My efforts at distracting the plorg were, sadly, entirely inadequate. For one thing, I'd kiiiind of spaced on the fact that I couldn't even get to it until it was very close to striking distance, because of the diddly invisible barrier. Once it was close enough, I tried flying into its face, but it just turned its head and kept marching toward Lucy; I couldn't block both its eyes at once.
So unfortunately, the plorg chieftain caught up to Lucy before she'd even finished chugging her potion. I launched myself off its face in a desperate hope to at least redirect the axe, but completely missed. Honestly, I'm not too sure that I tried all that hard. I was still hurting from getting forced out of the invisible barrier, and really didn't want to repeat that experience.
Lucy tried to dodge, but either the fight was wearing her down, or fumbling for her hammer while she simultaneously tried to juggle the potion was too much for her, and the axe successfully clipped her. Lucy spun one way, the potion flew another, and her hammer dropped with a muted thud to the ground behind her.
Oh hinterlands no. Not happening! I quickly redirected my dive. Blinding didn't work, dancing didn't work, I didn't think Lucy was going to be able to avoid another hit and given she hadn't finished her potion that might not be enough…but I'd been able to pick up those spiderkin. This was worth a shot.
I lit ever-so-briefly on the handle of the war hammer, before clenching my talons and immediately pumping my wings for everything they were worth. It was slow, but I was doing it! I was lifting her godawful giant hammer!
The plorg strode past me, raising its axe as it went, completely ignoring me, as per usual.
I put everything I had into forcing myself and my burden higher until the hammer and I were just slightly above and behind the plorg as it advanced toward Lucy and away from me.
I dove, twisting in the air as I went and whipping the hammer around before letting it go right as it lined up with the plorg. Taste. My. PLUSHITUDE!
The hammer whipped downwards and nailed the plorg right in the back of its big piggy head. Pa-keeng!
The monster staggered forward a step, then whipped around and roared, raising its axe to face its new opponent.
It paused. There was nothing there.
Of course there wasn't. As soon as I'd corrected my flight, I'd dived for the hammer where it had fallen and was laboriously struggling to carry it to Lucy, who was staring at me looking a bit nonplussed with another potion undrunk in her hand.
Come on Lucy, hurry it up! That thing isn't going to be distracted forever!
Either our mind meld was actually working for once, or Lucy noticed the plorg turning back around behind me, because her eyes went wide and she chugged her potion while jogging forward to retrieve her hammer. I let it drop with an internal sigh of relief and flew around behind her to see if there was anything I could do to help.
"Thanks, Mr. Familiar," said Lucy as she strode past me. "You've done great, but I can take it from here."
And she did. She'd clearly taken the plorg's measure, because she dodged every strike, peppered him with weighty hits of her own, and when he summoned a second horde of spiderkin she flawlessly repeated her early trick and forced the chieftain to annihilate most of them with a stomp attack.
I barely had to do anything at all. When it became clear that Lucy had this fight well in hand, I may have taken a short break to snack on some spiderkin.
What? They were incredibly tasty.
Eventually, the plorg collapsed to its knees, armor broken, axe head chipped, and body bruised. Lucy spun full around and landed a hammer strike to its head so hard that the chieftain was thrown back several feet from where he'd collapsed.
I took a break from my feast to wing over to Lucy. She was looking haggard, but when she saw me coming she dropped her hammer at her feet and snatched me out of the air into a huge hug as she spun me around.
"Ah ha ha, that was amazing! You were amazing! I had no idea you could carry my hammer!"
Neither did I! That was a complete panic move.
"And the way you hit the plorg in the head with it! Or dive-bombed those horrible spiderkin off me! That was brilliant!"
Oh come on, I couldn't take any credit for the spiderkin. Your quick thinking in triggering the stomp attack completely saved us. Things were not looking good up until then!
"Seriously, Mr. Familiar, that fight was so much fun. You were incredible."
I didn't know what to say. And, well, couldn't have said it if I did. I wrapped my stubby arms around Lucy and squeezed for all I was worth, though.
"Are you bigger? I feel like you're bigger than when I first logged on. Also, where did all the spiderkin bodies go?"
What? No! It's all in your head.
As Lucy looted the plorg chieftain—which, to her disappointment, did not drop its massive axe—and its underlings, I followed along behind and kept a weather eye out for more spiderkin carcasses.
Hopefully Lucy wouldn't judge me for it. After all, I hadn't had a pleasant taste experience since dying, so give a bird a break!
Ahem. In any case, I had some things to think about. That battle was super satisfying, and Lucy was clearly having a great time which meant good things for my own longevity, but…looking back, if I'd performed any of those actions in front of a normal player, they would probably lose their scribble. Normal cosmetic companion animals just didn't carry giant hammers around, much less brutally hump their opponent's faces and dance through hordes of spiderkin. Which was kind of a problem for me. For one thing, barring getting shoved out of the invisible barrier, I'd had a great time! I didn't really want to stop doing what I was doing now that I'd finally discovered a way to actually play the game.
But at the same time, I still didn't know the stakes. I couldn't wait to get back to Witchy to turn in the fifth story quest. I sincerely hoped the dialog tree was as complicated as promised, because Witchy and I badly needed to chat. If it turned out that showcasing my new abilities would endanger me, or perhaps worse, endanger Lucy…well, that was a problem. Especially considering that my best plan previously was to try and get Lucy to play nice with the other kids.
Hrm. It was a conundrum.
Then there was the excitement that I'd been able to carry Lucy's hammer! I had a sneaking suspicion that might be thanks to my Plushitude—when I'd checked my stats, I gained two points in Flexibility and one in Plushitude that battle. I only remembered noticing the notification sound twice, so I must have gained two of the increases at the same time. In any case, I had pretty direct evidence that Flexibility and Plushitude were the two stats that governed my physical abilities. Flexibility seemed to be related to my fine motor skills: I hadn't flown until I hit 20 Flexibility, and I'd been noticing that I tended to gain Flexibility when performing a physical action for the first time, particularly if it was something that required finesse. Plushitude seemed to sort of be Strength and Endurance rolled into one? I still wasn't entirely sure, but it seemed to increase when I took damage, at the very least. I was betting it was what allowed me to repel normal plorg attacks, too, although I was going to need a ton more of the stat if I ever hoped to stand up to attacks like the chieftain's. Given Flexibility was now about even with Plushitude at 32 and 33, respectively, it was entirely possible that Lucy's whimsical non-strategy of pumping my stat points into there was actually the smartest choice.
I was starting to own my Plushitude, but that still depressed me. What a stat to need to min-max. Ugh.
It was undoubtedly useful, though. In point of fact, my only stat that seemed completely useless was Cuteness. I shuddered to think what skills that one could unlock.
In any case! Carrying Lucy's hammer meant that I could probably carry other items. Like maybe rocks that were big enough to do damage, but small enough to get my talons around. And it was clear that I was able to do damage by exploiting the physics system, so that was super useful. I idly wondered if I could convince Lucy to start packing daggers or something, and just throw them on the ground before big fights. Though I guess stepping on one by accident could be messy. And maybe dropping daggers onto enemy's heads when Lucy was a front-line melee brawler wasn't the best bet. Eh, whatever! Point was, weapons were on the table now, and it was clear that if I dealt sufficient damage I could down enemies on their last legs and distract things like the plorg chieftain boss. That was huge!
Hey, if I could find enough spiderkin to munch on, maybe I'd get big enough to pick up other stuff, too! There was a win-win scenario, if I'd ever heard of one.
I surfaced from some maniacal musings of carrying around my own personal greatsword to find that Lucy had scooped me up, exited the cave via a teleportation stone in the far back, and we were most of the way back to the starter town.
Eeexcellent! One step closer to Witchy and getting some answers!
As we passed through the gates, however, a literal knight in shining armor who had been loitering around off to the side suddenly straightened up and lurched our way.
"Excuse me! Excuuuuuse me!" called a reedy, male voice. The knight waved as he pushed through the other NPCs and players. "Are you LucyLips, by any chance? My name is Sir Willington, I'm a game moderator, and I was hoping to take a moment of your time!"
Excuse me, what now?
Aw flick, the GM tracked us down somehow! Time to act normal!
…how do normal cosmetic companion animals act again? They typically hitched a ride in their owner's arms, right?
I was so hammered.