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According to the Guide, a Dust Mephit was like a large dirty imp found in the Redding Gate. They liked to hide and jump out at their victims, blinding them with a small dust devil then hacking them to pieces with their sharp claws. Pleasant.

I released my mist and stretched it out to its full range, fifty feet in all directions around me. The thin water vapor rushed out, hit the run-down buildings and pooled over street curbs. It rose in the dry, hot air and formed a bubble around me, swallowing any short building in my radius. I’d seen this happen so many times in Gate Vale, it was a novel experience to see it on Earth.

Unfortunately I was already aware of the way the dry climate wanted to evaporate my mist. If it wasn’t for my strong will, this cloud would have already blown away. It was going to take effort, and a lot of water, on my part to keep my ability at max capacity. Even so, if I was going to search for anything, this was the best way.

Instantly, I found some small larvae-like monsters hiding behind a building to my right. I turned and made quick work of them then started to run. It took me an hour to realize that when Charlie said it was lower ranked monsters on the outside of the city, she meant between levels 20 and 35. They were easy enough to handle, but I couldn’t just cake walk over them while I kept a look out for Dust Mephits and a Portal.

After a couple hours of fighting and avoiding the rest of my team, I stopped and leaned against a building to take a breather. The higher my level, the more resistant my body was to the elements. I knew it was hot and dry, but I didn’t feel the heat as much as a normal human would. Even so, after a while, I had to hide in the shade for a minute to cool off. I pulled a water bottle out of my Items Bag and chugged the whole thing down.

“I should have brought more of these,” I muttered. I was learning a lot of new things on my first time leaving home. This was a lot different than a quick day trip to Alous Desert. I had enough for today, but I was going to have to fill up for tomorrow. The water Mages could help with that. They might not want to share with an E, but they’d never say no to Kesstel.

My stomach roared to life, letting me know that it was getting late in the evening. I probably had only an hour before the sun set and I still hadn’t found my monsters. I didn’t think the Vegas Portal would release an army of monsters like in the Gate — I was sure the Association would have given us a heads up if it did — but I couldn’t say I really wanted to fight monsters in the dark. I guess with my mist, it wasn’t that big of a deal, but it put a whole new spin on ‘childhood terrors’ for me.

While I caught my breath, I opened my stats. EXP to Next LV: 34. Gah, it was almost agonizing to be so close to the next level. I just needed a little bump to get there.

A breeze gently brushed by me, carrying the smell of dry, hot dirt. The dust particles danced in the air, little wisps of pale brown the same color as the sand that was all around me. Without warning, the breeze whipped around and aimed right at me. I jumped to the side a split second before the particles rammed into the wall I was leaning on. They hit the wall hard enough to chip the worn blue stucco. The air turned to the side and rushed around, scooping up more dust and picking up speed until a twenty-foot funnel formed.

“Here we go,” I whispered and Mirrored my kindjal.

I pushed out my mist, searching for the monster that I couldn’t feel. I could ‘see’ the movement of four things, but I couldn’t exactly tell what they were. They didn’t seem to have physical bodies per se. The only features I could make out was they had bodies and wings, but that fact kept shifting in my vision.

One of the monsters flew toward the dust devil. Through the sand flying in the air, I saw something that looked like a cross between a gargoyle and a bat, with a big squished nose, huge pointed ears, and a potbelly body supported by batty wings. It was dark brown, but it wasn’t solid. It was like it was made out of sand that shifted around, forming and un-forming a body with each flap of its wings.

The level 48 Dust Mephit flew toward the funnel.

I coupled Critical Hit and Throw together and flung my right kindjal at the monster. As soon as the blade left my hand, I shot forward after it with my left sword ready. Dust whipped at my face, making it hard to see, but my senses were locked onto the monster.

The Dust Mephit jerked to the side just as the kindjal hit it. The kindjal hit the monster, but on the side, instead of the middle of the chest where I was aiming. The Dust Mephit’s unstable body exploded and the monster let out a crackly sort of sound, like dry leaves being stepped on. The kindjal kept shooting through the air. The sand that belonged to the monster’s body swirled then and merged back with the monster’s body.

With a strong beat of its wings, the Dust Mephit moved toward the dust devil. My right kindjal appeared back in my hand just as I lunged at the monster, swinging both swords down. I missed by an inch as the Dust Mephit merged with the funnel.

As soon as it joined, the tiny tornado spun faster. Nearly blinded, I staggered away and jumped around the side of a nearby building. It gave enough of a buffer to the dust devil for me to take a breath without inhaling dirt. Wind dragged at my mist, trying to pull it away and out of my control.

I tsked and cancelled my mist. I’d rather fight with my mist for the stat boost, but right now it wouldn’t help. I whipped out a handkerchief and wrapped it around my nose and mouth. Luckily, I’d listened to Aunt Mina’s worrying when she went on and on about freak sand storms — which Las Vegas didn’t normally get — and bought some goggles. I’d felt like an idiot at the time and only brought them to make her feel better, but now I was grateful.

I hated the feeling of the things on my face — it was like my senses were cut in half. But at least I’d be able to see and breathe.

I felt movement to my right and dodged to the side just as another wind gust hit the wall I was hiding against. That gust of wind wrapped around and started another dust devil. Just to the side of that, I spotted another Dust Mephit flying toward the new funnel.

Like hell was I going to let it merge and create a bigger tornado.

I flung my kindjal at it again. This time I didn’t aim for the monster, I aimed for right in front of it. The Dust Mephit sensed the weapon and jerked back. The kindjal shot right past it, without touching the monster in the slightest — but it stopped the monster long enough for me to get there.

I lunged at the Dust Mephit and slashed down. My kindjal sliced right through the monster’s wing, cleaving it in half. It let out a crackling sound and beat its uneven wings furiously. With each beat of the wing, particles of sand wafted off the broken ends and disappeared into the wind. Did this monster not even have flesh and black blood? Just sand?

The Dust Mephit lashed out with its long, spindly arms. The claws at the end of its three digits solidified as it aimed for my face.

My right kindjal appeared back in my hand. I blocked with my left and countered with my right, aiming for the other wing. If I could drop it to the ground, it would be a useless lump. It shifted out of the way again, but the injury on its wing significantly slowed it down. I quickly followed with another attack while it was still recovering its balance. My kindjal slashed across its chest, displacing its body’s sand. The sand moved back into place, but at least the monster’s HP dropped.

A burst of sandy air shot out of the dust devil ten feet away.

I dropped to the ground and stabbed my kindjal into the ground for an anchor. The main attack missed me, but its still powerful undercurrent hit me. The gritty air blast peppered my forehead numb with sand and tore at my hair, nearly pulling it from the ponytail. A human would have been skinned. Still, I gripped my handle and braced against the attack. As soon as the blast was over, the Dust Mephit fell on me, slashing and tearing me with its suddenly solid claws.

I gritted my teeth against the pain and twisted around until I could kick it right in its ugly face. The monster crackled and fell back. I jumped up and attacked the injured Dust Mephit as it flew toward the dust devil.

I stabbed right through its body with my right kindjal. The monster’s body lost its solidness and I fell right through it. The sand rippled around me, blocking my vision for a second. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I was freaking out that I was inside a monster. As soon as I was through it, I planted my foot and swung around. Both my kindjals went up, slashing at the monster’s head. It had just barely solidified when my blades went through its neck and across its eyes.

My kindjal hit a solid object in its left eye. A second later, I felt the crack of an energy crystal. The Dust Mephit disappeared in a shimmer of light that was a lot prettier than the monster. Two Drop Item orbs fell to the ground.

[+325 EXP]

[You have Leveled Up!]

[Daily Task: 1/5 Dust Mephit]

I didn’t have time to respond before another shot of sand-filled air exploded out of the side of the dust devil. It hit me full on. I groaned, unwilling to open my mouth, as I was thrown off my feet. I hit the hard, cracked cement and was pushed along by the wind attack until I hit the side of a building.

The attack ended and I scrambled to my feet, gasping and dizzy. I slid around the side of the building, looking for a place to catch my breath. On the north side of the building, the first and larger dust devil still raged. It was slowly getting closer to me. On the south side the smaller — but still just as painful — funnel closed in on me as I rested against the east wall.

I shifted into a more comfortable position so that my arm didn’t put so much weight on the bruises I could feel forming on my back. My foot bumped against something I hadn’t seen in the small blindspot my goggles gave me. Instinctively I looked down.

On the ground was a huge, crude looking sword. The blade wasn’t perfectly straight, and the material that was wrapped and tied around the handle was tattered. But I recognized the style of that sword.

A sword just like it had sliced me to death bit by bit.

*****

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About the author

MichelleRReid

Bio: I am an author, mother, wife, and jack of all trades. I mean, every mom is, but I’ve found that through my research for different stories, I’ve picked up a lot of random (and sometimes actually useful) knowledge and skills.
I’ve had a vivid imagination since I was a child. And as much as I wish I could actually live in the worlds in my head, the closest I can get is with the words I put on the page. These characters are like real people to me. The funny lines they say, their emotions that make my heart bleed, the amazing things they can do that I physically can’t, the adventures and sights that I can see in my head. I love sharing those things with my readers and hope that they can feel at least a part of what I do.
I do have other works that are published through Amazon. They are not LitPRG, but I'm still really proud of them. Check them out if you have the chance.

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