Bitter 152

The elite kobolds looked tough. They had leather and metal strapped over their bodies and their swords had sharp edges. The shaman banged his staff on the ground and muttered away, probably casting more buffs. The kobolds moved forward in a tight knit formation, leaving the shaman behind.

“Okay,” said Lord Jim. “Go for it.”

Britta wasn’t sure what he meant or who he was talking to. Not her, she hoped. Nobody else was charging into battle so she stayed where she was and looked at the others to get some indication of what they were supposed to do.

She thought maybe Fizz would fly in and distract the kobolds like before, but even the little fairy was hanging back with the rest of the party who, for some reason, had put their weapons away.

The kobolds were advancing but no one was doing anything about it. Apart from Father Paddy who had a piece of paper in his hands. He was reading it.

There was a flash of white light and the kobolds cried out. Then they began bumping into each other, arms outstretched. They couldn’t see, their sensitive eyes blinded by the flash.

This was her trick. If she’d known the plan was to blind the kobolds with bright lights, she could have saved them a magic scroll. She had no idea how expensive they were, but they couldn’t be cheap, especially if they had to use one every time they ran the dungeon.

“Take out the shaman first,” said Lord Jim as he ran past her.

The kobolds had no idea what was going on. They waved their swords ineffectively, only managing to hit each other.

Britta’s party ignored the flailing kobolds and all attacked the shaman. He hadn’t been blinded, shielded by those in front of him but even with his sight intact, he didn’t last long. Once he was dead, they turned their attention on the rest.

Rather than fight them or waste time stabbing and chopping at them, they targeted one at a time, all rushed at the same time, and pushed the kobold off the edge of the platform.

They clearly had done this before and were well-coordinated. They waited for each kobold to face the right way and then ran at them with palms out, pushing them towards the edge and letting go with a shove.

The kobolds were big and strong, but they couldn’t resist momentum, or gravity. They disappeared with a fading scream.

The last one had figured out something had sent his comrades to their deaths and was being more circumspect. He swung his sword in sweeping circles, trying to keep them at bay. It was quite effective; no one wanted to risk getting hit as they ran in.

Lord Jim stepped forward, his own sword drawn. He was about the same size as the kobold, maybe a bit taller, and he had the added advantage of being able to see. It didn’t take long for him to hack the sword from the kobold’s grip. He stabbed it in the stomach and then used his boot to kick him off the blade. The kobold stumbled backwards and fell off the edge, not even screaming as he disappeared into the darkness.

Britta had done nothing. The others had worked so well together, knowing exactly what to do, she hadn’t wanted to barge in and upset the dynamic. It would have been the perfect time for her to whip out her Glamor spell and reveal her true identity in a way that was actually useful, but they hadn’t needed her help.

There wasn’t time to dwell on the missed opportunity as the King Kobold roared back into life.

“He gets enraged now,” said Lord Jim. “Does double damage, so don’t let him hit you.”

The King Kobold seemed to be gearing up for some kind of big attack. His spear was glowing.

She knew what the enrage ability could do from Donald. He was only a little goat and he dealt serious damage when he was enraged, so the King would probably one hit them. No way she was going to tank him now, not that she’d ever managed it in the first place. She backed away, waiting for Jim to start kiting again.

But he wasn’t running this time. Everyone was looking expectantly at Father Paddy who had another scroll in his hands. He read it but there was no flash of light this time. Instead, the scroll suddenly caught fire and Father Paddy dropped it with a yell, waving his hands.

“What happened?” shouted Lord Jim.

“The scroll failed,” Father Paddy shouted back. “I don’t have any more.”

“Shit!” said Lord Jim. The mood went from confident to panicked.

This was her chance. If they had planned to use the same strategy on the King for the last stage of the battle, they were in luck. Britta was the queen of bright lights. She would save the day.

“Quick, I need something to cover his head,” said Jim. “A cloak or something.”

“B’s got a cloak,” shouted Tal. “B, that cloak you had earlier…”

Britta was caught in two minds. They didn’t need to try some elaborate method of putting a hood over the King’s head, she could simply blind him with a spell.

“Quick,” urged Tal.

But what if the spell backfired like it did all the time, especially when she needed it? Or the kobold managed to resist the effect? What if that wasn’t what the scroll had been and the plan was something completely different?

“B!” screamed Tal.

Britta opened her inventory and grabbed the cloak. She threw it at Lord Jim who caught it. And then everything went black.

There was a momentary shudder and then she was out in the open, the sky above, only rocks and trees around her. She stood there for a moment, confused and bewildered. And then she realised what had happened. They’d kicked her out of the party.

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