Saturday, December 3, 2016

BMG 6


The Hydra crashed through the foliage, hot on the heels of its prey.

Though it was only about as fast as the creature its Master had ordered it to hunt down, and its prey had a head start, the Hydra was bigger and stronger. It could step over smaller obstacles or crash through them, and sinkholes which would be a lethal hazard for smaller creatures were little more than a mudbath for it.

Conversely, the smaller size of its prey meant that it would be more severely impeded by difficult terrain, and soft ground slowed it more than a larger creature.





The Hydra's incredible vitality was also a big asset. Part of its fast healing ability also included incredible physical stamina, which meant that it could keep running for long periods without stopping

In other words, it could keep up its pursuit at top speed longer than its prey could flee it at its own top speed.

The branches of the densely-packed trees clawed at the Hydra's hide as it ran, skittering off freshly-regrown scales and newly-recovered flesh. They barely tickled, at least in comparison to the itchiness within itself, but the toll of healing so much so quickly left it feeling hungry, and a little tired.

It had eaten well recently, but the battle against the six intruders had left it hurt and drained. It had wanted to flee when the small one cut a couple of its heads off and burned the stumps, and when the glowing bolts had pierced its flesh and pumped a stream of painful fluid into its neck, but it could not.

Master would not let it run.

Master had told the Hydra to chew at its injured neck-stumps -- something the Hydra would never have done of its own accord. Even if the Hydra could heal from the injury, it still hurt, and the Hydra was not smart enough to override its basic instincts to protect itself.

Still, when it came to basic instincts, obeying Master took priority over all of them.

Master's will was more important to the Hydra than the need to preserve its own life.

If the Hydra had been smarter, it might have questioned the reason for that. However, the Hydra was fundamentally an animal (albeit a powerful and dangerous one), and Master spoke in a voice which it could not ignore, so it could do nothing but obey.

The Hydra had many heads, but only one mind. That one mind belonged to Master. Its body existed only to carry the mind around, and to carry out Master's will.

Everything the Hydra did was at the sufferance of Master. Master spoke within its heads, in a voice which the Hydra could not deny. Sometimes, the Hydra felt like it was riding within its own body, unable to exert control over its limbs and heads. The Hydra knew that was the work of Master as well.

If Master willed it, the Hydra would endure pain that would otherwise have driven it away, and press the attack. If Master willed it, the Hydra would gnaw its useless heads off so that heads could sprout anew from the ruined flesh. If Master willed it, the Hydra would stop breathing and die.

Master was everything. The Hydra was a mere puppet dancing on Master's strings.

Currently, Master wanted it to hunt down one of the two-legged creatures that had approached their nest.

The Hydra laired in a cave in an island at the center of a lake. It shared its space with another Hydra, which was equally obedient to Master.

The other Hydra was now chewing up the rest of the two-legged creatures. Master seemed to like it more because it had more heads, but the Hydra did not mind.

Serving Master was all. Its own thoughts did not enter into the equation.

Still, it had more heads than its counterpart for the time being. The stumps which Master had ordered it to tear apart now sported two new heads apiece. Each of them sniffed the air, seeking the scent of their quarry. Their prey was not hard to find, given that the Hydra could smell its fear.

The Hydra continued sampling the air as it ran, altering course and crossing obstacles. Every step it took brought it closer and closer to its target, the yellowish scent growing thicker and brighter as it closed the gap.

A pang of hunger flashed through the Hydra. It wondered if it could eat the creature to sate its growling belly; but Master had commanded it to seize the prey without hurting it.

Would a limb or two count as hurting it?

Those grew back, right?

Then again, they might not. It had chewed off the legs of the last creature Master had ordered it to eat, and those had not grown back.

Best not to try.

However, it had other things to worry about. The scent of its prey was strong now, and the Hydra was certain that it was close.

Yes, it was there, in front of it! The prey was on all fours; and it looked like it was fumbling around, sniffing at the mud. The Hydra roared in triumph, and surged forward.

Just a bit further, and--

--Its world was obliterated by blinding radiance.

***

If Hitomi had activated that particular skill of hers while she was still airborne, she might have put out enough light to briefly outshine the full moon. The burst of light was short-lived, though it did negate the concealing cloak of her invisibility spell.

Not that she needed it, anyway; [Dawn] was a battle-oriented power and she was ready for one.

The glow surrounding Hitomi had dimmed; now it was merely difficult to look directly at her, rather than almost impossible. That did not mean the aura which surrounded her was not intense. In fact, it was like staring into an open blast furnace. A wave of hot air rolled out from her like a moving wall of heat. It blew away small pieces of debris and rapidly dried out the mud around her.

She reached her hand out, producing a spear from what seemed like thin air. In truth, it had come from her inventory, but it would seem that just like YGGDRASIL, she was not constrained by having to physically carry all her gear on her person.

The spear seemed to be made of some sort of plant material. It resembled a Viking krókspjót spear, complete with winged head and an additional buttspike. A sprig of crimson berries hung at the base of the head, which dripped with blood that vanished before hitting the ground. The blood soaked the rest of the spear too, tinging it slightly red, though it did not stain Hitomi's gloves of dragonwing leather.

It was not as gaudy as some of her other gear, but it was by far the most powerful item in her arsenal. The very fact that she had brought it out was a sign of how seriously she was taking this. After all, this was the first (hostile?) encounter with the beings of this new world, and its outcome would determine her future course of action

If she came out on top, or at least as an equal, then further interaction was not out of the question.

If it went poorly, she would promptly [Gate] away and abandon Julian to his fate.

Speaking of which, Hitomi looked at Julian -- a human, clearly afraid -- and then at the creature behind him. It was a magical beast of some kind, and its many heads writhed in confusion at the sudden eruption of light while the outrushing wave of spiritual -- and physical -- pressure forced it to take a step back.

Even without using an enemy-scanning spell, she could tell that it was a member of the Hydra family. The steady illumination -- easily equivalent to high noon in a desert -- which came from Hitomi was a harsh inquisitor, revealing the many wounds it had taken in battle with the adventurers and the scars from where it had gnawed its sealed necks open to allow its fast healing to work.

Of course, Hitomi did not know that. She assumed that the bite marks were left over from when some beast had tried to attack it.

Judging by its color, it was an average Hydra, not a mutant like the frost-breathing Cryohydra, the flame-spewing Pyrohydra, or the poison-wreathed Miasma Hydra. After considering  the number of heads and necks, it seemed that this was not a terribly powerful Hydra either. Of course, it might have been divinely empowered or otherwise augmented in some non-obvious way, so she had to be wary.

That said, she was somewhat looking forward to fighting it.

Hitomi had experimented with her abilities and found them largely as she remembered. Now, she was filled with the desire to test them out. She wanted -- no, needed -- to know where she stood in this world. 

Was she a weakling, who would have to flee everyone and live in constant fear? 

Was she nigh unto a god, who could tread the thrones of the world under her booted feet?

Or was she just an average schlub like everyone else?

Values, priorities and biases changed from place to place, but power was a universal constant. The strong could do as they pleased, while the weak suffered because they had no recourse.

In terms of YGGDRASIL, this was like challenging the denizens of an area to try and figure out the power level of its monsters, and by extension how dangerous it was. Part of her realised that this would be terribly silly if it turned out she was in the equivalent of a national park and there was a developed nation right outside, and it seemed weird to use game logic on what seemed like a real enough world, but it was all she had to go with. It was not as though she was used to being teleported into unknown worlds.

Of course, she knew that pointless battle was foolish. Any conflict carried the risk of danger with it, even if it was only that a third party might learn your capabilities while you were otherwise distracted with your current opponent. Resources might be expended which could be better used elsewhere, or it might just waste time that could be useful in doing something else.

That was without going into the social layer, where a reputation for picking fights often resulted in one becoming a target for hotheaded challengers, or making people fed up and causing them to gang up to take you out. Several PK guilds had been brought down that way after they were judged to be loose cannons and the community decided that they were too dangerous to be allowed to roam free.

Hitomi had seen several such cases in the past. Her old guild had been contracted to provide intelligence services on potential marks, though direct action had usually been provided by others.

She grimaced as she recalled her old guild. It was not a good memory... or rather, it had been once, before she had left them.

The thought set the embers of irritation smoldering in her heart, fanned into a blaze by the sight of the human male cowering before her and shielding his eyes.

Just like -- tch.


Had she appeared in a more civilised area, she might have chosen a more pacifistic approach, assuming that the natives did not all try to kill her. Under normal circumstances, she might have let the Hydra do as it pleased to see how it fought, and to measure the resilience of what looked like an adventurer.

But something about the man in front of her struck a chord in her heart, and so she had chosen to step in. 

I've come this far now, so I'd better keep him safe, Hitomi thought, and cast a spell. 

"[Force Wall]," she intoned, and... nothing happened. Or at least, it looked like nothing had happened. It was invisible to mortal eyes, but anyone who could see magic -- like Hitomi could -- would perceive a shimmering plane of magical energy springing into existence,  20 feet high and extending over 100 feet in either direction.

Then, she lowered herself until she was almost touching the mud underfoot, and addressed the man.

"Fear not," she said. "I am here to help you."

***

For a moment, Julian thought that he was dead.

When you died, you saw a bright light and then an angel greeted you, according to that retired cleric who ran the adventurer's bar. 

The sight before him certainly fit the description of an angel.

From quick glances through the corners of his eyes, he saw that it was a black silhouette with tentacle-like wings of shadow, each tipped with a single glowing orb. A larger ball of light sat at the center of its head, like a cyclops, and it held a tall spear in one hand.

A blinding light shone from behind it, the surrounding air felt as hot as Cottus' forge, and there seemed to be haloes around its head and the orbs that tipped its frond-like wings.

It did not stand upon the earth, but floated in the air, as though it did not wish to tread the same ground as a lowly groundwalker like himself. 

"[FORCE WALL]," it spoke in a voice like thunder. Julian cringed; he felt its words more than it actually heard them.

Was it going to punish him?

Was this his final judgement for betraying his friends? 

What happened after one died, anyway?

And then it turned its central, baleful eye upon him.

"FEAR NOT," it said. "I AM HERE TO HELP."

Julian froze.

Help him? 

But... how? Why? What have I done to--

"It will not harm you," the creature continued, at a somewhat less overpowering volume, and now he could make out that it sounded... female? 

He looked again, and found that he could actually discern details about the creature that gazed down upon him. She(?) looked like a humanoid woman, albeit one with long black hair and ten tentacle-like appendages sprouting from behind her, each tipped with an eyeball. Some regarded him qith curiosity; others looked around, and a couple were looking at the Hydra.

She was dressed in opulent white robes stitched with gold and with rubies sewn into its lining; even the fineries of the Kingdom's nobles paled in comparison to what she wore. In one hand, she grasped a spear that seemed to have been made out of a section of vine. 

Before Julian could look any closer, the sound of the Hydra roaring behind him forced a squeal of terror from him. He jerked his head around in terror, and the sight of the Hydra throwing its considerable bulk and its many heads at him loosened his bladder for a moment. However, the realisation that he was not dead yet and his embarrassment at wetting himself like a rank amateur allowed him to regain his composure, and he noticed something strange.

The Hydra could not reach him. Every time it tried to snap at him with its champing jaws, it stopped in mid-air, as though it were banging its head against an invisible wall. Julian's puzzlement overruled his fear, and as a bizarre sense of curiosity grew within him, he ventured to reach at the Hydra... and found his hand halted by some invisible membrane.

"It cannot reach you," the mysterious figure said, and sure enough, it did not. Less than the space of a hair's breadth separated the Hydra from Julian, but that infinitesimal distance was a better defense than the walls of the Fortress City, E-Rantel. 

"You may go. I will deal with this creature. Oh, and I believe these belong to you."

One of the eyestalks angled itself downwards at the drying mud, and glowed softly, with a gentle gold light. There was a soft cracking as the hardened top layer of the mud broke open, and a pair of muddy lumps floated into the air and floated in front of Julian, before dropping before him.

The eyestalk then indicated that he should leave behind her, though his mysterious benefactor did not look directly at him.

It took a few moments before he thought to inspect the items, and found that they were his Eyes of the Owl and Arctos' crystal. It took him several more before that fact sank in.

Julian thought briefly on what he should do next, and then immediately knelt before her.

"Thank you for saving my life, Angel-sama!" he declared, his head facing the ground. Then he froze. What should he do now? Leave, as she said? Or...

If she could save me, could she save the others?

It was risky, but he had to try it. If she was not sent to judge him, then perhaps she had come to rescue him. In which case, he had to plead their case as best as he could.

They deserved to live, more than he.

"Angel-sama, please forgive my rudeness in begging a favor of one to who has saved my life... but could I prevail upon you to rescue my friends? They asked me to run, hoping that I would survive, but... but much as I appreciate their sacrifice, I would rather they not have to make that sacrifice at all! If it pleases you, Angel-sama, please help me save them!"

The angel(?) was silent for a few moments, and Julian's heart pounded like a drum.

Did I make her angry? he wondered. And then:

"Very well," she said, and relief flooded through Julian's heart. 

Thank the gods, he thought. But...

Who knows how long they have left? I need to hurry, and so does she... but how can I make demands of my benefactor? Still... I need to ask; their lives might hang in the balance.

"Ah, Angel-sama--"

"That term is not completely inaccurate, but I am not an angel. You can also dispense with the respectful address. Call me Hitomi."

"Hit... Me?"

"No, Hitomi," the mysterious not-angel replied. She seemed strangely annoyed as she spoke.

 "Ah... yes," Julian nodded. "Hitomi-san, my friends are in great danger and I hope we can make haste..."

Julian immediately averted his eyes again, for fear he had incurred Hitomi's ire. However, that did not seem to be the case. 

"I see," she replied. "Oh, wait. Stay there. I shall deal with this matter first."

Julian rose and turned before he heard the latter half of her words, but stopped as his probing hand encountered the invisible wall of magic force. The Hydra had already given up on trying to break through with brute force. Instead, it pressed its head against the invisible barrier which kept it from its prey, sniffing and feeling for a weakness in the [Force Wall]

For a moment, Julian was delighted. Then, his doubts caught up to him.

What's she going to do? If she removes the barrier, the Hydra will--

And then, as though to confirm his fears, his hand passed through the place where it had previously been stopped, and the Hydra suddenly fell forward as it lost its balance.

Julian's heart lurched.

The creature howled in surprise, and then triumph as it rose to its feet and reared up. But before it could pounce on him--

"[Holy Ray]."

--And then Julian was desperately blinking his eyes from the sudden surge of light.  Deprived briefly of his vision, his ears had picked up the slack. 

What they heard was the name of a spell, followed by what sounded like a a sledgehammer hitting a watermelon, a howl of bestial agony, and then a great crash that shook the land.

[Holy Ray]? Isn't that a divine spell? But...

As Julian's vision finally cleared up, he rubbed his eyes again, hardly able to believe what they saw.

The Hydra had fallen forward. The forest of thrashing heads which made up the front of its body was sprawled over the swamp, twitching listlessly, as though they had fallen asleep. But it was the back of the Hydra's torso that made him gasp.

Simply put, it no longer existed. The rear half of its body had burst like a popped grape, spraying gore and bone chunks all over the trees behind it. Students of classical movies might have compared its fate to that of a certain assassin made of mimetic polyalloy, after a grenade had gone off inside its liquid metal body.

The stench of seared flesh and the stink of offal filled the air. The movements of the Hydra's necks and limbs gradually slowed down, the creature still unsure of what had happened to it. 

Even something as monstrously resilient as the Hydra could not survive being explosively eviscerated like that, but the magical beast's incredible healing ability was still attempting to knit its ruined body together, as though unwilling to acknowledge its demise.

However, it was clear that the creature was dead beyond any chance of recovery. There was no light in its eyes, and the spasmodic twitching of its body eventually ceased.

A thin stream of fresh blood squirted out of a tiny entry wound on its torso, but the flow eventually petered out as the corpse ran out of fluids to discharge.

Julian's jaw hung open as he took in the horrific sight before him. The group had focused on the Hydra's heads not just because they were a potent form of attack, but because Hydras could only be killed in one of two ways -- destroying their bodies, or cutting off all their heads and then searing the stumps shut with fire or acid. 

What complicated this process was that Hydras instinctively defended their bodies with their regenerating heads and necks. This allowed them to take otherwise meaningful damage on their more expendable appendages while their bodies recovered from any injuries. That was what made them incredibly hard to deal with.

But this angel, this Hitomi... whatever she had done, she had bypassed the protection of the heads and delivered a direct attack to the body, tearing it apart from the inside to the point where not even the Hydra's formidable healing could compensate for it. 

Speaking of which, what did she do? I heard her mention [Holy Ray], but that's a a fairly low-tier divine spell, isn't it? How did a spell like that do this to a Hydra?

"Well, that's interesting..."


Hitomi sounded distracted as she studied the cooling corpse of the Hydra. Yet, she did not seem shocked by the carnage. If anything, she looked fascinated by what her attack had wrought.


As Julian cast his eyes fearfully to her, he noticed that the spear she had been holding earlier was gone. Before he could wonder why she was reaching up her sleeve, one of her eye-tipped stalks trained itself on him and tilted sideways. 

"Oh yes, you wanted me to help your friends, right? Let's go, then."

The eyestalk looking at Julian bent slightly, indicating the path which the Hydra had trampled through the swamp to get here. It seemed to be the equivalent of someone jerking their chin, telling him to get going.

He looked at the corpse of the Hydra one last time. It had been so fearsome the last time he had seen it.

Now it looked like someone had run it halfway through a meat grinder.

Then he looked back at Hitomi, who was still floating inches above the mud. She was essaying moves and stances with a golden staff that she had produced out of nowhere.

"So, what are you waiting for? Also, I have a few questions for you along the way..." she said. The eyestalk from just now was still trained on him.

"Y-yes, ma'am," Julian gulped. Then he faced forward again and started moving.




16 comments:

  1. That terminator reference though lol. Also "Hit me!" ahahaha
    Thanks for the hardworking!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. at first, there was Touch Me.. and it escalated to Hit Me.. lol

      Delete
  2. awesome. worth the wait.
    I apreciate the story thank you :D

    ReplyDelete
  3. LOVE IT!! MORE PLEASE!! Soon!!!

    ReplyDelete
  4. nice going there Nigel, sad that it'll take a week for the next chapter

    ReplyDelete
  5. More. . .!!!! I need more. . .!!!! Hahaha

    ReplyDelete
  6. I just thought of something! What if there's a baby Hydra here and it later grows up to become Rororo somehow! I know they aren't near the Kingdom but maybe he'll get transported there somehow.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Typos:

    - It wondered if it could eat the creature to sate its growling belly; but Master had commanded it to seize the prey without hurting it.
    Grammar: Wrong use of semicolon; should be replaced with a comma.
    E.g. to sate its growing belly, but Master ...

    - The Hydra roared in triumph, and surged forward.
    Grammar: Unnecessary comma in a compound predicate after 'triumph'. Breaks the sentence awkwardly.

    - Values, priorities and biases changed from place to place
    Grammar: The three words 'Values', 'priorities', and 'biases'. Consider inserting an extra comma to separate the elements.

    - she might have let the Hydra do as it pleased to see how it fought, and to measure the resilience of what looked like an adventurer.
    Grammar: Unnecessary comma in a compound predicate after 'fought'. Breaks the sentence awkwardly.

    - Hitomi thought, and cast a spell.
    Grammar: Unnecessary comma in a compound predicate after 'thought'. Breaks the sentence awkwardly.

    - He looked again, and found that he could actually discern details about the creature that gazed down upon him.
    Grammar: Unnecessary comma in a compound predicate after 'again'.

    - Some regarded him qith curiosity
    Typo: 'with' not 'qith'

    - please forgive my rudeness in begging a favor of one to who has saved my life
    Typo: 'begging a favor (of one to who has)'? Very weird phrasing there; removing the 'to' could work.

    - followed by what sounded like a a sledgehammer hitting a watermelon
    Typo: Double (a) used in 'a a sledgehammer'.

    - Students of classical movies might have compared its fate to that of a certain assassin made of mimetic polyalloy, after a grenade had gone off inside its liquid metal body.
    Grammar: Unnecessary comma in a compound predicate after 'polyalloy'. Breaks the sentence awkwardly.
    Typo: 'poly alloy' or 'polly-alloy' not 'polyalloy'.

    - but that's a a fairly low-tier divine spell
    Typo: Double (a) used in 'a a fairly low-tier'.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. More typos:

      - running for long periods without stopping
      Typo: Missing period after 'stopping'.

      - determine her future course of action
      Typo: Missing period after 'action'.

      - After considering the number of heads and necks
      Typo: Double space.

      - becoming a target for hotheaded challengers, or making people fed up
      Grammar: unnecessary comma in a compound predicate after 'challengers'.

      - magical energy springing into existence, 20 feet high
      Typo: Double space.

      - and a pair of muddy lumps floated into the air and floated in front of Julian
      Grammar: Repetition of 'floated' is redundant. E.g. 'a pair of muddy lumps floated in the air to the front of Julian'.

      - The eyestalk then indicated that he should leave behind her
      Word Choice: Did you mean 'he should leave (her behind)'?

      - sniffing and feeling for a weakness in the [Force Wall]
      Typo: Missing period after '[Force Wall]'.

      - sudden surge of light. Deprived briefly of his vision
      Typo: Double space.

      Delete
  8. I like how she was depicted as an angel when she used [Dawn] but, ah, I feel more sorry for the Hydra. These adventurers trespassed dangerous territory that was controlled by some mind controlling entity and got slaughtered, such is the way in life. Why does she have the play the hero? I thought she was a monster; when are you going to read about her new immorality? For me the human players should care about the humans, not the monsters. I guess Julian reminded her of something (like of herself when Touche Me did something that put her in that spot). But that's just an excuse to get the same result just like the beginning of Carne Village. I would love to read about a different character that does different things for I don't want her to have the same values Momonga has. What set them apart? What is the difference between her and Momonga? Does she have reproductive organs? I would love have my questions answered in the upcoming pages. Thank you for making this story.

    ReplyDelete
  9. i was in my office, supposed to be working on a project.
    and yet here i am, reading all 6 chapter of BMG in one sitting because i simply cant stop reading.

    thank you for the chapters, they're great read, cant wait for the next one

    ReplyDelete
  10. I suppose to sleep,but when i see this come out my all energy come out of nowhere.

    ReplyDelete