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A note from Selkie

Here. We. GO!

 

Some music for your entertainment while you read: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DeumyOzKqgI

I felt someone smack my head. I stood up and glared at Lule, who was giving me the stink-eye.

“We’re here to protect you! Let us do our jobs!” She yelled at me. “We have Ned, who can also heal us!”

I noticed that there were thin, shimmering lines between all of the dwarves and Ned. I bowed my head at Lule.

“Sorry.” I said, meaning it.

Ned and I healing a dwarf was probably more powerful than me just healing myself.

Maybe.

“Ned, I need to know, what’s your magic power?” I asked him.

He looked at me with wary eyes, saying nothing.

“Tell her!” Lule yelled at him.

He sniffed.

“Over four thousand.” He said, with the most pompous voice, like there was no way I could possibly beat that.

“Four thousand? Four thousand!?” I yelled at him. “What the fuck do you think you’re going to do with four thousand magic power?! I’m sitting at over one hundred fourteen thousand magic power when I heal, and I could barely manage that attack! That took me thirty thousand mana to manage, and it still almost instantly killed me! Four thousand power is just going to get everyone killed!” I couldn’t help but say that last part contemptuously.

Fuck letting one of the other dwarves tank an attack. Ned didn’t come close to making up for what I’d lose in efficiency.

Ok, so yelling at them wasn’t exactly fair, but I wasn’t in the mood to go through this carefully. Something about watching my flesh writhe as it disintegrated only to be restored was doing a number on my mood.

The dwarves were looking at me like I was a monster. I realized I might’ve screwed up a bit, and quickly backtracked a hair.

“I did mention I was the best healer humanity has. That means something.” I pointed out.

Nope. Was still getting looks like I’d grown seven extra heads.

The awkward moment was interrupted by an earth-shattering roar, my eardrums popping again as they got blown out and instantly healed.

The rest of the dwarves were grimacing, and I noticed that they all had blood running out of their ears as well. I dunno if my healing or Ned’s (ha! Like he was doing much with his low-powered healing, compared to the [Wheel of Sun and Moon] I had going on them!) was keeping them up, but either way we were all in deep shit.

From the east, a dinosaur, eight times the size it had any right to be, a behemoth of a monster, crested a mountain, roaring in challenge. It was bipedal, hunched over with a long, crocodile-like jaw, dark green scales, and a massive fan on its back.

A cascade of Lightning sparks leapt from the Mist-wreathed titan as it moved.

I’d seen that dinosaur, that Spinosaurus, before. In front of every temple, carved out of the finest marble. I’d grown up on stories of him, of hearing how he was the guardian.

Well, I could see him in the flesh now.

[*Ding!* You are in the presence of Guardian Etalix, The Storm].

Etalix bellowed once more, the night sky turned greenish, and in a single moment three tornadoes formed out of the sky and descended, whipping up debris, coalescing into spinning, lethal forces of nature.

Unlike Destruction, who clearly could barely manage a small tornado after weeks of channeling, and couldn’t control it once unleashed, Etalix had perfect control over the three large tornadoes he’d instantly summoned. They worked in tandem, harassing and chasing Lun’Kat, whirling dervishes of indiscriminate destruction.

Yurok wasn’t standing still either. It was constantly releasing multi-colored clouds, and given how much we’d struggled with just a single spore, I was keeping a wary eye on them – and paled as the tornadoes sucked some of the gas up, becoming colored instruments of destruction and plague. Lun’kat soared over Yurok, strafing it with dragonfire, but Yurok wasn’t taking it lying down. A disk of blackened wood surrounded him, as some large skill was cast.

Even Lun’Kat didn’t seem to like whatever Yurok was doing, as she roared and twisted aside.

Yurok was burning though, dragonfire crawling through its branches. The treant shuddered, and the layer of burning bark shed, restoring the treant to its natural state. Solid skill, that.

Or was it just a natural ability all treants had?

I should be running. I should be hiding, fleeing, doing what I could to survive.

Instead, I stood entranced, hypnotized by the battle of the titans I was witnessing. In a moment of insanity, I wanted one of the guardians to pass close enough that I could [Identify] them.

Then, in one of her many passes over the mountains, continuing to burn and fight with the guardians, Lun’Kat stopped one of her attacks near the mountain we were on.

Close enough for me to [Identify].

[Lun’Kat, the Stygian Deceiver].

Seeing it gave me a massive, pounding headache, and I felt liquid - blood - ooze out of my eyes, ears, and nose. One of her eyes twisted and locked onto me.

I immediately dropped to the ground and prostrated myself, saying nothing, remembering that Night had said the dragons didn’t seem to like worshippers talking to them. For all I knew he was wrong about that, but challenging, running, or defying Lun’Kat all seemed like ways to end up dead via a casual flick of her wings, and prostrating myself seemed like it might have a small sliver of a chance for survival.

I had no shame in admitting that Lun’Kat’s direct attention terrified me to the point where I peed myself. The ability to drop the sky on a country as an opening move was enough power for me to be properly scared.

And yet, even as my face was pressed into the hard stone, my only chance at survival being Lun’Kat ignoring me, the memory of her eye was burning in my mind, filling my thoughts as I mentally chanted prayers to every god and goddess I knew to keep me safe.

I’d seen that eye before.

I mentally cursed the dwarves who were making a clamor, although from the sound of it Lule was stopping them doing anything terminally stupid, like attacking Lun’Kat.

I swear, if the dwarves got me killed, I was going to spend the entire afterlife haunting them. I’ll ask to be reincarnated as the most annoying creature, specifically to pester them in the next life.

Notice of my short-term survival arrived as another shockwave, significantly stronger than any other, washed over me, cracking my head against the hard stone.

Bless my healing.

Heat started to rise from the latest batch of dragonfire brought forth by Lun’Kat, as she’d set our mountain ablaze.

With us still trapped on the summit.

The dwarves were doing something near the mineshaft, but I couldn’t tell what. I was too entranced by what I was seeing.

The clouds crackled with green lightning, a lightning bolt jumping from cloud to cloud, coming from the distant north. I saw the bolt pause a moment, seemingly thinking, then descend down to earth – wreathing the mountain we were on, forming a curtain of green lightning all around us.

Fortunately for us, it didn’t hit the top of the mountain, and the lightning reformed itself. A gigantic serpent, clad in rainbow scales encircled the mountain, facing Lun’Kat and hissing, with such power that my teeth rattled together.

[*Ding!* You are in the presence of Guardian Galeru, The Rainbow].

Bonus! It happily landed on the burning wood, crushing it, and formed a nice barrier between us and the flames!

Of course, it also meant we were trapped on the mountain.

There was a brief shimmer, then a half-dozen more snakes were on a half-dozen of the surrounding mountains

Large coils wrapped around the mountain, as green lightning seemed to arc constantly from Galeru - and the copies - towards Lun’Kat, a steady stream of power and damage from Galeru and her clones, enough to fry a city in a heartbeat. It filled the air with enough static electricity that my hair was wildly dancing about.

Lun’Kat seemed to simply shrug off the attack, barely noticing. She simply exhaled an inferno of Pyronox, bathing Etalix in black flames. He vanished beneath the flames, a huge explosion of Mist expanding in every direction.

I seized the chance to [Identify] the massive snake coiling near me.

[Guardian Galeru, The Rainbow] I got back.

Had no idea if the [Identify] was black because of its high level, or if guardians had a black [Identify]. Either way, it seemed to be on the same tier as Lun’Kat - although the way Lun’Kat was simply shrugging off its attacks made it clear who was superior.

Looking around, the Mist that Etalix had exploded into was reforming on another mountain, and the dinosaur’s massive shape was becoming clearer. Neat trick, that, being able to turn into Mist and just be completely invulnerable for a time. Maybe. I’d need to get the skill itself and see what it did.

Never thought that Mist would be high up on my to-acquire list, but hey! Learned something new every day.

The tinkling of windchimes came to me, starting off slowly, then steadily getting louder until each noise was like a high-pitched gong going off in my ears.

[*Ding!* You are in the presence of Guardian Asura, The Destroyer].

I looked, and running on the wind from the north, light radiating from behind it, a beam of Radiance coming from its horn, was a unicorn. Pure white fur, a mane of silver and golden hooves that galloped on nothing but air.

The beam of Radiance from its horn went straight through Lun’Kat, and my heart leapt into my throat. Did Asura just kill the dragon?

That would’ve been too easy. Lun’Kat shimmered, then shattered like a mirror. I put one and one together - we’d been getting our asses kicked by an illusion, a Mirage.

Heck, we hadn’t even been the subject of the attacks. The mere shockwave of Lun’Kat’s illusion moving around was enough force and power to knock us on our asses constantly.

Asura’s Radiance washed over the mountains - and us - breaking and shattering all illusions. The many clones of Galeru also broke, which led me to think that the guardians didn’t exactly have strong teamwork.

However, Lun’Kat’s true body was revealed, and the guardians shifted their attacks, which started to land.

Runes drawn in massive, mystical light formed behind Asura, spitting forth dozens upon dozens of different types of attacks. Magic missiles and arrows, beams and chains, small bolts and arcing lightning were just some of the attacks that spilled forth from the mandalas being instantly drawn behind Asura. There was even an extra-large Mandala that took time to charge, then unleashed a powerful beam.

Far more attacks than skill slots alone could account for, each of them aiming at Lun’Kat – who ignored the arrows, broke the chains without noticing they existed, and dodged the charged attack with a twist of her wings.

Asura wasn’t the only one ramping up their attacks. Yurok had stood still for some time, but moved again - together with the entire downed forest around him. Trees stood once again and each one began to launch branches at Lun’Kat, a veritable avalanche of wood heading her way.

No snowflake thought it was responsible for the avalanche, but it was like when the lean-to had turned into a splinter attack. One splinter was harmless, but when massed, it could be problematic.

These “splinters” were the size of normal trees, given that they were the branches of redwood giants, animated once more.

Etalix’s tornadoes were both helping and not, as they sucked in some of the barrage, and flung them back out at high speeds. Some were accelerated towards Lun’Kat, others shot to nowhere.

Some entered the plague tornadoes and vanished, presumably consumed and corrupted by the poisons Yurok was emitting.

A few shot towards some of the other guardians, who either dodged, blocked, or disregarded them. They didn’t seem like intentional attacks, just a force of nature being a force of nature.

Lun’Kat expelled another black blaze, seemingly into the air, but instead of attempting to burn anything, dozens, hundreds of little dragons spawned from the black fire, flying down onto the controlled trees, and attempting to burn them with their own black Pyronox.

Some got sucked into the tornado, never to be seen again.

But the forest was burning even harder. Lun’Kat’s initial passes, her deadly red streaks of fire were growing larger, smoke creeping across the sky. The miniature dragons she summoned were spreading pyronox flames, and it was with no small amount of concern that I saw they were sticking to rocks - and continuing to burn.

Dragonfire. Didn’t seem to care about the normal rules of what was flammable - it just burned everything.

“Don’t get hit by the flames!” I yelled to the rest of the dwarves, who had taken up a defensive position.

I got a “no shit” look back.

Drin. Fik. Lule. Ned. Glifir. All in a semicircle around me, backs to the shaft, all with their shields out.

“Hang on, where’s Toke?” I asked.

I got a glare from some of the dwarves. Lule just pointed to the old ventilation shaft.

“She’s gone in, trying to use her Darkness magic to widen the passage enough for us. We’re trapped here otherwise.” Lule said.

Given that Galeru was about ten meters wide, and wrapped around the entire mountain, trapping us on the peak, that made sense. I didn’t think even an entire mountain would be enough to keep us safe, but it was better than being out in the open, tornado winds whipping around, needing to constantly shield against random splinters, colorful gases, and stray lightning bolts.

Speaking of, my pack was gone. Entirely. Somewhere in the mess it had been picked up and blown away, and I was thanking my lucky stars that I hadn’t fallen to temptation, and I’d always slept in full gear, as uncomfortable as that had been.

No idea what happened to the yaks either. I’d bet money on their souls, if they had them, busy queuing up for reincarnation by the time dawn arrived.

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Selkie

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