Chapter 9 – Angels
Roland made a quick roll as he ducked under the claws of the tiger-bear that sliced through the space he had been standing moments before. As he rolled, a sharp stone pierced his side, easily passing through his now tattered armour. His had felt faint as yet another source of pain flared through his body. Blood flowed steadily from the new wound, as it did from several others across his body. It was hard to focus, but he tried his hardest to track the creature’s movements. He knew that he would die even if he won the fight, but he continued anyway.
A day earlier he had returned from the frontline to meet with some friends and get new equipment. An alchemist and a blacksmith that he knew had teamed up with a sculptor that he didn’t in order to find new methods of improving equipment. Alchemist could create coatings that granted powerful effects, but wore off when the liquid dried or got wiped off. Blacksmiths could engrave magical runes into equipment, but if the intricate rune got even slightly chipped or worn then the effect ended. Sculptors could engrave images into equipment that were very durable and lasted as long as the equipment did, but they couldn’t control what effect the image would give. Two identical images on two identical pieces of equipment could give different effects, and the effects weren’t always good. With the three working together they had devised a new enchantment system.
First, the blacksmith devised what rune they needed to ensure that a liquid wouldn’t dry on contact with the armour. Then the sculptor applied the runes and the alchemist applied the enchantment. That worked about half of the time. The sculptor’s ability fixed the blacksmith’s fragility problem but was simply too unpredictable and failed half the time. Furthermore, while the coating didn’t fade anymore, it did dilute on contact with water. The fact that the technique required three classes to work, and one of the classes was a prestige class, meant that the equipment would be far too expensive to warrant the improvement. They gave up on that idea and looked for another way. The results of their trials were posted to the forum and they handed Roland the prototype armour.
After trading monster materials for potions, coatings and a new shield, Roland went to leave town. As he was leaving, he saw a crowd of people gathering. Curious, he went to see what it was about. A man dressed as a mage, with a long pale green coat and hood, was standing in front of the crowd.
“Hear me and fear, lowly people whom call themselves player,” the man spoke with a voice that seemed to come from multiple directions at once, as if the sound level was consistent and not fading over distance, “I am the Lord Demonist, Vash. The lowly you have built a town near my land and have not paid onto me a tribute. If you continue to go on with such disrespect, don’t blame me for the plight you find yourselves in.”
As he finished speaking, a towering naked man with blood red skin arose slowly from the ground like a synchronised swimmer. Vash stood comfortably on the giant’s palm as the monster walked towards the forest.
Roland quickly readied himself for a tough fight and ran after the giant.
He caught up to them after entering the forest and then some distance. Despite its leisurely pace the giant still moved quickly, thanks to its size. Drawing his sword and bracing his shield, Roland charged forward. The giant’s free fist slammed down to meet him, but Roland ducked to the side at the last minute. The force of the fist sent out a bellowing wind that pushed him back, but not before he got one attack in. When he ducked to the side he slashed vertically with his sword, making a line along the monster’s forearm. Thick jelly-like red blood oozed slowly from the wound as it came towards where he was knocked to.
A sword made of fire condensed in the creature’s hand and it swung a heavy blow towards him. As he had yet to completely regain his footing, he couldn’t move out of the way, and instead dropped his sword and took the attack with both arms on the shield. Pain shot through his arms and he felt like fractures had formed, but somehow he survived the blow. His shield wasn’t as lucky, however, as the metal overlay was melted and the wooden underlay was cracked. It wouldn’t be able to take any kind of hit so he dropped it when he picked his sword back up.
Focusing on dodging, he avoided several more attacks. The ground they had been standing on was filled with holes and craters. He realised that if the giant wasn’t holding Vash, Roland would have been dead a long time ago. Knowing that, he pressed that advantage. He remained on that side of its body, forcing it to make unnecessary moves and attack with reduced force. Whenever completely safe, he would make a quick, shallow cut, but never risked a heavy attack.
As the fight went on, the ground became even more damaged and uneven, causing Roland to trip. As he tried to get to his feet, the creature stamped its large foot heavily onto his back. He could feel the force through his body, like a pressure cooker boiling his organs. He survived only on the merit of his armour, which had small breaks throughout it.
He focused his effort and energy into his arms, willing himself to stand and avoid the next attack, when suddenly he found himself falling.
The ground couldn’t take anymore and it fell, revealing a long berried cave system. Having fallen for several second he met the new ground with a heavy greeting. When he re-spawned he found himself still in the cave. Nearby was a natural alter, a resurrection point that occurred naturally and were known as a warrior’s blessing. Until he went to another town, he would be stuck reviving in that cave.
Looking around, he could see that Vash and the giant also died from the fall. Not knowing what else to do, he took a look at their bodies. Vash had a small pouch bag, which reminded him of a large perse, and a wand of some kind. Inside the bag were some coins, scrolls, broken potions and a book. Although the game translated everyone’s spoken languages, it didn’t change written language without skills. As such the book and scrolls were worthless to him. He put the wand into the bag and dumped it into his bag, even if he didn’t know what they were, they might be worth something to someone.
From deep in the cave he heard a low growl. He could see a monstrous tiger approach the area slowly. Readying himself, he looked for his sword, and found it not far away. As he lifted the rock that it was half under, he found his luck was worse than he thought. It wasn’t that the sword was half buried; it was simply that there was only half a sword.
As it was his only option, he gripped the half a weapon and waited for the beast to come closer. As it did, he could see it more clearly. It was light brown in colour, with black stripes decorating it. Its large body stalked slowly forward, with a heavy frame more bear like then tiger. The claws on its paws were like jutted curved blades, both heavy and sharp. It stood up on its back legs and let out a cry. Foam filled its mouth and it charged. It moved far faster than it looked like it was capable of and closed the distance before he could blink. The creatures paw smacked his left arm and sent him flying into a wall.
As he tried to get up he could see his arm was in pieces, several breaks in the bone had pierced through the skin. He stumbled to his feet, only to be met with claws through his stomach. He fell to the ground once again and waited to be finished off. Another blow never came. The tiger-bear watched as he bled out, its snout distorted into a sick smile.
After several minutes of torment and pain, he eventually died. He re-spawned only to have his head severed before he could even react. He revived once again, and this time dropped to his knees to avoid the hit. It didn’t help much, as the creature’s second hand scooped him up with its curved claws and sent him flying. He landed heavily on his neck and died.
After ten more near-instantaneous deaths Rolland started to get an understanding on the creature’s abilities and patterns. He started to be able to narrowly avoid attacks, or at least reduce the depth of the cuts.
After taking a roll on a sharp rock he felt that he had lost too much blood to continue. He still fought on anyway though, ducking the fearsome attacks that were coming his way. Exhausted, he fell over once again and waited for an attack that never came. Thinking that it was just the sadistic nature of the creature, he was surprise when he opened his eyes. The creature was bound in vines and descending from the light were two beautiful figures. The golden haired angel sent lightning down from the heavens as the back haired angel bound it. As the tiger-bear struggled against the vines the black haired angel sliced into its head with a scythe.
Although the weapon barely managed to break its skin, its struggles grew weaker with each passing moment. As the beast fell, Rolland’s mind gave out and he fainted. He awoke to find his wounds treated and there was a ladder next to him. The shine had been cleaned also and an earthen dish filled with a soup was covered next to him. His amour had been slightly patched and, while his sword was still broken, some daggers made from the beasts claws were prepared for him.
He didn’t know what his title, favoured of the 12th world meant, but it seemed that the 12th world had sent angels to save him.