Please leave a rating if you liked/disliked the story. Also, please rate the rating left by your fellow readers. It all helps me to improve my story and myself as a writer.
On another side note, I asked for slime art for my story awhile back. Slime art thread Two wonderful people have contributed already, so thanks Jonno and Bass.
The artist Shi has kindly agreed to create a cover-art for my story, and has graciously provided me with a rough sketch. No spoilers, but it's pretty dope guys, be excited.
Thanks as always, and congratulations for 400 followers!
The dungeon town was abuzz with activity after the previous day's events. Word spread quickly about the incursion of a pack of worgs and how they attacked shepherds on the road. They talked of the lone survivor who was barely saved by the town guard and how the adventurers had come together to eliminate the threat.
Above all, the loudest tavern talk clamored about the survivor worg. Two rangers had tracked a worg to the dungeon, but had been warned away by the skull of the worg at the entrance to the dungeon. Knowing the abilities of the dungeon, many now feared to enter and fight the worgs in the dungeon. On the other hand, the knowledge of Moonglow had spread just as rapidly. Already there were guild requests for the flower, and the rewards for collection were some of the highest yet. The end result was the community being torn between fear and excitement, and the guard had to put down more fights during this day than any other.
The earth mage Rock sighed as he downed another drink. Rock knew his name was ironic, yet that was how life turned out for him. His group had disbanded after their leader was killed during the worg battle, and he was left with a few silver and nothing to do.
"Bartender, another round please!" He called out as he set his mug down. The older man behind the counter shook his head and thumped a mug of water in front of the mage.
"It's too early to get drunk fool wizard." He retorted, "Clear you head and go do something with yourself."
Rock shrugged and chugged the water in front of him. He wasn't a violent type, even when drunk, and understood what the man was telling him. A mage like himself was highly prized for battling slimes, even if his spells were limited to rock armor and a basic earth shot. He raised his mug of water and cried out, "To the best leader I've ever had; may his soul ascend gracefully into the heavens with a pint of ale and a heavily bosomed wench!"
The few patrons raised their glasses and cheered with him as they downed their glasses. Adventurer tradition required the friends of the deceased to announce their death at taverns in order to honor their memory. It was also a good excuse to drink, so the custom was very popular. Lady adventurers got the same treatment, though the words were different and more appropriate.
The young mage got up and tossed a silver at the barkeep, who caught it and chew on it for a moment. Nodding, the man tossed Rock a few bronze in change and returned to polishing his mugs. Rock exited the tavern and made his way over to the guild hall.
The guildhall was designed in order to bring adventurers together. The floor was covered in tables and chairs where any could sit and seek others to join them. The massive wall in that back was covered in requests separated into ranks, and a counter adjacent to it was staffed by members of the administration who checked the completeness of requests.
Rock settled himself down at an empty table and began to play with his rock. He levitated the stone in his hand and began to practice his control over it. As a mage, practice was very important and was encouraged whenever the opportunity presented itself. In the guild hall, however, practice also served to inform others about an individual's abilities.
It didn't take long for a warrior to stride up to Rock and examine him. "You are an earth mage." The warrior stated with a trace of arrogance. Rock nodded and had the rock move through the air. The warrior smirked at him, "It's your lucky day then mage, for my group has a need for one such as you; you should feel honored."
Rock suppressed the urge to roll his eyes at the warrior's attitude. It wasn't the first time he had had to deal with an arrogant man, and he could make it work as long as he was silent. Instead, Rock gave the warrior a small smile and said, "To whose honor am I delighted to make acquaintance with?"
The warrior, obviously a man of great wit and intelligence, paused for a moment as he processed the mage's words. Once he had, he smiled and held out his hand, "I am the mighty warrior Steinbeck, a rank C adventurer and third son of the house of Yaught."
Rock gave the man a flattering bow from his seated position. The house of Yaught was a minor nobility, but it was still well known for their control over some of the few mines near the city. Mines were rare in the plains and forest, so control over any mine granted power and influence. "It is an honor Steinbeck Yaught; I am Rock, a simple earth mage with experience with the dungeon."
"Rock," Steinbeck laughed, "What a silly name to have as an earth mage!" He clapped his hand on Rock's back, who braced himself from the man's strength. Recovering, Steinbeck straightened and held his hand out, "Feel free to call me Beck; it's what all my friends call me." He boasted, "Come, join my table and I'll introduce you to the other members."
Resigned, Rock got up and walked with Beck, the latter wrapping his arm around the former's shoulders and boasting of his many achievements in the field of battle. Rock smiled patiently, as he was genuinely interested in the man's stories. As a rank D adventurer himself, Rock was curious on how the loud and arrogant man had progressed so far to become rank C.
Before he could hear anything of interest, the two arrived at their table of destination. "Rock, allow me to introduce the other members of my party." Beck announced, "This is my girlfriend Milda; she is also a mage, but one that specializes in fire. The archer over there is Saran, and finally we have Michelle our resident healer."
Milda was quite the beauty in Rock's opinion. With a full bosom and long red hair under a wizard hat, she looked every bit the fire mage. She smiled coyly at Rock and unfolded her long, luscious legs. She refolded them as she watched his eyes wander down for a moment. With a subtle wink, she got up and began to fawn over Beck.
Saran nodded at Rock, then resumed a nervous twitching as he eyed the people around him. A thin, lanky fellow, he had short blond hair and his hand kept fidgeting toward his bow. He wore light leather armor and his boots shone with a hint of magic energy.
Michelle was a small blond haired girl. She bowed quickly to him and said, "Hello there, please call me Shelly." Her grin revealed a slight gap between her front teeth, which contributed to her childish charm. She wore robes of the clergy and held a staff in her right hand.
Rock bowed to group, "Greetings to you all. I am Rock, an earth mage ranked D as an adventurer." Eyeing Milda, he turned to Beck, "Why do you need another mage? Would a speed warrior or thief be more appropriate to balance your group?"
As Beck opened his mouth, Milda interrupted him, "My wonderful man in his brilliance decided that we needed more power in our group. Seeing as a thief or speed warrior relies on weapons that grow increasingly difficult to fight slimes with, he moved that he recruit another magic user to assist us. Naturally, we all agreed with him." Beck nodded with a grin, obviously pleased with all the compliments thrown his way.
Rock, on the other hand, was not amused. It was obvious that while arrogant, Beck himself wasn't that bad of a person. His girl, on the other hand, seemed very experienced with manipulating men and was obviously in love with control.
As Rock considered rejecting the offer, Shelly walked up to him and gave him a hug. "Mister is going to help us right? We really, really need your help sir." She turned her head up and stared him in the eye as her staff glowed faintly behind Rock.
Rock felt wonderful as he hugged the small girl in front of him. She was so adorable and cute, and he felt an intensive desire to protect her as a slight fog rolled over his mind. "Of course I'll help you Shelly." He declared, "I'll be sure to do whatever it takes to help you." Shelly's giggles made him happy and he began to laugh with her.
Milda gave him a smirk as she bent over to whisper into Beck's ear. Beck's eyes glazed slightly as he grinned. Rock was so happy Beck felt happy too.
"Come on then," Beck said, hefting his sword, "Let's go to the dungeon!"
Rock rested as Beck cut through the last slime. They had just finished the third room of the first floor and successfully avoided the "pitfall path" as it had come to be known. There had been some ceiling ambushes, but Saran had pointed them out with his superior vision before they entered the room. Rock noticed the man was much calmer after the girls had talked to him.
He had made sure to stay away from both girls during the battle. As a result, his mental facilities were returning to him and he was slowly coming to terms with what had happened to him. The little sister was no healer; rather her abilities extended far beyond simple healing and encroached on powers the church frowned on. Indeed, the older girl, Milda, seemed to be more than a fire mage as well. From his observation, he would place them together as a family, except for their vast difference in appearance.
'If only I had paid more attention to wards." He muttered to himself, "I can't believe I ran across mind benders so far in the boonies." Mind benders were people with the ability to twist another person's mind. Not exactly mind control, it made the victims more agreeable and happy in the short term, but quickly caused an addiction that polluted the victim's abilities. It was not often used because of the notable signs, so the girls must have just arrived. Saran showed signs of at least 2 days of exposure, and Beck seemed to have been affected for about a day.
"Rocky, it's time to go!" Shelly called out to him. Rock pulled his fake smile and walked over to her.
"Okay Shelly, I'm ready to go when you are."
She giggled and pulled him along as she skipped ahead. Beck, Milda, and Saran followed close behind; the two men held closely by the tall redhead.
As they walked down the corridor, Rock tried to remember more about mind benders. There was something specific that he needed to remember, something terribly important. His thoughts were lost as they came into a new room.
The room was the same size as the other rooms, the only difference being the staircase on the other side. As the party made their way across the room, growls echoed around them. From the shadows, two large worgs appeared on either side of the room. Their red eyes glowered at the new intruders to their lair and slobber fell from their mouths.
Shelly's grip grew tight around Rock as she stared at the wolves. "Mr. Rock, were these monsters here before?"
Rock shook his head, "No, there has never been a floor boss for the first floor before. These must be the remnants of the worgs from the days before."
"Can we win Mr. Rock?"
He shrugged hopelessly and said, "I doubt it. Worgs are extremely fast and cunning, working well in groups. Our equipment was picked to battle slimes that move slowly, not these creatures." He surveyed the room, "It's unlikely that we will be able to escape without a fight though."
"Then,” Michelle patted his arm, "You'll do your best make sure I escape right? After all, it's important that I make it out alive."
Rock felt the fog returning as he smiled widely, "Of course Shelly, I'll be sure to protect you. Go along and run now." Rock heard Milda whispering similar things to the other men, who nodded and took battle positions with him. The girls began to inch toward the exit.
Seeing their prey leaving, the two worgs barked and ran at them. The girls screamed, prompting the men into action.
Beck roared out a battle cry as he leaped forward toward the worgs, swinging his sword out and a wide arc. Saran launched arrows at the monsters as he ran sideways. Rock chanted his magic and moved the power of the earth to shield Beck.
The worgs dodged the sword; one hopping over it as the other ducked under it. Snarling, they both landed in front of a very surprised Beck and snarled at him. As he pulled his arm back, they sank their teeth into his arm and body, bypassing his leather armor and the small enchantment provided by Rock. Screaming, Beck turned and thrashed in a vain effort to escape his fate, but the worgs held on and began to whip their heads back and forth. Blood flew as they tore the flesh off his bones, his arm landing uselessly on the floor.
Saran launched more arrows and managed to hit the worg on Beck's arm. They hit and stuck the worg, but did very little damage and most bounced off the fur. Basic copper arrows lowly enchanted to deal with slimes had no effect on the beasts. It did, however, manage to get its attention.
It whirled around and through itself at the archer, who screamed as the man-sized hound landed teeth first onto his legs. He screamed even louder as the beast whipped him across the floor as blood began pouring from his mouth. The beast finally let ago and the archer went flying into the wall. He landed at an odd angle and moved no more.
In the meantime, the other worg finished dragging Beck's entrails across the floor. The man, barely alive, whimpered as his remaining hand tried to pull his guts back into his body. Coughing, he looked up in time to see the beast's jaws close around his head. Now, Beck was no more as well.
Rock at this point had backed all the way up to the wall. The fear and terror inspired by the battle finally succeeded in breaking the spell on his mind, but it was much too late for him. The exit tunnel was only a few feet away, but the second hound was already moving toward him from the same direction.
"So this is how it ends." Rock sighed sadly to himself, "Killed by the very worgs I hunted. I guess the irony is good enough." He mused for a moment, before finally remembering what he needed to know.
Mind benders were extremely rare, because the ability was blood derived from an ancestor; one of non-human origin. In fact, the ability to cloud the minds of men had always been of that particular race's domain.
He slid to the floor and closed his eyes. In a moment, a felt a heavy wind on his face, smelling strongly of blood. He opened his eyes to see the open maw of the beast in front of him.
Then Rock the mage thought no more.