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A note from UnstoppableJuggernaut

Hey everybody! Let's dooo this. 

Thank you for you reading, always.

Faraway Paladin ep 2 was good. It's so nice to see the characters adaptated so well so far.

ALSO THEY'RE WORKING ON BLOODBORNE 2 YEEEEAAAAH!

Let's go!

Alex and Claygon chased the monster as it loped ahead, suddenly disappearing into a building with its doors wide open.

The young wizard recast lesser force armour as he guided his way through The Mark’s interference. The spell briefly glowed with a crimson light then reformed as his mana raced through the magic circuits.

Casting the spell and getting around The Mark while chasing the fleeing monster took extra effort, but better to have the protection in place before they caught up to it. The more he and Claygon ran, the more convinced he became that they were being lured into a trap. The creature had ignored a number of chances to scramble over the wall and escape, choosing to run into a building instead.

Why would it corner itself like that, it made no sense...unless it was trying to corner him.

Alex guided himself through The Mark’s interference again, conjuring another forceball. He glanced at the battle raging on in front of the manor.

Khalik and Isolde were working with the patrizia’s forces: blasting the creatures with stone spikes and lightning. Alex saw gorgers splayed over the ground—pierced by the prince’s spikes—while muupkara corpses smoldered from lightning strikes.

The patrizia led a group of guards in a charge away from the manor. Every swing of his sword cut down a monster and he barked orders as he fought. Alex was grateful that the fighting was being kept away from the main building where his sister and Thundar were.

From the flank of the invaders, a grey-bearded man led a pack of snarling hounds into the midst of the creatures. Brutus was among them, tearing apart muupkaras with three sets of bloody fangs while fighting his way toward Khalik and Isolde. One of his heads would sniff the air and dart around periodically, clearly looking for his master.

The air had the tang of blood.

Even though these monsters seemed to be a lot more aggressive than the ones who’d encountered Claygon, they were showing signs of losing their nerve as well. Some were turning and running to the wall and slipping back over. It wasn’t natural to find so many different monsters all cooperating together in the first place. In Baelin’s classes he’d never heard of a single monster in The Barrens that could control other monsters: nothing with the intelligence and the will to unite the predators of Kravernus into a single force. It made Alex wonder how this could be happening.

Since the creature he was chasing could talk, he almost wanted to capture it alive: it could speak, so it might be able to be interrogated. On the other hand, its actions also meant that it was too dangerous to take any chances with.

Just as Alex’s Potion of Haste faded, he and Claygon reached the building the monster had run into. They were standing at the doors to the patrizia’s granary. Alex grimaced, wishing he had another Haste Potion: the boost of speed hadn’t only helped him avoid most of the trio’s claws, but was the reason he hadn’t lost sight of the last one when it ran into the granary.

Glancing up at Claygon, he shook away some of his nervousness: it wasn’t like he was completely defenceless.

He wasn’t a simple baker’s assistant from Alric anymore.

His eyes squinted into the shadowy granary. From rows of windows high in the walls, shafts of moonlight filtered through thick clouds of dust filling the air. On the floor lay torn open flour sacks. From years of working with heaps of flour at McHarris’ bakery, Alex understood that one tiny spark could send this whole granary up in an inferno.

He glanced at the nearby buildings: if that happened, the entire estate would burn. The wrong choice could turn the situation deadly for everyone nearby. That ruled out the terrifyingly effective tactic of ‘blow the monster up horribly with fire-gems if it gets too dangerous’. He couldn’t lie to himself though, he was a little disappointed about that.

The hard way it was, then.

He had Claygon. He had his defences. He had his wits.

And he had The Mark.

He guided his way through a final spell: Orb of Air, which he cast over his head. The little globe of air materialized around him: the scent of blood disappeared, and fresh air filled his lungs. The spell would stop the flour dust from entering his nose, mouth, eyes and ears.

Alex took a final accounting of himself.

His force shield hovered in front of him, as strong as ever. His armour had been fixed. Forceball could serve as an extra defence, and he had a few of his parrying rectangles still circling his body.

His defences were still fairly strong.

The wounds on his torso were thankfully shallow; they weren’t bleeding excessively, but when he came through this—he had to be positive—they would need to be tended. His mind recoiled, remembering the pain from the slashing claws. It was the first time he’d ever received so many wounds from somethi trying to kill him.

And they were trying to kill him. Whether it was because he’d been a defender that was in the way of their goals, had attacked their horde, or—in his worst fears—it had something to do with Thameland, it didn’t matter.

In the end, the monster in the granary and its companions had tried to take his life, and they’d come the closest to succeeding of any opponent he’d ever faced.

Somewhere inside a small voice was screaming at him to run away.

But, Alex took a deep breath, acknowledged that incredibly valid fear, and then let it go. Running away now would always leave his back exposed to the threat from this monster.

Now—that he had the advantage of knowing where it was, and he had Claygon close—was the time to end it. With another deep breath, he sent his forceball ahead into the granary. As the crimson light illuminated the cloud of dust, he stepped in after it. He would need to get this done before the monster escaped and before the sensory enhancement potion wore off.

Sharp senses would be key.

Straw rustled beneath his shoes as he quietly stalked through the granary. His movements were almost silent: his Mark-enhanced training in moving quietly was bearing fruit from months of practice. Sending his will to Claygon, the golem followed right behind him. It extended its lower arms on either side of its master, ready to block attacks that came from the side or front.

Alex had it raise its upper arms, ready to strike the instant either of them saw or heard the creature.

Hopefully, Claygon would be quick enough.

With his potion-enhanced vision, Alex slowly scanned the white flour cloud, watching for any movement. The forceball’s crimson light swept around him, illuminating the silhouettes of posts, tools, supplies and shelving nearby. His ears listened for the sound of the creature either choking on dust, or trying to move stealthily through the granary. Everything was strangely silent. Alex wondered why it wouldn’t be gasping for breath with so much flour filling the air.

His own breaths were slow as he tried to eliminate as much of his own noise as possible, but he could do nothing about Claygon’s heavy footsteps. By thought, he told the golem to walk slowly and quietly, but there was only so much silence that a massive construct of clay, magic and death could manage.

His eyes darted to the side.

Was that…?

No, just a pole.

He didn’t hear a single whisper from the creature, and wished that Brutus was here to sniff it out. Then again, perhaps the creature had used the dust screen as cover to escape and was long go-

Something shifted to his left.

A claw scraped against the floor.

Alex whirled, bringing up his force shield and ordering Claygon to strike. Claws streaked out of the dust, but the golem’s arm came up, blocking the monster’s attack.

Whoosh.

Claygon’s fist shot forward.

It met air.

He heard the monster’s feet disappearing back into the granary.

His forceball shot after it, and he managed to catch the briefest flash of its silhouette before it ducked behind a shelf, seeming to vanish. Alex swore: the area it had disappeared into was narrow. His mobility would be limited, and free movement was one of the key things that had kept him alive against the creatures. Claygon wouldn’t be able to get into such a confined spot...unless he ripped everything apart, that is. But, if that was what needed to happen, then that was what would happen.

He stepped back toward the middle of the granary, his eyes scanning through the dust.

Alex stiffened.

A claw’s silhouette loomed out of the shadows, raised up to-

‘Oh for Uldar’s sake!’ he muttered, shaking himself.

It was a pitchfork. Not an upraised claw, just a pitchfork hanging tines-up from a hook on a post. Alex shook his head.

‘Focus,’ he told himself. ‘Don’t let yourself get spoo-’

Another scrape of claw.

He whirled just as the monster appeared behind them. This time, it darted below Claygon’s powerful arm and clawed at Alex’s leg. His rectangle parried the blow—bursting in the process—as Claygon’s return strike shot forward.

There was the dull thud of clay hitting flesh as a glancing punch clipped the creature’s back. The force sent the monster flying back into the white dust.

Crash.

It smashed into something, then Alex heard it scrambling into the gloom. No sound had escaped its mouth.

He frowned. It had baited him using his own voice.

So, if it understood language well enough to manipulate its opponents, two could play that game.

“You say you’re going to hunt me down?” Alex called after it. He used The Mark to channel every moment he’d ever said something that had infuriated someone: it brought up memories of McHarris and even the battle-mage that Alex spell-jousted against months ago. “Can’t even scratch me, can you? Some hunter you are. You know-”

His mind worked quickly.

“-I’m pretty sure it hurt like hell when my golem here pulped your friend like a rotten tomato. I can see why you’re mad, even though you did attack me first.”

He listened. No response.

“Well, I’m not going to let it go. That’s the thing about me, I’m kind of a revenge enthusiast. So, I’m going to say the same thing to you that you said to me: I am going to hunt you down and I am going to have my golem break you in hal-”

Claygon’s fist swept out.

Another impact on flesh resounded in the air and Alex heard the monster hit the ground then scamper into the gloom.

‘Good. Clipped it again.’ He hadn’t even ordered Claygon to do that, the golem had simply struck the creature as soon as he’d detected its rush.

Alex scanned the air.

This was a fight he could win. He was wearing this thing down.


This was not working.

The first hunter rubbed its flesh where the statue had struck it. Both blows had been glancing, but they had cracked bone and burst flesh. It had fought the instinct to cry out in pain. The full force of one of that statue’s strikes would likely smash through a hive-queen’s armour like it was the brittle shell of an egg.

The hunter was regretting that this opponent had not appeared later in its master’s active time, when The Ravener had reaped a mass of fear and gathered the energy to create its most powerful monsters.

No matter.

He heard the opponent’s taunting words echo through the air, and though it could not understand all that the quarry spoke, it well understood the mockery in its tone. It could not allow itself to be goaded by this.

Then a thought dawned on it: a plan that could bring the quarry down. The hunter slowly crept through the building until it was behind the prey. A wooden column rose up in the center of a wide shelf near the quarry’s left side, and the hunter stepped to the quarry’s right, placing the prey between itself and the column.

It tensed for a spring, then shifted its malleable voice box.

Its mouth opened and it used some of the precious breath it was holding to let out a pained whimper.

It spoke in the voice of the female warrior that had rushed to the quarry’s aid.

“Theresa?” the quarry whirled, all the mockery gone from his voice. His expression twisted, realizing his mistake an instant too late.

The hunter catapulted forward, its claws spreading out. It ducked under the statue’s arm and swung both claws at its surprised enemy. The prey blocked one of its attacks with a magic shield and the other claw was deflected by shapes floating around it.

The spell burst.

The hunter shot past, rushing to the other side of the quarry and the statue. It felt the air splitting behind it: that terrible fist was coming.

The hunter ducked low.

Whoosh.

Crunch.

Wood shattered as the statue’s blow split the post.

Crrrk.

Part of the structure began to fall as the beam shifted. The quarry cried out. Bags of powdered grain fell on him, knocking him from his feet. The statue moved forward with its upper arms readied, raised to hold the part of the shelf that the beam had held up, stopping the rest of it from falling on its master.

The hunter sprang forward again, biting at its quarry. Its teeth were stopped by the defensive magic around the enemy’s limb.

But it grabbed onto its prey.

The monster quickly leapt away, dragging the quarry out of the statue’s reach before it could react. The prey struggled, but it was futile: it might have been strong, but the hunter was far stronger.

Elation rose up in the creature. Success would be The Ravener’s. Mere heartbeats separated it from the completion of its mission.

And it looked like it might even survive to report to its master.


Panic surged through Alex as he was dragged along the flour covered ground.

One of Claygon’s lower hands reached futilely toward him, but a moment too late. If the golem moved, the structure would collapse, crushing him. No help there.

He knew he only had heartbeats. Liquid dripped from the stinger-like teeth that were threatening to crush his force armour. He didn’t want to know what would happen to him if it injected him with the stuff in its mouth.

His mind whirled.

He was on his back, being pulled along. He could try to kip up to his feet, but the monster’s grip on him was like iron. The flour-dust and fear of explosion ruled out using Claygon’s fire magic.

He moved his forceball back to shake the creature’s grip, but it simply ignored the spell. It finally stopped dragging him away from the golem. Alex was well away from Claygon. The monster raised its arms.

Claws flashed out in a frenzy.

Alex willed his shield and the remaining rectangle between himself and the raking claws, deflecting the blows. The creature hissed and scratched at the force constructs.

The armour was starting to crack.

Alex sucked in a deep breath through Orb of Air-

Wait.

The spell blocked out all contaminants in the air.

All of them.

As the monster clawed at the armour, Alex’s hand dug into his bag, gripping a familiar bottle. Pulling out his booby-trapped flight potion, he looked the monster right in the eye.

Then he smashed the bottle against the floor.

Whoosh.

The gaseous potion blasted through the air, enveloping both of them.

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A note from UnstoppableJuggernaut

There's a lot of moving parts to this fight. Fun fact, when I originally conceived of this battle I was literally going to have Alex lure the hunter into a building then blow it up in a dust explosion.

Equalizer II style. Unfortunately, that was kind of an early version of Fool back when I thought Alex would be fighting this thing in some kind of abandoned building.

Later, when I solidified it would take place on the estate, I was going to resolve it in the same way...but then I thought how the hell would I justify Alex burning down half the estate to kill one monster. So this version comes up instead. And to those looking forward to the dust explosion...let's just say I am not done with the idea. :)

Seeya tomorrow!


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