Only Fools Complain
The Fight is Joined
I actually heard people telling me not to attack. Like Hell! No damn tentacle-faced monster was going to have his way with somebody under my concern. The blade of my sword expertly came down on the appendages from the creature’s head, then a dagger went through some type of covering robes into whatever body existed. People gasped as they saw the lady fall away from the monster before running to escape while I started my attack.
The monster turned its gaze upon me, but I spit in its eyes while directing my sword toward whatever passed as its throat. Its rubbery flesh without any indication of bones beneath made it hard to work a slice. Seeking some surface to support the strength of my attack, I rammed the monster toward the wall of a building. Its fluid body attempted to avoid my physical effort, but with the dagger among the robes and my sword upon its throat it did not have a good option for an escape.
“Human, you are making a very bad mistake.”
The voice did not come from the one I was attacking, but from another such creature in a break in the wall I and the one I slammed were now up against. I did not say anything to the one that spoke. With the wall providing a place to apply my strength, I managed to actually slice the rubbery skin as I spoke to my opponent.
“While you might see only one, there are often many more out of sight. I really like infestations. They’re fun.”
Soldiers were moving into the alley as I turned while dropping the corpse of the monster I had been fighting. They stopped upon seeing me pull my body erect and face them. I was a tall, big man. The soldiers had on their uniforms, which included armor. My body was not so protected, but the military personnel in the front turned back showing no desire to face me in combat.
An officer at the start of the alley commanded, “Berair, stop! Those are not our enemy.”
“BULL! I don’t know what orders you are under, but in Thiminy the military is charged with the mission of protecting the populace. These things might not be responsible for your little shell, but they are a threat none the less. Doing this might not accomplish my mission, but the people should sleep better with these monsters gone.”
The officer moved up, then pointed to the crack in the wall to ask, “And how are you going after them?”
That was the wrong thing to ask. It told me that the military knew the monsters were present, and were not going after them. I looked to the man’s uniform recognizing that he was just a captain. If we were in Serussdal, or anywhere in my kingdom of Thiminy, I would have verbally chastised him before going and putting in the recommendation for the man to be demoted. As it was, I just smirked as if he had asked the wrong man the wrong question.
Enchanted items are wonderful. Most do really trivial things, but they are often nice things to have. The magic does not just have them perform some power, but it also protects the object. That was especially true about swords. As long as something is used as intended, the magic usually keeps it in perfect condition for that task. Since weapons are intended to be used for combat, they usually do not break, chip, or become dull. With no fear of my weapon, I let the soldiers know just how wonderful my sword was by thrusting it into the stone of the building.
I might be a big man, but I could squirm through some small spaces. I have climbed through many windows. These tentacle-faced monsters were not the first creatures to have me crawl into the depths to fight them in their territory. As I cut away a section of the building’s wall, I simply checked to make certain that the space beyond would not get any smaller.
It bothered me that I saw a basement room of the building. There was a further crack to some passage below, but I could not believe the people of the city had allowed the incursion of monsters. I looked into the room to see the door closed, and its battered surface had me accept that the owner of the building had reinforced the door on the other side to keep it closed. I still pointed to what I saw to let the captain know what bothered me.
“Why are we here? Why haven’t you gone after these monsters yourselves? Why has the person who owns, and probably lives in, this building been forced to endure the presence of these monsters?”
I actually saw discomfort in the stance of the officer as he replied, “They claimed to have the solution to the shell.”
“Well, guess what – they were lying. I’m here, and my first job will be to remove these things. Hopefully, then – Captain – we can have a pleasant talk and figure out the bigger problem.”
The man almost slumped, which told me that he would no longer challenge me, and actually prepared me for the question he asked. “What rank are you?”
The man just stared at me for a moment, and spoke as if he really did not believe me. “I expected you to just be a successful traveler.”
“No. I’m a successful soldier who wrote a complaint to my king that my duties were not strenuous enough.”
“Not strenuous enough?”
I could not help but smile as I returned, “You don’t know my king. King Terish fights our wars all by himself. He moves through the surrounding mountains and kills the dragons all by himself. Nothing for us regular soldiers to do but run patrols with maybe a break to chase slavers or capture smugglers.”
He moved up, looked in the hole, then said to me, “Don’t let the strenuous activity get you killed.”
“Don’t let boredom kill you.” I then raised my voice to two who I saw peeking around the edge of the entrance to the alley. “Aden! Mersidda! Sleep peaceably, as I will be back to claim my promises!” I looked to the captain to mumble, “And we will sleep without fearing the threat of monsters.”
I saw my two wives step out to where I could see them. Mersidda made a dramatic scene of blowing me a kiss. Aden just waved with her hand barely visible in front of her chest. I only smiled. If I had not shown them enough affection in our short time together, they would just have to wait for me to again enter their presence. I knew that my job as a soldier would have me leaving the two ladies often enough, but they needed to trust in my return. Promising myself that I would see my wives again, I moved through the widened crack.
After carefully squeezing myself through the hole, I jumped over to the floor of the basement room. I felt some relief that the floor did not give under me. I did not expect it to, but had marked the possibility as being tragic for me. None of the monsters were now present in the room, but I suspected had gone back down toward their lair. Before going down the other hole, I however looked about the basement.
What I wanted to see was if I could determine the time frame of the incursion of the monsters. The crack looked fresh, as best I could tell. The condition of the door provided evidence that the foundation broke with the inhabitants of the building securing it before the monsters could advance upon them. Only with one quick source of food being denied did the creatures turn and realize that they had access to those moving about the town. Against the wall was a layer of clothes and pickled vegetables. That told me that this room was storage, so no one was probably present when the crack occurred. Those that lived here probably heard the break in the stone, rushed to find the source, then hurriedly sealed the door. Feeling that I had one answer, I considered others.
A deal had been made with the monsters. The crack then occurred approximately at the same time as the shell about the town, which allowed the townsfolk to believe the lies. The locals were still supporting the lies, so no real time for resistance had developed. The condition however had become desperate enough that someone sought the services of a hero, and were willing to sacrifice two of their young ladies to seal the deal.
I moved to the crack feeling that I had a sense of the complexity of the situation. There was probably more, but I had no desire to study the issues. There was a problem. There was a serious problem. The problem needed to be dealt with. I could learn about other complexities in the present situation later, but right now I needed to deal with the crack.
The dwarves called the monsters tentacle-faces, kormesh taughix, so that is what I called them. The desert was not a place friendly to such creatures. My patrols would pass through the mountains, which were ruled by dwarves, but since my king had friendly relations with the short dense dark hairy people I would talk to those that came to check on me and my men. The dwarves one time came speaking of having to fight kormesh taughix. It seemed that they had lost comrades, and needed to talk out their troubles. I learned some things about the monsters, some things about dwarves, and we both found that indeed the relations between our lands were friendly.
Easing up to the crack in the floor, I saw tentacles waving. The appendages were not the small ones about the face, but I had to consider them the larger ones coming from their actual bodies. The creatures were waiting for me. I thought of grabbing something and throwing it at a monster. A bow would be the proper weapon, but I did not have that. Looking down into the darkness, I had other fears than the creatures. I needed to see, and I had no desire to fall more than my height. I felt that I saw sources of light passing up through the crack, but the tentacles made a clear view difficult.
I moved to the wall and grabbed a pickled egg. It was probably still good to eat, but most of the vinegar had left causing me to feel that decay was settling into the item. Wondering why the monsters had not eaten it, I tossed the pickled egg at a tentacle.
The tentacle did not react with pain as the egg spattered upon it, but the creature did notice the impact. I saw a leathery head lift to allow its eyes to look up at me. I spit upon it, then moved back to get another egg or something else to throw.
When I turned, a number of creatures had moved up through the hole. That was a mistake. I was not near the edge, so had no concern for my footwork. I threw the pig’s foot that I had grabbed, then had my free hand gain a dagger as I set myself upon the creatures.
I had no concerns as I put my full strength into my actions with the weapons. No fellow soldiers were around me. I had secure footing and not sand beneath me. My only concern was killing those things attempting to kill me.
The monsters did have numbers, but actually did nothing to use that advantage. With their tentacles they probably could have caused me to trip. I have seen other creatures use the tactic of swarming a victim, causing him to fall on the ground, then mass around him with all inflicting damage. The tentacle faces went for the head of a victim. The dwarves spoke of these monsters seeking a passage into the brain, which would give them a definite advantage over their victims.
I protected myself by keeping my large body moving. The sword would come up vertical and slice around my head. This was just a protective move. With the dagger I would seek to gain good contact upon a monster. Once an opponent was chosen, I rushed my whole body to slam the monster into the wall while now working to have my sword work its damage. If the monster did not die easily, I would make another massive move upon another wall to protect myself from other monsters seeking access to my brain.
There was no way for me to know how many of the kormesh taughix there were in the room. The important fact to me was that there was just one of me. Still, just being one man did not put me at the disadvantage. I was the larger combatant, and moved through the throng rather easily. Still, as I rushed my body against a wall to kill a kormesh taugh, another one wrapped itself around my head to secure itself for its own fatal attack.
He cannot complain, as he asked for a challenge.