The fireball streaks out of my sight like a meteor, but I don't have to wonder what happened. Immediately a tremendous shake rocks the ground accompanied by a massive explosion, lighting up the area with a brilliant flash of light.
The roars and screams of monsters below immediately fills the air. That blast must have wounded quite a number and aggravated a heck of a lot more. I can see the other four humans are chuckling to each other as they brandish their weapons and begin to advance down the hill towards the lake, out of my sight.
The spell caster remains on the hill. I think its female? I'm finding it hard to tell, perhaps my eyes are still too poor to discern those details. She begins to prepare more spells, not quite of the same size as before, conjuring flaming lances out of thin air and sending them streaking into the monsters below.
It feels strange to see the peace of the lake broken in this way.
I mean, I shouldn't be surprised right?
Imaging that humans had come across a valuable resource, would they share it? If they had the strength to take and monopolise it, would they leave it be and allow others to use it? I don't think they would. They would lie in ambush and kill those who came. They would build fences and walls to keep others out. They would keep everything they could to themselves and grow their strength so that they could take and keep even more.
The monsters here in this place are very stupid. If we look at the stats in the system, I can imagine most monsters I've seen have a cunning less than ten. They can be tricked, baited and trapped easily.
For some reason they don't even think of taking and controlling the resource that is the mana lake. They don't even fight there, ensuring that they themselves and others can benefit. From a human standpoint, it's stupid.
Not to mention, what are monsters to humans anyway? Just resources, just experience. If I'd been born a human I'd be doing just what they are doing, right? I'd be attacking monsters and gaining XP, taking their cores to sell and celebrating.
But I wasn't born a human in this world.
I was born something else.
And for some reason, seeing these humans here, breaking the peace of the lake.
It just really pisses me off.
I don't think too much, I just turn, take aim, and fire.
Sizzling acid streaks through the air directly towards the female mage. I've aimed directly toward the back of her head.
The acid impacts a barrier of some kind, spreading over the surface to reveal a spherical, invisible barrier covering the mage and protecting her from harm.
Startled, the mage turns around, trying to locate this source of this surprise attack, but I've buried myself back into the vegetation, completely hidden from view.
I'm nervous that she'll be able to detect me using a spell of crystal like the guards in the upper cavern, but after staring hard at the terrain she returns her focus to the battle happening below.
Once again acid arcs through the air, splattering over the barrier. I can hear the acid sizzling as it tries to chew through that layer of protection.
The mage turns fiercely and launches a jet of fire from her hand, scorching the area behind her, sweeping the flame around like a flamethrower to burn away any cover close to her.
I'm not that close.
Still, the searing flames twinge my still healing antennae. Good lord Gandalf but that is hot!
I'm not even sure what it is I want to achieve with this intervention…
I just wanted her to stop bombarding the monsters below.
Well, mission successful I guess Anthony, what the heck are you going to do now?
The mage is observing the flaming wreckage of the forest immediately behind her, trying to identify the pesky source of these acid attacks.
However, I am not about to show my adorable face!
The mage is visibly irritated and not finding what she is looking for but her attention is dragged back to battle below.
Her allies are probably relying on her support as they fight the monsters and she cannot afford to have her attention diverted.
Now that her back is to me once more I take a little time to reposition myself, darting out of my cover to move slightly further away. I dive in amongst the roots of a nearby tree and turn to observe my target again.
She has returned to conjuring the brilliant lances of flame and sending them flying into her targets below. The lances begin as a hovering ball of dense fire before they streak forward, accelerating until they resemble a long spear of pure heat.
Just as she is about to cast once again I take aim and fire.
[Advanced acid shot has reached level 2]
From this extended range my aim is less perfect but the majority of the acid still impacts against that invisible barrier, eating away at the mages defences.
What I didn't expect is what happens next.
With an audible shattering sound the barrier vanishes and the acid which had been covering the surface immediately drops through, a small portion of it falling directly onto the mage.
She cries in rage as the acid begins eating into her robes and stops casting her spells instantly, trying to brush away the offending acid and protect herself from further damage.
I actually didn't expect I'd be able to harm this mage at all, seeing my acid doing its deadly work against a human is somewhat more shocking to me than I expected it to be.
Without the support of the magic bombardment from above, I imaging the other four fighters below will be a having a harder time of it.
My main objective has been accomplished in that the mage has stopped working so I decide to try and sneak out to see what is happening down by the lake.
Moving carefully I emerge from my hiding place and sneak about is a wide arc, making sure I'm a good distance away from the mage and the path her allies would take I skirt around the hill and make my way back towards the side of the lake.
What I see is a scene of devastation.
Dozens of monsters have already been slain on the edge of the water, some had clearly tried to charge up the hill only to be killed by the mages' four allies without achieving anything.
The monsters on this side of the lake have already been routed, those prepared to charge and fight are dead whilst the more discreet creatures made good their escape as soon as they could.
The humans are picking through the bodies now, I can see them using long knives they had strapped to their legs to open up the creatures and search for their cores, cursing when their search fails or chuckling merrily as they pocket the shining, gem like material.
The mage has made her way down the hill to her allies and they laugh as she angrily speaks and gestures towards the hill, probably explaining the sneak attacks I had performed, causing her be to burned by the acid.
One of the others, a particularly large warrior looking type, pulls what appears to be some kind of bottle or flask from a carry bag on his hip and passes it to his wounded ally who gratefully accepts and drinks it immediately.
Once they have completed their harvest of cores the five of them group up together and make their way over the hill, their silhouettes blurring into obscurity as they move further away and then disappearing as they leave altogether.
The edge of the lake and the distance up the hill are strewn with the dead and I feel numb.
As a former human and a current monster, what exactly is the morality of this world?
Regardless, there is a wealth of Biomass here and no monster would approve letting it go to waste. I'll eat first, then think later.