Ruth wasn’t immediately able to reconcile what he was feeling and what he was seeing. The terror that had been clawing icy tendrils of dread up and down his unscaled back was originally a result of the murderous bird sending a wave of what could only be described as death toward him in the strange space he had been removed from moments before.
Being ejected from the space forcibly in such a fashion had sent a powerful urge to vomit grey matter from his skull out through his nose. Being upside down with that pain insisting it needed release hadn’t helped matters either. While having a panic attack he had tumbled end over end while semi-conscious and now lay in his current upside down and brain pained state.
Witnessing the strange battle between forces he couldn’t understand and being slapped in the face hard enough to ‘wake’ from that state was bad enough; but this new thing in front of him quietly moving toward him with big careful steps was enough to make him want to find a tree to climb.
His low-light vision was excellent, he hadn’t really had much of an issue with being inside the tree with no natural light sources. In winding patterns on the ceiling, glowing fungus or some kind of moss grew and emitted a soft blue light into the room. Additionally, there were glass-encased sticks, not quite candles that were placed within the walls of the inner room. Ruth wasn’t entirely certain what they were but the dim light they had been producing was more than enough for him to see things within the inner sanctum.
His brain didn’t immediately understand how a creature had managed to enter the room without displacing the things at the door, or, honestly, how said creature managed to look so horrifying and ugly at the same time.
Ruth had seen bears before, of course. This was a bear, and at the same time, not a bear at all.
Hideous grey folds of flesh sagged and stretched over taut muscles. The luxurious and prized fur that bears were known for was missing, quite literally in some places, from most of the creature's tremendously muscled body. Patches of burned flesh and fur, torn skin, long-oozing skin wounds -- it almost seemed that the bear had been eaten by something and then spit out after it had been half-digested. The image of a giant mouth and tongue rolling the bear around behind sharp white teeth appeared in his head. He knew that wasn’t what had really happened, but the bear did look like the result of that mouth having spit it out after it had a good taste and chew.
Still upside down, still mostly unwilling to believe this was real, Ruth reached out with a hand and channeled shock through his right arm while pointing at the bear. Both Ruth and the bear winced as the bright light illuminated the room.
The lightning coiled into a powerful rope and toward the bear licking eagerly, almost as if it were alive.
The bear stopped moving and lowered its head slightly as if willing to meet it head-on. Ruth smirked, already knowing the result. Shock beat everything! Thunder Struck beat everything! Ruth beat everything.
The lightning struck the furnishings that were piled in front of the door after having passed through the bear harmlessly, causing wood splinters, furniture stuffing, and book pages to fly out in a shower with a sizzling noise as they ignited into flame.
Acrid smoke started to cause the room to stink and the items that had burst into flame started to slowly burn on the floor, several already burning out harmlessly and now emitting lazy trails of smoke.
Ruth’s mouth dropped open.
He supposed it should have been obvious. Inevitable really.
Ruth couldn’t be the only creature with special abilities. A quick glance to the left revealed that the immortal and deadly text must have been feeling saucy, or at the very least was taking pity on him, because it had updated information in a larger font. It was nice of the thing to make it a larger font so he didn’t have to squint.
Spectral Bear. Status: Enraged and hungry after a battle with Cannibal Pixies. Attracted by the shelter the large tree will provide while it recovers after eating Ruth.
After eating me?
“Thank you for the confidence,” Ruth muttered, immediately retracting the gratitude he had been expressing with regards to the larger font.
The black eyes of the beast, no, the Spectral Bear, were still trained on him. Almost as if sensing that no more attack was incoming, it took another careful step toward him seemingly gaining a more solid presence in the room.
There was something sinister about the silence of the creature. Ruth had fought and eaten bears before and they were loud, powerful, brash creatures that seemed to intimate that their preferred aggression was straightforward violence!
This creature seemed like it would advance forward slowly, cautiously, and use deception to peel him like a grape and prolong his suffering if it could.
Ruth was naturally biased against creatures that had no fur and no scales and this thing just looked extra evil to him with patchy grey flesh and it’s nightmare stretched skin.
Ruth rolled over and sat up quickly, once again sending a cascade of brilliant lightning across the room with his outstretched fingers.
His eyes widened as, once again, the Spectral Bear stopped in place, one padded foot comically held above the floor motionless as it waited for the deadly attack to pass through. When the light faded it put the foot down and started forward with that same lethal slowness.
Several meters separated them now. It was probably for the best that the crow creature had woken him or this thing would have just tiptoed up to him and started chewing on his face.
Ruth stood up grimly and thought carefully. He had to interrupt this game of stop and go somehow. He narrowed his eyes and studied his opponent as it took yet another precise and unhurried step toward him.
Had it gotten in the room by passing through the door? Why did it have to stop when he attacked it?
Separate abilities or a different amount of mana consumption, he decided.
The bear was conserving mana by being slow. It knew that he couldn’t get out and wasn’t in any hurry to corner him any further.
Now that he was looking at it he noticed the claws on the feet of the beast. They looked like they didn’t retract and had never been cleaned a day in the Spectral Bear’s life. A quick inhalation revealed that he could smell the rancid scent coming from them over the smell of burned and torn flesh.
“Pixies didn’t eat you? Fine, I’ll eat you…” His lips peeled back to reveal his own white teeth in the dark. Shadows played across his face, cast from the small items that he had lit on fire with his most recent round of lightning.
The Spectral Bear took another painfully slow step toward him with unfaltering confidence. The near-silent clicks of precise toe-stepping on the wooden floor were already getting on his last nerves.
Arathan watched helplessly as Lord Rush made an idiot of himself nearby.
Lord Rush raised his head up and howled in victory. He stood atop a mountain of half-destroyed aura corpses and shook his tail vigorously. He had defeated the crow! It had conceded the territory to him by acknowledging his greatness! It had been a challenging and fulfilling battle but eventually, when he had just been about to be able to hop up and take a chunk out of the bird, she had flapped her wings and flew off about ten meters further away from his Ruth.
Retreat was practically an admission of inferiority.
I’m best. You belong to me.
Arathan narrowed her eyes, doing her best to ignore the obvious gloating Rush had pushed into the thought.
Listen brat. We need to talk. Do you know how hard it is not to accidentally murder you? I had thought to tire you out with waves of attacks but you eating my aura is making me think that could take weeks now. You just get recharged every time we fight. Normally, that would be great for me, I’d just do that until you’re stronger and stronger or until I got bored. I like your spunk too, but you aren’t learning anything by solving all your problems with trying to bite them. Try making some of your own aura projections to send toward me or something different. You know, that thing I have been showing you over and over?
Lord Rush stood atop of the corpses and tilted his head at her the whole time she was communicating. When she stopped he lazily lowered his head and started to tear off a large chunk of wing from one of the killer grasshoppers. He raised his head and looked at her, starting to chew with his mouth open.
I know you can understand me you little shit.
Lord Rush started making more exaggerated chewing motions, smirking lazily around his mouthful. Arathan almost rolled her eyes. This blatant provocation might have worked on her if she wasn’t hundreds of years old and a master of--
Just make food for me. You are a good vassal. You make the best food. I am pleased with you. Leave thinkings to your lord.
Arathan stopped and her beak opened once and then closed.
Do what you are good at dumb dumb. You lose and try to tell me how to do stuffs? I am the best. I am the greatest. If there is enemy, I will eat it! You just make me food and make with the fun things. Don't worry, I will appreciate you.
Red aura began to spill out dangerously from Arathan as she began to tremble with anger. It spread out dangerously from her and started to lick thoughtfully at the shadows of the nothingness that surrounded them as if it were considering devouring the darkness. She tried to reign it in. Not killing Rush was harder than killing him. That might seem simple to say but bears repeating. If the amount of aura and power he was capable of producing was generously compared to a powerful river or stream, then Arathan’s power could be described as filling all the oceans on this and a few other planets.
Good, good, good… How long has it been since some piece of shit soul shape has had the sand to back talk me. I will fucking eat you.
Aura began to spread out from a half-enraged Arathan.
As it approached it was pushed back ever-so-slightly by Lord Rush as golden light began to emerge from his body. He seemed to remember that he could move through the air this time and eagerly padded through the nothing to try and take a bite out of the red aura that she was producing.
Neither one of them paid any mind to the sphere of Ruth’s soul space writhing with lightning and trembling and fracturing nearby.
SHAKESHAKESHAKESHAKE/I’LL KILL YOU
Planar Tiefling: Ruth (Level 10) (Young Adult/Lord Rush) (Lightning Specialized)
★★★★ Limited Electrical Immunity.
3 of 5 spell slots
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Bio: I'm not by nature a very courageous person. If you have been around enough you might have surmised as much on your own. I started writing these gaming books because I was frustrated, and in desperate need of a way to give voice to the ideas and concepts that I hope to see in a game some day. I'm also trying to write a book about a former dragon without making him into too much of a murder hobo. I hope you enjoy them. If you don't, that's alright too. :)