The Na(ain't a cool name, I know)...
[Damage Received: 57]
“Can’t… hold it... anymore!” Thena groaned as another impact shook through her body. She curled behind her red and silver heater shield, thrust against the ground for stability, as the angular bone-armoured head of a massive, gorilla-like creature rammed into it again and again. Its other, much skinnier head reached from the top of the shield, snapping at her with its skeletal lower jaw full of dagger-like fangs.
Na, the level 15 mini-boss of the Brikshire bone garden was no easy opponent, but as long as they take it down and complete the quest, they could meet the requirements for their class advancement.
“Ra- Gandoff!” she yelled. “Another fireball! Quick!”
“Eh?” A few meters away from the fight, the youth sitting on a piece of enormous yellowish shin bone the size of a tree trunk, raised his head. “Like, not enough MP, sis, so hold on for a bit.”
Thena ground her teeth, weathering a shoulder slam from the creature that dimmed the transparent red barrier over her shield further. Her feet skidded against the dusty white ground, scattering tiny fragments of bone hidden within the sand.
“Use a freaking mana potion, douchebag,” she spat.
“Like no way! That’s my last one!” Gandoff waved the suggestion away. “Just wait like a few seconds more.”
“Don’t worry, fair maiden, this elegant bard shall offer a song to assist in your endeavour.” With a flourish of her purple cloak, a blond girl of 20 or so plucked at a lute in her hand. “A song of courage.”
“Red!” Thena rolled her eyes at the newest and most useless party member they picked up. Without that woman messing up their rhythm, Gandoff wouldn’t lose so much MP. “I don’t need courage right n—”
“GROAAR!” With an angry snarl, the Na gripped the side of her shield with its thick fingers and twisted, trying to rip it off her hands.
Thena dug her feet into the ground, struggling to hold on to her shield with all her might. A losing battle, however; as other than the spiky bone armours on various places of its body that gave it its defence, its physical power alone was a force on its own. Though she only felt a tingle of pain due to her settings, the thing was about to pop her hands out of their sockets.
“At least a defensive song,” she felt desperate, “or just throw debuff at it for god’s sake!”
“Ah right!” Red nodded. “Wait, a minute. Let me check my playlist for something suitable.” A window popped out in front of her and she started scrolling through the list. Round, well-groomed eyebrows drawn together, she looked like she was choosing which dress, from among the hundreds she owned, to wear on a date. A real hard choice.
“Useless!” Thena growled. With a swift command, she sent a message to the most reliable guy around.
<Arun, are you done yet?>
She glanced at the reply before looking over the creature’s shoulder. The house-sized rib cages and other pieces of bone scattered throughout the bone garden, Kratos should be hiding there somewhere, preparing, but even he was being unreliable right now.
People! She wrinkled her nose irritatedly.
[Damage Received: 78]
Thena winced as the creature gave a powerful tug, and the tingle on her shoulder almost bordered on genuine pain. Should she just give up the shield?
<Everybody, get ready!>
“Finally, here!” A sense of relief washed over Thena. Yes! Now she could take the risk. Finding a chance, she let go of her right arm.
[Damage Received: 92]
Gritting her teeth as her left arm attached to the shield bent in a way no arm should, she clenched her free one in a tight fist and sent a thundering uppercut right into the bony jaw of the second head, the one that’d been snapping away at her.
The heavy metal gauntlet did the trick. The jaw smacked shut on its long, wiggling tongue, nearly severing the appendage in half.
“Whine!” making the sound of a dog kicked in the nuts, the creature reeled back, its fingers sliding off Thena’s shield to clutch its wounded mouth while the other head looked on with genuine concern.
Thena glanced back at the other two. Red had already flicked the playlist window away, readying her lute for a song. Gandoff also took a crystalline bottle of blue liquid out of his inventory and stood up.
“Like such a waste,” he sighed, looking like Thena just snatched his favourite bag of chips from him.
Sighing, she too took out a bottle of red liquid and downed it. The liquid tasted delicious, like a strawberry flavoured soft drink, but that wasn’t important. The half-empty red bar above her started filling up as she opened another window and sent out the message.
Thena grinned. The red light around her shield flared up as she gripped it tight and dashed towards the monster. It was her turn to give it a taste of getting bashed.
Thena drove her shield into the chest of the beast, lifting it off the ground and half-carrying it in a display of pure, brutal strength the skill [Shield Bash] gave her. And when she skidded to a stop, the momentum carried the creature’s body a few meters through the air. It crashed into the ground, raising a shower of bone dust and fragments.
[Damage Dealt: 105]
The creature scrambled to its feet, too dizzy to stand properly. “Grrr… rrr… ROAAAAAR!” the confused growl from its throat transformed into a furious roar. It shook both its heads, shrugging off the daze, and prepared to charge at Thena again.
“[Pitfall]!” A quiet sound came from behind it. The ground below its feet glowed green for an instant before disappearing into a meter deep pit. The creature flailed its arm as it fell right into a set of iron spikes below.
A long, mournful cry reminiscent of a wolf’s howl shook through the Na’s body. Stinky, dark green blood gushed from its stab wounds, marring its black fur like dirty sewer sludge. It wrestled its body free from the bed of spikes, trying to climb up from the shallow pit.
Four six-inch-long trap doors opened on each side of the pit’s wall. Finger thick iron chains shot out from the dark openings and spun around the beast’s body. The thorns on their tips sunk into its flesh, drawing more spurts of blood. The more the beast struggled, the more the chains tightened, snaring it like a deer in a quicksand.
Kratos came out from the ribcage of a serpentine monster just behind the pit. Patting some bone dust off his cloak, which reverted from the whitish-yellow of the surrounding ground to its original grey, he looked at the other three. “What are you waiting for, an invitation? Kill it.”
A direct fireball to the face shut off the creature. Right after Gandoff, Thena took her chance. After enduring its beating for so long, if she didn’t deal out some pain, she’d sure lose sleep over it. She whipped out a silver mace from her belt and swung at it. The beast tried to dodge the blow, but an uncanny noise of moaning cats or groaning crows struck the very fibre of its being, waking a deep, primal fear from its heart.
Red’s ‘music’ sapped its strength like a hungry siren, leaving it defenceless against the continuous attacks of the other two. Blow by blow, spell by spell, they piled damage on it; but if there was one thing a boss monster didn’t lack, it was health.
“Why is it taking so much time!” Kratos grumbled. As a trapper, his attack and defence was shit. So he didn’t bother joining the fight. But now, he kinda regretted not investing in those two a bit. The battle was taking too long.
“Chi…” He fidgeted, gripping his fist tighter. What happened to her? Did she enter the game?
I have to find out!
He looked at their mage. Yellow tennis ball-sized fireballs and thumb thick, pale blue bolts of lightning hurtled out of his palm and the tip of his staff. They sizzled through the air, continuously barraging the beast. Not much individual damage, but the quantity counted for something.
<Rahul, stop flicking flies and hit it big.>
“Huh!” Gandoff furrowed his brows as the message window popped up. <But that takes, like, too much mana, man.>
<Doesn’t matter, do it!>
“So pushy!” Gandoff grumbled as he sent a message to the team. <Keep it busy for, like, a minute, please.>
“What’s he planning now?” Thena sent a glance at her brother, who had closed his eyes. His body glowed a fiery red. Her eyes widened. He was using a big spell?
But he hates using those!
She shrugged, bashing away at the monster with her mace. While her attack wasn’t bad, her main forte was defence. So with only her attacking, ‘keeping it busy’ wasn’t gonna be easy.
Her guess wasn’t off the mark. The effect of Red’s song was wearing off. The muscles on the beast’s arms ballooned as it tugged on the chains with all its strength. The metal links screeched, taut as a guitar string, the ground around their base quivering from the strain.
Kratos jolted. It’s about to break free!
He set his jaws, drawing out a foot-long dagger from his belt, and charged forward. They’d worked so hard to trap it. No way was he gonna let all that effort go to waste. His attack was shit, but if he could keep it occupied till Gandoff was ready—
A trapdoor burst apart, throwing bits and pieces of gears and other mechanical parts and other bony rubble into the air. The chain flew out with a jerk of the Na’s hand. It spun the thing over its head before lashing out at Thena.
“Oh, shit!” Thena pulled her shield up, blocking the metal whip. Though the chain was thin, the chunky pieces of debris stuck on its end gave it enough heft, just like a flail. And it struck like one, too. Her shield vibrated like a gong from the clash, sending tremors up her arm.
Thena retreated, her mind working furiously. What now? How would she avoid this new weapon it got?
Her answer came soon. Kratos leapt forward from the side, slashing the dagger at the Na’s arm. The sudden attack left a deep cut on the back of its palm. The beast winced and let go of the chain. It sent a furious glare at its assailant, but Kratos had already started backing out.
The creature reached towards its back, grabbing one of the enormous bone spikes that stood out like straight white spears. Those had a price, a dangerous dip in its health, but it didn’t care. With a deep roar that shook the ground, it snapped the thing right off and hurled it forward like a javelin thrower at the Olympics.
Kratos didn’t even have the time to blink when the thing struck his shoulder. The force lifted his body off the ground before slamming him right back.
[Damage received: 350]
“Arun!” Thena shrieked, dashing towards the boy. Kratos tried to struggle up too, but the piece of bone had impaled him to the ground. He grimaced, looking at the spike in dismay. It would take at least half a minute to get rid of, even with help.
The beast trapped by trapper trapped the trapper.
“Heh!” he chuckled at the irony of the situation, then looked at Thena who kneeled beside him with a concerned face. “No using real names in the game, remember?”
“Huh?” Thena opened her mouth, not at all expecting that reaction. Her face grew a little hot as she pushed some hair behind her ear and mumbled, “I- I panicked.”
“ROAARGH!” the resounding cry of the beast, along with the sound of ground bursting apart shocked the two teens.
“Darn! It’s getting free!” Kratos looked over Thena’s shoulder at the beast halfway out of the pit. Its huge body loomed over them, blocking out the dim, sunless yellow sky of Brikshire dungeon. The last of the chains still creaked, straining to hold it back, while the others hung around it like vines on a swamp monster. It growled, giving one last yank at the remaining chain and ripping it out of the ground.
“Crap!” Red cursed before shouting at the two, “It’s gone into overdrive, be careful!”
Kratos struggled to remove the bone spear impaling him while Thena tried to help, but the creature didn’t wait for the boy to be free. It sent out guttural snarls from both its heads as it pounced at the duo, its claws and fangs ready to rip them apart.
Thena sprang to her feet, standing in front of Kratos as she readied her shield. The monster should have double the stats now, but she had to ward it off, at least, until Kratos got free. She waited for the impact, her heart beating like a mad drummer, but it never came.
“[Fire Spiral]!” Gandalf’s voice rumbled through the air. A meter-long circle full of red, fiery letters and symbols appeared under the monster. A gigantic, spinning pillar of fire covered it, blocking off all routes of escape. The heat radiating from the pillar scorched Thena, but she didn’t move. She stared at the wailing beast inside, flailing its arms and legs desperately to get rid of the spinning blender from hell. Its last bit of health fell rapidly, only a speck of it remaining when the fire finally stopped.
It survived! Enduring the excruciating pain coursing through its entire body, the beast gave a joyful yowl.
The powerful impact overloaded all its wounds at once, snuffing its life out.