Chapter Eleven – One Yoke Less
I flowed around the clumsy bat. It was lucky the thing was so slow, because I couldn’t find it in myself to hurt him. But for a twist of fate, I might’ve been him, forced to attack my own kind. I felt kinship with the bat. We came from the same place, both of our lives disrupted by invaders.
Half Bold didn’t seem worried as I casually dodged the bat’s attempts to bite me. Instead, he continued watching while occasionally throwing more of those nets at me. I didn’t run, even though I could’ve. I wanted to hurt this invader, but couldn’t get to him. I dodged and weaved, making sure to pause in front of the torches off to the side of the entrance, my shocker buzzing with electric power, just waiting for the Beastmaster to step inside.
“So, you’re fast. That’s something at least. Once you’re mine, we’ll work on making sure you aren’t so afraid to attack, little Gell,” he said with that sadistic grin of his.
I couldn’t respond. I was forced to dodge another clumsy bite from the large bat.
“You can handle Avwren just fine it seems, but how about two monsters?” The Beastmaster taunted, gleefully.
I grimaced as he withdrew another horn and put it to his lips. This one was white ivory, inlaid with beautiful violet jewels.
“Why would I fight him!?” I shouted, my voice cracking. “It’s you who’s making him attack me! This is wrong! It’s cruel!”
“It’s a freaking mob! It doesn’t have thoughts! Of course, you’re no different,” he said.
Doesn’t have thoughts!? What was that supposed to mean!?
“I am different! I can talk, and defy the instinct!” I said, realizing inside that it was true even as the words came. I was kin to the bugbears. To this bat. Yet… not. I was different in some way. Not just because I could talk. Why? Would I ever know?
As if hearing my question, Half Bold continued his rant.
“All the more valuable, then! The programmers sure made you special! It’s like they wanted someone like me to come along and bring you out into the sky. Gell, you were born for more than this cave! Come with me!” he exclaimed, holding the other horn like he had the first.
“No!” I screamed. My color flashed briefly green with satisfaction as his next net sailed straight into the torch behind me. It lit up quickly and I dove for it. The Halfling didn’t even notice, instead focusing on summoning his next captive, sure in his safety outside the entrance.
I grabbed the net in my tentacles, heedless of the burning rope and flung it into the air. It arced perfectly, coming down right where the Halfling stood.
He yelped, abandoning the next horn and diving forward to dodge the projectile. He fell face first to the ground, and then tumbled a little ways down the steep rocky entrance into the cave. The net missed him, but the torches inside the cave flared to life as he entered it. My body suffused green with temporary satisfaction before morphing back into the red rage.
“Shit!” the Halfling screamed as he scrambled to his feet, desperate to get back outside the cave’s entrance.
He almost made it to his feet when I reached him. My shocker caught him on the neck and he screamed before his voice was silenced by the paralytic effect of my electricity. The bat continued attacking me but dodging it was still simple.
I was about to strike the cruel Halfling again when I spotted the horn, still clutched in his hand spasming. I flashed green and bright yellow again, overjoyed with my success as I snatched it.
“F-ffuu… Nn---!” the Halfling’s muffled scream seemed even more agonized by losing the horn than he was from my attack. I placed the horn down a few feet away and swerved around the bat before coming back to shock Half Bold again. This time he screamed, his body convulsing in electrocuted pain.
I turned around to see the Bugrimace and Overbear both barreling into the the cave’s entrance, but I didn’t let them continue the fight here. This jerk was mine.
One final shock was sufficient to finish the twitching Halfling. There were no more words between us. Inside, I felt hollow. Was this all that the creatures who could speak were? Vicious and cruel?
Not for the first time, I wished I could speak to the other Bugbears. To Momma Bossbear.
Then again… didn’t they always attack the invaders first? It had taken me a little while to realize it, but it wasn’t the invaders that came barreling in, mad with rage. It was the bugbears. The invaders might’ve entered Dungeon Home… but was that a reason for the bugbears to try to kill them every time?
I set that thought aside as the torches in the dungeon turned blue. The bat stopped attacking me the moment Half Bold had died, fading into nothing just like the Halfling. In their place the usual angel and stone slab remained where his body had been.
I was sure he would be back, just like Red Thorn. But I was determined not to see him again.
I looked to the ground and gingerly scooped up the beautiful horn I’d managed to liberate from the Halfling. Unfortunately, I had no mouth. No way to make noise come through the instrument and summon whatever poor person that monster had sealed within it.
I took it up to my crevice though, and resolved to protect it with my life. Whatever little that was worth.
Up there, in my little cave within the roof of Dungeon Home cradling the precious horn, I wished for a friend.
I jumped in shock as a sudden sound echoed through the cave. I peeked out, and there standing far outside his cycle was Bugbear. He crooned again. It was yet more proof that while the others were static, there was something there with Bugbear. Something that ached for me.
That only made it hurt all the more when the torches lit red the next time.
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I'm Materia-Blade. I've been a long time fanfiction writer, and have recently decided to toss my hat into the original fiction arena. I love fantasy, sci-fi, and Lit-RPG's and have read hundreds of books from each genre.
My new story Artificial Jelly has released and is currently being pretty well received! Excited for it to hit trending! Thanks to those who support it, and me, and I hope it continues to impress!
Hope to hear from you soon!