Garth rushed down the empty streets, sprinting to conserve mana. His head was already aching with the amount he’d used in the last minute. Where the hell is everyone? Garth thought, heading for the main square. If the governor had marshalled the army anywhere, it would be there.
Behind him, he could hear the sound of the walls crumbling to the ground, torn to pieces by the shark-sized worms. He pictured the hundreds of remaining goblins spilling into the streets, scrambling over the toppled walls. At least it was better than tens of thousands of them. The guard should be able to mop them up as soon as the big one was taken care of.
That begged the question. How was the big one going to be taken care of? Garth didn’t know, but he would feel a hell of a lot safer with the rest of the city’s defenders.
Garth sprinted down the street and turned onto the main road. At the end of it, he could see a makeshift wooden wall made with wagons and planks of hastily assembled lumber. hundreds of pikes stuck up from behind it in a veritable forest. That’s way too small to do any good. He glanced the way he’d come and saw the feeder turning the corner, its proboscis tugged Garth’s direction by the reigns of the man top its head.
He needed to take care of that guy. But in the meantime, running was a good solution. Garth put his head down and sprinted with all his strength, putting the feeder around the corner behind him. he was still sprinting when he saw a flicker of movement to his right and a voluptuous pair of breasts smooshed around his head, followed by a pair of arms with creamy soft skin.
Garth gave a startled squawk as Sandi’s Lure reeled him sideways into a nearby building, her feet not even touching the ground as she dragged him back. I didn’t even know she could do that! Now It made even more sense to call it a lure, because Garth was hooked.
“Shh” He heard her voice above him through his one exposed ear as she pulled him through a window. They sunk into the shadows of the abandoned house. All the lights were out, there was a steaming bowl of soup on the wobbling table, left there in the owner’s haste to flee. The green curtains of the open window fluttered in the breeze, coloring the faint light that managed to enter the dimly lit house.
Stacked up by the door and window, Garth could make out a half dozen bow-armed aliens eyeing him enviously. Another three had no weapons at all, so he assumed them to be spell-slingers. Itet stood beside the best vantage, just beside the window, her bow unslung and two arrows ready to go.
“It’s an ambush,” Sandi whispered, releasing Garth.
“You planning on boxing them in?” he asked, keeping his voice low and staying out of sight of the window.
“Long enough to tear a chunk out of the big one. If it goes badly, we run out the back door and retreat to the main plaza. At least that’s what the governor’s plan is.” She said.
“It’s not bad. Simple and cost effective. Where is he?”
“He’s at the center of the street to lead the primary assault.” She pointed toward the flimsy wall. “He seemed very brave. I’m glad you could convince him to help so quickly.”
“Umm…yeah, all I had to was lay out exactly what was at stake and he was more than happy to help.”
Itet glanced over and ran a critical eye over Garth’s form.
“You gave him your cocaine.” she said, returning her gaze to the window. “Your bag’s missing. I saw it on the governor.” Itet was getting better at connecting the dots, that was for sure.
“What!?” Sandi demanded. Nearly raising her voice. “I told you I wanted to try it!”
“You aren’t getting any more drugs until you fix your biting habit, missy. And believe it or not, cocaine is widely considered to be a pretty horrible drug that destroys lives. So why would I want to test the prototype on you?”
“Why would you want to test it on him??”
“Because he’s not actually a very brave man,” Garth said, motioning with his hands. “and I figured having the governor take part in this even a little would be better than to have him lying in a pool of his own tears shivering in his office.”
“I see.” Itet said, nodding.
Sandi crossed her arms under her generous breasts and sulked, but Garth didn’t have time to placate her. In the distance, a single goblin entered the street, followed by dozens, then hundreds more.
The assembled warriors ducked low, their argument forgotten, barely daring even to breathe. In the window, Garth saw a slab of yellow-green flesh fill the window, rolling by even as it gnawed on the paving stones. The feeder was so large that the mage atop it couldn’t even see the windows beneath him. He probably had a blind spot of a hundred feet around him or so, and they were going to abuse it maliciously.
I need to signal the people in the woods, Garth thought. Nothing made a box ambush better than the last side of the box.
Here goes nothing. Garth thought, facing away from the giant caterpillar and drawing mana from the back of the room. He wanted to be sure the mage up top didn’t feel him drawing in mana.
Once Garth had gathered enough, he closed his eyes and cast the Floating Eye spell. Conjuring a tiny, invisible eye to see for him.
“What are you doing?” Garth saw Sandi tap himself on the shoulder from the vantage of the Floating eye. Wow, looks like all the exercise’s been good for me. Garth’s face looked sharper than it had in a long time, with none of the baby fat from high school either.
“I’m keeping an eye on him while I signal the people in the woods.” Garth Whispered, preparing to use the Illusion spell to put their marching orders over the bad guy’s head. All he had to do was figure out how to weave the mana in the guy’s blind spot.
“You gonna send them a letter?” Sandi whispered.
Garth lost control of his floating eye and it unraveled as he stared at Sandi. Beladia, he was about to risk screwing everything over when he had a much more reliable way of relaying instructions. Magic wasn’t necessary for every problem, damnit.
Garth felt like heaving an enormous sigh, but he was too busy. Garth focused on the Ethernet connection in his Status Band.
Tell Paul and his heavies to block the path of this thing’s retreat. The rest of you, hit it with everything you got when the fireworks start.
Love, Garth Daniels, Apostle of Beladia.
Aaand, send, Garth thought as the message flew across unknowable distance to find its target. I wonder if it’s pinged all over the universe like the internet, or if it takes the shortest route? There was no time to wonder now, as Garth heard the spray of acid and black worms shoot out of the creature above them and land on the hastily constructed wall.
There was an explosion like cannonfire, the ring of steel chains, and the screeching cry of a wounded feeder.
“That’s the signal.” Itet said, leaning out the window and shooting approximately two poisoned ironwood arrows per second. fft, fft, ftt, The solid wood arrows flew out the window and began taking goblin lives at an astonishing rate, the heavy wood plowing through two on average.
With a cry, guards threw open doors and windows all along the street and began bombarding the invading force with arrows, fist sized orbs of crackling blue energy, and the occasional fireball.
Garth’s eyes widened. It was the first time he’d been standing shoulder-to shoulder with other magic users, and he could see the mana in the environment stretching thin as it was gathered up and lobbed at the bad guys.
The Mana wasn’t burned up and turned into nothing. All the mana spent here would unravel and return to the environment, but Garth could tell there was a more immediate problem of running out.
Garth tried to pull out a dodder seed and use it on the big ugly, but as he went about the delicate work of using Design Plant to change its targeting, it felt like he was constantly having his elbows bumped by the people not paying attention to personal space and drawing mana from where he stood.
This could be a problem, Garth thought as the edge of his spell unraveled, drawn to the mage next to him, who flung it out as a firebolt into the goblin filled street.
Goddamnit, he thought, switching to a fireball.
As quick as he could, Garth compressed mana into a tiny flammable bead and shot it out before someone could bump his mental elbow again. The bead impacted against the side of the feeder and exploded into a five-foot wide ball of flame, catching a goblin cowering beside the gigantic caterpillar. The feeder squealed in pain, but it could have been from any of the other hundreds of impacts against its flesh.
Your Fireball Proficiency has reached 5%!
Garth was about to take another shot at the thing when he heard a man roar, “Charge!”
The guards spilled out of the windows, along with Itet and Sandi, flooding the pockmarked streets with armor-clad warriors.
I gotta see what’s going on, Garth thought, jumping out the window after them and taking in the scene.
The cannonfire and ringing chains had been spot on, as there were now enormous harpoons bloodying the front of the massive beast, each one connected to chains as thick as a man’s arm. Garth didn’t know where they got the gear, but that wasn’t the strangest thing he saw.
Governor Kine, in full plate armor, his eyes bloodshot, roared as he charged forward, waving a massive glowing sword. His fat body was no longer a liability as he smashed through the occasional fleeing goblin, leading a column of guards straight up the center, the danger zone of acid spray and burrowing worms.
The feeder’s proboscis spewed black worms and acid again, sailing up and over the governor in a wide arc, looking like it would land and melt them all.
Shit! Before he knew what he was doing, Garth threw a hand out, gathered the mana in Kine’s vicinity into a wide Force Shield, creating an invisible canopy above the charging troops.
The acid was no strain at all, a plane of pure force didn’t exactly have matter to dissolve, and without that, it was just as hard as deflecting an enormous loogie. No, the problem was the black worms that slammed into the shield.
Garth’s head felt as though it were splitting apart as worm after worm crashed into the invisible barrier, smashing through his meager defences and falling to the earth.
The acid. Hold together long enough to keep the acid off of them. Garth clutched his head as the Force Shield was torn to pieces, but he kept it going, keeping the majority of the acid from landing until the fighting force had come through.
A couple men were killed by worms, but the damage was minimal, and Kine threw himself onto the feeder with a ferocious scream, digging a dagger into its thick skin and scaling halfway up the creature’s face along with dozens of other guards. Some of them got shook off, and others were blasted off by the mage atop the creature, but Kine and others dug hooks deep into the creature’s flesh and dropped long scaling ropes off the side once they reached ground they could stand on.
With these ropes, guards began to flood up the feeder’s body, overwhelming the mage and slaughtering him in a matter of seconds. The governor himself dealt the killing blow, tearing the humanoid mage in half with his white-hot blade.
Ten minutes later, the people of the city were throwing Governor Kine up in the air and shouting for joy.
The fear of the day had been washed away by the birth of a hero.
“I’ll be damned,” Garth said, shaking his head as his company mopped up the fleeing goblins.