Mr. Familiar

by

EO Tenkey

Quest 31: Mr. Familiar Fights the Good Fight

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Lucy chugged down a health potion as she turned to face the plorg chieftain. The thing was using the haft of its massive axe to leverage its way out of its crouch, and did not look nearly as happy now that we'd put down its honor guard.

Lucy finished off her health potion, wiped her mouth, and tossed the empty bottle aside. "That is one ploinked looking piggy." She hefted her hammer and started stalking toward the chieftain as it finally gained its feet and picked up its axe. "Think we can take him, Fluff-kins?"

Dang straight, Lucy. Cheep!

The chieftain had started lumbering its way toward us, and as Lucy set off into a jog to meet it, I launched myself from her shoulder and tried to gain some height.

I talked a big game, but honestly I had no idea if we'd be able to take this monstrosity out. It wasn't so tall that I couldn't get to its eyes to try and blind it, but it was too big for me to fully block its vision, so I doubted I'd be able to cause its internal logic to short-circuit the way I'd been able to screw with the normal-sized plorgs. Thanks to its size, I also wasn't confident I'd be able to trip it by dancing around under its feet. I could try to intercept axe strikes, of course, but I'd never flown in front of a weapon that big, so while I'd been doing well against normal weapons the sheer momentum this one generated might be enough to just bat me aside. I'd try it, of course. I could feel discomfort bordering on pain, but it was pretty clear I didn't have health the way combatants in the game did. I just wasn't optimistic I'd be able to stop the thing.

As we came within range of the plorg, it raised its axe back and then brought it around in a horizontal sweep. Lucy ducked under it, I winged over it, and the plorg caught nothing but air. Fortunately. The axe sure hadn't looked like it was moving all that fast, but its passage sent up a plume of air that pushed me slightly off course. I didn't want to think what would happen if he scored a direct hit against Lucy.

I took a quick peek downward. Lucy slammed her hammer into the plorg's side and pivoted around to its left side. I corrected my path and slammed into its left eye talons-first.

As expected, the plorg was only briefly distracted by my hijinks, but it was enough that Lucy was able to nail it with a few hits from its temporarily-blinded left side. That was good enough, really. Bosses usually required winnowing down, anyway, so if I could slow down its ability to locate and swing at Lucy, that might help us in what was almost certainly going to be a fight of attrition.

The chieftain finally turned enough to catch sight of Lucy with its right eye, the axe came back around, and I threw myself into the air and circled its head for another pass as Lucy actually rolled forward and under its legs.

It sure didn't like that. With another of its squealing roars, it raised a foot and stomped down hard, sending Lucy stumbling as shock waves radiated out and actually cracked some of the nearby stalagmites. As she fought to gain her feet, the plorg whipped itself around and brought its axe up over its head for an overhand attack. Not good! I didn't have an angle to try to intercept the axe, so instead I flew as fast as I could and impacted the side of the axe head as it descended towards Lucy.

I felt like I'd run into a wall, but I might have shifted the trajectory of the axe slightly. It was hard to tell, as I was bouncing off and somewhat addled when it slammed down inches away from Lucy and sent a cascade of stone shrapnel to pelt her.

While I was trying to get back into the air, Lucy dodged back and put a stalagmite between her and the plorg chieftain, but it wasn't having any of that. With a grunt, it tore the axe from the ground and simply smashed the stalagmite apart, which sent even larger chunks of stone slamming into Lucy.

Ugh, so much for winning wars of attrition. She ran for its right side, shielding herself with her hammer as best she could, and I landed on its right eye to give her a little time to recover.

Lucy got a few hits in before the plorg was able to locate her again, and this time when it swung at her she ran around to its right again so I stayed put. That lasted right up until it tried another overhand swing. Thanks to my perch on its face I wasn't able to do flick-all about that, but fortunately Lucy dodged the axe itself. Since the impact pelted her with broken rocks again, I took off. It didn't look like she'd be able to get around the plorg's side again right away.

Sure enough, the plorg wound up for another horizontal sweep before Lucy had fully recovered from its overhand attack. Guess it was time to try running more direct interference; I arrowed down in front of the axe just as it was about to nail Lucy in the side.

The edge of the axe connected with me, and the world whited out for a moment. Next thing I knew, I was being carried along by the axe blade as it whistled past Lucy's surprised face—oh, looked like she'd managed to duck it, that was nice—and then I was heading past some stalactites, axe still buried in my fluff, and oh diddle the plorg appeared to be turning a bit as it followed through on its swing and I was preeeeeetty sure the axe was traveling outside the invisible wall…

The plorg reached the end of its swing. It was turned halfway around from Lucy, and I was farther away from her than I'd ever been, still stuck to the axe blade despite there ostensibly being nothing to keep me there. Lucy was slamming her hammer into the chieftain's unprotected back and side over and over, and seemed to be screaming her head off. I wasn't sure if she was just getting into character as a berserker, or if she was super ploinked about me getting hit with a giant axe. I was a little sad that I'd apparently had zero impact on the plorg's ability to swing. Evidently the mass differential was just too much.

I realized that I was trying to distract myself. The plorg pulled the axe a little way away from my position and started to rotate it, presumably preparing to take another swing at Lucy. I slammed into the flat of the blade and had the barest instant to think that flick, this wasn't going to be good, before the mounting pressure that was pressing me against the flat of the axe overcame the plorg's strength. The axe went spinning, flying out of the surprised chieftain's hands and above my head as I was launched straight through the space where the axe had previously been so fast that I could barely track my position.

I rocketed past the plorg, past Lucy, hit the far side of the invisible wall and actually kept going for a little bit as my momentum bled off. I had a brief, weightless moment, and then I was sent hurtling back the other way.

I wasn't entirely sure how many times I pinballed off the invisible bounds around Lucy before finally slamming into the ground, but it was upwards of three. I only realized that I was no longer getting thrown around when the invisible barrier gently impacted my side and started pushing me through the scree.

I didn't feel so good, but I pushed myself partially upright and twisted around to see what was going on.

Lucy had apparently somehow managed to drive the plorg chieftain away from his giant axe after he fumbled it and was now forcing him back through the stalagmites. Had to say, that was unexpected. The plorg was trying to block her strikes with his arms, but he didn't appear to have any attack routines for dealing with being disarmed aside from the stomp attack, so she was just laying into him.

Yeah, Lucy was fine. I laid my head back down. I really didn't feel good. Wasn't sure if it was the axe or, more likely, getting forced outside the invisible wall that kept me tethered to Lucy, but I felt like I'd been run over by stampeding plorgs. My whole body ached, and for the first time since getting incarnated in BAO I was physically exhausted. Note to self: don't try to intercept giant flicking axes with my body.

You'd really think that would be common sense, but here we were.

The plorg chieftain let out another one of its bellows that started out as a roar and ended up a squeal, and the shadowy borders of the cave began to boil. Uh oh, looked like Lucy finally wore the boss down to the point that it triggered the next stage of the fight. As the first several Gloaming spiderkin skittered past me, I laboriously shoved myself upward and started waddling toward Lucy. Guess I needed to earn my keep. Well, that and those spiderkin were flicking delicious.

The plorg chieftain pounded past me on its way toward its axe, but I didn't bother trying to dance under its feet. Odds were good it would just step over me, and Lucy needed my help.

The spiderkin had reached her, and unlike our first encounter where they all basically moved in a single group, there were enough of them that they had attacked from all sides simultaneously. There were so many spiderkin crawling on her that I could barely make her out, and Lucy did not appear to be taking it well.

…Which was understandable, really, given they were rat-sized, evil, bitey, spider-ish things spawning in numbers that were calibrated for a full party. I picked up the pace.

When I reached the outer edge of the spiderkin swarming Lucy, I waded into the fray and started a-pecking.

It did virtually nothing. The spiderkin were light enough that I could sort of shove them slightly out of my way by pecking them, but it didn't appear to do any appreciable damage. Hmmm.

I shoved my way free of the pack, and reluctantly tossed myself into a forward dive before taking to the air.

I was pretty sure dancing would disrupt them a bit, but with a group this size it would be a drop in the bucket. Not much point in shoving a few of them around when the rest were swarming over Lucy.

So I decided to try something new. I swooped downward towards the spiderkin crawling over Lucy's back, but instead of coming straight on I was almost parallel. As I got closer I stuck out my talons as if I was about to perch on something, but as soon as I felt them brush something I clamped them shut, leaned forward, and put on a little more speed.

Spiderkin cascaded off her, bounced off by my plush self, and I'd even caught a couple of spiderkin by their legs in my talons! That was a neat trick. I executed a fast turn and let go about halfway through and the pair of spiderkin went sailing through the air to splat against a stalagmite. Pa-keeng! I wasn't paying very close attention, though, because I was making another pass.

Lucy lashed out with her hammer, screaming incoherently, and I'd buzzed her half a dozen times to knock spiderkin off her and send some to their doom on each pass before the plorg chieftain made it back, axe in hand. Fortunately, rather than simply attacking Lucy, the thing paused to roar at her, sending more spittle flying our way. It led with one of its big, overhanded swings of the axe, and Lucy simply dove out of the way, crushing a goodly number of spiderkin as she went. Behind her, the axe hit the stone and send out its standard burst of shrapnel, pulping a sizeable portion of the spiderkin nearby.

Huh, guess the spiderkin weren't supposed to be quite so grouped up. Good luck for us, though! Well, aside from the fact that now Lucy had to try and fight the plorg while still dealing with the remaining swarm of spiderkin.

Lucy had scrambled to her feet, and now let out a bellow. Apparently her Provocation skill was back up, because while the spiderkin had already been pretty eager to get to her, now they were actually scrambling over one another.

She didn't pay any attention to them, though. Instead, she waded forward through them, ignoring the bites she was receiving, and slammed an Icy Grip straight into the plorg chieftain's stomach. Ice fountained off the boss, clearing out swathes of spiderkin that had been scuttling between the two of them. I aimed for his face, expecting Lucy to sidestep, but instead she rolled through its legs again, crushing the few spiderkin that had been holding onto her in the process.

What on earth was she doing?! Didn't she remember last time?

Sure enough, the plorg immediately lifted a leg for its stomp attack, though it was moving a little slower thanks to the chill effect. Lucy, instead of climbing to her feet behind the plorg simple rolled to her knees, braced her hammer on the ground in front of herself and hunkered down.

The chieftain's foot impacted the ground, sending a shockwave outward. Rocks left over from its overhand attack pinged off Lucy's hammer, but it looked like she'd successfully escaped the worst of the damage.

The spiderkin were not so lucky. In their mindless dash after Lucy, the vast majority of them had gotten in range of the stomp attack and been completely destroyed.

That was crazy clever! Provoking them to get them in range faster, then triggering the boss's area damaging stomp attack? It was clearly intentional, too! Oh man, I was going to have give her major snuggles after this battle! My Lucy, all grown up and manipulating boss characters into murdering their underlings!

The plorg was still chilled, and Lucy was getting to her feet none the worse for wear, so I turned my attention to the remaining spiderkin. The survivors had been knocked backward by the stomp attack, and were dazedly grouping up into a miniature swarm, similar to what we'd seen when we'd first entered the cellars.

Time to see if dancing worked on spiderkin, I supposed!

I aimed toward the leading edge of the swarm, and instead of trying to land, I just ploughed into the leading spiderkin, sending us tumbling through the leading edge, knocking spiderkin hither and yon. I got up; the spiderkin didn't. Thank goodness for the absurdly low health on these little buggers. I pecked it, since who leaves a treat that's sitting right in front of them?

Mmm. So good! Maybe it was just my imagination, but I felt like my aches from before had just eased up a little, too.

Anyway, time to get to work. A quick glance showed that the spiderkin I'd knocked awry were scrambling back to join the swarm instead of heading for Lucy, so it looked like at certain numbers spiderkin preferred to group up.

I spun in place so my back was to the greatest concentration of spiderkin, and kicked off my dance moves.

It wasn't a perfect setup. I couldn't see where I was going, so I sometimes danced right out of the swarm, and unlike dive-bombing them with my body I didn't cause enough damage to anything to kill it. However, by snapping out of the dance, spinning partway around, and setting off in another direction at regular intervals I was able to badly disrupt the group's movement. Particularly when I danced across the leading edge of the swarm, the spiderkin in front would get knocked out of place, several of them often getting shoved into the spiderkin further in and forcing them to untangle themselves before they could keep going. The whole swarm seemed to be moving somewhat as a unit, too, so if I was able to disrupt a significant enough number of the little monsters, the whole thing would briefly come stumbling to a halt.

I was pretty pleased with my progress. The swarm had previously been trying its best to distract Lucy while she was fighting the chieftain but was now bogged down a ways away from the main battle. Although, come to think, how was that going? Lucy had been dodging the axe pretty well before—

In partial answer to my question, Lucy came flying through the air and landed dead center on the spiderkin swarm before skidding backward until she fetched up against a stalagmite.

Well, guess she hadn't dodged every hit. She was looking pretty rough around the edges; armor scuffed, smears of blood in places. Silver lining, though, was that she'd literally wiped out the majority of the spiderkin swarm.

I pointed an arm at her and cheeped commandingly. Drink a potion! I'd distract Mr. Pigface. As I turned to do just that, though, I paused. There was a dead spiderkin right there. Oh, well.

Peck.

Mmmm, raspberries this time!

I threw myself into the air and flew off to do my best to distract the plorg while Lucy hopefully recuperated.

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A note from EO Tenkey

This battle just keeps going! I thought we'd be done with it this chapter (especially when it ended up one of the longer ones I've written recently), but Mr. Familiar and Lucy apparently had other ideas.

Also, has no one ever told Mr. Familiar that you shouldn't snack in the middle of combat? What terrible discipline that bird has!


About the author

EO Tenkey

Bio: Read all the things. Write all the things. Sleep? What's that? Does it taste good with chips?

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