Chapter 19: Early morning surprise
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Out of nowhere with no warning, the shack's door burst open almost shattering the hinges. In flew a winged snake the length of my leg. Fangs protruding and its mouth open, it barely missed both Mia and I. Landing in the middle of the loot pile it stared down at the gathered items. And as the tense moments continued to pass, Rumble swaggered in, clearly proud of himself. That's when the situation became clear.

“Rumble! You have to be careful and warn us before launching monsters through the air towards us! We could’ve gotten hit!” I quickly berated my familiar.

With a jolt of shock at my obviously annoyed demeanor, Rumble shrank back from his previously confident attitude. With an embarrassed and crying emoji pair, Rumble hung his head.

Instantly feeling regret for my harsh tone I added, “Look buddy, no one got hurt this time so we will let it slide. But in the future we can’t do that because Mia or I could’ve gotten seriously injured.” I tried explaining gently.

“He is right, Rumble, we could have been seriously injured if your throw was even slightly off. We are happy that you are back and obviously successful with your hunt, but we need to be careful for now on. Do you understand?” Mia said gently and with obvious care in her voice.

With a vigorous up and down shake of his entire body, Rumble confirmed his understanding and his regret at having put us in danger.

Now with a Smiley emoji blasting into my vision, Rumble ran over to his trophy and started trying to show us how it flew through the air, all while tipping over piles of sorted loot.

Palm sliding down my face I grabbed Rumble with my other hand while explaining, “Rumble, we just organized this pile. You can show us over there in the clear area next to the firewood.”

Not to be discouraged from his showboating, Rumble ran over to the indicated spot all the while trying to make the flying snake appear to be flying. As his twirling and jumping came to an end, I examined the dead monster.

With more than a little surprise I couldn’t help but comment. “Rumble, that is a rare monster! Apparently it's called a ‘winged-snake’, nothing creative with the name but rare nonetheless. Mia, do you think we can get some good money for it?”

“There is no doubt that we will. I wish we could process it ourselves, but we will probably get more by selling this one whole compared to us trying to process it here.” Mia added thoughtfully.

“Oh, I almost forgot with how Rumble made his entrance. I need to select my choices from earlier. Rumble, you are about to get a nice little upgrade, are you ready?” I asked the little guy.

With a quick nod of affirmation, the little guy braced himself.

Having made my selection, I watched the choice come to fruition. Rumble quickly sprouted thick thorns all across his body. With his forearms and back the most heavily protected I could only cringe while realizing that my morning alarm was going to get much much worse.

“I cannot say that I am a fan.” Mia dejectedly stated.

“Why? I know that I don’t like it due to his habit of either hugging me in joy, or hitting me while sleeping.”

“Because, now I cannot hug him.” Mia mourned.

Upon seeing the sad look cross Mia’s face, Rumble shook his body and somehow retracted his thorns. With the thorns now fully hidden, he rushed over to Mia and gave her a long hug not fully knowing why she suddenly flinched.

“Well, it is good to know that Rumble can still hug.” Mia said

“Let’s just hope that he remembers that while sleeping. I really need to build him a planter or something. I am not sure that I can handle him hitting me every morning for the rest of my life.”

“I am sure it will help with your advancement. If you get attacked daily, I am sure you will unlock an achievement sooner or later.”

And with that the night finished in a mostly humorous mood. We finished the loot organization and Mia tagged it for sale with her skill. As we finished and said goodnight, I couldn’t help but feel that the coming days would get even better.

**********

The next day we were awakened during the first stages of twilight by a deluge of rain spilling into the shack through the hole in the roof. It had put out the fire, drenched us and the blankets, and yet the worst part was that Rumble was still asleep, shaking with delight as the water was sucked into his roots.

Grumbling but leaving him to enjoy his rest, I got up and started securing our loose belongings in the cabinet where they would be able to dry.

“I can’t believe this rain, it seems like it came out of nowhere!” I yelled over to Mia over the sounds of the storm.

Mia, trying to make a makeshift barrier with her already wet towel in order to minimize the splashing, responded with a shake to her voice. “Maybe we should have chosen the Calm domain option!” She shouted back.

“I just hope that the rain dies down a little and that the sun comes up soon. It's easy to forget how cool the spring mornings are when the coals keep us warm.”

“Agreed, the occasional dew was bad enough, but now I am soaked! We need to figure out how to prevent this from happening again. Maybe we ca”

The world lit as bright as day for a brief moment before a world changing pulse shook the air itself.

CRACK!

“AH!!” Mia started screaming.

“Mia, its just thunder and lightning!” I told her while running over to embrace her cold cowering form. “I saw it plenty during my free-time activities growing up. As long as we stay in the home, we should be fine, remember that this shack is considered a safe area for the most part.”

“I know what it is Brad, I just do not like it!” She replied, body rigid.

As another crack of lightning hit, Rumble jumped up with his thorns bursting forth, looking for what caused Mia to scream what was possibly the loudest sound to occur that night.

As Rumble saw us huddled in the least flooded corner, he swept his gaze over the room to check for any monsters. Apparently satisfied with the immediate safety of us, he ran over to the cabinet and grabbed something before running over to Mia, giving it to her with a pat on the head and then rushing outside into the storm.

Not knowing what Rumble had given, but seeing the confused look on her face, I asked: “What did he give you?”

“I don’t know, but it feels like a sticky rock.” Mia said, fear momentarily lost in her confusion.

However the calm granted by Rumble’s action did not last long as a new wave of lightning tore the sky open. And so it went on for hours, well into the light of day. Finally the lightning stopped midmorning, allowing us to finally relax and go outside.

Upon trying to open the door, we were greeted with a scene of pathway destruction. Not only was the path leading to the shack flooded, it also had deep gouges trenched through it in every direction.

Luckily we were not left in confusion for long as we saw large smooth lizard fish creatures both chasing and being chased by Rumble. Everytime he hit one it would run in fear, but that still left a dozen to chase him while he went for the kill.

As the comotion played out and eventually made its way onto the main road, Mia and I quickly hurried over to check our fields. It was a muddy mess, littered with blown debris, but it was full of fully ripe crops!

“They survived!” We both shouted to the sky in delight.

“Mia, we did it! They survived and we are going to have our first major harvest!” I shouted for joy while grabbing her in a hug.

“We did! It was close, but we are going to make it. With a little smart investing, we should be sitting really well off by the end of spring!” She continued to shout, unable to calm herself.

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