Chapter 105

Chapter 105

Snake Report: Life as a False God - Round 2.0, Late-Night 2:

Electric Boogaloo.

What was that? No questions for now.

Too much is happening. I'm trapped, [Spirit Attendant 1] is trapped, [2] is trapped- we're all trapped and it almost seems like a good thing: because being outside right now sounds like a terrible plan.

I remembered where I saw those badges.

Badges? We don't need no stinkin- No, stop that.

Damn it all, maybe I am crazy, but I remembered where I'd seen those before. Instinct might be useless at the moment, but Human-side's strong suit is recalling trivial information. An affinity for mental games of "connect the dots."

Those badges are [Guild Crests]

Yes, I knew that.

So in my own acknowledgement of that recognition, I found myself lead along right onto the next obvious question. "What human guilds do I actually know?"

Immediate answer: None.

But that's a good hint. Opens up another question:

"What humans do I know?"

Answers: Young Gandolf: presumed KIA. Talia: presumed MIA. Those people I had been following, and their leader Swordmaster Za-

Oh.

Connect the dots complete, but instead of crayons we've got blood. Buckets of blood, and whatever's left of this metaphor is covered in it.

Tied up humans = Missing "D-Rank" Adventurers, and the person looking for them? Well, he's outside killing the people that tied them up.

It's a problem.

One of many problems.

It's like a finely blended smoothie of concerns and potential danger, but I'll summarize the three main issues.


 

Problem One: I used a lot of magic in the last couple minutes.

Earth magic was pushed to the limits, Several [Leviathan Breath] attacks were mounted, I literally shoved mana into [Spirit attendant 1] and [2] which (though it seemed to work better than expected) did absolutely nothing to prevent this situation from spinning out of control. Icing on the cake is that I've wasted more than just a couple [Heal]s trying to grapple my way back into sobriety.

So... we're running at 35-45% capacity here. The back of tricks is only halfway full, rounded up.

 

Problem Two: The Elves have weird magic.

Apparently Blood-based, or some sort of ancient bargaining system. I'm not 100% clear on the details, but I saw some of this before with those elders, or I smelled it. Whenever they did a spooky vanishing act, it smelled like blood.

Still, I hadn't expected anything to this sort of magnitude, and I hadn't expected them to blitz me.

We're trapped in a shrinking and unstable magic-bubble of pressing death. There's a building sense of both dread and air pressure; neither of which are probably good for us. Static bursts of mana like a tesla coil going wild, smoke, wind, fire... It's bad news, and it's only getting worse now that everything outside has devolved into a bloody melee.

Ah, what's with that plural there? We? [Spirit Attendants] are people now?

Well, I'm not quite sure about the [Spirit Attendants] but yes: "we."

Miss Elf warrior Imra is along for the ride I guess. They didn't hesitate to throw her right along and under the bus. Tough gig, being a Fake-God's Servant.

We're a duo for the ages here.

Just a little, itty-bit my fault I think.

Then again, I'm pretty convinced that her original job was to get eaten by an owl- so it's probably a fair deal.

I took one for the team there, checked that box off for her, so it probably ballances out.

Hiss...

Not something which I have the luxury of time to consider. My conscience will have wait for the dodgy excuses I'd surely have come up with, because right now the walls are closing in... they're actually closing in.

It's like a shrinking bubble of invisible steel, or some wacked-out blood-ritual compression chamber. Shimmering air, glassy sort of texture, pretty much 100% impossible to break.

Not good.

Which leads me on to number three.

 

Problem III: It's roman-numeral worthy.

None of my efforts to bust us out of here have resulted in any sort of progress.

Earth magic is useless. All the rock and soil is outside, so that's no good.

Water Magic is even MORE useless, on account of the significant lack of the stuff and it being... well, mostly useless anyways.

[Leviathan breath] hasn't done much more than make it extremely uncomfortably warm, and my helper here isn't really doing anything. Miss Elf seems to have more-or-less given up hitting the barrier and slumped over in the first stages of severe heatstroke.

No heat [resistance] I guess, or possibly just no [Affinity] for fire?

Either way, it's not good.

Maybe it's just the wine sloshing around in my system, but I think my Spirit attendants are actualy giving me a "that's rough buddy" impression. Inflated as they are right now, I almost feel as though I can make out some actual details there.

I'm starting to question their intelligence.

Then again, they're stuck in here too... so they can't be that smart.

Hiss...

I'm also starting to question my own intelligence.

It's sort of surprised how badly I messed this whole "Ruler of the Forest" thing up.

But maybe I just lack that... edge. They say historically, people at the top of society are typically psychopaths or something close. Cut-throat sort of people that don't blink at doing nasty shit to keep power.

"Burn the fields and put their heads atop stakes" kind of people.

I guess I'm just not really made for this sort of environment.

Still, I think I was doing a pretty good job to start out. Honest, it all seemed to be going to swimmingly up until they filled a giant bowl with blood and dragged out some human prisoners.

That was the obvious catalyst for all this, but apparently trying to warn people this is a bad-plan makes me the asshole.

Helter Skelter out there, and I'm the asshole! You don't see me killing people right now! I'm all about live and let live! That's the kind of God you want to have: The Tiny Snake Forgives!

Damn it all.

I tried to be a good person here. Just because the Elf chief was a bit of a bastard didn't mean I was about to roast him: chaotic evil just doesn't suit me.

But giving peaceful diplomacy a go? Look where that got me!

"Don't mess with those kids!" I said. "They've got some sword-wielding maniac looking for them!" I tried to say- but nooooooooo: big-chief on campus had to try and ursurp the living proxy of the Tiny Snake God. Had to cut me short with a magic bubble of doom.

Well, it serves you right: you headless chiefy bastard.

Hisss...

Oh, we're so screwed.

If I die after this, well... I really don't want to find out what a double [New Game Minus] is going to be like. I'll probably end up a freakin sea-banarcle or something.

Ah... that's going to suck.

This is going to suck.

Outside this evil blood-magic bubble of doom, it's basically just a galeforce of smoke and lighting. I can follow the mana around a little bit, smell it, taste it... this was all organized before (in its own creepy way) but now?

Absolutely not the way it's supposed to be working.

Definitely not.

I might not know a whole lot about ancient magic or blood-rituals, but I can tell you there's way too much energy in this system. All those weird grooves in the ground have overflowed, and every poor-sucker who's been dropped headless out there is just fuel on the fire.

I mean, this was a blood ritual wasn't it? An ancient lovecraftian sort of thing, based on living sacrifices? In a situation like this, what's all that extra supply going to do?

I don't have an answer for those, but I can tell you that whatever sort of spell-organization used to be present here has flown the coop. This all looks like it's about two pints from disaster.

Yeah.

Nothing left to do at this point but reflect a bit and make peace with it all. Hope for a third shot at life.

Pray it's not as a barnacle

I know, I shouldn't be greedy about it, but I've always heard that the third time's the charm. I could make it work. Honestly, I really think I'll be trying to avoid these kind of situations if I ever get out of this mess. I've learned from my mistakes, I well and truly swear.

This is all coming loud a clear, it's definitely a sign. I should give up trying to be a ruler: obviously I didn't fully comprehend what I needed to do in order to make this type of thing work out. Praying to the Tiny Snake in the sky is fine, but I should seek alternative forms of employment and lifestyle. Maybe a roaming priest, or a part-timer. Maybe I could start a magic bakery, or a coffee shop, or something.

In the name of the Tiny Snake God and your failthful prophets, I swear: I'll use my magic to build you a giant shrine, I'll spread tales of your benevolant tail far and wide.

In the name of the Tiny snake God, I swear, if you save me I'll-


 

Swordmaster Zane:


 

Through hell he had travelled, but one by one: he cut them down.

Their warriors, their leader: Zane cleaved through them as a sythe cleaves wheat. First in silence, then in open combat. The Ancient pagans of the Northern Forest, the legends themselves: it mattered little to his sword.

From both sides, spears had flew towards him- yet Zane spun. His blade shifted in his hand, twisting with the afterglow of [Counter] before it flew along the form [Diving Hawk] to run a third opponent through.

"____ ___!" a voice shouted, language unfamiliar. "____ ____!"

Zane ignored those shouts, as he continued to cut down another striking form, letting the two halfs of the body crash to the ground: one still screaming amid the swirls of chaos in the air.

He would show them no mercy. They had brought this upon themselves.

More came at him, and more fell. Stone and wood, glass and fiber: his steel seperated them just as simply as the flesh behind them. He felt the rush, flowing through his skull, through his veins- deep within his chest. His sword moved, quicker- fast, stronger with every blow exchanged, until the battle found itself ending.

"____ ___!" The shout had turned to a scream, and though Zane did not understand the words, he knew the sound of terror all too well. "___ ___!" His final opponent retreated, back stepping into the blood that soaked the ground. Filthy hand now grappling with a struggling hostage.

As he charged, sword swinging- Zane found his attack deflected: a glass knife lashing out at his side as it blocked, cutting shallow as Zane let his own follow through. [Razor's Edge] swung clean, resonating with a deep exhale from his lungs as his side burned as the blood trailed won down both steel and cloth.

It was done. One of their arms swung useless at their side, weapon broken or discarded, while step by step, Zane moved forward. The pain in his side was throbbing worse with every push and pull of muscles and tendons, but his sword... his arms: they were still ready.

[Ethereal Blade]

Zane swung with a skill that surpassed all thest rest he'd ever achieved. The greatest achievement of his lifetime, the sword that was more than a sword: he felt it reach past his palm, his finders, the weapon itself, and he gave no pause before the blade passed through his target in a horizontal sweep. Two sets of eyes watching in equal horror before the deed was done.

A single head fell to the blood-soaked ground.

"Those younglings belong to the Wayside Guild." Zane heard his own words distantly, as his knees gave way, and he found himself leaning heavily on his sword while unknown magics swam in the air around him, twisting and turning with the crazed laughter of some far-off plane.

Upon the massive carved stump in the center of the clearing, a creature waited. The center of the wretched ritual itself, a body of blue and crystal that seemed to stare down at him. Not with anger, not with rage: should Zane not know better, he would have thought it almost seemed to watch him with pity.

Pity, as the magics in the air grew to a tempest, grew to a storm to rival any Zane had seen in his life, lifting up and higher to the treetops, the clouds and sky: pressure building as horrible screams seemed to rise from very air itself. It built upon itself, heavier and heavier still. From the carved wood, from the stone sculpture, from the wind and the blood now climbing along with it.

"Shame." Zane muttered, as he fell forward towards the waiting lake of crimson, vision fixed on the strange cerulean glow in the eye of the storm. "I could have done more."


 

Then, the screams of the wind and blood were silenced, and there was only fire.