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A note from UnstoppableJuggernaut

Hello everybody and thank you for your support!

Fiiiinal battle! Cue boss music! But is the boss music for the hunters? Or Alex?

Let's go and find out.

The lean hunter moved through the winding paths within the hedges, stopping at the edge of the maze and peering onto the battlefield.

It was almost time.

The first hunter and the scarred one were moving into position as well, slipping up beside their sibling with practiced silence. They had plenty of cover: their monster horde flooded over the walls, striking at the mortals with unrestrained ferocity. The three watched their plan unfold.

Sword, spear and halberd struck flesh and parried claw. One of the guards fought against a surging pack of small monsters, only to have her arm caught in one of their mouths. The creature proceeded to suck the flesh from her forearm as she shrieked in terror, trying to drag the arm free of its jaws. Another guard ran up and stabbed straight through the monster’s temple with a spear. The muupkara collapsed to the ground—still clamped on the guard’s arm—pulling her down with it.

Large humanoid monsters surged forward, fighting to push through the guards’ spears. Soon the bone creatures would arrive.

Masked mortals joined the battle, some using swords, and some casting spells. A large bird of prey swooped around the large humanoids, tearing flesh and eyes.

Screams and roaring filled the air throughout the garden.

Chaos.

Just as they had desired: soon, the perfect moment to execute their task would come. They would be ready.

They had arrived within the walls a short time before, once it was clear that the mortals were engaged with the beasts they had dominated. There had almost been opportunity to strike earlier: the attack had begun and the humans were surprised, their prey had been alone, but deep within the defenders’ ranks: there had been no clear path to reach it unseen.

The risk of attempting to fight their way through so many defenders had been too great, and their chance could have been spoiled.

So, they had dismissed taking such a gamble.

While they considered how to reach their quarry’s position, it had quickly retreated closer to the building and they had no way of knowing if additional defenders waited within the clear walls of the structure.

Every unknown multiplied the chance of failure.

And they could not fail.

But soon, more of the defenders would be engaged when the next part of their plan was revealed. When one of the bone creatures came onto the battlefield, the mortals’ attention would be drawn straight to it. Some of them would freeze with fear. Some would panic at the sight. The spell casters would fire their spells at it. All attention would be drawn its way. That would be their moment to use the cover of distraction to slip through the defences and corner The Ravener’s enemy.

The bone creatures would provide their path to success.

There was a group of masked defenders among the armoured guards. They did not look as imposing. Once all of the defenders were distracted—including the guards—the hunters would spring among the masked ones and cut them down with ease. Then they would quickly proceed.

The armoured guards would still be engaged with the little creatures and large humanoids, and would not be able to aid their prey.

They would overwhelm the quarry.

Their claws would make short work of it.

Still studying the battle below, they recognized potential complications to their plan: some defenders seemed far more able in battle than they would have liked: a group of females in green—that the first hunter recognized as foes he’d fought in the nearby forest—and a very quick and skillful darked haired female wielding a sword with intensity.

She was cutting down their small monsters with ease.

The hunters watched as one of the large humanoids leapt at her, its arms raised up to crush her. Her movements were nearly as quick as their own; she dodged around its advance and slashed a gaping wound through its armpit. Red sprayed like a fountain and it shrieked in agony. Another slash severed one of its hands and another opened its belly.

Its scream died; with an impact that shook the ground, it fell in a limp heap.

‘That one is strong,’ the scarred hunter growled. ‘She could hinder us: if she joins our fight, I will deal with her. You both finish our task. If the other forest-females join, then I will deal with them too: even if I die trying. Kill the prey.”

Its siblings nodded their agreement.

They tensed, watching as the quarry turned around, stepping away from the building and moving back toward the garden.

‘Good!’ the first hunter communicated. ‘It comes back!’

‘Easier for us,’ the lean hunter rumbled.


Alex took in the battlefield at a glance:

Theresa, the dryads and the patrizia’s guards were making a fighting retreat back toward the manor, cutting down monsters as they went. Magic wielding party guests were blasting the creatures with beams of mana.

Monsters fell all around them.

Najyah swooped down, slashing at the large humanoids’—which Alex recognized as gorgers—faces and eyes with her talons. The monsters roared in pain and fury as their cheeks were torn open or one or both eyes were clawed out.

Some of Giuseppe DePaolo’s guests had suffered grave injuries and were being dragged into the manor, bleeding from savage bites and torn flesh mauled by the muupkaras.

There was no sign of the patrizia emerging from the manor nor did he see Isolde or Khalik anywhere. But he could still feel Claygon making his way around the massive building.

He would do what he could to reinforce their weakest points in the meanwhile.

He sent out his forceball and Wizard’s Hands, shooting them out among the ranks of the charging monsters. With a practiced ease won from battling monsters in The Barrens, he began to obstruct, tripping them up: grabbing arms, legs or feet and pulling them down or up, and throwing them off balance.

His forceball swooped through one of the long tables—piled with food, punch bowls and wine—and ploughed through the feast atop it. Muupkaras and gorgers were showered with a hail of food, dishes, utensils, casks, and burning candles that assaulted them, causing their charge to falter. Alex rolled the forceball at their feet, bowling the creatures over and sending many falling over each other.

In moments, the ferocity of their charge had broken and the nobles could go on the offensive against the stumbling, confused attackers.

Calling back his Wizard’s Hands, he reached into his bag and threw two of his booby-trapped potions into the air. The Wizard’s Hands caught them in mid-flight and shot over the gardens at speed, swooping in front of a group of gorgers and muupkaras that had just scrambled over the wall.

Krnch. Boom.

Wizard’s Hands crushed the potion bottles, blasting a cloud of gaseous potion over the gorgers and muupkaras, enveloping them.

They froze for a moment.

Then chaos.

Screams of terror burst through the monsters’ ranks as—like a swarm of drunken bees—they flew up into the air in all directions, smashing chaotically into whatever was around them. Some shot high in the air and disappeared into the night sky. Others catapulted backwards, bouncing off of trees behind the patrizia’s estate and were knocked unconscious. A gorger shot forward along the ground—picking up speed—crushing muupkaras as it went and scraping its hide raw before ploughing into a tree.

They were the lucky ones.

Others fared far worse. They were torn apart as their limbs were ripped away because of the potion—flying in different directions—or were pulled in half as their torso tried to fly one way and their legs another.

Gore stained the ground and wall they had just scaled.

The gas had worked well, keeping the monsters from getting close to the defenders.

Calling back his spells, Alex quickly tossed a Potion of Haste into the grip of one of his Wizard’s Hands and shot it at Theresa who’d just finished clearing through monsters around her.

“Theresa!” he called. “Catch! It’ll increase your speed! It doesn’t last forever so only drink it when you need it!”

“Thanks!” She shouted as her hand shot up and grabbed the potion without turning around.

Alex’s counterattack and the resistance they’d met from the defenders in the garden had caused some of the monsters to abruptly halt their advance, while others had begun to flee. It looked like the horde might break even before more of the patrizia’s reinforcements arrived.

Only a short while had passed since the monsters’ attack had begun and things were already looking up.

But something was bothering Alex.

‘Why the hell are gorgers and muupkaras cooperating?’ he thought as he shot his Wizard’s Hands and forceball into their ranks again and again. ‘What-’

A horrifying roar cut through the air: one Alex recognized.

The defenders froze.

Alex’s blood ran cold.

Someone screamed, pointing at a spot along the wall.

‘No, no, no,’ Alex thought, turning toward the roar. ‘It can’t be.’

A giant, skeleton-like hand gripped the top of the outer wall. Then a second.

The massive face of a bonedrinker rose above the stones, with its slimy pseudo-tentacles flailing out of its eye-sockets.

Alex could feel the collective horror that ran through the defenders. If that thing got to them, it would wreckthem.

He called back one of his Wizard’s Hands and his forceball.

His mind raced as he began to reach for another potion.

Think. Ada-

His potion-enhanced eyes caught a flicker of movement in the shadows.

Three figures shot out of the darkness, loping forward with terrifying speed. They leapt on the defenders, slashing through their ranks like they were felling dried grass.

“Theresa, monster-” He started to cry, but the three new beasts had slashed through the weak part of the line before he could finish his warning.

They were heading right for him. Alex jumped back, trying to open up as much distance as possible between him and them, and fell into the first position of the Spear-And-Oar Dance. His hands rose into positions from the Cleansing Movements.

He didn’t even have time to grab any of his other potions, they were coming too fast.

Alex quickly willed one of his Wizard’s Hands into a fist with the index finger pointed forward. He shot it down in front of the face of one of the approaching creatures at the last second—like he had with the mana vampire on Fan-Dor’s ship—but now, his skill in directing spells had vastly improved. The spell moved with precision, then abruptly stopped in front of the lean creature’s eye: too close for the thing to halt its forward momentum.

The monster bellowed as it ran full speed into the spell, poking out an eye in its rush. Blood spurted from the eye socket. To Alex’s horror it did not stop, though obviously in agony, half-blind, and with a spell protruding from its face. Its determination was unnerving. He immediately shot the forceball down in front of its feet and—thankfully—the still charging monster tripped, breaking the charge.

But the other two reached him an instant later.

Up close, he realized that they looked like the creature the dryads had described as having killed some of their warriors.

Then his world became a whirlwind of claws and teeth.

Alex yelled as he danced and dodged around a flurry of slashes and bites. He angled his shield to deflect a claw. One of his rectangles parried another, but shattered in the process. He weaved around the snapping jaws, and deflected claws using his force armoured arms and the flowing motions of the Cleansing Movements.

But the claws didn’t stop. Each of the assailants was faster than the mana vampire. A lot faster. Despite Alex’s enhanced senses, his training, and all his defensive spells, it was all he could do to keep from being disemboweled by one or both of them. The fact that there were two of them attacking him made the situation even worse.

He called back his forceball and continued to dance out of reach of their attacks, but their blows were coming closer and closer.

Another one of his rectangles popped.

His forceshield deflected another.

Claws scraped across his force armour, cracking it. The strength of the blow sent Alex stumbling back. A kick from one of the monsters snapped at him, threatening to knock him off his feet. He danced around it, but it clipped his bag.

Crk.

One of his potion bottles shattered and he cursed inwardly, wondering which one it was. He wished he’d had time to drink Flight or Haste.

Scccrrrk.

A searing pain ripped across his chest.

Alex screamed.

His shirt grew wet and hot, but he had no time to check the wound. The pain grew, but the claws didn’t stop.

The force armour on his arm cracked.

A gash opened on his forearm.

Then another.

Alex cried out, gritting his teeth; the forceball and Wizard’s Hand shot between him and his attackers. His spell-conjured Hand tried to pull and drag the monsters, but they were so strong that the Hand’s grip didn’t slow them. The forceball lasted long enough to be popped by one swift claw.

‘Just a little more…’ Alex thought.

He had to buy more time. Just a few more seconds.

One of the monsters—a creature with scarred skin—turned just before striking at Alex again.

Theresa had come roaring in from the side, her sword flashing in front of her. In an instant, the creature and she were clashing but—to Alex’s rising panic—the monster was pushing back the huntress with its speed and savagery. Despite her skill, speed, and enhanced life-force, she was pressed back as the monster slashed her arm.

“Theresa!” Alex cried, starting to will both Wizard’s Hands toward her, but the lean creature whose eye he’d gouged out leapt at him; he needed everything he had to avoid having his face ripped off.

Suddenly, he was fighting two again. And things had also turned grim on the battlefield.

Back in the garden, the bonedrinker was being slowed by a series of magic beams, but it was pushing through them, advancing on the defenders like the spectre of death. Then another bonedrinker crawled into the garden, drawing horrified screams from the defenders. Some of the brave folk now looked ready to run.

Theresa fought for her life. Another cut opened on her, but the scarred monster yelped as she managed to open one, and then two cuts on one of its arms. She leaned back from its bite, but it slid away before her sword could reach it, then it leapt at her again.

Crunch

One of Alex’s attackers cut through more of his rectangles.

‘Just…a little more…’ Alex thought desperately.

Schp.

A claw ripped his shirt and drew more blood.

He reached out with his mind. ‘Just a little more! The bone monster! Get the bone monster!’

The first bonedrinker surged toward the defenders, its tail whipping up to strike them.

Voooooooom!

And then flame.

A beam of fire magic blasted from the side of the manor, lancing through the air and blasting the lead bonedrinker. There was a roar of flame, and a hiss of steam.

Bone cracked.

Flesh boiled.

Splort!

The bonedrinker blew apart in a massive blast of flame.

Both monsters fighting Alex paused and he glared at them.

“You’re in trouble noooow,” he snarled.

Boom. Boom. Boom.

Thundering footsteps and flame heralded the coming.

Claygon had entered the battle.

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A note from UnstoppableJuggernaut

The correct answer was that the boss music was neighter for the hunters OR Alex...it's for Claygon, lol.

Alright, welcome to another week, my friends, and I'll see you all tomorrow!


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