Bitter 32

Britta crept across the battlefield, afraid her tiny footsteps might give her away. There was far too much yelling and roaring going on for anyone to notice a small gnome sneaking around behind zombisaurus, but it still felt prudent to make as little noise as possible.

This was clearly the advantage of her character. Small, insignificant, unthreatening. She shouldn’t have become a magic user, she should have chosen to be one of the sneaky classes—rogue or thief or whatever they were called in this game.

Hiding and letting everyone do all the face to face fighting seemed a much better tactic than trying to face monsters herself. Pickpocketing and checking for traps… although messing up and getting stung by poison darts wouldn’t be much fun, either. Maybe an assassin who only stabbed people in the back? She shook the idea out of her head. That was the last thing she wanted to be.

Swapping professions was appealing, but if it was possible it probably required her to be a higher level, or to pay money. The latter seemed the most likely. Either way, it wasn’t something she should be considering now. She ducked low and scurried across open ground.

The fight seemed to be at some kind of impasse. The players were spending most of their time avoiding the zombie’s big attacks. Their own attacks seemed to do little damage. At this rate, the battle could go on for days.

The ground shook and Britta stumbled, barely keeping upright. All she wanted to do was get a quick hit in, then she would retreat to the other end of town. Once she was far enough away, the game was bound to consider her out of combat and she could log out. At least she hoped so.

Britta was only a few metres away from the zombie’s right heel. It was too busy pounding the ground with punches. The shockwaves were knocking the players off their feet and preventing them from getting any decent hits in.

There were tremors beneath Britta’s feet but the backwash was greatly reduced from what the others were having to deal with. This was definitely the way to fight a big, stupid monster—be small and stay out of sight.

There was some kind of planned offensive being made by the players. Rather than randomly striking from all directions, they had split into two groups, with one trying to hold the zombie’s attention while the others rushed forward to get in a surprise attack. Not much of a surprise if the zombie could see them coming.

The zombie was more than capable of taking care of both parties, but it gave Britta the perfect opportunity to mount her own surgical strike. One hit, that was all she wanted.

She rans forward, dagger stretched out in front of her. As she got closer, she could see the foot she was headed towards was made up of smaller zombies all squished together. Their faces and hands mushed flat like they were pressed up against a glass wall. It was an unpleasant sight.

She gritted her teeth and jabbed the point of the blade into the heel. It slid in.

A mangled face just above where she stabbed opened its mouth and screamed in pain, startling Britta. She fell backwards.

Why had it done that? Zombies didn’t feel pain. They didn’t say ouch. The game designers could at least be consistent.

The larger zombie also screamed, after something of a delay. It began hopping up and down on one foot.

Britta watched the strange sight as the ground under her bounced like a waterbed. She’d got her one blow in—she had no idea if it would get her any XP, the others didn’t look like there were any nearer actually killing the thing—and now she had to make her escape. Only, every time she got to her feet, another earthquake would knock her back down. She began crawling away.

The other players weren’t aware of Britta’s role, all they could see was a new phase in the zombie’s attack pattern. It stopped jumping but kept one foot raised. It wasn’t clear what this new attack was meant to do, but the zombie was no longer defending itself as carefully as before. It was wide open.

They all charge forward and focused on the leg not raised into the air. The zombie ignored them and the players quickly reduced the standing leg from tree trunk to whittled twig.

Britta got to her feet and turned to see how close they were to finishing it off. If they managed to kill it, maybe she wouldn’t have to run away.

As she stood there, looking up, the zombie leaned to one side. And kept leaning. It was falling over and it was doing it in her direction.

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