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Saturday, February 04, 2012

3.1.7.4. Boulder Trouble - Part Four


A sample, temporary image for Dar'gum the Relentless from Orc by dajotoy

Source: nenuno.co.uk - Orc Warriors Fan Art World of Warcraft

‘Better worry about what’s ahead now. Look,’ says Iris, ‘More boulder troubles ahead!’

Carolyn looks ahead of her and shrieks, ‘Eek! You’re right!!!’

Indeed, most of the hunters successfully went through the door, but in this room they are not safe yet, not safe at all. The room is somewhat longer than the previous one, with sturdy stone bridges and slopes in it. It looks like a harder work is just ahead. And adding to their horrors, the room is guarded by not two, but three earth elementals: as big as their two previous comrades, and as brutal.

No need commanding the hunters to use their ranged attacks on the earth elementals again. This time Iris shoots three times before she hits bull’s eye (in this case, a rock golem’s eye). Looks like this time the elementals are much tougher to shut down. It takes about three straight shots on each eye to drain their energy.

Robert’s strength is nearly completely restored now, and he is determined to help. Too bad my crossbow is broken when the golem hit me. Now I can only depend on my kiliji and Fire Slash to fight the golems.

On the other hand, Andreas and two other healers are busy dragging the victims to a corner and apply Vitali and Viavitali spells on them. Whenever a victim is dying and beyond help, Andreas makes The Holy Ankh, The Mark of Vadis in front of him and prays for his soul.

‘Vare Jokul’me Tyral!’ Agustina casts a Frost Arrows spell that targets an earth elemental when it tries to block another shot from Baxter from another direction, and two of those magic arrows hit straight into its eye. The earth elemental is not shut down yet, but having diminished his strength the elemental clobbers here and there desperately on a final rampage. One of its blows comes directly towards Desmond. With his Megaton Impact blow, Desmond displays his tremendous prowess by hitting the stone fist directly with his great maul. Amazingly, not one of them is pushed back by the impact of that single blow. The elemental’s right fist and the maul just stay there against each other, unmoving.

The earth elemental immediately delivers another blow with its left hand, but Kyflynn’s Soul Splitting Drill into its eye stops it midway. Sparks emit from its eye, and it changes into its shutdown state – in boulder form.

The rest two elementals are finally subdued by the hunters, whose efforts and drive for survival equal the champions in every way.

‘Ah, so many victims this time too,’ says Hernan with a sigh. ‘And look! There’s an orc down.’

Everyone sees Dar’gum with his dead orc companion on his lap.

‘Lokh’tar. Gush’tar. Kraal jughn nu il shlo drakhl. (My friend. My brother. May death bring you a new beginning).’

Those are Dar’gum’s parting words in ancient orcish, showing his care and honor upon his brethren. There are words in ancient orcish that are used also in ancient elvish, so the elves can somehow understand Dar’gum’s words, and put their hands on their chests with respect. A minotaur shaman offers to cremate the victims, including the dead orc. Dar’gum agrees. And then the shaman performs a quick fiery disintegration spell on a pile of dead hunters including Dargum’s orc friend.

Feeling that the hunters have had enough rest, Hernan speaks up, ‘Thanks, Akh’mal of Thalag’dhega for cremating the fallen. Now we must move the boulders again. Now split into three groups. Robert will lead group one, Sheena, group two, and Kyflynn, group three. And as usual, Lord Adler, please do whatever you will to help them or anything else.’

Adler responds to this butt-licking request with a slight nod, and he readies his Ulcergash for any necessary action. Had the words came from a commoner, Adler would attack him on the spot. It’s I who should be in command, not another, he thinks.

Meanwhile, thanks to the levitators, although their number has been decimated by the deaths and those who were left behind, the hunters only need to steer and push the boulders – it’s still an easier job than to push the boulders outright. But having to maintain contact and concentration is proven to be very, very exhausting for the levitators, even the spell-casting elves.

Suddenly, a spell thread is broken. Sheena’s group, with weaker and fewer levitators than other two groups only depends on Iris to maintain control of the boulder. Now that the contact from Iris is broken, the boulder shifts out of control, and stumbles over the bridge where it was being pushed. A hunter gets knocked over by the boulder, falls on the ground floor below, and the boulder falls on him.

‘GYAAAAH!!!!’ It’s too late. It all happened so quickly. Iris is thunderstruck, and falls on her knees. Tears begin to roll from her eyes.

‘Oh, no… it’s… it’s my fault… I was… too tired…,’ says Iris in a broken tone.

‘Stop! Stop at once!’ says Hernan as soon as he sees that incident. The hunters stop pushing at once. Then Hernan and Carolyn move towards Iris and try to cheer Iris up.

‘Actually it’s my fault,’ says Hernan. ‘It was not wise to split you up into three groups like this. I should’ve made a more creative plan, so this wouldn’t have to happen. So, I’ll let Lord Adler supervise from now on.’

‘Oh, no, Don Hernan, please don’t,’ Carolyn interrupts. ‘We’d rather let you supervise than that big-headed baron moron.’

‘It’s viscount, my dear.’

‘Whatever. We are too exhausted, and we can’t expect anybody to give a better advice than this one. Even if “the miracle thinker” Rael’charon is here now, I doubt he can generate better ideas.’

‘Yes… please lead us,’ says Iris.

‘Thank you. And you,’ Hernan turns to Iris, ‘Cheer up and get a rest. Success and failure are in our hands, not just you alone.’

Hernan then turns towards the hunters and yells, ‘People! Let’s get this moving! Now that was my fault, so if anybody wants revenge for that poor soul you can settle it with me now! If not, please excuse me because I need to help pushing this boulder!’ He points at the fallen over boulder and moves towards it. Almost at once, Robert walks weakly towards the boulder, followed by his party members and all other champions including Dar’gum, except Adler.

And for the first time in his life Robert seems doesn’t mind being side-by-side with an orc. The pushes and levitations resume, and now the hunters can steer the boulders more easily because the three groups merge into two groups and move the boulders two by two. After about two hours of trial-and-errors, finally the three boulders are set near the floor switches.

With Hernan’s signal, the two groups split again into three groups, and another signal from Hernan begins the ‘levitate-push-and-run’ action, and Iris rejoins her team with a lessened burden in her mind. When the hunters are sure enough that the boulders are in perfect positions, the levitators slowly lower them before finally release them. Thank goodness, no blunder occurs again this time. But now the hunters immediately rush to the exit with the stone door opening. Again some get knocked over, and one even falls and gets trampled by others, what a horrible sight. But the trampled hunter’s life is saved by – unexpectedly – Dar’gum the Relentless. He acted exactly the opposite of his nickname, so it’s probably more suitable to name him Dar’gum the Relent.

I can’t believe this Dar’gum, Robert thinks. But better hurry! The door is closing now!

Robert tries to push forward while Kyflynn behind him does some somersaults and acrobatic moves and leaps with a tremendous speed over people’s heads. Robert, on the other hand, finally makes his way through the door, and so do the other champions. Like the first rushed entry, some unlucky hunters also get trapped shut in the previous room, followed by their screams of despair, knowing that they are surely doomed.

Before the other hunters in the fourth stone room can take a breath, they immediately come into a horrifying sight: Five rock golems, slightly smaller than the boulder-earth elementals, each in different sizes and shapes. They have one thing in common: one red-glowing eye on each head. Two of them have a shape like three balls joined together with a huge morning star each as foot. Another two have a shape like a standing huge missile. And the last, the largest one is the most human-like than others, with hose-like arms and legs. Then the five elementals attack in unison, spreading to all directions.

A hunter gets crushed by a morning star golem, and then a missile golem rams into a group of hunters, knocking them apart. Kyflynn moves like a wind to avoid their attacks.

They are tough, but they’re slow. I’ll attack their eyes when they’re attacking!

Kyflynn deliberately stands on a spot to evoke an attack from a missile golem. The missile launches like a rocket and rams towards Kyflynn. As the missile comes close, Kyflynn quickly does his Backspin Cartwheel Thrust combined with Backstab, stabbing right into the missile’s eye. Kyflynn’s combined and amplified attack strength is enough to make the missile stops in mid-air and falls on the ground, not able to move. Its golemium power generator has been deactivated. That took care of this rocketeer! Kyflynn lands with his trademark smile on his face.

On the other side, Iris and Andreas are engaging a morning star golem, Robert and Carolyn the other morning star golem, Desmond and Agustina the other missile elemental. Hernan, Dar’gum and Adler fight the main body rock golem.

The other hunters prove to be a great help for the champions. Two of the five golems are shut down by brave – but not famous – hunters. A huntress even sacrifices her life by leaping straight to the main body golem and stabs its eye with all her might. But alas! She is grabbed and crushed by the golem’s hand. Hernan uses all his might go release her from that hand, and Dar’gum also tries to sever the hand apart to release her, but it’s too late. Her bones are all crushed into her ribs, like a squished bug.

The main body golem roars as the main power generator in its eye is drained and shut down. But it doesn’t go immobile like the other golems. Instead, it stretches out its hands, pulling the other four golems towards it like a magnet. The two still-operational elementals are the quickest to reach the main body. One of the morning star golems attaches itself on the main body’s right arm, and the main body’s left leg attaches itself into one of the missile golem like wearing a boot. Soon the two other golems also get attached on the main body. The main body roars again now the five golems merge together into one giant rock golem, and a head comes out on top of the main body. An eye opens on it and it blares red, signifying that the secondary golemium power generator has been activated.

Without speaking the mantra, a sorcerer casts Erosion on the golem. It seems the giant rock golem is not affected at all by the rock-scraping water blast. ‘Bhgrrrr!’ the giant golem lets out a roar that sounds like it’s been tickled. Angry because of that ‘nuisance’, the giant clobbers the sorcerer with its morning star on a chain that shoots out from its hand. But the morning star only eats dust and hits the ground. The glow of the eye on its head is gone, and the eye on its attacking hand is glowing instead. The golem retracts its chained morning star back into its hand, and when it’s settled, the light on its hand turns off and the eye on its head is glowing red again.

Nobody notices that, because they are all now too busy looking at Kyflynn or anticipating the next attack from the giant golem. Kyflynn is half-kneeling, carrying the careless sorcerer to safety. A cloud of dust gathers on his feet as he brakes to a halt.

‘Th… tha…’ The sorcerer is obviously too traumatized to talk, and Kyflynn cuts in with a quick, short sentence, ‘Know your enemy.’

Hernan is zapped on hearing Kyflynn’s remark. His mind works fast. He’s right! We need to observe how the enemy attacks and its weak point and make a strategy before we strike. This thing’s completely different than the boulder blokes!

Then suddenly, the giant brute makes a stance to gather its strength. Two lights glow on its legs and then fire bursts from its feet. The giant golem then jumps and flies, ramming fast towards a large group of hunters to kill all of them in one blow with its built-in morning stars!

Hernan and all other hunters are shocked and panicked by so powerful an attack. All try to avoid it by running away with only seconds to spare between life and death. KA-BLAMMM! The giant golem slams the floor, knocking several hunters away from its attack line and crushing two hunters on the floor to death with its morning stars.

Sheena, Adler, Robert, Agustina and Carolyn successfully avoid the finishing blow by placing themselves far enough from the ramming line, but that single attack does some damage to Kyflynn – the wave of its passage sent Kyflynn flying into a wall. He pukes blue blood because of the impact. Dar’gum’s shoulder is bleeding, an additional wound to the wounds he got from Adler. Andreas and Desmond are hit by the debris of the rammed floor, and gets nothing but lots of pain and sore. Looks like the golem’s Super Rocket Ram attack has never been used before, because not many have infiltrated the secret sanctum chambers since it was renovated to seal the Kraal’shazar within.

Hernan holds his injured hand, which was grazed by the great morning star as he moves back to a safer place. The excruciating pain forces him to think faster. Damn! This monstrosity messed my arm - and my hair too! The blast from those feet is too powerful! And the morning stars…. Hey, wait a minute!

Hernan pats his forehead. Why didn’t I notice before? Before it attacks, a red light comes from the part it wants to use either its hands or its feet. The light turns on as the main generator supplies more energy to the attacking parts. And to defend itself, it only needs to cover its main eye with its hand. We must attack the lights to drain its energy, wherever they may glow! I might be wrong about this, but at least it’s worth a try. Here goes nothing!

With his mind made up, Hernan moves forward and yells to his comrades, ‘Spread out! Spread out! Encircle it! Listen to me! Whenever it attacks, lights glow on the parts it uses, so any of you nearest to that spot, attack it! Drain it! Shut it down!’

Roused by this solution, Robert also shouts to encourage others. ‘Yes! It’s worth a try! Come on! May Vadis guide us to pass his test!’

All the champions and hunters quickly take their positions around the giant golem. The golem begins to get confused. Hernan then shouts again, ‘Now, all, run around it! Follow my direction! NOW!!!!’

All hunters run around the golem at once, following Hernan’s lead. The artificial-minded giant golem becomes more and more confused with its ever-moving opponents around it, making it difficult to determine its targets. But some of the hunters who are neither quick nor smart enough to run in the same direction as Hernan and the rest collide with other hunters, stumble and fall. Seeing that, the giant golem immediately seizes this opportunity by attacking towards a fallen – but not dead – werecat hunter.

A light glows on its left arm to launch the chained morning star. Robert who is nearest with the light doesn’t have to think twice to attack the light with two hunters. He leaps, and after one of the hunters delivers a successful blow on the target, Robert hits it wantonly with his Ten Point Chain Slash. The giant golem roars in pain and attacks Robert with another morning star. It misses Robert because he has already landed on the floor, but the light on its right hand becomes the target of Sheena’s attack, with a perfectly performed Wings of the Phoenix move through her double scimitars even Adler the Master of a Thousand Swords will envy. The giant golem roars in pain, having its energy drained by these two attacks. The already launched morning star missed the werecat by inches, only its wave threw the poor werecat away. And now the golem swings the morning star around it to wipe out all its opponents, claiming more and more casualties. The morning star blow comes towards Desmond from his back, but it comes so slowly that gives Desmond time to be alert. Just then, he casts An Behmar Letva, the Stone Skin to harden his skin, to protect him against physical attacks, weapons and impacts. He turns around.

‘HEEEEYAAAAH!’ With a great courage to match his great strength, Desmond hits the morning star with his great maul, reinforced with his Megaton Impact skill. But this time, the morning star is too powerful. It breaks Desmond’s great maul in pieces. Instead of being upset, Desmond smiles. He successfully reduces the impact strength of the morning star and immediately catches it with all his might. The floor cracks and small chunks of stone fly everywhere as Desmond tries to hold his ground and divert the impact to the floor. And now he’s holding the great morning star with his two hands. His stretched muscles makes his body looks bigger than ever, and with his gritted teeth, he tries to prevent the giant golem to swing the morning star farther or even retract it.

But suddenly his burden is tremendously lessened; at least the strain from the giant golem is gone. Desmond looks at his side, and he sees Dar’gum with his great axe il Khatl J’nadh has already cut the big chain that connects the morning star and the hand. And the floor beneath it is cracked in a line, signifying that Dar’gum used his Landsplitter Quake skill. Desmond puts the morning star on the floor and raises a thumb at Dar’gum to express his amazement on Dar’gum’s prowess. Dar’gum answers Desmond’s gesture by a nod, with a thought in his head.

That guy is my perfect rival. His strength and skills are similar to my own. I have a feeling one day I will fight him. And we will fight to find out who’s the best between us. I’m looking forward to it, big guy. Lokh’tar, ma naguwa nu. (My friend, I’ll wait for you).

Meanwhile, deprived of one of its weapons, the giant golem now roars more loudly than ever. It attacks Dar’gum and Desmond by blasting fire from its foot towards them. But the attack is too slow and the fire burst is now much lessened as its power is much drained that it gives Desmond, Dar’gum and other hunters around them to avoid it completely. Frustrated with the failed attack, it seems as though it is desperate and crazy now. And then it decides to deliver a final blow to destroy itself and all its adversaries: The Giga Rocket Ram. It accumulates all its remaining power on both legs, the lights are glowing brighter and brighter, it’s dazzling.

It doesn’t take much for Hernan to realize that this will be its final blow, and Hernan instantly slashes one leg with his Albatross Rapier and his trademark finishing blow, Requiem of the Tides, shouting, ‘ATTACK! ATTACK ITS LEGS! IT’LL DESTROY US ALL!’ Robert also shoots his Fire Slash two times to another leg. Robert and Hernan’s finishing attacks drain more energy from the giant golem, but they are not enough to stop it. The fire jet blast from its legs is still powerful enough to levitate it from the ground.

‘An Jokul’me Fyasch!’ ‘Pyroagnios!’ ‘Eshmyriad!’ Agustina, Carolyn and Iris immediately attack the legs, casting Blizzard, Fireblast and Hurricane together. Other spell casters also cast their own most powerful, most focused spells on the giant golem’s legs. But no matter how powerful the combined spells are, the golem can still settle itself near the ceiling, and turns its body again to deliver the drop of death to all below it. This time, it will use its head as a battering ram. Chiel, the only creature who have wings in this dome is so terrified at the sight of it although it is relatively safe above. All will be lost if the hunters fail to stop the giant golem.

The golem dives! Many of the spell casters release their spells and run to the walls although the ramming will kill them anyway. But all of a sudden, the golem stops in mid-air. The jet of fire stops bursting from its feet and all the lights on it stops glowing. It seems that the golem has used up the last drop of its energy and the ramming power is halved. The golem still falls anyway, crushing a few unlucky hunters including the werecat it intended to attack earlier. The werecat obviously doesn’t have nine lives at all, or he has already used up his eight lives – we never know. But the others are basically unharmed, and some only get minor injuries. Then the golem lies there still, unmoving. It obviously made a mistake not to recharge its energy while it was still operational or it didn’t have a chance to do it because of so many tough opponents.

‘So that’s the end of the earth guardian. It has done its work well, now it earns its rest, waiting to be rebuilt again,’ says Lavennia Iris with a mixed feeling of relief and pity.

Suddenly a part of the wall opens. It apparently is the hidden door that leads to the next chamber. Now the hunters are really too exhausted to go on, and they don’t have any other choice but to rest. Even Hernan is now treated with the Viavitali spell from Andreas because of the injuries and burns he suffered from the giant golem. The somewhat tireless elf guides are still up and ready to go, so Orlevant, Adler’s guide makes a suggestion.

‘Fellow elves, why don’t we check out the next room first? And then we’ll report it to the others? I bet it’ll be another rune room, and our job here is to decipher the meaning of the runes.’

Iris says, ‘Good idea. Let us go then.’

Iris, Orlevant, and other elves walk at once into the next room. The dark elf guides also walk with them. So far the elves and the dark elves, the hunters and champions of light and dark have forgotten about their hatred and rivalry with each other, but for how long?

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