“Oh, that’s, wow…Umm…” Garth said as he started getting dizzy. First things first, gotta cancel the Haste spell, or I’m gonna die that much faster. Garth dispelled the construct maintaining the spell with a minor effort of will, and the world seemed to speed up a little bit, causing a bit of nausea. Or maybe that was the sword in his back.
Sandi arrived beside him, her soft body propping him up. Garth was grateful for something to lean on, but he knew he must be hurt bad, because he was getting an excellent view down her shirt and it did nothing for him. He was mostly focused instead on where her Lure was pressing a hand to his side.
“Don’t!” Garth gasped, making Sandi flinch away. “Don’t take it out until we get to someone who can heal.” The bleeding wasn’t bad, but Garth’s legs now felt like jelly, and his entire left side had begun to send waves of pain from the wound, making every breath an exercise in torment.
Mental note: Get off ass and learn Heal, and get better at Force Armor.
“What do we do?” Sandi asked.
“Human biology is beyond me.” Itet shook her head.
“Well,” Garth said, blinking the sweat out of his eyes. “We still need to close that hole in the floor and deal with the hob infestation. I’m a human, and I’m no expert, but I think I should be good for a couple hours. It hurts like crazy, but as long as I don’t jostle it, I think I’ll last for awhile.”
Hopefully that roll there at the end didn’t turn his guts into swiss cheese, but who knew? Garth had no idea what a sword in the guts was supposed to feel like. He was just saying that to make Sandi feel better. It would turn out best for everyone if they carried on under the assumption that he wasn’t dying.
“Okay, what now then?” she asked, looking out at the tunnel where the humans were starting to tear the hobs to pieces.
“Can you carry me?” Garth asked, his voice more of a whimper than he intended.
“Sure.” Sandi’s hands closed around Garth, avoiding his wound, until he was floating comfortably above her Lure’s head. Which meant he was wounded, bleeding, and directly beneath her mouth. If this wasn’t a trust exercise, Garth didn’t know what was.
“Lucky for me, I don’t have to walk to cast spells,” he said, his breath hitching when the blade tweaked. The sword in his guts made spells harder, though. He reached shaking fingers into his bandolier and pulled out a pot seed between two fingers. It was from the strain at Carl’s house that had promised Garth it would be kind to him, but that’s not what he needed right now.
Garth held the seed in his bloody palm, and whispered, “fear,” Trying to impress what he wanted into the plant’s core being.
Without regard for anything else, Garth turned everything that could cause paranoia and hallucinations all the way up, while turning any mitigating factors down, turning the mellow plant into a malevolent bad trip waiting to happen.
You are a scary motherfucker, if anyone gets a whiff of you, they’ll be sent screaming in mindless terror. You’re gonna get in their heads and set hooks in there so deep their grandchildren are gonna have PTSD. Are we clear?
|Design Plants proficiency has reached 22%!|
|Delayed Magic Proficiency has reached 22%!|
|Recursive Casting Proficiency has reached 27%!|
Shut up, stupid Status band.
Once he was done, Garth packed the seed in a double fertilize and handed it to Itet.
“Toss that as deep into the entrance as you can before they get through.” Garth said, then he looked down at Sandi. Maybe he wasn’t hurt as bad as he thought, ‘cuz he found his gaze sliding down the curve of her back where her round hips peeked out of her low, low cut jeans. Guess I’m an ass man. Wilson too.
“Set me down against the wall, then pour those barrels over the pot. When the baddies come, light it on fire, but under no circumstances should you let yourself or anyone else breath the smoke. It’s not gonna be like the stuff at Carl’s place. This is gonna hurt people.”
Sandi nodded and carried Garth away while Itet broke off to do her job. Sandi carried him to the wall where a handful of other wounded soldiers were resting, leaning him against it on his right side, carefully making sure the exposed blade didn’t rub against anything.
“We should go on another date.” Sandi said as she tucked him against the wall. Garth glanced up, pried out of his thoughts about pain and mortality in general long enough to notice her shaking hands. If her Lure’s hands were shaking, he could only imagine how bad off she really was.
“What, this doesn’t count?” Garth chuckled before letting out a groan, immediately punished for his sarcasm as he felt the length of steel in his insides shift just the tiniest bit.
“No. You just stay alive while I’m gone, okay?”
“For a chance at those lips?” Garth said, “I’ll live forever.”
She reached up and touched her lips, curious. “What do humans do with their lips?”
“They press them against each other, It’s a sign of affection called kissing. Feels pretty good. There are other amazing things you can do with lips like that-“
It suddenly occurred to Garth that although Sandi had a human Lure, she didn’t know the first thing about using it on someone, having just gotten to Earth. Garth somehow found the idea of teaching her how incredibly arousing. At least until a sudden pain erupted from his side when he breathed too deeply. Stupid sword.
Garth winced. “But umm...nevermind. The hobgoblins?”
“Oh, right!” Sandi leaned over and pecked him on the lips. Her lips were stiff and unyielding, her massive breasts brushing his shoulder not nearly long enough before she stood.
“How was that?”
“Give her some pointers later.” Wilson said.
“Eh, needs work. I’ll give you some pointers later.”
“Okay!” Sandi replied cheerfully before turning away and picking up the barrels, heading back toward the fighting.
“She got a sister?” a soldier sitting next to Garth asked, his hands clamped down a wound in his leg.
The man’s eyebrows rose.
The conflict was slowly starting to die down, but any business where lives were on the line was bound to be long and messy. The last hobs were fighting tooth and nail, using the hole in the ground as their last line of defense.
Garth didn’t spend his time idly, summoning Woody to guard him and deliver charged seeds to the front where necessary. It felt like hours, but it finally happened. Some kind of siege beast that looked like a mutant rhino smashed through the wood and opened the way for reinforcements to join the hobs. The defender lit the oil on fire and all hell broke loose.
Wailing cries of pain, like nails on chalkboard rose into the air as hundreds of Hobs were licked with flames, but shortly afterward, those cries of pain became full-throated screams of terror. The strange weed that they had trampled into the oil soaked ground let off a peculiar smelling smoke.
His creation got under their skin and eroded their minds, disconnecting parts of their brain that were capable of using logic to calm themselves down, trapping them in an endless cycle of spiraling terror.
“It’s real! It’s real! It’s real!” Garth saw one of the soldiers unfortunate enough to catch a whiff of the smoke shaking on the ground and throwing up while he shouted wildly. Garth winced in sympathy. Hopefully his allies could drag him far enough away from the battlefield to come down. Getting axed by a hulking monster while in the throes of a bad trip sounded like the worst way to die.
Everyone seemed to handle it differently. Some of the monsters shut down and huddled, shivering in place, some looked around in utter confusion, others flew into a wild rage and struck their own down, but one fact was clear: The invading force wasn’t up to fighting at the moment.
Garth watched the chaos from the top of the wall, where Woody had helped him limp up the stairs. He glanced back over at the dungeon, where the rest of the humans stationed outside the entrance were engaged in a fight for their lives against a horde that made the previous ones look like chump change.
Explains why we haven’t gotten reinforcements yet.
The dungeon’s entrance was packed wall-to-wall with ogres in shiny steel plate, with shiny steel eight foot long beat-sticks, marching in uncharacteristic order. Uncharacteristic according to what he’d read about them, anyway. Above the tens of thousands of ogres, strange, skinny bat-winged creatures flew above, dropping liquid fire on the assembled humans.
Garth watched a gout of fire bloom in the center of Leanne’s army of civilians, catching more than a couple in the blast. It didn’t seem to do anything to hinder their morale, though. What black magic was she using to keep people fighting like machines? It was probably her god’s blessing, but Garth wasn’t sure whether it was good or bad.
Tyler’s group of riders had been cut down by maybe a fifth. Their casualties were low because they never stayed in one place long enough to get shat on.
Garth couldn’t see Erik. Hopefully the guy was still alive. Laura was busily blasting away with her fire magic. Garth couldn’t make out where Jim’s crew had gotten off to. Probably waiting to exploit somebody’s weakness, as per usual.
The battlefield was a chaotic mess, and people were dropping like flies.
When were the gold-ranked adventurers going to shut the fucking thing down?
No sooner had he thought that than there was a flash of light from the dungeon’s entrance, rolling over the assembled legion. The ogres collapsed into lifeless dolls, and the imps fell out of the sky, their firepots consuming them on impact.
Garth looked back at the courtyard, where the last of the hobgoblins had fallen into a heap. They did it! Took their goddamn time, too.
Garth slumped against the wall in relief, the tension flowing out of him, leaving him more exhausted than he’d ever been. He hadn’t been this tired since his car had been stolen while he was hiking. He had collapsed back into bed more mentally and emotionally exhausted than he’d ever been. Slept pretty damn good, too. Matter of fact, the hard black stone of the walls was feeling pretty comfy…
No, no, nope, not good, Garth thought, levering himself back to his feet on aching muscles. He wasn’t going to fall asleep on the wall and die of blood loss, no siree. Garth wasn’t going to pass out without making sure someone was taking care of him.
Garth leaned on the parapets, exhaustion dragging at his very being, when he glanced down and noticed something odd. Everyone was frozen in whatever act they’d been doing a moment ago. Celebrating, grieving, thanking the gods they were still alive, you name it. Every single one of them had their eyes closed, their heads slumped over.
Everyone was asleep.
The defenders had all nodded off standing up, not even falling over. What the hell? Garth thought. He didn’t have to wait long to find out.
From the tunnel came a procession of humanoids wearing armor that radiated intense magic to Garth’s Mana Sight. They looked like Shinta, but their skin was wrong, and they had delicate features, with fingers and teeth that were just a little bit longer than they should be.
Kipling? Garth’s eyes widened as they wove through the defenders without attacking anyone, leaving no trace of their passing. At the head of the procession was a man with blue skin who looked mostly like a slender human save for the pointed ears and horns curving outward just above his brow. A Mythic core floated between his horns, its surface engraved with delicate spellwork.
They looked to be heading toward the Gate at the center of the castle.
I get it, the demon lord is abandoning ship! That tunnel was his get out of jail free card in case he failed to destroy the planet!
Garth considered his options. He had absolutely no backup, and they hadn’t seemed to have noticed him. He could:
- Act like a hero and try to stop them from leaving, getting slaughtered in the process.
- Slowly get out of line of sight and stay very quiet, then tell someone important about it later.
Garth was about to choose option 2 when General Kenra stepped out from inside the castle, blocking the demon lord’s path.
Oh, maybe the General can take ‘em. Maybe if I blindside ‘em while they’re fighting, we can…What the hell am I looking at?
Karas stepped forward, the veteran full of swagger as he approached the Demon Lord. The general broke into a grin and offered a hand. The two shook hands and walked into the castle, congratulating each other while the procession of powerful Kipling wordlessly followed behind.
Garth stared, wide-eyed at the scene unfolding below him for a moment before he chose option 3:
Slowly get out of line of sight, stay very quiet, and don’t tell anyone about it later.
I’m really sleepy. Garth’s eyelids slid closed as he made himself comfortable on the nice warm stone.