(Y6, June 24th)
The detour was definitively not worth the hassle, thought Zaccali. It was too bad, the Expedition had been a success so far. At least until they noticed a single hillock protruding above the forest/savannah mix they were going thru. Of course, the Cartographers had wanted to check the point of interest.
And now, they were in the middle of a dwarven tussle.
Those particular dwarves looked like standard Pumilus Albus. The Pale Dwarves, despite their names, didn’t sport beards or anything. In fact, they had zero hair, looking more like angry albino pygmies than dwarves of legend. And they used staves and clubs, not axes.
Despite their near-naked condition and a weird assortment of weapons, the dwarves were smarter than critters. They were obviously sentient and massively xenophobic. The expedition’s intrusion was an affront they were ready to erase with club, staff… and fireballs.
Yes, the group the expedition was facing had magical support. At least two Albus mages.
She threw an arrow to Pierce Spell one of the casting dwarves and sighed again. After the fight, she would need at least 15mn to find most of her good arrows. She had her fletcher kit – any self-respecting archer had one – but the real good arrows required skills she didn’t have. Too expensive.
None of the dwarves were too high ranked, thought Warander. Which was good – shielding held longer and he didn’t have to do too much juggling of reinforcements. Mana Shield was good enough for everyone. That Zaccali bow user was good, and almost no spells were coming thru. You always admired a real specialist. More so when she had good taste in clothes.
Vasilikulik and Mastabasta were plowing through the dwarven hordes, aiming straight toward the rear echelon, where the caster and range attacks were coming from. Vasili didn’t get shielded much – Warander clearly knew a necromancer-tank didn’t need that babysitting. Vasili just twirled his axe into his signature move, Dancing Axe Turns, between some Drain Lifes.
Meanwhile, Mastabasta hacked away with his swords. He’d opted for dual one-handed ones after seeing the screaming dwarven horde. “Too short for a proper sword” was his professional opinion. Most melee attackers got simply neutralized by Deflect Strikes, while he pushed against the angry albino dwarves.
A shout from behind came.
“Fire in the hole – left side.”
Vasili tried to see if something was coming up, but half a dozen of dwarves on his left went flying as the ground under them erupted. It looked like Wisuqkz had spotted the right place to cause his usual Aetheric mayhem. Aether mages loved their explosions. Sometimes they even targeted them correctly.
“Leave me a dwarf or two! I need to Drain Living Aether, nearly out!”
“Don’t worry, there’s still lots!”
Maelia tried to affect a bored look but failed so far. Hordes of low-mid ranked enemies always made her smile, when she was surrounded by mages and good tanks. She wasn’t the best damage dealer, but mobs tended to ignore her, thanks for Discrete Valor. Having a hybrid weapon build was a slight handicap, but at least she wouldn’t be crippled if the dwarves made it to their position. If.
Although she had to admit that the archer woman was good. Plus the rest of the expedition made it easy. A horde of 30ish ranked mobs wasn’t to be taken for granted, but if you were on top of it… you were ok.
The frontline was reaching the rear of the horde, and the dwarven support was slowly realizing that they were going to come under attack when the two melee fighters unleashed hell. In other cases, Vasili would have used a Throw Axe, but since the mages were essentially neutralized permanently by their bow machine gunner, he didn’t even bother. Following Mastabasta’s Pathmaker, they finally fell on the five dwarves.
“So? That’s it?”
“Dwarves aren’t though. Annoying, sure. Though, not.”
“Ever seen Pumilus Umbra in action? Now those are real dwarves.”
Warander lifted a teeth necklace.
“Dwarves still know how to craft some things.”
Ocelot Teeth Necklace (lvl 31), requires 25 Presence; +7% damage to actions.
“Really? Lowbie items? Split it later. We still have a hilltop to check. I’m not waiting for a couple of iron coins” was Maelia’s only comment.
Vincent Archer wrote his first story around age 11. On a mechanical typewriter, with carbon paper for a mimeograph to distribute in class. His teacher knew enough to make vague encouraging noises rather than really tell him what she thought. He wrote more stories afterward, but Time has thankfully managed to erase every trace of them.
Now that his career has settled in a mix of routine and insanity and that he's figured out that herding cats would probably be easier, he's finally started to write stories again on a media rather than inside his brain. Some of those are even potentially good enough to show to other people.
Silvergates is his first attempt to finish one rather than admit defeat against the usual writer's block.