The cheers that rose from the crowd did plenty good to lift Malcolm's spirits, but it also drew the attention of some of the Bull Scorpions. Hastily Malcolm directed the crowd, splitting them apart.
The less equipped, he ordered to stick close to the carts, to protect the children and elderly. The others who had better weapons and armor he organized them to stick a little way out. Most in the inner ring held weapons, but the few who didn't grabbed large rocks or held up clenched fist.
Malcolm swore under his breath and silently wished that the Bull Scorpions wouldn't breach the outer ring of defense. I can't let any of them get past me, he thought to himself. Steeling his resolve, he looked back to the monsters rushing towards them, the beast had worked themselves into a frenzy. Drool foamed at their gnashing mouths, claws clamping excitedly, and barbed tails twitching in anticipation.
"Hells, so much for a surprise attack!" Darion called out. The green haired elf had his bow drawn, an arrow was already nested on the string. "Well, I'm ready when you are." He hefted his bow, taking aim of a leading Bull Scorpion.
"This would be an appropriate time to test out that magic you learned earlier." Saria stood to the other side of him, her staff now illuminating a wondrous white light. Words of magic tumbled out of her mouth as she prepared a spell.
"R-right!" Malcolm nodded. He wasn't sure if he was more excited to use magic or frightened by it. "Calm yourself Malcolm." He whispered to himself. "We got this!"
Calming his mind, he imitated his movements from when he used the mana arrow spell back in the orcs camp. Pressed his hands together, felt the energy around him, and condense it into an elongated shape. He looked down at his hands and marveled at the glowing neon blue arrow.
"Don't just gawk at the thing like an idiot!" Darion grunted as he fired an arrow. Getting ready for the monsters closing in on them. "Shot the damned thing!"
"Don't rush perfection, Legolas!" Malcolm extended his hand in front of him and pushed the arrow forward. The blue spike streaked through the air, going so fast it left a trail of shimmering blue energy in its wake.
As impressive as it looked, it didn't go far. The shimmering arrow winked out of existence right at the feet of a Bull Scorpion.
"That was perfection?" Darion scoffed. "Next time try aiming!"
"You must concentrate!" Saria shouted as she finished her spell. White light flashed from her staff, showering everyone around her.
A tingling sensation prickled on Malcolm's skin as a prompt appeared in front of him.
Buff Received: Albris's Protection (Large).
Temporary boost to Natural Defense (+10 Defense) and Health Regeneration (+10HP per Second).
"That should help, though I'm only able to cover ten people!" Saria wiped her forehead. The spell had taken toll on the old elf, beads of sweat glistened on her brow and she clung onto her staff to hold herself upright. "The spell will only last an hour, so we best make this battle quick."
Malcolm scanned the fighters beside him and saw a few had thin layers of white energy covering them. Gritting his teeth, he began to bark orders with as much authority he could muster.
"Bow users, fire at will! Those of you with shields, hold them high and ready yourselves! The rest of you without shield or bow, keep the grip on your weapons tight! They're coming! Hold this line! Don't let them reach the carts!"
As he shouted to the distressed fighters around him, he generated Mana Arrow after Mana Arrow and fired them into the stampeding scorpions. Only about half of the arrows he fired hit, but when they did the targeted scorpion would let out a squeal of pain.
Just as he was preparing another arrow, the ground underneath him began to quiver. Malcolm barely had enough time to step back before the ground erupted in a whirlwind of clamping claws. The bastards are tunneling underneath us! He managed to bat one claw away, but the other clamped tightly onto his left arm. The pressure was like a vice as the creature began to compress. Malcolm yelled as he felt his skin being pierced, blood began to show through his sleeve and his health bar drained.
In a panic he sliced down with his scimitar, to chopped off the claw holding him. But the Bull Scorpions skin was thick, and his weapon barely scratched it. Hardening his gaze, he analyzed the creature. Fuck.
<>Bull Scorpion. Level: 15. Health: 52/55 Mana: 20/20
Resistances: Fire, Earth
Buffs: In Heat (+10 Attack damage, +5 Attack speed, +10 Health, - 5 intelligence)
Analyze Skill Has Leveled Up!
The beast yanked him about like a mad dog with a chew toy while simultaneously striking at him with both its other claw and barbed tail. Frantically he smacked away at the claw and tail, knowing that if the Bull Scorpion managed to grab his other arm or if it struck him with its venomous tail he'd be done for. I can't keep this up for long!
You are bleeding! -2 Health per second.
Desperately he scanned around, and his heart sank as he saw that everyone else was also engaged in battle. Darion had run of out arrows and was now grasping two daggers and barely dodging barbed tails striking at him. Saria also had her hands full, she twirled her staff about to deflect away clamping claws as a wounded fighter bled out behind her. The only good news was that the scorpions had yet to reach the inner circle and the people by the carts were still throwing rocks and shooting arrows, though they did little to the thick-skinned monsters.
Shit! Malcolm gritted his teeth. This is not going how I planned! He screamed in anger as he hacked at the giant scorpion bearing down on him. His mind whirled as he tried to think of some way to escape. Wait! I almost forgot my other spell! Then, without any further hesitation he drew upon the mana within himself and expanded it outward. Soon a semi-translucent bubble surrounded him. He grimaced as the bull scorpion's tail stuck the barrier but grinned as the attack deflected off the mana shield.
The bull scorpion screeched in anger as it noticed that it could no longer reach its prey. Over and over it kept stabbing and scratching, but all of it was useless. The mana shield held, though keeping it up was a constant drain and made his head spin from the strain.
Fighting through the sudden nausea, he flicked his hand and manifested three mana arrows. "Want something to eat? Take this, you worthless shit!"
Then with reckless abandon he fired the arrows into the scorpions' face, the monster screeched in pain. He kept firing arrows until the creatures' face was just a messy bloody pulp; only then did it release grip on his arm. Cradling his arm, he dug into his bag and pulled out bandages. His health was at half, though already he saw that it was slowly replenishing thanks to the bandage stopping the bleeding status and Saria's spell.
"Oh shit, Saria?" Frantically Malcolm searched for the old elf and swore under his breath when he spotted her.
Once he was done bandaging his arm, he stood and fired a rapid volley of mana arrows at the bull scorpions surrounding Saria. The arrows shredded the scorpions thick hide, which confirmed Malcolm's suspicions. It seemed the scorpions thick shell held up well against physical attacks but had little resistance to magical damage.
Tra-la-la! You have leveled up! You have seven days to assign your points or they will assign themselves automatically!
Mana Arrow has leveled up! Can now cause +2 more damage.
Saria looked to him and gave him a quick nod of thanks before turning and giving her full attention to the prone man beside her. Malcolm scanned the battlefield and was relieved to see that most of the scorpions were either dead or in their death throes, twitching uselessly in the sand.
Arrows stuck out of many of them, making them look like disfigured pincushions. Though a few did have their faces somewhat bashed in with thrown rocks, Malcolm smiled. He looked back to the carts and waved at the people in the inner ring, they all looked unharmed and waved back to him.
"Thought we had lost you for a moment there." Darion grunted as he pulled an arrow from a fallen scorpion. His armor was a bit worse for wear and he was somewhat drenched in slimy yellow scorpion blood, though somehow his face was unmarred and clean.
Malcolm grinned at the elf. "It'd take more than an oversized bug to take me down! What about you? I saw you were surrounded just a moment ago"
Darion made a tsking sound as he shoved an arrow into his quiver. "These creatures are driven mad with lust, which makes them predictable. Claw, claw, tail" He rolled his eyes. "I'd have to..." Darion's voice trailed off as the ground beneath their feet began to shake. "Do you feel that?" He readied an arrow, setting it on his bowstring.
"Yea, whatever it is, it's a big one." Malcolm checked his mana reserves and frowned. He had barely half left, he'd have to make sure to increase his intelligence and wisdom. That is if he survived whatever was coming next.
"Malcolm! Darion! Get over here!" Saria called out to them, she had moved closer to the inner ring. A small cluster of people surrounded her as she provided healing. "You're too far from my area of effect! We have to-"
The ground between them erupted as an ear-splitting screech filled the air. Malcolm winced and clashed his hands against his ears to stop the sound from bashing into his eardrums. He looked over to the creature crawling out of the ground and felt his hopes sink.
<>Giant Bull Scorpion. Level: 20. Health: 120/120. Mana: 40/40
Resistances: Fire, Earth
Buffs: In Heat: (+10 Attack damage, +5 Attack speed, +10 Health, - 5 intelligence). Enraged: (Health and Attack temporarily doubled)
Unlike the bull scorpions they had just slain, which were just barely the size of a horse. This beast was as big as an elephant, bigger if you included the huge barbed tail.
"By the great five!" Darion swore as he leapt back.
Malcolm just stared at the humongous beast in disbelief. His legs had gone numb and a sudden quivering settled in his jaw, he was terrified. "How in the fuck are we supposed fight that?"
The creatures' beady eyes blazed with anger as it looked upon its dead brethren. Again, a screech ripped through the air. It locked sights on Malcolm and Darion then with a roar its tail came crashing down toward them. A cooling sensation gripped at Malcolm's mind and he could suddenly feel his legs again. Instantly he checked his battle log and smiled.
Calmest Mind Activated! Mental debuffs erased.
Malcolm's eyes hardened as his mind began to clear and his heart slowed to a smooth tumble. He tackled Darion and they dodged out of the way of the striking tail. As they tumbled through the sand, the tail kept striking down at them, each strike only missing by a hair.
"We have to split up." Malcolm said calmly. "Use your adrenaline rush ability to make it to the carts as I distract this bastard and try to lure it away."
"What?" Darion shouted as he spat out a glob of sand. "That's insane! You'll get yourself killed. We should-"
"Go!" Malcolm shouted. He then quickly split away from Darion and sent a cluster of mana arrows at the large monsters' face.
Sadly, the desperate attack did little to hurt the giant scorpion, but it did succeed to anger it further, and cause it to turn its attention to Malcolm. With a squeal of frustration, the giant scorpion rushed towards him, it's massive barbed tail twitching eagerly to turn him into a shish kabob.
With another roar, the massive scorpion began to chase after Malcolm. Then it did something no one would expect an elephant sized scorpion to do, it jumped. Its huge powerful legs launched it high in the air.
Malcolm stared up in awe at the gargantuan scorpion dive bombing down on to him and thought a single thought that summed up his entire predicament perfectly.
Shit on a stick, I'm going to die...