I’d discovered a new trick. It wasn’t meant to be part of my abilities, but hey, I was all about breaking shit, be it skulls or game mechanics. I’d discovered that if I charged my fist with lightning, then punched and launched a bolt of lightning simultaneously… well…
I slid down the gentle slope of the corridor as my momentum overcame any friction I had with the ground. My fist blazed with lightning, the stuff as eager as I was to see it hit something hard. Before me stood the shambling dead, their not-quite skeletal bodies so ripe for smashing. I whipped my fist forward, the action powered by the energy of my abilities and as it reached the apex of the swing and hit nothing but air, I unleashed a bolt of lightning.
Rather than the bolt of energy that the game said should come out, it was a god damn fist of lightning, almost like momentum was carrying the crackling energy off my clenched gauntlet and down the path that my bolt had been destined to travel. The impact had me grinning like some sort of feral cat as bones and dry, desiccated flesh exploded out in a cloud of dust and grime.
I considered backpedaling to stop myself from getting covered in the stuff, but I figured if I just charged up my speed boost all over again and went even harder, the force of the air around me would keep that gunk off me just fine, so yeah, that’s what I did.
The cloud parted to reveal yet more of the damn things, but the end was in sight now, a massive door made of solid bronze, taller than like, six Aurugms on top of each other. In a strictly platonic way. Unless they were into that sort of thing, I don’t know.
Across that massive bronze door were a series of huge bronze bars, melted across the gap between them to fuse the doors permanently closed. Someone had been really keen to seal that door shut, but on an even more hair raising note than that, something had been really fucking Milliekeen to get out. The massive stone frame of the door was cracked and damaged as though something big had been pounding on the inside, the stress of the blows cracking the stone where the hinges were mounted.
“Yo, Tami!” Dawn called from behind me. “This shit is gross! You’re helping me scrub it off the first chance we get! Can’t you like, break things in a somewhat clean way?”
I turned back and screwed my face up in an expression of sarcastic denial that was only partially ruined by the grin that was threatening to reach shit-eating status. “Why would I miss the opportunity to get you all soaking wet?” I asked with as much innocence as that grin would allow through my lips.
“You are a fucking handful,” she growled, skidding to a stop next to me as we surveyed the last of the skeletal angel things in front of us.
“Yeah, your handful,” I said with a huge, genuine grin now.
Her grimace turned to one of grudging amusement. “Yeah, my handful. The handful that will be in my bathtub tonight.”
I just laughed, then turned back to the horde of gross things in front of us that I would inevitably be washing off my girlfriend later.
There was a clatter behind us and we glanced back to watch the mangled but still writhing body of one of our enemies go sailing over our heads to crash into the ghouls in front of us. It knocked several of them over, causing a cascade of flailing bones that was too hilarious not to laugh at. Somehow we’d turned the scary ambush into something ridiculous and fun. I guess it’s hard to kill like literally hundreds of a thing and not get good enough at it that you could meme around a bit while you did it.
A roaring and very much alive angel followed the corpse through the air, her sword arcing in a slash that unleashed an icy projectile. There was a thump and the sound of it shattering as it connected with the recently airborne undead. More of the harsh, cold bolts followed, raining down with not a whole lot of accuracy among the still writhing mass of bones. Not that accuracy was a requirement here of course.
Rusti and Millie followed behind, both of them having stowed their weapons. I raised an eyebrow at that, and Rusti just gave a laughing shrug. “Ya’ll are doing just fine and I’m tired. I’d rather just enjoy the spectacular show you’re putting on and maybe loot a few bodies. The ones you leave intact enough to loot anyway.”
“I’m collecting bonemeal!” Millie chirped happily, holding up a sack of the stuff that was perhaps a little more porous than it should have been, because that shit was trailing behind her in a line. Where did she even get a sack that was that grotty?
“Where’s Civette?” Dawn asked, rather than addressing what they’d said.
“Probably waiting for the cloud of gross to dissipate so she doesn’t get it in her hair or something,” Rusti waved dismissively, although their words were partially drowned out by the crack of a glacier breaking behind us.
What the fuck was my sister up to? I turned back and found her now wielding a huge icicle like a club, which she’d apparently broken off a very recently formed ice field. Well then, I guess there would be no more clouds of bone bits. Maybe that was her point?
“This is honestly the most disgusting thing I have ever done,” Civette’s voice came from through the cloud, her voice muffled as she held a cloth over her face.
“Oh, it’s not even in my top twenty,” Millie remarked, frowning as she noticed just how many holes her bag of bonemeal had in it.
“I am not at all surprised,” Civette replied, her expression one of bemused disgust.
Civette seemed to just be generally confused about a lot of things, and it made me wonder what kind of sheltered life she’d led that she was more than just passingly grossed out by Millie’s more spectacular antics.
“Oi, you lot!” Taylor called from down below. “We have a boss to fight, come on!”
Wow, she was right. A huge, towering golem was pulling itself up off the floor. The colossal automata was made of steel reinforced stone, one huge rectangular block for its body, another on its side for its hips, and four steel ball jointed legs to hold it up. Four massive arms matched those legs, with fists of solid steel on their ends. It didn’t have a head to punch, and after a quick inspection, no nuts to crush either. Damn, this thing countered me.
“Hey, big boy!” Taylor called, holding her free hand out to the side.
An honest to god snowball formed there, and she lobbed it across the intervening space towards the big golem thing. It slapped into the central block of stone with a wet thump, and we all held our breath as it stilled, and even though it had no head, you could feel it glaring at my sister.
“I love my taunt,” she grinned. “Nothing pisses off a big ol’ bad guy like being slapped by a snowball. I think it’s the disrespect of the act, personally.”
I laughed, I couldn’t help it. My sister and I were cut from the same cloth, that was for sure.
“Oh, fuck,” she blurted, and her shield materialised onto her arm once more, just in time to block a blast of arcane energy that had been fired by one of the golem’s hands. “Right friends, looks like it has ranged attacks. I’m going to go and stand in front of it and get hit a lot, Civette, please make sure I stay alive.”
“Sure,” Civette nodded, staring at the giant angry golem with trepidation. “Better it’s hitting you than me.”
Taylor chuckled. “That’s the plan! The rest of you, hold back while I get it suitably angry at me.”
Then she was leaping through the air with a whoop of excitement to land on the golem’s left side. The thing tried to turn to follow her flight, but it was slow, and that gave her time to… wow. She took her shield in both hands and brought it down with all her might onto one of the giant toes on its foot. There was an echoing crack that had even the still marginally intact Aurellings turning to stare. She’d just broken its toe.
Dawn and I shared a glace that said, Oh my god.
There was another crack, and we turned back to find Taylor standing with her shield held above her head, straining to hold back a foot that was very determined to grind her into a paste.
“I think we’re good!” she called, her tone strained with the effort of holding the thing back. “I’m pretty sure it’s suitably pissed off!”
“Let’s see what happens if I punch it,” I wondered aloud, and began to build my speed boost.
Lightning began to ripple around me with the effort, sparking and cracking in an ominous staccato. When I felt I’d poured enough into it, I burst forward through the air, my flight faster than I could comprehend. Fist charged with thunderous force, I drove it straight into one of the forearms of the big boy. The impact shook the boss, causing it to stumble drunkenly sideways.
I fell back to the ground with an unceremonious thump, and… oh dear, I’d drawn just a little aggro. Tami can have little aggro, as a treat. The boss was still wailing on Taylor like it was getting paid, but one very irate foot was descending towards me to deliver that “treat”. Nah mate, fuck you. I drove my fist up to meet the rough stone and metal of the foot, discharging a lightning bolt for good measure.
The crack of the impact was deafening, at least to my ears, and the shock ran through my whole body. The leg pulled back, charging up for another stomp, but I rolled haphazardly backwards. My whole body felt like jelly after that. Note to self, don’t punch stone, at least not too hard. My arm was numb as I shook it out, which gave me time to watch the others at work.
Dawn was standing back where she had been before, her arms raised to channel a devastating beam of white hot energy into one of the leg joints, the metal there already glowing a dull red in colour. I could see sweat pouring off her, her already pale grey complexion turning whiter by the second.
I rushed over and summoned a mana vial in the same breath, popped the cork and held it up in front of her face. She nodded with a stuttering jerk and opened her mouth. I poured the liquid inside, tapped it once for good measure to get the last drop, then watched her skin for any changes. A little more colour… but better safe than sorry. I popped another mana potion.
With the second one empty, I turned to see how the beam was doing. Blazing white hot! Nice! It didn’t seem to be doing anything though, the metal still able to do its job just fine.
“Taylor!” Dawn called hoarsely, letting her beam of energy falter and flicker out of existence. “Hit the joint!”
My sister looked up from where she was taking… well, quite a few blows, and saw the glowing joint in question. Oh no, they weren’t! I felt pride for my girlfriend and her intelligence, and turned to give her a huge grin.
Back at the Golem, Taylor raised her sword and took aim at the joint, firing of a series of icy projectiles, each one slapping into it repeatedly. They formed a sizzling blockage of ice that was quickly broken by the movement of the golem. Another series of projectiles hit, and another, and another, until the heat in the joint had dissipated entirely.
“Go,” Dawn smirked, pointing at the weakened metal. “Punch it as hard as you can.”
“My pleasure,” I replied with a giddy smile and sexual undertones.
“Dork,” Dawn accused with a roll of her eyes.
Bracing myself, I made sure I had as much traction with the floor as possible, then built up some more of that sweet, sweet potential momentum. Again, the lightning and sparks rolled off me in waves, gathering in my legs. My first burned with power as I sighted, making sure I’d actually hit the weakened limb. With an almost excessive amount of force accumulated, I pushed off.
My fist instantly connected and I was rewarded with the shrill, piercing shriek of shearing metal, and then I was ragdolling across the floor like a curling rock. My eyes watered as I slid to a stop against the great metal door, jesus fucking christ, that hurt. I glanced down at my arm and almost immediately jerked my gaze away. It was fucked, I could see that even through my armour, bent in some nasty ways.
Bleary eyed, I saw the Golem staggering, one of its legs missing at the knee, and grim satisfaction rise up from within me. Hell yeah, it had worked!
“Tami!” someone called, and I looked up to find Civette motioning wildly towards herself. “I can’t get to you there! Can you crawl back?”
Nodding, I pushed myself up with my good arm and wobbled slightly as pain rocked me. Bloody hell, that was not fun. Cradling it to my chest, I built up speed again, but for once I didn’t have a target on the other end. Instead, I used it to get back past the golem and within range of my healer.
She rushed forward, one eye still on Taylor, and grabbed my arm. Pain burst through it again, and I tried to pull away, but she held it firm. “Sorry, I’m new to this, but even I know shit doesn’t heal properly if it isn’t straightened out.”
“I’m not—“ I began, then gasped as healing magic flooded my arm, mercifully relieving the pain and mending my arm. “ —Straight.”
“Really? I couldn’t tell,” she cut back sarcastically, but I swear I saw the hint of a smile in there somewhere. With my arm healed, she stepped back and turned her attention to Taylor once more, who was probably now dealing with similar issues. That golem was pissed.
With my arm repaired and the pain gone, I was about to go back to Dawn and tell her to do it again, when my eyes fell on something… wild. Damn, we really needed to have like, a strategy meeting or something.
Millie was swaying precariously on the hip block of the golem, as in, she was actually standing on it. Rusti held her waist, using their superior catlike balance to keep them both upright as she packed explosives into the space between the hips and the remaining legs of of the giant boss golem. I guess that made sense, the two of them would be kinda useless if they went at it with their knives, but… that was crazier than even my arm-shattering punch just now.
They were in the process of finishing their task, and it looked like they had set the explosives up into packages that would fit into the joints prior to actually jumping up on the thing. Well, except one set, which had obviously been intended for the leg that was now ruined. That extra explosive charge was rather audaciously attached to the central block. With the explosives in place, Rusti grabbed Millie and leapt off, rolling into the impact when they hit the ground.
No sooner had they hit the ground and moved to a safe distance, than Millie was yelling for the party’s attention. “Everyone get away from it! Dawn, hit the explosives!”
Without even trying to look up to see what her girlfriend was on about, Taylor was running, Civette just ahead of her. The golem raised two of its arms in response, the palms lighting up with deadly purple energy. Sizzling arcane bolts ripped out in an automatic ripple of death. Taylor’s shield came back up, protecting both her and Civette as the assault rained down around them. Damn, had we been like, skipping boss mechanics or something?
Dawn’s eyes found the little packages and with a nod, she raised her hand. A single fireball flew out and hit the one on the central block of the golem. The explosion was instant and destructive, shaking dust down from high above like a giant had just stomped on the roof. We were all knocked flat by the blast, the air in my lungs was mysteriously missing, and my ears were ringing like I’d forgotten to take my hearing protection pills before a concert.
I pushed myself up just in time to get a good look at the golem winding up to finish us all off. Oh shit! The legs had all been sheared clean off the thing, but it didn’t seem to care. All four arms were pointing at us, charging up with more of their gatling gun magic missles.
Almost without thinking, I leapt into the air, my wings beating furiously to bring me to a better vantage point. Below me, Taylor got her shield into place to protect the party, but I wasn’t sure how long they would last. The bolts of purple burning energy were already tearing through the air as I reached the apex of my flight.
Having gained the advantage of height and gravity, I activated my speed boost. This was going to hurt, a lot. I really hoped I didn’t die from this. There was a boom just before I released, but it wasn’t the boom I was used to. It was as though an auto hammer from dad’s workshop had just come down onto a red hot ingot of metal. Clang.
Then there was the bone shaking moment of impact, but not nearly as much pain as I had expected. What the… I opened my eyes from where they had been scrunched up tight, and found something truly strange. A massive two handed mace was in my fists. It looked like it was made of solid dark thunderclouds, sparks of lightning crackling from within.
The head of the mace was buried in the shattered torso of the golem, right where Millie’s explosives had weakened it. What the hell? Where did this thing come from? I turned back to look at my friends in confusion, then back down to the weapon in my hands.
Before any of us could do more than stare, the huge mace lost its form, drifting into a formless cloud before it it began to rush towards a single point on the floor.
“Squaa!” Ryana burbled happily from where she had just coalesced back into being, the thundercloud rushing back into the form of a very small dragon.
We all stared in shock as she began to roll in the dusty rubble of the now very dead golem. Bathing in the dust of our enemies. Wait, the little shit was going to get all dirty!
“Hey,” I exclaimed, reaching down for her. “Stop that!”