Battle with the Demon Wolves
The demon wolves pounced, at least six of them focusing entirely on Henry. He used magic to pump his body with strength from the earth and sprang back, his speed and strength far exceeding normal human limits. It drained a lot of his magical energy to boost himself like this since Earth was not his focus, but he didn’t see any choice. The demon wolves were too big, too fast, and there were too many of them to do anything other than go all-out from the beginning of the fight.
Three of the demon wolves collided where he’d been standing and snarled at each other. Henry saw vicious intelligence in their glowing eyes and felt a chill. These were not stupid dogs, not at all.
He used a bit more magic to map the area. The effect was immediate; Henry knew every stick, every rock, and every tree for hundreds of yards around as if they were part of his own body. He couldn’t afford to trip in this fight. Like every other life or death situation he’d ever been in, his thoughts turned cold. His normal personality was replaced by ice and his eyes looked through his opponents.
Henry had a moment before the demon wolves near him could attack again, so he changed his fore arms into metal and extended large spikes from the outer sides. The metal shone, the dense steel shimmering in the noon day sun. Henry’s available magic power was reduced by about half at this point. He spared a glance to look for Jason, but his friend was already gone. He was probably helping protect the civilians.
Henry would have to fight on his own. He was so, so very screwed, but he would do what he could. Maybe if he killed enough of these unnatural fuckers, Jason could save the villagers. Henry’s life would not be wasted.
He smiled viciously, his grin showing all his teeth and his eyes were wild. He had unleashed the beast. In the back of his mind, he could hear, “Blood, blood, blood makes the grass grow green, Drill Sergeant!” Old training asserted itself in a moment and Henry became a different person. His heart burned like fire but his mind was still so very, very cold. The demon wolves cocked their heads and looked confused. The man was not retreating from them. Men always ran from them, they didn’t understand.
Henry sprung forward, screaming, “Destiny!” The first demon wolf didn’t have a chance, Henry hit it like a pissed off Japanese wrecking ball of flashing blades and killing intent. His cheap, generic, magic-sharp machete cleaved right through his first target’s skull. Without pausing, he fluidly blocked a set of snapping teeth with his bladed left arm and hit another demon wolf with a side kick so hard the creature practically bent around a tree 10 feet away.
Unfortunately, the creatures adjusted quickly and Henry’s element of surprise evaporated like smoke. He barely dodged several more attacks and quickly found himself on the defensive. The huge, lupine creatures relentlessly pursued him, their glowing eyes tracking his every move. Before long, it seemed most of them were chasing him.
Henry used his area map to find a stone in the underbrush and grabbed it as he narrowly evaded yet another set of snapping jaws. He sheathed his machete, cocked his arm and let fly, using one of his magic abilities to accelerate the stone to truly frightening speeds. The power was amazing; the stone created a sonic boom and its path could easily be seen by the line of tree trunks exploding into jagged pieces. Unfortunately, the demon wolf he’d been aiming for was completely untouched. It hadn’t even dodged. The monster stopped for a moment and glanced at the path of destruction the stone had caused before turning back and glaring at him.
“Well… fuck me,” muttered Henry. All the power in the world wasn’t very useful if he couldn’t hit his target. And unfortunately, Henry had always had terrible throwing aim. “You know,” he addressed the blinking demon wolf, “I really wish you’d jumped in front of that thing you mangy piece of shit.”
Suddenly, his discussion with the offending (and still very alive) demon wolf was interrupted when another monster jumped at him from the shadows, almost taking his arm off. His only warning had been the slight rustle of the bushes next to him. Henry jumped straight up and used his powerful legs to springboard off a tree and land almost 20 feet away. “You guys don’t let up do you?”
Henry’s mind was still cold as he pondered ways to most efficiently kill his enemies. He came up with an idea as he continued to dodge around trees and narrowly avoid being bitten in half. He didn’t like his plan, but he couldn’t think of anything better so he grabbed two more stones from the ground. The demon wolves were obviously somehow coordinating their attacks so he would use that against them; it was going to require using a lot of magic, though.
He threw a stone at nearby demon wolf and like last time, the projectile didn’t even come close. He tried to dial down the power in order to conserve magic, but it still used up a lot of juice. As soon as he threw the stone, he acted tired and waited for a couple seconds.
Two demon wolves practically appeared out of nowhere and attacked from both sides. If he attacked or blocked one, the other probably would have gotten him. Unfortunately for them, he’d been expecting this sort of strategy. Got ya! He slashed at one monster, warding it off, and in a blur of motion he threw his remaining stone at the second creature. He put a decent amount of power into this one too… at. Point. Blank. Range.
The hapless creature made a wet, squelching sounds as it was torn apart, the raw power of the stone’s impact and sonic boom spraying viscera everywhere, the tree behind it violently exploding and wounding another monster with wooden shrapnel. The shattered body of the stone’s target crumpled to the ground. Henry jumped away while he tried to clean his face with a gore streaked sleeve. Blood and monster parts were in his hair. It was disgusting, but he didn’t have time to deal with it as he tracked another two creatures trying to box him in.
The next few minutes were a madhouse of howls, shouts, chaos, and fear. His opponents no longer rushed him quite as aggressively, they had learned to fear him. Still, it seemed like all Henry could do to avoid dying every few seconds. There are just too many of these things!
Henry had killed the first wolf he targeted when the battle started, one with the stone, and barely took out a third with an arm blade slammed into its head when he turned around and saw massive jaws coming for his throat. He knew he was going to die. His weight was shifted forward and his body position was completely wrong for trying to block or dodge. The monster had caught him. There was nothing he could do.
In a moment that seemed to last forever, Henry resigned himself to his death. He mentally shrugged, but before he could close his eyes, his mild mannered, affable friend Jason appeared out of thin air above the creature with wild eyes and drove a bronze sword into its back with all his weight.
The move was perfectly executed and the demon wolf crumped around the blade, its lungs and heart pierced. Henry was so shocked he barely managed to get out of the way as the monster slid to a stop with Jason on top of it, covered in gore.
Jason ripped his sword out of the dying demon and flicked blood off of it. He turned to Henry, “How much magic do you have left?”
“A little less than 25% I think,” answered Henry. “How many are left?”
Jason said, “Eight are dead so six are left. Just keep doing what you’ve been doing, keep them busy. I have the same amount of magic left as you. It will be close, but we have a chance.” With that, Jason disappeared again, air rushing to fill the space he’d just occupied.
Henry was shocked but he got his mind moving again in time to dodge another attack. This time, he wasn’t being pressured as much by other creatures so he was able to counterattack and take a leg off with his machete. The monster snarled in pain and snapped its jaws at Henry, but he danced to the side and kicked it in the head. His earth-enhanced slammed into the demon’s head with teeth shattering force. It somersaulted backwards and as it came to a stop, Jason briefly appeared again. His blade moved in an impossible blur and took a slice out of the demon’s head before he used his magic to vanish again.
Henry shook his head and realized his friend was turning into a very scary dude.
Then he was being attacked again and started running, a monster snapping at his heels. He was beginning to feel tired. His Endurance skill could apparently only stave off exhaustion to a certain degree, but not forever. He was starting to approach his limits physically and magically.
Henry was dodged a demon wolf and trying to attack another from behind when he made his first big mistake. He failed to notice bushes moving to the side with his earth map and the demon wolf’s ambush worked. Its jaws closed on his leg and he could feel its teeth puncturing his flesh as his bones shattered. Henry screamed and managed to kick the creature away before it could do more damage, but he was hurt badly.
Henry stood up slowly, glaring at the three demon wolves surrounding him. They growled deep in their chests, their eyes flashing and once again, Henry knew he was going to die. He was almost out of magic power and his body strengthening was starting to fade too. With an effort of will, he used the very last of his magic power to lengthen the blades on his arms and curve them forward. He couldn’t put weight on one leg so he couldn’t dodge, but that meant he wouldn’t have to worry about longer arms blades getting in the way.
And suddenly, once again, Jason was there beside him. The bronze sword he was holding was twisted and covered in gore. His friend was facing to the rear, watching his back. He said, “I won’t have much left after this, but I am going to try something. Get ready and make it count.”
Henry nodded and felt Jason’s magic surge behind him. Then a curious thing happened; Henry’s mind expanded. He didn’t really feel different, but he was aware that his thoughts were much faster than normal. The world seemed to slow down around him and when the first of the three demon wolves circling him jumped, it almost seemed like it did so in slow motion.
Henry swung his arm blade for the demon wolf’s face and realized he was moving incredibly slowly too. Ah, his perception of time had just changed, not his speed. Jason must have buffed him using his magic.
Despite his new ability to see everything in slow motion, the demon wolves were still strong and fast and Henry was down to one useable leg. He really didn’t have a lot of options so he decided to make the best of a bad situation.
He waited patiently, weakly waving off all the attacks as if he was barely conscious. He carefully watched the monster in front of him, looking for the perfect moment to strike.
Then it came. The creature overexposed itself, went just a little too far forward while snapping at him and Henry seized his chance. He put as much of his fading strength as he could into his remaining leg and lunged forward, punching forward with his arm blade. The shimmering, magically formed steel went in the demon wolf’s mouth and Henry’s forward momentum forced it through the back of its head. It immediately fell down, painfully wrenching Henry’s arm as it took him down with it.
Henry no longer had the energy to get off the ground. He could feel the dead demon wolf’s paw hitting his back in its death throes. What a shitty place. I really hate Dolos, was his last thought before passing out.
When Henry woke up, it was night time and he automatically knew he could only be awake due of his endurance skill. He’d been beaten up before so he knew if he was a normal person, he’d still be comatose for at least another day. Well, if he was still a normal person, he’d just be dead. He chuckled without humor as he checked his magic reserves and found they’d returned to about 1/3 of his max. Then he saw his leg was thoroughly bound and wrapped with linen. He put a hand to his head and realized someone had washed him too; he no longer had guts in his hair.
As he looked around, he realized he was lying in one of the villager’s tents. He and Jason usually just slept under the wagons so this was new to him. He propped himself up and slowly made his way out of the tent. As soon as he was out, he saw the villagers standing around a fire in the middle of the wagon circle. A child standing outside saw him and gave a squeak before running off. The kid looked scared.
Well, I probably do look like hell, thought Henry. He popped his joints and stretched for a moment, breathing the night air and looking at the stars. The stars were beautiful, the unfamiliar constellations danced in the sky like celestial glitter. Well, maybe this world isn’t all bad.
A few minutes later, Henry saw Jason hurrying over being trailed by Mareen. They both looked relieved. Jason came to a stop and said, “We didn’t know when you were going to wake up. I wish I’d known you were just going to take a short nap.”
“Well, what can I say? I guess I’m just lazy that way”
Jason smiled but then sobered, “Well, the bad news is that your leg bone is in pieces and it’s not something Mareen can heal, although she did take care of your cuts and bruises.”
Henry sighed and asked, “Am I ever going to walk again?”
Jason responded, “Probably not if you hadn’t taken the first rank in the “healing” skill. Luckily for you, your body is repairing your leg. Mareen says you should be limping in another half a day. You’ll probably be starving tomorrow and have to eat all day, though.”
“I can live with that,” Henry’s eyes widened. “So the healing ability isn’t based on magic power, eh? I was completely tapped out when I passed out. In fact, what happened?”
Jason looked serious and answered, “The three demon wolves we fought were the last ones left. You killed one and I killed one, then the last one went for you on the ground but I was able to take it out before it got you.” A shadow crossed Jason’s eyes. “That whole thing was a mess. It made the goblin cave seem like a walk in the park. If you hadn’t been here, we all would have died.”
Henry snorted, “What are you talking about? You teleported all over the place and by my count, I only killed 4 of them.”
“No, you have it all wrong,” Jason shook his head. “You outright killed four, yes. However, you critically wounded three of them. They would have died anyway if I hadn’t finished the job. You also singlehandedly saved all the villagers by pissing off the demon wolves so badly that they were almost all coming after you.
Almost all of the critters I killed I was able to get the jump on because they were so intent on you. With the exception of the one George brained with his club, I’d consider every dead demon wolf at least partially your kill. You saved the day, man!”
Henry blinked and looked at Mareen. “Is he telling the truth?”
Mareen nodded, spots of color appearing on her cheeks. Henry immediately felt bad for startling her and didn’t ask her any other questions. He could tell he was probably making her uncomfortable for some reason.
“Wow,” Henry sighed. He regarded his bandaged leg and then gazed up at the night sky again. “That was a hell of a thing. I wish we had cold beer. With the stars and a beer, and no more fucking demon wolves, maybe this world wouldn’t suck so bad.”
Jason clapped him on the shoulder, “I guess we’ll have to see what we can do.”