Chapter 81: Worm hunters
2k 8 51
X
Reading Options
Font Size
A- 15px A+
Width
Reset
X
Table of Contents
Loading... please wait.

“Should I come with you?” Haley went to get up and Mason threw her back down.

“Do not. Fucking. Move.” He growled, and the girls shook with laughter.

“Well I have to pee,” Rebecca complained.

“And I’m thirsty,” said Haley.

“Water. And washroom. That’s it. And don’t get dressed. I want you exactly as you are when I get back.”

“Yes, master,” Haley cooed, and Becky rolled her eyes.

“Yes, master,” she agreed, then sighed and wrapped her arms around Haley.

Mason pulled on a pair of pants and forced himself out the door. If there wasn’t a fire, or something…

Actually, he didn’t give a shit if there was a fire. If there wasn’t a pack of murderous monsters literally tearing down the town, Mason was pretty sure he was going to murder someone, or possibly beat Blake half to death.

He blinked and slowed when he realized half of Nassau was gathered around the chief’s hall. Both players and civilians began to turn and look at Mason with any number of different expressions, usually in something approaching awe or fear. He tried to ignore them.

Blake stood on his hill and waved Mason over when he saw him coming. The crowd parted, and Mason went to his brother’s side.

“We’re under attack,” Blake explained.

Mason sighed and unhappily gave up some of his righteous indignation. His murderous intent, however, merely shifted targets.

“Where are they?”

“We’re not exactly sure,” Blake frowned. “The defences and the alarm are in a tizzy, but none of the tower guards have seen anything. It’s too dark to see in the trees, so we’re at a bit of a loss. My patron info is pretty clear, however, it’s telling me there’s a threat.”

Mason frowned, then thought of the creature he’d seen earlier. “Shit. I saw some kind of giant worm attack a deer. Came out of nowhere. I figured it was just a one off, lone hunter sort of thing. But maybe there’s more.”

Blake frowned. “Still, it was outside the walls, yes? I mean I guess I don’t know the hunting habits of giant, post-apocalyptic worms, but you’d think they’d avoid the town.”

A woman’s scream pierced the dark from the other side of Nassau.

Mason and every other player turned towards the noise, which came vaguely from the direction of the infirmary. “Streak, come!” he yelled, then sprinted at full speed.

He searched the dark with his enhanced eyes but saw nothing out of the ordinary. The scream hadn’t come again, and not sure where else to go Mason burst through the infirmary door.

“Help us!” Mason recognized the new nurse Aila’s voice from deeper inside. He charged on, finding the floor of the infirmary burst apart as if caught in some explosion.

Two worms stretched from burrowed holes, their nightmarish maws open and filled with teeth surrounded by four longer fangs.

Phuong stood between one worm, Aila and at least three wounded civilians, a vaguely glowing blue blade much like Mason’s in his hand. The other worm was convulsing, and appeared to be swallowing someone whole.

Mason charged at the feeding worm and activated Predator’s Strike, hacking into its body just above the ground. If whoever was in it was still alive, he hoped the blow might avoid hitting them.

His Ranger’s Claw sliced the creature’s hide with ease, spraying white goo to splatter against the wall. He followed with a Crippling Strike, not surprised when his vision flared with some kind of warning of immunity.

Still, the blow cut open more of the worm, and the horrified creature lurched as it tried to wiggle back under the ground.

Across the room, Phuong leapt to attack the other worm, weaving his blade in some kind of pattern that lingered in the air before projecting it forward. It struck with an audible sizzle, and the worm screeched and flopped over like it’d been struck with a taser.

Mason’s worm was still trying to flee, so he rammed his sword into the body and held it there, drawing his shorter blade with his free hand to cut away bits of the worm like a scalpel. With a few moments work he severed the head and a good chunk of the body, and the half-eaten civilian collapsed with it.

Mason looked up to see the older player hacking his target to pieces, then did his best to remove the civilian. Unfortunately, the four long fangs surrounding the worm’s maw had been rammed into the woman’s chest and stomach, and it was soon clear she was dead.

No experience, Mason noticed. Interesting.

“Poor Dianne,” Aila put her hands to her face as she approached. She met Mason’s eyes. “Are there more…of those things?”

“Possibly.” He swept his eyes over everyone in the room. “Get to the chief’s hall. Now. The players there will protect you.”

Then he looked to Phuong. “You’re pretty handy with that sword.”

The older man gave a small, lopsided smile, but said nothing, and Mason liked him more and more.

“Feel like hunting some more worms?”

Phuong just spun his blue sword and moved for the door, and Mason followed behind.

 

* * *

 

By the time they’d reached the gate, Mason and Phuong had collected Alex the support and Garet the spearman.

Blake kept the others at the chief’s hall, gathering all the civilians inside.

“Go hunt some of the bastards down,” he said as he clapped Mason on the shoulder. “Where’s Becky and Haley?”

Mason grinned, thinking of Becky in the dungeon and how powerful her defensive abilities were getting, how he trusted her with Haley’s life. “They’ll be fine. See you shortly.”

Then he stopped at the gate with Phuong and the others, Streak beside him with ears down and nostrils flared.

“My wolf senses them. But unless one of you has an idea, I don’t think we can kill them until they attack. I figure we head out, stay sharp, find them and then stand still to tempt them out. We wait for them to strike, then we pounce. Any objections?”

Garet raised a thick brow. “What about the guy they, uh, eat?”

Mason snorted. “I was planning to jump.” Then he looked at Alex. “Think you can keep one of these worms from eating us for a second or two?”

The Bellarussian put a thoughtful hand to his chin, then shrugged, speaking with a heavy accent, which meant he was using English. “We will see.”

The other men exchanged a look, and Mason grinned. “Good enough. Let’s move.”

They ran out and started to patrol the walls, but it didn’t take long before Streak growled and pawed at the earth.

“Everyone stay still. There might be a sound, or a smell, or who knows before they attack. Keep sharp.”

Mason tried to relax and let his senses roam, looking for any little detail that might help give them an edge. They stood in silence, listening to the nightbirds and the sound of the breeze whisper through the trees. The moon was out but too small to give much light.

Dirt sprayed just as Streak barked. The ground erupted at Alex’s feet, and the Bellarussian went wide eyed before leaping straight into the air.

The huge, grey worm emerged like a striking snake, circular mouth opening and snapping mere inches from Alex’s feet before the body emerged and smashed into him.

Then Mason, Phuong, and Garet were on it. Garet was closest. He jammed his spear straight through the creature’s body right at ground level, leaving the weapon inside, and trapping it from escape.

Well fucking done, Mason thought, but didn’t waste time saying so. Instead he activated Aspect of the Cheetah and arrived at a sprint, slashing with Predator’s Strike right below the worm’s mouth.

Phuong had a similar idea. Between the two of them, they hacked grey flesh and white goo from the creature’s hide, over and over until the ‘head’ collapsed to the ground.

Then they were all panting in the otherwise quiet dark of the forest. Alex dusted himself off and stood, and Mason looked at him and grinned.

“Nice jump. But I meant sideways.”

Phuong laughed first. Then Garet and finally Alex, until they were all howling and even Streak joined in with a confused bark.

“But seriously,” Mason cleared his throat. “We need a ‘what happens if it attacks Alex’ plan.”

“No problem.” The Bellarussian’s face turned instantly serious. “Next time, I climb tree.”

They all grinned again, but actually that was a fantastic, if annoyingly obvious, idea. “OK.” Mason inspected the dead worm for long enough to decide there wasn’t much to learn. “Let’s go hunting.”

 

The next time, Mason, Garet, and Phuong stayed closer together. Streak flattened his ears and growled, and as promised, Alex climbed up the closest tree.

Again Mason focused his senses, trying to detect any change or indication the creature was about to attack. This time he heard it—and felt it, a slight tremble beneath the ground.

“On me,” he whispered, preparing himself. He was both right and wrong.

The earth burst apart twice.

Two worms exploded from the ground and thrashed with their spikes. Mason leapt aside and started hacking, but Garet cried out in surprise. He fell as the earth collapsed beneath him, and Mason lost sight of him as he got lost in his own struggle. Two cuts and a Predator’s Strike and he’d severed the worm’s body, then spun and ran to help the spearman.

Garet’s worm was larger—near twice the size of any they’d seen so far, maybe five feet in diameter. It had ripped a huge chunk out of the earth, and now swung itself and those giant fangs in a circular pattern seeking flesh, maw half open and ready to bite.

Garet crawled away and looked mostly fine—a flash of maybe one of Alex’s shields sparking against the worm’s fangs.

Then Phuong and Mason were cutting. They dashed in and out as the beast swung its flexible body, taking turns slashing flesh and some kind of muscular cartilage apart. Even Streak took his turn, ducking low and biting the creature’s body near the ground and slowing its spin.

Phuong again weaved a pattern of strikes in the air, projecting a blast of energy that threw back Mason’s clothes and hair and slowed the worm to a dazed slump.

Two more slashes, and the thick cuts opened and tore, and the big beast’s maw collapsed as its body severed and stopped.

The men all stood in silence, letting the intensity of the moment wash from their limbs and lungs.

“You alright, Garet?”

The spearman examined himself with shaky hands before he grinned. “Looks like. Thanks to Alex.”

The Bellarussian winked from his tree, and Mason looked between the men and smiled. “Well done, gents. I’m actually starting to have fun. Ready for another round?”

Garet choked on a laugh and shook his head. “Crazy bastards. Next time I’m climbing a tree, too.”

The men got lost in another round of laughter.

Oh hi there.

If you'd like to get access to images of the girls in this story, additional cut steamy scenes, and 10 additional chapters beyond RR, you can subscribe to my PATREON.

Enjoy!

51