Hunter of dragons.
Dismissing the insect from his mind, Garth tentatively reached out and picked up the golden sphere. If something started talking to him in his mind, or he could suddenly see a disembodied fiery eye staring at him from infinite distances, he’d drop the damn thing right then and there.
Fortunately, none of that happened, but there was a strange sense of disconnection, like he was snapping a rubber band or a light glue bond as he pulled the Mythic core out of the ground. Was that the connection the core was trying to form with the Earth to create a dungeon? Garth thought as he inspected the golden orb before putting it in his pocket.
He’d have to do some more research later, but for now they should salvage their supplies from the busted walker and get out of here, gathering as many of these priceless beauties as they could.
“Let’s go find some more.” Garth said with a grin.