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A note from Arthur-67

What do you think of the new cover? I really like it

Rising from the ground covered in solid rock was an earth golem, a vicious man-eating experienced sometimes veteran ranked monster. All Rohl could do was look up in horror at the beast, its back was covered in an armour of solid rock, creating an almost impenetrable defence.

The beast front was equally horrific. Its flesh was a dark grey and as tough as leather with several spikes jolting out from its deformed body. Large tusks jolted out from a gaping mouth filled with rotten and jagged teeth, these on top of its sharp claws and incredible strength made it a foe more than capable of killing men and women with ease as it ambushed them from below the ground.

It did not have eyes, but its hearing more than made up for that, yet somehow Rohl knew that if it did, it would be looking at him with ravenous hunger. Humans made for a balanced earth golem diet after all. A golem's five a day was not fruit but people after all.

As Rohl sat in front of the hulking golem all he could do was mutter a resigned "Ah shit," before the golem lunged at him in an attempt to crush him under its gargantuan weight. All that prevented him from becoming squashed underneath was Ell who tackled him from the side causing them both to roll away from the monster as it crashed onto the ground where Rohl had just been.

The collision snapped Rohl out of his resigned stupor. Ell had saved his life, he owed her, yet this was not the time to thank her, it would do no good to thank her just for them to get eaten whilst doing so.

With a speed which its body didn't seem capable of the golem was already on its feet and making its way towards the pair who were now back on their feet and slowly backing away from the golem. Weapons raised, arms shaking.

"Maybe shoot it, please," Rohl asked still backing away from the encroaching beast who was now salivating in anticipation of its juicy meal. His voice was hushed as to not further provoke the beast.

"Its skins too thick, couldn't you tell,"Ell's reply was quick with traces of fear but unsurprising to Rohl still contained her usual sardonic attitude. Ell's voice was just as hushed as Rohl's, a golem had incredible hearing, so it likely didn't matter. Still, it made them feel better to speak in hushed tones.

"Aim for the back of its mouth, it's weak there," Rohl had gotten more accustomed with the creature's jaws than he wanted to, a shiver flowed through him as he remembered staring into its gaping maw when it first appeared in front of him.

"Sure, you go open it wide for me, maybe smile and say cheese whilst doing so." A sardonic reply came as expected from Ell yet they both knew the idea had merit even if they couldn't utilise it now. The golem jaws remained firmly closed as it approached them, a terrifying growl escaping from its mouth. It approached them steadily and they couldn't keep backing up forever, as soon as they turned their backs on it then it would lunge and Rohl didn't fancy seeing those tusks piercing his body, he was rather attached to it after all.

"Bless me."

"Bless you." Rohl hadn't even heard her sneeze. Still, it was polite to say bless you.

"No you dumbass, use your blessing." Even without her usual tone, Rohl could feel the dumbfounded expression on her face. Rohl knew that if they survived this then Ell was not going to let that comment go, his embarrassment gave him the fleeting temptation to let the golem kill him. Before deciding against it as he got back on track and quickly prepared to unleash his divine power, doing his best to control it to fully unleash what he was capable of. It was not easy.

The precariousness of the situation, the fear flowing through his veins, the large distracting golem, and the fact he was fearing for his life did not make unleashing his blessing easy. Especially as he was trying not to make the creature angry through his blessing or pass out whilst doing so, nether would be particularly helpful in this situation.

Still, Rohl did his best, he reached deep inside himself, feeling for this divine energy lurking inside, pulling it out as it wrestled against him. Until in his distracted state, he felt it rush out from within him in a ripple of power. As much as Rohl tried to unleash his blessing in a fearsome roar, he was abashedly aware of how he had sort of unleashed his power in a divine whimper. A very pitiful whimper which made even the golem stop and look at him with pity. Ell was staring at him and Rohl couldn't even bring himself to look at her.

He wasn't sure what was worse, the cold sweat covering his body as fear consumed him or the embarrassment of what he'd just done.

"Please tell me it worked," Rohl prayed out loud as the golem continued its attack, fortunately, it was still walking at them, just waiting for fr the perfect opportunity to pounce.

"Just like in Elmon."

"Thank the gods," Rohl spoke in relief as he released the breath that he had been unconsciously holding

Against this beast, every bit would help, even the small boost his blessing had just given Ell. At least it was something even if he hadn't been able to give her the same power as Quinn's party. A small power boost was still some advantage, and he hadn't filled with golem with uncontrollable rage as he did with the goblins. Well at least he thought he hadn't, it was not like he could really tell with the golem which had yet to cease its growling. This could be its happy face for all he knew.

As the creature continued to stalk towards them, Rohl thought desperately, seeking a plan to get them out of this situation. Golems were well above his ranking and would prove to be a challenge even to those of the experienced rank, mostly due to their thick hide being difficult to penetrate without the use of magic. It was not a situation they could have prepared for or expected especially since earth golems were not even native to this area, what it was doing here was a mystery.

How could they kill the golem with only swords and bows, sure they could stab it in a weak spot but Rohl didn't really fancy getting that close and doubted he even had the strength to penetrate its skin, the same went for Ell. If only Thaddeus was here thought Rohl, there was no doubt he could penetrate its hide.

Rohl's internal planning was cut short as the golem finally decided to attack outright, it dived straight towards Rohl who rushed to his right taking Ell with him, they dodged the golems lunge easily enough. It was quick but its large frame slowed it down enough for the nimble Rohl to avoid. Seeing the opportunity, Rohl swung his sword into the golem's neck as its dive took it hurling past them. On any human, it would have meant death but on the golem, it was nothing more than a scratch only causing a slight trickle of grey blood.

Fortunately, the golem ended its lunge flat on the ground, it was powerful yet not the most intelligent creature, putting way too much force into its strike which carried it too far, forcing it to the ground.

Ell had already seen the opportunity it presented and had leapt onto its back, striking down with furious force in a blur of speed. Served small wounds appeared all over its back as the golem roared in mild discomfort, its thick hide meant these strikes were akin to a human being stabbed with a pin. Sure it hurt but unless the pin severed anything important, it would be non-fatal.

Buffed Ell was quicker than she normally was thanks to Rohl but in her distracted state, she reacted too slowly as the golem leapt back up sending Ell rocketing backwards. Rohl had seen it coming and so had leapt to catch, their collision sending them both crashing to the ground, Ell collapsed on top of Rohl who had the wind knocked out of him by the impact. He surely hoped Ell realised it was his sheathed sword she could likely feel pressing into her side and not anything else.

Before he could comment on it, Ell rolled of him with only a quick muffled "Thanks." Allowing them both to stand up and prepare to run.

The hulking golem was already pressing its newly gained advantage despite the bleeding wounds on its back. Unable to face its charge both Rohl and Ell had turned to face each other, an unsaid signal passing between them as they turned and ran. They were in no position to win this fight as is. An earth golem could build up speed, almost enough to catch a human but due to its size, it collided with every little obstacle in its path, allowing Rohl to stay just ahead of the creature as he jumped and sprinted through the forest.

Ell was further ahead than Rohl, having no issue as she ran through the forest, no branch, tree, or rock proved an obstacle to her as she ran, as if she has made this run many times already. Humans like Rohl could not sprint through forests with such ease, his clothes caught on every branch and jagged rock. Cutting his skin as he ran covering him in a mirage of cuts. Every tenth step or so Rohl felt his feet almost give on the uneven littered ground. If Rohl was any slower then he knew the golem would have already caught him, even now he could see it in his peripheral vision.

A golems hearing was impressive and Rohl was definitely making a lot of noise as he ran. Allowing the golem to easily catch him despite being blind. Deep down he knew he was lucky it was blind if it could see where it was going if it could avoid the larger branches that slowed it down. Then it would have already caught him.

Almost instantly the sight of the blind golem charging right behind him gave Rohl an idea.

"Look for a low pointed rock or branch," he shouted towards Ell.

All he got was a confused nod in return. After running for another few minutes, Rohl was in pain and seriously out of breath, his side where the goblin has speared him was throbbing, it was the first time it had hurt since being treated at the adventurer's guild. With each step, Rohl was slowing down, unlike Ell who was almost out of sight. He feared she would leave him as golem food, he would not blame her. There was nothing she could really do, and she didn't owe him anything after all.

Low growling from the golem snapped him from his worries almost causing him to miss a step and collide into a nearby tree, the golem was getting faster and closer now.

Much to Rohl's relief, Ell had stopped in the distance pointing to her left as Rohl adjusted his direction. The forest was dense but not enough as to hinder running, still it prevented Rohl from seeing it until he got a lot closer. It was a small outcrop of rock, with rough jagged edges and Rohl was running right at it. Ell was nowhere to be seen but Rohl couldn't worry about that right now. A golem was almost within grabbing range after all.

Rohl dug down and used every last bit of energy he could to run full speed at the rocks, using his fear to push every ounce of speed that he could, the golem soon matched him as if able to realise this was its prey last desperate shot at survival.

Just as he got within a few paces of the outcrop, Rohl stopped and fell to the ground, rolling roughly along the ground, colliding hard into the bottom of the rock. Yet the golem continued its charge, unable to tell that Rohl was under an arching area of rock, with a loud cracking sound the golem charged full speed into the jagged rock, which pierced it straight thoughts its midsection impaling it and covering Rohl in golem blood, causing him to splutter as the golem roared in agony before slowly stopping.

Despite the furious pain all over his back from where he had collided with the rock underneath the jagged rock, Rohl forced himself out of his shelter, thanking the gods for his luck at finding a suitable place to undertake his plan. There were so many factors that could have gone wrong, Rohl could have never found one or been caught just before or even impaled himself instead. Yet it had gone perfectly well except for the being drenched in golem blood which had a very unpleasant aroma

Rohl remained cautious as he stood up just in case the golem wasn't dead but given the volume of blood it had lost and the lack of movement, Rohl was pretty sure it was dead.

"Not bad." Ell's voice came from behind him as Rohl turned to face the elf. The first kind of compliment the elf had ever given him usually all he heard was derisive or sardonic insults. Maybe he was growing on her, he doubted it though more likely his plan had managed to somewhat impress her.

As it turned out Ell had climbed up a nearby tree and watched Rohl carry out his plan in relative safety.

"Thanks."

"Didn't think you were capable of thinking this up, using its force to impale itself, not bad indeed."

Ahh, there was Ell that Roll knew and put up with. Now it was Rohl's turn to give a comment of his own.

"You get a nice view from up there, safe and cosy was it." It was pretty lacklustre but Rohl was still twitchy from the adrenaline coursing through his veins.

"Yes, thank you, pfff you reek by the way," Ell said as she took turned to face away from Rohl.

"Really I hadn't noticed, your sense of smell is truly magnificent," Rohl replied as Ell gave a deadpan look in return.

Before they could continue this back and forth, the golem gave a final death shriek, making the pair jump back in fright.

"Let's get out of here."

"If you insist, humans are such scaredy cats," Ell replied despite having jumped back herself.

 

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Arthur-67

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