Monday, November 13, 2017

The "Best" RPG Ever-39


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"Flat of my blade, then," said Zack, feeling a small twitch of muscle memory on how to hit someone with that.
"Or just your shield thing," suggested Katherine. "I mean, I'm surprised you haven't been using it to bash enemies in general with how sturdy it apparently is."
"I guess I just never thought of it." The knight shrugged.

"Hiii!" An excited, high, shrill voice not two feet away from them, and too loud for the rest of that. Zack winced, grabbed his ears and folded them over his cheeks in an effort to hear less of it, and then after a pause turned his head to face the auditory assailant.
It was Rose, obviously. "Oh...Hello. I thought you'd be back to your.." He waved his hand incoherently for a second.
"Forest," supplied Mira. "Hi Rose."
The dragon-girl headtilted, noticing the witch for the first time. Surely she'd remember meeting someone who looked like that. "Um.."
"It's me, Mika. I sorta..." She made an outward, expanding motion with her hands. "..grew, after eating another demon. So I look like this now, and I feel like calling myself Mira."
"Ohh." She nod-nodded as if she understood that. The finer points like why and how she didn't, but that this was Mika and Mika was Mira was easy enough. Part of her thought it was a shame for the small cute girl to grow out of being small and cute, but on the other hand..."You look really pretty like that!" she said excitedly.
"Heheh, I'm glad you like it."

"Um, w-we were just finishing breakfast," said Nora. "You c-could pull a chair and join us if you want."
"Awwh, thank you!" Beaming, the dragon-girl skipped over to find an empty chair.
The psion asked privately between the four of them, Are we buying?
Nora frowned, not having thought of that. She probably has her own money, so...maybe not?
It's not like we're low on money, Zack responded. I thought we might take today off anyway, considering...but if she's sticking around I am not babysitting her.
Maybe I'll hang out with her for a while then, replied Katherine. See if I can find a way to pierce that weird haze or something.
You people are terrible, thought Mira, rolling her eyes. She's not dumb, she's just really bad at expressing herself.
That's exactly what I'm worried about, responded the catgirl, and then Rose finally came back.
Well, fine. You can have her for the day if you want. I want her returned to me undamaged, though.
Who's terrible again? thought Katherine, as a final jab.

"So so, I did go back to my forest for a while, but there's still so much of this town to see!" the dragon-girl was saying. "I wish I'd found out about it ages ago, whenever it was first here. It must've been super hard to set this place up in the first place with all the monsters!"
Nora, who'd read a history of the town back at the library, nodded. "We're all p-pretty recent residents, but it seems at first the d-death toll was very high."
"Yeah, yeah! I woulda helped, as long as nobody hurt my forest," said Rose.

The cynic in Zack was drawn to imagine how things might have gone if she had learned of the town so early: Some idiots setting fire to or cutting down part of Rose's woods and then an enraged dragon-girl the tiny town was nowhere near prepared for on top of all the monsters. For as harmless and annoying as she generally seemed, he'd seen her fighting only once and from that knew he probably couldn't hope to even touch her without specifically taking advantage of her general weakness to fire, or...maybe some kind of surprise attack. Even then, if she was angry enough a bit of fire probably wouldn't be sufficient stop her.

The dragon-girl said, "I brought more plants back with me! The healer people told me some things they were running out of last time and I had plenty of those, so they gave me more shiny stuff for them."
"...If I were you, I wouldn't take it back to your forest," said Zack.
"Hmm?" She headtilted, not even seeming to know what 'it' was.
"The shi—the money," he said. "Most people don't understand how valuable good plants are, but for a lot of idiots a bunch of gold is worth risking their life for. Your forest will be safer if there's no gold there, because if you're away and someone passes through it just looks like a normal forest with no gold in it to them. You put gold somewhere and they find it, suddenly it's the forest that has a bunch of gold, and you'll have all kinds of problems with people who want to take it."

Rose frowned, looking deeply worried. Someone might threaten to burn her forest down to get the gold!? "Well..what should I do with it then?"
Don't say 'give it to us', thought Katherine at him. The knight took a second to glare at her before returning his attention to Rose.
"I'd say put anything you don't spend in a bank here." He'd seen at least one bank while looking at shops on his way to buy the armor, so those existed in this world for sure. "You know, a bank, like, a place a lot of people keep their stuff for safekeeping? This town's basically the only place around here to buy things anyway, as far as I know, so you could stop by there whenever you get here. Just to be sure you get a bank you can trust, you could ask the Captain."
"Ooohh," Rose said, like a child being taught something exists for the first time. The idea of a bank wasn't foreign to her—well, to Rob at least; Rose's memories of civilization in general were so hazy and distant that she probably shouldn't even know the word bank. But, well, it was still fair to be surprised this world had banks, right? "Thank you for looking out for me!" she said happily.
"Yeah...whatever." Zack's face reddened slightly, his tail wagging behind him, but the others chose to ignore that.



"So this is about the spot," said Rayna, looking at the map and then looking around. "Guess it's time to put some of those new skills to work. Now...pull up a history of what's been here in the last few days or so...and...I see goblins listed over that way." The fox-girl started over to where the goblins had been spotted, the others following. Then she began to follow a trail of historical presence, moving forward in time. It was only slightly faster than tracking something the way a hunter would, with footprints and a dog's scenting, and threatened to be a bit dull.

Of course, the illusionist didn't like being bored. "So...Rose was lying last night. Did you notice?"
Lynn tried to remember that conversation. "...About what exactly?"
"I'm not entirely sure. But there were obvious points where her speech was blatantly nervous, like a kid trying to lie to their parent and not really being able to be convincing. Like when she said she found an herb that weakened the hoard instinct."
"Well, I don't see what else it could've been," said Aria. "You think she stumbled on a magic gem or something and didn't wanna say that's what it was for some reason?"
"My working theory is that maybe just coming back to her hoard made her feel better, and she made that excuse so we wouldn't worry about her," said Rayna, shrugging. "But she also seemed nervous talking about that plant-cart thing, and...well, her speech was normal talking about tending to all her plants, which means she must have returned faster than she would've on foot."
Finally remembering, Lynn said, "That was a lot less awkward than talking about the 'herb' though. So maybe she was just embarrassed she'd forgotten about it earlier for some reason?"
"That explanation seems inconsistent," said Clera. "If nervousness means dishonesty then it has to mean that in both cases. Besides, it isn't as if her not knowing about the cart ever directly inconvenienced us in a way that would cause her embarrassment in our presence. If anything, she was merely more confident the second time due to coming up with a reasonable lie faster."
"Hmn. Well, I'm not sure what the lie was exactly then," said Rayna. "I can't help but feel there's something obvious I'm just missing about the whole thing...oh, hey." She pointed to a nearby cave. "Looks like the goblins went in there and haven't come out yet. Either something ate them or that's where they still are."
"Weapons ready, then," said the shifter, pulling out but not yet unsheathing her own. "Time to see what our new skills are good for." Of course she couldn't resist an eager grin about that.



Rose immediately took the catgirl up on an offer to take a tour of the town, although she'd surely had plenty of time to explore the place on her own before, and hummed cheerily to herself while following Katherine off down a nearby street. After watching them go, Mira turned to the others. "Sooo, what're you two gonna do?" she said.
"I thought I might do some more r-research in the library," said Nora. Her dream the night before had given her reason to study all she could about a certain deity, and particularly that one's worshipers.
"I'm getting a haircut," Zack stated. "I'm tired of this." He ran a hand through some of the hair near his shoulders so the rest of the cascading white fluttered around.
"Awwh, it looks so good on you though~," said the witch, and then just giggled when he glared at her. "Do what you want, but if your balance is thrown off without that weight we'll all be in trouble."
"It's hair. I'll just practice some without after and get used to it. If anything I'll fight better without it constantly threatening to get in my face and inviting people to pull on it."
"You still have a tail to pull on either way."
The knight just crossed his arms. "Yeah—thanks for reminding me. What's your plan, then?"

"Ah, well I'm running out of reagents for, you know, night time activities. So even though it's a ways off, I thought I'd at least buy some of the stuff that keeps forever while we're flush. After that...I dunno, maybe I'll go shopping for cool-looking magic trinkets or something."
"You're not gonna bankrupt us, are you?" he said.
"Pssh, I know how to money. I'll set a limit well below what we've got for the whole trip and if something really useful-looking would take me over that limit I'll come tell everyone about and we can make the decision as a group to buy it or not. Anyway, see ya!" Mira gave a brief wave and then whirled around before starting off on her way, apparently knowing exactly where she was going.

Zack looked back at Nora, thinking for a second. "Are you okay?" he said quietly.
"Er..y-yes," she nodded after a moment's hesitation to realize what he meant by that. "I, th-think I will be, at least."
"Hmn. Maybe I'll come join you after the haircut and stuff," he said. "I'll try not to fall asleep this time."
"It's f-fine. You work hard protecting everyone. A-and, the couches are pretty comfortable," she said. "With how many people have fur, I d-don't even that they'd care about the wolf." Still sitting at attention next to his alpha, the wolf barked what seemed to be some kind of response to that. A 'hmph' maybe.



They made an effort to move somewhat quietly on their way in. Rayna dampened the unavoidable noise a bit with one of her newer skills, though goblins probably didn't quite have her hearing power to begin with. Before long there was a faint flickering of fire from one side, indicating a camp. Clera moved to the front of the group and poked her head carefully in to get a good look at what was going on. There were four goblins sitting around a campfire, eating some kind of meat roasted over it by just pulling chunks off with their hands. Each had a weapon of some kind by its side; particularly concerning was a crossbow the goblin across from, and farthest away from, the entrance was holding.

The winged girl drew back. Just being in this cave made her feel vaguely, instinctively uncomfortable, as if she had suddenly developed a weak form of claustrophobia. She whispered: "Four. One has a crossbow. They are...eating as people might."
The shapeshifter patted her shoulder a couple of times. "You don't have to get out your sword if you don't want to. But the last bunch of goblins like this hurt a lot of people, and these ones have probably done the same, and they'll do more if we don't stop them. Just look out for us, alright?"
Clera nodded. "Anything more precise on where the one with the crossbow is?" said Lynn. "I can take that one out and then we do the berserk charge."
"By which you mean, I do," said Aria.
"Duh."

Clera made an effort to describe the location of the worrisome goblin, and Lynn moved close to the entry, nocking an arrow and quickly aiming in its direction, then up enough to send it over the goblin right between her and the target.

There was a quiet thwip noise, and an electrified arrow landed right in the shoulder of that goblin, sending its body convulsing uncontrollably. Not a second into that was a loud, insane cackle followed by a shout of "CHAAAAARRRRGE!!!" as Aria let the demon take over and ran at the four of them, her blade slicing the closest one in half before the others could even stand.

Rayna moved to where she could see things, and shifted the goblins' view of things slightly so they couldn't accurately dodge or attack the shifter. She was a little distracted by stabbing her weapon into the two half-goblin pieces in turn to drain their vital fluid while it was still fresh, allowing them time to at least draw their weapons and stand. Both came at her at once, one with a shortsword and another with a hatchet, both making swings at their personal false images of her, missing the real one by an inch or two.

"HEEheheE!" Deciding it was time to apply what she'd learned a couple of nights ago, Aria willed her sword to change its shape. The blade broke into two, one for each hand, a long metal chain connecting the backs of the hilts together. She came at the one to her left first, taking several wild swings with each blade and forcing it on the defensive, until one swing more or less accidentally feinted it into blocking where her other blade could catch it square in the chest.

Lynn ran up to the other active goblin, kicking it in the shin to stun it and get its attention before darting back again, ducking away from its efforts to hit her. The fox-girl made it look like she stood still while she ran around and away from it, having bought plenty of time for Aria to finish her second target off. By now the goblin with the crossbow was starting to recover from its shock, so Lynn fired a more carefully-aimed shot at its head, landing an ordinary arrow straight through the eye.

The shifter tossed one of the two blades right at the hatchet-goblin, whose back was turned to her thanks to Lynn. The other blade steadily fell apart into a longer chain, giving the one in the air plenty of slack to keep its full momentum and pierce it straight through the heart. Aria ran up to it, allowing the weapon to suck the chain back in and grow to its original form, and then kicked the dried-up husk of goblin off of it to run toward the last, dying goblin. This time she just ran close enough for the sword's mystic blood-gravity to do the work, sending fresh blood spiraling out from the two arrow wounds into the weapon.

"HeEhehehh..appetizer.." Sporting huge, sharp teeth, Aria looked around, catching Lynn's eye. "More..."
She backed away carefully. "I thought you had enough control to not come after us?"
"No, not you..there's more...follow me!" With no further warning she picked her weapon up and started running headlong through the cave.

Lynn took a second to register that before starting to run after her, the others on her heels. "I think she means there's more goblins," said Rayna.
"You think?" The archer pulled ahead of the others, being really the only fast runner of the three, and soon came close to catching up with the berserk girl. "Hey, don't just charge off on your own!"
"But I'm sooo hungry!" Aria complained.
"Get a grip!" Taking an only somewhat calculated risk, Lynn whapped her runaway teammate on the back of the head with her bow. It wasn't going to do any real damage, but...

"Oww!" Aria stopped, wincing, and shook her head. Then she growled, animal-like, at the archer for delaying her meal, but managed to keep herself from actually attacking.
"Where are we going? Let everyone catch up. Tell me where we're going."
"Th..that way," she said, vaguely pointing. "Just—follow me, I can smell it!" She started winding up to run towards it again. There was so much there, much more than the tiny morsels she'd just had.
"Slower! Not everyone can run as fast as you. Or see in the dark!"
"It's..dark?" She was briefly surprised enough to pause again, and register that it actually was dark in this part of the cave. Enough for the others to arrive. "C..come on!" She started in the direction of the smell again (well, it wasn't a literal scent her nose was picking up but that was her best immediate description of it anyway), fast-walking since running was apparently too much for everyone else.

There was a giant goblin sleeping inside. It was comparable in size to the ogre Aria had taken out on meeting the others for the first time, which didn't bode particularly well for its chances against her. The gnawing, desperate hunger was too much to bear by the time she'd lead them all to it, and she ran straight inside over someone yelling to wait, converting her weapon into a long spear to stab the thing straight in its big, fat belly.

The terrible squishing sound of metal tearing into flesh was accompanied by a loud ringing noise. This particular goblin had set a simple, tripwire-based alarm trap at the front of its new home, to wake it up in case of intruders. Rayna, with her HUD and the best night vision of the three on top of that, had noticed it and tried to warn Aria about it, but there just wasn't enough self-control there to listen to her. The giant goblin sat up and, in the same motion, slapped Aria away, forcing her hands off of the spear already buried in its belly and sending her to hit the cave wall with a worrying crack.

Some of the big monster's blood was already drained into the spear before it pulled it out with an angry roar and readied to throw it at Aria, who was still busy sliding along the wall toward the ground, stunned but conscious. Clera moved inside reflexively, placing herself between the goblin and Aria before anyone else had time to think. The cave was big enough for her wings to spread themselves in an instinctive gesture of threat.

The monster took the most obvious route and aimed to stab her instead. By now Rayna was gathered enough to work some of her magic, and moved where the goblin thought Clera's center was as far to the side as she could manage. The spear went straight through her left side and out the other end. the goblin's blood still trailing through the air toward it.

Several arrows landed in the giant goblin's head within the next few seconds, the first two full of electricity. It shuddered back, convulsing uncontrollably, and after five or six more tries one finally caught it straight through the neck, killing it.

Aria's head didn't feel so good, but the blinding pain only seemed to sharpen her sense of blood-hunger, and the desire to reclaim her weapon. She stood up and stumbled a few steps forward, pulling it out of a small body and reshaping it to its original appearance. There was some yelling around her that her mind couldn't exactly process, the feeling of the blood in the room the only sense she had full faculties in at the moment. There were four bodies here besides hers, and blood trailing out from two of them through the air, into the blade. It tasted sweet, and felt good. She raised her weapon over the nearer, smaller body briefly, before registering something more of the shape of it.

The blood coursed through, and out of, two arms, two legs, and wings. Wings. Goblins don't have wings, and only one person she knew did. The shifter turned around and staggered several steps away, toward the larger prone body, burying the blade into its belly and shapeshifting it until the whole thing was covered with flesh, cutting off the flow of blood away from the smaller body. As soon as the demon in it was satisfied, the body it was inside of fully drained, the weapon returned to its original shape and regrew its sheath. The pulse of blood around her was the last of Aria's senses that blinked out as she fell unconscious.



The fight scene here took me forever to get started writing, but once I started the whole thing came to me all in one go. I was as surprised by how it ends as anyone reading it will ever be. I guess this is just the part of the story where teamkills almost happen to everyone.

2 comments:

  1. Hmm... Speaking of teamkilling reminds me of my character with teleportation powers in an RPG I'm participating in. Here's hoping that doesn't prove to be an issue.

    The fights are definitely one of my favorite parts still. I wonder if we are going to get to find out what happens to people who die in this game. Though it'd be a bit sad for the most recent addition to be the first to go :/

    I'm still curious how long it will take for the various groups to realize the others are PC's. That is one of those things that will probably become apparent with time, though. I'd expect it to happen as some dramatic lead up to a major assault on the town, or at the conclusion of such a fight. I suppose it will just depend on when clues come up and such.

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    1. I had an evil thought. What if part of the curse on Zack is that he can't alter things like his hair length and whatnot?

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