Friday, August 11, 2017

The "Best" RPG Ever-36




When something came out of the portal, it came out fast. It was human-sized and purplish in shade, but little more could be determined from the blur of motion by any of the party before they went to attack it. Zack's blades went through the air, and he had to duck back right away as Nora's rock went over her target—it had ducked, and in the instant of not running that caused they could finally, briefly see what it looked like.

It looked like a man, maybe about average height. Purple skin, red hair, fit and muscular but not particularly bulky, not wearing much in the way of clothes. It, or he, had a thick tail ending in a sharp black spike, and black horns from the top of his head. Katherine threw a knife at him while he was busy standing up, but he caught it in his left hand by the blade, taking only a small cut as he transferred its hilt to his right hand and used it to swat aside her other shots and then toss backhanded at Mika. She was still exhausted from the ritual and slow to dodge, forcing Zack to go to her and block with his larger sword instead of pressing another attack.

The demon rushed toward Nora, completely ignoring a blast of fire from her hands and stopping just shy of her reach. She was about to duck back when his eyes caught hers, and..all of a sudden she couldn't move. Her face was hot, and she felt..strange. Time seemed to slow for a moment, and it felt like she was the only one there with him. He smiled—intensifying the strange and now pleasant feeling between her legs and the heat in her body, and he made a small noise, a kind of smug chuckling "Heh."

All of this took a couple of actual seconds at most before Katherine took another shot at him. This one he ducked under but—seemingly on purpose—allowed to graze his shoulder. Nora, a strange red glow over her eyes, looked at the catgirl with an enraged expression and rushed at her, tearing up the nearby ground to attack. She had to jump out of the way. Nora!?
Zack made it to the demon and rushed it with a series of strikes, but it felt like he was moving in slow motion as it danced easily around them. What's going on?
Her mind's—I can't reach her! The psion was forced to retreat more as Nora shot a few blasts of flame straight for her.
Charm spell! Mesmerise! Keep trying! Mika's voice. She had mounted her broom now, and tried a swooping slice with her scythe. The demon dodged this too, and when Zack tried to take advantage of that move to stab it with his shorter sword it grabbed that by the bladed and jerked it out of his hand—he was stronger than he looked, and the knight was misbalanced to keep a hold of the hilt.

Then the demon started stabbing and swiping at Zack with his own weapon. He took his larger blade in both hands, blocking and dodging every attack but not finding the space or time to counter. It stood up fully for an instant and looked him in the eye; Zack felt something strange between his legs, a heat in his cheeks, but took the instant to make a sharp sideways slice at the demon, expressing rage that it was trying to do that to him. It limboed under the attack and chained that into a backflip, jumping over another swooping attack from Mika.
Can you—stun it? Zack's mental voice sounded slightly shaken, less composed and confident than usual.
I've been trying, it has mental defenses! Katherine was having a hard enough time trying to dodge a whip of water and stay on her feet against a gale of wind simultaneously, and worse than that, the efl had chased her well away from the main fight by now. She couldn't even stun Nora as seemingly whatever effect the demon had on her had given her a share of those defenses.

Should I try a bomb? Mika suggested
It resists fire, what do you think it does with demon fire? Zack went on the offensive, swiping at the demon as quickly as he could. It seemed to dance around his strikes easily, passing up numerous opportunities to counter as if it was just playing with him.
I only have like two tricks! Pumpkins?
It'd be a distraction at least!

Mika put away her scythe, useless as she was with it, and started throwing ordinary pumpkins at the demon, raining them from above as fast as she could. It sliced a few of them apart in midair between blocking Zack's attacks, and then switched to catching and throwing them away like it was part of a juggling act. Every time its eyes met Zack's he felt more of that strange feeling and warmth, and...for as much as he consciously tried to ignore and deny it, he was starting to like it.
Forget it! This isn't—working. Even as effortless as thinking to the others normally was, it sounded like he was having trouble. Mika decided to try another tactic, landing behind the demon and coming at him again with her scythe, this time from the ground. Her attacks were clumsy flailing strikes but at least seemed to have more effect than the pumpkins had at forcing the demon to focus on dodging instead of whatever it was doing to the knight.

Zack! Are you okay over there? Katherine risked splitting her concentration to try and give him a hand, boosing his mental control with some of her own. At the same time she made the less pleasant decision of going for a more physical solution to her current problem, turning her knives hilt-first on Nora and aiming for the head.
I'm—not, I'll..I can't—I...
She had a brief private conference with Mika: Great, he's losing it.
I'm trying to help!
I know, I know.
Finally, a blow connected. Nora flinched back hard at a sharp blow to the side of her head; her attacks stopped at once, the glow disappearing from her eyes and her expression turning to one of stunned confusion. "W—what—?"
"AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAMMmmmngh!" She was cut off by a loud yell of frustration and rage from Zack which terminated in an even more concerning way.

The witch saw Zack yell and make a hard downward strike, his sword landing entirely in the ground. The demon darted around him and suddenly grabbed him in its arms, cutting off the yell with an unsolicited kiss. For a second the wolf-girl's hands moved as if to push him off, but then they wrapped around the demon in a return of its embrace.
Mika! Kill it! Katherine's voice, in her head.
I—I can't. It'll just dodge and then I'll hit Zack!
WELL DO SOMETHING!

It felt...good, briefly. A physical and emotional release, all at once. All of the frustration and annoyance and confusion flew away, and the only thing he could feel was the demon's body against his own, its lips on his. He felt..intensely hot, but it was a good kind of heat somehow, coupled with an even better feeling between his legs. Of course...they had an audience just now, so this was all they could do. Somehow it was speaking to him without talking: All he had to do was get rid of them, and then they could be...
The demon flinched in pain suddenly, no more than a very slight jerking motion in the middle of the kiss. But it was enough. Zack remembered immediately who he was and realized what he'd been thinking of doing. His sword was still held weakly in his right hand, and now he grabbed it firmly, shoving the demon off of him with his left hand and in the same motion stabbing it straight through its unarmored chest.
Its grip on the knight's other sword weakened, and he took that too, driving the larger blade farther into its torso while hacking wildly at its head and arms and anything else he could reach. Zack knelt over onto the ground as it fell onto its back, burying his blade through the demon's body and into the ground until its crossguard touched its chest and refused to go deeper, and still pushing at the hilt after that, continuing to punch any uninjured part of it with the other blade as frequently and quickly as he could.

The wolf had run into the circle and bitten the demon's ankle. As soon as Zack snapped free the wolf drew back a few steps and spat blue demon blood on the ground, clearly disgusted by the taste. The others ran up to find the knight still striking, tears coming from his face, screaming continually despite having made himself hoarse, Mika looking too terrified to approach him.
"Zack!" Katherine came closer to him first, trying to exert some kind of calming influence on his mind. "You can stop, it's dead. Zack. It's dead."
He let go of the larger sword and dropped the smaller one on the ground, levering back to a sitting position, audibly heaving long, staggering breaths in and out. The catgirl knelt over, trying to get a good look at his face. He was still crying, approaching sobbing, between breaths. "It's..it's over, Zack. You killed it."
In between gasps for more air, he managed: "G...Good. T—...Tell Mika to, to eat the soul already and let's g...get out of here."
Mika didn't come any closer yet, although a part of her desperately wanted to run up and suck the delicious soul out of the corpse. Katherine sat down. "Are you...okay?"
"I'll..I'll be fine." His breathing was steadier now, but still sounded shaky; his face was bright red. "Just—do it already!" Some of the rage from before tinged his voice.

"Y-yessir!" Mika ran up to the badly mangled corpse and raised her hands over it. Something deep purple and fire-like rose from about the location of the sword through the demon's chest, and after matching the witch's chest in height it flew into her. She breathed a contented sigh in spite of her worry over Zack, unable to entirely contain how good the latest addition to her power felt. But there was something more to it, even...

The others watched as the witch began to be surrounded with a purple, fire-like aura, as if she was overflowing with power after the latest meal. "Oh..o-oh!" she said softly, closing her eyes as she felt the power of the souls she'd absorbed so far flowing outward, to the rest of her body.
She felt her ears stretching out first, lengthening out to the sides and gaining pointed tips. Then her whole body began to stretch, pushing itself upward and outward. She grew taller, her figure becoming more pronounced and her breasts in particular pushing themselves out bigger and bigger. Her clothes rearranged, her dress fading to a pattern of dark red and black, the color fading from her stockings to create pure black and white stripes. Her hair grew longer, her wings grew to match her increasing stature, gaining a couple of small spikes, and her tail lengthened slightly, both gaining a slight purple tint. Her voice, let out of her throat in a series of small, steady "Mmh"'s as the changes progressed, deepened. Her body grew not just in size, but also stronger and more agile. She even felt smarter and cleverer, more powerful with her magic and just more capable overall. Before long, a new woman stood before the others.


She opened her eyes again; they'd turned bright purple, like the demon she'd just eaten. "Ah..phew...wow. That was, kind of a rush," she said, trying to get used to having a deeper voice again. "I feel like..I should be a lot more useful to everyone now!" she said, smiling and nodding confidently.
In the time it had taken her to change, Zack had managed to stop the crying entirely and surruptitiously wipe his face dry. He still felt angry and beyond that, very strange, but forced himself even to smile. "Good. Great." The knight pushed himself up, ignoring a hand offered by Nora, and moved a little unsteadily to his weapons. Somewhere in the course of its soul being taken the demon's body had evaporated away like a puddle of water.

Zack drew the larger blade out of the ground, took the smaller one, and sheathed them both, moving carefully and slowly as if he was concerned he'd fall over if he didn't. Then he went over to the wolf, who was sitting watching him, its tail wagging in a way that seemed...concerned. He reached over and patted it on the head a couple of times, which it didn't move to prevent. "Thanks. You saved us." It barked in response. "No, I—I'll be fine. C'mon, let's..let's get back to town, okay?" He seemed to be mostly talking to the animal, but when he started in the direction the town was in the others guessed he meant them too and followed.

He seemed to stagger and wobble strangely, as if he couldn't quite get his footing, the entire way back. Nora trailed behind the others, dead silent, and if either of the girls in the middle looked at her she just looked away, pretending to have noticed something in whatever that other direction was.
After a while, Katherine couldn't take the total silence anymore. She didn't want to distract Zack or force Nora to talk or listen just now, so she went for a mental conversation with just Mika. So..what's the new part of your tree look like?
Tree? The witch's mental voice seemed to have somehow deepened to match her physical one. Oh, right—uh, it says 'Incubus'. Which is weird 'cause I'm still a girl. But uh, it has a bunch of passive physical enhancement abilities, like strength, speed, endurance and stuff. And there's some charisma enhancers, some, uh, charm type spells, and..oh!.some higher up spells joining this to the fire branch are actually transformation stuff. I wonder if I could...
Yeah, go for it maybe, but—Katherine waved slightly to Zack, especially to whatever his present condition was—Please don't mention it right now. Or, ever until you're really sure it'll work. We don't...I really don't want to give him hope and then it turns out to be false, you know?
I understand, yeah. Oh, hey, also: My base stats changed. It's like it took a bite out of the massive luck I had before and then spread three times that much across everything else. I might actually be halfway competent in a fight now. Maybe.
That's good. The scythe's a little more your size now, too.
Oh, yeah! Man, I nearly forgot what it was like to be tall. Well, not tall really but—
Taller than me! interjected Kathrine, now the shortest of the four. The witch's eye level matched up with about the tips of the catgirl's ears standing straight up now.
Yeah, but I mean, like, kinda normal sized? I wasn't all that tall of a guy so this feels about like what used to be normal.

Oh, but... Mika nodded subtly in Zack's direction. He's, uh, definitely not okay. We should...do something about that, right?
Yes, absolutely. We do need to get to town first, and after that I can just tell he'll be too stubborn to go to anyone for help just then. So we'll sleep on it till morning, and if it's not fixed by then we are going to whatever this world's equivalent of a doctor is right away whether he wants to or not. Even if it is magical in nature, I'm sure they're trained to deal with that stuff too.
Mika frowned. I'm sorry I..couldn't do anything to stop that, whatever it was it did. Or even, interrupt it.
Your objection was totally correct. It...it had enough of a mind for mental defenses, it had enough to have planned the whole thing out. Plan A: It charms our strongest member with something more powerful than the weaker one it used on Nora and uses him as an ally to help kill us. Plan B: It dodges if you strike so that same strongest member gets hurt. But I don't even think it knew the wolf was around until he bit it.
So the little guy pretty much saved all of us. If that animal won't let me feed it a steak tomorrow I don't know what I'll do.
It let Zack pat it on the head tonight. Honestly, I'm starting to think it's kind of tsundere for us—in aaan, animal-human, non-romantic relationship sort of way.
Hahah, tsundere? Mika managed to keep her internal laughter from producing more than a slight upward curl of the right side of her lips outwardly.
Katherine imitated a deep, angry voice: 'Grr, I'm only following you around because your alpha beat me in a fight.' And then a high-pitched, squeaky one: 'Oh Mika help me, the alpha's been in the library for months and I'm sooo lonely~!'
Stop, stop! I'm gonna really laugh. As it was, the witch had to pretend to cough a couple of times. To the others, this was the only short break in the silence throughout the entire trip.



Everyone powered up, and then they played around with some of those powers in a training yard by the guardhouse for a bit; before they knew it it was already well past time for supper. The Broken Dragon was the only place they knew of open so late, so there they went. Aria was saying: "So, even with the uh.." (she paused on realizing they were in public, and decided against the word 'bloodlust') "..weird hunger of mine mitigated a little, I still think it'd probably be a good idea to get something for it tomorrow. Since we sorta had today off. And then we could take a real day off after that?" She waved vaguely toward Lynn. "Go on another date or whatever?"
The human girl just blushed and nodded, with a slightly annoyed "Yeah, yeah."
Clera tapped Rayna, next to her, on the shoulder and pointed at the window on her opposite side. "There is a dragon in the window."
"Yeah, I've seen it." She turned toward where the winged girl was pointing, thinking she meant a decoration drawn on the window. "It's very—oh." Rose was approaching the tavern on the street, looking in much better spirits than she'd left that morning. She had changed her clothes to a short dark blue pleated skirt and something resembling the top part of a girl's school uniform but with all the sleeves torn off. "Wonder why she's back so soon?"

"I thought you liked her," said Lynn teasingly, referring to their conversation on the way to the community center.
"I do, I'm just—didn't she need to be in her forest for a while to not have dragon instinct problems?"
"And wasn't it like a half a day away?" said Aria, equally as concerned by this development. "Did she stop by for like two seconds and decide everything would be fine?"
"Well, stop asking nobody and ask her, silly," said Lynn. Indeed, the dragon-girl walked into the building, looking around. Rayna waved to her and she came running over eagerly, stopping next to the booth and squtting over to bring her head level with them.
"Hiii! I'm so glad you're still awake!"

"Well, I take it your hoard was fine?" said Rayna, reaching over and patting her on the shoulder a couple of times. She seemed not to mind the gesture, just continuing to smile and talk.
"Yep! Just like I left it. Er, well I mean like, the plants grew some like they always do but—yep it was fine! Iiiiiii..." she paused, attempting to think of an excuse for her new skills. "Fffffound a plant. Uhm, an herb. I totally forgot about, that makes—y-you know, because I haven't been around people in a long time. The herb totally makes a dragon, like, less..hoard, care-y about-y. Uh."
"It's okay, we know what you mean," said Lynn. "How come you came back so fast though? I thought you'd at least want to tend to a few plants or something first."
"Well, I did tend to the plants. All of them. That's when I found the uh, herb. Yeah, I took care of some pruning and planting and harvesting and stuff, made another basketful to take to town, spread the grass out a tiiiiny bit farther," she said, her ability to speak coherently returning when she started telling the truth, "but then I, um. I remembered a way to get back to town faster!" 'Remembered' was much simpler than 'I found an herb' to describe a new skill she'd learned. "It's like a, cart thingy, made of plants. It doesn't work in a place without plants but there's grass and stuff all the way from there to here if you weave around some rocky parts."
"That's pretty cool," said Aria cheerfully. "How big is it? Can you take someone for a ride sometime?"
"I can make it bigger or smaller, it's harder to carry more weight but I'm sure I could get one or two people in it!" she said. "Oh, but.." She realized that it'd be more helpful if at least the four of them could come along some time. "I...have a fewwwww...like, ideas! For how I can make it better later, and then it'll be able to take lots of people!"
"Cool, cool," the shifter nodded, ignoring Clera glaring at her.

Rayna changed the subject. "So how long are you planning to stay in town this time?"
"Hmmnn..I dunno, a day or two maybe? I saw some neat places last time when we were going to eat and I wanted to look a little closer at them. And uh, hang out with you guys or the other nice people I met before if there's time, maybe," she added nervously, blushing slightly.
"Well, I think we have to work tomorrow," said Rayna, "but we're probably taking the day after off. So at least I can hang out with you then if you want."
"Okay!" The dragon-girl chirped happily and nodded, smiling brightly at the prospect. Maybe the other girls—well, three girls and the one that wasn't—would be around tomorrow, then. "Umm, I'm sorry for interrupting your supper. I think I'll go ask for a room, uhh, if they'll let me wait to pay for it after I trade some of my flowers I brought to someone tomorrow."
"You're not intruding on anything," said Clera, "perhaps we could ask the waiter for a chair."
"Aww, that's okay," Rose said, beaming at the invitation. "I really should get some sleep though, 'cause it's kinda late. I'll see you later though!" She popped upright again and went over to the bar to see about that room. She didn't want being tired to make her say anything weirder than she already had, and it was late after all.


Here we get to a part of Party 1's (Zack's party if it's not clear what I mean) story that I've had planned for a long while now, but which was and will be a little difficult to write out in exactly the right way. Hopefully I'm doing a decent job at it so far.

2 comments:

  1. Having to deal with emotional pain is tough. Having to deal with emotional pain caused by physical feelings from your unfamiliar form is even harder. Having to talk through those feelings with other people, including one who can actually read your mind? I don't even want to think about that, much less how difficult that could be to write!

    Wonderful writing as always.

    (I feel like I have been commenting on everything)

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    1. You have been commenting on a lot of things for sure; I'd like you to know that I do really appreciate it.

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