Robin stared at the set of four doors. They looked normal enough, which is to say that they were massive wooden doors with iron bands that looked like they belonged on a prison cell in a dungeon. The doors were identical, as far as Robin could see. He steeled himself for a moment, and then gently knocked on the rightmost door with the handle of his broom.
It seemed normal enough. Robin had seen the meme joke before. Why do you have a broom, Robin? Oh, it’s in case of mimics! Haha, that’s silly. They laugh. Robin laughs. The table laughs. Robins whacks the table with his broom. Robin imagined his headstone briefly. “Here Lies Robin, Slain By A Particularly Vicious Door.” He shook his head. Not him, no way. He moved over and poled the next door.
He moved on to the next door.
Robin had relaxed somewhat as he reached the last door. If it was a trap, wouldn’t more than one be rigged up? Three fakes and one real door is what Robin would do, if it was his trap. He moved his broom up and hit the door.
Robin froze. That noise had been slightly different. Did that mean it was the trap door, or the normal door? He gave it another light tap with the broom handle.
He glanced a look at Opal. She didn’t seem to be reacting. Not that it’s easy to tell… Robin concentrated on the sensations from the bond with his familiar. He noticed it was getting easier to bring the bundle of emotions from the corner of his mind. She seemed as laser-focused on her surroundings as always. Robin took a look around the hallway. Seeing nothing unusual, he reached out to open the door. He paused for a moment, then took out the anytool and willed it to take the form of a machete. After the heat seeped into the cold stone floor, Robin armed himself with it, placing the Deverran Broom into his satchel over his shoulder.
The door opened easily with a tug. The room inside had lights, just as oddly out of place in the monolithic stone rooms as they had been in the bathroom. The room had several massive gray cables, each as thick as Robin’s wrist, one going from wall to wall, and the other from the ceiling to the wall. There were several cabinets lining the walls. Robin thought idly that they might have been completely covering the walls before the Ysari System changed everything. The cabinets, the lights, nor the cables were what caught Robin’s eye first, however.
That distinction belonged to the massive jumping spider sitting on the far wall, directly across from the door.
It was roughly half the size of a refrigerator, with black and white fringes of stiff hair going over the two oversized legs in the front. It had black and white stripes on the smaller legs, and the patterns of white spots on the black abdomen looked almost like a face. The chelicerae had an iridescent look to them, shimmering between green and blue. The spider was tense, all of its legs underneath it, except for the big foreclaws, held poised and tucked-in to the front of the spider..
Robin realized he had frozen. Abruptly, the attention of the spider seemed to shift fully to Robin. The body of the spider seemed to orient at him, and Robin realized it was about to jump. He attempted to push the door all the way open, but the doors had been flimsy before, and would slam into the wall if you pushed too hard. He didn’t push hard enough for the wooden and iron door, and stumbled against it.
At the same moment he stumbled, the spider leapt directly at him, seeming ready to spring without any further tensing. Robin, as fast as he could, screamed the only words that came to mind, swinging the anytool-machete upwards clumsily.
To his horror, Robin saw his swing pass cleanly in front of the spider-turned-bullet, the weight of the now-overhead machete yanking him backwards. He could see a thin, glittering trail left behind where the blade had passed, like a strand of spiderweb covered in dew and glistening in the morning sun. Opal, having already hopped to the wall, skittered higher, dancing wildly, a pink leaf blowing in the wind on the stone dungeon wall.
The spider hurtled through the air, reaching Robin split seconds after his attack missed. Robin wanted to scream again, but he hadn’t yet taken another breath from the bellow he emitted to use his skill. I’m going to die! Time seemed slower than normal for Robin as he watched the predator stretch its long forelegs out towards him, stretching outwards in unsated anticipation. Robin could see the points, like smaller fangs, poking out of the chelicerae. Every detail seemed intense and so, so important for Robin to memorize.
The spider hit the almost invisible silver line left in the air behind Robin’s attack. It hit the line directly between the stretched-open chelicerae. The line cut into the mouthparts of the spider with almost no resistance, the force behind the spider’s leap carrying the unwitting predator deeper forward onto the line. The hideous strength of the jump carried it forward, cutting almost entirely through the thorax of the spider, when finally the string vanished with a sound like an anonymous stringed instrument snapping a string in a parade band. Robin had not yet finished recovering from his stumble, and was carried to the ground entirely by the madly twitching spider.
Robin screamed, finally having recovered his breath, and tried to squirm out from underneath the spider. He could see that even though it was effectively split in half, it was still trying to bite him. He found that the
“split” of the spider meant he could move easily, but as he madly scrambled back, he couldn’t avoid being covered in the fluids gushed by the massive wound.
The spider, now halfway split in half, continued thrashing and attempting to stand, but could not find purchase on the ground slicked with its own innards, and slipped repeatedly. Robin finally managed to stand and in a terror-inspired frenzy began hacking wildly at the dying spider. After a moment, the legs of the spider slowly ceased moving and began to curl up. Robin sat back, panting, watching the thing stop moving.
His head wobbled a little bit. His vision was swimming. Take a deep breath, he thought, and immediately felt cliche. Robin took the deep breath anyway. Keep doing that. Good job, just keep breathing. He stared into the room behind the spider, his panting gradually slowing. It looked pretty clear, though he couldn’t fully see the ceiling or the wall that the door into the room was on. Although… he frowned, looking at the meter-wide hole in the ceiling. It looked like the sewer entrances you in video games with medieval settings, but it was hanging open, lightly swinging on a hinge. Was that the air condition vent…? I always did think they were big enough to move in, maybe even to crawl around and spy like in the movies.
Robin paled at that thought. Had there been other spiders in the room? He glanced around. There were several shattered terrariums, jars, and plastic debris. Crap. CRAP. Where did they go!? If I remember right, the fuzzy spots on the front legs of this spider mean that it’s a male. So… there are bigger spiders like this out there maybe?
The spider shuddered, and Robin let out a small shriek, jumping away from it. At the same moment, he received a text notification…no, wait, there were several. He forced himself to smile. He started with the last one to arrive and worked backwards, his eyes flitting back and forth as he read. The first one had a purple border, a border color he hadn't seen before.
|You have entered a confrontation with a creature of vasty greater strength and emerged victorious, despite all odds. Information about you that you do not desire to be known to others will slowly disappear from information databases of any kind, excluding biologically-based formats and certain forms of machine-based life. You gain a flat 20% chance [on top of any resistances you may already have] to outright negate any attempts to scry upon your person or immediate environment. +2 AURA, +2 MENTDEF, +2 SP|
Yes! Robin wasn’t sure what a “Dark Horse” was, but it sounded cool. A quick look at his stats menu showed it was a "Trait." The bonuses weren’t terrible, either. This meant that he actually had some MENTDEF now, whatever that did.
|Single Slash Slayer|
|You have slain what, to yourself, was a relative titan, and did so in a single blow.The first attack you make against any creature is more likely to cause critical damage. +2 AGI, +2 SP
Robin frowned slightly. Another vague one, although at least he knew when it might activate. The bonus to AGI was especially nice. He brightened up when he saw the next one, only to immediately deflate again as he felt some of the spider’s guts drip off of him, landing on the floor with a pulpy squelp.
|After exposure to horrors beyond your normal ken, you have grown resistant to fear. You may negate 1% per skill level of any fear to which you are exposed.|
There was an odd sound coming from the spider, rising in volume like a tea kettle hitting the boiling point. Robin backed further away from the body, alarmed, holding his machete in front of him. Opal skittered further away on the ceiling, though she kept away from the hole in the ceiling.
The spider was steaming, the hot vapor rising from the gargantuan wound that dominated the corpse. Robin kept staring, fascinated and a little horrified. He noted that he felt a little less afraid than he thought he normally might, though. Okay, new favorite skill.
The spider kept steaming. Robin noticed that bits of the spider’s legs were flaking off, like paper thrown into a fireplace. The process increased in speed, until the entire spider corpse seemed to steam itself into flaking, black ash that seemed to disappear into the air rather than settle on the ground. After a moment, the corpse was entirely gone, and a moment after that, the ashes that marked its passage had fully vanished as well. Robin blinked and let himself relax, just a little. He lowered the machete and sighed.
Wait… is that…
Robin moved over to the former location of the body, his anxiety from the battle forgotten. He was right!