Chapter Fifteen - Treasures
I waited patiently. My shocker was brimming with electric potential and my small frame was ready to dart into the open at a moment’s notice. Ignoring the instinct’s insistent compulsion felt like second nature now as I waited for a real moment to strike.
The healer’s back was turned but the guy with the stupidly huge lance wasn’t attacking.
This might’ve been baffling if not for the fact that these idiotic monsters were stupid enough to discuss their plans right in Dungeon Home’s entrance. The Lancer, as they called him, would protect the healer with full focus instead of dealing any damage to the mobs. They knew this would make clearing the dungeon slower but also assumed that it would be safer.
It actually might’ve been safer too, if they hadn’t been so kind as to let me know about it. Stupid invaders.
Rumor about me had spread it seemed, which I counted as a mixed blessing. I wanted these bastards to leave me alone so I could push my way out of Dungeon Home at my leisure, but they kept coming. On the one hand, that meant more interesting conversations to listen to. On the other, it meant less time to spend trying to get out of this place.
Fortunately, Red Thorn had not returned. Whatever I had said, it seemed to have been enough to make her leave for good. I wasn’t done with her though. One day I would find her. I’d get my own revenge. Somehow. I didn’t know how. Killing her seemed like a waste of time. She would just be back again a cycle or two later, same as me.
Perhaps that was why they invaded other people’s homes and killed them so callously; they knew their victims would be back. Even so, I didn’t think I had it in me to kill over and over again like these invader monsters.
I was satisfied to kill them once and get them to stay away. Twice if they were stupid enough to come back. Unfortunately, while doing so seemed to keep individual groups away, apparently it also caused the invaders to talk about it, and there was no shortage of stupid invaders willing to risk their lives to kill me.
I sprung forth while the backs of both the Lancer and the healer were turned, aiming for the Lancer first. I’d long since learned that fighter types like the Lancer could really hurt and even kill me if they got enough time to strike. It was only lucky that they’d never managed it yet. If they were immobilized with paralysis however…
I sunk my shocker into the Lancer’s neck, the only exposed body part on him, and he crumpled, paralyzed.
I didn’t stick around to focus on him though. Fighting anyone while the healer was still alive was a waste of time. My shocker recharged quickly but it wasn’t instantaneous. I took the time to turn the Lancer’s paralyzed head away from where I was about to attack next.
The less he saw of me, the better.
“H-hey, what the–mmpgh!” screamed the healer as I wrapped my tendrils around his face and eyes, then stuffed one of them in his mouth. He screamed but it was already too late. I felt the electricity return to my shocker and I discharged it into the invader, dropping him just like his companion.
I took the tendrils out of his mouth as soon as he was paralyzed. Ick! But I couldn’t have him warning the others while they were focused on the main fight.
Unlike the Lancer I didn’t spring away. Instead, I continued to attack. My tendrils were flimsy things, their attacks weak. However, my shocker could usually kill a healer in two hits. That meant I had to hang on to the paralyzed elf for two or three seconds before I could attack again.
He struggled, trying to grab at me, but his body twitched, unable to move. My shocker was ready in moments and I used it again to marvelous effect.
“Need a fucking heal, Healz!” shouted the tall metal one. I’d learned that they were called Paladins, with the occasional Warrior coming through. Both of them had drastically different ability sets but they still filled the same function: Induce the instinct to make me and my kin want to attack them, instead of their flimsy counterparts. That was easy to ignore now.
With the healer incapacitated, the Paladin wouldn’t be getting that heal.
To my surprise, however, the healer still hadn’t quite died, but he’d been immobilized for almost six seconds now, which might as well have been an eternity on the battlefield. I disengaged just as Ghoul’s Dark Tempest struck all of the invaders and flushed green in satisfaction as the healer expired to the wide area attack.
The Lancer was shakily getting back to his feet, also dangerously low on life. I darted back into the flames of the second level of candles before he could spot me. The instinct only ever let me hide on the first level, which was stupid when none of the invaders seemed capable of flight like me. If they were going to attack the torches, I might as well make it the ones that only the ranged fighters could hit.
“The Jellyfae got me, and then took out our healer,” the Lancer said.
Huh. They got my name right. Most of the invaders always seemed to want to call me a Jellyfish. Whatever that was. I was oddly pleased, and suddenly less inclined to attack the Lancer.
“Shit DPS… you had one job!” screamed the Paladin as he fended off blow after blow from Ghoul.
Losing the healer almost always guaranteed the death of the party, but Ghoul had taken quite a few hits already in this battle before I had managed to find an opening to strike the Lancer. Occasionally the Paladin or Warrior was good enough at avoiding Ghoul’s damage that they could survive. If they did, that meant the dead party members could revive and return to continue on to Momma Bossbear.
I could already tell this team would struggle with Momma Bossbear, even without my help. I could usually tell, weirdly, by noting how shiny the invaders’ clothes were. Really shiny, and I would sit the fight out. Worn, or grey colors, and I’d wait to see how they fared against Ghoul before choosing whether or not to strike.
Paradoxically, I noticed that the less armor certain invaders wore, the more I should fear them. One strange human had come in on his own and decimated the bugbears, Ghoul, and Momma Bossbear without so much as a shirt to cover his skin shell, and hadn’t even been hit once. Even Red Thorn had never managed that.
“Don’t worry, we still got this. Here,” the Lancer said, pulling out a red vial and tossing it to the Paladin, who caught it before blocking another tremendous blow from Ghoul’s bony claws.
‘What the heck was that?’ I thought, drifting a few torches closer to get a look at the vials. The invaders had never used these before. They seemed exceptionally delicate.
The Paladin uncorked the strange vial and raised it to his lips. To my shock, bloody gouges that Ghoul had worked hard to place on the man’s face began to fade, healing before my very eyes just like when the healer hit them with their spells.
There were drinks that could do the same things the lights did? What the shit?
I had been imbibing the language of the invaders for hundreds of cycles now, and as much as I hated them, they had the best things to say whenever they were mad. Finding out that there were more ways for these invaders to keep themselves alive while I had none just infuriated me.
The Lancer jumped high into the air and sliced his spear into Ghoul’s hide, making her scream in agony before bounding far out of her reach. He then unstoppered his own vial, preparing to drink.
“No, no, no, silly human,” I said, while preparing my limbs for another rush. “None of that.”
He stopped for half a moment, searching around for my voice. I struck, dashing from my torch straight across the room. I snatched the potion out of the man’s hand with my tentacle while my shocker grazed his closed palm and electrocuted him again.
He crumpled, as dead as the healer, while I greedily fled the chamber. The tank had healed and Ghoul was almost dead. They likely wouldn’t die here, and I had a prize now. Better to kill them when they reached Momma Bossbear.
Or… or just let them go on about their raid.
I wanted to admire my new pretty.
I dashed up the halls of Dungeon home, past the straight stone walls until I reached the upper cave where my new crevice was. The old one wasn’t safe. I was only lucky Red Thorn hadn’t found a way to get up there and loot my precious horn when she’d returned. Still, I’d decided the place was too vulnerable and made my new home in the off cave that only had three levels.
There were many hallways that ended with nothing but barren caves down that way. I also enjoyed the fact that the instinct never wanted me to go there. Little defiances made my cycle now. My particular barren cave had another crevice in the ceiling that was hollowed out behind a stalactite.
I entered my new home within Dungeon Home and placed the vial of red liquid gingerly with my other treasures.
All but one of them had been stolen from invaders: Half Bold’s horn, now my horn. A tiara I’d snatched from an elf. A glove that had belonged to one of the huge Orcs that made just the most comfortable place to lay my body down. A pebble one of the invaders had kicked in from beyond where the instinct would allow me to go.
I went over to my glove and squeezed my body into the entrance and let my tentacles flow through the holes I’d torn in the finger tubes. I felt so cozy, I could almost imagine it was what the light from outside the Great-Open felt like.
The only warmth I’d ever known came from the torches and I could just tell that it wasn’t the same.
I looked over my collection, my eyes lingering on the one thing that hadn’t come from the invaders: the piece of Bugbear’s tunic, I’d ripped it off and kept it as a memento of him, what seemed like a lifetime ago now. The others I didn’t care about anymore. Watching them die, cycle after cycle, had inured me to their pain. What hurt was knowing how little I cared, and remembering a me that had been so horrified by their slaughter. A me that had deluded herself into thinking these puppets of the instinct were her family.
Bugbear though… he was different. There was a light there, that the others didn’t possess. And I loved him for that. I would cherish him. Even after finally leaving this place, I would carry a piece of him with me. One day, I’d come back for him.
That was a promise.
In the distance, I heard Momma Bossbear roar. Without me there, she would probably die.
… I curled up to go to sleep, dimming my light till the world was dark. I dreamed of the Great Open.
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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.
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