Bitter 410

“You didn’t know he was going to do that?” Britta asked Dad.

“Nope.”

“He didn’t use his reflection skill the first time?” Dad shook his head. “He let it hit him?” Dad nodded. “But why?”

Dad shrugged. “He wouldn’t get into specifics. Something about being hit told him if his Reflector skill would work or not.”

“As long as getting hit didn’t kill him,” said Britta.

“Yes, as long as it didn’t kill him,” agreed Dad. “Ballsy move.”

Britta wasn’t sure if that was the right word for it. It had cost Mark half his health. It might have killed him, if the banshees had attacked all at once.

She turned her attention back to the video. The banshees were being pulverised. Little red numbers flew off them, and then they collapsed into rags on the floor.

Flawed was jumping up and down in delight, yelling, “Level 2! Level 2!” He had been running around, stabbing banshees in the back wherever he could. Technically, he’d been doing a lot of kill stealing, but only from the kobolds, who didn’t seem to mind.

Lady Da and Dun Kirk were also hitting banshees wherever they could find them. Da with a small mace, Kirk with his hands. One by one, the banshee fell. They left only their cloaks behind.

There was only a final, frightened banshee in the corner, the one Lady Da had turned right at the start. A bloodthirsty mob descended on it.

Britta felt bad. But she always felt bad when she watched a fight, no matter who was winning. It wasn’t very nice to see someone beaten to death, even when it wasn’t permanent.

“Let me, let me,” cried out Flawed, eagerly trying to get to the front of the mob.

Dun Kirk had his arm out, holding him back. “Da only needs a few more XP to level up. Leave this one to her.”

Reluctantly, Flawed backed off. Lady Da stepped forward and raised one hand. “Heal. Heal. HEAL.” Her voice got progressively louder. The palm of her hand glowed with a yellow light, and the banshee gradually shrivelled to nothing as ones and twos floated off it.

“Heal spells work the opposite against undead,” Dad explained to Britta. “They don’t normally just stand there and let you kill them, though. That’s where turning them first comes in handy.”

All these powers she’d seen them use would be amazing once they were at higher levels, thought Britta. But then, the monsters would all be more powerful, too.

A cheer went up, similar to the time Britta and Dad had defeated the banshees. Their victory hadn’t lasted very long, as she recalled. The fight was far from over.

“Everyone back across the bridge,” shouted Dad in the video. “Get ready for the second wave.”

There was some excited murmuring, some determined grunting. Confidence was high as they hurried back across the bridge. The door to the lower level was open, but no one suggested they should go down to meet the enemy. They were acting like disciplined professionals, humans and kobolds alike, which wasn’t how Britta had expected them to behave.

They were even acting quite chummy with one another, veterans of the same battle. Flawed was surrounded by kobolds as he explained his stabbing technique to them.

There was a rumbling sound. Everyone rushed back to their positions, alert for the next attack. The rumbling got louder. This hadn’t happened last time. Something was coming.

“Everyone be ready,” shouted Dad, even though everyone was already ready. “You good to go?” he said to Mark. “Everyone good to go?” He was getting hyped for the coming fight, Britta could tell.

The camera ducked down behind the large boulder. Mark was crouched beside him.

“I won’t be able to use my skill again,” said Mark. “No unless this is a really long fight.”

“No problem,” said Dad. “We’ll just wear them down, inch by inch.”

“This should make for good viewing,” said Britta. “Is there a fast forward b—”

“Watch, watch,” said Dad, pointing at the screen.

Britta watched. A shadow appeared, a long one. It came through the giant door, followed by a single, tiny figure. It was wrapped up in a cloak like the banshees had been, but this wasn’t a banshee. It was too short, and too attached to the floor.

“Oh, no,” said Britta. “It’s not him, is it?”

“Who?” said Dad. “The dwarf? No, no. Too small for a dwarf.”

Britta looked more closely. He was right, the body shape was all wrong. Not a dwarf.

The figure pulled back its hood to reveal a hairy face. It was a kobold. It was Derik, the shaman she knew as the High Priest of the kobolds in the previous version of the game. Only, he didn’t look the same. His eyes were glowing red.

He raised his hand. He was holding a leather-bound book. It seemed he had found the Book of Raising the Dead just like last time, but he hadn’t used it to revive an angry dwarf.

“Necromancer!” shouted the king. “I challenge you!” His voice boomed around the cavern.

Derik, now apparently a necromancer, waved the book around. “Your Majesty.” It was Derik’s voice alright, but full of mocking laughter. “I did not come to fight. I came to kill.”

Banshees emerged from the door behind him. Lots of them.

 

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Afterword from Mooderino
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